Archive for Deforestation
Quoted from independent.co.uk 16th January 2013
Trees in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest are being fitted with mobile phones in an attempt to tackle illegal logging and deforestation. Devices smaller than a pack of cards are being attache d to the trees in protected areas to alert officials once they are cut down and the logs are transported. Location data is sent from sensors once the logs are within 20 miles of a mobile phone network to allow Brazil’s environment agency to stop the sale of illegal timber. The technology, called Invisible Tracck, which is being piloted by Dutch digital security company Gemalto, has a battery life of up to a year and has been designed to withstand the Amazonian climate. It will also allow officials to track trees in real time rather than relying on slower traditional means of monitoring through satellite images. Ramzi Abdine, general manager of Cinterion M2M, the wireless technology arm at Gemalto Latin America, said the new device could help overcome the difficulty of tracking trees over a large area. “The rainforest in Brazil is approximately the size of the United States so it’s impossible to monitor each and every acre,” he said. Marcelo Hayashi, general manager of Cargo Tracck, added: “Gemalto’s Cinterion M2M was vital in enabling us to develop a tracking and tracing solution rugged enough to withstand the heat and moisture of the Amazon. “It is unique because it’s small for inconspicuous deployment in the field and power-efficient enough to operate over long stretches of time without recharging batteries, which is crucial when tracking trees in remote areas.”
The National Geographic November 2011 Issue
Decades of civil war has taken its toll on the rich biodiversity of the East African Rift Valley, a monumental geological phenomenon that separates the Nubian tectonic plate from the Somalian plate before forking down either side of Uganda. The region has seen the numerous conflicts over the last century including the most deadly since WWII: The Great African War, which saw around 5 million die. It also happens to be home to the highest biomass of large mammals in the world as well s huge reserves of important minerals such as gold, tin and coltan. This, combined with the huge population increase that places like the Democratic Republic of Congo have seen recently (for example in Goma, pictured, which is located next to an active volcano), has made for a volatile situation. People want land, and there is only a limited amount to go around.
For the national parks of the area, times are not good. Africa’s oldest national park, Virunga National Park founded in 1925, is a ‘warzone’ with many people already settled inside the park’s boundaries. The lodges are gutted and tourism is almost non-existent following the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The remaining park rangers are constantly battling with local militias, called Mai-Mai fighters, who control illegal fishing and charcoal production. Conogolese soldiers stationed on the western shore of Lake Edward have decimated populations of megafauna. 96% of the park’s hippo population has been slaughtered and sold for bush meat by militias. If the park rangers’ job is hard enough, they also face direct threats to their lives. In response to the rangers destroying illegal fishing boats (the fishing fleet of Lake Albert has swelled from 760 in the 1960s to 6,000 today), the Mai-Mai have put out bounties on the rangers. Furthermore, 100,000 villagers have demanded the government to reduce the park by 90%, or they’ll take it by force.
The Ugandan Queen Elizabeth Park (above), established in 1952, is not a lot better. By 1980 elephant numbers had dropped from 3,000 to 150. A common belief among the crowded villages is that national parks are making the population poor. In Uganda’s Kagombe Forest Reserve, a presidential decree has disallowed National Forestry Authority from evicting immigrant settlers, largely because of the upcoming elections. In order to placate the native populations about the rise of immigrants, politicians then announced that they too should seize land (see picture below). Most wildlife has now been hunted out of the reserve, a once important corridor for chimps and other animals. According to the forestry authority’s sector manager, Patrick Kakeeto, “they’re cutting all of this down and we can’t touch them. For us, it’s kind of psychoprofessional torture.”
Warning: some viewers may find the footage disturbing.
www.greenpeace.org.uk 25th July 2011
The Greenpeace office in Indonesia were recently given a tip-off that an endangered Sumatran tiger had been caught in a trap on land that bordered a concession marked for Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), one of the largest companies responsible for Indonesian rainforest deforestation. The tiger had been trapped for about six days without food or water. Greenpeace members and forest officers tried to rescue the emaciated animal but, unfortunately, it died during the attempt. There are now only around 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild and with aggressive expansion policies of companies like APP, this number is likely to fall further as tigers are forced to come into increased contact with humans. APP provides packaging for many companies in Europe and North America, including Mattel and Disney. Strangely, the APP concession this tiger was found next to was marked as ‘non-controversial’ by the world’s largest forestry certification body, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). The PEFC have already been criticised for its close relations with APP.
e360.yale.edu 29th July 2011
Quoted from source:
‘A new report says that the Vietnamese military is playing a central role in a multi-billion dollar operation to smuggle illegally cleared timber from neighboring Laos. During a two-year investigation, agents from the UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), posing as timber buyers, found that a ban on the export of raw timber from Laos is regularly flouted, with an estimated 500,000 cubic meters of logs being funneled to Vietnamese furniture factories each year. That trade is fueling Vietnam’s surging wood processing industry but poses a threat to millions of rural and indigenous people who depend upon those dwindling forests, the report says. And according to the report, Crossroads: The Illicit Timber Trade Between Laos and Vietnam, one of the biggest loggers in Laos is the Vietnamese Company of Economic Cooperation (COECCO), which is owned by the Vietnamese military. “EIA first exposed the illicit log trade between Laos and Vietnam in 2008, and our latest investigations reveal that sadly nothing has changed,” said Faith Doherty, head of EIA’s Forest Campaign. Much of the illegal timber, the EIA report says, ultimately ends up in stores in the U.S. and Europe.’
www.telegraph.co.uk 5th July 2011
The Natural History Museum, London, has postponed its biggest research expedition in 5o years following claims by human rights groups that it could put the lives of indigenous Paraguayan people at risk. The expedition intended to explore a vast dry forest called ‘Gran Chaco’ in the country, which holds the same biodiversity as the Amazon and has yet to be studied properly. However, concern was raised that the 40 scientists, along with their backup teams, may stumble across remote indigenous tribes that live in voluntary isolation. If this were to occur, the spreading of diseases may prove fatal to local people, just as they did 500 years ago when the Spanish and the English first alighted in the New World. The safety of the scientists was also questioned as some tribes, for example the Ayoreo, carry bows and arrows. The trip is now in a consultation period as the Paraguayan government discusses the venture with the Ayoreo tribe. The Natural History Museum has said that they would not go until “all parties were happy”. The Ayoreo are particularly important as the expedition hoped to work with them to learn local knowledge of the Gran Chaco’s environment. The forest, believed to home around 150 uncontacted people (down from 5,000 in 1950), is under severe threat from soy farming.
www.nytimes.com 1st July 2011
In an attempt to reduce their reliance on Amazonian hardwoods, officials in charge of maintaining the Coney Island boardwalk have begun to replace sections of the walk with concrete instead of wooden boards. Pressure from conservation organisations such as Rainforest Relief has apparently succeeded with the boardwalk, constructed in 1923, now having two sections of concrete walkway. Amazonian hardwoods, such as ipe, are used in many of Brooklyn’s piers, benches, and walkways and can withstand the weight of a garbage truck. In recent times, supplies of hardwoods have been depleted to dangerously low levels. Concrete seems to be the cheapest and most durable alternative costing at $95 a square foot compared to $127 for hardwood. Native American hardwoods are not suitable as sturdy as their Amazonian counterparts. The next instalment of concrete will be, if plans drawn up by advisory body Community Block 13 are followed through, 5 blocks on the walk’s eastern edge costing $7.5 million. An other plan to replace just a central strip of the boardwalk with concrete, on which the garbage trucks could drive, and then use recycled plastic boards for the rest (costing $110 per square foot) was turned down by Community Board 13 at a vote of 21 to 7.
e360.yale.edu 10th June 2011
Quoted from source:
‘Toymaker Mattel Inc. says it will stop using packaging from a Singapore-based company accused of clear-cutting swaths of Indonesian rainforest. Mattel’s action follows a campaign by Greenpeace that targeted, among other products, the packaging used in Mattel’s popular Barbie doll. While Mattel said it does not typically dictate where its suppliers obtain their materials, the company said it has now “directed” packaging suppliers to stop using pulp from Sinar Mas/APP, one of the world’s largest palm oil and paper companies, until Mattel is able to investigate allegations of illegal deforestation. “Additionally, we have asked our packaging suppliers to clarify how they are addressing the broader issue in their own supply chains,” the company said in a statement. Greenpeace has accused Mattel — as well as Hasbro, Lego, and Disney — of buying paper packaging sourced from disappearing rainforests, especially in Indonesia, where about 40 percent of rainforest has been cleared in recent decades. A Greenpeace campaign launched this week attracted attention globally after an online video spoofing its Barbie character as a rainforest “serial killer,” posted in 18 languages, attracted more than a half-million viewers.’
e360.yale.edu 19th May 2011
Quoted from source:
‘Satellite photographs reveal that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has intensified significantly during the last two months, a trend environmental advocates say is linked to an ongoing national debate over easing forest protection laws. According to Brazil’s National Space Research Agency, about 593 square kilometers of forest was cleared during March and April, compared to just 103 square kilometers in March and April 2010. Eighty-one percent of the recent clearing occurred in Mato Grosso, the nation’s southernmost state and a center of soybean production. The steep rise in forest loss stands in stark contrast to recent trends in Brazil, where annual deforestation had fallen almost 80 percent since 2004. Some say the recent deforestation is a direct consequence of the debate over changes to Brazil’s Forest Code, which requires property owners in the Amazon region to maintain 80 percent of their holdings as forest. Greenpeace’s Marcio Astrini told Reuters that deforestation is surging in Mato Grosso because landowners, anticipating that a weakening of the code would grant amnesty for deforestation, are rapidly clearing forest for agriculture. “The only relevant factor is the Forest Code,” he said. “It is a gigantic rise.”
e360.yale.edu 2nd May 2011
Quoted from source:
‘The world’s largest producer of beef, JBS-Fribol, has agreed to stop buying cattle from ranches associated with illegal deforestation in the Amazon. After being accused by Brazilian officials of purchasing large quantities of cattle from illegally deforested land and facing $1.3 billion in fines, the company has signed agreements with prosecutors in eight states in the Amazon stating that it would not purchase beef from areas classified as conservation units or indigenous territories, or listed as off-limits by state environmental authorities. JBS-Fribol also said it would stop purchasing cattle from ranches accused of labor abuses, including slave labor. In exchange for promises to begin changing its operations by September 2012, the company will avoid the $1.3 billion in fines, state prosecutors said. Although hailed as an important step in efforts to slow deforestation in the Amazon, the agreement faces significant challenges, including corruption at the local level. Cattle production is the largest driver of deforestation in the Amazon, and a crackdown on the beef industry is one reason deforestation in the region has slowed in recent years.’
www.independent.co.uk 4th February 2011
As the United Nations launches the international year of forests, a top official within the organisation has claimed that the global forest cover could actually start expanding in the next few years. The statement followed research carried out by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, which revealed that in Asia and Europe forest cover has actually increased over the past decade. In Europe, forest cover has risen above the 1 billion hectare mark. In Asia, China, India, and South Korea have all been singled out for praise in their attempts to increase forested areas. China alone has announced it plans to increase its woodland from 120 million hectares to 200 million. However, due to widespread deforestation in African and South America, global forested area declined from 4.085 billion hectares in 2000 to 4.032 billion in 2010. Furthermore, the FAO study declared that much of the new forested areas had only ‘junk value’ in relation to their ability to absorb greenhouse gases. Overall, global deforestation rates have dropped considerably from 30 years ago when 50 million hectares were cut down each year. The figure now stands at around 5.2 million.
www.guardian.co.uk 3rd December 2010
Plan: To hold emissions to a maximum temperature rise of 2C.
Progress: Little. But many rich countries only interested in implementing unambitious Copenhagen accord.
Outlook: Bleak. Hard to see how big emitters like the US will compromise to greater cuts.
Plan: Reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (Redd). To set up an international forest and land use agreement which will allow countries to offset carbon emissions by protecting forests – and locking away emissions – in developing countries.
Progress: Little. Informal discussions taking place but Saudi Arabia is hostile.
Outlook: Good. No final agreement but all parties determined to deliver one.
Plan: To raise $100bn a year by 2020 for developing countries affected by climate change, and set up a giant carbon fund.
Progress: Good. Financiers confident money can be found. Some of the key elements like governance of the fund and allocation of more money for adapting to the impacts of climate change – such as flooding – are heading in the right direction.
Outlook: Close to agreement. This could be one of the deliverables at Cancún. Developing countries will have to agree to a large tranche of risky market-driven money rather than guaranteed public funds, but look like keeping control over the funds.
Plan: To reach agreement so all countries have access to new low-carbon technologies.
Progress: Talk of regional or international centres to provide advice and information.
Outlook: Good but probably to be concluded in 2011.
Plan: To get rich countries to sign up to extending the Kyoto protocol and state their plans for emissions cuts.
Outlook: Critical. Kyotyo protocol is totemic issue for developing countries who say it is the only legally binding treaty forcing rich countries to cut emissions.
Plan: Close loopholes in negotiating texts that could mean a rise emissions.
Progress: None. EU, Australia, Russia New Zealand and Canda are trying to open more loopholes.
Outlook: No prospects for agreement.
Plan: Commit to an international program by which countries would monitor, report and verify one another’s progress on emission reduction commitments and climate aid pledges.
Progress: China and the US have indicated they are prepared to compromise, and an Indian compromise proposal on self-financed actions at home is shaping up as a deal-maker. Countries are now discussing setting up a new oversight body for long term finance.
Outlook: Significant steps so far suggest there could be a breakthrough.
www.bbc.co.uk 1st December 2010
According to the Brazilian government, the rate of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest has dropped to its lowest rate in 22 years. Satellite imaging has shown that between the dates of August 2009 and July 2010, 6,450 square kilometres (2,490 sq miles) of forest were cleared, down 12% from the year before. The environment minister Izabella Teixeira described the news as ‘fantastic’ before insisting that the Brazilian government is well on its way to reducing deforestation to 5,000 sq km by 2017. The drop in fell rates have been attributed to better monitoring and police enforcement. Political action has been swift following an all time high in cleared land of 27,772 sq km in 2004. The year after, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva promised to reduce forest clearing by 80% by 2020. With 20% of global CO2 emissions attributed to deforestation, the Brazilian government seem to be making an effort to reduce their carbon footprint. Although this year’s reduction is considerable compared to 2004, it is still equivalent to an area of land half the size of Jamaica.
www.guardian.co.uk 28th November 2010
A new report from the Friends of the Earth has assessed the UN’s Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) pilot schemes. The paper, the first of its kind, has revealed that ‘banks, airlines, charitable foundations, carbon traders, conservation groups, gas companies and palm plantation companies have also scrambled into forestry protection’. The release of the document has been timed to coincide with the UN sponsored climate talks taking place in Cancun, Mexico, today. Although few governments believe that a binding resolution to reduce emissions will be created at the summit, Chris Huhne, the UK’s climate change secretary, has expressed optimism that efforts will be made to curb deforestation. Although REDD is the biggest effort yet to halt the destruction of the world’s forests, critics say that it amounts to privatisation of natural resources. For example, the Anglo-Dutch oil company Shell, the Russian gas giant Gazprom, and the Clinton Foundation have united to invest in a 100,000ha area of peat swamp in Indonesia that will prevent 75 million tons of carbon being released over 30 years. Similarly, an investment of $10 million will secure Merrill Lynch , the conservation group Fauna and Flora International, and the Australian carbon trading company an area of 750,000ha of forest in Aceh province, Indonesia. This will generate around $430 million over 30 years. It is predicted that, if an agreement over carbon off-setting and deforestation is achieved in Cancun, a REDD rush could see as much as $30 billion a year flowing from wealthy nations to poorer ones who have large areas of forest left.
www.guardian.co.uk 23rd November 2010
Indonesia has found a cunning way of felling its remaining areas of forest, replacing it with palm oil and biofuel crops, and then claiming $1 billion from the UN in climate aid, according to papers discovered by Greenpeace. The island nation is able to do this due to ambiguous terminology used in the UN’s ambitious forestry reform program REDD (Reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation). Terms such as ‘degraded’ and ‘forest’ are not clearly defined meaning the Indonesian government can claim natural forest is ‘degraded’ and the replacement plantations are ‘forests’. Internal government documentation from Jakarta states that 60 million hectares, or an area five times the size of England, of forest are earmarked for development in the next 20 years. This includes 50% of the country’s Orangutan habitat and 80% of its carbon-rich peat land. Such development would lead to a trebling of paper pulp production by 2015 and a doubling of palm oil production by 2020. This comes despite Indonesia’s promise to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26%. REDD is an ambitious policy that would pay countries to replant trees and restore land.
Read Greenpeace’s report here and please spread the word.
www.independent.co.uk 10th November 2010
The British government has admitted that its policy of doubling the amount of biofuels used in the country by 2020 will actually increase carbon emissions. The UK is signed up to an EU agreement that states that signatories have to source 10% of their transport fuel from biofuels by that date. The problem is that a large amount of land is needed to grow these fuel crops. It has been estimated that in order for the target to be met, an area of between the size of Belgium and the Republic of Ireland needs to be cultivated. But the carbon dioxide given off by clearing the vegetation off this land will, potentially, be more than the savings made by replacing fossil fuels with biofuels. As Europe does not have enough land to satisfy this demand, the crops are mostly grown in other countries such as Brazil and Indonesia (pictured). A study by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) has stated that the deforestation will produce as much as 56 million tons of CO2 per year, or the equivalent of between 12 and 26 million extra cars on European roads by 2020. Although the EU has banned biofuels bought from new land, i.e.: forested land cleared to grow them, biofuel companies have got around this law by buying up existing fields thereby forcing the farmers to clear land for their own means. This is known as Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC). The results of the IEEP study has caused the British government to reassess its position on the subject. Ministers are now urging the European Commission to rethink its plans on biofuels, a move welcomed by environmental groups.
e360.yale.edu 2nd November 2010
Quoted from source:
‘The conversion of the planet’s ecosystems into cropland — particularly in tropical rainforests — is stretching the Earth’s ability to store carbon, according to a new study. The demand for new agricultural land is growing most rapidly in the tropics, due to growing populations, changing diets, food security concerns, and a rising demand for biofuels. But not only is the crop yield weakest in those regions, the clear-cutting of tropical forest results in twice as much carbon released into the atmosphere per unit of land as in temperate regions, since the forests act as massive carbon sinks, according to the study published the Proceedings of the National Academies. “In terms of balancing the needs of food production and slowing carbon dioxide emissions, this is a tough tradeoff,” said Jonathan Foley, director of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment and co-author of the study, which researchers call the most comprehensive analysis on the tradeoff between carbon storage and crop production. Researchers suggest a better alternative to clearing new cropland is more efficient use of existing farmland.’
www.guardian.co.uk 24th October 2010
In further attempts to cut the nation’s deficit, the government is due to announce the sale of more than 150,000 hectares of forest owned by the state to private organisations or individuals over the next three years. The move will be the UK’s greatest change of land ownership since the second world war. Environmentalists and opposition parties have warned of an environmental disaster though unless stringent protective measures are put in place. The sale of the land would raise around £250million for the government at present day prices but many people are concerned that it will be bought up by industrial companies with little concern for the environment. “This would enable industrial landowners to…aggressively control the market”, said Mike Seville, forestry and woodland advisor for the Country Landowners’ Association. Attempts to privatise the Forestry Commission occurred under both Thatcher and Major in the 1980s and 90s but failed due to intense pressure from conservationist groups and lack of industry interest. With higher land values today though, this may change.
‘A government economic study released earlier this year calculated that (woodland) provides £2,100 in value per hectare per year in benefits such as erosion protection, pollution absorption, carbon sequestration, health provision are included.’
www.guardian.co.uk 22nd October 2010
An article written in the Guardian newspaper has drawn angry criticism from the people it was written about. On the 5th October, veteran journalist John Vidal wrote a piece on the state of the Chaco forests in Paraguay and the role local Mennonite groups and Brazilian ranchers played in the deforestation. The defining statistic in the article was that in the past 4 years, 10% (or 1 million hectares) of the forest has been destroyed to make way for intensive farming practices. Following the publication of Mr. Vidal’s piece online, angry retorts were printed in local newspapers in Paraguay claiming the article was unfair and unfounded. Read the heated debate on the link above and the original article here.
www.bbc.co.uk 14th October 2010
Colombia’s mountain plains and Andean forests are under threat from agricultural expansion and chemical pollution. 400,000 hectares of woodland habitat are cut down per year by farming settlers as the region, previously too dangerous to cultivate due to the presence of FARC rebels, is pacified by the Colombian government. There is now very little of the Andes forest separating the mountain steppe, home to a fair few rare species, and the cultivated plains below. Conservationists fear that due to the lack of trees, the soil will lose its stability and dessication will set in over the coming decades. However, protection for the fragile environment may come from an unlikely source. A large conservation project is under way funded mostly by Bavaria, Colombia’s largest drinks company and a subsidiary of the mulitnational company SABMiller. The reason is simple. Bavaria needs clean water for its beer and the agriculture of the region is polluting the local water courses with fertilisers and pesticides. In exchange for education in more effective farming methods, the farmers give up a portion of their land bordering waterways so that native species can thrive again. Although some opponents to the scheme state that the farmers economic welfare is more important than species biodiversity and prosperity, Director of Nature Conservancy in Colombia Jose Yunis retorted that the farmers benefit also. Better farming methods increase the richness of the soil and produce more from less land. Also, planting trees prevents the soil from drying out and makes agriculture in the region more sustainable.
www.wwf.org.uk 12th October 2010
The WWF have captured camera footage of bulldozers destroying tiger habitats in Indonesia. The camera trap was installed in the Riau province of the country and shows the illegal destruction of the Bukit Betabuh forests. The area is protected but the expansion of palm oil plantations has seriously hampered conservation efforts. See the footage here.
www.guardian.co.uk 5th October 2010
A fundamentalist Christian prevalent across much of Latin America has, with the help of Brazilian ranchers, managed to deforest a tenth of Paraguay’s Chaco forest, the second largest body of woodland outside of the Amazon, in just four years. Worldwide food shortages and rock-bottom land prices in the country have meant that the forest has been felled at a worryingly fast pace in order to produce prairie style grassland for the lucrative cattle industry. The dry woodland, found in northern Paraguay, is the known home to 3,400 plant species, 500 bird species, 150 species of mammals (including jaguars and pumas), 120 species of reptiles, and 100 species of amphibians making it one of the most diverse in the world. A team of 60 scientists from the Natural History Museum in London is due to carry out research in the area this November and they expect to find several hundred more species. The Chaco Forest is also home to 20,000 Indians who had no contact with Western society until the 1930s when a fundamentalist Christian group called the Mennonites, mostly formed of Russian and Eastern European people fleeing Communist persecution, were given remote areas of land to farm. The group continue to this day and are responsible for a large amount of the deforestation in the region. Booming land prices from $10 a hectare to $200 in just a few years however have made the sect, which includes the Amish of Pennsylvania, very wealthy indeed. Together the Mennonites and the Brazilian ranchers own as much as 5 million hectares according to the Paraguayan government. But with aggressive expansion by both groups this figure is likely to increase. This news is in stark contrast to that of Brazil where the government has stated that deforestation of the Amazon has come to a halt.
The Chaco forest has a history of being able to repel human invaders however. The Spanish conquistadores of the 16th century found the climate, the woodland, and the indigenous tribes of the region impenetrable and left it largely alone. A Bolivian invasion in 1932 also saw a foreign army defeated by the heat and lack of water.
e360.yale.edu 29th September 2010
Quoted from source:
‘Canada’s boreal forest stretches from British Columbia to Newfoundland, covering 2.2 million square miles, an area nearly 60 percent the size of the United States. Much of that forest is intact, making it — along with Russia’s northern forest and portions of the Amazon — one of three great tracts of forest on the globe. In recent years, however, industrial activity, including Alberta’s massive tar sands mines, has been nibbling away at the Canadian boreal forest. In an effort to preserve it, nine environmental groups and 21 forest products companies have signed the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, which calls for a suspension of logging on 70 million acres of boreal forest and the introduction of improved logging practices on an additional 106 million acres. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Steven Kallick, director of the Pew Environmental Group’s International Boreal Conservation Campaign, which brokered the accord, explains that it is part of a much larger effort to fully protect 50 percent of Canada’s boreal forest from industrial development.’
Read the full interview here.
www.guardian.co.uk 20th September 2010
The Coalition government of the UK has gone back on its promises to make it a criminal offense to possess or import illegally felled timber. The Foreign Secretary William Hague promised to pass the legislation after a similar bill was brought into action in the USA in November last year. He even went as far s to criticise the Environment Secretary at the time, Labour’s Hilary Benn, for not promising the same. However, Jim Paice, Minister for Agriculture and Food, has told Green Party MP Caroline Lucas that no such action is forthcoming and the UK would stay in line with EU directives on the matter and no more. He called any further action by the UK “duplicative” and added that “in these difficult financial times, we need to focus on the principles of better regulation”. Campaigners believe that that such legislation is necessary to curb the 350-650 million square metres of forest felled annually for the illegal timber trade.
This is the second coalition turnaround on Green issues. Promises were also made to extend energy subsides for people who erected solar panels. Instead, the Climate and Energy Secretary Chris Huhne stated the plan would not go ahead and those that had erected green energy alternatives should be content with the “warm glow of being pioneers”.
Sources: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment 10th September 2010
British photojournalist Toby Smith has used his camera to raise awareness of the plight of Madagascan rainforests. Along with undercover environmental groups, Mr. Smith documented the extent of illegal logging in the forests of Atsinanana, which is now on UNESCO’s list of world heritage in danger. The resulting photographs (some of which can be seen with commentary on the Guardian’s website) are proving useful to incriminate violators of international logging treaties. The US Environmental Investigation Agency are using the evidence to tackle the problem in the USA and have lately seized documents from guitar maker Gibson is suspicion that the company used illegal exported rosewood from Madagascar.
Sources: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment 14th May 2007
People often underestimate the importance of the world’s forest in cooling our planet down. However, with an area of trees comparable to the combined size of England, Wales, and Scotland being felled annually (c. 50 million acres) causing 2 billion tons of CO2 to enter the atmosphere, deforestation is the second largest contributor to climate change after the energy sector. Only 14% of CO2 emissions are caused by the transport industry (3% attributable to aviation) compared to the 25% of destroying the world’s rainforests. Scaled down, the statistics mean that a day’s deforestation is equivalent to 8 million people flying from the UK to New York. To halt such heavy emissions is simple: halt deforestation in Brazil, the Congo, Indonesia and elsewhere. The figures were highlighted by the Global Canopy Program, a Oxford-based alliance of leading scientific scientists.
With Developed Countries focusing more on improved technology to combat their own carbon emissions there is little incentive for Developing Countries to stop deforestation. Papua New Guinea, for example, one of the world’s poorest nations, stated in 2006 that it cannot stop cutting down its forests unless it is given financial incentive not to. Furthermore, international demand for intensive agriculture, logging, and ranching has created a greater demand for land. Up to now conservation cannot stand up to commerce. With 50% of the world’s species living in rainforests that only take up 7% of the world’s landmass, any further loss would be devastating. They forests also generate a bulk of the world’s rainfall and act as a cooling mechanism for the atmosphere. Developed nations have just not woken up to their plight yet.