Category Archives: Forests

California ecological collapse on the fast track

It is said that the name “California” came from the Spanish after a Greek adopted legend about an island fortress populated by “beautiful Amazon women warriors whom were gifted in the use of golden tools and weapons.”  Early European “explorers” described the place as having fog shrouded and rugged coastlines, vast mountains, deep valleys, desserts, and lakes. They dreamed and schemed about how to conquer the wilderness. Invasion and colonization of the west coast of the United States by Europeans began in earnest about 500 years ago. They did not know or care that they were preceded by at least 250 generations of people who were there first. People that had lived in relative harmony with the natural world and each other–Karok, Maidu, Cahuilleno, Mohave, Yo Semite, Paiute,  Tule–were now put under the colonial guns. The wilderness that supported all life was on the road to evisceration.

The Mother of the Forest, -Mother Tree of Calaveras County- Cut down for lumber 1902.  Height 300 plus feet. circumference 78 feet, bark off. Photo C.L. Pond, Buffalo, New York circa 1870-1880)

The Mother of the Forest, Mother Tree of Calaveras County, cut down for lumber 1902. Height 300+’. Circumference 78 feet, bark off. Photo C.L. Pond, Buffalo, New York (circa 1870-1880)

There was once a vast waterbody, Lake Tulare, located in the Central Valley. It was the largest freshwater lake in North America outside of the Great Lakes. At one point, pre-contact with Europeans, it is thought that 70,000 human beings lived along this beautiful productive lake. Around this lake and stretching to the coast, vast groves of Giant Sequoia and Coastal Redwoods stood as sentinels that helped to balance the atmosphere and the ecosystem in ways that we are only just learning about in 2014.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Forests, Indigenous Peoples

Farmers in the Philippines band together against palm oil plantations

Indigenous peoples and small farmers in the Philippines created a new alliance, the Coalition Against Land Grabbing (CALG), in order to prevent palm oil plantation expansion in the province of Palawan. According to a post on farmlandgrab.org, CALG nabbed more than 4,000 signatures demanding a halt on the plantations, which are ripping apart the native forests.

Oil palm plantations have taken over land that the Palawan used to grow coconuts. Photo: ALDAW

Oil palm plantations have taken over land that the Palawan used to grow coconuts. Photo: ALDAW

Like many land grab situations, the palm oil plantations tear through local forests and land with little to no concern for the ecosystem or the people who rely on those forests for their livelihoods. Fed up, the Palawan people have solidified their stance just in time — nearly 20,000 hectares are set to be wiped out for future palm oil plantations, a large source for biofuels.

Tribes and farmers unite to end oil palm expansion in Philippines
By farmlandgrab.org, 22 October 2014

[...]

Palawan, which is often referred to as “the Philippines’ last ecological frontier”, is a biosphere reserve and home to tribal peoples such as the Palawan, Batak and Tagbanua, who rely on their forests for food, medicines and for building their houses.

[...]

“To find medicinal plants we must walk more than half day to reach the other side of the mountain range,” said a tribal Palawan man. “Because of the far distance we must leave our young children at home, so they do not learn the name and uses of these plants. The old knowledge is being lost.”

The plantations have brought hardship to the local communities. Rates of poverty and malnutrition are rising fastest in the area with the largest amount of land converted to oil palm production. Indigenous community organiser, John Mart Salunday called the oil palm project a complete “fiasco” in terms of poverty eradication.

Read the full article here.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biofuelwatch, Forests, Indigenous Peoples, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Palm Oil

Colorado Biomass = Clearcut=False Solutions to Climate Change

It is difficult to imagine that in 2014 we are still facing clearcut  strategies for our rapidly disappearing forested lands. Biomass is certainly a false solution to climate change. From the Summit County Colorado Summit Daily

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Is biomass all its cut up to be? 

Howard Brown    17 October 2014    Summit Daily

One possible reason for sticking to the ill-advised Ophir Mountain and other clear-cutting plans is that the clear-cut trees would go to the biomass power plant in Gypsum. Biomass power is renewable energy. It wouldn’t justify destroying Summit County’s wonderful forests and trails, but biomass is green energy right? Maybe not.

Is biomass power a good renewable energy source that we should promote here in Colorado? To answer this, we need to back up and look at where biomass energy comes from. As with most of our energy sources, it starts with energy from the sun. In photosynthesis, plants use solar energy to convert water and carbon dioxide to carbohydrates. Energy is stored in the carbon-hydrogen bonds. (Geologic pressure over time strips the oxygen from plant material to create hydrocarbon fossil fuels.) When animals metabolize carbohydrates, or when plant or fossil fuel material combusts (burns), that energy is released as oxygen combined with the material, returning to the lower-energy carbon-oxygen and hydrogen-oxygen bonds of carbon dioxide and water.

The problem with fuels such as coal and wood is that they are solids. The combustion process requires direct contact between oxygen molecules and molecules of the fuel. For gaseous fuels such as natural gas, that is very easy, individual oxygen molecules readily mix directly with individual methane molecules. For liquid fuels such as petroleum products, vegetable oil or ethanol, that mixing is more difficult and the resulting combustion less efficient. With solid fuels, however, it is exceedingly difficult for individual oxygen molecules to contact individual fuel molecules, so the combustion process is incomplete and far less efficient.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Biofuelwatch, Climate Change, Energy, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Uncategorized

Two stories of committed environmental journalists who lost their lives in Mexico and Cambodia, and one story of others who risked theirs in Brazil

Illegal Logging in Para State, Brazil. Photo by: © Greenpeace via mongabay.com

Illegal Logging in Para State, Brazil. Photo by: © Greenpeace via mongabay.com

Sometimes, there’s a few related stories to share in the morning. For example, there’s two important related stories today from the WW4 Report about committed environmental journalists who lost their lives:

Cambodia: reporter slain documenting illegal logging

and

Mexico: dam opponent slain during radio broadcast

For the second one, it’s important to note that it was during his radio show, which he did alongside his organizing work against a dam.

Finally, here’s a story of local activists who risked their lives to get out the story of illegal logging in Brazil. They courageously attached GPS monitoring to the trucks of illegal loggers to document the operations that happen in the middle of the night. They collaborated with Greenpeace, and were able to use hi-tech surveillance to not only document the illegal logging but to prove that loggers falsify records.

Daring activists use high-tech to track illegal logging trucks in the Brazilian Amazon

By Jeremy Hance, Mongabay.com. October 15, 2014

Every night empty trucks disappear into the Brazilian Amazon, they return laden with timber. This timber —illegally cut —makes its way to sawmills that sell it abroad to places like the U.S., Europe, China, and Japan using fraudulent paperwork to export the ill-gotten gains as legit. These findings are the result of a daring and dangerous investigation by Greenpeace-Brazil that had activists hanging out with truckers and illegal loggers, all the while surreptitiously tagging trucks with GPS locator beacons. The high-tech equipment allowed the organization to track where the logging trucks went.

Read the whole story by Jeremy Hance here!

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Filed under Forests, Illegal logging, Media

What wood are you burning? Try some from the U.S. National Forests

The latest info from the U.S. Forest Service is nothing short of terrifying. According to an article on Earth Island Journal, the U.S. government is considering ripping through national forests for biofuels. The propaganda on this pillage concludes that forests are overgrown fire hazards and that a “burn the forest before it burns you” policy would not only help prevent fires, but also eliminate climate change.

1,600 acres of White River National Forest are being clear-cut. All of the trees are fueling the Eagle Valley Clean Energy biomass facility. Photo: Josh Schlossberg

1,600 acres of White River National Forest are being clear-cut. All of the trees are fueling the Eagle Valley Clean Energy biomass facility. Photo: Josh Schlossberg

So, for the U.S. Forest Service, here is an FYI: The number of trees and bugs in an area has nothing to do with causing forest fires. Wildfires are brought on by human action, drought and rising temperatures, which will all INCREASE if we tear down more forests.

Will National Forests Be Sacrificed to the Biomass Industry?
BY JOSH SCHLOSSBERG, Earth Island Journal, OCTOBER 15, 2014

The US Forest Service wants to sell our forests for fuel in the name of wildfire reduction
If we’re to believe the biomass energy industry, the US Forest Service, and a chorus of politicians from both sides of the aisle, we can solve the energy crisis, cure climate change, and eradicate wildfire by logging and chipping our national forests and burning them up in biomass power facilities.

The plotline of their story goes something like this: Years of taxpayer-funded logging and fire suppression in federal forests (at the behest of the timber industry) has resulted in “overgrown” forests crawling with icky bugs, ticking time bombs ready to burst into flames. And the fix, it just so happens, involves even more taxpayer-funded logging and fire suppression, with the trees forked over to the biomass industry to burn in their incinerators and then the “green” electricity sold to utilities and eventually the public — at a premium.

Read the full article here.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Biofuelwatch, Climate Change, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change

Olympic ski course threatens ancient mountain forest in South Korea

The track record of the Olympics for bringing misery and destruction continues. Global Justice Ecology Project is the North American Focal Point for the Global Forest Coalition.

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The new slope will be built on part of Mount Gariwang but will require a number of trees and forestry to be cut down causing an outcry from many environmental groups in South Korea ©Pyeongchang 2018 from inside the games http://www.insidethegames.biz/olympics/winter-olympics/2018/1020140-environmentalist-oppose-plans-by-pyeongchang-2018-for-new-ski-slope-on-mt-gariwang

PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA, 16 October 2014 - Friends of the Earth International campaigners are standing with Korean environmentalists in opposition to the construction of a ski course for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang province, South Korea.

The Olympic ski course is under construction at Mount Gariwang, a protected area, which is covered by an ancient forest that harbours unique species, including the rare Yew tree, the Wangsasre tree, which is only found on the Korean Peninsula, and possibly the oldest oak in South Korea.

A delegation of Friends of the Earth International and the Global Forest Coalition joined members of the Korea Civil Network on the CBD, the Korea Federation for Environmental Movement / Friends of the Earth South Korea, and local communities on a visit to the site, on the occasion of the XII Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which is hosted by South Korea this week.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Forests, Land Grabs, Uncategorized

World Rainforest Movement on GE Trees at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity Right Now

Information below from the World Rainforest Movement regarding the ongoing UN Convention on Biological Diversity COP 12 in South Korea and the controversy stirring there around the Brazilian Biosafety Commission (CTNBio)’s consideration of a request to commercialize GE eucalyptus trees in the country.

Timber corporation Suzano and their subsidiary Futuragene made this request to CTNBio earlier this year. Any such approval would blatantly violate the CBD COP-9 decision that called on all signatories to the CBD (including Brazil) to adhere to the Precautionary Approach regarding GE trees [in other words don't approve them unless they have been proven safe--which they have not, not even close!]

Please read more on the issues below.

The 12th Conference of the Parties (COP 12) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is taking place in South Korea.

There are several issues being addressed by the COP 12 such as biodiversity and ecosystems conservation, invasive species, synthetic biology, benefit sharing from access to genetic resources, biofuels and many others. If you wish to learn more about the discussions taking place and why they are relevant, we would like to invite you to visit the CBD Alliance web site (http://www.cbdalliance.org) where you will be able to read about what is at stake at the COP 12. The CBD Alliance, a group of civil society actors that critically monitor and seek to influence and inform about the CBD, has identified key issues that will be debated at the CBD.

One such issue has to do with Genetically Modified Trees, also called Genetically Engineered (GE) or transgenic trees. During a previous CBD meeting (COP 9) a decision was adopted (IX/5) calling for application of the precautionary approach regarding transgenic trees. It urges parties to strictly apply the precautionary approach and not to authorise the environmental release of GE trees until research can show that any possible negative impact can be ruled out, including impacts on the livelihoods of indigenous peoples and local communities. This international CBD decision has to be followed up and implemented at the national level. Further reading at: http://www.cbdalliance.org/en/images/COP12/Briefing_notesCOP12/Briefing_on_GE_Trees.pdf

However, in countries like Brazil and USA (whose government has never ratified the CDB), corporations have submitted applications to request the commercial release of GE Trees. Indigenous Peoples, civil society organizations and social movements in both countries are raising alarms and urge their governments not to approve those requests, amongst others on the grounds of the CBD decision. Worldwide, several groups are involved in a campaign to Stop GE Trees (see stopgetrees.org).

If you wish to read the letter sent to Brazilian authorities urging them not to authorise the request by a company involved in industrial tree plantations please visit: http://wrm.org.uy/all-campaigns/open-letter-to-be-sent-to-the-brazilian-national-technical-biosafety-commission-ctnbio/

In the USA the Indigenous Environmental Network and Eastern Band of Cherokee community members organized a gathering of Indigenous Peoples from across the Southeastern US for an historic Indigenous Peoples’ action camp against genetically engineered trees (GE trees). Participants condemned GE trees as a form of colonization of the forest. You can read further at:
http://stopgetrees.org/indigenous-peoples-unite-stop-genetically-engineered-trees/

Finally, for those who would like to know what is happening in relation to GE Tree research in countries around the world, we invite you to read the updated WRM publication called: “GE Trees Research. A Country by Country Overview”. It includes information on whether there is research on GE Trees taking place or not in the countries included in the overview, which tree species are being engineered, for which purposes, who is behind the research and what are the risk for the environment and the communities whose livelihoods depend on it. The publication is available at : http://wrm.org.uy/books-and-briefings/ge-tree-research-a-country-by-country-overview/

We hope you find this information useful. Please let us know if you have any question.

The WRM Team


www.wrm.org.uy

 

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Filed under Biodiversity, Campaign to STOP GE Trees, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, UN, Uncategorized

Rachel Smolker on IEN’s Indigenous Peoples’ Action Camp to Stop GE Trees

Frank Billie of the Seminole Tribe from Florida. Photo by Photolangelle.

Frank Billie of the Seminole Tribe from Florida. Photo by Photolangelle.

As we reported yesterday, the Indigenous Environmental Network and Eastern Band of Cherokee community members organized a gathering of Indigenous Peoples from across the Southeastern US last week for an historic Indigenous Peoples’ action camp against genetically engineered trees (GE trees).

Participants condemned GE trees as a form of colonization of the forest.

Rachel Smolker, co-director of Biofuelwatch, participated in the action camp as a member of the steering committee of the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees.

In her blog for the Huffington Post, Smolker provides a compelling account of the purpose for the action camp and the ideas coming out of it.

Rachel SmolkerColumbus Day and the Colonization of Land, Trees and Genes

By Rachel Smolker, Huffington Post Tech Blog, October 13, 2014.

I spent the past several days participating in the Indigenous Environmental Network Campaign to Stop GE Trees Action Camp in the Qualla Boundary, homelands of the Eastern Band Cherokee in North Carolina. Participants included members of tribes across the Southeast, who came to learn about plans for growing genetically engineered trees on and/or adjacent to their territories.

On Columbus Day we can sadly reflect on the brutal history of colonization that American Indians faced when Europeans “discovered” and then claimed their lands. Now, centuries later, the ongoing colonization process threatens to colonize not only their lands, but even the genetics of the trees in their forests that are central to their history and livelihoods.

Read the whole essay here.

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Biofuelwatch, Events, Forests, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Indigenous Peoples