Category Archives: Forests

BREAKING: Industry hype and misdirected science undercuts real energy and climate solutions

Note: In response to a recent media frenzy about poplars genetically engineered to create biofuels and “greener” paper, Global Justice Ecology Project, Biofuelwatch, Center for Food Safety and Canadian Biotechnology Action Network issued the following statement today.

To sign GJEP’s petition calling for a global ban on GE trees, click here.

-The GJEP Team

April 9, 2014. 

poplar

Scientists and environmentalists today condemned a recent press release by researchers at the University of British Columbia announcing they have created genetically engineered (GE) poplar trees for paper and biofuel production, opening the prospect of growing these GE trees like an agricultural crop in the future.

The poplars were genetically engineered for altered lignin composition to supposedly make them easier to process into paper and biofuels. Groups, however, warn that manipulation of lignin, and the potential contamination of wild poplars with that trait, could be extremely dangerous.

Lignin is a key structural component of plant cell walls and a major component of soils.  It is also the product of millions of years of natural selection favoring sturdy, healthy and resilient plants. GE poplars with altered lignin could have devastating effects on forests, ecosystems, human communities and biodiversity.

Poplars include at least 30 species, are widespread throughout the Northern Hemisphere and have a high potential for genetic dispersal.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, BREAKING NEWS, Climate Change, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering

Tasmanian forests set for logging as Liberals push ahead with repeal

Note: Developments like this make it clear that our movements must move beyond defensive struggles towards functionally disabling the industrial capitalist system that’s driving destruction in the first place.

-The GJEP Team

April 8, 2014. Source: Associated Press

The Hobart government says logging will revive 'jobs and communities'. Photograph: George Apostolidis/AP

The Hobart government says logging will revive ‘jobs and communities’. Photograph: George Apostolidis/AP

Hundreds of thousands of hectares of Tasmanian forest have been earmarked for logging after the newly elected state government pushed ahead with the repeal of a historic forestry deal.

The state government has unveiled its plans for undoing the Tasmanian Forestry Agreement – a deal reached in 2011 by industry groups and conservationists.

About 400,000 hectares of forest set aside in the agreement as potential reserves will be reclassified as “future potential production forest”.

However, there will be no logging in these zones for at least six years as the timber industry is rebuilt. Continue reading

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Defending the earth in Argentina: From direct action to autonomy

By Marina Sitrin, April 6, 2014. Source: Tidal

argentina1While corporations continue to land grab, exploit and privatize the little we still hold in common – people around the globe have been rising up. Women are preventing dams from being built in India; indigenous are Idle No More, defending the earth; entire town and villages have organized to prevent airports, roads and mines from being developed in France, Italy and Greece; thousands in the US have used their bodies to block the construction of pipelines intended for fracking; and throughout the Americas there are struggles everywhere against mining and the exploitation of land and water. Not only are people fighting back – but in many places, such as the one in Corrientes, Argentina described below, people are creating horizontal and self organized ways of being in the space of the resistance. Not only are people collectively shouting  No! and using direct action en mass to prevent the destruction of the earth, but together they are finding ways to autonomously recreate their relationships with one another, to work and with the land.

The below conversation is with Emilio Spataro, an organizer in Corrientes, who has been active in various movements in Argentina since his teen years. He was a part of the popular rebellion in December of 2001 and the subsequent neighborhood assemblies, building occupations and horizontal self organized projects. Since 2009 he has been living in Corrientes, collaborating with territorially based movements. He is currently on tour in the US with another movement participant from Guardians of Iberá (salvemosalibera.org). One of the targets of their most recent campaign is Harvard University. Harvard owns massive timber plantations in Corrientes and the movements together with students, faculty and staff at Harvard have been organizing to hold them accountable.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Corporate Globalization, Forests, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, Politics, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Solutions

IPCC report proposes sucking carbon out of the air as climate fix

By Martin Lukacs, April 7, 2014. Source: The Guardian

A biomass plant in Metz, eastern France. A UN report has suggested burning biomass then pumping the released carbon underground could provide a fix for climate change. Photograph: Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP/Getty Images

A biomass plant in Metz, eastern France. A UN report has suggested burning biomass then pumping the released carbon underground could provide a fix for climate change. Photograph: Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP/Getty Images

An upcoming UN report suggests that unproven technologies to suck carbon out of the air might be a fix for climate change, according to a leaked draft obtained by the Guardian.

Scientists and government officials gather in Berlin this week ahead of Sunday’s publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s third part of its series of blockbuster climate change reports, which deals with policies addressing the emissions that drive global warming.

But environmentalists criticised the report’s inclusion of a controversial new technique that would involve burning biomass – trees, plant waste, or woodchips – to generate electricity, and then capturing the released carbon, pumping it into geological reservoirs underground.

Proponents of the technique – known as bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) – suggest that regrown trees and crops might sequester additional carbon, making the technology “negative emission” because it might reduce the overall amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Continue reading

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Geoengineering, Green Economy, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Women leading resistance to eucalyptus plantations in Brazil

Note: In the US, South Carolina-based ArborGen is awaiting a decision from the US Department of Agriculture to sell billions of genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees annually for planting across the southeast US.  The approval of this invasive, water thirsty and highly flammable tree species would be devastating for the southeast, a region expected to see more and more drought due to climate change.

Sign the petition demanding an immediate ban on the release of GE trees here: http://globaljusticeecology.org/petition.php

-The GJEP Team

Protestors denounce pact to transform rural region of Brazil into a “eucalyptus desert

March 2014. Source: MST via World Rainforest Movement

Photo: WRM

Photo: WRM

On March 8, 2014, peasant farmers from organizations including the MPA, MST, MMC, Quilombolas, the Union of Rural Workers of Mucuri and Montanha and Fetaes, along with youth activists and other social movements, took to the streets of Montanha, in the state of Espírito Santo, Brazil, to denounce the pact between large landholders, the public administration and multinational corporations like Fibria (formerly Aracruz Celulose) to transform the region into an “enormous desert of eucalyptus”. During the political rally held in the town’s central square, some 1,000 women handed out eucalyptus outside the town hall and the headquarters of public offices as a form of protest. The participants in the rally also paid tribute to fellow peasant farmers Saturnino Ribeiro and Valdício Barbosa, who lost their lives in the struggle for land in this region. After a march, two truckloads of food were distributed to neighbourhoods on the periphery of Montanha.

The main themes of the protest were: Agribusiness is the strategy used by patriarchal capitalism in the countryside! We must denounce it and unite in struggle! Stop violence against women! Agrarian reform is the only viable way to produce healthy food for workers!

Observations on eucalyptus and women in Mato Grosso do Sul

By Mieceslau Kudlavicz, March 2014. Source: World Rainforest Movement

“It is the rural women’s movements that have been at the forefront of massive public actions aimed at fighting back against the big corporations in the agri-food sector (pharmaceutical laboratories that produce transgenic seeds and toxic agrochemicals) and defending biodiversity.” (SILIPRANDI, 2013, p. 239)

Numerous events reflect the growing protagonism of women in the economy and, more recently, in political debate. In Brazil, one of the most visible examples of this political struggle was the action undertaken by the Peasant Women’s Movement (MMC), a member organization of La Via Campesina, in 2006, when close to 2,000 women occupied the Aracruz Celulose eucalyptus seedling production laboratories in Rio Grande do Sul. The aim of this action was to denounce the expansion of the “green desert” created by industrial eucalyptus plantations and the resulting expulsion of peasant communities. It was an act in defence of peasant agriculture as a promoter of biodiversity and foundation of food sovereignty. In this way, these women defended seeds for life, in the sense that “seeds are the beginning and the end of peasant farming production cycles. They are a collective creation that reflects the history of peoples and their women, who have always been their creators and the ones primarily responsible for their protection and improvement” (Martins; Stedile, 2011). Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Women

Biomass expansion project scrapped in Washington state

By Paul Gottlieb, April 4, 2014. Source: Peninsula Daily News

Port Townsend Paper is scrapping plans for a $54 million project to improve the mill’s biomass cogeneration plant. Photo: Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

Port Townsend Paper is scrapping plans for a $54 million project to improve the mill’s biomass cogeneration plant. Photo: Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Port Townsend Paper Corp. has abandoned a much-disputed $54 million project that would have upgraded the mill’s biomass cogeneration plant.

Company President Roger Hagan told the Peninsula Daily News on Wednesday that the company’s construction permit will not be extended beyond the 18-month June deadline for the improvements.

“It’s not a financially viable project,” said Hagan, who took over at the mill May 1, succeeding Roger Loney.

“It is not our intention to proceed with the project or ask for another extension.”

He attributed the decision to environmental challenges that delayed the project, an overwhelmingly strong market for cheap natural gas compared with biomass and the expiration of federal tax-credit incentive programs despite a $2 million state grant for the project that the company received in 2009. Continue reading

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Women’s roles, rights and responsibility in natural resources: Some reflections from Mekong Region

By Premrudee Daoroung, March 2014. Source: TERRA

Photo: WRM

Photo: WRM

In Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar it remains common until today that the wife will be the one who ‘owns’ the land of the paddy or upland rice fields. . Women therefore can be the ones fully responsible for maintaining those resources for the next generations.

To explain the rights and role in natural resources of women in Southeast Asia can be complex. In Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar – where groups identified as ‘Tai’ ethnic and also other many ethnics live closely with natural resources in their subsistence agriculture livelihood – we often learn that women are playing key roles in owning land, for example. It is part of a culture where men move in to a woman’s family after they married, and help in the rice field of their in-laws, before the woman’s family gives some land to them. It remains common until today that the wife will be the one who ‘owns’ the land of the paddy or upland rice fields, whether the land is with formal land certification or not. The husband or men in the family in many communities accept the fact that the women are the ones who own the property of the family. Women therefore can be the ones fully responsible for maintaining those resources for the next generations. Continue reading

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Filed under Biodiversity, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Indigenous Peoples, Water, Women

GMO tree plan grows controversy in Espanola, New Mexico

By Mark Oswald, Friday, March 28, 2014. Source: Albuquerque Journal

poplar

A genetically engineered version of the white poplar tree would be used to produce a rose oil product in Espanola under a proposal by Ealasid Inc.

Who knew that rose oil, or at least a major component of rose oil, could be the next big agricultural product in the Espanola Valley?

A scientist from Washington State University wants to plant genetically engineered poplar trees along the Rio Grande on the north side of Española that will produce 2-phenylethanol, which provides the sweet scent of roses.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture

Biomass plans scrapped in Scotland, good news for forests and communities

March 27, 2014. Source: Biofuelwatch

Activists drop a banner and lockdown at Forth Energy's offices in 2012. Photo: bioenergyaction.com

Activists drop a banner and lockdown at Forth Energy’s offices in 2012. Photo: bioenergyaction.com

Forth Energy, formerly a joint venture between Forth Ports and SSE, have confirmed that they are dropping plans to build their consented 100 MWe biomass power stations in Grangemouth and Rosyth, as well as withdrawing plans for a similar plant in Dundee.  Campaigners and community members have expressed their joy at hearing the announcement. Whilst Forth Energy will now be looking to sell their consents at Grangemouth and Rosyth on to other developers, campaigners are warning that any new attempts to revive the plans will be fiercely opposed.

Walter Inglis, formerly Chairperson of Grangemouth Community Council said: “This is certainly good news for us in Grangemouth, as it casts even more doubt on these plans. After having opposed Forth Energy’s plans for so long it’s great to see them walking away. However, the consent remains in place so we’ll be watching closely to make sure no other developers try to take it on.”

Andrew Llanwarne, Co-ordinator of Friends of the Earth Tayside, welcomed the announcement. “This removes a dark shadow which has been hanging over Dundee for the past four years and it’s great news for all who campaigned against the project. It would have been highly inefficient as a means of producing electricity and required enormous Government subsidies of about £1m each year for every job – there must be better ways to create much-needed employment in Dundee.

It would have added to Dundee’s existing problems of air pollution and had a negative visual impact on the waterfront, as Dundee Councillors decided last June. But it would also have made a major contribution to carbon emissions which are disrupting our climate, and had devastating effects on communities and biodiversity in other countries.”
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Greenwashing

Arnold Schwarzenegger ‘linked to destructive logging companies’

Note: As noted below, Schwarzenegger has been a leading proponent of the so-called “green economy”, a proposal which would advance mega-projects and the privatization of natural resources in the Global South under the guise of environmental conservation and climate defense.

Schwarzenegger’s investment ties to conflict, forest destruction, and human rights abuses must be seen as the norm, and not the exception, for this emerging “green economy”, as many nation-states fail to recognize the land and resource rights of peasant and Indigenous communities directly impacted by investment-driven projects.

-The GJEP Team

By Suzanne Goldenberg, March 25, 2014. Source: The Guardian

Former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks during the opening ceremony of a conference on the green economy. Photograph: Louafi Larbi/Reuters

Former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks during the opening ceremony of a conference on the green economy. Photograph: Louafi Larbi/Reuters

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the one-time action hero fronting a blockbuster TV special on climate change next month, has financial ties to some of the world’s most destructive logging companies, an investigation group found on Tuesday.

The former governor and climate champion is a part owner of an investment company, Dimensional Fund Advisers, with significant holdings in tropical forestry companies.

A number of those forestry companies were implicated in highly destructive and illegal logging which has destroyed rainforest and critical orangutan habitat in Borneo, and fuelled conflict and arms trafficking in Liberia, the investigators from Global Witness said.

The group, whose founder won this year’s $1 million TED prize for its campaigns, said the holdings were at odds with Schwarzenegger’s public image as a climate champion. Tropical forests are an important store of carbon that would otherwise accelerate climate change.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Forests, Green Economy, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests