Category Archives: Forests

Another take on the UN Climate Summit Declaration on Forests

There’s been much in the news about the Declaration of Forests out of the UN Climate Summit. In this essay, Chris Lang of the REDD Monitor echoes criticisms made by GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann about the lack of anything binding in the declaration. Lang adds to this criticism an interesting account of its process and further close reading of the declaration itself. Really useful and important work!

The New York Declaration on Forests: An agreement to continue deforestation until 2030
By Chris Lang, REDD-Monitor.org. September 26, 2014

By signing the New York Declaration on Forests, which was announced this week during the UN Climate Summit, governments, companies, civil society and indigenous organisations have endorsed “a global timeline to cut natural forest loss in half by 2020, and [will] strive to end it by 2030″.

The declaration has been fêted in the media. The Independent asks “Is this the end of the ‘war on trees’?”, Treehugger describes it as an “Ambitious plan to end forest loss”, and the Guardian announces that “UN climate summit pledges to halt the loss of natural forests by 2030″.

Read the whole article here!

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Indigenous Peoples demand an end to logging in their territory in Quebec

 SOVEREIGNTY DECLARATION NEXT STEPS: THE ATIKAMEKW CHALLENGE THE FSC ACREDITATION OF FORESTRY COMPANIES

Boreal forest, Quebec.  Photolangelle.org

Boreal forest, Quebec. Photolangelle.org

Nitaskinan, Quebec – September 23, 2014 – Intended as the natural next step and logical continuation of its September 8, 2014 declaration of sovereignty, the Atikamekw (indigenous inhabitants of the upper Saint-Maurice River valley of Quebec) announced today that no future forestry operations will be permitted on its territory without the securing of its full consent.

The Atikamekw are seeking to use the auditing period currently underway for the re-registration of companies operating on Atikamekw Opitciwan territory to the Forestry Management Systems (as required by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC),) to ensure that no company currently being audited obtain a renewal of said certification without the observance of Atikamekw rights and the adequate protection of Atikamekw ancestral territory.

“We never agreed nor gave our consent to the massive exploitation of the forest resources on our territory. Should forestry companies wish to exploit the resources that belong to us by right, they are required to contact us and secure our consent, ” said Chef Christian Awashish.

This position is not without precedent, as it corresponds directly to one of the ten Principles & Criteria set out by the FSC in Canada for the obtaining and maintenance of such accreditation.

In its third Principle, the FSC stipulates that “the legal and customary rights of indigenous peoples to own, use and manage their lands, territories and resources shall be recognized and respected,”  providing for the implementation and rigorous enforcement of the international concept of “free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples” to its forest management standards. Principles six and nine require that adequate protection also be assured to certified territory, older sections of forest and certain species of wild animals. The Atikamekw Opitciwan territory has for decades endured the colossal impact of the forest industry without the protection of an adequate conservation plan.

In consequence, Chief Christian Awashish and the Opitciwan Council are calling for the suspension of FSC certification for companies currently operating on Nitaskinan, and in particular, those belonging to the following companies:

• Resolute Forest Products (Comtois and Senneterre)

  • Kruger (Gerard Crete et fils inc., St-Roch-de-Mekinac and Industries Parent inc.)

• Tembec (Senneterre)

• Gestion forestière de St-Maurice

• Barette Chapais

• Chantier Chibougamau

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international certification and labeling system dedicated to promoting environmentally responsible development, socially beneficial and economically prosperous of the world’s forests. The FSC sets standards for forest certification and offers a credible assurance to purchasers of wood and paper. The FSC offers the only forest certification system that requires the consent of local indigenous populations with the aim of protecting their rights on public and private land at the same time. FSC requirements for forest development include an entire section devoted to Aboriginal rights (Principle 3), and this principle is widely recognized and respected when it comes to indigenous rights.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Uncategorized

GE Trees + Climate Change = Social and Ecological Disaster

In addition to being the day of the People’s Climate March, today is also the International Day of Action against Monoculture Tree Plantations.  The issues of industrial tree plantations, genetically engineered trees and climate change are inextricably linked in many, many ways, and the statement below, put out by our allies at World Rainforest Movement, La Via Campesina and others, explains this.

At Ban Ki-moon’s upcoming Climate Summit, the corporate-dominated UN will try to sell tree plantations (and future GE tree plantations) as “climate smart.”  This, even though studies have proven that tree plantations both store far less carbon than native forests and accelerate destruction of those forests to make room for new plantations.

Banner photo (Plantations Are Not Forests):  Petermann/GJEP-GFC

“Plantations are not forests” Protest at the World Forestry Congress, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2009  Photo: Petermann/GJEP-GFC

21 September 201410th Anniversary of the International Day of Struggle against Monoculture Tree Plantations
Dismantle the power of transnational plantation corporations!

There is no “smart monoculture”

Ten years ago, at a meeting of 250 members of communities affected by large-scale eucalyptus plantations in Brazil, September 21st was established as the National Day against Tree Monocultures. The aim was to increase the visibility of the many peoples and communities struggling against tree monocultures, as a way of breaking the circle of silence around the numerous violations faced by the communities whose territories were surrounded by these monocultures. The day was also created in order to disseminate as widely as possible the evidence emerging from the resistance struggles about the negative social and environmental impacts of these plantations. The impacts on the lives of women in the affected communities are particularly severe. Recognizing the importance of the decision taken by the Brazilian communities, the World Rainforest Movement (WRM) decided in 2006 to make this day an International Day of Action.

This year, September 21st is also a day of mass mobilizations for Climate Justice. Thousands of people will join the People’s Climate March, while political leaders – and increasingly also corporate representatives – are meeting at the United Nations in New York City for the Climate Summit 2014, convened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. This summit represents yet another step towards the corporate takeover of the UN climate negotiations, and the privatization of land, water and air resources under the guise of a global climate pact.

The UN and other international agencies will launch the “Climate Smart Agriculture” initiated at the summit. This initiative is a new smokescreen being used to greenwash the worst practices of industrial agriculture: chemical fertilizers, industrial meat production, and genetically modified crops, such as tree plantations and other monocultures, which are being disguised as ‘climate smart’. Proponents of this dangerous false solution include the World Bank; they are seeking to turn the carbon in farmers’ fields into carbon credits, which would lead to land-grabbing and undermine real climate solutions.

The expansion of large-scale tree plantations of eucalyptus, pine, acacia, rubber and oil palm species, which may be defined as ‘climate smart’ if the proposal being discussed at the New York climate summit prospers, is furthering capital accumulation by large and often transnational corporations. Some of these corporations are Stora Enso, Arauco, APP/Sinar Mas, Bridgestone/Firestone, Wilmar, Olam and Sime Darby. Production from these large-scale monoculture plantations is for industrial and export purposes, and the rate of expansion has been devastating. The area of these plantations worldwide has increased four-fold since 1980. In the global South, eucalyptus and oil palm monocultures have experienced remarkable growth. Were it not for the widespread resistance of small farmers, indigenous peoples and rural communities in many countries, this expansion would probably have been even greater.

Transnational corporations are primarily responsible for the problems caused by plantations: land-grabbing and the seizure of common ‘resources’; destruction of biodiverse areas and their associated wildlife; the drying up and pesticide pollution of rivers, streams and springs; soil exhaustion and erosion; degrading working conditions; and the increasing financialization of nature, land and production. However, these corporations not only persist in denying and systematically concealing all these processes of social and environmental injustice; they even argue they are part of the ‘solution’ to the problems. Some of the market’s false solutions, which are really solutions beneficial primarily for financial capitalism itself, increase the injustices associated with monoculture. Among these false solutions are initiatives that legitimize corporations’ operations without requiring them to be accountable for the crimes and violations they commit.

Examples of this kind of ruse are ‘green’ certificates issued by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) the ‘forest dialogue’, initiatives where civil society and corporations forge voluntary corporate commitments, and other so-called ‘sustainable’ initiatives, like phony commitments to ‘zero deforestation’. Although such action may lead to short-term benefits for local communities in some places, they have mainly led to frustration and community division, by promising ‘compensation’ that does not fulfill people’s key demands for guaranteeing their way of life, the return and respect for their territories, and an end to the environmental injustice caused by monocultures.

These initiatives are ‘voluntary,’ that is, they are not legally binding, and therefore lack a democratic institutional framework whose main goal is to protect the rights of the people affected. In this way, these initiatives, without aiming to change the destructive logic of capital, ultimately legitimize the expansion of a production model that we call neocolonial, because it destroys ways of life, is based on environmental racism and does not question any of its fundamental premises, such as the concentration of land and production in large-scale monocultures with poisonous pesticides and degrading working conditions. Moreover, “green” and “sustainable” initiatives and commitments do not hinder big companies from further expanding their plantations and encroaching on local people’s territories.

Increasingly serious is the rise of “flex tree” monocultures, producing multiple-use trees and forest commodities that are perceived to be interchangeable (energy, wood, food, carbonsequestration, etc.). Their “flexible” nature is of major interest to financial capital, which is increasingly promoting, together with the monoculture tree plantations corporations, the speculation over the control of production and land uses. These companies continue to insist on commercial uses of transgenic trees, as well as other uses of wood for energy purposes, and on selling ‘environmental services’ such as carbon. These are all false solutions to the environmental and climate crisis confronting human societies today, and they ultimately exacerbate injustice, hunger and poverty. Monocultures and transgenic crops are not smart; they are one more tool of ‘green’ capitalism to grab peoples’ lands, undermining those who are building real solutions to the social, environmental and climate crisis.

To confront the impact of the big corporations and the expansion of plantations, we must continue to push for the transformation of this model of production and to fight the neoliberal policies that favour big capital. An important step is for us to join forces in the framework of the “Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power”, in order to build and strengthen instruments to put a stop to the architecture of impunity and legitimation that corporations enjoy today.

The starting point of the Campaign is the struggle of communities resisting the invasion of their territories by transnational corporations, or their fight to expel transnational corporations from their territories. It affirms the right of peoples to freely determine their own way of life. Agrarian reform and the demarcation of indigenous peoples’ territories and those of other traditional and small farmer populations all over the world are urgently needed actions to make headway in the struggle for food sovereignty, social and environmental justice, and people’s power.

We cannot end this declaration without paying tribute to the women and men all over the world who carry out a daily struggle, in different ways, against monoculture tree plantations. They have already achieved important victories in the defense and recovery of their territories and the biodiversity they need for their physical and cultural survival. These women and men, in their arduous and long-suffering struggles for the cause of life and the future, stand in sharp contrast to the greed of the big corporations and investors that seek to appropriate ever more same lands to generate profits for their shareholders.

“Plantations are not forests!”

There are no smart monocultures!”

September 21st, 2014

Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity
La Via Campesina
World March of Women
Friends of the Earth International
World Rainforest Movement (WRM)

 

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Campaign to STOP GE Trees, Climate Change, Climate Justice, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Greenwashing, Land Grabs, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Tree Plantations, Uncategorized, UNFCCC

Confronting Climate Catastrophe: Direct Action is the Antidote for Despair

Or, Why the UN is Worse than Useless and we need to Flood Wall Street!

Climate Convergence Plenary Address, Friday, 19 September 2014

Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project, Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees

UN Security arrests clown at Durban Climate COP shortly before assaulting the photographer.  Photo: Photolangelle.org

UN Security arrests clown at Durban Climate COP shortly before assaulting the photographer. Photo: Photolangelle.org

Good evening everyone and thank you to Jill, Margaret and the other convergence organizers for the opportunity to speak to you tonight.

In four days time, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will hold a UN Climate Summit–a closed door session where the world’s “leaders” will discuss “ambitions” for the upcoming climate conferences (or COPs as they are called) in Lima, Peru and Paris, France.

I was asked to put into context the reason for the march and actions this weekend–especially the problem of the corporate capture of the United Nations Climate Convention, which I have attended and organized around since 2004, when I attended my first UN Climate COP, in Buenos Aires, until 2011 when I was permanently banned from the UN Climate Conferences following a direct action occupation at the Climate COP in Durban, South Africa.

But I actually got involved with the UN Climate Conferences through the work I have dedicated myself to, which is stopping the dangerous genetic engineering of trees.

What happened was in 2003, the UN Climate Conference decided that GE trees could be used in carbon offset forestry plantations. Understanding that this was a potential social and ecological disaster, and being completely naïve about the UN process, we decided to go to the UN and explain to them why this was wrong, and to get them to reverse this bad decision.

But what we found out was that GE trees had been permitted in carbon offset forestry plantations because Norway had tried to get them banned. But Brazil and China were either already growing GE trees or planning to, so they blocked Norway’s proposal. As a result, GE trees were allowed simply because they could not be banned. The UN, we learned, does not reverse decisions, regardless of how ill-informed and destructive they are.

This is the dysfunction of the UN Climate Convention.

But let’s go back a minute to see how we got where we are now.

Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, COP21 Paris 2015, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Politics, Posts from Anne Petermann, REDD, UNFCCC, World Bank, WTO

Introducing GreenWatch Radio with Dr. Rachel Smolker

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We are pleased to introduce a new Climate Connections feature that we will produce occasionally. GreenWatch Radio with host Jay Burney.

This initial edition features Biofuelwatch co-director Dr. Rachel Smolker and focuses on renewable energy strategies and false solutions to climate change.

Dr. Smolker talks about pressures in the US to produce bioenergy products for world markets and the negative impact that these agricultural developments cause to biodiversity, ecosystems, wildlife and humans that are dependent upon and are a part of these ecosystems. Smolker also talks about the US Military’s evolving investment in biofuels and how this is creating pressures involving both agricultural development and genetic engineering of tree and agrifuel “products.” With Rachel Smolker, Jay Burney, Grady Hawkins, and Joe Schmidbauer.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Campaign to STOP GE Trees, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, Dr. Rachel Smolker, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Green Economy, GreenWatch Radio, Independent Media, Media, Occupy Wall Street, Uncategorized

Forests in three major U.S. parks facing extinction

A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization found that forests in Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Glacier National Park are facing annihilation from the skyrocketing incidents of heat, wildfires, tree-killing insects and drought.

Photo: Climate Progress

Photo: Climate Progress

The culprit behind it all?

“No obvious cause.”

That’s right. The study basically concluded with a collective shoulder shrug.

According to the article, “Trees Are Dying From ‘No Obvious Cause’ In Rocky Mountains, Report Says”, by Ari Phillips (@re_ari) on Climate Progress, the scientists only slightly allude to these changing conditions being the result of climate change.

Trees Are Dying From ‘No Obvious Cause’ In Rocky Mountains, Report Says
By Ari Phillips, Climate Progress, September 11, 2014

The Rocky Mountain forests that traverse the West are under unprecedented danger from climate-related impacts according to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization. The Rockies include national parks like Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Glacier National Park, and are facing a “triple assault — tree-killing insects, wildfires, and heat and drought — that could fundamentally alter these forests as we know them.”

According to the report, titled “Rocky Mountain Forests at Risk,” many western trees are dying from “no obvious cause” like the bark beetle epidemic or increasing threat of wildfire, with scientists suggesting that these deaths are due simply to the hotter and drier conditions associated with climate change. The mortality rate for old-growth trees in undisturbed forests has doubled recently, with a sharp increase in recent years, and there’s been no compensating increase in the number of seedlings.

Read the rest of the study’s findings at Climate Progress.

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Photos: Indigenous Warriors Take Action to Stop Illegal Logging

In the photo essay linked below, Reuters Photographer Lunae Parracho documents resistance by Amazon Indigenous warriors against illegal loggers destroying their homeland.Well worth a look!

13 Incredible Photos of Amazon Tribe Fighting Back Against Illegal Loggers

by WILL POTTER on SEPTEMBER 8, 2014 in ACTIVISM & ACTIVISTS’ RESPONSE

Photo by Lunae Parracha.  Courtesy Reuters

Photo by Lunae Parracha. Courtesy Reuters

Brazil is the most dangerous place in the world to be an environmentalist. It accounts for about half of all recorded killings of environmental advocates.

And those numbers are going up, globally. As I reported recently for Foreign Policy:

Between 2002 and 2013, at least 908 people were killed because of their environmental advocacy, according to “Deadly Environment,” a new report from the investigative nonprofit Global Witness. That’s an average of at least one environmentalist murdered every week, and in the last four years, the rate of the murders has doubled. In 2012, the deadliest year on record, 147 deaths were recorded, three times more than a decade earlier. “There were almost certainly more cases,” the report says, “but the nature of the problem makes information hard to find, and even harder to verify.”

That incredibly dangerous environment makes what photographer Lunae Parracho documented even more incredible.

Parracho (websiteTwitterFlickr) followed the Ka’apor tribe, an indigenous community in Brazil, as they fought back against illegal loggers.

Ka’apor warriors ventured into the Alto Turiacu territory in the Amazon basin to track down illegal loggers, tie them up, and sabotage their equipment.

They stole their chainsaws and cut the logs so the loggers couldn’t profit from them.

They released the loggers, but only after taking their shoes and clothes, and setting their trucks on fire.

To view the entire photo essay and article, click here.

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Investigation shows that industry friendly oversight of GMO experiments in California endanger the public and the environment

An investigation by Hearst Newspapers shows that little oversight by agencies in California of experimental field trials of GMO’s hidden along California’s Central Coast is putting the public and the environment  at risk. The company conducting the tests, Applied Biotechnology, is founded and run by John A. Howard, who “previously funded another company that was permanently banned from trials of genetically modified organisms – GMOs – after creating such contaminated messes in the Midwest that a half-million bushels of soybeans and more than 150 acres of corn had to be destroyed.”

Worker Javier Alcantar tends to corn crops at the Monsanto Co. test field in Woodland, California, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 10, 2012. Monsanto Co., an American multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation, is the world's leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate and the largest producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed.  Photo: Noah Berger, Bloomberg

Worker Javier Alcantar tends to corn crops at the Monsanto Co. test field in Woodland, California, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 10, 2012. Monsanto Co., an American multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation, is the world’s leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate and the largest producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed. Photo: Noah Berger, Bloomberg

According to an article published yesterday (September 8, 2014) in the SFGate, the online sister publication of the San Francisco Chronicle:

The advent of GMOs has spawned global debate and protest over issues of consumer safety and the uncertain effects of altered genes on the environment.

Yes it has–and the opposition to the development of unsafe GMO’s is just beginning to build!

GMO experiments receive questionable oversight
By Bill Bill Lambrecht, San Francisco Gate. September 8, 2014.

Washington — At a secret location among the vineyards of California’s Central Coast, a plot of genetically engineered corn is producing proteins for industrial and pharmaceutical uses, including an experimental vaccine for hepatitis B.

The altered corn is growing with federal approval 100 feet from a steelhead stream in San Luis Obispo County, in designated critical habitat for the threatened California red-legged frog. Agriculture Department inspectors have reported two “incidents” at the site, including conventional corn sprouting in a 50-foot fallow zone, but the findings did not rise to the level of a fine or even to a formal notice of noncompliance for the company that planted it, Applied Biotechnology Institute Inc.

Details of Applied Biotechnology’s inspections and hundreds of other field trials with genetically modified plants were obtained by Hearst Newspapers under Freedom of Information laws. The inspection reports and other Agriculture Department records present a picture of vast, swiftly expanding outdoor experimentation and industry-friendly oversight of those experiments.

Read More Here

 

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Campaign to STOP GE Trees, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Greenwashing, Industrial agriculture, Uncategorized