Tag Archives: deforestation

APRIL’s ecological armageddon continues in Sumatra and North Kalimantan

June 5, 2014. Source: Redd-Monitor.org

Photo by Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace

Photo by Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace

Aerial photographs by Greenpeace reveal that Asia Pacific Resources International Limitied continues to clear peat forest in Sumatra, despite the company’s forest policy.

APRIL introduced its Sustainable Forest Management Policy in January 2014. APRIL claims that the recent logging complies with its forest conservation policy. This may well be true, since the policy allows new plantations to be established until December 2014 and timber from rainforests to be used in its pulp mills until 2020. Zulfahmi, a Forest Campaigner at Greenpeace Southeast Asia, described the policy as “a licence to continue forest clearance”.

The logging is taking place on peatlands inside a pulpwood concession on Pulau Padang in Riau Province. APRIL’s subsidiary PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper is clearing the forest and draining the peatlands in order to plant monoculture acacia plantations to feed APRIL’s pulp mills.

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Central America: ‘Narco-deforestation?’

April 24, 2014. Source: WW4 Report

A deforested region in Honduras where drug traffickers are said to operate. Photo: David Wrathall

A deforested region in Honduras where drug traffickers are said to operate. Photo: David Wrathall

Central America’s rainforests are being destroyed by drug traffickers who cut roads and airstirps on officially protected lands, according to a paper in the journal Science. The phenomenon, called “narco-deforestation,” is occurring across large swaths of Guatemala and Honduras, and perhaps elsewhere. Erik Nielsen, an assistant professor in the School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability at Northern Arizona University, said: “Not only are societies being ripped apart, but forests are being ripped apart.” He added that cattle ranches are being established on cleared land as fronts to launder drug money.

The article highlights forest destruction in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, an international initiative established in 1998 to link ecosystems and conservation efforts across Central America and southern Mexico.

Much of this appears to be a response to US-led anti-narcotics efforts, especially in Mexico, said Kendra McSweeney, lead author of the article and an associate professor of geography at Ohio State University. “In response to the crackdown in Mexico, drug traffickers began moving south into Central America around 2007 to find new routes through remote areas to move their drugs from South America and get them to the United States,” McSweeney said. “When drug traffickers moved in, they brought ecological devastation with them.” Continue reading

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Filed under Biodiversity, Forests, Illegal logging, Latin America-Caribbean

Forest peoples demand their rights be made central to global efforts to curb deforestation

March 19, 2014. Source: Forest Peoples Programme

After a major inter-continental gathering on Deforestation and the Rights of Forest Peoples held between 9 and 14 March 2014 in Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, indigenous and forest peoples called on the international community, governments and international organizations to secure and respect their customary rights to their forests, lands, territories and natural resources in conformity with international law.

They issued this call in the form of the Palangka Raya Declaration, which urges governments, the private sector, financial institutions, international agencies and the international community to:

  • halt the production, trade and consumption of commodities derived from deforestation, land grabs and other violations of the rights of forest peoples;
  • stop the invasion of forest peoples’ lands and forests by agribusiness, extractive industries, infrastructures, energy and “green economy” projects that deny forest peoples’ fundamental rights;
  • take immediate and concrete actions to uphold forest peoples’ rights at all levels including the right to land, territories and resources, the right to self-determined development and to continue to own, control and manage their customary lands according to their knowledge and livelihoods.

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Filed under Corporate Globalization, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, REDD, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

REDD myth no.1: Deforestation accounts for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions

Note: Yes, deforestation needs to be addresssed–and NOT through the development of massive-scale industrial monoculture tree plantations, but by addressing deforestation at its very source–namely agro-industrial expansion, especially of GMO crops, livestock production and overconsumption of paper and timber products.

As far as climate change is concerned, the tunnel vision of the UN, World Bank and other bodies on deforestation as a driver of climate change has been a deliberate misdirection to keep the focus away from where it needs to be–reducing fossil fuel consumption, and preventing its replacement with plant-based fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, which also put out huge emissions.

-The GJEP Team

By Chris Lang, February 15, 2014. Source: REDD-Monitor

Photo: Arnoldo Garcia

Photo: Arnoldo Garcia

Myth: “Deforestation accounts for 25 percent of all man-made emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.”

That statement comes from a 2005 press release from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. A year later, FAO had decided that the figure was too low:

in fact between 25 and 30 percent of the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere each year … is caused by deforestation.

In its 2007 report, the IPCC estimated that deforestation accounted for 17% of emissions.

Two years later, in a paper published in Nature Geoscience, Guido van der Werf and colleagues, argued that the figure was actually closer to 12%. While estimates of the rate of deforestation globally are fairly steady, emissions from burning fossil fuels are increasing rapidly. As such, the percentage of emissions from deforestation is falling. Continue reading

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Filed under Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Land Grabs, REDD, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Why your money may be driving the palm oil industry’s human rights abuses and environmental destruction

Note: Jeff Conant is former communications director for Global Justice Ecology Project, as well as a dear friend and colleague.  He is now the international forests campaigner with Friends of the Earth.

-The GJEP Team

By Jeff Conant, December 13, 2013. Source: AlterNet

Photo: Jeff Conant

Photo: Jeff Conant

If you’re an American looking to do your part to protect tropical rainforests, you need look no further than your kitchen pantry. As you’ve likely heard by now, the world’s leading killer of tropical forests is palm oil—and palm oil derivatives are in your cookies, your ice cream, your shampoo, and—I’m sorry to tell you this—in your chocolate.

While industry analysts attribute the ubiquity of palm oil to consumer demand, palm oil isn’t in all these products because you demanded it, because it’s healthy, or because it tastes good (it doesn’t). It’s there because it’s cheap. Palm oil is cheap because it’s produced by a global industry built on land grabbing, human rights abuses and environmental devastation. Along with low production costs and a growing market comes the other reason why palm oil has become ubiquitous: it gives high returns on investment.

Palm oil’s environmental footprint

Palm oil is a vegetable oil derived from the fruit of the oil palm tree, native to West Africa, and used, as of very recently, in thousands of consumer products, from baked goods and ice cream to cleaning products and biofuels. Because of its high melting point, its high yield, and its lack of unhealthy trans fats, palm oil has rapidly come to dominate the global vegetable oil market, with production projected to double again in the next decade. (About 76 percent of palm oil is used for foods, with the remainder used for industrial purposes including biodiesel.)

Nearly 90 percent of global palm oil production comes from Indonesia and Malaysia, where industry boosters argue it’s been a huge boon for the economy. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the environmental juggernaut that initiated the industry-friendly Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to certify palm oil according to environmental and social criteria, argues that palm oil has lifted millions of poor Indonesians out of poverty. But at what price?
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Filed under Africa, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Forests, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs

Video: Indonesia’s rate of deforestation has doubled under the moratorium

By Chris Lang, 11th December 2013  Source: REDD-Monitor

A recent study revealed that the Indonesian government has been telling lies about its rate of forest loss. The study found that between 2000 and 2003 the rate of deforestation in Indonesia was about one million hectares per year. In the years 2011 and 2012, the rate doubled to about two million hectares per year.

The researchers, who were led by the University of Maryland and received help from Google and NASA, published their findings in Science magazine in November 2013. Part of their work included synthesising 12 years of satellite data to produce an Global Forest Change map.

A video of a presentation organised by Google’s Earth Outreach is available here. During the presentation, the lead researcher, Matthew Hansen of the University of Maryland, talks about deforestation in Indonesia:

Going over to Indonesia, another hot spot. Indonesia’s the bookend to Brazil, and it has the highest annual increase in forest cover loss over the study period, of around 1,000 square kilometres per year. And this is coincident with you know, in 2011 they instituted a deforestation moratorium meant to mimic in some sense the Brazilian effort, and the news in this study is that the first full year of our results, inside the moratorium was the highest forest loss in Indonesia. So Indonesia has this ramping up of forest loss.

A lot of our preliminary discussions were speculating there’s this perverse incentive when you try to send the alarm out that there’s going to be a halt to deforestation it can actually accelerate deforestation. That’s not a confirmed conclusion, but we do see here in some of these, this peninsula, area here in Riau province, in Indonesia, deep peatland soils, this is a wetland and a ring of clearing in 2012, new concessions that are being cleared. You see this in a lot of the wetlands in Indonesia. As they’ve exhausted the upland resources, they are going down into the wetlands.

And the patch size in the clearings of the wetlands are industrial scale, big change.

Strictly speaking, Indonesia’s moratorium never was a “deforestation moratorium” – it was a moratorium on new concessions. But Hansen’s point remains valid. Indonesia’s rate of deforestation has increased since the moratorium was announced.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Illegal logging, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Politics, REDD

Africa’s vanishing forests

By Jocelyn C. Zuckerman, December 4, 2013. Source: OnEarth

Photo: Marco Di Lauro

Photo: Marco Di Lauro

You see that coconut tree?” said Daniel Krakue, gesturing out beyond the windshield. “That used to be a village.”

It wasn’t hard to see the tree. Apart from a skinny papaya trunk, it was the only thing rising from the surrounding sea of green. We were in Sinoe County, in southwestern Liberia, on a plantation run by a company called Golden Veroleum (GVL), and for miles around there was nothing growing but baby palms, whose lime-colored fronds stretched out about as wide, some three feet or so, as they did high. Earlier we’d driven through large expanses freshly cleared of their native vegetation, weird deserts of orange mud interrupted only by the corrugated wakes of the ubiquitous giant yellow earthmovers. The company has been in operation in Liberia only since 2009. And the 543,000-acre lease it signed with the government runs for 65 years, with an option for a 33-year extension, so GVL is just getting started.

Krakue is an environmental advocate who has worked with the Sustainable Development Initiative (SDI), a local partner of Friends of the Earth, and he had accompanied me here from Monrovia, the nation’s capital, on a road so riven with ditches, potholes, and impromptu lakes that it took us eight hours to go 150 miles. Sinoe County is home to some 104,000 people, but its isolation and its history as a center of the civil wars that wracked this tiny West African nation from 1989 to 2003 have left it with the ambience of a place that’s been forgotten.

We pulled over in a village called Pluoh, a scattering of mud-and-thatch houses, where a sign staked in the ground read Malaria Spoils Belly. Aside from a few chickens scratching around and a preschooler in a raggedy party dress vigorously cranking a water pump, there wasn’t a whole lot going on. Little clusters of people sat on crude wooden benches propped beneath the thatch eaves of their huts, and the cries of babies floated on the still morning air. Krakue introduced me to Benedict Menewah, a scrawny 45-year-old father of seven, who filled me in on the story of the lone coconut tree.
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Filed under Africa, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Indigenous Peoples, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs

Lovera: A Pathetic REDD package

Note: Global Justice Ecology Project is the North American Focal Point for the Global Forest Coalition.

Simone Lovera is co-founder and executive director of the Global Forest Coalition, an international coalition of NGOs and Indigenous Peoples’ Organisations. In this guest post, she describes the REDD deal that came out of COP19 in Warsaw as “the weakest text any international forest-related body has ever adopted”.

Following the June 2013 negotiations in Bonn, GFC described the emerging REDD package as the “whatever approach”. What came out of Warsaw is no improvement. “All the REDD decisions adopted are pathetically vague and non-sensical from a legal point of view,” Lovera writes.

Lovera points out that drivers of deforestation are not addressed in the REDD deal. No finance was agreed for REDD in Warsaw, and unlike existing forest policies, “REDD+ is 100% dependent on financial support”. Governments will be allowed to produce summaries of information on safeguards. The decision on reference levels is “weak”. Lovera writes that, “such texts are an insult to international law”

-Chris Lang, REDD Monitor, December 3, 2013

By Simone Lovera, December 3, 2013. Source: REDD Monitor

simoneloveraOn 12 November 2013, the Global Forest Coalition made the following intervention during the negotiations in Warsaw on methodologies to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation and enhance forest carbon stocks (REDD+):

    “The Global Forest Coalition, a worldwide coalition of 54 NGOs and Indigenous peoples’ organizations promoting rights-based forest policies shares the concerns of our NGO and IPO colleagues about the extremely weak draft decisions that have been developed in the areas of drivers of forest loss and safeguards. We particularly wonder what we are doing here if this body, and the REDD+ mechanism it is designing, is not capable of addressing the real drivers of forest loss, most of which are linked to international commodity trade. Frankly, if REDD+ is not about addressing the real drivers of forest loss, we don’t think it is a mechanism that should be supported. So we strongly urge governments to focus on developing more effective non-market based approaches to address the international drivers of forest loss, and if they feel they cannot do that within the framework of the REDD mechanism, we urge them to do so within other Frameworks for Various approaches.”

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Filed under Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Indigenous Peoples, REDD, UNFCCC, Warsaw/COP-19