REDD and Rainforests
Is it possible to equitably divide the planet’s resources between human and non-human societies? Can we ensure prosperity and rights both to people and to the ecosystems on which they rely? In the island archipelago of Indonesia, these questions become more pressing as the unique ecosystems of this global biodiversity hotspot continue to rapidly vanish in the wake of land conversion (mostly due to palm oil, poor forest management and corruption. For 22 years, Dr. Erik Meijaard has worked in Indonesia. Now, from his home office in the capitol city, Jakarta, he runs the terrestrial branch of an independent conservation consultancy, People and Nature Consulting International (PNCI).
By Alan S. Hale, Kenora Daily Miner and News, 4 March 2014 | A youth group in Grassy Narrows First Nation has issued a statement saying it will oppose the Whiskey Jack Forestry Plan which is set to take effect this April. The language of the group’s statement seems to suggest the youth may be willing to disrupt any logging operations inside Grassy’s traditional territory, but is not clear on what lengths they would go to in order to do so. “If the logging begins in our territory, I am certain there will already be planned strategies on our part to bring it to a complete halt,” reads a quote from the statement attributed to Taina Da Silva, a Grassy Narrows Youth organizer. Some of the members of the youth group are the sons and daughters of the women who originally erected the blockade which has scuttled any notion of logging inside the community’s traditional territory since 2002.
By Sohpie Yeo, RTCC, 6 March 2014 | Fires in Indonesia are destroying large areas of forest on land owned by lumber and palm oil companies, casting further attention on western companies that buy commodities from the affected regions. The fires, which have been burning since late February, have emitted a blanket of smog, which has triggered respiratory problems in more than 30,000 people, according to local reports. Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesperson at Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency, said that causes of pneumonia, asthma, and eye and skin irritation had also increased, with air quality reaching dangerous levels in the northern regions of the country.
Development Today, 6 March 2014 | Having monitored global REDD initiatives since 2008, writer and environmental activist Chris Lang questions whether Norway’s aid-financed climate forest initiative - the largest in the world - has contributed to reducing rates of deforestation. In an opinion article in this issue of Development Today, Lang cites new research from the University of Maryland, showing that deforestation in Indonesia is on the rise. There are a number of tentative signs of progress, but with the exception of a new REDD+ agency, Lang argues, none of them is part of the Indonesia-Norway REDD deal. He writes further that in Brazil, the other key country in Norway’s REDD effort, where deforestation has been dramatically reduced, it is impossible to say that the positive developments are linked to REDD. “More than seven years on, REDD is neither cheap nor quick,” he writes.
An important reserve that contains a block of fast-dwindling lowland swamp forest in Riau Province is facing an onslaught of encroachment for illegal oil palm plantations, worsening choking haze in the region, reports Mongabay-Indonesia.
A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) points to the homogenization of global diets over the past fifty years. It shows that worldwide production of traditional staples such as millet, rye, sorghum, yams and cassava have been in decline. Instead, the world's population increasingly relies on a relatively small number of 'megacrops' like wheat, corn and soy, raising serious concerns for global food security, human nutrition, and the genetic diversity of crops.
By Roger Pielke and Daniel Sarewitz, Financial Times, 26 February 2014 | A recent report from the non-profit Center for Global Development estimates that $10bn invested in renewable energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa could provide electricity for 30m people. If the same amount of money went into gas-fired generation, it would supply about 90m people – three times as many.In Nigeria, the UN Development Programme is spending $10m to help “improve the energy efficiency of a series of end-use equipment ... in residential and public buildings”. As a way of lifting people out of poverty, this is fanciful at best. Nigeria is the world’s sixth-largest oil exporter, with vast reserves of natural gas as well. Yet 80m of its people lack access to electricity. Nigerians do not simply need their equipment to be more efficient; they need a copious supply of energy derived from plentiful local sources.
By Jim Carey, BBC News, 1 March 2014 | "Everything about the eucalyptus tree is designed to catch fire, spread fire and then grow back once its competitors have been destroyed in that fire," observes Bill Gammage. I am crouched on a heat-cracked rock overlooking a valley of burnt bush as I talk to Bill, a semi-retired history professor from the Australian National University. "What people have forgotten is that a lot of these trees were not here when the Europeans first arrived," he asserts. As a historian, Bill examined thousands of old eyewitness testimonies, paintings and drawings and found that, before the Europeans arrived, places like the Blue Mountains once contained significant amounts of grass pasture. His book on the subject won the Prime Minister's Literary Award. Having lived and evolved on the continent for millennia, Aborigines managed the land almost like a garden - effectively using expertly controlled fires to keep the flora in check.
Several Greenpeace activists were arrested after they scaled Procter & Gamble's headquarters in a demonstration against the company's use of palm oil linked to deforestation in Indonesia.
Europe is failing to fully enforce its one-year-old EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), alleges Greenpeace, with illegally-logged wood still slipping into the continent, especially from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The Javan rhino population has increased by over ten percent from 2012 to last year, according to new figures released by Ujung Kulon National Park. Using camera traps, rangers have counted a total of 58 Javan rhinos, up from 51 in 2012. Although the species once roamed much of Southeast Asia, today it is only found in Ujung Kulon National Park in western Javan and is known as one of the most imperiled mammals on the planet.
In the Western Amazon—arguably the world's most biodiverse region—scientists have found that not only is the forest super-rich in species, but also in chemicals. Climbing into the canopy of thousands of trees across 19 different forests in the region—from the lowland Amazon to high Andean cloud forests—the researchers sampled chemical signatures from canopy leaves and were surprised by the levels of diversity uncovered.
Over half the world's palm oil traded internationally is now bound by zero deforestation commitments after Singapore-based Golden-Agri Resources (GAR) extended its forest conservation policy across all palm oil it produces, sources and trades. In a filing posted Friday Singapore Stock Exchange, GAR announced its breakthrough forest conservation policy now applies to all the palm oil it trades.
By Tiffany Stecker, E&E Publishing, 3 March 2014 | Poynton, 49, has built a reputation as the go-to man for large corporations to take deforestation out of their portfolio of issues. Whether it's a concession to pressure from environmental groups, a recognition of consumer demand for sustainable products or the threat of divestment, companies have been lining up to work with TFT. "We come with a health warning: It is unpleasant and difficult to work with TFT, because we will change you, and change is fundamentally difficult and stressful and full of tension," said Poynton, 49. "But if you're ready to go on the journey, the destination will be a good one."
Celestial Green Ventures, 27 February 2014 | The six Amazonian states of Brazil, which are members of the Governors’ Climate & Forests Task Force – Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Mato Grosso, Pará and Tocantins – released a report presenting their contribution to the creation of the Brazilian REDD+ strategy, which is currently being developed by the Brazilian Ministry for the Environment. The publication presents the outcome of the meetings held during 2013 and introduces a consensual view from various stakeholders and representatives of the six Amazonian states. The report addresses the distribution of responsibilities and potential benefits from avoided deforestation and suggests a simplified allocation system for REDD+ credits.
By Ben Garside, Reuters, 26 February 2014 | A plan to prop up EU carbon prices was published in the official journal of the European Union on Wednesday, enacting into law the so-called backloading measure that keeps on track the European Commission's aim to allow the withdrawal of a maximum 400 million permits this year. The plan involves cutting the supply of permits to be sold under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in an effort to incentivize more investment in low carbon technologies. Carbon traders are keenly watching the progress of the implementation of backloading, as its rules mean that a March start would allow this year's total permit withdrawal to be 400 million, whereas an April start would allow only 300 million units to be withdrawn.
By Paul Polman (Unilever) and Christiana Figueres (UNFCCC), 25 February 2014 | Scientific American recently reported that floods alone could cost the world's cities $1 trillion annually by 2050. Anyone who wants to be in business over the coming years and decades needs to engage now on both the politics and the policy. Politically much depends on the choreography of key meetings in the run-up to COP21 in Paris in 2015, not least UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Climate Summit in New York this September. But most of all it depends on the extent to which leaders in every sector feel empowered to lead. This is why we welcome the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, led by former Mexican President Felipe Calderon. It is examining how nations, cities and companies can achieve their core economic and social goals whilst simultaneously reducing the risk of dangerous climate change. So what action do business leaders need to take individually and collectively?
By Sophie Yeo, RTCC, 26 February 2014 | Market liberalisation and a policy certainty will allow green business to flourish, say the chief executives of Unilever, Dyson and Kingfisher. Paul Polman, James Dyson and Sir Ian Cheshire all dismiss the view that environmentalism is anti-green, arguing that it’s in a company’s best interest invest in new technologies and energy efficiency. Their views are part of a series of essays published today by the London-based Conservative Environment Network, part of an effort to engage right wing voters and politicians in the green debate.
By Shijo Joseph, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 24 February 2014 | Together with two colleagues from India, Jagdish Krishnaswamy of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, and Robert John of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, I have been working to assess the impact of climate change on global primary production — that is, the rate of fixation of carbon through the process of photosynthesis. Existing science says that global average productivity is on the rise due to climate change. However, most of these studies were carried out at the global scale without separating out drivers of local land-use change, such as expansion of agricultural areas. Therefore, an increase in global primary production attributed solely to climate change was not logical to us. So the first question we faced was how to separate out the impacts of local land-use drivers from the global environmental-change drivers.
By Bruno Vander Velde, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 25 February 2014 | Peatland fires in eastern Sumatra, Indonesia, in recent weeks are again creating thick haze in the region, closing schools, canceling flights, and leading to the arrests of farmers accused of lighting the fires. For now, the weather is keeping the smoke away from neighboring Singapore and Malaysia, where in June 2013 wind-blown haze from Sumatran fires caused record-high levels of air pollution. Last year’s crisis produced international headlines and quick responses from governments: High-level regional talks in September led to a proposed transboundary haze monitoring system, and earlier this month, Singapore drafted a bill that would allow it to fine companies for fires that take place on Sumatran plantations. The return of fires this month, however, has illustrated the need for long-term, holistic solutions to the haze issue.