REDD and Rainforests
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 31 July 2014 | José Maria Arara, Almir Surui, and Aureliano Córdoba all have three things in common: each is the leader of a traditional forest community of the Amazon; each lives in a country that nominally recognizes their rights to their forests; and each has used carbon finance to exercise and reinforce their rights. And they’re hardly alone, according to a new study called "Securing Rights, Combating Climate Change", which was published jointly by the World Resources Institute (RRI) and Rights and Resources International (RRI) this week.
By Karl Mathiesen, The Guardian, 31 July 2014 | Almost one million cubic metres of illegal timber, much of it stripped from threatened rainforest habitats, harming local communities of animals and people, was imported into the UK last year. I have to admit being shocked by today’s audit result. That’s four hundred olympic swimming pools full of unsustainably, unethically sourced wood, ripped from forests of the world’s poorest people and sold to some of the world’s richest. That is despite the UK’s relatively proactive stance on the issue. As a whole the EU is still a huge importer of illegal timber. The European Commission today threatened to take recalcitrant member states to the European Court of Justice. This is a vital step if measures continue to be ignored. But the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) is not only weakened by non-compliant members. Its exclusion of huge numbers of product types makes it only a half measure.
By Shaira Panela, mongabay.com, 29 July 2014 | Yasuni National park has been in the conservation spotlight in recent years, with oil drilling threatening the forests and wildlife of this biodiversity hotspot. Recently, disturbance in the park may have ramped up, with satellite data showing a significant increase in deforestation alerts within Yasuni National Park since 2011. The increase in forest damage in the region coincides with a series of oil drilling activities near the blocks where deforestation alerts are clustered. Yasuni National Park, established in 1979, covers approximately 982,000 hectares. The park is at the center of a small zone where amphibian, bird, mammal, and vascular plant diversity are all at the highest levels in the Western Hemisphere. Because of this, it is among the most biodiverse places in the world, with a large number of endemic and threatened species. For instance, the park is home to a species of bat (Lophostoma yasuni) found nowhere else in the world.
Ecologists may be underestimating the impact of logging in old-growth tropical forests by failing to account for subtleties in how different animal groups respond to the intensity of timber extraction, argues a paper published today in the journal Current Biology. The study, led by Zuzana Burivalova of ETH Zurich, is based on a meta-analysis of 48 studies that evaluated the impact of selective logging on mammals, birds, amphibians, and invertebrates in tropical forests.
Ongoing loss of forest cover in the Philippines places it among the top ten most threatened forest hotspots in the world, with the archipelago ranking fourth, behind Indo-Burma, New Caledonia and Sundaland (a region encompassing Australia and parts of Southeast Asia). According to a report issued by Conservation International, only five percent of Philippine forests remain intact.
Bonobos, endangered great apes, continue to survive in forests south of the Congo River in the DRC, albeit under constant threat of hunting, loss of habitat and the growing demands of an increasing human population. Conservationists have, over the years, tried and tested different conservation strategies to protect the last of the bonobos. And some of these strategies have invited considerable debate.
Kaieteur News, 30 July 2014 | Billions of dollars in concessions have been granted over the last two decades, but there are very few mechanisms in place by the various agencies and ministries to gauge how the country has been benefitting. Keith Burrowes, Head of the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest), the one-stop Government agency to help facilitate a smooth process for investors, admitted that the entity is guilty of failing to document and analyze the direct and indirect benefits. He assured that steps are now being taken to rectify this situation. Responding to questions, Burrowes said that it is important for investment agencies to go beyond the basic tracing of taxes paid and examine how companies, both foreign and local, contribute to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) when contrasted against the concessions and tax breaks given. GDP is like a price tag on a country’s output, and it measures the size of the economy.
Peru’s landmass has just been mapped like never before, revealing important insights about the country's forests that could help it unlock the value healthy and productive ecosystems afford humanity.
By Alejandro Argumedo, RTCC, 29 July 2014 | Indigenous people are one of the most vulnerable groups to the impacts of climate change. They stand to lose so much because, as well as relying on the natural environment and biodiversity for their livelihoods (often in fragile ecosystems), their entire worldview or ‘cosmo-vision’ is intertwined with and based on complex interactions with nature and the environment. Indigenous people are also made vulnerable by their widespread and continuing neglect and marginalisation in national, regional and international climate change policy. Unfortunately, this state of affairs is no surprise; the false but prevalent portrayal of indigenous peoples as homogenous, backwards and vulnerable is a product of colonialism.
By Jo Confino, The Guardian, 29 July 2014 | The natural world is being consistently degraded as a result of the pursuit of economic growth at any cost. While trillions of dollars are pumped into the financial system which powers this destruction, only a tiny trickle of money is directed towards the conservation and rehabilitation of our natural resources. This week a group of cross-sector experts from the worlds of business, finance, foundations, NGOs and institutions have been brought together by the Rockefeller Foundation and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the largest global environmental network, to come up with solutions for how to encourage the financial markets to become champions of nature.
A ruptured pipeline that spilled tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Marañón River in late June is fueling concerns about potential health impacts for a small indigenous community.
Yasuni National park has been in the conservation spotlight in recent years, with oil drilling threatening the forests and wildlife of this biodiversity hotspot. Recently, disturbance in the park may have ramped up, with satellite data showing a significant increase in deforestation alerts within Yasuni National Park since 2011.
By Rory Carroll, Reuters, 29 July 2014 | California Governor Jerry Brown and Mexican environmental officials signed a pact on Monday aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, an agreement that could eventually expand the market for carbon credits. The six-page memorandum of understanding calls for cooperation in developing carbon pricing systems and calls on the partners to explore ways to align those systems in the future. "California can't do it alone and with this new partnership with Mexico, we can make real progress on reducing dangerous greenhouse gases," said Governor Brown. California operates a carbon cap-and-trade system, which sets a hard limit on the carbon output from large businesses and requires them to either reduce emissions or purchase credits to meet the target. The state is on track to meet its goal of 1990 emissions levels by 2020.
By Natricia Duncan, The Guardian, 23 July 2014 | Latin America NGO director Omaira Bolaños explains the barriers to getting women's voices heard in climate change talks. Women play a very important role in food production and often have to bear the brunt of the added burden of adapting to climate change in forests and farmland. Natural resource developments such as oil palm plantations or oil and gas exploration damage their fragile ecosystems and affect their ability to produce food. Despite this, they seldom have the rights to their lands. Without these rights they stand to lose their sole source of food, income and shelter. Additionally they are often not allowed to participate in national and international strategies to tackle the issues that affect them. These are challenges that exist right across Latin America.
By Gerald Kitabu, IPP Media, 28 July 2014 | Like in many communities, when the project on reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) started some few years ago in Lindi rural district, the villagers did not know exactly the benefits accrued from it. The value and benefits accrued from REDD were not well known and at some communities, it was beyond their knowledge, as many would benefit from the forest through illegal logging. Due to lack of such knowledge, many villagers were involved in charcoal and timber harvesting without calculating the effects of climate change in the region. Few years ago, the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) and Tanzania Community Forest Network (MJUMITA) started changing the mindset of the locals in ten villages after introducing REDD activities.
By Fred Pearce, New Scientist, 24 July 2014 | The best way to protect rainforests is to keep people out, right? Absolutely not. The best way to keep the trees, and prevent the carbon in them from entering the atmosphere, is by letting people into the forests: local people with the legal right to control what happens there. Given the chance, most communities protect rather than plunder their forests, says a new study by the World Resources Institute and Rights and Resources Initiative, both in Washington DC. The forests provide food, water, shelter, medicines and much else. The report, Securing Rights, Combating Climate Change collates many existing studies. It concludes that forest communities only have legal control over one-eighth of the world's forests. The rest is mostly controlled by governments or leased for logging or mining, often in defiance of community claims. But community-owned forests are often the best-protected.
By Evan Halper, LA Times, 29 June 2014 | I the Bay Area oil port city of Martinez, where a colossal Shell refinery has long tainted the air, the landmark California law that requires polluters to ease their carbon footprint seemed to some to promise new relief. But one big move by Shell to comply with rules on greenhouse gas emissions won't do much for Martinez. It will instead give a boost to the environment in the pristine Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where the oil company is helping preserve a 200,000-acre forest. California regulators are satisfied the forest project will be a sponge for greenhouse gases, helping reduce global warming. It doesn't matter that the trees grow nowhere near California. Advocates for the local community heatedly disagree.
An Indonesian Stock Exchange-listed company whose commissioner is a member of The Nature Conservancy-Indonesia's board has been clearing dense rainforest in New Guinea, finds a new report from Greenomics-Indonesia. The report is based on analysis of data from Global Forest Watch, NASA satellites, Indonesia's Ministry of Forestry, and company documents.
As palm oil producers increasingly look to Africa’s tropical forests as suitable candidates for their next plantations, primate scientists are sounding the alarm about the destruction of ape habitat that can go hand in hand with oil palm expansion. A recent study sought to take those warnings a step further by quantifying the overlap in suitable oil palm land with current ape habitat.
Fifteen years ago, scientists knew next to nothing about one of the Amazon's most mysterious residents: the short-eared dog. Although the species was first described in 1883 and is considered the sole representative of the Atelocynus genus, biologists spent over a century largely in the dark about an animal that seemed almost a myth.