058OEC’s This Week in Trees

This week we have 35 stories from: Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, South Dakota, Michigan, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Ohio, Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, USA, England, Czechoslovakia, Kenya, Brazil, Uruguay, India, Madagascar, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Australia.


1) Several foundations and the federal government, seeking to protect wildlife habitat, have purchased 2,400 acres of Native corporation land and 2,000 acres of corporate timber harvest rights near northern Afognak Island’s Perenosa Bay. The American Land Conservancy and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation bought the land and timber rights from Afognak Joint Venture, a group of Kodiak-area Native corporations. The conservancy and foundation then gave the land to the state of Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources, which will manage it. Some timber rights were extinguished in the deal, and some are now held by the conservancy and foundation. The new state land and shorelines will remain open to public uses, including hunting, fishing, whale watching and sea kayaking, according to a news release from the conservancy and elk foundation. The Paul Allen Foundation of Seattle, created by the former Microsoft executive, kicked in another $2 million to cover the $4 million purchase price. The Allen foundation provided another $500,000 to cover transaction costs such as surveys and appraisals. The Thoresen Foundation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Vital Ground Foundation and the Johnny Morris Creel Fund also provided lesser amounts. About $1.86 million secured title to 2,400 acres on the west side of Delphin Bay. The remainder of the money purchased timber harvest rights on two state-owned parcels to the east of Perenosa Bay. The state has owned the land in the two parcels since 1997, when it used Exxon Valdez oil spill settlement money to buy it from Afognak Joint Venture. However, AJV still held timber harvest rights on the land through 2012. http://www.news-miner.com/Stories/0,1413,113%257E7244%257E3206070,00.html

British Columbia:

2) Coastal logging firms in British Columbia are facing legal action from a retired helicopter pilot, who claims to have invented a system that is widely used to cherry pick old-growth trees from challenging terrain. In a statement of claim, filed in the B.C. Supreme Court, Philip Jarman and Heli Tech Services (Canada) Ltd. allege that the companies are infringing on his patent rights by using standing stem harvesting without his permission. Standing stem harvesting, a process that allows helicopters to selectively log valuable, old-growth trees, in remote areas that are not accessible by road. Loggers prepare the tree for harvesting by cutting off the tops, removing the branches, and cutting a series of wedges into the bark, leaving behind just enough standing wood to prevent the tree from toppling over. Once the helicopter is in position, it lowers a grapple, which attaches itself to the tree, snapping it off the stump, and permitting the pilot to transport it away without damaging other trees in the region. “This has been recognized as a unique industrial process that no one had done before,” said Mr. Jarman, adding that Heli Tech was licensed to use the system. Mr. Jarman alleges that he took the idea to executives of MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. (since acquired by Weyerhaeuser) in 1997, hoping that they would agree to fund the process of trying it out on their properties. Mr. Jarman is now seeking “reasonable compensation” from the nine companies, which are named in the suit. They include Weyerhaeuser Co., Cascadia Forest Products Ltd., Island Timber Contracting Ltd., TimberWest Forest Corp., Brascan Timberlands Management Inc., R.E.M. Contracting, Canadian Air-Crane Ltd., VIH Logging Ltd. and International Forest Products Ltd. —Globe and Mail

3) Coastal British Columbians appear to favour more local control over forest operations, according to a new poll released by the TLA today. According to the Innovative Research Group Inc.’s poll of 400 residents in the TLA’s operating area, locally-based contractors should have more influence in the discussion over restructuring the Coastal industry as they are seen as operating in the long-term interests of Coastal British Columbians. Fully 92 per cent of Coastal British Columbians polled believe it is in their community’s interest if the forest companies and workers harvesting timber and growing trees in the surrounding area are locally-based. Similarly, the poll also found a majority of Coastal British Columbian.(54 percent of those polled) believe “major forest companies” should have less influence over the way BC’s forests are managed. “What these results really say is that local public opinion very strongly backs community-based contractors in gaining a stronger voice in the future of Coastal forestry,” said Jim Girvan, TLA Executive Director. “Local ownership and the economic, social and environmental benefits that go with it are definitely on the public’s radar,” Girvan said. http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/January2006/18/c3647.html

4) GRANGEVILLE, Idaho — Northwest loggers are worried British Columbia may be forced to harvest as much as 21 million acres of forests to stop the mountain pine beetle, flooding the market and driving down timber prices. The infected forests in British Columbia make up an area roughly 40 percent the size of Idaho. To combat the beetles, the province is increasing allowable timber cuts 78 percent; big trouble for mills throughout the Northwest. “They’re going to bury us in the sand,” said Dick Bennett, owner of Bennett Forest Industries in Grangeville. Bennett said the timber industry won’t be as hot as it was in recent years because of an expected decline in the housing and building markets. “If you’re not strong, you’re out of business,” he said. The beetles are native to British Columbia and the Inland Northwest, but warm winters and an abundance of lodgepole pine are helping the insects flourish, according to a 2005 report from the University of British Columbia’s Forest Resources Management Department. Officials say the beetle outbreak is the worst natural disaster to ever befall British Columbia and a researcher at the University of British Columbia says the province has little choice but to salvage what it can. The infestation is the worst on record, 20 times larger than in the 1930s when 1.2 million acres were killed. Experts are expecting the epidemic to last another 10 years, or until about 80 percent of British Columbia’s lodgepole pine forests are wiped out. Duane Vaagen, owner of a sawmill in Colville, Wash., said British Columbia mills are operating as if there was a “gold rush,” running three shifts a day and buying equipment from closed sawmills in the United States. http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=25d40b59-8546-441a-bd83-e51a1439717a&k=63046

5) KALISPELL – With Canadian federal elections less than a week away, folks on both sides of the border are watching closely the race to represent Montana’s neighbor, southeastern British Columbia. That’s because the winner in that three-way campaign likely will be enlisted to help hammer out a solution to a decades-long international dispute over how best to manage wildlands immediately north of Glacier National Park.
For years, there has been talk from the north about developing energy reserves in the Canadian Flathead, a wild river drainage that flows south across the border to form the western edge of Glacier Park before spilling into Flathead Lake. “The critters and the water don’t recognize the international border, and many of the decisions that affect them are determined by elections,” said Steve Thompson, Glacier program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association in Whitefish. “So we’re always very interested in how Canadian elections unfold. Some think that future should include an expansion of Waterton Lakes National Park, which shares part of its border with Glacier Park. Proponents say an expansion of Waterton to the west – into the Canadian Flathead – would not only help resolve contentious land-use issues but also would put money in locals’ pockets. The expansion, as proposed, would cover about one-third of the Canadian Flathead, east of the river in an area where no oil or gas wells are currently planned. On Jan. 5, the Vancouver Sun newspaper reported on a study revealing the economic value of additional park lands “easily exceeds any economic loss from ending logging and trophy hunting in the area.” Johnson calculated that, once income and jobs lost to resource extraction industries were subtracted out, the region would see a boost of $1.44 million and two dozen full-time jobs associated with the new wilderness park attraction. http://www.missoulian.com/articles/2006/01/19/news/mtregional/news05.txt


6) “The Capitol architect will make the final selection. We’re looking for the perfect tree,” said Olympic National Forest spokesman Karl Denison on Tuesday. Denison confirmed the surprise announcement made at the Jan. 8 Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce meeting by Pacific District Ranger Eduardo Olmedo. In addition to the 60- to 70-foot tree to be displayed on west front lawn of Capitol Hill, 65 smaller trees will be displayed at other Washington, D.C., buildings, he said. Olympic National Forest personnel will pre-select a dozen 60- to 70-foot tall, well-shaped trees, Denison said. During the summer, the Capitol architect will tour the forest to judge those trees and select the best one, he said. Employees will look for the trees while in the forest performing other duties, Denison said. But the Forest Service also is enlisting retirees to help look for the trees, he said. Possible trip to D.C. If a Forest Service employee’s tree is chosen, that person will be sent to Washington, D.C., for the tree-lighting ceremony, Denison said. In November, the winning tree will be cut and tour throughout the state before being taken to Washington, D.C. http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/sited/story/html/227923

7) Firs and cedars form curtains along the final stretch of the highway to Mount Rainier National Park past Ashford, letting motorists know Paradise is near. Standing among those trees, the view from the historic Copper Creek Inn doesn’t look out over a spectacular canyon or mountain peak. Instead, the thick trunks of 60- to 70-year-old trees fill the windows facing the highway. And that is what owner Phil Freeman treasures most. “People come here because of these trees,” he said on a recent rainy afternoon while looking out from his restaurant. Allen Estate: A 140-acre property straddles Highway 706 for about half a mile, and part of it sits right outside Copper Creek Inn’s windows Port Angeles logger John Rodius has a contract to harvest the trees with a California family that owns the land. He’s conducted preliminary surveys but said he hasn’t applied for a state logging permit because of opposition from the local residents Meanwhile, any land clearing is on hold as the lawyer for the Allen Estate talks with the attorney for the Nisqually River Council http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/story/5461584p-4928517c.html

8) Talks are under way to preserve a total of about 355 acres. They were initiated by the Nisqually Headwaters Coalition, which formed last June after local residents noticed some trees had been tagged for logging. So far the group has succeeded in enlisting a conservation agency to negotiate possible purchases with landowners. A deal is near to spare part of the total acreage. The Nisqually River Council would pay $1.2 million for 185 acres owned by Olympic Resource Management. However, another piece of land already is partially logged, and residents are racing against time to save the forested corridor. “We believe that there are enough people out there to step up and pay,” said Judy Scavone, who leads the residents’ group. “All we are asking for is some time.” The tension between the residents’ group and Rodius got worse after the logger harvested several truckloads of trees in December from a 30-acre forest on Mount Tahoma Canyon Road and Highway 706, near the Allen Estate. Rodius has a logging contract with the owners of the Hershey Homestead forest, Paul and Deborah Crosetto of Ashford.A logging permit for the property is under review by Pierce County’s planning and land services department. The question is whether Rodius legally cut the trees. He and the Crosettos say they were well within their rights to take down so-called “hazard trees.” A state Department of Natural Resources policy says such trees – which stand within “a-tree-and-a-half” distance of buildings, or about 150 feet – can be logged without a permit. http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/story/5461584p-4928517c.html


9) The area around West Point, in Calaveras County, used to have a thriving economy based on seven lumber mills that kept loggers employed. But the last mill in this county shut down twenty years ago. “When the mills shut down there was no plan and no effective response, leaving us for the past 30 years with the highest poverty indicators in our region,” Steve Wilensky, Calaveras County District Two Supervisor, said. At one point during 1993 the poverty levels for the county reached 15 percent. “Eighty-four percent of the children were eligible for reduced-price lunches at school.” Now, thanks to Wilensky’s leadership and the cooperation of a wide range of local organizations, the area is starting to see a new economy emerge from the ashes of the old. Calaveras Healthy Impact Product Solutions, or CHIPS, formed from several diverse groups who all wanted to see the economy rebuilt. Building a coalition of ex-loggers, the Calaveras County Mountain Miwuk Tribe, the Foothills Conservancy, Ebbetts Pass Forest Watch, Sierra Pacific Industries, CalWorks, Motherlode Job Training and others has taken a great deal of time and energy. But the fact that these people have set aside their differences and are moving toward a common goal has inspired many in the community. Working on BLM land, National Forest land and with Sierra Pacific Industries, the project would take small diameter trees and slash from logging and fuels reduction projects and convert it into products the group can sell. “By capitalizing on our natural resources and our human resources we hope to build a sustainable and robust economy that doesn’t destroy the place we live in,” Wilensky said. “Equally important is that we will have learned that our best future comes from mutual respect.” Chips for landscaping, pellets for pellet stoves, fence posts and stakes for vineyards, creating electricity by burning the chips and making biodiesel to run heavy equipment are all products being considered. California State University-Chico is doing the feasibility study for those products. Eventually destined to be self-sustaining, the project is now running on grant money from Community Development Block Grants, the National Forest Foundation’s Community Assistance Program and the Calaveras-Mariposa Community Action Agency. http://www.yubanet.com/artman/publish/article_30519.shtml


10) Foreign-owned large-scale plantations of the fragrant trees now occupy more than 700,000 hectares (2,700 square miles) in Uruguay, estimates María Selva Ortiz of the REDES- member of the Friends of the Earth non-governmental environmental network. The latest court order will not have much effect in some areas where logs were felled prior to the ban on logging in core areas, because those logs are buried under snow and inaccessible. But some of the timber purchasers likely will proceed with salvage activity during the next few months, Krueger said. Pyramid Lumber of Seeley Lake potentially could haul out about 2 million board-feet in the Beta Timber Sale area west of Hungry Horse Reservoir, and on the Ball Timber sale, about 1.5 million board-feet is within core areas. More timber is available in parts of the Wedge salvage area in the North Fork Flathead, just south of the Canadian border. The main issues in the lawsuit have not been addressed by the court. The plaintiffs are largely challenging the Forest Service’s deviation from road-density standards in the Flathead Forest Plan that are designed to improve grizzly bear habitat security. Flathead forest officials assert that provisions exist in the long-term forest plan that give them the discretion to determine that those standards cannot be met in several site-specific areas. http://www.dailyinterlake.com/articles/2006/01/18/news/news03.txt

11) In an effort to try to reverse the old paradigm of war and defeat, hate and bitterness, our own little group, the Yaak Valley Forest Council, has spent the last several years constructing an economic development plan for our impoverished county that would bring great political glory to whichever politicians are able to implement it. Rather than trying to build a better mousetrap, we’ve been trying to figure out a way to simply feed the mice — and ourselves. We’ve come to the decision that a place-based, community-supported wilderness bill is a better way to break this decades-old logjam, and that the fractious Yaak, completely unserved by the wilderness bills of the past, is the most challenging and ecologically most vital place to start. We’ve assembled what we think is a smart package — one that meets the needs of a disparate range of the stakeholders scattered across this vast forest. The bill would provide for increased thinning of small-diameter trees around human communities, and purchase private industrial timberlands to manage locally as a community forest while preserving traditional community access, rather than seeing them sold off into one- and five- and 10-acre shark bites that pain all of us here in this deeply rural county. It would provide for greater stewardship contracting on public-lands forestry projects, with receipts retained by the county for restoring watersheds and funding our deeply underserved rural school system. It would also identify certain wildlands for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System, while codifying some existing snowmobile play areas — giving them, as long as various wildlife concerns are met, the same assurance of permanence that wilderness users seek.
In short, the bill creates incentives for different groups in this most polarized corner of the state to come together to support each other’s issues, so that their own needs might be met. In fact, our group had succeeded in negotiating an informal verbal agreement with all the various users before we had the rug pulled out from under us by the U.S. Senate. The action by the senator and the Forest Service didn’t just disrupt the place-setting our local groups had been laboring to make at the table, it broke the plates. http://www.grist.org/news/maindish/2006/01/18/bass/index.html?source=daily

South Dakota:

12) Rapid City – Mystic District Ranger Bob Thompson said crews are now actively working to implement the Prairie project near Rapid City, South Dakota. “We are thinning trees and logging and people will notice a significant difference in the forest, and that’s a good thing,” Thompson said. Logging and thinning has begun along Highway 44 west of Rapid City. Neiman Timber Company bought commercial timber sales in the area. “People will start to notice a dramatic difference between the overcrowded forest that was there and the thinned and restored forest environment we are creating,” Thompson said. Located in a classic ponderosa pine, fire-adapted forest in the wildland-urban interface, this area is rated as having high fire risk, high hazard, and high value within what is referred to as the “Red Zone.” Thompson said winter snows damaged much of the forested area creating dense fuels ripe for wildfire. Prolific tree growth across the Black Hills is fueling increasingly difficult fire seasons, he said. This project includes thinning trees, prescribed burning, and other vegetation management on about 11,500 acres of National Forest land. It also includes changes to current road and cross-country motorized use and encourages cooperation with groups and individuals to establish and maintain motorized and non-motorized trails in the area. The forest will be much more open and resistant to fire and insects. The project is designed to reduce potential wildfire losses, restore and maintain a healthy living forest, and manage the increasing pressure of motorized and non-motorized traffic in the area, Thompson said. http://blackhillsportal.com/npps/story.cfm?id=1366


13) The Crawford AuSable School District has entered into the timber business. The Crawford AuSable School Board approved the first reading of a contract with Forest Resources Management of Frederic at its meeting on Monday. The firm will manage the sale and harvest of about 40 acres of forest land located just north of County Road 612 off of Old 27 in Frederic Township. Jerry Lambert, co-owner of Forest Management Resources, said the forest is mostly made up of aspen and a mix of hardwood trees that had been growing for about 70 years. Lambert said the trees are starting to die off and fall over, and recommended the district log the forest and allow the trees to regenerate on a 30 to 40 year cycle. The aspen and hardwood trees would likely be chipped or cut into logs and shipped to a lumber mill. A stand of red pine, located closer to Old 27, will be thinned and allowed to grow larger. Lambert will also delineate the boundary lines for a second 40-acre forest the districts owns just off North Down River Road east of I-75. Jack Pilon, the Crawford AuSable School Board president who is also a Department of Natural Resources forester, said the district obtained the forest property from the state in the 1920s. Last year, Pilon said a state law passed which allowed school districts that own forests to sell the property and split the proceeds with the state. Pilon said the school officials have no intentions of selling property, and hopes that school groups can visit the forest when logging is taking place so students can learn about trees, forest management and conservation. “We need to make that connection between the trees in the ground and the paper they write on,” Pilon said. http://avalanche.townnews.com/articles/2006/01/19/news/news06.txt


14) Tulsa – A forestry specialist with the Cherokee Nation has discovered a colony of endangered Ozark big-eared bats while appraising timber in eastern Oklahoma. Scientists believe that only about 2 000 of the bats exist, and roughly 75 percent of those are in Oklahoma. Forester Pat Gwin, who had studied the bats as a student assistant 20 years ago while at university, discovered the colony. He initially believed they were ordinary bats, but found one that appeared slightly different. He called in Steve Hensley, who works for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Hensley confirmed that some of the bats were of the rare Ozark big-eared variety. Neither the tribe nor the federal agency will release the landowner’s name or the location of the bats for fear that they may be disturbed while hibernating. The landowner’s original plan to cut and sell his timber would be detrimental to the bats, so tribal and federal officers began searching for money to fund a conservation easement, which essentially would compensate the landowner for not cutting the trees and leaving the bats alone. The Cherokee Nation came through with the money. The money provided is enough to protect the bats for three decades, the newspaper, Tulsa World, reported. http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=14&click_id=143&art_id=qw1137390845562R131


15) Potlatch Corp. is collaborating with several partners to study the feasibility of a pilot biorefinery for converting forest and agricultural waste to biofuels and other chemicals at its Cypress Bend, Arkansas, pulp and paperboard mill. The partners hope to receive a DOE grant to develop the biofuel production project. The project is an outgrowth of Potlatch’s participation in Agenda 2020 Technology Alliance, an industry-led partnership of government and academia to conduct collaborative forest industry technology research, development, and deployment. Potlatch is a diversified forest products company with timberlands in Arkansas, Idaho, Minnesota and Oregon.


16) Conservationists, state foresters and the new timber manager for 150,000 acres of former MeadWestvaco land say they’re hoping a smaller Vinton County research area that’s part of the purchase can stay protected. A major December sale put the acreage into the hands of Scioto Land Company, which will continue to supply pulp for NewPage Corp., a company spun off from reorganized paper giant MeadWestvaco. The Raccoon Ecological Management Area (REMA), a 16,000-acre tract near Zaleski State Forest, was included in the deal, and the change in ownership triggered a meeting Friday between representatives of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Scioto Land Company and three national conservation groups. “There was a meeting, and it was a good meeting,” said Andy Ware, assistant chief of the Ohio Division of Forestry, which is part of ODNR. Academic and government researchers have conducted more than five decades of extensive forest research at the Vinton County site, he said. “They’re largely central hardwoods, which is a distinct forest type,” added Ware. “The research being done there is specific to Ohio, and it’s invaluable.” REMA’s southern tip has recorded the highest number of bobcat sightings in the state, according to the assistant chief. “We’re especially interested in REMA, but there’s more than REMA at stake here. Blair emphasized the importance of monitoring large “in-holdings” of the Wayne National Forest – a patchwork of private and public real estate – to see how changes in use affect connector routes for wildlife and public access. He praised past MeadWestvaco forestry practices, which he said showed the holdings could remain “working forest” while incorporating multiple-use principles. “The Buckeye Forest Council supports (the state) acquiring more public forest lands,” said the Columbus-based organization’s new executive director, Brandi Whetstone. Scioto Land Company is a subsidiary of Tolleson Land and Timber, which has forest holdings throughout several states. It will run the former MeadWestvaco lands it bought in Ohio on behalf of institutional investors such as pension-fund managers. http://www.athensnews.com/issue/article.php3?story_id=23140


17) Charlottesville, Virginia — The Nature Conservancy received a donation that will protect a 1,581-acre property, known as Castle Hill, located in the Southwest Mountains of Albemarle County. The gift consists of a conservation easement donation on 1,203 acres and a donation of 345 acres of land from Route 231 LLC. The Conservancy also received an additional gift of 33 acres of land from a neighboring landowner. As the new Walnut Mountain Preserve, the combined 378-acre property will serve as the launch site for the Conservancy’s old-growth-forest restoration program in the Piedmont. In addition, the landowners donated a conservation easement to Albemarle County on the 378 acres of land they gave to The Nature Conservancy. Both the Conservancy easement and the county easement add to the protection of rural lands in Albemarle by eliminating 83 development rights, while allowing the Conservancy to restore the health of the forest. “We have few examples of the wild forests of old in Virginia,” Schuyler said. “This acquisition, however, moves us toward restoring ecological balance and improving the composition and growth of native hardwood forests.” This project also dovetails with the Conservancy’s ongoing work in the Piedmont to protect water resources. The Conservancy is working to protect the Rivanna through preserving forests and riparian buffers, restoring streams, retiring development rights and developing science-based strategies for maintaining both the natural flows of waterways and drinking water for people. “Sadly, there are only a few patches of forest left in the Piedmont with old-growth characteristics,” Lorber said. “We are determined to change that. Our goal is a healthy native forest that has as much diversity as possible.” http://nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/virginia/press/press2226.html


18) At the Georgia-North Carolina border, an environmental coalition has managed to stop a logging plan in the Chattooga forest. The U.S. Forestry Service has agreed to set aside areas of old growth between Rabun County and Highlands, North Carolina. “Around the Chattooga River close to Chattooga Cliffs is a very very pristine area with a lot of rare plants,” Buzz Williams of the Chattooga Conservancy said. “There’s one little plant up there that there’s only one known occurrence of it in North America, so they backed off of one or two of the compartments closest to some of the more sensitive areas.” He described it as 700 acres of pristine old growth. The forest service has also agreed to keep a buffer around hiking trails. http://www.accessnorthga.com/news/hall/newfullstory.asp?ID=100192

North Carolina:

19) A group of UNC Wilmington students and faculty are trying to save what’s left of their on-campus forest, a large portion of which could disappear with continued university expansion. The current campus master plan has slated construction of housing, athletic fields, and other buildings on a portion of the wooded area at the east end of the university. That plan will save 140 acres of the forest, but the group fighting for the space wants a UNCW forest reserve of 200 acres to be created in order to keep the habitat intact. Those in favor of the forest preserve say they’re not against campus growth, but believe it can be accomplished without uprooting the acres of longleaf pines. http://www.wect.com/Global/story.asp?S=4379185&nav=2gQc


20) The Brazilian pepper and Australian pine trees were so high a year ago that Coast Guard Senior Chief Brian Levy couldn’t see the inlet from his front lawn next to the Jupiter Lighthouse. “Now, I get a breeze. I see the boats and the water. It’s much better,” said Levy, who lives in one of the dozen Coast Guard-owned houses overlooking the Jupiter Inlet. Landscapers are making final touches on a $115,000 project at the lighthouse to remove non-native plants and replace them with native ones. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management paid about half the cost, and Palm Beach County and the South Florida Water Management District split the remainder. The property is owned by the U.S. Coast Guard. The trees, which can weigh as much as 4 tons each, were removed by crane from the steep slope overlooking the inlet. The trees and other vegetation were ground up into mulch that was used to build a foot-deep base for the Florida native plants such as gumbo-limbo, pigeon plum and fiddlewood. Burlap netting secured by stakes made of corn that dissolve into the soil hold the mulch in place. “This is the only one we didn’t use for mulch. We weren’t sure if it could be harmful,” said Katharine Murray, plucking a yellow and green sansevieria plant from the ground. Known as mother-in-law’s tongue or snakeskin plant, the rapidly growing plant from West Africa crowds out native plants. “We bagged it and took it away. As mulch, it could hurt native plants,” said Murray, president of Environmental Quality Inc., a Tequesta-based company hired for the project. Maintenance on the property will be done every three months to keep the non-native plants out, she said. http://www.palmbeachpost.com/jupiter/content/neighborhood/jupiter/epaper/2006/01/18/npj1_nuplants_0118.html

21) Peter Rowlins, 7, helps his mother plant greenery all the time, he said, most recently a hibiscus last fall. “It’s my first time with a tree,” he said solemnly, mounding sand around the base. And he was very proud of his work saying the trees were important “so animals have food to eat, and so bugs have shade and a place to hide.” Rowlins was one of five Tiger Cub Scouts from Pack 367 of Titusville who were earning achievement awards Sunday. All together the families and scouts made the day at the Enchanted Forest more than 100 participants strong. The Friends of the Enchanted Forest Sanctuary, which sponsors educational programs on the third Sunday of each month, directed the planting. “We like to educate children on the importance of trees, and we put them along the trail in locations where they can come back and see them grow,” said Joanie Faulls-Hensley, sanctuary steward. http://www.floridatoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060116/NEWS01/601160330/1006


22) If Al Gore Falls in the Forest and No One is There To Hear Him… True transformations in politics are as rare as palm trees in the Arctic Circle. But Al Gore is that palm tree. On Martin Luther King Day, Al Gore took us to the mountaintop and allowed us to view the desecrated landscape of Constitutional rubble that the Bush Administration has spread across America. Gore has, for the last three years, been a prophet of saving our democracy and restoring out Constitution. Al Gore isn’t just bringing the truth to the Bush Administration. He is bringing it to a Democratic establishment which has been patriotically compromised and Constitutionally corrupted by their personal sinecures and commitment to their Senate positions, rather than their commitment to our Constitution. This is Al Gore day on our BuzzFlash alerts, because Al Gore has the temerity to tell the truth with passion and alarm — and document his assertions every step of the way. Gore is the real thing, someone who went through a personal crisis, traveled to the mountaintop, and saw the light. http://www.buzzflash.com/editorial/06/01/edi06004.html


23) While they have a pretty good idea of how much carbon our factories and planes and cars are releasing, scientists are much less certain about the amount of carbon tree-planting will absorb. When you drain or clear the soil to plant trees, for example, you are likely to release some carbon, but it is hard to tell how much. Planting trees in one place might stunt trees elsewhere, as they could dry up a river that was feeding a forest downstream. Or by protecting your forest against loggers, you might be driving them into another forest. As global temperatures rise, trees in many places will begin to die back, releasing the carbon they contain. Forest fires could wipe them out completely. The timing is also critical: emissions saved today are far more valuable, in terms of reducing climate change, than emissions saved in 10 years’ time, yet the trees you plant start absorbing carbon long after your factories released it. All this made the figures speculative, but the new findings, with their massive uncertainty range (plants, the researchers say, produce somewhere between 10% and 30% of the planet’s methane) make an honest sum impossible. In other words, you cannot reasonably claim to have swapped the carbon stored in oil or coal for carbon absorbed by trees. Mineral carbon, while it remains in the ground, is stable and quantifiable. Biological carbon is labile and uncertain. To add to the confusion, to show that you are really reducing atmospheric carbon by planting or protecting a forest, you must demonstrate that if you hadn’t done it something else would have happened. Not only is this very difficult to do, it is also an invitation for a country or a company to threaten an increase in emissions. It can then present the alternative (doing what it would have done anyway) as an improvement on its destructive plans, and claim the difference as a carbon reduction. http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,5673,1687977,00.html


24) Failed bidders in a 2005 multi-billion-crown tender organized by forestry company Lesy ?R want the rounds annulled and a new one called. The European Commission wants answers. The repercussions of the Lesy ?R tender have been widespread. Eight logging companies have either no orders or reported a 30-40 percent slump in the volume of work due to lost contracts. Set up by the Agriculture Ministry in 1992, Lesy ?R administers over 1.4 million hectares of land, over half of the Czech Republic’s forests. Lesy ?R’s representatives argue that the company isn’t subject to the public procurement law, citing an ÚOHS decision made in July 2005. However, numerous complaints against the tender prompted the antimonopoly office in November 2005 to look into the case again. At the center of the dispute is the question of whether Lesy ?R can be considered a “public procurer” under public-purchasing rules. Within two weeks, ÚOHS is expected to decide whether the state forest management company is subject to the public procurement law, ÚOHS head Martin Pecina told CBW. He said that Lesy ?R should comply with the public procurement law, in his opinion. However, the anti-monopoly office isn’t authorized to cancel the tenders because the contracts with winning companies already took effect in January 2006. The winners have signed five-year term contracts with the option to extend for another three years. The forestry affair has reached the European Commission, which said in a letter to Czech authorities dated Dec. 13, 2005, that Lesy ?R had violated EU public-procurement rules in awarding K? 15 billion in timber contracts. Brussels began proceedings against the Czech Republic and gave the government until Feb. 19 to justify its stance on the matter. Representatives of ÚOHS, Lesy ?R, and the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Agriculture and Regional Development met on Jan. 12 to discuss the situation. The Ministry of Agriculture will present the state’s position only after its statement to the EC is prepared. http://www.cbw.cz/phprs/2006011633.html


25) The Government will not evict the 1,500 families occupying the forest reserves in Sembabule district, foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa has said. Dismus Buregyeya reports that Kutesa said the colonial government gazzetted some areas that were not meant to be cut off like Bugaya and Keizoba in Ntusi, covering over 20,000 hectares. Kutesa who was addressing residents of Lwebitakuli, said some of the affected areas were initially settlement areas. The Mawogola county MP, who is also the district NRM chairman, urged residents of the reserves to plant trees. District forestry officer Matthias Lwanga’s report said they were facing many environmental problems because of the degradation of the swamps and forests. The report raised concern about the increasing rate of deforestation. http://blackhillsportal.com/npps/story.cfm?id=1366


26) When I first met Lovejoy nearly 20 years ago, he was trying to get journalists like me to pay attention to the changes in the climate and biological diversity of the Amazon. He is still trying, but he’s beginning to wonder if it’s too late. Lovejoy fears that changes in the Amazon’s ecosystem may be irreversible. Scientists reported last month that there is an Amazonian drought apparently caused by new patterns in Atlantic currents that, in turn, are similar to projected climate change. With less rainfall, the tropical forests are beginning to dry out. They burn more easily, and, in the continuous feedback loops of their ecosystem, these drier forests return less moisture to the atmosphere, which means even less rain. When the forest trees are deprived of rain, their mortality can increase by a factor of six, and similar devastation affects other species, too. “When do you wreck it as a system?” Lovejoy wonders. “It’s like going up to the edge of a cliff, not really knowing where it is. Common sense says you shouldn’t discover where the edge is by passing over it, but that’s what we’re doing with deforestation and climate change.” Lovejoy first went to the Amazon 40 years ago as a young scientist of 23. It was a boundless wilderness, the size of the continental United States, but at that time it had just 2 million people and one main road. He has returned more than a hundred times, assembling over the years a mental time-lapse photograph of how this forest primeval has been affected by man. The population has increased tenfold, and the wilderness is now laced with roads, new settlements and economic progress. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/17/AR2006011700895.html


27) Christmas Eve 2002, Alfredo Bazzini went to draw water from the family well in Las Flores, a small farming town in western Uruguay. What he found was that the water his family depended on for drinking, cooking, washing, and farming had dried up. “It wasn’t only my well that didn’t have any water, all of the wells in town, even the deepest, were empty, and nobody knew what to do,” Bazzini recalls. For the residents of Las Flores in the department (province) of Paysandú, this was the climax to a desperate story that began some two years earlier, when the water level in local wells dropped by up to 60 percent. And kept dropping. The culprit, it turns out, is the Eucalyptus tree, or rather the large-scale plantations run by international corporations that are spreading across Uruguay. The tree farms are heavily fertilized by tax subsidies from the federal government and aid from such international financial institutions as the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank. Las Flores lies just three kilometers east of Piedras Coloradas, the main town in a region that has been afflicted by a growing water shortage since becoming a favored location for this lucrative new crop. Other settlements in the region are also suffering the impact of eucalyptus plantations. The forestry companies are buying up more and more land and the eucalyptus forests are now spreading up to the very doors of the small towns and villages,” commented fruit grower David Kertesz. That is what happened at Las Flores. “At first the plantations were far away, but little by little they kept moving closer,” Bazzini reported. “When they reached to just a few meters out of town, the water ran out and the land died.” “That Christmas Eve we hit rock bottom,” Bazzini recounted. “The little water left was gone, and it never came back.” The 40 local families who lived off the land were forced to leave everything behind and move away. Only five houses remained occupied. Today, Las Flores is known as Pueblo Seco, “Dry Town.” “Trees for pulp production have taken over land formerly used to grow wheat, barley, sunflowers and linseed,” said Carrere, who is also the coordinator of the World Rainforest Movement (WRM). Foreign-owned large-scale plantations of the fragrant trees now occupy more than 700,000 hectares (2,700 square miles) in Uruguay, estimates María Selva Ortiz of the REDES- member of the Friends of the Earth non-governmental environmental network. http://www.gnn.tv/articles/2049/Pulp_Factions


28) Bidar, Karnataka: The nationwide scientific census of wildlife will be undertaken for four days from today in this district of Karnataka. Deputy Conservator of Forests P C Ray said ”different techniques will be used to count herbivores and carnivores animals. Herbivores beasts will be identified by actual sightings. Its living conditions and habitat will be noted. The various pressures on the habitat, human and natural, will also be recorded. This data will help devise protection and preservation techniques.” Forest officials, Non-Governmental Organisations and school children would take part in the census, which would include a status survey of forests and non-forest areas, by visting forests, fields and other stretches where wild animals could be found. District Honorary Wildlife Warden S Kavade said Project Tiger Directorate and the Wildlife Institute of India have devised the method. Until recently, only animals in protected forests were being counted and the limited data affected policy formulation and its implementation. ”Only five per cent of the forest area in the country was protected. Reduced food and water in the protected areas have pushed wildlife into unprotected forests and non-forest areas. A comprehensive census of all the areas is necessary”, he opined. Bidar forests also boasted of carnivores animals, including hyena, wolf, jackal and fox. They would be counted by indirect methods such as recording of sounds, smells, pug marks, scat marks on trees, droppings, besides direct sightings. http://www.newkerala.com/news.php?action=fullnews&id=88958


29) MAHITSIARONGANA, President Marc Ravalomanana’s government has embarked on an ambitious national effort to protect Madagascar’s remaining biodiversity while simultaneously reducing poverty and promoting rural development. In September 2003 he announced his commitment to triple Madagascar’s protected areas in five years at the World Parks Congress in Durban, South Africa. Christened “the Durban Vision”, the plan would increase the country’s protected habitats from 1.7 to 6 million hectares – or from 3 to 10 percent of the Indian Ocean nation’s surface area. Despite being renowned for its globally unique biodiversity, Madagascar has seen its forests reduced to only 10 percent of their original cover. With deforestation continuing at an annual rate of 2,000 km2 – largely to meet the livelihood needs of expanding rural populations – this protection pledge may have come just in time. A three-day walk separates Mahitsiarongana village in Madagascar’s remote northeast from the nearest town. Men, women and children trickle in from the bush to the village’s muddy center – word of mouth has summoned them from the distant rice fields where the majority stay during the planting season. The village president finally introduces the six conspicuously urban Malagasy who have arrived, saying, “They’re here to help us manage the forest.” During the half-hour meeting the villagers are told the forest around their lands will soon be protected by something called the Makira Project, but are assured that they can remain in the area, and will have management rights to the forest they have used for generations. As the world’s 11th poorest nation, with an illiteracy rate approaching 50 percent, Madagascar lacks the resources – both financial and human – to undertake the management of six million ha of new protected areas. Illegal mining and logging head the list of commercial menaces, and a growing population’s continued practice of the slash-and-burn agriculture that is responsible for most of Madagascar’s deforestation means managers will have their hands full.http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/02f3213c6c7245d820965cd877dcbb8d.htm


30) Tra Su Cajuput forest is one of six seasonally flooded for-ests of the Mekong Delta. An Giang province is developing the forest as a nature reserve and an ecotourist attraction. Tra Su Cajuput forest covers around 845 hectares in Van Giao Commune, Tinh Bien District, 15 kilometers northeast of the Mekong River. Most of the area is a habitat for storks and other birds. Tra Su is a seasonally flooded forest, comprising of cajuput trees, grass plots and bog area. It’s home to 140 plant species, more than 62 bird species and many species of rare and precious mammals and reptiles. Visitors can explore the cajuput forest by canoe and view thousands of birds including flying foxes, white egrets, and black egrets. Visitors can also see houses on stilts tied to tree-trunks. An Giang Province plans to invest around VND14 billion to develop ecotourism and carry out scientific research to preserve the forest. Recently, the province constructed a 12-kilometer dyke and established a forest ranger team. The province also plans to build more bird observation towers, roads, and waterways to the forest. http://www.saigontimes.com.vn/daily/detail.asp?muc=11&Sobao=2613&SoTT=16


31) The latest reports make it clear; Borneo is one of the top five places on earth where wildlife is most endangered. If nothing is done, most of Borneo’s natural habitat will be gone by 2010. One area that screams out for help is the Sebangau peat swamp forest in Kalimantan where the world’s largest population of orang-utans is dwindling fast. Ten years ago there were 15,000 orang-utans; now there are only 7,000. Illegal logging robs them of their home; illegal pet trading robs the young orangs of their mothers. And the worst thing is, these are not even the greatest threats right now. What’s really going to put paid to the peat forest of Sebangau is a vast network of canals that’s draining the whole swampy area. “These canals were dug by illegal loggers to float the logs out to the larger rivers bordering this area,” explains Helen Morrogh-Bernard who is studying orang-utan ecology and behaviour in Sebangau. “And although the canals are quite small, there are hundreds of them.” The net result of all these canals is that for the past eight years, this peat swamp forest has been drying out. “As the canals drain the area, the peat dries out, the trees fall over and forest fires start more easily,” adds Simon Husson, who like Helen Morrogh-Bernard works for CIMTROP (the Centre for International Co-operation in Management of Tropical Peatland) and studies Sebangau’s orang-utans. “It’s the biggest single problem we have here,” Simon continues. “Because the canals are draining this peatland, we get very extended dry seasons where the water-table can be one-and-a-half metres below the surface, whereas it use to be only 30 centimetres.” http://www2.rnw.nl/rnw/en/features/science/060116rf?view=Standard

32) Landslides and flash floods in Indonesia that killed as many as 240 people have set off a heated debate over the role logging may have played in the disaster that covered scores of homes in mud and rock. Local environmentalists say logging in central Java worsened the situation and exposed the government’s failure to reign in illegal logging rampant across the archipelago. But the administration of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono denies that logging was to blame and has found unlikely support from international conservation groups. They said the cause of the landslide likely had more to do with the makeup of central Java, where thousands live in flood-prone areas and farmers have torn down forests to clear agriculture land and plantations. “Sure, deforestation may play a small part in flooding,” said Greg Clough, a spokesman of the Centre for International Forestry Research. “But strong scientific evidence suggests even good forest cover will not prevent flooding in cases like Jember, where reportedly heavy rains fell for several days. Exceptionally long and heavy downfalls saturate the forest soil, making them unable to absorb more water.” http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2006/1/17/lifefocus/13083898&sec=lifefocus


33) SHAH ALAM, Jan 18 (Bernama) — The state government has revoked the licence of a logging company in Hulu Langat as its activities were found to have damaged the environment. The company had been given a concession at Kampung Sungai Semungkis, Hulu Langat but its traditional logging activities were found to have damaged the environment, Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo said Wednesday. However, the logs which had been cut down were allowed to be taken out within a few weeks, he said. A total of 300 cubic metres of logs were expected to be taken out of the area in one week, he told reporters after chairing the weekly exco meeting here, Wednesday. The state government had issued the licence to the company in 2001. Dr Mohamad Khir said the area would be turned into a forest reserve. The state government would set up a training centre for Local Authorities at Hulu Langat to enable their staff to streamline their functions and upgrade their service, he said, adding that the directors and staff would be required to attend a compulsory three-month course at the centre. http://www.bernama.com.my/bernama/v3/news.php?id=176272


34) Police have charged four conservationists with obstructing logging operations at forest blockades in eastern Victoria today. About 30 protesters are blocking road access to forests at Goongerah and Yalmy, north of Orbost. But logging has restarted in coups on the Errinundra Plateau near Bendoc, where police have removed two people from logging machinery. VicForests says it is not safe to log the area while protests are taking place. Goongerah Environment Centre spokeswoman Fiona York says she expects more arrests tomorrow. “The police search and rescue have been very systematic and generally the protests, as well as the removal of them, has gone smoothly and we’re expecting some more of that to continue tomorrow,” she said. http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200601/s1549622.htm

35)A MALAYSIAN timber company will invest $60 million in Tasmania over the next two years on two new mills to process value-added wood products within the forests where the eucalyptus hardwood is grown. The two separate plywood veneer processing mills will be built by Ta Ann Holdings in the Huon Valley near Judbury and at Circular Head in the state’s North-West, near Smithton. A key part of the Malaysian company’s interest in Tasmania is the guarantee it will be able to give to its Japanese, Korean and European customers that only regrowth timber grown sustainably by Forestry Tasmania will be used in making the plywood. Under the deal signed yesterday by Premier Paul Lennon and Te Ann Holdings executive chairman Hamed Sapawi, the first $30 million rotary peel veneer mill will be operational in the Huon within a year. The Premier said the deal showed international timber companies had confidence that the right balance had been struck between protecting and harvesting Tasmania’s forests by such landmark accords as the Regional Forest Agreement. “The fact we have been able to settle down the environmental debate in Tasmania is the key reason [the Malaysian company] has made this investment,” Mr Lennon said. http://www.themercury.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,17845614%255E3462,00.html

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