101OEC’s This Week in Trees

This week we have 36 items from: British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Vermont, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maine, Canada, European Union, Georgia, Jordan, Zimbabwe, Panama, Brazil, Malaysia, Philippines, Australia and World-wide

British Columbia:

1) Granting the Kwantlen First Nation 600 hectares of land on Blue Mountain has local environmentalists worried about the ecological future of the wilderness area. Jim Bradshaw of the Blue Mountain Kanaka Creek Conservation Group was asking for answers after reading about the land transfer in The TIMES. The TIMES reported that the Kwantlen First Nation signed a Forest and Range Opportunities agreement with Forests Minister Rich Coleman. That agreement will give the Kwantlen access to 26,000 cubic metres of timber and $433,000 to help develop the nation’s economic base. The area will amount to about 600 hectares, and is considered part of the Kwantlen’s traditional territory – though the formal location hasn’t been sketched out. This isn’t an ordinary woodlot settlement, however. This licence doesn’t have an expiration date – it will remain under the management of the Kwantlen Nation permanently. And Bradshaw is concerned. “It’s not that they don’t deserve it,” he said of the settlement. “We’re not on side with anybody logging it because we think logging is totally destructive.” While Bradshaw said he has heard the term “low-impact logging” bandied about, he suspects clear cuts will be more in order for the area. “I think it’s more valuable left standing than clear cut, but that’s the only way they can make money.” The land, he said, “would be better preserved for all the people, for everybody to use it.” According to Blue Mountain Kanaka Creek Conservation Group director John Castiello, they had an audience last month in Victoria with several ministers, attempting to have the wilderness area protected. The signing over of logging rights, Castiello said, “comes as news to us. “We were supposed to be part of these discussions that went on. Why were we not even consulted?” Right now, said Castiello, “the government is taking over the decision. We don’t know where we stand.” “In this particular area the water is very important to us. The endangered species is important to us…Kanaka Creek is open to motorized vehicles and logging and we are trying very hard to see if we can preserve it,” Castiello said. “Everybody does what they want and the environment is shut right out of it.” http://www.mrtimes.com/index.shtml

2) Friends of Clayoquot Sound, our employees and supporters envision a future full of wild fish and old growth forests. We need your help to make sure a corporation doesn’t paralyze the ability of environmentalists to work for conservation. As we seek to turn the tide, we have been met with resistance by the powerful forces of industry. We’re feeling it and we need your help. Please donate towards our Legal Defence Fund – because you love the wild ocean and you know it needs defenders. You can send donations marked as FOCS Legal Defence Fund to Box 489, Tofino BC, V0R 2Z0 or donate online by clicking here. If you donate online, please put FOCS Legal Defence Fund in the “In Tribute” section. Thank you! Friends of Clayoquot Sound http://www.focs.ca

Washington:

3) As a parade of government and timber-industry representatives took the podium at a signing ceremony on the shores of Scott Lake, south of Olympia, all praised the deal, which was worked out in principle in 1999 and approved soon after by the Legislature. It took until Monday for the federal government to sign off. Proponents promised that a series of uncertainties known at the time of the original deal — uncertainties still not settled — will be dealt with through a series of studies. If the protections need to be increased to better protect salmon, they will be, said the pact’s proponents. “Washington leads the way with a farsighted, science-based approach to the protection of salmon … and protection of our forestry industry,” Gov. Christine Gregoire told about 150 government and timber-industry representatives. She said the deal shows “Washington state will be globally competitive when it comes to timber.” “This podium stands at ground zero for some of the unintended consequences of Forests and Fish. While we celebrate, we must remember those unintended consequences.” State Sen. Debbie Regala, D-Tacoma, a legislator who helped pass the deal, said there could be more surprises in store if the industry and government stick honestly to the provisions requiring tighter rules if studies show salmon need them. “The truth is, sometimes science takes us in a direction we’d rather not go,” she said. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/272903_forest06.html

4) In the aftermath of forest fires, U.S. senators should look before they leap to pass pro-logging legislation such as the measure that recently passed the House. Otherwise, they risk damaging the forest’s ability to recover. Although logging and replanting may seem like a reasonable way to clean up and restore forests after disturbances like wildland fires, such activities actually slow the recovery of forests and affected streams and wildlife. Many scientific studies, including a recent study by scientists at Oregon State University and the Forest Service, conclude that forests are damaged rather than restored by logging after a fire. Most plants and animals in dry western forests are adapted to periodic fires and have been responding to them for millennia. They have a remarkable way of recovering – literally rising from the ashes – because they have evolved with and even depend upon fire. In testimony before the House Subcommittee on Resources (Nov. 10, 2005), eminent forest ecologist and University of Washington professor Jerry Franklin noted that logging dead trees often has greater negative impacts than logging live trees. He concluded that “timber salvage is most appropriately viewed as a ‘tax’ on ecological recovery.” —James Karr is a professor at the University of Washington and has published studies on the impacts of post-fire logging on aquatic ecosystems and wildlife. Dominick DellaSala is a forest ecologist for the World Wildlife Fund Klamath-Siskiyou Program. They wrote this for Unified Forest Defense Campaign, a coalition of national and regional forest conservation organizations. http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/ci_3910350

5) Specialty products harvested from Northwest forests — including moss, salal and slender stalks called beargrass — once were a low-class sideshow to logging, picked by rural folks in need of extra bucks. It since has swelled to a mammoth industry that brings in at least a quarter-billion dollars a year — nearly one-fourth the size of the apple industry. Along the way, simple wild greens have become such hot commodities that pickers like Chau have been beaten up, robbed and shot in fights over turf. Illicit harvesters make midnight raids to steal truckloads of greens from public and private land. Cops conduct stakeouts and sting operations in a never-ending battle against illegal picking. Amid it all, the industry is fueled by an easily exploited workforce of immigrants who can work 10-hour days for $100 or $30 — or nothing at all. In the past two years, seven brush pickers have been killed in van crashes. Now the state, which has battled the problems of illegal brush picking and worker safety for years, contends that nearly half the brush-picking businesses it recently audited may violate labor laws. Yet repeated attempts to wrestle the trade under control have met stiff resistance. And some aren’t sure it can be tamed. Every day from September to May, thousands of workers take to public and private forests all over Western Washington to pluck grass, salal and huckleberry branches for flower arrangements; cut ferns and boughs for Christmas wreaths; or collect moss for topiaries or to line fruit baskets. It all ends up at dozens of sheds like Kuch’s. Since the 1980s, globalization and transportation improvements have allowed the brush-picking business to grow as much as 10 percent a year, drawing a stream of workers from Mexico, Guatemala and Southeast Asia. Now local greenery is sold at Wal-Mart and Costco stores. Europeans count on a stable supply. Mr. Who Greens sends out five semi-truck-sized shipping containers a week, grossing $5 million a year. And that’s just a midsize operation. More than 250 companies in Washington are involved in picking, buying or shipping these products, the state Department of Labor and Industries counts. In 2002, the most recent year tallied, the harvest was estimated at $236 million. Up to 65 container loads are shipped domestically and overseas each week. That’s just what can be documented. An equal amount may be traded under the table, picked without permits or with forged paperwork, said James Freed, a natural-resources extension professor at Washington State University, who has observed the industry for three decades. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003042206_salal06m.html

Oregon:

6) The Northwest Ecosystem Survey Team (N.E.S.T.) is a group of forest defenders committed to protecting the habitat of rare species associated with old growth and late-successional forests. NEST enforces environmental protections built into the Northwest Forest Plan (NWP). In 2004, Bush and the timber industry conspired to end the protections provided by the Survey and Manage portion of the NWP. However, their conspiracy was short lived because in January, a U.S. District Court judge upheld Northwest Forest Plan rules that required on-the-ground inspections for various animal and plant species before logging can begin. This ruling halted more than 140 logging projects on public land in the Northwest — about three-quarters of them in Oregon — after concluding that the Bush administration illegally stopped checking for sensitive species before letting the cut proceed. So starting this summer NEST will resume its citizen surveys for sensitive species. One of the species that we survey is the red tree vole. The red tree vole is a small arboreal rodent that lives in the tops of Douglas firs and feeds on its needles. It makes its nest from the discarded interior of the needle, which is called a resin duct. We document the presence of this animal by finding its nest and reporting it to the responsible agency (usually the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management). Put simply, under the Northwest Forest Plan, documented red tree vole sites get roughly 10 acres of protection. Our documentation of this species has led to the protection of hundreds of acres of old growth forest in about a dozen timber sales. Our surveys have also been instrumental in court cases resulting in federal injunctions. N.E.S.T. Needs volunteers! Nest will begin its activities starting in June and continue throughout summer. NEST needs volunteers of all kinds. http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2006/06/340684.shtml

7) A new pipeline is proposed through Coos and Douglas County, traveling 223 miles, from Coos Bay to the California border, south of Klamath Falls. A 100′ wide corridor will have to be clearcut the entire 223 miles to accommodate the machinery necessary to burry a 36″ natural gas pipeline. 153 miles of the pipeline corridor is planned on private land, going through and near farms and yards of thousands of people. 70 miles will be on BLM and Forest Service lands. The pipeline, buried underground and under rivers and its 100′ wide clearcut corridor will leave Coos Bay and go south east. It will be located north of Coquille, south of Dora and Sitkum, just north of Camas Valley, through Olalla, and south of Dillard. After it crosses the South Umpqua River it will turn south and cross both forks of Myrtle Creek, travel west of Milo, cross the South Umpqua River again, go over Wildcat Ridge in the Umpqua National Forest, and south to Trail where it will cross the Rogue River. It will eventually make its way over the Pacific Crest Trail south of Lake of the Woods, and on to Klamath Falls to meet up with the California pipeline. If a private property owner does not want to sell an easement for this pipeline at an appraised current market value, the corporations will have a “Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity” issued from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) which allows them to acquire the land through eminent domain. Come to the public meeting in Canyonville to find out more. Please pass on this announcement to any friends you have near the proposed pipeline route. http://citizensagainstlng.googlepages.com/

8) Perhaps it is time for those who view all roads and logging as evil to re-evaluate priorities before we lose something it will take hundreds of years, years the environment can’t afford, to re-establish. The view that our various schools of forestry are merely tools of the timber industry is, if it ever was, no longer valid. Many students and graduates in Forestry are environmentally conscious and earnest in their desire to right past mistakes.
We have fouled our own nests, forests, to the point of losing them unless we help nature gradually back into its normal cycle. Maybe carefully executed thinning and fuel removing operations can speed that process. It’s not arrogance to think we can rectify our mistakes better than nature, but a humble desire to prevent them from becoming irreversible by aiding the healing process. These thoughts rambled through my mind as a Caddis swung into an eddy that first, smoky evening on my river. Splash! Gulp! Fish on!
Soon, I gently landed and released a large Cutthroat. Something we almost lost through ignorance and poor logging practices. http://www.gazettetimes.com/articles/2006/06/07/sports/venture/vent01.txt

9) GRANTS PASS – The first timber sale likely to be harvested in a “roadless area” of a national forest since the Bush administration eased logging restrictions goes on the auction block Friday. The U.S. Forest Service and the timber industry downplayed the significance of the sale of standing dead timber burned in the 2002 Biscuit fire on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, but environmentalists denounced it as a precedent opening the door to logging on nearly 60 million acres of national forests they had previously considered protected from logging. “We’re hoping that the Forest Service will recognize that this is an extremely divisive and counterproductive timber sale and agree to stop the sale,” said Mike Anderson, a lawyer for The Wilderness Society in Seattle. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski has asked the Forest Service to delay timber sales in roadless areas until after it works through a new petition process created under the Bush administration’s new roadless rule. http://msnbc.msn.com/id/13203339/

10) Citing an example, he said that Musa had declined to approve many timber extraction applications which prompted some parties to meet him, in which he also refused. Abdullah said this when he was briefed by Sabah Forestry Department director Sam Mannan on the Sustainable Forest Management Programme in Jeramakot Forest Reserve about 170km from here. During the briefing, he also said Sabah had a good and well coordinated forest management programme. He also suggested better rubber clone to be planted and replanting done so that people would have the latex to earn some income, and after 15 years the trees can be cut down as timber to make furniture. He also said not only rubber trees had value but also oil palm trunks which could be turned into furniture as well as ethanol, and he discovered this during his visit in Japan. Abdullah who spent almost three hours visiting the forest reserve witnessed the reduced impact logging methodology practice in harvesting timber from the forest where it could minimise the damages during the cutting and hauling of timber to the surrounding areas. The method only uses one route to tow using tractors in order to minimise the damages to nearby trees. He also witnessed skyline logging operation where cut logs were transported to nearby roads using cable. During his visit, Abdullah also planted a “Bambangan” – a specie which is only found in the forest of Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatera and North Borneo. Abdullah also said more research on forestry and biodiversity should be done by the department and Universiti Malaysia Sabah as well as the private sector. However he said they must be very careful when having a collaboration with the private sector to prevent bio-piracy problem. The Jeramakot Forest Reserve covers an area of 55,000 hectares of mixed dipterocarp forest. As of May 2006, an area of 5,746 hectares have been harvested and a volume of 118,278 cubic metres of 21,505 trees extracted from the forest. http://www.bernama.com.my/bernama/v3/news.php?id=202438

California:

11) Julia “Butterfly” Hill, the country’s most famous tree sitter and a key figure in an ongoing Los Angeles protest, might not make it to Bellarmine University Thursday night for a scheduled discussion. As a backup, the organizers are arranging to have her speak to the audience by telephone, said Mark Steiner, who spearheaded Hill’s scheduled visit to Kentucky. Steiner is co-founder of Cultivating Connections, a nondenominational organization. Hill will participate via phone in a talk Wednesday in Lexington, and might do the same for one scheduled Friday night in Northern Kentucky, Steiner said. Hill once spent two years in a Northern California redwood tree, climbing down in late 1999 only after she and supporters worked out a deal with private landowners to save it and a buffer zone. Her stay was part of a successful effort to save a much larger old-growth redwood forest nearby. Two weeks ago, Hill climbed into a tree in protest for the first time since leaving that redwood. Activists in Los Angeles are working to raise money to buy and save from development a 14-acre community farm and garden in a low-income neighborhood. Steiner said Hill has played an active role in ongoing talks with law-enforcement officials, who he said hold an eviction notice for Hill and others who have remained at the farm. http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060606/NEWS01/60606036

12) The Bush administration withdrew its fire protection plan for Sequoia National Forest, home to two-thirds of the world’s biggest trees, nearly a year after a judge ruled the blueprint violated federal law. The U.S. Forest Service notified a federal court Tuesday that it had withdrawn the fire plan, which laid out the agency’s strategy for responding to lightning fires in the 328,000-acre Central California forest, which includes Giant Sequoia National Monument. The Forest Service said it would not issue a new fire-control plan, but stressed the decision would not affect its ability to protect California’s forests. “We are still going to be aggressively fighting fires, especially the ones that affect human life, property and valuable resources,” Forest Service Matt Mathes said Wednesday. Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who sued to block the plan in March 2005 because it didn’t undergo environmental review or incorporate public input, said the agency’s decision to scrap it leaves the forest vulnerable at the start of the state’s fire season, which runs from June to November. “It is time for the Bush administration to step up and deliver comprehensive plans based on sound science and input from experts and the surrounding communities,” Lockyer said. Sequoia trees, which grow up to 270 feet high and 30 feet wide and live for thousands of years, are only found in Central California. The fire plan, first issued in 2002, allowed commercial logging in the monument. The Forest Service said the thinning of smaller trees was needed to protect the 38 sequoia groves. The attorney general accused the agency of designing a plan that benefited timber companies, while putting forests and surrounding communities at risk. The Forest Service argued it didn’t need to conduct an environmental review because the plan was compiled from other documents that already provided such assessments. In July, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer sided with Lockyer and ordered the agency to revise the plan to comply with the law. By withdrawing the plan this week, the agency said it believed the lawsuit was no longer valid. http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/states/california/northern_california/
14764442.htm

Idaho:

13) BOISE — Officials say thousands of trees in the Payette National Forest knocked down Sunday by a rare tornado probably won’t be salvaged this year. Residents and ranchers who live near remote Oxbow Dam and Lost Valley Reservoir northwest of Council say they are worried about wildfire in the downed trees. They also say there is damage from trees falling on fences and grazing lands. Payette National Forest officials say the fallen trees won’t dry out enough by this summer to add to the fire danger. http://www.ktvb.com/news/localnews/stories/ktvbn-jun0806-downed_trees.675e9768.html

14) Last winter’s strong storms left a splintered footprint in sections of the Sawtooth National Forest, where otherwise healthy trees snapped under the weight of heavy snow. Ketchum District Ranger Kurt Nelson said crews from the Sawtooth National Forest and volunteers from Big Wood Backcountry Trails removed 146 downed trees in the Corral Creek area—one of the harder hit sections—in one week this spring. Corral Creek is located northeast of Sun Valley off Trail Creek Road. “They’ve been working like busy beavers,” Nelson said. He said most of the damage came from a powerful storm cycle in December. “There was a heavy snow load, and probably a little rain on top of it, and it created a situation where we had trees snapping and tipping over,” Nelson said. Most of the damage was confined to elevations below 7,500 feet, he added. http://www.mtexpress.com/index2.php?issue_date=06-09-2006&ID=2005110527

Vermont:

15) I am deeply concerned that today’s front page squabbles and gridlock between the so called “hikers and loggers” is overshadowing our shared interest in the health, productivity, and sustainability of our forests. A recent bill introduced to Congress proposing 48,000 additional acres of federal wilderness in Vermont has reignited the quarrel about the best use of our public land. While the stage for this controversy is Vermont, this type of battle is national in scope. Such debates about the national forest certainly have their place. However, the people who are knowledgeable and care about forests are on both sides of the debate — pitted against each other on the front pages. Our forests have become just another pawn in a game of partisan politics. What’s lost in all the squabbling is that forests significantly shape all of our lives, whether we live in urban or rural communities. Forests help define the distinctiveness of our landscape and contribute to our quality of life and our nation’s competitive position in an increasingly complex global marketplace. The forest cannot be viewed as only one thing or another, as serving only one set of values. Our broadest understanding of and best science about forests show that the lives and livelihood of all of us depend on forests. Yet the groups that truly care about forests are battling each other. Whom is the public to believe or trust for information and advice? Why would young people want to enter this tumultuous field? We all will benefit, as would our forests, by working together to inform neighbors and community leaders about the benefits and values our forests provide. Our shared statement, “Forests for A Richer Future,” is being delivered to members of Congress and other leaders across the nation. Our collective vision speaks with one voice in saying: We all benefit from an investment in our forests — because we all share a future dependent upon the services forests provide. —Don DeHayes is dean of the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont and president of the National Association of University Forest Resources Programs, a consortium of 69 universities. http://www.rutlandherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060608/NEWS/606080314/1039

Pennsylvania:

16) University Park – After more than a decade of closely monitoring regeneration of oak trees on forest tracts around Pennsylvania, researchers in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences have begun to understand why stands of the state’s most important tree are not replacing themselves after they are harvested. Studies conducted across the state by Penn State and the U.S. Forest Service have found that fully 50 percent of the stands studied don’t have the regeneration to replace themselves, according to Jim Finley, professor of forest resources. “So where the canopy has been disturbed — where there has been cutting and there should be regeneration on the ground because there is sufficient light — half the time it is not happening,” he says. “And that’s a major problem.” To achieve reliable regeneration, fencing of oak stands to keep deer out should occur before harvest. “We have seen repeatedly that doing a shelterwood cut (when some oaks are left to provide seed for regeneration) is not a reliable substitute for a good population of seedlings already present when the stand is cut,” he explained. “Shelterwoods can succeed if a heavy seed crop occurs in the first year, but heavy seed crops are unpredictable. Seedlings that germinate in later years do not survive well under competition from established plants that got there first. “But we have also disproved a widespread notion that oak seedlings must be large at the time of overstory harvest in order to succeed in the next stand. Quantity can make up for size because the forest environment is not homogenous. Some small seedlings start out in advantageous conditions and can survive the early battle for space. That seems obvious, now that we know it, but our findings go against conventional wisdom and practice.” http://live.psu.edu/story/17990

New Jersey:

17) Department of Environmental Protection will perform a site inspection of Alexauken Creek Road where PSE&G clear-cut 2.5 miles of trees, according to DEP spokeswoman Darlene Yuhas. The tree cutting occurred along the state-protected Alexauken Creek. According to the Category One classification given the creek by the state, the water quality there must be protected. The mayor and a group of residents are outraged by the cutting, which one environmental advocate termed a “slaughter.” They fear clear-cutting will lead to an increase in flooding and damage to the ecology, among other concerns. “We have contacted the Sourland Planning Council and the Delaware Riverkeeper, regional organizations who are keenly aware of the environmental damage resulting from clear-cutting, and have asked for their assistance,” said Catherine Urbanski, a member of the township’s Environmental Commission. “There are alternatives to clear-cutting, and we need to have PSE&G reassess what they are doing.” The tree removal occurred on land or rights-of-way owned by PSE&G, which is overseen by the state Board of Public Utilities. Many of the felled trees were 24- to 30-inches in diameter. Clear-cutting also was performed in 2005. More clear-cutting is planned, but many of the trees that remain to be taken down are smaller, according to the utility. The state Department of Environmental Protection issued a five-year, statewide permit for the cutting to PSE&G. The clear-cutting was done for safety reasons and to maintain electrical transmissions, “We seem to be getting the runaround from the BPU, and the DEP rep is currently on vacation,” Mayor Tom Molnar said. “It’s obvious that PSE&G has no regard for the land and, according to them, the landowners have no rights. PSE&G seems to have total control of the easements, and they do not seem to be interested in any type of negotiations. We will continue to find other ways to try to negotiate with them. The residents of Alexauken Creek Road are very willing to go to any end to try to resolve this problem.” He added, “We definitely need more help to fight the horrible tree clearing that is currently proposed. The proposed tree clearing is literally right up to some residents’ back door.” Ms. Yuhas said, “The bottom line is if the community wants to meet with us about the work being done there, we’ll obviously be happy to participate in that meeting.” http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=16744055&BRD=1091&PAG=461&dept_id=425410&rfi=6

Maine:

18) But look at a satellite image of the area and you begin to see why this land – known as the Lower Penobscot watershed – topped the U.S. Forest Service’s national list of watersheds threatened by development. The image also helps explain why the Forest Society of Maine, The Nature Conservancy and other groups are so intent on raising millions of dollars to protect this land. On Wednesday, Hutchinson led more than a dozen people deep into the woods to help illustrate this vision of a corridor of conservation land stretching from the Bangor area to the coast. As envisioned, the Great Pond and Lower Penobscot Forest is actually a patchwork of conservation land financed through private, federal and state funds. All but 12,000 acres would remain a working forest. The Nature Conservancy and the Bangor-based Forest Society of Maine already have received $862,000 from the Land for Maine’s Future program to help preserve a 24,557-acre tract that stretches from Great Pond to the easternmost corner of Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge near Milford. Several thousand acres in the middle of the area would not be part of the deal, however. The Bush administration also has recommended $2.2 million in Forest Legacy dollars for the acquisition, but that money is tied up in the congressional budget process.The Forest Society is also negotiating to purchase 5,270 acres off Route 9 near Amherst that will preserve numerous peaks in the Penobscot-Hancock Highlands Region. Hutchinson said the Forest Society hopes to eventually receive public funding for the acquisition. And The Nature Conservancy is negotiating to purchase an additional 12,700 acres for an ecological reserve connecting Sunkhaze to the Maine Department of Conservation’s Bradley Unit. Once complete, the project would create a conservation corridor encompassing more than 63,000 acres from Milford to Amherst. http://www.bangornews.com/news/templates/?a=135546

European Union:

19) BirdLife has broadly welcomed the European Commission’s Biofuels
strategy, published today, as a step forward in the fight against climate change. However, while BirdLife welcomes the Commission’s commitment to ensure that biofuels are produced sustainably and deliver substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the organisation is concerned that the new strategy remains too generic to offer real guarantees that wildlife will not be harmed. For instance, Indonesia’s government plans to develop 3 million hectares of palm oil plantations in the next five years to meet the increasing demand for biofuel, with the EU market signalled as a main market. Most of this area will be obtained by clearing rainforest; a new oil palm plantation covering an area of 1.8 million hectares in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) near the border with Malaysia would destroy one of the last large pristine expanses of rainforest known as “the heart of Borneo”, home to globally threatened species such as the Orangutang. Ariel Brunner, BirdLife’s EU Agriculture Policy Officer, said, “There is a great danger that the development of biofuels will have a devastating impact on biodiversity while delivering hardly any reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The EU can ensure it doesn’t go this way by putting in place a strong system of safeguards. This document is a step in the right direction, but only the bare bones of environmental protection are currently there.” Mr Brunner added, “The EU has pledged to ensure that biofuels are sustainably produced and we shall be watching closely whether this declaration is followed by concrete action. Environmental protection must not be lost in the EU’s drive to promote biofuels.” http://www.birdlife.org/news/news/2006/02/biofuels.html

20) THE HAGUE , Netherlands – Greenpeace today welcomed the conviction of the notorious Dutch timber baron Guus van Kouwenhoven, who was found guilty of being in breach of a United Nations arms embargo on Liberia and sentenced to eight years in prison. Kouwenhoven ran the two largest logging companies in Liberia during the former regime of warlord Charles Taylor and traded so-called ‘conflict timber’ with companies in Europe and China as a means of arming Taylor’s war on the people of Liberia, a war that cost over 250,000 lives. Between 2000 and 2003, Greenpeace uncovered and exposed some of main European log traders buying from Kouwenhoven’s two logging companies. Traders included the Swiss-German Danzer Group; Danish multinational timber trader DLH Nordisk (through Indubois in France); Dutch logger and importer Wijma; Greece-based plywood and flooring producer Shelman; the German logging and processing, company Feldmeyer-Group and the Italian producer of railway sleepers Tecnoalp. Speaking from outside the court in The Hague, Greenpeace International Africa forest campaign coordinator, Stephan Van Praet said: “Europe’s biggest timber traders, who flatly refused to terminate business with Kouwenhoven’s logging companies, must share his guilt. If these people have any conscience, the death of thousands of innocent people and the destruction of the Liberia’s rainforest is stopped and must never happen again.” Only after 7 July 2003, when the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on Liberian timber, were the ties between Kouwenhoven and the European timber trade terminated. The Governments of France and China had previously blocked the inclusion of timber sanctions, allowing Kouwenhoven to prolong his Liberian business activities for three more years. However in 2004, Greenpeace uncovered that the Danzer Group was continuing to finance Kouwenhoven’s business activities in Africa. Despite being blacklisted on a UN Security Council travel ban, Kouwenhoven had fled Liberia and was directly involved with the logistical and financial operations of Afribois, a logging company based in Congo-Brazzaville. Today, timber from conflict prone forest countries like Burma, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to be freely traded on the international market. Greenpeace is campaigning for the introduction of legislation to ban the import of illegal and destructive timber into the European market, and to ensure that European companies and ultimately, European consumers, do not fuel crimes against humanity and the environment. http://www.commondreams.org/news2006/0607-04.htm

Georgia:

21) Environment and Natural Resources Giorgi Papuashvili assures that the forest reform only envisions the leasing of the forest sections and not the sale. According to him, the state-owned forests will be divided into zones and only 20 percent will be leased for a period of 49 years. State Minister for Economic reforms Kakha Bendukidze thinks that the new forest holders will better protect the forests. The landholder will take care of the forests and plant new ones if he is certain that the forest will generate income for him. Experts fear that the government is planning to hand over the reserved territories along with the state forests and will ultimately sell them. The Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN) rallied in front of state chancellery to protest the leasing plans, sending a letter to president and the government calling for the termination of the project. CENN representatives assert that they know the issue will get back to the government’s agenda and the project will earn approval. Environment experts agree that the forest sector needs reforming, however, the government has to develop a common forest management policy first but they assert that the reform is conducted in the upper level of the Ministry of Environment while nothing changes in the lower level which is directly related with forests. The government says they followed the examples of South America, Canada and Russia when developing the model of reforms. 90 percent of forests in Canada have been leased. Russia took the same path, in which most forestland was put out for long-term lease. However, the model was not that successful, and the latest reports say that the states have suffered great damage and vast hectares of forests have been cut. The agreements which these countries concluded with the leasers allow them to cut trees in unlimited amount. The only requirement is that if they find gold, diamonds, or other deposits in the land they must concede it to the state. The NGO representatives see a suspicious link between the forest reform and the constructions of bark plants in the country. According to them, Chinese are constructing big bark refineries in Tsalenjikha and Zugdidi districts and a big part of the trees in the leased forest will got to these plants. http://www.geotimes.ge/index.php?m=home&newsid=138

Jordan:

22) AMMAN — The Ministry of Environment launched on Monday the National Strategy and Action Plan to Combat Desertification in the country. Under the strategy, a total of 17 projects will be carried out. These include establishing water harvesting plants and constructing underground wells in various parts of the country, in addition to a tree planting campaign, Minister of Environment Khalid Irani told The Jordan Times on Monday. In order to highlight the issue, a media campaign will also be launched to raise awareness among citizens on the need to preserve forest trees and protect the green cover, the minister added. The strategy, prepared by a team of local experts, also aims to enhance the living standards of citizens living in the country’s desert regions. The launch of the strategy was timed to coincide with yesterday’s World Environment Day and the International Year of Deserts and Desertification. The strategy will focus on four areas of the Kingdom: The eastern parts of the country such as Zarqa and Mafraq, the south, areas of moderate climate such as Baqaa, Amman, and some parts of the Jordan Valley. “These areas were chosen because they are the most vulnerable to desertification due to their hot climate and also because of creeping urbanisation and the destruction of green cover,” Ministry Spokesperson Isa Shboul said. Jordan is classified among the top 10 water deficient countries in the world. In 2010, it will need about 1.54bcm to meet the population’s water needs, with an expected deficit of 319mcm. Arable land constitutes just 4 per cent of the total land area, with the average annual rainfall ranging between 100-250mm, according to the ministry’s website. http://www.menafn.com/qn_news_story_s.asp?StoryId=1093115610

Zimbabwe:

23) Zimbabwe will face timber shortage within the next 10 years due to over-harvesting and uncontrolled veld fire, experts on timber industry have said. Although the country still has substantial tracts of land with commercial trees, the current harvesting levels and uncontrolled veld fire could see it turning to other countries for its timber requirements, an expert with the Forestry Commission said on Wednesday. Zimbabwe could become a net importer of timber within the next 10 years because there was unwarranted cutting down of commercial trees with no replantation, the expert said. Also, Manicaland Province, Zimbabwe’s hub of commercial forest, last year lost timer worth 20 trillion Zimbabwe dollars to veld fire. (One U.S. dollar equals about 101,000 Zimbabwe dollars.) According to statistics compiled by the Timber Products’ Federation, timber covering close to 10,000 hectare, constituting 12 percent of the country’s pine plantation, went up in smoke just inside four months between July and November last year. The area affected was equivalent to the volume normally harvested over a three-year period. Richard Kanyekanye, the federation chairman, said the industry was working on a strategy to adopt sustainable forests management before the situation got out of hand. At the last count in 2004, Zimbabwe’s commercial trees declined from 12 million in 1998 to 6.5 million. The annual growth rate also took a dip to 0.9 percent in 2004 from 3 percent in 2003. The timber industry contributes 3.9 percent to the country’s gross domestic product. http://english.people.com.cn/200606/08/eng20060608_271960.html

Panama:

24) In 1979, two ecologists at Midwestern universities who knew each other only through their research came up with an audacious plan. They wanted exclusive rights to the top of Barro Colorado, a six-square-mile research island that had become one of the most studied spots on earth. The island, a biological reserve in the Panama Canal, was administered by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, so the two scientists, Robin Foster, then at the University of Chicago, and Stephen P. Hubbell, then at the University of Iowa, approached the institute’s director, Ira Rubinoff, and proposed mapping and measuring every tree every five years to monitor population changes and to test conflicting theories about diversity in tropical forests. Their audacity lay in their asking to bar all other scientific inquiries from their plot, to prevent tiny seedlings from being squashed by scholarly boots. “I wasn’t happy about that,” Dr. Rubinoff recalled, but after hearing their argument, he agreed. They paced out a parcel of 50 hectares (about 124 acres), which the next year became the first in a global network of plots where scientists now track the fate of three million jungle trees. The network is run by the Center for Tropical Forest Science, created at the institute in 1990, and it coordinates 17 other plots — now called “earth observatories” — in Africa, Asia and Latin America, with more to come. Now, with the worldwide network of plots, Dr. Rubinoff said, “The program has come into its own and is already a global think tank. Everyone wants to go into the plots once they are mapped.” At a recent workshop in Panama, researchers from the various plots gathered, each with a laptop, to crunch numbers collected in coordinated, long-term research. “A little United Nations in a room with the same data sets,” Dr. Davies said. “Biology is today where astronomy was 100 years ago. Today it is possible to collect very large data sets and for that data to be published and analyzed across the world by various people with various points of view. But without data there can be no honest debate,” Dr. Levinson wrote in an e-mail message from Singapore, where he has set up a foundation called Small World Group. Scientists estimate that tropical forests cover only 6 percent of the planet, less than half of what they once occupied. The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, founded to foster the exchange of ideas among scientists working in tropical environments, notes unprecedented changes, with 1.2 percent of the remaining area disappearing every year. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/06/science/earth/06tree.html?_r=1&oref=login

Brazil:

25) A campaign to protect the Amazon’s Xingu River from deforestation and pollution has a fashionable new defender: supermodel Gisele Bundchen. Bundchen has endorsed a campaign by the Socioenvironmental Institute to protect the endangered headwaters and the rain forest along the Xingu River in the southern Amazon, she said on her Web site.
The campaign is called “Y Ikatu Xingu,” which means “clean and good Xingu water,” in the native Kamaiura language. Bundchen will “tell the world that the Amazon’s waters are in danger,” the Kaxi Amazon News Agency said Monday. The Xingu River extends about 1,700 miles (2,700 kms) through the southern Amazon, including Brazil’s first Indian reservation, the 2.8 million-hectare (6.92 million-acre) Xingu National Park.
Ranchers and loggers have encroached on the park and threaten to pollute the river, has which tributaries in 35 cities and towns, the agency said. Bundchen is one of the world’s most sought-after models, with credits that include Christian Dior, Bulgari, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Victoria’s Secret, reports AP. http://www.rainforestportal.org/articles/reader.asp?linkid=56948

26) Yet the dams have critics. They would occupy a part of the Amazon rainforest that is home to 800 species of bird and 750 of fish, including a catfish that migrates from the Amazon estuary to the upper Madeira to spawn. Of the 2,800 people directly affected, 850 would be flooded out of their homes. The project “will produce the most serious environmental impacts of any dam plan in the Amazon,” declares Glenn Switkes of the International Rivers Network, a green lobby group. He speaks for what looks like a feeble coalition of local interests and global NGOs, hardly an obstacle to the national quest for energy. Yet in Brazil the grandest schemes can be brought low by a recalcitrant regulator, a rogue judge or an angry citizen. A hunger-striking bishop derailed a pet project of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, to divert water from the São Francisco River to the parched north-east. Promoters of the dams are therefore trying to turn a classic fight between growth and conservation into a marriage of the two. The 20 billion reais ($8.6 billion) project, which would be Brazil’s third-biggest producer of hydroelectricity, aims for modesty. The taller of the two dams will be 15 metres (50 feet) high-a midget compared with the 196 metres of Itaipu, on Brazil’s border with Paraguay. It is folly to dam a river that carries half the sediment in the Amazon basin, according to Jorge Molina, a Bolivian hydrologist. The builders say that almost all the sediment will pass through. Mr Molina claims that the upstream Jirau dam will silt up, shortening its useful life. Others say it will block the flow of nutrients to floodplains farmed by river dwellers. Many suspect that the builders are after something more ambitious: opening the upper Madeira to navigation by fitting the dams with locks. The extra cost would be small, points out Roberto Smeraldi of Friends of the Earth. Lower transport costs would encourage farmers to plant much more soya and grains-at the expense of the remaining forest. Mr Viana is “radically against” the waterway. In Jaciparaná and neighbouring communities, a propaganda war seems to be manufacturing opinion as much as mobilising it. http://www.economist.com/world/la/displaystory.cfm?story_id=7008409

India:

27) The Himachal Pradesh government may be forced to ban an archaic timber distribution right enjoyed by villagers here due to an intervention by the court. Some villagers can sanction a giant pine tree free while others have to pay commercial rates of at least Rs 50,000 for the same tree. “To preserve forests in the state we direct that neither the state government nor any functionary of the state shall permit felling of trees under the timber distribution(TD) rights,” said Chief Justice of the Himachal High Court Vinod Gupta last week. Even though the court has made it clear it doesn’t intend to extinguish the traditional TD rights but certain interim directions should be passed to avoid its misuse. The state government has been asked to file a reply within six weeks on the misuse TD rights issue. The court mediated in the matter after a local resident Ratanjeet Singh wrote to the court alleging that politicians and bureaucrats had failed to protect the rich forest wealth of the state. “A medium sized pine deodar tree has a commercial value of over Rs 50,000 but a villager under TD rights can have the same from the government by paying a paltry Rs 3,” said an environmentalist. “Added to this ridiculous law is the further misuse of the TD rights by influential persons, so to do away with this archaic right makes sense,” the environmentalist said. http://www.business-standard.com/common/storypage.php?autono=94009&leftnm=3&subLeft=0&chkFlg=

Philippines:

28) Roxas City — Flitches of coconut lumber of various sizes and 600 pieces of assorted logs loaded in a truck were confiscated by police authorities in the province in two separate police operations for the period March to May this year. The Capiz Police Provincial Office (CPPO) accomplishments against illegal logging activities and the Coconut Preservation Act of 1995 were in coordination with the provincial offices of Philippine Coconut Authority headed by Provincial Manager Jeffrey Delos Reyes and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) headed by Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) Dionisio Molina. The CPPO report on its anti-logging campaign is in time with the Environment Month celebration this June which will be highlighted by a roadside tree planting activities and an awarding of certificates of recognition to outstanding law enforcers and individuals who helped preserve and protect the environment. “The contribution of law enforcers thru the apprehension of illegal loggers will be given due recognition,” said Edwin Borja, DENR- Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office Forest Management Specialist, about the police report. Capiz Gov. Vicente Bermejo led the recent groundbreaking and turnover of equipment ceremonies at an agro-forestry project in Barangay Nagba, Cuartero. The 14.2-hectare project will be managed by the Nagba Halaran Agro-Fishery Association through the support of provincial, municipal and barangay officials. http://www.pia.gov.ph/news.asp?fi=p060607.htm&no=55

29) LUCENA CITY—Task Force Sierra Madre, a Church-based multisectoral group advocating for the mountain’s protection, has commended the swift action of the National Anti-Environmental Crime Task Force against illegal logging operations based in a Sierra Madre village in Tanay, Rizal last week. “Their action brings us fresh courage to continue our efforts to preserve the environment for the present and future generation,” Fr. Pete Montallana, TFSM chair, said in a letter addressed to Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes. Police and forest officials from the DENR local office in Real town in northern Quezon seized a total of 4,135 pieces of undocumented forest products measuring about 33.54 cubic meters in Barangay Libjo, Infanta town Wednesday. The seized items include narra, yakal, tanguile and red lauan wood species. Antonio Diwa, local environment chief, said government forces confiscated the lumber from a suspected illegal sawmill of one Susan Avellano based on a search warrant issued by Judge Stephen Cruz of the Regional Trial Court in Lucena. “Our main goal is to totally stop any form of illegal logging operations in Reina (Real-Infanta-General Nakar) area. With the cooperation of vigilant citizens and nongovernment organizations, we’re slowly inching toward our target,” Diwa said. http://news.inq7.net/regions/index.php?index=1&story_id=78567

30) Koronadal –Illegal logs were confiscated from a USAID-funded reforestation area at the foot of Mt. Matutum in Tupi town. Forest guards claimed 121 pieces of illegally cut flitches and round logs. The lumber was identified as Albizza falcatta, a species of wood used in making paper. Jim Sampulna, regional executive director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Central Mindanao, said he already instructed to send a team from Barangay Kablon to conduct an investigation regarding the presence of illegally cut lumber inside the reforestation area, reports The Philippine Star. http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7003818146

Malaysia:

31) {Question:} How did your battles against the bush meat trade begin? {Answer:} I came to Malaysia, to the state of Sarawak, in the 1970’s to study leaf-eating monkeys. And I stayed on. The longer I was in Asia, the more I realized that the wildlife I was researching was in grave trouble. By the mid-1980’s, the signs were everywhere. In the town of Kuching, in Sarawak, near to where I worked, the markets were suddenly full of wild animal parts and bush meat. I remember once in the mid-1980’s, hiking in Kubah National Park, just outside Kuching. It was this beautiful green forest, though eerily silent. All the primates had been hunted out. Even small birds were rare. I wondered, “If this ‘protected’ park is empty, what’s happening elsewhere?” When I spoke with other researchers, they’d observed similar changes. Nobody could explain it. So in 1990, the Wildlife Conservation Society — the W.C.S. — asked me to do some surveys. That eventually led to my working with the Sarawak state government to try to curb the wild animal trade. I’ve been at this task since. {Question:} Were you ever able to pinpoint the culprit in Sarawak? {Answer:} It was hunting, triggered by a logging boom. Timber concessions were rushing into remote areas and putting in logging roads. Behind them came waves of commercial hunters with high-tech ammunition and trucks. They’d kill or capture whatever they encountered. On top of that, the loggers hunted for their own food, as did local people. Animals can survive a certain amount of logging. But this was annihilation.This scenario was being replicated all over Southeast Asia. One of the saddest things I ever saw was the Luang Nam Tha park in northern Laos. It was just trees and insects. The local markets were selling frogs and songbirds because all the bush meat species had been wiped out. In my work now, whenever I’m assessing the state of a country’s wildlife, the first place I visit is the market. If they’re selling large things like deer and pigs, I know they have fairly healthy populations. Whereas, if they are only selling frogs, bats and songbirds, it means nothing’s left. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/06/science/06conv.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

32) KUALA LUMPUR — The United Nations on Aug 1, 2002, launched “The World Atlas of Biodiversity” which reported that half of the globe’s forests that had existed since the ice age had since been cleared or mutilated by mankind. Destruction is more rampant in the tropical rainforests of South-East Asia, Congo and parts of the Amazon. About 22 per cent of these areas were cleared for purposes like farming, setting up new townships and other agendas in the name of “development”. Scientists estimated that this exploitation, if left unchecked, would jump to 48 per cent by 2032! The 2005 “Biodiversity in the Next Millennium” study, which involved 400 American Institute of Biological Sciences members, revealed that mass extinction is now in its most rapid stage in the globe’s 4.5 billion-year history. Most worrying is that the rate of destruction is even faster than what had occurred in the past, including the mass extinction of dinosaurs some 65 million years ago when Earth was hit by a giant meteor. The study placed the biodiversity loss as more serious when compared to depletion of the ozone layer, global warming and contamination. Commenting on the extinction of species, Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) executive director Dr Loh Chi Leong said as the country is rich in biodiversity, the problem becomes more relevant to Malaysians. “There are 192 countries in the world, but 75 per cent of the world’s plant and animal species are found in 12 countries including Malaysia”, Dr Loh told Bernama recently. He said the 12 “mega biodiversity countries” are rich in flora and fauna that could not be found elsewhere in the world. Dr Loh said Malaysia is unique as it is a small country to have such a vast biodiversity. Malaysia’s rainforest is among the oldest in the world, estimated to have existed as an ecosystem since 130 million years ago, older even than some parts of the Amazon and Congo. The country’s rainforest is also among the world’s few spots that have the most number of plant species per hectare, he said, adding that new species are often found whenever a scientific expedition is held. http://www.bernama.com.my/bernama/v3/news.php?id=202086

Australia:

33) The report, prepared for the Victorian Association of Forest Industries, is based on a number of assumptions, including that there would be no reduced access to native forest for the industry. It comes after the State Government decided to phase out logging in the Otways by 2008. Mr Stanford said resource security was crucial. He said the regional forest agreement process promised resource security, but within two years of its completion, there was a 32 per cent cut in native forest areas available. This was followed by the move to stop logging in the Otways a 4 percent cut. “This decision appeared to have been taken for political rather than scientific reasons the impact on the industry’s confidence was severe,” Mr Stanford said. Under State Government policy, the industry was promised a sustainable yield of 575,000 cubic metres of sawlogs, but supply this financial year would be only 530,000 cubic metres. A Government spokeswoman said the Government would continue to follow the Our Forest Our Future guidelines, designed to ensure sustainability of Victoria’s native forests and timber industry communities. The spokeswoman said the Government made the Otways decision after local government and the tourism industry raised concerns. “The Bracks Government is striving to balance the viability and future of the timber industry with the protection of the environment,” she said.
http://www.theage.com.au/news/business/timber-industry-steps-up-campaign-for-native-forest/200
6/06/06/1149359745430.html#

35) “They must not lose sight of the relationship they have to the tree and their own responsibility – it is not something to be wasted or trivialised.” This has been taken to heart by Henry Wilson, an honours student at the school of art. He used plantation-grown beech from Europe and plantation hoop pine from Australia for his chair designs. Hayward articulates what generations of woodworkers have known instinctively – that harvesting and using timber comes with a serious responsibility to the environment. And it’s a responsibility that applies as much to consumers and homeowners as it does to fine furniture makers. In recent decades, however, the advent of indiscriminate clear felling in many of the world’s most environmentally sensitive regions has derailed this intimate connection with timber. Part of Hayward’s approach with his students is to insist they discover the origins of their materials. That way, he says, they will know the fine furniture they produce will not have been at the expense of “devastating a mountainside and leaving the villagers starving or having to move on somewhere else”. A report prepared last year for the Federal Government by Jaakko Poyry Consulting found the global market in illegal or suspect timber is worth $30 billion. Each year, about 9 per cent of the timber imported into Australia has been illegally harvested. The report says: “Of particular concern to Australia are its hardwood imports from the regions identified as having problems, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and smaller nations that are struggling economically, such as Papua New Guinea.” http://www.smh.com.au/news/home-lifestyle/out-of-the-woods/2006/06/08/1149359859730.html

World – Wide:

36) The largest ever survey of tropical forests might just put trees firmly on the global climate change agenda. The International Tropical Timber Organisation report says 95 percent of tropical forests are not being managed sustainably. This demonstrates “a collective failure to understand that forests can generate considerable economic value without being destroyed”, says ITTO executive director Manoel Sobral Filho. Of 353 million hectares of forest earmarked by governments for sustainable timber production, only 25 million are actually being managed sustainably, says the report. As for protection, it notes that governments have enacted management plans for only 2,4 per cent of the 461 million hectares of forest that are supposedly protected. The report urges the international community to create incentives for tropical nations to protect their forests. According to Sobral: “This would include a global market where prices for timber from natural tropical forests are strong, and globally important forest services, such as water production, biodiversity conservation and carbon storage are paid for. On a more positive note, the latest report says that sustainable management of forests is on the rise. When the organisation last conducted a major survey, in 1988, only a million hectares of tropical forest were being managed sustainably. This has risen to 36 million hectares — an area about the size of Germany. http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=14&click_id=143&art_id=iol1149668686402S316

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