107OEC’s This Week in Trees

This Week we have 38 news items from: British Colombia, Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, Indiana, New York, Massachusetts, Canada, Romania, Greece, Africa, Gabon, India, Nepal, Solomon Islands, Malaysia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia, and tropical forests.

British Colombia:

1) Members of a local outdoors club are decrying signs of accelerated logging in UBC’s Malcolm Knapp Research Forest, located west of Golden Ears Provincial Park. The Ridge Meadows Outdoor Club, which organizes a range of activities including hiking, camping, kayaking, and cross-country skiing, goes on a weekly hike in the forest. And lately, members say they have seen a new road open up about a 10-minute walk from the Mike Lake parking lot in the nearby provincial park. And Milner said the roads are destroying what were once scenic places to hike. “The natural beauty of the UBC research forest has been taken away.” Fellow member Ron Paley said a road so close to Mike Lake is unsightly. “A lot of people hike and bike in the park. It’s an eyesore,” Paley said. But Paul Lawson, the forest’s manager, said the road near Mike Lake is actually an old logging road that has been reopened to build access to Mike Lake Road, so UBC can conduct research projects in the area beginning next summer. Lawson added UBC is reducing, not increasing, the amount of logging it does in the forest. “We’re sensitive to community interests. We’re trying to minimize it,” Lawson said. UBC has decreased the cut level in the forest this year to 22,000 square metres, down from 24,000 square metres last year, and hopes to bring the annual cut level below 20,000 square metres over the next couple years. Lawson said UBC has been working to reduce its dependency on harvesting revenue in part by producing value-added products at the forest’s sawmill. Most of the logging that will continue in the forest will occur around Loon Lake. But Lawson added Malcolm Knapp remains a working forest, and is not part of Golden Ears Provincial Park. “A lot of people think it’s the park, but it’s not.” The research forest also recently opened the Walter C. Koerner Forestry Centre, a high-end corporate resort. http://www.mapleridgenews.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=46&cat=23&id=676481&more=

2) The old boardroom of founder Herb Doman has been converted to office space. Hert explains the ordinary appearance by saying his attention is on operations, not flashy corporate offices. The only thing Hert has added since moving in 21 months ago is window trim made of kiln-dried, edge-grain B.C. hemlock. It has a golden hue, looks like fir yet is almost as strong as oak. It’s his way of telling visitors that this species is probably one of the most undervalued woods in the province. Welcome to the world of the man who heads the largest forest company on the coast, a company that has been cobbled together from Doman Industries Ltd., Canfor’s Nimpkish Valley timber licence, and Cascadia Forest Products, the last remnant of the empire in wood built by H.R. MacMillan. Hert was a vice-president at Weyerhaeuser’s Interior operations before stepping into the top job at Western last October. Now he is the point man for a seismic change taking place in the coastal forest industry. Western has gone from being a division of bankrupt Doman Industries Ltd. To one of the province’s largest companies in less than two years. It has, however, attracted little interest outside of the tight circle of industry leaders, primarily because the entire coastal industry, once the pride of the province’s forest heritage, is no longer on investor or government radar screens, said industry analyst Kevin Mason of Equity Research Associates. But there is a strategy to the low profile the players have adopted. Western is by far the largest component of an ambitious plan by major shareholder Brookfield Asset Management — formerly Brascan — to re-make the entire B.C. coastal industry. At stake is 40 per cent of all the Crown timber harvested on the West Coast — the second-largest private timber holding in the province. http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/business/story.html?id=3a9af8dd-2860-4a4b-af30-bace6f


3) In the three years she’s taught kindergarten at Lake Quinault School, she’s watched her class shrink from 18 students to eight. She can’t help but wonder how many kids have to go before she’s out of a job. “I give them more one-on-one attention, but it worries me because I have to change my teaching style, and because of the numbers in our school,” she said as she watched her students make shape drawings. “It worries me because I wonder if I have a job next year. I hear there’s not many coming next year.” In the 15 years since the spotted owl flew into the public consciousness, hundreds of loggers and mill workers have lost their jobs. The number of full-time National Forest Service employees at Lake Quinault has dropped from 65 in 1988, to seven today. The Northern Spotted Owl was added to the threatened species list in 1990, and a year later a federal judge issued an injunction suspending nearly all timber harvesting in the area. As former timber workers left the area looking for work, more than one-third of Lake Quinault School’s enrollment went with them. In 1989, at the onset of the owl controversy, 340 students attended Lake Quinault School. Last year there were 288. This year there’s 221 — and just 210 students are expected next year, according to Principal Beth Daneker. Last week, 18 seniors graduated from the Lake Quinault High School. Just seven kindergartners are expected next fall. Like any good principal, Daneker looks at the numbers. “Right now, the only thing that’s going to make things any better is for the National Forest Service to restart logging.” http://www.thedailyworld.com/articles/2006/06/26/local_news/01news.txt

4) YAKIMA – A federal judge has barred the U.S. Forest Service from building a bridge and relocating trails in a section of the Wenatchee National Forest, ruling that the federal agency must first review the environmental impacts of increased off-road vehicle use. The ruling marks the second time in recent years that a federal court has ordered the Forest Service to complete an environmental impact statement, specifically looking at motorized vehicles, for a project in that area of Central Washington’s Cascade Range. The plan involves building a bridge, improving a campground, building a helicopter landing spot and relocating sections of trail east of Lake Wenatchee. The project is one of several either proposed, under way or recently completed that could expand off-road vehicle use in the Wenatchee forest through a series of connected trails. The area, stretching between Lake Wenatchee and Lake Chelan on the east slope of the Cascades, includes 200 miles of motorized-use trails. An estimated 4,000 visitors use the trails each season, with 60 percent riding motorcycles. Under the current project, off-road vehicles would gain access to an area of the Lower Mad River Trail near Maverick Saddle in the first week of June, when it is usually inaccessible due to high water. Four conservation and recreation groups sued to block the project, arguing that the Forest Service must first complete an environmental impact statement. They also contend the project violates a similar federal court ruling in 1999, which halted construction of the adjacent Goose-Maverick project. U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez of Seattle agreed with the plaintiffs in a ruling Tuesday. http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/northwest/story/5860647p-5205115c.html


5) “A lot of these lands already have moved into pension funds, real estate investment trusts and other investment group holdings,” said Chris Kelly, the West Coast director of the Conservation Fund, which spent $10 million to buy 24,000 acres of timberland along Mendocino County’s Garcia River and its tributaries. The fund’s holdings now constitute about one-third of the Garcia’s watershed. The transaction was supported by grants and loans, including a $4 million loan from the California Coastal Conservancy. Kelly said the Conservation Fund has negotiated for an additional 16,000 acres from the Hawthorne Timber Co., a spin-off of Georgia Pacific. “(The landowners) will sell to conservancies, but they also have a fiduciary responsibility to obtain fair market price,” Kelly said. “We have to compete in the marketplace like everyone else. “If we can keep marching north, we will. This entire region is at stake.” The Conservation Fund doesn’t plan to manage its newly acquired lands as an inviolate reserve, Kelly said. Rather, they will remain working, sustainable forests. That means selective logging rather than clear-cutting. Particular care will be taken to restore riverine habitats to benefit salmon and steelhead runs. The fish once thrived in the Garcia and its tributaries, but were decimated by sedimentation from gravel extraction and logging. Kelly said the runs are starting to return. “There simply isn’t the funding available to turn these lands into public parks,” Kelly said. “One way or the other, they’ll have to generate revenue. But some ways of generating revenue are preferable to others.” About one-third of the fund’s holdings will be permanent reserve with no commercial cutting. On the rest of the land, logging will help thin heavy stands of young, skinny trees that otherwise crowd each other. Domestic prices for Douglas fir — common along the Garcia — are low at $450 to $500 for every thousand board feet. Redwood prices are better, about $950 a thousand board feet. However, redwood plantations are now expanding in New Zealand and it is unclear if the price will remain stable. Meanwhile, logging costs — dependent on the price of diesel fuel — are climbing rapidly. “They went up about 5 percent in the last year alone,” said Scott Kelly. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/06/26/BAGM7JK9E61.DTL

6) Fred Euphrat, a consulting forester from Healdsburg who owns 416 acres of woodland west of the town. The land has been in Euphrat’s family since 1960 when his father bought it for recreation. Euphrat now wants to manage it as a working forest that accommodates both timber production and wildlife. He owns an additional 320 acres of logged-over land near the North Coast town of Elk that he is rehabilitating, and he plans further timberland acquisitions. Ultimately, Euphrat said, his Healdsburg property should yield $50,000, not including the salary he pays himself. For every tree cut, another is protected from logging or a new one planted. “We’re saving our larger trees as heritage trees, and others as wildlife trees because they have good nesting or denning value,” he said on a recent tour of his land with his stepdaughter, Elise Euphrat. As Euphrat talked, Elise and a crew of forestry technicians marked trees for the pending harvest. “This isn’t a charity,” Euphrat said. “We believe California timberlands are an excellent investment. But we aren’t just managing for economic productivity. We’re also managing for wildlife and watershed values, timber stand regeneration and fire control. For all that, we need multiple tools — timber harvesting, government grants, conservation easements and good information.” http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/06/26/BAGM7JK9E61.DTL

7) What does seem unusual is that the owl — long associated with primeval, cathedral-like stands of conifers — is in this particular place: the North Coast’s “working forest,” a vast tract of relatively young redwoods and hardwoods that stretches from northern Sonoma County to southern Humboldt County. These forests are on the cusp of change, with the likely future either rural development or continued timber production. But if it stays in timber, the old ways won’t suffice, said Paul Brateris, the chief operating officer for Harwood Products, the region’s last major mill, in the little town of Branscomb. Art Harwood, the president of the company, has been trying to get timber industry representatives, environmentalists and local citizens to forge a new approach to logging and milling, Brateris said — one that emphasizes stewardship as much as lumber production. Sustainable forestry is the only real option for the North Coast if it is to retain its essential character, he said. “As it is now we can’t get the logs we need locally,” he said. “We have to barge them down from Washington and Canada, and that’s expensive. If we’re going to keep our heads above water, we need local product.” For decades, this land has been logged by companies such as Louisiana Pacific, Georgia Pacific and Sierra Pacific. But in recent years, the timber companies have begun divesting themselves of their holdings because there isn’t sufficient timber left for profitable operations. And some conservationists say opportunities now exist to buy the land before developers pounce on it. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/06/26/BAGM7JK9E61.DTL

8) We found out last week that despite all past case law on similar issues
that we lost the case on the Knob old growth timber sale on the Salmon
River, which is a tributary to the Klamath. This sale is located on both forks of the undammed Salmon River, the cleanest and most productive tributary that enters the Klamath. This sale includes roadless forest and old growth within Wild and Scenic
River corridors. There will be action on behalf of the Klamath Salmon and the Salmon
River old growth within the next couple of weeks. We will not give up on the Klamath River old growth forests. Thank you, Regina Chichizola, Klamath Restoration Council


9) SILVERTHORNE – The White River National Forest will host an open house on Monday for those interested in a proposed commercial timber harvest and hazardous fuels reduction projects on up to 3,500 acres near Dillon Reservoir. The proposed project would harvest dead, insect-infested lodgepole pine individually and in groups throughout project area, which will incorporate Keystone, Dillon and Frisco. In some cases, the majority of the lodgepole pine trees within a treatment area may be removed. The purpose of the project is to promote and restore healthy forests and minimize future environmental effects of the mountain pine beetle epidemic to lodgepole pine and local communities. This proposed project is being planned using the Healthy Forest Restoration Act and tiers to the Summit County Wildfire Protection Plan. The Act is a streamlined National Environmental Policy Act authority used for projects that aim to reduce the risks severe wildfires pose to people, communities and the environment.
A more detailed description of the project, along with maps, is located at www.fs.fed.us/r2/whiteriver/projects.

10) “If you thought you bought something and somebody comes back many years later and says no, it’s kind of a shock to the system,” said Jeanne Perrine, who, along with her husband, John, bought two parcels in 1987. On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, whose district includes the subdivision, met with Forest Service officials in Washington to see whether a compromise can be found. “We had a very amicable and good meeting,” Musgrave, a Republican, said later. “We’ll see how this moves along.” The boundary discrepancy came to light in 2003 when the Forest Service began thinning out trees to reduce the danger of wildfire. Before cutting, however, the Forest Service contracted with the Bureau of Land Management to do a new survey. “When they did that, they discovered that a boundary line was incorrect,” said Reghan Cloudman, a Forest Service spokeswoman. The private surveyor who did the 1976 survey had not used the right coordinates, she said. “The folks in the subdivision are not at fault,” she added. “But once we find a situation where there is private development on public land we have to look at the broader public issues.” Under a federal law known as the Small Tracts Act, Forest Service officials have offered to sell the disputed land back to the owners at a market rate price. But longtime owners Carlton and Lou Anne Garno worry about how much that might cost them. http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_4801553,00.html


11) The fire was nothing but bad when it burned 1,000 acres on its first day, Romero said. The fire burned so hot that it will probably sterilize the soil and make it vulnerable to erosion. It could take a century for a healthy, attractive forest to return, Romero said. The fire has burned slower and cooler since then. After the fire is out, foresters will find areas where it did what a fire should:Thinning underbrush and dead material so the forest has fewer, but healthier, plants. Arizona had at least three fires this week that foresters considered good fires. They got little public attention, but officials are trying to raise awareness of efforts to let lightning-caused fires burn as they would before European settlers began suppressing them. Foresters even took tourists to a fire this week on a portion of the Kaibab National Forest north of the Grand Canyon. Rangers drove people close to the Warm fire near the community of Jacobs Lake and explained its role. “People think fire and think raging inferno. That doesn’t have to be,” said Jackie Denk, a Kaibab fire information officer. “Fire is and can be part of the natural landscape.” The Warm fire, moving slowly and not too high, has burned nearly 13,000 acres as of Friday and required far fewer firefighters than high-intensity blazes like Brins. Crews are keeping an eye on it and making sure it doesn’t cross roads or become a threat. Forest thinning efforts are controversial because generations have grown accustomed to thick forests and think that’s how nature intended them to be. And environmental groups have tried to block the thinning over fears the timber industry will use the procedure as a means to exploit the resource. Controlled burns aren’t always popular either, Denk said. Communities object to smoke and don’t like the charred look. But forests recover quickly afterward. Underbrush will burn off and the larger plants will be healthier. Within months, new growth will return. http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/index.php?sty=68346


12) TOWN OF GREENFIELD — Horses originally bred to carry armored knights dragged heavy tree trunks from the undergrowth Sunday as a horse handler demonstrated environmentally friendlier logging techniques near Baraboo. Rural Highland resident John Adametz brought two of his Percheron draft horses to Red Sage Health on Clingman Road. He was hosted by John Thuesen and wife Laurel Redmon, who own a small farm and operate an acupuncture clinic. With helper Jackson Walmer, Adametz picked out a fallen log tangled in the underbrush and attached a heavy logging chain to it. The chain in turn was connected to a harness worn by Black Gold, a male, and his work companion, Monique, a female. With a few words from Adametz, the horses moved forward, dragging the heavy log from its place and through the farmyard. While dragging one dead trunk it got caught on some thing and snapped under the power of the two horses with a high cracking sound. The Percherons are descendants of war horses originally bred in the French province of Le Perche hundreds of years ago, he said. They were also bred by the Moors of North Africa, who added some of the Arabian breed to their bloodline. The Percherons are descendants of war horses originally bred in the French province of Le Perche hundreds of years ago, he said. They were also bred by the Moors of North Africa, who added some of the Arabian breed to their bloodline. http://www.wiscnews.com/bnr/news/index.php?ntid=89048&ntpid=1


13) NORTH VERNON — Selmier State Forest is a tranquil location for hunting, fishing and hiking. Stella Selmier donated the 355 acres in 1942 in honor of her late husband, Frank. Frank had a strong interest in the outdoors and had blanketed the area with pine, black locust, black walnut, sycamore and tulip trees in the 1920s. Today, the property two miles northeast of North Vernon is owned by the state and is open to the public from sunup to sundown. The mostly wooded property features a small pond, access to Muscatatuck River and a self-guided trail. The pond and river are home to catfish, bass and blue gill. Song birds, owls, hawks, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, deer and turkey call the forest home, along with wildflowers, countless native trees and even the rare American Hemlock tree. Glacial influence “The American Hemlock trees were pushed down here by glaciers and are mostly found only along major rivers,” said Rob McGriff, property manager. “There aren’t many in this area.” http://www.therepublic.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=111&ArticleID=98765&TM=19427.53

New York:

14) A tree in your tank… With a push from Pataki, New York pursues a homegrown ethano. In his 2006-07 budget proposal, Pataki included a $20 million program to develop cellulosic ethanol. The state Legislature ultimately signed off on the money, which is earmarked to help create a pilot plant to make the fuel using materials as diverse as willow trees, agricultural detritus, paper pulp and waste. Thomas E. Amidon, a professor and chairman of paper science and engineering at the State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, says researchers there have figured out how to remove sugars from wood and use them to produce ethanol. They are using a type of willow tree that is more like an overgrown shrub. It grows fairly quickly and requires little energy to cultivate. Then a hot-water process — which Amidon wouldn’t discuss in detail — is used to extract the wood’s sugars. “The thing that makes wood-based sugars attractive is that it’s inexpensive and requires relatively little energy input (to grow trees); they capture sunlight, and we don’t add a lot of fertilizer or run tractors over the fields,” Amidon said. “Biomass willow … captures more energy than the average forest does.” He said the hope is to create a sort of closed circuit of energy production where a substance in wood called ligan would be extracted and burned to create the energy needed to process the wood sugars (cellulose) to make ethanol. Another byproduct, acetic acid, is a valuable commodity, he said. The leftover wood pulp would be sold to a manufacturing plant like Lyonsdale Biomass’ facility 30 miles north of Utica in Lyons Falls, Lewis County, which would burn it to make even more energy. Derek Benson, director of business development for owner Catalyst Renewables Corp., said the benefit would be no waste, since all parts of the tree would be used and the resulting energy renewable. http://timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=493708&category=BUSINESS&newsdate=6/25/2006


15) BECKET — A state forestry plan to remove up to 800 unhealthy trees from a 60-acre area hugging Buckley Denton Pond — a 30 percent to 40 percent tree reduction — has drawn ire from some area residents who want to protect the forest and its pristine setting. At the town highway garage on Yokum Pond Road, the group met yesterday with state officials from the Department of Conservation and Recreation, which has already put the job out to bid for the upcoming winter tree-cutting season. Along the road to the pond, dozens of trees are marked for removal with a blue stripe. Residents were skeptical with state officials’ assurances that the cutting plan is intended to preserve healthy trees while removing those that are vulnerable to rot, disease or other problems. They were particularly concerned, they said, that this job would not resemble another nearby clearing. “Why did they make such a mess down the road?” one resident asked. “That land looks like it was raped,” said Carl Rosenstein, another resident. Chris Messina, a management forester for DCR who will supervise the Buckley Denton project, said that the other project had a different goal: to promote regeneration of healthy oaks. In that job, the healthy mature oaks were left standing and the undergrowth cleared to allow for seedlings to develop. The trees selected for removal around Buckley Denton are of low quality, at risk of rot and in “poor form,” he said. “There’s a lot or mortality here,” he said. “We came to improve the forest, take out the dead, dying, unacceptable trees.” Lee Blatt, who owns a home on the pond, said the trees seem OK to him when he’s “having a gin and tonic” on his deck. He said residents could raise enough money quickly to match the commercial value of the logging job. But Messina said money isn’t the issue: The wood in question is of such poor quality that it will likely bring a bid of only around $3,000 from a logger, who will use it for firewood. Rosenstein said Buckley Denton is the most pristine pond in the county and should be kept that way. He reiterated concerns about the extensive clearing down the road. During the meeting, the state’s chief forester, James DeMayo, showed up after a drive from Boston and took over a discussion he thought was contentious. After admonishing everyone to behave respectfully, he said that the state has spent “millions” to become certified as practicing forestry under strict standards. http://www.berkshireeagle.com/headlines/ci_3975170


16) Calgary — An Alberta conservation group is calling for a moratorium on a plan that would allow extensive clear-cut logging in the popular recreation area known as Kananaskis Country. The Alberta Wilderness Association says a 20-year forest management plan submitted by Spray Lake Sawmills hasn’t been studied sufficiently . They say it’s important to look at Alberta’s forests for more than just timber production. Environmentalist Vivian Pharis says watershed protection, climate change and the population explosion in the Calgary area have not been factored into the plan. The agreement covers almost half of the Kananaskis wilderness area west of Calgary. Ms. Pharis says the public has not had enough time to voice concerns about the proposal, which, if approved by the province, wouldn’t require revision for another decade. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20060624.NATS24-3/TPStory/National

17) “The boreal forest is Canada’s largest eco-region, occupying 35 per cent of the total Canadian land area and 77 per cent of Canada’s total forest land. Through extensive education and information programs, the CWF is proud to advocate for Canada’s wild spaces and species that call the boreal forest home,” said Colin Maxwell, CWF Executive Vice President. “Canada’s forest products industry is extremely proud to support the
Hinterland Who’s Who boreal habitat initiative. While Canada shares stewardship of the boreal forest with other boreal nations including Russia, Scandinavia, and the United States, it is a vital part of Canada’s environmental, economic and social landscape,” said Avrim Lazar, President and CEO of the FPAC. This HWW educational vignette points out the need to balance the needs of people with the needs of wildlife in this ecosystem. http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/June2006/27/c9288.html

18) Cheekahnahwaydahmungk Keetahkeemeenaan – Keeping the Land. On behalf of every member of Pikangikum First Nation, it is a great privilege to present this Land Use Strategy for the Whitefeather Forest and Adjacent Areas. Beekahncheekahmeeng Paymahteeseewahch – Pikangikum, the living ones, yesterday, today and tomorrow. This Land Use Strategy will guide our work in sustaining all of the diversity and abundance of life on the land. Pikangikum Elders continually teach us to always treasure this gift of life. This Strategy is for every living one in the Planning Area and beyond. It is especially significant for our youth. It is of vital importance to Pikangikum First Nation that we are able to offer our youth new land-based livelihood opportunities. The Whitefeather Forest Initiative began as an effort to secure economic renewal for Pikangikum people through a forestry opportunity. The completion of this Strategy represents the completion of a major milestone to Pikangikum people achieving this goal. It is our guide for supporting the economic renewal of our First Nation and contributing to the larger economy of Ontario. It we are to sustain the land, it is of vital importance that new resource-based opportunities are realized through careful planning. It is nothing short of a profound duty to ensure that the Planning Area and its ecological legacy are sustained into the future. This is a duty that is shared by every person from every culture. The Land Use Strategy embodied a community-based approach to planning for new land uses and their associated economic opportunities. Community-based stewardship will also guide the development of the new opportunities as the Initiative goes forward. Planning was also information-based. “This surely was part of the beauty of the planning process”, said Roy Sidders, Area Supervisor for the MNR in Red Lake District. Sidders noted: “Pikangikum people had no firm targets in mind as outcomes of the planning process. There were no targets for forest harvests. There were no targets for cultural tourism facilities. What the Elders asked for is that their knowledge and information guide the planning process. http://www.whitefeatherforest.com

19) Skipping the line for The Da Vinci Code, we go to Over the Hedge and are pleasantly surprised. In our weary, slightly disoriented state, the animated feature about a group of forest animals that wake up from their hibernation to find themselves surrounded by the ominous and mysterious suburbs resonates with us deeply… Now it’s 10 at night on Victoria Day Sunday, and we’re standing in the rain in a dimly lit plaza north of Finch. With our travel knapsack and open map, we know we must look like particularly clueless tourists — the victims of some wildly inaccurate guidebook to Toronto’s charms — but we’re too tired and cowed to correct him. We had started our trek more than 12 hours and 50,000 steps earlier, at eight in the morning on the edge of Lake Ontario. Our plan was simple: to walk across the city, starting from the harbour and winding our way north to the first stretch of completely undeveloped land nearly 60 kilometres away. The question, of course, is why? Our stock answer was a macho echo of Mallory’s response when asked why he wanted to climb Everest. Why spend two days trekking across the city, wearing out our sneakers on 60 kilometres of Toronto-area cement? Because it’s there. The real hope, though, was to get a tangible sense of the city’s sprawl. Toronto’s growth is either impressive or depressing, depending on your attitude. Since 1989, the city has approved the development of 9,100 acres a year (compare this to Portland, Oregon’s 1,700). The Greater Golden Horseshoe is the third-fastest-growing area in North America, with over four million people expected to move here in the next 25 years. Toronto isn’t just going the same route as sprawling American cities, it’s leading the pack. In the morning, we’re woken up by a golden retriever sniffing outside our tent. The rain has stopped, and in the light of day the green space that had seemed so menacing the night before looks like a perfectly pleasant park. We stick our heads out and meet a troupe of early morning dog-walkers looking at our tent with understandable suspicion. Stumbling out, we smile in a way we hope is ingratiating and try to explain that we’re not vagrants, but journalists. In the filthy state we’re in, camping at the edge of their subdivision, this hardly sounds credible, so we quickly pack up camp and hit the road. http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Artic


20) Burnley Mayor, Councillor Mohammed Najib planted the one millionth tree as part of the Forest of Burnley initiative. The planting of the golden maple by the Deer Pond in Towneley Park also marked the hundredth new wooded area to be created in the borough since the scheme took root in 1997. Keith Wilson, the council’s woodlands officer, said the scheme had played a major role in making the borough a nicer place to live. He said: “The Forest of Burnley has established its 100th woodland which is quite a milestone. The woodlands are a great community asset and help make the borough a greener and more beautiful place to live and work.” The Royal Forestry Society attended the ceremony to see the progress the Forest of Burnley had made in its bid to make Burnley greener. The scheme was set up to increase the amount of land in the town covered by woodland from three per cent to six per cent. The national average is eight per cent. It was the first time the charity had visited Burnley since 1998 when a new wood at Thieveley, near Cliviger was just one year old. As part of their visit members dropped in at Offshoots, an environmental project based in Towneley Park. Since then the Forest of Burnley has created 500 hectares of woodland as well as restoring another 200 hectares. An arts and education programme has also been set up to encourage people to appreciate trees and understand their importance as well as a sculpture trial in Towneley Park. http://www.burnleycitizen.co.uk/news/newsheadlines/display.var.807805.0.all_growing_well_for_


21) Four college students have developed an application to protect forests in Romania against tree poachers, flooding and fires. The application uses a network of sensors to monitor humidity, sound, temperature and carbon monoxide levels. The Politehnica University of Bucharest students built the application with Microsoft products, and they took first place in the recent Windows Embedded Student Challenge. The group was one of 30 international teams who made the finals. The application focuses on saving Romania’s forests by tying into the contest theme: preserve, protect and enhance the environment. Illegal logging, which accounts for about 40 percent of the trees cut down in Romania, contributes to flash floods and landslides triggered by the country’s incessant rains, according to Christian Pop, a 22-year-old third-year computer science student at the university, who led the team called 44 Tech. The application works under low power requirements, establishing a network and routing protocol that connects the sensors to a central server. From there, alerts are sent to PDAs if the application recognizes the sound of a chainsaw cutting down a tree, for example. The data also becomes available on a Web site where anyone can monitor Romania’s latest forest conditions. “We used Microsoft’s eBox as the central unit, the brain of the system, and the sensors are the ears and the nose,” Pop said. “We can listen for the sounds of chainsaws to stop loggers from cutting down trees, or try to prevent fires by analysing the data from sensors that monitor carbon monoxide, temperature and humidity.” High carbon monoxide levels or low humidity readings during hot days can trigger a fire alert, for example, he said. http://www.itnews.com.au/newsstory.aspx?CIaNID=34119&src=site-marq


22) About a year after a fire destroyed some 1,000 hectares of land in eastern Attica, the area remains without trees and under construction in some parts even though the government promised the whole area would be replanted. The fire which hit the coastal resorts of Rafina and Nea Makri last July was considered one of the worst in the area, razing 100 houses. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, whose main residence is located in Rafina, announced then that the charred land would remain classified as forest. But local officials immediately expressed concerns that the area will likely be developed after arsonists were blamed for the blaze. Professional and private developers often build on forest areas after fires using legal loopholes before new trees are planted. Normally, it is illegal to build on land that is registered as part of a forest or is to be reforested. According to a decision made by the Eastern Attica Prefecture in February, about 230 hectares razed in last year’s fire are exempt from reforestation because authorities concluded that there were no trees there before the blaze. Prefectural officials drew that conclusion by studying aerial photos shot from planes and satellites that showed only bushes there. But sources close to the issue said the aerial photo evidence is a poor criterion for such a conclusion since the trees may have been cut down by developers before the fire. The decision means that more than 20 percent of land razed by the blaze can be used for other purposes, including development. Over the last decade, fires have destroyed some 14,000 hectares of forest in Attica. Of that amount, only 7,500 hectares has been set aside for reforestation. On Mount Pendeli, north of Athens, forest rangers estimate that 22 building cooperatives are seeking land hit by fires in recent years. http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_politics_100014_26/06/2006_71335


23) Poverty for Africa’s 800 million inhabitants can be made history if the region’s wealth of natural resources is effectively, fairly and sustainably harnessed, but rapid deforestation, widespread land degradation, wasteful water use and climate change must be urgently addressed, according to a new United Nations report released today. “The report challenges the myth that Africa is poor,” UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner said of the study, the Africa Environment Outlook-2 (AE0-2). “Indeed, it points out that its vast natural wealth can, if sensitively, sustainably and creatively managed, be the basis for an African renaissance – a renaissance that meets and goes beyond the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” he added of the targets to slash a host of ills, such as extreme hunger and poverty, high infant and maternal mortality and lack of access to education and health care, all by 2015. “But this is not inevitable and, as the AE0-2 points out, African nations face stark choices,” he warned. “If policies remain unchanged, political will found wanting and sufficient funding proves to be elusive, then Africa may take a far more unsustainable track that will see an erosion of its nature-based wealth and a slide into ever deeper poverty.” http://allafrica.com/stories/200606270358.html

24) Creeping desertification affects every fifth inhabitant in the world, and it might force some 60 million to migrate from sub-Saharan Africa to northern Africa and Europe by 2020, according to experts. The merciless transformation of arable and habitable land to desert where not even a blade of grass grows drew the focus at a conference last week (Jun. 19-21) in Tunis in which some 400 scientists and policy-makers from the world’s parched regions participated. The three-day conference titled the ‘Future of Drylands’ was co-organised by the Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Highlighting its nagging concern about desertification, UNESCO says in a media release posted on its website: “Desertification directly affects the lives of more than 250 million people and threatens another 1.2 billion in 110 countries.” An estimated 60 million of those affected in sub-Saharan Africa are expected to move towards northern Africa and Europe by 2020, it cautions. “The economic impact is also considerable,” says UNESCO. “Lost agricultural production due to drought and desertification costs an estimated 42 billion dollars annually. Another 2.4 billion dollars is spent each year fighting land degradation, and the problem is likely to worsen.” The global desertification convention has been ratified by 191 countries and regional organisations. And it is the only internationally recognised legally binding instrument that addresses the problem of land degradation in dryland rural areas. Uwe Holtz, professor at the University of Bonn and member of the panel of eminent personalities who support the UNCCD, also underlined the need to implement the convention full-heatedly. “Land and in particular the topsoil are the skin of planet Earth. The skin is suffering from ‘cancer’, from land degradation and soil erosion,” Holtz said. “Since desertification is linked to many other problems such as poverty and hunger, environmental destruction, conflict and migration, greater public awareness and political will are required to tackle this kind of cancer,” he told IPS. http://www.ipsnews.net/


25) We are in the rainforest of Loango National Park in the Central African country of Gabon. Our local Gabonese guides tracked these elephants using the tell-tale signs left by these giant beasts. Elephant damage can be significant. Hiking through the forest, one comes into areas that look as if they have been hit by a tornado—fallen branches, canopy trees reduced to splinters, bark torn from trunks by ivory tusks, and stumps worn smooth by sandpaper-like skin. Elephants will topple entire trees just to reach the most succulent leaves. Beyond the forest damage, there are more obvious signs including prodigious amounts of droppings and giant footprints which can be read by trackers like a book. Everything from an elephant’s age to health, sex, and pace can be determined by examining these clues. This path has led us to these elephants. Barely detectable visually through the thick forest vegetation, their presence is betrayed by grumbling tummies and the crash of vegetation being torn from its roots and the canopy. We inch closer, deliberately measuring each step. The wind is in our favor—with their poor eyesight elephants are highly dependent on their sense of smell for detecting predators and onlookers. Suddenly the cow appears to be aware of our presence. She shakes her head furiously and takes a few menacing steps in our direction. I look to Cliff, whose scars bear testament to a lifetime to personal encounters with wild animals. His expression is not one of comfort. “Move back! Move back now!” He exclaims in a shouted whisper as he backtracks carefully but quickly. Fully aware of our presence now, the elephant charges. The ground trembles. Hearts racing, we are now sprinting through the forest dodging vegetation as the elephant plows right through it. The problem with being chased by an elephant, aside from their obvious size advantage, is they can run faster than you. Loango is seen as a model, and if it is successful, conservation groups hope to replicate the Loango experience in the country’s more remote parks, 12 more of which have recently been established by the government in an effort to set aside 10 percent of its land mass for protection. Loango’s success will equate to ever greater preservation of Gabon’s wildlife. While the elephants won’t know the difference, they will be better off because of our visit. http://news.mongabay.com/2006/0627-gabon.html


26) Kadi Part IV is in Tamei sub-division of Tamenglong district and is located 40 kms from Tamei on the Nagaland border. The village is inhabited by the Liangmei tribe. Inhabited by about 36 households, the villagers have to lease out large tracts of forest land to contractors to construct a road for them in the absence of any proactive programmes from the side of the Government. Most of the felled trees are transported to Nagaland as the village is located on the border. Kadi village produces a good amount of potatoes and cabbages as well as other vegetables and fruits found in the hills of Manipur, but due to the absence of any motorable road, most of the goods fail to reach the market and rot away. http://www.e-pao.net/GP.asp?src=6..240606.jun06

27) Often self initiated forest protection and management practices have come under severe criticism and debates are also raised on the technical and ecological validity of their practices. However, the practice of forest dwellers to protect forest across some districts of Orissa has attracted management gurus all over the world. Success stories of forest protection have been taken from a number of villages in Angul, Dhenkanal and Nayagarh districts of the state. According to thengapali system, every evening two batons are left at doors of two adjacent households in village. It implies that one member from each of those households would take the responsibility of patrolling a forest patch for the following day. Even though two villagers watch the forest, villagers are bound to come together to drive away any timber smuggler spotted by the watchman. With batons in their hand, the volunteers ensure that nobody enters the forest with an axe and take away anything from forest. Besides regular surveillance, the villagers also impose self-restrictions of not letting their goats into jungles. It is found that goats nibble down tender shoots. Many communities who critically depend on forest have now adopted the thengapali management plan. The number of villagers involved in managing their own forest resources is now estimated to be over 12,000. Thirty-two years ago, residents of Kesharpur, a small village in Nayagarh district resolved to protect and help regeneration of nearby Binjhagiri Hill. To execute the plan their immediate mantra was “Love Trees”. After many years, now the love has taken the shape of a people’s movement and has been spread out among 65,000 households in 850 villages yielding a 2.5 lakh acres of forest area protected by community in Nayagarh district alone. Besides, 4,000 volunteers could be seen patrolling forests on any given day. Whereas 10,000 sal-leaf plate makers, 8,000 kendu leaf-makers, 6,500 fuel wood sellers, 5,000 bamboo artisans, 4,000 beedi rollers, 200 forest traders and 100 wood carvers eke out their livelihood from the protected forest. http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=136&page=19


28) Taking benefit of the lax law and order situation in the aftermath of the restoration of democracy, an organized gang of ‘forest mafia’ is having a field day in the mid-western district of Banke, reports said. According to Kantipur daily, the District Forest Office of Banke had granted permission to fell trees worth Rs 284.22 million over the last three months. But the trees that were felled down during this period were worth more than three times. The news report said that the local Maoist leaders allowed felling off of trees after collecting 40 percent ‘tax’ that would go into their party coffers. When contacted by Nepalnews, District forest officer of Banke, Yogendra Prasad Yadav, however, said that felling off the trees had already stopped and they were counting the number of trees that had been felled earlier. He refuted reports that felling off of trees still continued in the bordering district. “I have not given order to fell even a single tree after I came here,” he said. Yadav said that 80 percent of the evaluation work was over and that the exact quantity of trees that were felled earlier would be calculated within a couple of days. Acting Chief district officer of Banke district, Krishna Shyam Budathoki said that there was control in felling of trees after the installation of new government in the country. He, however, admitted that smuggling of timber was rampant in the past since security personnel did not venture into jungles due to Maoist threats. http://www.nepalnews.com/archive/2006/jun/jun20/news07.php

Solomon Islands:

29) The Solomon Islands government plans to impose a moratorium on new logging licences. However, the local environment advocacy group ECANSI – Environment Conservation Advocacy Network of Solomon Islands, claims such a move would be ineffective. ECANSI’s forestry advocacy officer Agnetta Karamui, says the high number of logging licences already in operation in the country, have the capacity to wipe out the country’s forests by 2015. She says the government should reduce the number of logging companies already in the country to preserve forest resources. http://www.abc.net.au/ra/pacbeat/stories/s1667044.htm


30) DUNGUN: A logging company with more than 100,000 hectares of forest concession in Terengganu plans to set up a conservation area for various plant species. The aim is to save as many species as possible which might otherwise disappear. An area in Kampung Pasir Raja, Hulu Dungun, has been identified by Kumpulan Kayu Kayan Terengganu Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of state-owned Golden Pharoh Bhd, for the project. “We understand there are many plant species, including those with commercial value, that could become extinct before we can even identify them,” Golden Pharoh chairman Datuk Nasir Ibrahim told the New Straits Times. “The project is aimed at conservation, but we believe it can go beyond that.” The area could become a biosphere where researchers, botanists and taxonomists, could study plant properties and their medicinal potential, he said. “This could attract visitors to the area and help support the homestay project in Kampung Pasir Raja.” Nasir believed many plant species in the area could have medicinal properties. In addition, there are flora such as the rare Etlingera terengganuensis, a ginger species, which is endemic to the Kampung Pasir Raja logging area, and wild orchids which are often destroyed when trees are felled. Etlingera is highly sought after in the ornamental plant trade with a seedling fetching as much as RM700. http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/nst/Tuesday/National/20060627080100/Article/local1_html


31) How many times can I tell you that traumatized orphan orangutans are coming to us in wooden crates? That hundreds if not thousands are dying in the palm oil plantations, and that if we are lucky we will rescue a few hundred this year before it is too late? Here’s another orangutan with machete wounds…here’s another one blinded…here’s another one starving to death…. How many of the readers of my updates will be exasperated with the same tales told over and over, and decide that it is no longer interesting? Will this be the message they delete and follow with a “please unsubscribe me” message? I can tell you that sometimes we, here at the project, would very much like to “unsubscribe” ourselves. But we can’t. After all, to us, each of these repeated tales represents another individual, deserving of all the help we can give. And as long as the wooden crates keep coming in, we will keep opening them and reaching out to the orangutans. Post script: Amazing news! Just as I was closing this piece, the vet rushed in to say that one of the orangutans was having her baby! We were unsure when Aluh would give birth, so it came as a bit of a surprise. Everything went very smoothly, and Aluh took to her new baby daughter immediately, delicately cradling it and cleaning it. In no time, she put it to her breast to suckle. Witnessing an orangutan birth is an extremely rare event, and in this case, the entire birth was recorded by the BBC Orangutan Diary film crew.

32) “I trod on too many toes in the logging industry and it’s got powerful friends,” Zibe says. “I insisted that our industry standards should be no less than those in Australia. I paid a high price for that.” SASA Zibe sighs as he explains why he believes he was sacked by Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Michael Somare as the country’s environment minister. Zibe says that at the time of his sacking 18 months ago, he was implementing measures to crack down on the corruption, human rights abuses and environmental degradation that have become the industry’s hallmarks. Since then, the environment department’s enforcement unit has been effectively disbanded. “Now there is nobody watching over what these companies get up to,” says Zibe, who remains an MP in Somare’s ruling National Alliance Party. Compliance audits completed by the PNG Government’s forestry review team have found numerous breaches of regulations in all 11 projects studied.

33) Our Indonesian NGO partner, BirdLife Indonesia, is only four yearS old and is a spin-off from the Indonesia BirdLife Program which has been in place since 1992. It is led by Sukianto Lusli and has for its board members very respected individuals such as Pa Effendy Sumardja, former deputy to the minister of State for Environment; Dr. Ani Mardiastuti of the Bogor Agricultural University and journalist, Rudy Badil. One of the most innovative and pioneering projects of BirdLife Indonesia is its Sumatra Initiative. Sumatra’s dry lowland rainforests are among the most biologically diverse on earth. Almost two-thirds of its 626 bird species rely on this forest and in addition, there are more mammal species than any other region in Indonesia such as the Sumatran tiger, Sumatran rhino, elephant, Sun bear and tapir. Sumatra also has a unique collection of flora including the Rafflesia arnoldi, the biggest flower, and the Amorphophallus titanium, the tallest flower in the world. Most of Sumatra’s forests have been cleared for logging, the development of oil palm, pulp and paper industries and only 650,000 hectares remain out of the 16 million hectares in 1900. Illegal logging also occurs within logging concessions and nature reserves. In 2003 BirdLife Indonesia came up with a novel idea of getting a logging concession from the government with the objective of protecting it. Together with the RSBP and BirdLife International, it identified the Sungai Meranti Sungai Kapas forest block in the provinces of Jambi and South Sumatra as the priority site. This forest is classified as production forest and has been managed as a logging concession for decades. It covers more than 100,000 hectares with 30,000 hectares of tall closed canopy forest. Surrounded by oil palm and industrial forest plantations and forest and mining concessions, the forest became an isolated island harboring 235 bird species, 37 reptile species and 36 mammal species, many of which are endangered. A semi-nomadic indigenous tribe, the Suku Anak Dalam, live in the forest while outside of the forest are villages of farmers and rubber tappers and as important stakeholders, their participation in forest management is seen as essential. http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2006/june/24/yehey/opinion/20060624opi5.html

New Zealand:

34) The big fall in the Kiwi dollar has boosted returns for forestry, with log exports the biggest winner through improving prices as well as a lower currency. The improved returns would not mean a big rise in forestry export volumes, however, because pulp production was already close to capacity and log sales were held back by higher shipping costs. Government investment spending has also been rising strongly. There are many big building and roading projects throughout the country, and that investment spending is expected to keep leading economic growth, BERL says. Net migration had also bounced back strongly, from 7000 in 2005 to more than 10,000 in the past 12 months. That was expected to rise to 17,000 this year, led by returning Kiwis. http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3706622a13,00.html


35) Imagine you are a farmer in the Australian wheat belt. You need to plant trees to arrest salinity, erosion and soil acidification, but you can’t afford to – trees usually don’t earn you money for many years, if ever. Then, along comes a carbon broker. He offers to pay you money up-front to plant trees. In return, he wants a credit for the carbon such trees will store. You plant the trees and pocket the cash. As more and more farmers switch to trees, the wheat belt becomes more like a belt of living carbon. That is the dream of some Australian farmers, foresters and entrepreneurs. They believe that a system of carbon emissions trading that allows the buying and selling of carbon ‘credits’ will simultaneously help prevent global warming and promote the planting of trees on degraded land. http://www.science.org.au/nova/054/054key.htm

36) The tragedy of woodchipping in south-eastern Australia continues behind a smokescreen of glossy state and industry propaganda that has led many to believe the problems in our forests are over. Forestry management practices are rapidly converting our forests into a virtual mono-culture of similar-aged regrowth that can no longer provide a habitat for native wildlife. Since woodchipping began in the 1960s, millions of birds and animals have died, directly killed by logging or dying painfully from starvation and predation. Others can no longer breed due to the lack of old trees with hollows for them to nest in. More than 50 eucalypt species and the habitats of 400 species of animals and birds are now threatened by logging. Local populations of koalas and long-footed potoroos are on the brink of extinction. Streams and coastal lakes are suffering siltation and, in many cases, drying up. Current logging practices are severely impacting on water supplies. In undamaged forested catchments, water percolates slowly through soils and swamps, providing a steady supply of filtered water to groundwater and streams, even in periods of drought. Current logging practices lead to an initial increase in run-off for about five years, which carries heavy sediment loads, then up to 100 years of reduced flow as rapidly growing regrowth starves the soil, streams, lakes and other vegetation of their “normal” water supply. This taxpayer-subsidised destruction of our native forests has to stop. To force political change, it’s time to intensify the campaign to permanently protect and rehabilitate native forests. To that end, a coalition of nearly 30 environment groups is organising a peaceful mass rally on July 2 at the South East Fibre Exports (SEFE) woodchip mill south of Eden. The protest aims to pressure the state and federal governments to stop the destruction of the south-eastern NSW and East Gippsland native forests. It will also call for an end to native forest woodchipping, which drives the logging industry in south-eastern Australia. Ninety per cent of wood logged in the Eden area goes to the chip mill for export, mainly to Japan for paper manufacture. The chip mill consumes more than 160 truckloads of native forest logs per day; that’s 900,000 tonnes this year, heading for 1 million tonnes annually over the next couple of years. None of this is waste wood, as industry and government would have us believe. The chip mill can only handle whole logs. http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/2006/672/672p6.htm

37) Plans for a $650 million pulp mill to be located just over the Victorian/South Australian border in Penola have been put on hold pending a decision on whether removing six redgum trees constitutes a threat to the survival of the endangered red-tailed black cockatoo. “Look, we’re disappointed… Obviously we’re going to have to work with it but the implications for everybody else in that region are a whole lot bigger,” says John Roche, the project manager for the proposed pulp mill. “The whole problem is the red-tailed black cockatoo. We lodged our… referral [under] the Environmental Protection Biodoversity and Conservation Act [EPBC]; we lodged the application and identified the site was within an area considered critical for the survival of the bird, and we worked through it. “Yes, that’s correct. We’re in an area considered critical for the survival of the birds. We’ve got six trees which they might nest in. There’s absolutely no history of them nesting here. We understand the nearest nest for the red-tailed black cockatoo is eight kilometres from the site, and we understand the nearest feeding grounds are four kilometres from the site, but obviously this is a bird which is of significance and is endangered…” says John Roche. For one person who’s involved in the fight to save the cockatoo, the media hype over the issue is outpacing the reality of the process involved in preserving the habitat. “I guess I’ve been quite surprised,” says Tanya Rajic, education officer for the Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo Recovery Team about the intensity of media coverage so far. http://www.abc.net.au/southwestvic/stories/s1669232.htm

Tropical Rainforests:

38) “Tropical rainforests have received considerable attention related to the global carbon balance, but that has largely revolved around rainforest vegetation and its ability to ‘take up’ carbon dioxide,” said Caldwell. “This is a new look at tropical rainforests and their
relationship to carbon dioxide levels on Earth.” The study showed that when phosphorus or nitrogen — which occur naturally in rain forest soils — were added to forest plots in Costa Rica, they caused an increase in carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere by about 20 percent annually, said Cleveland. “The study is important because human activities are changing the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen in ecosystems all over the globe, including the tropics,” Cleveland said. “Tropical rain forests play a dominant role on Earth in regulating atmospheric carbon dioxide.” One big question, said Cleveland, “is how tropical rain forests are responding to climate change. What we have demonstrated is that even small changes in nutrients could have a profound impact on the release of carbon dioxide from tropical forest soils.” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060621084137.htm

Comments (1)

tazzzmanAugust 31st, 2006 at 8:21 pm

too slow to load dirt

love akasha

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