286 – Earth’s Tree News

Today for you 35 new articles about earth’s trees! (286th edition)
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–British Columbia: 1) 304-hectare near Skaha Bluffs, 2) Industry review excludes enviros, 3) More details on the high-grading scandal, 4) Caribou protection may mean extinction, 5) Looking for new ways to pillage, 6) Hearing to halt Sprawl, 7) Public rage,
–Washington: 8) Evergreen Cities Act, 9) Fighting Weyco’s high lakes development,
–Oregon: 10) Clearcut Climate Conference, 11) Logging caused landslide ends freight train service, 12) “Experimental” Intensive logging of 2nd growth,
–California: 13) Sierra Nevada MIS Amendment is no good, 14) Trees ordered cut for solar panels, 15) Save the Pacific fisher, 16) City tries to stop UC tree cutting,
–Nevada: 17) View enhancement may get her 10 years in jail
–Minnesota: 18) RIP: Bill Rom of Ely
–New York: 19) Denouncing Rainforest Alliance / FSC
–Appalachia: 20) Mountaintop Removal
–Alabama: 21) Counties conservation efforts are too little, too late
–Florida: 22) Killing in the name of electricity
–USA: 23) Ban all ORVs from public domain, 24) Collaboration turmoil, 25) Roads, 26) Biofuel incentives destroying the amazon,
–Canada: 27) Even the weakest of logging rules are rejected as too expensive
–Scotland: 28) Impacts of climate change on forests, 29) 700 say Save Pollok Park,
–Poland: 30) Save the EU’s last remaining patch of ancient forest
–Russia: 31) Resource economics minus the cold war –Sierra Leone: 32) Efforts to control loggers from plundering forests
–Congo: 33) World Bank fraud against natives now documented
–Rwanda: 34) Work to restore the rain forest in Gishwati
–India: 35) Full grown trees on farms cut for Prime Minister’s visit

British Columbia:

1) The Land Conservancy of British Columbia (TLC) and the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) through the NCC-Government of Canada Natural Areas Conservation Program have partnered with Mountain Equipment Co-op and other supporters to acquire a 304-hectare property adjacent to the popular Skaha Bluffs recreational rock climbing area. The newly acquired land falls within the proposed Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park recommended in the Okanagan Shuswap Land and Resource Management Plan and will be managed for its important conservation and recreation values as a Class A provincial park. The property is made up of coniferous forest, riparian areas, rugged terrain and some shrub-steppe grasslands. This habitat helps support up to 15 species-at-risk, including California bighorn sheep. “This purchase was made possible through the co-operation of many partners and their unwavering dedication to seeing the project through,” said B.C. Environment Minister Barry Penner. “I had a chance to hike through the property and see the Skaha Bluffs first-hand last summer and, with the encouragement of MLA Barisoff, enthusiastically authorized the provincial financial contribution to secure public access to great recreational opportunities and protect a special part of the Okanagan.” The Nature Conservancy of Canada participated in this project thanks to support from the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program, a new matching funds initiative to conserve ecologically significant lands across southern Canada over the next five years. “The Government of Canada is pleased to be able to play an important part in this land acquisition through the Natural Areas Conservation Program,” said the Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety and MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla, on behalf of the Honourable John Baird, Minister of the Environment. “Prime Minister Stephen Harper committed $225 million to support the work of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and here is another example of real results for Canadians. Protecting the important lands near the legendary Skaha Bluffs is a great example of what we can achieve when we work together to preserve our natural heritage.” –Ministry of Environment, Land Conservancy of British Columbia,

2) Agriculture and Lands Minister Pat Bell has been named to a roundtable on forestry meant to undertake an “exhaustive” review of industry to fast-track strategies to help the sector survive. Bell said it was important to ensure the forest sector was well represented on the roundtable, including forest companies, loggers and First Nations. He said union representation should be considered as well, but stopped short of saying they will be included. Issues that should be tackled by the roundtable include ensuring there is sufficient working forest to sustain the industry, and addressing forestry agreements signed with First Nations that have not worked out as intended, said Bell. Premier Gordon Campbell announced the roundtable — which will be chaired by Forests Minister Rich Coleman — last Friday at the 65th annual Truck Loggers Association convention. Campbell mentioned a number of challenges facing the forest sector: global warming, the pine beetle epidemic and increasing economic pressures. The lumber and panel sectors are being hammered by a number of negative market forces, including low prices due to a collapse in the U.S. housing market, a higher Canadian dollar and a 15-per-cent export tax on lumber shipments to the U.S. Newsprint is also being hurt by dropping demand in North America. The pulp sector has fared better with stronger prices, although it is also being hurt by the increased value of the loonie. http://www.princegeorgecitizen.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=113929&Itemid=556

3) The report was the product of a Forest Practices Board investigation that visited 54 helicopter logging sites on the mid- and north coast. Contractors there are hunting out cedar trees, dropping crews in to cut them down and then hauling the logs out with helicopters. It’s expensive, but cedar is so valuable it can still be profitable. A single big cedar tree can be worth tens of thousands of dollars. The problem is that the cedar stands are often surrounded by hemlock forest, which is of lower value. And much of it is decadent hemlock, even less valuable. The cedar (and sometimes spruce) harvest is so selective that the forest looks untouched, which meets some of the goals set out above. The method sometimes even meets the standards of eco-system based management. But there is no requirement on the companies to replant. So the hemlock is left to fill in and the future value of that forest is significantly reduced. As it was explained to me, the diamonds are plucked and the garnets are all that’s left. “This is a bit of a dilemma,” said board chairman Bruce Fraser. “On one hand, government and industry want to extract some economic value from these sites and provide local employment and economic benefits, while also protecting other forest values. But on the other hand, the result is limited prospects for harvesting in the future.” The chronically depressed coastal forest industry is in such a state now that cedar is all that’s keeping some operations afloat. Cedar logs can’t be exported, so that timber is also keeping some mills going, as well. The forest licensees’ performance was mixed. Some are doing a better job than others. But high-grading is legitimate and even encouraged by some forest policies. http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/comment/story.html?id=ed984027-7e94-491e-984c

4) Planning teams are now busy making draft maps and doing analysis to implement the BC government’s new protection plan for the Mountain Caribou. But the planning for the Central and Southern herds is so inadequate that it appears these herds might simply be allowed to disappear, according to New Denver-based Valhalla Wilderness Watch (VWW). “These herds have the fewest caribou and are the most endangered because past planning processes ignored their needs, giving largely only the appearance of protection,” says VWW’s forest technician, Craig Pettitt. “Now that a new plan has been created to save them, the very same thing is happening. Habitat protection and planning for the Southern and Central Herds is far below what is occurring in the Cariboo-Chilcotin and Robson Valley. Claims that the forest industry supported the plan have turned out to be false in the Southern and Central Selkirks. “The plan agreement that was negotiated behind closed doors promised everything to everybody,” says Anne Sherrod, a director of VWW. “There was to be no reduction of the allowable annual cut (AAC), little or no impact on mills, and only 1% of the Timber Harvesting Land Base could be protected. On the other hand, there were to be substantial increases in the number of mountain caribou. But when an animal is being wiped out by excessive logging, how are they going to increase its population without substantially reducing the logging?” Now the scientists are trying to locate forest for new protection, and the logging companies are claiming big impacts on their approved cutblocks, their AACs and their mills. The companies are insisting they were promised “no net loss.” They are claiming that the previous land use plan has caused them losses, so there can’t be any further losses. “Excuse me,” says Sherrod, “but we were told that the Council of Forest Industries had agreed to a plan that would provide 77,000 hectares of protection from the Timber Harvesting Land Base. The share assigned to the Central and Southern herds is pitifully small, given that these herds inhabit half to two-thirds of the range. There is no excuse for reducing it or shifting it into high elevation, poor quality forest. wildernesswatch@netidea.com

5) “The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects the wind will change, the realist adjusts the sails” says Snetsinger. He says the province has long history of forest management and a history of being able to adapt to market situations. So, If you’re in a bad situation don’t worry, it will change, and if you’re in a good situation, don’t worry, it will change.” With that quote, Chief Forester for the Province, Jim Snetsinger, told the Natural Resource Forum in Prince George , that no matter what the challenges, forestry will continue to be an important player in the provincial Economy. “There has always been immense change in the forest sector” says Snetsinger who says the ripple from the pine beetle impact will resonate in the central interior until at least 2015. The pine beetle has impacted 13 million hectares of forest in B.C. “That’s 530 million cubic meters, or 40% of the province’s merchantable supply.” Snetsinger says its important to think outside the box when it comes to forestry. “There was an article in the Globe and Mail that suggested it may be time to start thinking about privatizing Crown land and that is something that is worth thinking about. In Finland , there are private land owners who supply the major industry. We are starting to think about these things, and that is a good start.” Snetsinger says some of the challenges that lie ahead includes trying to understand what type of trees to plant now that will not be impacted by climate change 80 years from now. Tim Renneberg, Communications Officer, New Democrat Official Opposition 250-361-6314 tim.renneberg@leg.bc.ca http://www.bcndpcaucus.ca http://www.opinion250.com/blog/author/13/1/250+news

6) On Monday January 28th, the Capital Regional District (CRD) will hold a public hearing on two environmentally-progressive bylaws for parts of the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area that would halt suburban sprawl on these lands: Bylaws 3495 and 3500. The two bylaws go hand-in-hand. Bylaw 3495 would increase the minimum parcel size for subdivision purposes in the Forestry Zone to 120 hectares (296.5 acres); Bylaw 3500 would add a land use component to regulate the density of housing to one one-family dwelling unit per parcel for these lands. So far these two bylaws have passed through 2 readings, and they need to pass through a third reading to come into effect. More information will be available at the public hearing. You can also view details on the CRD website here: http://www.crd.bc.ca/jdf/documents/3495and3500_3rdversion_revisedforwebsite.pdf

7) QUALICUM BEACH—Communities will bear the true cost of the Campbell government’s sell-off of private forest lands, say the New Democrats. “This week, we saw public outrage over the potential for old growth logging in Cameron Canyon,” said Scott Fraser, MLA for Alberni-Qualicum. “And in Port Alberni, there was great public concern about a mudslide, suspected to have been caused by nearby logging. “In both cases, the buck stops with the Campbell government. They changed the law and removed these lands from a Tree Farm Licence, eliminating public oversight and reducing environmental protection. And they did it without consulting communities, who are left to deal with the aftermath,” said Fraser. In July 2004, the Ministry of Forests authorized the removal of 70,300 hectares of private lands from Tree Farm Licence (TFL) 44, without public consultation or compensation. The lands were then sold to Island Timberlands in 2005, which last week spun off its timber assets to an offshore operation in Bermuda. Fraser expressed his concern about the impact of the move on communities. “What happens if the company is found liable for damages to civic assets like the Port Alberni watershed? Would they be exempt from civil suit, now that their operations are offshore? British Columbians have lost confidence in the Campbell government’s ability to manage our forests,” said Bob Simpson, NDP Forests and Range critic. “They just can’t trust the B.C. Liberals to put the public interest ahead of forest companies.” Fraser vowed to continue raising his concerns about the Campbell government’s sell-off of private forest lands in the Alberni-Qualicum region. Debra Toporowski, Constituency Assistant for Doug Routley, MLA, Cowichan-Ladysmith 273 Trunk rd PO Box 659 Duncan, BC 250-746-8770


8) The Evergreen Cities Act, under review in the Washington state legislative session, seeks to allocate $1 million to keep Washington cities green. “There are endless benefits for having trees in the city,” said UW alumna Stacy Ray, an urban forester of Kirkland. “[Retaining trees] is always a challenge with the amount of growth in this area. We take them for granted because we seem to have so many.” Satellite pictures provided by American Forests, a Washington, D.C. non-profit organization, show that in the last 30 years urban forests have diminished 25 percent in the state of Washington and nearly 50 percent in Seattle. Urban growth throughout the state is projected to continue. “The revenue will be available to communities to encourage urban forestry,” said Gordon Bradley, a professor with the UW College of Forest Resources. This will be done by creating regional goals for the urban canopy, he said, and by establishing or improving regulations to guide new developments and provide funds for tree care and conservation. http://thedaily.washington.edu/2008/1/23/urban-forests/

9) A group of outdoor enthusiasts asked the Cowlitz County commissioners on Tuesday to temporarily halt the development of prime hunting and fishing land near Mount St. Helens. The group said Weyerhaeuser Co’s sale of the so-called High Lakes area north of Spirit Lake Memorial Highway will cut off the public’s ability to use the land. They asked the commissioners to place a temporary moratorium on developing the property and perhaps find a way to keep it available to everyone. Commissioners haven’t imposed a building moratorium since prohibiting development on the Cowlitz and Toutle river flood plains following the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption. Tuesday they said they’d consider one. “We’ll take a very serious look at this issue,” Commissioner Axel Swanson said. “This is all new ground for us.” The commissioners also said they’d discuss the issue with their colleagues in Skamania County, which has placed a moratorium on its portion of the High Lakes area. At issue are 4,100 acres of forestland that Weyerhaeuser put on the market last year. Two men from the Tacoma area purchased the land, Paul Graves, a forestry consultant who is involved with the deal, said earlier this month. The Tacoma partners divided 1,354 of the acres into 19 parcels, each between 38 to 107 acres. Sales are pending on most of the available land, and prices range from $191,818 to $613,028. What exactly will be done with the property is unclear, although Graves, who is purchasing one of the lots, has said buyers aren’t likely to put up large homes in the area. He could not be reached Tuesday. For decades, the land, which includes Elk, Hanaford, Forest and Fawn lakes, has been trekked by local hikers, hunters and anglers. The area is rebounding from the volcano’s lateral blast on May 18, 1980. http://www.tdn.com/articles/2008/01/23/top_story/10071999.txt


10) What do Oregon’s vast forests have to do with climate change? Plenty, say scientists. Their role in regulating the climate and their vulnerability to warming will be the topic of a daylong conference Saturday at the University of Oregon. The event includes presentations by Oregon State University researchers about the presence of carbon in greenhouse gases and the role they play in climate change, as well as the ability of forests to hold carbon in trees and soils. OSU Department of Forestry professor Mark Harmon, and OSU forest management and forest ecology professor Olga Krankini, are keynote speakers Saturday morning. In the afternoon, local environmental activist Doug Heiken, with Oregon Wild, will discuss misunderstandings about the role of forests in the global carbon cycle, and Eugene complexity expert Alder Fuller will address the speed with which climate change is occurring. The conference will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in room 150 of Columbia Hall at the corner of 13th Avenue and University Street. While admission is free, donations would be appreciated by the nonprofit agencies organizing the event, including Cascadia’s Ecosystem Advocates, the Native Forest Council, GreenwashEugene.com, Many Rivers Group Sierra Club and the UO Survival Center. For a schedule, registration, and other information, visit the Web site: http://www.forestclimate.org

11) OAKRIDGE — Union Pacific and government officials say they have not determined the cause of the slide, and they are prudent to avoid premature judgments. But the slide started in a 15-year-old clear-cut, and it takes about 15 years for the soil-gripping roots of logged trees to decompose. This one is big. The Oregon Forest Practices Act and the timber sale policies of federal land management agencies need to be revised to take landslide risks into better account. The slide itself covers two sections of track at both ends of a long hairpin turn as the rail line climbs toward Pengra Pass (not nearby Willamette Pass, familiar to travelers on Highway 58) in the vicinity of Salt Creek Falls. The Cascade Main Line carries 33 million gross tons of freight each year. The American Association of Railroads reports that the annual volume of freight moved by rail in Oregon was 73.6 million tons in 2005, so more than 40 percent of the state’s total moves over that one line. Daily traffic averages about 15 trains with 85 carloads apiece. It takes 3½tractor-trailers to haul one rail carload of freight. Some of the rail cars are empty, but even so the rail alternative diverts a lot of trucks from Interstate 5. Indeed, the Cascade Main Line is the I-5 of the rail system. Freight still can move between Northwest and California destinations by rail, but long detours are involved. The best option is to send trains up the Columbia Gorge and then along the Oregon Trunk Line that roughly parallels Highway 97 to Chemult. There, the trunk line connects to Union Pacific track and continues to Klamath Falls and Redding, Calif. For southern Willamette Valley shippers, this adds several hundred miles to the trip — and the trunk line’s capacity is limited, so some freight moving between California and the Northwest is being diverted as far east as Salt Lake City. Restrictions on logging practices to limit the danger of landslides are resisted on the basis of their cost. But landslides can be costly as well. The economic consequences of the Cascade Main Line’s closure will be widespread, and are continuing to mount. http://www.registerguard.com/csp/cms/sites/dt.cms.support.viewStory.cls?cid=54658&sid=5&fid=2

12) The public got a peek Wednesday at seven years worth of research into the effects of intensive logging on private lands. Nearly 60 people — composed of many professional foresters, a few elected officials and a few more conservationists — crammed in the Ford Room of the Douglas County Library for a one-hour presentation on the 10-year Hinkle Creek Paired-Watershed Study. The study is designed to laser in on the effects second-growth logging, contemporary harvesting equipment and newer road-building techniques have on the environment. The research is considered the most ambitious of its kind in Oregon since the 1960s. The forestry practices used are prescribed by the Oregon Forest Practice Act rules. Forest engineers and biologists will examine changes in stream temperature and sediment disposition — including fish dispersal — in creeks downstream of harvest activity on upper watersheds; the seasonal hydrologic changes in headwater streams where clear-cuts have removed tree buffers to varying lengths; and the abundance of fish and fauna that remains after changes to watershed habitat have been made. This spring research will begin to focus on clear-cuts farther downstream and their effects. Arne Skaugset, project director of Hinkle Creek and associate professor in the department of forest engineering at Oregon State University, gave a slide show presentation Wednesday night that included research about the effects intense forestry management has on the headwaters of fish-bearing streams. Not surprisingly, headwater creeks about half a mile in length with the heaviest activity — 70 percent harvested, in one case — show the most changes in increased maximum temperatures and sediment dispersal, Skaugset said. The study compares the effects logging has on the south fork of Hinkle Creek to the unharvested watershed of the north fork, which serves as the control. The entire area, about 5,000 acres, was last logged around 1950. The two watersheds are comparable in size and complexity. About 380 acres of timber from five sites for a total of more than 12 million board feet was harvested from the south fork in 2005. This spring RFP will begin building roads and logging on the south fork watershed for the second phase of the project. The timber company will wait to log the north fork watershed until 2011. http://www.oregonnews.com/article/20080124/NEWS/475561028


13) In a Record of Decision, released on December 14, 2007, the Forest Service proposed the Sierra Nevada Management Indicator Species (MIS) Amendment. The MIS amendment will weaken the forest habitat monitoring requirements of the Forest Service by significantly curtailing the management indicator species lists that cover all Sierra Nevada National Forests. Currently, the Forest Service must monitor the impacts of Forest Service projects on the long-term viability of the species and the long-term health of the habitats on which these species depend. Weakening the current requirements will result in significant negative environmental consequences as well as reduce protections for species and the biological diversity of the Sierra Nevada National Forests. These vital monitoring requirements for management indicator species are an essential part of land management plans and provide a safety net to decrease the possibility of implementing plans that may harm the environment. Without this monitoring program, there is little chance of measuring the effects of Forest Service actions, such as timber sales and other extractive processes, within these crucial habitats. The Sierra Forest Legacy is urging activists to appeal this Record of Decision. All appeals must be filed by February 4, 2008 via mail, fax or email. For more information and talking points to make in your appeal, visit: http://www.sierraforestlegacy.org/TA_ActionAlerts/TA_ActionAlerts.php or contact Jason Swartz, Sierra Forest Legacy, jason@sierraforestlegacy.org, or Craig Thomas, Sierra Forest Legacy, craig@sierraforestlegacy.org.

14) Richard Treanor and Carolynn Bissett own a Prius and consider themselves environmentalists. “We want to be left alone,” said Bissett, who with her husband has spent $25,000 defending themselves against criminal charges. “We support solar power, but we thought common sense would prevail.” Their neighbor Mark Vargas considers himself an environmentalist, too. His 10-kilowatt solar system, which he installed in 2001, is so big he pays only about $60 a year in electrical bills. He drives an electric car. Vargas said he first asked Treanor and Bissett to chop down the eight redwoods, which the couple had planted from 1997 to 1999 along the fence separating their yards. Later, he asked them to trim the trees to about 15 feet. “I offered to pay for the removal of the trees. I said let’s try to work something out,” Vargas said. “They said no to everything.” Vargas filed a complaint with the Santa Clara County district attorney arguing that the trees reduce the amount of electricity he can generate. In 2005, prosecutors agreed. They sent Treanor and Bissett a letter informing them that they were in violation of California’s Solar Shade Control Act and that if they didn’t “abate the violation” within 30 days, they would face fines of up to $1,000 a day. The law, signed by former Gov. Jerry Brown in 1978, is rarely used. But county prosecutors say Treanor and Bissett are breaking it. In December, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Kurt Kumli found the couple guilty of one count of violating the Solar Shade Control Act. In a partial victory for each side, he ruled that six of the trees can remain and that the two generating the most shade must be removed. He also waived any fines. But the couple appealed. Why? They are worried that their case sets a precedent. Rosenblatt said prosecutors in Sonoma County are watching the case because they have a potential violator. Kurt Newick, who sells solar systems for a San Jose company, says he loves trees as much as anyone, but he falls on the side of solar energy. “I’m a big tree fan. They increase property values and provide shade and cooling. But it’s actually better for the environment to put solar on your roof than to plant a tree,” said Newick, who is also chairman of the global warming committee of the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club. http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_8063034?nclick_check=1

15) A furry forest mammal whose numbers may be down to 850 in California deserves protection under the state’s Endangered Species Act, an environmental group said in a petition filed Wednesday. The Center for Biological Diversity is asking the state Department of Fish and Game to protect the Pacific fisher, charging that the federal government has turned its back on the chocolate-brown-coated creature that lives under big trees. The elusive Pacific fisher, closely related to otters, martens, wolverines and weasels, is seldom seen by humans. Researchers have been warning for nearly 20 years that it is disappearing and perilously close to extinction as the timber industry continues logging and road building that eliminate forest habitat. If the state decided to protect the animal, it could do so in three months. The state Fish and Game Commission makes the final decision based on recommendations from the department. A listing would have the effect of limiting logging in the fisher’s territory, some on private timber lands and national forests in Del Norte, Humboldt, Siskiyou and Trinity counties and in the southern Sierra Nevada. A small population exists in southern Oregon. Before the destruction of old-growth and other giant forests, the fishers made dens and foraged for small mammals and birds beneath vast canopies of branches across the Sierra Nevada and the Pacific Northwest. In California, they occupy half the range that they did 75 years ago, according to U.S. Forest Service researchers. The fisher, once trapped in great numbers for its lush fur, has a long, slender body with short legs, a bushy tail, a triangular head and large, rounded ears. Males weigh about 10 pounds; females weigh about 5 pounds. They have been wiped out in most of Oregon and Washington because of logging, researchers say, leaving fishers in Northern California isolated from mating with fishers in the rest of North America. Females don’t bear young every year and, when they do, produce only one to four offspring. The birthrates can be affected by cold, heavy snow and drought as well as diminished habitat, researchers say. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/01/24/BA1FUKM5Q.DTL

16) First, as the Albany City Attorney Robert Zweben pointed out, the University claims an exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) that cannot be challenged for 30 days, by which time the first 180 trees will already have been clear cut. Once the first 180 are gone, then the remainder must follow (due to wind exposure). If UC were to comply with CEQA, then they must plant 317 native trees to replace the clear cut Monterey pines. Obviously, UC is preparing this plot of land for development–new trees would only get in the way. Secondly, by his own admission the UC spokesperson confirmed the obvious: UC must cut the first 180 trees down next week to shortcut a pending delay one week or so later in deference to the Cooper’s Hawks nesting schedule. No cutting would be allowed during the nesting season, so UC must act fast now. Thirdly, the purported safety of the community, by which UC claims an exempton from CEQA, is a bogus misuse of the CEQA exemption. It ain’t safety but timing that UC is concerned with: cut the trees next week before Albany can challenge the CEQA exemption, and get the clear cutting done before the hawks begin nesting. Then, we must smile at our swaggering arborist “experts” giving testimony at the city council meeting. Where have these responsible arborists been over the last 20 years? Not a single pine limb trimmed. Not a single pine tree thinned out to allow the others to grow stronger. And this in a property in plain view across the street from the City Hall. One outspoken so-called expert hadn’t even taken the time to strut the 20 or 30 steps required to actually look at the Gill Tract trees; yet, he was certain they must all be cut down immediately, sight unseen. http://albanytoday.wordpress.com/2008/01/24/commentary-uc-is-shortening-the-tree-cutting-sched


17) Felonious landscaping, the reckless guillotine of three Ponderosa Pine trees, could land a 58-year-old Reno women in federal prison. Patricia Vincent apparently wanted to improve her Incline Village view, so she hired a tree cutting business to whack the 80-100 year old-growth obstructions. Trees that just so happened to be on a U.S. Forest Service Lot. A lot designated by the Forest Service as an “environmentally sensitive urban lot designed to protect the Lake Tahoe Basin,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. The charge: One count of Willingly Injuring or Committing any Depredation Against Any Property of the United States and one count of Theft of Government Property. The penalty: Up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine per count. The view: From the inside of a federal prison cell? Not so great. http://www.lasvegassun.com/blogs/news/2008/jan/23/reno-woman-faces-slaughter-suit-cutting-dow


18) Bill Rom of Ely called for the protection of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness when it was not a popular stand to take. The pioneering BWCA outfitter died Jan. 20 at his home in Ely of an apparent stroke. He was 90. “He just felt so passionate for wilderness that he felt compelled to speak up,” said Kevin Proescholdt, former executive director of the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, and now of the Izaak Walton League. As a child, “he would hike for miles and miles just to go fishing for the day,” Proescholdt said. When Rom was a month old, his father died as the result of a mining accident. As a youth, he gathered blueberries to sell, and he hunted and fished to help put food on the table at the family home. He refined his knowledge and love of the wilderness as a student of author and environmentalist Sigurd Olson at then-Ely Junior College, completing a bachelor’s degree in wildlife management at the University of Minnesota in 1940. Rom worked on building the Kekakabec Trail that runs from the Ely area to the Gunflint Trail, spent a summer in a fire tower on Lake Kekakabec and cleaned campsites and maintain portages for several years in the 1930s. By 1941, he was a Navy officer serving in the war effort in the Pacific theater. Upon his return home, he started with around 10 customers and some wood and canvas canoes. When he sold the firm in 1975, he had 500 aluminum canoes for rent and 6,000 customers. A decade earlier, Argosy Magazine had dubbed him the Canoe King of Ely. Proescholdt said Rom sometimes paid a steep price for his dedication. During the debate over flight restrictions, an explosive was set off near his home. Over the years, Rom hosted meetings in his home, used his own plane to patrol for illegal activities and wrote letters pushing for wilderness protection. In 1974, he testified in Washington, D.C., against motorized access to the wilderness. In Ely, he was considered a traitor to an area with a poor economy, his daughter said. “He felt the wilderness was the best economy for Ely, because it was forever,” she said. In 1975, protesters blocked the entrance to his business with logging trucks during the important fishing opener and Memorial Day weekend. The picket signs read, “Run the Bum Rom Out of Town,” Becky Rom said. He sold his successful business later that year. “He never looked back, and he was never bitter,” his daughter said. The day he died, he wrote a letter to the Forest Service suggesting how it could get the bottles and cans out of the lakes that accumulated there before he got the ban in place. http://www.startribune.com/sports/outdoors/14014121.html

New York:

19) New York Climate Action Group denounces Rainforest Alliance for profiting financially from the destruction of rainforests. NYCAG is demanding a permanent end to the industrial logging of old-growth forests worldwide. Dressed as creatures from the rainforests of the world, environmentalists from New York City will participate in a festive rally to greet and inform the participants at a Rainforest Alliance cocktail party. Scientific studies have shown that industrial logging in old-growth rainforests is never sustainable and leads to their permanent destruction by ranchers, mining operations, and industrial agricultural interests. Rainforest Alliance receives 30% of its funding by certifying industrial logging through their “Smartwood” program. They are the largest such certifier in the world. “Smartwood” certification follows Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) guidelines, which Rainforest Alliance claims will ensure sustainable forestry. In truth, however, FSC guidelines allow first-time logging of pristine ancient forests. These forests are recognized by climate scientists worldwide as our greatest defense against climate change. The watchdog group, FSC-Watch, is directed by one of the founders of FSC Simon Counsell, who became its greatest critic. They have reported that, in addition to legal unsustainable logging, SmartWood has issued FSC certificates to various companies involved in illegal logging; its parent organization, Rainforest Alliance, also issued ‘ethical certificates’ to a company which that was actually working with Colombian terrorists. On January 17th the city council of Ocean City (New Jersey) voted unanimously to cancel a $1.1 million purchase of timber from ancient rainforests, despite claims that its FSC certification ensured sustainability. Dr. Glen Barry, of Ecological Internet, responded, “The message is getting through: for our survival rainforest logging must end. Remaining rainforests must be protected and allowed to expand, with compensation to local peoples.” But is the message getting through? Explains NYCAG member Emily Sandusky, dressed as a gorilla, “I hope Rainforest Alliance will recognize that FSC certification of old-growth tropical timber is certifying the destruction of the rainforest.” http://www.fsc-watch.org


20) The fact of Mountaintop Removal exposes something profound, literally and figuratively, psychologically and emotionally, about both human nature and our economic culture. And it exposes that our words, like pebbles flung at the Death Star, may be inadequate to portray and fight against this crime and what it means. It’s as though our language has suffered a prolonged, engineered drought, the meaning purposely drained from our words, so that the few survivors are flopping about like suffocating sardines on the ocean floor. Maybe it’s that the ears to which the words are addressed have gone conveniently deaf. But, that doesn’t mean we stop demanding that responsible words should lead to action. It might be worthwhile to approach this mountaintop phenomenon as though it were a religious sacrifice. Which it may well be. If you took your mother’s ornate, antique clock, the one she inherited from her great grandfather and is shaped like a beautiful mountain, and threw it out the third story window, who would laugh at the punch line, “To see time fly”? A child might be forgiven, once, for a failure to appreciate the difference between the make-believe of a joke and the concreteness of the smashed clock. An adult, never. When adults try to disengage an act from its consequence and from its motive, it’s not for humor. It’s to lie. When we listen to a joke, we suspend our disbelief so we can allow ourselves to laugh at absurdity. When adults lie to other adults or children, they insist that the absurd be taken seriously, and they threaten to punish you if you don’t. A joke asks you to trust the teller explicitly to entertain you. A liar in a powerful place asks you to trust him so that he can betray you, rob you of your most precious possession and ask you to be thankful. http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/01/23/6568/


21) I cringe at the hypocrisy of Montgomery County Planning Board and Chairman Royce Hanson touting the ‘‘new, stronger version of the county Forest Conservation Law.” How insulting to those who spoke up for the forests and woodlands on the brink of eradication with the rollout of the Intercounty Connector. The State Highway Administration’s Draft Environmental Study states that the ICC will destroy up to 552 acres of forests. Where was the Planning Board’s advocacy for forests when letters were being written and public statements being made in an attempt to save those trees that stand in the ICC’s path? Now, suddenly, they want to strengthen our forest conservation laws! It’s hard to convince me of the integrity of the Planning Board after reading statements in Mr. Hanson’s commentary such as, ‘‘The county Planning Board knows our residents care about forests, and we’re determined to protect them,” and, ‘‘It’s important — for us and our grandchildren — that we maintain and enhance our county’s forested areas.” Have they driven up Redland Road lately? — Karen Pittleman, Derwood http://www.gazette.net/stories/012308/montlet12721_32385.shtml


22) No one — not property owners nor Progress Energy — enjoys removing trees. But those that jeopardize service are usually not native species that grew before transmission lines were strung. Transmission lines are the interstate highways of our electrical system. They carry power to millions of customers and, like interstates, they are connected to a larger network that serves the entire country. Just as trees would obstruct traffic if allowed to grow in the middle of highways, so they would interfere with electrical service if allowed to grow beneath transmission lines. That’s why virtually every utility in the nation has a program to prune, and if necessary, remove trees and other vegetation that grow near transmission lines and structures. Progress Energy’s program — underway in Florida now for years — combines pruning and removal of trees along our 5,000-mile transmission system to ensure safe, reliable service to more than 1.7 million households and businesses that depend on us around the clock. Many were planted by developers within or near easements long after lines were established and in plain sight. Trees are the leading cause of power outages during storms. Such was the case during the 2004 hurricane season, when Central Floridians endured many powerless days while our crews worked to restore service after downed trees damaged our transmission system and impeded repairs. http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/letters/orl-myword22a08jan22,0,4531517.story


23) It’s time to ban all recreational use of thrillcraft from the public domain. I personally can not understand how anyone can make deals about thrillcraft abuse. Why is it wrong or bad to operate these machines in one place and not another. Isn’t the damage equally as bad? If it’s not acceptable on some of our public lands, it’s really not acceptable on any public lands. We need to get beyond the idea that we need to “compromise” on abuse. There is no compromise on some things. Right now various National Forests and BLM districts are beginning to put together travel management plans. Most of these plans are focused on corralling the growing abuse of our public lands by thrillcraft—ATVs, dirt bikes, dune buggies, swamp buggies, jet skis, snowmobiles, and other associated toys used by neotenous adults. Many citizens are agonizing over which parts of our public domain should be designated legalized abusement parks, and which lands should be protected from such abuse. The underlying assumption of all these travel management plans is that some level of abuse and vandalism of our public domain by thrillcraft owners is inevitable. I do not accept the premise that abuse of our lands is something that we must tolerate as inevitable. It is our land. It is our children’s land, and their children’s land. We have a responsibility to pass these lands on to the next generation in better condition than we found them. And we have a collective responsibility to protect our national heritage against the thrillcraft menace. The real problem isn’t the machines. It’s not even the people. Many otherwise decent people ride thrillcraft, but when they straddle one of these machines they become participants in a dysfunctional culture. It is a culture that sees our public land as nothing more than a giant sandbox. Thrillcraft culture represents a lack of respect for other people’s property and the quality of their outdoor experience. What people do on their own property is not my concern, but when they ride their machines on public lands it becomes a societal issue. Our public lands are as close as our society has to shared “sacred” ground. http://www.newwest.net/topic/article/orvs_no_right_way_to_do_the_wrong_thing/C38/L38/

24) For decades, our public lands have been a battleground: Timber, wildlife, recreation, wilderness — which interests and uses should dominate? But now, “collaboration” is all the rage. In collaboration, diverse stakeholders (as they invariably tag themselves) — environmentalists, developers, off-roaders, timber companies, county officials — hash out an agreement on how to manage their local public lands and then submit it to Congress for approval. A few deals already have been enacted, and another half a dozen are in the works across the U.S. Collaboration has been touted as the solution to “gridlock” on our national forests. Timber companies and their allies gripe that the normal process — extensive analysis, citizen involvement and the right to challenge agency decisions — has ground all “management activity” (read: logging) to a halt. Western counties surrounded by public land argue that they need room to expand. Others believe lands worthy of protection are still threatened. The new paradigm means everyone sits down with their adversaries. But these collaborations are troublesome, particularly for environmentalists, who risk undermining their mission as well as the very laws that are the basis of their power, effectiveness and legitimacy. For example, a bill poised for introduction in Congress would turn into law an agreement reached by one collaborative group on how to manage Montana’s 3.3-million-acre Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. The stakeholders — Montana Wilderness Assn., National Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited and timber companies — had one thing in common: They hated the management plan proposed by the Forest Service. So they came up with their own plan specifying which areas can be logged, which can be opened up to off-roaders and which should be recommended to Congress for wilderness designation. Sounds reasonable enough. So what’s wrong? To start, as owners of the public lands, all Americans have a stake in their management, and they have not designated these representatives. Even the most inclusive collaboration can go bad: Outliers who pose a threat to consensus are either not invited or made to feel unwelcome. And ultimately, decisions are being made behind closed doors. But Congress loves a done deal. With a local sponsor, Congress is inclined to rubber-stamp these initiatives, overlooking the fact that they are an end-run around the suite of laws that safeguard public lands and keep land-management decisions an open process. http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/opinion/la-oe-rosenberg24jan24,1,1457111.story?ctrack

25) Wednesday marked 10 years since the Forest Service proposed a moratorium on building new roads on 58.5 million acres of remote wild lands in our national forests. After three years of analysis and well over 1.5 million public comments, the Roadless Area Conservation Rule was finalized, making the moratorium permanent. Within 24 hours of assuming office, President Bush blocked implementation of this rule, and over the past seven years, his administration has tried to reverse and weaken it. Litigation both for and against protection has resulted in judicial decisions that have been appealed and reversed — with still more litigation pending. In spite of seven years of Bush administration effort, roadless areas remain protected in the national forests of the lower 48 states, but more litigation to remove protection is in progress with the outcome uncertain. The Bush administration lifted protection of roadless areas within Alaska’s vast and spectacular Tongass National Forest. After spending millions of dollars on administrative actions and judicial proceedings, it is time to stop fighting and look to the future. Here’s why: Commodity values in the vast majority of roadless areas are low. The remaining wild and remote places in the national forests did not remain roadless by accident. Costs to access the timber and minerals in these rugged backcountry areas are always high. Harvesting the resource in most cases is simply not economical without government subsidy. During the past seven years, according to House Appropriations Committee, the operating budget of the Forest Service has been slashed by 34.8 percent. It’s time to stop wasting money on endless debate, with no tangible outcome, that shortchanges higher priorities such as wildfire, forest restoration and visitor services. The 192 million acres of national forests “officially” contain nearly 400,000 miles of roads; countless thousands more that are not on the map. With nearly half the Forest Service’s shrinking budget going to firefighting, deteriorating roads and bridges have created a maintenance backlog exceeding $10 billion. These roads, particularly in rugged country, are bleeding sediment into streams, thus destroying habitat for many species, including salmon and trout, and reducing water quality for downstream communities. With sprawl and development occurring at a near record clip, we are losing open space at a rate approaching 10,000 acres per day. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/348334_dombeck23.html

26) U.S. incentives for biofuel production are promoting deforestation in southeast Asia and the Amazon by driving up crop prices and displacing energy feedstock production, say researchers. William Laurance, a senior scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, says that massive subsidies to promote American corn production for ethanol have shifted soy production to Brazil where large areas of cerrado grasslands are being torn up for soybean farms. The expansion of soy in the region is contributing to deforestation in the Amazon. “Some forests are directly cleared for soy farms. Farmers also purchase large expanses of cattle pasture for soy production, effectively pushing the ranchers further into the Amazonian frontier or onto lands unsuitable for soy production,” said Laurance. “In addition, higher soy costs tend to raise beef prices because soy-based livestock feeds become more expensive, creating an indirect incentive for forest conversion to pasture,” added Laurance. “Finally, the powerful Brazilian soy lobby has been a driving force behind initiatives to expand Amazonian highway networks, which greatly increase access to forests for ranchers, farmers, loggers, and land speculators.” Satellite imagery from NASA supports Laurance. Data released last summer indicates that much of the recent burning is concentrated around two major Amazon roads: Trans-Amazon highway in the state of Amazonas, and the unpaved portion of the BR-163 Highway in the state of Pará. http://redapes.org/news-updates/us-biofuels-policy-drives-deforestation-in-indonesia-the-amazon/


27) Regional council may force loggers to buy $50 permits, then bar them from cutting trees in spring months when birds are breeding. “It’s just going to drive more of us out of business,” said Brian Hahn, who has logged hardwoods for 25 years, out of Cambridge. “From what I’ve seen in the woods, there’s no shortage of any birds that I’m aware of,” he said. “I’ve never seen a better population of birds, ever.” But environmentalist Susan Smith says logging has to stop for part of the year, to better protect songbirds such as wood thrushes, hooded warblers and the scarlet tanager. “I don’t want to live in a community that’s just blue jays and crows,” said Smith, of Wilmot Township. Local woodlands are harvested for firewood, furniture, flooring and pallets. This generates revenues for landowners and can improve woodland health when done properly, foresters say. Council proposed tree-cutting permits after Smith and others complained that nesting songbirds are not adequately protected. Smith points to a federal law that protects migratory birds. “Logging a forest that they’re living in is clearly going to be a disturbance,” Smith said. Currently, loggers can harvest trees above a certain size at any time, as long as they also leave some large trees behind. “We just basically approve the cutting,” said Albert Hovingh, a regional planner and licensed forester. http://news.therecord.com/News/Local/article/300142


28) The shape and look of Scotland’s forests will have to change if they are to escape the worst effects of climate change, according to work commissioned by Forestry Commission Scotland. A Forest Research report published last week — ‘Impacts of climate change on forests and forestry in Scotland’ — highlights the role Scotland’s forests have to play in the national effort to tackle climate change and outlines steps the forestry sector may need to take to lessen the impact of warmer, drier summers and milder, wetter, windier winters. Visiting the Commission’s Northern Research Station at the Bush Estate, Scottish Environment Minister Michael Russell said: “Climate change is not something that is on its way – it is happening already. “Over the past 40 years there has been a 30 day increase in the growing season, over 20 fewer frost days per year and a 60 per cent increase in winter rainfall. The report states that every element of forestry practice will need to be reviewed. Some of the key proposals include a move to more diverse planting, introducing different varieties of trees and revising operational practices. Forest managers will also need to ensure that staff receive appropriate training and guidance to help them meet the new range of challenges. http://www.midlothianadvertiser.co.uk/news/Look-of-Scotlands-forests-must.3694211.jp

29) Hundreds of residents demanded a halt to plans to “desecrate” a Glasgow country park last night when they confronted council officials at a packed public meeting. In a display of public anger, 700 people arrived for the meeting at Pollokshaws Burgh Hall, organised by campaign group Save Pollok Park in opposition to plans to build a treetop adventure course within the park’s woodland. More than 100 were left outside in the car park while inside the crammed hall local councillors, officials and developers Go Ape struggled to fend off criticism. As tempers boiled over, BBC broadcaster Chick Young wrestled the microphone from a meeting official only to have the audio cut before he could express his evident disgust. Council officials were repeatedly accused by park-goers of failing to advertise its plan to site an aerial assault course in the North Wood, next to the Burrell Collection, costing £20-25 to take part. The council has been derided over its public consultation in October, where a majority of respondents were in favour of the Go Ape proposal, half of whom were pupils from a local secondary school. But when asked by Nicola Sturgeon if they would pause and reopen public consultation in the light of the “unprecedented” turnout, council chiefs stood firm. Turning to face the audience, Councillor Ruth Simpson, executive member for land and environment, shouted into her microphone: “We have made a full consultation, and you did not respond.” Robert Booth, director of land services, was bullish in his defence of the council’s right to grant planning permission, with or without the consent of the Maxwell family or the National Trust for Scotland, who oversee the estate under the terms of the gift to the citizens of Glasgow. “They have no right of veto. That is our legal opinion,” said Mr Booth. “I am stunned by the attitude of the National Trust.” http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/news/display.var.1986089.0.Tempers_flare_at_meeting_over_Go_Ape


30) Poland is the last remaining patch of ancient forest that once covered the Central European Plain. The forest is home to the European Bison, lynx and wolves. Tens of thousands of vast oak trees, up to 40 metres high mean that the timber industry is interested. A small area of the forest is a National Park. Plans to expand the National Park brought conservationists into conflict with local people who make their living through forestry jobs and collecting firewood, fruit and fungi in the forest – the conflict was partly as a result of misinformation spread by state forestry companies. Part of the forest was FSC-certified in 2000. This might seem like a good compromise between conservationists and local people. In theory, the forest remains and local people keep their jobs. But this is only the case if SGS Qualifor, the certifiers, apply FSC standards strictly and consistently. Unfortunately they have not done so. http://www.birdlife.org/action/change/europe/forest_task_force/ftf_newsletter_02_06.pdf


31) With the fall of the Berlin Wall and rapid expansion of the Russian oil and gas sector, supported by rising world oil prices has come economic wealth in Russia. This has resulted in growth and development and many new initiatives that touch on agriculture, transportation infrastructure and forestry. It is not often that one will find a press release detailing $100 million in sales for forestry equipment. John Deere, as I posted on Vector1Media today has just signed on the dotted line to deliver a large number of forest harvesting equipment to the Russian Federation. A history of forestry in Russia can be found and by most accounts, only about 30% of harvestable forests were being actively engaged. Under-investment and mismanagement have plagued Russian forests for a long time – how else would you explain the world’s largest forested area, but having to import wood? But change is happening. As the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) says, At least four major factors are driving change. These include: 1) globalization, which is shifting industrial capacity to countries where costs are lower; 2) the extensive development of fast-growing tree plantations and the rapid emergence of new supplies of industrial wood; 3) the relatively recent and ongoing development of wood-based composite products technology; 4) the emergence of new important players in wood products manufacturing and consumption – especially China, but also other Asian countries, the Russian Federation, eastern Europe and some countries in Latin America. On the last point, in my opinion, having read quite a few press releases and followed events over the last while in Russia; the forested areas are on the edge of a large-scale infrastructure build-out. The border roads between Russia and western Europe are clogged with traffic, especially trucks. The infrastructure cannot handle it all. But forest equipment, such as the above order, represent the beginnings of land clearing and development, whether for forests or communities. However, be aware that forest management laws are in effect and being pursued. Most forestry professionals will tell you that with forest harvesting comes road layout and design, global positioning system (GPS) use, remote sensing to determine and classify land cover and drawings and geographic information systems (GIS). Associated with this development comes a wide array of sensor technologies and measurement technologies for environmental monitoring and cadastre management. http://vector1media.com/vectorone/?p=270

Sierra Leone:

32) Sierra Leone has joined the Ivory Coast, Guinea and Liberia in an effort to control loggers from plundering forests for their valuable natural resources. “They just invaded and started doing what they felt like doing,” Forestry Minister Joseph Sam Sesay said of Chinese and other foreign companies, in a BBC interview. Logs were being cut and exported raw without value addition and benefit to the country, he said. A new forestry policy is being developed. Meanwhile, the 75,000- acre Gola Forest-home to 50 species of mammals, including leopards, chimpanzees and forest buffalos-has been declared a new national park. http://www.frostillustrated.com/full.php?sid=2740


World Bank forestry projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) ignored the rights of indigenous pygmies and overestimated the benefits of industrial logging in reducing poverty, the bank itself said in a report that concluded internal guidelines had been breached. Activists say the projects left the forestry sector “in anarchy”. The report, compiled by the bank’s inspection panel, followed complaints by indigenous pygmy groups that the reforms had disregarded the rights of millions of forest-dependent people and ignored the existence of between 250,000 and 600,000 pygmies whose lives depend on the forests. The reforms, the complainants argued, would also lead to violations of their rights to occupy ancestral lands, and manage and use their forests according to traditional practices. “The panel found that there was a failure during project design to carry out the necessary initial screening to identify risks and trigger safeguard policies so that crucial steps would be taken to address the needs of the pygmy peoples and other local people,” Werner Kiene, panel chairman, said. According to the panel, the bank underestimated non-timber values and uses of the forests to forest-dependent communities and 40 million rural people, when it conceived the projects. “Unless strong measures are taken to ensure that the benefits reach local people, the concession system will not make the expected contribution to poverty alleviation of the local people,” it noted. The report was discussed by the World Bank’s board of executive directors on 10 January. http://allafrica.com/stories/200801230501.html


34) By year’s end, the Iowa organizations and Rwandan colleagues will begin work to restore the rain forest in Gishwati, Rwanda’s first national conservation park. The short-term goal is to add 500 acres of forest. At one time, Gishwati forest spanned 250,000 acres. By the late 1980s, clearing for farming had cut it to less than 65,000 acres. When refugees returned after the 1994 genocide that killed 800,000 people, more land was cleared. The forest shrunk to 1,500 acres before early reforestation efforts brought it back to 2,500 acres. There is more at stake than possible jobs for Rwandans and the growth of the chimp population in the northwest corner of that country, said Benjamin Beck, Great Ape Trust’s conservation director. Deforestation has caused massive mudslides, leading to the deaths of a couple of dozen people and the loss of as many as 300 homes. Two major rivers have silted in, forcing hydroelectric plants to shut down periodically for cleaning. Trees would have helped prevent that erosion, Beck said. “The government and people of Rwanda realize that the loss of ecosystem services has a real price tag,” he added. “We aren’t talking about some abstract idea of ecosystem conservation here.” http://www.thehawkeye.com/Story/k0126_BC_IA_Exchange_ApeProje_01_23_0777


35) Farmers in village Birsi of this east Vidarbha district are restive as full grown trees on their farms are being cut ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s scheduled visit Feb 9. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is slated to lay the foundation stone of the National Flight Training Institute (NFTI) in Birsi on the outskirts of Gondia, the hometown of Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel. The Birsi villagers have joined hand with farmers in adjoining villages to protest the tree-felling and land-acquisitions for the pilot training academy. Though the formal foundation stone for the flight training is being laid next month, an old airstrip and a makeshift Air Traffic Control tower are already functional. These facilities at Birsi are at present being used for the on-going training programme of the Rae Bareilly-based Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Udan Academy, which has been shifted here. ‘At least 1,500 trees of mango and mahua were cut from about a dozen farms last week and many more have been ticked for felling in the days ahead,’ Shyam Lal Thakre, a villager-turned-activist, told IANS. ‘There was no advance notice, not a word on compensation,’ he added. ‘When the farmers objected to the move, the Airport Authority of India personnel accompanying the contractor told them they were empowered by law even to acquire their property and they were not bound to pay them compensation,’ Thakre said. ‘A senior lawyer whose land has been marked for acquisition has already moved the court against it and others are in a mood to follow suit,’ said Thakre. http://newspostindia.com/report-33363

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