434 World Wide Tree News

–Today for you 33 news articles about earth’s trees! (434th edition) http://forestpolicyresearch.com
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In this edition:

Not so site-specific news related to the world’s trees

Index:

–World-wide: 1) People increase threat of landslides, 2) Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, 3) UNEP establishes new panel on biodiversity, 4) REDD will fuel human rights abuses 5) New word in lexicon of forestry: Sequester, 6) FSC is in Shambles, 7) Fungus and Clearcuts, 8) If nature is where humans aren’t, does it really exist? 9) Nature is good for you, 10) Forests produce climate healing atmospheric aerosol, 11) Maathi urges protection, 12) Plantations are not forests, 13) More on FSC fraud disclosure, 14) New Earth Rising newsletter, 15) Palm oil craving may finally decline, 16) FSC support is rapidly ending, 17) Palm oil folks just can’t seem to find a way to fool us, 18) Who owns the world’s forests? 19) 2008 Living Planet Report, 20) Prince wants long-term eco-bonds, 21) UN forest policy started in 1992, 22) Stopping deforestation, 23) Tell 20 companies to stop using oil palm, 24) Another climate friendly reason to save ancient forests, 25) Big tropical logger gathering figures ways to thwart government, citizens and ecosystems, 26) Cheap forest products make expensive ones possible, 27) Greenpeace still logging of the last old growth as long as FSC thinks it’s ok, 28) 3,600 organizations denounce FSC, 29) Ageing forests continue to accumulate carbon, 30) Peat Lands emission more than expected, 31) More on REDD-ripoff, 32) Nitrogen in leaves increases carbon absorption, ) 33) Voluntary Carbon Standard,

Articles:

1) Climate change is likely to increase landslides, but it isn’t thing that will increase landslides the most. The culprit, the biggest driver of landslide events, is a more basic, says Professor Dr David Petley. It’s the growth of cities. While scientists and governments puzzle over how climate change will impact rainfall and the number of landslide events in a year, this engineering geologist from the International Landslide Centre at Durham University warns about serious and more easily visible problems. “Climate change is terribly important and we have to find ways of reducing carbon dioxide emissions quickly or we will face a very dire situation.“But that’s not the only crisis we are facing. “What’s likely to increase landslides the most, are cities moving out into more and more marginal land. “If this is poorly planned or poorly constructed housing development, it poses a real threat in terms of landslides,” said Petley who delivered keynote address on the subject at the International Conference on Slopes 2008. Petley said this is evident to some extent in Kuala Lumpur and that’s why the proposed National Slope Masterplan is so important. “As KL expands and slopes are developed, having a policy and body that makes sure that development is done properly is critically important.” The second key factor, said Petley, is deforestation. Though not as great a concern in Malaysia as in other Asian countries, the country is still likely to be impacted by the conversion of forests into other uses. “There will be more pressure to turn land into palm oil plantations in order to generate oil and that can lead to degradation of the environment. “We’ve seen in many places that deforestation and conversion to plantation are environmentally very serious.” Petley also linked the issue of deforestation to what he termed Asia’s “next great threat”: population growth. As population density goes up, each fatal landslide incident is likely to claim more lives, he explained. The United Nations Habitats Programme projects that between 2000 and 2030, the population of Asia would increase by about 1.2 billion people, the most in South Asia, which is expected to gain 700 million inhabitants. http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Sunday/Focus/20081115170602/Article/index_html

2) An initiative to fight deforestation in developing economies by tapping emissions trading markets will commence in full swing shortly, involving a World Bank-managed facility financed in part by Japan. The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility to finance projects to curb slash-and-burn farming and other forms of forest degradation will begin soon in Vietnam, Madagascar and 23 other countries formally selected at the facility’s first meeting in the United States in late October, the sources said. The facility will sell on market credits for carbon dioxide emissions that would have been generated without the projects. Sales of the credits will then finance more projects for forest preservation. Reducing CO2 emissions by way of curbing the degradation of forests did not receive attention in the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, even though CO2 emissions from slash-and-burn and other forms of forest degradation account for an estimated 20 per cent of global greenhouse gases. The sources said that if the initiative, dubbed Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, is successful, it will help to combat global warming and preserve the environment. Japan has a $10m stake in the facility currently worth $170m. The World Bank and other parties are aiming to raise around $300m for the facility. Funds from the facility will be used to monitor illegal logging and to establish forest sanctuaries. Mechanisms will also be developed to compute the amount of CO2 emissions that would be curbed as a result. The facility could also be used to buy emissions credits. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Earth/Carbon_trading_to_fight_deforestation/articleshow/3721379.cms

3) The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has established the Inter-governmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) with the goal of saving the remaining global biodiversity in a regime of protection that likewise promotes economic gain. “The value of services generated by the world’s 100,000 protected areas is estimated to be worth over $5 trillion annually,” UNEP said in a statement. There is great economic benefit in biodiversity. For one, mangroves are valued at more than $900,000 per square kilometer, while coral reefs cost as much as $100,000 to $600,00 per square meter. Reefs in Indonesia are worth $1 million per square kilometer, based on the cost of maintaining sandy beaches, and pollination services of insects such as bees and animals like bats are worth up to $90 billion annually. The IPBES is now looking at capital-generating incentives to boost biodiversity conversation, in the same way that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has given its support to mechanisms such as carbon trading under the Kyoto Protocol. “A similar bridge between the scientific and political worlds may be the solution to the decline of the planet’s natural assets,” UNEP said. The IPBES is also considering its engagement in a worldwide education project such as informing people of the role of animals, plants, and other organisms in the ecosystem. This initiative aims to orient consumers on the loss of economies from “dead zones” in the sea or in forests, as reported by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook-4. “We are facing a serious challenge to nature-based assets. Global GDP (gross domestic product) has more than doubled in the past quarter century. In contrast, 60 percent of the world’s ecosystems have been degraded,” said UNEP executive director Achim Steiner.In the past, the Convention on Biological Diversity, Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and the Ramsar convention on Wetlands have attempted to solve global biodiversity degradation. UNEP said, however, that such initiatives were either inadequate or inappropriate. Having said this, UNEP mentioned some of the consequences for the lack of programs responding to biodiversity. By 2025, for instance, close to two billion people are likely to live with absolute water scarcity. http://www.rainforestportal.org/shared/reader/welcome.aspx?linkid=110679

4) Plans to pay developing nations millions of pounds every year not to cut down forests will fuel corruption and human rights abuses, according to environmental organisations. 1) Johan Eliasch, Gordon Brown consultant, fined for illegal Amazon logging 2) Save the planet? Buy it 3) Tory treasurer to advise Gordon Brown The controversial Eliasch Review was presented to the Prime Minister as a way of using free market economics to slow climate change. The report suggested a ‘forest emissions trading system’, where credits are given to rainforest nations for limiting CO2 through protecting existing forests and planting more trees. These credits can then be sold to developed nations that need to offset the amount of carbon they are producing. By 2030 the market will be generating enough money to ensure the world’s rainforests are protected. However in the intervening years the world community will have to find up to $19 billion (£11 billion) annually to pay the rainforest nations, most of which are in the developing world, to protect their forests. There was immediate concern about the money going into the hands of corrupt governments or logging companies and leading to human rights abuses as indigenous people are driven off now valuable land. In the long run it is feared the forest credits will provide richer nations with a “get out jail free” card so that they can go on producing carbon emissions by buying offsets from developing nations. The author of the report Johan Eliasch, a former Tory donor who runs the sports business Head, is a controversial figure in the environmental world. Earlier this year one of his companies was fined for illegally cutting down Amazon rainforest. Although the report was welcomed by the new Department of Energy and Climate Change, that could use the new credits to help meet impending targets, it was criticised in the development sector for being a kind of “green colonialism” by paying poorer nations to tackle climate change. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/3353311/Deforestation-Paying-nations-not-to-cut-down-forests-%27will-fuel-corruption%27.html

5) A new word has emerged in the forestry lexicon: sequester or sequestrate. In legal terms sequester means “to seize and hold (a debtor’s property), until legal claims are satisfied.” In like terms with forest landowners, it means seizing atmospheric carbon, then storing it in trees, and potentially earning revenue for the service. How does it work? It works through “carbon markets” that help to fund greenhouse gas offset projects. The Chicago Climate Exchange is one example, serving as a CO emission registry. Manufacturing firms in the U.S. that are members of the CCX make a voluntary but legally binding commitment to lower their greenhouse gas emissions. Known as “cap and trade,” CCX members have a CO emission quota. If this quota is exceeded, they must offset the excess by purchasing carbon credits from sources that sequester carbon, such as forests. Only forestlands that have been third-party certified are eligible to participate. This requires a forest stewardship plan and third-party verification. Several third-party forest certification systems in the U.S. have been recognized as credible, most commonly: Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Forest Stewardship Council and American Tree Farm. Landowners must work with a qualified professional forester to conduct a “carbon” inventory that establishes the baseline carbon stocks. The data is submitted to a registered carbon aggregator who, in turn, uses a model to artificially grow the forest into the future. The model predicts the carbon sequestration rate, a figure that varies by forest and largely a function of stocking, species and site index. Periodic payments are made to landowners based on the predicted carbon sequestration.Landowners are required to give an annual update if any changes been made to the forest that would alter the carbon stock (e.g., harvesting, reforestation, catastrophic events, etc.). A carbon inventory at the conclusion of the contract quantifies the actual amount of sequestered carbon and allows for final settlement. http://www.theleafchronicle.com/article/20081115/COLUMNISTS03/811150313

6) A new report from Greenpeace published this month confirms what this website has been warning for nearly two years: that the FSC’s so-called Controlled Wood Policy is a shambles, and is allowing wood from highly unacceptable sources into the FSC certified chain of custody. The report, called ‘Out of Control’ (available here – pdf file, 3Mb), follows detailed investigations into several logging operations in Finland over the last two years, during which all major paper companies have been audited against the FSC Controlled Wood standard. The studies revealed “clear violations” of the Controlled Wood Standard, including abuse of indigenous peoples rights, and exploitation of High Conservation Forest. Some of the wood entering FSC certified chains had been cut illegally inside protected areas, and where endangered wildlife habitat had been destroyed. Greenpeace looked into the sources of wood supply of companies Metsäliitto, Stora Enso and UPM. They found that all had obtained wood from areas that should have been excluded under the Controlled Wood policy. For example, according to the report, Metsäliitto had carried out “several controversial operations” in the Kytaja high conservation value forest area in South Finland. In 2008, the company “logged four habitats of the legally protected flying squirrel and a connecting forest between them. The habitats and the connecting forest had been defined to be protected by environmental authorities prior the logging and logging them was clearly against the law. Areas had been marked on the ground and Metsäliitto was informed of the protection decision.” Greenpeace reports that the incident is under police is investigation. Close to the same area in 2006-2007, Metsäliitto destroyed high conservation values in a Natura 2000 protected area. According to Greenpeace “this operation was against the EU’s Habitats Directive”. Greenpeace concludes that the Controlled Wood Policy should be ‘phased out’ within five years, or converted into a new scheme leading to a requirement for full FSC certification of all products carrying the FSC label. http://www.fsc-watch.org/archives/2008/11/14/Greenpeace_exposes_F

7) “As a mushroom grower, I have seen habitats whose decomposition cycles influence subsequent successions of organisms. Nowhere is this more apparent than in clear-cut forestlands. Once the trees are killed, mycorrhizal fungal communities die back. After loggers haul trees away, vast debris fields remain behind: stumps, brush, and downed small-diameter or otherwise unmarketable trees. Until this wood debris decomposes, its biomass is locked away from the food web and is therefore unavailable to bacteria, protozoa, insects, plants, animals, and fungi, some of which would dismantle the cellular structure of the wood, freeing nutrients. In order to stimulate decomposition and trigger habitat recovery, we can selectively introduce keystone mushroom species such as saprophytic fungi, the first species to feed on dead wood. Making wood debris fields more fungus friendly speeds up decomposition and helps the decomposition cycles become more balanced. To help nature recalibrate after logging, fungi must be brought into close contact with the dead wood so that the forest floor can act as a springboard for saprophytic and other fungi, which are instruments of the forest’s immune system, ready to heal its wounds. For several years after a forest has been cut, the mycosphere survives underground, with an increasing loss of diversity over time unless plant communities and debris fields are renewed.” Jodi Frediani Chair, Forestry Task Force Santa Cruz Group Ventana Chapter, Sierra Club JodiFredi@aol.com

8) A number of weeks ago, Nature published an editorial on the meaning of “nature.” If defined as anything absent humans, the authors argued, then nature no longer exists. Man is everywhere! How can we ever manage wilderness, when our very act of management would make it no longer nature by definition? Then they got a response from Fern Wickson that basically called it out as nonsense: “if we define nature as including humankind, the concept becomes so all-encompassing as to be practically useless.” So if nature is everything without humans, nature doesn’t exist on Earth. If nature includes humans as embedded, or a part of, nature, everything on Earth is natural. Neither seem terribly useful. I think it helps to think of all conservation actions as having clear objectives. Nobody’s trying simply to restore a place “to nature” — there are specific species, or processes, or services that we want to protect, preserve, conserve or restore. In that way, our actions as humans are (tautologically) natural, and our objectives have rationales beyond just “because that’s what’s natural.” Conservation for its own purpose. Personally, I find this article from Orion on protecting the silent places in the United States (”One Square Inch of Silence”) particularly inspiring for my own vision of what we want to save, but we try to have a big tent here at a Conservation Blog. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s hard to type with my gaze firmly embedded at my navel. http://consblog.org/index.php/2008/11/11/we-are-not-the-only-experiment/

9) In particular, being in natural settings restores our ability to exercise directed attention and working memory, which are crucial mental talents. The basic idea is that nature, unlike a city, is filled with inherently interesting stimuli (like a sunset, or an unusual bird) that trigger our involuntary attention, but in a modest fashion. Because you can’t help but stop and notice the reddish orange twilight sky—paying attention to the sunset doesn’t take any extra work or cognitive control—our attentional circuits are able to refresh themselves. A walk in the woods is like a vacation for the prefrontal cortex. Strolling in a city, however, forces the brain to constantly remain vigilant, as we avoid obstacles (moving cars), ignore irrelevant stimuli (that puppy in the window) and try not to get lost. The end result is that city walks are less restorative (at least for the prefrontal cortex) than strolls amid the serenity of nature. In a very similar vein, there was a epidemiological study published in Lancet last Friday that found that living near parks, playing fields, or forests can have dramatic effects on your health—both by alleviating stress and by allowing more physical activity. The researchers went on to suggest that it might be possible to narrow the health gap between the rich and poor by creating more green space in urban areas. (Hey, maybe this even helps explains that recent finding about how Republicans tend to be much healthier than Democrats, seeing as how the latter are more likely to live in cities and have less green space, no? Eh, okay, there are probably better explanations…) –Bradford Plumer http://blogs.tnr.com/tnr/blogs/environmentandenergy/archive/2008/11/11/nature-is-good-for-you.aspx

10) Previous studies have concluded that boreal forests warm the climate because the cooling from storage of carbon in vegetation and soils is cancelled out by the warming due to the absorption of the Sun’s heat by the dark forest canopy. However, these studies ignored the impacts of forests on atmospheric aerosol. We use a global atmospheric model to show that, through emission of organic vapours and the resulting condensational growth of newly formed particles, boreal forests double regional cloud condensation nuclei concentrations (from approx. 100 to approx. 200 cm-3). Using a simple radiative model, we estimate that the resulting change in cloud albedo causes a radiative forcing of between -1.8 and -6.7 Wm-2 of forest. This forcing may be sufficiently large to result in boreal forests having an overall cooling impact on climate. We propose that the combination of climate forcings related to boreal forests may result in an important global homeostasis. In cold climatic conditions, the snow–vegetation albedo effect dominates and boreal forests warm the climate, whereas in warmer climates they may emit sufficiently large amounts of organic vapour modifying cloud albedo and acting to cool climate. This work has important policy implications. Previous studies have suggested that climate mitigation through forest expansion in the boreal zone would warm climate. Our study questions this conclusion. Climate model studies that comprehensively evaluate all of the influences of forests on climate are now required. Our study focused on the impacts of forest terpenes on aerosol, but other biogenic aerosol and trace gas sources may also be important. We propose that a combination of climate forcings may result in boreal forests acting to help stabilize regional and global temperatures. During cold climatic periods, a dominant snow–vegetation albedo forcing results in boreal forests warming climate. In warm climatic periods, this forcing becomes less important and the forest–aerosol–cloud albedo forcing may dominate, resulting in boreal forests cooling climate. This impact of boreal forest on aerosol and clouds represents an important climate feedback process that must be included in climate models in order to make realistic predictions. http://climateresearchnews.com/2008/11/organic-vapours-from-boreal-forests-can-cool-the-climate

11) Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai on Wednesday urged upcoming talks on climate change to focus on protecting forests, especially rich treelands in the Congo Basin, Amazonia and Southeast Asia. “I’ve been hoping that this time, in the negotiations, forests will be protected,” Maathai told reporters during a trip to Paris. “African countries have to prioritise these issues,” she added. “African environment ministers are working closely to come up with one African position.” Deforestation accounts for around a fifth of global emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. This problem was not addressed in the UN’s 1997 Kyoto Protocol for tackling climate change. Campaigners hope that in talks to frame its successor deal, which will take effect from the end of 2012, new mechanisms will be set in place to encourage forest conservation, including financial rewards. Negotiations unfold in Poznan, Poland, from December 1 to 12 as a prelude to a final haggle in Copenhagen in December 2009. Maathai is to attend the Poznan talks as a “goodwill ambassador” for the forests of the Congo Basin, but she also spoke about the importance of the rainforests of Amazonia and Southeast Asia. “These three blocks are extremely important, and I hope the post-Kyoto negotiations will include the issue of forests, especially these three forests.” http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5h8ij6spEo1L6sx9idJ1BIWu8XSHA

12) Throughout the world, governments are actively promoting the expansion of large-scale monoculture tree plantations, despite the serious social and environmental impacts already witnessed on existing plantations. The promoters of this model claim that plantations are forests, which simply is not true. Plantations are not forests. Unfortunately, many of our colleagues in the forestry sector support this model, and our teaching institutions continue to train new generations of forestry professionals to perpetuate and expand this type of forestry model, aimed at seeing forests where they do not exist. This is why we feel the need to publicly state not only that monoculture tree plantations are not forests, but also that these plantations result or have resulted in the destruction of our native forests and of other equally valuable ecosystems that they replace. Those who know the most about this issue are the local populations who directly suffer the impacts of plantations, such as: 1) Loss of biodiversity (and the resulting loss of food, medicines, firewood, and materials for housing construction and crafts, among others). 2) Changes in the water cycle, resulting both in the decrease and depletion of water sources and the increase of flooding and landslides. 3) Decreased food production. 4) Soil degradation. 5) Loss of indigenous and traditional cultures that depend on the original ecosystems. 6) Conflicts with forestry companies over the ownership of land in indigenous territories and those of other traditional communities. 7) Decreased sources of employment in traditionally agricultural areas. 8) Expulsion of rural populations. 9) Destruction of the natural landscape in tourism areas. — For reasons like these, we forestry professionals who strive for the conservation of forests and recognise the basic rights of the peoples who live there must take the side of those who truly defend the forests – the local communities – and oppose the expansion of monoculture plantations. http://forestrystudent.blogspot.com/2008/11/statement-monoculture-tree-plantations.html

13) An FSC label on paper products should ensure that the paper is produced from “environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests”. At least that’s what it says in the introduction to FSC’s Principles and Criteria. The unfortunate reality is that FSC has certified some of the most egregious industrial tree plantations in the world. I’m currently putting the finishing touches to a report for the World Rainforest Movement looking at Europe’s role in supporting the expansion of industrial tree plantations and the pulp and paper industry in the global South. One section of the report looks at some of the actors who are helping the industry to expand. Through its certification of industrial tree plantations, FSC has become one of the actors helping to promote the expansion of the industry in the South. When FSC was formed, it did not accept funding from industry. Since 2002, however, FSC has accepted money from the companies it is supposed to be regulating, “as long as no restrictions are attached which would affect the independence or integrity of FSC”. Pulp and paper giant Mondi was the “gold sponsor” of the recent General Assembly in South Africa. One of FSC’s certifying bodies, SGS, was another sponsor. It is difficult to see how this does not affect the independence and integrity of FSC. Six years after announcing that it would carry out a Plantations Review, FSC has started to amend its Principles and Criteria. Based on the evidence so far, these amendments will make it even easier for FSC to certify industrial tree plantations. Criterion 6.3 should exclude the certification of any industrial tree plantations. It states: Six years after announcing that it would carry out a Plantations Review, FSC has started to amend its Principles and Criteria. Based on the evidence so far, these amendments will make it even easier for FSC to certify industrial tree plantations. Criterion 6.3 should exclude the certification of any industrial tree plantations. It states: Ecological functions and values shall be maintained intact, enhanced, or restored, including: a) Forest regeneration and succession. b) Genetic, species, and ecosystem diversity. c) Natural cycles that affect the productivity of the forest ecosystem. — Industrial tree plantations have nothing to do with “Forest regeneration and succession”. They have nothing to do with “ecosystem diversity” and there are no “natural cycles” in plantations consisting of exotic species that are clearcut and replanted with rows of identical seedlings.
http://www.fsc-watch.org/archives/2008/11/11/FSC_is_misleading_co

14) New Earth Rising is a new e-zine from Ecological Internet committed to biocentric thought and action (read the press release). Through thoughtful original essays and other creative works based upon both ecological science and intuition, we link what is known regarding the true extent of global ecological crises with specific personal and social transformations necessary to achieve global ecological sustainability. New Earth Rising is grounded in the ethics of biocentrism, deep ecology and political ecology — and is concerned with equity and justice, as well as global ecological sustainability. The publication emphasizes the need for ecological science and rationalism in formulating environmental public policy; examination of the seriousness of ecological and related social issues; proposes necessary, sufficient and workable solutions involving global citizens, society and governments; and is skeptical regarding secular and religious ideologies. The e-zine will initially publish bi-monthly, and reader submissions are welcome. You can also subscribe to be notified of new issues. Ecological Internet generally depends upon tax-deductible user donations to fund our modest operations. We have recently chosen to accept a small amount of advertising to diversify our funding. We have limited control over the ads, and different people see different ads. Please help us, and should a greenwashing, or otherwise inappropriate, ad appear, let us know and we will consider blocking it immediately. On balance, there are some good green messages and products being advertised that you may be interested in investigating. http://www.newearthrising.org/

15) It would almost be humorous, if it weren’t so pathetic. After years of so-called ‘greenwashing’ tactics to downplay the environmental degradation caused by expanding oil palm plantations (see also related post here), falling world palm oil prices may just be the thing needed to curb the greed. As a side note, I recently visited China and now realise where a good proportion of the oil palm is going – while the food was fantastic, the amount of oil used in almost everything is a bit over the top. For a ‘developing’ nation, there sure were quite a few fatties on the street. Convincing China to eat less oil will also reduce demand for oil palm and save SE Asia’s dwindling biodiversity. http://conservationbytes.com/2008/11/10/unexpected-benefits-of-falling-palm-oil-prices/

16) On the basis of very different worldwide circumstances have arisen massive doubts about the certification system or the certification practise of the FSC which have found her expression in extensive lists of questions to the FSC which I send to your knowledge as a layout. An extract from the enclosed list of questions was brought by me by the distributed flyer on the abovementioned event (see layout) to the participans to the knowledge. Now I’ve got to know that the “FSC Team Germany e.V.” has sent an open letter from August this year to the participants of the abovementioned event in which supposedly should be answered in the distrubuted by me flyer questions. However, absurdy is the fakt that this open letter of the “FSC team Germany e.V.” from August, 2008 is just the basis for in the enclosed list of questions or in the flyer raised questions and cann’t be valued as an answer of these questions. Rather is the statement allowed that the “FSC team Germany e.V.” as well as the FSC International gGmbH refuses to answer this in critical form raised questions until now. Not only this fact but also the event from the 23.10.2008 have strengthened my entitled doubts about the certification system or the certification practise of the FSC. Among the rest answered the manager of the “FSC team Germany e.V.”, Dr. Sayer, on my question how the FSC can guarantee the legality of the certificated wood. http://www.fragen-an-den-fsc.de/?page_id=7

17) The plutocrats of palm oil are in trouble. The makers of Wall’s ice cream and Dove soap and Flora margarine are worried you’ll get the idea that these products are being produced at the expense of the rainforests of southeast Asia. Because they are. And, so far, efforts to rebrand palm-oil plantations as oases of sustainability have proved about as convincing as those old ads that insisted you couldn’t tell the difference between butter and margarine. In late November, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) will hold its sixth annual meeting in on the Indonesian island of Bali. Food manufacturers, commodity traders and plantation owners will applaud the “first trickle” of palm oil certified as wildlife and climate-friendly and definitely not grown on recently deforested land. Sadly, this will underline how, after six years of trying to identify sustainable sources of palm oil, the RSPO has to admit that 99% of the ubiquitous edible oil – found in a third of all the products on supermarket shelves – cannot be shown to have been produced sustainability. In the chair in Bali will be Unilever’s director of sustainable agriculture, Jan Kees Vis. The Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Unilever (purveyors of the Wall’s, Dove and Flora brands) began life as Lever Brothers, obliterating the forests of west Africa a century ago to create palm oil plantations. Today, it buys more than a million tonnes of the oil annually from deforested Malaysia and Indonesia. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/nov/06/1

18) Who owns the world’s forests? When Andy White and Alejandra Martin posed and answered this question in their 2002 report by the same name, they found that 77 percent of forests worldwide were administered by governments. The good news was that the forested area owned and designated for use by local communities and indigenous peoples was rising. This year, William Sunderlin and colleagues updated the numbers in their report, From Exclusion to Ownership? Challenges and Opportunities in Advancing Forest Tenure Reform. Their findings are sobering for those who hoped to see an upsurge in community control over forests. Sunderlin found that only a few of the 30 most forested countries in the tropics had made significant changes in forest tenure since the 2002 study. Most are in Latin America. Brazil alone is responsible for much of the global progress, with an increase of 56 percent in the forest area designated for use or owned by communities and indigenous peoples. Peru and Bolivia recorded significant increases. Columbia also posted a small increase. In Africa, communities made small gains in Tanzania, Sudan and Cameroon. But Zambia and the countries of the Congo Basin registered virtually no change at all. In Asia, India added more than five million hectares to the forested area designated for use by communities and indigenous peoples. Indonesia recorded no gains. Even in the few countries that have reformed forest tenure, the granting of rights has not guaranteed their realization. In Peru, for example, the government has allocated forested areas for oil, gas and mining exploration in violation of indigenous land titles in the Amazon. In Brazil, the government has failed to prevent illegal incursions into extractive reserves by loggers, ranchers and miners. Even when there’s a will to recognize rights, there’s not necessarily a way: meaningful tenure reform requires administrative capacity, expertise and financial resources to demarcate and enforce community rights. http://redapes.org/palm-oil/who-still-owns-the-world%E2%80%99s-forests/

19) The ‘Living Planet Report 2008’ released last week by conservation and scientific organisations – WWF, Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the Global Footprint Network (GFN) – give a stark warning about the state of Mother Earth and a very bleak future for humanity. The report says the world is heading for an “ecological credit crunch as human demands on the world’s natural capital reach nearly a third more than earth can sustain.” The report also points to a dramatic loss in our natural wealth driven by deforestation, land conversion and land degradation particularly in the tropics. It says pollution, over-fishing and destructive fishing in marine and coastal environments are taking a considerable toll on the earth. The report makes a comparison with the global financial crisis, but adds that the consequences of a global ecological crisis are even graver than the economic meltdown. Global statistics, such as the 30 per cent decline in animal and plant species since 1970, may seem too remote for the ordinary person here in Fiji. But we do contribute to the ecological credit crunch. Our bad consumption habits such as overuse and misuse of our forest and marine resource do add up to the crunch. We often talk about pollution and industrial waste happening in foreign metropolises, but this is happening at our very door step. The toxic Qawa River in Labasa – the ‘Dead River’ a friendly northerner once commented – is a case in point. Many years of poor litter management, negligible standards and selfish dumping of toxic waste has killed this river that was once teeming with a rich array of marine, bird and plant life. Last month we heard the Fiji Sawmillers Association whinging about the increased royalties implemented by the government on native timber. This group has not done anything remotely constructive towards re-forestation and assisting the national environmental agenda. Everyday our mangrove forests and other natural wetlands have been swallowed by urbanisation and unchecked reclamation projects. Deforestation and dwindling fish stocks in our islands are issues that need to be elevated to the level of national policy and governmental action. The attention being given to the Department of Environment in this regard is commendable. Creating awareness on and enforcing the Environment Management Act 2005 is a step in the right direction, in particular the initiative to get industries and businesses to acquire permits on waste management. http://www.fijidailypost.com/editorial.php?date=20081105

20) Britain’s Prince Charles has called for the establishment of an international agency to issue long-term environmental bonds to provide emergency funding to rainforest nations and protect the world’s endangered forests. During a visit to Indonesia on Monday, the Prince of Wales said the proceeds of such a fund would be used to reduce developing nations’ reliance on industries such as palm oil and logging, which lead to the destruction of forests. Users in developed economies, he said in a speech in Jakarta, should be buying the bonds to pay developing countries for using their forests “in the same way as [consumers] pay for our water, gas and electricity”. Prince Charles said long-term environmental bonds could be an emergency fund-raising tool. He said the bonds would be guaranteed by developed countries to make them attractive to investors. He claimed to have already lined up some interested buyers, having worked closely with the P8, a group of 10 leading global pension funds which account for more than US$2,000bn (€1,573bn, £1,260bn) under management. “I know that there is an appetite for quality, long-term investments that would help combat climate change,” Prince Charles told an audience including Indonesia’s president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. But, it is unclear whether such bonds would be attractive to developed countries in the grip of the financial crisis. Past attempts to reach a deal by which rich countries pay for poor countries to preserve their forests have floundered.
The issue is complicated by the difficulty of ensuring that forests are protected and not cut down illegally as well as the fact that preserving one section of forest from loggers can merely lead them to move to another area. Countries have mooted awarding carbon credits to forests that could be traded in the world’s emissions trading schemes, but traders are concerned that such credits would flood the market, bringing the price of all credits drastically low. http://cquestor.blogspot.com/2008/11/uk-prince-calls-for-agency-to-help.html

21) The U.N. Conference on Environment and Development, or the Earth Summit, in 1992 adopted the “Statement of Forest Principles” for the sustainable use of forests. Unlike a formal international treaty, the Forest Principles are not legally binding but represent the first-ever global agreement on forests. Since then, efforts to protect forests have been made across the world under these principles. One example involves countries and regions being organized into nine groups according to their natural conditions and social backgrounds, such as whether they have temperate or tropical forests and whether they are located in the northern or southern hemispheres.Each of these groups has established its own standards concerning such issues as biodiversity, soil and preservation of water resources. They have initiated efforts to shift to sustainable forest management according to these standards.A total of 149 countries belong to at least one of the nine groups. Thanks to such efforts, the total areas of temperate forests in regions such as East Asia, including Japan, and Europe have started to show an increase. What is disturbing is the fact that tropical forests continue to decrease rapidly in the Amazon of South America, and in Southeast Asia and Africa. Industrial countries in temperate zones have the funds and the ability to take effective measures to protect their forests. But developing countries, where tropical forests are concentrated, lack the money to take up new approaches to forest management. The question confronting the world is how to provide developing countries with funds necessary for forest conservation. In addition to aid by industrialized nations and international organizations, a program known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) is now attracting growing attention. http://www.climateark.org/shared/reader/welcome.aspx?linkid=109704

22) Perhaps one of the greatest tragedies and threats of all time is deforestation. Since our rainforests provide us with various living means, any form of peril to it should never be disregarded. Thus, focusing on the issues and planning more for solutions to deforestation is definitely a must. Like all other problems, solutions come in a wide array of choices. However, you get to pick one first at a time and see if it’s capable to yield good answers or not. In deforestation, it is admittedly quite difficult to find solutions to the dilemma mainly because of the huge scope that it encompasses. Remember, this act and its effects are directed not only at a specific area. All other parts of the world have gone through such act and all else have experienced how nature got back at them. The conventional solution aims to target and fix poverty which they consider to be the cause of deforestation. The government, together with various organizations, sees development as the main key to cure. Ironically speaking though, industrialization and further city developments are also one of the causes of deforestation. This happened to be the reason why the government has been buffeted by issues with regards to the solutions that they tried to provide. Nevertheless, here are the proposed (and mostly unrealistic) solutions the government has to offer: Tropical Forest Action Plan (TFAP) is one of the anticipated problem solutions by the government. It operates through strategically implementing to the people the value of our forests. This plan has failed many times for obvious reasons. In fact, the government (as they say) should have created a much clever plan to truly eradicate the problem. Bringing up nonrealistic items over the table is just considered to be a waste of time. Sustained Yield Forestry is one of the projected ways to minimize the output of timber in its yearly harvest. Issues have hovered around corrupt officials who permit excess timber counts in exchange for money. This solution therefore needs honest and responsible professional men to lead along the way to change. The question is, when and where will you see dignified men these days especially with the color of money around? Reserve Strategies are also one of the seemingly impossible ways of treating the problem. Hording of resources and keeping them for future use is quite an impractical thing to do. It needs more practice, and thus should be disregarded in cases where abrupt changes could be made. Remember, the deforestation process is widely accelerating in number now, and plans which are time bounded should be followed. Lastly, International Biodiversity Program is also one of the seen probabilities by the government to finish the problem of deforestation. However, it works almost the same as TFAP which is also proven to be non-beneficial. Traditional based planned strategies are all government solutions to deforestation. It is up to your own criticism now as to which will be judged the best. http://environment.bitzgo.com/deforestation/solutions-to-deforestation-are-there-really-any.html

23) It’s time to show the worst companies that you won’t stand for the destruction of rainforests, communities or the climate for palm oil. The use of palm oil in soaps, cosmetics, food products and other consumer goods is a primary driver of human rights abuses, tropical deforestation, endangered species habitat destruction, and climate change. 20 companies that stand out as the worst of the worst, either for the amount of palm oil they use, or for their lack of interest or response to our requests need to hear from you. With just one click you can send a letter to all 20 companies and tell them that they need to take a stand against the rainforest destruction they are supporting when they buy their palm oil. Your voice can make a difference. http://ga3.org/campaign/dirty20?rk=L7sP4UnqRCNYW

24) New research in Royal Society journal Philosophical Transactions A “suggests that chopping down forests could accelerate global warming [ark] more than was thought, and that protecting existing trees could be one of the best ways to tackle the problem.” The report quantifies how the release of the chemical terpene from forest canopies [search] leads to cloud formation that cools the climate. Given ancient forests’ massive canopies, the findings further clarify intact forest wildernesses’ critical role in maintaining an operable atmosphere. Much remains to be learned regarding Gaia’s workings, forests’ interaction with climate, and the need for ecologically sufficient policy-making, yet it is gratifying to see formal science continue to catch up with Ecological Internet’s biocentric campaigns. Given additional recent scientific findings that old-growth forests continue to remove atmospheric carbon indefinitely, and primary forests lose much of their carbon permanently when first logged, there is no longer any justification for destruction of ancient forests. And presenting “sustainable” logging of such sacred and life-giving primeval treasures as having environmental benefits is ecologically bereft and criminally negligent (you know who you are, and we are coming for you). Through a combination of ecological science and intuition, Ecological Internet and predecessors have long known that loss of intact forest habitats is the key cause of climate change, as well as general biodiversity, ecosystem and biosphere collapse. We know that ending humanity’s cutting and burning of itself to death is key to our shared survival. In particular, global ecological sustainability is going to require giving up timbers accessed from ancient forests, and restoring old-growth forests worldwide. Ecological Internet is going to keep on saying this, confronting those that say otherwise, whatever the costs, because it is the ecological truth necessary to sustain being. http://forests.org/blog/2008/10/science-regarding-forests-clim.asp

25) A meeting of global forest companies and timber trade associations, representing more than 10,000 companies in total, has tackled the way in which the industry can rise to legislative and consumer demands for legal wood and well-managed forests. The meeting, organised by the Tropical Forest Trust (TFT), included discussions on effective global communication, harmonised demand from importers and governments, and giving value to standing timber to stop forests being clear felled for alternative land uses. “With 20% of greenhouse gas emissions coming from deforestation, we need to act now and build value in standing forests, to stop the clearing of forest for alternative uses,” said Scott Poynton, executive director of the TFT. “Eliminating illegal wood from the market place evens the playing field so that responsible producers don’t have to compete with low-cost, illegal producers.” Amendments to the US Lacey Act and new legislation proposed by the European Commission will effectively ban the trade and sale of illegally logged wood within two of the largest markets for tropical timber. http://www.ttjonline.com/story.asp?sectioncode=17&storycode=57509&c=2

26) It is the lower revenue, high volume uses such as mulch, firewood or pulp for paper that drive significant native forest logging. These activities provide the cash flow that support any higher value added uses such as structural timbers and furniture. In the case of forestry, the negative environmental impacts can be addressed by sustainable, best-practice, plantations. But the aforemented forestry products are non-durable by nature, genuine consumables. Whereas, for white goods, electronics, apparel etc., they are – or are supposed to be – more long lived, durable products that have been manufactured for obsolescence. The solutions here then must be based around extended producer responsibility and ‘cradle to cradle’ principles. http://www.occidentallyoriental.com/?p=195

27) Today Greenpeace International released a report entitled “Holding the Line with FSC”[1] which reaffirms Greenpeace’s unflinching support for the Forest Stewardship Council’s (FSC) past and on-ongoing industrial first-time logging of hundreds of millions of hectares of primary and old-growth forests. Greenpeace and other “forest protection” groups like the Rainforest Action Network and WWF continue to provide crucial greenwash for the false premise that ancient forest logging is desirable and can ever be considered “well- managed”. Greenpeace was the target of a series of protests in 2007 led by Ecological Internet, as Greenpeace held FSC’s international chairmanship, regarding their continued support for ancient forest logging given widespread irregularities. At that time they agreed to review problematic FSC certifications, and to respond to criticism regarding FSC’s dependence upon ancient forest logging. Their new report fails miserably on both counts. “Greenpeace today released a one page report, with no mention by name of any specific failed FSC certification (of which there are many); and a 12 page, 80 item laundry list of bureaucratic measures to try, yet again, to make acceptable destroying millions of year old primeval forests for throw away consumer products,” notes Dr. Glen Barry, Ecological Internet’s President. “The review’s only reference to primary forests is that better training manuals are needed for their destruction[2]. All primary forests are of high conservation value, and it is pathetic and tragic that Greenpeace continues to greenwash ancient forest logging.” http://freepage.twoday.net/stories/5298708

28) More than 3,600 organisations and individuals have signed on to World Rainforest Movement\’s letter http://www.wrm.org.uy/actors/FSC/Assembly.html to FSC members demanding that FSC should stop certifying industrial tree plantations. FSC-Watch looks forward to seeing FSC’s response to the letter – preferably a decision to stop certifying environmentally and socially destructive monocultures. Today, WRM released the following press release: The General Assembly of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, from 3-7 November. Coinciding with the opening of the event, an open letter is being distributed to FSC members, calling on the FSC “to urgently resolve the serious problem of FSC certification of monoculture tree plantations.” Wally Menne, from the South African Timberwatch Coalition explains that “the Forest Stewardship Council was created for the certification of forests. Plantations have nothing in common with forests and should have therefore never been within the mandate of the FSC. The time has come for the FSC to decide to stop certifying them.” Another South African activist – Philip Owen from Geasphere- adds that “timber plantations have resulted in the depletion of scarce water resources, making them prone to devastating fires such as those recently experienced in South Africa and Swaziland, with the result of a number of people dead or homeless.” “Those plantations – he emphasises – were FSC certified!” http://www.fsc-watch.org/archives/2008/11/03/More_than_3_600_peop

29) It has long been thought that ageing forests do not accumulate carbon. In fact, the authors of a paper recently published in Nature (Luyssaert et al., 2008) write that “a decline in net primary production is commonly assumed in ecosystem models,” and they say that this assumption “has led to the view that old-growth forests are redundant in the global carbon cycle.” But is this long-held view correct? The eight researchers, who hail from six different countries (the UK, USA, Belgium, France, Germany and Switzerland), decided to investigate the perceived wisdom of the day as it pertains to this subject. In doing so, they compiled and analyzed real-world data from 519 forest-plot studies (approximately 30% boreal and 70% temperate) where the studied trees had not been subjected to experimental treatments such as fertilization and irrigation. This effort revealed, in their words, that in forests of 15 to 800 years of age, net ecosystem production (NEP, the net carbon balance of the forest including soils) “is usually positive; that is, the forests are CO2 sinks.” What is more, they indicate that in contrast to the fact that real-world data “consistently indicate that carbon accumulation continues in forests that are centuries old,” young-growth forests “are very often conspicuous sources of CO2 [our italics] because the creation of new forests (whether naturally or by humans) frequently follows disturbance to soil and the previous vegetation, resulting in a decomposition rate of coarse woody debris, litter and soil organic matter that exceeds the net primary productivity of the regrowth.” The international team of scientists also notes that “old-growth forest stands with tree losses do not necessarily become carbon sources,” because “the CO2 release from the decomposition of dead wood adds to the atmospheric carbon pool over decades, whereas natural regeneration or in-growth occurs on a much shorter timescale,” and this latter phenomenon more than compensates for the slower and smaller carbon losses from the decaying trees. As for the significance of their findings, Luyssaert et al. indicate that under the Kyoto Protocol, leaving forests intact was not perceived as an anthropogenic activity to be rewarded. However, they write that “because old-growth forests steadily accumulate carbon for centuries, they contain vast amounts of it,” and they say that these forests “will lose much of this carbon to the atmosphere if they are disturbed.” Hence, they make a strong case for the proposition that “carbon-accounting rules for forests should give credit for leaving old-growth forest intact.” http://www.co2science.org/articles/V11/N45/EDIT.php

30) Historically, northern peatlands have functioned as a carbon sink, sequestering large amounts of soil organic carbon, mainly due to low decomposition in cold, largely waterlogged soils1, 2. The water table, an essential determinant of soil-organic-carbon dynamics3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, interacts with soil organic carbon. Because of the high water-holding capacity of peat and its low hydraulic conductivity, accumulation of soil organic carbon raises the water table, which lowers decomposition rates of soil organic carbon in a positive feedback loop. This two-way interaction between hydrology and biogeochemistry has been noted3, 5, 6, 7, 8, but is not reproduced in process-based simulations9. Here we present simulations with a coupled physical–biogeochemical soil model with peat depths that are continuously updated from the dynamic balance of soil organic carbon. Our model reproduces dynamics of shallow and deep peatlands in northern Manitoba, Canada, on both short and longer timescales. We find that the feedback between the water table and peat depth increases the sensitivity of peat decomposition to temperature, and intensifies the loss of soil organic carbon in a changing climate. In our long-term simulation, an experimental warming of 4 °C causes a 40% loss of soil organic carbon from the shallow peat and 86% from the deep peat. We conclude that peatlands will quickly respond to the expected warming in this century by losing labile soil organic carbon during dry periods. http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v1/n11/abs/ngeo331.html#top

31) Landowners are concerned they will not see proceeds from the carbon trading mechanism the government has been instrumental in pushing at international climate talks. Under REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), countries like Papua New Guinea would receive funds for cutting emissions that result from deforestation and land use change. The funds would come from pool of money paid into by industrialized nations. REDD has been championed by a diverse array of interests — including scientists, governments, development agencies like the World Bank, and even some conservationists — because the system has the potential to pay for rainforest conservation while delivering benefits to rural populations. But concerns remain, especially on how funds will be used and distributed. There are worries that REDD could exacerbate disputes over land, especially where title is poorly established or the government has a poor record of managing resources for the benefit of local communities. This is particularly an issue in Papua New Guinea where the government recently asserted its authority over all transactions involving forest carbon, even on private land. The position effectively blocks landowners signing private deals with carbon traders. http://news.mongabay.com/2008/1117-png.html

32) While scientists have long known that nitrogen-rich foliage is more efficient at pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, this new discovery suggests that nitrogen plays an important additional role in the Earth’s climate system that has never before been considered. When Ollinger noticed that the overall reflectivity of forest canopies (also known as albedo) rose and fell in conjunction with leaf nitrogen, he realized he had made a new disocvery. “Bits and pieces of evidence for this have been around for years but nobody put them together before because it’s a question we hadn’t even thought to ask,” Ollinger said. “Scientists have long been aware of the importance of albedo, but no one suspected that the albedo of forests might be influenced by nitrogen,” he added. Specifically, trees with high levels of foliar nitrogen have a two-fold effect on climate by simultaneously absorbing more CO2 and reflecting more solar radiation than their low-nitrogen counterparts. Ollinger and UNH colleagues Andrew Richardson, Mary Martin, Dave Hollinger, Steve Frolking, and others, stumbled upon the discovery while poring over six years worth of data they collected from research sites across North America. The study involved a novel combination of NASA satellite- and aircraft-based instruments, along with meteorological towers from the AmeriFlux network and leaf-level measurements to analyze various aspects of forest canopies. The newly discovered link between foliar nitrogen and canopy albedo adds an interesting new twist to the understanding of the climate system and raises intriguing questions about the underlying nature of ecosystem-climate interactions. Changes in climate, air pollution, land use, and species composition can all influence nitrogen levels in foliage, and all of these may be part of a climate feedback mechanism that climate models have not yet examined. http://story.malaysiasun.com/index.php/ct/9/cid/89d96798a39564bd/id/431482/cs/1/

33) A new standard for carbon trading will help link forestry and agriculture projects into a million-dollar market to help fight global warming, backers said on Tuesday. Under rules set by the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS), projects such as reducing the rate of tropical deforestation could get tradable credits for a voluntary market aimed at companies and individuals and worth $330 million in 2007, they said. “For the first time ever investors can rely on robust rules for crediting agriculture, agriculture and other land use projects,” David Antonioli, chief executive of the London-based VCS Association, said in a statement. Trees absorb heat-trapping carbon dioxide as they grow and release it as they burn or rot. Emissions from current rapid deforestation in tropical nations account for about a fifth of emissions from human activities, led by burning of fossil fuels. Talks on a new U.N. climate treaty due to be agreed by the end of 2009 are seeking ways to grant developing nations incentives to let trees stand. But there is a lack of rules for assessing forests and their carbon stocks. “This is an important day for world forests,” said Toby Janson-Smith, a director of Conservation International, a leading environmental group, of the new VCS. The system would make credits from carbon stored in forests interchangeable with other voluntary carbon credits, generated by emissions from energy use or industry. Under the rules, forestry projects could use historical national data on deforestation rates to estimate the amount of carbon preserved. http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE4AH00L20081118

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