435 – EU-Africa-Mideast

435 – EU-Africa-Mideast Tree News
–Today for you 30 news articles about earth’s trees! (435th edition) http://forestpolicyresearch.com
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–EU: 1) Trees play a crucial role in sustaining stream biodiversity, 2) Talks related to Russian timber tariffs, 3) Protected areas,
–UK: 4) Winter big tree hunting season begins, 5) Chainsaws catch activists by suprise, 6) Orangutan Foundation, 7) Stewards take chainsaws into their own hands, 8) They wanna kill a half million deer to ‘save’ the forest? 9) 70 trees cut down without permission,
–Scotland: 10) North Highland Forest Trust (NHFT), 11) Furious citizen over forest giveaway to foreign investors,
–Romania: 12) Regrowing forests need to be for ecotourism?
–Macedonia: 13) Opera singer starts massive reforestation drive
–Malta: 14) New regulations regarding pruning and cutting
–Congo: 15) Three Forest Guards killed, 16) Greenpeace says they set up and office,
–Nigeria: 17) Lawmakers lack technical expertise, 18) Deforestation in the North,
–Burundi: 19) Stopping poverty by preventing deforestation
–Uganda: 20) Soldiers to be used in new conservation efforts, 21) Forest leases for treeplanting have been rescinded due to abuse,
–Ghana: 22) Destruction of forest reserves happens at faster rate every day, 23) Underwater logging,
–Kenya: 24) Will the Mau forest be saved? 25) Mau forest findings are the new roadmap, 26) Forest value comes second in Kakamega,
–Zimbabwe: 27) Ecologists turns economist cause it’s the only way to protect ecology
–South Africa: 28) Greenpeace opens another office today
–Jordan: 29) firefighting plans include monitoring stations,
–Iran: 30) Hara Mangrove forest


1) Marginal plants, particularly trees, play a crucial role in sustaining the biodiversity of Europe’s big river systems, according to a recently held workshop organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF). This finding provides important clues for protecting Europe’s rivers against a combined onslaught from human development and climate change, which are tampering with existing ecosystems and changing both the physical and biological forces acting upon them. Both aquatic plants (living in rivers) and, more importantly, riparian ones (growing along the banks and on islands) play critical roles in building and sustaining habitats for colonisation by other species, and in the chemical and biochemical processes that keep rivers and their ecosystems healthy, according to Professor Angela Gurnell, convenor of the ESF workshop and director of the Centre for Environmental Assessment, Management and Policy at King’s College, London. Gurnell described some plant species as “ecosystem engineers” marshalling habitat development and maintenance. Furthermore, ecosystem engineering by plants operates at many different spatial scales, and in different ways along rivers from their source to mouth. But the vegetation itself is part of the habitat it supports and so vulnerable to the same forces, with the potential for tipping whole ecosystems into new states when certain thresholds are breached, for example as a result of a slight change in climate or river flows. “Vegetation–physical process interactions are highly complex and are subject to distinct thresholds across which massive shifts in system condition can occur,” said Gurnell. “Threshold crossing can be driven by both physical and biological processes and is particularly susceptible to changes in climate, river flow and channel management.” The ESF workshop focused on Alpine systems because most of Europe’s largest rivers, including the Rhine, Rhone and Danube have their source in the Alps. Alpine rivers receive a significant part of their flow from snow and ice melt and so are particularly sensitive to climate change, but these rivers also embrace ecosystems and conditions that are found widely in other European rivers. The ESF workshop heralded an important step forward for the field of modelling the complex physical and chemical processes of river ecosystems, by taking account of the vegetation’s role not just as a guardian of habitats but also in modulating water flow and sediment movements. A full understanding of river habitats therefore requires these effects to be incorporated in the models used to analyse them and predict response to forcing factors such as climate change. “Complex river channel patterns, including a wide variety of vegetated and unvegetated landforms, induce complex flow patterns at the surface and subsurface driving a range of hydraulic ‘patches’, which change their hydraulic properties and also connect and disconnect at different flow stages,” said Gurnell.. “It is crucial to develop models that represent this hydraulic patchiness and its dynamics under changing river levels, whether through detailed numerical approaches or more aggregated statistical approaches, because these make it possible to define the range of hydraulic conditions available to aquatic organisms within different river settings.” http://www.esf.org/

2) While the fallout from Russia’s conflict with Georgia and troubled financial times are likely to dominate the agenda at an EU-Russia summit opening Friday in Nice, some participants are likely to be interested in a more prosaic topic — timber. More specifically, after the EU agreed Monday to reopen talks on a new cooperation agreement with Russia, its officials remain keen on preventing a hike in tariffs on Russian timber exports, which is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1 and which Finland, Sweden and other EU states say poses a threat to their lumber and pulp and paper industries. “Export tariffs are the main individual trade policy problem between the EU and Russia,” Finland’s minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Paavo V?yrynen, said by e-mail Monday. “The forum for finding a solution is the WTO accession process, and at the EU-Russia summit this will be in negotiations.” On New Year’s Day, Russian duties on exported logs are set to increase by more than 300 percent, from 15 euros to 50 euros per cubic meter — or 80 percent of the log value. The increase, one in a series of hikes that began in July 2007, is aimed at reducing the incentive for companies to export raw timber. Instead, the government wants to foster the development of a domestic wood-processing industry or even the shift of some of the foreign companies’ operations to Russia. “I respect [Russia’s] ambition to diversify, to modernize their industry, but closing one’s borders is the wrong way to go,” Swedish Trade Minister Ewa Bjorling said by telephone last week. “[Sweden] opened up its border to more international trade, and that’s how we created our prosperity, and that should be the same recipe for other countries.” European Union leaders are looking to make that point in Nice. http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/1009/42/372251.htm

3) The International Conference “The European Forest-Based Sector: Bio-Responses to Address New Climate and Energy Challenges?” took place from 6-8 November 2008, in Nancy, France. The Conference aimed to provide policy makers with information regarding the role of the forest-based sector in relation to the physical processes of the carbon cycle, the competition between wood and other materials, and the energy market. Held under the auspices of the French Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, with the support of the European Commission, and organized by Ecofor, France, the conference addressed three themes: forests as carbon sinks; wood-based products: carbon storage and energy conservation; and the forest-based sector as a source of renewable energy. Participants discussed the latest scientific developments and options for policy development on the role of the forest-based sector in light of climate change and the energy crisis. [IISDRS Coverage of the Conference] [Conference Website] http://www.climate-l.org/2008/11/european-forest.html

3) A network of protected forest areas (PFAs) stretching across Europe plays a major role in conserving a wealth of biodiversity. However, a recent study voices concerns that the full benefits of such areas will not be reaped unless a standardised approach, which uses scientific guidelines, is used to help select forest areas for protection. Poor connections between forest areas, unsuitable surrounding habitats, an inadequate size of forest and omission of some forest types, all affect the ability of a protected network to conserve biodiversity and ensure the long-term survival of species found in such habitats. There are three guiding principles that should be used in the design of PFAs, as cited by the researchers: 1) Representativeness – all forest types, threatened habitats and endangered species should be included, 2) Spatial design – size, connections with other forest areas and habitat diversity all play an important role, 3) Site quality – suitable habitats and condition of the site, including structure of the vegetation and presence of old growth elements are also important. — The study assessed how forest planners from 21 European countries participating in the COST E271 initiative selected PFAs. They found that the planners did not tend to follow the recommended scientific guidelines. Only 26 per cent of the 101 forest types assessed were selected using all three recommended criteria. For the remainder, only limited use had been made of guidelines to identify the conditions that contributed most to the preservation of biodiversity. Forest planners gave three main reasons for not using the suggested guidelines. 1) There is a lack of supporting ecological data and practical information for choosing sites. Where this is the case, the researchers recommend using vegetation types as indicators for biodiversity and species distribution, complemented by modelling techniques to help select sites. 2) Planners prefer to seek advice from individual experts over standardised guidelines. The researchers suggest it is essential for forest managers and scientists to form partnerships during the entire planning process, but they should use a systematic approach as a guide. 3) Systematic conservation planning is time-consuming, expensive and competes with other uses for the land. For example, it can involve setting aside areas of forest of high commercial value. Justification for the inclusion of forest areas containing biodiversity hotspots, not currently included in the PFA network, is therefore important to optimise PFA efficiency and protect a wealth of species under threat from commercial interests, in accordance with MCPFE2 decisions. http://www.environmental-expert.com/resultEachPressRelease.aspx?cid=8819&codi=39834&idproducttype=8&level=0


4) Monday 1st December sees the launch of the first official Winter Tree Hunting season. The Woodland Trust is asking everyone to get out into the countryside and measure the oldest trees you can find for it’s Ancient Tree Hunt, a five year project to record all ancient trees in the UK. The finds will be logged on the Tree Register of the British Isles, which aims to have logged at least 100,000 ancient trees by 2011. This means that we all need to get tree hugging! “Eh? What has all this measuring and tree hugging got to do with knitting?” you ask. Well, the Tree Hunt team at the Woodland Trust have decided that the best and cosiest way to measure trees is to use The Winter Warmer Ancient Tree Hunting Scarf. This scarf measures exactly 1.5 metres in length – estimated to be the same size as a British Standard Hug. This is where your knitting skills come in handy. The Tree Hunt team have joined forces with designer Laura Long and produced three free downloadable patterns – a Stripy Scarf, for novices, a Leaf Scarf for more experienced knitters and a lovely pair of gloves to keep your hands nice and toasty! The Tree Hunt team would like you to measure the fattest trees you can find using the scarf as a kind of fuzzy tape measure – but not just any old tree – they need to be big fat ones! The fatter the tree, the older it is. For example, an Oak would qualify as ‘ancient’ when it measures three hugs or more i.e., three scarf lengths around the trunk. All the information and the patterns can be found on the Woodland Trust’s Ancient Tree Hunt website here. You can also join the Ancient Tree Hunt Winter Knitters group on flickr to show off your creations! So, pick up those needles and get knitting for a fantastic project and a great way to have fun in our beautiful countryside! Reported by Anna from Half an Acre http://ukhandmade.blogspot.com/2008/11/scene-ancient-tree-hunt-winter-knitters.html

5) Shocked members of the Friends of Bickerton Hill group say they have been misled by the National Trust after trees were felled at a picturesque site near the Sandstone Trail. The trust have chopped down trees in the Cuckoo Rock Valley area as part of their heath regeneration project but temporarily stopped the initiative after a heated meeting between the two groups last month. The FOBH group claim that members of the National Trust management had agreed to cut down trees in other locations of Bickerton Hill and save what they describe as “one of the most attractive and secluded woodland walks on the hill”. But they have been shocked to learn that “dawn raid” visits to the Cuckoo Rock Valley, by contractors using chain saws, have resulted in more birch trees being felled. A FOBH spokesperson said: “The present disagreement with the trust’s conduct of affairs on the hill is as a result of its intention to remove almost all of the birch trees from Cuckoo Rock Valley. “This clearance was and has been done without any clear notice of the Trust’s intentions and without any consultation with local people or hill users and at a stage when the trust had almost reached its 50% target. “In what can only be described as a surprise dawn raid, about a dozen contractors, with eight chain saws, were instructed by the trust’s management to get the trees down as fast as they could, which left a chaotic tangle of trees lying in all directions.” National Trust officials say the claims about its conduct are inaccurate and that the tree-felling work, that has now been completed, is supported by Natural England, the Forestry Commission and Cheshire County Council. The trust have removed self-seeded birch trees from a three-hectare area of Bickerton Hill as part of their heathland regeneration project. Chris Widger, countryside manager for Cheshire, said: “Bickerton Hill is a site of special scientific interest under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and as such the National Trust is obliged to follow statutory guidelines laid down by the government throughŠits agent, Natural England, toŠmanage this extremely rare heathland habitat. http://www.chesterchronicle.co.uk/chester-news/local-chester-news/2008/11/21/national-trust-dawn-raid-angers-friends-59067-22305790/

6) Orangutan Awareness Week, 10th – 16th November, is an annual event that creates a focus for groups or individuals to hold fundraising events and raise awareness of the threats to orangutans and their rainforest habitat. This week Orangutan Foundation are highlighting the important role the orangutan’s habitat, the tropical forests of Borneo and Sumatra, has in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation is the second largest cause of global warming. Andrew Mitchell, Director of the forest conservation organisation, Global Canopy Programme and a trustee of the Orangutan Foundation says “If deforestation is the front line for forests in the war on climate change then orangutans are the ambassadors being burnt at the stake. Emissions from deforestation are equivalent to 36 million people flying from London to New York every day and unless this is halted we will lose the fight against Global Warming. The global community has one year to agree a workable mechanism for including forest emissions in the global climate deal to be agreed next year in Copenhagen. We along with our orange cousins watch with fear and hope.” London businesses are swinging into action for Orangutan Awareness Week. G-Wiz have donated one of their electric cars. The vehicle has the slogan ‘Cut Carbon emissions not our forests. Save orangutans. Support Orangutan Foundation’ and will be driven, by a person dressed as orangutan, on Friday 14th November. Le Pain Quotidien, the sustainable and community-aware bakery and restaurant, whose stores are carbon neutral, are putting an “orangutan dish” on their menu and the manager of their flagship store on Marylebone High Street will dress as an orangutan. http://www.orangutan.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=247&Itemid=9

7) The village of Urchfont has made a bid to be among the greenest communities in Britain with yet another eco-friendly initiative. The co-operative has developed from the work of the Friends of Oakfrith Wood, a band of hard-working volunteers which, over the last 14 years under the direction of county councillor countryside manager Steve Russell, has transformed what was an unruly jungle into a delightful bluebell wood. Now they have taken over the thinning out of the wood, formerly carried out by a contractor, and will sell the resulting firewood to members of the local community. The money from the sale of the firewood will finance further work on the woodland. Fleur de Rhe-Philipe, county council cabinet member with responsibility for the environment, handed over a brand new chainsaw to Ian Maidment, chairman of the co-operative, to officially launch the scheme at the entrance to the wood on Saturday. Mr Maidment said: “Welcome to our office! This is the culmination of two years’ work during which we raised the money, trained the people and got accreditation. “We will be carrying on the work of woodsmen Jesse Fiddler and William Hale.” http://www.gazetteandherald.co.uk/news/3836015.Village_bids_to_go_green/

8) “The current numbers being culled are not enough. We need to be culling about 500,000 deer and we are not even close to that. “There is a significant number of lowland woodlands that are in an unsatisfactory condition because of deer impacts. It is in those areas where we are working with landowners to get the habit back into a better condition. Almost inevitably, that means culling more deer, because people haven’t traditionally been culling enough. “We’re not simply calling for a huge increase in culling. We are trying to address local issues. That might mean an increase in culling, and I think it generally does. But the aim is to address the issues, not deer numbers per se.” However, the proposed increase has proved highly controversial. John Robins, from the campaigning group Animal Concern, said: “Not enough has been done to look at alternatives to lethal control, like giving deer contraceptives. “In some areas, current culling practices are totally unacceptable in a civilised society. We are extremely concerned that some culls are of pregnant deer and hinds when they are feeding calves.” Among the areas of England worst effected by large deer populations are East Anglia, Northamptonshire, Herefordshire, Exmoor, Oxfordshire and parts of the Midlands. Last week, the Deer Initiative, which is funded by the government and its other partner organisations, held meetings with landowners in the east of England to discuss ways to control numbers there. David Hooton, the organisation’s regional representative, said: “In some areas, like Suffolk, Norfolk and Hertfordshire, culling has already started to increase. “But deer management is a very gradual game and it takes a long time to get it right. What no one wants is to be indiscriminate. We need to carry out monitoring and research as well. We are not simply interested in culling, for culling’s sake.” The organisation is also trying to increase the marketing of venison, to provide a further incentive for landowners to cull more deer. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/ecology/3463388/500000-deer-must-be-culled-to-protect-countryside-from-damage-by-herds.html

9) Residents say things came to a head a fortnight ago when workmen chopped down more than 70 trees on the land, which is next to Eastville Park. They hacked at 35-year-old ashes, oaks, birches and hawthorn and left many of them lying on the ground, without permission for felling from the Forestry Commission. The Commission and Bristol City Council investigated after residents complained. Now the landowner could face prosecution, because no licence was in place to fell so many trees. Bristol City Council reacted by placing tree preservation orders on the remaining trees in the wood in a bid to protect them against further felling. The land borders large badger setts and supports a lot of other wildlife, including owls, according to the Bristol Parks Forum. Householders say they have never been kept informed of what has been planned for the land and have never met the owners. Some residents fear the trees have been cleared to pave the way for more homes to be built. One woman living in the street, who asked not to be named, said: “We just want the area tidied up. “At one point, the two empty houses were taken over by travellers and there were more than 20 vans parked on the land. It took a year to get the squatters out. “Lorries have driven up into our cul-de-sac and dumped rubbish and a mound of rubble and soil has been piled up into a mound, spoiling the view for some of the residents. “Now this piece of woodland has been decimated. No-one has the right to just decide that they will cut down dozens of well-established trees.” According to Land Registry records from 2007, the rectangular piece of land, listed as 11,13, and 15 Ashdene Avenue, is owned by Alice Elisabeth Baisley. She is listed as living in the US city of Denver and has a ‘care of’ address in Hanham. http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/news/Anger-felled-trees/article-491031-detail/article.html


10) Climate change could be the “last straw” for rare woodlands in the far north of Scotland already damaged by overgrazing animals, it is claimed. The warning from the North Highland Forest Trust (NHFT) came as it received £250,000 from charities to help in its work to protect trees. Upland birch woods, oak woods, wet woodlands and ancient wooded pastures have been identified as under threat. NHFT said many of the habitats were on the very fringes of their UK range. The funding – which has been welcomed by Environment Minister Mike Russell – will be used to run the Golspie-based trust’s Far North Woodland Biodiversity Project over the next three years. It will be led by trust manager Steve Robertson, woodland biodiversity officer Pat Rae and project support officer Sasha Saunders. Trust chairman David Glass said NHFT was eager to work with communities and crofters in preserving the woodlands and turning them to the benefit of the local economy. He said: “The woodland biodiversity project aims to conserve and enhance key woodland habitats within Sutherland and Caithness, whilst at the same time providing a boost to the local economy and contributing positively to climate change mitigation.” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/highlands_and_islands/7734980.stm

11) Plans by the Scottish government to raise hundreds of million of pounds by giving control of vast areas of Scotland’s forests to foreign multinationals are facing furious opposition from trade unions and Labour politicians. The SNP has been accused of proposing to “sell off our family silver.” Public access to forests and the protection of wildlife are also in jeopardy, critics allege. Minister Michael Russell promised there would be no compulsory redundancies redundancies and guarantees to protect access and wildlife. The government needed to raise money to combat climate change, he said. In a consultation paper the government has proposed powers that would enable ministers to lease more than 25% of the nation’s forests to private companies. The leases, which could run for 75 years, would give the companies rights to fell timber for commercial purposes. Among those likely to be attracted to such a business are logging companies from around the world. The plans have incensed the forestry workers’ trade unions, GMB, Unite, Prospect and PCS. They “represent the biggest challenge to our jobs, the integrity of the Forestry Commission and the sustainability of Scottish forestry that we have seen for more than 10 years,” said Edward Shephard, secretary of the commission’s trade union group. http://www.sundayherald.com/misc/print.php?artid=2470044


12) Romania is increasingly becoming a hub for eco-tourism, it has been reported. It might interest those considering timber investment in the country to know that the nation’s forests and their wildlife are attracting growing number of tourists, reports the Daily Telegraph. Writing for the newspaper, Paul Mansfield explains that some operators are now offering braver holidaymakers tours which bring them face-to-face with bears. He said: “We saw 14 bears in all, in an exhilarating and moving evening. It’s rare enough to see bears at all, but to encounter them on their own turf was a joy.” Bears aside, people who visit the plentiful forests of Romania will see plenty of other animals, including a huge variety of birds and mammals such as wolves, deer, lynx and chamois, Mr Mansfield added. Last week, Xinhua reported that Varujan Vosganian, the Romanian minister for economy and finance, believes that the recent downgrading of the country’s financial rating by Fitch ignored several improvements made in the nation. This news item is brought to you by KMS Baltics in conjunction with Fest-Forest and EST KINNISVARA. Baltic forestry and property specialists. http://www.kms.ee/articles/Romanian_forests_attracting_tourists?747


13) Boris Trajanov, a Macedonian opera singer, launched a massive project this week to seriously green the country in one day. Thousands of people, including 1000 soldiers, were bused to designated planting sites where they planted six million trees! That’s a lot of trees to plant for a little country of 2 million people. The idea, according to Trajanov, was to raise awareness of eco issues and generally green-ify Macedonia. The project also helped replant acres of forest destroyed in major wild fires over the past couple of years. Let’s hope this isn’t a one-time thing. Organizers hope to spread this campaign across the entire Balkan region next year. Spreading beyond that would be even better, according to Trajanov who said, “If Macedonia, a country of two million people, can plant six million trees, we can only imagine how many trees can be planted in other, bigger countries”. While recycling, driving a hybrid, and buying local helps, there’s something pretty remarkable about so many people getting down in the dirt and literally greening a part of their country. http://www.greendaily.com/2008/11/19/macedonians-planting-millions-of-trees/


14) The Malta Environment and Planning Authority has issued a number of proposals aimed at providing stricter protection for a number of tree species while simplifying procedures for pruning, felling or uprooting protected trees. The newly proposed Trees and Woodlands (Protection) Regulations aim to replace the current regulations, which were released in 2001. They are currently being discussed with NGOs, government agencies, the private sector and the general public. A public consultation seminar open to all interested parties will be held on Tuesday at the Mediterranean Conference Centre. MEPA noted that the current over-protection of native species can be counterproductive, as people are resorting to the use of non-native species for landscaping purposes. The authority suggests that for protected species, the current need for prior clearance by the Department of Agriculture is to be removed, leaving MEPA’s permission as the only requirement. A number of particularly rare native species, such as the Bean Trefoil, the Terebinth, and the Maltese National Tree, the Sandarac Gum Tree (G?arg?ar), would be protected irrespective of their location in the Maltese Islands. For other species, protection would be given to all trees over 50 years of age in protected areas, ODZ areas and in Urban Conservation Areas. Exceptions would be in place for alien invasive species and for trees which are damaging to the environment, to structures or to features of natural or cultural heritage. MEPA also proposes that the use of certain species, such as the Acacia, the Castor Oil Tree and the Eucalyptus, which are alien, invasive or incompatible with Maltese biodiversity, should be made illegal, and the authority may also order the removal of such trees which are considered to be damaging. The new regulations also make reference to Tree Protection Areas, areas which contain representative types of Maltese woodland communities, particularly those which are rare, threatened or critical to local biodiversity. It is recommended that MEPA should compile a list of such areas, which would be updated when necessary. http://www.di-ve.com/Default.aspx?ID=72&Action=1&NewsId=55808&newscategory=36


15) Rebels attacked three ranger posts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Virunga National Park this weekend, killing one wildlife officer, wounding three more, and taking 13 hostages. While the human prisoners were released, the Mai Mai rebels still have hostages of a sort: they have made it clear that they’ll start killing endangered mountain gorillas if rangers try to retaliate. About half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas live in the 2-million-acre Virunga, which is Africa’s oldest park and a United Nations World Heritage site. It has been a long-standing hotspot for conflicts between locals who live in the park illegally and conservationists; more than 100 rangers have been killed in recent years trying to protect wildlife there. The Mai Mai are only one of several groups who have used violence to vie for power and resources in the area. “It’s sometimes quite difficult to see what really triggered the violence,” says one ape advocate. “The situation is very fragile.” http://www.grist.org/news/daily/2007/05/24/3/?source=daily

16) Greenpeace today marked the opening of its office in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by welcoming Congolese officials aboard its ship, the Arctic Sunrise, currently docked in Matadi, the country’s principal port for timber exports. The inauguration takes place as the legality review of 156 logging titles in the DRC nears its end and on the eve of critical climate talks in Posnan, Poland, where forest protection is expected to be a central focus. Greenpeace demands complete transparency from the Congolese government as it completes the legal review of 156 logging titles. The first phase of this process resulted in the validation of 46 forest titles covering approximately 7 million hectares of forest. Eighty-one of the logging companies whose titles were rejected in the first phase have submitted appeals to the interministerial commission in charge of the process. Greenpeace expects the government to respect the criteria laid out in the 2005 presidential decree regarding the review of these titles. “The Congolese government must not give into pressure from the logging industry, which is currently doing all it can to highjack the legality process. Clearly what the industry wants is to keep control of some 10 million additional hectares of illegally acquired forest,” said René Ngongo, a policy advisor with Greenpeace Africa. Ngongo went on to say that “those who exploit the forests are expecting the legality review to approve the greatest number of logging concessions possible. They are using the international financial crisis – which has had an impact on the logging industry just as it has on most every other industry – as a pretext for getting around the objective legal criteria already established by the government.” Over 60% of DRC’s population depends directly or indirectly on the country’s forests for subsistence. It is the duty of the government to protect the forests and not give into a political deal favouring an industry that is today directly responsible for the pillage and degradation of the Congo forests. Greenpeace also believes that it is essential the forests be kept intact so that the Congolese people may benefit from international funds currently being established to protect tropical forests. That way Congolese can earn money by preventing the destruction of their forests. The next United Nations climate talks are set to take place in Posnan, Poland from December 1 – 12. One of the negotiator’s principal goals will be the creation of a mechanism to finance the fight against greenhouse gas emissions caused by the deforestation and degradation of tropical forests. Greenpeace’s ‘Forests for Climate’ financing mechanism is designed to protect the rights of forest populations, while also protecting biodiversity and fighting climate change. http://7thspace.com/headlines/298405/greenpeace_opens_an_office_in_the_drc_and_calls_on_the_government_to_act_swiftly_to_protect_the_congos_forests.html


17) Majority of the members saddled with the responsibility for lawmaking are either naive or lack the technical capacity to enact any meaningful legislation to protect the environment, U. D Ikoni, has said. Ikoni, a lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Benue State University, Makurdi, said this in Abuja while presenting a paper on “Combating Deforestation and Desertification IN Nigeria”. “The lukewarm attitude of government to the question of the right to a clean environment may be attributed to the lack of awareness among ordinary people of this specific right which they possess. He continued, “the inadequacy of existing legal mechanisms to protect man and the environment from incursions of modern technology necessitated the clamour for recognition of environmental rights as a separate and distinct right” The lecturer said that the executive and the judiciary usually hide under the provisions of section 6(6) (c) of the constitution which renders the provisions of the chapter II of the same constitution non- justiceable.According to him, the right to a clean and healthy environment is the right of everyone to the conservation of the environment, free from the degrading effects of pollution and other human activities.He stated further that the requirement of a healthy and balanced environment and of the environmentally sound management of natural resources is a condition for the implementation of other fundamental rights. “It is our belief that environmental rights will grant the public a right to a healthy, environment and introduce a series of reforms to increase the powers of the private citizens to protect themselves and their environment from the negative effects of pollution,” he said. Also, such right would increase the powers to sue in civil courts for damage caused by pollution and to initiate private suits or claims for pollution where government or its agency has refused or neglected to act. In addition, it will grant increased access to information on pollution and rights to participate in standard settings and other processes relating to environmental protection. http://allafrica.com/stories/200811100119.html

18) No fewer than 35 million people located in about 10 states in northern Nigeria are facing threats of hunger and extreme weather conditions due to desert encroachment on arable lands and grazing fields. This is because the Sahara desert is said to be moving southwards at the rate of 0.6 kilometres per annum, just as the rate of deforestation has been about 350,000 hectares per annum. This was part of a report presented to the House of Representatives Committee on Environment when it received a joint delegation of officials from the Agricultural Development Company Limited, Israel and the Federal Ministry of Environment. The Isreali firm and the Nigerian government are collaborating under the Desert-to-Food Programme to eradicate the menace of desertification. Chairman, House Committee on Environment, Honourable Duro Faseyi, who while receiving progress report on the Green Wall Project / World Bank project on Tree Planting and Green Wall Sahara, said the House was worried about the devastating effect of desertification in northern Nigeria and was prepared to collaborate with relevant organisations and institutions working in that area to stop desert encroachment. Faseyi expressed dismay that the Federal Ministry of Environment has not been carrying the parliament along in the projects, and assured that the committee will provide the enabling legislative framework to encourage tree planting and enhance successful execution of the Green Wall Project in the country. Director of Desertification, Federal Ministry of Environment, Mr Ononina Nkem, who briefed the committee on the state of desertification and progress on the Green Wall project, said desertification was posing serious threat to the nation’s economy, food security and employment. According to him, about 35 million people in the northern parts of the country are suffering from the menace of desertification. He noted that the Sahara desert is moving southwards at a rate of 0.6 kilometres per year, adding that the rate of deforestation between 1978 and 1995 alone was about 350,000 hectare per annum. http://www.thisdayonline.com/nview.php?id=128982


19) Never has Floresta mission been so critical. The global charity Floresta, that works to end poverty by halting deforestation, has named Burundi the nation most impacted by environmental degradation as judged by its dwindling forests, severely poor soil, fuel consumption from firewood and people living on less than $1 per day. “For more than two decades, we have watched the poor struggle to stay afloat while their forests were cut down for fuel and income with nothing being done to improve the land for farming and to protect hillsides from erosion. The vicious cycle of poverty caused by deforestation is growing exponentially so never has our mission been so critical,” said Scott Sabin, executive director of Floresta. “We have been working in the developing world since 1984 and have established a track record of very effective work through local leadership in Mexico, Tanzania, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Thailand and Kenya.” Floresta is expanding its services into Burundi in 2009, bringing to seven the number of countries that have benefited from its programs to plant trees, start farms, teach animal husbandry and make small business loans that empower the poor to take control of their environment. The group based in San Diego, Calif., used data on poverty and deforestation rates from a wide variety of sources to identify the following top seven nations most in need of protecting or restoring the environment: Burundi, Haiti, Ethiopia, Togo, Nigeria, Niger and Cambodia. Sabin said Floresta drew up its environmental degradation ranking system to bring attention to the intersection of poverty and deforestation that exponentially increases human misery. “We want it to end,” he stressed. “We are drawn to work in countries that will benefit the most from our unique expertise in promoting the growth of new forests and farms while helping the poor realize their potential to build a better future,” explained Doug Satre, Floresta’s director of outreach and development. “Now, more than ever, it is clear that poverty and the environment should be addressed together,” he added. http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/Floresta-Names-Burundi-Nation-Most/story.aspx?guid={3705846F-9303-4F11-AB20-09FABC0A77D9}


20) The government has announced intensified efforts to promote forest conservation with the latest move being a plan to deploy soldiers in forests to stop illegal forest exploitation. The Minister of Water and Environment, Maria Mutagamba says that her ministry has finalized talks with the security agencies to provide security operatives to be deployed in forests across the country. She says the soldiers will help curtail illegal timber cutting, ferrying of trees for charcoal and forest encroachment for farming purposes by people in different parts of the country. Mutagamba says the inspection exercise for the deployment of soldiers to guard forests against encroachment and illegal exploitation has been finalized. She says the increasing need for agricultural lands and tree products by many Ugandans has been worsened by the absence of forest rangers who would protect forests from encroachment and over exploitation for timber and charcoal. Mutagamba says while the army has agreed to provide soldiers, her ministry is considering recruiting and training its own force that will protect forests since the soldiers might be called for duty any time when the need arises for them to defend the country. http://www.ugpulse.com/articles/daily/news.asp?about=Uganda%20to%20deploy%20soldiers%20to%20protect%20forests&ID=7145

21) President Yoweri Museveni has stopped the leasing of chunks of forest reserves to individuals to plant trees. The individuals, Museveni said, had abused the reserves by cutting down trees and mining sand. The President cited forests on Mityana Road, which he said had been sold to people including public servants. In a communication to the environment ministry, Museveni accused officials of NFA, the organisation which manages forests, of selling the land cheaply. Describing them as criminals, the President said the culprits should be punished. In the paper entitled, Mismanagement of forests by the National Forestry Authority (NFA), Museveni said the policy of selling or leasing forest reserves had not been decided by the Cabinet. “Who decided on the policy of privatising or leasing forests? I do not remember Cabinet deciding on this,” he said. The President, accordingly, directed the environment minister, Maria Mutagamba, to stop the selling or leasing of the forests to individuals by NFA. “This takes immediate effect,” he said. The President issued the order on July 29 but the ministry published it last week. In the communication, Museveni named the NFA official whom he accused of being responsible for the sale of the Mityana Road forests as George Gasana. “This Gasana has been selling forests very cheaply,” he said. “These are criminals and must be punished.” He also ordered Mutagamba to report to him the action she had taken on the matter. He also directed resident district commissioners to report individuals claiming or destroying forests. The forestry department, which has since been replaced by NFA, the District Forestry Services and the Forestry Support Services, came under fire in Parliament in February 2003 for allocating a forest reserve in Mukono district to big shots, including former vice-president Dr. Specioza Kazibwe, to plant trees. Many politicians and senior government bureaucrats were also accused of getting land from reserves across the country. http://www.newvision.co.ug/detail.php?newsCategoryId=12&newsId=661004


22) Currently, the legendry toll of deforestation on our forest reserves appears not to conclude. Deforestation increases by the hour both in protected and open reserves. Tropical rain forest (by estimate) the worst hit, now is 25% of its original size. At the prevailing rate of tree cutting, (22,000 hectares per annum) the forestry sector, predictably, might die out. In deed, it is worrying that, a significant eco-system service; wetlands deteriorate by the day. In the mistaken name of reclaiming land, exploiting resources, wetlands in the country are literally under “siege”. What is more, Pollution, an act of man has ensured that life in wetlands is effectively neutralised, thus that of the livelihood based on it. In so doing, we have in turn given the upper hand to floods and species invasion and consequently, changing climate. Is it then a surprise to see wetlands such as Songhor, Chemu and Korle lagoon “wear” out? The point is, for a society where about 70% of livelihood depends on land resources, in an election year, one expected conservation of resources to have informed most discussions, if not debates. Not that this might have drowned fears of a gloomy picture for our space, but then it demonstrates a certain increased willingness of political leadership to improve agriculture yield, sustain rural industrialisation and offer reasonable income levels for the numerous rural households in the country, who predominantly are at the heart of a degraded environment. Equally, a party manifesto which sought to extol the gains to the economy of a well preserved wetlands (thus not worth degrading) would have hit the bull right in the eye. And so would have a manifesto whose underlying theme boldly highlighted environmental sustainability! As was noted some 50 years ago by Sir. Julian Husley, first Director General of UNESCO, “Environmental issues need to be placed at the top of the political agenda even above defense, the building of hospitals and schools, for it is usually serious environmental problems that threatens efforts to improve standard of living, health conditions and reduced income from agriculture”. Jonathan Allotey, Executive Director of EPA shares in this and recommends “at the national level emphasis should be placed on building capacity on eco-system services and enhancing capacity of countries to have more effective legal regimes and functional institutional structures that contribute to good environmental management”. http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=152675

23) Logging of a Ghanaian forest submerged 40 years ago by a hydroelectric dam could point to an underwater timber bonanza worth billions of dollars in tropical countries, a senior Ghanaian official said on Monday. Exploiting submerged rot-resistant hardwoods such as ebony, wawa or odum trees in Lake Volta, the largest man-made lake in Africa, can also slow deforestation on land and curb emissions of greenhouse gases linked to burning of forests. Logging will be led by a privately owned Canadian company, CSR Developments, which says it aims to invest $100 million in Ghana. Cutting equipment can be mounted on barges, guided by sonars to grab trees below water. There were “5 million hectares (12.36 million acres) of salvageable submerged timber in the hydroelectric reservoirs in the tropics with the potential to supplement global demand for timber.” “The trees are still strong,” Robert Bamfo, head of Climate Change at the government’s Forestry Commission said, even though they had been under water since construction of the Akosombo Dam in the 1960s. Harvesting would cost more than on land but was still commercial because of the value of the timber. http://jagadees.wordpress.com/2008/11/22/submerged-ghana-forest/


24) Will the Mau Forest be saved? Kenyan leaders and politicians, in a bid for votes, have always failed in reaching an agreement on the Forest; most have always put their political interests first, than the Forest’s. And that’s what they continue to do now. They do this, while an environmental disaster lies in waiting. “Effort should be made to save the forest because it is the source of lakes and rivers. Scientific reports say Lake Nakuru will be the first to dry,” recently said the Prime Minister, Raila Odinga. Most Kenyan leaders and politicians know the dangers of not protecting the Mau Forest; but fearing in losing votes, they have always failed to act to save the Forest. “Forest destruction will be a major blow to Kenya’s biological diversity, since forests harbor 50% of Kenya’s plant species, 40% of mammal species, 35% of butterfly species and 30% of bird species – all on only two percent of the land mass. Logging in the Mau Forest will have a devastating impact on water quality and level in Lake Nakuru, home to the world’s largest concentration of flamingoes. Protected under international law (Ramsar Convention), Lake Nakuru may lose its economic value as Kenya’s second most visited tourist site.” GlobalResponse And the downside, as stated by UNEP, could be worse: “Kenya stands to lose a nature-based economic asset worth over US $300 million alone to the tea, tourism and energy sectors if the forest of the Mau Complex continues to be degraded and destroyed, the UN Environment Programme said today”. http://safarinotes.blogspot.com/2008/11/save-mau-forest.html

25) The government will use the Mau task force findings as a road map to the recovery of forests and in preservation of water towers in the country. The Minister for Forestry and Wildlife Dr Noah Wekesa said the destruction of forests in the country went unchecked for a long time, a situation he said must urgently be addressed if the country is to survive in future. He was speaking in Meru when he accompanied Finland Minister for Foreign, Trade and Development Dr Paavo Vayrynen on a tour of Mt Kenya Forest in Meru. He said the problem of illegal logging in Mt Kenya and other forests in the country was made worse by lack of enough personnel to police the forest at the moment. The minister However said the government was in the process of acquiring two choppers which will be used for surveillance to stop illegal logging and charcoal burning in the interior of forests. On illegal encroachment in the forests, the minister said the government where possible would seek for an alternative settlement to ensure renewal and recovery of the involved areas. Dr Wekesa said the government was moving towards commercializing farm forests where farmers would plant trees in the farm and later sell to the government and private entities. The minister said the government was addressing the problem of inadequate technologies and lack of management guidelines for farm forestry to make it succeed The northern conservancy produces over 60 million tree seedlings to re plant in the forest reserves and for issuance to farmers in the region. On dry land Forestry mostly in the upper eastern regions of Isiolo, Marsabit and Moyale, the minister said Kenya Forest Research Institute with other stake holders are undertaking research to establish the best suited vegetation for the region. He said Prosopsis Junflora, which was introduced in the dry areas could be of much economic benefits to the region if properly utilized. The Finland Minister for Foreign Trade and development Dr Paavo Vayrynen affirmed that his government would continue to support forest conservation efforts and urged the government to increase the budget on forest conservations beside involving members of the community in the conservation efforts. He said his government will fund projects on commercialization of farm forests where farmers could be funded to plant tress and later sell them to the government. Earlier, North Imenti Member of Parliament Mr Silas Muriuki had raised concern with the forest minister over the destruction of Mt Kenya forest. Muriuki had insisted that illegal logging was going on in areas of Timau and Meru sides of the mountains. http://www.kbc.co.ke/story.asp?ID=54038

26) Alarm bells are ringing in Kakamega East District over the wanton destruction of the biodiversity of Kakamega forest. Local villagers seem unaware of the looming danger and continue to scramble for the dwindling resources for survival. The villagers have been piling pressure on the forest by the day as they engage in illegal charcoal burning and indiscriminate felling of trees. The villagers are pitted in a cat and mouse game with the forest guards as their cattle roam the forest grassland for pasture, while the women sneak into the forest to gather firewood. The youth engaging in illegal charcoal burning to earn a living remain the biggest threat to the forest. War cries have rent the air each time forest guards have raided villages to arrest the charcoal burners and other suspects engaging in activities that endanger the forest. At Shamiloli Village, organised gangs of charcoal burners have laid bare a large area of the forest. Mr Sylvester Lutiali Mambili, 58, is lucky to be alive after he crossed the path of the charcoal burners seven months ago. When he spoke out against the plunder at a public meeting called by the district commissioner to address the menace, an armed gang raided his home at night and left his house in ruins after destroying his property. The gang of youth pulled down his house, beat up members of the family and left everything in ruins before fleeing. The destruction of his house and property was meant to send a message to Mr Mambili and others deemed to be siding with authorities to block villagers from benefiting from the forest resources. But the attack has fortified Mr Mambili’s resolve to carry on with the campaign to sensitise villagers on the need to protect the forest. As the chairman of the Community Forest Association, Mr Mambili goes about his work with renewed vigour to try and win the support of villagers. The Community Forest Association, which was formed to work with the Kenya Forest Service and other players involved in the management of the forest, covers Kakamega municipality, Ileho and Shinyalu divisions. Mr Mambili is disappointed that the police have not investigated the attack and arrested any suspects. “Although I have put the attack behind me and would want to see the forest conserved and protected, it is difficult to tell what could happen to you next,” said MrMambili. http://www.forestrycenter.org/headlines.cfm?refID=104491


27) I was trained as an ecologist, going into ecology because of the enthusiasm of a mentor who really believed in the ability of individuals to make a difference in the world. But after moving to Zimbabwe and initiating work in the tropical savannas, where humans have had an impact for 1000s of years, I found that a purely ecological perspective limited my ability to grapple with complex conservation issues. So I branched out into resource economics, and into institutional arrangements for common property management – I did this by reading basic texts, but more importantly, by working closely with some world-class resource economists and sociologists – they were important in shaping my career. For about twenty years I focussed mainly on African tropical woodlands and savannas, but then joined the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) based in Indonesia, and started work in the humid tropics on three continents. CIFOR, with sites throughout the tropics, offers a wonderful environment for in-depth cases studies combined with synthesis based on a global perspective. Now at Charles Darwin University [Editor’s note: Prof. Campbell has recently returned full time to CIFOR although he still collaborates with colleagues at Charles Darwin University], I have started work on Aboriginal natural resource management, while still working with teams of researchers in some 20 developing countries. My work currently covers household economics (can natural resources lead to pathways out of poverty?), conservation and development dynamics (can there be win-win situations for forests and livelihoods?), and common property management (can collective action and community-based management lead to improved outcomes for forests and livelihoods?). http://conservationbytes.com/2008/11/19/conservation-scholars-bruce-campbell/

South Africa:

28) Greenpeace Africa opened its first office in Johannesburg today(1), announcing a long-term commitment to building a strong presence in Africa dedicated to tackling the most urgent environmental problems facing the continent – climate change, deforestation and overfishing. A second office will be opened on 24 November in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (2) and a third in Dakar, Senegal, next year. These areas are central to tackling climate change, deforestation and overfishing. “While the environmental threats facing Africans are urgent and critical, Africa is in a position to leapfrog dirty development and become a leader in helping to avert catastrophic climate change and protect the natural environment. We are here to help make that happen,” said Amadou Kanoute, Executive Director of Greenpeace Africa. The launch comes just weeks ahead of the United Nations climate change talks in Poznan, Poland (1-13 December) where agreements will be made to set the world on a path to cut greenhouse gas emissions and prevent human induced climate change. While Africa contributes very little to global warming, the region will be one of the hardest hit by its effects. Over 180 million people in sub-Saharan Africa could die as a result of climate change by the end of the century (3). Unpredictable rainfall, lower crop yields and dwindling resources are causing mass migration, increased tension and conflict. “South Africa needs to take a strong stand at the UN climate talks for a deal that includes substantial funding from the industrialised world for developing countries to adapt to and mitigate the devastating effects of climate change. The South African government should also support Central African countries by backing moves to create a funding mechanism that makes protecting tropical forests and the climate more economical than logging,” continued Kanoute. Tropical forest destruction accounts for about 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Industrial logging threatens the Congo Basin rainforest and the 40 million people who depend on it for their livelihoods. It plays a vital role in regulating the global climate and is the fourth largest forest carbon reservoir in the world. Yet if logging is allowed to continue at the projected rate, the DRC risks losing 40 percent of its forest within 40 years. Greenpeace is calling for the adoption of an international financing mechanism, Forests for Climate, that makes the Congo Basin rainforest and others like it, more economically valuable intact than as timber. http://7thspace.com/headlines/297690/greenpeace_opens_african_office____focusing_on_climate_change_deforestation_and_overfishing.html


29) In a bid to protect the area’s forests, Ajloun Agriculture Department Director Mohammad Shurman said four monitoring stations with watchtowers have been established across the governorate. The stations, located in Arjan, Sakhra, Ain Janneh and Rajeb, were set up at the highest points in their respective forest reserves in order to monitor movement on the ground. With temperatures dropping and winter approaching, the Kingdom’s northern governorates are stepping up efforts to curb logging in the Kingdom’s diminishing forests. With over half of their areas covered with trees, agriculture directorates in the Ajloun and Jerash governorates have announced new procedures to reduce illegal logging, a practice that increases during the winter. Basically, officials said, dealers of this illegal business target Amman customers who use the lumber for fireplaces, but an estimated 10 per cent of loggers are villagers who cannot afford regular fuel. This fact poses a great challenge in itself, according to Jerash Agriculture Department Director Jaafar Arabiyat.He said that despite the fact that his agency is granting local residents free licences to collect dry timber from forests, under the supervision of the department’s forest rangers, the money-making factor will always drive loggers to break the law. The relatively huge area of forests makes logistics a big hurdle to law enforcement, he said, noting that a total of 91,000 out of the Jerash governorate’s 400,000 dunums are covered with forests. Logging is destroying trees that took over 100 years to grow, he said. Hundreds of licences have been issued to people since the start of last month, Arabiyat told The Jordan Times over phone yesterday, adding that the licences are for domestic use only. “Even if we deployed more patrols and rangers, we would still witness violations,” the official added. Since the beginning of the year, ranger patrols have arrested several violators who cut down trees during the night and transfer the lumber to the capital, where each tonne is sold for over JD120, according to Arabiyat. “The traders were referred to courts for legal action, while the seized timber was confiscated by the department and then sold to the public for JD60 per tonne, half the price at local markets,” he said. In Ajloun, officials say the governorate is concerned with a wide array of violations ranging from forest fires in the summer to illegal logging during the winter. http://www.jordantimes.com/?news=12167


30) The Hara forests is the common name for mangrove forests on the southern coast of Iran, particularly on and near the island of Qeshm in the Persian Gulf. Dominated by the species Avicennia marina, known locally as the “hara” or “harra” tree, the forests represent an important ecological resource. The “Hara Protected Area” on Quesm and the nearly mainland is a biosphere reserve where commercial use is restricted to fishing (mainly shrimp), tourist boat trips, and limited mangrove cutting for animal feed. Qeshm is an island situated in the Strait of Hormuz off the south coast of Iran and east of the Persian Gulf (26°50?N 56°0?E / 26.833, 56). Qeshm Island is located a few kilometers off the southern coast of Iran, opposite the port cities of Bandar Abbas and Bandar Khamir. Qeshm is part of Hormozgan Province on the southern coast of Iran. The island, which hosts a 300 square kilometer free zone jurisdiction, is 135 km long, and lies strategically in the Strait of Hormuz, just 60 kilometers from the Omani port of Khosab and about 180 kilometers from the UAE port of Rashia. http://www.payvand.com/news/08/nov/1164.html

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