048OEC’s This Week in Trees

This week we have 32 news items from: Alaska, British Columbia, California, Mississippi, South Carolina, USA, Canada, Switzerland, Israel, Brazil, Thailand, Vietnam, New Zealand, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Australia.

Alaska:

1) For thousands of years, coastal natives like the Eyak have inhabited the lands encircling Prince William Sound. Their culture derives from the sea and the rain forest—a seamless topography that harbors one of the richest functioning ecosystems left on Earth. From pods of orcas and humpback whales plying marine kelp forests beneath the swells, to epic flocks of migratory birds making pit stops in the Copper River delta, to moose, half-ton grizzlies, and wolves prowling the muskeg and alder hinters, skyward toward mountain goats and sheep traversing the lofty crags and bald eagles riding the thermals, this corridor is a conduit. And the annual return of millions of spawning salmon is its lifeblood. Lankard and I lifted off from an airstrip in Cordova, a fishing village along the Gulf of Alaska, bound for Chitina, an Athabascan outpost 90 miles upriver. …in the Cessna cockpit, pointing to the locations of looming natural resource battlefronts: a massive coal mine proposed by Korean investors, millions of acres up for leasing for oil and gas development, entire hillsides of old-growth forests targeted for clear-cutting, and riverside venues eyed for construction of a deepwater port and large tourist hotels that would cater to cruise-ship passengers and bring hundreds of thousands of visitors into a landscape with only 5,000 permanent residents. Lankard is worried. Demonstrating the kind of resolve that inspired Time magazine to proclaim him a “hero for the planet,” he modestly insists it is not he who deserves recognition. “Let the river tell its story,” he says as we begin our descent. The Eyak Preservation Council (EPC), the grassroots group founded by Lankard and a few friends, is a ragtag band of conservationists dedicated to defending the river. http://www.wildlifeconservation.org/wcm-home/wcm-article/21515524

British Columbia:

2) Today Rallies in 6 Nations for Vancouver Island’s Ancient Forests Please take 5 minutes to WRITE! to Premier Gordon Campbell at premier@gov.bc.ca (be sure to include your home mailing address, so they know you’re real) Today activists in the “temperate rainforest nations” (Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, US, Japan) organized by the World Temperate Rainforest Network are organizing solidarity actions in support of the WCWC and the Friends of Clayoquot Sound’s call for expanding the protected areas system on Vancouver Island beyond the paltry 6% of the Island’s productive forests that are currently protected. http://www.wildernesscommittee.org/

3) If logging isn’t stopped on Southeast Vancouver Island in order to support Forest Practices Board recommendations to protect red-listed plant species, one environmental group will be stepping up their protest The news comes in response to recommendations by the FPB passed down in August of this year The report and recommendations were completed after complaints by the Carmanah Forest Society that amendments to the B.C. Timber Sales Program would eliminate the endangered plant communities of the coastal Douglas fir ecosystems The ministries of environment and forests and range had until Oct. 31 to report back on the recommendations and, in an interview with The News recently, say they have moved forward with the initial steps of a conservation protocol “In order to deal with this situation, it’s going to take involvement of many parties,” says Rod Davis, director of ecosystems branch of the environment ministry The situation is one where only around seven per cent of the endangered ecosystems are still found on Crown land. While those will be easier to protect, says Davis, it’s the protection of those on private land that will be challenging “We’re not going to provide the full level of protection that might be needed solely on Crown land. Staff from the South Island Forest District in the Ministry of Environment are assessing areas for red-listed communities. http://www.pqbnews.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=50&cat=23&id=549270&more=

4) B.C.’s forests may essentially be clear of the devastating pine beetle epidemic by 2030, but it’s estimated it will take until 2080 before timber yields are back to their pre-epidemic levels. The pine beetle infestation, which has been devastating B.C.’s lodgepole and ponderosa pine trees since the late 1990s, is expected to peak in 2008 then taper off as the number of healthy mature trees dwindle, said Ray Schultz, assistant deputy minister of the recently created mountain pine beetle emergency response division of the B.C. Ministry of Forests. It takes 80 years for a pine tree to grow to a harvestable size, so it will take until about 2080 for the new forest to rejuvenate, Schultz told a breakfast meeting of the Vancouver Board of Trade. Assuming 80 per cent of pine trees are wiped out by the beetle, there would be a 25-per-cent reduction in available timber over the next 75 years, Schultz said in a subsequent interview. However, the pine beetle infestation, which is a natural part of the ecosystem, could be kept in check by a sudden and prolonged cold snap, Schultz told the breakfast crowd. But it would take temperatures of minus 30 degrees C or below for more than two weeks for that to occur, which hasn’t happened in B.C. since the late 1990s. As a result, the beetles have been able to proliferate and now 8.5 million hectares of productive timber land has been affected, up from 200,000 hectares in 1999, Schultz said. http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/index.html

5) After months of delay, Justice Lynn Smith of the BC Supreme Court released her decision in the Hupacasath First Nation lawsuit seeking to quash the decision of the Minister of Forests that approves the privatization of 70,300 hectares of private land in Tree Farm Licence 44 (TFL 44). The ruling has far reaching implication for the future of BC’s forests and the role of First Nations in decisions affecting lands, including private lands. The Court rejected arguments by the Crown and Brascan (now Island Timberlands) that Aboriginal Title could not exist on fee simple or private land. This could have implications for rumours that the BC Liberals are considering the privatization of forests in their second term. Clearly, much of the purchase price paid to Weyerhaeuser by Brascan directly results from the governments decsion to approve this privatization. Although the court chickened out on quashing the removal (we await the appeal), it ordered the Crown to set up a government to government consultation process with Hupacasath so that their interests can be addressed. The court also set out 9 conditions that Brascan must fulfill during the interim and ordered mediation tto implement the direction of the court if the parties cannot agree on the process or the consultation. http://www.dogwoodinitiative.org/bulletins/Hupacasath_win_WeyycoBrascan_rich

6) A coalition of B.C. environmental groups has launched legal action in a bid to get the federal government to step in and save the northern spotted owl from logging. Ten years ago, there were 100 breeding pairs in southwestern B.C. Now there are just 23 owls left. And the environmentalists warn that if the logging isn’t stopped, the birds will be extinct by 2010. Sierra Legal Defence lawyer Devon Page says the groups had to act before that happened – and have filed the first ever legal action under Canada’s Species at Risk Act., “In our lawsuit, we are demanding the federal government intervene in British Columbia to save the endangered species, the spotted owl.” Page says Victoria has failed in its duty to protect the owls, and accuses the government of being the “largest loggers of its habitat and they are actively targeting the remaining owl areas.” Joe Foy of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee calls the owl an environmental indicator. ” Our old growth forest ecosystem in this region is really, really sick. And we are in danger of seeing the first logging caused extinction in British Columbia.” http://www.cbc.ca/story/science/national/2005/12/06/spotted-owl051206.html

7) VICTORIA – In a special report released today, the Forest Practices Board reports that B.C. has between 400,000 and 500,000 km of resource roads – the distance from the earth to the moon – yet the provincial government’s management of these roads is not as effective or co-ordinated as it should be. The report, entitled Access Management: Issues and Opportunities, found there is no process for industrial road users to co-ordinate road access, minimize environmental impacts and costs associated with road building, and reduce the number of roads built overall. “We anticipate another 20,000 to 30,000 km of new road will be built each year for the next 10 years,” said board chair Bruce Fraser. “This increase in the road network is driven by expanded oil and gas and mining activities, as well as salvage of trees killed by the mountain pine beetle.” “The board understands that government is looking at consolidating resource road legislation. This is an opportunity to address key issues in our report, such as improving co-ordination in order to reduce the amount of new roads and their environmental impacts.” said Fraser. “We are recommending that the legislation be completed as soon as possible.” http://www.fpb.gov.bc.ca

California:

8) San Francisco –A “flock” of marbled murrelets will “fly in” to Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office at One Post St. (at Market), joined by giant redwood tree puppets, to dramatize what is occurring under Headwaters Deal provisions on California’s north coast since Maxxam/Pacific Lumber entered Nanning Creek Grove on Veteran’s Day with their logging equipment. Nanning is a grove of ancient redwoods containing trees up to 15 feet in diameter and comprising the largest chunk of in-tact unprotected habitat for the federally listed Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) in California. The murrelet is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and as endangered under the California ESA. Protection of this rare and endangered bird under the ESA was eclipsed by provisions of the 1999 Headwaters Deal, negotiated by Senator Feinstein and other government officials with corporate raider Charles Hurwitz, CEO of Maxxam Corp. Nanning Creek Grove is east of the company town of Scotia and has seen arrests, lock-down protests, and tree-sits in recent weeks. Cecelia Lanman, former Program Director for EPIC, primary spokesperson and organization on the Headwaters Deal said, “We opposed the Headwaters Deal because of this exact scenario. The destruction of the ancient redwoods in Nanning Creek is a nightmare for endangered wildlife and underscores our belief that the Deal was based on politics-not the law or science. The Deal makers – Dianne Feinstein and government agencies – left critical habitat for endangered species unprotected. http://www.brunei-online.com/bb/tue/dec6b1.htm

9) Once again, our campaign has stopped all industrial logging in Jackson State Redwood Forest — OUR publicly owned forest. This marks the fifth year that we have kept the state from destroying our wonderful forest for the sake of profit. But the state in now moving to overturn the court-ordered logging halt. We need your help to challenge the newly released Environmental Impact Report (EIR). If we fail, the state is poised to begin massive logging in hundred-year-old undisturbed stands in the heart of the forest’s recreation area. During a time when our environment is being assaulted on all sides, our campaign to save Jackson Forest is a remarkable success story. Don’t let the state now destroy it. Make a donation to our legal defense fund now. Challenging the latest EIR is going to be a massive and expensive task. The document is nearly 1500 pages long. Just to make a copy of it costs $150 — and we must make and pay for copies for our expert reviewers.Our preliminary review of the EIR has revealed numerous serious deficiencies. We are confident that if we rigorously document these deficiencies, the court will once again find in our favor. But, given the size and complexity of the document, this will be no small task. Altogether, this round of legal action is likely to cost upwards of $80,000! We’ve gotten some of our previous legal expenses back from the state, but we are nowhere close to the amount needed. http://www.dailytimes.bppmw.com/article.asp?ArticleID=332

10) “I thought, Oh my God, everything is burned. It’ll never be the same,” Joan says. “But you know what? It recovered.” The Barbers, along with many other mountain-dwellers in the same area, bounced back with a sharpened awareness of fire prevention, to say the least. Like the bald hills and charred trees that remain, the memory of that disaster is seared into the minds of local residents. Neighbors in this community, which lies just the north of the summit, where Los Gatos Creek runs through a gulch and drains into the Lexington Reservoir, say that’s why they’re wary of a San Jose Water Company proposal to log 1,000 acres of its watershed land. The thickly wooded area in dispute stretches along 5.5 miles of the creek, spanning the steep slopes that surround it. Nestled in the same slopes are four communities of “urban forest people,” who straddle two worlds connected by Highway 17. According to the 2000 census, over 10,000 people reside in Los Gatos Creek Canyon, and nearly 4,000 live on or border the watershed. Hundreds in this unusual suburbia are voicing opposition to the San Jose Water plan because they believe it will create more fire hazard. Ironically, the company claims the purpose of the proposal is fire protection. Residents, who were notified of the plan in July, say they’re not buying it. “We don’t feel like we’re getting the straight story from San Jose Water,” says Rick Parfitt, a research scientist and member of the group Neighbors Against Irresponsible Logging (NAIL). “People think we’re just a bunch of tree huggers,” says resident Terry Clark, “but this is a neighborhood up here, not just the wilds.” http://www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/12.07.05/logging-0549.html

Montana:

11) HELENA – Environmental groups and the Helena National Forest have reached a compromise over a timber sale near Lincoln that reduces the amount of timber to be logged by about 85 percent. The agreement calls for 4 million board feet of timber to be logged from the area burned by the Snow and Talon wildfires two years ago. Initially, the forest sought to log 27 million board feet. However, it didn’t get any bids on the sale.”It’s a sale we can live with and they’re still getting to cut 4 million board feet, which is a substantial amount by itself,” said Michael Garrity, executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. The original project called for logging 2,763 of the 37,700 acres that burned northeast of Lincoln in 2003. However, environmental groups argued that the work would adversely impact bull trout, grizzly bears and lynx and filed a formal notice of intent to sue. Riordan said the bids on the project were opened Friday and that the forest expects to sign a contract next week. Work will begin shortly after that, he said. http://www.billingsgazette.com/index.php?id=1&display=rednews/2005/12/08/build/state/94-timber-sale.inc

Mississippi:

12) OCEAN SPRINGS – The Live oak tree population was devastated during Hurricane Katrina, and several state and federal agencies are ensuring these unique landmarks survive. The Live Oak Rescue Mission is a joint venture between the Land Trust for Mississippi Coastal Plain, The Home Depot Foundation and many other state and federal agencies. The goal is to nurture the centuries-old trees back to health by replacing the soil Katrina took away and applying a hefty dose of water, mulch and care. “You’ll find many people’s memories of life here are tied into these trees,” Land Trust Executive Director Judy Steckler said. “They have a huge emotional value for people in this community.” Volunteers began site restoration Nov. 29 along Beach Boulevard in Pascagoula, and have since restored more than 300 trees from Pascagoula to Ocean Springs. Steckler says an estimated 200 more Live oaks still need restoration across the Coast. The entire project is scheduled for completion within two weeks.The Home Depot Foundation is funding the majority of the project in cooperation with Land Trust and the U.S. Forest Service. The foundation has already donated more than $2 million for recovery efforts, on top of the $10 million The Home Depot has donated. Each restored tree is bordered with orange fencing to allow the soil and mulch to settle around the roots of the tree. http://www.sunherald.com/mld/sunherald/news/local/13355926.htm

South Carolina:

13) AWENDAW – Gov. Mark Sanford unveiled a proposal Monday to set aside $10 million in next year’s budget to protect timber tracts, saying South Carolina should take advantage of a rare chance to save huge swaths of open space. Standing at a crossroads near the Francis Marion National Forest, Sanford said timber companies are unloading thousands of acres across the state, especially along the coast. At the same time, more and more baby boomers are marching toward retirement, often choosing Charleston and other coastal areas to settle down. “This is something that has never happened before,” he said of these colliding trends. “We think it is a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity to tie down large blocks of land.” Sanford said he wants the General Assembly to create a special “Timber Conservation Fund.” He said the $10 million could be combined with money from private land trusts and other government agencies to make it go further. He described the situation as a race against time. Every day, he said, 200 acres of forest are converted into urban and suburban uses in South Carolina. http://www.charleston.net/stories/?newsID=57325&section=localnews

USA:

14) Burned forests have great ecological significance and importance. With Congress now debating controversial legislation that encourages logging after fires, it is important for the public and policymakers to recognize the role of burned forests in maintaining wildlife populations and healthy forests. Legislation introduced by Reps. Brian Baird, D-Wash., and Greg Walden, R-Ore., would weaken environmental standards and public involvement, and ignores a wealth of scientific understanding about the benefits of burned forests and the environmental harm caused by post-fire logging. From my perspective as a bird-research biologist, I have become aware of one of nature’s best-kept secrets — there are some bird species that one is hard-pressed to see anywhere else but in burned forests. The species whose habitat distribution is more restricted than any other to burned-forest conditions is the black-backed woodpecker. Everything about it, including its jet-black coloration, undoubtedly reflects a long evolutionary history with burned forests. There are many additional bird species, including the mountain bluebird, three-toed woodpecker and olive-sided flycatcher, that also reach their greatest abundance in burned forests. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2002670756_burnedforests08.html

Canada:

15) PEMBROKE — As some 1,000 workers at Domtar Inc. in Cornwall and Ottawa prepare to get pink slips, a retired forester has completed a book describing headier days in the Eastern Ontario tree-culling and processing business. Released by General Store Publishing House, Holy Old Whistlin’ is a 168-page tome of yarns about and from old-time Ottawa Valley loggers and other bush workers, an unusual breed of men encountered by author Brent Connelly during more than 40 years spent among the trees, much of it in Algonquin Park. The title? It refers to the reaction of the legendary J.S.L. McRae, owner of McRae Lumber Co. of Whitney, when a young Connelly asked him for two weeks’ paid vacation. “Two weeks,” McRae gasped. “Holy old whistlin’ Jesus, are you going to the moon?” To Connelly, the expression sums up the spirit of a lifestyle where, during storytelling time in the bunkhouse, “the quips and exaggerations flew wildly like sawdust from the end of a screaming chainsaw.” http://ottsun.canoe.ca/News/OttawaAndRegion/2005/12/08/1343625-sun.html

16) Hugh Perkins and Kathy Juncker of Dome Creek are asking a forest company to reconsider logging a category ‘A’ cut block. Perkins said that he knew the block was there for some time but didn’t realize there was an ancient stand of trees on it. He said that they do have 1000-year-old trees elsewhere in the cedar forests in around Dome Creek, but not whole forests of them. “When we saw the whole forest we thought it was remarkable. We had never seen a stand of trees like this. They were totally magnificent. One tree measures 42 feet 10 inches in circumference including its massive buttresses, roughly 14 feet in diameter. Other trees on or near the block have openings at the bottom, which could fit a human. Perkins said that the area would serve the public much better as an interpretative trail than a logging block. The forest is located on the north face of Driscoll Ridge between Slim Creek and Driscoll Creek.“We want to make these giant trees known to more people,” he said. Perkins said that there is a campaign underway to raise awareness about the inland rainforest throughout the United States and Canada. “We are going to participate in that because we feel people need to know about it,” he said. “Everybody needs to see that because I know they are going to dig it.” The trees aren’t too far off the high way and there is a gravel pit where you can park.“Tumbler Ridge has their fossils and dinosaur tracks, New Denver has their Slocan Lake, what Dome Creek has is our cedar forests. It is our most outstanding natural feature.” http://www.robsonvalleytimes.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=278&Itemid=48

Switzerland:

17) A prototype service utilizing satellites for mapping forests to aid compliance with the Kyoto Protocol has been endorsed by end users from European countries – one environmental ministry representative called the baseline carbon stock information provided a “goldmine”. ESA’s Kyoto-Inventory service has been designed to produce information products on changing land use associated with carbon ‘sinks’ or ‘sources’ that can support national governments’ reporting requirements to the Kyoto Protocol. José Romero of the Swiss Agency for the Environment, Forests and Landscapes (SAEFL – being renamed the Federal Office for the Environment in 2006) stated he regarded satellite-derived products of this type as key input data for national greenhouse gas reporting. Romero added that the 0.5 hectare-resolution land use map produced by Kyoto-Inv presented an improvement on current information sources, with service coverage extended across all 41 290 square kilometres of Swiss territory. He explained that forest in Switzerland was distributed in a complex and often fragmented way across the country’s 26 cantons, with an individual stand of trees more than 20 metres across and two metres high being counted as forest. Validation activities had been carried out by project partner Agriconsulting, and also checked against the country’s detailed ‘Arealstatistik’ land use map data, compiled once every 12 years. “We have found in general a good description of different zones, including differentiating between coniferous and deciduous tree species,” Romero said.

Israel:

18) Dec. 8, 2005 marked the 25th anniversary of the murder of Beatle John Lennon. Later that week, millions stood for 10 minutes of silence as requested by Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono. In Israel a group of Jewish and Arab teenagers in Tsfat shared their grief with a social worker. Six weeks later on Tu B’Shevat, a few trees were planted in John Lennon’s memory outside the mystical hillside city. Neither Lennon nor any other Beatles ever visited Israel. Yoko Ono visited in 2000 to open up an art exhibition at Jerusalem’s Israel Museum, but did not visit the forest site. She has received photos of the marker and the site. The living memorial still grows inviting all to “lie beneath a shady tree,” as Lennon once sang. http://www.jewishledger.com/articles/2005/12/08/news/news09.txt

Brazil:

19) BRASILIA – When hired killers gunned down an American nun in Brazil’s Amazon in February, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva vowed to bring order to the rainforest frontier she defended from ranchers and loggers. Two men accused of killing Dorothy Stang face trial on Friday. But human rights groups and government officials say contract killings of land rights activists are on the rise in the state of Para, where 73-year-old Stang was shot six times near the town of Anapu. Activists say Lula has been slow to meet promises to redistribute land and stamp federal authority on areas in the Amazon where landholders rule with armed militias. “The death threats, the assassinations the land invasions go on while promised land reforms aren’t happening,” said Henri des Roziers, a Catholic priest and human rights lawyer in Para. Stang’s murder focused world attention on battles to control lucrative areas of rainforest in Para, an area twice the size of France. The nun had vociferously opposed illegal loggers and ranchers encroaching on a government reserve. http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N06369837.htm

Thailand:
20) It’s mid-morning and I am on the trail of a tiger in Thailand’s deep south. As I approach an opening in the forest at the river’s edge, a heavy odor hangs in the air. I discover why when I trip over the remains of a wild pig on the wet sand. Saucer-size paw prints and broken vegetation offer evidence of a furious struggle, with the pig falling prey to the jungle king just hours ago. With a knowing grin, our patrol leader, Senior Sargeant Major Choosak Wimon, whips out a GPS and plots our location on a map. Together, we set up a pair of camera traps across a nearby trail, hoping to capture the tiger on film if it comes back to clean up the scraps. I’m with Thailand’s Border Patrol Police (BPP) in Balahala, a rugged rain-forest wilderness that clothes the Kingdom’s southernmost provinces. Established in the 1950s, the BPP maintains security along 3,500 miles of borderland with Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia. Due to war and civil disturbance and, in places, rugged terrain, forests in Thailand’s border areas have been inaccessible for most of the last 60 years. These wildlife habitats, totaling over 19,000 square miles—10 percent of the country—have escaped the logging that has cleared and fragmented forests elsewhere in Thailand. As a result, the most significant national populations of Asian elephants, wild cattle, and big cats survive in these border forests, which adjoin forests in the neighboring countries. These watersheds provide soil, nutrients, and drinking water for people, and serve as transboundary refuges for wildlife. Balahala fronts onto Malaysia’s Royal Belum State Park to form a forest complex that stretches down the Malay Peninsula to Taman Negara, encompassing more than 4,000 square miles. This is one of the largest green blocks left in mainland Asia. Balahala supports Thailand’s last surviving herd of Sumatran rhinoceros, and is a bird-watching destination of international repute—with a dozen species of hornbills. But it is tigers that brought me here. http://www.wildlifeconservation.org/wcm-home/wcm-article/21517811

Vietnam:

21) QUANG NAM — Initiatives giving locals greater authority over managing and protecting nearby natural forests are paying dividends in a rural community near the southern city of Da Nang. Last year’s decision by provincial authorities to transfer more responsibility for natural resource management to residents of Tong Coi Hamlet in Ba Commune has reduced illegal logging and raised incomes. Residents of this small community are proud of the pristine forests surrounding their community. Since forest protection duties were devolved to locals more than a year ago, illegal logging has been significantly reduced in the area. Tong Coi’s forests were previously managed and protected by provincial forest rangers and authorised loggers. Despite earlier protection efforts, local forests were still illegally exploited. It was discovered that the majority of illegal loggers were actually residents of Tong Coi Hamlet. The issuance of land-use certificates to local households and farmers provided them with a sufficiently strong incentive to properly manage and adequately protect their land. According to the plan, conservation teams appointed representatives to oversee their collective management of protected forest areas. They also selected 16 members to serve as informal forest rangers that monitor, guard, and patrol the protected forest area. http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/showarticle.php?num=01AGR071205

New Zealand:

22) Forestry researchers will start experimental releases of an introduced insect soon, which they hope will curb the rampant growth of an ornamental plant that’s threatening pine plantations. Like many of our plant pests, Buddlea was brought here as a garden specimen, grown for its striking purple flowers. But it escaped from the garden to become one of the worst weeds in central North Island plantations, where it’s been competing with, and swamping young pine trees. Scientists with the Australasian forestry research joint venture, Ensis, have identified another Chinese native, a leaf-eating weevil as a likely biological control agent. And Ensis’ Forest Biosecurity and Protection Manager Dr Brian Richardson says after 10 years in quarantine, it’s ready to go to work. Richardson says the weevil will be released on a small experimental scale in the summer and autumn, with more substantial distribution to follow in spring. If successful, it could save the forest industry millions of dollars in control costs and pine losses. http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/411425/637145

Philippines:

23) Environment Secretary Michael Defensor announced on Tuesday the cancellation of 276 logging permits out of 8,200 forestry agreements. Defensor said some permit holders were found to have been cutting trees outside their designated areas while others failed to replant their logging sites as required by their permits. “Many holders, like those who have CBFMAs [community-based forest-management agreements], became ‘fronts’ of illegal loggers who financed cutting of trees even outside the areas awarded to communities,” he added. Defensor cancelled at least 37 integrated forest-management agreements, six industrial tree-plantation lease agreements and 233 CBFMAs. The cancelled 276 logging permits comprise 3 percent of the 8,200 IFMAs, TLAs, ITPLAs and CBFMAs. “I hope to cut down logging permits by 90 percent next year, as we will be canceling more violators to effectively and efficiently manage our forest plantations,” Defensor said. http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/storypage.aspx?StoryId=24137

24) The judiciary’s loss will be the environment’s gain. Hosting a thanksgiving lunch to journalists 12 days before his retirement, Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. yesterday said he planned to engage in farming in his village in Cebu province to help improve the environment. “This time, I will not be planting the seeds of reform in the judiciary, but I will be planting the seeds of fruit trees and forest trees,” Davide said. “I will be a participant in the great task of creation. That is, creating things that will improve our environment so that we can have a clearer environment.” He expressed hope that the environment in the court could also become “more clearer after me.” Since he assumed the post of Chief Justice in 1998, Davide has made judicial reform his priority, leading the other members of the high court in embracing judicial activism. “No democracy can last unless the basic freedom of information and, in fact, the media would be fully protected and considered inviolate,” Davide said. When he assumed his post, Davide said he realized that “the time has come for us to be able to completely relay ourselves, to be understood by media and so we organized the public information office directly under the Office of the Chief Justice.” …And with your cooperation I know that all our efforts of reform … will spread all over the country,” he said. “Even the most serious criticism that you will have against us will be much welcomed.” http://news.inq7.net/nation/index.php?index=1&story_id=59237

Indonesia:

25) JAKARTA –Indonesia’s pulp and paper output is unlikely to substantially ramp up next year, which in turn would curtail the country’s exports of forest products. Despite its vast forest resources, the Southeast Asian nation will likely produce around 5.5 million metric tons of pulp in 2006, a tad higher than 5.4 million tons estimated for 2005. Paper output is forecast at 8 million tons for next year, marginally up from a projected 7.75 million tons for this year, said Muhammad Mansur, APKI’s chairman. The slight output increase will mainly be due to an expansion of existing companies rather than the emergence of new firms – and new money. Investment hasn’t recovered since the 1997 financial crisis, Mansur said in a recent interview. Rampant corruption and legal uncertainties are to blame for the slowing of both foreign and domestic investment in the sector. Currently there are 35 pulp companies that have concession rights to manage around 4 million hectares of trees. But only 2.5 million hectares of trees have been planted. Indonesia’s forest lands total around 120 million hectares. “Political stability and an unpredictable judiciary are pivotal points,” said Mansur. “We can’t always have new rules whenever there is a change in government.” http://sg.biz.yahoo.com/051206/15/3x23s.html

26) Around 3500 hectares of forest area in Balikpapan were prone to forest fire disaster due to burning coal seam fire existing in the areas, said Syahrumsyah, a spokesman of the regional environmental impact control (Bapedalda) here Thursday (12/8). The city has set up a special task force in charge of forest fire prevention in an effort to avoid another forest fire disaster which had destroyed about 5000 hectares of forest areas few years ago, he added.The municipal authorities of Balikpapan had allocated a budget amounting to Rp50 million (around 5,000 US dollars) to deal with forest fires in 2005, he added. All coal fires started near small streams where coal layers are found at the soil surface. From there the fires spread underground depending on thickness of the coal layer, depth and available oxygen. During the 1997/98 El Nino drought, the Sungai Wain Protection Forest in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, caught fire in early March 1998. Fires entered the 10,000 ha primary forest reserve from the neighboring INHUTANI I logging concession and subsequently from agricultural areas in or around the reserve. The Sungai Wain Protection Forest (Hutan Lindung) is the last patch of primary forest between Balikpapan and Samarinda with a large number of rare and endangered wildlife species. The area was established as a reserve in 1934. Since 1992 the forest has been used as an orangutan reintroduction site and various long-term research projects have been carried out in the reserve. It has also served as water catchments for the oil industry in Balikpapan, the second largest refinery in Indonesia, since 1947. http://www.antara.co.id/en/seenws/?id=7539

27) Researchers from the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) may have spotted a new mammalian species in the dense central forests of Borneo island, the organisation said. The carnivorous animal, slightly larger than a domestic cat with dark red fur and a long bushy tail, was caught by a camera trap at night twice in 2003, the WWF said in a press release. Photos of the animals have been shown to locals well acquainted with wildlife in the area and the organisation also consulted several Bornean wildlife experts but none recognized it. If confirmed, it would be the first time in more than a century that a new carnivore has been discovered on the island, it added. The animal, which has very small ears and large hind legs, was spotted in the Kayan Mentarang national park in the mountainous jungles of Kalimantan, where vast tracks of rainforest still remain. “The discovery of the mammal species in Kayan Mentarang national park indicates the existence of many other undiscovered species. Between 1994 and 2004, at least 361 new species have been described from Borneo,” the WWF said. The group warned however that plans by Indonesia announced in July to create the world’s largest palm oil plantation in Kalimantan, along the border with Malaysia’s Sarawak and Sabah states, threaten further new discoveries. The scheme, funded by the China Development Bank, is expected to cover an area of 1.8 million hectares (4.4 million acres) — about half the size of the Netherlands — and may have devastating environmental consequences, it said. http://www.brunei-online.com/bb/tue/dec6b1.htm

28) Government authorities are preparing to prosecute 10 local district chiefs from Kalimantan on the Indonesian part of Borneo island for their alleged involvement in illegal logging and embezzlement of state reforestation funds, a local media report said Monday. “The regents all come from regencies in Kalimantan. Legal proceedings against them are still ongoing,” The Jakarta Post quoted Forestry Minister Malam Sambat Ka’ban as saying. Ka’ban did not disclose the names of the regency chiefs to be prosecuted, but he said the prosecutions would be the first legal actions to be taken against senior local officials in the current administration’s campaign against illegal logging. Previous crackdowns have mainly netted low-paid workers hired to fell trees, the crew members of vessels transporting the logs or low-ranking police and military personnel. Those arrested in such crackdowns are rarely prosecuted. Ka’ban admitted that eradicating illegal logging was ‘difficult’ as it not only involved international criminal organisations but also many corrupt officials in important posts in various state institutions. Indonesia has witnessed an increase in illegal logging over the past five years, and is currently losing an estimated 3.7 million hectares of forest land annually, of which 90 per cent is cut illegally, environmental groups have said. http://www.brunei-online.com/bb/tue/dec6b1.htm

29) A leading non-governmental organization (NGO) has opposed a plan by the government to grant forest concessions to 11 businessmen intended to secure a supply of timber for reconstruction work in Aceh. If the plan materializes, the 11 businessmen will be permitted to cut some 500,000 cubic meters next year in designated forest areas. The forested area in Aceh currently covers 3.265 million hectares. If the concessions are granted, flooding in the tsunami-wrecked province will increase, says Dewa Gumai, the chief of the advocacy and campaign division of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) Aceh chapter. The plan is not new in Aceh. The central government had also granted forest concessions in Aceh for businessmen several years ago but the grants were all revoked in 2001 after prolonged armed conflict in the province. Responding to the new plan by the government, the office has asked the minister to conduct a feasibility study before going ahead with the plan. “Since the mounting armed conflict in 1998, the government has not informed us of the forest situation. We need to map out which areas would be suited for forest concessions,” said Mustafa. Forest concessions have been granted nationwide since the Soeharto government. http://www.thejakartapost.com/detailnational.asp?fileid=20051207.D07&irec=6

Malaysia:

30) Last week, the chairman of Malaysia’s federal land development authority announced that he was about to build a new biodiesel plant. His was the ninth such decision in four months. Four new refineries are being built in Peninsula Malaysia, one in Sarawak and two in Rotterdam. Two foreign consortiums – one German, one American – are setting up rival plants in Singapore. All of them will be making biodiesel from the same source: oil from palm trees. “The demand for biodiesel,” the Malaysian Star reports, “will come from the European Community … This fresh demand … would, at the very least, take up most of Malaysia’s crude palm oil inventories.” Why? Because it is cheaper than biodiesel made from any other crop. In September, Friends of the Earth published a report about the impact of palm oil production. “Between 1985 and 2000,” it found, “the development of oil-palm plantations was responsible for an estimated 87 per cent of deforestation in Malaysia”. In Sumatra and Borneo, some 4 million hectares of forest have been converted to palm farms. Now a further 6 million hectares are scheduled for clearance in Malaysia, and 16.5 million in Indonesia. http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,5673,1659036,00.html

Australia:

31) The Murray-Darling catchments covers 1.06 million sq km – 15 percent of Australia’s landmass and an area the size of France and Spain combined – and plays a crucial role in supporting Australia’s economy and rural life. It also has a big place in the nation’s history. Throughout the 19th and early 20th century, until rail took over, paddle steamers plied the river, transporting wool, wheat and goods from town to town, prompting writer Mark Twain in the 1880s to liken the river to America’s Mississippi. During that period, farmers used the river water to irrigate crops, turning vast areas of arid lands into lush fields. But so much has been taken out and so many areas stripped of trees that river flows are falling and salinity rising. One company is producing gourmet River Murray salt flakes, reclaimed from what is supposed to be a freshwater river. The river is a lifeline in a parched continent, feeding water from the sub-tropical north down the Darling River, and from the eastern snow fields, where the Murray starts 2,500 km (1,550 miles) from its final destination. The Murray-Darling basin is also the nation’s food bowl, accounting for 41 percent of the value of Australia’s agricultural produce. Near its end, the Murray flows into two massive, shallow lakes before snaking around Hindmarsh Island on its way to the sea, at a place with a reputation as a notoriously dangerous stretch of water. From his shack, Owen can see two dredgers that have operated without a break for three years to clear away three million cubic metres (3.9 million cubic yards) of sand so the Murray’s waters can make it to the ocean. Without the dredging, or a significant increase in water flows, the water merely fills the low-lying lakes instead of being flushed out to sea.. http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/33865/story.htm

32) An audit of 10,000 hectares of forest in south-west Western Australia is to be carried out in a bid to quell concerns that some areas were incorrectly removed from old-growth classification. The Conservation Commission has released new guidelines outlining how it will assess the forest, which was de-listed by the Department of Conservation and Land Management between 1997 and 2001. The guidelines also allow the public to nominate areas scheduled for logging which they believe satisfy old-growth criteria. Chairman John Bailey says the audit has been prompted by concerns over the reduction in area classified as old-growth. “The question was raised as to whether that reduction in area was legitimate, whether the criteria had been correctly applied, whether there were some errors involved and our task is to double check that reclassification process,” he said. The commission anticipates that between 1,000 and 2,000 hectares will be assessed during the next year. The areas will be subject to a moratorium on logging until the assessment is completed. http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200512/s1525817.htm

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