073OEC’s This Week in Trees

This week we have 33 news articles from: Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Minnesota, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Florida, USA, Uganda, Congo, South Africa, Iran, Brazil, India, Thailand, Philippines, New Zealand, , and Australia.


1) The Tongass National Forest is getting ready to undertake a major re-evaluation of its forest plan, with a special focus on recalculating the market demand for Tongass timber. The study – taking about 15 months – will likely be a new lightning rod in the debate over how much Tongass wood should be available to the timber industry “Everyone has their druthers,” said Lee Kramer, the Tongass National Forest’s project manager for the plan revision. For example, the Murkowski administration – which recently signed an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service to revitalize Alaska’s timber industry – is advocating for a significant increase in the amount of Tongass timber that could be sold: Up to 360 million board feet per year. But a federal judge panel sided with environmentalists last August. The panel ruled that the current Tongass forest plan finalized in 1997 – which allows up to 267 million board feet per year to be sold – erroneously doubled the calculation of the current global market demand for the region’s timber. In the last few years, the Tongass timber industry has shrunk, with a harvest of approximately 50 million board feet per year. The industry blames the U.S. Forest Service for offering uneconomical sales. http://www.juneauempire.com/stories/030706/sta_20060307011.shtml

British Columbia:

2) Fraser Canyon aboriginals moved a step closer Monday to signing a treaty with the B.C. and federal governments that would enshrine fishing rights they say they’ve been exercising since before explorer Simon Fraser came paddling by. Ancestors of members of the Yale First Nation met the explorer in 1808 on his historic voyage down the treacherous river that bears his name. Yale members now number less than 150, but about 1,000 people lived at a riverbank village when Fraser camped nearby. Hope said there are difficult negotiations ahead, but he’s confident a final deal is months away. He said his people consider their traditional territory as the distance a tribal member can walk in half a day in any direction. The land provision of the agreement includes 1,139 hectares, of which 915 hectares are B.C. Crown land and 224 hectares are existing reserve land. The proposed treaty would allow the aboriginals to own and manage the forest resources on their land and grants them mining rights to 660 hectares. The proposal would also give the Yale First Nation $6.5 million from the federal government to help them develop business opportunities. Yale First Nations members would agree to pay taxes as part of a final treaty agreement. The proposed treaty area is located about 20 kilometres north of Hope in the Fraser Canyon along the Fraser River between Sawmill Creek and Puckat Creek. The community of Yale was the historic steamship site for the Cariboo gold rush of the 1850s. It marked the end of the line for the ships and the start of the wagon trail to the gold fields of British Columbia’s Cariboo region. The river from Yale north was too rough for the ships. At one point in the mid 1800s, Yale was the largest city west of Chicago and north of San Francisco. http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20060306/natives_fishing_060306/20060306?hub=Canada

3) VICTORIA – The Minister of Environment’s recent announcement of 18 new seasonal conservation officers is an admission that the BC Liberals made a serious mistake when it cut back environmental agencies earlier in its mandate, NDP Environment Critic Shane Simpson said today. “In 2002, the cost-cutting Liberals cut conservation and environmental protection staff by 30 per cent,” said Simpson. “The result has been a spotty compliance and enforcement regime. The government also closed several conservation offices around the province which reduced public access and put more wildlife at risk.” The Minister’s announcement falls far short of what is needed to make up for the cuts since the Liberals took office. Since 2001, over 320 conservation and environmental protection positions have been lost. The cuts included conservation officers, biologists and scientific technical officers. “The new seasonal conservation officers will be welcomed in those communities, but the government has a long way to go to restore the fractured compliance and enforcement regime it has created in BC,” said Simpson. “The government must reinvest in environmental stewardship now to ensure our wildlife and natural spaces are protected. “The Minister of Environment should explain why it took five years for his government to admit its mistake and why he hasn’t taken action to fully restore the cuts.” BCEN News [ network@bcen.bc.ca ]

4) VANCOUVER — The Minister of Forests and Range deflected a call by the opposition to meet with residents of Port Alberni to hear their concerns about exports of raw logs from the area. Rich Coleman told the legislature that it is an issue for the Private Managed Forest Land Council. Scott Fraser, the NDP member for Alberni-Qualicum, made the request during Question Period after a protest yesterday morning by about 200 people on the main highway outside of Port Alberni. The protest against the activities of Island Timberlands and TimberWest lasted a few hours and involved the stopping of logging trucks for about 30 minutes before allowing them to continue. “These were environmentalists. They were forest workers, displaced forest workers, community members. They were walking because raw logs are being shipped out of the region. A lot of raw logs,” Mr. Fraser said. He said that recently there have been layoffs and increased uncertainty among forest workers as well as concerns about sustainability. “Will the minister agree to meet with the workers and residents of Port Alberni and listen to what they have to say about the impact of this government’s forests policies?” Mr. Fraser asked. “The protest was with regard to some private land issues,” Mr. Coleman responded. “The Private Managed Forest Land Council is an independent provincial agency established to administer the managed forest program.” He added that the council is aware of the concerns in Port Alberni and is investigating the complaints. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20060309.BCALBERNI09/TPStory/


5) A plan to log second-growth timber on steep slopes adjacent to Mount Rainier National Park has aroused the concern of park officials. Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga said he wants to ensure that when Hancock Forest Management logs its 85 acres, the work does not jeopardize the park’s natural treasures. State officials recently approved Hancock’s plan to build roads and log the area over the next two summers. “We uphold all forest practice rules and regulations and the guidance they provide us,” said Robert Bass, Hancock’s senior forester and Kapowsin land manager. “We’re definitely willing to listen.” Park officials seek to protect the Mowich River, home to rare runs of bull trout and near nesting grounds in the park for marbled murrelets and northern spotted owls. The fish and birds are listed as threatened with extinction under the Endangered Species Act. “I think it’s good for us to look at anything that’s right against the boundary. We have resources we need to protect,” Uberuaga said. The Mowich River is a Puyallup River tributary. The logging site is west of the park. In a letter to regulators at the state Department of Natural Resources, Uberuaga asked state officials to minimize the potential for landslides, which could kill fish in the river. While park officials are notified of hundreds of logging applications every year, it’s rare for Uberuaga to register misgivings this way. His staff believes he’s only done it once before in his 31/2-year tenure as park superintendent, in a situation involving marbled murrelets. The logging site is part of a 130,000-acre block of timberland known locally as the Kapowsin tree farm, which has changed hands several times. Hancock bought the property last November from Rainier Timber Co. Before that, Rainier bought the land from International Paper, which took title when it bought out Champion International. Champion had owned the tree farm for many years. Hancock, a subsidiary of the Boston-based insurance company, also owns thousands of acres of former Weyerhaeuser Co. timberland in the Puget Sound region. http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/story/5571526p-5012587c.html

6) LEAVENWORTH — The U.S. Forest Service is considering expanding the permit area for the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, a popular hiking and climbing region in north-central Washington.The wilderness area in the Cascade Range west of Wenatchee will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year. In response to a growing number of visitors, the Forest Service began requiring permits in 1987 for the Enchantment Lakes. The existing permit areas receive about 100,000 day and overnight visitors each year, Therrell said. The permits allow just 60 people per night within the permit area. Day use is unlimited, but visitors are required to get a self-issuing permit at the trailheads. Officials with the ranger district began randomly opening applications Monday for overnight permits for this summer. About 1,000 applications had been received, of which about 600 will be accepted. Requests came from as far away as Poland and Liechtenstein, as well as across the United States and Canada. Some applicants wrote “please, please, please!” on the application, while others promised to respect the natural area if their application was picked. Some, like an applicant from Alabama, draw pictures on their envelopes for attention. “That has no effect” on their chances, Therrell said. “But we do enjoy them.” Applications received after Monday have little chance of getting a permit. Three-fourths of the wilderness permits are issued in the reservation lottery. The remaining one-fourth are issued each morning at the ranger district office during the summer. Costs remain at $3 per person per day. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002853523_wildpermits09e.html


7) Grants Pass — Tuesday marked the first anniversary for a group of Ashland environmental activists who assembled in the forest on Eight Dollar Road near Selma in an attempt to halt a timber sale that eventually removed many of the salvageable logs left by the Biscuit fire. The Fiddler Timber sale protests lasted for months, as did the logging, and together they helped to make salvage logging one of the more pressing debates concerning public lands management. There were seven different protests resulting in more than 50 arrests. A year to the day after the protests began, six of the activists from Ashland returned to Josephine County — not for a protest this time — but to offer a defense for the charges each incurred while blocking the logging effort. Charged with interfering with an agricultural operation, obstructing government administration and disorderly conduct, the Ashlanders, as well as others, appeared before Judge Lindi Baker, in a Josephine County courtroom in Grants Pass, to make the case that their crimes were necessary in order to prevent a greater crime from occurring, namely the logging of the old growth trees that still stood after the fire. Kathy Bennett, Holly Christiansen, Dot Fisher-Smith, Eric and Ryan Navickas and George Sexton, all of Ashland or the surrounding area, were six of the defendants who contend that their protests amounted to a choice between evils: Break the law by blocking the road or allow the old-growth reserve to be logged. Sexton said, “Being in court and getting arrested is easy compared to seeing those trees get logged.” When asked if he thought they may be absolved of their doings, Sexton pointed out that Josephine County Sheriff’s uniforms have a patch displaying a picture of a loaded log truck. “That shows where they are coming from,” he said. “Next the forest service is going to move into the roadless areas,” Ryan Navickas said after the hearing. “We will continue to be disobedient and we will continue to attract the nation’s attention to this important check to the powers of tyranny.” http://www.dailytidings.com/2006/Mar%202006/0308/030806n1.shtml

8) We thought the Biscuit timber sale was water under the bridge, lesson learned, time to move on. Its been three and a half years since the fires died out at Biscuit in southern Oregon, three and a half years filled with court battles, logging violations, old-growth reserve clearcuts and public protest. It seems Scott Conroy (Siskiyou National Forest Supervisor) and the Bush administration want to continue to duke it out. In an unprecedented move, the Forest Service announced last week they would be moving forward with two new timber sales at Biscuit within the north and south Kalmiposis Inventoried Roadless Areas. These new sales, called Mike’s Gulch and Blackberry, are the first timber sales in Inventoried Roadless Areas since Clinton’s Roadless Rule was made law in 2000. The Roadless Rule was removed by George W., despite more than 2.5 million public comments supporting it, and now proposed protections are deferred to the Governor of each state. Our Governor here in Oregon, Ted Kulongoski, wrote a letter to Mark Rey (head of the Forest Service in DC) last summer demanding the Forest Service halt plans to log in the Inventoried Roadless Area in Biscuit. On top of that, these new sales come on the heals of recent scientific evidence about how salvage logging in the Biscuit area has harmed natural recovery, increased future fire fuels and cost the American taxpayer more than 14 million dollars. The Mike’s Gulch timber sale is located 1.5 miles above the Wild and Scenic Illinois River in the south Kalmiopsis roadless area. The Blackberry timber sale is located in the roadless Indigo watershed in the north Kalmiopsis roadless area, just south of the Rogue River. The places are precious, places were wild salmon are given the chance to thrive, places families go hiking and rafting, rare places were people can see nature in its most wild and untamed setting. They are not places for clearcuts and tree farms. Don’t let the Forest Service and the Bush administration set a precedence here in Oregon with the first Inventoried Roadless Area timber sales to get logged! Please take the time to contact the elected officials below and urge them to stop these destructive sales from moving forward! http://www.cascwild.org


9) PEBBLE BEACH– The lobbying is in full swing as the future of the Del Monte Forest comes before the Coastal Commission during its hearings in Monterey this week.
An ad backing the Pebble Beach Co.’s plans for the forest appeared in Tuesday’s newspaper, signed by Clint Eastwood, who is one of the owners of the company.
Meanwhile, opponents are using Web sites to get people out to Thursday’s hearing on the matter. The Coastal Commission will take a look at the Pebble Beach Co.’s future plans for the forest twice. This time around, it’s looking at the zoning changes approved by voters in Measure A, which amends the local coastal plan. Pebble Beach says the zoning changes will permanently preserve 1,500 acres of forest. Opponents say the changes will allow more commercial uses of the forest and result in the removal of 17,000 Monterey pines. Pebble Beach says its proposal gets rid of hundreds of housing sites in the forest and replaces them with a new golf course, driving range, employee housing and some additional hotel rooms. Opponents say the plan is excessive. “They’re defying in Measure A the coastal act, which says you’ve got to save some of the property for the public and they’re not doing that. They’ve saving it for the rich and the wealthy to use as another golf course,” said Ted Hunter, of Concerned Residents of Pebble Beach. The Pebble Beach Co. newspaper ad is a response to the direct piece by the Sierra Club. In the ad, Eastwood says “I know we are doing what’s right … what I mind are the misrepresentations used to deceive the public.” http://www.theksbwchannel.com/news/7789597/detail.html

10) Stanislaus National Forest officials met with industry workers and management yesterday morning to outline upcoming forest timber sales. The largest sale of the year is 10.4 million board-feet planned on the Mi-Wok Ranger District — acreage stretching from Tuolumne to Cold Springs. That sale, south of Highway 108 and north of the North Fork of the Tuolumne River, aims to reduce fire-fuel hazards that could threaten communities like Ponderosa Hills and Long Barn, said Dave Horak, timber sale contracting officer for the Stanislaus. Bidding for the South Highway 108 sale is scheduled to start at the end of the month. A contract should be awarded sometime after May 1. Timber industry employers, such as Sierra Pacific Industries and Sierra Resource Management, were at yesterday’s meeting as were groups like the Tuolumne County Alliance for Resources & Environment and the American Forest Resource Council. A representative from Congressman George Radanovich’s office also attended. About 45 people showed up for the three-hour meeting, held at the Forest Supervisor’s Greenley Road office in Sonora. The Stanislaus continues to fill many new positions, ranging from timber sale planners to hydrologists, needed to increase the timber harvest amounts. http://www.uniondemocrat.com/news/story.cfm?story_no=19862


11) Late last year, two international organizations certified the Minnesota DNR for managing state forests responsibly. The designations indicate the state is using best practices to keep the forests healthy and productive. Now two environmental groups are challenging the certification. They say the DNR isn’t doing enough to prevent damage to the forests from off-highway vehicles. The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and the Izaak Walton League are challenging the certification of the DNR. They say the agency is responding too slowly to the sudden popularity of off-highway vehicles, and the damage they do to the forests. The MCEA’s Matt Norton says recent decisions at the DNR have been making the OHV problem worse, not better. He points to the decision to maintain some state forests as “managed” — meaning off-road vehicle riders can assume any trail is open for riding unless it’s posted as closed. “They’re not making these decisions on the basis of sound science,” he says. “They’re doing it based on where the political forces are pushing them.” And Norton says state laws get in the way of controlling ATV damage. Like Minnesota’s policy allowing hunters and trappers to ride across country, off established trails. “When people drive cross-country, it creates tracks on the land,” he says. “The next person who comes along can ride on those trails, those are legal until the DNR can get out there, find the fact that there are new trails, look at them along their entire length and make a determination if they’re appropriate for motorized recreation, and if they’re not, put signs up.”Two organizations certified Minnesota’s state forests. One of them, the Forest Stewardship Council, included several caveats. They’re called Corrective Action Requests, and they require the DNR to do certain things to remain accredited. The first one relates to off-highway vehicles. And the audit team worried that even if the DNR develops stronger policies, Minnesota politics might override the agency. After all, Hrubes says, the legislature has flip-flopped on ATV issues several times in recent years. “Legislatures get involved, politicians get involved, etcetera,” he says. “And so our concern here is that the planning processes not be trumped by some after-the-fact political decision.” He plans to respond to the challenge of the certification within a month. http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2006/03/02/forestcertification/

12) St. Paul— Trees in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness are changing so rapidly, scientists say that within 50 years the wilderness could look completely different. Cold-weather pine and birch species that are the hallmark of Minnesota’s boreal forests are dwindling. In their place, hardwoods, more common to central Minnesota, are popping up. Changes are also taking place in central and southern Minnesota woods. Scientists think global warming is changing, perhaps forever, the state’s forests. Lee Frelich has been studying trees in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for the past 18 years. In that time the University of Minnesota hardwoods researcher says he’s witnessed dramatic changes. “There is a lot more red maple,” says Frelich. “And red maple’s a species that normally would not be part of the boreal forest in the Boundary Waters. The climate used to be too cold for red maple.” It’s not just Minnesota’s mild winters that are helping the red maple. Summers are different too. They’ve been wetter. Frelich says that’s kept wildfires in check, giving the red maple a chance to flourish. But the red maple’s gain is a loss for the native northern pines. “The pines which were historically the species that dominated the forest there are just not reproducing very well and red maple is,” says Frelich. “Pines need fire and jack pine in particular is a cold weather species.” These changes are happening quickly, according to Frelich. But that’s not unusual along the edges of a biome — a region characterized by its dominant forms of plant life and climate. Minnesota has three biomes — the boreal forest in the north, deciduous forests of oak and maple in the central part of the state, and the prairies and savannahs of southern Minnnesota. http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2006/03/03/globaltrees/


13) ST. LOUIS -.The Missouri Forest Alliance, Heartwood, and the Sierra Club are among half a dozen groups that claim the forest plan, a management roadmap for the next 10 to 15 years, doesn’t provide sufficient environmental protection for the forest that covers much of southern Missouri. The groups’ formal administrative appeal, filed Monday, seeks to resolve their concerns in meetings. Failing that, they could file a federal lawsuit. In their appeal, the groups said the Forest Service did not designate some land for special protection as “roadless areas,” and illegally removed four areas that were protected under that designation in the 1986 forest plan.The appeal says the Forest Service plan ignored citizen urgings to end lead mining in the forest, failed to address illegal off-road vehicle use, and emphasizes subsidized commercial logging above all other uses.”The removal of environmental safeguards on the forest is alarming,” Jim Bensman of Heartwood said in a statement. “Even provisions that offer protections from mining to waters like the Eleven Point National Wild and Scenic River are gone. The only thing the new plan provides protection for is timber sales, mining and off-road vehicles.” U.S. Forest Service policy forbids the agency from commenting on the appeal or its merits, spokeswoman Charlotte Wiggins said Wednesday. Randy Moore, a regional supervisor with the U.S. Forest Service, which manages the forest that sprawls across parts of 29 counties throughout southern Missouri, has said the revised plan seeks to strike a balance between economic interests and environmental protection. Last week, the Missouri Forest Products Association filed its own administrative appeal of the forest plan. Executive Director Brian Brookshire said Wednesday the association adamantly opposes Forest Service plans to log and burn hundreds of thousands of acres of forest land. He said the Forest Service wants to convert existing stands of large oak, hickory and short-leaf pine to a sparsely stocked pine and oak savannah. “That was the forest condition hundreds of years ago,” he said. “It would be a more open, park-like condition.” He said the plan would generate an initial harvest of wood products for market, but his group prefers managing the forest to produce a steady flow of products over time. He said eventually, the Mark Twain would no longer be available for commercial forestry. http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/local/14049736.htm


14) Yellowwood Lake is shrinking. Each rainstorm carries gravel, soil and forest detritus down the slopes of surrounding hills, into the rush of Jackson Creek and other streams, and eventually to the bottom of Yellowwood Lake, which is filling up little by little. Meanwhile, trees are falling in Yellowwood State Forest, felled in accordance with a state management plan that calls for logging to double this year, and triple by 2008. Up for debate: Whether there’s a strong connection between the logging and the erosion. Ask homeowner Charlie Cole and he’ll tell you the sharp increase in logging is bound to translate into more erosion. “If you slow the water down, you slow erosion down. That’s sixth-grade science. Those clear-cuts speed up the water,” said the man who has lived in the watershed for 25 years. Ask state forest manager Jim Allen and he’ll tell you the vast majority of the logging occurs outside the watershed, the 4,400-acre region that drains into the lake. A host of other causes — poorly engineered roads, a lack of absorbent topsoil and the sheer slope of the hills — may be more to blame for sedimentation in the lake. “The increase in logging is not going to impact sedimentation to any great extent,” said Mr. Allen, the manager of both Yellowwood and Morgan-Monroe State Forests. “Don’t get me wrong — the potential is there — but we’re using best management practices, which reduce sedimentation.” Water quality scientist Greg Bright has measured sedimentation in the lake for two years. He discovered the lake holds 18 million cubic meters of sediment that weren’t there when the Civilian Conservation Corps built the lake in 1940. Mr. Allen, for his part, said the DNR Forestry Division tells him the amount of timber that must be sold in the two state forests he manages — 1.4 million board feet last year, 2.1 million in the 2005-2006 year, and 4.3 million a year by 2008. It’s his job to decide which areas to log. http://www.browncountyindiana.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=7359


15) Six of the 47 Daniel Boone National Forest parcels being considered for sale probably will be dropped from the list. The six parcels cover more than 400 acres east of Morehead in Rowan County, including a 107-acre tract recently purchased with the help of The Nature Conservancy, Forest Service spokeswoman Marie Walker said yesterday. The parcels are in an area where the agency wants to acquire land, but roughly fit the category of scattered pieces of land that the Bush administration wants to sell to fund rural schools and road projects. The parcels were “proposed in error — we most likely will go back and ask them to take that out,” Walker said. But the agency has no current plans to cross from the list nine other parcels in the Morehead area where it wants to log trees damaged in a 2003 ice storm. Those tracts comprise 379 acres. On 28 acres, trees will be sold. On much of the rest of the parcels, trees will be cut and left where they fall. Last month, the Forest Service announced it had decided to cut damaged trees on 13,000 acres in the Morehead area, with commercial logging on 4,900 of that. The agency says damaged trees need to be removed to give young trees a chance to grow, and because they are more suspectible to insects and disease. George Bain, the Daniel Boone’s deputy supervisor, said that logging still will happen, even if the land is be logged and then sold. “We still think the treatments would be appropriate,” Bain said. “How that would or would not affect values if that time comes, we’ll just have to wait and see.” The environmental group Kentucky Heartwood opposes the ice storm logging, but has failed to stop the project. http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/14035659.htm

South Carolina:

16) COLUMBIA – Biologists and amateurs toting some of the fanciest gear in Congaree National Park are trying to find the rarest of woodpeckers among some of the nation’s tallest and oldest trees. No one has seen an ivory-billed woodpecker around here since the 1930s, but avid birders aren’t about to stop looking. In December, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s S.C. office got $75,000 to perform the first scientific search for the ivory bill outside Arkansas, where a Cache River sighting ignited interest in a bird thought by some to be extinct. The two-month effort, which started last week, focuses on the park’s old-growth forest, just north of the Santee Swamp area, where the 1930s sightings occurred. Tantalizing signs have been found that fuel interest in this search. In December, for instance, Gary Peters, wildlife program coordinator in South Carolina for the U.S. Forestry Service, was walking with a co-worker and his family in the park and says he heard the distinctive double-knock of the ivory-billed. No other woodpecker in South Carolina makes that knock, with a second “tock” that sounds like an echo of the first. “Did you hear what I just heard?” Peters said to his friend. They agreed it was a double-knock, and they heard it twice more. For this search, four two-person teams of professional and amateur bird enthusiasts carry binoculars, Global Positioning System units and high-end camcorders as they work in the eastern end of the 24,600-acre park to try to locate and document the existence of the bird. The park’s former visitor center has become a bunkhouse for many of the researchers, all picked for their knowledge of the birds. When they return at the end of the day, each crew downloads GPS information and tells the others what they saw. John Cely, a retired S.C. Department of Natural Resources biologist, and John Rich, who worked as a ranger at the park for three years, searched high in the trees for the irregularly shaped cavities ivory bills make and low for the scratch marks the birds make when looking for bugs. The Congaree National Park has just the type of bottomland the ivory bill used as habitat, the 11,000 acres of old growth forest is the largest remaining tract in the country. http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/mld/myrtlebeachonline/news/local/14054349.htm


17) Surrounded by pine trees on a warm spring day, I was startled by a crashing sound through the forest behind me. Instantly I thought, that a deer — or maybe even a bear — was bounding in my direction. But it also sounded bigger and heavier, like a truck or bulldozer pushing through the underbrush. As I turned, I saw that it was flames burning in my direction through underbrush that were making the noise. I was participating in a prescribed burn at Birdsong Nature Center, something I do a few times a year on weekends as volunteer work. No matter how many times I do it, I’m surprised by the loud sound that is made when dry underbrush catches. http://www.tallahassee.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060308/NEWS01/60307002/1010


18) Environmentalists have passionately defended things endangered or in short supply, but have rarely considered the hard truths about who benefits from saving wilderness, eliminating pollution, or halting logging and fishing. In the mid-19th century, people began to confront nature’s limits. Centuries of development had turned a seeming Eden into a wasteland of stumps and gullies. Immigration, natural reproduction, a market economy, and industrialization transformed a wilderness into commodities with astonishing rapidity. “Nor could it be imagined,” the English colonial historian Edward Johnson wrote in 1653, “that this Wilderness should turn a mart for Merchants in so short a space.” By 1864, George Perkins Marsh, a Vermonter who had seen the denuded farmlands of Italy, warned, “we are, even now, breaking up the floor and wainscoting and doors and window frames of our dwelling.” Marsh urged immediate action if the New World was to avoid the ruin of the Old. Hunters and fishers, including some of the continent’s most powerful individuals, were among the first conservationists to seek protections for what we now call environmental amenities. The Boone and Crockett Club, for example, founded in 1887 by Theodore Roosevelt, dedicated itself to protecting game animals and their habitat — in part by taking aim at the rural poor. Roosevelt was a crack shot who championed the “fair chase” principle of hunting game with minimal equipment and an eye on the sporting experience. His generosity toward prey did not extend to people whom he and other high-class hunters deemed unsporting: poor whites and blacks who shot egrets for plumes coveted by milliners and hat-loving women. Setting aside wildlife for the worthy to consume was only one tactic that discriminated against marginalized groups. Preserving scenic places was another. The new national parks had a simple premise at their core: wilderness was a place apart from humans. Writing in 1894, John Muir described the Indians of the Yosemite as “mostly ugly, and some of them altogether hideous.” Their very presence disturbed his quest for “solemn calm” in the wilderness. They “seemed to have no right place in the landscape.” This view was widely shared among preservationists, who turned out Natives from the very places that gave them identity. Beginning with Yellowstone in 1872, officials forcefully expelled Indians, in violation of treaty obligations, to uphold the wilderness ideal. http://www.grist.org/comments/soapbox/2006/03/08/klingle/index.html?source=daily


19) Robert Esimu, the Range Manager of Budongo System, which includes Budongo Forest Reserve, says that tree growing could actually enable Ugandans to foot their children’s tuition fees even up to the university level. “Besides bringing about a number of ecological benefits to the environment, tree growing is also a good source of income. Timber continues to be a hot cake everyday in the market,” he says.At the moment one hectare of pine trees is worth between Shs32m and Shs48 m in the present market price and it is likely to rise because of the ever-increasing demand, he discloses.”If Ugandans undertake tree planting, especially pine trees which grow fast, most will be able to educate their children all the way to university under private schemes,” the National Forestry Authority (NFA) official explains. Pine trees are expected to be ready for harvest for timber or poles, from ten to fifteen years though for other products such as firewood or charcoal the trees could be harvested from the third year since planted. According to him the idea for growing trees countrywide has never been so important and urgent.”Uganda is about to face an acute shortage of timber in the near future due to rampant deforestation. This is real. The shortage is looming and in about 10 to 20 years to come we’ll run out of timber for construction,” he warns. About 70 percent of all the forests are owned under private or communal ownership and the remaining 30 percent are protected areas under the NFA Central Forest Reserves and Uganda Wildlife Authority respectively. http://allafrica.com/stories/200603080072.html


20) After a tenacious campaign by Rainforest Foundation-UK with the support of Forests.org’s network, the World Bank has admitted it failed to protect the environment and local peoples in its program to develop the Democratic Republic of Congo’s massive rainforests. This is a tremendous set back for Bank plans to zone the world’s second largest rainforest for industrial logging (which we are assured will be “sustainable” and “manage ecosystems” and perhaps even “certified” but as always means destroying forever more of the world’s last ancient rainforests). In December of 2005 Forests.org’s worldwide network sent several hundred thousand protest emails to the World Bank’s Board of Directors. The alert successfully sought to have the Bank’s Inspection Panel investigate how Bank policies and projects were impacting indigenous peoples in areas where the World Bank was aggressively moving to establish industrial logging. The Bank has admitted 1) they failed to follow their own safeguard policies, 2) they were not aware there were Pygmy communities in areas they were pushing for logging, and 3) it was ‘inappropriate’ to set targets for the number of new logging concessions that should be allocated by the Congolese government as a result of World Bank projects. In a second campaign update, the Rainforest Action Network has joined the Australian temperate rainforest campaign – bringing their substantial network and campaign expertise to bear on protecting Tasmania’s ancient forests from horrendous industrial clearance by Gunns Ltd. RAN has just completed coordination of protests at Australian embassies around the world and have launched an attractive campaign web site at: http://treesnotgunns.org/ . Following the lead of local Australian conservation organizations, Forests.org has campaigned for years to end ancient forest logging in Tasmania. Most recently in October of 2005 our network barraged Australian embassies, Australian logger Gunns, and Gunns’ funders with protest email (see http://forests.org/action/alert.asp?id=gunns which will be updated and re-released today). Forests.org is very pleased that Rainforest Action Network has joined the Tasmanian campaign, but does have concerns. RAN in the past has supported – indeed advocated for – heavy industrial logging of large areas of rainforests. RAN and others confuse rainforest preservation with commercial sustained yield forest management which is not ecologically sustainable. It remains to be seen whether the likes of RAN and Forest Ethics, who both just participated in selling out 2/3 of Canada’s temperate rainforests wilderness to industrial logging to notionally protect the other third, would find such an outcome acceptable in Tasmania as well. http://www.forests.org

South Africa:

21) THE water affairs and forestry department is set to lay a criminal charge against controversial developer Dries Marais for clearing indigenous forest without a licence. The charge could be the first shot fired in another land dispute involving the developer. He is also facing litigation on his stated ownership of the property in question – a stretch of dunes cloaked in bush between Kini Bay Village and the Bushy Park Dairy Farm. Knysna-based department official Jeffrey Sass said yesterday that following a site inspection, it was clear Marais had transgressed the Forest Act. “About 400 metres of coastal dune forest has been stripped. It includes milkwood trees and other protected species. The moment you do what has been done here you start getting erosion. With all the development nowadays, this kind of forest is also getting scarce.“I must report to my office in Knysna, where a decision will be taken. But I am sure we are going to lay a charge against this man.” The clearing of milkwoods in particular is a category one offence in terms of the Act, meaning transgressors can be jailed for two to three years. Bushy Park Dairy Farm managing trustee Puffer Hart- zenberg yesterday laid a separate charge of illegal forest clearing and trespassing against Marais. The dairy farm abuts the east side of the property which Marais is working on, and the cleared strip runs north-south along the boundary fence between the two pieces of land. http://www.theherald.co.za/herald/news/n07_08032006.htm


22) Tehran – Iran’s Forest and Range Organization has establish a telephone line to increase the quality of preserving natural sites and forests and also to promote services for nature tourists. Only with dialing the number 09696, nature tourists can make use of the helping services available in all forests in the case of any problem such as facing with fire, flood, or even whenever they get lost in the forest. They can also report any suspicious case which is a treat to forests such as loggers who cut trees illegally. “We establish this telephone line with the help of Telecommunication Ministry to increase the participation of people in preserving natural sites. Moreover to report different cases about the condition of the forests to the forest stations by people, providing helping services to the nature tourists in the case of problem is the other facility of this telephone line. In case of any problem, people can call this station and our helping forces will be available as quickly as possible,” said Kazemi, deputy or public relations and international affairs of the Forest and Range Organization of Iran. This telephone number is not just for forests and it can be used in any natural pastures and rangelands as well to use the services of forest stations. http://www.chn.ir/en/news/?section=1&id=1593


23) WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is offering an initial $50 million in grants over the next five years to help preserve biodiversity in the Amazon Basin. But conservationists who participate in the Amazon Basin Conservation Initiative may find themselves staring down the barrel of a gun. USAID says its investment will support community groups, governmental entities and public and private organizations in the Amazon region to conserve the basin’s “unique and globally important resources.” The agency announced a request for applications from parties interested in obtaining the Amazon Basin Conservation Initiative grants in a March 2 statement. The concept paper said that through these initiatives, the U.S. government works “to address enormous conservation challenges in critical areas around the world by providing people with sustainable livelihoods, improving natural resource governance, and developing conservation programs appropriate for each region.” But conservationists may face threats of violence in their attempts to protect the Amazon. Hundreds of activists have been beaten and killed in the past two decades.

24) In an effort to curb the violence, two unions today announced a campaign to change the attitude of Brazilian judges that they see as a root cause of the problem. The Brazilian Farm Workers Union (Contag) and an international union (Uita) are launching a protest campaign called “Enough Violence in the Countryside,” which targets Brazil’s judicial system as responsible for much of the land conflict violence in the country, according to the state-run news agency Agencia Brasil. According to Contag and the Land Pastoral Commission, a Catholic organization, over the last 20 years there have been 1,500 rural activists, workers and leaders assassinated in Brazil, but only 76 cases of land conflict violence ever went to trial. “We want the international community to be aware of this problem and pressure the Brazilian judicial system to find a solution,” says Paulo Caralo of Contag. http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2006/2006-03-08-02.asp

25) As the Queen’s carriage trundled down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace yesterday morning, Lula da Silva, the president of Brazil, could afford to sink back into the velvet cushions, look at his travelling companion, Her Majesty the Queen, and contemplate how far he had come from a slum childhood shining shoes on the streets. Yet, as he looked out of the window at the crowds lining the London streets, he would have known how far he still had to go. It would be hard for Da Silva not to think about the vast swath through the forest in his homeland – a forest known as “the lungs of the earth” for the amount of oxygen it provides. Among his official appointments during the three-day visit is a tour of Brazilian exhibits extracted from the Royal Collection and displayed in his honour. These include intricate drawings of exotic flora and fauna from the rainforest, from a selection of nature books. One book, dated 1820, depicts a golden-rumped lion tamarin monkey, one of the 353 species of mammal who live in the Amazon. Another book, presented to the Queen in 1968 during a visit to Brazil, shows elaborate orange and pink orchids – some of the 60,000 plants to be found in what is the world’s largest natural hothouse. When it comes to the Amazon, the temperature is rising for Da Silva. The world’s environmentalists were delighted by his election in 2003 on a partly green ticket, only to be disappointed by what they view as a lack of rigorous action to protect the forest. Brazil is on the horns of a dilemma: as a poor country, its most successful businesses are dependant on harvesting the rainforests. The country’s logging industry is thriving: in 1985, wood from the Amazon accounted for just 12 per cent of the nation’s total production of tropical wood; today, however, it accounts for 90 per cent, with the region providing an estimated 30 million cubic metres of logs each year. However, it is estimated that 80 per cent of all logging operations are illegal, and so vast is the wilderness that efforts to prevent it have proven futile. The result is that there are now mini-states run by logging companies who, in many cases, use slave labour to clear the land. “On present deforestation rates, Lula will be, at the end of this year, the president with the highest deforestation record in his mandate in the history of Brazil.” “Developers, both legally and illegally, are busy at work exploiting Brazil’s natural resources with little or no care for people or the environment. The illegal tactics used can involve violence, destruction of homes and, in the worst cases, even murder. Da Silva needs to ensure action is taken to protect communities from such threats. http://news.scotsman.com/features.cfm?id=349012006


26) Agartala: Several years back, the Supreme Court imposed a ban on felling in all categories of forests in the Northeast. But this has not deterred the forest brigands and timber smugglers of Tripura. As setting up licensed sawmills has become difficult, illegal mini sawmills have mushroomed in the hilly and rural areas of the state. In a recent drive launched by the forest department under the divisional forest officer of Bishalgarh, Ranjit Ghosh, altogether 12 illegal mini sawmills were traced and closed down. “We launched search operations with forest guards in Anandanagar, Aralia, Gokulnagar, Madhupur and Pandabpur areas under Sadar and Bishalgarh sub-divisions and traced and closed down 12 mini sawmills hidden from public view,” said Ghosh. He added that mini sawmills are generally run with small generators or with illegal power connection drawn directly from overhead cables or wires. Ghosh said there are other mini sawmills operating in different parts of the state and all of them will be shut down. “These mills run on smuggled or illegally felled trees of the forest, in total violation of the law,” Ghosh said. He added that according to the apex court’s order, felling of trees is permissible only when they stand on land belonging to an individual. Forest guards led by Ghosh seized more than 300 cubic feet of illegally collected valuable timber. Ghosh said smugglers and forest brigands were collecting timber from reserve forests and selling them after processing them in the illegally run mini sawmills. http://www.telegraphindia.com/1060309/asp/northeast/story_5926468.asp

27) Holi celebrations would put a question mark on the Bihar government’s ambitious plan to increase the state’s green cover from the existing 6.07 percent to 35 percent within a decade. While Bihar used to have a forest cover over a healthy 17 percent of its area, the figure came down after the state of Jharkhand was carved out of it in 2000. Bonfires are lit on the evening of Holi, the festival of colours, based on the myth of Holika to symbolise the destruction of evil forces. This year, ahead of the festival next Tuesday, a large number of trees were cut in places across the state, in residential colonies and commercial neighbourhoods as people collected wood for bonfires that will be lit in every nook and corner of villages and cities. This Bihar capital alone will have bonfires at about 200 places. Mithilesh Kumar, a Patna resident, said people were chopping off trees for bonfires. “There is nothing new to it, we have been doing it every year,” said Mithilesh Kumar, a small time contractor in Mandiri, a lower middle class locality here. While some citizens questioned the tradition, they expressed their helplessness to do anything to stop the cutting of trees. “We know it is wrong to cut trees, but some people are doing it without realising that they are harming the environment. What is alarming is that authorities are doing little to stop the menace,” said Rupesh Singh, a schoolteacher. Some students and environmentalists have been organising street protests here against the chopping of trees for bonfires, demanding action from officials. “We have been protesting to create awareness among people not to cut trees. It is high time we stop the practice,” said a student associated with Taru Mitra, a city-based NGO working to protect the environment. http://www.newkerala.com/news2.php?action=fullnews&id=22762

28) Reserve forests in Tangail are shrinking due to indiscriminate cutting of trees and encroachment of forestlands. On the other hand, several markets have sprang up in different areas Hatubhanga, Mirzapur and Sakhipur where stolen timbers are openly sold. Abdul Latif, a timber merchant at Battala in Tangail, told this correspondent that everyday, specially at night, more than 20 truckloads of timber leave the forest areas for different destinations. The looting of trees continues due to ineffective steps by the local administration and the forest department, he alleged. Some influential quarters having political clout have grabbed vast areas of the forest by felling trees, using ‘forged documents’, an official of Tangail Forest Department told this correspondent seeking anonymity. “We are virtually helpless”, he said. The reserve forests in Tangail were earlier spread over 1, 22,876 acres in five upazilas– 45,565 acres in Modhupur; 47,220 in Sakhipur; 21,855 in Ghatail; 7, 576 in Mirzapur and 659 acres in Kalihati, according to sources in Forest Department. At least 40 per cent of the reserve forests in Mirzapur and Sakhipur have been illegally grabbed. Local influential encroachers have constructed houses and raised orchards and gardens and constructed makeshift structures to strengthen their possession, the sources said. http://www.thedailystar.net/2006/03/08/d60308070282.htm


29) Logging in Shan State has been carried out by many ceasefire and business groups, it has been causing complete ruin to forests on many parts of Shan State, says a report in mongloi.org, a Shan website. In fact the authority had banned logging in 2000, but the timber trucks in Shan State are still traveling to Thailand, China and Hlaingdet, north of the new capital Pyinmana, according to a former timber-merchant. Timber-merchants have to give tea money to the authorities every check-point and every regional commander in three parts of Shan State are benefiting from the trade, each getting more or less depending on which part has more timber, he said. “Legal and illegal loggings go half and half”. Northern Thailand imports timber mostly from Kengtawng, Mongton and Panghsang. Before the new bridge in Maesai opened, they smuggled from Mongton to Wan Pung village near the Golden Triangle then transported them through the Mekong River to Chiangsen district, Chiang Rai in Thailand. It was an expensive exercise. But since January 2006, they have been transporting timber across the bridge at night. Nowadays the timber trucks stop at Pung Toon village in Tachilek. The logs are covered with plastics sheets and driven across Sanpakhi Bridge (new bridge which was opened on 22 January). About 7-8 trucks cross the bridge in one night. The buyer from Thailand is said to be the Siva Company of Arnond Markmasilp. Grade A timber would cost 40,000 Yuan (about $4,750) per ton, while low-grade timber would cost 8,000-9,000 ($1,000) Yuan per ton. Besides Tachilek, there are 2-3 boats carrying timber along Salween River from Wan Ing village in Kunhing Township to Ta Woon Nawng village west of Panghsang, including one belong to Pi Sang, who is a native Shan in the UWSA. One boat can carry 34 tons; 1 ton costs 3,000 Yuan ($350) for transport. http://www.shanland.org/articles/environment/2006/News-09070306


30) The recent coup attempt in the Philippines and the mudslide that turned a village into a mass grave may seem unrelated. In many respects they are, but in important ways the Philippines’ environmental woes are inextricably linked to the political turmoil that persists there. The ways that societies respond to environmental problems reveal their strengths and their fault lines. In the Philippines, longstanding conflicts over forests, fisheries and other natural resources have deep roots. Weak political institutions – attributed only partly to the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos – reinforced economic weaknesses, bringing ecological decline that in turn deepened economic problems. In particular, the island of Leyte – where the mudslide occurred – shows how uncontrolled logging takes an economic and ecological toll. In the Philippines, mudslides are only one example of the consequences of decades of poor environmental management and the long- term costs of ecological decline. The archipelago is made up of more than 7,100 islands, about 2,000 of them inhabited. Like Leyte, many islands are mountainous. Thick tropical forest once covered their slopes, anchoring the soil and regulating the water cycle, which are important during the intense seasonal rains and typhoons. In the Philippines, the demise of the forests brought the collapse of the logging industry. It changed regional weather patterns. As people migrated to the coasts to find work, they created new pressures on the rich coastal fisheries, which also declined.
The erosion of the forests and fisheries, in turn, heightened poverty in rural areas and sent millions of ecological refugees fleeing to the cities, where they often lived as squatters. The influx of people overwhelmed roads, power, and sewage and water systems, deepening urban environmental problems that can threaten human health. http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/03/07/opinion/edgold.php

New Zealand:

31) The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) is seeking input on ways New Zealand can contribute to the global fight against illegal logging. The Ministry has released a discussion document on the issue and wants public and industry feedback on the ideas presented. Globally, illegal logging and its associated trade costs the producers of legitimately sourced wood products billions of dollars in lost revenue. And it can do considerable harm to forests and forest ecosystems. Illegal logging takes place when timber is harvested, transported, bought or sold in violation of national and/or international laws. It is a serious problem in many countries where it is undermining local efforts to manage forests sustainably. MAF Policy Analyst Alison Watson says combating illegal logging is important to New Zealand as the practice taints the entire forestry industry as being environmentally unfriendly. New Zealand also faces competition from illegal timber in its export and domestic markets. The MAF paper is the first step in developing a New Zealand policy on illegal logging. It provides background on the issue, sets out suggested broad policy goals and actions, and seeks input on where New Zealand action could make the biggest difference. Ms Watson says the approach taken in the paper is to look at how New Zealand can contribute through a range of different channels – an international focus through global forums and organisations; regional work; bilaterally with other interested countries; and locally through raising awareness of the issue and convincing local sellers and consumers to only use legally sourced product. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0603/S00075.htm


32) Tasmania’s Forest Industries Association believes global protests against Tasmania’s logging industry will affect the state’s forestry and tourism markets. The day of protest was organised by the San Francisco-based Rainforest Action Network. The group says it has targeted embassies in the United States, Britain, Canada and Japan in a bid to protect Tasmania’s native forests. The association’s chief executive, Terry Edwards, has accused the protesters of making false and misleading claims about a state most have never visited. “It will hurt the forestry market, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that but having said that, the real market it will hurt is Tasmania’s tourism image overseas,” he said. “We’ve seen of recent times the Tourism Council of Tasmania has come out and stop destroying Tasmania’s tourism image overseas with their highly emotive campaign against forestry.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200603/s1586131.htm

33) TASMANIA has been identified as an international hotspot for future extinction. A scientific study released yesterday lists 20 areas of the world where animals are in peril. The only area identified in Australia is Tasmania and the Bass Strait islands, where 49 species are in danger. The London-based researchers pinpointed areas of the world where animals are at “latent risk” of extinction. “Latent risk” means the animals are not in immediate danger but the risk is likely to arise soon because of current patterns of human development. Tasmanian conservationists said the study highlighted the destruction caused by land-clearing in Tasmania. Tasmanian Conservation Trust director Craig Woodfield said Tasmania was the only state in Australia with no comprehensive land-clearing controls. “When you clear habitat you are ensuring birds and animals will never be able to live there again,” he said. Wilderness Society campaign co-ordinator Geoff Law said successive governments had been warned about the impacts of land-clearing but had chosen to ignore the evidence. “Tasmania has become a national and international embarrassment,” Mr Law said. Protesters angry about logging practices in Tasmania held international rallies at the weekend, with demonstrations outside of Australian embassies in the US, Canada, Japan and Britain. The organisers of the rallies said Tasmania was currently clearing the equivalent of about 44 football fields a day. Mr Law said current land clearing practices were placing in peril the wedge-tailed eagle, spotted-tail quoll, swift parrot and broad-toothed stag beetle. According to the Forest Practices Authority, Tasmania cleared about 8000 hectares in the 2004-5 financial year. Of that total, 6225 hectares were cleared for eucalypt plantation, 234 hectares for pine plantation and 1530 hectares cleared for agriculture and other non-forest use. The latent extinction study, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says latent risk is low in heavily populated parts of the world where species likely to succumb to pressure have already done so. The report says the area with the most potentially endangered species, 284, is Sumatra and peninsular Malaysia. http://www.themercury.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,18385685%255E3462,00.html

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