074OEC’s This Week in Trees

This week we have 34 stories from: British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Colorado, Missouri, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, North Carolina, USA, Spain, Cameroon, Congo, Kenya, Brazil, Tibet, India, Philippines, Indonesia and Australia.

British Columbia:

1) VANCOUVER — Minister of Forests has agreed to meet with residents of Port Alberni after initially suggesting their concerns about forestry layoffs and water quality are issues for a provincial agency to consider instead of his department. Rich Coleman plans to travel to Port Alberni in April for a meeting with workers in the forestry industry. “I intend to try and make the best use of my time while I am in the area, to review everything from forest practices to environmental issues to watershed to dealing with some of the issues that are facing us with regards to some of the operations out there,” Mr. Coleman told the legislature Thursday. A day earlier, when asked in Question Period by New Democrat Scott Fraser whether he would go to Port Alberni, the minister did not respond directly. Instead, he pointed out that concerns about the increased export of raw logs and water-quality issues in Port Alberni were already being considered by the provincial Private Managed Forest Land Council. “They have done nothing here,” he said. There have been four boil-water advisories in recent months, in a community just north of Port Alberni, which some are suggesting was a result of improper logging practices. Officials from TimberWest and Island Timberlands both attributed the water problems to heavy storms in the area. Keith Wyton, chair of a newly formed group in Port Alberni called the Save Our Valley Alliance, is skeptical of that explanation. “There is a bad storm every month. We don’t always have boil-water advisories,” he said. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20060311.BCALBERNI11/TPStory/National


2) Scientific studies of canopies only really began about 20 years ago, because canopies are hard to get to and “unfortunately we lost the use of our prehensile tail,” a long time ago, she said. But now, scientists use mountain-climbing techniques, platforms, bridges, canopy cranes and even hot air balloons with rafts dangling below them to study the uppermost reaches of trees. “There actually are now a wonderful array of access techniques that are available to all of us to study this, what I think of as the most important part of the forest ecosystem,” Nadkarni said. There’s a large amount of biodiversity up there, with 80 different species of moss found on big leaf maple trees alone. Scientists can look at the reproductive biology of plants, how they pollinate and disperse seeds. They can observe the adaptations animals have evolved, like the skin flaps on gliding lizards or flying squirrels. There are plants in the top branches of trees that create their own communities, living, dying and decaying in tree branches, and creating an arboreal soil high above the ground that becomes home to earthworms, beetles and bugs. It’s “just an amazing little world up in a forest canopy that I found really fascinating to investigate,” Nadkarni said. To those who think that trees are stationary and a tad dull, she conducted an experiment by tying paint brushes to the tips of a vine maple branches, and calculated how much a tree moves in a year. It turns out that one tree does quite a bit of moving: 286,540 miles a year, a distance 10 times around the equator. Although scientists are often taught to move steadily, to take time to consider things and study them in a measured way, Nadkarni said that with all the threats to forests, slow is not the way to go.“I feel in some ways that maybe this is not the time to do that, maybe we need to move forward more forcefully, because the pressures are indeed so pressing,” she said. http://www.burystedmundstoday.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=844&ArticleID=1380062

3) ABERDEEN — Blame it on changing market conditions. In the mid-1990s, tree farmers who planted plots of 20 acres or less in hybrid cottonwoods were told they would turn a quick profit in eight years by selling the trees for pulp wood or in 15 years for saw logs. But now the trees are basically worthless. Cutting and marketing the trees would cost more than they can be sold for. “A number of unrelated factors contributed to (the decline in value) and have continued to keep that price low,” said Jon Johnson, a Washington State University Extension agent in Puyallup. Thousands of acres of hybrids were planted across Washington and Oregon a decade ago — more than 600 in Grays Harbor alone. Stands of hybrid cottonwoods are visible from Interstate 5 north of Woodland, off Highway 12 just west of Montesano and at Satsop near the Satsop Bulb Farm. Other stands can be seen south of Elma, Wash., and near Clatskanie. The cottonwood hybrids were seen as quick replacement for red alder because they grow so fast — 60 feet tall and 6 inches in diameter in just six years, said Dick Moulton, a former Washington State University Extension agent for Grays Harbor. Moulton helped spearhead the drive to plant the hybrid cottonwoods in Western Washington as a cooperative projects manager with Columbia-Pacific Resource Conservation and Development, a federally funded office that looked for innovative ways to boost the wood products industry. An economic study on the cottonwoods published in 1995 by Columbia-Pacific, predicted growers could earn up to $2,400 an acre for pulp production and up to $10,000 an acre for both saw logs and pulp production. Then the bottom dropped out. Because of the economy of scale from having large operations, big timber companies such as Weyerhaeuser, Potlatch and GreenWood Resources, have been able to turn a profit by using the hybrids as saw logs and some companies have been using them for making plywood, Johnson said. But small growers probably will not be able to capitalize on the saw log market because they planted the trees too close together. To produce saw logs, those stands need to be thinned so the remaining trees can increase in girth, Moulton said. Johnson said growers would also need to trim branches from the trees to reduce knots, something that is also not economically viable. So area growers are just leaving their stands alone for now, Schillinger said. http://www.tdn.com/articles/2006/03/11/biz/news01.txt


4) “The number of trees killed in the Biscuit Fire was highest in the thinned areas we studied, most likely due to slash left after the thinning treatment,” Raymond explains. “Overstory tree mortality was lowest in sites that were thinned and then underburned, and moderate in sites that were not treated prior to the Biscuit Fire. Thinning ladder fuels is just the first step in effective fuel treatment for most forests.” Ladder fuels are the small trees that carry fire from the ground to the overstory tree crowns. Fuel treatments intended to minimize damage to the overstory are more effective if fine fuels on the ground are reduced following removal of understory trees. “We have known this in principle for many years,” says Peterson, a research biologist at the Station, “and the Biscuit Fire gave us a chance to validate the effectiveness of on-the-ground fuel treatments.” Federal agencies are mandated to reduce fuel accumulations in dry forests throughout the West. However, studies like the one conducted by Raymond and Peterson that validate the effectiveness of fuel treatments are rare. “Data from the Biscuit Fire provide new scientific evidence that will help improve techniques for treating fuels. As more wildfires burn through treated areas, we will have additional opportunities to document how well those treatments are working,” adds Peterson. The study, “Fuel Treatments Alter the Effects of Wildfire in a Mixed-Evergreen Forest, Oregon, USA,” is co-authored by Crystal Raymond, University of Washington and David L. Peterson, Pacific Northwest Research
Station/USDA Forest Service. http://www.medfordnews.com/articles/index.cfm?artOID=328423&cp=10996


5) The city will move forward with a plan to log 200 acres it owns in the Corralitos Creek watershed. Financial gain is the primary reason for the timber harvest plan, according to Public Works Director David Koch. Thinning stands of second-growth redwood and Douglas fir at Grizzly Flat could net the city as much as $800,000, he said. The first step is to develop a logging plan for submission to the California Department of Forestry. Actual timber cutting is expected to start for a year or more. The City Council approved the plan in a 6-1 vote Tuesday. Councilman Oscar Rios was a strong supporter when the city last logged the property about 10 years ago. But, explaining his no vote Tuesday, he recalled the controversy created by that harvest, and said he’s more cautious now. Rios said if the city loses its bid to save a tax that funds city pensions — a loss that would cost city coffers $3.5 million — the logging would help ease the financial pain. But before he agreed to more logging, Rios said he wanted to visit the property and see how the trees were faring.”I just felt that last time, when I was part of it, a lot of people came forward who were very concerned and had a lot of points,” he said. “It will take many years to do that,” Koch said. “But considering it was all clear cut in the early 1900s, it’s beautiful. It’s like, wow, what a recovery!” http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/archive/2006/March/09/local/stories/07local.htm

6) Some places in Southern California are richer in champion trees than others. For example, San Juan Capistrano is home to a California sycamore (Platanus racemosa) that scores a whopping 472 points; a peppertree (Schinus molle) with 442 points; an avocado (Persea americana), 272 points; and an arroyo willow (Salix lasiolepis), 142 points. Julian boasts a coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) with 415 points, a Coulter pine (Pinus coulteri) with 311 points and an Engelmann oak (Quercus engelmannii) with 277 points. Closer to home, in 2001 a Sierra lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. murrayana) in the San Bernardino National Forest scored 374. And a bigcone Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga macrocarpa) in the Angeles National Forest is listed as having a circumference of 264 inches, a height of 145 feet and an average spread of 85 feet — a total of 430 points. But it was last measured in 1973, so who knows how much bigger it is now? Likewise, a Parry pinyon pine (Pinus quadrifolia) somewhere in Riverside County scored 150 points way back in 1976. http://www.vvdailypress.com/2006/114199888465909.html

7) Eleven pending lease applications for geothermal power on the flanks of 14,162 foot Mount Shasta will be reviewed by the US Forest Service this year. According to the Forest Service, the lease applications by the Bend, Oregon based Vulcan Power Company date from 1992. The sites ring the mountain and consist of approximately 18,000 acres. However, Vulcan Power CEO Steve Munson said the company is only interested in developing one of the sites, in the Hotlum area, referred to by Munson as the Northwest Military Pass Project. The Forest Service says the 11 lease applications include sites west of Panther Meadows, south and west of the Mt. Shasta Board and Ski Park, the Hotlum area north of the mountain where Military Pass approaches Highway 97, above Sand Flat, and an area near Brewer Creek on the south side. Munson said to the best of his knowledge the company had given up the leases near the Ski Park. “We’re focused totally on the Military Pass Hotlum area north of the mountain below the tree line. Other areas are not on our radar,” Munson said. “We have previously voluntarily dropped our leases in the ski areas.” Munson said the area the company intends to develop “is within less than 5,000 acres.”Munson said “very preliminary rough estimates” are that Siskiyou County would receive royalties of approximately 25 percent of the $500,000 in revenue the plant will produce. Geothermal power is generated by drilling deep wells to tap heated water and steam to turn electrical turbines. Proponents say geothermal is a clean renewable energy resource that is preferable to fossil fuels, coal and nuclear power. Opponents claim geothermal plants will pollute the environment with toxic chemicals brought up by the drilling process to harness underground steam. Additional issues for those opposed to the plants are related to viewshed and environmental concerns regarding transmission lines, cooling towers and roads that accompany geothermal generation. District ranger Mike Hupp said the Shasta-McCloud management unit, in which the leases lie, will conduct an Environmental Impact Statement review and make a recommendation to the Bureau of Land Management. http://www.mtshastanews.com/articles/2006/03/08/news/area_news/01geoleases.txt


8) The U.S. Forest Service will begin restoration-related work later this month or in April in the Waterfall Fire burn area, west of Carson City on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, officials announced Wednesday. Dead trees have been salvaged on 102 acres to reduce future fuel loading and prepare the area for the upcoming tree planting. A plan detailed Wednesday calls for approximately 1,345 cords of wood to be removed under a commercial fuelwood contract. About 123,000 Jeffery and Ponderosa Pine seedlings will be planted on 430 acres of National Forest land burned in the July 2004 Waterfall Fire. “The reforestation project will help stabilize the burned area from erosion, improve watershed conditions and provide for long-term wildlife habitat,” acting Carson District Ranger Larry Randall said in a statement. The start date for the work will depend on the weather. http://news.rgj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060309/NEWS15/603090362/1010/NEWS07


9) COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (AP) — Budget cuts to the U.S. Forest Service could hurt efforts to save a dying northern Idaho tree that is a critical food source for grizzly bears, birds and other forest animals. The whitebark pine has been disappearing during the last 100 years because of an exotic fungus, hungry beetles and wildfire suppression, leaving only a few stands in the Selkirk Mountains. The trees began dwindling in the 1910s with the introduction of blister rust, and were hit harder in the late 1990s when mountain pine beetle populations exploded and began chewing through surviving stands in the northern Rockies. “It’s declined so much in the last three to four decades, we really don’t know what effect that had on grizzly bears. There’s no telling how many bears inhabited those ridgetops when we had mature whitebark pine,” Keane said. The Selkirk Mountains northwest of Bonners Ferry have one of region’s largest stand of trees. Last summer the Forest Service began a three-year restoration project on stands in northern Idaho. They began cutting back competing tree species and conducting prescribed burns on 1,700 acres with the healthiest trees. They’ve also been collecting samples to see which trees may be resistant to the blister rust. It’s been slow work trying to boost the tree’s numbers. “Whitebark pine takes 60 years (to bear seeds), and it doesn’t reach maximum cone bearing age until 250 years,” Keane said. “We’re looking at decades or maybe centuries before we see any results.” Dave Foushee, a tree improvement horticulturist with the Forest Service in Coeur d’Alene, has taken seeds from the 110 remaining wild parent trees and placed them in a greenhouse to ensure maximum survival. He has at least 2,000 seedlings in the nursery as well as a fenced irrigated plot of propagated trees near Coeur’ d’Alene. But his plot has also fallen victim to budget cuts, and he will now only get $1,000 to maintain the trees. Phil Houg, president of the Sandpoint chapter of the Idaho Native Plant Society, said he is frustrated that funding is being cut for the program while money is still being provided for timber harvests and fuel reduction projects. “It’s a shame that the part of forest health that still gets funded is the part that cuts trees,” said Hough, of Sagle, Idaho. “These trees occupy such an important niche of the environment.” http://www.jacksonholestartrib.com/articles/2006/03/11/news/regional/4e17b258e2bf44cb8725712e0071498a.txt


10) Preliminary plans call for about 600 acres of selective logging north of the subdivision, according to Beth Jones, forestry technician for the U.S. Forest Service’s Columbine District. Forest Lakes, located 7 miles north of Bayfield off County Road 501, houses about 1,800 people in more than 700 buildings, according to Dale Kortz, manager of Forest Lakes Metropolitan District.The land slated for logging immediately north of the subdivision is managed by a hodgepodge of government agencies, including the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Colorado State Land Board. The forest is predominantly ponderosa pine, Jones said. Fire officials worry that a blaze threatening Forest Lakes could pose serious problems. The 1,800 residents have only one way out of the subdivision, a gravel road.”There is only one road and evacuation might be a problem,” said Rod Richardson, deputy Emergency Medical Services chief for Upper Pine River Fire District. “We’re trying to treat as much public land as we can in and around Forest Lakes,” Jones said. The new Forest Service project could begin as early as October. Columbine District officials will accept comments from the public and agency staff through April 5. Each year, the three districts that make up San Juan Public Lands – Columbine, Dolores and Pagosa Springs – aim to conduct about 10,000 acres of fire mitigation. Prescribed burning takes care of about 7,500 acres and thinning happens on about 2,500 acres. The acreage varies depending on budgets and the scope of projects the districts undertake. http://durangoherald.com/asp-bin/article_generation.asp?article_type=news&article_path=/news/06/news060311_


11) Pelot rated trees according to health and soundness. He rated the tree adjacent to Heitkemper’s property more favorably than the original city tree inventory, which was compiled by a different arborist in the summer of 2001. The city tree committee argues that the trees in question – which are on city rights of way, and therefore publically owned – are potential safety hazards. There are scores of trees on the city inventory for removal. “(The city needs) to take them down before they come crashing down,” Windmoeller said. Pelot inventoried 60 trees on the city’s cut list; he is recommending 14 of them for removal, 20 for pruning and 26 for long-term monitoring. The city recently marked dozens of the trees with lime-green paint – much to the chagrin of some property owners. Several residents have complained publically that the city has done a poor job of public relations on the issue. Pelot’s report will be presented to the city council for review on March 16. Windmoeller told THE-BEE that final decisions on whether to cut trees are the jurisdiction of the council. Some residents have vowed to fight all the way to the end if the city moves forward with plans to remove particular trees. They fear it would impact property values and neighborhood character. The silver maple tree in front of Steve Mangert’s residence on Elk Avenue would be spared under Pelot’s recommendation, but Mangert, like other skeptical residents, is prepared for a showdown if the city changes course. http://www.phillipswi.com/bee/index.php?sect_rank=1&story_id=205613


12) The tree-line silhouette of Burnham Island is a giant, rising high above the pebbles and sand of the now-dry channel bed that runs along its eastern side. In times of higher water the island’s 1,136 acres of nearly untouched forest across the river from Commerce, Mo., would be surrounded by water, a huge landmass in the middle of a huge river, the Mississippi. But in early March it’s possible to cross the desolate plain where the water once flowed and will flow again. And it’s easy to climb to the island’s crest and walk through its 1,000-plus woody, pristine acres. The only problem is that being on privately owned Burnham Island is trespassing. But if the American Land Conservancy has its way Burnham and six other islands in the Mississippi between Cape Girardeau County and Arkansas will soon be in the public domain, available for recreational use and conservation purposes. The process could take nearly two years, but when that time period is over the ALC hopes to have all seven islands run by governmental agencies. ALC vice president Jennifer Frazier wants to facilitate creation of what she calls a “string of pearls” for biologists and recreation enthusiasts. “The river is a huge component of who we are as a population in this country,” said Frazier. Quoting a colleague, she calls the Mississippi the “best hidden secret in plain sight.” The seven islands total nearly 7,000 acres of land that is currently used for nothing. For decades, in some cases going back to the 1980s, they were owned by Mead Westvaco, then Escanaba Timber, with the idea of harvesting hybrid cottonwood plantations for pulp. Harvesting didn’t work out for the islands, and a private corporation called Cypress Creek out of Sturgis, Ky., closed a purchase of the lands in December. Bill Cavins with Cypress Creek said the purchase by the ALC would create an all-around positive situation — his company gets fair market price for its land, and the land goes to good use. The ALC has a one-year option to be the top-priority buyer of the land, but the organization needs to find a public agency to buy the islands. Those talks haven’t happened yet. Bringing the “string of pearls” into the public domain is only one of many projects, involving many agencies, that are trying to turn the middle Mississippi into a booming home for recreation and conservation. http://www.semissourian.com/story/1143158.html

New York:

13) The Adirondack Park Agency unanimously approved on Thursday the New York Power Authority’s proposal for a 26.3-mile power line to bring more electricity to Tupper Lake. If only the APA would hold onto that glimmer of reason and approve Saratoga County’s longstanding request for three small towers that are essential to providing adequate emergency radio communications. The APA has stonewalled the request for years, claiming that the tree-height towers would irrevocably ruin the 6-million-acre park. It forced the county to go through a long, trial-like procedure that hasn’t even begun yet, thanks to the agency’s foot-dragging. The news release about the decision to allow the folks in Tupper Lake access to more electricity noted that the village is served by a single major power line and has endured decades of blackouts in wind and ice storms and brownouts in peak winter usage. The Power Authority expects to complete the new 46-kilovolt line between electrical substations in the winter of 2008-09. We’ll support their fight against acid rain and irresponsible development. But people come before trees and squirrels. The APA clearly got that point by approving the power line. Now, it’s time to approve the emergency radio towers. http://www.saratogian.com/site/news.cfm?BRD=1169&dept_id=17711&newsid=16288145&PAG=461&rfi=9


14) CHESHIRE — MassWildlife wants to clear another 10 acres on Stafford Hill, the second part of a wildlife habitat restoration plan that some residents have compared to “scalping.” But the removal of certain trees and shrubs would allow bird species that have lived there for centuries in open fields to flourish, said Jill Liske-Clark, coordinator of the department’s Upland Habitat Management Program. Most of the state’s forests were cleared for farming and firewood during the 19th century, creating a landscape of “early-successional habitats,” grasslands and shrublands. But when abandoned farmland and woodlots were reforested, the habitat for some wildlife species declined. “With the abandonment of agriculture,” said Liske-Clark, “there are a number of species that aren’t doing well,” including the chestnut warbler, the common yellowthroat and the eastern towhee. She added that these shrubland birds prospered in the 19th century. “The species aren’t on the endangered species list,” Liske-Clark said. “Our goal is to keep them off that list.” According to MassWildlife’s Web site, the Stafford Hill Wildlife Management Areas include 1,592 acres. The department plans to maintain about three-fourths of their 150-acre project site as open land by clearing on a rotation of between eight and 10 years. The site borders hundreds of acres of additional field habitats in public and private ownership. The wildlife restoration started in 2004, when the department hired Pantermehl Logging & Landclearing, a company from Ashfield, to clear 59 acres at a cost of $85,904. There were 2,400 tons of hardwood chips, 120 tons of aspen pulp, and two trailer loads of hardwood logs removed for sale, which reduced the cost of clearing the land. This summer, MassWildlife intends to clear invading trees and shrubs from 10 acres of wetlands. The department wants to clear an additional 66 acres in 2008. MassWildlife established the wildlife restoration program in 1996, to reclaim abandoned fields and other open habitats, which are increasingly uncommon in the region’s landscape. A report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicated that the amount of farmland in Massachusetts declined from more than 2 million acres to approximately 570,000 acres between 1945 and 2002 http://www.berkshireeagle.com/headlines/ci_3583628

15) Looks are important, particularly when it comes to managing the nation’s forests, concludes a recently published report by landscape architect Robert L. Ryan of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His review of the social science of fuels management examines how aesthetics influence the public’s perception of forests, and suggests managers can better garner support for their projects if they take these perceptions into account.“Aesthetics matter,” Ryan says. “People judge ecological health by what they see—if it looks ugly, they consider it to be bad management.”After the catastrophic forest fires of the 1980s, fire finally got its due as a natural process that must be accommodated in forest planning, says Ryan. Reducing fuels—the natural combustibles that feed a fire such as grass, ground litter, shrubs or trees—became an important component of forest management. But as managers began to implement plans that addressed fuels—which had built up after years of fire suppression—they were often met with opposition from the public and environmentalists. This opposition was due in part to the visual impact of practices like salvage logging and extensive thinning, says Ryan. “Harvesting trees to create fire breaks, prescribed burns—these practices are often perceived as contrary to the health of the forest because visually, they don’t look good, he says. A little attention to scenic beauty can go a long way in softening the public’s view of forest management practices. So which landscapes do people find aesthetically pleasing? There is actually considerable consensus about what the public considers scenic, whether looking at the Southwestern ponderosa pine plantations, deciduous hardwood forests in the Northeast or at forest types in Europe, says Ryan. Large, mature trees and open structure rate high on the scenic beauty scale, for example. Downed wood is not so pleasing; neither are extremely dense tracts of vegetation with poor visibility at eye level. Several studies have shown that mid-sized, scattered clear-cuts are preferable to large concentrated tracts. However, beauty, to some degree is still in the eye of the beholder, says Ryan. One study found that insect-damaged areas were rated higher, perhaps because viewers liked the orange color that the infestation caused in the trees. Because what looks healthy might not be healthy and vice-versa, informing the public about the processes and management tactics at work is a critical step in winning their support. http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/518670/

New Hampshire:

16) City Planner Pam Laflamme said she hopes city officials can meet with representatives from the company soon to talk about their plans. She imagines that once the mill is taken down and the site cleaned up, it could become a prime spot for a tourist attraction, situated on the Androscoggin River with a view of the Presidential mountain range. The conversion would be a symbolic change for Berlin. The city has been struggling for several years to change its image from mill town to tourist destination – from “the city that trees built,” as its motto calls it, to “the heart of the northern forest,” the new message blazoned on the city’s lampposts. The state recently purchased 7,200 acres of timberland to become the first state park catering to all-terrain vehicle users. The city donated more than 290 acres around Jericho Lake to the project. Danderson said the city is courting two developers interested in building near the park, which is scheduled to open this spring. He hopes the project will spark an increase in second home construction and boost demand for workers. http://www.concordmonitor.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060309/REPOSITORY/603090391/1031


17) “There is no hard science, but common sense tells us that it has got to have an impact on the trees,” Burns said. Last year, most of the damage occurred in the southern part of the state. Burns said by observing egg masses this winter, it appears as though the problem has not moved very much north. Rutland County led the state with almost 83,000 acres defoliated by forest tent caterpillars, according to the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation In Windham County, more than 33,000 acres were defoliated. Almost 230,000 acres were recorded as defoliated by the caterpillars, the forest department found. This is almost 5 percent of the state’s forested land. Here again, Burns has as many questions as answers. “We are not sure why they are in the south,” she admitted. She also said there are questions about when and why the caterpillars do the damage they do. The insects are always in the forest, but they only go through the heavy eating period once every 10 years or so. The state recorded significant damage in 1953, 1981-82 and 2005. He was shocked, he said, when he noticed dead branches crashing down this winter when he was doing work on his land. “I am getting nervous. This is my livelihood,” he said. “It’s not looking real good right now.” Last year, the state paid for half of the spraying. But officials are still waiting to hear whether state and federal money will be available. Without the funding, sugar makers will have to pay all of the expenses. Last year, it cost about $8,000 to spray all of the forest on Cooper Ellis’ land. He picked up half of that. Timing the spray is also an issue. There is a very short time period to work with. For the spray to have the most effect, leaves have to be on the trees, and the caterpillars have to be big enough to eat them. Ideally the spraying starts around Memorial Day. If the crew goes out too early, there are no leaves on the trees to catch the spray. If they go out too late, the voracious munchers have already done their damage. http://www.reformer.com/headlines/ci_3587682

North Carolina:

18) RALEIGH– Gov. Mike Easley has moved to protect nearly 174,000 acres of National Forest lands in North Carolina that a federal rules change would otherwise open to logging and road construction. He filed the petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to exempt the North Carolina forest lands from development. “These forest areas are vital not only for their natural beauty and the recreational opportunities they offer, but also for their environmental benefits, including providing clean water and wildlife habitat,” Easley said. “They are unique places of unspoiled wilderness and beauty and must be protected and preserved.” The urgency to protect the areas has come into sharper focus recently with the George W. Bush administration’s proposal to sell off about 10,000 acres of North Carolina federal forest land, a move opposed by Easley.
In 2001, the Clinton Administration adopted a rule that preserved all roadless areas and allowed for timber harvesting and road construction only in exceptional circumstances, such as reducing the risk of wildfires. In May 2005 the Bush Administration replaced the rule with a petition process that requires governors to petition the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for protection of these roadless areas. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will review Easley’s petition and must take action within 180 days. Once the Agriculture Secretary approves the petition, it triggers a rulemaking process which would include bringing together those with a direct interest in the lands, giving public notice of the proposed rules and accepting public comment. Ultimately, the Secretary of Agriculture makes the final determination regarding protection of the land. http://www.wxii12.com/news/7847142/detail.html


19) “Some of them will hug a tree at some point, but they’ll hug it because the Creator hugs it, not because some environmentalist hugs it.” Tony Campolo, a popular Christian author and professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pa., said the ministers’ movement “may be one of the signs that the hegemony that the Republican Party has on evangelicals might begin to crack.” President Bush and many other Republicans have won the strong support of Christian voters by opposing gay marriage and abortion, he said. But now, “people are raising their heads and saying these are not the only two issues – what about poverty and the environment?” Melanie Griffin, director of environmental partnerships at the Sierra Club, said the ministers’ help is welcome. “I think we all share the values of stewardship,” she said. “I see real hope for this to be a healing and unifying force in the country.” And if the alliance seems ideologically odd to some, “the politicians are just going to have to catch up with the people.” She added that this is hardly the first time conservative Christians have joined hands with environmentalists. When Newt Gingrich and his conservative vanguard took control of the U.S. House in the mid-1990s, Ms. Griffin said, evangelicals were key to defeating an attempt to dismantle the Endangered Species Act. http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/religion/stories/031106dnrelenvirochurch.b80a3d5.html

20) Washington – Gale Norton resigned today after serving more than five years as secretary of the Interior and overseeing a dramatic expansion of drilling, logging and development on the public lands of the West. Norton’s tenure was also marked by repeated ethical controversies. Norton cleared her top deputy, former lobbyist J. Steven Griles, after her inspector general said his conduct showed that the department’s ethics system was “a train wreck waiting to happen.” Griles is now under investigation for allegations that he did the bidding of convicted Indian casino lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Norton is still supporting him. Abramoff also funneled more than $500,000 to one of Norton’s former political aides, Italia Federici, to gain access to her department, which makes key decisions about which tribes can open casinos. Norton said she had no qualms about Federici’s activities. Federici, president of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, quickly released a statement praising Norton. “The environmental benefits of her actions on behalf of Cooperative Conservation will be reaped for years to come,” Federici said in the statement. http://www.denverpost.com/ci_3589533?source=rss


21) Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is to attend a noontime wreath-laying ceremony, to be followed by five minutes of silence at the Forest of Remembrance, a grove of 192 olive and cypress trees set up at a Madrid park in memory of the bombing victims. In addition to the 191 killed on the trains, a special forces officer died three weeks later while trying to arrest suspects in the case. No one has been tried or even formally charged over the attack, but the judge leading the investigation said this week he expected to hand down the first indictments by April 10. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1139395579968&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull


22) They live dangerously. The several trucks that transport timbers on the unpaved road that winds through the many villages in the Southeast of Cameroon blow dust into the eyes of the impoverished villagers during the dry season. And when the rains come, the villagers are treated to horrendous spectacles: The trucks lose control; the timbers give way, blocking the road and causing loss of lives. In spite of these overt risks, it is business as usual. Logging companies have been pouring into this part of Cameroon, in search of green gold (timber). The upshot has been a run on the 2.3 million hectares of forest in the Southeast. It is in this land, rich in forest and wildlife that the Baka pygmies, a diminutive and timid people have been living for centuries. Their huts, made of leaves and barks of trees, portray them as the pristine remnants of a disinherited race. At least 80 percent of Bakas are illiterates. They lack hospitals, schools and potable water. Yet every year their local councils receive billions as revenues accruing from the forest under exploitation from at least 10 logging companies. Conservation too, seems to have created more trouble for the Bakas. An October 6, 2005, Prime Ministerial decree that declared the Boumba Bek and Nki forests that cover more than 600,000 hectares, national parks, restricted the people from hunting, fishing and harvesting wild yams in the protected areas. A crossed-face old woman said the forest guards recruited to police the area are merciless. “I went into the forest with my family to harvest wild yam and on our way back we met a forest guard who threatened my husband,” she said. The woman added that the forest guard beat her husband causing their baby, strapped on his back, to fall off. “He burnt one of our huts and seized our games.” She said they could not complain because the authorities would tell them the forest is protected. They also said they are not represented in the COVAREFs. Everything has been taken over by the Bantus, one of them said. May be things would have been better if revenues accruing from timber exploitation were reaching the local people. According to the law, 50 percent of forest revenue is supposed to go to the government, 40 percent to the council where exploitation takes place and 10 percent to the local people. But this does not seem to be the case in the East Province. There are allegations that the councils have not been respecting this quota, thereby accentuating the misery. In spite of their trammels, the Bakas find consolation in dancing. Always in tatters, this seemingly harmless people could dance all night long if given the right music. But dancing might turn out to be only an addictive lullaby. There are many hills that need crossing if this land of green gold must subsume its menacing poverty. http://allafrica.com/stories/200603100796.html


23) World Bank admits to failures in protecting Congo’s rainforests: official ‘watchdog’ to investigate Information released today by the World Bank reveals that it has failed to ensure proper protection of the environment and local peoples in its programmes to ‘develop’ the vast rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which are the second largest on Earth after the Amazon The revelations come following a preliminary investigation by the World Bank Inspection Panel, the official independent watchdog agency. According to the report of the Panel : 1) the Bank has acknowledged that it did not properly apply its own internal ‘safeguard policies’, which are designed to ensure that it does not harm the environment and local peoples 2) the Bank claims it was not ‘aware of the existence of ‘Pygmy’ communities’ in areas that would be affected by its projects, but that it would now develop a plan to ensure that ‘Pygmy’ people are not harmed by new developments funded by the Bank 3) the Bank has acknowledged that 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 4) The Inspection Panel launched its investigation after a complaint was brought to it by ‘Pygmy’ communities from the Congo, alleging that the Bank’s plans threaten to harm the country’s rainforests and destroy the livelihoods of people living there As a result of its preliminary findings, the Inspection Panel has decided to open a full investigation into the role of the World Bank in Congo’s rainforests. — Simon Counsell, Director of the Rainforest Foundation UK, said “The World Bank has finally acknowledged that its activities in the rainforests of the Congo have been flawed and must be improved. This is a major victory for the Pygmy people of the Congo, whose rights and livelihoods could be seriously harmed by inappropriate development of the country’s rainforests. http://uk.oneworld.net/article/view/128967/1/

24) “Using the latest technology, NASA, University of Maryland and USAID are assisting the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) to monitor these new clearings by overlaying satellite images of the forest canopy and of large fires detected from space on a map of the Congo Heartland. AWF, NASA, the University of Maryland, and other partner organizations under the framework of USAID’s Central African Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE) have recently produced the first of eleven poster maps that graphically depict a decade of change in the landscapes of the Congo Basin, a dense forest zone that is home to thousands of wildlife species, including the endangered bonobo. Conservation groups can use this information to generate and implement sustainable development plans that will be more effective in improving the lives of people in the area while protecting the surrounding forests and the animals that inhabit them. These posters will make it possible to determine the movement of people, the location of hunting camps, and the effects of logging on the area, which are often times difficult to measure just through observations made on the forest floor. The bonobo, discovered in 1929, is a species of primate similar to the common chimpanzee and which shares 98.4 PERCENT of our own genetic code. Scientists are unsure of the exact number of bonobos left in the wild – they estimate that there are less than 100,000 – but bonobos and their habitat are threatened by the logging industry, the effects of civil conflict, and bushmeat poaching. The first map produced in the series used Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to map AWF’s Congo Heartland, the focus of AWF’s conservation work in the dense equatorial forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This map gives onlookers a better spatial understanding of human activates in the area and the impact they are having on the forest and native species such as the bonobo. http://enn.com/aff.html?id=1168


25) Environment Minister Prof. Kivutha Kibwana has banned all activities within Embu forest following wanton destruction of indigenous trees in the area. Prof. Kibwana said the destruction that has been done by timber traders in cahoots with some Forests Officials within Embu Municipality. He cited irregularities in the licensing of felling and selling trees to private developers that has not involved the District Environment Committee and the municipal council of Embu. The minister was speaking when he made an impromptu visit to the Embu Lands Office. Kibwana who is also the acting Lands Minister said the Government will soon phase out land brokers in the land buying process to curb illegal activities and conning of prospective land buyers. http://www.kbc.co.ke/story.asp?ID=35549


26) Vast eucalyptus monocultures are taking over giant swathes of the Brazilian landscape, feeding the pulp/paper and iron industries. Now ‘forestry’ corporations are claiming carbon credits for these green deserts, giving Western companies a license to burn more fossil fuels, at the expense of the indigenous people with a rightful claim to the land. One of those “forestry corporations” is Aracruz Celulose. Aracruz Celulose is the world’s leading producer of bleached eucalyptus pulp. The Company is responsible for 30% of the global supply of the product, used to manufacture printing and writing, tissue, and high value added specialty papers. It owns about 50,000 hectares (125,000 acres) of land across Brazil. Corporate Watch points out, “Yet for some Aracruz is a leading light for ‘sustainable development’. Aracruz is the world’s largest producer of bleached eucalyptus ‘kraft market pulp’ and operates the world’s largest pulp mill. The company’s plantations in Rio Grande do Sul are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and the company won an award for social responsibility from the Brazilian Ministry of Technology, Industry and Commerce. Aracruz is signed up to the UN’s Global Compact and has had loans approved by World Bank’s International Finance Corporation on the basis of its environmental record, and this is simply more evidence of international bureaucracy’s blindness to the local impact of large scale plantations and its deafness to the voices of community activists.” The following article is a couple of days old, but I just found it and thought to pass it along. http://www.infoshop.org/inews/article.php?story=20060310091418507

27) The women mobilization of La Via Campesina marks the International Day of Women. “ This March 8th, we express solidarity with rural women and urban working women of the whole world, who suffer violence of various kinds imposed on them by this capitalist and patriarchal society”, the text concludes. About 2000 women from La Via Campesina occupied the plantation of Aracruz Celulose, in Barra do Ribeiro, Rio Grande do Sul (sur de Basil), early this wednesday morning. The Barba Negra farm is the main production unit of seedslings of eucalyptus and pines of Aracruz. It also has a laboratory for seedlings cloning. “We are against green deserts, the enormous plantations of eucalyptus, acácia and pines for cellulose, that cover t housandas of hectares in Brazil and Latin América. ‘When the green desert advances biodiversity is destroyed, soils deteriorate, rivers dry up. Moreover cellulose plants pollute air and water and threaten human health”, say the woman protestors. The Aracruz Celulose is a business that owns the biggest green desert in the country. Its plantations cover more than 250 thousands hectares, 50 thousand just in Rio Grande do Sul. Their factories produce 2,4 million tons of whitened cellulose per year, generating pollution in the air and water, besides harming human health. The women of La Via Campesina also protest in solidarity with the indigenous peoples who had their land invaded by Aracruz Celulose in the state of Espírito Santo. In January of this year, indigenous families were violently evicted by the Federal Police, who used machines from the company itself to carry out the eviction. Aracruz is an agrobusiness company that receives public funds. It recieved almost R$ 2 billion in the last 3 years. However, a company like Aracruz generates only one job for each 185 hectares planted, whereas small scale farms generate one job per hectare.”If the green desert keeps growing, soon there won`t be enough water to drink and land to produce food. We just can`t understand how a government that wants to do away with hunger sponsors a green desert instead of investing in Agrarian Reform and peasant agriculture”, the manifesto declares. http://www.infoshop.org/inews/article.php?story=20060310091418507


28) “Seeing dead tree stumps overwhelms me with sadness. I want to stop people from cutting our trees down,” says Tseji with firm conviction. Tseji is the leader of an all-female forest patrol against poachers and loggers in China’s Yunnan Province. As she speaks, her companions gather around and nod in solemn agreement. Protecting their natural habitat is a universal feeling shared among many members of the local community. Every week, Tseji and the female patrol group make the rounds in sections of the 90km2 forest belonging to the Bazhu community. Although the patrols can last up to five hours at a time, the women have no problem undertaking this mission despite their other responsibilities at home. “All the patrol groups are women,” says Tseji with a wide grin. This is because we’re much better at patrolling than the men!” Tesji’s comments aren’t bravado. Ever since the women took on the patrolling duties, there’s been a significant increase in logging protection. Fewer trees are now being cut and the chances of repeat offenders have also diminished. “When we started the patrols in the mid-1990s, we would often see the same people time and again cutting down the trees,” Tseji adds. “Now, if we catch people, we never see them again.” Although respected for their high success, women weren’t considered as a first choice for the patrolling work. “Initially, we had men going on the patrols,” explains Ben Chong, a Bazhu community leader. “This proved to be unsuccessful as many of the patrollers knew the loggers socially and either felt too embarrassed to report them, or else they would all sit down together and get drunk, and the patrollers would neglect their duties. This never happens with the women, and besides, we’ve found them to be much better negotiators than the men.” “We don’t carry weapons of any sort. We prefer to talk to the people instead and try and persuade them that what they are doing is wrong. But we do confiscate their tools.” There is good reason for the Bazhu residents to be so conscientious in their efforts to protect their natural resources. Nestled at the top of a valley in the heart of the Tibetan Plateau, Bazhu exemplifies the wonder and splendour of an area that is the focus of so much conservation work. The community’s 21 villages sit among a vast area of forests with trees that have been growing for longer than the community has existed itself. “Bazhu is one of the few remaining communities in this region that has retained strong roots to our cultural past. In Tibetan Buddhism, a respect of nature is an absolute must, as we believe in the interdependency of all things. Damage one element and you damage the whole.” http://www.panda.org/news_facts/newsroom/index.cfm?uNewsID=63040


29) Guess who’s going green? Well, our not-so-friendly neighbourhood, Maoists!
A group of Maoists have reportedly sent a letter in Bengali to warn forest personnel to stop the felling of trees. Two forest personnel of Bandwan, Purulia, Mr Sadhan Kabiraj and Mr Narayan Chandra Das, admitted that they had received a letter by post but emphasised that they were not responsible for the felling. While talking to The Statesman during a function organised by the Joint Forest Management at Surulia, which is located at a distance of 10 km from Purulia town, the principal chief conservator of forests, Mr Kartick Chara Gayen and the divisional forest officer, Mr Kalyan Das, said: “We have just learnt about the Maoists’ letter. Let us check the inner story and then we shall disclose the connecting matter.” The minister in charge, Mr Jogesh Burman, who was at the function, declined to comment on the letter.Forests cover 115,401.866 hectares in Purulia district which amounts to 18.5 per cent of the total 6.259 square km geographical area. The forests are distributed in Purulia forest division (61,696.022 hectares) and Kansabati soil conservation division-II (25,939 hectares) — about half of this forest area has sal coppice forests and the remaining area has miscellaneous forests, mainly “Akashmoni.” Most of these forests are managed under the Joint Forestry Management (JFM) scheme. 25 per cent of the sale proceeds of Rs 43 lakh from the felling in Purulia was distributed among 4,328 beneficiaries of the forest protection committee. A function was organised for this purpose at Surulia in Purulia Block-II. Such functions had also been organised during the past five financial years. http://www.thestatesman.net/page.news.php?clid=23&theme=&usrsess=1&id=109284

30) BHUBANESWAR, March — Forest ranger BK Mohanty was arrested by Berhampur division of Vigilance on charges of accumulating wealth beyond his known source of income. Berhampur Vigilance have produced him in a court which has sent him to jail till 22 March. On the receipt of allegations that Mr Mohanty, a forest ranger in Sauntia Palli under Berhampur division, had amassed many movable and immovable properties during his service, his houses in Nilakanthnagar, Berhampur and other places were simultaneously raided by Vigilance officers last month. Verifications revealed that Mr Mohanty had possessed unaccounted properties worth more than Rs 69 lakh. In another case, Sarita Rani Satpathy, a junior clerk in Sonepur, was trapped for accepting bribe. Mrs Satpathy was trapped by Vigilance officers after she had received illegal gratification from one Gangaram Mahakud of Dabalang village for issuing a valuation certificate in the latter’s favour. http://www.thestatesman.net/page.news.php?clid=9&theme=&usrsess=1&id=109357


31) MANILA, Philippines – On the eve the East Asia Forest Law Enforcement and Governance Process (FLEG Process) meeting in Manila, Greenpeace called on the Philippine government, current FLEG Task Force Chair, to immediately enforce serious measures to stop forest destruction. The call was made during a solemn ceremony at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City in remembrance of the thousands of victims of destructive logging in the Philippines. Participants, including League of Cities Environment Committee chair Mayor Edward Hagedorn, Dingaluhan, Quezon Mayor Marilyn Marquez, community representatives from Casiguran, Dingalan, and Baler towns also in Quezon, and representatives from local NGOs, lit 1,500 candles laid out on the ground to form the shape of a tree, and tied white ribbons around an acacia to symbolize their deep commitment to help end destructive logging. Photos and footage of floods and landslides were shown during the event and a solidarity statement opposing all forms of forest destruction and supporting total commercial logging ban was signed. “Tonight’s solemn ceremony is intended to memorialize the people—the mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons—all the precious lives that should not have perished in deadly calamities caused by the senseless destruction of our forests,” said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Campaigns Director Von Hernandez. “Their deaths should not be meaningless. The government must honor their memory by stopping destructive logging to ensure that no more lives will be lost in the same manner.” Experts estimate that close to 97% of the original forest cover of the country has been logged, above 50% of which is believed to have been felled illegally. Today, less than 3% of ancient forests remain in small, scattered patches. The Asian Development Bank, in its Key Indicators for 2005 reports that among Asian countries, the Philippines has the worst record of preserving its forests. http://www.samarnews.com/news2006/mar/f588.htm

32) Ina Miling is blind. She could not tell how old she is nor can her husband but villagers guess they are well beyond 70 years. They survive on dole-out from kin and neighbours. “Dati kaming palipat-lipat ng tirahan. Pero noong makapagtrabaho si Ama dito sa logging nagpirmi na kami. Ngayon, ako ay bulag na at matanda na kami, napakahirap ng buhay” (We used to move from one place to another. When Ama was hired by the logging company, we settled down. Now that I am blind and we are already old, life has become very difficult), Ina Miling recounts in fluent Tagalog. In another home, a one-month-old baby boy who died just the night before lies on a bed surrounded by grieving relatives. “What we see here is typical of what happened to other Alta communities. After being enticed to work for the logging company and the company departs, we are left with hardly any means to survive,” Corpuz, a full-blooded Alta, told GLNS. Corpuz said that the logging company owned by a certain Ongkiko started operations in the mid-70s. The company left more than a decade later, leaving in its wake a denuded forest that used to be the exclusive domain of the Altas, as well as other indigenous people’s groups in the province: the Ilongots, Dumagats and Igorots, Corpuz said. “We are prohibited from getting forest products, even for subsistence. Even charcoal making from felled trees is banned. If we are caught, these are confiscated. Many are forced to deal with licensed businessmen who operate with hardly any restrictions,” Corpuz said. Aurora lies on the eastern edge of the Sierra Madre mountain range in Central Luzon facing the Pacific Ocean. About 270,000 has. or 87 percent of its 310,000 has. total land area is classified as forest. The rest is lowland and suited mainly for agriculture. A report from the Multi-Sectoral Action Group (MSAG-Aurora), a local church-based organization shows that in 1951, the province was “totally covered with forest on both mountains and lowlands except in settlements and areas under cultivation.” Aerial surveys conducted in 1989 reveal that almost the entire forest area has been logged-over, the MSAG report said. Today, it is hard to pinpoint an area in the province that can still be considered virgin forest, according to Alfonso Van Zijl, an MSAG official. Nine logging companies still operate today and hold either timber license agreements (TLA), special private land timber license (SPLTL) or integrated forest management agreements (IFMA) that cover 256, 718 has. in the towns of San Luis, Dingalan, Dipaculao, Dinalungan, Dilasag and Casiguran, MSAG records show. http://www.bulatlat.com/news/6-6/6-6-alta.htm


33) “At present, a number of hot spots are found in several towns and districts, therefore the local authorities must be proactive in dealing with the fire problem maximally,” he said. He has also urged the people to participate in putting the fires out because the haze has badly affected their health. The Riau environmental impact control body (Bapedalda) reported that there were around 10,000 hectares of peat fields on fire in the province s Dumai, Bengkalis, and Rokan Hilir.Weather satellite in Sumatra recently detected at least 40 hot spots in Dumai and Rokan Hilir districts. Due to the forest fires from Dumai, Rokan Hilir, and Pekanbaru was currently covered by haze. Indonesia has the third largest forest areas in the world after Brazil and Zaire. Around 2.8 million hectares of the country`s forest areas disappear every year, mainly due to illegal logging activities and forest fires. Forest fires occur almost every year in Indonesia mainly due to drought and illegal opening of plantations, despite the government s ban. Most of the fires were started deliberately, some by individual farmers hoping to plant a few crops under the jungle canopy, others by commercial plantations cashing in on demand for rubber and palm oil. Setting fire to the land is the quickest, cheapest way of clearing land. Any other method in the former tropical forests of Indonesia is much more difficult. http://www.antara.co.id/en/seenws/?id=9888


34) Anti-logging protesters have stopped work at a coup at the Bonang River in Victoria’s far East Gippsland. Thirty people have been arrested at anti-logging protests so far this summer. Protester Fiona York says the coup is near Victoria’s largest tree. “The coups that are in the Bonang River area contain 600-year-old trees, they’re really huge trees and they also contain mixed forest, which is a really rare rainforest type,” she said. http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200603/s1588862.htm

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