080OEC’s This Week in Trees

This week we have 34 news items from: British Columbia, Oregon, California, Montana, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Wisconsin, Maine, USA, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Argentina, India, Papua New Guinea, Borneo, Indonesia, China and World-wide.

British Columbia:

1) Vancouver – Greenpeace, ForestEthics and Sierra Club, BC Chapter, announced today they support the creation of a new conservancy designation to meet First Nations’ needs for cultural and traditional uses, and have made it clear to all parties that: a) Our understanding coming out of the Land and Resource Management Planning process was that these areas would be protected in a manner better than or equivalent to Class A parks; b) Given that changes to the Park Act are being made, it is imperative that the Province offer timely briefings and adequately consult the broader environmental community. ——– For many years, ForestEthics, Greenpeace and Sierra Club of Canada, BC Chapter have made clear we do not support industrial development in parks or conservancies, including logging, mining, hydro electric projects and roads. A new protection designation is being considered by the Provincial government under the Parks Act. First Nations’ stated dissatisfaction with Class A parks relates to their interests in pursuing a conservancy model for protected areas that would allow for First Nations’ cultural and traditional uses to occur, as well as more flexibility for co-management arrangements between the Province and First Nations. http://www.savethegreatbear.org/Conservancy%20PR%2015%20Mar%2006.pdf

2) ALERT BAY – Eight chiefs from the KNT First Nations met with government
officials in Alert Bay today to celebrate the next phase of the historic Central and
North Coast Land and Resource Management Plans (LRMPs). Agriculture and Lands Minister Pat Bell and Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister Tom Christensen joined the chiefs in the signing ceremony for the land use and protocol agreement that will incorporate First Nations’ culture, ecological and economic interests and allow the LRMP process to move forward.
http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/news_releases_2005-2009/2006AL0007-000276.htm

3) I think I would like to create a rogues gallery of key individuals who benefitted like thieves from knowingly providing cover, camoflage, legitimacy, scientific rationale and respectability for the most outrageous exploitation of ancient forests in BC. Please feel free to suggest your own nominees. (If you don’t, I have lots more.) As my first nominee, I would like to introduce Clark S Binkley. Binkley is a former dean of the UBC faculty of forestry and his function there was to ensure that the effect of environmental values and ecological science had very little impact on the professional cadres on whom forest exploitation depends. Binkley’s efforts were and still are well rewarded with appointments to directorships that are well vested in forest exploitation, liquidation and conversion. Cellfor Ltd is also one of Binkley’s directorships and his buddy former liberal now conservative minister David Emerson invested $10 million from Industry Canada to scale up mass production of Cellfor’s genetically “superior” conifer seedlings. “CellFor has combined its tissue culture technology with a high throughput production system and a product pipeline of high-value varietal seedlings,” said Binkley. “Its intellectual property, business model and management have great potential to reshape the productivity, health and quality of our working forests. I am looking forward to helping guide CellFor’s growth.” Mr. Binkley was elected to the Timberwest board in 2005. Prior to April 1, 2005, Mr. Binkley was Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer of the Hancock Timber Resources Group (HTRG), a timberland investment company he had been with since August 1998. On April 1, 2005, Mr. Binkley retired from HTRG and continues to provide specialized timberland investment advisory services to a select group of investors. Between 1990 and 1998, Mr. Binkley was dean of the Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and prior to that served on the faculty at Yale University in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies for a period of 12 years. Mr. Binkley is also a director of West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. and Cellfor Ltd. Michael Major [mbmajor@telus.net]

4) I’ll nominate Darshan Sihota, president of Island Timberlands, a new company that now owns a quarter-million hectares on the coast, and is stepping up their liquidation program, especially in old-growth, habitat reserves and coastal lands, to ten times the sustainable rate of harvest, exporting more raw logs, ignoring community issues, and selling to unscrupulous real estate developers any land that is close to public roads. I.T. has to keep Brascan/Brookfield happy somehow. This all starts to smell a bit like that predatory Maxxam takeover of Pacific Lumber down in the slaughtered redwoods a few years back, eh? As Keith Wyton from Alberni’s “Save our Valley Alliance” says. The ITL strategy is to rapidly harvest the remaining primary forests and move all timberland to a financial rotation model. The front end cash flow which they are counting on in the first ten years comes from what they call the “step up volume”. This is the 6,000,000 m3 of extra harvest volume over 10 years they are able to cut by moving the private lands out of the TFL regulatory framework. Timberland Investment Management Organizations (TIMOs) love the mix like ITL has. It allows rapid liquidation of previously bound timber inventory and conversion of forest land to other uses as the timber side starts to diminish in cash flow. The url below is for the Dominion Bond Rating for ITL. If it will not download you might have to take a complimentary subscription to their service. That is what I did. It was easy to do. http://www.dbrs.com/intnlweb/openpdf?fileName=1125415284004.pdf

5) Ken James points to another fully loaded logging truck that comes rumbling up the TransCanada Highway past Mount Sicker Road south of Chemainus. James is pulled off the side of the road within sight of the TCH, where he and a few members of the Youbou Timberless Society, a group of former Youbou sawmill workers suing the B.C. government over the 2001 mill closure, are counting the trucks as they roll up the highway laden with freshly cut logs. Every time one goes by they use a jiffy marker to change the number on a white erasable board. At 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, they’re already at 202. Traffic passing by the makeshift protest camp, identified by a long Youbou Timberless Society banner, seems to approve of what they’re doing. Every few minutes a driver gives a honk or a nod to James and his crew. James isn’t sure where the trucks are going — they could be heading to log sorts at Shoal Island, Ladysmith or Nanaimo Lakes — but he said one thing is for certain: most of the wood is not being milled locally. And by his count, the number of logging trucks moving timber out of area forests is on the rise. A similar tally last year on Highway 18 between Lake Cowichan and Duncan tallied 157 trucks in 10 hours, said James. Over four days from 6:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., YTS members counted slightly less than 1,000 trucks. Another tally done at “the hump” near Port Alberi the same four days totalled just over 300 trucks. While James admits some of the logs may be heading to local mills, he said the point of the count is to draw attention to the disparity between the spike in logging trucks versus the declining number of sawmill workers. “We’re suggesting there are a lot more trucks with logs moving through our valleys and less and less sawmills working,” said James. He quotes statistics showing a corresponding rise in raw log exports, from about half a million cubic metres a year in the early 1990s, to an annual three million cubic metres since the Liberals took power in 2001. “I can’t say if it’s getting worse but as we see more mills closing we’re seeing a de-industrialization of the Island,” said Crowder. “We need a mixed economy that looks at our resources. We should be processing our resources at home.” http://www.ladysmithchronicle.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=18&cat=23&id=616181&more=

Oregon:

6) LOON LAKE — Surrounded by miles of private timber land and just three miles east of Coos County is the “Lost 40,” a parcel of public forest land the Bush administration has proposed to sell. It’s miles away from a public entrance, accessible only by a private timber road that meanders through clearcuts and Douglas fir tree farms. It proposes selling the land to fund half of the extension of the timber safety net through 2011, when the administration has called for the safety net’s termination. But even though access to the Lost 40 is denied by a locked gate, some would like to see it remain exactly as it is: part of the Umpqua National Forest. No one in the Umpqua National Forest’s supervisor’s office is exactly sure why the Lost 40 exists so far removed from the main system. Situated about 25 miles northwest of Roseburg, the Lost 40 remains mostly forgotten within thousands of acres of Weyerhaeuser timber lands. It exists six miles from the southeast corner of the Elliott State Forest, but a world away from the Umpqua National Forest. “We’re miles away from any other landowner,” said Mark Nauman, a Weyerhaeuser forestry engineer, who gave Umpqua Forest Service employees and interested parties a tour Friday through the private land and to the small square of public forest.

7) ASHLAND – Cindy Deacon Williams feels vindicated that a Seattle federal judge has ruled that the Bush administration illegally amended laws in the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan protecting streams on federal land. Not only is she the conservation director for Headwaters, one of the plaintiffs in the 2004 lawsuit, but the fishery biologist also was the U.S. Forest Service’s assistant national fisheries program manager in Washington, D.C., and heavily involved in creating the plan’s aquatic conservation strategy. “This means that whenever the agencies plan a timber sale, they must slow down, step back and think clearly to make sure they are not doing any harm to a watershed, to make sure they are protecting salmon and clean water,” she said Wednesday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Alice Theiler found that the March 2004 Bush administration decision to ease logging restrictions governed by the plan was arbitrary and should be invalidated. The magistrate took the federal government to task for not “supplying a reasoned analysis in changing their course” and for relying on a discretionary process without addressing “the potential impact posed by projects proceeding without application of that discretionary process.” She also ruled that the agencies had failed to ensure that logging would not jeopardize the survival of endangered salmon. Her recommendations are contained in a report to U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez, who will make the final ruling in the case. http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2006/0330/local/stories/09local.htm

8) A Myrtle Point man thinks he’s found a loophole in federal law that would allow Coos County to quadruple the size of the forest it owns by buying 59,000 acres of forestland at Civil War era prices. Now, if Don Gurney, a retired forester, can just convince the U.S. Department of the Interior, a majority of the Coos and Douglas county board commissioners and Congress to listen to him – he’ll be all set. “I’m of the belief we have to do something drastic,” Gurney said recently as he stood before the Coos County Board of Commissioners. His plan, dubbed the Coos County Self-sufficiency Act, is born partly out of a fear of what county government could look like if the $8 million federal timber payments it receives is reduced, or cut by Congress. The subsidy, which could be cut this fall, has been doled out to forest counties in the Northwest since 2000, following an outcry over federal restrictions that slashed timber harvests, and ultimately timber revenues in the 1990s as a result of the Northwest Forest Plan. His plan hinges on a series of public land grants dating back to the 1860s. The federal government wanted to establish wagon roads throughout Oregon to move soldiers, mail and commercial goods – but did not want to build and maintain the roads itself. So, Congress enticed those in the private sector to build the wagon roads by offering generous land grants, that the investors could turn around and sell to settlers at $2.50 an acre. One of those roads, was the 65-mile long Coos Bay Wagon Road which goes from Roseburg to Coos Bay through some of the most rugged country in Southern Oregon. The road was completed in the early 1870s, but, complaints of the condition of the road, and charges of crooked deals spurred lawsuits, eventually leading Congress to reacquire the lands in 1918. Using the federal law from 1869, Gurney wants the county to buy the lands for dirt cheap – at $2.50 per acre – at a total cost of around $147,000. He contends, if an 1869 law triggered a land deal in 1918, why couldn’t it be applied again 90 years later in 2006? http://www.theworldlink.com/articles/2006/03/29/news/news02032906.txt

9) The popular Roadless Area Conservation Rule (Roadless Rule), approved in 2001, provides protection for the last roadless forests on federal land across the nation. The Bush Administration is trying to replace the Roadless Rule with a watered-down version that puts National Forest land at the mercy of individual state politics. The Bush Administration promised that roadless forests would remain protected while state-specific guidelines are developed. Breaking that promise, the Bush Administration recently announced plans to log the North and South Kalmiopsis Roadless Areas in the Siskiyou National Forest. Roadless forests targeted by the new logging sales, called “Mike’s Gulch” and “Blackberry,” could be auctioned for logging within weeks. The Mike’s Gulch logging sale would cut into the South Kalmiopsis Roadless Area. At 103,000 acres, the South Kalmiopsis is Oregon’s largest unprotected wild forest. In addition to being the biggest, it also boasts some of the most biologically important lands in western North America, with rare plants found nowhere else in the world. The Blackberry logging sale targets the North Kalmiopsis Roadless Area – Oregon’s third largest roadless forest with 88,000 wild acres bordering the protected Kalmiopsis Wilderness. Blackberry logging would degrade the North Fork Indigo Creek watershed, a beautiful landscape that supports wild salmon and steelhead trout. Your help is needed to stop this destructive logging before it starts! Call Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth and tell him to:1. Immediately withdraw all roadless logging proposals in the Siskiyou National Forest including the Mike’s Gulch and Blackberry logging sales. 2. Stop breaking your promise! Restore a moratorium on roadless area logging. à Forest Service Chief Bosworth, USDA Forest Service, 1400 Independence Ave., SW Washington, DC 20250-0003 Phone: 202/205-1661, Fax: 202/205-1765 Email: dbosworth@fs.fed.us You can send a free, instant fax to Forest Service officials by visiting: http://www.siskiyou.org

California:

10) Guy Hall’s place (1927-2006) is forever secured in Chico’s history books as being the man who took care of the fallen Hooker Oak. A few years after the mighty tree toppled in Bidwell Park, Hall and his Oroville milling company were chosen by the city to clear away and process the landmark giant, which was thought to be the biggest white oak in the world. It was a significant tree to Chico founder John Bidwell and his wife, Annie, in the late 1800s. The tree was named for British botanist Sir Joseph Hooker, who had visited the tree and the Bidwells. Undecided about what to do with the fallen Chico landmark, the city let the tree lie on the ground for several years, eventually contracting with Hall and his company to remove the tree in 1980 and process the wood. Hall was a nationally known expert on milling hardwoods, and specifically oak trees. For a number of years, he had made his living cutting oak trees from the Sierra foothills, and processing them in his Oroville mill. Hall and the city agreed to split the Hooker Oak wood one-third and two-thirds, respectively. The city put much of its wood into storage, making gavels and other items from it over the years. Because of its age, density and twists, the Hooker Oak wood was difficult to deal with, Hall reported. In milling the tree, Hall recalled finding barbed wire and lots of nails. It was a project taking plenty of saw blades. Hall partnered with Bob McKinnon of Chico to form a company, Hooker Oak Collectibles, to sell souvenirs from their part of the wood, some of which were created by clients of the Work Training Center, a nonprofit organization for people with disabilities. Pieces of the historic tree became pen holders, small boxes and boot jacks, among other items, and were branded with an “HO” for authenticity, as were the planks. http://www.orovillemr.com/news/ci_3657840

11) Central Coast — Officials with the U.S. Forest Service are accepting public comment through Friday regarding a plan to thin more than 600 acres of forest along Figueroa Mountain Road – and one local environmental group, critical of the project, is taking the opportunity to educate residents on how they can participate in the plan. The project proposes “to reduce stand densities and stocking levels to maintain the health of existing mature conifers and oaks, reduce risk of future mortality of these trees due to insects, disease, and catastrophic fires, and protect high value recreation areas,” according to the Forest Service’s project description. About 665 acres are included in the plan along Figueroa Mountain Road about nine miles northeast of Los Olivos, which includes the 33-site Figueroa Campground, Pino Alto and Cumbre day-use areas, about 10 cabins, and the Figueroa Lookout, according to the project’s environmental assessment. Forest officials are looking for a final tree density in the area of 100 trees an acre, according to the environmental assessment. The area now has about 530 trees per acre that are two inches in diameter and above. Los Padres ForestWatch, a Santa Barbara-based group, is holding a workshop Thursday to teach residents about the forest and talk about how people can get involved with commenting on forest plans, officials with the group said. Jeff Kuyper, executive director of Los Padres ForestWatch, said the workshop just happens to fall the day before comments are due to be postmarked for the Figueroa Mountain Project. Kuyper, and ForestWatch, say they understand the need to reduce fire risk, but he maintains that larger trees are actually more fire resistant and should be kept. “We support legitimate fuels reduction like thinning small trees near communities, but the Figueroa logging project targets big, old-growth trees deep in the forest,” Kuyper said in a written statement. “This logging project is overkill, and will create an unhealthy forest.” His group is also disappointed that the Forest Service is planning to remove 80 percent of the trees in the area to get to the 100 trees per acre goal, he said. Another proposal, one that is favored by ForestWatch, wouldn’t thin any tree over 12 inches in diameter. http://www.santamariatimes.com/articles/2006/03/28/news/local/news04.txt

Montana:

12) Due to an overwhelming response, the Helena National Forest no longer has any free pheromone capsules to give away for the battle against Douglas fir beetles. However, landowners still can buy the methylcyclohex (MCH) capsules from the manufacturers, according to officials with the Helena National Forest. Depending on the type, the capsules can cost anywhere from about $1 to $5 apiece. This is the first year that private landowners will have access to the product. Previously, they had to go through a professional agency to use the capsules. Forest Service officials have been trying for years to stem what’s being called an epidemic, with six varieties of beetles responsible for killing trees on 1.7 million acres of public lands in Montana and Idaho. The Douglas fir beetle is responsible for dead trees on about 100,000 acres. They often play a role in healthy forest ecology, embedding themselves in older trees near the end of their life cycle, which then die and provide habitat for other critters. The MCH capsules contain a pheromone — or scent — that normally is released by bark beetles to prevent other beetles from attacking mature Douglas fir trees. The pheromones are encapsulated in little plastic pouches, about 2 inches in diameter, and the scent gradually is released into the air. The capsules are stapled to the trees or other nearby structure like fences to create a barricade around the area needing protection. The synthetic chemical has a slight discernable aroma that usually isn’t apparent once it’s attached to a tree. The pheromones are registered for use by the United States Environment Protection Agency as being of low toxicity. It is recommended that the capsules be attached to the trees by mid-April before the bark beetles begin to fly and attack trees. Approximately 30 capsules are needed per acre of land. Got pheromones? MCH capsules can be purchased directly from the manufacturers. The Forest Service recommends two companies in Canada: Phero Tech Inc, 604-940-9944 and Synergy Semiochemical Corp, 604-522-1121. http://www.helenair.com/articles/2006/03/29/montana/a07032906_02.txt
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13) East Fork resident Jed Fitzpatrick, a fishing guide who said he participated in the public discussions from the beginning, believes the Forest Service’s decision makes a mockery of the community and the public process and goes too far in the name of healthy forests. He fears the logging will “turn the river to mud” and denude the hills leading up to his property. “Even after taking out 3.4 million board feet, they’re still logging more than what comes off the Bitterroot National Forest in a year,” Fitzpatrick said. “The 15 miles of forest that I drive every day to get to my family and leave the rat race of the valley will be gone. They’re taking away my home.” But East Fork rancher Bob Wetzsteon said he’s disappointed the decision doesn’t include more logging, especially since many of the trees have succumbed to the invasion of Douglas fir bark beetles. “I’d like to see a lot more logging done,” Wetzsteon said. “Most of the trees they were planning to cut are already dead. Cutting them would reduce the fire hazard and open up the area for wildlife and potential cattle grazing.”
http://www.ravallirepublic.com/articles/2006/03/31/news/news02.txt — http://www.nativeforest.org

Virginia:

14) A 10-state, $300 million land deal ensures that nearly 21,000 acres of woodlands in southeastern Virginia – including along the Blackwater River in western Isle of Wight and Surry counties – won’t be paved for subdivisions or shopping centers. Virginia loses 20,000 acres of forests each year to development, eroding the state’s forestry industry, diminishing recreational opportunities and threatening the character of rural areas.Most of the preserved parcels are along the Nottoway, Meherrin and Blackwater rivers, which are known for scenic bottomland hardwoods and diverse plants and animals. In Virginia, The Nature Conservancy will buy a 4,900-acre parcel beside the Piney Grove Preserve with hopes that state officials will eventually buy the land for a state preserve, said Michael Lipford, the group’s state director. The remaining land – nearly 16,000 acres – goes to two private timber investment and management companies, Conservation Forestry LLC in Massachusetts and Forest Investment Associates in Atlanta.
Lipford said those companies will continue to harvest timber in ways that ensure the woods survive into the future. The Nature Conservancy has the right for 50 years to negotiate to buy the land. “These properties are now protected, and they won’t be developed,” Lipford said. Lytton John Musselman, an Old Dominion University botanist who manages the Blackwater Ecologic Preserve in Isle of Wight County, was pleased to hear about the deal, noting that timbering can help restore native woodland habitats. “That’s a very nice area,” Musselman said. “Any little pieces that are saved are going to help maintain the integrity of other properties.” http://www.dailypress.com/news/local/dp-94722sy0mar29,0,1640502.story?coll=dp-news-local-final

Tennessee:

15) Tennessee’s entire congressional delegation should join Sen. Lamar Alexander in opposing President Bush’s plans to sell 3,000 acres of the Cherokee National Forest to pay for rural schools and roads. It’s not worth it to Tennessee or the nation. Gov. Phil Bredesen recently joined other governors in promising to oppose the deal by appealing to their congressional delegations. Now, it’s in the hands of Congress where Tennessee’s delegation should oppose it too. Alexander called the proposal the equivalent of “selling off the ‘back 40’ to pay the rent.” Congress can stop the shortsighted land policies of the Bush administration by refusing to go along. http://www.rctimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060328/OPINION01/603280325/1007/MTCN0305

Alabama:

16) The Nature Conservancy has entered an agreement to buy 14,119 acres protecting 15 miles of the Perdido River in Alabama, as part of the largest single conservation purchase in the South.The land preservation group, along with another national group, The Conservation Fund, is buying 218,000 acres in 10 Southern states from International Paper for $300 million. The pulp and paper company had announced it would sell all or most of the 7 million acres of timberland it owns in the United States.”The Perdido River itself is an extremely important river,” said Jeff Danter, director of The Nature Conservancy of Alabama. “It’s an undammed, coastal plain, black river, as pristine as any river on the Gulf Coast.” “We don’t get many opportunities like this,” Danter said. Last week, Alabama’s Forever Wild program announced it is buying 4,000 acres that will adjoin the land bought by The Nature Conservancy on Tuesday. Those two purchases alone will protect 25 miles of the river on the Alabama side. Forever Wild owns another preserve downstream. On the eastern side of the river, Florida Forever is proposing a large buy from International Paper, The Nature Conservancy has a preserve, and the Northwest Florida Water Management District has discussed buying land. The Alabama land will gradually be converted from a plantation of crop pines to a natural longleaf forest, Danter said.Longleaf forest is unique to the southern United States and is the most rare and diverse forest type in the nation, with hundreds of species hiding in its trees and burrows, dozens of them imperiled. Only 4 percent remains of the once mighty 90-million acre longleaf forest that stretched from Texas to Virginia. Plants and animals in a longleaf forest are so many and varied that it is comparable to the more widely known tropical rainforests, said Steve McCormick, president of The Nature Conservancy. Danter said the Alabama tract alone has 13 types of carnivorous plants, normally a rarity in nature.The Nature Conservancy plans to offer the land to the state’s Forever Wild program at cost, as it has done with other projects, Danter said. Participants Tuesday said the sale was not only the largest for conservation in the South but among the largest in the country. http://www.al.com/news/birminghamnews/index.ssf?/base/news/1143628712184120.xml&coll=2

Wisconsin:

17) Standing in the forest last fall among trees marked with blue paint for logging, Habitat Education Center President Ricardo Jomarron criticized the proposed timber sales. He told TNS that many yellow birches were marked for logging, even though the trees are favored as dens by the pine marten – also called the American marten – a type of weasel that lives in only two areas in Wisconsin. Pine martens need woody debris to block the snow so they can hunt voles in the winter. Destruction of this kind of debris, he said, would be one of the side effects of logging which is not catalogued in the environmental impact statement. North Woods are a unique and diverse ecosystem which holds some of the only remaining swaths of old-growth trees in the Midwest and provides a connection to nature for thousands of people in the region. The North Woods are already the fifth most-heavily logged National Forest in the country and the most-heavily logged in the eastern half of the United States, according to the US Forest Service, which owns much of the North Woods area. In 2001, the Forest Service proposed six new logging sales covering about 40,000 acres of this forest. The proposed logging would include both selective logging and clear cutting as well as the construction or reconstruction of more than 100 miles of roads in the forest. Last year a federal district judge blocked logging on three of the proposed timber sales covering 22,000 acres in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest of the North Woods, in response to lawsuits filed by the Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) and the Madison-based Habitat Education Center. ELPC also negotiated with the Forest Service on one of the other proposed sales and won an agreement to restrict logging to a smaller area than originally planned. In the three lawsuits, the plaintiffs argued that the Forest Service had not adequately addressed the cumulative environmental impact of the overall effect of all six proposed sales, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), but rather addressed each proposal narrowly. They also charged that the sales would violate both the National Forest Management Act and the Endangered Species Act. http://newstandardnews.net/content/?action=show_item&itemid=3006

18) The Nature Conservancy, International Paper, Conservation Forestry LLC, and Forest Investment Associates, today announced an unprecedented partnership that will work to conserve 64,633 acres – 101 square miles – of forest, lakes, and rivers in Florence, Forest, and Marinette counties. The “Wild Rivers Legacy Forest” project is the largest land conservation effort in state history and will protect working forests, public access for recreation, wildlife habitat, and water quality. “This purchase permanently protects thousands of acres of forest, wildlife habitat, and shoreland,” Governor Doyle said. “Had we not acted, it may have been sold off, piece by piece, and developed – its unspoiled beauty potentially lost to bulldozers and buildings. This purchase ensures that these lands will be forever protected and remain a working, sustainably-managed forest available for the enjoyment of generations to come.” The Nature Conservancy, together with the DNR, negotiated an agreement in principle with International Paper to purchase 69,000 acres for $83.675 million. Funding for the acquisition will come from Wisconsin’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund, private equity from Conservation Forestry LLC, and its consortium partner, Forest Investment Associates, and private funds raised by The Nature Conservancy. The agreement is part of a larger effort by International Paper to explore selling as much as 6.8 million acres of forestland in the Midwest, South, and Northeast. The Wild Rivers Legacy Forest encompasses vast acres of forest, more than 48 lakes and ponds, and over 70 miles of rivers and streams that flow into and contribute to water quality in Green Bay and the Great Lakes system. It provides important habitat for wildlife, including trout, migratory waterfowl, and songbirds; rare species such as the pine marten; and wide-ranging mammals such as wolves and bear. The Wild Rivers Legacy Forest contains some of the richest soils in Wisconsin for growing hardwood trees. http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=58404

Maine:

19) The state’s forest products industry could learn to make fuel ethanol, plastics and specialty chemicals by transforming paper and lumber mills into biorefineries, with the help of a federal research grant to be announced today. The University of Maine has received a $6.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. UMaine will contribute a 50 percent match, or $3.45 million, bringing the total investment to $10.35 million. The three-year grant will let the university conduct forest bioproduct research and development in fields that include engineering, chemistry and forest ecology. The goal is to help build an integrated forest biorefinery, a process that allows mills to create new, high-margin products while maintaining their traditional production.The grant will create jobs for about 45 people, including three new faculty members. UMaine also will purchase advanced equipment to conduct the research. The news comes as Maine’s forest products industry faces stiff competition from newer, cheaper-to-operate mills. Thousands of workers have lost jobs, and mills have consolidated or shut down, most recently the Georgia-Pacific plant in Old Town. “By taking this ‘holistic’ approach, Maine has the opportunity to build on its current knowledge and history in forest-based industries to build a vibrant, globally competitive, brand-new industry that’s more efficient, high-valued and also environmentally cleaner,” says Hemant Pendse, managing director of the federal grant and chair of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at UMaine. http://business.mainetoday.com/news/060328biogrant.shtml

USA:

20) STAMFORD, Conn. — International Paper, The Nature Conservancy and The Conservation Fund have reached an agreement to protect 218,000 acres of forestlands across 10 states in the single largest private land conservation sale in the history of the South, and one of the largest in the nation. The Nature Conservancy will acquire more than 173,000 acres in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana and Mississippi. The Conservation Fund will acquire more than 5,000 acres in Florida and 500 in North Carolina. The two groups will jointly purchase an additional 39,000 acres in South Carolina. International Paper will receive approximately $300 million for the land at closing, which is expected to occur in the next several months. The tracts included in the sale are some of International Paper’s most ecologically important lands. The majority of the land will remain working forests. Under the terms of the agreement, timber will be sustainably harvested from some tracts and a set amount of timber volume will be supplied to International Paper for local production. Sensitive areas will continue to be set aside from harvesting activities. The biodiversity and ecological importance of the parcels included in the project reflect International Paper’s sustainable management of its working forests. Many of the parcels which have thrived under the company’s leadership are home to bald eagles, black bear and the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Several tracts also provide vital linkages between existing public and private conservation areas. The majority of lands being acquired by the Conservancy and The Conservation Fund are located along rivers and estuaries, such as the Perdido River on the border of Florida and Alabama, the Lower Roanoke River in North Carolina and Pee Dee and Little Pee Dee Rivers in South Carolina. http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/virginia/press/press2339.html

Canada:

21) Toronto – Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and there was plenty of both in High Park yesterday as more than six hectares of thatch, dead leaves and underbrush went up in flames in deliberately set blazes. They were aimed at giving Mother Nature a boost, helping eliminate invasive plant species that threaten the park’s rare black oak trees.
The heavily monitored fires, which sent up a curtain of grey-brown smoke over the city’s west end, also stimulate the germination and growth of savannah and prairie plant seeds buried in the ground, according to Beth McEwen, the city’s head of forest and natural environment management. The burns are being done in High Park because studies show its oldest black oaks aren’t regenerating naturally; there’s been a decline in plant and wildlife in part because there are no natural fires occurring in the park as would happen in nature. As a result, trees, plants and shrubs not found in the savannah have invaded, smothering what would grow naturally. http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=11434998
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22) Alberta’s endangered woodland caribou herds were the subject of a roundtable discussion Wednesday night in an event put on by the Environmental and Conservation Sciences Student’s Association. In a brief presentation before the discussion, Dr Stan Boutin, a Professor in Biological Sciences at the U of A, said that woodland caribou, which are found across Canada’s North, are in widespread decline, something that’s especially evident in Alberta. He went on to say that the major factor causing the decline is predation, primarily by wolves, but that human impact in the sensitive habitat have made caribou more susceptible to that predation. “[The declining number of caribou] is related to habitat that serves as shelter, which is a predator refuge issue,” said Boutin. According to Boutin, caribou traditionally avoid predation by segregating themselves from other ungulates, such as moose and deer. Human-caused changes to that traditional habitat, such as forestry harvesting and “linear features” like seismic lines and roads cut for oil and gas exploration, have resulted in greater instances of wolves hunting caribou. Much of the discussion focused on the state of the Little Smoky caribou herd, located near Hinton, which is listed in the provincial caribou recovery plan as “in immediate danger of extirpation.” Boutin said the Little Smoky herd may number as few as 80 caribou. Over the past 100 years, environmental change associated with booming industry and human development has caused caribou to move north from their otherwise southern habitat, and caribou populations are in sharp decline. In 1984, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) classified the western woodland caribou as rare, and the Wildlife Act lists them as an endangered species. “The Little Smoky herd has had most of its range removed, either by the forestry industry or by the petroleum industry. So actually, right now, it’s in an island in a sea of development,” said Walsh. “I think the tool [to save the herd] is actually quite simple; no more logging, at least until they have replacement habitat available.” http://www.gateway.ualberta.ca/view.php?aid=6046

23) FORT MCMURRAY, Alberta — In February, engineers from French oil giant Total SA fired up colossal drum boilers to generate steam that will be pumped to a depth of 300 feet under the frozen ground here. If all goes well, by May, the steam will marinate a tar-like mix of oil and sand until the crude begins to flow. Nearby, Total will go after the oil-soaked sands closer to the surface, scraping away an ancient forest of spruce and poplars and shoveling the black soil into two-story dump trucks. Fully loaded, the trucks weigh as much as a Boeing 747. Total will then use industrial versions of giant washing machines to remove the oil, generating enough liquid waste to create vast toxic lakes. Heavy-duty oil-extraction projects like these are turning Fort McMurray into the first great oil boom town of the 21st century. A Florida-size section of sandy soil beneath the boreal forest in this sparsely populated area of Northern Canada is loaded with bottom-of-the-barrel petroleum. These deposits were once dismissed as “unconventional” oil that couldn’t be recovered economically. But now, thanks to rising global oil prices and improved technology, most oil-industry experts count oil sands as recoverable reserves. That recalculation has vaulted Venezuela and Canada to first and third in global reserves rankings, although Venezuela’s holdings in extra-heavy crude are a rough guess. Saudi Arabia is No. 2. Not including the oil sands, Canada would fall to No. 22. Led by Total, nearly every major Western oil company as well as their Chinese and Indian brethren are gearing up to go after the deposits here. In all, they plan to spend more than $70 billion in the next decade unlocking the oil from the sand. http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/business/stories.nsf/0/D2EA224152C09DE98625713E00528D93?OpenDocument

24) Greenpeace today launched an international business initiative to pressure tissue product manufacturer Kimberly-Clark (NYSE:KMB) to improve its environmental practices. The maker of Kleenex facial tissue and other brands of tissue products has been a target for environmentalists for the past year because of its continued use of fiber from clearcut ancient forests. The new initiative aims to get 500 businesses from across North America and around the world to pledge to refuse to buy Kimberly-Clark products “The Forest Friendly 500 is a group a progressive businesses that refuse to financially support the destruction of ancient forests,” said Richard Brooks, a forest campaigner with Greenpeace. “Kimberly-Clark is losing current and potential customers because of their practice of wiping away ancient forests and these customers are stepping up to be counted.” Kimberly-Clark, the world’s largest manufacturer of tissue products, used over 3 million metric tonnes (4 million tons) of pulp from forests in 2004, the latest year for which figures are publicly available — an increase of over 23% from the previous year. Much of this pulp comes from clearcut ancient forests including the great northern Boreal forest, the largest intact forest left in North America. Less than 19% of the fiber used for Kimberly-Clark’s North American tissue products comes from recycled sources. http://kleercut.net/en/node/713

Ghana:

25) The Chronicle intelligence also revealed that some reserves in the Volta Region that extended to Togo, also suffered from illegal felling. Teak tree plantation began in Ghana in 1950, during the rule of the colonial masters, but was given prominence in the Second Republic when Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia, leader of the Progress Party, introduced what was called ’employment of unemployed in the country’. But the country now is experiencing a worrisome phenomenon, as people who are supposed to check the sustainability of the country’s forest reserves, rather form syndicates with the contractors to deplete the remaining one-sixteenth of the forest reserves, particularly the teak. Investigations conducted in Brong Ahafo, Ashanti and some parts of the Eastern Region have shown that there has been massive felling of timber, particularly teak, in these regions. The reserves from which these illegal operators steal their products, include Tains I and II, Yaya of Sunyani area, Busumua in Kintampo, Techiman and Wenchi areas and Dormaa/Paamu-Berekum, all in the Brong Ahafo Region. In Ashanti, activities of the illegal operators are prominent in Chrimfa Forest reserve at Beposo, Ejura, plantation areas of Mampong and Juaso. Nkawkaw area in the Eastern Region is not exempted. Products from this area, according to our investigation were being brought to Tema and Takoradi Ports for sale to Indians. Some of the stakeholders in the forest industry who talked to the paper wanted to know the purpose of the FC, which is governed by a Board of Commissioners. The Chronicle nationwide survey, conducted in the country’s forest reserves, has revealed that the government is losing billions of cedis to unscrupulous timber contractors and some officials of the Forestry Commission (FC), who have formed a syndicate to steal from the country’s forest reserves. The survey has also revealed that the most appealing specie to the contractors is the teak, which has of late become attractive on the international market, particularly in Asian countries. This species has now become a hot commodity upon which these greedy contractors, with the connivance of some FC officials, depend on to milk the country. http://allafrica.com/stories/200603280294.html

Mexico:

26) The 64 members of the community forest, or ejido, in El Palmito, a village in the State of Sinaloa, Mexico, used to make a living from the harvest and sale of timber. Now they have discovered a new source of income for their families, one that involves saving trees instead of cutting them down. Katiana Murillo reports. Thanks to income from ecotourism and payments from the government for environmental services, El Palmito is the first forestry community in Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental to make a concerted effort to protect endemic migratory birds. Their enterprise benefits a number of rare birds and animals including the tufted jay (Cyanocarax dickeyi), endemic to the region and one of the 10 most sought-after species by birdwatchers in Mexico. The residents’ achievement was possible thanks to financial, technical, and legal support from Pronatura Noroeste, Mexico’s Commission for the Use and Knowledge of Biodiversity and National Forestry Commission, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act. Pronatura Noroeste’s director of conservation in Sinaloa, Xicoténcatl Vega, explains that the ejido members have made a 30-year commitment to protect the pine-oak forest of Rancho La Liebre, which is vital habitat for the tufted jay and other rare species such as the American black bear (Ursus americanus). Residents will sustainably manage the 12,355 acres (5,000 hectares) of land outside the protected forest. El Palmito is located 75 miles from Mazatlán and is 7217 feet above sea level. The community hopes soon to launch its own website and promote their eco-destination to national and international tour agencies. Trails are being opened up and local guides trained to lead visitors to the best bird-watching sites. Vega notes that in addition to ecotourism, Pronatura Noroeste plans to work with El Palmito villagers to find ways to diversify their income by creating new businesses that are compatible with conservation. Options include growing and marketing flowers and woodworking. “The goal is for the ejido members to understand that the protection of natural resources will provide them with more income than the non-sustainable activities carried out in the past,” he says. http://www.peopleandplanet.net/doc.php?id=2710

Argentina:

27) OSLO, March 29 (Reuters) – Argentine lawyer Romina Picolotti was awarded a $100,000 environmental prize on Wednesday for work to safeguard human rights and to halt environmental degradation. “She has done ground-breaking work in linking problems of environmental destruction to the fight for basic human rights,” the Norwegian prize jury said of reasons for awarding the Sophie Prize to Picolotti. Picolotti, 35, has, for instance, helped protect indigenous people in Nicaragua from timber companies exploiting forests, it said. Her Centre for Human Rights and Environment, founded in 1999, has worked throughout Latin America. The annual prize was set up in 1998 by Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder and his wife, Siri Dannevig. Gaarder wrote the 1990s bestseller “Sophie’s World” which is a teenagers’ guide to philosophy. The prize will be formally handed over in Oslo on June 15. http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L29759878.htm

India:

28) Dal Lake – But since India and Pakistan began a peace process two years ago, tourists have started returning with more than 600,000 in 2005, almost double the previous year and the highest since the insurgency began. The state government and tourist operators expect those numbers to grow if the peace process remains on track. However, Islamic militants routinely detonate car bombs and attack Indian security posts throughout Kashmir and in Srinagar resulting in an average of three to four people killed daily. But violence has declined compared to two years ago when eight to ten people were killed daily and the area around Dal Lake has remained relatively peaceful. Besides the violence, there are other obstacles to overcome to save the lake fed by springs and two higher altitude water bodies. For instance, during the rainy months in summer, silt from the mountains stripped of trees by heavy logging seeps into the lake. But the government is taking action.”We’re also acquiring sophisticated multi-purpose dredgers to clear the lake of mud and silt,” says forest minister Hamid. On court orders, forest department officials have felled some 80 000 trees growing in the lake and must cut 500 000 more, says senior government forest officer Zahoor Jan. The trees shed leaves into the water which decompose and pollute the lake. Cutting down the trees in the water “will definitely help in cleaning the lake”, says scientist Shafiq-ur-Rehman, a professor at Sheri Kashmir agriculture and research university. In addition to the houseboats where some 7 500 people live, another 50 000 people live on little islands within the lake area. “The lake’s environmental deterioration can be attributed rightly to human settlements within and near the lake,” Rehman says. Brightly coloured floating vegetable gardens have also become big sources of contamination. Dal Lake’s floating gardens on rafts made of reeds make it one of the Indian Kashmir’s biggest vegetable producing areas. “Pesticides used by farmers find their way into the lake, causing colossal damage to its fauna and flora,” observes Rehman. http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=14&click_id=420&art_id=qw1143287464659T614

Papua New Guinea:

29) Today, Brian Baring, of the Gingilang clan on the north coast of Papua New Guinea (PNG), delivered a giant letter to Alchemy Partners, asking them to stop daughter company Montague L Meyer from trashing PNG’s rainforests for plywood. Logging in PNG is some of the worst on the planet, with virtually all industrial logging being illegal.
Customary Landowner Brian Baring says, “I have seen our forests destroyed by foreign companies. They do not respect us or our culture, or our sacred sites. They run over our food gardens with their machinery. They drive their trucks and bulldozers through our streams polluting it with oil and mud with no regard that people downstream drink from those streams. They take the trees they want and destroy many many more to get to the trees they want.” The magnificent Paradise Forest of PNG is home to wildlife such as the tree kangaroo and the largest butterfly on earth – the Queen Alexandra’s birdwing, with a wing span of over 11 inches – as well as millions of indigenous people who depend on this forest for their livelihood and way of life. Yet logging companies are voraciously plundering the rainforest, and the country could be logged out in 15 years. He continued “I am in Europe to bring the message of my people to companies like Alchemy Partners and Montague Meyer and ask them to stop buying products that are made from the forests of Papua New Guinea, stolen from our land and our people.” Last year a major Greenpeace investigation uncovered a criminal trail of illegally logged rainforest timber from the world’s largest tropical island, which is ‘laundered’ through China before arriving on shop shelves in the UK. Since then many companies, like Wolseley Build Centers, have agreed to remove all Chinese tropical hardwood plywood from their stores, however Montague L Meyer continues to sell it into the UK market place. Recent microscopic analysis of timber sold by the company has confirmed that it is made of Bintangor and other tropical species. http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/forests/media/pressrelease.cfm?ucidparam=20060330114913

30) The darker shades of exotic hardwoods are the new fashion in flooring and manufacturing companies are turning to tropical countries to satisfy consumer demand. But, says the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), shoppers should beware of false claims that the flooring is from sustainable sources.One of the more popular species used for flooring is merbau. This species, a valuable hardwood only commercially available in Indonesia’s Papua Province and the neighbouring country of Papua New Guinea, is being ruthlessly targeted by illegal loggers to supply the demand from the booming western flooring markets, says the EIA. So to help consumers who want to be sure that the wood flooring they buy is made from timber harvested in a legal and sustainable manner, it has provided the guide, summarised below. The guide focuses on merbau, but applies to all species used for flooring. The agncy says that illegal and unsustainable logging is a huge problem around the world, particularly in tropical countries with corrupt governments. It often involves intimidation and exploitation of local communities, and the destruction of natural habitat – leading to loss of species, landslides and even the loss of human life. http://www.peopleandplanet.net/doc.php?id=2709

Borneo:

31) Some very good news at last. With the launch of the Heart of Borneo initiative, there is some hope for the future of the orangutan and its rainforest habitat. Theoretically, it spells the end to plans for the intended conversion of nearly 2 million hectares of rainforest in Kalimantan along the border with Malaysia. Two and a bit news articles follow. The “bit” in the middle points out how supporters of the campaign made Indonesian officials sit up and take notice. My heartfelt thanks to everyone of you who sent a letter or email, or in any way have supported the sustainable palm oil campaign. The job is not done, but this week, a huge step has been taken. –Michelle Desilets, Director, http://www.savetheorangutan.info/index_int.php —- Today Indonesia announced its would end plans to establish a 1.8 million hectare oil plantation in the rainforest of Borneo. The proposed plan, which was backed by Chinese investments, would have destroyed one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), some 361 species of animals have been discovered on the island in the past decade, including a mysterious fox-like creature spotted last year. Indonesia, in partnership with the other governments that share the island of Borneo–Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia–made the announcement to protect the “Heart of Borneo” at the Convention on Biological Diversity, a United Nations-backed meeting presently underway in Curitiba, Brazil. The tri-country initiative aims to 220,000 square kilometers (85,000 square miles) of tropical rainforest across the island, which is home to such endangered animals as orangutans, forest elephants and rhinos. http://news.mongabay.com/2006/0328-borneo.htm

Indonesia:

32) JAKARTA, March 29 (Reuters) – About three years ago, wildlife researchers photographed a mysterious fox-like mammal on the Indonesian part of Borneo island.
They believed it was the first discovery of a new carnivore species there in over a century. Since then, more new species of plants and animals have been found and conservationists believe Borneo, the world’s third-largest island, is a treasure trove of exotic plants and animals waiting to be discovered. The new finds were all the more remarkable after decades of deforestation by loggers, slash-and-burn farming, creation of vast oil palm plantations, as well as rampant poaching. Conservationists hope that Borneo will reveal many more secrets, despite the myriad threats to its unique flora and fauna.
“There is vast potential,” said Gusti Sutedja, WWF Indonesia’s project director for Kayan Mentarang national park, a sprawling reserve on the island where the new mammal, nicknamed the Bornean Red Carnivore, was photographed in a night-time camera trap. In addition to logging, Indonesia’s plans to develop a major palm oil plantation in the heart of Borneo near the border with Malaysia also threaten to devastate some of the last remaining natural forests in Southeast Asia. The area is remote highland forest from which many of the island’s largest rivers originate and has so far managed to remain intact because of its rugged terrain and distance from the coast. Environmentalists say they are particularly worried as island ecosystems are known as much for their fragility as their ability to harbour rare animals and plants. Of approximately 800 species extinctions worldwide since accurate scientific recording began in 1500, the vast majority have been from island ecosystems, the World Conservation Union says. According to a study by WWF International and wildlife trade monitor TRAFFIC, between 200 and 500 Borneo orang-utans are traded in various parts of Indonesia each year. The vast majority are infants sold as pets. WWF International estimates poachers have also killed most endangered rhinos in Borneo and only about 13 might have survived. “The current situation will continue until the forest is gone,” Muhtaman said. http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/JAK340559.htm

China:

33) The Chinese government has rejected allegations by environmental organization Greenpeace that rising demand for cheap Chinese-made furniture overseas is fueling illegal logging activities and destroying endangered forests in the Asia-Pacific region. Greenpeace on Tuesday called on the Chinese government to ban imports of illegally and destructively logged wood. The group warns that lowland rain forest areas in Indonesia could disappear within 10 years if consumption levels are not reduced. The environmental organization says China’s consumption of wood products has increased by 70 percent in the last 10 years. “Over the last 10 years, of two additional trees felled globally, one went to meet the rising consumption in China,” said Shi Peng Xiang, the deputy campaign director for Greenpeace China. Shi said most wood products exported from China, such as construction materials and furniture, are destined for Japan and Western countries. http://www.voanews.com/english/2006-03-28-voa20.cfm

World-wide:

34) The pervasive conflicts of interest arise out of Paulson’s family and organizational ties. In addition to his duties to the company and its shareholders, he is chairman of the board of The Nature Conservancy, the world’s wealthiest environmental activist group. His wife is a former TNC board member, and his daughter is on the board of the Wildlife Conservation Society, another activist group that works closely with TNC on programs outside the United States. TNC was implicated by the Washington Post in questionable deals whereby the tax-exempt nonprofit acquired ecologically sensitive land (at times aided by government condemnation threats) – then transferred tracts at fire-sale prices to trustees and supporters. Other deals involved suspect tax write-offs and friendly arrangements with companies whose executives sat on the TNC board. In early 2005, the radical Rainforest Action Network targeted Goldman Sachs as part of its campaign to pressure large banks not to finance energy, mineral and other economic development projects that don’t conform to RAN’s self-serving definition of “the public interest.” Having also browbeaten the World Bank, Citigroup, Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase to do likewise, RAN and its ecologically sensitive allies are doing their best to keep the Third World indigenous, energy-poor and impoverished for generations to come. Paulson has long been sympathetic to these unelected radicals’ vision of environmental ethics. By November 2005, he’d engineered an arrangement whereby the global investment banking and securities giant adopted a new “Environmental Policy” very similar to theirs. The TNC, RAN and GS policies all assert that: human emissions cause catastrophic climate change and must be reduced immediately; indigenous people must approve any development project; and logging must be conducted only in accord with criteria developed by eco-activists. Enshrining these assertions as Goldman Sachs policies is the antipathy of good stewardship. http://americandaily.com/article/12680

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