095OEC’s This Week in Trees

This week we have 35 news items from: Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, USA, Canada, Mediterranean Forests, Rwanda, Haiti, Nicaragua, Brazil, Andes, Bhutan, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and World-wide.

Alaska:

1) At some spots along the proposed Juneau access road corridor in Berners Bay, crews have felled some big, old Tongass trees. A beloved spot for Juneau outdoor lovers – the Sawmill Creek waterfall – is within view of roughly eight large trees askew on the ground. The felling of the national forest trees – which occurred over the winter – came as a surprise to some Juneau residents this week. “I realize the (state) Department of Transportation has its marching orders, but it is very disturbing to know it is taking such extreme measures early on in the project,” said John Hudson, with the Friends of Berners Bay conservation group. “We promised to put bridges over all of the streams,” responded Randy Bayliss, an engineer for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. Bayliss said the trees needed to be cut to get “information we needed for design of the bridges.” The project’s final federal permits and right-of-way easements haven’t been granted yet, but state officials said they are authorized to proceed with prep work for the project. State and federal officials said, after reviewing photos of the felled trees, that the trees were cut down to allow geotechnical studies of the road’s future bridge abutments. The clearing and survey work was approved Aug. 17, 2005, by the Forest Service. The state’s Alaska Coastal Management Program waived any formal review of the drilling project. Between November 2005 and March 2006, crews employed by Crux Subsurface, of Spokane, Wash., drilled holes in the ground and sediment at approximately 20 locations in Berners Bay and along Lynn Canal. “We don’t believe they should allow any clearing until they get permission to construct this (road),” Lindekugel said. SEACC contends that the Corps of Engineers cannot legally approve the road because it doesn’t meet Clean Water Act requirements. In the meantime, “they are compromising our national forest lands,” Lindekugel said. SEACC sent a letter on the matter to Tongass National Forest Juneau District Ranger Pete Griffin on Wednesday night, asking him to stop any further clearing activities. http://www.juneauempire.com/stories/051906/sta_20060519023.shtml

British Columbia:

2) The BC and federal governments have agreed to undertake a Feasibility Study for a potential national park reserve to protect the desert, grasslands, and Ponderosa pine ecosystems of the South Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys in southern British Columbia. The local residents and the millions of Canadians who’ve visited the area know it is perhaps the most beautiful region of the country. Whether the national park reserve becomes a reality – or a lost opportunity – depends on YOUR input and the input of all Canadians. A national park here would encompass a greater diversity of ecosystems than any national park in Canada – 6 of BC’s 14 major ecosystem types (“biogeoclimatic zones”) are found in this little region. Please write to the governments of Canada and British Columbia and let them know whether or not you want them to: Commit to the establishment of a sizeable national park reserve in the South Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys that: 1) Upholds the standard of protection afforded by the National Parks Act that forbids ranching, hunting, logging, and mining on national park reserve lands. 2) Encompasses at least 100 000 hectares of currently unprotected Crown lands as well as existing provincial protected areas in the grasslands and forests of the region. 3) Includes a $50 million parks acquisition fund to purchase private lands from willing sellers, to buy out grazing leases from willing sellers on Crown lands, and to provide conservation financing options for local First Nations. 4) Encompasses the Vaseux Lake / White Lake region which contains the rarest low elevation habitats in the proposal. http://www.sosnationalpark.org/

3) Log exports — primarily to the U.S. — hit a record 4.77 million cubic metres in 2005, up from 3.55 million cubic metres in 2004. A cubic metre is approximately the volume of wood in one telephone pole. The logs are made into construction lumber for the American housing market. Protests on Vancouver Island have been growing over the number of logging trucks driving through resource towns on their way to export markets. On Tuesday the Port Alberni group blockaded trucks on Highway 4 leading from the Alberni Valley to barge loading points on Vancouver Island’s east coast. The valley’s largest sawmill, which was once supplied with wood from the region, is operating sporadically. Most exports come from private lands but the volume from Crown lands is growing. Companies that export logs say exports are part of a healthy industry and when the domestic industry is weak, exports keep loggers working. Coleman said he wants both sides of the issue to get a thorough review. “Changes have been made in log administration and policy but no comprehensive review of log export policies has been done for a number of years,” Coleman said. The forests minister’s decision to embark on a major review of export policies comes less than a week after he said the province is considering no new forest policy changes. On May 12 he said he has no concerns about a clause in the proposed softwood lumber agreement that would require Victoria to vet policies through Washington because B.C. has completed its policy changes. http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/business/story.html?id=7dd4a394-a2c8-44d1-b9c1-7400
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4) Hey everybody, can you please pas the following message on: The Peace Camp on Mt. Elphinstone, that has been in a cut-block for 6 years has been burned to the ground. the activities of the Peace Camp have delayed logging from a few hours, to a few months.
I am going to re-bulid the camp and keep on resisting the logging. There is no risk of arrest involoved in what we do.Pease come and visit this summer. Logging will begin sometime in June. The land all around the Peace Camp has been destroyed. many trees and animals homes have been saved, but I want to keep going. I will be giving a workshop at Wild Earth called ” Roots of Resistance “(this is also the name of a an all people of color group I co-founded in the early 90,s) that will outline the strategies of the Peace Camp. –Penny Lalo Singh aka “Ping” plalo@myself.com

Washington:

5) The state Public Lands commissioner says Harborites who support the forest products industry shouldn’t be losing sleep over a potential lawsuit by two chapters of the Audubon Society. The birders charge that the Weyerhaeuser Co. and the state Department of Natural Resource have caused the spotted owl population to dwindle by not setting aside enough forestland in Southwest Washington. “I think it’s premature to get scared, frightened or worried,” Doug Sutherland told The Daily World Thursday. “You can be concerned, yes, because you don’t know where the lawsuit is going to go at this juncture.” The Seattle and Kittitas chapters of the Audubon Society filed a 60-day notice with U.S. Department of the Interior on April 18 stating that they intend to sue the timber company and the state agency. The Endangered Species Act requires that challengers give formal notice of intent to file legal action. “We don’t know what this notice means,” Sutherland said. “This is the third such notice we’ve received from them.” The birders say the state has allowed logging too close to nesting sites on five spots in Grays Harbor and Pacific counties. The parcels in question add up to more than 6,300 acres. The Audubon chapters assert that any logging in those areas violates the Endangered Species Act. The Audubon chapters had hoped to enter into some kind of mediation with the company and the state agency before a lawsuit is filed, but Sutherland said the agency isn’t interested at this stage. “We’ve given them lots of chances to talk to us,” the lands commissioner said. Even so, “We have asked our attorneys to talk to their attorneys to better clarify what their heartburn really is,” Sutherland added. The Weyerhaeuser Co. has strongly asserted that it is not breaking the law. In fact, it says its practices “exceed the standards as required.” Further, the company blames the decline of the spotted owl on the barred owl, an interloper from Canada that has been stealing the spotted owl’s habitat, even mating with it. http://www.thedailyworld.com/articles/2006/05/19/local_news/04news.txt

6) The upcoming tree removal project won’t hurt the forest over the long term, said Ken Russell, a tree pathologist who studied the forest for WSU. Russell called the forest “a jewel.” Loggers will take more than 1,000 trees, about 7 percent of the forest of 15,000 trees. Most have root rot. Some 250 were damaged or toppled in the storms. WSU has partnered with Weyerhaeuser’s Quadrant Corp., which will develop the forest. The university and home-building company will split the profits. WSU will spend some of the money on 4-H programs, Taylor said. Quadrant originally proposed building hundreds of homes, a trail, parks, and a 30-acre shopping area on the forest lands. Bonney Lake officials and residents didn’t like the plan. They wanted to preserve more forest for public use. Johnson said the city might consider buying part of the forest if necessary. “I can’t think of anything more abhorrent than to have that forest removed like in the first (Quadrant) plan,” Councilman Dave King said. Washington State University has permanently closed the 150-acre Bonney Lake forest to all public and educational uses. Mel Taylor, WSU’s executive director of real estate, told the Bonney Lake City Council that the popular forest in the middle of the city will remain closed until Quadrant Corp. develops the area – whenever that occurs. “The university won’t return to the forest program,” he said Tuesday night. “It will remain closed.” Some Bonney Lake residents liked to go into the forest flanked by three of the city’s busiest streets. Others just enjoyed the rare patch of quiet green space nearby, in the middle of the city’s growing neighborhoods and businesses. And thousands of 4-H and school children visited annually to participate in outdoor programs, which will be moved to another location. City officials didn’t expect Taylor’s announcement, although he was invited to speak about the future of the forest. “It put the council in a heck of a position,” Mayor Neil Johnson said Wednesday. WSU doesn’t “have a good grasp of how people feel about it.” http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/story/5747803p-5142416c.html

7) Mount Rainier National Park encompasses 235,625 acres. In the grand scheme of things, the protection of 404 additional acres of forest just outside the park entrance might not seem that big a deal. But it is. For one thing, the acres in question – which preservationists are moving to purchase – are right on the Highway 706 corridor between Ashford and the park’s Nisqually Entrance. People approaching the entrance will find standing trees a lot easier on the eyes than the likely alternative: 404 acres of clear-cuts. That’s reason enough to applaud the Nisqually Land Trust’s recent success in winning a promise of $1.44 million in federal funds to purchase the land, which is owned by Pope Resources. The Endangered Species Act money would have to be matched by $1.76 million – in dollars or land – from the state Department of Natural Resources. That should be doable. But this purchase is also part of a much larger whole. The Nisqually Land Trust – a nonprofit group devoted to preserving and restoring Nisqually River habitat – has been working to secure other parcels along the highway. It is currently negotiating with the owners of two big parcels whose logging plans set off alarms in the area earlier this year. In fact, the Nisqually Land Trust has a very big vision. Its work on the Pope property has given rise to a far more ambitious plan – the Mount Rainier Gateway Initiative – to protect 4,500 acres of forests between the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and the Elbe Hills. The Yelm-based organization has succeeded in securing hundreds of acres of habitat since it was organized in 1989, but the initiative promises to expand that success dramatically. Even this is part of a much larger effort, by many organizations, to save farmlands, forests and other open spaces west of the Cascade Mountains. The most ambitious component of this effort is the Cascade Land Conservancy’s “Cascade Agenda,” a proposal to conserve nearly 1.3 million acres from the southern border of Pierce County to the northern border of Snohomish County. http://www.thenewstribune.com/opinion/story/5750537p-5144420c.html

Oregon:

8) Longtime environmental activist Andy Kerr says it’s time to transfer U.S. Bureau of Land Management forestlands in Western Oregon over to the U.S. Forest Service. “I hope 10 years from now you’ll find the BLM only in the history books,” said Kerr, one of a dozen presenters at Saturday’s “Beyond Big Timber” conference in Medford. “Our national forests are better managed than the BLM lands,” he said. “Not as well as we would like but better than the BLM’s. “The dark days we’re in now have never been darker,” he said later. “I miss James Watt.” The session drew some 75 environmental activists from throughout the region to discuss the BLM’s ongoing Western Oregon Plan Revisions. The agency manages about 2.6 million acres west of the Cascade Range. Participants expressed concern the revisions would serve as a vehicle to increase old-growth timber harvests in Western Oregon, a concern BLM officials say is unfounded. Environmentalists have proposed a “community-conservation” alternative that protects mature and old-growth timber while focusing on restoring forest and watershed health. Each participant, including keynote speaker Russell Sadler, stressed that the standing trees are worth more to the local economy in the long term than harvested timber. They cited the growing value of tourism, recreation and special forest products, such as mushrooms, overlooked by the timber industry in the past. In an interview after his presentation, Kerr, a senior counselor to the Oregon Natural Resource Council which he once directed, said he was very serious about having BLM lands taken over by the Forest Service. Both agencies were already beginning to share employee resources, he said. http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2006/0521/local/stories/enviro_conf.htm

9) PORTLAND — David Ford was on his way to becoming a top timber industry lobbyist when he decided he’d had enough of the fighting that erupted in the 1990s over forests and the northern spotted owl. He now heads a nonprofit called metaFore, which evolved from promoting sales of wood products from forests certified as environmentally sustainable to helping Fortune 500 companies green up their paper supplies. “Some of my colleagues in the forest products associations said, `You’ve gone to the dark side, David,'” Ford said. “I learned that the conflict wasn’t getting us where we wanted to be.” Improving their public image and their bottom line, major corporations are moving from using less paper to demanding the paper they use comes from environmentally sustainable sources, and letting stockholders and customers know they are doing it. This month the metaFore Forest Leadership Forum drew 400 representatives of corporations like Bank of America, Starbucks, Nike, Staples and Time Inc. to talk paper with environmental organizations like the World Wildlife Fund, Forest Ethics and the Dogwood Alliance. “Climate change is becoming THE issue,” said David J. Refkin, director of sustainability for Time, the world’s largest magazine publisher and largest direct buyer of coated paper in the United States. “Increasingly, businesses will look to do business with businesses that are leaders in sustainability.” Aaron Sanger, corporate program director of Forest Ethics, which keeps a “naughty and nice” list on catalog merchandisers, sees the marketplace producing faster results than the old venues of courts, Congress and campaigns. “I never thought our group would end up working with big companies to help them sell paper products,” said Sanger. “We are realizing that if good products don’t make money, then we don’t win.” http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/6420AP_WST_Green_Paper.html

California:

10) A statewide coalition of conservation groups has placed the Stanislaus National Forest on its annual list of California’s 10 Most Threatened Wild Places. The report, released yesterday by the California Wilderness Coalition, says increased logging on the forest and snowmobile use in the Pacific Valley roadless area, in the forest’s Calaveras Ranger District, threatens pristine wilderness and rare wildlife species. Brent Schoradt, the coalition’s deputy policy director, said his organization is concerned about an upcoming U.S. Forest Service winter recreation plan for the Highway 4 corridor. That plan, he said, could leave the Pacific Valley “vulnerable” to snowmobile use. The rugged Pacific Valley roadless area, east of Bear Valley and Lake Alpine, is just under 10,000 acres in the northeast corner of the forest. It extends from the Highway 4 area to the boundary of the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness. “The shallow soils and steep slopes of the Pacific Valley make it a particularly delicate portion of the forest,” the report states, adding that Forest Service officials are “blatantly” ignoring illegal snowmobile use in the valley. Stanislaus National Forest spokesman Jerry Snyder said technically it is not illegal to snowmobile in the Pacific Valley roadless area. “It is discouraged by the Forest Service because it is not compatible with our forest management plan,” he said. Snyder said that while the forest’s 15-year-old plan does not allow motor vehicles in areas such as Pacific Valley, the Stanislaus does not have forest orders, or legal documents, to keep people out. “Administratively, we do not want motor vehicles in those areas,” he said. “There is not a forest order that legally closes that area.” Snyder said the forest expects to address the Pacific Valley issue when it updates its management plan within the next few years. Along with snowmobile abuse, the group says increased logging on the Stanislaus forest poses a threat. As part of its five-year vegetation management plan, the forest will increase its timber harvest amounts from 14 million board-feet last year to about 38 million board-feet by the end of the decade. http://www.uniondemocrat.com/news/story.cfm?story_no=20482

11) She said she never thought she’d outlive the trees. But at the tender age of 100, local historian and author Pauliena LaFuze stood in a sunlit mountain park overlooking the San Bernardino Valley. It was Wednesday, and the U.S. Forest Service, Mountaintop Ranger District, the Children’s Forest and Woman’s Club of Lake Arrowhead were honoring LaFuze with a plaque. Surrounded by newly planted pines and cedars – including one she planted herself – she was recognized for her decades-long conservation and reforestation efforts. Among the trees was the young cedar LaFuze had planted in April 2005 when she was only 99 – to help the public roadside park recover from the Old Fire of 2003. This summer, a permanent bronze plaque commemorating her contributions will be placed at Switzer Park, on Highway 18 near Skyforest. In the park named for early mountain conservationist Sara Switzer, LaFuze accepted the personal plaque that noted how she had helped with reforestation efforts and funded the purchase of trees. “There were such fine big pine trees out here – trees I couldn’t begin to reach around. I like that I can have a corner here somewhere,” LaFuze said, her blue eyes crinkling. “When it came to planting trees, I kind of took the place of Mrs. Switzer, and I’m proud.” The ceremony also included a community barbecue, commemorative tree planting by Forest Service volunteers, comments from Children’s Forest director Lacy Kelly and ranger Allison Stewart of the Mountaintop Ranger District. “What Pauliena has done for the forest is phenomenal,” Kelly said. “Through the Woman’s Club conservation program, Pauliena has contributed to conservation efforts in many ways. She has seen many threats make their way through our forest.” A member of the Woman’s Club since the 1930s, LaFuze knew Bert and Sara Switzer. “I would walk to their store every day back in 1934 to get the mail,” she said. “It was about a mile round trip.” Over the years, LaFuze became the undisputed authority on San Bernardino Mountain history. Her two-volume historical narrative, “Saga of the San Bernardinos,” chronicles mountain history between 1850 and 1930. Meticulously researched, the book has served as an unofficial historical resource. Said Kelly, “She has inspired this community to care for its special places.” http://www.sbsun.com/news/ci_3847287

Idaho:

12) In the past, large swaths of undeveloped land were designated for their wild and pristine nature – championed first by progressive public land managers (Gila Wilderness in New Mexico) or citizens’ groups (Great Bear Wilderness in Montana), and then handed off to influential politicians who brought them to Congress for approval. Battles ensued aplenty over these designations and compromise was a main tool in making them happen. But in almost every case, that compromise surrounded the land in question and not much else. In many cases that has changed. The president still has to sign off on every wilderness designation, and he usually does. But by the time the bill is ready for the president’s signature, the fighting is over and most everybody between his desk and the trailhead has approved it. The path to the president is now much more complicated, convoluted and twisted between politics and economics. Take, for instance, the proposal to designate about 300,000 acres in the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains of the Sawtooth range in central Idaho, which Eric Segalstad writes about in a column for Headwaters News. Wilderness activists have been clamoring for decades for some wilderness designation in central Idaho, he writes, but it took a new kind of plan, one that included a good deal of economic development, for the notion of wilderness designation to again take hold there. What’s changed is not the desire to protect land as wilderness, but the motivation for doing so. This change in motivation isn’t present in every new wilderness designation, but it is increasingly becoming part of the process. http://www.headwatersnews.org/

Ohio:

13) SWANTON – Toledo Area Metroparks officials say that sometimes a chain saw can be a good thing for a forest. Parks officials are clearing densely growing trees from about one percent of the four-thousand acre Oak Openings Preserve near Swanton. Saws are doing the job that fire normally would in an oak forest. Parks officials say years of fire suppression have led to overcrowded trees that are all the same age. That reduces the number of species that can thrive on the forest floor. So they’re restoring the “openings” to Oak Openings. The park is home to about one-third of the rare species of plants and animals in Ohio. The work is yielding results already. Plants including Ohio’s only cactus and a flower that feeds an endangered butterfly have returned. http://www.ohio.com/mld/ohio/news/14609659.htm

Georgia:

14) A stand of rare American chestnut trees that somehow escaped a blight that killed off most of their kind in the early 1900s has been discovered along the Pine Mountain hiking trail within miles of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Little White House at Warm Springs, officials say. Nathan Klaus, a senior wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources spotted the trees while scouting for areas to replant longleaf pines, another once-dominant species that was nearly wiped out by unbridled logging and a shift to faster-growing pines. Klaus’ discovery of about a half dozen trees, the largest measuring about 8 inches in diameter and 40 feet tall, has created excitement among those working to restore the American chestnut. The trees are located near the eastern end of the 23-mile hiking trail in the F.D. Roosevelt State Park. The largest is believed to be 20 to 30 years old. The rugged area known as Pine Mountain is the southern end of the Appalachian mountain range near Warm Springs, where four-term president Roosevelt built a home and sought treatment after he was stricken with polio in 1921. Klaus said Pine Mountain has the best preserved examples of ecosystems that once existed throughout middle Georgia. “There’s something about this place that has allowed them to endure the blight,” he said. “It’s either that these trees are able to resist the blight, which is unlikely, or Pine Mountain has something unique that is giving these trees resistance.” Experts say it could be that the chestnuts have less competition from other trees along the dry, rocky Pine Mountain ridge. The fungus that causes the blight thrives in a moist environment.A team will haul scaffolding into the forest on Friday to study the trees, especially the largest one. It is considered significant because it is believed to be the southernmost American chestnut discovered so far that is capable of flowering and producing nuts. The American Chestnut Foundation may use pollen from the tree in a breeding program aimed at restoring the population with blight-resistant trees. Then these magnificent hardwoods, which could grow to a height of 100 feet and a diameter of 8 feet or more, were almost entirely wiped out by a fast-spreading fungus discovered in 1904. Introduced on imported Asian chestnut trees, the fungus is considered by some experts to have triggered one of the Western Hemisphere’s worst environmental disasters. With little resistance, only a few flowering American chestnut trees were left by 1950. Spread by wind, birds and animals, the fungus girdles the stem of the tree, killing everything above. http://www.accessnorthga.com/news/ap_newfullstory.asp?ID=75472

15) Worth County — One of Georgia’s greatest natural resources could be turned into gas to help break our dependance on foreign oil. Georgia has nearly twenty-five million acres of trees, more than any other state. Richard Thomas knows quite a bit about pine trees. He’s been growing them for thirty-five years. “Tree farming for me and most of my friends it’s a form of recreation,” he says. The trees on his twelve hundred acre farm could soon be used make ethanol, thanks to a material found inside the trees called cellulose. “If the conversion rates are what they say they are which is very attractive almost five times better than corn or sugar, then I think it’s something that needs to be looked at,” he says. “Trees are our largest cellulose factories. You can make ethanol through anything that has cellulose in it. We hope to do that, so we can utilize more of our renewable resource,” says Chuck Norvall, with the Georgia Forestry Commission. http://www.walb.com/Global/story.asp?S=4915131&nav=5kZQ

North Carolina:

16) Earth Day 37 passed last month in celebration of what we are doing to improve our environment. And we have made progress. Front-page recognition was given in this paper to two of our locally grown environmental organizations, the Dogwood Alliance and Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project (SABP). So I decided to visit their Web sites and see what they’ve been up to lately. Both organizations’ mission statements include words about restoring and protecting forests. Then when you get to their activities you see words like defend, educate, stop, halt, protest, appeal and lawsuit. http://www.citizen-times.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060520/OPINION04/60519007/1194

Tennessee:

17) Before selling any trees, seek the assistance of an experienced professional forester. Do not select and sell only the best trees from your forest while leaving the undesirables, says University of Tennessee Extension assistant in Forest Management, David Mercker. Doing so is “high-grading” or removing the most valuable, highly desired trees, while the undesirables are left to reseed and perpetuate the future stand. This is not good forestry, he says. Instead, select trees for harvest based on their financial maturity. This might include veneer trees that have matured, but should also include smaller, inferior trees or those undesirable species whose crowns are competing with future veneer trees. In other words, manage your forest with a constant goal of improvement, leaving species and trees with good potential following the harvest. Trees for harvest should be marked with paint, measured to estimate volume, and appraised to arrive at a fair market value.A separate listing of your veneer trees should be kept. With proper marketing, your trees can be exposed to all potential regional markets, bids are accepted and the contract awarded. For a list of professional foresters serving your area, contact your local Extension office or state forester. Pricing your veneer trees can be very difficult and is often based more on seller’s experience, knowledge of the markets and “whatever the market will bear,” says Mercker. Published reports of veneer prices are virtually non-existent, sporadic in reporting, and difficult to interpret. The mistake of incorrectly identifying a veneer tree can be costly. Consider a white oak tree with a 12-foot butt log that measures 20 inches in diameter inside the bark at the small end of the log, containing 192 board feet (Doyle Scale). The log will have substantially different value, depending on the grade and the market for which it is sold. The importance of proper log grading is apparent. A prime veneer log could have a value of $383, while the same dimension log of lower grade number 3 has a value of $13. It would require 30 grade number 3 logs to equal the value of one prime veneer. http://www.theleafchronicle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060520/COLUMNISTS03/605200307/
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USA:

18) Remember — the motorized/commercial recreation industry spent 20+ years and millions of dollars lobbying Congress to bring about the sort of managed pay-to-play recreation discussed below. Remember – even though the motorized/commercial recreation industry that got us to this point, managed pay-to-play recreation is NOT going to be limited to motorized recreation. Hikers, bikers, climbers, equestrians, boaters and indeed anyone who enjoys recreation upon public lands will in the years to come find themselves being increasingly restricted to consuming scripted, constricted, proscribed, pre-packed, pay-for-experience recreational products offered in heavily-managed, commercially-oriented, recreational venues. And while this solution may be appropriate for motorized recreation (they did, after all, request it!), when applied to traditional forms of non-motorized outdoor recreation, this paradigm threatens to bring about the End of Nature and the Disneyfication of the Wild. –“Scott Silver” ssilver@wildwilderness.org

19) Motor users made lots of comment but there was little participation from non-motorized users at the workshop Wednesday night designed to gather input on a motorized trail plan. The Bridger-Teton National Forest is seeking to identify trails and roads appropriate for motorized use under federal guidelines that say unrestricted motor travel is no longer appropriate. Today the unrestricted zones include areas of the Hoback Basin, Granite Creek, Munger Mountain, Mosquito Creek, Phillips Ridge, the Gros Ventre Area, Shadow Mountain, and the Blackrock-Towgotee Pass area. Wednesday’s meeting was the second of six that will focus on the various areas. Several people said proper signage is the first step to keeping motorized and non-motorized users on the right trails and out of conflicts. “They [trails] are not clearly marked for people who are out there not expecting to see an ATV or a motorcycle,” said Jackson resident Debbi Blair. “We’d end up in a huge fight with somebody out there hiking.” Another concern is that the new rules will result in lost opportunities for people who ride motorized vehicles. “I’ve seen too many trails that the Forest Service has a problem with, and the answer is to shut it down,” said Dale Petersen. “That’s just not right.” Meeting attendees also said the Forest Service should have enough rangers enforcing the new trail systems. “It seems like you guys are kind of understaffed,” said Mark Antrobus, who wants strict enforcement of the new rules. “If they’re caught, it has to be a heavy handed fine.” To pay for enforcement, trail upkeep, and signage on the new trail systems, the Forest Service will use a combination of federal money, state money, and fees from motorized vehicle stickers, said David Wilkinson, a forest recreation technician for the Jackson Ranger District. Doug Wachob said that trail restoration and erosion control need to be addressed in the new system. “A lot of trails out there right now… are in the worst possible spot,” he said. Some people said that they would pay increased fees to see the Forest Service properly patrol and maintain the area. Petersen suggested that mountain bikers should pay fees as well. http://www.jacksonholenet.com/news/jackson_hole_news_article.php?ArticleNum=1435

Canada:

20) The owners of a property on the Oakville-Milton boundaries could be ordered to spend about $500,000 to restore the mature trees they cut down three years ago — on top of a fine that could be more than $400,000 for illegally clearing the property. George Vastis of Burlington and a numbered company were convicted last month on 44 charges of illegally clearing some 20,000 trees from the environmentally significant forest for a planned golf course. Vastis and his wife Helen, a senior Hamilton city hall corporate lawyer, were listed as officers of the numbered company that owns the land. Neither were in Milton court yesterday for the start of a sentencing hearing. After it, justice of the peace Jerry Woloschuk will rule on a penalty. Court heard from a biologist with an extensive background in environmental consulting and ecosystem restoration and a specialty in botany, ecology and wetlands. Dale Leadbeater said the 10-hectare cleared forest requires a high-intensity restoration plan costing about $465,000 to get it back to the ecosystem it was. Leadbeater said this includes restoring the soil to a healthy makeup for the trees, planting trees of the species that were cleared, and watering and monitoring by a biologist or conservation authority. The greater the effort, the greater the restoration, she testified. The destruction of the trees outraged environmentalists and provoked an outcry for greater development controls. The case has dragged through the courts for three years. Vastis and the numbered company were charged under a Halton Region tree conservation bylaw and the provincial Forestry Act with destroying trees in a woodlot and in a designated Environmentally Sensitive Area. http://www.hamiltonspectator.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=hamilton/Layout/Article_
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21) International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) celebrates the incredible journeys of migratory birds between their breeding grounds in North America and their wintering grounds in Mexico, Central, and South America. It is held each year on the second saturday in May. The focus of the 2006 IMBD was the North American Boreal Forest. Covering an area equivalent to 75% of the contiguous United States, the North American Boreal Forest is of immense global importance to landbirds, especially during the spring and summer when millions of individual birds rely on boreal nesting grounds. Of the 325 species that regularly occur in this region, an estimated 94% of all individuals migrate out of the Boreal Forest region after breeding. Many of these individuals migrate as far as the Tropical Andes of Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela. A total of 96 Boreal Forest breeding migrants have been documented to regularly occur in the Tropical Andes. These include 37 species for which 50% or more of their breeding distribution lies within the Boreal Forest. Nine of these species have breeding distributions primarily restricted to the Boreal Forest and wintering ranges restricted to the Tropical Andes. http://www.birdlife.org/news/news/2006/05/imbd.html

Mediterranean Forests:

22) Issued on the eve of the International Wines and Spirits Fair that opens Tuesday in London, a new report by the global conservation organization WWF predicts that three-quarters of the western Mediterranean’s cork oak forests could be lost within 10 years. The survival of these unique forests depends upon the market for cork wine closures, but the WWF report, “Cork Screwed?” says the trend away from cork stoppers could lead, in the worst case scenario, to synthetic and screw tops holding 95 percent of the wine closure market by 2015. “The cork oak forests could face an economic and environmental crisis unless we take action to secure their future now,” said Rebecca May, a forests campaigner at with WWF-UK. Cork harvesting is an environmentally friendly process during which no trees are cut down. WWF says synthetic and screw top closures are more harmful to the environment because they use more energy in production and are oil-based products. Cork stoppers, which are biodegradable and can be recycled into other products, represent almost 70 percent of the total cork market value. The cork forests support more than 100,000 people in the cork-producing countries of Portugal, Spain, Algeria, Morocco, Italy, Tunisia and France. Because of the predicted decline in the cork stoppers market, up to two million hectares of cork oak forests, an area half the size of Switzerland, will be put at a heightened risk of desertification and forest fires. The cork oak, which thrives in the hot, arid conditions of southern Portugal, helps protect the soil from desertification and cork oak forests are inhabited many species, including the wild boar and rare birds such as the black stork and the Egyptian mongoose. Endangered species such as the Iberian lynx, Barbary deer and the Imperial Iberian eagle would be further put at risk of extinction, if natural corks are displaced by plastic and screwtops, the WWF report says. Cork trees can live up to 500 years. Harvesters strip the thick bark, leaving the trees alive to produce more. By Portuguese law, the cork can be stripped every nine years, but it takes at least 40 years for the bark to become commercially viable and most cork farms are passed down from generation to generation. But a warming climate and a changing economy are squeezing the cork industry. In the rich cork oak habitat near Monchique in southern Portugal, farmers have been converting to fast growing species like eucalyptus that can be harvested more quickly and at greater profit. http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/may2006/2006-05-15-01.asp

Rwanda:

23) GISHWATI FOREST, Rwanda // In 1995, a Rwandan named Gad Tegeri cut down a tree in the Gishwati Forest Reserve, 30 square miles of soaring hardwoods in the hills east of Rwanda’s largest lake. He and his family, returning to Rwanda from exile in Congo, needed land to grow food. The Gishwati forest seemed more fertile ground for restarting life than United Nations refugee camps outside the city of Gisenyi. So, with his wife, baby daughter and his machete, Tegeri climbed the slopes into the forest and started chopping. Other refugees followed and cleared more land for themselves. Over the next five years, tree by tree, they cleared all but a few acres of what had been a protected forest. They replaced the African mahoganies and kosso trees with a patchwork of corn and potato fields that helped free them from U.N. handouts of food. And now, in part because of Tegeri and other former refugees like him, Rwanda is almost devoid of trees. It is another misfortune for Rwanda, a debilitating side effect of the violence in 1994 when gangs of Hutus, the majority ethnic group, killed an estimated 800,000 people, most of them Tutsis. Although the destruction of forests was largely ignored at the time, that loss of forestland is bringing ruin to the country’s farmers and to Rwanda’s economy. Rwanda is Africa’s most densely populated country and one of the most intensively farmed. Almost every hill is terraced and farmed, the mountainsides stepped in lush green strips. Bean and sorghum fields press against red-tiled houses; banana trees are cultivated right up to the edge of paved roads. Until the mid-1990s, the government managed to protect the country’s forest reserves from the population pressures. But by the time refugees such as Tegeri were on the move, environmental concerns were no longer anyone’s priority. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nationworld/bal-te.rwanda21may21,0,6483729.story?coll=bal
-nationworld-headlines

Haiti:

24) The floods that blight the seaside slum known as God’s Village in Port-au-Prince arrive with a vengeance, even on days when the rains are light. Waves of coffee-colored mud slide off the mountains into canals heaping with garbage. Sewers overflow and stone walls topple. The waters rise above sandbags and the rusting auto chassis that line a canal. Drowned pigs, dogs and rats float in the fetid mix – a reddish-brown swirl seeping into the sea as though the very land is hemorrhaging. “The mud, it comes fast and hard, but this one isn’t so bad – we’ve had much worse,” says Boss Nirva, wading through the muck that swamps his shanty. “It didn’t even rain hard here. This is the consequence of what happens in the mountains up there, the lack of trees and all. We’re always at the mercy of the floods.” In Creole they are called lavalas – “cleansing floods” that rush down from the mountains like an avalanche from June to November. But the floods no longer cleanse in Haiti, an eroding nation whose very soil is vanishing beneath its people’s feet. A quest for fire has destroyed trees and forests, turning once-lush mountains into yellowing, naked rocks. Rivers and lakes are dying, and tons of mounting garbage and contaminants are breeding disease. By every measure, Haiti’s 8 million inhabitants are living in a state of profound ecological crisis, an ongoing catastrophe little noticed by world leaders preoccupied by wars and conflicts in much larger lands. Less than 1 percent of Haiti remains covered in forest. In the last five decades, more than 90 percent of its tree cover has been lost – an area three times the size of the Everglades. The resulting erosion has destroyed an estimated two-thirds of the country’s fertile farmland since 1940, while its population has quadrupled. http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/custom/interactivefeature/sfl-haiti-index,0,4407594.htmlst
ory?coll=sfla-news-utility

Nicaragua:

25) Local inhabitant of the Tortuguero municipality Leo Alfonso Borges Gutierrez lamented the destruction of the Kum Kum River saying “the waters have been converted into a cemetery of fish, crabs and other aquatic wildlife” while “cows and other farm animals that drink the water have fallen ill and even died.” Borges believes the main sources of contamination in the river are the chemicals used by the logging companies to preserve the wood they transport out of the region by water. On May 8 the Forestry Institute (INAFOR) delegate for the RAAS, Alí Waters Garth, said it is likely that action will be taken against the Guatemalan company Madera Giron S.A. because they have failed to comply with the regulations set out in their contract to work in timber logging in the communities of Santa Fe and La Esperanza, situated in the Waspam municipality. Waters explained the company would either have its contract cancelled or be fined due to the damage it has caused to the local environment. The local indigenous communities of Santa Fe and La Esperanza are outraged at the Guatemalan company which they say has destroyed an extensive area of the communities’ land. The communities were never in favor of the company being given permission to work in the area and are angry that authorization was given for logging such large areas of forest (1,451 hectares). According to community leaders, officials of Maderas Giron S.A. have shown them documents which claim a meeting between the multinational and the locals took place on July 8, 2004, in which several points about the company’s logging activities were mutually agreed. The community leaders say they were not present at this meeting, however, and were never informed of the agreement.

Brazil:

26) Sao Paulo – Greenpeace volunteers unfurled a 300 square metre banner in a massive area of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest this morning with the words ‘KFC – Amazon Criminal’ – in advance of Kentucky Fried Chicken’s (KFC) Annual General Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky tomorrow. Activists in 2 inflatable boats also protested against US commodities giant Cargill, at its illegal soya export facility in the heart of the Amazon, which supplies KFC with animal feed in Europe. They held up a banner saying ‘Cargill Out’, as rainforest soya was being prepared for export. Both protests highlight the fact that KFC is fuelling the destruction of the Amazon by selling cheap chicken fed on soya grown on deforested land. Recent Greenpeace investigations have traced the chain of rainforest destruction directly from the heart of the Amazon, via Cargill’s facility, to KFC’s European restaurants, which sell bucket-loads of cheap soya-fed chicken to millions of people every day. “Deforestation, slavery, use of toxic chemicals, land theft, illegal farming and the extinction of rare species are a recipe for disaster in the Amazon rainforest, but they are ingredients in KFC’s quest for cheap animal feed,” said Greenpeace International Forest Campaign Coordinator Gavin Edwards. “Fast food companies like KFC must take Amazon deforestation off their menu before it is too late for the world’s greatest rainforest.” The Amazon rainforest is being destroyed at an alarming rate and is in urgent need of protection. Since January 2003, nearly 70,000 km2 has been destroyed, equivalent to an area of rainforest the size of 6 football pitches every minute. Soya, which is mainly grown to feed animals, is a leading cause of this destruction. A report last month in Nature magazine revealed that 40% of the Amazon will be lost by 2050 if current trends in agricultural expansion continue, threatening bio-diversity and massively contributing to climate change. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/eating-up-the-amazon

27) RIO DE JANEIRO – Ignorance about the problems afflicting the Brazilian Amazon leads to policies based on erroneous views, says Tarcisio Feitosa da Silva, a winner of the 2006 Goldman Environmental Prize for his defence of a series of Amazon reserves that comprise the world’s largest tropical ecological corridor. Violence and environmental crimes that go unpunished, populations abandoned to poverty, the fraudulent appropriate of public lands, and widespread deforestation are some of the main problems affecting this region. The 35-year-old activist is a member of the Catholic Pastoral Lands Commission, working to to defend peasant farmers, and of the Movement for the Development of the Trans-Amazon and the Xingú, a network of 114 non-governmental organisations. Q: What is the Goldman Prize recognising in your case? A: The history of the struggle of the social movement in the Xingú basin. We are creating the world’s largest ecological corridor, with a mosaic of 42 areas of integral conservation, indigenous lands, and sustainable development units, totaling 282,489 square kilometres (the equivalent area of Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua combined). In that zone we face several threats: agribusiness, illegal takeover of public lands, and violence in the (northern) state of Pará. In the past decade, there were 722 assassinations there for agrarian conflicts, practically without punishment for the assassins. http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=33218

Andes:

28) A total of 96 Boreal Forest breeding migrants have been documented to regularly occur in the Tropical Andes. These include 37 species for which 50% or more of their breeding distribution lies within the Boreal Forest. Nine of these species have breeding distributions primarily restricted to the Boreal Forest and wintering ranges restricted to the Tropical Andes. The Tropical Andes region is one of the biologically richest yet most threatened areas in the planet. Covering just 3% of the world it nevertheless holds 28% of the world’s bird species, many of them endemic, and 130 in imminent danger of extinction. To expedite the conservation of the unique biodiversity of the Tropical Andes, BirdLife International and Conservation International together with partner organizations in each country have identified a network of 455 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) – sites of global significance for the conservation of birds. However, it is not just the endemic species which are threatened with extinction. The populations of many migratory species are also undergoing marked population declines. At least 40 species of landbirds are experiencing population declines in the boreal forest and range-wide, according to long-term Breeding Bird Survey trends, and 30 species of migrants that occur in the Tropical Andes are considered as “Birds of Conservation Concern” (17 species of landbirds and 13 waterbirds). Among the species of conservation concern that depend on both the Boreal Forest and forests in the Tropical Andes are Canada Warbler and the globally near-threatened Olive-sided Flycatcher. With support from USFWS, BirdLife has recently completed an analysis of the importance of these IBAs for the conservation of Neotropical migrants. The information compiled shows that 39 IBAs in the Tropical Andes regularly maintain wintering populations of Olive-sided Flycatcher and Canada Warbler. These IBAs are located primarily on the east slope of the Andes in Colombia and Ecuador. While the breeding habitat of many Boreal Forest migrants is still relatively intact, the same is not true for their wintering range in the Tropical Andes. The altitudinal range which is the center of abundance for many migratory species, from 500 to 2000 m, is also one of the most threatened by habitat destruction. Of the IBAs found in this area, 51% are threatened by agricultural expansion and intensification, 37% by too frequent burning, and 32% by selective logging. Four of the thirty-nine key IBAs are totally unprotected, and a further ten are only partially protected. http://www.birdlife.org/action/science/sites/neotrops/andes/index.html http://www.birdlife.org/news/news/2006/05/imbd.html

Bhutan:

29) Most people here are beginning to realize the importance of forest in their lives. In many resettlement areas, trees have now appeared on the barren landscapes. Farmers have even introduced tree plantations in small scale in uncultivable agriculture lands and they are even encouraged for plantation at the macro level. The Dzongkhag Forestry Sector was requested to help sensitize villages to the possibilities of community plantations and enlist the cooperation of the villagers in protecting the existing plantations. Since most of the farmers have realized the scarcity of valued timber species, the sector also helped in guiding the villagers to run private nurseries and small scale community plantations as promotional programmes. Although the importance of forest products is very obvious particularly to the resettlers, it is very difficult to assemble the required products available in the community areas. On behalf of public interest the forestry sector also conducted several farmers’ trainings on community and private forestry through multi-dimensional extensional delivery. After the training, it was observed that people were willing to voluntarily initiate privately registered forestry. The sector also encourages rural people to plant and tend their own tree plantations. Therefore, it is likely that sustainable and profitable uses of forest will become as much part of rural life as of raising livestock & growing crops. Farmers have found that, in some cases, growing trees can be more profitable than growing traditional cash crops. “Tree marriage” is a unique practice in south and is still very prevalent in most of the homesteads. It is usually a fusion of Ficus elastica (male) and Ficus religiosa (female) and is still very prevalent here. These two species are given good care and raised in different environmental conditions till it is time for “marriage”. According to local beliefs, raising such trees is an act to “flourish dharma”. To carry out the decentralized forestry activities successfully in the communities, people in Dekiling geog are on the road to differentiate “forested and deforested landscape”. To maintain and protect our noble objectives of 60% forest cover for all times to come, maintaining the privately registered trees on the farms would be one definite step in reducing the pressure on the national forest. http://www.moa.gov.bt/newsdetail.php?newsId=210&from=news

India:

30) The future of tigers, rhinos, musk deer and golden eagles is being seriously undermined because deforestation in the Himalayas is happening faster than previously thought Indian researchers who analysed high-resolution satellite images of the region found 15 per cent of the region’s forest cover was lost between the early 1970s and 2000. Maharaj Pandit, of the University of Delhi, predicts that if present trends continue half of the forests will be gone and a quarter of the animal and plant species native to the biologically diverse area will be lost by 2100. Species threatened by deforestation in the Himalayas include the Bengal tiger, Indian rhinoceros, Asian elephants, black bears, musk deer, golden eagles, leopards and bearded vultures. Large proportions of the remaining populations of some of these animals live in the Himalayan region, an area long recognised as extremely rich in animal and plant diversity. Research published last year in the journal Science concluded Himalayan watersheds have ecosystems of even greater biodiversity than the Amazon. The researchers believe that Indian government statistics suggesting forest cover in the Indian part of the Himalayas will increase by more than 40 per cent between 1970 and 2100 are based on a lack of technical expertise and resources. They fear the erroneous data is leading to the approval of too many schemes such as hydroelectric dams and an emphasis on stopping commercial logging when the greatest cause of deforestation is local people using wood for fuel and fodder. They estimate that by the end of the century less than a third of the dense forest on which the species depend will survive in the western Himalayas and that more than a quarter will be lost in the east of the region. The researchers believe these are conservative estimates and fear deforestation could progress even more quickly because of population growth and increased agriculture. Jennifer Headley, the co-ordinator of the World Wildlife Fund UK programme for the eastern Himalayas, said: “The biggest concerns for us are the large mammals, particularly tigers, elephants and rhinos. “They require a huge amount of space. Deforestation affects their ability to move about which affects the gene pool and undermines the viability of the species.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/05/18/wforest18.xml&sSheet=/news/2
006/05/18/ixnews.html

31) Agricultural scientists have warned that certain species of exotic orchids, found in northeast India, are now severely depleted due to widespread deforestation and reckless smuggling. A recent survey found that about seventy orchid species, out of a total eight hundred which grow in the region consisting of seven hilly States, are on the verge of extinction. Northeast India has been designated a ‘mega diversity’ area for flora and fauna. There are approximately 1,300 orchid species growing throughout India. Scientists and experts are now pushing the Indian government to formulate a detailed plan for conservation of its biological wealth. “The unique biosphere zone should be taken as a single component,” said Dr. Shankar Kumar Das. Das, a scientist in the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is one of those attempting to preserve endangered species of orchids. “It’s a matter of grave anxiety that rare species of orchid are shrinking. Various sustainable steps need to be taken urgently,” he said. According to Das, the uncontrolled orchid export trade is a big problem, though he admits that it is possible for such trade to exist without causing severe depletion. Nevertheless, illegal smuggling continues to pose a grave threat to endangered orchids. Other factors affecting orchid loss include the improper use of land, unscientific cultivation (Jhuming), deforestation, and the general exploitation of natural resources which cause serious damage to India’s wealth of biodiversity. Experts state that northeast India has been identified as one of 18 ‘hot spot’ areas in the world (areas in serious distress) in terms of the threat faced by the existing flora and fauna. Deforestation through various means, including burning and cutting down forest trees for timber, has been the major cause for the depletion of Indian orchids. A large number of orchid species, which were once abundant in Indian forests, are now at the verge of extinction. Some have become so rare that botanical teams are unable to trace them. An example of this is Paphiopedilum druryi, a species which was once found in great quantities in South India’s Agastaya Hills, and is now difficult to locate. http://www.worldpress.org/Asia/2355.cfm

Thailand:

32) Bangkok – ‘Life tree’ for tsunami dead — Five pagoda-like towers rising 30m from the forest will be among the features of a Spanish-designed memorial in Thailand to remember the thousands killed in the 2004 tsunami. In the middle of the towers will be an artificial mangrove area featuring what the designers call a “life tree”, with branches and leaves representing the tsunami victims. http://www.thestar.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=3251662

Vietnam:

33) Construction of a new $200 million pulp and paper factory began Thursday in Vietnam’s northern Tuyen Quang province. The An Hoa Paper and Pulp Factory, scheduled to go on stream by late 2009, has a designed annual capacity of 130,000 tons of pulp in the first phase and will begin producing paper in the second phase. Located in Son Duong district, the factory is expected to provide jobs for thousands of workers and a source of income for thousands of local forest growers. The domestic pulp supply of 2 million tons per year now meets just 34 percent of paper mills’ demand. http://www.thanhniennews.com/business/?catid=2&newsid=15654

Indonesia:

34) Whilst the release of the 42 wild orangutans last month meant that we had more space to take in new rescues, we are once again almost out of cages. BOS UK and BOS Germany have promised to pay for the rapid construction of more quarantine cages until we can hopefully secure the release site in the Baktitop valley. But we have a long dry season ahead of us, and in the immediate region, hundreds, if not thousands of orangutans will need rescuing. While our people try to lobby for an end to forest conversion to oil palm, so many orangutans continue to perish. With no other orangutan conservation group actively rescuing orangutans from palm oil plantations, we have an insurmountable task ahead of us, with less than half of the budget for Nyaru Menteng presently covered. To this end, Lone and I have been writing proposals for funding of different aspects of the project until late into the nights. We were pleased to receive some very much needed support from the Australian Orangutan Project last week, but still much more is needed. Please contact me directly if you or an organization in which you are involved would like to see any of the proposals. (info@savetheorangutan.co.uk) On one of the rescues last week, the team came back with a tiny infant, only a couple of months old. We named her Amber, after a little girl I know who has been tirelessly campaigning and raising funds for the project. I babysat Amber (the orangutan) while Lone was ill, and unlike the Amber I know (and have often babysat as well), this Amber goes to sleep when it is bedtime. Like any baby, she wakes during the night for feedings, but unlike others, she does not cry, or indeed make a sound. Lying across my chest and clutching my hair, she would simply start mouthing at my neck or face to wake me and let me know she needed feeding. Easily the least stressful babysitting job I have had to date. Please sign our petition to rescue over 100 smuggled orangutans in Thailand:
http://www.thePetitionSite.com/takeaction/822035733

World-wide:

35) JAKARTA The rapidly expanding world pulp mill industry could be poised for collapse due to a failure by financial institutions to research how wood is going to be found to feed new mills, the Indonesian-based Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) said in a report. It said false assumptions about the origins and cost of wood used in emerging market mills has led investors to channel billions of dollars into financially risky and environmentally destructive ventures. Funded by the European Commission and the UK’s Department for International Development, the research analyzed 67 pulp mill projects. A lack of due diligence may lead to ‘a new wave of ill-advised projects, setting up investors, forest-dependent communities, and the environment for a precipitous fall,’ a statement accompanying the report said. More than 40 bln usd has been poured into pulp mill projects over the last decade, with a further 54 bln usd expected to be invested by 2015, much of it in Brazil, China, Indonesia, Uruguay and the Baltic States, with low wood costs the major factor driving expansion, the report said. ‘Financial institutions have shown a surprising lack of interest in understanding how the pulp companies requesting loans are going to get all this cheap wood,’ David Kaimowitz, director general of CIFOR, said in the statement. ‘In reality, some of these mills have vastly overestimated what’s legally available from timber plantations. So the only way they can meet production targets is through unsustainable logging of natural forests or by shipping in wood from distant sources at a much higher cost.’ The CIFOR report said that when the required wood cannot be sourced from plantation forests, illegal logging and the clearing of natural forests occur instead. ‘The study concludes that pulp mill projects often carry significantly higher degrees of financial risk than investors realize,’ the statement said. CIFOR singled out two Indonesian-based companies, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International Ltd (APRIL), saying that its financial institutions had failed to conduct proper due diligence. http://www.forbes.com/business/feeds/afx/2006/05/11/afx2737880.html

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