096OEC’s This Week in Trees

This week we 36 news items from British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Delaware, Maine, USA, Canada, France, England, Greece, West Indies, Ecuador, India, Philippines, New Zealand, Malaysia, Indonesia and World-wide.

British Columbia:

1) Eagleridge Bluffs protest leader Dennis Perry was arrested at 11:20 a.m. today for violating a court order not to trespass on the site of a planned alteration to the Sea to Sky Highway. Perry was the 19th protester arrested by police during a two-hour operation. Several protesters, including 77-year-old Betty Krawczyk, were carried away on a vinyl sling usually used for rescue operations. Perry’s 19-year-old daughter Hanna was among those arrested. The protesters are being taken to West Vancouver police station and are expected to be released later in the day. Police plan to explore the construction area to search for and ultimately remove at least three other protesters, including one perched 10 metres up a fir tree. From there, they will continue down the road to the Black Mountain trail head where several protesters are still waiting. The Coalition to Save Eagleridge Bluffs is fighting a plan to blast a route through the bluffs as part of the Sea to Sky Highway plans for the 2010 Winter Olympics. It says the construction will cause major environmental destruction and argues there are cheaper alternatives. Peter Kiewit Sons, the company that has the contract for the road work, obtained an injunction last week ordering protesters off the site, and an attempt to stay that order failed in court Tuesday. Lawyer Cameron Ward, who is representing Perry, argued against the enforcement order Wednesday, saying the law already requires police to deal with such matters under the Criminal Code. He noted a contempt of a court order raises the possibility of a serious new penalty for protesters. “The court’s process is really being used as a sledgehammer against people,” he said. “We’ve seen in the past, many, many times where people’s views are so passionately held that they’re prepared to get arrested. “This really turns the law on its ear and shouldn’t be countenanced by the court.” http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=8bda30bc-0cb2-45a6-94a7-c50e33f2f58f&

2) Earlier this month in Campbell River, NDP forest critic Bob Simpson boldly proclaimed the town’s Elk Falls Catalyst pulp mill – and the pulp industry in general – is on its last legs. And he said that community had better be prepared for the impact a pulp mill closure will have. North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure has given no indication he feels the same way about our Crofton pulp mill, but it would be unrealistic to suggest it hasn’t crossed his mind. And it is a simple fact Lefebure is concerned with the provincial government’s position that B.C. municipalities must stop treating heavy industry as a cash cow. The Liberals have made it clear they want communities to remove themselves from that teat in a quick and orderly fashion before they are unceremoniously yanked away. http://www.ladysmithchronicle.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=18&cat=48&id=653377&more=


3) OLYMPIA – With the threat of a lawsuit looming, the state is moving forward with two new rules intended to expand protection for the northern spotted owl, whose numbers have been in rapid decline. The state Forest Practices Board will hold four public hearings around the state on two proposed amendments. The first hearing is Thursday in Kelso. Three others will be held during the first two weeks of June in Forks, Yakima and Mount Vernon. The board could make a decision on Aug. 9 to make the rules permanent. One rule imposes a temporary moratorium on the practice of “decertifying” spotted owl sites until June 30, 2007, when a federal recovery plan for the owl is expected. The state has opened thousands of acres of forest lands to logging by decertifying so-called “owl circles,” a radius of 1.8 miles around sites where owls have been found. Conservationists blame decades of clearcutting in old-growth forests, the owls’ primary habitat, for the birds’ decline, and had sought a rule that put a moratorium on logging on all state and private lands unless an environmental review of the area to be logged was done first. “The emergency rule and new rulemaking does not go far enough to protect the species and maintain a forest habitat,” said Heath Packard, policy director of Audubon Washington. “Until adequate strategies are developed and implemented to achieve recovery of the population, we should not be harvesting owl habitat.” Because the board did not adopt the more restrictive moratorium, the Seattle and Kittitas chapters of the Audubon Society filed a 60-day notice in April of their intent to sue Weyerhaeuser Co. and the state Department of Natural Resources. http://www.komotv.com/stories/43599.htm


4) Only Who Can Prevent Forest Fires? The Los Angeles Times’ banner headline read “Report Oregon Bombing. Jap Aircraft Carrier Believed Sunk.” It was September 15, 1942. A seaplane had been spotted near Mt. Emily, Oregon, nine miles north of Brookings. A forest fire had been started near the mountain. Harold Gardner, a forest service lookout, rushed to the area and quickly extinguished the flames. Then a forest service patrol found a foot-deep crater. Nearby were forty pounds of spongy pellets and metal fragments, some of which were stamped with Japanese ideograms. A metal nosecone was also found. That same day a Japanese submarine was sited in the Pacific thirty miles off the Oregon coast due west of Mt. Emily. An Army patrol plane bombed the sub, but results of the bombing were unknown. Less than a year after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese had set out to strike a blow against the American mainland, but they failed to cause a massive fire in the dry Oregon forest. Fast forward 60 years, to July 13, 2002. An Oregon Department of Forestry pilot spotted a rising column of black smoke near Chetco Peak, not far from where the Japanese bomb had landed. The pilot immediately reported it to the dispatcher at Grants Pass. This fire would be named Biscuit 1. Faced with a law that has made the courts less useful, the enviros have squealed like hogs caught in a gate. The Heritage Forests Campaign decried the law as “exploiting the fear of wildfires in order to . . . boost commercial logging.” Matthew Koehler of the Native Forest Network said the Bush administration and some in Congress were “cynically using the wildfires in their never-ending quest to cut more trees . . .” The Alabama Environmental Council accused President Bush of trying to “‘greenwash’ his logging agenda.” Wilderness Society president William H. Meadows called it “cynical politicking,” and said the forest “is too valuable to be handed over to the logging industry.” Gazing steadily into Alice’s looking glass, the Sierra Club argued that logging can increase the risk of fires. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/05/25/opinion/main1654935_page2.shtml


5) FRESNO, Calif. — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday rejected a petition to list the California spotted owl under the Endangered Species Act, saying the population is stable and programs that prevent forest wildfires will allow it to thrive. The decision rankled the environmental groups that had requested protection of the speckled, football-sized owl. This was their second effort to list the bird in three years. The petition’s denial was based in part on the recommendation of scientists commissioned to study the owl, said Steve Thompson, manager of the agency’s California-Nevada operations office. They found that fires that creep through excessive brush and eventually consume the old-growth forests the owls prefer are their main threat, Thompson said, adding that U.S. Forest Service tree thinning programs will prevent the spread of flames and ensure the owls remain off the endangered list. But environmentalists protested, saying the Sierra Nevada Forest Plan, amended in 2004 to allow cutting trees of up to 30 inches in diameter, is logging in disguise and destroys owl habitat. “They’re completely off base,” said Noah Greenwald, with the Center for Biological Diversity’s Portland office. “Logging is by far the most serious threat to the California spotted owl and the kind of fuel reduction they’re talking about is just that _ logging.” Greenwald said that it’s long been understood that the owls need mature trees. He said that thin, easily consumed vegetation such as grass, brush and small trees under 12 inches in diameter are what feed the raging fires that can race through California’s hills in summer and fall. Environmentalists said the petition’s denial has more to do with the current political climate than with threats facing the owl. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/23/AR2006052301521.html

6) Folk singer Joan Baez sat in a tree today to protest the pending eviction of more than 300 urban farmers from a community garden in South Los Angeles. Baez was joined on her perch by two other famed tree sitters: Julia Butterfly Hill, who in the late 1990s lived in a redwood in Northern California for more than 700 days, and John Quigley, who spent more than 70 days in 2002 in an oak in Santa Clarita. Meanwhile on the ground, a large group of news photographers and camera operators strained to get a shot of the trio and other celebrities, including actress Daryl Hannah, who showed off her tent. Efforts to save the 14-acre garden at 41st and Alameda streets suffered a serious setback last week when a nonprofit group trying to acquire the parcel said it was still $10 million short of the owner’s asking price. The owner, developer Ralph Horowitz, wants $16.35 million for the property. The option to purchase the property was to have expired Monday. That means that as many as 350 families and individuals, many of whom have been growing fruit and vegetables on the site for years, could be evicted as soon as this week. Earlier this spring the nonprofit Trust for Public Land said it would try to acquire 10 acres on the site from Horowitz and then turn the land over to another agency to manage as a garden. The Trust for Public Land negotiated a 45-day period to raise money, but is $10 million short of the goal. The site has a contentious history. The city acquired the land from Horowitz through eminent domain in the 1980s for a planned trash incinerator — the infamous Lancer project — that was stopped by neighborhood opposition. After the 1992 riots, the city leased the land to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, which began the South Central community garden. In 2003, the city sold the land back to Horowitz for about $5 million. But the farmers did not leave and in the last three years — and particularly in recent weeks — the farmers and their representatives have frequently pleaded with the City Council during public testimony to intervene and save the land. The office of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been trying to help the farmers move to other sites. The largest is an eight-acre plot at 111th Street and Avalon Boulevard, which can accommodate 200 farmers. Thirty are already farming there, and the city, with the nonprofit Los Angeles Community Garden Council, will probably develop a lottery system to help divide up the land. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-052406tree_lat,0,7543714.story?coll=la-home-h

7) The San Jose City Council will vote on whether to impose the tougher fines and other measures at its meeting today. The proposed fines, which apply to tree removals in park strips as well as on private property, come after residents complained at a public meeting last month that the penalties weren’t tough enough. The higher increments for second- and third-time offenders “takes it up pretty steeply,” said city arborist Ralph Mize. “It certainly is a disincentive to continue.” Rhonda Berry, director of Our City Forest, agrees. “It’s a positive step in getting us up to par with other cities,” she said. “It’s not leading the pack, but it’s definitely a huge improvement.” Current fines range from $300 for removing a tree that is six inches in diameter to $500 for one that is 24 inches in diameter. Under the proposal, the first violation would range from $500 to $2,000, the second from $1,000 to $4,000, and the third to $1,500 to $6,000. The fines are stiffer for heritage trees, which the city has determined have “special significance” because of their size, history or qualities. Fines would escalate from the current $5,000 to $30,000. The higher fines are expected to generate $30,000 to $100,000 in new annual city revenue, according to a city memo. If approved by the council Tuesday, the fines would become effective July 7. While supporting the proposed fee increases, resident Diane Gonzales believes the city should pay more attention to education and enforcement. “It’s not pro-active, it’s re-active,” she said of the proposal. Residents need to be educated about trees and their importance to neighborhoods, she said, giving an example from her Hensley Historic District. After a tree that had been shading a neighbor’s home was cut down, his energy bills escalated to $150 a month. “That tree that everyone took for granted” was a significant part of that neighborhoods’ environment, she said. Mize said that if the council approves the new rules, the city would include information in garbage bills in the fall, make presentations to neighborhood groups and also contact local contractors and tree service companies. http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/states/california/the_valley/14646296.

8) This past Friday Pacific Lumber notified the Department of Forestry (CDF) that they will begin cutting two logging plans, one in Freshwater (“Upper McCready” 1-04-001) and one in Elk River (“Turkeyfoot 1-00-259”). The “Turkeyfoot” logging plan contains scattered patches of “Residual Old Growth”, these are stands of ancient forest that were partially harvested in the past but still contain varying amounts of old growth trees. There are other logging plans in Elk River that target Residual Old Growth Redwoods. There are larger stands in “Below15 Thin” 1-02-005 and “Second Serving”. PL will undoubtably try and cherry-pick the old growth from these logging plans as fast as possible and not neccesarily log everything given the restrictions on acres per year (a maximum of 380 acres per year in Elk River down from the previous limit of 600). This will be the first time that PL has been allowed to cut trees in these neighboring watersheds since June 16 2005. Logging was stopped because PL stalled the process for creating special waste discharge permits which would address the high levels of dirt and mud deposited in these watercourses from excessive recent and historical logging. Clearcutting and roadbuilding increased the runoff during rainstorms and the stream channels were choked with mud causing abnormal flooding during normal storms. The company was restricted to a low amount of logging in January of 2005 and then all logging in Freshwater and Elk River was completely halted in June of that year. Clearcutting and roadbuilding increased the runoff during rainstorms and the stream channels were choked with mud causing abnormal flooding during normal storms. In the first few months of 2005 the company’s logging was slightly restricted and by June of that year all logging in Freshwater and Elk River was completely halted by lawsuits brought by conservation groups. http://www.indybay.org/news/2006/05/1824461.php


9) “I’ve got very many vices and very few virtues,” Simpson said. “But when I say I’m going to do something, I do it or I die trying, and we will get this bill done with your help.” Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, is the creator of the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (CIEDRA). The bill would designate as wilderness over 300,000 acres in three units in the Boulder-White Clouds in exchange for a series of concessions to Custer County, most notably the transfer of about 3,500 acres of public land for private use. The bill relies heavily on compromise, seeking to balance the interests of ranchers, off-road vehicle enthusiasts, conservationists and Custer County, which is comprised of 96 percent federal land. By doing so, it has fractured the environmental community. Groups like the Boulder White Clouds Council and the Idaho Conservation League, which sponsored Wild Idaho, support CIEDRA. More die-hard environmentalists and larger national organizations, like the Sierra Club, have spoken out against the bill, claiming the concessions to Custer County are too great. Singer-songwriter Carole King, a Custer County resident, has also been an outspoken opponent of the bill. King is a supporter of the Rockies Prosperity Act, which seeks to designate more wilderness in the Boulder-White Clouds, but doesn’t seem keen on compromise. CIEDRA supporters have repeatedly stated that they’re against the land giveaways, but that protecting the Boulder-White Clouds will never come without compromise. Lynne Stone, president of the Boulder-White Clouds Council, has been fighting to protect the Boulder-White Clouds for 30 years. With a growing population of motorized users, who are generally anti-wilderness, Stone has repeatedly stated that “this is the last best chance” to designate
wilderness in the Boulder-White Clouds. She repeated Sunday that she disliked certain aspects of CIEDRA but has learned to accept them as part of the overall goal. She also expressed frustration with the Sierra Club and King for trying to sink CIEDRA to promote their own agendas.

10) I find it curious that Rep. Mike Simpson, whose League of Conservation
Voters score has never exceeded 6% (and has been zero for two of his four terms), now says he’s prepared to ‘die trying’ in his effort to pass a wilderness bill for Idaho. But then again, CIEDRA is much more than just a wilderness bill. If it passes, I wonder how LCV will score that vote? Will a vote for CIEDRA be counted as a vote FOR or AGAINST the environment? The appended article from today’s Mountain Express contains no new news. As far as I could tell, it was written simply to give Simpson an opportunity to call upon the public to write letters in support of his bill. “Scott Silver”

11) “Wal-Mart, through their Acres for America program, stepped up at a critical time to help make this 28,000 acre phase a reality. Along with their partners National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Trout Unlimited, they have helped secure a treasure for the people of Idaho,” said Mark Benson, Director of Public Affairs, Potlatch Corporation. The site, located in Shoshone County, lies within the St. Joe River and Coeur d’Alene/Spokane River basin in the panhandle of northern Idaho. It supports the only remaining spawning populations of threatened bull trout in the basin, and has been described as the best cutthroat trout fishery on the west side of the Rocky Mountains. “In my work representing the people and resources of this special area, I have been gratified by the federal support we’ve gotten for this win-win approach,” said U.S. Congressman Butch Otter. “And, wearing a very different hat, as co-chair of the private fundraising campaign for the St. Joe basin, I know firsthand just how important Wal-Mart’s philanthropy means to keeping jobs in these woods, to sportsmen’s access, and to the future of this spectacular landscape.” “This capstone grant protects nationally significant forest habitat on a scale that will sustain healthy fish and wildlife populations for at least the next 100 years,” said Jeff Trandahl, Executive Director, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. “We are proud to join the federal, state and private funding partners who have come together to sustain the unique economic, recreational and wildlife values of the St. Joe Basin,” he added. http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/060522/dam033.html?.v=54


12) LANSING – The state Senate approved legislation Tuesday aimed at boosting the logging industry in Michigan. The bills would provide tax incentives for private landowners to allow timber cutting on their property and give regulators fewer reasons to bar logging in state forests. The Republican-controlled Senate voted unanimously or overwhelmingly to send many of the bills to the House, which has approved similar legislation. But the Senate voted 26-12, with 11 Democrats and one Republican in opposition, to target what the state Department of Natural Resources calls “limiting factors” – reasons why the agency might not allow logging in specific locations in forest land. That bill would abolish factors that aren’t in state or federal law. Critics said the bill puts too much emphasis on cutting timber at the expense of preserving the habitat and protecting forest land for hunting and recreation. Kelly Dardzinski of Environment Michigan said the Senate-passed version of the legislation is an improvement over the House version but added in a statement: “We remain concerned at the timber industry’s continued attempts to force the Legislature to treat our state forests as little more than tree farms for their profit.” But supporters said Michigan has one of the country’s largest surpluses of timber and must log more of it to stay competitive and keep down wood costs. A sponsor of one bill, Republican Sen. Gerald Van Woerkom of Norton Shores, said Michigan’s forest industry has struggled in recent years. “My effort encourages private landowners to properly manage their land so timber supplies increase and this natural resource is preserved for future generations,” he said in a statement. http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/business/14649786.htm

13) IRONWOOD — The Ottawa National Forest is part of one of the last great northern hardwood forests in the world, and its new management plan will emphasize hardwoods. The plan approved in early May by regional forester Randy Moore, Milwaukee, differs from the 1986 plan in that it increases harvest targets over current levels and shifts the mode of management over a significant portion of the forest. “One of the changes there is a stronger emphasis on northern hardwoods management, and the restoration of that forest with all its conditions and structures,” said Ottawa National Forest planner Bob Brenner, a forester by trade. “What it means is that compared to the 1986 plan more land area will be managed for the restoration of northern hardwoods,” said forest supervisor Bob Lueckel, also a forester. The big change will be a shift in management in the southern end of the forest, south and east of Lake Gogebic. That area moves from being managed for even-aged hardwood to management for uneven-aged hardwood. The plan leaves timber harvests flat for the first 10 years, at about 90 million board feet per year, but increases Allowable Sale Quantities to 131 mmbf per year beginning 10 years from now. That wood fiber will come from 72,000 fewer acres, as the 1986 plan held 560,000 acres open for harvest. The 2006 plan keeps 488,000 acres in production. Ottawa planners took a closer look at major divisions of land “to understand better what the highest uses are,” Brenner explained. “I think we’ve demonstrated out commitment to the timber sale program,” said Lueckel. “We do everything we can with the budgets we get to run an active vegetation management program. To Steege, whose company’s holdings are about 16 percent of the 1-million-acre Ottawa, believes the harvest objectives are within easy reach. “We put up roughly 30 million feet in their terms per year,” he said. “We’re cutting sustainably, on an allowable cut basis. There’s no reason, with just 130 million feet, why they wouldn’t be able to sustain.” The continued restriction on logging acreage and harvest amounts is the result of action by one forest constituency and relative inaction by another, according to Cook. Barring a successful legal challenge or budget cuts, it appears Ottawa timber sales will be going up. http://www.ironwooddailyglobe.com/0522otmb.htm

14) Department of Natural Resources crews are busy this week cutting down diseased beech trees at the South Manistique Lake State Forest Campground. The park was closed down two weeks ago due to a severe infestation of beech bark disease. The DNR is cutting down 200 of the trees. “We’ve inventoried and came through this entire campground and identified every beech tree in here and basically took out anything that had any sign of beech scale on it,” explains Matt Edison, the DNR Forest Technician. Beech bark disease begins with infestation by an insect, the beech scale which carries with it a devastating fungus. That weakens the wood, causing it to snap. The state has an estimated 7.5 million beech trees, and officials feel they’re all vulnerable to the dsease. The DNR hopes to have the diseased trees removed this week, and the park re-opened by this weekend. http://www.wluctv6.com/Global/story.asp?S=4940333&nav=81AX


15) The state of Wisconsin still leads the nation in paper production, despite an ongoing reduction in production capacity, according to data released Monday. The Wisconsin Paper Council in Neenah, the trade association of the pulp and paper industry in Wisconsin, said that Wisconsin produced nearly 5.1 million tons of paper in 2003, the latest date available. The Paper Council based its figures on data from the American Forest and Paper Association, Washington, D.C. Wisconsin total topped the second-ranked state Maine by 44 percent. Maine produced 3.4 million tons in 2003. Alabama ranked third at 2.9 million tons and Washington was fourth with nearly 2.7 million tons of paper produced in 2003. Louisiana rounded out the top five with more than 2.3 million tons. “The latest figures demonstrate that the paper industry in Wisconsin is still the global leader,” said Patrick Schillinger, president of the Wisconsin Paper Council. “While there have been workforce reductions and some streamlining of the industry, our productions numbers are still high – we’re not going away. http://milwaukee.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/stories/2006/05/22/daily8.html?jst=b_ln_hl


16) The Gunflint Trail has always been one of Minnesota’s most scenic and storied roads, cutting into the heart of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and the vacation destination for generations of anglers and canoeists. The state made it official when the trail was named a Minnesota Scenic Byway in 1992. The road is being considered for federal byway status as well. But residents and business owners along the 56-mile, dead-end wilderness trail say a combination of state and federal logging plans along lower stretches of the road threaten the Gunflint’s aesthetic allure for decades. The combined Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Forest Service plans call for more than a dozen logging sites along the first 20 miles of the trail. Several of those plans call for clear-cuts down to the edge of the roadway. “None of us are against logging. But why does it have to be clear-cutting? And why does it have to be right up to the road?” said Ted Young, a member of the Gunflint Trail Association’s Scenic Byway committee. “If the Gunflint Trail doesn’t qualify for buffer strips, what does?” The Gunflint Trail Association has asked the DNR and Forest Service to reduce the amount of clear cutting, leave more old conifer trees standing at some sites, and simply not log at all in several narrow strips of forest along the road. Their concerns are being heard. State forestry officials said Friday they’ve put the logging plans on hold. The DNR had planned on selling the trees to loggers in June but will now wait until at least November, said Paul Dubuque, area DNR program forester.”We’re going to withdraw the plans for now. We want to meet with the association up there, and take them out to the sites and show them our 10-year plan for that area,” Dubuque said. “We still think that management is needed in those areas, but we want to establish a relationship with the people up there to explain that.” Despite the reprieve, the sale plans concern trail residents. The status of a state scenic byway offers no formal protections from logging, said Mark Anderson, Minnesota Department of Transportation scenic byways program manager. And it’s not clear whether the state’s logging guidelines for visual and aesthetic qualities will do much. http://www.duluthsuperior.com/mld/duluthsuperior/news/local/14639735.htm


17) “We also could see a difference in the type of damage. With loblolly and slash, the trees were snapped and when trees are snapped, they lose a lot of their value immediately,” Hughes said. “The longleaf pines mostly were leaning or uprooted. That gives landowners more opportunities to salvage these trees.” Hughes said unthinned stands of loblolly pines fared well in most cases. “But the minute you open them up (thin them), they became more susceptible to wind damage than longleaf pines,” he said. “Older, more open longleaf pines suffered significant damage.” Hughes said landowners may cut down trees sooner and thin less. “It’s something of a Catch-22. Older trees are worth more, but each year you carry a tree over, you run the risk of damage from another major hurricane,” he said. Hughes said although many people will be attracted to longleaf pines because of their endurance in Katrina’s wind, they are not for everyone. “Most of the longleaf seedlings produced now are containerized. They need good site preparation and more management involvement from the landowner. “Katrina illustrated that no species is immune from hurricane damage. Landowners can reduce the risks by diversifying the ages of their trees. People south of Hattiesburg should consider alter natives to loblolly pines,” he said. Hughes said a complicating factor in selling damaged trees has been the amount of wood placed on the market in south Mississippi by trees taken from the DeSoto National Forest. “These trees flooded an already saturated market,” Hughes said. “Loggers are hurting because of restrictions on the amount they can deliver to the mill, and landowners are hurting from the low prices.” For now, Hughes recommended owners hold onto undamaged timber in anticipation of the huge restoration effort that will come to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060522/NEWS/60522004

North Carolina:

18) Residential developer Newland Communities plans to buy 1,000 acres from Bowater Inc. in southeastern York County and develop the wooded Catawba River tract, according to a report in The Herald of Rock Hill. The land, accessible only by a dirt road, is in the Catawba community. The property lies along 2.5 miles of the Catawba River on a hilly blend of hardwood and pine forest with several small lakes. The company put the land up for sale several months ago, prompting the Nation Ford Land Trust, York County Forever, the Girl Scouts Hornets’ Nest Council, a local sportsman’s club and the York County government to make a $13.2 million offer, Murray White, chairman of the Nation Ford Land Trust, told the newspaper. The purchase price offered by Newland was presumably higher, but the amount hasn’t been disclosed. Newland has been involved in several major development projects in the Charlotte region, including the Highland Creek community and Tega Cay. http://charlotte.bizjournals.com/charlotte/stories/2006/05/22/daily6.html?jst=b_ln_hl


19) Some 60 companies make up Delaware’s timber industry, employing about 2,600 people who earn $92 million a year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2002, the latest available. The companies process the timber to produce everything from furniture to stamps to tea bags. “In the long run, and even now, one of the concerns is the supply of wood,” said Austin Short, state forestry administrator. “The reason we are losing supply is because we are converting the forest land to development.” Within the past three years, the pace at which forest in Delaware has been slotted for development has risen. 20 percent, from 2,500 acres a year to 3,000 acres a year, according to the Delaware Forest Service. A decision two years ago by a major paper manufacturer to sell off most of its 14,000 acres of timber in Delaware also is adding to anxiety in the industry. The state has begun a forest preservation program, but it has no money budgeted for forest preservation, even though Gov. Ruth Ann Minner’s administration has expressed its commitment to the program. Since December, the state has acquired conservation easements on more than 9,000 acres of forestland. The farmland program has preserved 18,200 acres of woodland. This has left the fate of the forests largely in the hands of private landowners. Nearly a third of Delaware, or about 380,000 acres, is covered by forest. Most of that land is in Sussex County and is privately held. The percentage of land covered by forest is slightly more than it was at its all-time low, which was about 350,000 acres in 1900. “Delaware no longer has any large expanses of forest land,” said Roger Jones, state director of the Delaware chapter of The Nature Conservancy. “The forests have been very fragmented as a result of changes in land use.” Gone are the days where there are 100 or more acres of forest in one place. The average land owner of forestland has about 10 acres. In addition to the challenges the industry is facing, the largest commercial timberland owner in Delaware, Glatfelter Pulp Wood Co., announced in 2003 it was going to sell its more-than-18,500 acres of land. Glatfelter contracts with about 30 companies in the region. So far, it has sold about 6,500 acres of land to the state, including some areas for preservation. It has plans to protect an additional 4,300 acres from its remaining 12,000 acres. But the future for the rest of its land remains in question. Some fear it could be sold for housing developments http://www.delawareonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060521/BUSINESS/605210303/-1/NEW


20) The biggest issue that splits the two Maines is the future of what both agree is the heart and soul of their Pine Tree State: the North Woods, the biggest unprotected forest east of the Mississippi. This wilderness helped give Mainers a common identity ? independent, resourceful, stoic ? and bind them together. Now, it threatens to tear them apart. The big paper companies that once owned most of the woods have sold out, usually to private investors from out of state. Although some logging continues, the land appears to be more valuable for raising houses than cutting trees. For example, Plum Creek Timber, the nation’s largest private landowner, wants to develop more than 900 homes and two resorts on scenic Moosehead Lake. It would be the largest residential subdivision development in state history, and it’s likely to be the first of many such proposals. Some people, such as Roxanne Quimby, co-founder of Burt’s Bees skin care products, want to make the North Woods a nature preserve and restrict logging, hunting, trapping and snowmobiling ? the very activities that local people consider their birthright. One proposal, unlikely to be realized soon, would create a national park larger than Yellowstone and Yosemite combined. Meanwhile, conservationists are buying land and banning hunting and other activities. Quimby, who sold her company two years ago for $177 million, has purchased about 70,000 acres. Will she keep buying? “As long as the
fortune holds out,” she says.Maine:


21) WASHINGTON, DC — Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives debated H.R. 4200, legislation to change forest management policy on federal lands. Congressman David Wu, along with the other Democratic members of the Oregon delegation, voted against the legislation. Following the recent debate, Congressman Wu issued the statement below: “While I support thinning and logging as forest management tools on public lands, I am very concerned this bill goes too far. “In 2005, 35% of the logging volume on our national forests came from timber salvage, all completed under existing policies that I have supported in the past. While they can be improved, the avenues currently in place do work. “This legislation changes the current system by circumventing important laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and the National Historic Preservation Act. “It is also troubling that this legislation would permit roads on lands presently designated as ‘roadless.’ I believe we must continue the balance between those lands we manage for harvesting and those we manage to preserve our natural heritage, to protect critical habitat and to keep our water clean. “Most importantly, any changes to existing thinning and logging practices should be based on sound science. Recent research at Oregon State University has called into question whether salvage logging is contrary to improving forest health.” To contact Congressman Wu, got o http://www.house.gov/wu/contact.htm

22) The Bush Administration is misleading the American public and the United Nations about its efforts to address tropical deforestation according to analysis by the Tropical Forest Group, an environmental advocacy group based in Santa Barbara, California. The Tropical Forest Group alleges that the US Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA), a key initiative to reduce carbon emissions and tropical deforestation, has been neglected for a year and a half despite recent claims by the Bush Administration that it was actively supporting the program. The Tropical Forest Group says that the Administration issued two official reports in April – one to a U.N. body and another for the American public on Earth Day. The first, “Submission of the United States: Views on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries: Approaches to Stimulate Action”, was sent to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and reads “the United States has made a significant and sustained commitment to helping tropical countries conserve and protect their forest resources.” The second statement, issued by the State Department on April 21, 2006 — the day before Earth Day — is titled “Bush Administration Launches New Global Conservation Initiatives” and states “…the Bush Administration, assisted by the Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES), has launched new global initiatives and partnerships, including those highlighted here.” The statement claims “the US is contributing or generating $150 million to conserve tropical forests worldwide” through the TFCA and the President’s Initiative Against Illegal logging. The Tropical Forest Group contends that these statements are misleading at best. According to their analysis the administration has committed far less money to these efforts and has not signed a new TFCA conservation agreement in 18 months. Hayley Nyeholt, TFG’s associate director says, “I don’t see how the Administration can make these proclamations with a straight face. They put $4 million into the President’s illegal logging initiative. $20 million was allocated to the TFCA this year.” http://news.mongabay.com/2006/0521-tfca.html


23) LAKE LOUISE, Alberta — One day in April, a zoologist named Paul Paquet found himself at the tiny railroad station here, in the middle of Banff National Park. Above him loomed the snow-covered crags of the Canadian Rockies, fringed with Douglas fir and lodgepole pine. A few dozen yards away, the Bow River glimmered in the sun. He surveyed his surroundings and grimaced. “This park,” he said. “It’s a national disgrace.” Sure it’s beautiful, he said, and, yes, it is one of the last places where grizzly bears can roam and wolves can hunt the elk and bighorn sheep that are their prey. “But there is a highway through the middle of the park, and development associated with it,” he said. As a natural environment, “it’s a disaster.” Dr. Paquet, who works for the World Wildlife Fund and has faculty appointments at several Canadian universities, is part of a collaborative group of researchers, conservationists, government officials and others hoping to improve things — not by removing roads or railways but by mitigating their effects. They want to create a sustainable environment for wildlife from the Yukon to Yellowstone, even as people move ever deeper into the Rocky Mountains of the United States and Canada. Participants in the collaboration, called Y2Y, have designed and monitored overpasses and underpasses to help animals cross highways safely. They have negotiated limits on access to golf courses and ski slopes so animals can traverse them. They have encouraged the creation of wildlife corridors around or even across towns. Their goal is not just a wolf pack surviving here and there, or a few scattered grizzly bears or elk or bighorn sheep, but a landscape in which animals can thrive, roaming and reproducing widely and avoiding the genetic perils of small populations trapped in shrinking habitats. When the researchers write up their findings for scientific journals, they call this goal “functional connectivity,” said Michael Proctor, a zoologist and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Alberta. He calls it “sex across the highway.” “People who come here are just so awestruck by the scenery that they cannot understand its ecological problems” he said. “They say, ‘How can there be trouble here?’ But once you peel back the veneer, this place is like most other places, a human-dominated system.”http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/23/science/earth/23corr.html?_r=2&8dpc&oref=slogin&o

24) Environmental activists continue to apply pressure to Limited Brands over the amount of recycled paper in the nearly 400 million Victoria’s Secret catalogs published annually. For the second year in a row at the retailer’s annual meeting, representatives of Forest Ethics yesterday raised the issue of recycling and the logging of endangered Canadian forests. Limited Brands Chairman and Chief Executive Leslie H. Wexner fielded questions from five activists and told them the company has a team of people working on the issue. The company is “committed to doing the right thing,” he said. The group wants Limited to dump International Paper as a vendor because one-fourth or more of its catalog paper comes from endangered areas in Canada’s boreal forest. A representative of International Paper didn’t return a phone call yesterday. Forest Ethics was established in 1994 to fight logging in the Clayoquot rain forest in British Columbia. Soon after, the group shifted its focus from protesting logging companies to pressuring companies that use or sell forest products, including Home Depot, Staples and Victoria’s Secret.”The loggers didn’t have a brand at stake and simply didn’t care,” O’Leary said. Now the group tries to get retailers and other large corporations to pressure the loggers and paper companies to change their sourcing, he said. http://www.columbusdispatch.com/business-story.php?story=dispatch/2006/05/23/20060523-C2-01


25) To mark the UN’s International Day for Biological Diversity today, Greenpeace activists continued their global actions against the world’s largest privately-owned company, US commodities giant, Cargill, for destroying the Amazon rainforest to grow soya to feed Europe’s farm animals. This morning, 18 activists in Orléans, France, closed down a Cargill-owned Sun Valley factory. Many of the million chickens which Sun Valley supplies to supermarkets and fast food restaurants across Europe every week are fed on Amazon soya. Today’s protests followed a series of tense protests in the over the weekend in the Brazilian city of Santarem, in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, where Cargill has illegally contructed a soya export facility. On Friday, a team of climbers from the Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise, shut down the facility. Cargill workers acted violently during the protest, ramming a Greenpeace inflatable boat and the Arctic Sunrise with their powerful tugboat. Three activists were injured, with one sustaining a broken finger and another suffering burns after having a firework launched at him. On Sunday, over a thousand people from Santarem joined Greenpeace and other non-governmental organisations reacted by taking to the streets of Santarem in protest against
Cargilll’s destruction of the Amazon. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/cargill-amazon


26) In Surrey, UK, Greenpeace dumped nearly four tonnes of soya at the entrance of Cargill’s European Headquarters where Cargill managers organise the shipping of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of Amazon soya to Europe. Several activists chained themselves to a gate to prevent the company’s 300 employees gaining access to the site. Greenpeace Amazon campaign co-ordinator, Thomas Henningsen, said: “Most people have never even heard of this company, but its playing a part in one of the great environmental tragedies of our time. The Amazon is one of the most bio-diverse areas on Earth and we need it to stabilise the planet’s climate, but this company is trashing the rainforest to grow soya to feed Europe’s farm animals. We’ll stay here until Cargill agrees to a moratorium to stop destroying the Amazon rainforest. Until it does, companies like KFC, Tesco and Albert Heijn should avoid buying Cargill’s Amazon-fed products.” http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/cargill-amazon


27) Swaths of recently reforested land on Mount Pendeli, north of Athens, have been illegally appropriated and used to build homes and roads while authorities have been looking on without stepping in to prevent construction, Sunday’s Kathimerini has discovered. Sources said that developers and land-grabbers have been moving into the area at a fast pace over recent years, taking advantage of legal loopholes and lumbering bureaucracy. Forested areas of Mount Pendeli have suffered from a long series of fires over the last 11 years. In 1995, 6,500 hectares were burned, and in the most destructive fire of recent years, in 1998, some 9,600 hectares of forestland were scorched. Since then, there has been at least one fire on Pendeli’s slopes every year – albeit less destructive. Once the trees have been burned down, professional and private developers often move in, looking to build homes on the land before new trees are planted there. They take advantage of the situation because it is illegal to build on land that is registered as part of a forest or is to be reforested. Some 3 kilometers from the legally built community of Stamata on Mount Pendeli, the local forest is full of homes that have been built illegally. There is also a paved road running through the area, which is against the law as well. People who know the area well told Kathimerini that plots of land are often fenced in by people who do not have any title deeds. All they have to show are draft agreements between their ancestors and the man who owned much of the area, Asimakis Iliopoulos. Using these papers and a number of legal loopholes, land-grabbers are gradually able to establish a legal right to the plot. The only way of stopping construction once this phase has been reached is for the local forest ranger to inform local authorities that someone is building on forestland. But if the trees have been burned or chopped down, the existence of a forest becomes difficult to prove and leaves authorities with little power to intervene. http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_politics_100016_22/05/2006_69978

West Indies:

28) ST. LUCIA – They were, quite simply, the steps from hell. The killer steps — all 566 of them –ascended through the greenness of the tropical rain forest on St. Lucia, an eye-popping and alluring West Indies island. Jim McNair of Broadview Heights and I huffed and puffed up those steps. Volcanic St. Lucia — famed for its signature twin peaks, Gros Piton and Petit Piton — is one of the lushest, most unspoiled and prettiest Caribbean islands. It has a rich history and was a battleground between England and France. English is the official language, although most residents speak a French patois, and French influences abound on the island. Mother Nature is really the biggest attraction on St. Lucia. The island has lots of wild country in its rugged and remote central mountains that reach 3,145 feet. The interior of the one-time plantation island remains largely inaccessible. Much of the rain forest on St. Lucia (pronounced LOO-sha) is protected. The St. Lucia Forest Reserve covers about 19,000 acres, or about 13 percent of the avocado-shaped island that is 27 miles long and 14 miles wide. Nearly 30 miles of trails extend into the rain forest. The mountains get nearly 140 inches of rain annually, most of it from June to November. Hiking on your own in the St. Lucia nature preserve is not permitted. You can hire a forestry guide for $10 (U.S.) per person. The guide will make sure you don’t get lost, protect the resources and also protect you from poisonous snakes, Adams said. He led us into a jungle of green — all shades and textures of green — on a morning with leaden skies and heavy rains. The loop trail follows part of the Old French Road that once crossed the island. The trees forming the upper canopy are massive, some reaching 180 feet. The most common species is the gommier. Another key species is the bois canon (a relative of Florida’s gopher-apple tree), along with giant fig trees, balsa and mahogany. Other canopy trees include the chataignier, supported by giant buttresses that spread from the trees’ bases, and the non-native blue mahoe, a type of hibiscus from Jamaica. It is a colorful evergreen with red, orange or yellow flowers. Beneath the forest giants is a dense midcanopy of trees and tall shrubs ranging from 20 to 70 feet in height, including tree ferns up to 40 feet high and bamboo grasses up to 60 feet high. Also in the midlevel are two common palms — gwi gwi and palm. http://www.ohio.com/mld/beaconjournal/living/14627200.htm

Tara Allen at the Amazon Refuge — photo: E. Hartshorne

29) I have just returned from the World Wheel Project, the Amazon Refuge in the rainforest of Ecuador and am delighted with the progress of this nature reserve and wisdom center for the indigenous Shuar of the area. With your donations, we have been able to buy, and put in the name of the Shuar, 300 acres bordering a pristine river and an island in the center of a lagoon. We are all in deep gratitude for your gifts. These Shuar families were forced to work their lands and then it was taken away from them by the Silesian Missionaries as late as the 70’s. We are happy that with your donations we were able to return land to these families and establish a nature reserve with plans for a Shuar school for the children. This was the first phase of the World Wheel Project. The second phase was to build traditional Shuar style houses along the banks of the Rio Yukias for the wisdom center and school, a dugout canoe donated by Marsha Morison, and three tree houses for guests. The only part left to do for this second phase is to complete the bathroom facilities and extend the kitchen, estimated $1,500. For the third phase we have been given, by Hank Swan and Sally Kranzler, $27,000 to buy the adjacent 10 hectares that will connect the Refuge with a dirt road where we can build a store. We intend to sell products from this new acreage that has a papaya orchard, fields of yucca, papas, and peanut plants. It also has a spring and pond that we plan to develop into a fishery. With gratitude to Sally and Hank for this gift of purchase and funding, we hope by the end of this year to have the Amazon Refuge self sufficient; to support the Shuar families involved and to maintain the Refuge. I am happy to say that I have started carving a sculpture named Shuar Woman of the Waterfall with Two Anacondas, in a basalt boulder by the sacred waterfall at the lagoon. It is a boulder that my Shuar friends have asked me to carve from the beginning of the project and now I am teaching sculpture to these friends as we progress on the carving. I feel that the preservation of the indigenous cultures is important at this time of crisis on our planet, the few people left that still have a deep connection with nature, the knowledge of how to live sustainably within their environment, and know the usages of the medicinal plants of the rainforest. http://www.vijali.net/newsletter.html


30) Thiruvananthapuram: The Government has directed District Collectors in the state to take firm action against felling of trees in lands closer to forests misusing provisions of an Act brought in by the previous UDF Government, Kerala Revenue Minister K P Rajendran said today. Protection of trees in forests and in their fringes was an avowed policy of the LDF government which was made clear in the manifesto itself. This would be implemented through the coordinated work of Revenue, Forest and Law departments, Rajendran told a meet-the-press programme. The Government would soon spell its stand clearly on the vexed issue of Cardamom Hill Reserves in Idukki district, about which the Forest and Revenue Departments had made conflicting claims during the UDF rule. http://www.newkerala.com/news2.php?action=fullnews&id=63986


31) THE controversial Matuguina Integrated Wood Products Inc. has resumed operation in Davao Oriental last month, said Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) director for Southern Mindanao Ricardo Calderon during the weekly Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM City Davao Monday. Calderon said the logging company resumed operation in April and it still has remaining three years before its Timber License Agreement expires. He said the DENR is now strictly monitoring the operation of Matuguina in the province to ensure that the company complies with all the terms and conditions set in the agreement. Matuguina’s license is the only one remaining in the region. Former DENR secretary Michael Defensor ordered the lifting of the suspension of the logging firm’s on June 5, 2005. This was however recalled by Defensor few months after. The license of Matuguina was first suspended 20 years ago, specifically on July 15, 1986, by then Ministry of Natural Resources headed by former senator Ernesto Maceda. According to a letter of Matuguina president Juan Correlo, the license was suspended due to poor performance in reforestation activities. The suspension stayed despite repeated attempts to have it lifted during the last 19 years. Despite attempts of the office of Davao Oriental Governor Ma. Elena Palma Gil to assist the logging company, municipal and barangay officials of Caraga and Baganga are opposing logging activities in their remaining forests. The officials noted this opposition especially if the remaining forests would be logged by a group that would only bring out the logs raw and not process the same in their area so that residents would be benefited in terms of employment and circulation of money locally. The Matuguina area, covered by the Timber License Agreement, is reportedly located in the towns of Baganga and Caraga in Davao Oriental. http://www.sunstar.com.ph/static/dav/2006/05/23/news/logging.firm.resumes.operation.in.dav

New Zealand:

32) Some Whangarei tree lovers are threatening to take their district council to court over its reluctance to protect native trees on private land. Local arborist Paul Gosling says he is frequently asked to cut down ancient trees, including coastal pohutukawa, for the sake of a view or development. Mr Gosling says Whangarei District Council has stalled for years on a native tree policy, while other councils in the north have put protections in place. Mr Gosling says he and other local Forest and Bird members have instructed lawyers to investigate legal action to force the council to do its job. http://www.newswire.co.nz/main/viewstory.aspx?storyid=318648&catid=35


33) In April 2006, MNS (BirdLife in Malaysia) launched a campaign to save the Belum Temengor Forest Complex. The campaign aims to educate the public about the issues involved and to encourage the State and Federal governments to protect this critical area. Ideally, this would entail an end to all logging, as well as permanent protection of both forest reserves. It is hoped that with increased public awareness and proactive action from the government, Malaysian signature species, including majestic hornbills, elephants, tigers and tapirs, can remain alive in the wild rather than as stuffed museum specimens. Taman Negara is Malaysia’s prime National Park spanning Terengganu, Kelantan and Pahang. The Park covers 4,343 square kilometres, but doesn’t cover all vegetation types or species. With global climate change and the realisation that tropical rainforests can indeed be destroyed by fire, such an event is not as unlikely as it might have seemed a decade ago. The last extensive area that would make a huge difference to conservation is in northern Perak: two forest reserves known as Belum-Temengor. Covering about 3,000 square kilometres, more than three times the size of Singapore, they are a huge swathe of natural forest landscape that is a significant part of Malaysia’s national heritage. To protect this last frontier has become the objective of the Malaysian Nature Society and a coalition of NGOs that believe there is now a unique chance to secure a major legacy for the nation. http://www.birdlife.org/news/news/2006/05/belum.html

34) Gazetted under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 only last October, parts of lower Kinabatangan (which includes the Kinabatangan floodplain where many of Sabah’s orang utans live) are degraded and fragmented by development, logging and oil palm plantations. Thus, patches of protected greens are surrounded by degraded forest and plantations, which in turn affects the abundance of food, distribution, behaviour and ecology of orang utans and other wildlife. Under a project to green degraded Kinabatangan forests, conservation group World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in 2003 started the Habitat Restoration Project (Habitat) by setting up a tree nursery in Kampung Bilit to grow seedlings for replanting. It is part of its Corridor of Life effort, which aims to reforest both sides of the Kinabatangan river and create a ‘forest corridor’ for wildlife to move freely between isolated forest reserves, private plantations and the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, as well as from coastal mangrove swamps to upland forests. Currently funded by tea producer BOH Plantations (which contributes RM50,000 a year to Habitat and another RM50,000 to generate awareness on orang utans), the project employs 10 local youths at RM26 a day as field assistants. Their tasks are collecting and germinating seeds at the 0.4ha nursery. Field activities include planting seedlings, clearing climbers and weeds, monitoring growths of planted trees and evaluating orang utans’ use of the area. Programme assistant Joannie Jonitol said youths learn how to identify food tree species, collect seeds and plant trees when they join. They have planted over 15 tree species so far, all of which form the diet of orang utans and are non-commercial trees. They include sengkuang, tangkal, bongkol, durian, rambutan and mango trees. “The orang utan is not the only animal that will benefit as other animals also eat these fruits,” said Jonitol. “The reforestation also allows animals to move from one patch of forest to another more easily.” http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2006/5/23/lifefocus/13970916&sec=lifefocus


35) According to a report from the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), shippers in Indonesia are threatening to stop transporting logs if the government insists on enforcing a new decree on the transportation of illegal timber. The Indonesian National Ship-owners Association says that the Indonesian government’s proposal to impound ships carrying illegal timber would cause massive losses to the local shipping industry, according to the ITTO Tropical Timber Market Report. The association contends that authorities should only confiscate illegal wood, not the ships. Legal timber harvesting affects 700,000-850,000 hectares of forest per year in Indonesia, but widespread illegal logging boosts the overall logged area to at least 1.2-1.4 million hectares and possibly much higher—in 2004, Environment Minister Nabiel Makarim said that 75 percent of logging in Indonesia is illegal. Despite an official ban on the export of raw logs from Indonesia, timber is regularly smuggled to Malaysia, Singapore, and other Asian countries. By some estimates, Indonesia is losing around $1 billion a year in tax revenue from the illicit trade. Illegal cutting is also hurting legitimate timber-harvesting businesses by reducing the supply of logs available for processing, and undercutting international prices for wood and wood products. In April United States and Indonesia signed an agreement to fight illegal logging.


36) Scientists are also working on creating sterile GE trees to prevent pollination of native trees; however, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), it is nearly impossible to control gene flow through pollen and seed dispersal – even at a 95 percent success rate. As Petermann points out, “the sterilized trees are producing nothing, and the other 5% are still sending out tainted genes—it’s a lose-lose situation.” By bearing no flowers, fruit, or nuts, the sterile trees will offer little nourishment to the wildlife around them, and accidental contamination of native forests by the non-sterile – but genetically modified – trees will result in unforeseeable upsets to the ecological balance. The Nanjing Institute of Environmental Science has already found genes from the GE poplars in Xinjiang, China appearing in natural varieties, and researchers have found backyard and organic papaya trees in Thailand and Hawaii contaminated by pollen from nearby GE papaya plantations. Despite the risks, the biotechnology industry is promoting genetic modification as a way to clean up the environment by addressing problems like climate change and soil contamination. Aziz Choudry, Board Member of Global Justice Ecology, says this is simply a public relations move meant to “make the insane palatable,” and will not work. “They say that they can engineer trees to suck mercury [from the soil],” says Petermann, “but then the mercury is just displaced into the air.” As for global warming, GE trees could be engineered to take CO2 out of the air faster than normal trees, but GE plantations would replace native forestland, inhibiting biodiversity. “Studies done by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the World Resources Institute found that in tropical areas plantations at best sequester only 1/4 the carbon as native forests,” says Petermann. GE trees wouldn’t offset carbon emissions enough to make a serious impact on global warming, says Petermann. A better response to global warming, she says, would be to cut down on pollution. On March 22nd, Langelle and Petermann attended the Convention on Biological Diversity in Brazil to seek a moratorium on the research and commercial use of GE trees. While they did not achieve an all-out ban, the UN did recommend that the precautionary approach be used with GE trees. The application of the precautionary principle would mean that GE technology must be proven safe and necessary before being used. Canada and the United States argued against the recommendation. http://dominionpaper.ca/environment/2006/05/20/the_new_ch.html

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