098OEC’s This Week in Trees

This week we have 33 news items from: British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wyoming, Minnesota, North Carolina, USA, Canada, Germany, Kenya, Brazil, Argentina, India, Bhutan, China, Japan, Indonesia, Solmona Islands, and World-wide.

British Columbia:

1) WEST VANCOUVER, B.C. — Several dozen protesters have returned to the Eagleridge Bluffs in West Vancouver, just days after 23 people were arrested for defying a court order. Demonstrators opposed to the new section of the Sea-to-Sky Highway are trying to block logging crews from getting into the site. Protest spokesman Liz Bird says they decided to make another stand after crews spent the weekend cutting down trees in the forest. Police, who dismantled the original protest camp last Thursday, have not made any arrests. The highway foes will also be back in court on Tuesday, seeking an order to halt construction of the contentious route. Those arrested last week are scheduled to appear in court on June. http://www.canada.com/topics/news/national/story.html?id=f11c893a-a865-4fa0-a7cd-1224b75a9ec

2) An abstract of a poster presented by SEAS president, Jim Cooperman at Multidisciplinary Approaches to Recovering Caribou in Mountain Ecosystems, a Columbia Mountains Institute of Applied Ecology conference held in Revelstoke on May 29 – 31, 2006: The population of mountain caribou in the Okanagan Shuswap Land And Resource Management Plan (OSLRMP) area has been steadily declining as a result of habitat loss due to logging and increased predation exacerbated by the increase in roads and cutblocks, which attracts other ungulates and more predators. The Okanagan/Shuswap LRMP (approved in 2000) created a large Resource Management Zone (RMZ) for caribou, which included a 9,900-hectare THLB reserve in which logging would be deferred. Due to government cutbacks, the research has been funded and largely directed by the forest industry through the Okanagan/Shuswap Innovative Forestry Society, and thus there are concerns that this research will be used to increase opportunities for logging instead of increasing protection for caribou. The latest research report (March 31, 2006) recommends a 25 percent size reduction and revised boundaries for the caribou RMZ based on radio-collar tracking information. It also includes recommendations for caribou retention, however there are concerns that some of these draft retention areas overlap existing OGMAs and are placed in the non-THLB, including parks, thus reducing the amount that was meant to be placed in the THLB (initial analysis indicates that the recommendations show approximately 3600 hectares of the THLB budget in the non-THLB and 500 hectares are atop existing OGMAs). The research does indicate there is potential that future snowmobile activity could be detrimental to the large numbers of caribou that use the Mt. Grace – Kirbyville area. The latest research report states, “Since the Okanagan-Shuswap LRMP recommended 9,900 ha of THLB retention area for caribou, this means that within caribou habitat, 21.9% of the THLB will be allocated for caribou retention.”. http://www.cmiae.org/


3) The North Cascades Institute, a non-rofit environmental education outfit, is using the campus to teach everything from wildflower photography to grizzly conservation. But the most vivid lesson is in how to slip strong, assertive architecture gracefully into the forest. he 16 buildings are basically simple boxes and shed forms whose only overtly dramatic gestures are rooflines that thrust into space and joust with each other, like tree canopies jostling for scraps of sky. There’s no prissy decoration and no mock rusticity. “We didn’t want to create something that looked like it was depleting the very forest we’re trying to save,” says David Hall, a partner in HKP Architects of Mount Vernon, the small firm that designed the complex. Neither does it pose as spartan. The buildings announce that civilization has established a firm foothold in the forest, but we’ve come in peace. Hall’s ethical framework for the campus fell into place before he drew anything — in fact, maybe before he became an architect. He grew up in Everett and began hiking the North Cascades in his teens. He nurtured a love for backpacking and fly fishing, and still thinks the best places are the ones without roads, or even trails. When his firm began talking with the three clients collaborating on the campus — Seattle City Light, the Park Service and the North Cascades Institute — all agreed that the site should be disturbed as little as possible and the buildings should be showcases for energy conservation and sustainability. The first surprise is that the campus is virtually auto- and pavement-free. Cars and buses may drop off visitors and packages, but rides are then banished to a faraway parking lot. There are no sidewalks, just gravel paths, but the entire site is wheelchair-accessible despite a 125-foot rise in its slope. Landscaping is all in the North Cascades family. Park Service people collected seeds and cuttings on site before construction started and propagated 20,000 plants for later use. Big trees were spared and the buildings slipped practically underneath them, so the year-old campus is enveloped in shade. There’s no air conditioning needed, even though the site’s elevation is only 1,200 feet. Staff members have learned to close the doors to keep ravens from raiding their snacks. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/visualart/271791_architecture30.html


4) Timber sales on the Umpqua National Forest have been regularly appealed for years, but a reversal of that trend will help nearly double timber production this year. “I think it’s been years since we’ve made it through a timber sale without an appeal,” said Greg Lesch, the UNF’s planning and products staff officer, at the Douglas Timber Operators’ semi-monthly breakfast meeting Thursday. Lesch said UNF officials are content to see decisions they made for the Wapiti Timber Sale near Toketee — which will yield over 20 million board feet in timber — have not been contested by an environmental group. Along with Wapiti, Lesch said the national forest is expecting to produce about 40 million board feet from thinning and stewardship projects this year — a jump from the past five years’ trend of 25 million board feet per year. In 2007, Lesch said the forest could easily top off production at 50 million board feet, and could go higher, but the Umpqua is short of personnel to manage activity beyond that level. “The main difference is we can trade goods for services,” said Steve Nelson, UNF’s timber sale contracting officer. An example of a trade-off would be the UNF auctioning a timber stand and awarding it to the highest bidding contractor, as long as the contractor subcontracts other needed services in the area, such as noxious weed treatment. Bob Ragon, DTO’s executive director, said he hopes the UNF will go slow with stewardship projects until both sides fully understand their function. While Nelson agreed that “weird” amendments can get bundled in a stewardship project, in the meantime the UNF will offer only a couple of stewardship projects a year until forest supervisors and logging contractors are used to working with them. Nelson said that if items added to a timber project aren’t consistent with a logging operation, “then it’s probably not worth your time” and none of the work will get done. http://www.oregonnews.com/article/20060526/NEWS/60526022


5) Just about one week ago, Julia walked into the Circle of Life office and told us that while she hoped it did not come down to the need for her to do direct action to save the South Central Farm in Los Angeles—she would be up in a tree soon if there was a need. On Tuesday, May 23 Julia stationed herself in the “community watchtower”- a 3 story high walnut tree on the 14 acre South Central Farm. She joins in solidarity with 350 poor working class families who use the farm to grow organic food for themselves and their community. Fourteen years ago, this spot was a wasteland- and in the wake of the 1992 LA uprising then-Mayor Bradley and Doris Block of the L.A. Regional Food Bank made a handshake deal to allow it to be used for a community farm. Today, after thousands and thousands of hours of sweat and labor, the South Central Farm is the largest urban farm in the nation. The 350 families who use the farming plots are low-income and depend heavily upon the food they grow to feed themselves. In addition to growing food for themselves, the people involved with the community garden hold Farmers’ Markets, festivals and other cultural events for the public at large. In a backroom deal in 1996, the 14 acre farm was offered to a developer at a discount, but the deal was never approved by the City Council. In 2002, the developers sued the City and a settlement was reached giving the farm to the developers for a significantly below-market price. To repurchase the farm, the developer is insisting on over $16 million (they paid just over $5 million for it four years ago) and $6 million has already been raised by the South Central Farmers. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has the ability to pay the rest of selling price from the City budget, or further challenge the original sale. However, he has done neither. “This is the Promised Land”, community leader Dele Ailemen emphatically stated on the encampment’s first day. “It was land that was promised to this community by the Mayor of Los Angeles after the 1992 uprising.” “It will not be taken away by broken political promises.” http://www.southcentralfarmers.com/

6) Once dominated by old-growth pines, the area that burned during the Martis Fire in June 2001 is growing back with a mix of flammable vegetation that has been taking over the landscape for decades. Manzanita, white thorn brush and fir trees are filling in the burned area, says Sara Taddo, land conservation director for the Truckee Donner Land Trust, a nonprofit that recently purchased 1,400 acres in the area. The Forest Service has noted that the changing landscape is now resembling a tinderbox, slowly increasing the chances of another devastating fire like 2001’s inferno. The agency recognized the problem when it released a plan in January 2005 for the area that includes ranches near Verdi, Nev., that may soon house thousands of new homes. “Large-scale, uncharacteristic wildfires may become more common with the change in vegetation conditions … risk of severe wildfires also threatens the communities of Reno, Verdi, Boomtown, Truckee, Incline Village, Martis Valley, Farad and Floriston,” the report reads. But the forest was already ripe for fire when the unnaturally dry summer of 2001 blew in, Taddo says. http://www.theunion.com/article/20060529/NEWS/105290171


7) The City Council took swift action after five 80-year-old evergreens were felled last weekend. An emergency ordinance barring removal of trees more than 15 inches in diameter was voted on at 7:30 a.m. Thursday and posted at 9 a.m. The five evergreens, planted in the 1930s in front of the Forest Service buildings at 309 S. Main St., were reduced by the property owner to four-foot stumps. Residents were outraged by the action and registered their displeasure with the Hailey City Council. At Monday’s council meeting, Mayor Susan McBryant read letters regarding the incident. The property had been listed for sale by Paul Kenny at the Colliers International Commercial Division Real Estate office in Ketchum. The property’s new owner, Mike O’Neil of Sawtooth Center LLC, is listed as one of Kenny’s clients in an online advertisement. City Planning Director Kathy Grotto said she felt very strongly about the situation. “To me, it was very clear that the people involved, the owner, the potential buyer and the realtor, have no idea what makes Hailey a special place. It seems like a real lack of respect for the people who live here and revere those trees,” she said. The emergency ordinance will be in effect for 182 days. It includes exceptions. Big trees can be removed by written approval of a certified arborist if the tree poses a danger to people, property or other trees. Trees also can still be removed in the buildable area of residential lots. http://www.magicvalley.com/articles/2006/05/27/news_localstate/news_local_state.2.txt

New Mexico:

8) Harrington worked with the Conklins to develop the treatment plan for their property and before long, a defensible space around the perimeter of the house was cleared and selected trees were removed from the surrounding forest. “It’s like a garden,” Conklin said. “You have to pull the weeds for anything to grow well. It’s like a huge garden. You have to maintain it.” The result? The Conklins saw a difference almost immediately and continue to enjoy the rewards almost 10 years later. “It’s just amazing to me how much the health of the forest has improved,” Conklin said. “When we moved here, there was not an animal to be found.” Since the treatment, they’ve seen bears, mountain lions, deer and wild turkeys. The Conklins received some unexpected help in their forest treatment efforts in 2002, when U.S. Forest Service firefighters used the home as a lookout while battling the nearby Trampas fire, which consumed 5,666 acres. Firefighters did some clearing around the house as the massive fire approached. “It was really scary for a while,” Conklin said. “It was coming right at us.” Of course, nothing convinces a property owner of the need to thin trees as fast as news of a massive forest fire in the neighborhood. But Harrington hopes people will act not as much out of the fear of wildfire but out of a desire to improve forest health, although the two often go hand-in-hand. “A healthy forest in many cases is a fire-tolerant forest,” Harrington said. When preparing a treatment plan for a landowner, Harrington considers characteristics like the types of trees, the height of trees and the density of the forest. “Each site, each landowner has unique challenges. The treatment recommendations change as we learn more. A lot has been learned about Southwest forests in the last 10 years.” The Conklins’ home has been used a demonstration site for people to become more comfortable with the idea of treating the forest, and the Conklins have been advocates for the process. After an area has been treated, Harrington sometimes uses it as an example to help convince others. “I ask people, ‘Do you still feel like you’re in a forest?'” he said. “It’s more park-like but it still feels like a forest.” Most important is that people understand the need to take action for the health of the forest, as the Conklins did almost 10 years ago. http://www.alamogordonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060529/NEWS01/605290302

South Dakota:

9) HILL CITY – Twenty years ago, Hill City was a quaint, sleepy little town dependent on logging, mining and ranching. Today, that quaintness is helping the town wake up. Hill City is booming, driven by the three R’s — retirees, retail and recreation. To continue the education analogy, “the basics” are being augmented by a burgeoning art community. City leaders are encouraging the growth with a series of civic improvements (see related story) and a “can-do” approach to economic development. Like other parts of the Black Hills, Hill City is seeing an influx of retirees who are buying land and building nice homes with cash they received from selling their higher-priced homes elsewhere. Many of them are coming from Minnesota, Colorado and eastern South Dakota, according to Mayor Jim Brickey, who has bought and sold property in the area. “When they come here and see something for sale at our prices, they think that’s a pretty good deal,” he said. Brickey, for example, bought a house for $30,000 shortly after he arrived in town in the early 1990s. He spent about $12,000 renovating it and sold it three years ago for $178,000. http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/extras/rcjinfo.html


10) CHEYENNE — The U.S. Forest Service is proposing a logging project in the southern Snowy Range section of the Medicine Bow National Forest that has the potential to harvest more than 10 million board feet of timber. In a recently released environmental assessment for the Devils Gate Timber Sale, the Forest Service says the logging is necessary to keep the forest healthy and prevent insect epidemics. But Laramie-based environmental group Biodiversity Conservation Alliance says the logging would further damage an already overlogged forest. Erik Molvar, wildlife biologist with the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, said he would like to see several changes in the plan. The Medicine Bow Forest has already undergone 50 years of clear cutting, Molvar said, and the new project would “add additional damage to an already fragmented forest further stressing the ability of interior forest wildlife” to survive. Molvar said his organization suggested the Forest Service use more “selective logging” techniques instead of clear cutting. The assessment rejected the idea because it would not work with lodgepole pine, the type of tree that is the majority in the area being considered for the timber sale. Molvar said the size of the logging project is one of the largest his group has seen in the Medicine Bow Forest for many years. He said it allows more than twice as much clear cutting as the Forest Service plan that allowed logging near the Silver Lake Campground in an effort to minimize the spread of bark beetles in the forest. The Biodiversity Alliance appealed that decision in March. http://www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2006/05/26/news/wyoming/50-logging.txt


11) It’s a time of firsts for the Boulder Lake Environmental Learning Center. Its first full-time director has been named. It has a new Web site. And it is hosting the first of what is expected to become an annual summer open house. It’s all part of an effort to increase research and educational opportunities on the working forest 18 miles north of Duluth. “The idea behind Boulder is to provide a real-world window to what we are doing out there and then give the interpretation so that people understand this is not destructive,” said John Thompson, St. Louis County area land manager. “Having a full-time director is a really good thing because we can now have continuity in the programs and get it going.” The center is a cooperative effort involving the county, Minnesota Power, the Natural Resources Research Institute at the University of Minnesota Duluth, and the state. Uses of the 8,500-acre center include research, controlling water flow for hydroelectric generation, logging and recreation. The center offers programs for students from kindergarten to college. It allows students and the public to help in efforts to track the numbers of breeding owls, bird species, amphibians, predators, small animals and aquatic insects. Professional researchers have studied how logging affects birds’ productivity. But the largest focus is on helping teachers and natural-resource managers become better at their jobs. To help natural resource managers learn more, the NRRI and St. Louis County are providing workshops on forest management, Hale said. The center is also working with the Woodland Adviser Program to provide programs for private forestland owners to teach how to better manage their properties. The Boulder Lake Environmental Learning Center started with a 1993 management plan Minnesota Power created as part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licensing process for the company’s hydroelectric generation. http://www.duluthsuperior.com/mld/duluthsuperior/news/local/14672506.htm

North Carolina:

12) Forests could become thick with more toxic forms of poisonous ivy and other noxious vines, thanks to rising levels of carbon dioxide. That’s the conclusion from researchers in the United States who have shown that the higher CO2 levels expected in the next 50 years breed ivies that grow twice as fast, and, unexpectedly, manufacture a nastier form of poison. “It’ll be more dangerous to go in the forest,” says team leader Jacqueline Mohan of the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), which grows as a shrub or tree-climbing vine, is already the scourge of gardeners and hikers in North America for the excruciating skin rash it can trigger. The plant makes a fatty toxin called urushiol in its leaves. In the study, Mohan and her co-workers pumped extra CO2 over three large circular plots of North Carolina pine forest. For six years, the plants inside were exposed to an extra 200 parts per million of CO2 over today’s atmospheric concentration of about 380 parts per million, roughly what we might expect from pollution by the middle of this century. Other research has suggested that vines tend to grow particularly fast in response to higher CO2 levels, and that vines are increasing in abundance all over the planet. Unlike trees, which use extra carbon to grow more wood, vines use it to produce more leaves. The extra leaves help the plant to harvest even more CO2, the cycle continues and the vines flourish. Mohan’s experiment sought to check whether the plants shoot up in the wild, as they do in greenhouse experiments. “Yes, dramatically,” was the answer. The poisonous ivies grew at double the rate of plants grown under regular CO2 levels, whereas woody species on average tend to grow around 31% faster. The elevated CO2 also created a nastier version of urushiol poison, the team showed. Urushiol is made up of several different varieties of fat. A less poisonous variety of these fats is ‘saturated’, meaning that the molecule’s carbon atoms only have single bonds to other carbon atoms, and the rest of their bonds are saturated with hydrogen. But most of the fats in urushiol are unsaturated, containing more than one chemical bond between carbons and less hydrogen. These are thought to be the most irritating to the skin. By extracting urushiol from the plant’s leaves, the researchers found that poison ivy grown in high CO2 churned out more than 150% more of one nasty, unsaturated form of urushiol and around 60% less of the mild, saturated form. http://news.nature.com//news/2006/060529/060529-3.html


13) “Cities in the Wilderness: A New Vision of Land Use in America,” by Bruce Babbitt. Island Press. “Wildfire and Americans: How to Save Lives, Property and Your Tax Dollars,” by Roger G. Kennedy. Hill and Wang. If development has scarred American landscapes and shredded ecosystems — and it has, Mr. Babbitt and Mr. Kennedy argue — much of the damage has been done with the connivance of the federal government. They say it is time to marshal the federal government’s legislative, scientific, financial and even moral resources to solve the problems that are the legacy of these decisions. Their books have somewhat misleading titles. Mr. Babbitt’s is “Cities in the Wilderness,” when in fact he advocates keeping unnecessary development out of the wilderness. Mr. Kennedy’s book, “Wildfire and Americans,” tells engrossing tales of the American experience with fire and makes an array of recommendations for dealing with fire threats, but his thinking applies to far more than burning brush or timber. The authors argue that a patchwork of federal policies, accreted over generations, has dispersed too many people into places they should not be ? in landscapes too delicate to tolerate heavy use, as Mr. Babbitt says, or in places like fire-prone slopes where it is now too dangerous to live, as Mr. Kennedy asserts. As examples, Mr. Babbitt cites the Everglades, where generations of federally sponsored interference severely damaged an important ecosystem; farmlands where streams and grasses have been ravaged by farm policies that produced what he calls “agricultural sprawl”; and waterways and watersheds degraded by overuse and pollution, much of it supported by taxpayer dollars. Mr. Kennedy cites the ways people were encouraged to settle in fire-prone areas, the forest policies that made a dangerous situation even worse, and the cost in money and lives routinely paid for these bad decisions. And he notes that the same kinds of policies and programs also encourage unwise building in flood-prone areas. But how to approach the problem? A first step, both Mr. Babbitt and Mr. Kennedy say, is to acknowledge the federal government’s role in land use decisions. “The notion that land use is a local matter has come to dominate the political rhetoric of our age,” and it is just wrong, Mr. Babbitt writes. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/30/science/earth/30book.html


14) Back from Seattle, where Grassy Narrow’s message shone from some of the city’s most prominent buildings, Bonnie Swain is back in her First Nation, enthusiastically supporting the activist approach to fighting injustice. The use of projection devices impressed Swain, who along with two other young adults from Grassy Narrows, was in Seattle in April for the annual meeting of timber giant Weyerhaeuser. At night the projectors were placed on public property adjacent to large buildings, including the headquarters of Weyerhaeuser’s real estate division, and slides depicting the anti-Weyerhaeuser message were illuminated, covering spaces more than two stories high. California-based Rainforest Action Network, which is helping Grassy Narrows protestors in their battle with multi-national timbering corporations, is looking at introducing this strategy to Canada this summer. In December 2002 Swain and her younger sister Chrissy set up a blockade to stop logging trucks from harvesting timber from the area around the Grassy Narrows First Nation in western Ontario. The protestors have since gotten support from Rainforest Action Network, which this spring used shareholders to have Chrissy nominated for election to the Weyerhaeuser board of directors at the corporation’s annual meeting in Seattle April 20. She wasn’t elected – supporters in the environmental organization knew she wouldn’t get onto the board – but she got to address the meeting. “They just sat there. They were stunned to hear the truth about how they were affecting us.” In June, Grassy Narrows will be stepping up the fight with a summer youth gathering, which will include workshops and a pow-wow. Details are still being developed but events will be from June 13 to 18, Swain says. Rainforest Action, says it will be sending people to the youth gathering, where seasoned activists will work with youth and young adults from both Grassy Narrows and other communities and First Nations. The work will benefit both Grassy Narrows and other areas where people choose to take an activist approach. They will learn “a whole range of skills” that are useful when staging activist campaigns, says David Sone, old growth organizer with the organization. Rainforest Action will also be sending a team of interns to Grassy Narrows July 10-16 for a week of activities that will include support for the blockade and building cabins for trappers who want to earn a traditional livelihood from their territories. http://www.firstperspective.ca/fp_template.php?path=20060526grassy

15) She and her friends consider their neighborhood the city’s best-kept secret. Homes are affordable by Toronto standards, and are surrounded by parks and green space. But the suburban calm was shattered on a November morning last year. Ms. Shaw, an 81-year-old widow, awoke to find a 20-strong chainsaw-wielding work crew on her property. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has been waging war on the beetle since it arrived in Canada in 2003, saying it threatens the urban tree canopy, as well as Canada’s multibillion-dollar forestry industry. Ms. Shaw was not prepared to see her healthy trees sacrificed for the greater good. She stood in the path of the chainsaw and refused to move. “I said: ‘This is my property. I’m not leaving,’ ” she recalled in an interview this week. “[The foreman] was right up in my face pointing with his finger. He said to me, ‘If I get the police, you’re gone, and it’s not a pretty sight.’ ” I said: ‘Go ahead and call the police. It’s my land.’ ” Three squad cars were sent to her house. The police were sympathetic, but there was nothing they could do. The CFIA had the legal authority to start cutting. By her count, she lost more than 50 trees that day. When it was all over, she stood in her kitchen, and felt the world start to spin. “I went dizzy, my eye went black. I put my hand on the counter and it just slipped off and I fell and banged my head against the fridge,” she said. A neighbour found her lying on the kitchen floor, her front door swinging wide open. She had suffered a heart attack, she said. “Now my balance has gone. My hearing has gone. It’s really tragic.” Throughout the winter, Ms. Shaw awoke to an absence. The trees that she and her late husband had planted together were gone. “Every morning I would look out and it’s just a mess of mud. It just broke my heart.” Ms. Shaw is one of several Jane-Finch residents who are upset by the way the CFIA has handled the beetle infestation. It began in the city of Vaughan in 2003, when a beetle is believed to have arrived in a wooden packing crate from China. Other beetles were soon found in wooded areas nearby, and an eradication zone was established around Toronto’s northern edges. The CFIA decided to cut down any potential host tree within 400 metres of an infested tree. Since 2003, more than 25,000 trees have been cut down — more than 98 per cent of them healthy. The Jane-Finch area alone has lost 2,000 trees on public and private property, which amounts to about a third of the trees in the neighbourhood’s northwest. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20060527.NEIGHBOUR27/TPStory/TPNational/Ont


16) Hans Kiener, head of the Department for Nature Conservation at the Bavarian Forest National Park, says the new mountain mixed forest will be far superior to the old spruce wood stands that it replaces. “When you looked at this area 20 years ago, you saw a beautiful spruce forest, green and alive. But this spruce forest was not natural,” Kiener explains. “It was manmade, tended for hundreds of years by the foresters. What we can see now is a new generation of trees that is of different ages and mixed, like a mosaic. We can expect the new generation will be more resistant to the bark beetles, which affected the old stand of trees before.” The Bavarian Forest National Park is the largest forest area in central Europe where nothing has been done to interfere with nature. The forest has simply been left to its own devices. Dead wood is not removed and nothing is done against pests, like the bark beetle. In 1981, the Bavarian Forest National Park was named a UNESCO Biosphere. Joseph Wanninger is in charge of the biosphere project. He says the inhabitants, for whom the forest represents an important asset in terms of natural resources in the past and as a tourist attraction in the present, were appalled that officials did nothing to stop the insect’s damage. “In the beginning, there were many problems,” says Wanninger. “The people here wanted us to change the national park concept to allow us to stop the bark beetle, so to come into the forest with power saws and fight the beetle. Then, it became clear to them that such action would result in huge bare areas.” Due to the park’s importance for the tourist industry, this would be bad for the region. “Now, although they are still very critical, they accept that we do not intervene,” he says. The Bavarian Forest will need another generation before it recovers from the damage incurred by the bark beetles. They have destroyed close to 4,000 hectares, or nearly one-sixth of the national park. However, the beetle attacks have been receding in the past two years and destruction, while it still goes on, has slowed down. http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,1079118,00.html

17) TWIG – Nearly one-quarter of Germany’s trees are severely damaged and the soil that nourishes them too polluted, according to a report on the condition of German forests for this year. The Ministry of Agriculture presented its damning figures in Berlin this week: 22% of the trees show signs of serious damage; 42% suffer leaf or needle loss; only 36% are fully healthy. Broad-leafed trees fare worst, especially birches and oaks, the latter a treasured symbol of German strength and endurance. Roughly 30% of these trees are severely damaged. Air pollution causes the gravest damage and the most long-term changes in the soil, vegetation, and, in some cases, ground water, the study showed. Air-borne contaminants settle in the soil and accumulate over many years. The polluted soil long remains unusable, toxic land. Ever more soil-stored toxins are now being released, possibly seeping into ground water supplies. Ministry of Agriculture state secretary Gerald Thalheim said efforts and investments made in improving air quality are paying off. Sulphur dioxide levels are down, though more progress is necessary in lowering levels of nitrogen, which is largely the by-product of farming and auto traffic. Thalheim said the ministry is developing new policies to protect the practical and recreational functions as well as the biodiversity of German forests. http://www.echoworld.com/B02/B0201/B0201-4.htm

18) Berlin – Germany’s forests are expanding while forests around the world shrink, a government report said Wednesday. Forests in Germany produce one-third more wood in volume than is cut as timber annually, said Consumer Protection and Agriculture Minister Renate Kuenast at a news briefing presenting the government’s first state of the world’s forests report. In addition, the number of hectares of land covered by forest is increasing in Germany, although by a relatively low figure, as farm land is converted to forestry, Kuenast said. About 30 per cent of Germany is covered by forests (105,000 square kilometres). But Kuenast warned that good news in Germany and Europe was the exception to global trends. Of the world’s 3.9 billion hectares (9.6 billion acres) of forest some 15 million hectares is lost each year, she said. She also warned that air pollution and other factors continued to have a negative impact on the health of Germany’s trees. Oak and beech trees show the most damage while pine trees, common in eastern Germany, are doing best. The German government issues a separate health report on Germany’s forests each autumn. http://forests.org/archive/europe/geforexp.htm


19) Investigations by Nation reveal that chiefs, district officers, forest officers and other senior government officials have formed a network to rape the forests even as an outcry continues over Kenya’s deteriorating forest cover. The survey in 10 forests in three Rift Valley districts uncovered a massive destruction of forests through the felling of trees for timber and charcoal. Permits fraudulently obtained or documents forged with the connivance with forest officers were then used to transport the cargo to destinations of demand, mostly Nakuru and Nairobi. Sources told the Nation that to get authority for protection and escort to and from a forest, one needed to pay Sh20,000 while to obtain a transport permit one needed to pay a bribe of Sh5,000. Among the districts visited were Uasin Gishu, Kericho and Koibatek where, in some cases, charcoal burners and illegal loggers fled as journalists approached. In Lorenge Forest of Uasin Gishu, charcoal burners fled, leaving packaging bags half full. In one incident, illegal loggers sawing wood in the forest fled as journalists approached, leaving behind a sizable volume of sawn timber. This was in Sorget Forest in Kericho District where fresh trees were being felled and sawed. In the evenings, tractors were loaded with the freshly-sawed timber and transported to the tarmac where permits indicating the timber was from farmlands were ready. But the most dramatic capture was of a chief supervising a logging operation a stone-throw away from his office.The Nation learnt that he had been contracting illegal loggers to harvest trees which were then sawed in his office compound and sold to buyers. In his confession, the chief said he was not alone in the massive destruction scheme, insisting it had been authorised by a senior forest officer in the district. The forests most heavily targeted are Timboroa, Kipkurere, Lorenge, Cengalo and Kapsaret, all in Uasin Gishu. Other forests where the Nation stumbled upon loggers were Sorget, Malagat and Tendano in Kericho District.The chief first said he had been allowed to cut the trees to silence him from revealing that senior forest officers had been bribed by notorious charcoal burners. http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/nmgcontententry.asp?category_id=39&newsid=74047


20) Impassioned about the importance of the Amazon’s thick jungle, D.C. philanthropists Victoria and Roger W. Sant have pledged to donate $20 million to the World Wildlife Fund to help create a huge conservation area in the Brazilian tropical forest. Parts of the Amazon River basin, one of the world’s most biologically rich places, are rapidly being bulldozed for ranching, farming, logging and other development. The Sants’ money, in the form of a trust, will be used to further the goal of permanently protecting 125 million acres, an area roughly the size of California. It is the largest individual gift the World Wildlife Fund has received. The Sants have donated millions for other environmental causes, teen pregnancy prevention and the arts. The idea of giving to the Amazon was appealing to them because it was so ambitious. It also helped that they have made several trips to the region to see it for themselves. “This is the biggest conservation idea that anyone has come up with so far in the world,” Roger Sant said. “I just got intrigued that if we could pull this off, it would set the stage for a lot of other conservation efforts we need to make.” Sant, a former board chairman and current board member of the World Wildlife Fund, said he has been to the Amazon five times, the most recent just two weeks ago. “It’s an incredibly moist place,” Sant said. “You hear hundreds and hundreds of birds. You don’t see many because [the vegetation is] so thick. It’s incredibly powerful to see that much vegetation in one place . . . seemingly an endless thing. The frogs are gorgeous — really colorful and a bit dangerous. You keep your distance.” The jungle is a “sea of colors,” he said, and so densely forested that some parts of it are dark, even during the day. They also were stunned, on their recent visit, to see 60-foot trees being felled to make way for soy farming. “That was a real eye-opener,” he said. “If that forest is worth more to grow soy than to keep it as a forest, we’ve got our priorities messed up.” The Amazon Region Protected Area initiative began four years ago, with the World Wildlife Fund working with the Brazilian government, World Bank and others. It has set the goal of establishing 70 million acres of new strictly protected areas, transforming 31 million acres of neglected parkland into better-managed conservation zones and setting aside 22 million acres of “sustainable use reserves” to benefit local communities. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/26/AR2006052601924.html


21) BUENOS AIRES — An area 10 times the size of the capital is deforested every year, while the burning of forests generates more greenhouse gases than the country’s motor vehicles, according to a new report by the Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina. “The environmental situation in the country is disturbing,” Marcelo Acerbi, the Fundación’s director of conservation and sustainable development, told IPS. “There is no province that does not face some major problem.” The Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina (Argentine Wildlife Foundation) is an associate of WWF International, the world’s largest independent conservation organisation. The nearly 600-page report, “The Environmental Situation in Argentina 2005”, which was released Tuesday after taking nearly a year to draw up, points to problems like the clearing of forests for large-scale agriculture, pollution, overfishing and desertification. “Annual deforestation affects an area 10 times the size of the city of Buenos Aires,” states the report, which adds that “in 2002, there were an estimated 33 million hectares of trees in the country, but 250,000 hectares are lost every year.” The Fundación, which has been active in Argentina for nearly three decades, also warns that the burning of forests in the Gran Chaco region produces more carbon dioxide emissions than what is generated by all of the country’s motor vehicles put together. Vegetation in the Gran Chaco region – shared by Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia – is a mixture of savannah, shrubland and hardwood forests alternating in belts and patches. The report is made up of over 80 articles reflecting the views of more than 140 scientists, researchers, activists, officials and members of the business community. It also includes the results of the National Environmental Survey, which was carried out to assess public perceptions on the state of the environment. http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=33352


22) Srinagar, May 27: Unabated deforestation and government’s callous attitude towards the preservation of forests could deprive the state of natural wealth in the coming years, experts fear. Presently, the state’s forest area is far below the national standard, and it’s shrinking with each passing day. The policy states the total forest area in hilly states like Jammu and Kashmir should be 66 percent of the total land area. Official figures reveal only 50.97 percent of the area in the state is under forests. Of the total forest area of 20,230 sq km in the state, Kashmir has 8,128 sq km, Jammu 12,058 sq km area, while Ladakh has the remaining area.Authorities say the forests are on a continuous decline. “Forest area can’t be increased but it will decrease due to developments in and around the forests,” Forest Conservator, Lal Singh said. Moreover, he said one-third of the total forest area has been classified as degraded. Supreme Court has banned the felling of green trees in forests. The law states that only dry and fallen trees can be removed from the area for various developmental reasons. However, under the shield of removal of dead and fallen trees, the green lot is being rampantly chopped by smugglers, sources disclosed. Sources said under a nexus between forest authorities and the smugglers, healthy green trees fell prey. Apart from the old method of destroying the evidence by putting a forest compartment to fire, the mafia has discovered a new “fool proof” method, the sources said. “Special chemicals are injected into the roots of healthy trees that lead to their death in a year or two, and the mighty conifer collapses making it fit for removal,” a senior official in Civil Secretariat said. “Otherwise we don’t have hurricanes like Catrina or Rita here that would lead to felling of thousands of trees,” he pleaded. Every year, forest officials say 80 lakh odd cubic feet of timber is taken out from forests for “bonafide” use. Of this one third is given to the Central Government, top sources said. Government’s Helplessness Forest Minister Tariq Hamid Qarrah candidly admits that forests have been damaged. But he blames militancy. “In 15 years of militancy the biggest causality was the forests,” Qarrah told Greater Kashmir, claiming that he’s the only forest minister who has taken drastic measures for the preservation of forests. “It’s a general perception that rate of smuggling, a cancer for forests, has drastically come down since I took over. I’m the only forest minister who has taken drastic measures for the preservation of forests,” he claimed. http://www.greaterkashmir.com/full_story.asp?Date=28_5_2006&ItemID=29&cat=1


23) Every now and then twenty-six-year old Samten Dorji takes off to the nearby forest in Bomdeling to collect the Daphne bark, the raw material for his home-run cottage industry that produces the local Bhutanese paper known as desho. “I took over my father’s business after he passed away in 2004,” says Samten Dorji as he softens the bark that will turn into desho in another eight to ten hours. He says that his father, who was a gomchen (lay monk) in Rigsum Goenpa, started the business a decade ago. “My father produced the paper to use as prayer rolls inside the prayer wheels,” he says. Today, working alone most of the time, Samten Dorji produces about 150 pieces of desho a day “provided there is a good sunshine”. He has about 1,000 pieces in stock. Samten Dorji sells the paper to a Trashiyangtse businessman for Nu. 4.50 a piece who supplies it to the buyers in Thimphu. He also sells the paper to people who visit Bomdeling and drop by his little workshop to see him at work. He is anxious that with the onset of monsoon his production will dip “since rain affects my business”. Producing desho is a tedious job requiring plenty of patience, hard work, water and sunshine. The bark of the shugu shing (Daphne) is soaked in water for about two hours after which the outer bark layer is scraped off. Then it is boiled in a cauldron for another hour and a half. The bark is then washed and made into smaller pieces and boiled again for another two hours. The limp bark is put into a metal bowl and thrashed to mush with a wooden club, which is then churned into finer pulp. Then the pulp is spread unto a frame with transparent cotton cloth and submerged into water for a smoother spread. The frame is dried in the sun for two hours after which the paper is separated. http://www.kuenselonline.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=7007


24) This paper focuses on the evolution of Greenway planning and implementation in China, and provides a historical context to the Greenway concept. It was found that: 1) Although the concept of Greenway was an adaptation from theWesternWorld, the Chinese have a history of more than 2000 years of Greenway planning and implementation. Chinese Greenways have been called various names and were planned for various reasons. 2) The long history of Greenway planning and implementation in China was mainly a “top-down” approach, which, while very effective under a centralized administrative system, often lacked a scientific basis and significant public participation. 3) The functions of the Greenways were mainly protection and productive, with little concern for human uses such recreational uses of cycling and hiking. ….Greenways in China are discussed chronologically and in three categories: 1) Riparian Greenways run along rivers, streams and water channels. The history of these Greenways dates more than 2000 years, since a time when trees were grown along canals and city moats. They have in modern times evolved into a network of drainage channels. 2) Greenways along transportation corridors. These Greenways run parallel to state and provincial highways, railroads, country roads and urban streets and evolved from tree plantings along highways. Used exclusively by emperors, the green corridor networks have been systematically planned and constructed at a national scale and directly organized by the central government. 3) Greenways along farmland for wind protection. These plantings evolved from individual segments of windbreak rows to a network of protective windbreaks and the large, regional scale “Green Great Wall” project running along the northern edge of China. As Greenways have evolved in China, they reflect changes in ideology, utilization and scale; from protection of production or beautification to ecological and multiple uses, and from small-scale fragments to a systematic regional and national network. The occurrence of disasters, the involvement of state leaders and the influence of science played an important role in the evolution of Greenways in China. http://www.landscapecn.com/info/Article/detail.asp?ID=2190

25) KUNMING — Oil-producing trees are being planted in southwest China’s Yunnan Province to increase the region’s fuel supply. The new project will result in more than 666,000 hectares of jatropha curcas trees being planted with the aim of extracting bio-diesel for automobiles. This year, the trees will be planted over a 25,000-hectare area. Scientists have found that the oil content of the seeds of jatropha curcas trees can be as high as 30 percent. China’s energy consumption has increased by an average of five percent every year since 1998. The country’s energy consumption totaled 2.22 billion tons of standard coal equivalent last year, up 9.5 percent over that in 2004, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Last year, China imported 168 million tons of oil, accounting for 42.9 percent of the total volume of oil consumed in the country in the same year, according to customs statistics. China has taken active steps to solve energy shortages including the development of renewable energy such as solar energy, wind power and hydropower as well as bio-liquid fuel and ethanol fuel. Yunnan is the first Chinese province to expand jatropha curcas tree planting for bio-diesel. Mountainous areas account for 94 percent of Yunnan’s total land space of 394,000 square kilometers, providing enough space for planting oil-bearing woods. Currently, the forest coverage rate of the province stands at 49.4 percent, according to the provincial forestry bureau. The province still has four million hectares of barren hills, 1.2 million hectares of which are located in the dry and warm valleys of the Jinsha, Lancang and Honghe rivers, where jatropha curcas trees can grow well. By 2020, China’s production capacity of bio-liquid fuel such as fuel ethanol and bio-diesel will reach 12 million tons, which could substitute some 10 million tons of refined oil products, predicted Han Wenke, deputy director of the Energy Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2006-05/24/content_4595091.htm


26) Greenpeace has unfurled a 450 square-metre banner on the beach on the island of Okinawa, the venue where the heads of government were meeting with a call to “Stop Forest Destruction.” For the past two days, the 14-nation Forum has been meeting to discuss issues of common interest in the region, and yet has failed to discuss illegal logging, an issue of critical importance in the Asia Pacific region, Greenpeace claims. The meeting was co-chaired by Japan’s Prime Minister Koizumi and Prime Minister Somare of Papua New Guinea (PNG). The closing statement from the Forum made no reference to illegal logging, but in a separate address issued by Prime Minister Koizumi, he said that Japan was prepared to help other countries in the region address forestry issues by sending experts to regions where logging occurs and is prepared to potentially increase aid to those countries as well. Greenpeace said the statement did not specifically mention “illegal logging,” however, nor did he commit to ban the import of illegally logged timber into Japan. “The failure of the Forum to meaningfully address illegal logging bodes poorly for the beleaguered forests of the Asia Pacific region.” “It’s positive the Prime Minister Koizumi spoke today about forestry in the region, but in reality, we need Japan to take action and ban illegally logged wood from coming into our country,” said Yuka Ozaki, forests campaigner for Greenpeace Japan. http://www.pacificislands.cc/pina/pinadefault2.php?urlpinaid=22283


27) Illegal loggers in Lampung have cleared tens of thousands of hectares of mangrove forests, the green belt along Sumatra’s eastern coast.Logging activities have also occurred along the coasts of South Lampung, Tanggamus and Tulangbawang regencies, creating large-scale coastal abrasion, thus making it difficult for traditional shrimp farmers to obtain seawater for their ponds. According to data from the Lampung office of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), of the total 160,000 hectares of mangrove forests in the province, 85 percent have been damaged in the past eight years. A traditional shrimp farmer in Sragi village, South Lampung, Sulaiman, 40, said that mangrove forest destruction had been going on for the past five years, especially within the past year to make way for shrimp ponds. “As a result, coastal erosion has gradually worsened.” According to Sulaiman, the drop in the seawater debit due to erosion has caused many farmers to go out of business and take up other jobs, like working as laborers in Bandarlampung. Hundreds of farmers involved in producing shrimp fries have also gone bankrupt. Now, hundreds of hatcheries in South Lampung have been left idle and have become mosquito breeding grounds. Sulaiman said that large-scale shrimp farmers could stay in business by procuring water pumps to maintain the water levels in their ponds. “Only large-scale farms can afford to do that,” he said. Illegal logging is still going on around the PT Dipasena Citra Darmaja (DCD) shrimp farm in Tulangbawang regency. Company spokesman Agus Tito said that local residents had cleared 3,000 hectares of mangrove forest spanning 27 kilometers long and 300 to 700 meters wide. Tito said that if mangrove logging continued unchecked along the green belt, coastal erosion on the eastern coast of Sumatra would exacerbate and threaten the shrimp industry. A number of areas along the eastern coast of Lampung are in a critical condition. Data from Mitra Bentala, an NGO advocating the conservation of mangrove forests, indicates that only around 5 to 20 percent of mangrove forests still remain. http://www.thejakartapost.com/misc/PrinterFriendly.asp

Solomon Islands:

28) The executive director of the Makira Community Conservation Foundation Trust, Victor Kohaia, says trees are being felled in restricted areas, debris is littering streams, waterways are being blocked and communities are concerned about what they will be left with.He was speaking after the central government said there would be a review of the Forestry Act, a moratorium on the issuing of new logging licenses and requirements to process some logs locally. Mr Kohaia says he visited a logging operation in Kira Kira where the local community is being affected by what’s happening. “I think the problem here is there is no close monitoring. The monitoring is not done properly. We do have a Forestry division here which is supposed to be doing the monitoring – I just do not know.” Mr Kohaia says he sent a report last week to the province’s premier about the impact of the nine or so companies operating in Makira but he’s yet to have a response. http://www.rnzi.com/pages/news.php?op=read&id=24377


29) Unlike other sectors, such as agriculture, that are almost exclusively comprised of managed systems, forests are comprised of both natural and managed systems. This makes it more difficult to state with precision what the overall economic impacts of climate change on forests will be. Further, understanding the impacts on forests and timber markets is difficult given the long time lags between the planting and harvesting of trees. Despite the many practical problems with understanding climate change impacts on forested ecosystems and timber markets, the combination of historical observation, modeling results, and experimental data allows us to draw several conclusions. Future research will certainly revise these conclusions, but the following points summarize the most important findings in the research to date regarding the overall impacts of climate change on forest ecosystems and timber markets over the next century. Understanding the economic effects of climate change on timber production is limited by scientific understanding of several key factors that control the response of natural and managed forests to climate change. Additional research is needed to enable ecologists and foresters to develop a more robust understanding of future changes in U.S. climate, ecosystem responses to climate change, the relationship between forest productivity and timber yield, and adaptation options available to foresters. http://www.pewclimate.org/global-warming-in-depth/all_reports/forests_and_climate_change/co

30) The conclusions of the Pew publication above show more concern for the logging/wood products industry than it does for forests. For example, it focuses on trees to the exclusion other forest resources including the likes of grasses, forbs, shrubs, insects, birds, fish, and mammals that are also fundamental to a definition of “forest”. Still, while the Pew report is constrained by its narrow scope — and probably says more about Pew priorities than it does about the full suite of species that make up a “forest” — the report does cite many of the same basic questions of interest to ecologists. And it’s important that the key questions do get identified, or policy will fail in the midst of public confusion. Notice that the difference between managed and natural forests is acknowledged in the very first sentence of the conclusions. I haven’t had time enough to find out whether the complete Pew report gives these differences the attention they need. –Lance Olsen lance@wildrockies.org

31) “This report says much has been done but much more needs to be done. It is good news but it is very fragile,” co-author Duncan Poore said. “It is a starting point. It shows where things ought to go. But there is no knowing if they will.” Poore praised Malaysia for its long-standing legal framework for managing forests in a sustainable way and said Bolivia, Peru, Congo Republic, Gabon and Ghana had made good progress. But he said there was a large discrepancy between management plans and management practice that sometimes allowed illegal logging to lay waste large areas of pristine forest. “There has been a huge increase in the amount of illegal logging – which undermines the price of timber that is legally and sustainably logged,” Poore said in an interview. The Japan-based ITTO, the world’s main international agency tasked with ensuring the sustainable management, use of and trade in tropical timber, said its report was the most thorough ever undertaken. http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=14&click_id=143&art_id=qw1148563802657B251

32) After a couple decades and billions of dollars invested in “sustainable rainforest management”, the ITTO reports less than 5% of tropical rainforest logging areas meet their limited definition of sustainability. Their questionable methods account little for ecological processes and patterns, instead focusing upon continued wood yields. The ridiculousness of ITTO’s position is demonstrated by claims that Malaysian loggers, a global rainforest scourge, have made the “greatest progress in sustainable management”.
Groups such as Greenpeace, WWF and Rainforest Action Network that unquestioningly embrace and promote the dangerous wishful myth that ancient primary rainforests can in any manner be meaningfully protected through “sustainable logging” should by now be totally discredited and ashamed of themselves. And this goes for foundations as well. The Earth’s remaining large ancient forest expanses must be protected and restored as “Global Ecological Reserves”, and the means found to compensate countries for lost logging revenues, if the Earth’s climate, biodiversity and ecosystem crises are to be solved. Continued rainforest logging precludes any chance of the Earth and human societies achieving global ecological sustainability, and it must end. Ecological Internet calls not only for a boycott of tropical timbers, but also of the organizations supporting and thus legitimizing the dangerous myth of sustainable logging in ancient rainforests. g.b. http://www.rainforestportal.org/issues/2006/05/the_dangerous_myth_of_sustaina.asp

33) Satellite measurements made from 1979 to 2005 show that the atmosphere in the subtropical regions both north and south of the equator is heating up. As the atmosphere warms, it bulges out at the altitudes where the northern and southern jet streams slip past like swift and massive rivers of air. That bulging has pushed both jet streams about 70 miles closer to the Earth’s poles. Since the jet streams mark the edge of the tropics, in essence framing the hot zone that hugs the equator, their outward movement has allowed the tropics to grow wider by about 140 miles. That means the relatively drier subtropics move as well, pushing closer to places like Salt Lake City, where Thomas Reichler, co-author of the new study, teaches meteorology. “One of the immediate consequences one can think of is those deserts and dry areas are moving poleward,” said Reichler, of the University of Utah. Details appear in Thursday’s Science Express, the online edition of the journal Science.The movement has allowed the subtropics to edge toward populated areas, including the American Southwest, southern Australia and the Mediterranean basin. In those places, the lack of precipitation already is a worry. Additional creep could move Africa’s Sahara Desert farther north, worsening drought conditions that are already a serious problem on that continent and bringing drier weather to the countries that ring the Mediterranean Sea. “The Mediterranean is one region that models consistently show drying in the future. That could be very much related to this pattern that we are seeing in the atmosphere,” said Isaac Held, a senior research scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He was not connected with the research.A shift in where subtropical dry zones lie could make climate change locally noticeable for more people, said Karen Rosenlof, a NOAA research meteorologist also unconnected to the study. “It is a plausible thing that could be happening, and the people who are going to see its effects earliest are the ones who live closer to the tropics, like southern Australia,” said Rosenlof. Her own work suggests the tropics have actually compressed since 2000, after growing wider over the previous 20 years. –Associated press

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