183 – Earth’s Tree News

Today for you 41 news items about Earth’s trees. Location, number and subject listed below. Condensed / abbreviated article is listed further below.

Can be viewed on the web at http://www.livejournal.com/users/olyecology or
by sending a blank email message to earthtreenews-subscribe@lists.riseup.net

–Alaska: 1) Pellet plant uses dead trees
–British Columbia: 2) Save forest photos, 3) Thrillcraft, 4) Timber towns to ghost towns,
–Washington: 5)Chuckanut and Blanchard mountains, 6) Land trust land turned into a mine? 7) Grassy Narrows First Nation’s resist Weyco,
–Oregon: 8) Delist Murrelet? 9) illegal lumber, 10) land use planning, 11) Save Rogue,
–California: 12) Citizens for Greenspace, 13) 1 millionth dead tree cut down,
–Arizona: 14) 9th circuit protects San Francisco Peaks from sewer snow
–Canada: 15) logging practices in the boreal, 16) Matawa First Nation blockade,
–UK: 17) Making red squirrel habitat
–Poland: 18) Europe’s last great wilderness
–Bulgaria: 19) Protest takes it to the streets
–Israel: 20) predator wasps arrive to save non-native trees
–Ghana: 21) All nine forest reserves depleted
–Ethiopia: 22) Three pulp mills to use 363,000 hectares of lease free land
–South America: 23) Evidence of seasonality, 24) Analysis of new deforestation data,
–Jamaica: 25) Alcoa threatens last wild forest
–Brazil: 26) Ecoagents educating aboriginal tribes about their rights
–Peru: 27) Deforestation causes drought
–China: 28) Save the Giant Panda
–Thailand: 29) State of emergency caused by forest fires
–Vietnam: 30) New pulp mill to use 400,000 hectatres
–Sarawak: 31) Penan blockade is gone
–Indonesia: 32) Save Lorentz National Park, 33) Palm oil, 34) Loggers to be jailed,
–Borneo: 35) Origins of Mongabay.com. 36) New species of leopard discovered,
–Malaysia: 37) Malaysian Timber Certification Council, 38) Forest cover rates,
–Australia: 39) Big log supply deal
–World-wide: 40) Google mapping adds World Wildlife Fund, 41) Deforestation rates,


1) The pellet plant is still being designed, but in general, Hughes will selectively harvest the dead trees, slice them into 40-foot logs and truck them back to the Old Gates mill just off the Sterling Highway. Then, the trees are ground into dust and rolled into the dense pellets. Mackay said the plant runs on excess biomass energy from the forest. Two plants will be in operation, one for producing the power, and one plant for producing the pellets. And if neighbors can handle the emissions of steam, there shouldn’t be any pollution complaints. Activity onsite will pick up once the plant is designed and approved. Once it gets rolling, the company may cherry pick timber throughout Alaska for the next 50 to 100 years. Once Hughes starts producing pellets, the land will become improved in accordance to defensible space because the dead, combustible trees will be replaced with a new generation of timber. Hughes will be doing the work that the state, Kenai Peninsula Borough and private entities are already paying to do in forests that stretch from Nikiski to Anchor Point. The state has identified priorities including salvaging useable trees and reducing fire hazards by removing combustible fuel. Third, the state is interested in renovating those tree stands — a priority Hughes Pellets shares. http://www.homertribune.com/article.php?aid=1374

British Columbia:

2) If you live in Victoria, Vancouver, or Vancouver Island, we need YOU on Sat. Mar.24 at this pivotal rally for Vancouver Island’s vanishing old-growth forests and milling jobs – ENOUGH is ENOUGH! Please EMAIL US BACK ON HOW MANY OF YOU ARE COMING so we can get a sense of our numbers (our goal is to have 500 people) We have a first class line-up of speakers (see below), a drumming band for the march, and we’ll make a fantastic “aerial art” image with hundreds of people sitting in formation in the shape of an old-growth tree in front of the Legislature to creatively send a message to the BC government. WE REALLY NEED HELP phoning thousands of supporters, putting up posters, and handing out our new educational newsletter. Please email us if you can spare 1 hour or more, at wc2vic@island.net See our previous aerial art images at: http://www.wildernesscommitteevictoria.org/gallery.php

3) “We are strengthening government’s ability to deal with people who damage our forest or range resources,” said Coleman. “This should serve as notice that we will not tolerate the actions of those who wilfully run machines through sensitive areas.” Under new provisions of the Forest and Range Practices Act, people causing damage that adversely affects an ecosystem, such as driving four-wheel drive vehicles in wetlands, or riding ATVs irresponsibly in alpine terrain or range lands, will face penalties of up to $100,000. Cases prosecuted in the criminal courts carry maximum fines of $100,000, up to one year in jail, or both. Bill 18 also contains provisions to other statutes, including the Forest Act, Wildfire Act, Range Act and Forestry Revitalization Act to: 1) enable local governments to reduce the threat of interface wildfires to their communities through changes to the Forestry Licence to Cut; 2) streamline government’s ability to increase the volume and area of a First Nation tenure, and to protect potential Aboriginal rights and title; 3) provide woodlot operators with greater operational flexibility to improve their economic stability; and 4) make changes to provisions governing cutting permits to facilitate the prompt harvesting of mountain pine beetle-attacked timber. http://www.gov.bc.ca.

4) Five British Columbia communities top the list of mid-size urban centres with the fastest-shrinking populations in the country, reflecting a struggling forestry sector and regional economies that rise and fall with timber prices. “There’s no surprise in the list, given the difficulties in the northwest part of the province,” Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president of the Business Council of British Columbia, said yesterday. “It’s really been the last area to experience any sort of rebound since the economy of B.C. as a whole began to move into an upswing phase in 2002.” It’s harder to explain population declines in the Interior cities of Quesnel and Williams Lake, Mr. Finlayson and others said, as that region is experiencing a burst of activity related to harvesting pine-beetle-killed wood before it rots and warps, losing any economic value. In Quesnel, housing prices are healthy, retail performance is strong and “we’re in the midst of a mini-boom because of the pine beetle,” said Jim Savage, executive director of Quesnel Community and Economic Development Corp. The northwest communities of Kitimat, Prince Rupert and Terrace (ranked 1, 2 and 4) are joined by the Interior towns of Quesnel and Williams Lake (ranked 3 and 5) on the list of centres with the fastest population decline since 2001. Cities in New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Ontario round out the fastest-shrinking 10. The northern B.C. city of Prince George, with a decline of 2.1 per cent over five years, is at No. 16. In Kitimat, the population declined by 12.6 per cent, slipping below the 10,000 mark. The city has seen several major businesses close or scale back operations in recent years. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20070314.CENSUSSHRINK14/TPStory/National


5) The satellite pictures contain a single sizable splotch of green between Seattle and Vancouver. That’s Chuckanut and Blanchard mountains, south of Bellingham, one place where the Cascades extend to salt water. Aided by a public “strategies group,” the state Department of Natural Resources has sought to develop “consensus management” plans for 4,800 acres of state-owned lands on Blanchard Mountain. In seeking peace, however, the DNR has set off a nasty brawl among environmental activists in northwest Washington. The landscape is worth scrapping over. A dream of the Bellingham area has been to protect Blanchard Mountain and link up its forests with Larrabee State Park and city and county parklands on Chuckanut Mountain. “We have one DNR natural resource conservation area in Whatcom County totaling just 137 acres. It’s nothing nearly as extensive as the Issaquah Alps,” said Ken Wilcox, a conservation activist and trail planner. In King and Snohomish counties, the DNR has set aside 42,000 acres as conservation areas, including popular trails on Tiger Mountain, Rattlesnake Mountain and Mount Si. One problem: Blanchard Mountain is in Skagit County. The 4,800 acres are state trust lands, expected to provide timber production and dollars for local schools and services. As the DNR puts it in old-time logger jargon, Blanchard Mountain is a “working forest.” The “strategies group” produced a controversial compromise. It would create a 1,600-acre “core zone” emphasizing wildlife, vistas and non-motorized recreation. But some logging — and construction of temporary logging roads — would be allowed. Forests outside the core would be “harvested” in line with DNR statewide standards. The plan vaguely links the future of state-owned Blanchard Mountain to pending decisions on what logging to allow on nearby Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest lands. The cry of “sellout” has come from the venerable North Cascades Conservation Council. But Skagit County photographer-environmentalist Lee Mann sympathizes with the agreement. “It gets our nose in the tent,” he said. “If the DNR does something bad, we can immediately call out to everyone from hang gliders to horsemen. ‘Help!’ A veteran of the 1960s battle to create North Cascades National Park, Mann now sees threats greater than continued timber cutting. “I fear us getting inundated with people more than I fear the logging industry,” he said. Big, showy and often unsightly homes are spreading up privately owned slopes of Chuckanut and Blanchard mountains. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/connelly/307413_joel14.html

6) The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced it plans to issue a lease for 217 acres of land critical to the project, proposed by Spokane-based Idaho General Mines. But the agency promised not to allow any work there until further studies show it could be done without harming the surrounding environment. At this point, “we’re not analyzing whether a mine should be there or not,” said BLM spokesman Michael Campbell. Although the land is part of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, the BLM has authority over mining on federal lands. Environmentalists quickly condemned the agency’s decision, saying a mine simply doesn’t belong there. The site is near a national monument, as well as the source of the Green River, which eventually flows into the Cowlitz River. The land originally was bought by the environmental group Trust for Public Land, then turned over to the Forest Service. “This is just a proposal that shouldn’t even get off the ground,” said Ryan Hunter, program director for the environmental group Gifford Pinchot Task Force. “The fact that the federal government is giving this the time of day .. is really frightening.” Mine-company officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday. In a past interview, a company executive said it would use modern, environmentally friendly mining methods, and that the proposal was being unfairly prejudged by some. The company is looking at possibly mining for copper, gold, molybdenum and silver. In addition to the 217 acres, the BLM postponed a decision about roughly 700 nearby acres, saying it would first look at the company’s mining plans. People now have 30 days to comment on the proposed lease. They can write to U.S. Department of the Interior; Bureau of Land Management; Oregon State Office; P.O. Box 2965; Portland, OR 97208. To view the lease proposal, go to www.blm.gov/or/index.php http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003618833_mine15m.html

7) After traveling 3,000 miles from northern Ontario, Grassy Narrows First Nation community members have reached Seattle. Their mission? To demand that logging giant Weyerhaeuser work to stop the clear-cutting in Grassy’s ancestral homeland. On Monday morning, Grassy community members Warren Ashopenace, Gloria Kejick, and Maria Swain met face-to-face with top Weyerhaeuser executives. They shared stories of how the unauthorized logging on their territory has disrupted their ability to trap animals and collect medicinal herbs. They spoke of the wild berries and streams poisoned by herbicides used in logging operations. The Weyerhaeuser executives were rendered speechless as these folks spoke truth to power. Yet, Weyerhaeuser still has not committed to help stop the logging. That’s why Grassy Narrows and RAN are increasing the pressure on Weyerhaeuser, and we need your help. Please call CEO Steve Rogel and demand an “exit strategy” from Grassy Narrows. RAN and the Grassy community members remain busy in the Seattle area. Today, we’ll be at the Built Green conference in Everett, Wash., where Weyerhaeuser subsidiary Quadrant Homes is receiving an award. Recent research conducted by RAN documents that Quadrant homes are constructed with Weyerhaeuser building materials made from wood clear-cut and taken without consent from Grassy Narrows. To expose the hypocrisy of Quadrant’s award, we’ll dress as homeless caribou and wander around tree stumps in front of the conference. http://ga3.org/campaign/roadtoseattle_call


8) Marbled Murrelets — a robin-sized seabird that lays eggs in old growth woods — is at risk of extinction in the lower 48, but is it special enough to protect? The American Forest Resource Council, an Oregon-based non-profit representing timber companies, filed suit in federal court Wednesday to undo federal protections for the vanishing birds. The murrelet population has shrunk to about 24,400 birds in Washington, Oregon and California, where they were deemed “threatened” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1992. In the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., the timber group is arguing that the birds are not different enough from populations in Canada and Alaska to merit protection under the Endangered Species Act. The black-and-white, rubber ducky-shaped birds feed on small fish and microscopic sea life. They nest in old-growth woods, particularly mossy trees or sometimes on the ground. In August 2004, the Fish and Wildlife Service issued its conclusions from the review. “The threat situation has not changed such that the murrelet (distinct population segment) is no longer likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range,” the scientists stated. They noted, however, that the birds did not qualify as unique from their Alaskan relations, and called for a range-wide review of their status. That review has not been done, though a study of the birds in Alaska and Canada was completed this year. But in September 2004, the Bush administration recommended that the birds be cut from the endangered species list. West’s group wants the government to follow through on that advice. With the murrelet on the list, logging is restricted and additional hoops are required to gain permission to cut down trees where it is allowed. “It’s the bureaucracy and waste of money that’s the real issue here,” West said. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/307500_murrelet15.html

9) It could be your new hardwood floor or coffee table, with a rich mahogany hue. While the wood may look good, there is a strong chance it came from timber harvested illegally in places such as Honduras, Indonesia or Peru, labor and environmental groups say. Now some lawmakers want to crack down on illegal logging around the world. Led by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., the group is seeking support for a bill to ban U.S. imports of wood products derived from illegally harvested timber. Much like the movie “Blood Diamond,” which portrays diamonds as fueling a brutal civil war in West Africa, lawmakers hope to make U.S. consumers more aware of where their new bedroom dresser or hardwood floor comes from. “Illegal logging is a problem that crosses national boundaries to affect communities, companies and ecosystems alike,” Blumenauer said. As much as 30 percent of U.S. hardwood imports are from suspicious or illegal sources, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission. Much of the wood is sent to China, where it is processed at low cost and then exported to the United States and other countries. Illegal logging costs U.S. companies as much as $1 billion a year in lost exports and reduced prices for timber products, according to the American Forest and Paper Association, a trade group that represents the wood products industry. “I can’t stress enough how pervasive this problem is,” Blumenauer said at a Capitol news conference Tuesday. “It’s destabilizing the environment, destabilizing trade opportunities and literally robbing national governments” of millions of dollars in lost taxes. http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/politics/16895962.htm

10) Statewide land use planning came in response to the steady loss of farm and forest lands – particularly in the Willamette Valley, which lost nearly 1 million acres of farm land between 1950 and 1974. That erosion needed to be arrested if Oregon hoped to have agriculture and timber industries in the future. Gov. Tom McCall, the Legislature, the Oregon Farm Bureau and the Oregon Forest Industries Council supported the landmark 1973 legislation that zoned 15.6 million acres for farm use and 7.9 million acres for forest use. The restrictions have had the desired effect: Between 1974 and 2002, farm acreage in the Willamette Valley actually increased slightly, and agriculture and forestry remain vital components of the state’s economy. Also in 1973, the Legislature approved Senate Bill 101 to provide property tax breaks for the newly zoned farm and forest lands. The change was required as a matter of fairness – land that could no longer be developed for residential or commercial purposes should no longer be taxed on the basis of that potential. It was a deliberate attempt to compensate landowners for the burden of zoning. Then-Sen. Vic Atiyeh, who carried SB 101 and later became governor, called the bill “goodies for being in a farm zone.” The American Land Institute calculates that the cumulative value of tax reductions on rural land between 1974 and 2004 is nearly $4.9 billion. Those taxes were largely shifted to properties in urban areas. Richmond calls it the largest single public investment in Oregon history – Interstate 5 cost less than half as much. The benefits of the tax reductions are shared by a relatively small number of rural land owners, while the costs are borne by large numbers of people in urban areas. As a consequence, between 1974 and 2002 farm land values in the Willamette Valley rose by 480 percent, faster than the rate of inflation. At the same time, farmers and foresters were protected against the development of adjacent lands that would result in limits on agricultural or timber practices. But now the bargain is in danger of breaking down as owners of rural land demand compensation or waivers of zoning rules under Measure 37. Local governments can’t afford to compensate landowners, so waivers are the usual response to Measure 37 claims. Perhaps the response would be different if compensation took into account the property tax benefits that have accompanied zoning. http://www.registerguard.com/news/2007/03/13/ed.edit.landvalue.0313.p1.php?section=opinion

11) The campaign to protect the Wild Rogue area is gaining momentum! Already, a coalition of eight local and national conservation groups, including Oregon Wild, has formed to save the Wild Rogue. And last week, the Eugene Register Guard printed an editorial calling for new Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers in the Wild Rogue. To read the editorial:http://www.registerguard.com/news/2007/03/08/ed.edit.rogue.phn.0308.p1.php?section=opi
nion The Wild Rogue area is one of Oregon’s most pristine, scenic, and rugged landscapes. Located in southern Oregon and nestled in the Siskiyou Mountain Range, the Wild Rogue area is home to the famous Rogue River, the Zane Grey Roadless Area, and a diversity of fish and wildlife, including bald eagles and salmon. Oregon Wild and our coalition partners are calling for approximately 60,000 acres of new Wilderness areas and 100 miles of new Wild and Scenic Rivers. Increased protection would permanently protect this ecologically rich area, which has one of Oregon’s most important fisheries and generates millions of dollars from tourism. To view pictures of the Wild Rogue and a map of the proposed Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers: http://www.savethewildrogue.info

12) Citizens for Greenspace is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to an improved environment through community green-space projects and education, according Mary Stephan, president. Founded in 1988 in Carmel, the group’s projects have resulted in the planting of over 4,500 trees in Carmel’s parks and along our streets, the distribution of over 18,000 tree seedlings to grade-school students for our annual Arbor Day celebration, and the creation of five public gardens and prairies. The group’s newest project has been the creation of a Woodland Garden in the new Central Park in Carmel. The group’s budget for this garden is $35,000. With over 1,300 perennials, numerous trees and shrubs, and 1,000 daffodil bulbs planted in the fall of 2006, the garden promises to be spectacular in time for its dedication on April 22. Funding for the group’s community projects comes from the perennial plant sale, the Greenspace Garden Faire, held each year in May at the Gazebo at Carmel City Hall. http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070312/LOCAL010106/703120490/1015/LOCAL01

13) With a crackling thunder, local officials today symbolically felled the 1 millionth dead tree in the San Bernardino Mountains and shifted focus to thinning projects to help make area forests healthy. The tree came down in Sky Forest just east of Lake Arrowhead, near where firefighters stopped the spread of the Old fire in 2003. Thanks to $70 million in federal aid, work crews have removed most of the large stands of dead and dying trees left stricken by years or drought and a bark beetle infestation. Now, the county and individual property owners must work to remove live trees and vegetation, said Peter Brierty, San Bernardino County’s assistant fire chief. “A thin forest is a healthy forest and a thin forest is a fire-resistant forest,” Brierty said today at a news conference in Sky Forest. http://www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_D_webtree.25fe8d3.html

14) Today, the San Francisco 9th Circuit Court of Appeals delivered justice to the sacred San Francisco Peaks and the Southwest tribes that consider it sacred by stopping the development of the Arizona Snowbowl Resort and Coconino National Forest Service’s proposed artificial snowmaking plan. Sierra Club, various tribes and other appellants argued successfully that using treated sewage to make artificial snow would violate the environmental justice of the tribal communities and would pollute the land, air and water.
“This is a national wake up call for those that will try to desecrate sacred mountains like the San Francisco Peaks,” said Robert Tohe, Environmental Justice Organizer for the Sierra Club in Flagstaff, Arizona. “We will not allow our voices to be ignored.” The San Francisco Peaks, north of Flagstaff, Arizona, are sacred to13 tribes, and are important spiritual and geographic boundaries. “I am really thankful and deeply appreciate the 9th circuit court’s decision,” said Bucky Preston, one of the Hopi plaintiffs. “Some of the
judges in the courts must have a good heart and looked deeply into themselves to realize that the Peaks are so sacred to us and they understood our beliefs.” This overruling of a district court decision is one of the most important in recent years under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In addition to finding that the plan would have desecrated this sacred area, the court decided that the U.S. Forest Service failed to fully disclose the risks posed by human ingestion of artificial snow. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2007/03/13/national/a103833D57.DTL


15) A report that suggests Ontario’s logging practices in the boreal forest are contributing to climate change is “laughable,” according to Minister of Natural Resources David Ramsay. In a report released Tuesday, Vancouver-based ForestEthics says continued logging of the intact boreal forest is causing more carbon dioxide to enter the atmosphere and escalates climate change. Ramsay says that doesn’t make any sense. He says only two per cent of trees in northern Ontario are logged each year, an area that covers nearly 50-million hectares. Ramsay went on to say, the few trucks and harvesters in the bush are not an issue. Ontario’s boreal forest region covers 49.9 million hectares andextends from the northern limits of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest to the Hudson Bay Lowlands. The ForestEthics report, entitled “Robbing the Carbon Bank:Global Warming and Ontario’s Forests,” said protecting boreal forests “must be a key component of any government climate plan.” The group said the vast forest stores billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide. Not only does logging release much of the carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, current harvesting practices reduce the forest’s ability to retain it, the report said. http://www.tbsource.com/localnews/index.asp?cid=93512

16) Matawa First Nation wants to have their rights in the Kenogami Forest protected and have filed legal action in order to do so. The first nation has commenced legal proceedings through a judicial review application. It seeks to set aside the transfer of the Sustainable Forest License in the Kenogami forest, from Neenah Paper to Buchanan-owned Terrace Bay Pulp. Matawa First Nation is claiming they have not been properly consulted about the transfer. They also feel that the MNR has not met requirements for including the first nation in the planning process, or done enough to ensure they receive proper benefits from the harvesting of woodlands. The group has reserves either in or adjacent to the Kenogami Forest. They have filed their legal challenge against Minister of Natural Resources David Ramsay, the director of industry relations for the ministry, Terrace Bay Pulp and Neenah Paper. http://www.tbsource.com/Localnews/index.asp?cid=93350


17) In the early 1800s, red squirrels were found throughout England and were certainly widespread in Yorkshire. However, due to reasons not exactly understood, but probably associated with habitat loss and disease, populations began to decline. This was exacerbated by the introduction of the larger, non-native grey squirrel from North America from 1876. By 1906 the greys had arrived in Yorkshire and the fate of the county’s red squirrels was ostensibly sealed. Fortunately, pockets of red populations managed to survive in Cumbria, the North East and Merseyside – but why after decades in exile did the reds decide to venture back into Yorkshire? The answer, it seems, is thanks to the inadvertent intervention of the Kemps. Forty or so years ago when they first moved to the remote settlement of Snaizeholme, there was plenty of open grazing suitable for sheep and cattle, but little wildlife habitat. Hugh and Jane decided to establish a plantation of spruce, fir and Scots pine on several acres of land to sell as Christmas trees. The couple had begun an arboreal version of a clear-out and a lot of trees, particularly a variety known as sitka spruce, were felled so just a few clumps of forestry were left standing. These included a two-acre block of sitka close to the Kemps’ house which they thought would provide a good dormitory for roe deer. It was a great surprise, therefore, when a neighbour told them she had seen a red squirrel hopping out of the plantation. Soon the Kemps were seeing reds themselves. http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/viewarticle.aspx?articleid=2115840&sectionid=105


18) It’s one of Europe’s last great wildernesses. But now economic progress threatens the primeval forest of Poland’s Rospuda valley. Local opinion is bitterly divided. On one side of the argument there are eagles, wolves and orchids; on the other side there are endless heavy lorries and burgeoning economic growth. Welcome to Europe’s new environmental battleground. The conflict is coming to a head for the first time in a pristine valley in north-east Poland, crammed with spectacular wildlife, which has been earmarked as the route for a badly-needed motorway to the Baltic states. The clash of priorities has bitterly divided public opinion in Poland itself and has now set the country on collision course with the European Union. Yet the struggle to save the Rospuda valley is only the first of many conflicts likely to arise between economic development in the new EU member nations of central and eastern Europe, and their wildlife heritage. Species which have long been rare or extinct in western European countries, such as lynx, elk, wolf and beaver, along with scores of uncommon bird species, from eagles to corncrakes, still have substantial populations in the 10 central and eastern European nations which have recently joined the EU. In Poland and the other member states which joined in 2004 (the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary and the three Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), as well as in Bulgaria and Romania, which joined this year, two remarkable habitats in particular act as giant wildlife reservoirs for Europe as a whole.One is the vast extent of ancient forests, some of which are still primeval – meaning they have never been cut down and replanted – and the other is the great range of wetlands in river valleys, flood plains and deltas. The Rospuda valley combines both. The Rospuda river flows through the ancient Augustow Forest near Poland’s border with Lithuania, one of the most pristine forest regions in all of Europe; and the river’s course is bracketed by a peat bog which is astonishingly rich in mammals, rare birds, plants and insects. http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article2359088.ece


19) Eco activists took to the streets of Sofia, Bulgaria to demand inclusion of Bulgarian areas in the NATURA 2000 Program. Earlier European Green Party (EGP) MEPs sent 17 questions to the European Commission (EC) about the Bulgarian Government’s omissions from the list of sites proposed for inclusion in the Natura 2000 ecological network, the Bulgarian Green Party (BGP) said in a media statement on March 1. Natura 2000 is a European network of protected sites which represent areas of the highest value for natural habitats and species of plants and animals which are rare, endangered or vulnerable in the European Community.The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) says that in Bulgaria almost half of the most important sites identified by scientists, including nearly the entire Black Sea coast, have been removed from the list due to “investors” interests. “We expected the government to cut some sites from its list of proposals for the Natura 2000 network, but what remains has been seriously compromised in terms of both quantity and quality,” said Vesselina Kavrakova, Bulgaria country manager for the WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme. With its decision, the Bulgarian government has officially introduced “investment interests” as criteria for defining the network. Many local people have expressed their support for Natura 2000 sites in their area, including the town of Assenovgrad in the Rhodope Mountains, the village of Skrino for the Skrino Gorge site and the town of Zemen for the Zemen Gorge site. In January, WWF and NGO partners delivered a petition with 50,000 signatures that called for urgent action to stop illegal construction in protected areas in a number of areas on the Black Sea coast and in the mountains. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/OreadDaily/


20) A shipment of predator wasps arrived in Israel two months ago to take on the gall wasp pests that have been ravaging Israel’s eucalyptus trees. The predator wasps have already successfully routed one pest species, Ophelimus maskellis. “We had real concerns about the threat of extinction for Israel’s eucalyptus groves,” said David Brand, manager of the Jewish National Fund’s Department of Forestry and Development. “Fifty percent of the problem has been taken care of now,” said Brand, referring to the success with fighting Ophelimus maskellis. JNF researchers plan to have the predators ready for the other pest, Leptocybe invasa, within a year. The recent shipment of predator wasps from Australia is part of this effort, and is currently undergoing testing in Israel. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1173879085888&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull


21) All the nine forest reserves of Offinso in the Ashanti Region have been depleted due to activities of illegal chainsaw operators. What is speeding the process is desire of operators now to fell immature teak trees planted under the government’s plantation programmes to replenish the reserves. These operators, according to the Offinso Forestry Manager, Godfred Kofi Afrifa operate mainly during the night and are armed to the teeth to even put the fear of God into security agencies. Mr. Afrifa told newsmen about the development at the weekend following the seizure of 24 vehicles which were fully loaded with logs, lumber and billets. Among the vehicles were articulated trucks, KIA trucks and long cargo trucks. They were seized within a period of one month between January and February, this year. The Forestry Manager said officials of the division were at risk as the illegal operators had been threatening them. Mr. Afrifa urged the government to ensure stringent measures to stem the use of chainsaw else the plantation programmes would be a mirage. According to him a District Task Force with the support of the police had been formed and last year, succeeded in forwarding 12 cases of illegal operators to the courts after making some arrests. http://www.myjoyonline.com/archives/news/200703/2531.asp


22) Three pulp mills are to be constructed in Ethiopia jointly with Land and Sea Development- Ethiopia (LSDE), and Chinese and Indian companies. LSDE started undertaking bamboo development in Benshangul-Gumz State with a capital of 136 million dollars on a plot of 393,000 hectares of lease free land. The company has also secured another 50,000 hectares in the state for plantation and harvesting eucalyptus trees. At the official inaugural ceremony of the company’s office at Assosa, Founder and CEO of the company, Dr. E. Druce Fisher told Capital that the company is in final negotiations with a Chinese company MCC International and an Indian company, Andhra Paper Mills Ltd. for the construction of pulp mills in Benshangul-Gumz State and Oromia Regional State. The mills have a capacity of producing 100,000 and 75,000 tons of pulp respectively. The mills are scheduled to come on line in two years and would cost about 360 million dollars, which would be a 50/50 joint venture between LSDE and the other parties. http://nazret.com/blog/index.php?title=ethiopia_three_pulp_mills_are_to_be_cons&more=1&c=1&tb=1

South America:

23) A new study using NASA satellite images found evidence of seasonality in the Amazon rainforest. The results, published in the March 20 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that the Amazon had 25 percent more leaf coverage in the dry season and 25 percent less in the rainy season. “Our finding is similar to the discovery of a large green continent, nearly a third the size of South America, appearing and disappearing each year,” explained Ranga Myneni, professor of geography and environment at Boston University, the lead author of this study. “This has very important consequences for weather, atmospheric carbon, water and nutrient cycling, given that leaves are the air purifiers and food factories of our planet.” The paper indicates that rainforest itself plays an role in initiating the transition from the dry to the wet season. “Rain forests sprout new leaves in anticipation of the coming dry season,” stated a release from Boston University. “The greener forests capture more sunlight, absorb more carbon dioxide and evaporate more water during the dry season compared to the wet season… By gradually humidifying the atmosphere, the forests play an integral role in the onset of the wet season.” http://news.mongabay.com/2007/0312-amazon.html

24) While the FAO’s Assessment may be better than past forestry data collections, and the confidence level of experts may be high for the data on some or many of the LAC nations, I still have my reservations about LAC entries. For example, just how credible is it that forest cover has not changed even 1,000 hectares over 15 years in Antigua, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the Caymans, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Martinique, Saint Lucia or Suriname? Or that Haiti has only lost 11,000 hectares over that same period (have you seen a satellite image of Haiti lately?). That said, what does the FAO data set for LAC suggest? Let’s first look at the subregional breakdown — Caribbean v. Central America v. South America. In absolute area terms, South America showed the largest deforestation by far, 8.053 million hectares lost, 72% of that from Brazil alone. But in percentage terms, the biggest loss was in Central America: percentage loss there in the 1990s was 1.5% per year compared to 0.44% for all of South America, and in the 2000-2005 period, the difference was 1.2% to 0.5%, respectively. This is because the forest cover in South America was so vast to begin with that areas as large as whole American states can disappear and still represent just a percentage point or two.Meanwhile the World Resources Institute (WRI) reportedly is working with some countries to develop a forest mapping tool utilizing satellite imagery to help track illegal logging operations and guide enforcement officials. Currently Brazil is the only LAC nation aggressively using “realtime” high-resolution satellite imaging and its analysis to track deforestation and target its enforcement efforts. http://www.temasactuales.com/temasblog/?p=91


25) In July 2005, Alcoa’s Board of Directors approved plans to join with the government of Jamaica to expand the Jamalco alumina refinery in Clarendon. Jamalco is owned 50 percent by the Jamaican government and 50 percent by Alcoa Minerals of Jamaica. Environmental groups say such damage would be irreparable. “Unfortunately for the birds, landscape, and many communities Jamaica is pushing hard to extract every bit of bauxite from her soils to export for aluminum production, “said Susan Koenig of the Cockpit Country Stakeholders Group, a coalition of environmentalists, tourism industry representatives and schools. “The ecological damage wrought by the industry is astounding for a medium sized island,” said Koenig. Koenig argues that damaging one of the worlds most important and spectacular karst landscapes to get at the bauxite underneath makes no long-term economic sense. Tourism generates 45 percent of Jamaica’s foreign earnings and directly or indirectly provides jobs for around a quarter of the working population she claims, adding that mining employs far fewer people and is not sustainable. The Cockpit Country is in northwestern Jamaica near the tourist resorts of Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. It is about 130 miles (209 kilometers) from the capital city of Kingston. Central Jamaica was once blanketed with wet limestone forests. The 173 square miles (450 square kilometers) of Cockpit Country represent the largest and most intact portion left it is a rugged remote area of western Jamaica that has the world’s most outstanding karst topography – steep-sided hills and deep, round valleys eroded from the limestone bedrock. The wildlife of the Cockpit Country is specially adapted to this unique landscape and numerous species occur here that are endemic, found nowhere else in the world. This is the largest remaining area of intact wet limestone forest in Jamaica and is a refuge for at least 79 of the 100 bird species found in the island, including Jamaica’s two endemic parrot species (the black-billed parrot, the yellow-billed parrot), also the ring-tailed pigeon and the plain pigeon The Cockpit Country is home to perhaps the only viable population of the endemic Giant Swallowtail butterfly; with a wingspan of up to 8 inches (20 cm) it is the largest butterfly in the Americas. http://cockpitcountry.blogspot.com/2007/03/bauxite-mining-poses-major-threat-to.html


26) As Ecoagents, our goal is to protect the Amazon Rainforest by educating the aboriginal tribes about their rights & benefits. The tribes of the Amazon are the key to its survival. With this knowledge the tribes do not sign their land away and the Amazon Rainforest is preserved for the future of mankind. We are extremely excited to announce that all proceeds from this March 15th Ecoagents Rainforest Benefit will go to open the 1st Institute of Tribal Rights in the Amazon Rainforest! The Institute of Tribal Rights will be an educational hub and a pivotal point for furthering the preservation of the Amazon, creating a voice for the indigenous people and as well establishing global presence. http://nyc.metblogs.com/archives/2007/03/feeling_generou.phtml


27) There are wide ranging ecological issues facing the San Martín region. Perhaps the most significant of these is an ongoing drought that is threatening crops and harvests, as well as water supplies in some parts of the region, and could threaten to expand to the whole region. The amount of rainfall in February was significantly lower than the usual. February is traditionally a rainy month. Although it is predicted by the Peruvian government’s meteorological department to end in March, it has been a cause for concern for many people. The authorities assert that the cause of drought is the ongoing destruction of the regions forests. It is estimated that 15 hectares of forest are destroyed every day in the region, and in the previous 36 years, over 1.3 million hectares, or 26.41% of the total forest area were destroyed according to a local ecological and economic study conducted by the ‘Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonía Peruana’ in 2006. Destruction proceeded at a rate of 40 hectares a day, until the regional government began to take action. These estimates can be considered conservative, more recent media reports claim that up to 1.9 million hectares, in excess of a third of the regions forests have been logged, making San Martín the most deforested region in Peru. Deforestation is increasingly a political issue. Environmental issues in general are widely forgotten by the people and the press, but as they begin to hold consequences for daily lives, the press at least, and the authorities are taking notice, although the issues remain very low in the conscience of the population. In spite of that, in January a new regional president, council and new mayors at almost all levels of regional and local government took office following elections in November 2006. The political party that assumed office in many cases was an independent regional party called ‘Nueva Amazonia’. This party came into office with strong commitments to tackle ecological issues such as deforestation. Whether they will make a difference is yet to be seen. http://greenblog.wordpress.com/2007/03/12/deforestation-in-san-martin/


28) Despite adaptations to facilitate the consumption of bamboo, its dietary staple, the giant panda still retains the digestive system of its carnivore past and is unable to digest cellulose, a primary component of bamboo. To deal with this problem, the giant panda rapidly passes large quantities of bamboo grass through its digestive tract every day, but as a consequence it can be susceptible to a variety of digestive disorders. Giant pandas are also afflicted by reproductive problems and low birth rates. The female breeds only once a year, for two or three days, and may not mate successfully within that time. The panda’s most serious problems, however, and the ones most responsible for its near extinction, are poaching and deforestation of its natural habitat. Fossils from northern Myanmar (Burma), Vietnam, and much of China as far north as Beijing reveal that the giant panda existed throughout much of eastern Asia during the Pleistocene Epoch (1,800,000 to 10,000 years ago). In modern times, human destruction of its forest habitat has restricted the species to remote mountain areas in Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces in China. In addition, periodic mass flowering and die-offs of bamboo have caused starvation for some populations. (Bamboo forests require 5 to 10 years to recover from such events.) The good news is that efforts to save the giant panda, though still at a critical stage, have been meeting with success. Since the 1990s China has greatly expanded its conservation efforts and now regards the giant panda as a national treasure. The country’s reserve system has grown from 14 to more than 40 sites, and it has cooperated internationally to provide training in reserve-management and captive-breeding programs. http://advocacy.britannica.com/blog/advocacy/2007/03/saving-the-giant-panda-success-still-not-a


29) Thailand may declare an environmental emergency in tourist hotspot Chiang Mai and two other northern provinces after a thick smog blanketed the region, the environment minister said Tuesday. Kasem Snidwong Na Ayuttaya said air quality in three provinces was double the hazardous level after widespread forest fires and farmers setting blazes to clear land. The health ministry said it had already distributed 130,000 masks, with another 170,000 being passed out Tuesday. Kasem said northern army units were working with the forestry department to control the forest fires, which began in late February and have been reported in about 1,340 locations. The fires in northern Thailand, as well as neighbouring Laos and Myanmar, were caused by farmers trying to clear land and by people burning the forest to make scavenging for wild mushrooms easier, Kasem said. All flights from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son town were suspended for the second day running Tuesday because of bad visibility. Other flights in the region were operating as usual. http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Thailand_Considers_Declaring_Emergency_Over_Haze_999.html


30) Interested private investors may have to take part in an ‘informal’ bidding process to build a pulp factory in central Binh Dinh province as a result of limited local land reserved for growing forests. The bidding process is set to happen because a number of private investors are working on independent plans, which will help Vietnam to reduce reliance on foreign imports. In accordance with the local land-use plan, of Binh Dinh’s 400,000 hectares of forests, 60,000ha will be used to grow trees to provide timber for pulp making facilities. “Both proposals of Saigon Invest Group and the Japanese consortium are merely in paper and we hope they have real intentions for their projects. Several foreign investors had studied developing pulp making facilities in Binh Dinh, but no projects were finalised because, as we know, investments in pulp factories are huge,” said the official. http://www.vir.com.vn/Client/VIR/index.asp?url=content.asp&doc=12382


31) The blockade the Penan had erected looked pitiful in the rain, a few bamboo poles strung together across the muddy logging road that cuts through the rainforest near Long Benalih in the upper Baram River region of Malaysian Sarawak, near the Kalimantan border in Borneo. This flimsy structure was never going to stop Samling, with its fleets of bulldozers and trucks, from entering the region. But for almost exactly three years, since February 2004, the barricade had stood at the end of the road, symbolically blocking entry to the last remaining stand of the Penan’s ancestral rainforest land. Steadily the loggers have moved east from the Sarawak coast and now they are at the last blockade. In October 1987 the Penan, Kayan and Kelabit communities erected their first barriers, shutting down roads at over 20 sites in the Baram and Limbang river districts, about 100km to the west of the current barrier. About 2500 Penan took part in the eight-month-long protests, enduring harsh conditions and harassment from the logging industry, but maintaining a peaceful campaign. Samling controls a 70km-long road that cuts west through to the latest blockade site at Long Benalih. Loggers fan out from the road to feed the timber jinkers that run non-stop, taking huge trees to the staging post of Lapok on the Tinjar River. Representatives of some tribes have accepted payments for their land along the way but the Penan the original forest nomads have refused any offers. Their last stand is a claim on the 30km by 20km stretch of pristine forest around the Selungo River, covering such settlements such as Long Kerong, Long Benalih and Long Sait. The Penan are widely regarded as having the greatest knowledge of the forest’s plants and animals. They recognise more than 100 fruiting trees, 50 medicinal plants and eight blowpipe dart poisons, including one that is far more potent than anything used by any other Borneo tribe. The Penan are known for their ability to fire three darts in quick succession down the pipe, a skill members of the other tribes have not mastered. And in the lower Baram I wouldn’t find any forest either. There the loggers had been through, changing the life of the longhouse people forever. It is only in the upper Baram, where the Penan still hold out, that the forest, and a unique lifestyle that goes with it, still survives. http://canberra.yourguide.com.au/detail.asp?class=news&subclass=environment&story_id=564774&cat


32) The Lorentz National Park near Mimika regency, Papua, is under threat from illegal logging, an official of the Mimika Forestry and Agriculture Office said. Benny Renyaan, head of the office’s forest resources agency, said in Mimika’s capital Timika on Monday that the central government had not paid much attention to the 2.5 million hectare park, which is located in five regencies — Mimika, Asmat, Yahukimo, Jayawijaya and Puncak Jaya. Renyaan said, based on information from people living near the park, illegal logging was damaging the local ecosystem and threatening endangered wildlife. “The illegal logging is taking place near Fanamo and Omawita villages at the Fareast Mimika district at a time when control from both the administration and security officers is weak,” he said. Renyaan urged the government to take stern action against illegal loggers in order to save the park. “The park is known as the conservation center with the most complete varieties of flora and fauna in Indonesia,” Renyaan said. Despite the park’s natural importance, it still lacks clear-cut boundaries, a management plan and any technical body to manage it, he said. Renyaan said the park was also under the threat from mining by the company Freeport Indonesia, which dumps its tailings in the western part of the park. http://www.thejakartapost.com/misc/PrinterFriendly.asp

33) More than 85 percent of the world’s supply of palm oil comes from two nations _ Indonesia and Malaysia. The rainforests on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra are ground zero in the dispute over expanding palm plantations. The forests are logged and burned to make way for the plantations, at times producing a thick blanket of smog that can cover parts of Southeast Asia for weeks and release millions of tons of greenhouse gases. The plantations also are moving into peat swamps, which are drained. As the peat dries, it also releases tons of carbon dioxide. The trend is accelerating. Indonesia is already the third-largest producer of carbon dioxide in the world, behind the United States and China. By 2015, an area of Indonesia the size of West Virginia is expected to be covered with palm plantations. “It’s absolutely disingenuous to suggest that biodiesel made from palm oil is green or sustainable,” said David Waskow, international program director for Friends of the Earth. Some 8,000 miles away from Indonesia, on the Washington coast, Imperium’s plant is 60 percent complete and expected to start producing biodiesel in July. The plant eventually will produce 100 million gallons of fuel a year. The company also is constructing or plans similar sized plants in Hawaii, Argentina and an undisclosed site on the East Coast. http://www.savetheorangutan.co.uk/?p=266

34) Public Prosecutor Kardinal demanded Wednesday the Jambi District Court sentence the director of CV Sengketi Jaya, Salim, to five years in jail for stealing 1,556 logs. Kardinal said the logs in Salim’s possession were not accompanied by the appropriate paperwork. Salim, who is head of the branch office of the National Mandate Party, is also facing a fine of Rp 500,000 (US$52.63). “The defendant has taken part in the destruction of the environment,” Kardinal said, alleging that Salim violated Article 78 Paragraph 7 of Law No. 41/1999 on forestry. Salim’s lawyer Edi Sam rejected the accusation. He said he would give his defense statement on March 22. Other defendants in the same case, Arnoldi and M. Yusuf, are facing five and three years in jail respectively for their alleged involvement in the log thefts. http://www.thejakartapost.com/detailnational.asp?fileid=20070315.G08&irec=7


35) Mongabay.com was born out of a personal experience on the island of Borneo, when a beautiful tract of lowland forest was converted into wood chips for a paper pulp mill. This was not the first time I had lost such a special place, but the loss of that small section of forest in Borneo created the urgency to start writing about wild lands and wildlife. I wanted to share my experiences with those who hadn’t yet witnessed the magnificence of these places. Thus the initial mission of Mongabay was to make people aware of the significance of rainforests and the biodiversity they contain. While they may be hot, bug-ridden, and remote, these forests have a lot to offer. Deforestation is expected to have a significant impact on both global climate and biodiversity. Deforestation currently contributes about one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. Because of deforestation, countries like Brazil and Indonesia are some of the largest emitters of carbon dioxide even though their industrial capacity is not as high as other countries. Indonesia may in some years be the third largest greenhouse gas producer because of deforestation and forest fires. It is unclear when we can expect to see significant impact from climate change in the tropics. Some researchers say 10 years while others say 50. In the Amazon, models indicate that the rainforest is likely to become drier and more susceptible to forest fires. Some of the rainforest may be replaced by savanna. http://journalperu.com/?p=518

36) Scientists have identified a leopard found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra as a new species of great cat. It’s been named the Bornean clouded leopard or Neofelis Diardi. Genetic and skin tests on the creature show it’s almost as different from clouded leopards found on the Asian mainland as lions are from tigers. The announcement follows a December report from WWF that dozens of new animal, fish, plant and tree species have recently been found on Borneo. The island is one of the world’s last frontiers for biodiversity but under threat from deforestation. http://www.smh.com.au/news/science/spot-the-difference-its-a-new-leopard/2007/03/15/11737226196


37) Getting timber to be certified as legally and sustainably harvested is tough in Malaysia. In fact, the process is one of the most rigorous in South-East Asia. Just ask Chew Lye Teng, chief executive officer of the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC). MTCC carries out the process to make sure that timber products are made using logs that have been legally harvested. But it does not stop there. The logs must also come from a forest area which is managed sustainably. He explains that certification is voluntary, but it is also market-driven. This means that if a company wants to sell its products at better pricing, it needs the certification. There are two steps to the process. One is forest management certification: an independent assessment that balances economic value, environmental and social aspects of a forest area. Then, the chain-of-custody certification traces certified plywood, mouldings and wooden furniture back to logs harvested from MTCC-certified forests. Chew said that in MTCC-certified logging concessions, fruit trees and other trees that are important to the indigenous communities are protected from being logged. The indigenous people can move freely to gather sago, rattan, wild fruits, and hunt wild animals which are not on the protected list. http://www.btimes.com.my/Current_News/BT/Monday/Column/BT538452.txt/Article/

38) Forestry Deputy Director General (Planning & Development) Datuk Hj Dahlan Hj Taha told Bernama in a recent interview that available figures point to the fact that Malaysia’s forest cover is estimated at 19.5 million hectares or 59.5 percent from the country’s total land area. Out of this, 14.4 million hectares have been gazetted as Permanent Reserve Forests managed under the sustainable forest management programme and another 2.15 million hectares have been turned into National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuary. This makes the total forest cover under full protection at 16.5 million hectares.According to Dahlan, the balance of 2.94 million hectares from the total has been set-aside as State Land Forest to be used for agriculture, industries and other uses. Malaysia’s forests are referred as tropical rainforests. For management purposes, the forests in Peninsula Malaysia are classified into the Dry Inland Forests or Dipterocarp Forests, Peat Swamp Forests and Mangrove Forests. The Dry Inland Forests are important in terms of the country’s economy and ecology as they are often the primary source of the country’s timber. It has most of the main timber species and some of them can grow even up to 80 metres tall. Mangrove forests are equally important in terms of conserving and protecting the coastal ecosystem for fishery purposes and act as the first stronghold against tidal waves or tsunami while Peat Swamp Forests produce wood, especially for making firewood and charcoal. Besides the valuable timber, other products that can be harvested from the forest are aromatic oils and resin. News on forest encroachment and illegal logging always receive wide coverage. Besides timber, rampant theft of aloewood has been reported with some even penetrating the Permanent Reserve Forest in the southern part of Peninsula Malaysia. Those involved include foreigners from neighbouring countries. However, Dahlan clarified that most of the news reports aired on television recently did not involve the Permanent Reserve Forest but state land forests and land owned by individuals. “However, to say there are no cases involving Permanent Reserve Forest is incorrect but the situation is under control.” http://www.bernama.com.my/bernama/v3/news.php?id=250888


39) Forestry group Lignor’s proposed $300 million timber engineering project has moved a step closer with the signing of a big log supply deal with ITC. Under the contract, ITC will initially supply Lignor with 100,000 tonnes of blue gum logs a year, starting in 2009, for the proposed plant at Albany in Western Australia. Lignor is developing Australia’s first stranded timber mill that will use German technology to produce engineered wood products from local hardwood eucalypts and native forest residues. The products will be used in housing and construction, and are expected to compete against steel. Plant output is expected to reach 240,000 cubic metres year by 2011. The contract with ITC will supplement Lignor’s existing supply agreements. Great Southern Plantations also has a contract to supply 200,000 tonnes of timber a year to the company. Lignor managing director Glyn Denison said these would be complemented by more contracts with log suppliers in the near future to provide the plant’s total requirements. http://www.theage.com.au/news/business/lignor-timber-project-growing/2007/03/13/1173722467814.h


40) Google on Monday added details of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) environmental projects to its popular global online mapping service. The Mountain View, Calif., Internet search powerhouse wove WWF images, information and website links into its Google Earth program. “This joint initiative will allow WWF to spread its conservation message to a vast new audience,” said WWF director general James Leape. “People interested in conservation and the environment now will be able to visit WWF projects in some of the worlds most threatened and biologically diverse places from their home computers.” Google added 150 projects of Switzerland-based WWF to a showcase of the world’s natural wonders, famous haunts, and man-made changes that it debuted in its global mapping service in September of 2006. Google provides the information in “multimedia overlays” that users can trigger while viewing a virtual globe. Icons designate natural wonders, major landmarks or cities, and environmental changes such as deforestation in the Amazon and a shrinking glacier in Iceland. “Were pleased that the WWF has chosen Google Earth as a platform for sharing their incredibly important conservation work,” said Google Earth and Maps director John Hanke. http://www.smh.com.au/news/Technology/Google-maps-World-Wildlife-Fund-efforts/2007/03/13/11735

41) An area of forest twice the size of Paris disappears every day although the rate of global deforestation has started to slow, according to a United Nations report issued on Tuesday. “Deforestation continues and it continues at an unacceptable rate, however there are signs of potential change,” said Wulf Killmann, a forestry expert at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) which published the report. The destruction of forests not only reduces habitat available for wildlife but also adds to the greenhouse effect because the carbon stored in trees is released into the atmosphere. Deforestation accounts for 18 percent of the carbon dioxide produced each year, a significant proportion of the emissions scientists say are causing global warming which also poses risks to forests via increased fires and the spread of pests. Demand for agricultural land is one of the main reasons that forests continue to be erased at the rate of 13 million hectares a year, an area about the size of England. However, moves by some countries to replant forests has meant the annual net loss has dropped from around 9 million hectares in the 1990s to 7.3 million, according to the “State of the World’s Forests 2007” report. A huge tree planting programme in China, for example, more than offset large-scale deforestation in other parts of Asia such as Indonesia, to produce a net increase in the amount of forested land in the Asia-Pacific region during the first five years of the decade. China’s economic boom has driven demand for wood and the country has adopted a tree planting policy, not only to reduce its reliance on imported timber, but also for soil protection, especially in areas near the Gobi desert, Killmann said. http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/40837/story.htm

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