298 – Earth’s Tree News

Today for you 36 new articles about earth’s trees! (298th edition)
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–Canada: 1) Most destructive project on Earth, 2) De Beers Canada exploration project –UK: 3) Save the Cherry Blossom trees, 4) Bechstein’s bat needs old trees, 5) Make forests worth more alive than dead, 6) biodiversity action plan kils trees, 7) Removal of dead, damaged and diseased trees, 8) Ancient woodland in Warwickshire has been saved, 9) one of the 1st countries to be deforested, 10) Campaign to Protect Rural England, –Scotland: 11) kids outside every day rain or shine, 12) Tree helps red pandas escape, –Spain 13) World’s largest solar farm built by clearcutting
–Africa: 14) Acacia and Baobab,
–Cameroon: 15) For rent: 830,000 hectares of pristine tropical rainforest
–Ghana: 16) Wood carving industry in Ghana looks bleak
–Namibia: 17) Community forests
–Zimbabwe: 18) Illegal harvesting of firewood and sand extraction
–Haiti: 19) No other way to get money, 20) Forests of the 1980’s cut down,
–Ecuador: 21) Five Amazon tribes people killed by illegal loggers,
–Latin America: 22) Highest logging rate in the world
–Honduras: 23) New Forest Act to protect the country’s forests
–Belize: 24) Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw
–Brazil: 25) Back to the drawing board, 26) 500 trucks of timber confiscated, 27) Brazil and America,
–India: 28) Vodafone cuts 12,833 trees for bills, 29) Bengal’s decline, 30) Land, Water, Minerals, Guns, 31) More building to mourn elephant losses that were caused by building, 32) Pilibhit forests for the Dudwha tiger,
–Nepal: 33) Ministry defamed by continuous deforestation
–Pakistan: 34) Big picture
–Indonesia: 35) miners must pay to be in protected reserves, 36) Revoke licenses of 21 natural forest concession,


1) Federal and provincial health officials in Alberta are trying to cover up “the most destructive project on Earth,” aboriginal leaders said Friday during the release of a report on the oilsands sector. Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation accused the federal and provincial health departments of harassing a local physician who has sounded alarm bells about rare cancers striking the community downriver from the oilsands. The departments have both filed complaints in an attempt to get Dr. John O’Connor’s licence revoked because they believe he was raising undue alarm, but the locals believe the physician was doing his job. “I think it seems like one organization drops the issue and another one picks it up to carry on to take his practice away from him,” Adam told a news conference earlier Friday. “If that’s the case of how they do their business, in that sense, we feel that there is a coverup on health issues, and on environmental impacts in our region.” The report, called Canada’s Toxic Tarsands: The Most Destructive Project on Earth and released by the Environmental Defence organization, accused the federal government of being “missing in action” by failing to enforce federal laws to clean up oil extraction from tarsands in Alberta. http://www.canada.com/topics/news/national/story.html?id=4485ba1c-3683-487b-9008-964c198dfe79&k

2) The approval of a new De Beers Canada exploration project and some 1,500 other mining claims in Ontario’s northern boreal forest suggests the provincial government is putting the interests of the mining industry before the concerns of the region’s residents, environmentalists said today. The group ForestEthics said it’s concerned that the opening in a few weeks of the province’s first diamond mine, De Beers Canada’s Victor mine, will open the floodgates to overdevelopment in the north and threaten the environment. On Wednesday, a notice was posted on the provincial Environment Registry indicating the company has received approval to begin an advanced exploration project about 3.5 kilometres southeast of its mine. The project could include the excavation of two 13-metre-deep trenches and drilling 200 metres into the ground to recover about 300 tonnes of materials to sample. An average of almost 400 mining claims have been staked in each of the last four months in the northern boreal forest, and Gillian McEachern of ForestEthics said she’s concerned it’s just the start of a growing trend of prospectors running rampant in search of precious metals and minerals. “Those shiny gems De Beers is digging out of the forest may last forever, but our healthy northern forest and woodland caribou definitely won’t without action to protect the ecosystems before further development,” McEachern said. “With the rate of claims being staked in the north, it’s become really apparent that mining is really the main threat to being able to protect the ecosystem in the far north.” Michael Gravelle, the minister of northern development and mines, said so many claims are being staked across the province because the mineral sector is currently booming. He said it represents a great opportunity for the province, but added the government is ensuring environmental and community interests are addressed. “We take very seriously and recognize the need to find that balance,” Gravelle said. “As the minister of mines, I’m clearly excited about the opportunities in the mining sector. But I also recognize that whether it’s working closely with First Nations communities who are impacted by these developments or … the entire future of the far north in terms of the land use, it’s important we get it right.” http://www.thestar.com/News/Ontario/article/303351


3) Decades old cherry blossom trees are to be hacked down in a Coseley cul-de-sac, which angry residents claim will ruin their views of the street. Dudley Council says the trees in Acacia Drive are causing a health and safety hazard with roots growing through pavements and driveways. But some people living in the street would not let workers go ahead with the work when they turned up yesterday. And they have called for the council to have a rethink over the plans to remove the blossom trees. Resident Lynda Griffin said: “The trees have been there since the road was built in the 1950s and they are part of the street scene. “When they are in bloom they are lovely and I don’t want them to be cut down to ugly stumps. “It was lucky I happened to be coming back from the shops when they turned up to cut them down, otherwise I wouldn’t have known anything about it and neither would my neighbours. There has been no notice about it at all.” Dudley Council spokesman Phil Parker said: “Felling trees is always a last resort but unfortunately these trees are causing damage to properties and the footpaths. We will be replacing the trees with a more suitable species.” http://www.expressandstar.com/2008/02/15/fury-over-axing-of-cherry-trees/

4) The Bechstein’s bat is a rare tree-dwelling bat, mostly found in old growth woodlands. The bat is difficult to detect using standard methods due to its elusive feeding, roosting and echolocation behaviour, so little is known about its distribution in the UK, which can hamper conservation efforts. Until 1990, just 140 records of the bat existed in the UK. Under the new project, BCT is aiming to undertake the first survey for Bechstein’s bats across their entire UK range in England and Wales. A third of the UK’s mammal species are bats, however, populations of all 17 of our native species have declined dramatically since 1900. Development, modern agriculture, pesticides and public misconceptions have all contributed to their decline. Seven species of bats, including the Bechstein’s bat, have been identified by the Government as priority species under its Biodiversity Action Plans scheme, which aims to halt biodiversity loss by 2010. Amy Coyte, chief executive of the Bat Conservation Trust, said ‘This project will directly inform the government’s UK Biodiversity Action Plans for the Bechstein’s bat, substantially improving knowledge of the bat’s habitat requirements and allow landowners to manage woodlands for this rare species.’ http://www.wildlifeextra.com/bechsteins-project839.htm

5) “In the simplest of terms, we have to find a way to make the forests worth more alive than dead,” the heir to the British throne told the European Parliament in an address. “The doomsday clock of climate change is ticking ever faster towards midnight,” he said. He called for a public-private partnership of banks, insurance companies and pension funds alongside international financial institutions to provide financial incentives to combat deforestation taking place on a massive scale. Prince Charles said the burning of rainforests, which he called “the planet’s air-conditioning system,” was responsible for a big proportion of greenhouse gases, blamed for global warming as well as the loss of water and plant life. Every year, 20 million hectares of forest, equivalent to the area of England, Wales and Scotland, was destroyed, he said. The Prince of Wales, eldest son of Queen Elizabeth, has long campaigned on environmental causes. He said he was encouraged some business chiefs and public opinion were now willing to consider more radical action and lifestyle changes than governments dared to propose. http://uk.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUKL1419475420080214

6) A Strong smell of woodsmoke was in the air in Chilbolton as dozens of mature deciduous trees were felled and burned at West Down. The felling of so many trees on land owned by Hampshire County Council has had a dramatic impact on the skyline in the area – and the work has upset people, claims a local resident. But Hampshire Cou-nty Council says the work was done as part of a biodiversity action plan and on safety grounds. Some of the trees were overhanging roads. Residents, says the county, were informed. But Bill Hammett, a general builder who has lived in the village for more than 30 years is appalled at what has taken place. “I don’t think all those trees were doing any harm. “They just don’t want them there,” he said. “Not only are they ruining the area and the planet by cutting down these trees they are adding to the problems by burning branches. But Hampshire County Council, which owns the site, defended the tactics. A spokeswoman said: “Hampshire County Council has a steward agreement with DEFRA and Natural England. “As part of this agreement all three organisations have agreed to manage West Down to conserve the most historic habitat on the site which is the chalk grassland. “The work that is being undertaken is part of Hampshire County Council’s bio-diversity action plan to increase areas of chalk grassland that have been reduced by 90 per cent since the war. “In order to preserve and encourage further growth of the chalk grassland at West Down a proportion of the trees had to be felled to create a sustainable balance between the habitats, as the years of neglect have meant the trees have encroached on the grassland. “The trees could not simply be left to rot because the nutrients this would have created in the soil do not best suit chalk grassland which need poor nutrient based soil in order to thrive. “It would therefore have defeated the whole exercise.” http://www.thisishampshire.net/news/hampshirenews/display.var.2029198.0.villager_fumes_as_trees

7) Rochdale Council is to commence work on improvements to the woodland at the rear of Rochdale Town Hall, known as Packer Spout. The aim is to create sustainable woodland in an area that has not been maintained for a number of years, improving the bio-diversity and natural habitat. Work will include removal of dead, damaged and diseased trees, and trees that are causing, or may cause damage to structures in the future. This is part of the project, which will also include the planting of new stock. Graeme Douglas from the Environmental Management Service said that trees have been causing structural damage and could damage the ancient flagged steps: “By removing some of the trees along the walkway we are reducing the risk of root damage to the ancient steps and damaging the water supply to the natural fountain – the area has been untouched for seventy years but it is important we preserve it for future generations. “The work will also have the benefit of improving the setting of the Parish Church along making the area safer and more inviting.” Tree removal work begins later this month and is expected to take several weeks. There will be footpath closures and restricted access to the area during this time, which will be clearly signposted. http://www.rochdaleonline.co.uk/News/news.asp?ID=5898

8) An ancient woodland in Warwickshire has been saved from developers after council chiefs stumped up more than £300,000 to buy it. The 106-acre Oakley Wood, which contains an Iron Age fort, has been protected for local residents to enjoy after Warwick District Council bought it for £320,000. Oakley Wood, just off M40 junction 13 near Bishops Tachbrook, forms part of the site of a crematorium providing a tranquil place for funerals. When the woodland was put up for sale last year by a private landowner, the council looked to its savings to see if it could be bought on a sustainable basis. The new woodland management plan will seek to selectively cut available timber, and some of this will be sold to offset the purchase price. It will also be used for heating the crematorium site, saving around two thirds of the heating bills. The woodland suffered from deforestation in the post-war years, when mature oak trees were taken out and replaced with evergreens. Nigel Bishop, the council’s parks strategic manager, said: “The aim is to return the area to a quality broadleaved woodland over the next 20 years as part of a sustainable management plan.” Councillor Chris White, portfolio holder for culture said: “This is great news. Local residents were rightly concerned about its ownership and I am thrilled that this ancient woodland will now continue to be a place that everyone can enjoy.” Local ward councillor Malcolm Doody said: “It’s not every day you have the opportunity to save a wood with an Iron Age fort in it. “Covering nine acres, the fort has a 12-ft high rampart on the north side. ‘Oakley’ means ‘Clearing-inthe-wood’ and we believe it originated from Saxon times.” http://iccoventry.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0150swarksnews/tm_headline=ancient-woodland-is-saved-

9) Britain was one of the first countries to be deforested, losing the bulk of our trees some five millennia ago to the first Iron Age settlers. The process continued through the Middle Ages and industrial revolution and by 1900 we had barely 5% tree cover. True, the Forestry Commission has managed to double this over the past 90 years, but we remain one of the least forested nations in Europe, second only to Ireland. Just as Chatwin believes rocking a child to sleep mimics our ancestors’ nights spent in the tree branches, so Deakin talks of woods as “havens for intimacy in the past”. He quotes his great friend, the Akenfield author Ronald Blythe: “All country children were conceived in woods, because cottages were simply too full of other people.” If the trees gave our ancestors life, they had a grimmer role too: “Hedging tools are both swords and ploughshares. They are not far removed from the halberds and pikes of the old battlefields, and it is easy to see how readily a peasant army could have been raised and armed.” http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,2114802,00.html#article_continue

10) When the interminable campaign to confer National Park status on the South Downs hit the buffers once more last year, partly over the disputed exclusion of the Western Weald, an audible cry rose up across England: “What, again? And what’s the Weald got to do with the South Downs? None of us even knows where it is.” It is a belief shared by Dr Peter Brandon, vice-president of the Sussex branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and author of countless books on the county. His most recent, Sussex (Robert Hale, 2006), is essential reading for anyone wishing to gain an insight into this misunderstood area and he seizes on my enthusiasm with vim. “It’s always been unjustly overlooked and placed in a peripheral position by writers,” he says. “But it was the Weald that provided the resources – iron, fuel and timber for building and ship construction – for the rest of Sussex. “It was once a vast empty woodland and heath and its beauty was achieved by peasants and small farmers. To my mind, it’s one of the finest landscapes in England and, therefore, the world.” With vast tracts of forest resistant to wholesale clearance, Weald backwoodsmen were adept at coppicing, hurdle-making and charcoal-burning. This generation has largely disappeared now but, in the early 1990s, Ben Law, a local man, returned after time away shepherding and working in land conservation to live deep in the old woods north of the village of Lodsworth. There he earned a livelihood in the style of the ancients, while offering training to a new generation of woodworkers. Our predecessors worked in ways that would today be called sustainable, but which they would have viewed as simply working within nature’s constraints. “It is one of the things I love about the Weald,” says Law. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2008/02/16/eaweald116.xml


11) These two-year-olds, of course, are not out in the woods alone. They are accompanied by their childminder, Cathy Bache, creator of The Secret Garden, an outdoor nursery, whose days revolve around mud, rain, hot lemon drinks and woodland wildlife. Though there are other nurseries in the UK that incorporate extensive outdoor time, hers is the only one that commits to it full-time. Bache believes that a daily dose of the elements is good for mental health. While the younger children spend only half-days outside, those over three years old are out for seven hours, rain or shine, blizzard or heatwave, and only permitted into the house to go to the bathroom. Mostly, she says, her 20 children do not complain about the cold. If their kit is appropriate, they don’t seem to notice. If their hands chill, she warms them under her jumper. Bache doesn’t check the weather forecast the day before. “We’re going to be out in it regardless.” This approach was partly inspired by her time in Norway, where she raised her first two children. It is a very Scandinavian concept: the first wood kindergartens were set up in Denmark in the 1950s.”In Norway,” she says, “you just go out in bad weather. It’s almost a mistreatment if your child doesn’t get out for one full hour every day, regardless of weather.” This approach was partly inspired by her time in Norway, where she raised her first two children. It is a very Scandinavian concept: the first wood kindergartens were set up in Denmark in the 1950s.”In Norway,” she says, “you just go out in bad weather. It’s almost a mistreatment if your child doesn’t get out for one full hour every day, regardless of weather.” As we enter the woods, my own eight-month-old baby is strapped to my back, dressed in a borrowed waterproof suit, so big that its arms form flippers in the wind. The rain lashes down, wrinkling bared fingers. By most accounts, this is miserable weather. The two boys pause at the bottom of a path where the water floods down in a small stream. They scoop up water in large plastic cups and offer it to us to drink. Rainy days, Bache says, are far more interesting than dry, warm, sunny days. There is more to do. “We make dams, we make mud pies.” Bache likes to take a back seat. It’s as if she is there more to facilitate than instruct. The children choose their own routes; invent their own games. In one area of the wood, she tells me, they are pirates, in another tigers. She suggests that we wander to the shelter where we can have a picnic snack. It will be dry in there. Ollie, who took against the rain before, now wants to stay out and informs us that he likes the wet. Bache’s approach is one she believes might improve mental health regardless of age. http://www.sundayherald.com/life/people/display.var.2050539.0.0.php

12) In Dumfriesshire, the search for the elusive red pandas goes on, with dozens of people keeping a close eye on trees, birdhouses, and sheds. It is more than a week since two members of the endangered species took advantage of a tree that fell on their enclosure in Galloway Wildlife Conservation Park during the recent bad weather. Isla, an eight-month-old cub, and her mother, Pichu, made good their escape by scuttling along the tree during the night. Since then, Mushu has cut a sorry figure. When The Scotsman visited the enclosure on Thursday, he prowled around in circles, only occasionally breaking off to scale a tree and look around, all to no avail. John Denerley, the owner of the wildlife park for the last five years, and his wife, Kathryn, are visibly upset at what has happened. The couple, who are both deaf, have built up the park’s reputation over the past five years. Now they are just hoping for a reunion with two of the “shining cats” they so clearly cherish. Mr Denerley, 39, believes the secretive, gentle animals might be able to forage for sustenance while they are at large. Though bamboo is their cuisine of choice, the verdant mixed woodland surrounding the 27-acre park could offer them some food supplies. “I’m sure they should be able to survive on fruit, berries, and lichens,” Mr Denerley said. And he added: “Mushu is pining for them. We have been searching for a few days, and now we have asked everyone who lives near the park to look up their trees, in their gardens, and in their sheds. I just hope they make their own way back when they get hungry.” The search for the pandas has also included the laying of around half a dozen tunnel traps in the woods to the back of their pen. The spring-type traps, normally employed by Scottish wildlife police to catch grey squirrels, ensure no harm comes to animals caught inside. But they remain empty, and the Denerleys are devoting every spare moment between feeding the other animals in the park, including wolves, lemurs, wildcats, cranes and kangaroos, to scour the woods for the pandas. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2008/02/16/eaweald116.xml


13) A solar farm has opened in Spain that consists of 120,000 solar panels over 100 hectares (247 acres). It also has a peak capacity of 20 megawatts and it can power up to 20,000 homes—making it the world’s largest solar farm to date. The farm is expected to generate an estimated annual income of $28 million and reduce CO2 emissions by about 42,000 tons a year. Ironically, a huge amount of trees were probably mowed down to get this thing up and running, but local agencies insist that “high environmental criteria” were maintained in the construction of the plant. Plus, they built it in Jumilla, a wine-producing region. That land could have been used to get me drunk. Damn you solar power! http://gizmodo.com/357246/worlds-largest-solar-farm-opens-a-billiion-trees-probably-died-to-buil


14) Traveling in Africa, you start to wonder how trees can grow so big and so beautiful. The climate here does not always promote growth, yet in certain areas, trees prosper. There must be spirits in these trees! The Acacia tree looks like an umbrella and provides shade to thirsty and warm animals. Other small bushes hide the many shy creatures or the ones ready to pounce on a poor unsuspecting prey (or tourist). Trees are homes and a source of water and nourishment to so many. Some insects build their entire homes around the trees. My favourite tree and the one I have been waiting to see since I read “Le petit prince” as a child is the baobab or affectionately know as the “upside down tree”. Baobab means fruit with many seeds; luckily for Africa this tree also sustains life. From the roots to the tip of the branches, the baobab is very valuable. However, when you stare at a baobab, roots and tips can look quite the same. The roots of this tree can be cooked and eaten, used as medication, or made into rope or string for fishing nets. A bark concoction can lower fevers, be used as an antidote for certain poisons, or even clean wounds. The leaves also offer health cures. The flowers from the tree do not last long but give a spectacular display of red and yellow. The tree bears a fruit called monkey-bread that contains a high source of vitamins. From what I understand, it is consumed as a drink. The powder from the fruit can also be used in baking bread. Baobabs have also been common meeting places for generations of people. Occasionally, groups can actually meet inside the tree as they can be hollow, and still flourish. The sheer size of the tree would explain this fact. Elephants love to strip the bark off the tree which actually regenerates itself. Now, I have heard stories of Baobabs being 7000 years old. It is very hard not to want to believe this story because Africans tell it with such pride. Science has tried to establish the age of the oldest one at about 3000 years… still not bad for a tree. I remember one of my boys, as a toddler, had asked me if trees could hear us. I think that I have finally found the answer to his question. Yes, my dear, in Africa, they do! http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/arewethere.yet/asia_and_beyond/1203170940.html


15) For rent: 830,000 hectares of pristine tropical rainforest. Rich in wildlife, including forest elephants and gorillas. Provides a regionally important African green corridor. Price: $1.6m a year. Conservationist tenant preferred, but extractive forestry also considered. Please apply to the Cameroonian minister of forestry. That, in essence, is what the government of Cameroon has been offering since 2001 in an attempt to make some money from a forest known as Ngoyla-Mintom. The traditional way would be to lease the land to a logging company. But Joseph Matta, the country’s forestry minister, would rather lease it to a conservation group. The trouble is, he cannot find one that is prepared to take it off his hands. The idea of conservation concessions has been around since 2000. It was introduced by an American charity called Conservation International, which realised the going rate for logging concessions was often so low that it could afford to outbid the foresters. It has since leased forests in Guyana—where it has 80,000 hectares of Upper Essequibo—and in Peru, Sierra Leone, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Mexico. But even in 2001 it reckoned that at $2 a hectare Ngoyla-Mintom was too dear. Its land in Essequibo costs a mere 37 cents a hectare. Mr Matta, of course, thinks Ngoyla-Mintom is worth every penny. Indeed, the price has gone up. The government now wants additional money to compensate Cameroon for forgoing the jobs and local development that come with logging. The forest is pristine habitat of a sort likely to contain some extremely valuable pieces of timber. It also connects three other large protected areas (see map), and thus forms an important part of a regionally important green corridor. Mr Matta says that if one group of conservationists or another doesn’t cough up soon, he really will be forced to get on the phone to the loggers. A compromise put forward by the World Wide Fund for Nature has failed to find favour. The WWF suggested keeping an unexploited core of Ngoyla-Mintom while the rest is opened to limited “sustainable” hunting and forestry. The quid pro quo would be a lower rent. Cameroon, not surprisingly, would prefer the higher rent. Mr Matta also points out that even a little forestry would mean building roads that will present additional threats to the area. Ngoyla-Mintom is thus turning into an interesting test of what the conservation market will bear. http://www.economist.com/science/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10688618


16) The future of the wood carving industry in Ghana looks bleak as a result of unbridled deforestation. The most sought after traditional tree species like Ossese, Ebony, Danta and Kusia, which are used as raw materials are said to be rare and locally extinct because they are virtually depleted in Ghana’s natural forests. This is threatening the well-being of wood carvers who depend on the supply of these species for their livelihoods. These came to light on Wednesday at the inception workshop on Alternative Carving Wood for Sustainable Livelihood (ACWSL) held at the Aburi Industrial Centre (AIC) in the Eastern Region. It was organized by the West Africa Regional Programme Office (WARPO) of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The AIC is the largest of four wood carving centres in Ghana, housing an estimated 1,300 of the nation’s 3,500 carvers. Kumasi 1,200, Accra 550 and Takoradi 450 follow in that order. Wood carving is considered a very important part of the handicraft industry in Ghana. In 2004, handicraft exports were in excess of $2.3 million. This shot up significantly to $18.9 million the following year though Ghanaian carvings struggled to compete in quality with those from Eastern Africa, notably Kenya. There is, however, apprehension over the sustainability of export levels because of the fast pace at which traditional tree species are being depleted in Ghana’s forests. To arrest the situation, WWF-WARPO is embarking on the ACWSL project with funding from the French Embassy. The project is aimed at identifying and developing suitable and sustainable alternative carving wood sources by facilitating a shift from the use of the fast diminishing but preferred species to suitable fast growing species such as neem tree. http://allafrica.com/stories/200802150727.html


17) Community forests last year generated more than N$300 000 for rural communities living in the north-east of Namibia. Since 2005, communities in the project areas in Kavango, Caprivi and Otjozondjupa regions have derived an income by marketing forestry products such as timber and firewood, poles, wild fruits, devil’s claw, thatching grass, tourism, honey from bee-keeping, wildlife, weaved baskets and crafts. About 16 registered forests earned the N$310 000 collectively. The advent of the forests has led to improved forest resource management and livelihoods of local people based on the empowerment of local communities with forest use rights. Based on the Forest Act of 2001, the project assists local communities to establish their own community forests, and to manage and utilise them in a sustainable manner. There are currently 20 000 beneficiaries in registered community forests in the three regions who manage the gazetted community forests. The community forests are in their third phase (2008-2011) in which they are looking at integrating with conservancies, which will bring additional benefits to communities. Last year, the Namibia Nature Foundation conducted workshops in the three regions to discuss an integrated approach to community forests and communal area conservancies both of which are core components of the Communities Based Natural Resource Management’s Resource programme, but which were managed in isolation. Conservancies want to adopt community forests as an additional source of revenue and for the improvement and protection of game habitats. http://allafrica.com/stories/200802150530.html


18) Environment Africa communications officer Mr Selestino Chari said the city council should enforce measures that would enable the implementation of sustainable practices in the area. “Cleveland area in particular and most parts of the city are fast losing their glamour owing to illegal harvesting of firewood and sand extraction. Being a conservancy, we are calling on the municipality to enforce measures that may mitigate the current situation in Cleveland area,” he said. He also called for concerted efforts among the stakeholders to revive the forest component, which has shrunk over the past years. “City council could establish community woodlots to help surrounding communities in times of load shedding,” he said. Forestry Commission representative Mr Gift Mandisodza said they had embarked on a programme to domesticate indigenous trees in these protected areas and would ensure that stringent measures against the illegal cultivators and sand extractors are enforced by the city council. “We are currently using our Forestry Act to deal with these deforestation activities,” he said. Mr Mandisodza urged the council to resume its raids in the area to apprehend illegal farmers and cultivators. The stakeholders said they would continue rendering support to council in protecting the country’s ecosystem. More than 600 people are farming in the area despite the fact that only 150 people had been authorised to farm in the area. The environmentalists were speaking yesterday after a tour to assess level of land degradation in Cleveland Dam catchment area where there is massive deforestation, stream bank cultivation and illegal extraction of sand. http://allafrica.com/stories/200802140764.html


19) Port-au-Prince.– Far from the spreading slums of the Haitian capital, past barren dirt mountains and hillsides stripped to a chalky white core, two woodcutters bring down a towering oak tree in one of the few forested valleys left in the Caribbean country. Fanel Cantave, 36, says he has little choice but to make his living in a way that is causing environmental disaster in Haiti. And these days, he and his 15-year-old son, Phillipe, must travel ever farther from their village to find trees to cut. “There is no other way to get money,” the father said, pushing his saw through splintering wood that will earn him as much as US$12.50, depending on how many planks it produces. Such raw economics explain the disappearance of Haiti’s forests. U.N. experts say just 2 to 4 percent of forest cover remains in Haiti. And despite millions invested in reforestation, such efforts have mostly failed because of economic pressures and political turmoil. Environmental Minister Jean-Marie Claude Germain said reforestation projects and efforts to preserve trees in three protected zones were set back by the violent rebellion that ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004 and prompted the U.N. to send in thousands of peacekeepers to restore order. http://www.dominicantoday.com/dr/world/2008/2/17/27052/Haiti-nears-grim-future-without-trees-as

20) Photo caption: Deforested mountains are seen near Jacmel, in southern Haiti, Monday, Jan. 28, 2008. Nearly all of the 30 million trees planted in the 1980’s with a US$22.8 million project by the U.S. Agency for International Development, have been cut down to make charcoal for cooking. Without trees to anchor the soil, erosion has reduced Haiti’s scarce agricultural land, making the island more vulnerable to devastating floods each hurricane season. http://www.miamiherald.com/915/story/421816.html


21) Authorities in Ecuador are probing claims that five Amazon tribespeople have been killed by illegal loggers. The group, from the Taromenane and Tagaeri tribe, was attacked in the eastern Yasuni National Park – a protected area – reports say. A tribal leader said they had tried to stop the loggers felling trees, and revised downwards an earlier estimate of up to 15 dead. Correspondents say such clashes are common, with loggers search for trees. Valuable trees, such as mahogany, are particularly sought after. Police say they are unable to confirm the reports and do not have the means to reach the remote region, but a group of indigenous leaders are travelling to the area to investigate. “It’s difficult to know if there were only five murdered or more. To tell the truth, it is a dangerous trip,” Enqueri Nihua Ehuenguime, president of the Huaorani Nationality Organization of Ecuador, told the Associated Press news agency. Reports say the tribes people were killed and their heads cut off, BBC South America correspondent Daniel Schweimler says. The Taromenane and Tagaeri are one of several groups native to the 700,000 hectare park, where logging is prohibited. Many of the groups have little or no contact with modern society. In recent years there have been reports of similar killings – sometimes the result of clashes with loggers, other times because of violence between rival tribes, our correspondent says. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7245308.stm

Latin America:

22) Never before have Latin America and the Caribbean fought so hard against deforestation, say experts and government officials, but logging in the region has increased to the point that it has the highest rate in the world. Of every 100 hectares of forest lost worldwide between the years 2000 and 2005, nearly 65 were in Latin America and the Caribbean. In that period, the average annual rate was 4.7 million hectares lost — 249,000 hectares more than the entire decade of the 1990s. Deforestation remains difficult to deal with because there are many economic interests in play, according to Ricardo Sánchez, director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). At their latest forum, held Jan. 30-Feb. 1 in Santo Domingo, the region’s environment ministers received a limited-circulation report that reveals, among other matters, the failure of strategies against forest destruction. The document, “Latin American and Caribbean Initiative for Sustainable Development – 5 Years After Its Adoption” (ILAC), evaluates the official commitments made by governments in 2002. “There is action by governments against deforestation like never before, but we are seeing that it is not an easy task, because there is strong pressure from economic groups,” Sánchez told Tierramérica. Logging results in the loss of biodiversity and degradation of soils, as well as contributing to extreme climate phenomena, added the UNEP official. Between 2000 and 2005, the proportion of total land surface covered by forests fell in the Mesoamerica region (southern Mexico and Central America) from 36.9 to 35.8 percent, and in South America from 48.4 to 47.2 percent. However, in the Caribbean it increased from 31.0 to 31.4 percent. According to Mexican expert Enrique Provencio, author of the ILAC report, the principal cause of the increased pace of deforestation is the advance of the monoculture farming frontier, a phenomenon that did not carry as much weight in the 1990s. “There was a rise in international prices of products like soybeans, which drove the occupation and clear-cutting of forested areas, especially in Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay,” Provencio told Tierramérica. According to the study, in some countries the shrinking of forested areas continues to be associated with an increase in livestock-raising and the classic model of expanding pasture area by cutting down forests. http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=41225


23) Tegucigalpa – The Honduran government approved a new Forest Act to protect the country’s forests. From now on, the Institute for Forest Conservation and Development, Protected Areas and Wildlife will replace COHDEFOR (Honduran Corporation of Forest Development). For several years, environmental organizations have denounced irregularities in COHDEFOR. In 2005, the Agency for Environmental Research and the International Policies Center recommended the government to dissolve COHDEFOR, because it was plagued by corruption. President Manuel Zelaya said the new institution would be a decentralized agency attached to the Presidency. It will have a legal status, a budget and financial autonomy. When he took office on January 23, 2006, Zelaya said 1 percent of the budget would be used to create a reforestation fund and to protect the country’s hydraulic resources. He also said that his government would end illegal felling and an Incentive Act would be passed to encourage landowners to implement reforestation programs. According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Honduras lost 35 percent of forests from 1990 to 2005, mainly due to the illegal felling of pine trees and precious timber. http://www.plenglish.com/Article.asp?ID=%7B4AB0B9B1-C606-4BFD-8D40-2886D70027A6%7D&language=EN


24) “The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw: One Woman’s Fight to Save the World’s Most Beautiful Bird,” the story of a bitter fight against a dam in western Belize. No, it doesn’t sound thrilling (which is doubtless why the publisher kept the word “dam” out of the title), but Barcott, a contributing editor at Outside magazine and the author of “The Measure of a Mountain: Beauty and Terror on Mount Rainier,” makes it so, mashing up adventure travel, biography and nature writing in a steamy climate of corruption and intrigue. At stake is a magnificent (of course) river valley, home to a Who’s Who of threatened neotropical charismatics: tapirs, pumas, river otters, howler monkeys and the eponymous scarlet macaw. Leading the anti-dam brigade, in the name of biodiversity wrecked, is Sharon Matola, an impetuous autodidact who runs the Belize Zoo. Matola is described as a motorcycle-riding, lion-taming, monkey-smuggling Air Force veteran who’s expert in jungle survival and in mushroom, tapir and macaw biology. But because she’s an American, it’s easy for corrupt local officials to marginalize her as an enemy of the state and her ex-pat allies as “wealthy white foreigners determined to keep Belizeans hungry and poor.” “First came the Spanish,” Barcott writes, “then the British, and now the American Greens.” Attempting to silence Matola, the government threatens to stick a garbage dump next to her zoo, but instead of backing down she calls in one of the most powerful environmental groups in the world, the Natural Resources Defense Council, which sees in the plight of the flamboyant macaw — of which Belize has only 200 left — an easy win. The more the N.R.D.C. learns about the proposed dam, the worse it looks for its boosters. An exhaustive environmental analysis reveals the project will destroy plant and animal habitats, and the dam will threaten the lives and livelihoods of people downriver, some of whom depend on ecotourism dollars. A close look at the dam’s economics shows it will raise, not lower, energy rates for Belizeans. The dam’s geological analysis is a complete fiction, claiming granite where there is none; the project’s engineers have even contrived to erase a geologic fault line from a map of the site. And while the developers claimed the project would give the country energy independence, sweetheart deals promised riches to the dam’s first owner, the multinational Duke Energy, whether power was produced or not. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/17/books/review/Royte-t.html?pagewanted=all


25) As much as 2,700 square miles of the forest were cleared over the last five months of 2007, an area bigger than the state of Delaware and equal to more than 60 percent of the total deforestation registered over the previous 12 months. Even more worrisome, the deforestation intensified in November and December, a period usually marked by heavy rains and a drop in forest clearing. Now, Brazilian officials are going back to the drawing board to figure out what went wrong and how to tackle monumental problems such as endemic lawlessness and land disputes, which have long stymied governments. After releasing the numbers, the federal government launched emergency measures that have included banning logging and possibly cutting government farm credits in 36 cities whose boundaries stretch far into the jungle. The cities accounted for more than half of the total area confirmed lost throughout the Brazilian Amazon during the last five months of last year. The country’s environment minister, Marina Silva, has blamed agriculture for the spike in deforestation and challenged farmers to halt all jungle clearing. Even as he warned against overreacting to the data, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the federal government needed to enlist the help of cities, governors and civil society to reverse the trend. http://www.nowpublic.com/environment/photos-amazon-deforestation-exploded-last-year

26) BRASILIA – Brazilian police seized the equivalent of 500 trucks of timber from illegal sawmills in a huge raid in the Amazon on Wednesday, one of the biggest operations yet in the battle against deforestation, a government official said. The raid followed official figures released in January that showed an increase in deforestation rates since last August after a three-year decline. The setback has caused a rift in the government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Environmentalists blame cattle ranchers and farmers for pushing deeper into the rain forest in search of cheap land after it has been cleared by loggers. But the agriculture ministry has rejected such claims, saying there was no evidence linking recent deforestation to agriculture. About 140 officers raided eight sawmills in the town of Tailandia, some 175 miles southeast of Para state capital Belem on Wednesday. They confiscated 10,000 cubic meters of tropical timber chopped down illegally, a spokeswoman for the state environment office said.”It’s one of the biggest operations ever against sawmills,” spokeswoman Ivanette Motta said. Tailandia, with 140 sawmills, is at the heart of an intense dispute in the Amazon for land and natural resources which is often settled by hired gunmen. http://uk.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUKN1335099620080213

27) “Rainforest” has become an American code word for dodging our own responsibility for the globe’s environmental woes. We speak of the forest as “the lungs of the world,” the global filter for greenhouse gases. But where do those gases come from? Not much from Brazil, not when compared to the United States. One state alone, California, emits more than all of Brazil. Is Brazil obligated to maintain its forest, at its own expense, as a filter system for the fallout from American consumerism, especially when the United States rejects international environmental initiatives, such as Kyoto? When we are so arrogant, we cannot claim the tropical forests as “ours.” The only rainforest that is “ours” is the Pacific Northwest, the world’s largest temperate rainforest, which has long been given over to logging interests. Forgetting the “rain” part, we began leveling our eastern forests centuries ago. But that was then and this is now, and Brazil is being asked to do as we say, not as we did. Brazil is in fact doing a great deal to preserve the Amazon. But it is an area equal to most of the western United States. How would we do if we had to patrol all of our western mountains, deserts and forests for poachers and squatters, even with satellites, infrared images and aircraft, as Brazil does? It’s not so easy, and Brazil deserves support for what it is doing, not criticism. Americans who follow the “rainforest” line when it comes to biofuels are buying into the “hoopla” of the American petroleum and corn industries, which have long shown themselves to be no friends of the environment. Domestic corn ethanol is a zero-sum game. Corn ethanol yields almost no net energy gain over the energy required to produce it, almost all of which comes from petroleum. Petroleum is simply being converted into ethanol, which is profitable only because of the 54-cent-per-gallon taxpayer-financed subsidy and the 51-cent-per-gallon import tariff. http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/opinion/sfl-forum18ethanolsbfeb18,0,3858998.story


28) Do you know that for every 3000 sheets that Vodafone sends out, one tree is cut in India, thats what it says on the paper bill they send you. Perhaps you have been too busy to notice, and also you might not have cared to think how many trees are cut by Vodafone in our country every month. According to figures from Cellular Operators Association of India, November 30, 2007,Vodafone has 38.5 million customers, they have 38,500,000 users who obviously receive bills. Now a simple calculation of 38,500,000 divided by 3000, leaves us with 12,833 trees but since every bill has two sheets of paper minimum and two more sheets for the cover we multiply this figure by four. If you have itemized billing it could be much more. Let’s give Vodafone the benefit of the doubt and assume every bill has four sheets (I think 4.5 to 5 should be the average) so every month Vodafone cuts more than 51,332 trees. This is without taking into fact the the increase in subscriber base every month since November 30, 2007. 51,332 trees chopped down every month means 6,16,000 trees cut in India every year. http://fractalenlightenment.blogspot.com/2008/02/vodafone-india-kills-615984-trees-year.html

29) It had became obvious a couple of years ago (especially after the IUCN study) that India’s forests had reached a crisis point. Our top predator, the Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris) was at a population nadir. The known numbers of tigers had been suddenly found to be less than half of what it should be. Even more frighteningly, in certain important tiger zones like Sariska, the tiger has completely disappeared. The extinction of our tigers stares us in the face. The government has come up with various ‘explanations’ including increased poaching, but the most disingenuous reason put forward for the sudden dearth is that the tigers were never there in the first place! The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) and their minions in “Project Tiger” now wants us to believe that poor counting technique is to blame for an earlier inflated statistic. Now that proper camera traps have been placed and things are being done in a more scientific manner, we should all acknowledge that the tiger popultion has not actually fallen – that the population always was less than half of what we had projected… I say that this is disingenuous for a couple of reasons. 1) Long term forest dwellers, the tribals and the Forest Department personnel in each forest, get to know their animals very well indeed. Larger animals like the elephants and certainly both the leopards and the tigers in each of our forests are easily recognisable and identifiable as individuals. 2) The census methods used in the past, though rough and ready, are yet certainly scientific enough. When censuses are based on physical evidence such as scats and plaster casts of paw prints then there is absolutely no way that someone can claim that the populations so determined are in inferior to that of phototrapping. I would argue that in fact the phototrap is a ridiculously unscientific way to determine absolute populations when compared to the older methods! In fact we are left to surmise that if one takes the trouble to go through the physical evidence that had been gathered over so many years of painstaking censusing, the conclusion that our tiger populations have long been declining steadily and quite drastically will have to be reached. http://ponnvandu.wordpress.com/2008/02/18/tiger-troubles/

30) Land. Water. Minerals. Guns. They are all connected. In India’s heartland, after the last metalled road has turned into a dirt track, there are villages where people have not seen tap water and electricity. They have never met a doctor or gone to school. They live in the middle of dense forests, sharing space with dangerous animals. They live on fertile land, but there is never enough food in their stomachs. Hunger they are familiar with and now they are simmering with anger. They realise that they were never given a chance to live with dignity. They are India’s original inhabitants – the indigenous people we call the tribals. Now, they are caught in a deadly crossfire between the rebels who claim that they are waging a war on their behalf and the State that says it’s trying to protect them from the Maoists’ mindless violence. Not sure whom to believe, the tribals are confused. And they wonder why there hasn’t been any change in their lives for such a long time. In Chhattisgarh, the state with the highest tribal population in the country, even basic civic amenities like roads, health centres and education facilities are lacking. Even the areas in the grip of violence are beyond the reach of the police forces. The wells here are dry. The land is parched. The roads are dusty. The people are famished. It’s the same story in Jharkhand. Even after seven years of its creation, more than 80% of the tribal villages in Jharkhand are without roads, electricity, potable water and health centres. There is no irrigation facility in more than 90% of the state. No wonder when the Maoists walk into a village and talk of revolution, people listen to them. No wonder when people hear about the mining companies coming and taking away their mineral wealth, they are enraged. They want their land back. They want their forests intact. And they don’t want others to exploit their minerals. When they see everything slipping away from their hands, they turn to guns. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Deep_Focus/Indias_tribals_Caught_in_the_crossfire/articleshow

31) Conflict for space between man and elephant has led to a poignant situation where the villagers of Madukarai, near Coimbatore, will soon build a temple in memory of three elephants killed by a train near their village on January 4. Two male elephants and a pregnant female elephant were run over by a passenger train during the early hours, as the engine driver was unable to spot them due to heavy fog. In the trauma the female elephant delivered the baby, which was born dead. “We were running scared all these days when the elephants raided our fields and ran very close to our homes, but we never wanted such an end to their lives. We, in fact, are angry with the forest department for not sending them back into the forests,” said V. Muthukumar, a local activist. The villagers’ decision to build a temple was prompted by popular belief that the death of pregnant elephant could spell bad tidings for the region. Wildlife enthusiasts said that the elephants cannot be blamed for straying on to the railway track since the low mountain plains of Coimbatore forest range had been their grazing fields for centuries. “All the five elephant corridors in this district on the Western Ghats have seen untrammeled construction in the past one decade disrupting the free movement of elephants,” pointed out S. Kalidas of Osai, an NGO fighting for the protection of elephants. The shrubby plains and the lower reaches of Western Ghats in Coimbatore district has seen the construction of engineering colleges, universities, a handful of ashrams and tourist resorts. This has directly cut into the roaming terrain of the elephants, whose population too has increased from 210 to 305 in the last five years, forest officials said. “The hilly regions of the Ghats in this area are quite steep so the elephants prefer the reserve forests or adjacent shrub land at the foothills. Unfortunately the shrub lands, which are only 50 to 100 km wide have been cleared and built upon, directly encroaching the grazing areas of elephants,” pointed out District Forest Officer Anwar Dheen. http://www.hindustantimes.com/storypage/storypage.aspx?id=a4fb48e8-864e-41df-87c5-82edb23413af&

32) New Delhi: Having lost its prized Corbett Tiger reserve to Uttrakhand, Uttar Pradesh now wants to develop Pilibhit forests area as home for the striped cats. If given a go ahead by the Centre, the Northern state will have two tiger habitats, Dudhwa Tiger reserve being the first one having an estimated 95 big cats. “A proposal to create a home for the endangered cats in Pilibhit forests has been sent to the government. The area has good potential having special type of ecosystem with vast open spaces and sufficient feed for the elegant predators,” DNS Suman, UP Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) told PTI. “Our estimate suggests that Pilibhit landscape spread over around 800 square kilometers has at least 30 tigers and has a good predator base for its survival. Its development would also help in better movement of the tigers in Dudhwa tiger reserve,” Suman added. The official also referred to a WII study which said “Dudhwa-Pilibhit population has high conservation value since it represents the only tiger population having the ecological and behavioral adaptations of the tiger unique to the Terai region.” Ganga Singh, Additional Director of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), which is supervising Tiger Project in the country, said “We are yet to get the proposal in this regard but no doubt the area (Pilibhit) has vast potential for conservation of tigers. There have been cases of man-animal conflicts involving tigers from the region.” The proposal has to be cleared by the Steering Committee of the NTCA. http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/002200802141655.htm


33) Minister for Forest and Soil Conservation, Matrika Prasad Yadav has said the Ministry has been defamed because of continuous deforestation, forest area encroachment and under utilization of forest products. Smugglers are exploiting forest products and they get huge amount of logs but people would not get wood for plough,” Minister Yadav Said, the culture of getting enriched by encroaching forest should be ended.” Minister Yadav was speaking in the Annual Plan Formulation Seminar’ organized here today by Western Regional Forest Directorate in which heads of District Forest and Soil Conservation Offices and stakeholders were taking part. In the past, not only the employees were responsible for defaming the Ministry but also then ministers for forest, home, defence as well as then prime ministers were responsible for the encroachment,” he said. Secretary at the Ministry, Tirtharaj Sharma said image of the Ministry stained because of deforestation, forest encroachment, and lack of commercialization of forest and urged the officers under the ministry to formulate plans for commercialization of forest products and herbs and make people benefited. Director General of Department of Forest, Keshav Raj Kandel stressed the need to formulate and implement plans that can brighten the image of the Ministry. A meeting of the Legislature-Parliament, Natural Means and Resources Committee Thursday discussed the preliminary report prepared after making an on-site study visit regarding the problem of forest encroachment, causes of inundation, export of stones, pebbles and sand and the problems of the people living in areas surrounding the national parks, among others. http://www.gorkhapatra.org.np/content.php?nid=36410


34) A number of serious environmental problems are inherent in the country, which are of great ecological concern in terms of its sustainable economic future. These include soil erosion, pesticide misuse, deforestation, desertification, urban pollution, waterlogging and salinity, freshwater pollution and marine water pollution, just to name a few. The major constraint to overcoming these problems, in fact perhaps the main contributor to their intensity, is the population growth, which is very high in contrast to the natural limited resources that are available to the people. Also included in the constraints is the unsustainable use and management of these resources. Around 140 million people live in this country, making it the seventh most populous country in the world. The rate of population growth is one of the fastest and according to estimates it would double in just 25 years (UNDP 1997). What is obvious from this is if the population continues to grow at this rate, it would take a severe toll on the environment. The reason is that the country is not endowed with the resources required for sustaining a huge population. Although it is primarily an agricultural country, the landscape is predominantly arid. Water, already a scarce commodity in most parts of the country, is now facing further shortages. http://desertification.wordpress.com/2008/02/16/pakistan-ecological-concerns-google-the-post/


35) The Indonesian Foresty Ministry has just announced (Jakarta Post 15/2/08) that it will begin to demand compensation from mining and other non-forestry companies for the privilege of conducting operations in protected forest areas. This is not a revenue-raising exercise, claims the Ministry, but is designed to make these companies better appreciate the ‘value’ of the forests. This new regulation is expected to raise Rp 6 billion this year. The 1999 Forestry Law prohibits open mining in Indonesia’s protected forests. When it was passed this caused great uproar among many mining companies in Indonesia that relied on their New Order permission to operate in protected forests. After threats of international arbitration and a downturn in mining investment due to legal uncertainty, many companies managed to have their operations ‘re-zoned’ so as not to be in protected forests or otherwise obtained exceptions to this rule. It appears that it is these companies now being told to pay up. They include Freeport in Papua and Indominco in East Kalimantan. Meanwhile, the saga of the Kutai National Park (Taman Nasional Kutai) in East Kalimantan continues. In mid 2007, around 600 hectares of the remaining forest (left after forest fires and illegal logging) were cut down by Dayak groups claiming that as Buginese settlers had been living in the National Park for decades, then they, as indigenous peoples, had the right to do so too. http://rspas.anu.edu.au/blogs/rmap/2008/02/16/protecting-forests-from-mining-in-indonesia/

36) The government threatened Thursday to revoke licenses of 21 natural forest concession holders for their failure to meet requirements in sustaining their forest estates.Forestry Minister Malam Sambat Kaban said among 40 forest concession holders that underwent a sustainable operations audit last year, only 19 companies met the standards. “I promise I will take firm steps, including to revoke the licenses of bad concession holders, so you don’t need to lobby other officials to have your licenses extended,” Kaban said to a number of forest concessionaires. He refused to identify the bad concession holders. Forest Protection and Natural Conservation director general Soenaryo said the companies operated in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua. The companies have six months from now to improve, otherwise their licenses will be revoked, Kaban said. The ministry commended 19 forestry companies, seven of them for good performance, while the remaining 12 were considered “moderate”. As of 2007, the office had audited 143 concession holders to check whether companies managed forests sustainably, Kaban said. “Only 48 of the forest concessions, controlling 4.5 hectares of land each, met the requirements,” he said. The audit was conducted by the Independent Verification Institute (LPI) and funded by the government. The move to revoke licenses is part of the ministry’s attempts to protect Indonesia’s natural forests which have been put at risk due to illegal logging and overexploitation. Kaban said the ministry expected to audit 61 forest concessions this year. “Forestry is a very promising business if you can manage your estate sustainably. We are considering incentives for companies that preserve the forest,” he said. In 2003, the government revoked 13 concession licenses that controlled a total of 1.5 million hectares of forest, for poorly maintained forest estates. The concessionaires included PT Maraga Daya Wood, PT Artika Optima Inti I, PT Bhara Induk Maluku and PT Bhara Induk Sumut. Also on Thursday, Kaban provided a license for PT Restorasi Ekosistem Indonesia (REKI), which will be responsible for the regeneration of 52,170 hectares of production forests in Musi Banyuasin, South Sumatra.The company promised not to cut down any trees until the forest ecosystem was stable. “We will refrain from cutting down trees — it may take us 100 years,” Reki foundation head Yusup Chayani said. He said the company would be responsible for the protection of the forest from illegal logging and fires. http://www.thejakartapost.com/detailnational.asp?fileid=20080215.H03&irec=2

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