Indonesia Vows To Fight Deforestation

Bans New Palm Oil Plantations

By Ben Otto, Wall Street Journal

Indonesia will temporarily bar new palm oil and mining operations to help protect the country’s vast tropical forests following international criticism over its environmental stewardship.

A spokesman for Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on Friday that the ban would likely take effect this year and last for an undetermined time. The moratorium would halt new permits for palm oil and mining operations, both mainstays of Indonesia’s economy. Mr. Widodo suggested growers could double production on existing lands if they farmed more efficiently.

palm oil plantation deforestation

Foreign officials and environmental activists have criticized Indonesia for the rapid loss of its tropical rainforest, mainly on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, much of it tied to land conversion to support palm oil and pulp production. Dry-season fires used by farmers and companies to clear forest and scrublands regularly send toxic smoke billowing throughout the region, raising air pollution levels in neighboring countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. Mr. Widodo vowed during and after global climate talks in Paris last year to improve Indonesia’s record on its rain forests.

Environmental group Greenpeace welcomed the news but expressed skepticism about its implementation because the ban’s authority rests on a presidential decree, which carries less weight than a law. The group pointed to a current ban on palm oil licenses in peatland and some forest areas that it says isn’t adequately being enforced.

“We have learned from weak enforcement of the existing moratorium that a presidential instruction lacks teeth,” said Kiki Taufik, forest campaigner for Greenpeace in Indonesia.

The moratorium would come as Mr. Widodo struggles to restore Southeast Asia’s largest economy to higher growth rates amid slack demand from China and budget cuts it has imposed. The economy grew by 4.7 percent last year, greatly underperforming the rate of growth it enjoyed a few years ago during a commodities boom.

Palm oil has grown into a $20 billion export industry in Indonesia, fed by a global boom for the edible oil used in products from toothpaste and candy bars to cleaning products. Growers want to expand from production of 32.5 million metric tons of palm oil last year to 40 million by 2020, an effort they have said requires adding millions of hectares of lands for production.

deforestation and climate change

The Indonesian Palm Oil Association said it was still seeking details about the plan and highlighted the importance of the industry for export earnings and millions of jobs.

“The palm oil sector is a strategic sector that contributed to exports (of almost) $19 billion in 2015, and this figure is much higher than foreign exchange from exports of oil and gas,” the association said.

Golden Agri-Resources, the world’s second-largest palm oil company and a unit of Indonesian conglomerate Sinar Mas, supported the government’s move. “Any government initiative that is focused on intensification over land expansion is to be applauded,” said its spokeswoman Anita Neville.

Ms. Neville said that the company’s yields are already among the sector’s highest, but that the challenge is to spread capacity gains among millions of smallholders.

Mining experts said the move wasn’t immediately a cause for alarm and said that a steadily extending moratorium in forest areas had led most companies to understand that forests are effectively off limits. Many companies in sectors like coal have meanwhile cut back due to low global prices and demand.

Supriatna Suhala, executive director of the Indonesian Coal Mining Association, said the moratorium would allow the government to improve governance and monitoring and help reduce illegal mining.

“In the situation of prolonged low prices of mining products due to significant oversupply, presumably a lot of (our) members will agree with the policy,” he said.

Exact rates of Indonesian deforestation have varied with different figures quoted by researchers and government, but a new study, which claims to be the most comprehensive yet, suggests that nearly twice as much primary forest is being cut down as in Brazil, the historical global leader in deforestation.

Indonesia is the world’s third-largest producer of greenhouse gases behind China and the US, with 85 percent of its emissions coming from forest destruction and degradation. Primary forests are the largest above-ground carbon stores in the world.

Forest Conservation News via http://www.wsj.com/articles/indonesia-bans-new-palm-oil-and-mining-operations-1460707310

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, sustainable agriculture, carbon capture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems. Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

Plans Sought For Africa’s Great Green Wall

Plan To Tackle Poverty, Deforestation

The Great Green Wall initiative is a pan-African proposal to “green” the continent from west to east in order to battle desertification. It aims at tackling poverty and the degradation of soils in the Sahel-Saharan region, focusing on a strip of land of 15 km (9 mi) wide and 7,100 km (4,400 mi) long from Dakar to Djibouti.

great green wall initiative

Populations in Sahelian Africa are among the poorest and most vulnerable to climatic variability and land degradation. They depend heavily on healthy ecosystems for rainfall to support agriculture, fisheries, and livestock management to sustain their livelihoods. These constitute the primary sectors of employment in the region and generate at least 40 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in most of the countries. Additionally, the ecosystem provides much needed livelihood products, such as fuelwood and bushmeat.  Unfortunately, increasing population pressures on food, fodder, and fuelwood in a vulnerable environment have deteriorating impacts on natural resources, notably vegetation cover. Climate variability along with frequent droughts and poorly managed land and water resources have caused rivers and lakes to dry up and contribute to increased soil erosion.

Tanzania wildlife conservation

The vision of a great green wall to combat ecological degradation was conceived in 2005 by the former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and the idea was strongly supported by President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal. The vision evolved into an integrated ecosystem management approach in January 2007, when the African Union adopted declaration 137 VIII, approving the “Decision on the Implementation of the Green Wall for the Sahara Initiative.”

In June 2010, Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan signed a convention in Ndjamena, Chad, to create the Great Green Wall (GGW) Agency and nominate a secretary to further develop the initiative. 

The participating countries hope that by linking national-level efforts across borders, they will tackle policy, investment, and institutional barriers that exacerbate the effects of climate change and variability, leading to desertification and deterioration of the environment and natural resources and the risk of conflicts between communities. International Colloquiums are held to discuss possible barriers as well as share available knowledge on the vegetal species, systems of development, and GGW monitoring updates.

reforest Tanzania

The GEF emulates the spirit of collaboration by allowing participating GGW countries to prioritize which projects they want to implement, in conjunction with GEF agencies and their partners. They may “develop one or several projects in the context of this program and assign some or all of their financial allocations to the Great Green Wall.

Progress is apparent especially in the Zinder region of Niger, where tree density has significantly improved since the mid-1980s. GEF CEO Monique Barbut attributes the success to working with farmers to find technical solutions, particularly long-term land and financial solutions, in order to save the trees. This form of natural regeneration benefits local communities and the global environment alike by increasing crop yield, improving soil fertility, reducing land erosion, improving fodder availability, diversifying income, cutting wood collection time for women, strengthening resilience to climate change, increasing biodiversity, and much more.

The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) has granted $100.8 million to the GGW participating countries to expand sustainable land and water management (SLWM) and adaptation in targeted landscapes and in climate vulnerable areas in West African and Sahelian countries. Each country will design a project based on national-level priorities for GEF and LDCF resources. The projects will support the following activities

  • Expand investment in SLWM technologies to help communities adapt production systems to climate variability, generate income and livelihoods, secure global public goods (such as retention of greenhouse gases, nitrogen fixation, groundwater recharge and biodiversity), and reduce impacts from erosion, drought, and flooding.
  • Improve land-use planning, such as at watershed scale (i.e. Nigeria) or local levels (i.e. grazing reserves).
  • Improve and apply the information base: climate and water monitoring network improvements, ICT (information communication technology) innovations, institutional cooperation within and across countries, and evidence based policy development.

Forest Conservation and Reforestation News via https://www.thegef.org/gef/great-green-wall

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, sustainable agriculture, carbon capture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems. Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

Illegal Logging Declared Threat To National Security In Romania

Forest Conservation In Europe An Historic Disaster

Romania has 65 percent of the virgin forests in existence in Europe. Only 20 percent of those forests are included in national parks and protected by law.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis signed a law on Monday that defends illegal logging and any action which endangers the country’s water, forests and lands. The new law categorizes deforestation of surface areas greater than one hectare as a national security threat.

illegal logging Romania

Over the past 20 years, Romania has lost 80 million cubic meters of wood worth an estimated € 5 billion (US$ 5.4 billion) to illegal logging.

The passing of the law is an apparent response to demonstrations last spring, when Romanians took to the streets to protest against illegal deforestation.

A study by Greenpeace said Romanian forests were disappearing by three hectares per hour, with numerous cases of illegal logging registered daily between 2000-2011.

Last year, OCCRP partner RISE Romania revealed how Schweighofer, an Austrian-based timber processing firm, bought massive volumes of timber from controversial Romanian logging firms between 2013 and 2015. RISE Romania reported that some of the processing plants owned by the Austrian corporation who bought the logs were connected to former Schweighofer directors, local politicians, or businessmen with long criminal records. Moreover, Schweighofer allegedly offered loans to many of the local logging firms who took part in illegal deforestation to expand their activities.

Carpathian mountains Romania wildlife

The Environment Investigation Agency (EIA) also obtained hidden camera footage it alleged showed Schweighofer officials agreeing to the possible purchase of illegal timber and promising bonuses to the seller. The most important wood supplier to Schweighofer was state-owned Romsilva, whose president Adam Craciunescu was indicted for corruption, according to RISE Romania’s investigation. Schweighofer denied any wrongdoing, saying it respects Romanian law and it will launch an internal investigation into the allegations.

Romania’s forests were state-owned before 1990, but by the end of 2010, the state owned only 66.3 percent. Public ownership has since gone down further to 52.2 percent.

Deforestation News via https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/4787-romania-illegal-logging-declared-a-threat-to-national-security

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, sustainable agriculture, carbon capture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems. Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

African Forestry Projects Can Defend People, Wildlife, Watersheds

AFR100 Initiative Will Restore 100 Million Hectares Of Forest By 2030

More than a dozen African countries have joined an “unprecedented” $1.6bn (£1bn) initiative to boost development and fight climate change by restoring 100m hectares (247m acres) of forest across the continent over the next 15 years.

The African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative – known as AFR100 – was launched on Sunday at a Global Landscapes Forum meeting during the Paris climate change conference.

deforestation and climate change

It will be underpinned by a $1bn investment from the World Bank in 14 African countries over the next 15 years and by $600m of private sector investment over the same period. The initiative will also be supported by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) and the World Resources Institute.

Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Niger,Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda have committed more than 42m hectares of land for forest landscape restoration, an area larger than Zimbabwe or Germany.

Cameroon, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Congo-Brazzaville and Togohave also committed to forthcoming hectare targets as part of the AFR100.

deforestation Africa

Participants point out that forests and trees contribute to African landscapes by reducing desertification and improving soil fertility, water resources and food security, as well as by increasing biodiversity and the capacity for climate change resilience and mitigation.

They say the initiative will not only help to build on existing climate pledges made by African countries, but will also provide an engine for economic growth and development.

“Restoring our landscapes brings prosperity, security and opportunity,” said Dr Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s minister of natural resources. “With forest landscape restoration we’ve seen agricultural yields rise and farmers in our rural communities diversify their livelihoods and improve their wellbeing.”

The commitments made through AFR100 will build on the Bonn challenge –launched four years ago – which aims to revitalize 150m hectares of land by 2020, and the New York Declaration on Forests, which pushes the target up to 350m hectares by 2030.

integrated watershed management Rwanda

The new initiative is intended to capitalize on a strong tradition of successful forest landscape restoration in Africa: local communities in the Tigray region of Ethiopia have already restored more than 1m hectares, while in Niger, farmers have improved food security for 2.5 million people by increasing the number of on-farm trees across 5m hectares of agricultural land.

Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, the CEO of Nepad and former prime minister of Niger, said that countries such as Malawi, Ethiopia and Mali were already reaping the benefits of restoration, but added: “We need to scale up restoration across the whole continent – more than 700m hectares of land in Africa have potential for restoration.”

“The scale of these new restoration commitments is unprecedented. “I have seen restoration in communities both large and small across Africa, but the promise of a continent-wide movement is truly inspiring,”Wanjira Mathai, chair of the Green Belt Movement and daughter of the Nobel peace prize laureate Wangari Maathai, said. “Restoring landscapes will empower and enrich rural communities while providing downstream benefits to those in cities. Everybody wins.”

Earlier this year, a UN report said that although the rate at which the world is losing its forests has been halved, an area of woodland the size of South Africa has still been lost since 1990. The wider consequences of deforestation were highlighted by France’s environment minister, Ségolène Royal in October, when she told a London summit that the loss of forests may have triggered the recent Ebola outbreak in west Africa.

Royal said researchers believe the destruction of forest habitat brought bats, known to carry the virus, into greater contact with humans.

Reforestation and climate change news via http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/dec/06/african-forest-landscape-restoration-initiative-afr100

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, sustainable agriculture, carbon capture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems. Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

Logging Taking Toll On Alaska’s Tongass Wolves

Tongass National Forest Shredded By Clear-Cutting

Editor’s Note: Thanks to William Yardley of the LA Times and also to the SitNews in Alaska for their excellent reporting on this topic. We pieced work from both sources for this post. Links to both sources follow.

Wolves in the Tongass National Forest, in southeast Alaska, are making their last stand. They have become the focal point in one of the most remote and revealing battles between ecosystems and economies in the American West.

The wolf is known as the Alexander Archipelago wolf, a relative of the more common gray wolf that roams mainland North America.

Tongass wolf conservation Alaska
A Tongass wolf, by J. Cannon and B. Armstrong.

The island is Prince of Wales Island, an outpost 55 miles northwest of Ketchikan that, at nearly 2,600 square miles, is home to just 6,000 people and accessible from the mainland only by boat or plane.

The forest is home to giant evergreens — spruce, hemlock and cedar, some 800 years old and more than 200 feet tall. They are part of the 17-million-acre Tongass, America’s largest national forest. The government calls it “the most intact temperate rain forest on Earth.”

This spring, with the approval of the U.S. Forest Service, loggers began cutting thousands of acres of old-growth trees on Prince of Wales Island in one of the largest and most controversial timber sales in the Tongass in two decades. State and federal officials say the project is essential to the livelihoods of people on the island, where the last remaining large sawmill employs about 50 people.

Tongass National Forest logging

Yet the wolf population has been in steady decline, and cutting down more trees is expected to pressure them further. The animals den in the roots of very large trees and prey on deer that live beneath the forest’s dense canopy. Roads built for logging cause problems too, splintering habitat and providing easy access for hunters to shoot and trap wolves, sometimes illegally.

Just two decades ago, Prince of Wales was home to about 300 wolves. Now, state officials estimate that as few as 50 remain — about one wolf for every person working in the sawmill.

By the end of this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to make a final decision on whether the wolf should be listed as an endangered species. While that decision is pending, logging continues, as does hunting — of both wolves and the deer that are their food supply.

In response to an Alaska Department of Fish and Game report in May that revealed a drastic decline in the wolf population on Prince of Wales and surrounding islands, Audubon Alaska’s science and policy team developed a report, Prince of Wales Wolves, examining the underlying reason for the decline. Audubon Alaska’s science and policy teams concluded large-scale, old-growth, clearcut logging to be the culprit behind the wolf population decline on Prince of Wales and surrounding islands.

Wolf conservation Tongass National Park

“The alarming population decline is most immediately caused by the direct take of wolves from significant poaching and the unsustainable legal take authorized by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, but the underlying cause is extensive logging and roads that initiate many harmful effects, including over-harvest of wolves,” said Melanie Smith, Audubon Alaska’s Director of Conservation Science.

The May 2015 ADFG report said the recent population dropped from 221 wolves to only 89 in the span of a year, before logging on the Big Thorne timber sale – the largest old-growth sale in the Tongass in nearly 20 years – began this summer.

The new Audubon Alaska report points out three ways old-growth logging has and will continue to drastically impact the wolf population on Prince of Wales:

  • 4,200 miles of logging roads on Prince of Wales and surrounding islands allow poachers easy access into wolf habitat.
  • Clearcutting old-growth trees removes crucial winter habitat for wolves’ main prey, Sitka black-tailed deer, ultimately resulting in a lower deer population.
  • The reduced deer numbers, in turn, make some people perceive wolves as competition for hunting, “leading to increased poaching and public pressure to authorize unsustainable legal limits on wolf take to drive down the wolf population.”

According to Audubon Alaska, the bottom line is the decline of wolves is a management problem that desperately needs fixing. The Audubon Alaska report offers three steps necessary for survival of wolves on Prince of Wales Island:

  • Halt hunting and trapping until the wolf numbers return to a sustainable level.
  • End large-scale old-growth logging on Prince of Wales and the surrounding islands while closing unnecessary roads.
  • Protect the wolves in the Prince of Wales region under the Endangered Species Act.

At the heart of the debate in southeast Alaska is the so-called Tongass transition. The Forest Service has cast the plan as an economic and environmental bridge, providing just enough old-growth timber to keep the region’s few remaining sawmills running while slowly shifting the industry toward logging younger trees planted in areas previously cut.

The timber industry in southeast Alaska is a fading fraction of what it was before new federal regulations began limiting old-growth logging in the 1990s. The industry supports fewer than 300 jobs in the region, compared with the 3,500 workers it employed two decades ago. While the industry has plummeted, others, including tourism and fishing, have grown.

The Obama administration’s goal is to continue managing that transition — most recently through the controversial Big Thorne timber sale.

“The Big Thorne decision is a critical step in the Tongass National Forest’s transition to young timber growth management,” Forrest Cole, the forest supervisor, said in 2013 when he announced the Big Thorne Project, the name of the current logging operation on Prince of Wales. “By providing a stable supply of timber to the industry now, we are giving the Forest Service and the industry the breathing space needed to prepare for the transition to young-growth timber.”

In other words, the industry can cut down a limited number of old trees now while it waits for younger ones to grow. Mills on Prince of Wales were built to process larger, older trees. The younger, second-growth trees the Forest Service more readily allows to be logged are shipped to Asia and milled there more cheaply. Although the Forest Service has cast Big Thorne as providing enough old-growth trees to keep the mill busy for six to 10 years, industry leaders say there may be enough timber to last only three or four years. The mill on Prince of Wales, run by Viking Lumber, is viewed as important because it provides year-round work, while logging jobs are seasonal.

“We don’t need a lot of it,” Graham said of the old-growth forest, noting that the Forest Service says 90 percent of old growth in the Tongass remains intact. “We just need enough to get us through these next 30 years, maybe 2-3 percent of it. There’s plenty of room to have a few sawmills with year-round jobs and still have this last old-growth forest out there untouched.”

Conservationists say logging old-growth trees to save sawmills is misguided, putting wildlife and the forest at risk to preserve a few dozen wood products jobs even as broader economic trends pose long-term challenges for the region’s timber industry.

Wolf conservation Tongass

“There’s got to be a way to transition this small number of people and communities in a way that makes sense, instead of just totally trashing this species and this ecosystem,” said Larry Edwards, who works on Alaska issues for Greenpeace and is based in nearby Sitka.

Defining the species and its ecosystem will be an important part of the listing decision. Named for a group of islands, the largest of which is Prince of Wales, the wolf is also found on coastal parts of mainland southeast Alaska and British Columbia, where it is probably not as threatened. Although scientists say the archipelago wolves are genetically different from gray wolves inland, they also say the wolves on Prince of Wales and several of the islands nearby show even further distinctions. The Fish and Wildlife Service could find the wolf endangered across its entire range, only on the islands, or not at all.

Even some scientists who question the depth of the wolves’ genetic distinctiveness do not dispute that the animals on Prince of Wales may be at risk. “If there are only 100 wolves, yes, a population like that could go extinct,” said Matthew Cronin, a professor of animal genetics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Deforestation News via http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-sej-alaska-wolves-20151019-44-story.html

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, sustainable agriculture, carbon capture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems. Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

Community Empowerment Can Reduce Elephant Poaching

Community Conservation Strategies Can Save Wildlife

Establishment of community wildlife conservancies is the best solution for reducing elephant poaching in Northern Kenya, says a new study.

Community involvement would create understanding among pastoral communities that wildlife conservations can bring in the much needed revenue for funding development projects, says the study published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE and conducted by researchers from the Kenya Wildlife Service, University of Twente, Northern Rangelands Trust, Save the Elephants and Colorado State University.

wildlife conservation and deforestation

Pastoral communities living in Northern Kenya must benefit from ecotourism proceeds as well as avail the area under conservation for grazing cattle all year round.

“Financial investments in anti-poaching and elephant protection should prioritize the newly established community run conservancies to accelerate their growth towards self-sustainability,” says the exhaustive report.

It found out that elephants living outside government protected areas within the Laikipia-Samburu region were more than those living within Shaba, Buffalo Springs and Samburu Game Reserves whose total areas is 533 square kilometers. Land outside the protected areas is pivotal for elephant conservation in the Laikipia-Samburu ecosystem because it accounts for 98.5 per cent of the elephant range. The unprotected land under private ranching and community conservation had the highest densities of elephants, indicating their importance for elephant conservation in the ecosystem.

forest conservation Africa

“Significantly higher densities of elephants are found in the community conservancies rather than in the community pastoral areas indicate the success of this model of conservation: management of wildlife alongside communal grazing,” it observes.

The study says that despite lower densities of live elephants and higher ratios of illegally killed carcasses, the unprotected community pastoral land is important for connecting the formally protected areas and the wildlife friendly private ranches and conservancies in the greater ecosystem.

The unprotected areas that are largely unoccupied were found to play an important role as corridors for elephants’ migration from one area to another thereby raising the need for communities which ‘preserved’ the vast hinterlands as ‘pasturebanks’ to look into ways of forming conservancies to manage the areas.

The study adds that the unoccupied areas must be closely monitored since they usually turn into battlegrounds between pastoral communities during the dry season. It observed that heightened conflict forced elephants to migrate en masse but where conservancies had been established, communities held deliberations and conflicts had been eased creating room for establishment of eco-tourism bands that bring in the much needed revenue for local communities.

lion conservation Africa

“Encouraging and promoting land owners to adopt land use types that recognize the importance of protecting wildlife would substantially reduce poaching levels. The unoccupied community pastoral areas had the highest overall levels of poaching during the entire study period,” according to the report.

It says that unhindered access to the forest reserves created lush grounds for poaching to take place but the same was effectively curbed where forested sections fell under community sanctuary management.

“In areas where community sanctuaries thrive, elephants numbers continue to increase as compared to unprotected pastoral areas. Community sanctuaries create employment for rangers, drivers and camp staff with the community conservancy management committee creating a forum for conflict resolution,” it says.

African Wildlife Conservation Strategies via http://allafrica.com/stories/201509282510.html

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, sustainable agriculture, carbon capture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems. Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

India Estimates Economic Value Of Remaining Forests

Deforestation Killing More Than Trees

Editor’s Note: It’s amazing to me that intelligent nations have overlooked the importance of forest conservation in our own survival. It doesn’t matter if you believe in god, science or both, forests and biodiversity are here for a reason. Plundering these resources for the short-term economic gain of private interests has caused a cascading effect on the entire planet. We must embrace endangered species and their survival as a bell weather of survival of the entire planet. Hopefully, more countries will follow India’s example and attempt to place a holistic value on our last stands of forests and biodiversity. Extinction is forever and our grandchildren are not immune from that possibility.

Tiger reserves about more than wildlife conservation. They also have tremendous economic value to the entire planet, the first ever Economic Valuation of Tiger Reserves in India, published by the Centre for Ecological Services Management (CESM) and Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal, a couple of months ago has revealed.

India tiger conservation and forest conservation
India has more wild tigers than any of the tiger countries. Survival of the species depends on habitat conservation across India. Land conflicts must be resolved peacefully to succeed.

Of the six reserves studied, Sundarbans Tiger Reserve (STR) sequesters the highest volume of carbon. This was valued at Rs 46.2 crore per year. The service provided by STR in moderating cyclones is also worth Rs 27.5 crore per year.

“The current study on ‘Economic Valuation of Tiger Reserves in India: A VALUE+ Approach’ with support from the National Tiger Conservation Authority is a first-of-its-kind study in the world. The study attempts to provide an assessment of economic benefits from tiger reserves across a range of tiger landscapes in India.

While a large proportion of benefits that these tiger reserves provide are difficult to estimate, the study provides quantitative and qualitative estimates of those benefits which manifest their important but unaccounted national and global contribution. These findings provide adequate justification for enhanced investment in such areas which is critical to ensure continued flow of vital life-supporting ecological, economic, social and cultural services from these genetic repositories,” Prakash Javadekar, Union minister of state (independent charge) for environments, forests and climate change wrote about the report.

According to the report, the total forest cover in the Indian Sundarbans is 2,585 square km. Declared a biosphere reserve in 1989, STR has at least 1,586 species of protozoa and animalia apart from 69 species of flaura belonging to 29 families. Nearly 270,000 people live in the 46 fringe villages around STR.

The report notes that STR is a source of regular employment for the local communities living in the vicinity. In 2013-14, a total of 157,600 man-days were generated by the tiger reserve for various management activities in which local communities were involved. “Conservatively using the wage rate for unskilled labour of Rs 206 per man-day prevalent in the area, the economic value of employment generated by STR is estimated to be Rs 3.25 crore per annum,” the report states.

“The economic value of fish caught from STR is approximately equal to Rs 160 crore per year. It may be noted that this estimate is still conservative. It does not account for quantity of crabs and prawns caught from STR which are sold at premium to fish. It doesn’t include the quantity of fish caught for self-consumption or the inputs that shrimp farms receive from STR as seeds. Considering that fish is the main source of protein for the underprivileged communities living around Sundarbans, the economic value of STR for fishing is very significant — economically and culturally,” it adds.

The study has also estimated that STR has nearly 31.43 million cubic meters of standing stock of timber. The market price of this has been estimated at Rs 62,870 crore. This is significantly higher than Corbett, Ranthambore, Periyar, Kaziranga and Kanha, the other five tiger reserves included in this study. It has also been estimated that STR has carbon stock of more than 22.38 million tons.

“Based on a recent study by Yale University that has estimated the social cost of carbon for India the total economic value of carbon stored in STR is estimated to be Rs 2,410 crore,” it has been noted.

deforestation and climate change

The net biosphere-atmosphere exchange of carbon in the Sundarbans has been estimated at 2.79 tons per hectare per annum. Assuming this rate of carbon sequestration across the entire forest area (1,538 square km) of STR, the annual quantity of carbon sequestered in STR is nearly equal to 0.43 million tons. Using the social cost of carbon for India the total economic value of carbon sequestered in STR is estimated to be RS 46.21 crore per annum.

Another important value that has been estimated is the cost that needs to be considered for providing waste assimilation service to Kolkata. The city doesn’t have a sewage treatment plant and the Sundarbans provide this service.

Taking the population of Kolkata at 4.5 million, it has been estimated that the city would require a sewage treatment plant of 250 million liters per day. Considering the costs involved in operating such a plant, the economic value of waste assimilation services attributable to STR for Kolkata city alone is nearly Rs 150 crore per year, the report states.

Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve director Pradip Vyas believes that this study is a move in the right direction. “Eco-system services are going to be really big in the future. Such studies will help people realize the importance of the mangroves. Maybe, some day, people living in Kolkata will be ready to pay for protection of the mangroves. A study in Odisha after the Super Cyclone revealed that loss of life was nil in places where mangroves existed.

mangrove conservation
Mangroves are a critical part of our ecosystem. They are falling to water pollution, rising tides and deliberate coastal clearing for human development.

Mangroves are unique especially in terms of their adaptation abilities in response to harsh environments. Mangroves stabilize shorelines and protect coastal communities by acting as a buffer against storm surges and strong winds. Their function as effective natural barrier against tsunamis, weather typhoons, cyclones and storm surges as a result of global warming is crucial. The critical role of the coastal ecosystems including mangroves in maintaining the climate is also being increasingly acknowledged.

Where mangroves had been destroyed, loss to life and property was colossal. If the mangroves in the Sundarbans are lost, the fish catch will also go down by 60-70 percent. Take the case of Catskills’ catchments that have been supplying clean drinking water to New York city for ages. New York has now started sharing a portion of what it saves to farmers in the Catskills to keep the catchment area clean,” he says.

Forest Conservation News via http://www.eco-business.com/news/economic-study-pegs-value-for-sundarbans-and-other-tiger-reserves/

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems. Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

Wyss Foundation Will Defend Elephants, Rhinos

$6 Million To Fight Poaching In East Africa

Since its founding in 1998, the Wyss Foundation has been known for its conservation grants, but until recent years, the awards have primarily reflected founder Hansjörg Wyss’ personal experience in the American wilds.

Wyss, though, has plenty of resources to branch out into new areas of giving and perhaps feels some urgency to step things up. A Giving Pledge signatory who is 80 years old, he’s worth $6 billion. Earlier this year, the Wyss Foundation poured a bunch of new money into environmental journalism. Late last year, it jumped into ocean conservation in a big way.

lion conservation Africa

 

The foundation recently announced a new $6 million commitment to wildlife conservation in Africa as part of a growing, worldwide effort to combat a nearly $20 billion-a-year illegal poaching business to supply an insatiable appetite for wild animal parts that is devastating the world’s elephant and rhino populations. In some primarily Asian cultures, consuming ivory is thought to remedy a slew of maladies from easing hangovers to curing cancer.

Wyss isn’t the only billionaire philanthropist increasingly worried about this problem. Paul Allen has also jumped into the anti-poaching fight at a high level in recent years. 

Recent studies have revealed that the illegal ivory trade has more than doubled since 2007. To single out just one country, a record 1,215 of South Africa’s 22,000 rhinos were killed last year; 2015 could be worse. African elephants, the biggest land mammals on the planet, could soon be eliminated from some parts of the continent. In Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve alone, an aerial wildlife census funded by Germany determined that elephant numbers had plummeted from over 39,000 in 2009 to just over 13,000 in 2013.  Between 2010 and 2013, 4,692 illegally exported Tanzanian elephant tusks, weighing more than 39,000 pounds, were seized by customs officials at overseas ports.

Africa wildlife conservation

The foundation grants are going to international and local nongovernmental organizations that are taking on poachers in Rwanda, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and Mozambique.

“The explosion in the illegal ivory trade is not only pushing elephant and rhino populations toward extinction, but it is threatening the economic futures of local communities across eastern Africa,” Wyss said.  “We are proud to support local and international efforts to protect the beautiful and immense parks of eastern Africa so that future generations can experience the elephants, rhinos, and natural wonders that draw visitors from around the world.”

The grants will help stop poaching in Akagera National Park in Rwanda, in Malawi’s Liwonde National Park and in Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve. The Wyss Foundation is also increasing its support for the Frankfurt Zoological Society’s efforts to protect Zambia’s only black rhinos and the country’s largest elephant population in North Luangwa National Park. It is also increasing support for the society’s efforts combating poaching in Serengeti National Park and Selous Game Reserve.

elephant conservation Tanzania

Grants announced include support for the Wildlife Conservation Society to protect Ruaha National Park in Tanzania, Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda, and Niassa National Reserve in Mozambique. The TsavoTrust in Kenya was awarded funds for habitat protection. The International Fund for Animal Welfare, WildAid, and C4ADS got grants to strengthen law enforcement and build awareness campaigns to reduce the demand for ivory.

Recently, WildAid reported that shark fin sales plummeted by 82 percent in Guagzhou Province, China. Surveys there credited public awareness campaigns, so maybe there’s a glimmer of hope for Africa’s rhinos and elephants.

Wildlife Conservation News via http://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2015/3/18/another-billionaire-comes-to-the-defense-of-africas-elephant.html

Tropical Deforestation Gaining Momentum

Satellite Data Refutes U.N. Reports

Tropical forests from Indonesia to the Amazon are being lost an astonishing rate, with a new study suggesting deforestation has intensified 62 percent in just 20 years.

The study also calls into question a more optimistic picture from U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s assessment, which found the rate of deforestation had actually decreased 25 percent during the period stretching from 1990 until 2010.

deforestation and climate change

“It is not good news,” said Do-Hyung Kim, lead author of the new study to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. “Between 1990 and 2010, it shows all these efforts to cut the deforestation rates were not effective.”

While the FAO assessment was based on country reports, Kim and his University of Maryland colleagues Joseph Sexton and John Townshend used satellite data. By analyzing 5,444 Landsat images from 1990, 2000, 2005 and 2010, they were able to gauge how much forest was lost or gained in 34 forested countries which comprise 80 percent of forested tropical lands.

They found that during the 1990-2000 period the annual net forest loss across all the countries was 4 million hectares (15,000 square miles) per year. From 2000 to 2010, the net forest loss rose 62 percent to 6.5 million hectares (25,000 square miles) per year, equivalent to clear-cutting an area the size of West Virginia.

In that same time, the U.N. reported a 25 percent decrease in tropical deforestation.

The University of Maryland study found that tropical Latin America showed the largest increase of annual net loss – 1.4 million hectares (5,400 square miles) per year from the 1990s to the 2000s. Of those countries, Brazil topped the list with an annual 0.6 million-hectare loss (2,300 square miles) per year.

Tropical Asia showed the second largest increase, at 0.8 million hectares (3,100 square miles) per year, led by Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines. Tropical Africa showed the least amount of annual net forest area loss among the three major regions studied.

New maps of the remaining forest cover in Indonesia’s most heavily forested provinces released in December 2014 by Forest Watch Indonesia, paint a bleak picture–a sign of the fast-paced expansion of palm oil and timber plantations and mining concessions across the country.

deforestation and wildlife extinction and deforestation for palm oil

Much of this deforestation has been driven by illegal logging and, more recently, the conversion of land to palm oil, soybean and other plantations.

Given that deforestation contributes to as much 20 percent to global warming, the international community has dumped billions of dollars into solving the problem. Among those efforts are the U.N. program known as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) which gets cash for conservation into the hands of poor countries to help reduce deforestation.

But even with all that money, it can be hard to solve a problem that thrives on corruption and lax law enforcement in some of the world’s poorest countries and has becoming increasingly mechanized, with bandits trading axes for chain saws and then earth moving equipment.

Some scientists are turning to new technologies such as satellite imaging to try to hold nations accountable for their deforestation and reforestation promises.

While Kim said international efforts overall have born little fruit, he acknowledged there were some signs of progress toward the end of the study period with Brazil deforestation rates dropping – though more recent data in 2013 showed they had spiked again.

“Brazil is showing some hope,” Kim said, referring to the 2006 decision by major soybean traders not to purchase soy produced in the Amazon’s deforested land.

Douglas Morton, who studies forest cover by satellite sensing at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and was not a coauthor on the paper, said the new, satellite-based study “really provides a benchmark of tropical forest clearing not provided by other means.”

deforestation and global warming

Kim said he was hopeful that his study would prompt the FAO to consider using more remote-sensing data in their assessments, thus ensuring its findings, which shape global forestry policies, would be more consistent and reliable.

FAO Senior Forestry Officer Kenneth MacDicken defended their assessment, saying there were multiple reasons why Kim’s study may have come up with different findings. Among them is that that forests are constantly changing – plantations, for example, are planted and then harvested – and that “remote sensing doesn’t capture” dry forests in the tropics which are spaced further apart in Brazil and Africa and don’t have leaves for much of the year.

“Measuring forests using satellite imagery and measuring and reporting them from ground-based measurements both have value, but comparing them directly should be done with great caution,” MacDicken told CBS News. “It’s like comparing apples and oranges.”

The FAO is set to issue a fresh forestry assessment in September at the World Forestry Congress.

Rainforest News via http://www.cbsnews.com/news/tropical-deforestation-on-rise-contrary-to-reports/

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems. Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

Corporations Plan To Destroy Remaining Orangutan Habitat

Editor’s Note: If Indonesia and Malaysia plan to industrialize the entire islands of Borneo and Sumatra, they owe it to the world to relocate the last orangutans and tigers to safe zones–including nearby islands. Extinction is not an option.

Relocating Orangutans Might Help Them Escape Land-Grab, Climate Change

Orangutan populations and their habitat on Borneo and Sumatra have been decimated over the past few decades. It’s predicted to get worse.

Due to deliberate deforestation and poaching, there are likely fewer than 50,000 orangutans left on these two islands combined. That number is dropping fast. Saving them from the threats of industry will be tough enough, but climate change adds a wild card to the equation.

deforestation and wildlife extinction and deforestation for palm oil

According to one study, some 74 percent of current orangutan habitat on Borneo – which covers Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei – could become unsuitable for them due to climate and deforestation caused by agriculture, mining and logging. Sumatra and its endangered species are experiencing a similar fate.

Large parts of the original forests have been taken away and replaced by palm oil plantations, or cities and villages. They also face danger from poachers, with the adults being killed for their meat and the babies being sold to keep as pets.

Research conducted by Dr Matthew Struebig, at the University of Kent’s Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, has identified some 42,000 km2 of land that could serve as potential orangutan refuges, providing relatively safe new habitats where the great apes could reside safely. This means that if necessary the apes could be moved there from their current location.

“The findings on first glance are quite pessimistic,” Dr Struebig explained. “What they show is the effects of climate change will exacerbate the ongoing effects of deforestation. The good news is that we found areas that wouldn’t be impacted upon by deforestation or climate change over the next 60 to 80 years.”

palm oil plantation deforestation

Dr. Struebig was joined by colleagues from Liverpool John Moores University and the Leibinz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research and contributions were made by conservation scientists from Australia and Indonesia, in consultation with leading orangutan experts based in the Malaysian and Indonesian parts of Borneo. The researchers are hoping the findings will make a difference to conservation efforts on the ground.

“Orangutans need large areas of forests,” Dr Struebig explaines, “they need fruiting trees and they need areas that are relatively well protected because they are hunted.”

Indonesia deforestation

Part of the work was conducted by the Centre for International Foresty in Indonesia. Researchers used satellite images to map the deforestation and estimate the areas of forest change that are expected in the future. They mapped land that was unsuitable for oil palm agriculture, which is one of the major threats to the orangutans.

Using this alongside the information they had on orangutan ecology and climate, they could identify the environmentally stable habitats for the species. As habitat loss and climate change depletes their food resources, the problem is compounded.

With their living space shrinking and food getting more scarce, some orangutans are wandering into palm oil plantations to find food, including palm seedlings. They are seen as pests on these large plantations and they are shot, tortured and killed.

palm oil and orangutans

“I think the first step is awareness, so people know what’s actually happening,” MidKent College conservationist Ant Finch explains. “Then they can choose to get involved in a project that speaks to them. The situation isn’t getting any better. On a worldwide scale when you look at all species, to lose one would be terrible in our lifetime. If the orangutan goes extinct in our generation, it would be really, really catastrophic.”

Rainforest Conservation News via http://www.kentnews.co.uk/news/kent_orangutan_expert_talks_of_the_animals_plight_1_3947074

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems. Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com