India Plants 50 Million Trees To Fight Climate Change

Reforestation Employed To Defend Ecosystems

By Brian Clark Howard, National Geographic

India reports that volunteers planted 49.3 million tree saplings on July 11, shattering the previous record for most trees planted in a single day. That record was set by Pakistan in 2013 by planting 847,275 trees.

A reported 800,000 volunteers from Uttar Pradesh worked for 24 hours planting 80 different species of trees along roads, railways, and on public land. The saplings were raised on local nurseries.

deforestation and climate change

The effort is part of the commitment India made at the Paris Climate Conference in December 2015. In the agreement, signed on Earth Day 2016, India agreed to spend $6 billion to reforest 12 percent of its land (bringing total forest cover to 235 million acres by 2030, or about 29 percent of the country’s territory).

Trees sequester carbon dioxide from the air, thereby reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. India has experienced substantial loss of its forest cover over the past few centuries, as people cut down trees for firewood, pasture, and to make room for development.

Other countries are also replanting trees. In December, African nations pledged to reforest 100 million hectares. A wide range of stakeholders, from countries to companies, also signed on to the non-binding New York Declaration of Forests that month, with the goal of halving deforestation by 2020 and ending it by 2030. The declaration also seeks to restore at least 350 million hectares of degraded land with healthy forests.

Still, the young trees aren’t out of the woods, yet. Saplings need water and care and are susceptible to disease. Experience shows mortality rates as high as 40 percent after such massive tree plantings. Officials will monitor the trees with aerial photography, to see which areas may need special attention.

reforestation and carbon capture

 

“The world has realized that serious efforts are needed to reduce carbon emissions to mitigate the effects of global climate change,” Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said at an event promoting the planting.

Officials also hope the trees will improve air quality in India, which suffers from some of the worst in the world. Trees can help remove some pollutants from the air. Right now, six of the top 10 most polluted cities in the world are in the country.

Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in India, a nation of 1.25 billion people. Some of them may be able to breathe a little easier, and find shade under the trees.

“The biggest contribution of this tree planting project is, apart from the tokenism, that it focuses on the major issues,” said Anit Mukherjee, policy fellow with the Centre for Global Development. “It addresses many of the big issues for India: pollution, deforestation, and land use.”

Reforestation News via http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/07/india-plants-50-million-trees-uttar-pradesh-reforestation/

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

China Reforestation Becoming A Global Model

Economic Growth Has Taken Its Toll On China’s Natural Resources

The Chinese government has payed close attention to ecological and environmental issues for years. Contrary to popular belief, sustainability and environmental protection are long-term strategies vital to the country’s health and wealth.

climate change and deforestation

China started framing environmental protection as a fundamental national policy in the 1980s. It established sustainable development as a national strategy in the 1990s. At the turn of the century, the government proposed a “Scientific Outlook on Development” that is people-centered, fully coordinated, and environmentally sustainable. Since 2012, the government has incorporated Eco-civilization into the national blueprint, which outlines a commitment to “innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development.”

This blueprint has given great impetus to the implementation of Eco-civilization with environmental quality at its core aiming at making the skies bluer, mountains greener, water cleaner, and the ecological environment better.

President Xi Jinping has pointed out that green is gold and that moving towards a new era of eco-civilization and building a beautiful China are key to realizing the Chinese Dream of rejuvenating the nation.

Since its reform and opening-up thirty years ago, the country has seen its economy grow at an annual average of 9.8 percent. It has successfully transitioned from a low-income to a high middle-income country with significant economic achievements, almost having reached levels of industrialization and urbanization that took one to two hundred years in developed countries.

Meanwhile, China has paid a heavy environmental price, with the emergence of problems such as soot pollution, ozone depletion, fine particulate matters (PM2.5), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Pollution from different sources – production and households, urban and rural, industry and transport – appear to be intertwined with each other.

China deforestation

For years China was notorious for denuding its forests of vegetation to expand its economy. The economy grew, but water sources were tainted, air polluted and animal habitats demolished. Only a few years ago, just two percent of China’s forests were undisturbed. Deadly floods in 1998 caused by the lack of trees prompted the government to finally take action. They implemented the National Forest Conservation Program.

China banned logging in many areas and then paid farmers, who were accustomed to earning money by cutting down trees for wood, to plant trees instead. Some local citizens were paid to monitor forests and report illegal logging activity. The Chinese government claims that the conservation and reforestation plans are working.

Scientists from the University of Michigan evaluated the Chinese government’s conservation measures using images from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer. They studied data between 2000 and 2010 and found forest cover has grown rapidly in 1.6 percent of China. That may not sound like much, but it’s about 61,000 square miles. Meanwhile. 0.38 percent of the nation suffered from deforestation – that’s around 14,400 square miles.

deforestation China

The research isn’t simply a green light for China to continue every current policy. They’re importing more wood now, from countries such as Vietnam, Madagascar, and Russia, which the scientists warned causes deforestation in those other countries.

China plans to cover nearly a quarter of the country in forest by 2020, according to an announcement made via a United Nations report. The goal is part of a larger plan to build an ecological civilization that will serve as a model for future projects around the world.

“The outdated view that man can conquer nature and ignore the bearing capacity of resources and the environment should be completely abandoned,” said Zhu Guangyao, executive vice president of the Chinese Ecological Civilization Research and Promotion Association. “Conscientious efforts should be made to live in harmony with nature.”

giant panda conservation

In addition to planting, the country will also step up efforts to restore 35 percent of the natural shorelines, reclaim more than half of the desert, and increase prairie vegetation coverage by 56 percent.

“If China succeeds in implementing targets outlined in its ecological blue print, then it will have taken a major step towards shifting to a greener economy,” Achim Steiner, UNEP executive director, said.

To address the dilemmas between economic development and resource/environmental constraints, the government has most recently proposed a policy of pursuing green development and building an Eco-civilization, which involves management of the relationship between humans and nature in a comprehensive, scientific, and systematic manner. It embodies the green is gold perspective of values, development, and governance. It goes beyond and does away with the traditional development patterns and models, guiding the transformation of the production methods and the lifestyle of the entire society.

As China firmly supports and actively implements the concept and actions of sustainable development at the global level, its effort to build an Eco-civilization will make a significant contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The country’s practices and experiments to promote an Eco-civilization will not only contribute to addressing its own resource and environmental challenges but also serve as demonstrations for other developing countries that may wish to avoid the dependence on, and the lock-in effect of traditional development pathways. This is conducive to promoting the establishment of a new global environmental governance system and benefitting the noble course of sustainable development for all people, men and women.

Reforestation China via http://reliefweb.int/report/china/green-gold-strategy-and-actions-china-s-ecological-civilization

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

Deforestation Taking Toll On Pakistan

Floods, Landslides Killing Citizens

National Assembly members hit out at the Climate Change Ministry’s forest wing and provincial forest departments for failing to control deforestation.

At a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Climate Change held at the Parliament House on Friday under the chair of MNA Hafeez-ur-Rehman Khan Drishak, the parliamentarians said that illegal forest cutting was not possible without the involvement of forest officials.

deforestation and global warming

They rejected the claims of forest officials that local forest mafias were involved in forest cutting with the support of local politicians, terming it unconvincing.

The meeting also discussed the latest situation of floods in upper parts of the country and steps taken by the government for rehabilitation of the affected. The committee also examined issues related to climate change and steps taken by federal as well as provincial governments to stop deforestation.

The parliamentarians said that forest officials were painting a rosy picture of forest cover but the situation on ground was contrary to their claim and deforestation was causing landslides, land erosion, silting of river bodies, urban flooding, heat waves as well as shift in rain patterns. Pakhtunthwa Milli Awami Party MNA Abdul Qahar Khan Wadan said that   cutting of trees was not possible without involvement of local forest departments.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz legislator Muhammad Moeen Watoo said that since the first meeting of NA standing committee on climate change, the climate ministry has been trying to cover up but the ground situation was grim and dismal.

“It reflects the fact that forest officials of the ministry and provincial forest departments are doing nothing to control deforestation and increasing forest cover in the country,” Watoo said.

The parliamentarians emphasized that the political leadership needed to play its role by engaging local forest communities to boost awareness about importance of forest in environmental conservation and forest protection as well as tackling climate change impacts effectively.

reforestation

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal MNA Naeema Kishwar Khan emphasized that to tackle climate change impacts, the country would have to increase forest cover. She also suggested involvement of women for increasing forest cover and stressed to provide alternate fuel resources for local communities.

Climate Change Ministry Secretary Syed Abu Akif Ahmed suggested that the government should reduce import duty on liquefied petroleum gas and on technology used in renewable energy to provide easy alternate sources of fuel to the communities.  The parliamentarians supported his idea.

He said that to tackle climate change issues and increase tree cover, the ministry needed support from provincial governments as  the ministry was pushing hard to bring all provincial forest,  environment and other relevant departments together to address  the menace of climate change.

He said that the ministry was not capable enough  to deal with climate change issues alone and it required cooperation from provincial departments to deal with climate change issues and to increase forest cover. He said that lack of coordination among federating units was a serious bottleneck to address the problem.

Earlier, in a written reply, the climate ministry officials told the committee that from March 9 to April, a total 264 people lost their lives due to heavy rains across the country while 3,017 houses were damaged.

According to break-up, the highest 149 deaths were recorded in K-P followed by FATA with 38 deaths, AJK 25, G-B and Balochistan 19 each, and Punjab 14 deaths.

The parliamentarian, however, appreciated the Climate Change Ministry for devising a National Climate Change Policy and a roadmap for implementation of the policy.

Deforestation and Climate Change via http://tribune.com.pk/story/1094396/floods-landslides-parliamentarians-hit-out-at-forest-departments-for-failing-to-control-deforestation/

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 Failing To Conserve Forests, Biodiversity

Deforestation Threatens Life Across Asia

As national action on climate change accelerates and corporate agendas turn to energy efficiency and deployment of renewables to reduce carbon footprints, the International Day of Forests on March 21 offers a timely reminder of a crucial, but often overlooked ally in this effort.

Over the last few decades, forests have absorbed as much as 30 percent of annual global CO2 emissions but the role business can play through their supply chain to halt deforestation linked to production of a wide range of every-day goods, remains an area of significant, untapped potential.

deforestation and climate change

India’s demand for internationally traded forest-based commodities like timber, pulp, viscose cellulose fibre, palm oil and natural rubber that form the base of every-day goods is substantial and growing. The opportunity to contribute significantly to addressing climate change lies in driving greater sustainability in these important supply chains.

At the root of the issue is the link between production and the clearing of natural forest to make room for the establishment of large scale commercial plantations, particularly in the tropical forests of South East Asia. The adverse consequences for both people and planet are increasingly apparent—deforestation rates in Indonesia have reached record rates. Illustrative of this was the recent ‘haze’ in South East Asia linked to the burning of tropical forests to make way for commercial plantation of timber and oil palm.

palm oil plantation deforestation

It was regarded as the worst environmental crisis of 2015 with emissions generated each day from the burning exceeding that of the average daily emissions from all US economic activity.

In recognition of the need for collective effort to address these issues, a number of public and private initiatives have emerged in recent times. Regulatory frameworks such as FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) and EUTR (EU Timber Regulation) have been introduced in the United States and European Union, aimed at driving greater legality in global forestry supply chains.

The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF)—an alliance of 400 companies including retailers, manufacturers and service providers across 70 countries—pledged in 2012 to achieve ‘zero net deforestation’ by 2020. Out of this commitment, the Tropical Forest Alliance was formed—a global public-private partnership which sees eight governments, 33 civil society organizations and 27 private sector companies partnering to tackle the drivers of deforestation associated with the sourcing of commodities such as palm oil, soy, beef, and paper and pulp. Even the finance sector has recognized the risks with 12 international banks joining with the CGF to form a ‘Soft Commodities Compact’ in 2013 to support a 2020 target for zero net deforestation in supply chains.

Most strikingly, for the first time, in 2014, through the New York Declaration of Forests, dozens of governments, 30 of the world’s biggest companies, and more than 50 influential civil society and indigenous organizations came together to endorse a political declaration that sets a global time-line to cut natural forest loss in half by 2020, and strives to end it by 2030. The Declaration calls for restoring forests and croplands of an area larger than India and, most significantly, lays out a specific role for the private sector in achieving these goals, through the development of deforestation-free supply chains.

Critical to all of this action is engagement by companies with their suppliers to understand and remove deforestation from their sourcing and deploying clear operating procedures, credible third-party verification, and transparent reporting on sustainability parameters.

By expanding their efforts on climate change to include their supply chains, Indian companies can play a significant part in reducing global deforestation and carbon emissions. Deforestation-free supply chains can become a reality if business plays its part. These measures not only contribute to an important global cause but are also a means to protect brand value, improve supply chain resilience and meet the future requirements of an evolving customer base.

Forest Conservation News via http://www.financialexpress.com/article/fe-columnist/column-india-inc-must-shun-deforestation/228464/

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

Forest Conservation, Reforestation Urged To Fight Climate Change

North American Forests Part Of The Solution To Global Warming

Today, the Forest Climate Working Group (FCWG), a coalition of landowners, conservation organizations, forestry advocates, forest products companies and scientists delivered a letter to President Obama calling for increased recognition of the critical role American forests must play in meeting our greenhouse gas reduction targets, following the Paris COP21 agreement. Accompanied with the letter, the FCWG released a toolkit to help states reduce greenhouse gas emissions by increasing the capacity of forests and forest products to sequester and store carbon.

deforestation and global warming

“We heard significant discussions about international forests during the climate negotiations in Paris, but very little was focused on American forests,” said Jad Daley, Director of Climate Conservation at the Trust for Public Land and co-chair of the FCWG. “Domestic forests currently offset 13 percent of our annual emissions, setting the foundation of our international greenhouse gas emissions agreement and will be essential to our ability to meet this agreement moving forward.”

To put our forest sink into context, “the 766 million acres of America’s forests capture 38 percent of the total carbon emitted into our atmosphere from the combustion of fossil fuels for electricity produced in this country each year,” said Cynthia West, Director of the Office of Sustainability and Climate Change for the U.S. Forest Service.  “New U.S. Forest Service research shows our forests are at risk due largely to increasing development pressures, combined with loss to wildfire in the west.”

Tanzania wildlife conservation

To support and grow this crucial forest sink, the FCWG recommends a suite of policy options both at the federal and state levels that can help private forests and forest products continue to sequester and store carbon.

With 56 percent of the nation’s forests, owned and cared for by private owners and families, a strategy for working with these individuals is an essential component of any forest carbon strategy.

“The USDA and Forest Service, through their Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry Building Blocks, have already taken significant steps to ensure American forests, especially our private forests, continue to play a role in mitigating climate change,” said Rita Hite, Executive Vice President of the American Forest Foundation and co-chair of the FCWG. “More can be done at the federal level but there is a significant opportunity at the state level as well.”

To help states respond to the opportunity to pursue forest carbon strategies, the FCWG state toolkit builds on the USDA Building Blocks, providing states with policy recommendations to keep forests as forests, plant more trees, better manage existing forests, protect urban forests, and encourage the use of more forests products. These policy recommendations include:

  • Creating incentives for increased forest carbon through a state’s Clean Power Plan allowance revenue
  • Maintaining or increasing state tax incentives for forest conservation
  • Expanding the use of wood products in construction.

The FCWG and its participants are committed to working with the administration to improve forest policy, and with states across the country as they try to maintain and increase their forests’ ability to sequester and store carbon.

Forest Conservation News via https://www.forestfoundation.org/addressing-us-climate-change

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

Rainforest Destruction Driven By Commodities

Fewer Than 10 Percent Of Major Corporations Have Policies Against Deforestation

The world’s rainforests have been decimated over the past 20 years. The destruction is accelerating again as corporations are waving false flags of sustainability.

The Global Canopy Programme’s Forest 500, the world’s first rainforest ratings agency that analyses the most influential companies, investors and governments in the race towards a deforestation-free global economy, today launched its annual results. It revealed that while the corporate sector improved marginally overall, many laggards are yet to make public sustainability commitments.

palm oil plantation deforestation

Commercial agriculture drives at least two thirds of tropical deforestation yet only 8 Percent of all the 250 powerbroker companies assessed have zero or zero net commitments in place that apply across forest risk commodities (palm oil, soya, beef, leather, paper, and timber).

The investment community has made even more limited progress, with the exception of BNP Paribas (France) who has become the first Forest 500 investor to make a commitment to zero net deforestation in their agricultural lendings.

The 2015 Forest 500, assessed and ranked 250 companies, with total annual revenues in excess of US $4.5 trillion; 150 investors and lenders; 50 countries and regions; and 50 other influential actors in this space. These 500 power brokers play a major role in supply chains for commodities fueling deforestation, which accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions, a key contributor to climate change.

Andrew Mitchell, Founder and Executive Director of the Global Canopy Programme said, “GCP’s Forest 500 holds the most influential global players to account for their role in the deforestation economy. Together, these 500 power brokers control the complex supply chains of key ‘forest risk commodities’ that are found in over 50% of packaged products in supermarkets.

deforestation and climate change

“Through these commodities, we are all part of a hidden deforestation economy – from our toothpaste, to our pensions. At this crucial time leading up to the international climate change negotiations, GCP is calling on these companies and investors to take the first critical step in addressing tropical deforestation by adopting, strengthening and implementing deforestation policies in their value chains.”

The 2015 Forest 500 Results

  • Despite 2020 being a key deadline set by the New York Declaration on Forests, one year on since its publication, few powerbrokers have made new or strengthened procurement and production commitments.
  • Whilst the corporate sector has improved marginally overall, many laggards are yet to make public sustainability commitments. Only 8% of all the 250 powerbroker companies now have zero or zero net commitments in place that apply across all forest risk commodities.
  • The corporate leader board remains unchanged, with; Groupe Danone (France), Kao Corp. (Japan), Nestlé S.A. (Switzerland), Procter & Gamble (US), Reckitt Benckiser Group (UK), and Unilever (UK) the only companies to score 5 points.
  • New York Declaration signatories lead the way towards achieving zero deforestation in agricultural supply chains scoring on average three times higher than non-signatories.
  • The investment community has made even more limited progress with less than 1% of investors adopting zero or zero net commitments that apply to all of their investments or lendings in agricultural supply chains.
  • BNP Paribas (France) has become the first Forest 500 investor to make a commitment to zero net deforestation in their agricultural lendings and joins HSBC (UK) in the top score band.
  • Of the jurisdictions assessed, none has significantly strengthened their national or state-level deforestation policies to improve their Forest 500 score.

Séverin Fischer, BNP Paribas, Head of Environment and Extra Financial Accountability, said, ‘BNP Paribas has taken the strategic decision to make a zero net deforestation commitment that will be implemented by 2020. This applies to all our lendings in agricultural commodities as it makes both commercial and environmental sense, we are managing risk over the long term. The Forest 500 is an important benchmarking tool that helps us recognise risk in our portfolios and we are delighted that our leadership position has been recognised, we hope others will follow.’

koalas deforestation

Tom Bregman, Project Manager of the Forest 500 said, ‘The Forest 500 platform now includes significant enhancements which enable users to compare progress across sectors and target their engagement with powerbrokers to incentivise change. In the coming months, the Forest 500 is going to be working with others, together we hope to create a race to the top.’

While there has been some improvement overall in the corporate sector, performance continues to be poor. Of the 31 companies that did not have any policy in year one, only four made a new public policy related to sustainable production/procurement of agricultural commodities this year. Furthermore, three companies dropped from one point to zero points due to a reduction in the amount of information that is publicly available (on their respective websites).

  • Interestingly, North American headquartered companies make up 20% of the total membership of the Forest 500 and 33% of improvers are based here highlighting the progress that companies headquartered in North America are making.
  • Driving behaviour change is central to the Forest 500 and so credit goes to the 31 companies who moved up by at least one point, with five (Astra Agro Lestari, Groupe Eram, Grupo Bimbo, Mewah International, and News Corp.) moving up by two points and also to McDonalds and Bunge for introducing zero net deforestation policies across all of their commodities this year.
  • Members of the Consumer Goods Forum, on average, score twice as many points as non-members.

sustainable palm oil deforestation

Performance of the investment community was even worse than the corporate sector.

  • Nearly a third of investors assessed had no policies in place relating to their investments and lending.
  • However, the number of investors scoring two points out of five has increased from 35 to 44, with reductions in those scoring zero or one points.
  • 18 investors improved their score by one or more points with three improving by two points (ATP, Columbia Threadneedle Investments, and Ontario Teachers Pension Plan).
  • Overall there was an increase in the number of investors making commodity-specific sourcing policies. Specifically, the number of investors making lending commitments in relation to soy and cattle companies, increased from eight to 11 and six to eight respectively.

Of the remaining powerbrokers that make up the 500, little has changed. Incremental progress has been made across forest, trading and subnational jurisdictions, with no countries releasing more comprehensive national policies focused on tackling deforestation.

Forest Conservation News via http://blueandgreentomorrow.com/2015/11/18/new-analysis-and-ranking-c-135-billion-export-trade-in-forest-risk-commodities-continues-to-destroy-rainforests/

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

Indonesia Forest Fires Threaten Wildlife, Communities

Land Clearing Considered Greatest Environmental Crime Of Our Time

By Nadia Drake, Nature

The world’s only wild orangutans—already besieged by logging, hunting, pet trading and the steady expansion of palm oil plantations—are now threatened by forest fires that have burned for months on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra in southeast Asia. In the toxic smoke and haze, locals and researchers are scrambling to protect the estimated 50,000 remaining orangutans that live only on those two islands.

Fires erupt every year in Indonesia during the dry season, as farmers, plantation owners and others deliberately burn forest to clear land or to settle territorial disputes. But this year’s El Niño weather pattern, combined with a legacy of land-management practices that have dried the soil and degraded vast swathes of peat-swamp forest, turned this burning season into an environmental catastrophe that has destroyed more than 2 million hectares of forest throughout Indonesia, to which Sumatra and much of Borneo belong.

endangered species conservation and forest conservation

Since late summer, teams of researchers have headed out from the city of Palangkaraya in Borneo to find and fight new blazes. Some patrol the rivers and others head into the forest, where extinguishing the flames can require drilling more than 20 metres down to reach the water table—tough, gruelling work that is carried out amid tropical heat and in a persistent, menacing orange haze.

One day in October, Simon Husson, director of the UK-based Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project, deployed a drone at the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation’s centre for orangutan rescue and rehabilitation near Palangkaraya.

“Eyes in the sky are a huge help,” he says. “On the ground, you’re in choking smoke and the haze is severely restricting visibility.”

Indonesia forest fires palm oil plantations

As the drone rose above the smoggy blanket, its camera glimpsed a new fire burning deep in the forest. The fire was remote enough not to threaten the orphaned and injured orangutans being readied for reintroduction to the forest, “but you can’t help thinking about the wild ones out there”, Husson says.

Husson and his colleagues have temporarily abandoned their normal research activities in the 6,000-square-kilometre Sabangau Forest, which is home not just to orangutans but also to rare Bornean white-bearded gibbons, sun bears and pangolins, to help local fire-fighting teams with cash and personnel. “Not only is [research] pretty unimportant right now,” he says, “it’s basically impossible to study the orangutans in the canopy as we can’t see them for the smoke.”

Indonesia deforestation
Indonesia and Malaysia are the palm oil capitals of the world. The industry has pillaged the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.

Peat fires devastate orangutan populations primarily by destroying crucial habitat, but the animals are also susceptible to the same types of smoke- and haze-induced respiratory problems as humans. The charismatic arboreal apes are already endangered throughout their range; their population is estimated to have declined by 78% from more than 230,000 a century ago. “Over half the world’s orangutans live in peat-swamp forests, and every one of these peatlands in Borneo right now is on fire, somewhere,” Husson says.

Undisturbed peat forests are actually incredibly fire resistant, says Susan Page, a geographer at the University of Leicester, UK, who studies peatlands in southeast Asia, because the swamps are damp enough to make ignition difficult. But, unfortunately, large tracts of Borneo’s peatland are anything but undisturbed.

In 1996, Indonesia’s then-president Suharto launched the Mega Rice Project, which tried to transform 1 million hectares of Bornean peatland into rice paddies. Draining the peat was essential for the plan, and despite the fact that no rice was ever harvested, canals that were cut through the forests have been draining water from the peat ever since.

The infernos in Indonesia have climate implications as well. Normally, Borneo’s peat forests are efficient carbon stores, holding tons of organic matter in layers of compressed plant material that can be more than 15 meters thick. But when that peat burns, the accumulated carbon is released. This year, the fires have already released more than 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere—more than Japan’s annual carbon emissions. Since September, carbon emissions due to the fires have exceeded the daily production of the United States on at least 38 days, prompting one conservation scientist to call this year’s fires the “biggest environmental crime of the twenty-first century.”

Read The Full Story At http://www.nature.com/news/indonesia-blazes-threaten-endangered-orangutans-1.18714

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

Investors, Stakeholders Demand Reforms In Palm Oil Industry

Editorial Note: The following development is good news for the last forests, but it doesn’t appear to address the issue of endangered species and biodiversity. That is one of the weak links in the current RSPO scheme of smoke and mirrors. Presently, palm growers and buyers can kill endangered species and still conform. They have gone to great lengths to dodge this bullet. One reason is that deforestation isn’t the only threat to these animals. Once removed from their homes, those that survive can never return for a snack or a drink of water. They are shot and killed. In some cases, bounties have been paid for dead orangutans. Sumatra is ground zero in this war over biodiversity, but this reckless and destructive industry is making similar impacts elsewhere around the tropics today.

Sustainable Palm Oil A Sham

Institutional investors worth trillions of dollars, along with some of the world’s largest consumer goods companies, have called on the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to quickly plug loopholes in its palm oil certification standards.

In an open letter addressed to RSPO Secretary General Darrel Webber on June 1, investors and 16 other consumer goods giants such as Procter and Gamble (P&G) and Starbucks called on RSPO to ensure that by 2016, its principles and criteria certification were changed to include measures to conserve forests.

Indonesia forest fires palm oil plantations

Suggestions by the letter’s authors included requirements on the conservation of areas considered as ‘High Carbon Stock,’ peatland protection, reporting in greenhouse gas emission, and ensuring that palm oil came from known sources.

RSPO, the trade association for the $44 billion a year palm oil industry, should raise its standards for company assessments on human rights standards and the conservation value of land so that they are rigorous and objective.

RSPO administers a global sustainability certification for palm oil growers who comply with their standards on socially and environmentally responsible practices. A set of eight principles – including a commitment to transparency, conservation of natural resources, and legal compliance – and numerous other requirements constitute the ‘RSPO Standard’ for certification.

To date, RSPO has certified 12.65 million tons of palm oil – about 20 percent of the total global supply. More than 90 percent of certified palm oil originates from Malaysia and Indonesia, with Papua New Guinea, Brazil, and Colombia accounting for the remainder.

The certification guidelines were first introduced in 2007. They have been reviewed once from 2012 to 2013, and are due for another review in 2018. The task force carrying out these reviews comprises growers, environmental and social NGOs, and consumer goods companies such as Unilever.

deforestation and climate change

The letter’s authors noted that RSPO’s certification scheme is “uniquely positioned to support, promote, and enforce the widespread uptake of responsible and sustainable production practices across the palm oil industry.”

In its current state, the certification “does not include protections for some of the most critical externalities of palm oil production” such as the conversion of forest and peatlands, the letter added. (In fact, the RSPO scheme allows its members to trash ecosystems and biodiversity, while washing its hands with the purchase of green certificates. It’s like confession for environmental crimes. Say a few hail Mary’s and plants a few trees in Costa Rica. Call it even.)

sustainable palm oil deforestation

Peatlands are wetlands that must be drained before cultivation. This process not only results in significant carbon emissions as peat dries and decomposes, it also increases the risk of forest fires and results in the land sinking, and eventually flooding, as it dries out.

Waiting till 2018 to plug these gaps “would be inconsistent with the imperatives of addressing deforestation, peatland conversion, and human rights violations swiftly and efficiently,” said the letter’s authors. They urgedRSPO to bring the timeline forward to 2016.

Lucia von Reusner, shareholder advocate at Green Century Capital Management – one of the firms that organized the letter, along with the New York State Common Retirement Fund, said that companies and investors increasingly recognize that environmental degradation and conflict with local communities pose real risks to shareholder value. (Killing endangered species, including orangutans and tigers isn’t acceptable, either. Wildlife are not welcome on palm plantations. They are killed for returning to their former homes.)

“We are calling on RSPO to provide the assurance that strong protections are being upheld throughout palm oil supply chains,” she said. “Companies and investors increasingly recognize that widespread forest clearance degrades the environment and drives conflicts with local communities in ways that pose real risks to shareholder value.”

orangutan conservation

RSPO acknowledged the letter as an encouraging sign of a proactive push from the business community on making sustainable palm oil the norm. Stefano Savi, acting communication director, RSPO, said that the multi-stakeholder nature of RSPO meant that “at times, compromises are necessary to move forward and ensure buy-in of all stakeholder groups represented within the RSPO.”

Savi promised that RSPO was “taking all constructive comments on board,” and expressed confidence that a market transformation towards sustainable palm oil would be possible.

Environmental groups welcomed the investors’ letter too, saying it reinforced a message they had been trying to send to RSPO for a long time. Marcus Colchester, senior policy advisor of UK environmental group Forest People’s Programme told Eco-Business that as one of the members of the task force “profoundly disappointed by the way Indonesian and Malaysian growers blocked RSPO from adopting higher standards during the 2012-2013 revision process. None of these standards and declarations of intent mean anything if we continue to see forests despoiled, people shunted aside and lands taken without communities’ consent by aggressive planters,” he said.

Forest Conservation News via http://www.eco-business.com/news/companies-worth-trillions-tell-rspo-to-improve-standards/

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