EU Considering Palm-Oil Boycott To Curb Deforestation

Deforestation Driving Climate Change, Extinction

Indonesia and Malaysia, which produce more than 80 percent of the world’s palm oil, are resisting proposals by European parliamentarians that could limit their access to the second biggest palm oil market after India.

Government ministers from Malaysia and Indonesia, along with some regional palm oil producers, met in Jakarta on April 11 to plan a response to a resolution approved on April 4 by European parliament members concerning palm oil and deforestation.

The parliamentarians requested the EU to “introduce a single certification scheme for palm oil entering the EU market and phase out the use of vegetable oils that drive deforestation by 2020.”

They hope for an EU-wide ban on biodiesel made from palm oil by 2020, claiming that the expansion of palm oil plantations, mostly in Southeast Asia, is causing “massive forest fires, the drying up of rivers, soil erosion, peatland drainage, the pollution of waterways and overall loss of biodiversity.”

palm oil plantation deforestation

Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar called the EU proposals an “insult,” while the foreign ministry accused the EU of “protectionism” and of ignoring the rights of millions of Indonesian farmers whose main source of income is from small oil palm plots.

The growth in global demand for palm oil, which is used in a wide array of products from cosmetics and fuel to foods such as margarine and chocolate, has resulted in the massive clearing of forests, particularly in Indonesia, over the last 30 years. The slash and burn methods used on Sumatra and Borneo have led to forest and peatland fires that have enveloped Singapore and parts of Malaysia in a smoky haze that has spread as far as southern Thailand.

Images of orphaned baby elephants and orangutans rescued from cleared forests and plantations have spurred vigorous environmental activism and consumer awareness campaigns in recent years. Species such as the Sumatran elephant have been put on endangered lists, with the ensuing bad publicity forcing governments and palm oil companies to sign up for various national and international certification schemes to guarantee that palm oil products are not causing environmental damage.

palm oil and orangutans

But members of the European parliament argue that a single certification scheme is needed. “MEPs note that various voluntary certification schemes promote the sustainable cultivation of palm oil,” but “their standards are open to criticism and are confusing for consumers,” said a European parliament press release issued on April 4.

In response, Indonesia’s Agriculture Minister Andi Amran Sulaiman told reporters in Jakarta that “we cannot let Europe dictate Indonesia’s agriculture. We have our own standard called Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil.”

Mah Siew Keong, the Malaysian plantation industries and commodities minister, said that “Malaysia too already has a national certification system.” He noted that “only palm oil is subjected to certification while similarly produced vegetables oils are not subject to sustainability certification,” asserting, “this is not fair.”

With the Indonesia Oil Palm Producers Association executive director Fadhil Hasan calling on the government to “retaliate,” mentioning wine, aircraft, perfume and pharmaceuticals as imports from Europe that Jakarta could target, the dispute over palm oil could undermine work started in July 2016 by the EU and Indonesia to move toward a free trade agreement, as well as disrupt longer-standing negotiations between the EU and Malaysia on a similar deal.

Indonesia is Southeast Asian’s biggest economy and accounts for almost 40% of the total 620 million population of Southeast Asia. “European companies already provide 1 million jobs here in Indonesia and we hope it can grow,” said EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan, during a Nov. 2016 trade mission visit to Jakarta.With tensions over palm oil threatening to undermine free trade negotiations, some European officials sought to play down some of the concerns raised by MEPs.

deforestation and climate change

Jean-Charles Berthonnet, the French ambassador to Indonesia, described the MEP resolution as “unilaterally critical and moralizing” in an opinion article published in the Jakarta Post, though the ambassador agreed that a better certification system is needed.

“Deforestation is a very complex issue and I think we can agree on a number of points. But we need to take a broader look at deforestation because it is not caused only by the palm oil industry,” said Karmenu Vella, the EU commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries.

Indeed, one recent agreement suggests that the EU and Indonesia can collaborate on preserving forests. In November 2016, Indonesia and the EU launched a licensing scheme that aimed to stop illegally logged timber from being exported from Indonesia — the world’s third biggest jungle area after Brazil and the Democratic Republic of the Congo — to Europe, and in turn reduce deforestation across the archipelago. “Indonesia has shown true leadership and now sets a high standard for other countries to emulate,” said Vincent Guerend, the EU ambassador to Indonesia, when the initiative was launched.

endangered species conservation and forest conservation

But both sides will now have to come to terms over palm oil. The April 11 meeting of palm oil growers in Jakarta was convened to plan a negotiating strategy ahead of a possible meeting with European officials in May to discuss the proposed restrictions on palm oil.

“We will do whatever we can to convince the European parliament and European countries not to implement it,” Darmin Nasution, Indonesia’s coordinating minister for economic affairs, told reporters. “We will negotiate in full force,” he added.

The European parliamentarians also accused the palm oil companies of not living up to their claims that their products are environmentally friendly. “Some companies trading in palm oil are failing to prove beyond doubt that the palm oil in their supply chain is not linked to deforestation, peatland drainage or environmental pollution, and to demonstrate that it has been produced with full respect for fundamental human rights and adequate social standards,” the MEPs stated.

Anita Neville, vice president of corporate communications and sustainability relations at Golden Agri-Resources, a Singapore-based palm oil company that manages 480,000 hectares of Indonesian palm oil plantations, said that producers hoped that the EU would not back away from the use of palm oil. “If your motivation is to tackle deforestation and poverty, you need to stay in the game and demand sustainable palm oil,” she said.

Malaysian palm oil producers Sime Darby and IOI announced in March they had joined the year-old Fire Free Alliance, which “focuses on fire prevention through community engagement.” It includes environmental groups and major forestry and agriculture companies such as pulp and paper giant Asia Pacific Resources International and major palm oil players Musim Mas Group and Wilmar International.

deforestation climate change

The Indonesian government is backing the FFA, which so far supervises activity in just 200 villages covering roughly 1.5 million hectares of land. This amounts to just over a quarter of what the Indonesian government estimates are 731 villages in seven of Indonesia’s 34 provinces where slash and burn clearances are undertaken.

Among those most affected by plantation expansion and deforestation in Indonesia is the country’s indigenous population, which is seeking more rights over traditional lands in many places that overlap with some of the country’s forests and plantations.

But granting such rights would likely make it more difficult to conduct agribusiness on up 8 million hectares of land claimed by indigenous peoples. This is seen as one reason why Indonesian President Joko Widodo belatedly cancelled a scheduled appearance at a March congress of indigenous leaders in northern Sumatra.

Rukka Sombolinggi, the newly elected head of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), said she was not surprised at the president’s reluctance to attend the event. But she added, “the problem is with the ministry of environment and forestry, they are the ones who are claiming our land as state land.”

Her group contends that giving indigenous groups legal rights to their land is the best way to ensure that forest ecologies are preserved. Rukmini P. Toheke, a prominent activist for indigenous peoples from Palu in central Sulawesi, said: “For us the forest is ‘katu vua,’ or life itself.” She added: “If we destroy the forests, we destroy our own lives.”

Deforestation News via http://asia.nikkei.com/Markets/Commodities/Asian-palm-oil-producers-slam-EU-moves-to-restrict-market-access?page=1

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, carbon capture, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems. We have projects ready across Africa now. 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

International Day Of Forests Promotes Conservation

Deforestation Threatens Biodiversity

Today is the International Day of Forests. Deforestation is a major contributor to global warming, wildlife extinction, droughts and other threats to life as we know it.

Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, and home to more than 80 percent of all known terrestrial species of animals and plants. They play a vital role in storing water, regulating climate, preserving soils and nurturing biodiversity, and provide important economic and social services.

On this UN day that is dedicated for forests, CITES highlights its commitment to help countries manage forests more sustainably. Through strictly regulating international trade in certain timber and non-timber forest products to ensure legality, sustainability and traceability, CITES is contributing towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Goal #15 as it relates to the sustainably managed forests and halting biodiversity loss.

deforestation and climate change

Recent years have witnessed a major development in the use of the Convention with Parties deciding to include many commercially valuable trees in the CITES Appendices. While only 18 tree species were listed in the CITES Appendices in 1975 when the Convention came into effect, CoP17 alone (held in Johannesburg, September/October 2017) brought over 300 new timber species, namely all Dalbergia rosewood and palisander species found across the world  under CITES trade controls. Today, more than 900 tree species are protected under CITES, including some of the world’s most economically valuable trees.

Legal international trade in timber is worth hundreds of billions of dollars every year. Thanks to CITES trade regulations, CITES Management Authorities establish the veracity of the legal origins of listed species before they enter international trade, and CITES Scientific Authorities advise on the sustainable nature of the harvest and exports. Customs officials at border crossings of source, transit and destination States across the globe will verify CITES permits for all such international shipments.

deforestation and jaguar conservation

“The decisions taken to bring so many new tree species under the CITES trade control regime reflect the growing confidence that Parties have in CITES in helping them manage these valuable resources more sustainably, and the determination to ensure the legality of such timbers in trade,” said CITES Secretary-General, John E. Scanlon.

CITES works in partnership with other organizations to enhance sustainable forest management and timber trade practices. The successful long-term collaboration between CITES and ITTO, for example, has contributed greatly towards reducing biodiversity loss, fostering sustainable development and helping poverty eradication by enabling biodiversity-rich countries to better manage their natural forest resources.

Beneficiary countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas have been given support to sustainably harvest and trade in CITES listed tree species, which is good for people and wildlife, and contributes to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal #15:

“Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss.”

palm oil and orangutans

“Through our collective efforts we are ensuring that wild plants, and the animals that depend upon them, will be protected for this generation and the generations to come. Effectively regulating trade in forest products also has great benefits for people by ensuring sustainable livelihoods, and protecting social and cultural assets. Wildlife-based industries, including tourism, can bring significant benefits for some national economies and be a major generator of local jobs and foreign exchange” concluded Scanlon.

Deforestation News via https://cites.org/eng/CITES_highlights_its_contribution_to_sustainable_forest_management_on_International_Day_of_Forests_2017_21032017

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 

Together, we can stop deforestation and preserve biodiversity.

PR Firm Launches Campaign To Defend Ecosystems

Deforestation Promoting Climate Change, Loss Of Biodiversity

Deforestation generates about 20 percent of greenhouse gasses, which contribute to global warming and climate change. Deforestation also cripples our planet’s ability to filter carbon dioxide from our air. Unfortunately, deforestation also threatens entire watersheds, endangered species and endangered cultures around the world. An international PR firm based in Phoenix, Arizona has launched a program to help reverse deforestation, while defending entire ecosystems.

If all CO2 emissions stopped today, climate change will still intensify because of existing carbon in the atmosphere. Energy conservation, renewable energy and sustainable agriculture are vital, but we need proven carbon capture strategies to help restore balance to our atmosphere. Forest conservation is more important than ever.

wildlife conservation and deforestation

“Thousands of community stakeholders across East Africa are ready to act now,” said Gary Chandler founder of both Crossbow Communications and its subsidiary Sacred Seedlings. “They can help us all fight global climate change, while defending critical ecosystems in Tanzania, Kenya and beyond. We’re launching a campaign to help them secure the resources to succeed.”

According to Chandler, several NGOs, including the Mellowswan Foundation Africa-Tanzania have plans to save remaining forests in the region, while promoting reforestation, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. The program will plant more than 10 million new seedlings just in the Kilimanjaro ecosystem.

A new report by the United Nations Environment Programme says that protecting East Africa’s mountain ecosystems would safeguard the region’s $7 billion tourism industry, not to mention the lives of millions of people and iconic endangered species.

“Across the continent, the damage done to these ecosystems is depriving people of the basic building blocks of life,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment agency.

deforestation Tanzania and Kenya

He said Mt. Kilimanjaro was an example of how climate change was severely damaging Africa’s mountains and the people who depend on them. Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest in Africa, contributes to more than a third of Tanzania’s revenue from tourism but is facing several problems, ranging from shrinking glaciers to rampant wild fires. As climate change intensifies, it is essential that governments act swiftly to prevent more harm and more downward momentum. The report urges Tanzania to protect the mountain’s water catchment area by reforestation, investing in early warning systems and making climate adaptation a top priority.

Forests are critical to the way Earth functions. They lock up vast amounts of carbon and release oxygen. They influence rainfall, filter fresh water and prevent flooding and soil erosion. They produce wild foods, fuel wood and medicines for the people who live in and around them. They are storehouses of potential future crop varieties and genetic materials with untapped healing qualities. Wood and other fibre grown in forests can be used as a renewable fuel or as raw material for paper, packaging, furniture or housing.

While the pressures on forests vary across regions, the biggest cause of deforestation is expanding agriculture – including commercial livestock and major crops such as palm oil and soy. According to Chandler, Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, carbon capture, reforestation, urban forestry,sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems, including millions of people who live in the region.

endangered species Africa

Loss of forests isn’t the only problem in East Africa. Tanzania may have lost half its elephant population since 2007. It could be wiped out entirely in just seven years. Kenya’s wildlife also is under assault like never before. Adding to the crisis, there has been loss of wildlife habitat and biodiversity as a result of fragmentation and loss of critical ecosystem linkages and over-exploitation of the natural habitats. This loss of habitat brings humans and wildlife into more and more conflict over food, water and space–which means more bloodshed.

Tanzania’s elephant population declined from an estimated 109,000 elephants in 2009 to around 70,000 in 2012. Around 30 elephants are killed for their ivory every day, almost 11,000 each year and rising. It’s estimated that more than 35,000 African elephants were killed for ivory in 2012. The number keeps rising.

Read The Full Story at http://crossbowcommunications.com/deforestation-contributing-to-climate-change-loss-of-biodiversity/ To donate, please click here.

PR firm climate change and deforestation

Crossbow Communications is a full-service advertising agency and public relations firm in Denver, Colorado and Phoenix, Arizona. The firm specializes in issue management and public affairsCrossbow has helped influence public opinion and public policy around the world. It has won state and national awards, while setting state and national records for our clients. For more information, write to Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com

Deforestation Surging Again In Amazon Basin

Deforestation In Brazil Not Expected To Stop

The Brazilian government estimates that the rate of deforestation in the Amazon has increased by 29 percent over last year. That’s the second year in a row that deforestation in the Amazon accelerated. Last year, the pace rose by about 24 percent.

The estimated deforestation rate, released Tuesday by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), is based on satellite imagery. The institute found that from August 2015 to July 2016, the Amazon rainforest was deforested at an estimated rate of 7,989 square kilometers (more than 3,000 square miles). The year before, it was 6,207 square kilometers. Two years ago, it was barely over 5,000 square kilometers.

forest tribes and forest conservation

INPE acknowledged the increase but noted that the current rate represents a decrease of 71 percent, when compared with 2004. That was the year the government implemented a policy designed to curb deforestation; from 2004-2007, the rate of deforestation dropped rapidly.

Many observers had been prepared to see an increase in deforestation, but not one this high. The causes of the increased deforestation were actions taken by the federal government between 2012 and 2015, such as the waiving of fines for illegal deforestation, the abandonment of protected areas — that is, ‘conservation units’ and indigenous lands — and the announcement, which he calls ‘shameful,’ that the government doesn’t plan to completely stop illegal deforestation until the year 2030.

The rise in deforestation is raising concerns about Brazil’s ability to meet its commitments as part of the international Paris Agreement on combating climate change. Deforestation is a major contributor to climate change, and Brazil’s success in reducing deforestation from 2004 to 2014 was seen as a model for other developing countries.

A lack of funding has hampered the organization that’s tasked with stopping illegal logging efforts. The Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, or Ibama, has struggled with budget cuts as Brazil grapples with a recession.

“The loggers are better equipped than we are,” said Uiratan Barroso, Ibama’s head of law enforcement. “Until we have the money to rent unmarked cars and buy proper radios we won’t be able to work. A 30 percent cut in Ibama’s budget has meant fewer operations this year. Helicopters and jeeps have been idle due to a lack of fuel.”

rainforest conservation Latin America

Deforestation and Climate Change News via http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/30/503867628/deforestation-of-the-amazon-up-29-percent-from-last-year-study-finds

reforestation and climate change solution

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 In Mexico Driven By Illegal Avocado Farms

Agriculture Driving Global Deforestation

You might want to think twice about buying avocados the next time you’re at the grocery store. The delicious green fruit has become hugely popular in recent years, topping many a salad and burrito, not to mention its glorious transformation into guacamole, but unfortunately, the path avocados travel from Mexican groves to American mouths is not nearly as smooth as its texture.

Most avocados sold in the United States and Canada come from a region in western Mexico called Michoacán, that is responsible for 80 percent of avocados exported worldwide. Unfortunately, these avocados are a leading cause of deforestation in the country, according to an announcement made by the attorney general’s Office for Environmental Protection on Monday.

deforestation Mexico

Talia Coria, who heads the office’s division in Michoacán, said that nearly 50,000 acres of forest land are converted to agricultural uses each year in the state, and that between 30 and 40 percent of the annual forest loss is due to avocados, about 15,000 to 20,000 acres. (Previous deforestation, before avocados were so popular, happened at a much lower rate—around 1,700 acres per year between 2000 and 2010.)

Now that demand and prices of avocados are on the rise, however, growers are eager to do whatever they can to reap the benefits of avocado farming, even if it means destroying the lush forests that are so valuable to the region. 

Experts say a mature avocado orchard uses almost twice as much water as fairly dense forest, meaning less water reaches Michoacán’s legendary crystalline mountain streams on which trees and animals in the forests depend. Species like the monarch butterfly also rely on Michoacán forest as habitat, though Coria said there does not appear to have been damage to the monarch wintering grounds from avocado expansion yet.

monarch butterflies in Mexico forest

Unfortunately the state suffers from extreme poverty, and is notorious for its production of synthetic drugs. It is home to awful gang violence that led the Wall Street Journal in 2014 to suggest that avocados from the region are tainted, “blood avocados—the Mexican equivalent of the conflict diamonds that are sold from war-torn parts of Africa.”

Under these circumstances, it is difficult to imagine that environmental protection will take priority over survival in the minds of local farmers, but hopefully the attorney general’s announcement will generate greater concern and spur on important conversations.

rainforest conservation Latin America

Deforestation is responsible for about 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation also impairs the planet’s ability to absorb and store carbon dioxide. Agriculture, including beef, soy and palm oil, is the largest driver of deforestation around the world.

Deforestation News via http://www.treehugger.com/green-food/avocados-are-driving-deforestation-mexico.html

reforestation and climate change solution

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

UN Recommends Reforestation Of Kilimanjaro

Vital Water Supplies Threatened Across East Africa

The greater Kilimanjaro region is one of the most threatened ecosystems on earth. As the snows, glaciers and rains retreat, millions of lives and the future of nations hang in the balance. A new report by the United Nations Environment Programme says that protecting East Africa’s mountain ecosystems would safeguard the region’s $7 billion tourism industry, not to mention the lives of millions of people and iconic endangered species.

Tanzania wildlife conservation

“Across the continent, the damage done to these ecosystems is depriving people of the basic building blocks of life,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment agency.

He said Mt. Kilimanjaro was an example of how climate change was severely damaging Africa’s mountains and the people who depend on them. Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest in Africa, contributes to more than a third of Tanzania’s revenue from tourism but is facing several problems, ranging from shrinking glacier to rampant wild fires. As climate change intensifies, it is essential that governments act swiftly to prevent more harm and more downward momentum. The report urges Tanzania to protect the mountain’s water catchment area by reforestation, investing in early warning systems and making climate adaptation a top priority.

Africa climate change solutions

Mt. Kilimanjaro forests are a vital source of water for the surrounding towns and the wider region. Water from the mountain feeds one of Tanzania’s largest rivers, the Pangani.

The report titled Sustainable Mountain Development in East Africa in a Changing Climate warned that the glaciers are likely to vanish completely within a few decades as a result of climate change if urgent action is not taken. Meanwhile, higher temperatures have increased the number of wildfires, which have destroyed 13,000 hectares of the mountain’s forest since 1976.

The town of Moshi, which is located in the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro, is already experiencing severe water shortages as rivers begin to dry up, starving farmland of water in an area already struggling to cope with a dramatic drop in rainfall.

deforestation Tanzania and Kenya

The report was produced by UN Environment, GRID-Arendal, East African Community, the Albertine Rift Conservation Society and Nature-RIDD. It was produced as part of the Mountain Adaptation Outlook Series, which was launched by the UN Environment Programme at the climate talks in Paris in 2015.

Meanwhile, Tanzania has already lost more than half of its elephants to poachers over the past decade. They could be wiped out entirely in just five or six years. Adding to the poaching crisis, there has been loss of wildlife habitat and biodiversity as a result of fragmentation and loss of critical ecosystem linkages and over-exploitation of the natural habitats. This loss of habitat brings humans and wildlife into more and more conflict over food, water and space–which means more bloodshed.

The good news is that local stakeholders share this vision and already have plans ready for action. Sacred Seedlings is a global coalition working to defend ecosystems and the planet for the benefit of future generations. We help local stakeholders with collaborative and inclusive planning and we help them secure the resources necessary to develop these critical plans.

NGOs across Burundi, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda have 15 comprehensive projects planned and ready to defend regional ecosystems, including:

  • Forest conservation and reforestation;
  • Sustainable agriculture and aquaculture;
  • Watershed restoration and protection;
  • Solar power can replace wood stoves and improve productivity;
  • Community education about wildlife and forest conservation;
  • Anti-poaching patrols, habitat restoration and other wildlife conservation strategies;
  • Ecotourism; and
  • Jobs for men and women, which can help alleviate many economic, health and environmental issues.

For more information about plans to defend ecosystems across East Africa and beyond, please visit the East Africa Plan. We seek sponsors, donors, grants and volunteers. We are adding more projects to benefit local stakeholders and ecosystems around the world. Please join us. Thank you.

reforestation and climate change solution

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 Threatens Critical Ecosystems Across Africa

Campaign Will Help Reforest Kilimanjaro Region

Ecosystems around the world are under assault like never before. The collapse of any ecosystem impacts life around the world–especially when the ecosystem is an anchor in Africa’s greenbelt.

Tanzania wildlife conservation

The greater Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania and Kenya is one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet. Millions of people and several endangered species depend on the snows of Kilimanjaro for survival. If these ecosystems collapse, it will have a ripple effect across Africa and around the world.

“Save Kilimanjaro” isn’t about a mountain. It’s about life. It’s about hope for our children and grandchildren. It’s a chance for us to push back against the insanity and devastation that’s chipping away at our world.

deforestation Tanzania and Kenya

 

Stakeholders across East Africa have innovative and comprehensive plans that can defend the greater Kilimanjaro region. They plan to save wildlife, capture carbon and reduce deforestation on a massive scale. This investment will benefit the entire planet, while preserving a world treasure. We can all make a difference.

Our first project will help the Mellowswan Foundation Africa-Tanzania defend the greater Kilimanjaro ecosystem with more than 10 million new seedlings, community engagement, wildlife conservation strategies and more. They will educate local stakeholders about sustainable forestry, sustainable agriculture and wildlife management.

Africa climate change solutions

The Foundation will start three large greenhouses and nurseries to produce the seedlings over the next three years. Hundreds of local stakeholders will help plant and care for the trees. 

The Rombo District Council and the Rongai Forest Plantation Authority have donated several acres for the nurseries. The Moshi Municipal Council offered a third nursery for urban reforestation. (Two nurseries border Kilimanjaro National Park.)

Unlike past reforestation efforts in the region, we will focus on local needs and long-term sustainability. The seedlings are indigenous species that can help restore and protect the integrity of the ecosystem, while helping rural communities thrive as stewards of the land.

reforest Tanzania

We will plant trees for sustainable timber, rainfall management, groundwater conservation, food, wildlife habitat and other regional needs. We will include an urban forestry program that will help “street kids” generate food and income. The urban canopy can help capture pollutants and water runoff, while making the cities more resilient and energy efficient.

Tanzania has already lost more than half of its elephants to poachers over the past decade. Other large mammals are on the same path. They could be wiped out entirely in just five or six years. Adding to the crisis, there has been loss of wildlife habitat and biodiversity as a result of fragmentation and loss of critical ecosystem linkages and over-exploitation of the natural habitats. This loss of habitat brings humans and wildlife into more and more conflict over food, water and space–which means more bloodshed.

lion conservation Africa

Conservationists are demanding more efforts to protect endangered species now. In a letter published July 27, 2016 in the journal BioScience, 43 wildlife conservationists warn that elephants, lions, rhinos, gorillas and many other species will become extinct without urgent intervention, which must include habitat conservation, community engagement and more.

“We will soon be writing obituaries for species as they vanish from the planet,” said authors from Wildlife Conservation Society, Zoological Society of London, Panthera and many others. Extinction is a slippery slope.

We need sponsors, donors, volunteers and in-kind donations. Please Help Save Kilimanjaro and beyond https://www.gofundme.com/SaveKilimanjaro

Asante’ sana.

deforestation and climate change

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

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

Palm Oil Plantations vs. Biodiversity

Palm Oil Plantations Do Not Tolerate Wildlife

By Melati Kaye, Scientific American and Mongabay

I have been hiking through an oil palm plantation in Borneo for hours but have yet to see a single oil palm. Instead, mahogany and other native tree species tower overhead. Mushrooms, flowers and huge pitcher plants line my trail, uniquely adapted to the island’s peat swamp forests. This lush portion of the plantation should be ideal habitat for orangutans. I have not spotted any, but according to Hendriyanto, my guide from the plantation’s conservation team, an estimated 14 of the red apes do indeed live here.

Surveyors came up with that number by counting orangutan nests in this 657-hectare so-called “High Conservation Value” (HCV) enclave within the 18,000-hectare plantation. The population density survey and the HCV set-aside are required of oil palm companies like Hendriyanto’s employer, Ketapang-based PT Kayung Agro Lestari (PT-KAL), for eco-compliance certification by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a consortium that has been setting the industry’s sustainability standards since 2004.

deforestation and climate change

But one step outside this refuge lies a very different scene: blistering tropical heat and regimented rows of spiky oil palm trees spread over miles of ochre mud that turns to deep, rutted puddles after a drizzle. Borneo’s forest-to-plantation ratio has plummeted in recent decades. Satellite data show that the island’s forest cover dwindled from 76 percent to a mere 28 percent between 1973 and 2010. Deforestation has only accelerated since then, especially in 2015, when fires smoldered across 1.3 million hectares of peatland for months on end.

From an ape’s point of view, the plantation vista presents an uninhabitable hellscape. From an industry standpoint, it is a prospect of burgeoning revenue. Half of the vegetable oil consumed around the world comes from oil palms. According to data from USDA and the World Bank, the global market for palm oil and palm kernels is around $47 billion.

palm oil plantation deforestation

Can an industry maintain profitability if consumers associate palm oil with the rape of the jungle and the imminent extinction of its iconic orangutans?

Some leading oil palm companies have tried a series of conservation initiatives to show that orangutans and plantations can co-exist–hence the RSPO, the HCV enclaves and the relocation of orphaned apes to rehabilitation centers for later reintroduction back to the forest. The latest scheme is to interlink isolated HCV patches with migration “corridors” so that orangutans and other forest-dwelling creatures can disperse in accordance with their natural behaviors.

To implement such measures (and garner some third-party credibility), many companies have partnered with environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs). But results have so far been elusive. Part of the problem is a general lack of data. But companies can also ignore or skimp on the NGO recommendations. Compounding matters, the RSPO and its ilk are agonizingly slow at investigating complaints, and their findings are no more than advisory, with no force of law. Moreover, Indonesian licensing laws can undermine conservation by reallocating forest leases of companies that do not exploit their allotted tracts fully or quickly enough. And with RSPO covering barely a fifth of the world’s palm oil operators, there is always a queue of wildcat planters ready to take up rescinded leases.

Orangutan-friendly forests once provided contiguous habitat for the tree-dwelling apes throughout South and Southeast Asia, from India to China to Indonesia. Human settlement shrank and fragmented the forest range, and with it the orangutan population According to a 2006 study by Cardiff University molecular ecologists Benoit Goossens and Michael Bruford, there were an estimated 315,000 orangutans in Sumatra and Borneo in 1900. Today, only an estimated 60,000 orangutans remain in the wild. They live solely in the peat-swamp forests of Borneo and Sumatra.

These peatlands were once deemed too remote and nutrient-poor for agriculture. With the advent of large-scale logging and plantations, however, they started getting cleared for development. The oil palm boom of the 1970’s kicked deforestation into hyperdrive. It began in Malaysia and, by the 1990s, spilled over into neighboring Indonesia. Together the two countries account for 80 percent of the world’s palm oil.

palm oil kills orangutans

Habitat loss not only starves orangutans, it brings them into closer contact with humans. The contact can be lethal. In a study published inPLOS in 2012, conservation biologist Erik Meijaard and his colleagues found that between 2,383 and 3,882 orangutans were killed every year in Borneo. They derived this range from nearly 7,000 interviews conducted with villagers about human-animal conflict.

In the first rounds of deforestation, when the number of displaced orangutans became too many to ignore, palm oil companies and NGOs airlifted them to rehabilitation centers or intact forest elsewhere. But relocating the apes is no longer an option, according to Karmele Sánchez, director of International Animal Rescue (IAR) Indonesia program, an NGO rehabilitating primates. “The habitat is so heavily disturbed and fragmented,” she says, that “there isn’t near enough forest to put all rescued orangutans.” Instead of overcrowding protected areas like national parks, Sanchez urges plantation operators to accommodate their resident orangutans onsite. For RSPO members, this means a greater emphasis on HCV inholdings within their plantation tracts.

In 2010, Greenpeace activists ran a TV ad showing a man chomping into a Nestlé’s chocolate bar only to find, to his horror, blood dribbling down his chin. Cut to a jungle scene of a screaming orangutan. Then the punch line: “Ask Nestlé to give rainforests a break.”

endangered species conservation and forest conservation

Partly in response, Nestlé joined the RSPO and temporarily docked one of its most environmentally egregious palm oil suppliers, Jakarta-based Sinar Mas. The company also redesigned its “responsible sourcing guidelines” to only buy palm oil from law-abiding plantations that maintained peatlands, as well as “high carbon” and “high conservation value” forests on their property.

But some environmentalists are unconvinced that such efforts are effective. Hardi Baktiantoro, co-founder of the Center for Orangutan Protection in Jakarta, Indonesia, likens them to “mopping the floor while ignoring the still-gushing tap that’s causing the puddle in the first place.” Others, like Michelle Desilets of the policy think-tank Orangutan Land Trust in Derbyshire, England, remain agnostic: “the RSPO is not a perfect solution but it is the only way to get larger consensus” on orangutan conservation and protection on palm plantations.

But whereas the RSPO may be useful for setting industry standards, its efficacy for enforcing them is another matter. When RSPO-member company First Resources, based in Singapore, converted its HCV patches into palm plantations, IAR filed a complaint with the standard-setting consortium. That was 10 years ago; the case is still pending. Even the model HCV enclave that PT-KAL so proudly showed me was smaller than what was recommended by the biodiversity assessors it contracted. Why should companies go overboard with HCV set-asides when they could lose their forest leases for under-exploiting their conditional “use permits”? The RSPO has yet to reconcile this incongruity between its own charter and Indonesian licensing laws. It does not help that RSPO sanctions are not binding, anyway. The organization’s charter says companies will be kicked out for flouting their commitments, but repeated NGO “hit lists” of violators have led to few reprimands.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, that some conservationists see the RSPO as a cynical exercise in “greenwashing”–dressing up business-as-usual practices with a semblance of environmental stewardship while shirking any real change. After all, the whole endeavor was conceived for PR purposes to begin with, notes Marc Ancrenaz, co-founder of the Malaysia-based NGO, HUTAN. “Companies comply because they want a good image.”

Sonny Sukada, the sustainability director at PT KAL’s parent company ANJ, maintains that the reduced size of the HCV area was needed to “align” the company’s commitment to local communities and its planting objectives, in addition to conservation needs.

In an email, RSPO communications manager Letchumi Achanah acknowledged that the RSPO complaint system was a “long process.” But she defended the speed of negotiations as necessary to “engage” the complainers and the offending party “rather than taking action on the involved party,” which might “formally end a complaint sooner but leave no avenue for improvement on the ground.” As for greenwashing, Acanah noted, “palm oil production has been linked to deforestation, violation of labor rights and displacement of local communities.” The RSPO was set up to address this “urgent concern.”

orangutan conservation

The HCV concept is hardly unique to the palm oil industry. First developed in 1999 by the Forest Stewardship Council to manage timber plots, it has since been adopted by nine sustainability-certification schemes, including those for soy, wood and pulp producers. But in new palm plantations, the HCV enclaves are particularly beleaguered.

Hendriyanto, of PT KAL’s conservation team, says at least once a month he spots orangutans outside the enclaves at large in the plantation. There, they’ll eat the palm shoots and fruits, adds Nardiyono, Hendriyanto’s boss. With an estimated 100 to150 of them at a time roaming through the plantations, he adds, they present a ready target for human depredations. Villagers have been known to catch the stray orangutans for pets or food. There even is a record of a non-RSPO palm company offering bounties for dead orangutans as a means of protecting their crop.

To guard against such outcomes, Hendriyanto uses booming “sound cannons” to herd the runaways back into their protected areas. As further insurance, the monitored HCV patches are surrounded by moats to contain animals and keep out forest fires. That arrangement may spare the orangutans from human attack, but it creates siege-like conditions that may be stressful for the animals.

The enclaves make for high-density habitat, which is anathema to the orangutan’s free-roaming nature, according to Gail Campbell-Smith an IAR conservation biologist who trains PT KAL staff in wildlife management. Overcrowding means more competition for food and, hence, increased aggression. In fact, researchers recently documented a female orangutan teaming up with a male to kill another female – a striking departure from the species’ usual norms of mutually tolerant females.

Isolated populations also lead to inbreeding and eventually “genetic erosion,” says Cardiff University professor Michael Bruford, who researches the genetics of fragmented animal populations. An “eroded” or generally smaller gene pool makes communities more susceptible to disease and extinction.

To relieve such isolation, IAR and other NGOs and government offices, are discussing a network of wildlife corridors. The eventual goal is to link all the privately held HCV patches in PT KAL’s vicinity, together with the Gunung Palung National Park 40 kilometers to the north and the 1,070 hectares of protected forest maintained for carbon credits by the nearby village of Laman Satong.

Their plan is ambitious but it is not the first of its kind. Two plantations owned by RSPO-member company United Plantation in Central Kalimantan have already established wildlife corridors of their own. And then there is the grandfather of such schemes: a 15 kilometer-long, 25- to 50-meter-wide orangutan corridor in Malaysia maintained for the past five years by RSPO-member company PT Wilmar Berhad, which is headquartered in Singapore.

The wildlife corridor strategy has at least a 40-year history. It has been applied to species ranging from lions in Africa to pandas in China. Some animals take to them better than others. Australian sugar gliders, for instance, want no part of them.

Indonesia deforestation

So how will they play out with orangutans? The limited geographic span and duration of the existing corridors mean that it is still too early for data-driven answers. But odds are that results will depend on how much connectivity can be achieved. University of Zurich anthropologist Carel van Shaik, who has been studying orangutans since the 1980s, says that populations can rebound, but only if the islands of remaining habitat can be somehow bridged so that animals can travel between them.

The viability of the corridors will depend, first, upon their physical dimensions. So far, PT KAL has built just one “corridor”: two rows of oil palms that they allowed to go fallow, connecting an HCV plot with the Laman Satong forest. The area was set aside in July, 2015, and so far just one orangutan has been sighted in it.

But even that narrow corridor represented a revenue sacrifice on the company’s part, so Campbell-Smith hesitates to push for more width. Instead, she aims to expand the corridor network by incorporating riverbanks within the plantations. Not only do the rivers provide migrating animals with abundant food and water, but Malaysian and Indonesian law guarantee the watercourses 30- to 100-meter buffer zones, to safeguard against floods and pollution.

Borneo and Sumatra biodiversity threatened

Indeed it is far more effective to link up HCV enclaves using already legally protected natural features, than to carve new corridors out of deforested plantation land, says conservation biologist Matthew Struebig of the University of Kent in England. Struebig, who is under contract with the Malaysian government for a review of tropical wildlife corridor studies, nevertheless admits, “you can create the best design but if the company doesn’t adopt it then it’s useless. You need to make it easy for them.”

When it comes to displaced orangutans, though, solutions are rarely easy. It takes far too long to implement and evaluate wildlife management solutions. In the meantime the animals and their habitat are diminishing rapidly. Under such circumstances, it might seem prudent to err on the side of conservation. But the lure of fast profits pulls in the opposite direction.

Forest Conservation News via http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-oil-palm-plantations-and-orangutans-coexist/

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

Plan Emerges To Halt Deforestation In Liberia

Liberia and the World Bank Will Spend Millions To Reduce Deforestation

According to a Global Witness report, the plan, which uses money promised in 2014 by Norway to save Liberia’s forests, includes much needed support for communities who want to manage their forests. But the report says if Liberia is to successfully turn the page on a history of destructive logging, it must also make good on pledges to investigate illegal contracts and ensure communities’ right to free, prior, and informed consent.

Liberia deforestation

Liberia contains some of West Africa’s best remaining rainforest and an estimated half of the country’s population is dependent upon forests for their livelihoods.  The report notes that the country has a history of forest mismanagement, including trade in conflict timber and widespread illegal logging. However, in recent years Liberia’s government has striven to reinstate the rule of law, prosecuting former officials who have broken the law and canceling some illegal contracts. It says particularly promising, in 2014 Liberia and Norway signed a US$150 million deal to switch the country from logging to community forestry and conservation. The aim is to enable the country and communities to make money — possibly tens of millions of dollars a year — from reduced carbon emissions.

“Liberia has made good on key promises in its 2014 agreement with Norway to protect rainforests, committing support to upwards of 75,000 Liberians so they can manage forests covering 6,000 km2,” said Alice Harrison, Global Witness Communications Adviser.

“By helping communities plan and develop governance systems, providing information on different economic uses of forests, and supporting NGOs that work with communities, the Liberian government and the World Bank have outlined a plan that may help Liberians benefit from their forests.”

It says the timing of the plan, contained in a World Bank Project Assessment Document (PAD), could not be better. In October 2015, the Liberian government hosted a conference in partnership with Global Witness, Rights and Resources International, and the NGO Coalition of Liberia, titled Rethinking Liberia’s Forests. At that conference participants called for support to communities wishing to manage their forests, including data on how they should sustainably manage resources.

wildlife conservation Liberia

However, it points out that reforms of the forest sector here cannot succeed, if they do not also tackle illegal logging, noting failure to address illegalities in the sector has undermined the effectiveness of Liberian and donor reform programs since the end of the country’s civil war in 2003.

“Liberia’s promise to investigate remaining illegal logging contracts served as a cornerstone of its agreement with Norway,” said Harrison. “Nearly ten percent of the country is still covered by logging concessions, many of which were awarded illegally and are held by companies who have failed to pay their taxes.”

He said in May, the government took steps to address some of this illegality by halting the operation in one concession, but there is a great deal left to do, and if the country is to successfully conserve its forests and if communities are to manage their forests free from illegal loggers, it is crucial that the government maintain its promise to investigate and cancel illegal contracts.

illegal logging Liberia

The report says also important to the success of the plan is ensuring that rights of communities to make decision about the use of their land are respected when Liberia and the World Bank are creating new forest reserves. It also recalled that in the 2014 deal, Liberia committed to create reserves called “protected areas” as a means of conserving forests. These would be created with the agreement of communities who own the forest, employing the procedure recognized internationally as free, prior, and informed consent. In the recently-published PAD, however, the Liberian government and the World Bank commit to establishing new reserves covering 3,200 km2, but make no promise to respect communities’ right to decide what happens to the forests they own.

“Research, including that published in February by Rights and Resources International, shows that forest reserves cannot succeed if the FPIC rights of forest owners are not respected,” said Harrison. “And while this week’s plan implementing the Liberia-Norway agreement contains important support for some communities, critical changes should be made to ensure forest laws are enforced and communities in proposed reserves are not disenfranchised.”

Forest Conservation News via http://www.thenewdawnliberia.com/news/10622-liberia-to-spend-us-37m-on-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