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

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

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

DiCaprio Foundation Chipping In To Save Indonesian Rainforest

DiCaprio Foundation, WWF Forge Creative Rainforest Conservation Plan

Indonesia has one of the highest rates of deforestation of any country in the world. According to Global Forest Watch, the country lost 16.88 million hectares of rainforest between 2001 and 2013, a chunk of forest nearly the size of France.

Deforestation is not only a serious problem for global climate change, but it’s also a problem for the communities of people who make the forests their home. The same goes for animals, and many of the species found in the Sumatran rainforest of Indonesia are increasingly threatened with extinction, including the orangutan, Sumatran tiger and Asian elephants.

palm oil plantation deforestation

To help stop the decimation on the island of Sumatra, WWF and a handful of partners announced some good news. The government of Indonesia has granted conservationists a 100,000-acre concession of forest in Bukit Tigapuluh, also called Thirty Hills, for the purpose of ecosystem restoration.

The announcement effectively expands the protected area of Bukit Tigapuluh National Park by 25 percent. Part of the concession had previously been granted to a logging company, which has since abandoned the site. Although some of the forest is degraded from logging activities, logging has not occurred there for many years and much of the forest remains intact.

Leonardo DiCaprio is helping to fund the 100,000-acre restoration and conservation plan, which effectively expands the protected area of Bukit Tigapuluh National Park by 25 percent. According to Global Forest Watch, the Asian country lost 16.88 million hectares of rainforest between 2001 and 2013.

deforestation and climate change

Deforestation is obviously not great for the environment. Not only does it contribute to global climate change, but it’s also a huge problem for the communities of people and the various species of wildlife who make the forests their home. This concession of land is a good step in the right direction.

“I am honored that my Foundation is a part of this effort,” DiCaprio said.

The rainforest in Bukit Tigapuluh, or Thirty Hills, will also generate sustainable revenue from non-timber forest products, including rubber, honey and rattan. The WWF, the Frankfurt Zoological Society and The Orangutan Project will work together with indigenous forest groups to harvest products from the forest without causing further harm to the land. The revenue from the products will go towards protection as well as the restoration process of the forest where past logging activities have caused degradation.

deforestation palm oil orangutans

“This is a whole new approach to forest conservation,” said Jan Vertefeuille, Head of Campaigns for WWF. “We’re seeing it as a new model of innovative financing married with traditional conservation.”

But the new concession isn’t going to be managed like a national park. Instead, WWF, the Frankfurt Zoological Society and The Orangutan Project have set up a commercial company that will work with indigenous forest groups to harvest products from the forest without damaging it. These non-timber products include rubber, honey and rattan.

“Working very closely with the local communities is key to this, we see them as equal partners,” said Vertefeuille. There are two indigenous forest-dwelling tribes who live in this forest: the Orang Rumba, a nomadic tribe, and the Talang Mamak, a group that lives in forest villages.

Although these tribes have been marginalized by commercial loggers and plantations in the past, working with forest peoples is a smart conservation strategy. Considerable research has shown that forest communities who have land tenure can in fact be more effective at preventing deforestation than other types of management plans.

“We very much want to make sure that their land tenure is understood, and we’ve been mapping the concession to understand what parts of the forest are most important to them,” said Vertefeuille.

WWF has already created a partnership with Michelin tires, which operates a nearby rubber concession, and the local groups. Vertefeuille explains that natural rubber can be harvested without harming the trees or the surrounding forest, much like shade-grown coffee. Michelin has not only committed to purchasing this rubber, but also to helping the communities improve their tree-tapping techniques, so that they can sell a higher quality product and increase their revenue.

 

The announcement is also good news for critically endangered Sumatran tigers and elephants, two species that have suffered from habitat loss. Thirty Hills is also home to the only project in the world that has successfully reintroduced Sumatran orangutans back into the wild, after they have been rescued from the illegal pet trade.

“Between the tigers, the orangutans and the elephants there it is quite a spectacular rainforest,” said Vertefeuille.

Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation

DiCaprio’s foundation donated $15 million to various environmental causes last month in addition to raising more than $40 million at his annual fundraising gala. That’s leadership.

Rainforest Conservation News via http://www.treehugger.com/endangered-species/conservation-group-gets-into-rubber-business-to-save-rainforest.html

climate change and deforestation

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

Reforestation A Priority In Ecuador

Reforestation Plan Yields World Record

Planting more than 600,000 trees across almost 2,000 hectares, Ecuador has broken the Guinness record for reforestation efforts.

Targelia Mauha was one of the over 44,000 citizens who participated in this historic endeavor, which is part of larger state priority to protect the environment and honor the constitutional rights secured for nature. Citizens joined together to plant 647,250 trees of more than 200 species. The seedlings were planted all over Ecuador, taking advantage of the country’s wide range of climatic and geographical regions. New trees were introduced everywhere, from the Pacific coast to the high Andes and low-lying tropical Amazon basin.

Ecuador reforestation world record

“I believe in the people who are collaborating to plant trees. And today we will not see the growth of the trees, or the reduction in contamination. I think that in the future our children, our grandchildren, they will see this and they will see a healthy environment,” said Mauhua after planting her tree near the equator Middle of the World monument outside of Quito.

Ecuador became the first country in the world to guarantee the rights of nature in the constitution passed in 2008. Putting this legislation into action are efforts such as the Socio Bosque conservation program, which provides incentives for citizens to not cut down trees, as well as the National Reforestation Plan, which seeks to reforest 1 million hectares over a 20-year period.

“Going beyond the record, this is a symbolic act to mobilize the population,”said Minister of the Environment Lorena Tapia. “It is important, but it is symbolic. Behind this is the National Reforestation Plan of the government. And as you said, that the goal is to have the deforestation rate be zero. The project Socio Bosque, a project of reforestation, has invested more than US$74 million dollars, something no other government has done.”

Ecuador deforestation

The state argues that the protection of the rights of nature is key for achieving the goals of the National Development plan of Good Living. With the goal of improving the quality of life of citizens, the 2008 constitution recognizes the right of the population to live in ecologically balanced and healthy environments.

“We are working on legislation, in an environmental code that will permit us to have a strong backing for environmental management but at the same time with the support of various state institutions throughout national territory, we will have the base to be able to achieve the objectives of Good Living, or Sumak Kawsay,” said Carlos Viteri, a legislator for the PAIS Alliance at the planting event.

Planting 216 species of trees native to Ecuador’s various ecosystems, the breaking of the Guinness record for reforestation is bringing the country’s environmental efforts into the limelight, sparking interest among citizens to become involved in the efforts to protect the rights of nature, while meeting the government’s development goals.

jaguar conservation and deforestation in Amazon

In 2012, 109 Ecuadorian schools collected 1,559,002 plastic bottles for recycling – the most ever recycled in one week. The recycled bottles generated $30,000, which helped fund Yasuni-ITT — a program aiming to protect a national park from oil exploitation.

This content was originally published by teleSUR:
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Reforestation-Is-a-State-Priority-in-Ecuador—20150518-0030.html.

Forest Tribes Evicted From Tiger Reserve In India

Indigenous Forest Dwellers In Kanha Tiger Reserve Illegally Evicted

From Survival International

Tribal people have been forcibly evicted from India’s Kanha Tiger Reserve in the name of tiger conservation, according to Survival International. Evicted tribespeople report that the Forest Department threatened to release elephants to trample their houses and crops if they did not leave immediately.

India tiger conservation

The area is the ancestral home of the Baiga and Gond tribes, who face a desperate future without their forests. Across India, many more face a similar threat.

The families were harassed for years to leave the reserve. When they were finally evicted, they received no land or help in establishing their lives outside. Months after their eviction, families report that they have received only a fraction of the compensation they were expecting. Others have received nothing.

“We got some money, but we are lost – wandering in search of land”, said a tribal spokesperson evicted from Jholar village in Kanha. “Here there is only sadness. We need the jungle.”

baiga tribe little girl

The communities have now been scattered among the surrounding villages. One Baiga man told Survival before the eviction: “They want to give us money. We don’t want money. We want land. Money doesn’t mean anything to us. It comes and it goes.”

In a similar eviction in December 2013, 32 Khadia families were moved out of Similipal Tiger Reserve in Odisha state and were living in dire conditions under plastic sheets. They have not received the compensation they were promised.

In a letter to India’s Tiger Conservation Authority, Survival reports: “Since their eviction, families report having had to ‘scatter’ to different villages; receiving abuse, including racial abuse, from residents of the villages where they are trying to settle; being tricked and cheated by middle men and land agents; and feeling lost, frightened and without means of livelihood or hope for their future.”

It also accuses the Tiger Authority of gross infringements of the tribal peoples legal rights to stay in, live from, and protect their forests as enshrined in both Indian and international law.

As Survival points out in a letter to the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), which has been providing infrastructural support, training and equipment for frontline Forest Department staff:

“The evictions are also illegal under both the Wildlife (Protection) Act Amendment (2006) and the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 (FRA) because the gram sabhas (village councils) of these villages did not give their free, prior, informed consent and people left under duress.

“A vital prerequisite to relocation under both acts is that villagers’ forest rights should be recognised, but this process had hardly begun in these villages, and many people did not even know about the FRA.”

None of the required conditions were fulfilled in Kanha.

“What’s happening in Kanha epitomizes the ugly side of the conservation industry”, said Survival’s Director Stephen Corry. “Thousands of tourists career through the park in noisy jeeps, clamoring to take photos of the beleaguered tigers. Meanwhile, Baiga communities that have carefully managed the tiger’s habitat over generations are annihilated by forced evictions.

“The irony appears to be lost on the conservationists. If India doesn’t allow the Baiga and Gond to return and prevent further villagers being kicked out, these communities will be completely destroyed. Evicting tribes won’t save the tiger. Tribal peoples are the best conservationists.”

In response to similar heavy-handed and misguided indigenous evictions around the world, Survival has launched its ‘Parks Need Peoples’ campaign, which challenges the current model of conservation.

The core demands are that conservation programs must stick to international law, protect tribal peoples’ rights to their lands, ask them what help they need in protecting their lands, listen to them, and then be prepared to back them up as much as they can.

Survival is now awaiting from WWF answers to a number of questions, including what steps WWF-India has taken to oppose forced relocations and “ensure that WWF-India is not complicit in this gross abuse of the rights of the families evicted from Kanha”.

It also wishes to know whether WWF’s activities in the area are consistent with its own promises on indigenous peoples, and ILO Convention 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

It has also asked the Tiger Authority to “act with great haste to investigate these illegal evictions, bring to justice those members of the relevant Forest Departments who are responsible for these illegalities and ensure that those who wish to return to their homes in Kanha are assisted to do so.

“We also call on you to enact a moratorium on any further relocations from tiger reserves unless and until it can be assured that all the conditions in the Act will be met in all cases.”

In a similar eviction in December 2013, 32 Khadia families were moved out of Similipal Tiger Reserve in Odisha state and were living in dire conditions under plastic sheets. They have not received the compensation they were promised.

Indigenous Forest News via http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10631

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

Commodity Boom Driving Deforestation

Industry Exploiting Resources At All Costs

By Nick Miroff, Washington Post

A commodity boom has pulled millions of people out of poverty across South America over the past decade. It also unleashed a scramble for oil, minerals and cropland that is accelerating deforestation and fueling a new wave of land conflicts from Colombia to Chile.

palm oil plantation deforestation

Now, as prices for oil and other commodities slide, economists and environmental researchers warn that the loss of forest cover may be hastened, leading to new clashes, as governments in the region try to maintain growth rates and spending levels by driving deeper into the jungle.

Satellite imagery of the Amazon basin, the world’s largest tropical forest and a critical bulwark against climate change, shows a stark divergence in the continent’s preservation efforts. In Brazil, the pace of deforestation has been reduced 75 percent since 2004, largely the result of tighter regulation and new environmental protections.

But in Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and the other five nations whose territories cover 40 percent of the Amazon basin, the loss of vegetation increased threefold in the same period, wiping out a combined area of forest larger than the state of Maryland. Last year, the pace of deforestation in those nations jumped 120 percent.

“Commodity prices, directly or indirectly, have increased deforestation in the Amazon,” said Kevin Gallagher, a development economist at Boston University who specializes in Latin America’s trade relations with China. “Price increases create the perception of scarcity, which pushes investors into new terrain,” he said.

deforestation and climate change

 

More than 80 million Latin Americans were lifted out of poverty in the past decade, according to the World Bank, which reports that as of 2011, “for the first time in recorded history, the region has a larger number of people in the middle class than in poverty.”

But a decline in commodity prices and a slowdown in the rate of China’s growth will sap Latin America’s expansion, the bank predicts, making it difficult “to expand the social gains amassed over the economic boom over the past decade.”

In several South American nations, the export bonanza has enabled populist leaders to significantly expand the role and the size of the state, by boosting social spending, developing infrastructure and taking greater control of major national industries.

Those measures have made leaders such as Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa extremely popular at the polls, allowing them to preside over long periods of political stability and economic growth. But those presidents have pegged their ambitious development plans to export revenue, which has been squeezed by falling commodity prices. The loss of income is likely to leave some countries progressively indebted to resource-hungry China.

In Ecuador, the smallest member state of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, president Rafael Correa turned to Beijing after his country defaulted on its bonds in 2008, and found a deep-pocketed business partner. Now, Chinese loans account for more than 60 percent of the government’s financing, according to a Reuters analysis, and more than 90 percent of Ecuador’s oil exports are earmarked for China. Much of the oil never reaches Chinese shores, however, but is resold by Chinese traders on world markets, often ending up in refineries on the West Coast of the United States.

But the recent slump in oil prices leaves Ecuador owing more and more crude to China, creating new pressure for the government to expand the drilling frontier in the Amazon. In 2014, the government auctioned off new sectors of its Amazon territory, much of it to Chinese firms.

 

Chinese road-building crews and drilling rigs will cut into ancient forests where indigenous groups and un-contacted tribes living in “voluntary isolation” have violently resisted the oil industry.

“The Correa administration seems intent on trying to drill its way to prosperity, which has turned what was once pristine rain forest into a natural sacrifice zone crisscrossed by oil wells, roads and palm plantations,” said Kevin Koenig of the group Amazon Watch.

“Now Ecuador is financially beholden to China, so it’s seeking to auction off the rest of its Amazon forests for oil concessions,” he said. “That could spell disaster for its remaining forests and the indigenous peoples who call them home.”

The struggling socialist government of oil-rich Venezuela, where the deforestation rate was the worst last year in South America, is similarly indebted to Beijing. But the resource push is hardly exclusive to the region’s left-leaning governments.

In Colombia, illegal mining, petroleum extraction and the expansion of the country’s fast-growing palm oil industry have contributed to deforestation and violence involving Marxist rebels, government troops and paramilitary groups often acting on behalf of landowners, according to rights groups.

Despite the simmering civil conflict, Colombia’s economy is the fastest-growing in South America, and the government has spent the past two years in peace talks with commanders of the country’s largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. A peace agreement could bring a flood of investment into extractive industries and exacerbate deforestation.

Peru’s economy expanded more than any other during the decade of high commodity prices, led by its mining industry. A new highway linking the country to Brazil opened a gateway for tens of thousands of impoverished highlanders to fan out into the jungle prospecting for alluvial gold. In a matter of months, their dredgers and mercury kits can convert vast tracts of green forest into lunar-like wastes.

With gold prices falling, struggling President Ollanta Humala has scaled back environmental regulations in a bid to attract new capital, while also pushing to open up more jungle areas to oil and natural gas development.

“Price declines and slower growth make nations more desperate, and they can be more apt to weakening environmental standards in order to grab at any investment,” said Gallagher, the development economist, who is the co-author of “The Dragon in the Room: China & the future of Latin American Industrialization.”

When prices fall, “countries and investors seeking bargain-basement prices swoop into the Amazon,” he said. “We can expect to see a surge in Chinese investment in the Amazon in this manner in years to come.”

Louis Reymondin is the main developer of a satellite imagery program called Terra-i, which is used by governments and environmental groups to monitor deforestation, and he said the technology offers a dose of optimism.

“The ability to monitor where and when deforestation occurs was key to support the decrease in deforestation rates in Brazil by allowing the local authorities to identify illegal events and quickly act,” he said.

“I think in most countries, the authorities are aware of the importance of Amazon forest and recognize the importance of implementing efficient ways to conserve it, or use it in a sustainable way,” Reymondin said.

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/south-american-commodity-boom-drives-deforestation-and-land-conflicts/2014/12/31/0c25e522-78cc-4075-8b21-31bcc3e0fddb_story.html?postshare=4601420117074373

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

More Murder In The Rainforest

Defender Of Ecuador’s Indigenous Rights Killed

By Alexander Zaitchik

At the latest climate change talks, indigenous tribes showed again that they’re frontline allies in the fight against deforestation and global warming. So why aren’t we protecting them?

A dark piece of news emerged at the U.N. climate talks in Lima. The body of José Isidro Tendetza Antún, a leading Ecuadorian indigenous-rights and anti-mining campaigner, had been found in a riverside grave near his village, his remains bound in rope, showing signs of beating and torture. Antún had planned to be in the Peruvian capital last week, where hundreds of indigenous leaders from around the world gathered to demand recognition and rights, as both defenders of the world’s rainforests and under-appreciated players in the effort to slow climate change.

forest tribes and forest conservation

The outlines of Antún’s murder were grimly familiar to indigenous activists. The spread of logging, agriculture and extractive industry into once remote forests has sparked social conflict under the tropical canopies of Amazonia, Africa and Asia. Rising native resistance is met with repression and violence, the screams from which don’t often reach the outside world. The situation is especially bad in the northwest Amazon.

News of José Antún’s death in Ecuador follows the September killing of four Peruvian indigenous anti-logging activists near the Brazil border. The group’s slain leader, Edwin Chota, had also planned to travel to Lima and use his famed energy and eloquence to help sound the indigenous alarm. Two of the widows faced down threats from local loggers to attend in his name.  

This jungle violence isn’t just a human tragedy or a local environmental story — it is global climate politics. The first days of the Lima summit — known as COP 20, for the twentieth session of the Conference of Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change — saw the publication of data that quantifies, for the first time, the exact size of the climate impact made by indigenous populations as front-line guardians of imperiled rainforests. The size of this impact, a kind of negative carbon footprint, is staggering. Nowhere is this more true than in the Amazon that begins just over the mountains from the just-concluded negotiations.

jaguar conservation and deforestation in Amazon

Land rights were a recurring topic both at the Global Landscapes Forum and throughout the 12-day climate change summit, as indigenous leaders called for countries to grant titles to communities that are awaiting legal recognition.

In the Amazon basin, about 100 million hectares of indigenous communities’ land still have not been titled, according to Edwin Vásquez, who heads the Coordinating Committee of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA).

Where land rights are not clear, defending forests against outsiders is dangerous for indigenous people. Two leaders of the Asháninka village of Saweto, in Peru near the border with Brazil, were killed in September, along with two other men from the community.

“The territories of Amazonian indigenous peoples store almost a third of the region’s aboveground carbon,” said Woods Hole Research Center scientist Wayne Walker. “That is more forest carbon than is contained in some of the most carbon-rich tropical countries, including Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

Walker is an author on a new peer-reviewed study, “Forest Carbon in Amazonia,” slated for publication in the journal Carbon Management. The report, released at the start of COP 20, details how preserving carbon-rich forests and protecting indigenous rights are two sides of the same climate coin. Designated indigenous territories in the Amazon contain 28,000 megatons of stored forest carbon, according to the study, which statistically unpacks the close correlation between titled indigenous land and the integrity of carbon-storing tropical rainforests. When granted legal protection of their land, indigenous populations continue to husband their ancestral environment as they have for centuries. “International recognition and investment in indigenous and protected areas are essential to ensuring their continued contribution to global climate stability,” said Richard Chase Smith, of Peru’s Instituto Bien Comun, a co-author of the study.

deforestation and climate change

That’s the good news — that the rainforest has natural protectors already living there. The bad news is the world’s governments, including some of the biggest rainforest nations, have failed to grant title to indigenous territories or protect them from loggers and state-backed oil and mining projects. “We have never been under so much pressure,” said Edwin Vásquez, a study co-author and president of COICA, the Indigenous Coordinating Body of the Amazon Basin. The Woods Hole study estimates that 40 percent of the forests holding carbon on indigenous are now under direct threat by the spread of industry. Failure to protect this land, the authors argue, raises the odds of “dieback,” a dreaded feedback loop scenario in which climate change causes wilting forests to begin releasing their own carbon. “Releasing the carbon currently at risk in Amazon [indigenous territories] alone — equivalent to clearing all of Peru’s forests — would increase the probability of Amazon dieback, with deleterious and potentially irreversible effects on the atmosphere and the planet,” notes the Woods Hole report.

Prior to the study, the correlation between indigenous land-rights and healthy tropical forests was intuitive. Now that it’s backed by official literature, indigenous groups hope the world will begin treating them as important allies whose struggle has global significance. 

“We have always known that indigenous peoples manage forest resources sustainably, and therefore are major actors in the protection of the Amazon landscape, but now we have scientific evidence that their territories act as barriers to deforestation,” said Ana Saenz, a researcher with Peru’s Instituto Bien Comun (Common Good Institute). Saenz is co-author of another new study showing that indigenous populations protect their forests even when they live in proximity to roads and other access routes to markets. But these cultures can only take so many cuts before they begin to bleed out and absorb the values of the encroaching culture, with its tractors and chainsaws.

Prior lack of hard data never stopped indigenous groups from attending international climate fora and pressing their complaints. Indigenous representatives addressed some of the first COP gatherings, and were soon sitting in as official observers. They’ve organized official events like this year’s Indigenous Pavilion and lobbied successfully for inclusion in treaty language. There are indigenous veterans of the climate circuit with more experience than the youngest negotiators representing major economies.

One of these veterans is Mina Susana Setra, deputy of the Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago, an umbrella group representing 15 million indigenous Indonesians. Setra says the crises facing the world’s indigenous communities are accelerating and converging, along with their response. “In every country, indigenous people face the same problems and share the same basic vision,” she said. “The vision is self-governance in our own territory, without violence or intervention, so that we can maintain our relationship with nature. Without the land, without the water, there’s nothing. That’s why we fight and die to protect it.”

This is not just rhetoric. A growing body count is evidence that indigenous activists must accept death as a possible price for their activism, set as it is in remote regions where state and private security forces often have free rein.

For throwing a floodlight on these two colliding trends — threats to the rainforests and violence against those trying to defend them — there is no better stage than the Peruvian government complex that housed the UN talks. Among the nine Amazonian countries, Peru contains the second-most rainforest, after Brazil. It also leads the world in parceling out its forests and land to the highest bidder: 40 percent of Peru’s total area, including most of its rainforest, is controlled by private industry, largely oil and mining. As any Peruvian activist will tell you, the country’s rulers have no patience for organized opposition to this Great Amazonian Sell-Off. The country ranks fourth in the repression of environmental activists (at least 57 have been murdered in the last 12 years) and shows an active contempt for the human rights and land claims of its 14 million indigenous citizens.

Along with land titles and the freedom to be left alone, many indigenous activists want something more from the consumer society that feeds on its trees and minerals. They want to transform it according to indigenous values, to help it understand why it’s better to live in a world without corporations that dump cyanide-laced mining waste into rivers where people drink and swim.

During an impassioned speech delivered to the Indigenous Caucus in Lima, a Congolese indigenous leader challenged his brothers and sisters to be more assertive in their interactions with UN diplomats.

“We must be more than just witnesses here, we must demand to be used for what we know,” he said. “The people in those conference rooms don’t know as much as they think they do. If they did, they wouldn’t be in this situation.”

Source: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/murder-in-the-rainforest-20141216

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

Peru Must Honor Promise To Return Forests To Indigenous Tribes

Indigenous Communities Promised Millions Of Acres In 2008

Decades of illegal gold mining have destroyed large expanses of virgin Peruvian rainforest into polluted wastelands. Excavations to separate gold flecks from tons of earth have left holes big enough to swallow a half-dozen buses.

Excavations to separate gold flecks from tons of earth created holes big enough to swallow a half-dozen buses. Mercury, a neurotoxin used to bind the gold, pervades the local food chain, reaching humans through the fish they eat.

deforestation and climate change

The ruined lands scar the southeastern region of Madre de Dios, a mecca of biodiversity where natural marvels lure ecotourists and where several tribes call home. Most of the destruction has been done by invaders from outside the region. Fortunately, thousands of them have left in recent months as the government cracks down on illegal mining, dynamiting mining machinery, dismantling brothels and cutting off gasoline supplies.

Agriculture and illegal mining are the largest causes of deforestation in Peru, said Environmental Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal on the eve of the U.N. climate conference in Lima this week.

rainforest destruction Peru
Areas once full of biodiversity in Peru are now industrial wastelands that pollute land and water. Photo by Rodrigo Abd, AP.

“It is terrible for the nearly irremediable wounds it causes to the forest,” he said.

In the past decade alone, mining has denuded 230 square miles (595 square kilometers) of forest in the Madre de Dios region, while poisoning the rivers with chemicals. A study released last year by the Carnegie Institution for Science found that 76.5 percent of people in the region had mercury levels above acceptable limits.

Peru is more than 60 percent rainforest and only Brazil has a larger share of the Amazon jungle, whose preservation is vital to mitigating global damage from climate change.

Deforestation and land conversion account for about 40 percent of Peru’s greenhouse gas emissions. The country has vowed to halt deforestation by 2021, and Norway in September pledged $300 million toward that goal.

Yet Peru’s stewardship of its rainforest has been questioned by environmentalists, and deforestation appears to be on the rise. University of Maryland scientist Matthew Hansen, who tracks deforestation globally, said preliminary data indicates that Peru lost an average of 770 square miles (1,995 square kilometers) of forest annually over the past two years, up from 490 square miles (1,270 square kilometers) a year during the previous decade.

As part of the agreement with Norway on halting deforestation, Peru said it would grant native communities ownership of a total of 19,300 square miles (5 million hectares). Environmentalists say evidence shows that that native communities are less likely to damage or destroy the areas in which they live, making them better stewards of the world’s forests than governments or private interests.

forest tribes and forest conservation

Granting that much land to the more than 600 native communities that seek titles will not be easy. Regional governments, many of which have turned a blind eye to deforestation-related corruption and illegal logging, were given jurisdiction over land titling in 2008. Hopefully, the pledges will be acted upon sooner rather than later.

Source: http://www.dailyjournal.net/view/story/c3b35d29a71742ee9b6b6ff253f9fb2b/LT–Peru-Ravaged-Rainforest-Photo-Essay/

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

Indigenous Land Rights Can Save Forests, Fight Climate Change

Majority Of Peru’s Timber Exports Illegal

Peru must grant further land titles to Amazonian tribes as a last resort to halting severe deforestation, the country’s main indigenous group announced. The government should award 49 million acres (20 million hectares), nearly 30 percent of its rainforest, to 1,170 communities, said Alberto Pizango, president of the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest, or AIDESEP.

jaguar conservation and deforestation in Amazon

Awarding “legal protection of territories” was the only way for Peru to curb illegal logging and meet carbon emission targets, Pizango said in a press conference in Lima.

“Indigenous communities need to safeguard 20 million hectares in order to slow the climate crisis.”

Peru lost 246,000 hectares to deforestation in 2012, twice the previous year’s total, as expanded agriculture and logging of hardwoods hacked away at the forests’ ability to contain global carbon emissions. Awarding titles to local communities would result in more sustainable forestry management and deter illegal logging, experts say. Up to 80 percent of all of Peru’s timber exports may be illegal, the World Bank estimates, and costs the Andean country $250 million annually, according to Interpol. 

The scale of the illicit activity was underlined last month when four environmental activists were slain by suspected illegal loggers in Ucayali, near the Brazilian border.

With the world’s fourth largest share of tropical forests and 10 to 15 percent of the planet’s species, Peru is especially vulnerable to climate change. In September, the government signed a $300 million agreement with Norway, providing financing to slow deforestation by 2021.

But with little beyond subsistence farming in remote Amazonian regions, the felling of valuable hardwoods remains attractive, especially considering an absentee state and patchy customs controls, as cedar and mahogany make it to prime export markets in China and the United States.

“The irony is that a poor villager wants to do it, given that the state doesn’t support them, nor help them to be able to buy a pencil or exercise book,” Pizango said.

Illegal logging has seen criminal networks with links to drug trafficking move in to regions, increasing violence and threats those who stand in the way. 

“Illegal logging opens the way for deforestation,” said Julia Urrunaga, Peru director of the Environmental Investigations Agency, adding that after forests are cleared of hardwoods, normal logging ensues in areas which otherwise would have been left alone.

Paths established in previously untouched areas exacerbate the process.

forest tribes and forest conservation

Peru has committed to award just 5 million hectares in titles to native communities, after more than 30 years of petitioning – a quarter of AIDESEP’s request – though the details of such a rollout remain unclear, Urrunaga said.

About 18 million hectares around communities remain untitled, according to the Safe Territories Collective, which spans 26 civil society institutions. The government is in the process of awarding another 5 million hectares in timber concessions but land titles wouldn’t be enough to contain logging on its own.

Providing communities with greater vigilance and building up the state’s presence is the “only way to safeguard the forest,” Pizango added.

deforestation and climate change

As Peru prepares to host the 20th Conference of the Parties summit in December as part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the country’s green credentials are under scrutiny. Pizango expressed disappointment that AIDESEP’s proposals have been referred away from the Peru’s cabinet, containing the agriculture and environment ministries, to the national ombudsman’s office dealing in conflict resolution. A reform package passed in July to spur private investment in its extractive industries came under criticism after environmental study assessment times were cut.

Source: http://www.worldbulletin.net/world/146936/land-rights-for-perus-amazon-key-in-climate-fight

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