Orangutan Conservationists Can’t Stop Deforestation

Sustainable Palm Oil Wiping Out Biodiversity

A population trend analysis of Bornean orangutans reveals that, despite decades of conservation work, the species is declining rapidly – at a rate of 25 percent over the past 10 years.

University of Queensland School of Biological Sciences researcher Dr Truly Santika, an Indonesian statistician and researcher at the ARC Centre of Centre for Environmental Decisions (CEED), led the study on the critically endangered Bornean orangutans.

Analyses show declines are particularly pronounced in West and Central Kalimantan, but even in relatively well protected areas, such as the Malaysian State of Sabah, the rate of decline is still 21.3 percent.

Every year US$30-40 million is invested by governmental and non-governmental organizations to halt the decline of wild populations. The study shows that these funds are not effectively spent.

deforestation and climate change

Dr Santika said, for many threatened species, the rate and drivers of population decline were difficult to accurately assess.

“Our study used advanced modeling techniques that allowed the combination of different survey methods, including helicopter surveys, traditional ground surveys, and interviews with local communities,” Dr Santika said.

CEED Director Professor Kerrie Wilson said the new approach facilitated the break-through and, for the first time, enabled researchers to determine population trends of the species over time.

She described the study, conducted by a group of some 50 Indonesian, Malaysian, and international researchers, as “a wake-up call” for the orangutan conservation community and the Indonesian and Malaysian governments who had committed to saving the species.

One of the study’s initiators, UQ Honorary Professor Erik Meijaard said that the study’s worrying outcomes suggested the need to fundamentally rethink orangutan conservation strategies.

“The biggest threats of habitat loss and killing are not effectively addressed, despite government commitments through national action plans,” he said.

“The focus of orangutan conservation is on rescues and rehabilitation, but that only addresses the symptoms and not the underlying problem.”

According to Dr Marc Ancrenaz, a Sabah-based orangutan scientist and contributor to the study, there is hope for orangutans, despite the negative trends that the study demonstrates.

palm oil and orangutans

“As we learn more about orangutans we come to understand that the species is ecologically much more versatile than previously thought,” he said.

“Orangutans can survive in multifunctional landscapes, which includes plantations and agricultural lands. But they are very slow breeders and much more needs to be done to reduce killing rates.”

Previous studies have indicated up to 2,500 orangutans are killed annually on Borneo in conflict situations or by hunters looking for food, explaining a considerable part of the orangutan’s decline.

“Inappropriate land use planning is another major factor,” Professor Meijaard said.

“For example, 10,000 orangutans presently occur in areas that have been allocated by national and local governments to oil palm development.

“If these areas are converted to plantations without changes in current practices, most of these animals will be destroyed and the steep population decline is likely to continue.

palm oil plantation deforestation

“Viable populations of large roaming animals such as the orangutan require a network of protected forests that are properly managed, and sustainable practices outside of these protected areas.”

Biodiversity News via University of Queensland.

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.

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

CITES Fails On Elephant Conservation

Nations Fail To Give Elephants Maximum Legal Protections

Africa has lost more than a third of its wild elephants to poachers in the past decade. The next decade might be their last without global interventions.

Unfortunately, a bid to give the highest level of international legal protection to all African elephants was defeated on Monday at the CITES wildlife summit. The EU played a pivotal role in blocking the proposal, which was fought over by rival groups of African nations.

elephant conservation Africa

But the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), meeting this week in Johannesburg, passed other new measures for elephants that conservationists say will add vital protection.

All 182 nations agreed for the first time that legal ivory markets within nations must be closed. Separately, a process that could allow one-off sales of ivory stockpiles was killed and tougher measures to deal with nations failing to control poached ivory were agreed.

More than 140,000 of Africa’s savannah elephants were killed for their ivory between 2007 and 2014, wiping out almost a third of their population, and one elephant is still being killed by poachers every 15 minutes on average. The price of ivory has soared threefold since 2009, leading conservationists to fear the survival of the species is at risk.

The debate over elephant poaching has split African countries. Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, which host about a third of all remaining elephants, have stable or increasing populations. They argue passionately that elephant numbers are also suffering from loss of habitat and killings by farmers and that they can only be protected by making money from ivory sales and trophy hunting.

elephant conservation Africa

However, a group of 29 African nations, which host about 40 percent of all elephants and are led by Kenya and Benin, have smaller and plummeting populations and countered that poaching and the illegal trade in ivory is the greatest threat.

Most African elephants already have the highest level of international legal protection – a Cites “appendix 1” listing – which bans all trade. But the elephants in Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana, are listed on “appendix 2”, a lower level of protection. On Monday a proposal to add the elephants in Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana to appendix 1 was defeated.

Tshekedi Khama, Botswana’s minister of environment, said: “There is concerning evidence that elephant poaching is moving south. The criminal networks that facilitate much of this trade are highly organized and fluid, operating over several regions in the continent. Therefore no population should be considered secure. Put simply, a threat to elephants anywhere is a threat to elephants everywhere.”

The Cote D’Ivoire delegate said it was absurd to have some elephants on appendix 1 and some on appendix 2: “An elephant that crosses a border may have protection on one side and not on the other. Elephants do not have passports.”

Lee White, the British-born director of Gabon’s national parks and Cites delegate, said poachers were now shooting on sight at his rangers. The upgrading of all elephants to the highest protection would have sent “a signal that we will come down as hard on poaching as we do on the trafficking of drugs, arms and people”.

ivory traffickers Tanzania

However, Namibia’s delegate threatened to withdraw entirely from Cites protections for elephants if the all populations were upgraded the highest levels. “It is completely fallacious that legal ivory trade covers illegal trade,” he said, a statement flatly rejected by other nations.

South Africa’s environment minister, Edna Molewa, said rural communities must benefit from elephants if they are to tolerate the damage caused to crops and the lives sometimes lost. “We dare not ignore their voices,” she said. “Trophy hunting is the best return on investment [in elephant protection] with the least impact.”

The EU, which with 28 votes is a powerful force at Cites, also opposed the upgrade to appendix 1. It said that Cites rules meant the highest level protection is reserved for populations that are in steep decline, and that this did not apply to the elephants in Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana.

Some scientific and conservation groups agreed with this, including WWF, Traffic and the Zoological Society of London, arguing the integrity of the Cites was at risk.

The issue was forced to a vote and was defeated, leaving the southern African elephants on appendix 2. Earlier on Monday, Namibia and Zimbabwe had attempted to legalize the trade in ivory from those countries.

Namibia said its elephant population had doubled to 20,000 in the last 15 years. Charles Jonga, from the Campfire Program, a rural development group in Zimbabwe, told the Cites summit: “The people in my community say: ‘These elephants they eat our crops, they damage our houses, what benefit do we get?’ If they get benefits, they will protect and not poach.”

But Patrick Omondi, Kenya’s delegate, said: “Poaching levels and trafficking in ivory are at their highest peak. History has shown the ivory trade cannot be controlled. We are reaching a tipping point and need to give elephants time to recover.”

Both Namibia’s and Zimbabwe’s proposals, supported by Japan but opposed by the EU and US, were soundly defeated. Observers believe Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa did not expect to unpick the ban on the ivory trade at this summit, but wanted to keep the debate open, in the hope of future success. Another proposal, from Swaziland, to legalize the trade in its rhino horn was heavily defeated.

Africa wildlife conservation

Many conservation groups wanted all elephants to get the highest protection, but Tom Milliken, an elephant expert from wildlife trade monitoring group Traffic, said: “Where elephants fall on the Cites appendices is inconsequential to their survival. All the paper protection in the world is not going to compensate for poor law enforcement, rampant corruption and ineffective management.”

He said the real success of the summit were measures to crack down on countries failing to halt illegal trade.

But Kelvin Alie, at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said the failure to put all elephants on appendix one was a disaster: “This is a tragedy for elephants. At a time when we are seeing such a dramatic increase in the slaughter of elephants for ivory, now was the time for the global community to step up and say no more.”

Elephant Conservation Update via https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/03/bid-for-stronger-protection-for-all-african-elephants-defeated-at-wildlife-summit

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

African Elephant Census Paints Bleak Picture

The Push Toward Extinction Gaining Momentum

Results of a new survey reveal that Africa’s savannah elephants are going fast. The Great Elephant Census estimates that about 352,000 elephants remain—down from previous estimates of 419,000 to 650,000 elephants in 2013. The authors estimate that they recorded 93 percent of all savannah elephants. Elephants in Africa are threatened by poaching for their ivory, habitat loss and human encroachment and conflict.

elephant conservation Africa

“The statistics are frightening, and I hope they shock people out of their apathy so we can stem the tide,” said Mike Chase, founder of Elephants Without Borders, the group that oversaw the $7 million project.

A team that included 90 researchers from governments and conservation groups collectively flew 288,000 miles of aerial surveys — the equivalent of circling the globe almost a dozen times. They covered 18 countries, focusing on the national parks, refuges and range lands that are home to 93 percent of savanna elephants. Even in protected areas, researchers found many carcasses of elephants killed by poachers.

If the rate of decline continues at the current level of 8 percent per year, the continent will lose half its elephants within nine years and some populations could be wiped out, Chase said.

But the survey also uncovered some bright spots. Elephant numbers in Uganda more than quadrupled since the late 1980s. In Botswana, which is home to Africa’s largest elephant population, numbers held steady in many areas. And in a little-known park complex in Western Africa where the researchers expected to find perhaps 1,000 animals, they counted a thriving population of 9,000.

“The Great Elephant Census is an amazing feat of technology and science working together for wildlife — but these results are shocking,” said Tanya Sanerib, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Elephant populations in Africa are declining at an alarming rate and more severely than we anticipated.”

Tanzania wildlife conservation

“The data now clearly show that if we don’t act immediately to stop poaching, close ivory markets and extend the strictest protections to elephants, we’ll lose these iconic creatures forever,” Sanerib continued.

The survey results do not include Namibia (which refused to release its survey results but is estimated to have more than 22,000 elephants, bringing the total to 375,000 elephants) or South Sudan and the Central African Republic, where surveys could not be completed due to armed conflict. The surveys were only conducted for savannah elephants and did not include forest elephants, a separate and smaller species inhabiting west and central Africa. Forest elephants could not be surveyed using the same aerial techniques due to the forested ecosystems they inhabit.

“Forest elephant populations are already known to be decreasing at alarming rates and now the Great Elephant Census has revealed that savannah elephants are in the same boat,” Sanerib concluded. “A world without elephants would be a very sad place and it’s time for international action on the ivory trade to make sure we never live in that world.”

forest elephants Arabuko Sokoke Kenya

Now, it’s up to individual nations and international regulators like CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, to crack down on poaching and protect elephants, Chase said.

“The Great Elephant Census holds us to account,” he said. “We can no longer use ignorance about elephant numbers to avoid action.”

In addition to the threat from poachers, elephants and other endangered species are losing critical habitat to expanding human populations. The battle over land use and water will play an increasing role with every passing day.

Africa drought and wildlife conservation

The Save Kilimanjaro program is an initiative of the Mellowswan Foundation Africa Tanzania. It will help reforest the ecosystem, while promoting forest conservation, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. It will generate food and income for men and women in the region. For more information, please contact us.

Please visit and share our online campaign.

climate change and deforestation

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

Deforestation 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

Indonesia Vows To Fight Deforestation

Bans New Palm Oil Plantations

By Ben Otto, Wall Street Journal

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

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

palm oil plantation deforestation

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

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

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

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

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

deforestation and climate change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

climate change and deforestation

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

Indonesia Forest Fires Threaten Wildlife, Communities

Land Clearing Considered Greatest Environmental Crime Of Our Time

By Nadia Drake, Nature

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

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

endangered species conservation and forest conservation

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

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

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

Indonesia forest fires palm oil plantations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

climate change and deforestation

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

Logging Taking Toll On Alaska’s Tongass Wolves

Tongass National Forest Shredded By Clear-Cutting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tongass National Forest logging

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

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

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

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

Wolf conservation Tongass National Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wolf conservation Tongass

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

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

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

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

climate change and deforestation

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

Community Empowerment Can Reduce Elephant Poaching

Community Conservation Strategies Can Save Wildlife

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

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

wildlife conservation and deforestation

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

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

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

forest conservation Africa

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

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

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

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

lion conservation Africa

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

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

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

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

climate change and deforestation

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