Saturday, 12 March 2011

Conservation expert issues warning over Sumatra rainforest

Wildlife, ecology and conservation expert Jeff Corwin has warned that the rainforests on the Indonesian island of Sumatra will disappear in less than a decade if deforestation continues at its current rate.

Deforestation is threatening wildlife across the globe

In a talk on protecting endangered species at Monroe Community College in Michigan, Mr Corwin said that the situation appears bleak, as global deforestation sees a mass of plants, trees and animals the size of the UK cut down every hour, the Agora reports.

He stated that 60 per cent of all life resides in rainforests and that humans harvest 40 per cent of medicines from them.

"We know that we are about nine and a half years from all forests being gone on Sumatra," Mr Corwin told delegates.

He pointed out that chopping trees down releases carbon into the atmosphere and holds ambient heat in, which then radiates down on the planet.

One country stepping up its efforts to stop deforestation is Nepal.

Information minister Shankar Pokharel told AFP recently that four officials have been suspended amid reports that widespread illegal logging has seen more than 100,000 hectares destroyed in the last couple of months.

Written by Carolina Oberoi


Australia rainforests to be Protected

Rainforest conservation in Australia has taken a step forward this week, with two new national parks - Pumicestone and Tewantin - named as such in a bid to safeguard remnant forests.

Australia rainforests to be protected

Some 2,000 hectares were added to Caboolture's Glass House Mountains National Park, which has now almost tripled in size.

The move means that the 490 plant and animal species - such as the threatened black cockatoo, sooty owl, water mouse and wallum rocketfrog - will be afforded greater protection.

Tewantin - all 1,970 hectares of it - is home to the endangered Triunia robusta tree, while Pumicestone, smaller at 164 hectares, will now act as a buffer between the parks and Moreton Bay Marine Park.

Rainforest conservation Down Under could be of increasing importance as a new cancer drug - derived from the seeds of the blushwood tree - is now set for clinical trials, following animal testing that revealed no ill side effects.

Written by Carolina Oberoi


Indonesian Rainforests Pulped To Extinction

by Paul Brown, Environment Correspondent The Guardian - London

The Indonesian pulp and paper industry is destroying rainforest at such an astonishing rate that it will run out of wood in five years, according to a report being published today.

Environmental groups are concerned that rare wildlife, such as Sumatran tigers and a sub-species of elephant, in some of the most biodiverse rainforests in the world is threatened with extinction. They also warn western investors that they may lose hundreds of millions of pounds as pulping companies run out of trees to fell.

The report, by Friends of the Earth, focuses on Asia Pacific Resource Holdings Ltd (known as April), whose pulp mill in the Sumatran province of Riau is the biggest in the world. The British construction company Amec built the mill. April, which is based in Singapore, has borrowed heavily from western banks to finance its operations.

Wood and paper companies in Indonesia are given concessions to clear timber and are supposed to replace them with plantations of fast-growing acacia trees, so that the industry will eventually be self-sustaining. Between 1988 and 2000, however, only 10% of the wood used in Indonesia was from plantations.

According to the report, trees are still not being planted fast enough to save the forests, although April says it is on track to become 90% self-sufficient by 2008.

The World Bank estimates that 2m hectares of forest a year, an area the size of Belgium, is being wiped out - the same rate of deforestation as the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Somewhere between 50% and 70% of Indonesia's rainforests have now been destroyed, experts estimate.

The WWF (formerly the World Wide Fund for Nature) has just completed an investigation of April's activities in the Tesso Nilo area in Sumatra, where logging is banned and which is the most biodiverse area of lowland forest in the world, containing tigers, elephants, gibbons, tapirs and a huge variety of flowering plants. A WWF investigation has tracked 110 logging trucks from this area to the April pulp mill in the past two months.

"This company is renegotiating 1.2bn in debts with US, European and Asian banks while facing a crisis at home of running out of wood supplies," said Ed Matthew, joint author of the Friends of the Earth report into April. "This report is a warning to banks not to invest in industries like this unless they check first that they are sustainable.

"The company claims it will eventually get its wood from plantations but the numbers do not stack up. The company will run out of timber in 2005, a full three years before it claims it will be sustainable."

The report is the second by Friends of the Earth into the destruction of forests by illegal logging in Indonesia. The first, published last year, investigated another company, Asian Pulp and Paper, and the environmental group persuaded some UK paper dealers to stop buying its products.

This time Mr. Matthew is asking consumers to boycott PaperOne, the main brand of April, and the report names eight British merchants that stock it. Tony Vermot, the exclusive representative for April's products in the UK, said he could not comment. However, Roland Offrell, a Swede appointed two months ago as April's first environment director, conceded that large areas of forest were still being cut down. They would, he said, be replaced with plantations.

The company had 300,000 hectares of forest concessions from which it drew wood, he said. Some wood also came from clearing forest for agricultural land.

Mr. Offrell could not guarantee, however, that wood did not come from illegal sources, but if it was detected, loggers were reported to the police. The company refused to take any more wood from the culprits, he said, and was planning an external audit of the source of its logs to prove it was not using illegal supplies.


Reforestation Challenges

The Foundation’s Complex Issues

“The blame for the deforestation lies with those making the money from the illegal deforestation ...these are the ones who own the companies….it's a combination between the business people who have money, the people who have power and the people who control security”

Indonesian law states that no tree is allowed to be chopped down in Indonesia's protected tropical rainforests. But the law is not being followed and properly enforced. In Indonesia, every year, about a million hectares of rainforest disappear and the timber ends up in pulp and saw mills for illegally exported timber

The International wood market has for many years used the exotic woods from the protected tropical forests for the international market. European and western consumers should be very careful when buying furniture and to check whether certificates are authentic. Fake certificates can be often purchased so it is important to be sure of correct documentation
The World Wildlife Fund states that “Indonesia's tropical rainforest, as well as many unique species of flora and fauna, could soon become fully extinct”.

The Gunung Leuser National Park is the home of thousands of endangered plant and animal species and is one of the last patches of rainforest left in Indonesia. The depletion of trees and burning have brought this rainforest area to the brink of extinction
The depletion of the tropical forests is taking a heavy toll with regular occurrences of natural disasters by floods in Aceh, high tides in Jakarta or landslides on Java.
The cause is the always the same due to the disappearance of the forests along the waterways with their water preserving function.

The Foundation Challenge

Agricultural expansion, logging, mining and uncertain land tenure are the primary threats to the old-growth forests. Farmers are clear-cutting the forest to create permanent agricultural plantations while local people are using wood from the forest to meet both their basic needs and generate income.

Without clear ownership of property and ongoing sustainable rights, settlers and indigenous people in these regions have little incentive for long-term sustainable agriculture and forestry practices.

Rainforests are amazing and exotic places full of ecological and mineral treasures but continued unsustainable exploitation of these riches is quickly destroying the rainforests

The foundation challenge is to create sustainable management programs that will empower the local community to preserve the rainforest


Rainforest Damage

Indonesia is one of worst countries in the world for deforestation of rainforest. The Rainforest Foundation plans for reforestation combined with eco developments that will help protect and regrow the Indonesian Rainforest . The Foundation will work with landowners and other environment groups to protect the forests from illegal and destructive logging by reforestation programs and provide active employment of the local inhabitants

Greenpeace says that between 2000 and 2005 Indonesia had the fastest rate of deforestation in the world, destroying an area the equivalent to 300 soccer fields every hour. Greenpeace has successfully applied to the Guinness Book of World Records to have Indonesia’s status as the world Number One in rainforest deforestation acknowledged in the 2008 edition of the Book Greenpeace says that the citation in the 2008 Guinness World Records will read:

Of the 44 countries which collectively account for 90% of the world’s forests, the country which pursues the highest annual rate of deforestation is Indonesia with 1.8 million hectares (4.4 million acres) of forest destroyed each year between 2000-2005; a rate of 2% annually or 51 square km (20 square miles) destroyed every day

cleared_landGreenpeace says that Indonesia’s rate of forest destruction also makes the country the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gas pollution after the United States and China because some scientists say that up to 25% of greenhouse gas emissions comes from tropical forest clearance
Large-scale commercial logging threatens to cut through Indonesia's last intact forest, in Irian Jaya or Papua due to large-scale commercial logging.

"A handful of companies have wiped out much of Indonesia's forests. They must be stopped from finishing off our last intact forests in Papua. The Indonesian government must put in place a moratorium on large-scale commercial logging activities in the intact forest landscapes of Indonesia, starting with Papua, until national and local forestry policies have been reviewed, proper landscape planning has been conducted and a significant increase in protected areas have been established," said Emmy Hafild, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia

Figures from the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry show that at the end of 2005, the government has already granted Hak Pengusahaan Hutan (HPH) or logging concessions on 11.6 million hectares of forests in Papua to 65 logging companies

"More than a quarter of the forests in Papua have been sold off to logging companies. Each of these concessions (HPH) last between 20 to 30 years. If the Indonesian government does nothing to stop logging concessions, soon all of our forests will be gone," said Christian Poerba, Executive Director of Forest Watch Indonesia.

Much of the large intact forest landscapes peatland_destructionin the Paradise Forests of Asia Pacific have already been cut down -- 72% in Indonesia and 60% in Papua New Guinea - fuelled by demand for cheap timber by Japan, the US, the EU and China. In Papua New Guinea, the situation is desperate where 57% of intact forest landscapes are also covered by logging concessions.

Greenpeace recently released groundbreaking satellite maps which reveal that the world's forests are in critical condition. The maps provide evidence that less than 10% of the Earth's land area remains as large intact forest areas. New Guinea Island (Papua and PNG), or what is now being called the 'Garden of Eden', contains the largest remaining area of intact forest in the Asia Pacific region.

"These maps provide new, important evidence to governments of the need to improve ancient forest protection all over the world, and in particular here, where the forests are being cut down faster than any other on Earth," said Ms Hafild.

Rain forests create their own mini-climates as the water that evaporates from the rainforest forms clouds above the rainforest area. It will later falls as rain in another location. Not all of the water stays local but in the Amazon rain forest, 50-80% of the water remains in the local ecosystem's water cycle. When rain forests are cut down, much of the moisture in the ecosystem is lost, leading to droughts and further devastation of species.

Problems of Biofuel

Indonesia plans to become the world's largest producer of biofuel from Palm oil production from palm oil trees
This so called ecological redevelopment will accelerate the deforestation process as biofuel is considered environmentally friendly for the environment.
However in Indonesia, rainforest land is slashed and burnt to create space for planting new oil palms trees. Also companies prefer to slash and burn more forest for the purpose of planting palms than to use already cleared land.

More carbon dioxide is actually emitted in this process than is spared by using the eco-friendly fuel by this process.
The Foundation will replant some devastated plan tree plantations wherever possible.


EU Open to Ideas on Future Policy on Biodiversity

The European Commission has launched a web-based consultation to gather input from a wide range of stakeholders on policy options for the European Union's post-2010 EU biodiversity strategy. Opinions are sought from citizens, stakeholders, public administrations, business and civil society on a range of issues.

 The main topics include: shortcomings of the existing biodiversity policy, the new approach that the Commission is proposing, farming and biodiversity, the economics of biodiversity, as well as- biodiversity governance inside and outside the EU. The results will feed into the new strategy which is under development. The consultation runs until 22 October 2010.

Many authoritative reports confirm that global biodiversity remains under severe threat, with losses occurring at 100 to 1000 times the normal rate. More than a third of species assessed are facing extinction and an estimated 60% of the Earth’s ecosystems have been degraded in the last 50 years. In 2001, the EU set itself the target to halt biodiversity loss in the EU by 2010. Efforts to tackle biodiversity loss were subsequently stepped up, and an EU Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) was adopted by the Commission in 2006 to accelerate progress. Despite the efforts to date, however, there are clear indications that the EU has not achieved its target.

The consultation - Protecting our natural capital: an EU strategy to conserve biodiversity and ensure the provision of ecosystem services by 2020 – is open for input until 22nd October. The aims is to gather ideas and feedback from a wide range of stakeholders on possible policy options for the European Union's post-2010 EU biodiversity strategy, which will be assessed by the Commission as part of the process of its development.

Contributions are welcome from citizens, organisations and public authorities through the online questionnaire:

Voluntary Markets Moving Faster than UN Forest Climate Agreement

In the wake of the Copenhagen UN Climate Talks last December, and the build up to this winter's gathering in Mexico, it is national donors, individual governments, the private sector and NGO's that are developing and pushing forward the forest carbon market in 2010. So far, this action has come from international cooperation and the voluntary market sector. Simultaneously, the first verified REDD+ type projects have begun to emerge.

 REDD+ is a framework evolving through an international process, managed by the UN and World Bank, to compensate land owners, concessionaries and communities for avoiding deforestation and forest degradation over the long term. The acronym - Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation - is now on the lips of politicians from most developing world tropical forest countries.

Political support and offers of substantial finance for REDD+ projects was one of few positive outcomes from the Copenhagen Summit. This was followed up in Olso, last May, when 58 nations formed the REDD Partnership and six wealthy nations - including the UK - offered to inject $4.5 billion by the end of 2012.

Regions like South America, which has the largest area of tropical forest in the world, are not massive emitters of green house gases. As a continent which has tapped into its enormous potential for hydro electricity generation, over 40% of Latin American emissions come from deforestation and forest degradation rather than mining, industry or transport.

Norway's $1 billion pledge for REDD+ related work in Indonesia is the biggest single action this year. The World Bank's Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, established in 2008, helps to bring donors together with tropical forest nations, like Guyana, Costa Rica and Peru, initially funding the development of national REDD+ frameworks.

"It is at the level of projects on the ground - in the rainforest and with the communities who live there - that the real successes are to be found," claims Matthew Owen of Cool earth Action. "Our project with the Ashaninka communities in the Peruvian Amazon, for instance, has been conserving the forest for almost three years now, supported by private donations; the next step is to design and fund a REDD+ type project to take care of the Ashaninka forest and provide a sustainable income for the communities for the next 20 years. We expect to fund this with a combination of donations, private sector interest and international cooperation. It's important to adhere to international standards and methodologies - like Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) and Carbon, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCBS) - but there's still huge pressure on the forest - from logging and agricultural clearance - so there's no time to hang around and wait for international consensus or a regulated forest carbon market."