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  • Archive for April, 2014

    Fire and climate change combination hitting Amazon hard

    2014 - 04.23

    A new study has suggested that the combination of forest fires and climate change could lead to a rapid acceleration in the mortality of trees in the Amazon rainforest.

    The report was co-written by Paulo Brando, a researcher from Brazil’s Amazon Environmental Research Institute and the Woods Hole Research Center, US. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Based on data taken from a field experiment carried out since 2004, which saw three plots in the south-east Amazon burned at different rates – one annually, one every three years and one left untouched – the report found that severe droughts could lead to dieback of forests in the near-term.

    Dr Brando told the BBC: “We burned both plots (fourth burn for the annual plot and second burn for three-year plot) and both plots responded really strongly to the fires. There was a shift in the system from a forest to a savannah-like environment… grasses were invading the forest and there were fundamental changes within the ecosystem.

    “To our surprise, the major effects were not observed in the plot we burned every year but rather in the one we burned every three years. This was because there was more time for fuel accumulation, and also it was because the productivity of that plot was still quite high, whereas in the [annual burn] plot, the fuel was being removed every year and the productivity of the system was reduced.”

    The team of researchers added that any efforts made to lower the rate of deforestation needed to be paired with initiatives to prevent land management fires spreading into adjoining forest reserves.

    Forests are already forced to endure numerous threats such as fires and illegal logging, so it is vital that we all help to ensure their survival for generations to come, as ethical companies including Greenwood Management are already doing.

    Schwarzenegger accused of investing in firm linked to deforestation

    2014 - 04.02

    Allegations have been levied against Arnold Schwarzenegger in regards to a stake he once held in an investment fund, which was reportedly linked to rainforest logging.

    The Terminator actor and former Governor of California was said to have held more than £606,000 worth of stock in the £204 billion Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA) until 2011.

    According to new research by campaign group Global Witness, the investment firm holds £104 million worth of shares in 20 of the 50 largest logging companies, many of which are responsible for logging South America’s rainforests.

    Mr Schwarzenegger pushed anti-global warming legislation during his time as Governor and also helped to implement the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force, which worked to lower deforestation in Indonesia and Brazil.

    Andrew Simms, chief analyst of Global Witness’s environmental programme, told The Independent: “The industrial-scale deforestation caused by some of the companies that Mr Schwarzenegger profits from accelerates the climate change that he wants to stop. In environmental terms, it’s a weaponised contradiction”.

    Global Witness has said that the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global removed its investment from at least four of the companies that had shares in DFA. This was said to be as a result of the “unacceptable risk” that each firm was “responsible for severe environmental damage”.

    The campaign group added that DFA also had shares in other companies that had been linked to destructive or illegal practices relating to the environment.

    Ethical companies such as Greenwood Management are among those working on a global level to reduce deforestation and it is essential that we all do our bit to ensure that the forest is protected for generations to come.