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  • Archive for February, 2016

    More needs to be done to combat deforestation, says FAO report

    2016 - 02.29

    Advances in technology and an increase in understanding about sustainable forest management is the key to halting deforestation, according to a new report.

    The report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is emphasising the importance in extensive forestation monitoring and restoration.

    The findings, to be released during Asia-Pacific Forestry Week highlights concerns in the “unevenness” of forest covering has increased in Asian countries and also raises significant concerns about the future of mangroves, which helps in the protection of the populace from climate change, if they are not monitored more efficiently.

    Patrick Durst, Senior Forestry Officer at FAO, wants better monitoring to take place in some Asian countries, stating that while “the Asia-Pacific is the only developing region of the world to be seeing an increase in forest cover, the performance record is uneven. A few countries such as China, the Philippines and Vietnam posted significant increases in forest area but many countries continue to lose forest area at an alarming rate.”

    The report uses data taken from the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report and has found that mangroves, particularly fringe mangroves (which are found on small Pacific islands), will be susceptible to the predicted sea level rises that are anticipated over the next century, and will not survive beyond 2050.

    The interior mangroves have a longer survivability rate and will last until 2070, the report claims, which calls for a collaboration and joint efforts in ensuring the mangroves are protected and maintained efficiently.

    Daniel Murdiyarso, Senior Scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and co-author of a review of mangroves, said: “Despite the Asia-Pacific region being home to almost half of the global mangroves, we have to ‘turn the tide’ — technically, institutionally and legally speaking. A lot needs to be done. Coordination between government agencies and collaboration with fishing communities needs to be strengthened and more target oriented.”

    Organisations around the world such as Greenwood Management have been working for many years to highlight the lack of effective monitoring and promotes sustainable forest management. It welcomes the FAO's report and look forward to closer collaboration between nations to improve quality forest management.

    Community-based forestry showing great promise, report finds

    2016 - 02.24

    Community-based forestry is proving to be an excellent vehicle for promoting forestry management, and in turn, generating much-needed income for rural communities.

    According to the report published by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 'Forty years of community-based forestry: A review of extent and effectiveness', a third of the world's forest area is currently estimated to be under community-based management.

    The report also highlights several case studies taken from community-based management programmes across the globe, including those in countries such as Nepal, Mexico, Cameroon and Gambia.

    In Nepal, for example, forests had improved substantially following the beginning of community forestry. As a direct result of this project, the total number of trees planted increased by more than 50 per cent over a 15 year period.

    In Mexico, which has a long history of community forestry, up to 80 per cent of forests are owned by communities. These, in turn, benefit from strong commercial rights, which enables them to harvest and market timber products.

    In Cameroon, the creation of 147 new community forest management projects gives them the exclusive rights to manage and maintain a total area of 637,000 hectares of forestry.

    In Gambia, 10 per cent, or approximately 45,000 hectares, of forests are owned through community-based projects, which have several rights and income benefits.

    While the report highlights these success stories, it also warns that more needs to be done through further reforms and initiatives to increase their potential.

    Commenting on the report, Eva Müller, Director of FAO’s Forestry Policy and Resources Division, said: “What is missing in most cases is the political will to make it happen. Political leaders and policy makers should open the door to unleash the potential of hundreds of millions of people to manage the forests on which the whole world depends for a better and sustainable future.”

    Soybean cultivation in Argentina linked to 'massive deforestation'

    2016 - 02.22

    Argentina, the number one country in soy exports, is also responsible for millions of hectares in forestry loss, claims Greenpeace Argentina.

    Data released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) found that Argentina is among the top ten countries that destroy their forests. The FAO calculated that the loss has reached more than 7.5 million hectares since 1990.

    Satellite pictures from 2004 and analysed by Argentina's Secretary of Agriculture, Cattle, Fishing and Food have found a link between the cultivation of the soybean and the deforestation of Argentinian forests.

    Between 1998 and 2006, the deforestation happened at an average of 250,000 hectares a year, or one hectare every two minutes. Eighty per cent of this deforestation occurred in the north-eastern part of Argentina, where the majority of the soybean plantations are found.

    Another concern is the reduction in funds for forest protection by the Argentinian government. Just $16 million was allocated to the fund for 2016, 23 times less than other countries.

    Greenpeace Argentina claims that although a law was passed in 2007, the Environmental Protection of Native Forests Law, the punishment for corporations is tiny. The organisation is hopeful that a new law focussing on forest-related issues is passed, to change deforestation from a civil to a penal violation.

    Hernan Giardini, coordinator for Greenpeace Argentina, commented on the statistics: “We are facing a serious forest emergency. This has to end. To destroy forests is a crime, and it should be punished as such.”

    Organisations around the world such as Greenwood Management have been working for many years to highlight the concerns of deforestation, the importance of forest cover to wildlife, the environment and future generations. Greenwood supports Greenpeace Argentina's efforts to boost deforestation awareness and protection of forests in Argentina.

    Japan joins international fight against illegal logging.

    2016 - 02.17

    Japan will release satellite images for free, as part of an international effort to reduce illegal logging in under threat forests across the planet.

    The project, costing 500 million yen ($4.46 million) and being led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are expected to start publishing the data online from August.

    Japanese officials are optimistic that this new data will be useful to the many countries in Asia, Africa and South America who are increasingly struggling to combat illegal logging.

    Masanobu Shimada, senior researcher with JAXA, hopes Japan can “contribute” to the cause by monitoring forests by satellite.

    "These regions are home to roughly half of the world's forested areas, and the sites of many illegal logging operations. Forests must be preserved by whatever means in the fight against global warming," he said.

    Using Daichi-2, an advanced land observing satellite launched in May 2014, currently monitors the after-effects of natural disasters including flooding and changes in the terrain after earthquakes. It is capable of monitoring the planet, regardless of weather on a 24/7 basis.

    It is hoped that Daichi-2 will better its predecessor's, Daichi, which recorded over 2,000 instances of illegal logging in the Amazon rainforests between 2009 and 2012, significantly aiding the Brazilian government and helped cut back deforestation by 40 per cent.

    Forestation monitoring at decade high, research finds

    2016 - 02.15

    The growing concern about climate change has sparked an improvement in the number of countries monitoring their forests, a new study has found.

    The Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), which led the study, found that of the 99 countries assessed on their monitoring capacity, 54 had a "good" or "very good" rating in forest area change monitoring, up from 37 in 2005.

    In addition, statistics in the report found the percentage of countries ranked as "good" and "very good", with regards to forest area change monitoring and remote sensing capacities, has increased from 69 per cent in 2005 to 83 per cent in 2015. This is now resulting in a further 1.7 billion hectares of forest being monitored.

    Using the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's (FAO) most recent Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) the report assesses each country's monitoring capacities in overall forest area change, whilst also evaluating countries' abilities to carry out on-the-ground studies on a number of areas including forest biomass and soils. These results are then rated on a scale from "low" to "very good".

    The report also highlighted key issues and the need for improvement, with the most important issue being the ability to monitor and report on a forest's carbon pool. Only 15 countries listed in the paper had quality carbon pool reporting, which, whilst an improvement on three from 2005, is still far from satisfactory.

    Erika Romjin, lead author of the study, commented: "It's important to know how much and where forest are changing and also what drives processes such as deforestation or reforestation. Because if countries know this, then they can implement better policies, and they can start actions to mitigate climate change."

    Organisations such as Greenwood Management are increasingly aware of the need to work to protect our forests for a number of reasons, so are pleased at these findings, which highlight the continuing improvement of countries investment in forest area monitoring.

    Carbon capture boosted by rainforest regrowth, research finds

    2016 - 02.08

    A new study has shown that newly grown rainforests are capable of absorbing 11 times more carbon from the atmosphere than old-growth forests.

    According to a international team of researchers who collated data from 1,500 plots at 45 sites across southern and central America, many parts of Latin America would benefit hugely from regrowing rainforests.

    The research, which was published in the journal 'Nature,' also said that old-growth forests did still need protection as they were also capable of storing away vast amounts of carbon.

    New-growth forests grow in the gaps left by old-growth forests, such as forest fires or farming. New trees sprout up fairly quickly in order to make the most of the increasing amount of light and space. This means that they lock in a far greater amount of carbon from the atmosphere. In optimum conditions, new-growth vegetation could be able to sequester up to three tonnes of carbon per hectare per year.

    The ability of new-growth and old-growth rainforests to absorb and lock away carbon has a major impact on the work to mitigate the effects of climate change that has come about as a result of human activity.

    Co-author of the study, Lourens Poorter from Wageningen University, The Netherlands, said: "There is a potential for forests to regrow. You can either do that actively by planting but it can also be done passively (via natural regrowth).

    "What we have tried to do in this study is to get a comprehensive picture of how fast this recovery is in terms of biomass. If you have abandoned areas that have been used for agriculture, how fast do the forests regrow naturally and how much biomass has been taken up – we call that the recovery or resilience of biomass."

    The report concluded that, while old-growth forests are "wonderful," as they can store large amounts of carbon, young forests are crucial as they can capture a lot of new carbon and hold it within the system.

    Organisations such as Greenwood Management are increasingly realising the need to work to protect our forests for myriad reasons, so are delighted to see this evidence showcasing the importance of both protecting old growth forests and regrowing rainforests.

    US pledges to support Indonesia’s climate change targets

    2016 - 02.03

    The US has said that it will lend its support to help Indonesia meet its climate change goals.

    US Ambassador Robert Blake announced two new programmes which will help to boost the work being carried out by the Peatland Restoration Agency during the Environment and Forestry Ministry-sponsored Climate Festival.

    The programmes, both of which will be funded through the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s arrangement with Indonesia, make up a section of the US Government’s support for the climate change targets set out by Indonesia.

    Mr Blake was reported by the Jakarta Post as saying: “The projects will help restore and protect the country’s peatland areas, which have been threatened by fire in recent years, and when burned are a major contributor to the release of greenhouse gases."

    The first programme, known as the Berbak Green Prosperity Project, will work to restore the waters of the Jambi peat swamp forests. This $17 million programme will see the number of peat fires in the province dramatically lowered, it is hoped. The US Embassy said of the project: "The Berbak project will also provide training to increase production of local agriculture and will facilitate smallholder oil palm certifications and community-based palm oil mill effluent renewable energy systems."

    The second project will see three palm oil mills located in Riau Province be transformed into biogas power plants making use of palm oil mill effluent. This $13 million agreement will also help local smallholders to become RSPO certified.

    Both of the projects are part of the US Government's bid to support the country's commitment to lower carbon emissions and protect its peatlands. It also confirmed that a new range of projects aimed at lowering climate change and Indonesia's emissions has been launched recently through the US Agency for International Development (USAID). More than 8 million hectares of forests and peatland will be conserved and sustainably managed through these projects.

    “USAID will also help protect local communities from the effects of a changing climate and more extreme weather by assisting national and provincial governments implement effective climate change adaptation strategies," the body said.

    "These programs are a sign of our commitment to working in partnership with Indonesia to combat the causes of climate change and to help the country achieve its goal of reducing emissions in the future.”

    Great Bear Rainforest to be protected in new agreement

    2016 - 02.01

    The largest coastal temperate rainforest in the world will now be protected thanks to a new agreement between the British Columbia Government, forest firms, First Nations and environmentalists.

    The agreement will be rolled out as new legislation this spring and will see the area – which covers some 6.4 million hectares of forest land from the north of Vancouver Island to the Alaska Panhandle – protected. The agreement will see the vast majority of the old growth forest tract – 85 per cent – preserved, while the remaining 15 per cent will only see logging carried out subject to tight logging standards.

    One of the key objectives behind the new deal is the protection of the Spirit Bear, a white-furred black bear that calls these ancient forests its home.

    Premier Christy Clark told The Globe and Mail: "This is a singular place – a gift – for us to preserve and this is the biggest statement we’ve ever made about our commitment to that. To me, it’s an expression of our collective love of this land and this coast.”

    As well as being home to the Spirit Bear, these forests also house up to 18,000 local people, many of whom live in remote, poor communities and rely heavily on the surrounding natural environment for their livelihoods.

    Rick Jeffery, chief negotiator for the forest companies, said of the agreement: "The outcome is we have a sustainable forest industry for B.C., and a platform for us to march down the road of reinvestment in the industry.

    "Those companies gain a valuable green stamp of approval to market their products, but also the certainty of having partnerships with the local First Nations. Now we have this great treasure, the result of collaboration between First Nations, industry, Government and NGOs. That’s the big success," added Mr Jeffery.

    It is hoped that the new deal will create a template for sustainable economic development that may act as a global model for resolution of other land-use conflicts, including the disappearing rainforests in Brazil and Indonesia. The loss of these precious natural resources is an issue that Greenwood Management feels very strongly about and the organisation is pleased to hear that sustainable projects to support forests across the globe are being recognised as vital.