• About
  • Forestry Investment
  • World Forestry Update
  • Archives
  • Categories
  • Archive for September, 2016

    Sri Lanka PM: Mangroves key to fighting climate change

    2016 - 09.08

    Sri Lanka's prime minister has suggested that mangroves' ability to quickly absorb carbon makes the trees key to the fight against climate change.

    Speaking on the first anniversary of a project to protect the country's mangrove trees, prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe stated that the forests also provide vital habitats for fish and help protect communities from the impact of tsunamis and other natural weather phenomena.

    The comments come ahead of World Mangrove Day, when the country's president is due to open the world's first mangrove museum to be used as a hub for conservation training for adults and education on the value of mangroves for children.

    The museum is to become part of a five-year programme to protect the island's mangroves, which will include the introduction of mangrove forest conservation into Sri Lanka's national curriculum.

    Commenting on the programme, Ranil Wickremesinghe said: "It is my belief that the mangrove restoration project will generate much-needed awareness among key stakeholders such as the community, leisure sector personnel, tourists, and the general public."

    He added: "It is my hope that this will be the beginning of a long-term effort to sustain the mangroves for greater conservation benefit."

    Working in partnership with conservation organisation Seacology and NGO Sudeesa, the Sri Lankan government has surveyed almost half of the mangrove forests in the country and identified all of the 15,000 trees currently on the island.

    According to Seacology executive director Duane Silverstein, the US $3.4 million of funding required is justified by the benefits of the forests to the ecosystem. A recent UN report has estimated that mangroves store around 1,000 tonnes of carbon per hectare in their biomass and local soil. In light of these results, Seacology estimates that the 15,000 hectares of mangroves in Sri Lanka are removing 15 million tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere each year.

    India plants close to 50 million trees in 24 hours

    2016 - 09.08

    Indian officials have reported that volunteers planted a world record 49.3 million tree saplings on 11 July 2016 as part of a government initiative to reforest parts of the country.

    Completed with the help of 800,000 volunteers from regions within the state of Uttar Pradesh, the feat far surpassed the previous record of 847,275 trees planted in a single day, which was set by the people of Pakistan in 2013.

    According to Indian officials, the hard-working volunteers planted more than 80 different species of trees along the state's roads, railways and clear public land as part of the long-term commitment made by the government at the Paris Climate Conference in December 2015.

    Signed on Earth Day 2016, the agreement stated that India would spend $6 billion (around 4.57 billion) on reforesting 12 per cent of its land, which would increase the total forest cover to 235 million acres, or 29 per cent of the country's land, by 2030.

    Over the past few centuries, India has experienced a significant loss of forest cover due to locals cutting down trees for pasture and firewood, and in order to make room for development. However, India's government officials have stated that the country now understands the effort that should be made to reforest the country in order to counter the effects of greenhouse gases.

    Commenting on the government's plans, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav said: "The world has realised that serious efforts are needed to reduce carbon emissions to mitigate the effects of global climate change. Uttar Pradesh has made a beginning in this regard."

    As a company with a focus on sustainable forestry, Greenwood Management is inspired by those who use their spare time to help fight greenhouse emissions and encourage reforestation, particularly in countries such as India where emissions are a common problem.

    Peru sees increase in deforestation levels, according to research

    2016 - 09.08

    Cattle grazing is causing widespread deforestation in the Peruvian section of the Amazon reducing the efforts by neighbouring country, Brazil, to reduce deforestation. This is according to a report published by the Amazon Conservation Association (ACA).

    The most significant area of deforestation taking place in Peru is the Huanuco region, which lost approximately 20,000 acres of rainforest over the past year. The data, taken from algorithms of satellite data from the period of 2013-2015, reveals that of the majority of the deforested area, 87 per cent is used for agricultural purposes, with 70-80 per cent cleared using small-scale methods.

    But it’s not just cattle that is causing mass deforestation. Growing demand for cacao and palm oil, as well as oil, gas and minerals, such as gold and copper, have seen Peru increasingly turn to the jungle for development. Indeed, in recent years, Peru has built roads and highways through the jungle and allowed places previously difficult to reach to become more accessible, in turn enabling farmers and extraction industries be set up. While the economy has boomed, deforestation has begun to spiral out of control.

    Experts have said that one of the main reasons that cattle ranchers are moving to Huanuco, is because of its relative closeness to urban centres along the coast, as well as to the capital itself, Lima.

    Wilmar Plasencia, head of the Huanuco branch of the Institute Development and the Environment, said in an interview with ThinkProgress: “All the cattle raised in Huanuco is consumed in Lima or Huanuco.”

    He saw the increase to levels in deforestation happening in 2013 and believes migrants to the area are responsible and didn’t follow the systems set in place by ancestral local communities.

    “Communities often use an area as another area rests — it’s like a rotation. Land grabbers don’t have that, and they argue they have to cover their necessities. This is a loaded social subject,” he said.

    United Cacao plantation is illegal, claims new report

    2016 - 09.08

    A seven-square-mile cacao plantation has been declared illegal in the Peruvian Amazonian rainforest, according to scientists from the Monitoring the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP) group.

    Researchers from the group said that the majority of the operation is situated on land designated for forest activities and not agriculture, making the plantation illegal. The company behind the plantation, United Cacao, has recently come under increasing pressure from a number of action groups, including conservationists.

    The research by MAAP found that 92 per cent of the area that has been cultivated by the United Cacao plantation is protected as a Forest Production area. This means that the area is particularly useful for growing and regrowing forest. As a consequence of this, the land cannot be used to produce agricultural goods like chocolate.

    This is not the only time the plantation has been found to be skirting the law. Recently, it was discovered that the plantation was illegally clearing forests and displacing indigenous people from the territory. As recently as May, several organisations wrote and signed a letter to the London Stock Exchange (LSE) requesting that it to drop United Cacao amid legal concerns.

    Additionally, the Peruvian forest authority (SERFOR) released a statement condemning United Cacao’s activities in Peru. It claimed that United Cacao had not obtained the necessary approval and that it had illegally cleared areas. More than 2,000 deforestation warnings have been recorded from the plantation area since the beginning of 2015.

    The authors of the report said: “In conclusion, the vast majority of deforestation caused by United Cacao occurred in areas classified as optimally suited for forest production, where changes in land-use and associated deforestation are not permitted.”

    As a sustainable forestry company, Greenwood Management is concerned at the continued illegal activities made by United Cacao and urges them to treat and replace the forest area that it has illegally destroyed.

    Forests don't fully recover despite selective logging practices, research finds

    2016 - 09.08

    A team of researchers from the University of East Anglia has stated that there is no evidence that the total forest value recovers, even after selective logging.

    The team researched 824 areas of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest of both private and community owned forest areas. They analysed data from logging operations and determined that managing the logging that comes from particular areas was crucial for forest biodiversity, as well as for the financial wellbeing of local industries. In the study, the team write that “the logging history of eastern Amazonian old-growth forests likely mirrors unsustainable patterns of timber depletion over time in Brazil and other tropical countries”.

    Dr Vanessa Richardson, the lead author, said that through their research over-exploitation of particular trees was happening until certain valuable species were being over exploited to extinction. “We are only beginning to see over-exploitation parallels in tree species," she said. "Our research shows that many high-value timber species are logged until their populations collapse altogether.”

    However, Dr Richardson said over-exploitation is not inevitable, but rather that it’s a consequence of poor forest regulation. Previous research of the Asian markets found that current financial agreements also led to extinctions across global regions.

    Dr Richardson added: “Our study adds a Neotropical body of evidence to support this. We can already see a market shift, in which loggers in old depleted Amazonian logging frontiers are forced to depend on fast growing, soft-wood timber species.”

    According to the study, valuable Amazonian timber species are facing medium to high risk of extinction. Dr Richardson and the other researchers have urged national policy makers to “curb the largely unchecked tide of widespread depletion of the most harvest-sensitive timber species”.

    “Environmental licensing and market certification of logging concessions need to take this into account, and review minimum preconditions in terms of volumetric quotas of roundlogs harvested per species and regeneration standards over multi-decade logging cycles,” the study concludes.

    As a sustainable forestry company, Greenwood Management welcomes the report's findings and agrees with the message urging national policymakers to ensure timber species do not face extinction.

    Another leading global company sanctions IOI over deforestation

    2016 - 09.08

    Another company has taken to placing sanctions on Malaysian palm oil group, IOI Group. It comes after IOI lost its Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification due to deforestation in large areas of Indonesia.

    Bunge, the US-headquartered food company, has said in a statement that it would not seek any new purchases with IOI until they had set up policies to ensure that its affiliates cleaned up their operations and provided no further deforestation occurred in Indonesia.

    Currently, IOI is accused of widespread deforestation, particularly on the Indonesian island of Borneo, without a legal permit, as well as using fire as a method of clearing land to create plantation space and damaging peatlands, all of which are currently illegal in Indonesia.

    Bunge has requested for more information from IOI to provide a detailed sourcing policy that clearly outlines timelines and action points. It also calls for IOI to come out publicly and condemn deforestation and become committed to tackling the issues of illegal logging, as well as human rights abuses through their supply chains.

    IOI has already pledged to stop deforesting. However, Bunge wants IOI to go further and launch a dashboard, through which customers and the public can access information and easily address the grievances laid against IOI. In the statement, Bunge said: “We will continue to engage with IOI to provide input, assess progress and discuss broader issues related to sustainable sourcing and Bunge’s requirements and plans.”

    Bunge is the latest global company to sanction IOI, with Unilever, Hershey’s, Colgate-Palmolive and Johnson & Johnson, among others, recently moving on from IOI. Like Bunge, these palm oil users have either suspended future purchases or have cut off buying from IOI immediately.

    IPOP dissolves over pressures from government agencies

    2016 - 09.08

    The Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP) has been dissolved following a meeting with top palm oil executives, it has emerged.

    The pledge, which was made by six member groups, was promised in 2014 and vowed to clean up the palm oil industry which has seen rapid growth in recent years. As a consequence, there has been an increasing in deforestation and forest fires, something that the pledge promised to clean up. On the back of the news that the pledge has been dissolved, however, leading environmental groups have described the decision as a setback.

    Gemma Tillack, the agribusiness campaign director for Rainforest Action Network, said of the dissolution of the pledge: “IPOP’s dissolution is a disappointing step backward in the important fight to achieve truly responsible palm oil and is a significant lost opportunity for Indonesia’s palm oil industry to maintain its stake in the global market.”

    The dissolving of the pledge was first announced by plantations director at the Indonesian agriculture ministry, Gamal Nasir who said at the time: “This morning they came [to our office] and reported that they were willing to resign. We are very pleased and supportive [of their decision].”

    However, rumours about disbanding and dissolving have been around for weeks, with threats by Indonesia’s anti-monopoly agency to investigate the group over “cartel-like practices”. It was just last week that Nuridiana Darus, executive director of IPOP’s management team, denied increasing rumours that the pledge had been dissolved.

    While the pledge has been dissolved, the six-member group that was part of the original commitment collectively stated they would not roll back on their promises to reduce and eliminate deforestation. This also includes upholding the reduction of forest fires to clear land, as well as defending human rights throughout the supply chains for palm oil.

    UK begins action against timber companies from Cameroon over illegal logging

    2016 - 09.08

    The UK has begun to take action against 14 companies from Cameroon that are linked to illegal logging, according to Greenpeace Africa.

    Out of the 14 companies, six have been sent notices requiring remedial action, seven have received letters of warning and one an advice letter. The UK authorities have warned that sanctions will begin should the companies continue to fail to meet the terms laid out in the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR).

    Under the EUTR, companies that want to import timber into Europe must ensure that the wood they’re buying and sourcing is legal. This requires the company to have paperwork demonstrating the legality of timber all the way back through the supply chain to where it was originally cut down. Currently, this is impossible to do in Cameroon.

    Illegal timber trade is being targeted worldwide, and the amount of due diligence required by companies is on the increase. This is, in part, due to the amount of laws being enacted including the EUTR for EU countries, the US Lacey Act, and Australia’s Illegal Logging Prohibition Act. According to Washington DC based NGO Forest Trends, a total of 495 company inspections and 300 corrective actions were reported by EU and Australian enforcement officials in the past six months alone.

    In a statement, Richard George, the head of forests at Greenpeace UK, said: “This action by the UK government sends a clear message to the timber industry that illegal timber has no place in Britain.

    “Illegal logging is devastating Cameroon’s forests, and companies in the UK and other EU countries are complicit in this destruction by ignoring their responsibility to check the legality of the timber they are importing. Belgium and Italy, as the biggest importers of Cameroonian timber to the EU, must stop turning a blind eye to suspect timber and enforce the law.”

    As a sustainable forestry company, Greenwood Management welcomes the UK’s action on combating illegal timber trading from Cameroon and urges more countries to do the same.

    Conservation group calls for 'greener palm oil production'

    2016 - 09.08

    Conservation scientists, led by the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation group (ATBC), has called on more sustainability in the palm oil production industry.

    While acknowledging that Europe is leading the way in guiding the sector towards greener and more sustainable practices, the group declared at its annual meeting that more needs to be done.

    In the declaration, the ATBC group called for specific measures, such as greater transparency of supply chains, mandates for certified palm oil, increased engagement and collaboration between governments and the adoption of zero deforestation policies.

    The declaration comes off the back of a boom in palm oil plantations in South East Asia. As a result of this, the conservation scientists have pointed to the unsustainable production of palm oil and the development of plantations as a threat to biodiversity, an increasing of social conflicts and labour workforce abuse.

    Over the past few years, in response to the growing concerns of palm oil production, a number of the largest palm oil consumers, such as Unilever and Mars, have made commitments to enforce zero deforestation and human rights abuses from their supply chains. These companies are beginning to implement these commitments, often despite opposition from governments.

    The Montpelier Declaration stated: “We acknowledge and commend recent developments towards sustainable palm oil production. We also recognise that there remains much work to be done, particularly in increasing the demand for certified and responsibly sourced palm oil, and in integrating smallholder producers into certified palm oil markets.

    “The European retail and manufacturing sector can contribute to sustainable palm oil initiatives by developing pathways through which the smallholder sector can gain better access to certified palm oil markets.”

    Singapore Alliance firms to promote sustainable palm oil production

    2016 - 09.08

    Five Singapore companies have come together to create the Singapore Alliance on Sustainable Palm Oil, aimed at encouraging businesses to switch to more sustainably produced palm oil.

    The five companies, comprising of Unilever, Ayam Brand, Danone, IKEA and Wildlife Reserves Singapore, hope the alliance improves efforts to reduce and remove the slash-and-burn practices used in some palm oil production. The alliance is supported by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Singapore, which hopes more companies can be recruited to promote sustainable palm oil production.

    It’s due to these slash-and-burn techniques that Singapore is so affected by haze pollution, according to research. In fact, 2015 was the first year that Singapore was affected by haze pollution lasting more than a month and a half and schools had to shut over this period due to the air quality as a result.

    On the back of this, WWF Singapore launched the ‘We Breathe What We Buy’ campaign, which was aimed at highlighting consumers to the unethical palm oil production and to pressure companies into producing sustainably produced palm oil.

    Three per cent of all palm oil production is consumed by Unilever, one of the founders of Singapore Alliance. The company goes through 1.5 million tonnes of palm oil a year, which is why it’s important for Unilever to promote sustainable palm oil production.

    Unilever Chief Procurement Officer Dave Buch said of the formation of the alliance: “Together with its partners and peers in the industry, Unilever is committed to achieving zero deforestation with a long-term goal to source 100 per cent of our palm oil sustainably. Companies are encouraged to make a commitment and enable change by being a part of this National Alliance.”

    As a sustainable forestry company, Greenwood Management welcomes the formation of a new alliance aimed at promoting palm oil production and reducing deforestation through fires and hopes more companies will join.