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World Rainforest Report 37

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Glen Barry, John Seed and Ruth Rosenhek, Co-Editors

Produced in partnership with, Inc.


MALAYSIA- Malaysia orders hush on haze

Malaysian academics warned off making public statements about the Indonesian fires.

PNG: Landmark Judgment Against Logging,

Cut and Run Operations Continue
The National Court has ruled that two logging companies in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea pay K2.3 million in damages. The Court found the companies guilty of trespass and unlawful logging. Whether this fine is enforceable has yet to be seen.

VENEZUELA: Govt. Puts Hold on Imataca Mining Concessions

Venezuela's Ministry of Energy & Mines (MEM) has suspended the issuing of more concessions in the Imataca Rainforest Reserve until after the Supreme Court rules on a plea to void Presidential Decree 1,850, which opens Venezuela's vast forest hinterland to mineral exploitation. Doubts exist over the number of concessions already awarded. The MEM figure is 257 contracts and 126 concessions granted by the current administration. Each government entity has its own figures, which, according to environmentalists, is symptomatic of the state of anarchy and corruption.
Source: VHeadline/VENews, October 29, 1997 (note: for further info see VENEZUELA: The Assault on Imataca)

BRAZIL: Worlds largest Rainforest reserve established

THAILAND: Tree-saving ex-monk needs help ACTION

An award-winning former monk faces legal charges as a result of his efforts to save a forest in north-eastern Thailand.

Link Here to Story and Action Request

GLOBAL WARMING- Support 20% CO2 ReductionACTION

A postcard campaign by NGOs involved in the crucial meeting on Greenhousee gas emissions in Kyoto in December.


Loggers Zero in on Guyana's Rain Forests

CNN reports Guyana, one of the few nations on the Earth with still nearly entirely intact forests, has entered the realm of commercial forestry. A vast new concession has commenced, with Malaysian and Korean loggers bringing their forest management expertise (?!) to this vast wilderness. Statements of intent to follow strict and careful management regimes aside, the company involved has a horrendous track record. It is a tragedy that known forest industry bad actors are being allowed to take on management of the last great rainforests of the World. Barama and Malaysian loggers: the World is watching you and you will be held accountable!

FSC Revokes Gabon Logging Certification ACTION

The Forest Stewardship Council's official certifier in Central Africa recently gave the Council's approval to a logging operation in primary forest. A worldwide outcry followed and the FSC reviewed its decision. Before the FSC's rethink, the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) called for letters of protest to be sent to the Council. Now that the FSC has reconsidered, RAN asks for letters of congratulations to be sent.

AMAZON: Greatest ever threat to forests

Cambodia Hires U.S. Firm to Stem Illegal Logging

Independent monitoring and inspection of forest industry processes may be a component of reforming clearly unsustainable resource liquidation, as has been the case in the Cambodian forest sector. Following is Reuters coverage of Cambodian government efforts to address illegal logging by a number of multinational companies and others.

COSTA RICA: Gold miners threaten environment, human rights ACTION

World Forest Decline

Forests worldwide are in decline. Following is CNN coverage of the forest crisis, including recent highly destructive fires. In the last 6,000-8,000 years, two-thirds of the world's forests have been lost. Remaining large, contiguous expanses of forests are being targeted for highly intensive forest harvest. The primeval forest wilderness is to be lost within our life times unless large-scale, commercial logging of remaining wild forests is firmly rejected.


Far from being over, indications are that after a brief lull, the fires have intensified. Here are four updates from various sources, brought to us by Gaia Forest Conservation Archives. It is interesting to note the range of estimates of areas burned, from 400,000 to over 1 million hectares. This is a major ecological disaster, which may be an indicator of what is to come if the world does not get its forest conservation house in order.

Note: The Gaia Forest Conservation Archives Indonesian directory has been updated recently . Check out:

ARGENTINA-Seaboard Co. Steals Tribal Land

US-based Seaboard Co. is violating the rights and threatening the very existence of the Kollas, a semi-nomadic group of indigenous people who have inhabited an area of the Salta province since long before Argentina was a country.

BRAZIL- Leader of Dam-Affected People's Movement Murdered

Fulgnocio Da Silva, leader of The Brazilian Movement of Dam-Affected People (MAB), is believed to have been murdered by drug traffickers. Da Silva was one of 40,000 people expelled from their homes in the dry northeast of Brazil to make way for the World Bank-funded Itaparica Dam.

Sarawak's Bakun Dam Shelved!

Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr Mahatir announced that Sarawak's controversial Bakun Dam would be "delayed indefinitely". The announcement was made as part of a package of measures to reestablish investor confidence in the Malaysian economy. The announcement vindicates the dam's many opponents who have long claimed that the $5.5 billion project would be an economic disaster, as well as being socially and environmentally destructive. It is unlikely that it will be possible to finance the project in the foreseeable future.

BURMA- Texaco to Leave!

Students for a Democratic Burma (PSU) joined the Free Burma Coaltion and grassroots activists worldwide in celebrating another in a long string of victories aimed at restoring democracy to Burma by isolating its military regime. Another victory came in January, when Pepsico pulled out of Burma after three years of consistent, rising grassroots pressure.


Twenty Ogoni men are in prison awaiting "trial" - framed for murder on the same charges that Ken Sarowiwa and eight others were killed for two years ago. Some have been in jail for over three years, and still the Nigerian government refuses to grant them bail, much less bring them to trial. Testimony by the 20 implicates Shell in their arrest and subsequent torture.

BRAZILIAN AMAZON: A Rainforest Imperiled

The New York Times recently editorialized that Brazil, the United States and Asia's forested nations "must abandon the view that the rain forest is only a commodity to be exploited for private gain." A number of additional interesting points are made, including calls for Brazil to demarcate, and thus protect, more indigenous lands, calls for a zoning system to be established, and for sustainable logging practices to be pursued. The need for a "muscular" environmental protection agency in Brazil is noted.

BOOK REVIEW- Slow Reckoning: The Ecology of a Divided Planet

In Slow Reckoning, Tom Athanasiou catalogs some of the ways in which denial of the eco-crisis and of its roots and solutions has become a practiced art at the government and corporate level.

Hell on Earth: The Rainforests of Borneo Are Burning
The heavily impacted rainforests of Borneo are afire. After two decades of intensive clearing (In 1966, 82% of Indonesia was covered by primary forest, now it is 55%), remaining forests are fragmented and the micro-climate has changed enough to tip the balance towards greater probability of cataclysmic fires. Fire is merely finishing the ecosystem destruction that out of control industrial logging started.

AUSTRALIA- Daintree under threat ACTION

The Daintree Rainforests are again under threat. The Queensland Government is determined to connect substantial freehold (privately owned) rural/residential blocks with mains (grid) power electricity. This could lead to tenfold increase in the population of the sensitive area. According to concerned environemntalists, the connection of mains power north of the Daintree River will destroy the Daintree forever.

Indonesian Fires- Logging to blame

El Nino-induced drought has been targeted as the cause of the devastating firest that have cast a pall over South East Asia, but the truth is more complex. Logging and clearance for plantations and agriculture are to blame.

Indonesia: Fires Illustrate Costs of Forest Ecosystem Collapse

For the past two decades the rainforests of Southeast Asia have been subjected to an unprecedented industrial rainforest harvest. The long-term ecological results of clearly unsustainable forest management practices are being realized as much of Southeast Asia is blanketed in life-threatening cloud of haze as the remaining fragmented and diminished rainforests are ablaze. Link here for an overview of the situation by Glen Barry of Ecological Enterprises and several articles on the fires


BRAZIL - Selva Viva Accused of Biopiracy

At the request of the Federal Public Prosecution Service and of the Office of the Attorney General of Acre, the Federal Court of Acre may expel the nongovernmental organization Selva Viva, created by Ruediger Von Renighaus, a Swiss citizen, from the state of Acre at any moment. The entity was accused by Cimi and the Union of Indigenous Nations of Acre (UNI-AC) of biopiracy.

NEW ZEALAND: Forest Decision Imminent ACTION

Australia - Avoid Kleenex Tissues ACTION

Amazon people speak against development

PNG Forest Industry Grievances

McLibel Defendants Appeal Verdict

The two McLibel Defendants, and most informed observers, believe that they won a great McDonald's in the McLibel case (see WRR37 or the McSpotlight website). McDonald's was found guilty of 'exploiting children' with their advertising, of falsely promoting their high fat/high salt food as 'nutritious', of helping to depress wages in the catering industry, and of being 'culpably responsible' for cruelty to animals. On top of that, 500,000 leaflets were handed out worldwide in the week after the verdict. However, the Defendants are appealing against the parts of the verdict in which the judge failed to find for them. They now await a date to be set for the full Appeal hearing - which may not be until 1999.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Maisin Landowners Just Say 'No' to Loggers

The Collingwood Bay area in PNG is on the cutting edge of development of small scale, sustainable development. Landowners there have restated their strong determination to not fall prey to predatory logging, and instead, pursue meaningful community driven development

VENEZUELA: The Assault on Imataca

PNG Forest Industry Grievances

BRAZIL: Logging Rights in National Parks up for Auction

Following is additional coverage of Brazil's plan to auction off logging rights in National Parks. Is there a future for undisturbed tropical wildernesses, or will all areas of the remaining rainforests be taken under some degree of management? What is the likelihood that intensive forestry management will lead to continued ecological decline?

Vanuatu Log Export Ban Repealed


US Forest Decline

COLOMBIA: U'wa Tribe threatens collective suicide ACTION

A tribe of about 4,000 Colombian people have threatened to commit collective suicide if the Occidental Oil Co. drills for oil on their land.

AUSTRALIA: Progress in Struggle to Preserve Tarkine Wilderness

Action Needed to Protect Congo's Forests

Laos's Nam Thuen 2 Dam ACTION

The massive World Bank-funded dam planned for the Mekong River in Laos promises to be an economic and environmental disaster. Find out how you can voice your concerns.

Action Alert- 42 Iban Arrested UPDATE: 42 IBAN FREED

The 42 Iban tribespeople who were arrested and beaten for opposing a palm oil plantation have been freed by a court in Sarawak. INTERNATIONAL LETTERS OF CONCERN MAY HAVE INFLUENCED THE DECISION.

Rainforest Fringes May Harbor the Engine of Evolution

Research at San Francisco State University suggests that transition zones between habitats, (ecotones), may be the primary force behind the marvelous diversity in tropical rainforests. If so, long-term continuation of all ecological processes will require enormous conservation set asides.

Activists Seize Illegal Burmese Teak!

Malaysia Denies Corrupt Forestry Dealings Claim

Colombia: Cocaine Spraying

PNG: Call for New Timber Enquiry

NGOs are organizing to resist 11 new timber projects now at various stages in the approval process. Claiming that forest policies are being flaunted, laws broken and forests decimated, the NGOs are calling for another Commission of Inquiry into Logging . Nearly a million hectares of rainforest are at stake here including some of the areas identified as highest priority biodiversity areas.

Visit to the Maisin People of PNG

In Defence of Chile's Forests ACTION

Western Australia: Giblett Forests Action Alert ACTION

Greens Stand with Nuxalk Nation to Protect Great Bear Rainforest

CITES Mahogany Compromise