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World Rainforest Report 38

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

Produced in partnership with, Inc.



"It's a shame the way that Rainforest Information and Deep Ecology get compartmentalised more easily on than in the old paper World Rainforest Report. Life flows seamlessly, let us do likewise. Those who knew us on paper will know that John Revington, the present able editor of WRR continues in a proud Rainforest Information Centre tradition of mixing philosophy with practical activism with this his latest essay. I commend it to you" - John Seed, Rainforest Information Centre Projects Director and founding editor of WRR.

Spirit of the Earth

A newly-posted Deep Ecology article by John Seed, first published in Yoga Journal, Issue 138, February 1998

New Amazon Video Available

You can order this inspirational RIC video on oil, rainforests and indigenous tribes in Ecuador.

ASIA: Freer trade = fewer trees?

Environmentalists believe that planned tarrif reductions on wood and paper products from Asia-Pacific countries would increase pressure on forests in the region.

Major Fire Tragedy in Roraima, Brazil

The fires ravaging Brazil's forests are of an unprecedented magnitude, as various estimates in the articles below put the area burnt at 4, 16 and 25 percent of Roraima. A line of fire stretching 250 miles (400km) was advancing in the north-east of the state. This is approximately 30,000 square kilometers of savannah and 6,500 of forests or deforested area in a state covering 230,000 square kilometers. There has been no rain in the area in 8 months, which is extremely atypical. Following are three articles concerning the situation.

INDONESIA: Forest Fires still going strong

Once again Indonesian fires are sending haze across the region. Following is the latest on the blazes...

American Legislature Approves Debt Relief for Tropical Forest Conservation

American legislative leaders have passed a bill that allows tropical countries to reduce debts to the United States by protecting their tropical forests. The bill must still be passed by the Senate. This is a fabulous step towards recognizing the global significance of conserving tropical forests, and freeing up the resources from developed countries to make this possible.

BRAZIL: Demarcation of Tupinkim and Guarani Lands ACTION

BRAZIL: Gov't plan to limit Amazon deforestation

Help Stop the Multinational Agreement on Investment (MAI) ACTION

The MAI is a global de-regulatory treaty being pushed by the world's rich nations for their corporations. Under the MAI, governments would have to accord multinationals the same treatment given to local companies, and if a multinational felt it was getting a rough deal from a government, it could take that government to an international court and demand compensation for lost business. It’s easy to see why the MAI has been called "NAFTA on steroids".

CHINA: Wood imports to rise

AUSTRALIA: Conservationists interrupt Parliament with Daintree Demonstration.

This morning (Wed Mar. 18 1998) conservationists staged a demonstration inside Parliament Chambers in Brisbane, calling for the protection of the Daintree Rainforests.

INDONESIA: Economic crisis and forests

An analysis of how Indonesia's economic crisis will affect the country's forests.

BOOK REVIEW of Shadows in the Forest: Japan and the Politics of Timber in Southeast Asia

BRAZIL: Highway threatens Atlantic Rainforest ACTION

BR-116 already one of Brazil's major highways, will become even more important as a vital link of the MERCOSUR free-trade area, joining the principal cities of the member countries. For this reason, duplication of the highway is being planned between the Brazilian cities of Sao Paulo and Florianopolis. Most of the duplication is being designed as a new road parallel and adjacent to the existing highway. This is very sensible, as it minimizes destruction of the local vegetation, and barely affects the wildlife habitats. However, a section of BR-116 crosses the Atlantic rainforest at a very vulnerable point. Modifications to the planned section are urgently needed


* Deep Ecotour- Jan/Feb 1998
RIC Projects Director Anja Light has just returned to Japan after a visit to RIC projects in Ecuador. With her in Ecuador was a small group of Japanese activists. This is her story of that visit.
* Mining Companies Leave Rainforest
The world's largest mining company RTZ, and Canadian mining giant ODIN announced in late 1997 that both would be abandoning their operations in Ecuador. The major daily newspaper El Comercio, reported that the decision was based on "problems with environmental organizations."
* Occidental vs. Secoya ACTION
US-based Occidental Petroleum (OXY), has been pressuring the Secoya people to allow the company to drill for oil on all 42,000 hectares of their traditional territory. Until recently, the Secoya, who rely heavily on hunting, fishing, and gathering to complement small scale cultivation of cash and subsistence crops, have prohibited oil development in their forest

Taxpayer Dollars Underwrite Deforestation in Africa ACTION

The World Bank plans to fund a 600-mile oil pipeline through Central African rainforests that will bring huge profits to Shell, Exxon, and Elf while causing environmental havoc and threatening local populations- all with U.S. taxpayers backing the deal. It is not too late, however, for the World Bank take a step in the right direction and reorient its energy lending practices, starting with redirecting investment in the Chad-Cameroon pipeline into a renewable energy project for the region.

HONDURAS: Loggers down mahogany timber despite moratorium

The people of Palacios wonder why laws exist if no one follows them

New Moves in Debt-for-Nature Swaps

Support for debt-for-nature swaps has emerged from unlikely quarters in the U.S.

AMAZON: Deforestation Rampant as Industrial Logging Takes Off

Following is additional detail regarding an increase in Amazonian deforestation. In addition to generally increased deforestation, there are a number of other worrisome trends. There has been an increase in industrial logging activity, much of it illegal, and the pattern is for more numerous but smaller areas of deforestation caused by logging in areas where forests are more dense.

INDONESIA: Forest Fires Spread on Indonesian Part of Borneo

The bush fires of Indonesia continue only slightly abated. While the official spin regarding blame continues to target peasants and agriculture, the intensive harvest to which Indonesia's tropical forests have been subjected provides an ecologically diminished landscape that is conducive to fire.

CAMBODIA: Cambodia's forest resources are being liquidated to fund warring factions

A reports by Global Witness, a British NGO.


* Govt. Allows Sustainable Logging by Indigenous Tribes
In a potentially positive move, Brazil has approved creation of the first sustainable logging project on indigenous lands in the Amazon. The challenge will be to make it work on the ground, and to actually succeed in coupling conservation-based sustainable management with maintenance of forest ecosystem and biodiversity values.
* Govt. Introduces New Environmental Legislation
Brazil has passed a new environmental law, which the President has stated will be rigorously applied. Though weakened by amendments, this still appears to represent a significant step forward.
* New Industrial Logging in Amazonas Suspended
In a major victory, the Amazonas state government has put on hold investment projects totaling millions of dollars put forward by logging companies from China and Malaysia. This outcome reflects demands put forward in March/April 1997 by the Action Alert written by Glen Barry for the Rainforest Action Network --5,000 letters were faxed from RAN's website alone.

Save a Piece of Slovakian Forest for $30 ACTION

The WOLF Forest Protection Movement are working hard in Slovakia to stop the loss of their forests.You can help ensure the safety of 21 hectares of natural beech-fir forest in the Ergov Mountains by helping WOLF to buy it. Link here for details.

Burma-Thailand Gas Pipeline ACTION

This action request came to us from the Asian Cultural Forum on Development (ACFOD). It calls for letters of concern about the controversial Yadana gas pipeline project.The 649 km pipeline, constructed to move gas from Burma to Thailand, has almost been completed. However environmental and human rights groups, with the support of international organisations, have successfully delayed the last section through a National Park in Thailand. The pipeline has caused widespread human suffering and environmental damage. Profits from the sale of the gas will be used by Burma's brutal SLORC regime to buy arms to maintain its hold on power.

AUSTRALIA: Daintree's Future Uncertain ACTION

Governmental neglect and destructive development could mean the end of the Daintree as it is today. Please help.

Join the call for a wildlife refuge on Sakhalin Is. ACTION

Please take a moment to look over this Action Alert coming to us from Sakhalin Environment Watch on Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East. The last unprotected old growth forests of Sakhalin are under threat from logging companies. But the regional governor has a unique opportunity to protect this territory -- covering 170,000 acres -- as a wildlife refuge. This would protect old-growth coniferous forests vital for biodiversity and salmon spawning habitat. Sakhalin was once covered in pristine coniferous forests, but pulp and paper mills built by the Japanese led to the systematic destruction of Sakhalin's forests. We must act now to ask the Governor to protect the last major refuge of pristine ancient forests.

New Research on the Impact of Deforestation

1. A substantial loss of biomass in Amazonian rainforest fragments.
When forests are reduced to fragments, those fragments are subject to stresses no felt by intact forests. As a result, forest fragments suffer a loss of biomass. Less biomass means more carbon is released into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. Die-back of trees near forest edges is believed to be a major reason for the loss of biomass in forest fragments.

2. Changing the vegetation on a landscape can dry out formerly lush areas.

The Christian Science Monitor reports on recent forest conservation research which confirms that changing the vegetation in a forest can dry out formerly lush areas..

UGANDA: New Gorilla Census

A new census of mountain gorillas has given scientists more of an idea of their numbers, but with an ongoing war in Uganda, the gorillas still face an uncertain future.

Eco-Disaster as Malaysia's Rimbunan Hijau Moves Into Russian Taiga

Russia has tendered its first forest area under long-term lease to a multi-national company. Roads are to be built into the Samarga River watershed wilderness near the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk, and open a large area of ancient taiga temperate forests for exploitation. The emphasis is upon raw log export. The Pacific Environment and Resources Center reports that the concession has been awarded to Malaysia's Rimbunan Hijau (RH).

BRAZIL: Annual Amazon Forest Loss Three Times Previous Estimates

A new report by the Brazilian congressional committee investigating foreign logging companies estimates that the Amazon rainforest is being lost at a rate of 20,000 square miles a year, three times the previous estimate. Twelve percent of the Amazon has already been lost and this comes as the threats are growing exponentially -- both from El Nino-induced burning and an influx of industrial loggers. The Brazilian government's own figures concerning deforestation rates are being withheld in what amounts to a cover-up. The Amazon, responsible for maintenance of global ecological systems, will be lost within 50 years if current trends continue.

UNITED STATES: America Deals with Facing Nature's Limits

The Los Angeles Times makes the point that America is having to face nature's limits, as 70% of forest watersheds are ecologically distressed and 40% of U.S. fish stocks are depleted. The case for prudent limits on consumption is made, while noting that failure to do so will mean greater anguish for (not so) future generations.

Greenhouse Conference - Politicians Squabble Despite Scientists Warnings

Without action, mean global temperatures will increase 1-3.5 degrees centigrade while sea levels would rise between 15-90 centimetres. Yet the world's politicians continue to squabble. ( for more info on the Kyoto conference, link here to the ABC's Website on Global Warming)

Potential Darien Gap Road Threatens "Motherload of Biodiversity"

Cable News Network reports on the continuously looming threat to the forests of the Darien Gap, where the forests of Central and South America meet. This center of biodiversity lies in the path of the last unfinished portion of the Pan-American highway.

1997: The Year the World Caught Fire

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, more tropical forest has burned in 1997 than in any other time in recorded history. These fires are indicative of wide-ranging and interconnected ecological threats facing forests and humankind alike.

Fears of a Fiery Amazon Nightmare

Recent scientific research indicates that the Amazonian fire hazard is much increased. Associated Press coverage of recent Woods Hole Research Center research indicates that the threat posed to the Amazon's continued integrity has "gone from a slow, incremental process of cutting virgin rain forest to a potentially catastrophic situation." The relatively recent incursions of large scale logging into Indonesia and now Brazil illustrate this fact, and pose a tremendous threat to the World's ecological well-being.

International effort calls for a Shrimp Break,

NICARAGUA - Turtle Wildlife Refuge Threatened ACTION

VENEZUELA- Major Decision on Indigenous Territories soon ACTION

Indonesia's Peat Smoulders Underground

The Environment News Service reports on the Indonesian fires. Though somewhat dissipated, the crisis is not yet over.

AUSTRALIA-Hinchinbrook National Day Of Action December 14th ACTION

Old Growth for Toilet Paper ACTION

Kimberly-Clark's Brazilian pulp supplier, Aracruz Cellulose, is logging in Brazil's Atlantic rainforest, one of the most endangered tropical rainforests. Even by conservative estimates, less than 8% of this forest is left. Aracruz has replaced the previously cut old growth forest with massive eucalyptus plantations, and recent reports indicate cutting is still going on in the old growth rainforest.

SURINAME: Forest Update

The World Rainforest Movement provides a detailed account of recent developments in the Suriname's rainforest conservation movement. The note the further intensification of forest harvest, providing many details of recent developments.

MALAYSIA: Malaysian Jungle Story:
Dam and Road Projects Threaten Rainforests

The recent South East Asian economic downturn has bought time for the forests of Malaysia and other countries facing rapid forest depletion in the region. Nonetheless, the mega-projects being put on hold may yet be actualized. The following article from the Earth Times details two such potentially environmentally catastrophic projects--the Bakun Dam and Fraser's Hill road project.

ECUADOR- Help save a forest

COSTA RICA- Help protect Osa Peninsula ACTION