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Glen Barry, John Seed and Ruth Rosenhek, Co-Editors
Produced in partnership with Forests.org, Inc.
AMAZON: Greenpeace Launches Global Amazon Campaign
Greenpeace is re-energizing its Amazon campaign, realizing that the type of corporate plundering of rainforests playing itself out around the world is heading squarely to the Amazon. Let's hope that Greenpeace finds a niche, which complements existing efforts, while bringing their brand of radicalism into the mix. g.b.
GABON: Pristine African Rainforest Threatened by French
The most important ecological core area of the primeval Ipassa-Mingouli forest in Gabon, Central Africa is being logged with a vengeance. Please respond to Rainforest Action Network's request for letters to the company doing the damage. For additional background information go to the Ipassa-Mingouli Project Website .
COLOMBIA / USA: Mother of murdered activist condemns push for militarism
In early March this year, three foreigners campaigning in Colombia against oil exploration by Occidental Petroleum on the land of the U'wa were murdered by left-wing guerrillas (Link here for story). One of those murdered was Terry Freitas, a long-time campaigner for the rights of the U'wa tribe. The following letter by his mother was published in the Washington Post on May 22.
ECUADOR / USA: Environmental Group Advertises Texaco Case
An Ecuadorean environmental group, The Committee for the Defence of the Amazon, which has accused Texaco Inc of dumping toxic waste in the country, launched a media campaign to keep alive its long-running campaign against the U.S. oil company. For more info, see this article and the Committee's website at www.texacorainforest.org
PNG: World's Third Largest Remaining Rainforest Threatened ACTION
While only 22% of the Earth's original forests remain intact worldwide, PNG has retained at least 75% of its original forest cover. The government of PNG is poised to alter this picture, however, with a series of decisions designed to accelerate logging in PNG's remaining forests. -- A RAN Action Alert
BOREAL FORESTS EMIT CO2
A two-year study by a Swedish University (Global Change Biology 1998) found that the forests in central Sweden acted as a source of CO2 during the study period and that closed forests are highly sensitive to changes in temperature. The research adds to concerns that carbon sinks may not be a wise long term option for off-setting fossil fuel emissions. It appears these sinks may not be stable enough stores of CO2 and can even become sources of greenhouse emissions. - Climate Action Network Australia, 5/5/99
CAMEROON: EU funding rainforest destruction with taxpayers' money ACTION
Your protest is important!
Two Action Alerts on a European Union plan to fund road building in Cameroon. No environmental impact assessments are planned and if past experience is any indication, the roads are likely to encourage loggers and poachers, with devastating results for the pygmies who inhabit the forests, and for gorillas, chimps and other species.
HAWAII: Maui Airport Expansion Threatens Native Forest Fragments ACTION
The greatest threat to native ecosystems on Maui comes from invading exotic species. A proposed runway extension at Maui's Kahului airport would greatly increase that threat. Please help by responding to the "What You Can Do" section at the end of this article.
AFRICA: Chad-Cameroon PipelineACTION
U.S. Specific ACTION ALERT!! Ask your Member of Congress to sign on by May 20, 1999
The World Bank is poised to subsidize multinational oil companies operating in Africa for a project which will result in irreversible environmental impacts in Cameroon and is already associated with human rights abuses in Chad. It will divert World Bank money from much needed health, education, and poverty alleviation projects.
Blueprint to Address Global Forest Crisis Presented by Former Top World Leaders
The World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development has released its final report, claiming "We can satisfy the world's material needs from forests without jeopardizing their ecological services". The Commission includes some world leaders with dubious records in forest management. Co-Chairman Dr. Emil Salim is a former Minister of Environment in Indonesia, a country with a lamentable record in forest conservation. Mr. B.C.Y Freezailah of Malaysia, a member of the Commission, has presided over the International Tropical Timber Organisation's farcical attempts to reconcile logging and conservation of tropical forests. Nevertheless, the Commission makes some appropriate recommendations.
First Loggers, Then Bushmeat Hunters Strip the Rainforests
It is well-known that logging roads punched into formerly inaccessible rainforests have caused massive deforestation by providing access to shifting cultivators. This study shows that logging has also resulted in a "staggering" bushmeat trade. Gorillas, elephants and other wildlife near logging roads are falling as the trees are cleared, the study found.
ECUADOR: Govt. Protects Two National ParksACTION
RAN is taking the high ground and trying to consolidate the significant step forward by Ecuador in blocking oil exploration, mining and logging in 2.7 million acres of old growth rainforest. To prevent backsliding, your letters are needed. Chip in! -- g.b.
Attempts by the Australian National Association of Forest Industries (NAFI) to use legal threats to stop the sale of a book advising consumers on alternative timbers to those from logging native forests, have backfired.
INDONESIA: Govt. lifts log export ban, limits size of forest concessions
The Indonesian government, as part of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has lifted a 10-year ban on log exports with the hope of generating foreign currency needed to get the derailed economy back on track. As a result, plywood manufacturers have complained about possible timber shortages for their industry.
PNG: Govt. Urged to Axe Forest Plan, Impose Moratorium
SOLOMON Is: Logging and Palm Plantations Found Not Economic
Greenpeace Pacific says there are some lessons in the report "Islands Adrift" for Papua New Guinean landowners faced with a choice between industrial logging and small to medium scale activities.
Studies Document Ease of Ecosystem Disruption
The case is made for the management and protection of whole ecosystems, not individual species. This is based on research that indicates that ecosystems may be more vulnerable to change or loss of "minor" species than previously thoughts. -g.b
New Deep Ecology Articles
Enacting an Earth-Centred Worldview
BRAZIL: Amazon Rainforest Fading Faster Than Thought
New techniques for quantifying Amazon rainforest loss indicate that the Amazon is being destroyed twice as fast as previously believed. Good gracious, is this going to hit us hard later on. - g.b.
Funding Appeal for Gaia Forest Archives ACTION
"I have been working for the preservation of rainforests and other natural areas for more than 20 years, most recently doing a lot of my networking via the internet. Gaia Forest Conservation Archives is without doubt the most useful source of forest-related information on the internet and so the Rainforest Information Centre is delighted to make a donation at this time to upgrade the site - for the Earth - John Seed"
Amazon Tribes Fight Patent On Sacred Vine
Amazon tribes asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Tuesday to revoke a patent granted to an American businessman on their most sacred plant, a vine that grows wild in the jungle.
BELIZE: Pristine Forest Threatened by Dam
One of the richest rainforest habitats in Belize is being threatened
by a proposed hydro-electric dam project.
CHILE: Indigenous resistance to Deforestation
The Chilean forestry model has been publicized as an example of modern forestry development and has been exported as such to the countries of the region. However, such forestry development style, implemented during the military dictatorship and resulting in economic concentration, the displacement of thousands of peasants and indigenous people and negative environmental impacts is now being severely challenged -- through direct actions -- by those affected. In this case, by the Mapuche indigenous peoples. Link here for more info on Chile
New in our Deep Ecology Section
AFRICA: New hope for Africa's forests?
The leaders of Central African nations have agreed to a deal that will protect thousands of square miles of tropical rainforest in the Congo Basin. The Yaounde Declaration, signed on Wednesday night in Cameroon, commits the governments in the region to a range of forest protection and conservation measures.
BRAZIL: Amazon politicians blackmail Justice Minister to cut key Indian areaACTION
Urgent Action Re Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Area
Please fax Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso congratulating him on the demarcation of the Raposa Serra do Sol indigenous area and urging him to proceed with ratification and registry of the demarcation. Your quick action can help to counterbalance very heavy pressure to revoke the demarcation, with disastrous consequences for the region and for Indian lands across the Amazon.
World Trade Organization Targets World's Forests
The world's forest are on the chopping block at the World Trade Organization (WTO). When trade ministers meet in Seattle at the WTO's Third Ministerial, November 30 - December 3, 1999, they plan to introduce a sweeping new agenda to increase worldwide consumption of wood products, open up native forests to logging, weaken environmental protections, and open the door to invasive
species. Rallies, Marches, Forums, Protest Flotillas are being planned for Nov. 30-Dec. 3 1999. See the end of this article for details.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA Karri on logging? ACTION
In the south-western corner of Australia, the fate of some of the worlds tallest trees is currently being contested. Old growth karri forest is being clearfelled by the Bunnings company under logging plans established by the Western Australian state government department in charge of natural resources, CALM (Conservation and Land Management). Opposing them are several groups of committed forest activists utilising an ingenious variety of non-violent direct actions to slow down and stop the logging.
Is the World on the Edge of an Environmental Revolution?
Lester Brown, president of the Worldwatch Institute, believes there are growing signs that the world may be on the edge of an environmental revolution comparable to the political revolution that swept Eastern Europe. Let's hope he's right.
CHILE: Save the Ancient Temperate Rainforests of Chile ACTION
Here is a follow-up action alert to the horrendous plan to greatly increase industrial logging of Chile's precious and unique temperate rainforests. Please take the opportunity to continue to ratchet up the pressure on Boise Cascade.-- g.b.
BRAZIL: Support Brazilian Land Reform ACTION
Five million families of landless workers in Brazil are entitled to land under the existing land reform measures. Through a popular movement known as the MST (or Sem Terra) over 200,000 families have organized and occupied idle land, receiving legal ownership and subsidized government loans. The Brazilian government and the wealthy land owners are not happy about this and a proposed World Bank scheme which purports to promote land reform will subvert existing reforms.
COLOMBIA: U'wa Supporters Murdered!
Three foreigners campaigning in Colombia against oil exploration by Occidental Petroleum on the land of the U'wa have been found murdered. Occidental ecently pulled out of 75% of their original drilling area but is continuing with their plans to drill in the remaining 25%.
THE WORLD: World Forest Cover in Retreat
The lead sentence of the article says it all, FAO reports "forests still cover 25 percent of the world, but this area is shrinking at a rate of 11.3 million hectares per year." -- g.b.
KENYA: Forest Activists under attack! ACTION
The oppression of Professor Wangari Maathai and other environmental and pro-democracy activists who are rising to the defence of Karura Forest in Nairobi, Kenya. Several of Wangari Maathai's colleagues have been arrested and she is threatened with arrest.
BRAZIL: Highway Poses a New Threat to Brazilian Rainforest ACTION
BR-116 is already one of Brazil's major highways. It 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. In order to meet the sponsoring agencies' schedules, design work is proceeding at breakneck speed. In one particular case, such haste may well be the reason for an impending ecological disaster.
Last Wild Tigers Could Be Wiped Out In 10 Years
The world's few remaining wild tigers face total extinction over the next decade unless governments make a major effort to save them, the World Wide Fund for Nature warned. In a report on a 1998 protection campaign coinciding with the ChineseYear of the Tiger, the Swiss-based environmental body said only between 5,000 and 7,200 tigers were left -- compared with nearly 10 times that many at the start of the century. And it called on governments to criminalize the trade in products that claim to contain tiger derivatives.
Patents for Terminator Seeds Threaten Farmers and Food Security
The US-based Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) has uncovered over three dozen new patents for a wide range of techniques used for genetic sterilization of plants and seeds. This follows on the heels of a controversial patent unveiled last year and christened the "Terminator" by RAFI. The Terminator patent, jointly owned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a Monsanto subsidiary, continues to generate worldwide protest and debate because it renders farm-saved seed sterile and forces farmers to buy commercial seed market every year.
BRAZIL: Deforestation Jumps in 1998
Deforestation of the Amazon in Brazil increased nearly 30% in 1998, despite new measures to curb destruction of the world's largest rainforest. Preliminary figures from satellite monitoring showed 6,500 square miles (16,800 square km) of forest -- more than half the size of Belgium -- was cleared last year. That was 27 percent higher than in 1997 but slightly lower than in 1996.
NORTH AMERICA: US, Canada, Logging Unsustainably
An international science agency report has exposed the hypocrisy involved in North American efforts to get other countries to harvest their forests sustainably. The US and Canada are mining their timber resources at unsustainable rates. The report describes the situation in Canada as "desperate".
GUATEMALA: Urgent Action -- Oil drilling on indigenous landACTION
U.S. Oil Company Threatens Environmental Degradation in Guatemalan Communities; Military Steps Up Presence in surrounding Area
In mid-December 1998, representatives from Basic Petroleum International, Ltd. (a subsidiary of the U.S. company Union Pacific Resources) installed a drilling platform in the community of El Carmelita, Guatemala without prior knowledge or consent of the community.
ECUADOR: No oil drilling in 2 major national parks
ENVIRONMENTAL VICTORY IN THE AMAZON: NEARLY 3-MILLION ACRES TO BE PROTECTED
Ecuador's President Jamil Mahuad has issued a decree blocking planned and future oil exploration, mining, logging and colonization in the Cuyabeno-Imuya and Yasuni national parks. For over a decade, the Rainforest Information Centre has been a leader in the struggle to protect the Yasuni National Park and other areas of tropical forest in Ecuador and this announcement signals a major victory for RIC and other environmental organisations.
The birthplace of Ecuadorean permaculture needs your help!
The Rainforest Information Centre in Ecuador (CIBT) would like to develop a sister permaculture centre relationship with a permaculture centre in Australia or elsewhere. This will involve sending volunteers, organising training program tours and providing funding to the centre to run training workshops and help with general maintenance.
CANADA: British Columbia's Log Exports Up
In both good and bad economic times, forests take a hit. In British Columbia, Canada, forestry companies are increasingly turning to exporting raw logs to remain solvent. Much of the world's forest industry is inefficient, oversized, and unsustainable -- dependent upon clearing old-growth forests for profitability. As massive stands of old-growth dwindle, eventually forest-dependent industries worldwide will need to downsize and retool to utilize plantations, smaller secondary growth and other sources of fiber. This can be done now, or after essentially all ancient forests are gone. I prefer the latter, as the world's biodiversity and ecosystem functionality depends upon it.g.b.
HIV Linked to Deforestation
An international team of researchers from the University of Alabama, led by Dr Beatrice Hahn, told a conference in Chicago they had traced the roots of HIV-1 to a virus found in a subspecies of chimpanzee. This discovery supports the claim that by destroying primate habitats, those responsible for forest clearance caused HIV to take up residence in humans. HIV spread to humans when deforestation decimated ape and monkey populations, causing the HIV virus to adopt humans as "an abundant alternative host" (see article by Dr Jaap Goldsmith). As well as being promising news for HIV research, this story is further evidence that deforestation is not a very good idea. What other diseases could reach the human population as a result of habitat destruction?
Saanich Statement of Principles on Forests and Communities
Following is the "Saanich Statement", which provides an excellent enunciation of guiding principles for ecologically, socially and economically sound community-based forestry. This is the result of a major conference on the topic in British Columbia, Canada, in October of 1998. Very interesting reading. g.b.
CHILE: Help Stop the World's Largest Timber Mill ACTION
If you do ONE ACTION ALERT a year, this should be the one. Chile's temperate forests are to be decimated by a grotesquely huge wood chipping and strand board facility, courtesy of Boise Cascade (BC) of the United States. BC has shut down Pacific Northwest mills and is moving on to the Patagonia. Southern Chile holds more than one-third of worldwide remaining temperate rainforests.
INDONESIA: Govt. to sell 3 mill ha. of forests in drive to redistribute forestry assets
A Reuters report on the announcement that 3 million hectares of forest concessions are to be auctioned. Forestry Minister Nasution claimed the move would "boost a sense of belonging for the local people, improve their well-being and help the government secure their support in dealing with any fresh forest fires". According to the report, an additional 3 million ha. will be given free to small firms and co-operatives in concession areas. This appears to be a step in the right direction, but given Indonesia's record of dispossession and plunder, more information is needed before an assessment can be made. The decision also appears to be an admission that past policies which favoured large corporations contributed to last year's catastrophic fires. -- JR
AFRICA: Increase in Poaching Linked to Logging
Activists are linking increased poaching of gorillas and chimps for bush meat to increased accessibility to Africa's rainforest remnants through logging road access, by mostly European companies.
EL NINO COST $90 BILLION LAST YEAR, DAMAGED HEALTH
A meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) was told that the number of "extreme weather events" appears to be increasing worldwide. A team of scientists at the Centre for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School believes global warming is making destructive weather patterns more extreme. The team found that this has caused an increased number of natural disasters -- and outbreaks of disease.
PNG: Government Accused of Rushing Projects
Major forest industry sources have accused Prime Minister Bill Skate and Forest Minister Peter Arul of trying to fast-track multi-million kina timber projects in the country.
AUSTRALIA:Woodchipping in WA ACTION
Old growth forests in Western Australia are being woodchipped for Japanese buyers who don't even like them. The government of the Netherlands concluded that karri was not being harvested sustainably and decided against buying it. Yet the plunder of the remaining 10% of WA's old growth forests continues and attempts are being made to obtain misleading certification of existing operations. Please avoid jarrah, karri and marri timber products and woodchips. Contacts are given for web sites and organizations to get involved in the campaign.
Y2K and Environmentalism
A very confronting article about the environmental implications of the Y2K problem, with additional commments by Tom Atlee, the author of Y2K: Green Crisis and Opportunity, (see WRR40). One way or another, the Y2K crisis will be a pivotal point in the history of the environmental movement. Are we prepared? -- JR
Cameroon Determined to Ban Log Exports in 1999
Cameroon continues, despite major opposition, to move to ban log exports. The move is being hailed as contributing to forest conservation as well as local development opportunties.
Globalization & the Acceleration of Forest Destruction since Rio
"If our political leaders had the slightest sense of responsibility and the necessary courage and integrity, they would change the direction in which our whole society is moving -- away from economic globalisation towards economic localisation ... Only in such an economy do our forests have any future whatsoever." -- from an excellent analysis of why the plunder of the world's forests has accelerated since the Rio conference in 1992.
Help Home Depot Live Up to Its Advertising ACTION
Here is the latest and greatest Action Alert from Rainforest Action Network. Apparently a decision by Home Depot regarding their use of ancient forest timbers is to be issued shortly--so get off the emails!
Rainforest Fails to Absorb Excess Carbon During El Nino
A recently published study by Woods Hole Research Laboratory in the journal Nature suggests that the Brazilian Amazon actually releases millions of tons of carbon during El Nino years, the reverse of what is usually the case--and some 2/7 of what it usually fixes in a year. This may have tremendous implications for global climate change.
Papua New Guinea Loggers 'Laughing All the Way to the Bank"
Greenpeace Pacific forests specialist Brian Brunton brands the recent lifting of logging export taxes in Papua New Guinea as "scandalous" and his damning paper about the loss of the country's forests was gagged at a regional seminar. Newspapers say foreign loggers are now "laughing all the way to the bank".
INDONESIA: Mobil linked to environmental & human rights abuses
Mobil Oil has been linked to environmental and human rights atrocities in Indonesia. As the result of an international campaign by environmental and human rights groups, Shell Oil, has recently backed away from some of its worst excesses. The following press release from NGOs in Sumatra, together with WALHI (Indonesian Friends of the Earth), shows that Mobil deserves to be the target of a similar campaign. A response from Mobil can be found at the end of the report.
Y2K: Green Crisis and Opportunity
The environmental movement seems to be largely silent about the implications of the Year 2000 problem. As well as possible serious environmental dangers, Y2K offers immensely important opportunities in the struggle to achieve environmental sanity.
"Y2K has arrived to give us a hand, before it is too late, shifting our culture towards sustainability. I pray we can make good use of it." -- Tom Atlee
CANADA: Ontario's Boreal Forests Fading Fast
Virtually the entire forested land base of Ontario is to be turned over to rapacious industrial resource development. This is an incredible forest ecosystem with significant remaining late-successional areas.
Top UK Timber Trader to Demand FSC Label
In a decision hailed by WWF as "one of the most significant things to happen in the timber trade for decades", Meyer International, the UK's largest timber trader, has announced that it will only purchase timber that has been certified under the international Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) scheme for sustainably managed forestry.
CANADA: Loggers Lash Out at Greenpeace
Greenpeace appears to have gotten under the skin of the Canadian timber interests with their relentless efforts to protect Canadian temperate rainforests, including organizing consumer boycotts. Some people just don't get it-that short term profit is not above ecological necessity. The industry and apologists' strident rhetoric suggests that the boycott is starting to bite, and that the writing may be on the wall for marketing industrially harvested old-growth timber from British Columbia (and ultimately elsewhere). g.b.
INDONESIA: Forest Crisis Hits Orangutans
A new report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) warns that orangutans face possible extinction within 20 years. Habitat destruction is the primary threat to their survival and the EIA has called on the new Indonesian government to implement immediately its International Orangutan Conservation Action Plan. Widespread corruption among the Indonesian elite is a major barrier to the success of the EIA's action plan. Logging, land conversion for palm oil plantations, and mega-development projects are the main threats to Indonesian forests, and corruption is rife in all these areas. Campaigns to save "charismatic megafauna" like orangutans are an integral part of the wider campaign to protect forests because the survival of animals like orangutans is not possible unless their habitat survives.