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no. 41

Current Issue | Back issues

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

Produced in partnership with Forests.org, Inc.

button2.gif (2492 bytes)GAIA: World's Birds Fly in the Face of Extinction

For every eight bird species in the air today, one will likely be extinct by the year 2100, an authoritative international bird conservation group predicts. This is even more alarming since, as this article points out, "birds are barometers of our environment".
RIC comments: The article originally said "extinct by the year 2001". This appears to be a mistake and it should read "2100". While this may still appear a rather bleak prediction, it is not just bird species that are at risk in the next 100 years. Survival to the year 2100 is for most species an uncertain proposition.

button2.gif (2492 bytes)BRAZIL: Amazon edges toward eco-friendly forestry

An encouraging story about a successful ecoforestry project in the Amazon. Demand for ecologically certified timber from the Amazon far exceeds supply.

button2.gif (2492 bytes)THE WORLD/PNG: Buying Destruction: A Report for Corporate Consumers of Forest Products

In "Buying Destruction", Greenpeace presents the findings of its research into the logging's impact on the world's remaining ancient forests. The report can be ordered from: Greenpeace International. (Link to story for contact details and more on the contents of the report). Following is a news article from Papua New Guinea (PNG) which covers the release of the report from the perspective of PNG and the Solomon Islands, which are being decimated by massive unsustainable logging by a handful of companies.

ECUADOR: Ads by Ecuadoran plaintiffs accuse Texaco of racism

Ecuadoran rainforest Indians suing Texaco Inc. for allegedly polluting their water and land with oil and waste, Thursday began a newspaper, TV and radio ad campaign in the U.S. charging the company with racism.

TANZANIA: Illegal Logging Rips Up Tanzanian Forests

Illegal logging, some involving collusion by government officials, is putting Tanzania's 33.5 million hectares (129,310 square miles) of forest and woodland increasingly at risk. Tanzania is just one of many tropical countries where illegal logging makes deforestation all th emore difficult to combat. Illegal logging in tropical forests was the subject of a major report by Friends of the Earth in 1996. This report has been published in book form  by the Canadian government's International Development Research Centre.

GAIA: Plant Losses Threaten World's Food Supplies

A new Worldwatch Institute report details the extent to which the  world is losing plant species, including the genetic diversity of  food crops. Essentially all life on the Planet is dependent upon  plants and their ability to photosynthesize. In our air-conditioned  domiciles, eating processed foods from the microwave, we have lost   touch of our utter dependence upon plants and the habitats they  occupy. We need plants, in all their diversity, in order to continue  to meet basic human needs.g.b.

GAIA: Time is Running out for the Environment, UN Says

In the late seventies and early eighties, horrendous predictions were made about impending environmental crises. For some people, this created the impression that the crisis had not yet arrived, but would be heralded by cataclysmic events some time in the future. Since then, catastrophes have certainly occurred, but they have not had an obvious, dramatic effect on most people's day-to-day lives. Consequently, some people have concluded that the original prophecies of doom were wrong or exaggerated.  A major report recently released by the United Nations shows that this is far from the case. The report paints a "devastating picture of the planet's condition". The crisis is right now, and we're standing in it.

POLAND: Help Needed to Finalize Expansion of Bialowieza National Park  ACTION

Of all the continents on our ravaged planet, only Antarctica has less surviving old growth forest than Europe. That makes this action request from Poland all the more important. It was sent to us from a Council of All Beings Workshop. It involves urging the Polish government to fulfill its promise to enlarge Bialowieza National Park, a move which will make it the largest National Park in Poland.

THE WORLD: Climate Change -- Indifference to a Planet in Pain

Amongst scientists, there is "increasingly ironclad consensus that we are heating the planet."  What we need to do about the problem is clear, yet our response to global warming has so far been woefully inadequate. "The reason", suggests Bill McKibben, "is that we don't yet feel viscerally the wrongness of what we're doing".

THE WORLD: State of Gaia's Forests 1999

This is a belated posting about the bi-annual "State of the World’s Forests 1999" (SOFO) report, produced by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

RIC comments: During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the FAO was the driving force behind the Tropical Forestry Action Plan (TFAP), a major international initiative which aspired to be the saviour of the world’s tropical forests. Based on the assumption that deforestation was caused by poverty, it aimed at saving forests by creating wealth. Its way of creating wealth was to promote industrial logging of tropical forests! Not surprisingly, green groups ridiculed the notion that forests could be saved by cutting them down and the TFAP was ultimately abandoned as a failure. Given the FAO’s background, its findings are to be treated with extreme caution. Nevertheless, this is a valuable source of information about the state of the world’s forests.

RUSSIA: Plundering the Country's Timber

Russia contains one of the greatest forest wildernesses remaining on the Planet. For how long is yet to be determined. It appears that China is turning to Russia to meet its own timber demands. China is reeling from lack of timber supply brought on by recent reductions in logging. There will be tragic Planetary consequences if China is able to export deforestation rather than living within its ecological means. Following are two items regarding the matter. g.b.

NICARAGUA: Help Protect Nicaragua's Imperiled Forests ACTION

A Special Alert from the Environmental Task Force of the Nicaragua Network

President Arnoldo Aleman's recent decision to cancel the moratorium on the cutting and exporting of mahogany and other threatened tropical hardwood species has been cause for great alarm among Nicaraguan environmentalists.Your letters are urgently needed to encourage the protection of Nicaragua's threatened forests.

SOUTH AMERICA: Forests Ablaze

Sorry to be in such a rut, but here is another forest fire horror story--South America is ablaze. Where are the news stories? Guess not very important, huh? g.b.

NICARAGUA: Aust. Company Looking for Gold in Biosphere Reserve's Buffer Region  ACTION

An Australian mining company with a dubious environmental record is looking for gold in the buffer zone of the BOSAWAS biosphere reserve --  a direct threat to the nucleus of the Reserve, due to the fact that various river systems within the concession area flow directly into the Nuclear Zone of BOSAWAS. Specifically, the most dangerous threat is posed to the Bocay River, which serves as transport and lifeblood to the thousands of indigenous peoples that live along its length.

ECUADOR: Help keep the bulldozers out of Jatun Sacha Biological Station ACTION 

Help prevent road construction in an Amazon biological station with as many or more species than the United States

Trading CO2 Emissions for Trees: Who Benefits?

The proponents of carbon forestry believe that by planting vast tree plantations, it would be possible to counteract the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which results from the burning of fossil fuels. A briefing paper recently released by Corner House questions this view and maintains that ”this approach to global warming is based on bad science, enlarges rather than reduces society's ecological footprint, and reinforces neo-colonialist structures of power.” Reprinted here is a shorter piece which accompanies the main paper. It points out that many interest groups stand to benefit from carbon trading schemes. The main article is highly recommended and is available on request from Corner House.

The Global Pastry Uprisingnew.gif (906 bytes)

"It is extremely difficult to get a dissenting message through the mass media filters and into the hearts and minds of the public. If we hold a rally in demonstration-jaded San Francisco, the media usually won’t cover it. If we write letters to the editor they don't get printed. However, the visual of a pie in the face makes a sizeable chink in the media armour through which we can then discuss the reasons why a figure deserved to be pied"

A political statement issued by the Biotic Baking Brigade. Environmental issues are their main concern.

TANZANIA: Illegal Logging Rips Up Forestsnew.gif (906 bytes)

Until the problem of illegal logging of tropical forests is confronted, deforestation will continue at a rapid rate. Social inequality, lack of resources on the part of third world governments, a lack of will on the part of enforcement agencies and widespread corruption all contribute to this problem. Tanzania is just one of the many countries where illegal logging is a major problem. [Note: A new publication, "Cut and Run: Illegal Logging And Timber Trade In The Tropics." gives an overview of the problem and points to ways to deal with it. Contact Friends of the Earth for details.]

USA: A great day for the forests: Home Depot Commits to Old Growth Phase Out

"With Home Depot taking the lead in phasing out of old growth wood products, we expect other do-it-yourself retailers will follow suit. Home Depot's timeline still needs to be fleshed out, and we are eager to work with them on this, but when the sun sets this evening it will have been a great day for the forests!" - Michael Brune, Old Growth Campaign Director

Rainforest Permanently Damaged by Logging

A short account of one of the most comprehensive studies to date on the long-term effects of logging on rainforests. Even "sustainable" practices are found to be too intensive of management to protect rainforest ecology. "For rain forests... to be logged sustainably, harvesting must mimic natural treefalls - consisting of no more than one large tree per hectare per century, done by hand to minimize forest disruption." The time to act on these findings is now. Eco-forestry practiced by local peoples, [see example in RIC projects] within the context of vast, intact rainforest preserves, may prove the key to tropical forest sustainability. The tropical timber business as currently practiced means the rapid, inevitable loss of remaining large, functional rainforest ecosystems worldwide. g.b.

NEW ZEALAND: Beech scheme "think big" disaster of the new millennium

The Green Party has slammed the National Government's decision to proceed with a massive beech forest logging scheme on the West Coast just prior to the election.

INDONESIA: Rampant Illegal Logging in National Parks Confirmed

As reported here over the past few months, Indonesia's economic difficulties have spilled over into its National Parks. Illegal logging appears to be frequent and widespread. Following is an account of an investigate report on the matter. The full report can be found at http://eia-international.org . g.b.

World Governments Slammed Over Logging

European green groups are critical of World governments for failing to control unsustainable logging, particularly in the tropics. They call for an international program to dismantle the tropical logging industry, calling sustainable forestry there a myth. g.b

WWF: Aggressive US global warming policy would mean large cost savings and job gains

A comprehensive new study released today by the Tellus Institute and WWF, the conservation organisation, shows that the United States could reduce the pollution that leads to global warming and at the same time spur substantial domestic job and economic growth.

HAWAII: Maui Airport  Expansion Threatens Native Forest Fragments ACTION

We first ran this action request several months ago. It is great to see that the Rainforest Action Network and Gaia Forest Archives have now taken up this issue. To lend support, we are publicising it again. 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.

GlobeE110.gif (1064 bytes)MALAYSIA: Nomadic Rainforest Dwellers Fear Extinction

Following is an update of the couple decade long struggle by the Penan of Malaysia to continue their lives in their forests. Despite the best efforts of many, the brutal repression of indigenous cultures in Malaysia continues, as the Penan and other rainforest dwellers increasingly worry of extinction. In the Borneo state of Sarawak, home of the Penan, 70 percent of one of the world's oldest forests has been denuded, at a rate nearly twice that of the Amazon. While the destruction of indigenous cultures has been a universal component of western style development; it is indefensible that outright land theft, persecution and genocide continues to this day against those that are most in touch with their land. Shame on Malaysia. g.b.

GlobeE110.gif (1064 bytes)Forests' Survival Linked to Smaller Populations

As this article points out, the connection between overpopulation and deforestation is undeniable. To focus exclusively on overpopulatin as the cause of deforestation would be misleading, however. Even if the world's population were to stop growing immediately, the concentration of land ownership in the hands of the rich and powerful and commitment to western concepts of development would mean that the destruction of the world's forets would continue at a rapid rate. (For an analysis of the causes of tropical forest decline, go to The Causes of Rainforest Destruction )

GlobeE110.gif (1064 bytes)PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Damning Ok Tedi Report -- Mine May Close

This article raises the prospect of the Ok Tedi gold and copper mine closing down as the result of  a damning environmental report. Not mentioned here is the possibility that major shareholder BHP will pull out of the mine before it closes in order to escape responsibility for the massive cleanup that will be needed following its closure. This possibility was discussed in the Australian Radio National program   'PM' on August 12.
RIC comments: The article below focuses, not on the long-term environmental impact of the mine, but on the economic effects of the mine's possible closure. The landowners struggling to survive in the area devastated by the mine probably have different priorities.

GlobeE110.gif (1064 bytes)CANADA: Help Stop Stoltmann Wilderness LoggingACTION

The spectacular old growth forests of the Stoltmann Wilderness are being logged at a terrifying rate; 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. This action alert is a request for help for the direct action now underway. RIC's John Seed had this to say about the Stoltmann Wilderness: "Friends, we'd like to make a $1000 donation to the Stoltmann tree-sit... I had the good fortune a few months ago to be able to visit the edge of the Stoltmann through the Western Canada Wilderness Committee and the David Suzuki Foundation and was swept away by the magnificence and importance of the area. More power to y'all" Updates (Aug 10:: INTERFOR gets no trees for a week)

GlobeE110.gif (1064 bytes)CHAD-CAMEROON: Stop World Bank Funding for Oil PipelineACTION

We have run action alerts about this disastrous scheme several times already and have decided to do so again because we believe there is a real chance of getting the World Bank to listen. Persistence is often the key to success in cases like this. The World Bank's board of directors will make a decision on Funding for the pipeline in October, so Global Response is urging letters now.

GlobeE110.gif (1064 bytes)EARTH: Human Impact Triggers Massive Extinctions

This article covers the findings of two studies presented to the 16th International Botanical Congress. One study focused on what humans have done to the Earth’s water; the other looked at the catastrophically high rates of plant extinctions around the world and presented a seven point plan to slow the extinction rate.RIC comments: The basic implication of these two studies is that human impact on the Earth is "increasingly impairing the planet’s ability to maintain the quality of human life, and may lead to the loss of up to two-thirds of all plant and animal species during the second half of the 21st century". Dr. Raven's Seven Point Plan to Slow the Extinction of Plants isdisappointingly plant focused. The measures he calls for may be necessary,  but unless the human origins of the problem are confronted, nothing much will change.

AFRICA: Rumbles in the jungle

With the misleading clarity of a computer screen, the struggle to "save rainforests" can seem like a straightforward story of good against evil. This firsthand account of logging, poaching, corruption and oil shows that the actual situation is very different. One conservationist sums it up: "Conservation does not work. The economics are against it. Imagine being an African. When you wake up, what do you think about? Food. You have to either kill or buy something." In the face of such desperate need, western moralising about the environment misses the point. Issues of power and social justice must be addressed if there is to be any hope of doing something about forest degradation and species decline.

CANADA: Virtual Blockade of Timber Co.ACTION

The Forest Action Network of Canada has requested our support for their "Virtual Blockade" of West Fraser Timber Company, which is clearcutting huge swathes of the Great Bear Rainforest in Canada. Please respond to this appeal for letters and email and check out their marvelous use of emerging Internet technologies to bear witness to outrageous ecological mayhem at http://www.fanweb.org/west_fraser/index.shtml . -- g.b.

PNG: Govt's logging push resisted by landowners

Following is the transcript of a  8 minute item on "Foreign Correspondent" a major Australian news program. In-depth coverage was given of the rapacious logging occurring in PNG. Australia is the former colonial power for PNG and the country's major foreign aid donor. The program revealed that at least 15 major logging operations in PNG are being fast-tracked, an 800,000 ha extension has been granted to a logging area in one of the World's largest remaining contiguous rainforests under questionable circumstances, and many landowners such as the Maisan are mobilizing to resist indiscriminate and illegal logging. g.b.

INDONESIA: Continued Illegal Logging in ParksACTION

In June Gaia Forest Archives reported on allegations of major illegal logging in Indonesian parks ( http://forests.org/recent/1999/suaqillo.htm ). Our letter writing campaign appears to have been at least partially successful, as it lead to a deceleration of logging at Suaq Balimbing Research Station in Gunung Leuser National Park, Sumatra. Here are two items updating the Indonesian national park logging situation. The first is on Suaq Balimbing, and includes a renewed request for letters. The second item illustrates to what extent all of Indonesia's parks are imperiled. Please take the time to integrate this information into personalized letters and email to Indonesian authorities. Our work appears to be spawning some results. g.b.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Potential World Heritage Area for Clear Felling

One of the most beautiful and ecologically astounding lagoons in the South Pacific, a proposed World Heritage Area, is to have much of its forests clearcut for oil palm--despite the objections of the area's indigenous population.

PNG: Timber Certification: Who benefits?

Sasa Zibe of the Village Development Trust (VDT) in PNG asks  who benefits from timber certification? Certification has originated in industrialised countries. Have third world stakeholders had a say? RIC and VDT have had a long association.

GlobeE110.gif (1064 bytes)MALAYSIA: Bakun Dam Resettlement Begins

Despite the Asian economic crisis, the appalling record of large dams the world over and widespread protests, the Malaysian government intends going ahead with the Bakun hyro-electric scheme in Sarawak. Ten thousand dayaks are to be forcibly resettled to poorly built houses, on land unsuited to agriculture. According to a report by opponents of the dam, a staggering one third of Sarawak's remaining primary forest lie in the area to be affected by the dam. This article is a press statement by a coalition of opponents of the dam.

GlobeE110.gif (1064 bytes)CANADA: Weyerhaeuser "Endorses MacBlo's Forest and Environmental Initiatives"

The following press release from Weyerhaueser appears to be encouraging news.


In 30 years the world’s coral reefs will be devastated by warming tropical oceans which will “bleach” them white and eventually kill most of them, unless projected levels of climate change are stopped, according to a new scientific report released internationally today by Greenpeace.

GlobeE110.gif (1064 bytes)"Dear Sirs,

"While camping last week, I shot one of your birds. I think it was a crow. I followed the cooking instructions on the leg tag and I want to tell you it was horrible."

-- In a letter from a camper in Arkansas to the survey team of the Washington Biological Survey, which used to attach to the legs of birds metal tags that bore the inscription "Wash. Biol. Surv."   [Shamelessly stolen from the excellent Ecoforestry journal, www.ecoforestry.ca ]

USA: Alien species: A Slow Motion Explosion

Non-native animals cause $123 billion worth of damage each year in the USA. As native communities dwindle and are impacted, they are less able to fend off exotic plants and animals. Following is a good overview of the problem. Link here for our alien species action alert posted in May:  HAWAII: Maui Airport Expansion Threatens Native Forest Fragments

CHILE: Outrage Growing over Forest Mega-Project

Following are two updates relating to the rising outrage in regard to plans by Boise Cascade to make wood chip from Chilean native forests. - g.b.

The Brazilian government is planning to effectively gut efforts to 
protect the Amazon, despite news that the world's largest and most 
quickly disappearing rainforest is being cleared twice as quickly as 
previously thought ( link here for info on new deforestaton estimates )

This article from the Institute for Global Futures Research (IGFR) provides much-needed statistical data on tropical forest decline.

If Banana Battle is Indicator, WTO will wage WWIII on World's Forests

"The WTO's plan to investigate alleged US illegalities in regulating the banana trade is only a preview of what will happen if the WTO takes forest products under its wing ... What we need is not an investigation into the so-called illegality of US self-preservation, but whether the WTO will fuel the destruction of the world's last old growth forests and savage the rights of nations in the name of free trade."   - RAN


Concern at Weyerhaeuser's takeover of Macmillan Bloedel

The next story ("Clayoquot Truce") tells of Macmillan Bloedel's (MB's) move to phase out clearcutting old growth forests in Clayoquot Sound. But just a few days after an MB subsidiary signed a Memorandumn of Understanding with green groups, the company has been bought by US timber giant Weyerhaeuser, leaving the future of  the new agreement unclear. Did MB know it was about to be bought?

Clayoquot Sound Truce

There appears to have been a major breakthrough in the intractable Clayoquot Sound temperate rainforest conservation efforts on the Pacific coast of Canada. If indeed this agreement is everything made out to be in the article, it represents a unique and compelling example of win-win solutions to bioregional forest conservation challenges. Congratulations to the thousands of activists that have contributed to this campaign's years of persistent forest conservation advocacy. g.b.

INDIA: Glaciers Melting at Alarming Rate

"If current trends, blamed on global warming, continue he predicts all the glaciers in the central and eastern Himalayas could disappear by 2035 with disastrous consequences."

CANADA:  Lack of an Endangered Species Law

While the Canadian government prattles on about saving
rainforests, 22 species of wildlife have disappeared in Canada, and another 285 animal and plant species are in danger and Canada has no endangered species legislation. Any and all means, including trade sanctions discussed in the accompanying article, must be used to foster conservation in the massive forests of Canada--every bit as important in terms of ecological functionality as the Amazon and other rainforests. g.b.

VENEZUELA: World Heritage Site In Danger

Canaima National Park is the home of indigenous tribes, the highest waterfall in the world and several table top mountains called tepuys. The Park is now being assessed by UNESCO to determine whether it should remain a World Heritage Site. This is happening due to the power lines being constructed through the eastern part of the Park to export Venezuelan electricity to Brazil.

CANADA:  Lack of an Endangered Species Law

While the Canadian government prattles on about saving
rainforests, 22 species of wildlife have disappeared in Canada, and another 285 animal and plant species are in danger and Canada has no endangered species legislation. Any and all means, including trade sanctions discussed in the accompanying article, must be used to foster conservation in the massive forests of Canada--every bit as important in terms of ecological functionality as the Amazon and other rainforests. g.b.

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