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no. 43

Current Issue | Back issues

Want to help protect forests? Look for the ACTION symbol.

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

Produced in partnership with Forests.org, Inc.

ECOLOGY:  World's Fragmented Forests Losing Ground
May 31 2000

Increasingly fragmented tropical rainforests are in danger of biological collapse if upscale requirements for sustainability across large spatial scales are not more adequately addressed. Forest landscape and bioregional sustainability is dependent upon the presence of large ecologically intact core areas and landscape connectivity. Achieving upscale rainforest sustainability depends upon maintaining natural forests as the context for benign forest management activities of various types and scales.  ( more )

GAIA:  Rainforest Destruction Report Covered Up
May 30 2000

A damning report about the destruction of tropical forests by multinational companies has been suppressed for three years.  The peer reviewed report by noted forestry experts found that "remaining virgin primary forests in the Caribbean rim, Central Africa and Pacific will be lost within five to 10 years, due to the expansion of unsustainable logging operations."  The situation was determined to be so bad that they recommended a temporary halt to all further logging in 11 countries.  The fact remains that a handful of individuals and companies threaten millions of years of evolutionary brilliance and global planetary sustainability for relatively paltry economic returns that are not equitably distributed.  ( more )

PAPUA NEW GUINEA VICTORY: Cabinet Orders Overhaul of Logging Industry
May 24 2000

The Papua New Guinea government has established procedures to implement a moratorium on new logging concessions and review of existing operations that was announced in late 1999. The announcement includes an independent inquiry into proposed logging operations, limits extensions of existing timber permits to very small additions (putting to rest the huge Kumula Doso project in Western Province that was a 800,000 hectare "extension"), makes Forest Board decisions transparent, and removes the timber industry representative from the Forest Board.  ( more )

MEXICO: Forests at a Watershed
May 23 2000

Mexico loses approximately 1.5 million acres of forests annually, about 1.2% of its forested land. This article presents a good overview of rampant, out of control Mexican deforestation, and the new peasant ecology movement that is fighting for ecological sustainability. ( more ) 

BRAZIL: Stop Ranchers from Destroying more of the Amazon ACTION
May 17 2000

The Brazilian ranching lobby has succeeded in bringing to vote a bill that threatens the Brazilian Amazon. One of the major changes being proposed is a reduction in how much of their rainforest holdings landowners must maintain as reserves when developing their land.  This will lead to continued increases in deforestation and forest fragmentation.  Please take the time to send a protest email.  ( more )

BRAZIL: New Plan to Protect Amazon Rainforest
May 16 2000

A new initiative seeks to place 10% of the Amazon rainforest under strict preserved status. At this juncture, when significant vast expanses of intact rainforest landscapes still exist, this upscale approach is the best tropical rainforest conservation strategy.  It is critical that this not be used as justification to devastate the other 90% of the Amazon.  ( more )

BRAZIL:  Draft Law Could Reduce Brazil Amazon Reserve Area
May 13 2000

During the process of drafting a new forestry code, Brazil appears to be backsliding from earlier commitments to strengthen forestry protection. The current draft law would cut from 80 to 50 percent the amount of land that must be maintained as rainforests when developing land.  ( more )

ECUADOR:  Palm Plantations Threaten Ecuadorian Choco Forest
May 3 2000

"The Choco is one of the great ecosystems of South America... one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet."  This amazing global treasure is being rapidly deforested to plant oil palm. These forests, lying largely in Ecuador, contain an estimated 9,000 plant and animal species, including more than 800 bird species, 235 mammals and 210 reptiles. The coastal Ecuadorian Choco forests have already been reduced to 6% of their former extent. Oil palm could well finish off many of these superb biological remnants. Throughout the world, monocropping of oil palm poses an increasingly large threat to remaining lowland tropical rainforests.  ( more )

ECOLOGY:  Big Trees Lost First in Shrinking Rainforests
April 21 2000

It is reported that where tropical forests are fragmented into a patchwork of islands of habitat, that remaining large, ancient tropical trees are particularly threatened. Loss of such dominant members of the plant community has follow-on, negative cascading effects. In the mid to long-term, widespread fragmentation of forests through selective logging and other intrusions may be nearly as damaging ecologically as outright deforestation.  ( more )

WEST PAPUA:   Freeport: Indonesia's Ok Tedi ACTION
April 18 2000

Like the infamous Ok Tedi mine in neighbouring Papua New Guinea, the giant Freeport gold and copper mine has inflicted appalling environmental damage and ignored the rights of the indigenous peoples whose land it have plundered. Friends of the Earth Indonesia (WALHI) have launched a campaign for an independent audit of the mine operations and  a renegotiation of the terms under which the mine operates. WALHI sees the presence of a democratic government in Indonesia as an opportunity for change to the mine which has managed to dodge the spotlight and its responsibilities for over thirty years. Please respond to this action request.

HONDURAS: Protected Mangrove under siege ACTION
April 12 2000

"Mangrove forests are one of the most productive and biodiverse wetlands on earth" says the Mangrove Action Project (MAP), "Yet, these unique coastal tropical forests are among the most threatened habitats in the world. They may be disappearing more quickly than inland tropical rainforests, and so far, with little public notice." Shrimp farming is one of the major threats faced by mangroves in many countries. The article below is one of many to be found on the MAP website. Please respond to the Action Alert at the end of the article and check out the MAP website for more information about mangroves throughout the tropics.

PNG: Moratorium on Forest Licenses "A Sigh of Relief"April 5 2000

The Papua New Guinea Eco-Forestry forum has welcomed the Government's decision to impose a moratorium on all new forestry licenses in the

BRAZIL: New Highways Expected to Destroy ForestMarch 21 2000

The Amazon, seemingly so massive that it could never be lost in its entirety, continues its slow but inevitable decline. New  construction on 2,170 miles of roads is expected to eventually, based  on historical patterns of deforestation, destroy 72,000 square miles of rain forest. The international community must craft policy that  helps Brazil attain its development goals while not continually eating away at the margins of the Amazonian ecosystem. Failure to do  so will doom Brazilians and the world's citizens to a biologically  impoverished Planet that may not operate correctly.g.b.

AFRICA: Silence Descends on the continent's Forests March 14 2000

Following is an excellent overview of the current African rainforest conservation situation. It is noted that the World's final assault on the last true wilderness left on the African continent is occurring in Central Africa. Europe bears the responsibility for having  deforested so much of Africa over the centuries, and continuing to provide the market for much of the current timber being unsustainably extracted. g.b.

Rapid Species Loss a Global Danger, Scientists Warn March 14 2000

Massive loss of biodiversity is proceeding at such a great rate that scientists consider it to have joined climate change and the greenhouse effect as a major global threat. RIC Comments: Species loss has been one of the most serious, if not the most serious global environmental problem for the last several decades.

Stop Petroleum Activities in Guatemala's Maya Biosphere Reserve  March 14 2000 ACTION

The Man and the Biosphere Program of UNESCO, and resultant designated biosphere reserves, recognize the fact that large ecological core areas are an absolute requirement for maintaining regional ecosystems and constituent species in the long-term. In forest conservation and pursuit of sustainability, there is no substitute to conserving large blocks of habitat within and adjacent to developed areas and managed forests. Tropico Verde reports that the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala is being infringed upon by petroleum exploration. Please respond to their call for emails in protest.

INDONESIA: Fires Rage Out of Control March 10 2000

As I sit in summer like weather in what is supposed to be a Wisconsin winter, I cannot help but experience an eerie feeling. The Planet's workings seem to have gone awry. The resurgence of Indonesian fires   as a result of overly extensive and intensive tropical forest  clearing, detailed below, illustrates further Gaia's ecological  imbalance. My sense is that it is not too late to sustain the whole,   but that we must immediately enter the age of aggressive and  widespread preservation, conservation management and restoration to do so. I am including some excellent brief Indonesian rainforest background information from the new Global Forest Watch web site at: http://www.globalforestwatch.org/ .

PNG: World Bank recommends the closure of giant PNG mine March 7 2000

The World Bank has confirmed it's recommended the closure of the Ok Tedi copper mine in Papua New Guinea due to environmental concerns.

USA: Too late to stop Global Warming March 7 2000

A report  by the National Assessment Coordination Office of the U.S. Global Change Research Program has found that it is too late to stop global warming. This article is focussed on America, but gives an indication of the kinds of problems people and other species will face all over the planet.

HAWAII: Maui airport expansion stopped.March 7 2000

This letter from Rich Wilson on the Hawaiian island of Maui tells of the cancellation of plans to expand the island's Kahului international airport. The expansion was opposed by environmentalists because it promoted the spread of alien species -- on of the greatest destroyers of Hawaiian native species. "The important point for conservationists", says Rich, "is that we still have to press ahead to get Hawaii state government to seriously improve current alien species detection and quarantine facilities at ports of entry across the state".

Ecological Forecasting Feb 26 2000

This article makes the case that ecological forecasting "could spell the difference between helpless reaction to environmental changes and dynamic action to head off catastrophes".

RIC comments:  Information can be used in many ways, and more information will not by itself enable us to avoid catastrophes. So long human beings fail to respect  natural forces, the basic trends will remain the same. Accurate ecological predictions will simply be used to develop strategies designed appease peoples' concerns, rather than to stop the behaviour that is causing the problems in the first place.

RUSSIA: Wood Wars: Corruption Threatens Welfare of Siberia Feb 26 2000

Russia's forests are among the nation's most valuable resources. But   their chaotic exploitation means that wise guys and foreigners are the main ones reaping the rewards.

GAIA: Hotspots the Key to Species Survival Feb 26 2000

Over a third of the Earth's species exist exclusively on 1.4% of its land. Consequently, say the authors of an article in Nature, conservationists just need to focus on safeguarding 25 species-rich ``hotspots'' - mostly tropical rain forests. RIC comments: Conserving species in the manner suggested would be far better than not conserving them at all. However this should not be taken as an excuse to continue plundering all the other parts of the planet on the basis that species are being preserved in special hotspots. A museum-like preservation of species in a few areas falls far short of living in harmony with the rest of the planet.

COLOMBIA: U'wa update: 3 children killed!ACTION Feb 19 2000

US oil giant Occidental Petroleum, has been given the go ahead to begin drilling on the homelands of the Colombian rainforest-dwelling U'wa people, despite their threat to commit collective suicide if the Colombian government allowed  th companuuy to invade their land. Three childeren have been killed in protests and a general strike in support of the U'wa has been called in the U'wa region.

USA/COLOMBIA: U'wa Defenders Challenge Gore, Two Arrests Feb 12 2000

In an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, two environmental and indigenous rights activists, holding a banner that read, "Want My Vote? Save the U'wa" entered and disrupted a Lincoln Center event narrated by Vice-President Al Gore. The activists challenged Gore to intervene to stop impending drilling on the homelands of the Colombian rainforest-dwelling U'wa people by the oil giant Occidental Petroleum, in which Gore is a major shareholder.

USA:Clinton Plans to Double US Funding for Rainforest Protection Feb 7 2000

This has been quite a hopeful and positive week for the Global Forest Sustainability agenda. Here is the latest: President Clinton is to unveil $150 million for rainforest conservation for next year's  budget, double previous funding levels. While the money helps, this  is also important because it shows renewed leadership by the US in addressing the destruction of tropical rainforests. In some small way, all of our efforts are contributing to this and other recent policy advancements. Keep up the work, don't get discouraged, and never doubt that the most committed side wins.g.b.

GAIA: United Nations Seeks Solutions to Global Forest Crisis Feb 7 2000

Threats posed to the existence of remaining global forests continue to have a higher international profile. Following is coverage of  UN efforts in this regard.

GAIA: Frogs' disappearance baffles scientists Jan 30 2000

Australian scientists have joined an international effort to attempt to solve a worldwide environmental mystery: a drastic decline in frog numbers. Researchers are concerned that even frogs in pristine areas of rainforest are continuing to die for no apparent reason. But the decline in frog numbers could be a warning of a much more serious ecological problem.

USA/COLOMBIA: Activists arrested urging Gore to help halt U'wa drilling Jan 30 2000

Eight activists  were arrested for staging a sit-in at Al Gore's presidential campaign  headquarters. The protesters want Gore to use his connections with Occidental Petroleum (Oxy)  to stop the U.S. corporation from drilling on indigenous U'wa lands in Colombia. The groups say Gore holds  about $500,000 in Oxy stock, and has received  campaign contributions from the company.

INDONESIA: Forests Are Vanishing Far Faster Than Thought Jan 27 2000

New satellite imagery indicates Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Sumatra, Indonesia show a shocking loss of more than 17 million hectares of  rainforests in 12 years. "This is one-fourth of the total Indonesian  forest cover that existed in 1985... the nationwide annual  deforestation rate is at least 1.5 million hectares..."  A small percentage of yearly military expenditure, or for that   matter, what was spent to save us from the Y2K bug, would fund  rainforest conservation projects that would slow, if not halt, the decline of priceless tropical rainforest ecosystems. It is time to  demand that this expenditure be made. Organize and agitate. g.b.

PNG: Move to Stop Large-Scale Logging Jan 13 2000 ACTION

The new Papua New Guinea (PNG) government has announced its   intention to impose a moratorium on new logging, and to review  existing logging concessions. Please take the time to congratulate Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta by email for his bold move. It is  important. g.b.

GAIA: Twenty five Primate Species Could Be Gone in 20 Years Jan 12 2000

Most of these species live in tropical forests, and the main threat to their survival is habitat loss. This means that all the causes of rainforest destruction -- including skewed land ownership, third world poverty, western-style development, over consumption, overpopulation and cash cropping, are implicated in this problem. Measures such as increased reserve areas and cracking down on the bushmeat trade may be essential in the short term, but unless the underlying issues are addressed, long-term survival of these and many other species will not be possible.

INDONESIA: Govt. Warned Over Forest Crisis Jan 12 2000

Indonesia's abysmal forest management practices continue to be highlighted internationally. The World Bank has decided it may  withdraw support for forest protection projects as a result of  continued failure to stop illegal cutting and burning.  

COLOMBIA: Occidental Set to Drill on U'wa Land Jan 8 2000 ACTION

The gross exploitation of indigenous peoples and their lands, largely for the short-term profit of aggressive outsiders, continues. Occidental Petroleum is proceeding with a massive oil project in the traditional territory of the U'wa of Colombia. Please take the time to assist them and Rainforest Action Network in halting this violation of human rights and ecological integrity. More information on the U'wa campaign can be found on Rainforest Action Network's web site at: http://www.ran.org/ran_campaigns/beyond_oil/index.html   

AUSTRALIA: NSW Premier: "We're Dancing on Our Graves" Jan 7 2000

If this article was written an environmental activist, it would not be particularly unusual.What is significant is that these words were written by a prominent conservative politician, and they were read by millions of people on the front page of Sydney's major daily newspaper.  Bob Carr has been a disappointment to environmentalists who had high hopes for him when he first became premier of New South Wales, Australia's most populous state. The following essay shows his green leanings remain -- even if he doesn't always lean far enough when it really counts. The article is followed by some reactions to the premier's thoughts.

EUROPE: Storms a disaster for timber markets - UN  5 Jan 2000

Storms in Europe have caused widespread damage to forests. This article seems to suggest the timber trade is more important than the forests themselves.

ECUADOR: Unprotected Protected Areas ACTION 4 Jan 2000

Oil activity in Ecuador has been and continues to be a  permanent threat to protected areas. Please respond to this Action Request about the activities of   Vintage Oil and the City Investing oil company.

WTO:   After Seattle the struggle goes on Jan 2 2000

When WTO talks collapsed in Seattle late last year, the world's forests were spared a move which would have increased deforestation worldwide. This was a major victory for environmental activists who took part in the massive anti-WTO actions in Seattle. However, the victory is far from final. According to George Monbiot, European officials "waited less than a fortnight to launch the next attempt to facilitate a corporate takeover of the world. At the Helsinki summit of European leaders last week the fallback scheme began to be implemented".