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MEDIA REPORTS

FORESTS, DESERTS AND LAND

This page was updated on: 01/13/10

 

2003

 

Forests, Deserts and Land Media Reports Archives: 2010; 2009; 2008; 2007; 2006; 2005; 2004; 2002

DECEMBER 2003

 

COALITION AGREES TO BAN INDUSTRIAL ACTIVITIES IN CANADIAN FOREST

An agreement announced on 1 December 2003 would exempt more than half of Canada's vast northern forest, about 1 million square miles in all, from industrial activities, including logging and oil and gas exploration. The agreement reached by a coalition of native tribes, environmentalists, and businesses seeks to protect an evergreen expanse that has large bear, wolf and caribou populations, along with other species and hundreds of native communities. Approval by national and local governments is now necessary, as 90 percent of the forest is under public ownership.

 

Links to further information

Environmental News Network, 2 December 2003

http://www.enn.com/news/2003-12-02/s_10903.asp

 

NOVEMBER 2003

 

MEXICO’S FORESTS IN THE NEWS

Two recent developments promise to boost protection for Mexican forests. First, USAID pledged US$25 million over the next five years to better protect Mexico’s forests. Of this sum, US$900,000 will be directed to the Rainforest Alliance, an environmental group that works with logging interests to ensure they obtain wood from sustainable forests and then develops new markets for certified timber. Also, in operations that began on 7 November, police and environmental inspectors in central Michoacan state have confiscated the equivalent of 380 truckloads of wood with no documented origin. These inspection operations are part of an effort to protect millions of monarch butterflies that migrate to Mexico from the eastern United States and Canada each fall. Butterfly experts have warned that illegal logging could end the annual butterfly migration.

 

Links to further information

Environmental News Network, 28 November 2003

http://www.enn.com/news/2003-11-28/s_10849.asp

Environmental News Network, 18 November 2003

http://www.enn.com/news/2003-11-18/s_10501.asp

 

UPPER HOUSE IN RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT BLOCKS LOGGING AMENDMENTS

On 26 November 2003, the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, failed to pass amendments to the Russian Forest Code that would have lead to widespread logging by private companies throughout the country. The Forest Code of the Russian Federation adopted in 1997 declares that all forests of the country are owned by the state. The lower house in Russia’s parliament, the State Duma, sponsored the amendments, which if passed would have given any private company the opportunity to buy forested land or use it for up to 99 years and then buy it.

 

Links to further information

Environment News Service, 26 November 2003

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/nov2003/2003-11-26-04.asp

 

ECUADOR TO WORK WITH PRIVATE SECTOR TO SLOW DEFORESTATION

An $800 million programme to reduce the pace of deforestation in Ecuador is expected to be approved by its president this year. The 20-year plan would plant new trees and protect old forests, with 70% of project financing coming from the private sector and 30% from the government.

 

Links to further information

Environmental News Network, 20 November 2003

http://www.enn.com/news/2003-11-20/s_10605.asp

 

BRAZIL DEVELOPS PLAN TO PREVENT FURTHER DEFORESTATION OF THE AMAZON

The Brazilian government presented an “Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon” to ministers and environmentalists in early November. This plan was designed in response to figures released by the country’s National Institute of Space Research in June, which indicated that the Amazon lost 25,500 square kilometers of forested land in 2002, 40 percent higher than in 2001. The plan seeks to stop deforestation and the illegal occupation of land in the region and to compel the government to review major projects, including the construction of hydroelectric plants and new roads. Local governments and environmental groups will discuss the proposal until the end of November. Environment Minister Marina Silva expects the plan to be implemented in 2004.

 

Links to further information

UN Wire, 13 November 2003

http://www.unwire.org/UNWire/20031113/449_10389.asp

Environmental News Network, 14 November 2003

http://www.enn.com/news/2003-11-14/s_10411.asp

 

OCTOBER 2003

 

LOGGING IN MYANMAR THREATENS RICH FORESTS
Myanmar’s government is using timber revenue to suppress insurgent groups and giving logging concessions to rebel groups to keep the peace according to London-based Global Witness’ report “A Conflict of Interest: The Uncertain Future of Burma’s Forests.” Deforestation has resulted in this country whose forests contain 60 percent of the world’s teak trees. The report also suggests that the government has used Myanmar’s forests to generate international political favors. Chinese laborers are employed in the timber trade in Myanmar and charge exorbitant prices for their work; in exchange, China has criticized the US and European sanctions imposed on Myanmar after the detention of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

 

Links to further information

Global Witness’ report - A Conflict of Interest - The Uncertain Future of Burma’s Forests

http://www.globalwitness.org/reports/show.php/en.00046.html

UN Wire, 9 October 2003

http://www.unwire.org/UNWire/20031009/449_9269.asp

 

SEPTEMBER 2003

 

FAO CALLS FOR LOCAL COMMUNITIES’ INVOLVEMENT IN MANAGING FORESTS
In the face of one of the worst fire seasons in recent history, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) called for local community involvement in forest management and protection to help stem the destruction caused by forest fires. “Where people have an interest in protecting their forest resources, forest fires started by people will more or less disappear,” FAO Forest Fire Officer Mike Jurvelius reported in a news release. In this past year, Portugal has lost over three times more than the average loss during the last two decades, and Russia over double last year’s loss. Jurvelius also noted that “Countries such as Austria, Germany and Switzerland have successfully contained forest fires. For centuries, they have run awareness campaigns educating people about the functions and values of their forests. In addition, local communities and private forest owners care about their forests because their livelihoods depend on the forest resources.”

 

Links to further information

UN news center, 9 September 2003

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=8191&Cr=forest&Cr1=fire

 

CMS AND CCD SECRETARIATS SIGN MOU TO DEVELOP SPECIFIC TARGETED ACTIONS
The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) during the sixth session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD agreeing to cooperate in the development of specific targeted actions to address issues relating to migratory species in areas affected by drought and desertification. In the memorandum, the two conventions agree to participate in each other’s major meetings and to share information of mutual interest. The MOU also requires the UNCCD Secretariat to call on the Parties to the UNCCD to integrate the concerns of migratory species into their national, subregional and regional action programmes and to consult with the CMS in identifying areas critical to the conservation and management of migratory species. Case study collection and a workshop are planned as preliminary steps, following the signing, to identify existing synergies between the two conventions.

 

Links to further information

CCD press release, 2 September 2003

http://www.unccd.int/publicinfo/pressrel/showpressrel.php?pr=press02_09_03

CCD website

http://www.unccd.int

CMS website

http://www.wcmc.org.uk/cms

 

JUNE 2003

 

PROJECTS TARGET YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT AND DESERTIFICATION IN FOUR COUNTRIES

Youth in Niger, Argentina, China and Mozambique will soon be involved in reforestation and other efforts to combat desertification in their countries.  

“Youth Corps for the Rehabilitation of Degraded Lands and the Environment in Niger” is a three-year project launched by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Niger. Through it, youth will be trained to undertake anti-erosion measures, create tree nurseries, protect riverbanks, clean organic waste and keep bees. The activities will be defined jointly by the youth themselves, several ministries in the government of Niger, non-governmental organizations, rural communities, community-based organizations, the private sector and the two international UN organizations. The US$450,000 project is funded with contributions from the governments of Italy and Venezuela.

 

The Italian Government and the UNCCD Secretariat signed the agreement to implement three reforestation pilot projects in Argentina, China and Mozambique. UNDP will also be the implementing agency for these projects, which will target youth job creation and seek to strengthen synergies between the Conventions on Biodiversity, Climate Change and Desertification. All three projects will seek to rehabilitate degraded land, create income-generating activities, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and restore and protect biodiversity. At the same time, they will aim to raise awareness and strengthen the role of youth and civil society organizations in the promotion of sustainable development in these fragile ecosystems.

 

Links to further information

UNCCD website and contact
http://www.unccd.int and ckwon@unccd.int

 

ENVIRONMENT MINISTERS ENDORSE DESERTIFICATION AGREEMENT
Ministers from 30 Asian and Pacific countries recently signed the Abu Dhabi Declaration for the Implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD), calling for global efforts to address the problem of desertification. The Declaration urges nations to adopt national action programmes to combat desertification and called on the Global Environment Facility to enhance support to countries affected by desertification. Strategies specified in the Declaration included: investigating the causes of desertification, establishing a network for information sharing, implementing control measures, and strengthening agricultural productivity through sustainable land management. The Declaration is adopted ahead of the upcoming meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD to be held in August 2003 in Havana, Cuba.

 

Links to further information

UN wire, 12 June 2003

http://www.unwire.org/UNWire/20030612/449_5001.asp

 

MAY 2003

 

EU LAUNCHES ACTION PLAN TO COMBAT ILLEGAL TIMBER TRADE
On 21 May 2003, the European Union launched its Action Plan for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT), which is designed to curb the growing trade in illicit logging and illegally harvested timber in wood-producing countries using preventative measures. Through the FLEGT Plan, the EU will help partner countries build systems to check that timber has been harvested legally, take measures to prevent investment in activities that encourage illegal logging, address problems posed by the use of revenues from illegal logging to fund and prolong armed conflicts, and introduce a voluntary licensing scheme, obliging countries issue a permit attesting to the legality of timber exported to the EU.
 

FERN (Forests and the European Union Resource Network) criticized the Action Plan for not going far enough. While welcoming the EU Action Plan, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) considers that the plan does not effectively address a number of key issues, including the need for developing an appropriate regulation to ensure that the EU and its member states take measures to eliminate the threat posed by illegal timber trade to environmental, social and economic interests at both a national and international level, and the need to enhance transparency and accountability in the activities of the trade and finance sector involved in the timber trade.


Links to further information

EU press release, 21 May 2003
http://europa.eu.int/rapid/start/cgi/guesten.ksh?p_action.gettxt=gt&doc
=IP/03/718|0|RAPID&lg=EN&display
EU Action Plan on FLEGT

http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/com/cnc/2003/com2003_0251en01.pdf

The Royal Institute of International Affair’s “Illegal-logging.info” website
http://www.illegal-logging.info/

WWF press release, 21 May 2003

http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/what_we_do/forests/news/news.cfm?uNewsID=7206

 

GEF COUNCIL ADOPTS OPERATIONAL MODALITIES ON SUSTAINABLE LAND MANAGEMENT

At its May 2003 meeting, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council adopted operational modalities on sustainable land management, designating land degradation, primarily desertification and deforestation, as the Fund's fifth focal area. GEF assistance will cover three types of interventions: capacity building that will help mainstream sustainable land management into national development priorities; on-the-ground investments that will improve the economic well-being of local people; and targeted research aimed at providing information, knowledge and tools to improve the quality and effectiveness of GEF projects. After the expected endorsement of this decision by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification's Conference of the Parties in September 2003, country Parties affected by desertification may directly apply to the GEF for funding of related projects.

 

Links to further information

UNCCD press release, 19 May 2003
http://www.unccd.int/publicinfo/pressrel/showpressrel.php?pr=press19_05_03

 

NEW INITIATIVE PROMOTES VOLUNTEERISM FOR SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT

On 8 May 2003, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) and the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) launched a joint initiative to tackle both youth unemployment and land degradation in Cape Verde. National UN Volunteers and local education institutions supporting youth centers will work with the Government’s Youth Secretariat to instruct Cape Verdean trainers on how to start up pro-environment small businesses that protect the islands’ fragile biodiversity, such as irrigation, coastal palm tree plantations, recycling, rubbish removal and handicrafts. New trainers will also learn about social mobilization techniques and how volunteering plays an important role in development efforts, including those to preserve the environment. The trainers will then offer instruction to young unemployed people in practical ways to start up enterprises that promote conservation. They will also encourage community participation through volunteerism and increased public awareness of environmental protection measures and will work to transform existing youth centers into volunteer centers, with a longer-term goal of setting up a national volunteer corps.

 

�As a pilot project, the involvement of unemployed youth, which make up 36 percent of the population, in the rehabilitation of degraded land is significant as it tackles at once both poverty and desertification, which are mutually reinforcing,� said Hama Arba Diallo, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD. �This is exemplary of how inter-agency cooperation can directly help people most vulnerable to environmental degradation to improve their livelihood while also conserving the environment.�

 

The two-year project, �Promoting Volunteerism for Sustainable Management of the Environment in Cape Verde,� is being funded with nearly $300,000 from UNV�s Special Voluntary Fund, $100,000 from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and $100,000 from UNCCD. The project will serve as a catalyst and road map for replication in other countries of Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean affected by land degradation.
 

Links to further information

Cheemin Kwon, UNCCD, e-mail: ckwon@unccd.int

Stanislao Tarony, UNV, e-mail: stanislao.tarony@unvolunteers.org
 

NEW WEST AFRICAN REGIONAL STRATEGY DEALS WITH CLIMATE CHANGE AND DESERTIFICATION

The general preparedness of the countries of West Africa to climate variability and change is low, even when they already feel the impacts of desertification. It is also a region where many of the rivers are shared by different countries. The Senegal River flows through Guinea, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal and the Niger River, the longest in West Africa, flows through Guinea, Mali, Niger and Nigeria. In such a context, effective mitigation of the impacts of climate change can only be achieved if countries work together on the management of their shared water resources.

 

Responding to this need, representatives from the region formulated a strategy called �Water, Climate Change and Desertification in West Africa: strategy and plan of action for regional preparedness and adaptation.� Experts, policy makers and river basin managers met at a workshop, jointly organized by IUCN-The World Conservation Union�s Regional Office for West Africa, the Inter-States Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) and the Global Water Partnership- West African Water Partnership (GWP-WAWP), from 23-25 April 2003 in Bamako, Mali to improve the strategy and move towards regional implementation.

 

The regional strategy aims to increase the awareness of decision-makers and increase coordination and sharing of knowledge between various governments and institutions in West Africa. Many of the future impacts of climate change, especially at a regional or national level, are still unknown. �We are working towards the regional pooling of expertise. We need more knowledge on the impacts of climate change as much as we need to review laws, find resources, and take action for integrated water management,� said Professor Abel Afouda, one of the contributors to the draft regional strategy.

 

Links to further information

IUCN�s Water and Nature Initiative news, 6 May 2003

http://www.iucn.org/themes/wani/news/BRAO6May2003.html
 

JANUARY 2003

 

UNEP PLEDGES TO HELP NEW KENYAN GOVERNMENT WITH FOREST AND RIVER MANAGEMENT
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced its plans to enhance the management of land and water resources flowing from Mount Kenya. The multi-million-dollar project will also back Kenyan government efforts to reduce illegal water removal in the rivers and streams feeding the Tana River. The project, which ranges from schemes to help coffee farmers use water more wisely to initiatives aimed at reducing soil erosion from roads, will be submitted to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in Washington, DC for approval at the end of January.
 

The announcement came following a meeting between UNEP Executive Director Klaus T�pfer and Kenya�s new Environment Minister Newton Kulundu and Assistant Environment Minister Wangari Maathai. The Aberdare Mountain range was also discussed, based on growing concern that the Aberdares, whose rivers and streams provide Nairobi's drinking water, suffer from poor environmental conditions as a result of deforestation and the planting of unsuitable, non-native trees. T�pfer reported that a UNEP report on the mountain range, which was written in cooperation with organizations such as the Kenya Wildlife Service, will be published soon.

 

Links to further information

UNEP press release, 21 January 2003

http://www.unep.org/Documents/Default.asp?DocumentID=277&ArticleID=3195  

 

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