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MEDIA REPORTS

FORESTS, DESERTS AND LAND

This page was updated on: 01/13/10

 

2004

 

Biodiversity and Wildlife Media Reports Archives: 2010; 2009; 2008; 2007; 2006; 2005; 2003; 2002

DECEMBER 2004

 

NEW PROTECTED AREAS ESTABLISHED IN AMAZON

The Brazilian State of Amazonas has announced the creation of a mosaic of protected areas totaling over three million hectares in the southern part of the state, according to a recent press announcement. The Apui mosaic covers an area that is slightly smaller than the state of Belgium. It consists of nine inter-connected conservation areas: two state parks that emphasize nature protection, four state forests that focus on sustainable forest management, and three extractive and sustainable use reserves that provide options for traditional people and resource users to practice sustainable harvesting.

 

Links to further information

Brazil Protects Three Million Hectares of Amazon Forests, WWF press release, 23 Dec 2004

 

FOREST STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL AWARDED US$1 MILLION FOR COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABILITY

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has been awarded the first Alcan Prize for Sustainability—and one million dollars in prize money. The FSC’s work focuses on developing standards for responsible forest management, based on global principles and criteria promoting environmentally appropriate, socially responsible and economically viable management of the world’s forests. FSC standards are implemented through a forest certification system and recognized in the market through a distinctive trademark and labeling system.

 

Alcan, a multinational aluminum and packaging company, created the Alcan Prize for Sustainability in January 2004 to recognize outstanding contributions to the goal of economic, environmental, and social sustainability by not-for-profit, non-governmental and civil society organizations. The International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF) manages the application and selection process to ensure the credibility and objectivity of the Prize.

 

Four hundred eighty-eight submissions were received from 79 countries for the 2004 prize, which was awarded to FSC on 15 December 2004. Highlighting its reasons for selecting FSC, the Adjudication Panel noted that “the FSC has pioneered an innovative, market-based approach to responsible forest management by linking forest management to the market through certification and product labeling. In doing so, it has created partnerships through a value chain that includes producers, retailers, and consumers. This ambitious sustainability model works through strong partnerships with a range of stakeholders around the world.”

 

Links to further information

Alcan Press Release, 15 December 2004  

 

NOVEMBER 2004

 

UNDP, UNCCD AGREE ON MAINSTREAMING NATIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES

The UN bodies responsible for development issues and desertification have agreed on a plan to help mainstream national plans to combat desertification into the broader development agenda. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) recently struck a deal that will allow UNDP Resident Representatives to mainstream “National Action Programmes” (NAPs) designed to combat desertification into development planning processes at the country level.

 

The agreement covers activities related to policy advocacy, capacity building and promotion of best practices for sustainable land management to support countries in responding to their obligations under the UNCCD. Assistance to countries will also include advisory services to improve the NAP process, and advocacy support to raise public awareness at the local level. Approximately 70 countries have adopted NAPs. The agreement also calls on UNDP, as an implementing agency of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), to work with the UNCCD Secretariat in exploring ways to facilitate the efforts of affected countries to access GEF funds.

 

Links to further information

UNCCD news release, November 2004

 

“GREEN POLICE” TO PROTECT AMAZON

Brazil has opened Latin America’s largest environmental police training camp as part of ongoing efforts to protect the Amazon. Commenting on the new police academy, Brazil’s Environment Minister Marina Silva noted that, while the country’s environmental laws are among the most rigorous in the developing world, Brazil still struggles to enforce them due to resource constraints and objections from business and agricultural elites who believe environmental protection impedes progress. According to Reuters, federal police agents at the academy will learn how to raid illegal mining and squatter camps, stop foreigners from stealing plant and animal species and “shoot straight in the jungle.” The academy opened on 16 November 2004.

 

In related news, the Brazilian non-governmental organization Imazon released a study in late November containing satellite photos showing that land occupation and deforestation now covers approximately 47 percent of the Amazon. The group reported that this level of destruction is worse than government data have shown.

 

Links to further information

Mongabay website/Reuters news article, 17 November 2004

Forest Conservation Portal/Reuters news article, 23 November 2004

Imazon’s study: Forest Facts in the Brazilian Amazon 2003

 

OVER 2 MILLION HECTARES DECLARED PROTECTED IN BRAZILIAN AMAZON
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva created two new environmental reserves in the Amazon on 9 November 2004. The reserves are to be classified as “extractavist” reserves, meaning that the local population will be allowed to remain in the area to tap rubber, pick fruits and nuts and extract regenerating goods from the forest. The new reserves will protect over 2 million hectares in the Amazon state of Para. Greenpeace’s Amazon campaign coordinator Paulo Adario expressed pleasure with “the government’s decision to honor its commitment to protect the planet’s biggest tropical forest and the communities that live in them.” The announcement came on the heels of the release, at the October meeting of the Latin American and Caribbean Forestry Commission, of FAO projections that the region will see less natural forest cover but more protected areas and forest plantations by 2020.

 

Links to further information

Brazil Creates Two New Forest Reserves, ENN, 10 November 2004

Major Win for the Amazon and Local Communities, Greenpeace press release, 9 November 2004

More protected areas and planted forests in Latin America and the Caribbean, FAO news release, 20 October 2004

 

MEXICAN FARMERS EYEING INTERNATIONAL BAMBOO MARKET

Mexican farmers are taking an interest in bamboo production, according to a recent Associated Press report. Bambuver, a private group in Mexico that was formed to promote the bamboo industry, receives government funds and coordinates its activities with private organizations and universities. It is also talking with private Mexican industries about using bamboo in construction and paper production and as a fuel. A type of grass that thrives in diverse climates, bamboo can grow into 100-foot timber stalks. It also grows quickly, taking only three years for a farmer to develop a bamboo plantation.

 

China currently claims about half the global bamboo market, which is valued at approximately US$10 billion. Analysts predict the market could be worth $20 billion by 2015, led by US demand for paper. Bamboo from Mexico could reach Europe in 11 days versus the 44 days required to transport imports from China and Thailand. Mexican bamboo producers also see their efforts as one way to reclaim US market share that has been lost to China over textiles, televisions, automobiles and computer parts.

 

Links to further information

Mexico Dreams of Challenging China in Bamboo Market, ENN, 2 November 2004  

 

OCTOBER 2004

 

BRAZILIAN CONGRESS TO CONSIDER CONTROVERSIAL PLAN FOR SUSTAINABLE USE OF AMAZON

A plan that would grant access to public land for sustainable use, initially for 30 years, is soon heading to the Brazilian Congress. Under the plan, licenses would be allocated under a system of competitive bids between Brazilian firms. Those granted licenses would pay an annual fee determined by what they extract from their plot. Potential areas considered under this plan amount to approximately two percent of the Amazon forest. Brazil’s O Globo newspaper has described the plan as one that will “privatize the Amazon” and has accused the government of wanting to sell land to private enterprises, including non-Brazilians. Citing a number of ways the proposal could be improved, Brazil’s Friends of the Earth director, Roberto Smeraldi urged a change in the proposed use of flexible payments, noting that this method is not likely to encourage the most economical use of land or stimulate good forestry management.

 

Links to further information

Guardian Unlimited, 1 October 2004

 

JULY 2004

 

BRAZIL’S ARMY ENTERS FIGHT AGAINST ILLEGAL DEFORESTATION

Brazil’s Environment and Defense ministers signed a cooperation pact on 13 July 2004 through which the environment ministry will provide 100 million reals (more than US$3 million) to the defense ministry for the services of 100 soldiers and 18 helicopters. The agreement also provides for environmental protection agents to gain access to military bases. The soldiers are expected to transport environmental enforcement agents around the Amazon region and to help set up road blocks and checkpoints on the region’s rivers.

 

Links to further information

ENN story, 14 July 2004

http://www.enn.com/news/2004-07-14/s_25815.asp

UN Wire, 14 July 2004

http://www.unwire.org/UNWire/20040714/449_25841.asp

 

JUNE 2004

 

GM TREES DESTROYED IN FINLAND

Four hundred genetically modified birch trees in eastern Finland were chopped down or torn up by their roots over the 19-20 June 2004 weekend. Police did not know who was behind the attack on Finland’s only research into the environmental impact of biotechnology on forests. The site was fenced but unguarded. “The research investigated the possible environmental effects of doing field studies using genetically modified materials” said research station head Juhani Haggman, who also discussed the value of the loss. “We are talking about several hundreds of thousands of euros in losses. The highest estimates that have been aired have been close to a million euros ($1.21 million). Then there’s the value the research results would have had.” The forestry industry hopes genetic modification could cut paper-making costs and improve products by producing trees with suitable traits. Some environmental groups fear genetically modified trees could contaminate food crops and wild species, which was an issue under consideration by the study.

 

Links to further information

Reuters AlertNet, 23 June 2004

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L23613651.htm

ENN news story, 24 June 2004

http://www.enn.com/news/2004-06-24/s_25187.asp

 

UNCCD TURNS 10 ON WORLD DAY TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION

On 17 June 2004, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification celebrated the 10th anniversary since its negotiations were completed in Paris, France. Events were organized worldwide to mark the occasion and statements by individuals involved in the original negotiations as well as from other UN bodies were offered.

 

Bo Kjellén, who chaired the negotiations of the Convention, reminisced that “the Convention, negotiated at great speed, has…stood the test of time, and demonstrated its usefulness to the international community as one of the Rio Conventions…” Greetings from Hamdallah Zedan, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, highlighted that, “As is illustrated by the Theme chosen for this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought – Social Dimensions of Desertification: Migration and Poverty – there is a strong correlation between living in drylands and living in poverty… I pledge renewed efforts to reinforce the positive synergies that together we can bring to bear on meeting our shared goal of achieving by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss and thus, a significant alleviation of world poverty.”

 

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message on World Day to Combat Desertification noted that the General Assembly has declared 2006 the International Year of Deserts and Desertification and congratulated “all the stakeholders on the achievements of the past decade, and encourage them to confirm and strengthen their commitment to the UNCCD process.”

 

The UNCCD Secretariat marked the completion of the Convention’s first 10 years with the launch of a new awareness campaign. “Skin erosion: Soil is the planet’s skin. Desertification threatens its surface” is the message that the UNCCD hopes the international community will remember when thinking about desertification and its effects on the planet.

 

Links to further information

UNCCD newsroom, 17 June 2004

http://www.unccd.int/publicinfo/june17/greeting.php

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s statement

http://www.unccd.int/publicinfo/statement/annan2004.php

UNCCD’s global awareness campaign

http://unccd.int/publicinfo/publications/poster.php

 

PARTNERSHIP DELIVERS SEED MONEY FOR AMAZON PROTECTED AREAS FUND

WWF officials recently presented Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva with a check for $500,000 in seed money for the Amazon Regional Protected Areas (ARPA) trust fund. ARPA is a partnership that was launched at the World Summit on Sustainable Development between the Brazilian government, WWF, the Brazilian Biodiversity Fund, the German Development Bank, the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The GEF contributed a matching $500,000 grant for the fund’s initial capitalization. The ultimate objective is a fully capitalized fund of $240 million, which will be used to maintain and protect a 193,000 square mile network of national parks and sustainable use reserves – an area larger than the entire US National Park System. More than 20,000 square miles of new protected areas have already been established under ARPA, and other areas have been mapped and are undergoing scientific evaluation for inclusion in the ARPA network.

 

Links to further information

WWF ARPA feature webpage

http://www.worldwildlife.org/forests/projects/arpa.cfm

ENS, 4 June 2004

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jun2004/2004-06-04-03.asp

World Bank press release on the launch of ARPA at the WSSD http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES
/LACEXT/BRAZILEXTN/0,,contentMDK:20064863~menuPK:322361
~pagePK:141137~piPK:141127~theSitePK:322341,00.html

 

MARCH 2004

 

INDONESIA MOVES TO STOP MONEY LAUNDERING IN ILLEGAL LOGGING ACTIVITIES

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Government of Indonesia have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to combat money laundering related to illegal logging in Indonesia. The MOU covers activities ranging from data sharing to training to the formulation of guidelines to help financial institutions identify money-laundering activities and eventually prevent them. Revised money laundering legislation in Indonesia seeks to place the onus on banks to report to the Indonesian Government’s Financial Transaction and Report Analysis Center (PPATK) any transactions suspected of being connected with crimes against the forests and the environment, such as illegal logging.

 

CIFOR’s policy analyst Bambang Setiono said “Indonesia is the first country in the world to include environmental and forest crimes in anti-money laundering legislation. This new law will help remove Indonesia from the OECD’s Financial Action Task Force’s list of un-cooperative countries in its global crack down on money laundering activities.”

 

Links to further information

Future Harvest news release, 23 March 2004

http://www.futureharvest.org/news/ill_logging.shtml

 

BRAZIL ANNOUNCES ANTIDEFORESTATION PLAN

Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva announced a new system of satellite monitoring, investigation and laws to curb deforestation in the Amazon. Under the $136 million annual plan, the National Institute for Space Research will monitor the jungle using satellites, several ministries in addition to environmental agencies will be responsible for antideforestation programmes, and the government will push for a law that makes it illegal to occupy and deforest public lands. According to Reuters, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva promised to introduce satellite monitoring last year when he noted a 40 percent increase in the destruction of the Amazon from 2001 to 2002. Critics have complained that the plan is not new, but merely repackages existing activities.

 

Links to further information

Environment News Service, 18 March 2004

http://forests.org/articles/reader.asp?linkid=30289

Environmental News Network, 16 March 2004

http://www.enn.com/news/2004-03-16/s_14039.asp

 

INDONESIA CONSIDERS INSTITUTING DEATH PENALTY FOR ILLEGAL LOGGING

Come April 2004, the Indonesia government will consider issuing a Presidential decree instituting the death penalty for illegal loggers and corrupt officials who help them. More than 90 percent of the timber cut in Indonesia is illegal, and some environmentalists predict that Indonesia’s hardwood forests will disappear within the decade given limited replanting programmes to replace the thousands of acres of timber destroyed annually. A senior official at the nature conservation directorate of the Forestry Ministry, Fachrir Fathoni, said “We are seriously considering the death penalty. We want to get the big players.”

 

Links to further information

Environmental News Network, 16 March 2004

http://www.enn.com/news/2004-03-16/s_14046.asp

 

FEBRUARY 2004

 

TROPICAL FORESTS IN BORNEO DISAPPEARING FASTER THAN EXPECTED

Tropical forests in Borneo are disappearing faster than previously thought, according to Indonesian and American researchers in a recent issue of Science. Using field, aerial and remote-sensing surveys to assess forest loss, the study found that over half of protected lowland forests disappeared between 1985 and 2001 through logging and human land use. The researchers call for “international efforts to document a legitimate chain-of-custody from the forest stand to consumers” to stem the flow of illegal wood from Borneo.

 

Links to further information

Lowland Forest Loss in Protected Areas of Indonesian Borneo, Science, 13 February 2004

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/303/5660/1000?
ijkey=5akJNF1Tzunj2&keytype=ref&siteid=sci

SciDev.Net, 13 February 2004

http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews
&itemid=1234&language=1

 

RAMIN TRADE GIVES RISE TO MUTUAL ACCUSATIONS
Indonesia and Malaysia exchanged accusations over trade in ramin, an endangered tree species. On 12 February, the Indonesian government accused Malaysia of illegally smuggling ramin from Indonesia and called for a global boycott of Malaysian wood products. Malaysian Primary Industries Minister Lim Keng Yaik said the criticism indicated “malicious intent” to pressure his country to prohibit the ramin trade, and added that ramin production in Malaysia is sustainable. Indonesia banned trade and export of ramin in August 2001 through the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Malaysia did not agree to the ramin ban, but is required to document the origin of ramin timber as a CITES signatory.

 

Links to further information

UN Wire, 12 and 13 February 2004

http://www.unwire.org/UNWire/20040213/449_13136.asp

http://www.unwire.org/UNWire/20040212/449_13066.asp

ENN, 13 February 2004

http://www.enn.com/news/2004-02-13/s_13124.asp

 

ILLEGAL LOGGING DESTROYING INDONESIAN RAINFORESTS

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) along with Telapak, an Indonesian partner organization, has recently released a report documenting the trade in timber from ramin, an endangered Indonesian tree species. The report presents evidence tracing illegally cut Indonesian ramin to Malaysia, where it is given false certificates of origin for export. Indonesia banned trade and export of ramin in August 2001 through the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Malaysia did not agree to the ramin ban, but is required to document the origin of ramin timber as a CITES signatory. The Indonesian government estimates approximately 90 percent of logging in the country is illegal.

 

Links to further information

ENN news story, 6 February 2004

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/feb2004/2004-02-06-11.asp.

EIA’s website

http://www.eia-international.org/index_shocked.shtml

 

JANUARY 2004

 

CRACKDOWN ON ILLEGAL LOGGING IN MEXICO HASN’T SLOWED DEFORESTATION
A recent crackdown on illegal logging has not slowed deforestation in the monarch butterfly’s winter habitat. Police and environmental prosecutors closed down illegal sawmills, arrested 28 people and confiscated illegally harvested lumber in central Mexico in November 2003. But Lincoln Brower, an ecologist watching the monarch migration to Mexico, said deforestation continues and the law enforcement effort to protect these butterflies has not been effective.

 

Links to further information

ENN news story, 28 January 2004

http://www.enn.com/news/2004-01-28/s_12477.asp

 

CITIGROUP TO SCREEN PROJECTS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS
Citigroup, the US�s largest financial institution, is adopting a corporate policy to carefully evaluate requests for project financing that could adversely affect the environment. The bank�s new policy will include a ban on lending for commercial logging in primary, tropical forests and refuse loans to companies engaged in illegal logging. The bank will also develop a programme to invest in sustainable forestry and renewable energy and report greenhouse gas emissions from power projects in its portfolio.

 

Links to further information

ENN news story, 23 January 2004

http://www.enn.com/news/2003-01-23/s_12380.asp

 

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