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MEDIA REPORTS

FORESTS, DESERTS AND LAND

This page was updated on: 01/13/10

 

2005

 

Forests, Deserts and Land Media Reports Archives: 2010; 2009; 2008; 2007; 2006; 2004; 2003; 2002

DECEMBER 2005

 

FAO OFFERS TO HELP DEVELOPING COUNTRIES EXPLORE WAYS TO REDUCE FOREST LOSS

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has offered to provide data and technical advice to help developing countries explore ways to create financial incentives to reduce forest loss. The offer came during the eleventh Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 11) in Montreal in early December 2005.

 

“There are a number of strategies that countries can use to accurately monitor reductions in deforestation and increases in carbon storage, especially in tropical countries where forests do the most to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,” said Dieter Schoene of the FAO’s Forestry Department.

 

Link to further information

FAO news release, 9 December 2005

 

NOVEMBER 2005

 

FAO WEIGHS IN ON SELECTIVE LOGGING ISSUE

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has responded to an article in the 21 October issue of Science, stressing that selective logging is not necessarily destructive and can be done with low impact on the remaining forests if the proper techniques are applied. The Science article suggested that selective logging in the Brazilian Amazon has caused greater destruction than original analyses of satellite images indicated. The FAO drew attention to its findings that reduced impact logging, which employs steps such as conducting assessments before and after harvesting, carefully constructing and maintaining forest roads and cutting down trees at a certain direction, reduces disturbance to the remaining tree stand as well as logging waste, compared to other conventional practices. Wulf Killmann, Director of FAO’s Forest Products and Economics Division, said “selective logging is not in principle that destructive,” but added that “The severe logging damage shown in the [Science] study is unacceptable and sustainable logging practices should be applied.”

 

Link to further information

FAO news release, 3 November 2005

 

FAO AGRICULTURAL CENSUS TO ACCOUNT FOR MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) 2010 round of agricultural censuses, covering the period 2006-2015, will gather socio-economic data at the community level as well as conventional structural data at the farm level. More that 100 countries are set to participate in the agricultural census programme, which will help countries to monitor progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In addition to community-level data, the census will also add data on items such as soil degradation, irrigation by crop type, method and sources of irrigation, agricultural practices and services, demographic and social characteristics, household food security, type of aquaculture site and agro-forestry.

 

Link to further information

FAO news release, 8 November 2005

 

OCTOBER 2005

 

EU MINISTERS ESTABLISH TIMBER LICENSING SCHEME

EU agriculture ministers agreed on 24 October 2005 to establish a licensing scheme for timber product imports to stop illegal logging. The scheme will require partner countries to produce an export license stating that the timber products have been legally harvested. This decision authorized the European Commission to open negotiations for partnership agreements to implement the EU Action Plan for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). The negotiation of partnership agreements with the European Commission, however, will be implemented on a voluntary basis.

 

Link to further information

Council of the EU statement, October 2005

 

PARTNERSHIP TO ADDRESS LAND DEGRADATION IN AFRICA

TerrAfrica, a partnership to address land degradation and increase sustainable land management throughout sub-Saharan Africa, was announced at the seventh session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD), held in Nairobi in October 2005. TerrAfrica is built around three activity lines: coalition-building, knowledge generation and management, and investments. The partnership seeks to reach an investment of at least US$4 billion over a twelve-year period. Partners include the African Development Bank, European Commission, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Global Environment Facility, International Fund for Agricultural Development, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), UN Convention to Combat Desertification Global Mechanism, UNCCD Secretariat, UN Development Programme, UN Environment Programme, and World Bank. It also includes the governments of Chad, Ghana, South Africa and Uganda.

 

Link to further information

World Bank press release, 24 October 2005

 

AMAZON DESTRUCTION WORSE THAN THOUGHT – STUDY

Selective logging in the Brazilian Amazon has caused greater destruction than previously thought, according to a report in the 21 October 2005 issue of Science. Conventional methods of analyzing satellite images focus on clear-cut swathes of land, but the Science study used a new method to analyze satellite images and detected a deforested area between 60 and 128 percent higher than the officially deforested area from 1999-2002. Reuters news service reported that the Brazilian government had acknowledged the merit of the study but said it overestimated the extent of selective logging. In August 2005, the Brazilian government said the rate of destruction had declined: approximately 9,000 square kilometers of Amazon jungle were lost between August 2004 and July 2005, compared to almost 19,000 square km in the 2003-2004 period.

 

Links to further information

ENN News Story, 21 October 2005

Inter Press Service, 26 August 2005

 

INDUSTRY ISSUES POSITION PAPER ON FORESTRY GOVERNANCE

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the International Council of Forest and Paper Associations (ICFPA) have developed a joint position paper to inform the Europe and North Asia Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (ENA FLEG) Ministerial Conference, which is scheduled to take place in St. Petersburg, Russia, from 22-25 November 2005. The paper calls on governments to prioritize efforts to prevent illegal logging and to use existing legislation and deploy enforcement agencies to address criminal action. It also emphasizes that policy responses should not create perverse incentives by raising the costs of “legal” forest products, which could make illegal logging and illegal forest products trade more profitable and undermine the competitiveness of legal forest products relative to non-wood products like steel and plastic. The ENA FLEG process is seeking to mobilize international commitment from producer, consumer and donor governments to increase efforts to combat illegal logging as well as the associated trade and corruption in the forest sector in the Europe and North Asia Region.

 

Link to further information

Joint position paper

 

EXPERTS DENY DEFORESTATION-FLOODING LINK

UN experts have again rejected a link between large-scale flooding and deforestation following the recent devastation in Central America caused by Hurricane Stan, as well as flooding in other parts of the world. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) have drawn attention to their report that finds no scientific evidence linking large-scale flooding to deforestation. Published earlier in 2005, Forests and Floods: Drowning in Fiction or Thriving on Facts? Suggests that forests can help minimize runoff that causes localized flooding. However, it does not find evidence that a loss of trees can contribute significantly to severe widespread flooding. “The frequency of major flooding events has remained the same over the last 120 years going back to the days when lush forests were abundant,” said CIFOR Director-General David Kaimowitz. While noting that tree planting and forestry protection activities have many environmental benefits, “preventing large scale floods is not one of them,” he added.

 

Links to further information

FAO news release, 13 October 2005

The report

 

SEPTEMBER 2005

 

CHILDREN’S COMPETITION SPOTLIGHTS DESERTIFICATION

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has invited children from around the world to express their hopes and fears about the future of the world’s deserts and the issue of desertification in this year’s International Painting Competition on the Environment. The Competition is organized by UNEP, the Japan-based Foundation for Global Peace and Environment (FGPE), Bayer AG and the Nikon Corporation and has been held annually since 1990. This year’s theme, Deserts and Desertification, reflects the fact that 2006 has been designated the International Year of Deserts and Desertification and is also the theme for World Environment Day 2006. Children who will be between the ages of 6 and 14 years on World Environment Day 2006 (5 June 2006) from all regions of the world are invited to submit their paintings on the theme to their Regional UNEP Office by 20 January 2006.

 

Link to further information

UNEP press release, 23 September 2005

 

COALITION FOR RAINFOREST NATIONS

The Coalition for Rainforest Nations, a group of developing nations with rainforests, announced during the 2005 World Summit that they would be offering voluntary carbon emission reductions by preserving forests in exchange for access to international markets for emissions trading. A second initiative, which they will present to the International Tropical Timber Agreement, urged fairer prices for indigenous loggers who employ sustainable harvesting practices. 

 

Link to further information

Coalition for Rainforest Nations homepage

 

AUGUST 2005

 

MALAYSIA TO IMPOSE PRISON SENTENCES FOR ILLEGAL LOGGING

The Malaysian government is expected to establish prison sentences of between one and twenty years for anyone involved in illegal logging. In outlining this policy measure, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak noted that illegal logging “can undermine the quality of our water and air, threaten water catchment areas and lead to other problems such as floods and droughts.” Currently, those who harvest wood illegally from rainforests in Malaysia face fines, but this penalty has failed to curb illegal logging. A small number of timber trade syndicates are believed to be responsible for smuggling sawn timber to other countries in Asia, where it is used to construct household furniture for the European and US markets.  

 

Link to further information

ENN/Associated Press report, 30 August 2005

 

RATE OF DEFORESTATION IN BRAZILIAN AMAZON SLOWS

The Brazilian government has announced that approximately 9,000 square kilometers of Amazon jungle were lost between August 2004 and July 2005, compared to almost 19,000 square km in the 2003-2004 period. At the release of the preliminary satellite data showing these results, Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva attributed the decline in deforestation to the government's action plan and sustainable development initiatives. Environmental groups cautioned that the data may underestimate the scale of destruction and stressed that efforts to combat illegal deforestation must be maintained. 

 

Link to further information

Inter Press Service report, 26 August 2005

 

FAO STRESSES DANGERS OF FIRES FOR LAND CONVERSION

The Food and Agriculture Organization has warned against using fires for land conversion projects. In South-East Asia, large-scale conversion of forests into agricultural land is usually carried out by removing the trees and then burning the residues. However, Mike Jurvelius, an FAO forest fire expert, noted that the use of fire to clear forests “is prohibited in most of the South-East Asian countries and the ban should urgently be enforced.” A particular problem for the region is that large amounts of smoke result from fires burning as much as 20 meters down in the peat soils, and these fires are almost impossible to extinguish. Jurvelius suggested that, instead of burning, “tree and vegetation residues should be better utilized, or destroyed mechanically to protect human health and the environment.” In collaboration with governments, FAO has started to prepare voluntary guidelines for fire management and the provision of financial resources for forestry agencies. 

 

Link to further information

FAO news release, 30 August 2005

 

FAO URGES SYSTEMATIC ASSESSMENT OF GM TREES

A regulatory framework to govern research and application of GM forest trees is essential in light of rapid advances in research and biotechnology applications, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

 

“The issue goes beyond the country level, since pollen flow and seed dispersal do not take account of national boundaries, and since wood is a global commodity,” said Pierre Sigaud, a forest genetic resources expert at FAO, in a recent press statement. While GM trees could potentially offer increased wood production, improved wood quality and resistance to insects, diseases and herbicides, some risks have been raised, including transgene instability, plantation failure, poor wood quality, development of tolerance to the modified trait by insects or disease organisms, and the escape of modified genes into natural ecosystems.

 

Links to further information

Biotechnology in forestry gaining ground, FAO Press Release, 13 July 2005

UN body urges caution over GM trees, SciDev.Net, 22 July 2005

 

JULY 2005

 

FAO HIGHLIGHTS LOCAL ROLE IN PREVENTING, CONTROLLING FOREST FIRES

Better trained and mobilized communities in the Mediterranean could play a major role in preventing and controlling forest fires, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). With forest fires destroying up to 700,000 hectares annually in the region, FAO forest fire expert Mike Jurvelius believes increasing the role of local communities could cut the number of fires and the cost of fire management.

 

“For the price of one large fire helicopter 10 million people could be trained in fire prevention and control,” said Jurvelius, noting that the operating costs of a water bomber average €3,500 (euros) per flying hour, and the cost of a large fire helicopter can reach €20 million.

 

FAO has called on governments to prepare voluntary guidelines for fire management, provide financial resources for awareness campaigns, use early warning systems to keep the population aware of fire risks in critical periods, and prohibit the use of open fires.

 

Links to further information

FAO press release (25 July 2005)

 

JUNE 2005

 

NEW AMAZON PROJECT TARGETS WATER, FORESTS, WILDLIFE

A new project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to help conserve and manage economically important waters, forests and wildlife in the Amazon Basin has been launched. The project in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela will be implemented by UNEP/GEF and is being undertaken by the Organization of American States, with the Organization of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty as the regional body. The project will cost approximately $1.5 million and take two years to complete.

 

Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said he believed the new project would play an important part in helping the region meet the UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015, including the goal of providing safe and sufficient quantities of drinking water.

 

Links to further information

Amazon Waters Project Gets Green Light, UNEP press release, 25 June 2005

New UN-sponsored Project Seeks to Rescue Amazon from Deforestation, UN news release, 27 June 2005

 

FAO MAPS ILLUSTRATE CATTLE RANCHING TOLL ON RAINFORESTS

New maps released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have revealed the serious deforestation expected between 2000 and 2010 in Latin America’s tropical rainforests. This detailed projection of the impacts of cattle ranching and other agriculture on these forests was released on 8 June 2005. It estimates that up to 2010, forest cover in Central America will be reduced by 2.4 million hectares, or 1.6 percent annually. In South America, forest area will decrease by 36 million hectares or 0.5 percent per year.

 

Link to further information

FAO News Release, 8 June 2005

 

“WOMEN AND DESERTIFICATION” HIGHLIGHTED DURING WORLD DAY TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION

The need for action to support women living in arid areas has been highlighted on World Day to Combat Desertification. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan highlighted that “women living in dry lands tend to rank among the poorest of the poor, with little power to bring about real change” in a message marking World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, on 17 June 2005. Annan added that there are signs of progress, including the fact that, “In many countries, women are beginning to gain access to land ownership and to take part in decision-making." In recognition of the scope and urgency of this challenge, the UN General Assembly has pronounced 2006 to be the International Year of Deserts and Desertification.

 

Link to further information

UN press release, 8 June 2005.

 

MAY 2005

 

WWF, WORLD BANK RENEW DEFORESTATION PACT

WWF and the World Bank have renewed their Alliance for Forest Conservation and Sustainable Use (Forest Alliance) with a programme aimed at reducing global deforestation rates 10% by 2010. The two organizations signed on to the Forest Alliance agreement for another five years on 26 May 2005, during the fifth session of the UN Forum on Forests. The programme will support the establishment of new forest protected areas, more effective management of forest protected areas, and improved management of forests outside of protected areas. It will also facilitate regional cooperation and the adoption of policies in support of more effective forest management. WWF press release.

 

APRIL 2005

 

EUROPEAN COMPANIES CALL FOR LEGISLATION ON ILLEGALLY-SOURCED TIMBER

Dozens of companies have signed on to a statement calling on the European Commission and governments to “adopt new EU legislation which makes it illegal to import all illegally-sourced timber and wood products into the European market.” The statement, which was promoted by three NGOs—WWF, Greenpeace and the Forests and the European Union Resource Network (FERN)—was signed by 73 companies, including Homebase and Habitat (UK), Castorama (France), IKEA and Skanska (Sweden), Unital (Union of Italian Industries of Wood Furniture), JYSK Nordic (Denmark) and Puertas Luvipol (Spain). The statement highlights their support for the European Union’s FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) initiative, acknowledges that self-regulation and voluntary measures alone are not sufficient to tackle this problem, and notes that “without a clear European legal framework, companies that want to answer consumer-driven demand and benefit from investment in sustainable practices will always be disadvantaged.”

 

Links to further information

FLEGT Industry Statement, March 2005

Industry and NGOs Urge EU to Ban Illegal Timber, WWF news release, 7 April 2005

 

MARCH 2005

 

MILLENNIUM ECOSYSTEM ASSESSMENT LAUNCHES REPORTS

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) began releasing its findings and reports on 30 March 2005. In press events at London, Washington, DC, Tokyo, Beijing, New Delhi, Brasilia, Cairo, Nairobi and Rome, the MA presented among others its key synthesis report and a statement from its Board entitled “Living Beyond Our Means: Natural Assets and Human Well-Being.” The MA reports comprise a total of seven synthesis and summary reports, and four technical volumes. An additional set of about 16 sub-global assessments are to be released separately.

 

Involving some 1,500 experts from across the world, the MA is a partnership among several international organizations, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, Convention to Combat Desertification, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Convention on Migratory Species, five UN agencies (WHO, FAO, UNESCO, UNEP, UNDP), the World Bank, and IUCN. The MA is governed by a high-level scientific Panel and a multistakeholder Board composed of the participating institutions and government officials, the private sector, NGOs and indigenous peoples.

 

Links to further information

MA website

 

US SAID TO OPPOSE UK RAINFOREST PROTECTION PLAN

A British plan to use its G8 presidency to push the rich member countries to commit to halting illegal rainforest logging faces US opposition, according to news reports. US industry lobbyists oppose the plan to certify timber that comes from properly managed forests, and a leaked memorandum shows the US government wants to stall the UK plan.

 

Links to further information

US tries to sink forest plan, The Guardian (London), 16 March 2005

 

FEBRUARY 2005

 

UNCCD LAUNCHES LOGO CONTEST

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification has launched a competition to create the logo for the International Year of Deserts and Desertification. The winner will receive a prize of $5000. Submissions are due on 4 April 2005.

 

Links to further information

http://www.unccd.int/publicinfo/events/docs/logo_contest-eng.pdf

 

ACTIVIST’S MURDER SPURS ACTION TO PROTECT AMAZON

The murder of a leading human rights activist in Brazil’s Para state may have the unintended consequence of slowing the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, according to reports. Sister Dorothy Stang, a 74-year old nun who had campaigned against illegal logging in the Amazon, was murdered on 12 February 2005. The slaying took place just weeks after Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s government restored Amazon logging licenses after loggers blocked roads and threatened violence if their activities were barred.

 

In the aftermath of the murder, Luiz Fernando Krieger Merico, interim president of Brazil's environmental agency IBAMA, told Reuters, “This is the turning point…There will be a noticeable fall [in deforestation] between 2004 and 2005…this decline will be progressive from now on.”

 

President Lula froze new logging and farming in an area three times the size of Belgium, while authorities confirm what activities are legal. In addition, decrees signed on 17 February 2005 by Lula will form a reserve of 8.2 million acres and a national park spanning 1.1 million acres in the state of Para. The government has also awarded a disputed patch of Amazon rainforest to a sustainable development project championed by Stang.

 

However, violence has continued despite the deployment of several thousand troops to combat death squads in Para state. Two rural workers and a union leader were killed just days after Stang’s slaying, and human rights workers, unionists and land activists say they have received new threats. Ten days after Stang’s death, Dionisio Ribeiro Filho, who spent 15 years defending the Atlantic rainforest reserve from poachers and illegal logging, was also shot.

 

Links to further information

Brazil vows to slow down Amazon destruction, Reuters press release, 21 February 2005

Gunmen kill nun, 74, who led Amazon fight for poor, TimesOnline news story, 14 February 2005

Brazil orders Amazon Reserve after killing, Associated Press news story, 18 February 2005

Brazil awards disputed area to slain nun�s project, Associated Press news story, 28 February 2005

Man admits killing Brazil environmentalist � Police, Reuters news service, 26 February 2005

 

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