REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
22 May 2017
G7 Leaders Expect Trump to Make Paris Accord Decision This Week
By Brian Parkin and Joe Ryan, Bloomberg, 22 May 2017
World leaders expect President Donald Trump to announce this week whether the U.S. will remain in the landmark Paris climate accord as they gather for the Group of Seven summit, Germany’s environment minister said.
Trump, who has derided global warming as a hoax, will state his decision after arriving Friday for the two-day meeting in Taormina, Italy, Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks, said Monday.
A U.S. State Department spokeswoman declined to say when Trump would announce his decision. A White House spokesman had previously said the president would make his choice after meeting with G-7 leaders.
Stop hoping we can fix climate change by pulling carbon out of the air, scientists warn
By Chelsea Harvey, Washington Post, 22 May 2017
Scientists are expressing increasing skepticism that we’re going to be able to get out of the climate change mess by relying on a variety of large-scale land-use and technical solutions that have been not only proposed but often relied upon in scientific calculations.
Two papers published last week debunk the idea of planting large volumes of trees to pull carbon dioxide out of the air — saying there just isn’t enough land available to pull it off — and also various other strategies for “carbon dioxide removal,” some of which also include massive tree plantings combined with burning their biomass and storing it below the ground.
Bonn Climate Talks Make Incremental Progress on the Paris Agreement Rulebook
By Alice Bisiaux, IISD, 22 May 2017
The Bonn Climate Change Conference devoted considerable time to advance efforts to operationalize the Paris Agreement through technical discussions in a balanced manner under the three subsidiary bodies.
The Bonn climate talks included the 46th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 46), and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 46), and the third session of the first meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA 1-3).
More coal will lead to more poverty, new report warns
By Natasha Geiling, Think Progress, 22 May 2017
There’s an argument within the fossil fuel industry that access to fossil fuels like coal and oil are necessary for developing nations to help pull themselves out of poverty. A new report released by Oxfam, however, warns that extracting more coal won’t help energy-poor countries build their economies, but instead will worsen global warming and entrench vulnerable communities in poverty.
The report, titled “More Coal Equals More Poverty,” argues that the vast majority of energy-poor households in developing countries lack access to a traditional electricity grid, meaning traditional energy sources like coal would do little to help bring electricity to those currently living without it.
Aviation Emissions Under Scrutiny on Sustainable Tourism Day
Global Forest Coalition, 22 May 2017
Rapidly growing emissions from tourism related aviation, and proposals to offset these through fraudulent projects are a threat to biodiversity and communities, warns the Global Forest Coalition (GFC) on International Day for Biodiversity, which has a special theme of ‘sustainable tourism,’ this year. Such fraudulent offsets also go against the Paris Climate Agreement say GFC.
Aviation emissions and potential offsets were informally discussed at last week’s climate talks in Bonn when negotiators from about two hundred countries met to work out a technical “rulebook” for putting the Paris Climate Agreement into practice.
Commentary: Is finding an alternative crop to oil palm the key to preventing haze?
By Jose Montesclaros, Channel NewsAsia, 22 May 2017
The majority of forest fires in Southeast Asia occur in states which produce oil palm, according to Global Forest Watch. Forests are cleared to make way for oil palm plantations. To save on clearing costs, farmers resort to burning.
While frameworks to stop haze are being established at the regional level as well as in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, the challenge remains to get on board the actors who presently benefit from drained peatlands – the farmers, companies and investors profiting from oil palm. Could a long-term solution to preventing forest fires in the region lie in promoting alternative commodities that can grow in wet peatlands?
World Bank signs $5.5m grant with Solidaridad for natural resource management in Ghana
Ghana Business News, 22 May 2017
The World Bank has announced the signing of a $5.5 million grant agreement to manage the natural resources of Ghana.
The Bank signed the agreement with Solidaridad West Africa for the management of natural resources in 53 selected local communities of the Brong-Ahafo and Western Regions of Ghana, it said in a press release copied to ghanabusinessnews.com.
[Indonesia] Tim Christophersen of UN Environment: ‘Peatlands are one of the least-understood ecosystems.’
By Leona Liu, CIFOR Forests News, 22 May 2017
With 425 people in attendance in Jakarta — as well as over one thousand views of the event livestream and 5 million people reached through Twitter — the thematic Global Landscapes Forum: Peatlands Matter event brought together local and global actors to accelerate positive action in the management of peatlands around the world.
Tim Christophersen, Senior Programme Officer of Forests and Climate Change for UN Environment, spoke to Forests News’ Editor-in-Chief Leona Liu about the current challenges for countries to fully leverage the power of peatlands in their climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.
[Indonesia] Haze Prevention: Transforming Agriculture Use? – Analysis
By Jose Ma. Luis P. Montesclaros, Eurasia Review, 22 May 2017
The majority of forest fires in Southeast Asia occur in states which produce oil palm, according to Global Forest Watch. Forests are cleared to make way for oil palm plantations. To save on clearing costs, farmers resort to burning.
While frameworks to stop haze are being established at the regional level as well as in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, the challenge remains to get on board the actors who presently benefit from drained peatlands — the farmers, companies and investors profiting from oil palm. Could a long-term solution to preventing forest fires in the region lie in promoting alternative commodities that can grow in wet peatlands?
Illegal logging takes toll on Mozambique
By Susan Njanji and Adrien Barbier, African Independent, 22 May 2017
A squad of Mozambican forest rangers made their first arrest just minutes after arriving at a checkpoint near the northern port city of Pemba.
Nicolau Moises, the forestry department chief in Cabo Delgado province, one of Mozambique’s top timber-producing regions, quickly seized a truck piled high with freshly-cut bamboo stalks.
The driver of the vehicle was accused of breaking an annual 90-day ban on logging – just one tactic in Mozambique’s battle against deforestation.
23 May 2017
Monitoring Initiatives to Fill Data Gaps, Track Progress on Forest-Related Commitments
By Elsa Tsioumani, IISD, 23 May 2017
With partners, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) have announced projects supporting various aspects of forest monitoring, globally as well as in specific African countries. A FAO database serves as a knowledge-sharing platform for forest and landscape restoration initiatives worldwide, while a programme on trade governance and an observatory aim to improve monitoring and sustainable forestry across Benin, Cameroon, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda.
Factory Farms Put Climate at Risk, Experts Say in Urging Health Officials to Speak Out
By Georgina Gustin, Inside Climate News, 23 May 2017
Roughly 200 experts in disciplines from nutrition to animal welfare are calling on the World Health Organization to take a more serious look at the impact of industrial livestock production on human health and the climate.
In a letter sent Monday, the group—which includes former New York Times food writer Mark Bittman and environmentalist Bill McKibben—appealed to the WHO, asking that its next director-general work “to reduce the size and number of factory farms.” The WHO’s World Health Assembly got underway Monday, and the body will elect a new leader this week.
“As the global health community acknowledges the intertwined nature of planetary and human health, it must also confront the role that factory farming plays in climate change,” the letter says.
Gunman fires at forest administration office in northern Cambodia, killing one, injuring three
Xinhua, 23 May 2017
An unidentified gunman fired many shots at a forest administration office in northern Cambodia’s Kampong Chhnang province on Tuesday night, killing a forest ranger and injuring three people, local media reported, citing a police chief.
The incident took place at about 8 p.m. local time when an unidentified man used an AK-47 rifle to fire at the office before fleeing the scene.
“Four people including a military police officer, a soldier, a forest ranger and a civilian, got injured in the shooting,” Gen. Loch Sovannara, police chief of Kamong Chhnang province, was quoted as saying by the Fresh News service provider.
The injured forest ranger died hours later due to severe wounds, he added.
[Indonesia] Guardians of the forest
By Gabrielle Lipton, CIFOR Forests News, 23 May 2017
The sky turned yellow just before the 2015 peatland fires reached their height in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Then it turned dark, like a phantom’s mask covering the island of Borneo with thick, humid brown haze. The particles in the air were so dense that people’s eyes burned and it became difficult to see, and so toxic that a nine-year-old girl riding her bicycle to school suddenly collapsed in the middle of the road.
This environmental crisis gave peatland communities a terrible reputation – that they’re ignorant and irresponsible, damaging the environment and putting not just themselves, but millions of others at major health risk. But is this reputation truly merited?
[New Zealand] Spending $14b to meet Paris Agreement targets ‘will store up longer-term problems for NZ’
Newstalk ZB, 23 May 2017
Questions are being asked about whether it’s worth spending so much money on carbon credits, which will end up overseas.
Briefing papers show the Government could have to buy credits worth $14 billion over a decade, to meet its Paris Climate Agreement obligations.
New Zealand can only meet about 20 percent of our target at home – the rest will have to be met by carbon credits.
[USA] California Engages World, and Fights Washington, on Climate Change
By Coral Davenport and Adam Nagourney, New York Times, 23 May 2017
The environmental ministers of Canada and Mexico went to San Francisco last month to sign a global pact — drafted largely by California — to lower planet-warming greenhouse pollution. Gov. Jerry Brown flies to China next month to meet with climate leaders there on a campaign to curb global warming. And a battery of state lawyers is preparing to battle any attempt by Washington to weaken California’s automobile pollution emission standards.
As President Trump moves to reverse the Obama administration’s policies on climate change, California is emerging as the nation’s de facto negotiator with the world on the environment. The state is pushing back on everything from White House efforts to roll back pollution rules on tailpipes and smokestacks, to plans to withdraw or weaken the United States’ commitments under the Paris climate change accord.
24 May 2017
Indonesia president approves two-year extension of forest moratorium
By Bernadette Christina Munthe, Reuters, 24 May 2017
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has approved a two-year extension to a moratorium on issuing new licenses to use land designated as primary forest and peatland, the environment and forestry minister said on Wednesday.
This is the third extension of the moratorium, which was established in 2011 under the previous administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in an effort to reduce emissions from fires caused by deforestation.
[Indonesia] ‘Black gold’ for climate mitigation
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News, 24 May 2017
New tools and new discoveries are drastically altering our existing knowledge of peatlands. Scientists have recently discovered the existence of huge, previously unknown areas of peatland in central Africa and South America – and the numbers are quite astonishing.
A new map developed by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) suggests much more peat exists in the tropics than was originally estimated – a total of around 1.7 million square kilometres.
Destruction and Deforestation of the Peruvian Amazon, Threats to Community Leaders
Forest Peoples Program, Global Research, 24 May 2017
“The RSPO Complaints Panel has found Plantaciones de Pucallpa (PdP) (Peru) to be in breach of RSPO Code and Conduct and RSPO Principles and Criteria (RSPO P & C) during its membership period from 14 October 2013 to 12 October 2016.”
After over a year of deliberation and an independent satellite analysis commissioned by the RSPO, the Complaints Panel concurred with the complaint filed in December 2015 by the Shipibo community of Santa Clara de Uchunya that PdP had deforested over 5000 hectares of forests, including primary forests.
Al Gore gets standing ovation for climate change doc at Cannes
By Ian Mohr, Page Six, 24 May 2017
Al Gore got partying out of the way early at the Cannes Film Festival — dancing with girlfriend Elizabeth Keadle at Vanity Fair/HBO’s bash — before he switched gears and screened his climate change movie “An Inconvenient Sequel” on Monday.
The first doc, “An Inconvenient Truth” debuted 11 years ago in Cannes.
Spies said the new film received a “standing ovation that lasted nearly 10 minutes.” And as Gore exited, fans shouted, “Gore for president in 2020!”
[USA] California climate program has struggled. Why the billion-dollar rebound?
By Dale Kasler, The Sacramento Bee, 24 May 2017
California’s market-based program for fighting climate change had struggled badly over the past year. On Wednesday, it bounced back sharply.
Industrial companies spent more than $1 billion in the latest state-run auction of carbon-pollution credits, state officials announced Wednesday. More than 90 percent of the available credits sold out, according to data released by the California Air Resources Board.
It was one of the strongest auction results in the past year, and came weeks after a crucial court ruling upheld the legality of the auctions.
[USA] Quebec-California cap-and-trade auction sells out current allowances
By Allison Jones, Toronto Metro, 24 May 2017
The latest Quebec-California cap-and-trade auction sold out of its current allowances, a stark improvement from the previous one in which only 18 per cent of its offerings sold.
Ontario, which started a cap-and-trade program this year, will hold its second auction on June 6.
The province, which is expected to join the Quebec-California market next year, saw strong results in the first auction — it brought in $472 million for green programs — but the Liberal government has warned of possible volatility in the carbon market.
Since 2014, the Quebec-California market has sold roughly three quarters of its credits at auction.
25 May 2017
Sustainability is destroying the earth: The green economy vs. the planet
By Kim Hill, Deep Green Resistance News Service, 25 May 2017
Don’t talk to me about sustainability. You want to question my lifestyle, my impact, my ecological footprint? There is a monster standing over us, with a footprint so large it can trample a whole planet underfoot, without noticing or caring. This monster is Industrial Civilization. I refuse to sustain the monster. If the Earth is to live, the monster must die. This is a declaration of war.
What is it we are trying to sustain? A living planet, or industrial civilization? Because we can’t have both.
Tapping global expertise on jurisdictional approaches to deforestation
WWF, 25 May 2017
Last week, WWF convened a group of global conservation experts to share lessons learned from several pioneering initiatives that address commodity-driven deforestation. These “jurisdictional approaches” include a suite of emerging strategies to decouple ecosystem conversion and the production of goods such as beef, soy, palm oil, and pulp & paper by aligning the priorities and investments of government, civil society, and the private sector.
New Approach Predicts Threats to Rainforests
University of Oxford, 25 May 2017
With rain forests at risk the world over, a new collaboration is equipping conservationists with the tools to predict and plan for future forest loss.
A new study by scientists from the Universities of Oxford, Montana and the US Forest Service highlights novel approaches to tackling deforestation. The team focused their research on Borneo, an island that has lost a staggering 30 percent of its forest since the 1970s and is among the most biodiverse and threatened on the planet.
The loss of Bornean forests threatens species such as the orangutan, Sumatran rhino, and the Sunda clouded leopard; as well as emitting significant amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Increase in malaria cases linked to deforestation
The Health Site, 25 May 2017
Researchers have found a link between deforestation and increasing malaria rates across developing nations.
Nearly 130 million hectares of forest – an area almost equivalent in size to South Africa — have been lost since 1990, according to a recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.
Deforestation is not a natural phenomenon, but rather results predominantly from human activities, said lead researcher Kelly Austin from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, US.
“Human-induced changes to the natural environment can have a powerful impact on malaria rates,” she said.
[Nigeria] REDD+: Countries’ readiness under review
By Muyiwa Lucas, The Nation, 25 May 2017
Nigeria’s national efforts towards Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) received a boost this week as its proponents intensified the initiative, enjoying the support of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF).
REDD+ represents a country’s efforts to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, and foster conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. The concept is based on the premise that deforestation and forest degradation are the second leading cause of global warming, responsible for about 15 per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which make the Term Review (MTR) workshop currently holding in Lafia, Nasarawa State capital, stakeholders are attempting to take stock of progress made so far on the project.
[USA] Changing climate could have devastating impact on forest carbon storage
By Aaron Hilf, University of New Mexico, 25 May 2017
New research from a multi-university team of biologists shows what could be a startling drop in the amount of carbon stored in the Sierra Nevada mountains due to projected climate change and wildfire events.
The study, “Potential decline in carbon carrying capacity under projected climate-wildfire interactions in the Sierra Nevada”, published this week in Scientific Reports, shows another facet of the impact current man-made carbon emissions will have on our world if big changes aren’t made.
“What we’ve been trying to do is really understand how changing climate, increases in temperatures and decreases in precipitation, will alter carbon uptake in forests,” said University of New Mexico Assistant Professor Matthew Hurteau, a co-author on the paper. “The other aspect of this work is looking at disturbance events like large scale wildfires. Those events volatilize a lot of carbon and can kill many trees, leaving fewer trees to continue to take up the carbon.”
U.S. must not abandon Paris climate deal, U.N. official says
By Sophie Hares, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 25 May 2017
The United States must not backtrack on the Paris climate change agreement, as its participation sends a vital signal to other nations that the pact is critically needed, a top United Nations official said on Thursday.
U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of the global deal to combat climate change but has agreed to postpone a decision that had been expected ahead of this week’s meeting of Group of Seven leaders in Italy.
U.N. Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed, speaking on the sidelines of a major U.N. conference on disasters, said she respected Trump putting the Paris agreements under review.
26 May 2017
Planting trees will not slow global warming
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 26 May 2017
Humans cannot simply plant their way out of trouble: trees cannot absorb the ever-increasing quantities of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
If the world’s nations really do intend to contain global warming to within 2°C, there is no alternative to drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new study.
The tree could be regarded as low-technology carbon removal machinery and, in theory, carefully managed plantations could soak up the carbon released from fossil fuel combustion. But the sheer scale of such plantations would have devastating environmental costs, scientists say.
Planting trees can’t counter carbon emissions
By Bob McDonald, CBC News, 26 May 2017
A new report from the Potsdam Institute in Germany shows that planting trees and other plants to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere cannot substitute for cutting carbon emissions.
Growing trees and other kinds of “biomass” have been thought of as an effective countermeasure against our rising global carbon emissions. In fact, countries that preserve forests or green spaces can receive carbon credits that they can trade or sell to other countries that are polluters.
The researchers looked at several scenarios. One was the the “business-as-usual” scenario, in which greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at current rates, and which scientists fear could lead to a global average temperature rise of 4.5 C by 2100. They found that if we want trees to absorb all that extra carbon, even if we converted all of our agricultural land to biomass cultivation, it cannot be done without experiencing the “most dire consequences for food production or the biosphere.”
Unlocking Carbon Market Potential In a Post-Paris World
Ecosystem Marketplace, 26 May 2017
Mid-year climate talks that wrapped up a week ago were full of their usual drama and intrigue. Buzzworthy news included new research revealing China and India have beaten their Paris Agreement targets and have plenty of room to ratchet up ambition.
The research highlights just how critical data is to global efforts that reduce emissions and slow climate change. This month and next, we’re adding to that pot of data with exciting new research that sheds light on global market-based solutions to climate change. The first is Unlocking Potential: State of Voluntary Carbon Markets 2017 report, which launches today at the Innovate4Climate event in Barcelona.
[Guatemala] A Home Away from Home, in the Forest
Rainforest Alliance, 26 May 2017
Arkilaus Kladit is the first of his clan to leave Papua in nine generations. He’s traveled all the way to Guatemala to learn how to protect his people’s forests.
It is midday when we reach Yaloch forest camp, on the eastern edge of Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve. Our hosts — members of the El Esfuerzo cooperative, which manages a forest covering 25,000 hectares inside the reserve — have prepared lunch for a group unlike any other to set foot in this camp before.
Pangas in hand, Kenya’s indigenous fire scouts take on forest losses
By Moraa Obiria, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 26 May 2017
These days, whenever Daniel Koskei walks into the Logoman Forest and finds a mound of soil, he prepares to take action – particularly if the wind is strong and the sun blazing hot.
Such mounds can be a sign of illegal charcoal production, an activity that can lead to fire outbreaks in this eastern region of Kenya’s Mau Forest.
“It prompts me to keep monitoring that area and inform the forester to take appropriate action,” said Koskei, who surveys the forest at least once a week.
Ordinarily, such work would be the job of a forest guard of the Kenya Forest Service, the state agency charged with protection of forest reserves.
Laos, development partners discuss greenhouse gas emission
Xinhua, 26 May 2017
Progress and technical issues surrounding the establishment of a baseline to measure changes in greenhouse gas emissions in Laos has been reviewed by the Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and development partners.
The fourth REL/MRV Technical Working Group meeting was held in Lao capital Vientiane on Thursday to discuss progress and technical issues of a baseline or a benchmark to measure changes in greenhouse gas emissions (Reference Emission Level or REL) and the system to carry out the measurement, reporting, and verification of the results of emission reductions of greenhouse gas (MRV).
[USA] A delay on cap-and-trade vote would be a victory for Donald Trump, Gov. Jerry Brown’s office says
By Chris Megerian, LA Times, 26 May 2017
Despite hesitance and resistance from state lawmakers, Gov. Jerry Brown is refusing to budge from his goal of reaching a deal next month to extend California’s cap-and-trade program.
The latest tug-of-war on the issue came this week in an email exchange circulated among Capitol staff members and advocates working on climate change policies.
Kip Lipper, an environmental advisor for Senate leadership, wrote in a Thursday email that there were “no plans to take up a cap and trade reauthorization bill anytime soon.”
[USA] Top Trump economic adviser: ‘Coal doesn’t even make that much sense anymore’
By Joe Romm, Think Progress, 26 May 2017
Whether or not the United States will remain in the historic Paris climate agreement is a major question surrounding President Donald Trump’s trip to Italy for the G7 Summit. Trump’s top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, was asked about the decision aboard Air Force One on Thursday, and had some surprising answers.
Cohn told reporters that coal doesn’t “make that much sense anymore,” but that pushing renewables could make America “a manufacturing powerhouse.” The words seem off-message from a White House that has promised repeatedly to bring back coal jobs and just proposed massive cuts to federal investment in clean energy.
27 May 2017
Cameroon: Palm oil production falls due to poor government policies
Cameroon Concord, 27 May 2017
Cameroon produces 270000 tons of Palm oil annually as against national demand which stands at 400,000 tons.
Experts in the sector in a press conference recently in Yaoundé revealed that production has fallen by 20% in 2017. They advice that if Cameroon must feed local population and home based manufacturing industries, then the country must resort to importation. A situation not cherished by local producers of the basic good.
Since the start of this year, the purported bread basket of Central Africa, Cameroon has imported some 230000 tons of palm oil at its primary stage from neighboring Gabon so as to avert the scarcity and avoid price inflation in the market. The authorization to import this commodity was granted by the minister of finance on December 9th 2016.
Its very difficult to understand that Cameroon who has fed Gabon for years,now turns to her for food security in the advent of shortage.
[USA] Trump Takes His Own Path as G-7 Fails to Reach Unity on Climate
By Helene Fouquest, Arne Delfs,and Josh Wingrove, Bloomberg, 27 May 2017
U.S. President Donald Trump showed his determination to break the global mold as he refused to follow the Group of Seven line on climate change and forced a more skeptical approach to free trade.
A summit of G-7 leaders in Sicily wrapped up on Saturday with a fragile truce on the two most contentious topics on the table. The U.S. pushed back on worldwide efforts to curb global warming that Trump’s predecessor had signed up to and won a reference in the final statement on the need for trade to be “free, fair and mutually beneficial.”
Trump called it a “tremendously productive meeting” that concluded “a truly historic week.”
[USA] Dems Push Back Against California Gov Jerry Brown’s Newest Climate Crusade
By Chris White, Daily Caller, 27 May 2017
California Democrats warn Gov. Jerry Brown not to push for a cap and trade program so soon after vulnerable state legislators passed a highly contentious gas tax increase April.
Brown’s full-throated push to shoehorn a cap and trade program requiring companies to purchase permits before releasing greenhouse gasses is causing Democrats in the state to recoil. They worry that the governor’s efforts could thrust already vulnerable lawmakers out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Kip Lipper, an environmental advisor for Senate leadership wrote in an email Thursday that there were “no plans to take up a cap and trade reauthorization bill anytime soon.”
28 May 2017
Wild Amazon faces destruction as Brazil’s farmers and loggers target national park
By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 28 May 2017
To understand why the Brazilian government is deliberately losing the battle against deforestation, you need only retrace the bootmarks of the Edwardian explorer Percy Fawcett along the Amazonian border with Bolivia.
During a failed attempt to cross a spectacular tabletop plateau here in 1906, the adventurer nearly died on the first of his many trips to South America. Back then, the area was so far from human habitation, the foliage so dense and the terrain so steep that Fawcett and his party came close to starvation.
He returned home with tales of a towering, inaccessible mesa teeming with wildlife and irrigated by secret waterfalls and crystalline rivers. By some accounts, this was one of the stories that inspired his friend Arthur Conan Doyle to write The Lost World about a fictional plateau jutting high above the jungle that served as a sanctuary for species long since extinct elsewhere.