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REDD in the news: 12-18 June 2017

REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.

12 June 2017

When Women Have Land Rights, the Tide Begins to Turn
By Manipadma Jena, IPS, 12 June 2017
In Meghalaya, India’s northeastern biodiversity hotspot, all three major tribes are matrilineal. Children take the mother’s family name, while daughters inherit the family lands.
Because women own land and have always decided what is grown on it and what is conserved, the state not only has a strong climate-resistant food system but also some of the rarest edible and medicinal plants, researchers said.
While their ancient culture empowers Meghalaya’s indigenous women with land ownership that vastly improves their resilience to the food shocks climate change springs on them, for an overwhelming majority of women in developing countries, culture does not allow them even a voice in family or community land management. Nor do national laws support their rights to own the very land they sow and harvest to feed their families.

Peatlands, already dwindling, could face further losses, 12 June 2017
Tropical peat swamp forests, which once occupied large swaths of Southeast Asia and other areas, provided a significant “sink” that helped remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But such forests have been disappearing fast due to clear-cutting and drainage projects making way for plantations. Now, research shows peatlands face another threat, as climate change alters rainfall patterns, potentially destroying even forested peatlands that remain undrained.
The net result is that these former carbon sinks, which have taken greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, are now net carbon sources, instead accelerating the planet’s warming.
The findings are described this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in a paper by MIT Professor Charles Harvey, research scientist Alexander Cobb, and seven others at MIT and other institutions.

Top Economists: Carbon Price Above 40 Dollars Needed to Meet Paris Climate Goal
By Nicholas Kusnetz, Inside Climate News, 12 June 2017
The fossil fuels that President Donald Trump so brashly promotes may seem like cheap energy sources, but they carry hidden costs that all of society is paying for—from damage caused by extreme weather and rising sea levels to the impacts of severe droughts on food and water security.
As Trump was preparing to pull the United States out of its international climate commitments, some of the world’s leading economists issued a report that puts a figure to the price on carbon needed to reduce emissions to rein in climate change and compensate for those external costs. It’s significantly higher than what most major economies have in place today.

Finland tackles climate change with circular economy
By Wichit chaitrong, The Nation, 12 June 2017
Committed to tackling climate change, Finland has set the stage for creating a value chain through by pursuing a circular economy with both public and private companies starting to implement projects aimed at minimising the use of virgin resources and maximising their value.
“The climate change issue challenges us very seriously and a polluted environment is a serious problem. We need to change the way we run our economy. That’s why we have created a road map and we’re working to implement it,” Kimmo Tiilikainen, minister of environment, said last week when the country hosted the World Circular Economy Forum 2017 in Helsinki. The road map being pushed by Finland since last year ranges from a sustainable food system to transportation and logistics.

[New Zealand] Cutting the carbs
By Scott Willis, Otago Daily Times, 12 June 2017
I’ve heard dieting is hard work, but it is time to start on a serious diet, and this one could do some serious good!
Recently it was reported that government officials briefed incoming Energy Minister Judith Collins on the probable cost of paying other countries to reduce their own emissions via the purchase of carbon credits. We’ve signed up to the Paris Agreement as a country and we aim to meet our climate commitments by buying carbon credits offshore.
Carbon trading is a market system to buy and sell permits and credits to emit carbon dioxide. Rather than reduce emissions at home, we intend to pay others to reduce their greenhouse emissions and to buy their “credits”. As Prof Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change at Manchester University has pointed out, this is like “paying a poor person to diet for us”. We’d continue to build roads and airports but pay poorer countries to do good things, such as build wind and solar farms, or electrify their transport systems. While that might give good development outcomes, it won’t help address our morbid carbon obesity.

[USA] Wall Street’s self-regulator blocks public scrutiny of firms with tainted brokers
By Benjamin Lesser and Elizabeth Dilts, Reuters, 12 June 2017
In three years of managing investments for North Dakota farmer Richard Haus, Long Island stock broker Mike McMahon and his colleagues charged their client $267,567 in fees and interest – while losing him $261,441 on the trades, Haus said.
McMahon and others at National Securities Corporation, for instance, bought or sold between 200 and 900 shares of Apple stock for Haus nine times in about a year – racking up $27,000 in fees, according to a 2015 complaint Haus filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
Haus alerted the regulator to what he called improper “churning” of his account to harvest excessive fees. But the allegation could hardly have come as a surprise to FINRA, the industry’s self-regulating body, which is charged by Congress with protecting investors from unscrupulous brokers.

[USA] Trump lawyers try ‘extraordinary trick’ to quash youth climate case
By Megan Darby, Climate Home, 12 June 2017
The US federal government has invoked a rarely used legal tool to try and quash a climate lawsuit brought by 21 young people.
After district court judge Ann Aiken last week stood by her decision that the youth lawsuit deserved a hearing, the Trump administration went over her head to the 9th circuit court of appeals on Friday to get the case dismissed.
The district court committed “multiple and clear errors of law,” according to the government petition. It called for immediate relief from the “staggering burden” of information demanded by the plaintiffs to inform proceedings.

[USA] The Good News: Almost Everyone Else Knows That Global Warming Is Real
By Mark Tercek, The Nature Conservancy, 12 June 2017
President Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris Agreement on global warming is a short-sighted mistake. There’s no doubt it will impose big costs here at home, from our leadership in the clean energy revolution to our standing on the world stage.
Yet will the decision unravel the entire agreement, leading to disastrous increases in carbon dioxide emissions, temperature, sea level rise and rainfall anomalies for the planet? The jury is still out.
President Obama’s pledge to reduce U.S. emissions 26–28 percent by 2025 was very aggressive. Without support from the federal government, we can’t get there. But the good news is that we can still make significant progress.

13 June 2017

Tropical peat forests risk turning from carbon ‘drains’ to emitters
GMA News Online, 13 June 2017
Peat bogs in tropical forests, long key outlets for greenhouse gases, could dry up due to farming and global warming, further accelerating climate change and putting more pressure on wetlands, a study out Monday found.
The vast swamplands, located largely in southeast Asia, have long helped store atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and put a brake on global warming.
The forested peat bogs have been under increasing threat in recent years from clear-cutting and drainage for palm-oil plantations, according to a report released in the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Host of next United Nations climate conference turns to California in the global warming battle
By Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times, 13 June 2017
As the president of this year’s United Nations conference on climate change, Fiji’s prime minister is responsible for rallying countries to battle global warming.
But on Tuesday, that effort drew him not to a national capital but to Sacramento, where he endorsed Gov. Jerry Brown’s ambitious plans on climate change.
Prime Minister of Fiji Frank Bainimarama signed an international agreement that California has spearheaded with states and provinces around the world to set tougher targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a symbolic step intended to help counterbalance President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris deal on climate change.

Global renewables rise from the ashes of coal’s collapse
By Joe Romm, ThinkProgress, 13 June 2017
While President Donald Trump touts a new coal mine that provides fewer jobs than a typical supermarket, the world is switching off coal at a stunning pace to create millions of new clean energy jobs.
World coal production had its biggest drop ever last year, 230 million tons of oil equivalent (mtoe), BP reported Tuesday in its 2017 Statistical Review of World Energy. China led the way with a 7.9 percent decline in coal production (140 mtoe), followed by the U.S. with a 19 percent drop (85 mtoe).

[Iran] Fire Frequency Up in Protected Areas
Financial Tribune, Financial Tribune, 13 June 2017
There has been a rise in the number of fire breakouts in protected areas managed by the Department of Environment since the beginning of the current Iranian year (March 21), an official at the department said.
Speaking to ILNA on Monday, Ali Teymouri, the head of Conservation, Hunting and Fishing Office at DOE, added that between March 21 and June 12, there have been 49 fire incidents in areas under the department’s protection.
Iran has 280 protected areas and 38 incidents were reported there during the same period of last year. Teymouri attributed the rise to “decent rainfall in the past few months, which has helped vegetation to grow and spread”, providing fodder for fire.

Kenya bets on bamboo trees to tackle climate change
Xinhua, 13 June 2017
The Kenyan government said Tuesday it has stepped up efforts to reduce the country’s susceptibility to the severe effects of climate change by planting rapidly maturing bamboo in selected catchment areas.
Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Professor Judy Wakhungu said Nairobi is currently experiencing acute water shortage caused by low water levels in Ndaka-ini dam which serves 84 percent of Nairobi residents with water.
“Bamboo can grow in almost any kind of climate and thrive in the poorest of soils. To tap into this lucrative green economy, the government has positioned itself to commercialize bamboo,” Wakhungu said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
“The profit potential has become even greater as environmentalists link bamboo with climate change mitigation, and the possibility of increased income through carbon credits,” she said, noting that currently, effects of climate change are already being felt across the country.
The world bamboo market is growing, led by China and an increasing demand for sustainable products in Europe and the U.S.

Norway bans government purchasing of palm oil biofuel
By Morgan Erickson-Davis. Mongabay, 13 June 2017
The Norwegian parliament voted today to ban the public procurement and use of palm oil-based biofuel – purportedly becoming the first country to do so.
“The [Parliament] calls on the government to impose requirements through regulations to the Public Procurement Act that biofuel based on palm oil or by-products of palm oil shall not be used,” reads a translated government outline of the resolution.
Public procurement is a procedure by which governments purchase goods or services from companies. The resolution further stipulates that the “regulatory amendment shall enter into force as soon as possible.”
The move comes on the heels of a report released today by the Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN) that finds palm oil-based biofuel is worse for the climate than fossil fuels. The report, written by low-carbon fuels policy expert Chris Malins, blames land cover change like deforestation and the draining of peatlands for palm oil’s harmful impacts.

[UK] Sipp and SSAS complaints jump by over a third – FOS
By Jack Gilbert, New Model Adviser, 13 June 2017
The volume of complaints about Sipp and SSAS products jumped by a third for the 12 months to 31 March, according to the Financial Ombudsman Service’s (FOS) annual report.
In its latest data released today, the FOS found there were 1,574 complaints made about Sipp and SSAS products over the past 12 months, compared to 1,174 in 2015/16, equating to a jump of 34%.
News of this rise follows the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) warning earlier this year the number of complaints it expects to uphold in connection to Sipps is set to rise over 2017.

Farmers Raising Bees Help Protect Zimbabwe’s Forests
Voice of America, 13 June 2017
The forests in eastern Zimbabwe supply the country with wood and most of its fresh fruit.
But the removal of large numbers of trees and use of fire to clear land have caused a lot of damage to the area.
Officials say Zimbabwe lost more than 1.5 million hectares of forest in 2016. This is mostly because of local communities cutting the trees for firewood or setting fires in forested areas to make hunting easier.
But now a non-profit group, called Environment Africa, is trying to improve the situation.

14 June 2017

BP: Global carbon emissions flat for third year in a row
By James Murray, Business Green, 14 June 2017
Global carbon emissions remained flat for the third consecutive year during 2016, as a sharp fall in coal use, rapid growth in renewables, and energy efficiency improvements all combined to hold down emissions levels.
That is the conclusion of the latest annual Statistical Review of World Energy from oil giant BP, which was released yesterday.
“The combination of weak energy demand growth and the shifting fuel mix meant that global carbon emissions are estimated to have grown by only 0.1 per cent – making 2016 the third consecutive year of flat or falling emissions,” the company said. “This marks the lowest three-year average for emissions growth since 1981-83.”

Replacing trees with bamboos halves the carbon storage capacity of forests, 14 June 2017
Subtropical forests are among the most important ecosystems in terms of carbon sinks, fixing carbon from the atmosphere. Recent evidence indicates that after selective logging, bamboos replace trees in subtropical forests, which leads to decreased carbon storage. This decrease is far from trivial. The amount of carbon that a forest loses due to tree replacement by bamboos equals the amount of carbon liberated through clear cutting of the forest. Until now, the process responsible for this decline was unknown. Now, a new study reported in the journal Forest Ecology and Management sheds light on the mechanisms behind the loss in carbon fixation of subtropical forests.

[Indonesia] Hotspots Indicating Forest Fires Detected in 4 Provinces of Sumatra
Netral News, 14 June 2017
The Meteorological, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has detected 28 hotspots, indicating forest and plantation fires, in four provinces located on Sumatra Island on Tuesday.
The hotspots were found in Aceh, North Sumatra, Riau, and Lampung provinces, Slamet Riyadi, head of the data section of the Pekanbaru meteorology station, said here on Tuesday. Aceh has 14 hotspots, North Sumatra has seven, Riau has four, and Lampung has three, he stated.
In Riau Province, the hotspots were detected in Pelalawan District (two hotspots), and in Indragiri Hulu and Indragiri Hilir, one hotspot was detected each. “Of the four hotspots in Riau Province, one has been confirmed as forest fire.”
The wildfire is located in Kuala Kampar sub-district. The Riau disaster mitigation office tried to trace the fire by using a helicopter. The office was ready to deploy five helicopters to drop water bombs to put out the fire.

[UK] Diamond investment coldcalling scammers flogged gems at a 745% mark-up
By Andrew Penman, The Mirror, 14 June 2017
A diamond investment firm used two desperate arguments to try to avoid being shut down by the High Court.
First, it claimed it had never ripped off anyone, blaming so-called brokers working for other companies.
And in case that didn’t wash, it argued that the UK courts had no authority because it was based in Dubai.
In fact, the Dubai operation, Diffraction Diamonds DMCC, was another version of UK company Diffraction Limited, which was liquidated in 2014.
Both were run by 40-year-old David Ramsey of Slough, Berkshire.
The High Court was told how Diffraction supplied diamonds to other companies, which cold called members of the public claiming that they were a great investment as they were priced 20% below the retail value.

15 June 2017

The AIIB is about to face two major tests
By Kate Geary, China Dialogue, 15 June 2017
On a small island off the coast of South Korea, the world’s newest multilateral bank – the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) – is meeting until Sunday 18 for its second-ever annual general meeting. While the bank’s first AGM in Beijing last year was mainly a back-slapping affair to celebrate its establishment, this year’s AGM marks the true test of what kind of investor the AIIB will be, and what that means for the future of Asia and the world.
AIIB President Jin Liqun repeatedly says that the bank aims to be “lean, clean and green”. And two decisions that the AIIB’s board will take will test that aspiration to its very limits.

International Finance Corporation Flashes Warning Signs for Green Climate Fund
By Karen Orenstein, Friends of the Earth US, 15 June 2017
The IFC doesn’t know what a lot of its money is doing, and that’s bad.
Though the subject matter might at first seem a bit dull, a recent monitoring report of the financial sector lending of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) is a doozy for the warnings it provides to the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank Group’s private sector lending arm, had a financial intermediary (FI) portfolio of $20.4 billion at the end of the 2016 fiscal year. In March 2017, the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), the independent watchdog of the IFC, put out its Third Monitoring Report of IFC’s Response to: CAO Audit of a Sample of IFC Investments in Third-Party Financial Intermediaries. In the sample of FI investments the CAO reviewed, it found systemic non-compliance with IFC policies throughout the investment process.

Forget coal, solar will soon be cheaper than natural gas power
By Joe Romm, ThinkProgress, 15 June 2017
The staggering drop in the cost of clean energy has already upended the global power market over the past two decades — and that trend will only continue for the next two decades, according to new analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
As a result, renewables will capture the lion’s share of the $10.2 trillion the world will invest in new power generation by 2040, BNEF projects in its annual New Energy Outlook 2017 report.

UN Experts Slam Brazilian Government’s Attacks on Indigenous Rights
By Christian Poirier, Amazon Watch, 5 June 2017
In response to the deepening human rights crisis gripping Brazil, last week a group of experts from the United Nations (UN) and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) forcefully denounced President Michel Temer’s administration and the agribusiness-affiliated ruralista congressional bloc for leading the assault on the rights of indigenous peoples.
Acknowledging the severity of today’s spiraling political regressions, Special Rapporteurs Victoria Tauli Corpuz and Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli (rights of indigenous people for the UN and IACHR, respectively), Michel Forst (human rights defenders), and John Knox (human rights and the environment), did not mince words, asserting: “The rights of indigenous peoples and environmental rights are under attack in Brazil.”

[Brazil] Pará, bloody Pará
By Felipe Milanez, Entitle Blog, 15 June 2017
Even when the police doesn’t kill in Pará, Brazil, it still lets others do the killing.
The coup and the political power of the rural sector in Brasília have provided Amazonian gunmen with a carte blanche. We are living in times of death. The massacre of nine men and one woman in Pau D’Arco, on the Santa Lucia ranch in southern Pará, on Wednesday 24 May, brings back the memory of terrible times and the return of terror. The massacres of the past are being repeated in Pará.
These collective deaths are perpetrated by groups of gunmen at the orders of ranchers. Death jobs that are executed like horror movies with torture, multiple shots and cruelty, and which are followed by parties celebrating the victory of the big ranchers and the destruction of the poor. Adventures that are told with a hunter’s pride.

[Ghana] Farmers soon to claim ownership of commercial trees
News Ghana, 15 June 2017
A Tree Tenure Policy would soon roll-out to provide farmers the legal right to claim ownership of commercial trees planted on their farms and those that grow naturally, Mr Musah Abu-Juan, the Forestry Technical Director of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, has announced.
The policy is one of the initiatives being championed by the Ministry to mitigate the menace of deforestation in the country.
The other policies are Forest Investment Programme, REDD+ Strategy, Voluntary Partnership Agreement as well as the Natural Resources and Environmental Governance.

Land rights help fight fires in Guatemala nature reserve: study
By Chris Arsenault, Reuters, 15 June 2017
Residents of northern Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve, an area of lush jungle and historical ruins, are far better at protecting the forest from fires when they have formal land rights, researchers said on Thursday.
The 2.1 million-hectare nature reserve in northern Guatemala is under threat from forest fires, drug traffickers and cattle barons, researchers said in a study.
Using satellite images, researchers analyzed the severity of this year’s forest fires on reserve land, comparing areas of the park where local communities have formal land rights with areas where residents lack them.

[USA] Why California’s Climate Change Fight Is Also About Public Health
By Justin Worland, Time, 15 June 2017
Even before President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Agreement, California Governor Jerry Brown loved to talk about climate change and his efforts to create what he calls “the most integrated policy to deal with climate change of any political jurisdiction in the Western Hemisphere.”
But in California addressing climate change isn’t just about saving the world from rising sea levels, intense heat and extreme weather events. Environmental policy experts say the state’s aggressive global warming program will also help solve a longstanding public health problem.

16 June 2017

Is Brazil stepping back from environmental leadership, just when it’s needed the most?
By Steve Schwartzman, EDF, 16 June 2017
Every conversation I have with my Brazilian friends and colleagues these days starts off with a discussion of whose political crisis is worse. It’s a hard question. But Brazil’s President Temer has the chance to show a little real leadership June 19th if he decides to veto a blatant giveaway of a large swath of protected Amazon forest to land grabbers and environmental lawbreakers.
U.S. and Brazilian presidents: The 19th-century take on development and the environment
Wildly unpopular U.S. President Trump was elected by maybe a third of eligible voters, with a substantial minority of votes cast. He is doing everything he and his staff can think of to roll back environmental protections in the United States and stymie progress on climate change globally. His ill-conceived scheme to pull the United States out the Paris Agreement would have us abdicate international leadership and surrender the enormous economic opportunity of the new, renewable, energy economy to China and other competitors.

Brazil prepares to grant land rights to criminals who stripped Amazon
By Fabiano Maisonnave, Climate Home, 16 June 2017
According to the Brazilian authorities, Pedro Cordeiro is a big time and repeated environmental offender – if he actually exists.
In April 2017, environmental agents fined him $9.2 million for converting into pasture 7,586 acres of Jamanxim National Forest, in Brazil’s Amazon. That didn’t stop the destruction. Next month, Cordeiro got another fine, now at $4.6m, for chopping down 3,618 acres of pristine forest next to the first area.
Cordeiro, however, has never been found. He supposedly lives in Curitiba, a regional capital some 2,800km south of Jamanxim. His name appears only in the Environmental Rural Registry (CAR, in Portuguese) alongside plots of land in the forest he claims to own. That federal database requires all rural properties to register, but does not run background checks.

Ecuadorians denounce foreign loggers in Yasuni national park
By David Hill, The Guardian, 16 June 2017
Three NGOs in Ecuador marked the UN’s World Environment Day last week by releasing a report alleging that illegal loggers are operating in the famous Yasuní National Park in the Amazon, one of the most biodiverse places in the world. The loggers are crossing the border from Peru and mainly extracting cedar from territories used by indigenous peoples living in “isolation”, according to the NGOs.
The report focuses on a reconnaissance trip made in May which documented illegal logging in the park, as well as “massive” commercial hunting and the abandonment of premises supposedly run by the Environment Ministry and military. The trip was made, the report states, after several government visits to the region in recent years which confirmed that illegal loggers and hunters were operating, but led to almost no action being taken to stop them. On one occasion illegal wood was confiscated, but it was recovered by Peruvian loggers, it is claimed, in a “possible violent attack against [an Ecuadorian] military post.”

[India] Uttarakhand: 48 hours later, forest fire in Gangotri area continues to rage
The Indian Express, 16 June 2017
A massive forest fire broke out at the Pandav cave area in Gangotri in Uttarakhand nearly two days ago continues to rage through the forest. Forest fires have continually struck this region since February. According to a report in the Hindustan Times, these fires have damaged more than 1,200 hectare forest cover. This is estimated to have caused a monetary loss of over Rs 20 lakh with a total of 782 fire incidents until last week. Separately, fires destroyed 794 hectare of land in Kumaon, 254 hectare in Garhwal, 123 hectare and 44.10 hectare in protected wildlife areas in Shivalik, according to HT.

[Liberia] FDA Managing Director Raps on Effects of Climate Change
By Richie Garley Grear, Front Page Africa, 16 June 2017
The Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority says it is evident that climate change affects our livelihoods, incomes and the environment.
FDA Boss Mr. Darlington S. Tuagben made the declaration at the opening of a five-day training workshop in Monrovia.
In his opening address, Mr. Tuagben said from research, it is estimated that 17.4 per cent of global greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions are derived from forest degradation.
The forests are also affected by climate change, but at the same time, the FDA Boss pointed out, that, they play a key role in the adaptation to and mitigation of adverse effects of climate change.

[New Zealand] Why I’m taking the NZ government to court
By Sarah Thomson, The Spinoff, 16 June 2017
The day it really hit home was when I listened to James Hansen – the man who warned the world about climate change in the 1980s and whom NASA tried to silence – give a talk comparing climate change to an asteroid speeding towards Earth. The longer we delay taking action, the harder it will become to divert.
I looked around me to see if anyone else was worried about this rather large problem hurtling towards us. Surely, at least the government would save us from impending doom.
But the more time went on, the more conscious I became of how backwards the whole situation was. I wasn’t a climate change expert, but I could see that as far as diverting the asteroid went, we were doing about the equivalent of laying out a runway and waving glow sticks at the thing.

Sweden passes ambitious climate law to be carbon neutral by 2045
By Kate Wheeling, Pacific Standard, 16 June 2017
Sweden passed a new Climate Act on Thursday, legally binding the country to reach net-zero emissions by the year 2045. The act, which passed in parliament by a vote of 254 to 41, is even more ambitious than what the Scandinavian country pledged under the Paris Agreement: Under the new act, Sweden will reach carbon neutrality five years earlier.
According to a recent analysis, Sweden is one of just three European countries with climate policies in line with the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement. The country has had a carbon tax in place since the 1990s and has invested heavily in wind and solar since the early aughts. Sweden derives only 25 percent of its energy from fossil fuel.

17 June 2017

18 June 2017

Brazil’s Politicians Unleash Illegal Loggers, Miners, and Land Thieves
By Philip Fearnside, ALERT, 18 June 2017
In their rush to undo environmental protections, Brazil’s politicians are again shocking the world.
These efforts are part of a “ruralist” political agenda in Brazil—designed to benefit wealthy agribusiness and large-scale landholders.
On top of past legislative moves, the latest actions would effectively abolish the nation’s environmental licensing system (see here and here) while removing around 1 million hectares of Amazon forest from protected areas along the Transamazon Highway in Amazonas state.

Land-rights policies in Latin America still fall short, studies show
By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News, 18 June 2017
Latin American countries have made progress in granting land rights to communities in recent years. Nevertheless, policies often fail to consider the diversity of those communities and the different ways they use their land.
Some of those differences were highlighted in studies presented by researchers from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) at the recent Latin American Studies Association Conference held in Lima, Peru.
Government regulations often take a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to forest tenure, which is out of step with local practices that vary from place to place, and sometimes even from one family to the next, said Peter Cronkleton, a senior scientist at CIFOR.

Portugal Fires Kill More Than 60, Including Drivers Trapped in Cars
By Raphael Minder, New York Times, 18 June 2017
A raging forest fire in central Portugal this weekend killed more than 60 people, including at least 30 motorists who were trapped in their cars when the flames enveloped a stretch of road.
The fire, which was still burning on Sunday afternoon, has brought “a dimension of human tragedy that we cannot remember,” Prime Minister António Costa said during a visit to the scorched area around Pedrógão Grande.
The initial deadly blaze started on Saturday, and the flames spread along four fronts with “great violence,” said Jorge Gomes, the secretary of state for internal administration. By Sunday afternoon, five infernos were raging in central Portugal, he said.

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