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REDD in the news: 13-19 April 2019

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

13 April 2019

Defending the defenders: tropical forests in the front line
UN environment, 13 May 2019
“Climate change is hitting hardest those who have done least to cause it, especially the world’s indigenous peoples from the Arctic to the tropics,” said renowned actor and activist Alec Baldwin speaking at the 18th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York on 23 April 2019.

FAO calls for a paradigm shift in landscapes at GLF Kyoto 2019
FAO, 13 May 2019
A paradigm shift to achieve zero deforestation, restore large areas of forest and reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation is required to fulfil Paris Agreement climate change goals, a session at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) in Kyoto heard today.
Hiroto Mitsugi, FAO Assistant Director-General, Forestry Department, highlighted the importance of approaching development holistically, noting that the sustainable landscape approach is key to reaching climate resilience and ecosystem restoration goals.

The Chain: Financial Institutions May See Reputation Risks from Links to Deforestation
Chain Reaction Research, 13 May 2019
Similar to physical actors along commodity supply chains, investors are facing greater pressure to limit links to deforestation, a trend that could expose them to reputation risks. A recent report from Amazon Watch (for which CRR partner Profundo provided research on the downstream supply chain) highlights this growing risk. It argues for reform among investors in companies that play a role in supply chains with products linked to deforestation. The report calls on financial institutions to use their influence to spur changes among companies operating in Brazil, where deforestation is threatening to continue to rise under Jair Bolsonaro’s administration. Bolsonaro favors agribusiness over environmental protections and has appointed cabinet members who have undermined environmental regulations and are hostile to indigenous groups. Amazon Watch’s report was written in coordination with the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), whose members feel particularly vulnerable amid the current political climate in Brazil.

Before Electing Bolsonaro, Brazil Slashed Emissions 70%. Nobody Cared
By Gabriel daSilva, Ecosystem Marketplace, 13 May 2019
Last week, Brazil’s top security adviser said that the Amazon forest was his country’s to exploit, regardless of the impact on greenhouse gas emissions.
“I don’t accept this idea that the Amazon is world heritage, this is nonsense,” General Augusto Heleno Pereira told Bloomberg. “The Amazon is Brazilian, the heritage of Brazil and should be dealt with by Brazil for the benefit of Brazil.”
He made the comment even as charismatic Kayapo leader Chief Raoni launched a three-week tour of Europe to send a competing message: namely, that the world needs the Amazon intact if we’re to meet the climate challenge, and that indigenous people like himself can help keep it that way – if we help them do so.

[Canada] 80-hectare wildfire remains out-of-control west of Osoyoos, one property on alert
By Simon Little, Shelby Thom and Doris Maria Bregolisse, Global News, 13 May 2019
The Richter Creek wildfire has exploded into an aggressive surface wildfire and is estimated to be about 80 hectares and growing, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service.
The suspected human-caused blaze is burning beside Highway 3, west of Osoyoos, and has climbed to the top of nearby slopes.

[EU] Which Way Up?
By Jahn Olsen, BloombergNEF, 13 May 2019
You can’t accuse the EU ETS of being boring at the moment. Prices are volatile and seemingly no longer connected to fundamentals, which is worrying industrials, utilities, traders and speculators in equal measure. It seems a near-certainty that the market will be tight in the long term, but a built-up cache of EUAs and shorter-term risks mean the market could stay erratic for a while.

[India] Forest fires raging in U’khand
Business Standard, 13 May 2019
Over 60 fresh cases of forest fire were reported from different parts of Uttarakhand as temperature continued to soar in the hilly state.
This year, more than 900 hectares of land in Kumaon and Garhwal regions has been gutted in wildfire incidents so far, Chief Conservator of Forest PK Singh said.
He said 64 fresh incidents of forest blazes were reported from different parts of the state on Monday.

There’s more to Indonesian fires than drought
Physics World, 13 May 2019
The fires that devastated Indonesia in 2015 were chiefly linked to drought, topography and population, researchers have learned. Fires were most likely in flat, sparsely populated areas where there had been little rainfall. Although the connection to rainfall was no surprise, the other influences were unexpected.
The results underline the importance of establishing an early-warning system for droughts, according to Janice Ser Huay Lee of Nanyang Technological University of Singapore. “Mitigation of fires would come from monitoring ignition sources during droughts, especially in low-population peatland, in areas that have been burnt in recent years, and in close proximity to roads,” she says. “These criteria could be incorporated into the Indonesian authorities’ existing fire-monitoring systems.”

[Indonesia] EU Visit to Oil Palm Plantation in Riau Eases Tensions
Jakarta Globe, 13 May 2019
Eight EU representatives from Belgium, Spain, Finland, Ireland, Sweden, Hungary, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, and a representative from the Food and Agriculture Organization, visited an Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil-certified oil palm plantation in Riau on Thursday.
The visit was initiated by the Directorate General of American and European Affairs of Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry to show the EU representatives proof of progress made by the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) certification.
It was also meant to prove the country’s commitment in establishing sustainable practices in the palm oil industry.

Toxic smoke hangs over Mexico City as wildfires burn
By Manuel Crespo Feliciano, AccuWeather, 13 May 2019
The government of Mexico City has issued alerts for poor air quality since Friday as a result of a series of forest fires that have broken out in and around the most populated city in North America.
Outdoor activities were affected during the course of the weekend, and continues, due to a dense layer of smoke that has enveloped much of the city. Videos posted on social media showed how dense the smoke was that hung in the air over Mexico’s capital city.
The situation is especially dangerous because, as reported by the Ministry of the Environment, the air is contaminated with high levels of ash particles, which can cause respiratory problems and other diseases by inhalation.

[USA] Los Angeles Fire Season Is Beginning Again. And It Will Never End. A bulletin from our climate future.
By David Wallace Wells, New York Magazine, 13 May 2019
You could see the smoke from space. The plume from last November’s Woolsey fire swept out toward Catalina and into the Pacific beyond by the same Santa Ana winds that had carried the flames all the way down the Malibu mountainside to the beach. The aftermath was eerie, the sunsets gorgeous, toxic ash falling from the sky in heavy lumps. Horses and alpacas and a giraffe wandered the sand, having fled flames that tore through local stables and ranches and a vineyard’s private zoo. The burn scar on the land, when the smoke cleared, stretched 152 square miles through Point Dume and Malibu and up to Calabasas and Westlake Village: 96,000 densely populated acres burned, 300,000 people evacuated from 100,000 homes, a city of 10 million terrorized in ways both familiar and unprecedented.

14 April 2019

CO2 Concentrations Hit Highest Levels in 3 Million Years
YaleEnvironment360, 14 May 2019
The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit 415.39 parts per million (ppm) over the weekend — the highest level seen in some 3 million years, before humans existed, according to scientists at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. CO2 levels are now rising 3 ppm each year, up from an average 2.5 ppm over the last decade, the scientists said.

Forest Cover 58: Large-scale cattle farming and its consequences for forests, agroecology and biodiversity
Global Forest Coalition, 14 May 2019
The 58th issue of Forest Cover focuses on large-scale cattle farming and its incompatibility with other, more sustainable food systems and with thriving, healthy forests. Case studies from six countries describe the impacts of an industrial livestock industry that is hungry for land and resources, often highly polluting, and squeezing or stamping out other models of food production, such as traditional farming and agroecology.

The heat is on: Amazon tree loss could bring 1.45 degree C local rise
By James Fair, Mongabay, 14 May 2019
It is well known that the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation both lead to the emission of carbon dioxide, raising temperatures worldwide. Less well understood is how removing tree cover is contributing to increased temperatures at a local level – until now.
In a new study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, scientists from Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro State University and the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), have found that the temperature increase in the immediate vicinity of a deforested area could be as much as 1.45 degrees Celsius (2.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2050 in tropical areas such as Brazil’s Amazon basin or in the Cerrado, the nation’s savanna biome.

[Brazil] Green bonds used to finance damaging industrial tree plantations
By Merel van der Mark, Environmental Paper Network, 14 May 2019
Green Bonds are used to finance business-as-usual tree plantations and operations of the paper & pulp industry and claiming exaggerated CO2 savings, a new briefing by the Environmental Paper Network (EPN) shows. The briefing presents a case study of a Green Bond issued by the Brazilian pulp & paper giant Fibria, even though the company has not engaged in any kind of environmental reorientation of its business activities. Instead, its Green Bond was used to finance expansions of monoculture industrial tree plantations.

[Indonesia] Forest fires, haze in Sarawak due to weak enforcement
By Kandau Sidi, New Straits Times, 14 May 2019
The forest fires that resulted in serious haze in northern part of Sarawak, especially in Miri, have been due to a weak enforcement.
Sarawak’s DAP secretary Alan Ling Sie Kiong said the forest fires that occurred in the state are repeating every year, when the dry season comes.
He said government agencies such as the Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) and the Environment Department should enforce stricter rules against those who conducted open burning activities.
“If there’s no stern action taken against those culprits, the issue will not end as they won’t bother much. That’s why the open burning problem couldn’t resolve over the years.
“The government must be firm in addressing this issue as it affects the health of the public,” he said when contacted today.

[Ireland] Department of Agriculture issues alert as soaring temperatures increase risk of forest fires
By Edel Hughes, Irish Mirror, 14 May 2019
The Department of Agriculture has issued a forest fire alert for the rest of the week as temperatures soar.
The High Fire Risk alert came into effect yesterday and will remain in place until 12pm on Friday, May 17.
Blazes could occur in wooded areas due to the amount of dead vegetation and a combination of high temperatures and little rain.
A spokesperson said: “Arising from current Easterly high pressure weather conditions, forecast high temperatures and low relative humidity levels, a High Fire Risk exists in all areas where hazardous fuels such as gorse, heather, dried grasses and other dead vegetation exist.”

Mexico City declares environment emergency as fires hurt air quality
Reuters, 14 May 2019
Authorities declared an environmental emergency on Tuesday for metropolitan Mexico City, one of the world’s most populous megalopolises, as smoke from nearby wildfires pushed pollution to levels deemed potentially harmful to human health.
Environmental authorities advised residents to avoid outdoor activities and exercise and remain indoors with windows and doors shut. It called for especially sensitive groups, including infants, the elderly and sick, to stay at home.

[Mexico] 108 wildfires are burning in 17 states, most in central and southern regions
Mexico News Daily, 14 May 2019
More than 100 wildfires are burning across the country, creating dangerous and smoky conditions especially in southern and central states where the blazes are concentrated.
According to a count by the newspaper El Universal, there were at least 108 active wildfires in 17 states yesterday. Federal Civil Protection chief David León placed the figure at a slightly more modest 106.

[New Zealand] Hundreds of millions of dollars later, the Provincial Growth Fund has not decided how to measure success
By Hamish Rutherford, Stuff, 14 May 2019
It is meant to create 10,000 jobs and unlock the potential of the New Zealand’s regions. But after allocating hundreds of millions of dollars, halfway through the electoral term, the Provincial Growth Fund has not yet determined the measure of success.
Robert Pigou, a former banker who now heads the Provincial Development Unit, the team behind the administration of the Provincial Growth Fund, was being as clear as possible.
In a slow monotone, which may have been an attempt to take up as much of the hour long media-briefing as possible, he ran through the publicly stated objectives of the billion dollar a year fund. How many applications had been accepted for funding and how many had been rejected. Which ministers made funding decisions.
But when it came to questions, specifically how the fund would know for sure it was doing the job it set out to do, he danced. Many of the projects were of a nature that it would take “some years before the full impact of those benefits is realised”, he said.

Over 120 forest fires extinguished in Russia over last 24 hours
TASS, 14 May 2019
Around 120 forest fires have been extinguished in Russia on the territory of nearly 19,258 hectares in the last 24 hours, the press service of the Aerial Forest Protection Service said on Tuesday.
“According to regional forestry departments, 121 forest fires were extinguished on the territory of 19,258 hectares over the last 24 hours. As of 12am Moscow time on 14 May 2019, 49 wildfires continue blazing on the territory of 29,329 hectares. Firefighting efforts are underway,” the press service said.

[UK] Wildfire warning slapped on Ayrshire as forest fires break out across Scotland threatening lives and farmland
Cumnock Chronicle, 14 May 2019
Locals are being urged to stay extremely cautious as a wildfire warning is slapped on Scotland.
Now residents are being told to prepare for forest fires until May 17.
Ayrshire livestock, farmland, wildlife and woodland can all be devastated by these fires – as can the lives of people living and working in rural communities.
The calls follow several recent wildfires across the country including in Ayrshire where firefighters battled a forest fire at Loch Doon, Dalmellington, over three days.

15 April 2019

Has the politics of climate change finally reached a tipping point?
By John Vidal, The Guardian, 15 May 2019
Last week a small campaign group in the staunchly conservative town of Shrewsbury called a public meeting about climate change. The organisers were delighted when 150 people turned up. Even they were surprised, though, when people unanimously said they were prepared to give up flying, change their boilers and cars, eat less meat and even overthrow capitalism to get a grip on climate change.
But this was just a straw in the political wind whipping through middle England. Shrewsbury joins more than 100 other councils across the country in declaring a climate emergency, and has pledged that it will be carbon-neutral within 11 years, with more following every week.

The most important landscapes left are the ones ‘in between’
By Gabrielle Lipton, CIFOR Landscape News, 15 May 2019
From the announcement of a new U.N. ambition to restore ecosystems to a landmark report declaring the potential extinction of 1 million forms of life on Earth, the first half of 2019 has been a quick series of shining peaks and grim valleys for climate change news.
It’s also a time – and has been for some time – when headlines often speak of climate change in general terms, without site-specific context or solutions attached.

Plastic warms the planet twice as much as aviation – here’s how to make it climate-friendly
By Laurie Wright, The Conversation, 15 May 2019
We’re all too aware of the consequences of plastics in the oceans and on land. However, beyond the visible pollution of our once pristine habitats, plastics are having a grave impact on the climate too.
Newly published research calculates that across their lifecycle, plastics account for 3.8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s almost double the emissions of the aviation sector. If it were a country, the “Plastic Kingdom” would be the fifth-highest emitter in the world.

Analyzing Carbon Management and Its Markets, 2019
ResearchAndMarkets.com press release, 15 May 2019
Over the last decade, the concern over global carbon footprint and climate changes has increased manifold, and discussions about greenhouse gases is all omnipresent from general public, to corporate boardrooms to political parties. There is a wide spread awareness about managing the global carbon footprint, and one of the most prominent global developments on this front has been the Kyoto protocol (followed by the Copenhagen summit).
However, global consensus has still not been arrived at, primarily due to the differing and at times opposing strategic imperatives of various countries.

AP Explains: Brazil’s environmental changes under Bolsonaro
AP, 15 May 2019
The administration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has canceled a United Nations climate change workshop to be held in the city of Salvador in August, reaffirming its lack of interest in participating in international efforts to fight global warming. The far-right Bolsonaro has made clear he intends to make major changes to Brazil’s environmental policy, including opening the globally vital Amazon rainforest to development and agribusiness. His environment minister has called climate change a “secondary issue.” Here’s a look at some of the key measures taken by Bolsonaro’s administration, which took office Jan. 1.

[Ecuador] An uncommon victory for an indigenous tribe in the Amazon
By Rachel Riederer, The New Yorker, 15 May 2019
On April 26th, a parade of hundreds of Waorani men and women, members of an indigenous nation in a remote part of the Ecuadorian Amazon, marched triumphantly through the streets of Puyo, the regional capital of the eastern province of Pastaza. Many had come from villages in parts of the rain forest that have no roads—journeying by canoe and small plane. They were celebrating a new court ruling, which held that the Ecuadorian government could not, as it had planned, auction off their land for oil exploration without their consent. Nemonte Nenquimo, a Waorani leader, told me that they had come to Puyo to reclaim their right to self-governance and that the verdict had made them feel safer. “The court recognized that the government violated our right to live free, and make our own decisions about our territory and self determination,” she said, over WhatsApp. “Our territory is our decision, and now, since we are owners, we are not going to let oil enter and destroy our natural surroundings and kill our culture.”

European forests could ‘live fast and die young’ in a warming climate
By Daisy Dunne, CarbonBrief, 15 May 2019
Climate change could cause trees to grow faster, accelerating the rate at which they absorb carbon from the atmosphere. But these trees may be likely to die sooner, a study finds.
The research, conducted in high-altitude conifer forests in Spain and Russia, suggests that climate change could cause the trees to “live fast and die young”, the authors say – reducing the ability of these forests to act as a carbon sink over long timescales.

In Petén, Guatemala, community forestry is viable business
By Augusta Dwyer, CIFOR Landscape News, 15 May 2019
In the space where forest conservation meets poverty reduction, win-win situations can be rare, especially in developing world countries where customary rights of local communities are not always recognized.
But in Guatemala’s northern Petén region, a recent study by scientists from Bioversity International, in collaboration with the Center for International Forestry Research and other partners, provides an “example that community stewardship of tropical forest is a viable model for conserving forest and for achieving livelihood benefits,” said the report’s lead author, Dietmar Stoian, now a scientist with World Agroforestry (ICRAF).

[Ireland] €150m carbon credit cost for State over failure to meet 2020 emissions target
RTE, 15 May 2019
The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment has said that it is likely to cost the State up to €150 million to pay for carbon credits to compensate for the fact that Ireland will fail to meet its 2020 greenhouse gas emissions and renewable energy targets.
Speaking at a conference on making Ireland a leader in climate action, Richard Bruton said that Ireland is likely to have to purchase carbon credits in the marketplace for 16 million tonnes of carbon emissions.

[Mozambique] Are you here to plant trees or help people?
By Sarah Wyatt (GEF), Medium, 15 May 2019
Imagine trying to convince a group of poor farmers who don’t know you to plant a crop that they’ve never heard of, has no nutritional value, and takes three years to start producing. After sampling the crop, the farmers find it bitter and kind of burned. Adding to this challenge — this area is the heart of the rebel movement that has been fighting with the government for decades and fighting was still ongoing. Simply surviving is difficult for people there. This was the challenging situation that the team from Gorongosa National Park faced as they tried to bring shade-grown coffee to Mount Gorongosa.

[New Zealand] Tourism industry urged to help wipe out visitors’ carbon footprint
Newsroom, 15 May 2019
The tourism industry hopes to earn $50 billion and become more sustainable by 2025 but industry heads acknowledge that may be difficult.
The target was released yesterday in the industry’s new strategy for the future, which revealed at TRENZ, the country’s biggest annual tourism showcase in Rotorua.
The industry committed to measuring and reducing carbon usage, setting it as one of its new priorities.

[UK] Meet the Brazzaville Foundation: The royal-backed UK charity accused of ‘laundering’ the reputation of an oil-rich African autocrat (…with a little help from Bell Pottinger)
By Lione Faull, Finance Uncovered, 15 May 2019
A Finance Uncovered investigation today reveals details about a royal-backed UK charity accused of bolstering the regime that runs one of Africa’s most authoritarian and kleptocratic countries.
The findings centre on the City of London-registered Brazzaville Foundation, fronted by the Queen’s controversial cousin, Prince Michael of Kent, as its patron.
It was established in 2014 to tackle environmental challenges, help broker peace in Libya and raise awareness about the scourge of fake medicines in Africa – all causes about which its trustees appear to be sincere and passionate.

16 April 2019

A global map to understand changing forests
By Brian Wallheimer (Purdue University), Phys.org, 16 May 2019
An international collaboration of hundreds of scientists—led in part by the Forest Advanced Computing and Artificial Intelligence (FACAI) Laboratory in Purdue’s Department of Forestry and Natural Resources—has developed the world’s first global map of tree symbioses. The map is key to understanding how forests are changing and the role climate plays in these shifts.

‘Extraordinary thinning’ of ice sheets revealed deep inside Antarctica
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 16 May 2019
Ice losses are rapidly spreading deep into the interior of the Antarctic, new analysis of satellite data shows.
The warming of the Southern Ocean is resulting in glaciers sliding into the sea increasingly rapidly, with ice now being lost five times faster than in the 1990s. The West Antarctic ice sheet was stable in 1992 but up to a quarter of its expanse is now thinning. More than 100 metres of ice thickness has been lost in the worst-hit places.

In climate discussions, a pause to feel the change
By Gabrielle Lipton, CIFOR Landscape News, 16 May 2019
A Brazilian panel on fashion streamed live from Sao Paolo. The Mayor of Kyoto announcing that his city would reach zero emissions by 2050. Women in rural Africa speaking to the camera about building a society free from oppression.
As the climate changes, so too must the way we talk about it, from the language we use to the people we include in conversations to the methods we use to transmit messages around the world. In a digital age, there is more ability to do this than ever before.

Airlines should eliminate single-use plastics in five years: Hi Fly CEO
By Allison Lampert, Reuters, 16 May 2019
Airlines should get ahead of regulators by voluntarily eliminating single-use plastic within five years, the chief executive of Portuguese charter Hi Fly said, ahead of a Thursday forum on replacements for plastics on commercial flights.
Airlines, facing public pressure, are removing single-use plastic straws, stir sticks, utensils and wrappers from their cabins, with some carriers holding zero waste and plastic-free flights.

It’s not too late to reverse climate change, but the clock is ticking
By Grace Susetyo, CIFOR Landscape News, 16 May 2019
Recent studies find that the prevention of irreversible climate catastrophes require the world’s population to commit to transformative change within the next decade. On 12–14 May, the Global Landscapes Forum Kyoto (GLF Kyoto) event entitled “Climate, Landscapes and Lifestyles: It is Not Too Late” focused on making this commitment a reality.
“What you read in the news is that we have about twenty years to change our acts before something irreversible happens,” said Robert Nasi, director general of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), in “Act II” of the 24-hour event.

Landscape restoration expensive, exhausting – essential
By Sandra Cordon, CIFOR Landscape News, 16 May 2019
Landscape restoration is extremely expensive, very challenging, context-specific – and absolutely essential to ensuring livelihoods, fighting climate change and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
That was the conclusion from multiple panel discussions during Act III of the Global Landscapes Forum Kyoto (GLF Kyoto) event entitled “Climate, Landscapes and Lifestyles: It is Not Too Late.” Running for 24 hours that from 12–14 May across time zones, the event brought together some of the best minds from science, business, international development, indigenous peoples, civil society as well as youth leaders working on landscape solutions to the globe’s biggest problems.

Indonesian government actively blocking efforts to reform palm oil industry
Greenpeace Southeast Asia, 16 May 2019
Ministers in the Government of President Joko Widodo are blocking efforts to reform the palm oil industry. Last week the Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs ordered palm oil companies not to share information regarding the palm concessions they own.
Transparency has become a key battleground in the fight to clean up Indonesia’s palm oil industry. In December, the world’s largest palm oil trader, Wilmar International, committed to map and monitor hundreds of its suppliers to ensure they were not destroying rainforests. The government’s moves seem designed to stymie this initiative.

[Ireland] Carbon tax on fossil fuels could reach €265 per tonne
By Caroline O’Doherty, Irish Examiner, 16 May 2019
Carbon taxes on fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal could reach up to €265 per tonne in the next 30 years, Climate Action Minister Richard Bruton has warned. By then, Ireland aims to be a low-carbon, or no-carbon society, but any individual or enterprise still relying on fossil fuels will face hefty charges.
Already, carbon taxes are intended to quadruple between now and 2030 rising from the current level of €20 per tonne to €80 per tonne. The first significant increase is likely to be approved in this autumn’s budget.

[UK] Serious Fraud Office opens joint investigation into Greenergy
By Barney Thompson and David Sheppard, Financial Times, 16 May 2019
The UK’s Serious Fraud Office has opened a joint investigation with Dutch authorities into “certain aspects of biodiesel trading” at Greenergy and various third parties.
The SFO said on Thursday it had carried out searches at five sites in Britain, while further searches had been conducted in Netherlands and Belgium. The anti-fraud agency is believed to be working with the Dutch Human Environment and Transportation Inspectorate on the probe.

17 April 2019

WWF support for sterilisation programs and “shoot on sight” uncovered by Dutch TV
Survival International, 17 May 2019
A shock investigation for Dutch TV has revealed WWF’s involvement in sterilization programs around national parks.
The hugely controversial policy to reduce human populations around protected areas has been condemned as “utterly unethical” by Survival International Director Stephen Corry, who said: “Can you imagine WWF promoting the sterilization of women living around national parks in Europe or the US? The fact they consider it acceptable in India and Africa is racism, pure and simple.”

Why the Guardian is changing the language it uses about the environment
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 17 May 2019
The Guardian has updated its style guide to introduce terms that more accurately describe the environmental crises facing the world.
Instead of “climate change” the preferred terms are “climate emergency, crisis or breakdown” and “global heating” is favoured over “global warming”, although the original terms are not banned.

Fossil fuels are underpriced by a whopping $5.2 trillion
By Umair Irfan, Vox, 17 May 2019
The world’s top climate scientists calculated in a startling report last year that if we want to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius this century to avoid devastating social and economic consequences, we need to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
One big reason that goal is tough to hit is that we’re still heavily dependent on coal, oil, and natural gas — and governments support these forms of energy far more than clean energy.
The International Monetary Fund periodically assesses global subsidies for fossil fuels as part of its work on climate, and it found in a recent working paper that the fossil fuel industry got a whopping $5.2 trillion in subsidies in 2017. This amounts to 6.4 percent of the global gross domestic product.

Rooting for a sustainable future: how forest resources can help tackle climate change and air pollution
UN environment, 17 May 2019
Wild mushroom picking in Eastern Europe is more than a tradition. It is a social event. Every year, in late summer and early fall, thousands of people roam the woods for the biggest, most perfect specimens. They take their children along to teach them which mushrooms are edible and which are poisonous, which are ripe and which should be left for another week or so, passing on generations-old teachings and care for the woods. In the evenings, families share their harvest around a plateful of tasty, butter-fried delicacies. Together, they celebrate their love for the forests, sharing the best spots they found and recalling the animals or birds they sighted along the way.

[Australia] We all smell the smoke, we all feel the heat. This environmental catastrophe is global
By Alexis Wright, The Guardian, 17 May 2019
A dense haze of smoke crawled over Melbourne and embraced us for a day in its lonely pilgrimage, inviting us to contemplate its mourning rite, its long prayer.
This smoke came from a cremation of the natural world – the bushfires from the Bunyip state forest that had begun during days of a major heatwave running across the country. The forest lies 65km east of Melbourne where mountain ash grow, prickly tea-trees, stringy barks and heathland swamps. In the Woiworung mythology of the Kulin nation, the Bunyip is a spirit that punishes bad people who disturb its home in the swamps of the Bunyip River, and according to the Parks Victoria information sheet on the park, local Aboriginal people avoided the area.

The struggle for land security in Liberia is just beginning
By Alfred Brownell, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 17 May 2019
In 2016, I fled my native Liberia to avoid being arrested. My organization Green Advocates had recently filed a complaint before the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) against Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL), one of the world’s biggest palm oil producing companies, for attempting to clear more than 500,000 hectares of rainforest without the consent of the local communities who live on and protect those lands.

[New Zealand] Impact of selling farmland for forestry could be ‘catastrophic’
Rural Life, 17 May 2019
Thousands of hectares of prime Wairoa farmland sold to out-of-town forestry investors in recent months could have a “catastrophic” impact on the town, says the Wairoa Mayor.
Craig Little estimates at least 8000 hectares of sheep and beef farmland have been sold for conversion to wholesale forestry in Hawke’s Bay area in the last four months alone.
“These were beautiful farms, some of the best in the district too.”
Seven farming jobs would be replaced by just one in forestry and if the current trend continued could result in thousands of jobs being lost, Mr Little said.

[UK] The people who live with the ever-present threat of forest fire destroying their homes
By Nino Williams, Wales Online, 17 May 2019
People living in the shadow of a forest fire which prompted the evacuation of a stretch of houses say it is a danger they face regularly.
Almost fifty firefighters from eight stations attended the incident on Kilvey Hill on Thursday evening , after the dramatic blaze, which covered around ten hectares, lit up the night sky.
At its height, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service had 8 fire appliances at the scene, and sent crews from Swansea Central, Swansea West, Gorseinon, Pontarddulais, Neath, Morriston, Llanelli and Tumble, to bring the fire under control.

[USA] The Chain: Business Risks, Investor Engagement Prompt Kroger to Adopt a No-Deforestation Policy
Chain Reaction Research, 17 May 2019
Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the United States, announced on May 7, 2019 that it will adopt a no-deforestation policy. Kroger’s move is the result of years of investor engagement and the company lagging behind its peers in implementing policies to sell deforestation-free products.
Green Century Capital Management filed a shareholder resolution in January 2019 requesting that Kroger improve transparency in its beef, soy, palm oil, and paper/pulp supply chains, reduce exposure to global deforestation, and strengthen its policy. In its engagement with Kroger, Green Century received support from several faith-based organizations.

18 April 2019

[Canada] Seven fires classified ‘out of control’ in northern Alta.
By Alex Antoneshyn, CTV News, 18 May 2019
A total of seven wildfires in northern Alberta were classified as “out of control” Saturday afternoon, after officials effected an extreme danger warning for the Slave Lake Forest Area that morning.
Alberta Wildlife upgraded the alert Saturday with expectations of strong and gusty winds at the start of the weekend.
“Under these extremely dry and windy conditions a fire will burn intensely and spread very quickly.”
The department classified fires north of Edson, southeast of Lac La Biche, north of Slave Lake, and between Peace River and High Level as “out of control.”

[Ghana] COCOBOD CEO Comments On Cocoa Not Cause Of Deforestation Is Narrow, Unacceptable—Group
By Justice Agbenorsi, Modern Ghana, 18 May 2019
The Ghana Civil-Society Cocoa Platform (GCCP), an independent campaign and advocacy platform for civil society actors in the cocoa sector has schooled the CEO of COCOBOD Mr Joseph Aidoo to reconsider his statement about cocoa not being the cause of deforestation in Ghana.
This follows Comments by the CEO of COCOBOD at the chocosuisse General Assembly, the association that represents Swiss chocolate industry that he did not subscribe to the thinking that cocoa farming causes deforestation.

[India] Recent forest fires in Uttarakhand destroy huge swathes of green cover; experts blame errant monsoon
By Ankita Virmani, Firstpost, 18 May 2019
The hilly state of Uttarakhand recently witnessed a massive wildfire which has taken over more than 900 hectares of forest. Incidents of fire have been reported from all 13 districts of Uttarakhand, the worst affected districts being Nainital and Almora. In both these districts, the forests are largely comprised of oak and pine trees. The pine trees, also known as the ‘chir’ are highly inflammable and cover more than 16 percent of the state’s forest cover.
Rainfall and a hailstorm on Wednesday afternoon brought some relief and has mitigated the fire to some extent, said Mamta Chand, range officer of Nainital forest division.

Bugoma Forest must remain, says Uganda’s President, but conservationists not celebrating just yet
By Tony Ofungi, eTN Uganda, 18 May 2019
Following a sustained campaign over a court ruling to lease Bugoma Forest to Hoima Sugar Works last month, Uganda President Museveni has pronounced that Bugoma Forest must remain.
This follows a court ruling by Masindi District High Court Judge, Wilson Masalu , that 6,000 hectares of the reserve belong to the Omukama (king of Bunyoro), giving the kingdom a free hand to lease the land to Hoima Sugar Works for sugar growing.

19 April 2019

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