REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
27 May 2019
[Canada] B.C.’s bad fire seasons ‘a new norm of unprecedented wildfires’
By Randy Shore, Vancouver Sun, 27 May 2019
With another hot, dry summer ahead, B.C. is poised for a third consecutive record-breaking fire season after 2017 and 2018 rewrote the record books.
Pockets of northeast and northwest B.C. are already rated at “extreme danger” of fire, while the Central Coast and parts of Vancouver Island were rated as high danger, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service.
Up to 60 per cent of the snowpack has already melted due to unseasonably hot weather and the forecast is for more of the same.
Nepal Government To Launch ‘One Person, One Plant’ Campaign
Nepal24Hours, 27 May 2019
Nepal government plans to pursue the ‘One Person, One Plant’ programme as a public campaign in support of the implementation of the Afforestation Year 2076/77.
Various programmes would be undertaken in partnership with the three tiers of governments in this connection, the Ministry of Forests and Environment has stated. Tree saplings production and afforestation programmes would be conducted by mobilizing community-based forest groups including the community forest users’ committees.
Mapped: Russia’s devastating wildfires
Unearthed, 27 May 2019
Wildfires that ravaged millions of hectares of land and forests in Russia last year may have been caused by so-called “prescribed burning” – a controversial practice intended to prevent the spread of forest fire.
That’s according to a new analysis of 2018’s Siberian wildfires carried out by GIS specialists at Greenpeace’s Global Mapping Hub, who found that the overwhelming majority of those fires started close to places where people travel, work or live, or to sites of deliberate ‘prescribed burnings’.
Major US Airlines Agree To UN Climate Change Plan
By Rich Thomaselli, Travel Pulse, 27 May 2019
Virtually every U.S.-based airline has voluntarily agreed to a United Nations plan to reduce carbon emissions in an effort to temper climate change worldwide.
The program, called the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), caps emissions at 2020 levels and is administered by the U.N.-affiliated International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Reforestation can help reverse the climate and extinction crises. It’s cost-effective too.
By Jonah Busch, Earth Innovation Institute, 27 May 2019
Reforestation can help reverse not one but two planetary crises. Reforestation offers one of the best ways to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, turning it into solid carbon through photosynthesis and storing it in tree trunks, branches, roots, and soil. And reforestation can also start to rewind the habitat loss that threatens the extinction of up to 1 million plant and animal species—one-quarter of life on Earth, according to a recent United Nations report on biodiversity and ecosystem services.
28 May 2019
ProPublica: Carbon Credits Don’t Fight Climate Change
By Brooke Ruth and Mark Sauer, KPBS, 28 May 2019
At a time when the Trump administration is scaling back environmental protections, California continues to be a leader in the fight to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Now, the state is considering expanding its carbon offset program, which allows polluters to pay a fee to support things like forest preservation programs. California’s program is currently limited to forest preservation projects in North America. The expansion, if approved, would allow for intercontinental carbon offset programs. Supporters say it could serve as a model for other countries to follow.
But, the benefits of carbon offset programs are far from certain, according to a report by ProPublica.
Participants at workshop for African land commissions launch new intergovernmental platform to scale implementation of indigenous and community land rights
Rights and Resources Initiative, 28 May 2019
Representatives from 13 governmental land agencies in Africa announced today in Antananarivo, Madagascar the launching of the Network of African Land Institutions for Community Land Rights to serve as a platform for exchange and mutual support to advance opportunities to secure indigenous and community land rights across the region.
The Network was launched at the closing of the Regional Workshop of Land Institutions for Securing Communities’ Land Rights in Africa, held in Madagascar from May 21-23, 2019. Instigated by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) and co-organized by the International Land Coalition (ILC) and the Malagasy Ministry of Regional Development, Housing and Public Works (MATHTP), along with the national civil society platform to support land reform (the Solidarite des Intervenants du Fonciers a Madagascar, SIF), the regional workshop aimed at capitalizing on recent legislative land and forest gains across Africa for the expansion of tenure rights for Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and women within those communities, as well as growing political will to support this agenda in a number of countries.
How Humans Fueled Last Summer’s Extreme Heat
By Marlene Cimons, Nexus Media, 28 May 2019
The summer of 2018 in Europe, North America and Asia was blistering. People died from the scorching heat. Roads and train tracks cracked. Power fizzled. Wildfires erupted. In Switzerland, climate researcher Martha Vogel found relief by swimming in Lake Zurich. But trying to work in her south-facing office without air conditioning became a real challenge.
[Australia] Intrepid to become first ‘climate positive’ company of its kind by 2020
Travel Weekly, 28 May 2019
Melbourne-based company Intrepid Travel has committed to becoming the first of its kind to be ‘climate positive’ by 2020.
This means the already carbon-neutral business will create an environmental benefit by removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Joining forces with the Climate Foundation and the University of Tasmania, The Intrepid Foundation is crowdfunding for a new marine permaculture initiative that will regenerate marine ecosystems in Tasmania and sequester carbon from the atmosphere.
Zambia’s Vision for People and Forests: Scaling Up Community Participation in Forest Management through REDD+
By Amanda Bradley, Maryia Kukharava, with special thanks to Guni Mickels Kokwe, and Kaala Moombe, UN-REDD Programme, 28 May 2019
Forests in Zambia cover about 60% of the total land area and are crucial in supporting low-income communities in both urban and rural areas. A variety of wood and non-wood forest products are utilised on a daily basis by rural and urban households in various parts of the country. The Government of Zambia is advancing in activities aimed at reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). This is an opportunity for them to directly address the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation while pursuing its long-term development vision to reduce poverty and develop participatory forestry by 2030. According to Vision 2030, community forestry groups, in partnership with NGOs and the private sector, will become stewards of green businesses, earning income from sustainable forest management and sharing the benefits equitably in the community.
29 May 2019
What Conservation Efforts Can Learn from Indigenous Communities
By Annie Sneed, Scientific American, 29 May 2019
A kaleidoscopic diversity of Earth’s plants and animals underpins human existence but is under major threat from the environmental degradation wrought by human activities from mining to agriculture. A million species face extinction—many within decades—without major changes to the way we interact with nature, according to a United Nations–backed report released earlier this month.
[India] Forest Fires Spread In Uttarakhand Jungles As Temperature Rises On Hills
NDTV, 29 May 2019
Forest fires have engulfed 1,960 hectare of Uttarakhand jungles with rising temperature in the hills, an official report said on Wednesday.
Significantly, the fires were spreading fast in the reserved forest areas where 1,466 hectares of forests were affected with 1,153 incidents so far, the report said.
According to the data provided by the forest department, a total of 73 fire incidents were reported during the past 24 hours in the state, taking the total number to 1,493.
This has resulted in a loss of Rs. 35.41 lakh in terms of forest property.
Indonesia issues map acknowledging lands of indigenous peoples
By Kharishar Kahfi, The Jakarta Post, 29 May 2019
Back in 2015, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo kicked off the ambitious program of social forestry, in which his administration is expected to distribute 12.7 million hectares of forests to be managed by communities throuvarious schemes, including hutan adat (customary forests).
Customary forests are distributed to local neighborhoods that have been established as an indigenous community through a regional bylaw.
[Indonesia] Without forest, no water, no Dayak
By Keon Kusters, CIFOR Landscape News, 29 May 2019
After having received a village forest permit, the village of Laman Satong in West Kalimantan can now earn moneyfrom its forest by selling carbon credits. However, the money should not be the main reason for protecting the forest, according to one of the village’s customary elders.
The village of Laman Satong lies at the foot of two forested hills in the southern part of West Kalimantan, Indonesia. The villagers – mostly Indigenous Dayak people – use the edges of the forest to collect rubber, fruits and vegetables. However, the forest is formally located on state land, and in the mid-2000s, the government was exploring possibilities to lease out the area to an oil palm company. The community was at risk of losing its forest.
[USA] Fighting fire with fire: Should California burn its forests to protect against catastrophe?
By Ryan Sabalow, Dale Kasler, and May Miller, The Sacramento Bee, 29 May 2019
It seemed like a good day for a fire — the kind that could safely thin out an overgrown forest, eliminate combustible underbrush and reduce the risk from an out-of-control wildfire like the ones that have devastated California communities in recent years.
But when a lightning strike ignited a small fire May 10 in the Tahoe National Forest, on a relatively cool day in an area still green from winter rains, federal firefighters did what they almost always do: They raced to snuff it out. The Sugar Fire in the foothills east of Sacramento was fully contained within two days, before it could spread beyond 65 acres.
[UK] Fraud trial abandoned because expert witness had no expertise
By Owen Bowcott, The Guardian, 29 May 2019
The safety of convictions secured in more than 20 fraud trials may have to be examined after an expert witness was found to be inadequately qualified.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has abandoned a case against eight defendants in a carbon credit and diamond sales hearing after defence lawyers cross-examined Andrew Ager.
According to the lawyers’ website, at 2 Hare Court chambers in London, Ager was found to have no academic qualifications and could not remember if he had passed his A-levels.
30 May 2019
Humans and volcanoes caused nearly all of global heating in past 140 years
By Dana Nuccitelli, The Guardian, 30 May 2019
Emissions from fossil fuels and volcanoes can explain nearly all of the changes in Earth’s surface temperatures over the past 140 years, a new study has found.
The research refutes the popular climate denial myth that recent global warming is merely a result of natural cycles.
The Case for Ditching Air Travel
By Leanna First-Arai, Outside, 30 May 2019
In his former life, Olympic gold medalist Björn Ferry was a frequent flier. He traveled 180 days of the year between training and competitions, armed with the cross-country skis and rifle characteristic of the biathlon, a sport that orignated in Scandanavia and combines nordic skiing with target shooting. In all, Ferry estimates that he traveled around 25,000 miles per year by plane and another 25,000 by car or minibus. “Back then I emitted 16 tons of CO2 per year,” he says with dismay. “[The] average in Sweden is eight. That doesn’t look so good.”
Dangerous delusions: biomass is not a renewable energy source
By Katja Garson, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, 30 May 2019
Using trees and crops is being touted by the biomass industry as a way to curb carbon emissions, but it turns out bioenergy and biofuels are as bad as fossil fuels for the climate, the environment and local communities.
On our rapidly changing Earth, everything is connected. The need to abandon unsustainable resource extraction grows more urgent with each day that passes. That’s why we need to talk about biomass. The use of biomass (plant material) to create bioenergy (for heat or power) and biofuels (for transportation) is responsible for rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and environmental destruction – starting well before the burning takes place.
Forests rise as climate solutions in Asia and the Pacific
By Gloria Pallares, UN-REDD Programme, 30 May 2019
The land use sector is crucial to confronting climate change, with forests providing the single largest opportunity to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
In the past decade, countries in Asia and the Pacific have joined a global drive to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and to conserve forests –an approach known as REDD+.
31 May 2019
These 4 Arguments Can’t Overcome the Facts About Carbon Offsets for Forest Preservation
By Lisa Song, ProPublica, 31 May 2019
When ProPublica published an investigation last week about the persistent problems of carbon credits linked to tropical forest preservation, supporters of the system vehemently disputed whether this meant these initiatives have been, and are likely to continue to be, failures.
Net-zero by 2050: What does it mean?
By Ruby Russell, DW, 31 May 2019
With the Paris Agreement in 2015, nearly 200 nations submitted plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Because it was clear, however, that these measures would not be nearly enough to meet the Paris goals, the agreement stipulated that states would submit commitments to more radical cuts five years later.
In the intervening years, storms, floods, drought and forest fires have made climate change a terrifying reality for increasing numbers of people. And last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned of much worse to come if we exceed 1.5 degrees of warming.
Canadian Wildfires Are Already Turning Sunsets Red in the US
By Brian Kahn, Earther, 31 May 2019
The calendar hasn’t turned to summer yet, but skies in Canada and across the U.S. already look like August. Smoke from massive Canadian wildfires has made the sun disappear in Edmonton and turned Friday’s sunrise blood red as far east as Vermont.
More than 900,000 acres of Alberta has gone up in flames, the latest symptom of our overheating planet. Wildfire risk continues to be high in the province as well as neighboring British Columbia where a heat wave has temperatures climbing into the 90s for parts of the province through the weekend.
[Republic of Congo] WWF hit by THIRD major exposé of ranger abuses
Survival International, 31 May 2019
A new investigation has uncovered further revelations of WWF-linked abuses of local people in the name of conservation. It’s the THIRD major exposé this year since Survival International drew attention to the organization’s funding of an illegal conservation project.
In Forest of Fear, part of Channel 4’s Unreported World series broadcast in the UK on May 31, reporter Ade Adepitan investigated WWF’s plan to create a protected area in the Congo against the wishes of the local people.
“Something has gone very badly wrong here,” said Adepitan after interviewing the Baka people living in the area of the proposed Messok Dja park.
As European demand for its cocoa surges, illegal deforestation threatens to destroy “critical forest corridor” in Nigeria
Illegal Deforestation Monitor, 31 May 2019
Cross River State, home to some of Nigeria’s last remaining tropical rainforest and critically endangered gorillas, is facing new threats from illegal deforestation for cocoa, an NGO in the region has warned. Meanwhile, IDM research reveals that EU imports of cocoa from the country have been rising rapidly, and may be helping drive farmers into forest areas.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Nigeria raised the alarm after receiving reports that ‘large tracts’ of primary forest are being destroyed in the Afi River Forest Reserve, a 312km area in Cross River, southern Nigeria, for the illegal cultivation of a cocoa plantation.
1 June 2019
India heatwave temperatures pass 50 degrees Celsius
CNA, 1 June 2019
Temperatures passed 50 degrees Celsius in northern India as an unrelenting heatwave triggered warnings of water shortages and heatstroke.
The thermometer hit 50.6 degrees Celsius in the Rajasthan desert city of Churu on Saturday (Jun 1), the weather department said.
All of Rajasthan suffered in severe heat with several cities hitting maximum temperatures above 47 degrees Celsius.
In May 2016, Phalodi in Rajasthan recorded India’s highest-ever temperature of 51 degrees Celsius.
[UK] Crime agency in the dock over standard of expert witnesses
By Jonathan Ames, The Times, 1 June 2019
Poorly qualified prosecution experts regularly appear in complex fraud trials, according to lawyers who have called for a wholesale review after a case collapsed this week.
Senior officials at the National Crime Agency are also accused of ignoring warnings over the past decade that the quality and vetting of experts on its database needed improving.
Unease over experts across the criminal justice system was highlighted on Wednesday when a trial at Southwark crown court in London collapsed.
2 June 2019
How Monsanto manipulates journalists and academics
By Carey Gillam, The Guardian, 2 June 2019
Over the past year, evidence of Monsanto’s deceptive efforts to defend the safety of its top-selling Roundup herbicide have been laid bare for all to see. Through three civil trials, the public release of internal corporate communications has revealed conduct that all three juries have found so unethical as to warrant punishing punitive damage awards.
How forest logging is destroying Australia’s environmental future
By Ann Jelinek, Independent Australia, 2 June 2019
While the current environmental catastrophes of drought, floods and fires are focused on the Murray Darling Basin, the Great Barrier Reef, rainforests and climate change, a similar but more subtle, yet equally significant, case of ecosystem collapse and biodiversity loss are occurring in intensively clear-felled logged native forests.
This is especially felt in the highly restricted Mountain and Alpine Ash forests of the Central Highlands in Victoria. Clearly, with the recent release of yet another devastating Timber Release Plan, politicians and their policies are ignoring well-publicised scientific and economic advice.