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A forest? You might not think so, but according to the FAO's definition, oh yes it is! Photo: Balaji Kasirajan via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA).

FAO: Plantations are not forests!

World Rainforest Movement

21st March 2017

Since 1948 the UN's Food and Agriculture has been clinging to an outmoded definition of 'forests' that includes industrial wood plantations, writes WRM in this Open Letter for delivery to the FAO today, International Forests Day. This mis-definition seriously harms real forests and forest peoples as it justifies the clearance of real forests and their replacement with cash crops of trees. more...
Roadside banner opposing mining in Intag, Ecuador. Photo: dawn paley via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Ecuador's 'progressive' extractivism - mining, ecocide and the silencing of dissent

Carlos Zorrilla

6th March 2017

Ecuador's 'socialist' President Correa has unleashed a wave of repression at Andean communities seeking to protect their lands, forests and nature from open pit mining, writes Carlos Zorrilla. With most of biodiversity-rich Intag region conceded to international mining companies, the mood is one of rising fear and desperation in the countdown to next month's election. more...
The roadless areas map developed by Roadfree.org and partners. The map referred to in this article is behind Science's paywall!

New map shows way to reducing roads' destruction of nature

Tim Radford

18th January 2017

Scientists are calling for the urgent protection of ecologically valuable roadless areas, writes Tim Radford, as a new global map shows that roads lead to loss of biodiversity and damage to ecosystems by fragmenting habitat and providing access to exploiters. more...
Riverside rainforest in the Congo basin. Photo: Paul Godard via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

World's biggest tropical carbon sink found in Congo rainforest

Tim Radford

16th January 2017

A 145,000 sq km area of peatland swamp forest has been discovered in the Congo Basin, writes Tim Radford, and it holds a record 30 Gt of carbon, equivalent to 20 years of US fossil fuel emissions. Now the race is on to protect it from damaging development that would emit that carbon over coming decades. more...
Evicted from their forests for a flawed model of conservation: Baka 'Pygmies' in the Cameroon forest. Photo: ..zuzu.. via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

OECD takes up complaint that WWF has funded abuses of Cameroon's forest peoples

Chris Lang / Conservation Watch

12th January 2017

The OECD is pursuing a complaint that WWF has funded abuses against the indigenous forest-dwelling Baka or 'Pygmy' peoples of Cameroon, after determining that its human rights guidelines do apply to WWF owing to the 'commercial nature' of its conservation activities. more...
New regulations to protect Indonesia's peatlands - like this swamp forest under conversion to plantation - are doomed to failure. Photo: Rainforest Action Network via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Indonesia's plans to protect its peatland forests are fatally flawed

Yuyun Indradi / Greenpeace Indonesia

9th January 2017

Indonesia's plans to meet its Paris Agreement obligations by protecting its swamp forests, the world's biggest land reservoir of carbon, have been acclaimed by the world's press, writes Yuyun Indradi. But they contain so many loopholes and flawed compromises that - unless radically reformed - they are doomed to certain failure. more...
'Entry forbidden - Law number 26834 - Law number 28736 - Zone of restricted access owing to the presence of indigenous peoples living in isolation'. Sign in the Manu National Park, Peru. Photo: oarranzli via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

Amazon: rainforest road threatens Peru's last isolated tribes

Oliver Tickell

1st December 2016

Peru's Congress may soon approve a road through remote rainforest which is home to the country's last uncontacted tribes. The link to the Inter-Oceanic highway would open the area up to land grabs, wood cutting and gold mining, and expose vulnerable indigenous people to diseases to which they have no immunity. more...
Local communities in Pitas are monitoring the area in order to prevent the project from expanding into the remaining 1,000 acres of mangrove forest. The sign reads: Future for indigenous peoples. Photo: Camilla Capasso / FPP.

'Poverty alleviation' shrimp farms destroy mangrove forest, grab indigenous land

Camilla Capasso

17th November 2016

A government-led shrimp farming project meant to tackle extreme poverty in northern Sabah, Malaysian, won local support in 2010 by promising job opportunities for impoverished indigenous communities. Six years on, mangrove forests local people depend on for food, materials and income are closed off and being cleared - but the jobs have yet to materialise. more...
A logging truck in Asia Pulp and Paper's PT Wira Karya Sakti pulpwood forest license. Jambi Province, Sumatra, Indonesia, in 2005. Now APP is financing forest restoration through the Belantara Foundation. Photo: Rainforest Action Network via Flickr (CC BY

Hope for forests at COP22

Tony Juniper

15th November 2016

COP22 has revealed signs of real momentum toward an effective role for tropical forests in achieving a low carbon future, writes Tony Juniper. Now for the hard bit - connecting with realities on the ground to make it happen. This will mean working with indigenous and other forest communities to support and reward their conservation efforts, while harnessing large-scale international carbon finance. more...
Red squirrel among dead bracken at Kinrara, northern Scotland. Photo: Paul Buxton via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Red squirrels return to Scotland's Caledonian forest

Oliver Tickell

15th November 2016

A project to reintroduce red squirrels to isolated areas of regenerating forest in the Scottish Highlands gets under way this month. This will increase both the numbers and the range of red squirrels in the UK, and help to regenerate their native Caledonian forest habitat. more...
Longleaf Pine Regeneration in South Carolina. Photo: Justin Meissen via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

UK biomass power industry is a vital part of the renewable energy mix

Nina Skorupska / Renewable Energy Association

27th October 2016

Contrary to arguments advanced in a recent Ecologist article, the biomass industry supplying the Drax power station in North Yorkshire is a model of sustainability, writes Nina Skorupska, and delivers genuine, substantial emissions reductions compared to coal. more...
No place for oil drilling: lonely Mountain in the Sierra del Divisor national park, Peru. Photo: Diego Pérez / El Taller / Ministerio del Ambiente via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Peru: national park 'Master Plan' opens uncontacted tribe's land to oil drilling

Lewis Evans & Sarina Kidd

7th October 2016

Full credit to Peru for creating the Sierra del Divisor national park in one of the most precious areas of the Amazon, write Lewis Evans & Sarina Kidd. But not for leaving it open to oil drilling, risking the future of uncontacted indigenous tribes that depend on their pristine rainforest environment to survive. more...

Forests: 1/25 of 313
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The Drax coal and biomass fired power station in North Yorkshire, one the UK's biggest point source emitters of greenhouse gases. Photo: Andrew Davidson via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

#AxeDrax: campaigners unite for climate justice against coal and biofueled deforestation

Almuth Ernsting

18th October 2016

The Drax power station in North Yorkshire is among Britain's greatest greenhouse gas emitters, writes Almuth Ernsting. Not only is it burning some 6 million tonnes of coal every year, it is also burning its way through forests in the USA and other countries as it converts to biomass-fired units, rewarded by £1.3 million a day in subsidies. Join the #AxeDrax protest this weekend! more...
Yanomami children in their forest home - which, with notorious 'Soy King' Bairo Maggi as agriculture minister, is now looking decidedly less secure. Photo: Dung Nguyen via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Brazil’s new government to sacrifice the Amazon for 'growth'

Ed Atkins, University of Bristol

19th September 2016

It's not that Dilma Rousseff, Brazil's ousted President, was wonderful for the environment, writes Ed Atkins. It's that Michel Temer's new regime is certain to be far worse. Plans are afoot to weaken environmental assessments for large projects like mines, roads and dams. And the new Minister of Agriculture is a notorious campaigner for hugely increased deforestation. more...
Wilderness in Alaska, USA. Photo: Travis Wise via Flickr (CC BY).

Wilderness needs immediate protection for climate - and much more

James Watson, Bill Laurance, Brendan Mackey & James Allan

16th September 2016

The destruction of the world's wilderness is accelerating with a new clutch of mega projects from dams, roads and mines to large scale agriculture, write James Watson, Bill Laurance, Brendan Mackey & James Allan. It's cost-effective to put a stop to it right now for the carbon value of wilderness alone - never mind the biodiversity and indigenous peoples it safeguards. more...
How to green your photocopier? Easy - just change the default from single to double-sided copies, and most people will go along with it. Result? Save thousands of trees. Photo: Bruce Bortin via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Green by default - how a nudge and wink can save the planet

Cass R. Sunstein

27th September 2016

There's a simple way to induce us to make good environmental choices, writes Cass R. Sunstein: make them the default setting. Whether it's selecting double sided photocopies or renewable electricity tariffs, defining easily-overridden 'green defaults' is by far the most efficacious means to influence consumer choices for the environment and the planet. more...
Brazil's Zo'é tribe are starting to recover from epidemics in the 1980s and '90s now that their land is protected. Photo: Survival International.

Brazil's Olympic triumph - don't mention the genocide!

Lewis Evans

25th August 2016

In the thick of the Olympic frenzy, one voice that was systematically excluded from mainstream narratives is that of Brazil's Indigenous Peoples, writes Lewis Evans, who have fought to survive through centuries of dehumanisation, theft and genocide. And now they face a fresh attack as a proposed constitutional change, PEC 215, threatens a new round of indigenous land theft. more...
Before and after: natural wetland forest dominated by Swamp cypress, and an industrial plantation of Lolbolly pine. Both photos via Wikimedia Commons (see details on individual photos); amalgamation by The Ecologist (no rights claimed).

Are the UK 'biomass sustainability standards' legitimising forest destruction?

Almuth Ernsting / Biofuelwatch

18th August 2016

This month wood pellet mills in the southern US that supply the UK's Drax power station were awarded 'sustainability' certificates under a voluntary scheme governed entirely by energy companies. The certificates provide no credible guarantee that the fuel does not come from ecologically valuable natural forests and wetlands, clear-cut and replaced by industrial plantations. more...
Munduruku indigenous people set up a sign to demarcate their land. Photo: Greenpeace.

Brazil's indigenous peoples fight Amazon dams threat

Helle Abelvik-Lawson

1st August 2016

Brazil's new neoliberal government is intent on building a massive new dam deep in the Amazon rainforest on the on the Tapajós river, writes Helle Abelvik-Lawson, obliterating the indigenous territory of the Munduruku people in defiance of their constitutional rights. more...
Quarry in Brescia, Lombardy, Italy. Photo: Thomas Nemeskeri via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Plunder of Earth's natural resources up 200% in 40 years

Alex Kirby

26th July 2016

A new UN report warns of a threefold increase in extraction of the Earth's primary materials between 1970 and 2010, writes Alex Kirby. The boom in the production of minerals, ores, fossil fuels, timber and biomass and will be to intensify climate change, increase air pollution and reduce biodiversity. more...
A bottomland hardwood clearcut that Dogwood Alliance have linked to Enviva, the company that runs the Ahoskie pellet mill, which supplies the UK's Drax power station. Photo: Matt Adam Williams.

Dirtier than coal: burning forests for 'green' energy

Matt Williams

19th July 2016

The UK imports millions of tons of American wood pellets every year to be burned in power stations for 'climate friendly' electricity, writes Matt Williams. But his recent visit to the southern US showed him that this practice is devastating beautiful, natural forests rich in wildlife - while the UK government's own research shows that it's worse for the climate than the coal it replaces. more...
Drone footage documents a primary drainage canal cutting through an identified 'No Go' area of buffer forest in an IOI oil palm concession in Ketapang, West Kalimantan. Photo: Bjorn Vaugn / Greenpeace.

Palm oil giant IOI, rainforest destroyer, must make good its damage!

Annisa Rahmawati / Greenpeace

10th June 2016

Over 300 major food companies used to buy palm oil from IOI, writes Annisa Rahmawati. But after the company was found to be destroying vast areas of Indonesia's rainforest and draining peatlands to make new palm oil plantations, it has been deserted by its customers. Now IOI must go beyond just sticking to the rules, and start actively repairing the damage it has caused. more...
Greenpeace activists and Munduruku Indians protest on a sandy beach on the banks of the Tapajos river, near Itaituba, Pará, where the government plans to build the first of a series of five dams. Photo: Greenpeace Brazil via Flickr (CC BY).

Brazil: rules protecting Amazon under threat

Helle Abelvik-Lawson

27th May 2016

A constitutional amendment that would allow 'strategic' public works including dams, roads, mines and other mega-projects to go ahead following the mere completion of an environmental impact assessment is being considered by a Committee of the Brazilian Senate, writes Helle Abelvik-Lawson. more...
Once a mangrove forest full of life, now a sterile shrimp farm. The hard labour of destroying mangrove forests and building and operating shrimp farms is often performed by slaves. Photo: Tracy Hunter via Flickr (CC BY).

World must end slavery - for the environment as well as human rights

Kevin Bales, University of Hull

18th May 2016

Slavery is a terrible thing for the world's estimated 36 million slaves, writes Kevin Bales. But it's also an environmental disaster. Many slaves are forced to work in destructive activities like clearing forests for mines, farms and plantations - making slave labour the world's third biggest 'country' in terms of CO2 emissions. It really is time to end slavery! more...
Sumatran orangutans have lost huge areas of forest habitat to logging, burning and palm oil plantations. Photo: Richard Whitcombe.

Good news for the only place on Earth where tigers, rhinos, orangutans and elephants live together

Bill Laurance, James Cook University

10th May 2016

The remarkable Leuser ecosystem in Aceh, Sumatra, has faced massive destruction over recent years with rice farms, palm oil, roads and mines, writes Bill Laurance. But that's all set to end with a moratorium on forest clearance that's supported at the highest levels of government, both state and national. This is definitely news to celebrate! But we must also maintain our vigilance. more...

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