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Environment, Carbon and Forests

Indonesia can stamp out forest and land fires–with serious action

GFIS - 1 hour 54 min ago

By Herry Purnomo, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News Fifty years ago, Indonesia was rich with pristine forest. And then – three booms happened: Between 1980 and 2000 – a timber logging boom, illegal logging followed in the 10 years from 2000, and the palm oil boom came after that. Pristine forest was severely logged and turned into degraded forest. What was left was […]

The post Indonesia can stamp out forest and land fires–with serious action appeared first on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

If San Diego lost its forest

GFIS - 6 hours 47 min ago

Frequent fire plus drought, insects and climate change are converting swaths of San Diego forest and oak woodland into chaparral and grassland.

Wooden glass for windows and solar panels

GFIS - 7 hours 47 min ago
Researchers from Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology earlier this year announced the development of an “optically transparent wood”. Source: The Urban Developer In an article titled “Optically Transparent Wood from a Nanoporous Cellulosic Template: Combining Functional and Structural Performance” it was said that it lends itself to mass production, and could serve as a viable substitute for glass as a building material in windows and solar panels. The Swedish researchers created the product by using a chemical process to extract lignin from natural wood, rendering it white in colour. A polymer was then added to the white porous veneer substrate to increase the material’s optical transparency. Now, engineers at the A James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland in the US demonstrate in a new study that windows made of transparent wood could provide more even and consistent natural lighting and better energy efficiency than glass. In a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Advanced Energy Materials, the team, headed by Liangbing Hu of UMD’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Energy Research Centre lay out research showing that their transparent wood provides better thermal insulation and lets in nearly as much light as glass. It also eliminates glare and provides uniform and consistent indoor lighting. The findings advance earlier published work on their development of transparent wood. The transparent wood lets through just a little bit less light than glass, but a lot less heat, said Tian Li, the lead author of the new study. “It is very transparent, but still allows for a little bit of privacy because it is not completely see-through. We also learned that the channels in the wood transmit light with wavelengths around the range of the wavelengths of visible light, but that it blocks the wavelengths that carry mostly heat,” said Li. A certain ‘haze’ effect on the transparent wood makes the material an excellent choice for solar panels, as it keeps light trapped within the cells for longer. Another key advantage of transparent wood is its greater resilience. While traditional glass is brittle and high susceptible to breakage, the cell structure of transparent wood makes it largely resistant to shattering. The team’s findings were derived, in part, from tests on tiny model house with a transparent wood panel in the ceiling that the team built. The tests showed that the light was more evenly distributed around a space with a transparent wood roof than a glass roof. The channels in the wood direct visible light straight through the material, but the cell structure that still remains bounces the light around just a little bit, a property called haze. This means the light does not shine directly into your eyes, making it more comfortable to look at. The team photographed the transparent wood’s cell structure in UMD’s Advanced Imaging and Microscopy (AIM) Lab. Transparent wood still has all the cell structures that comprised the original piece of wood. The wood is cut against the grain, so that the channels that drew water and nutrients up from the roots lie along the shortest dimension of the window. The new transparent wood uses theses natural channels in wood to guide the sunlight through the wood. As the sun passes over a house with glass windows, the angle at which light shines through the glass changes as the sun moves. With windows or panels made of transparent wood instead of glass, as the sun moves across the sky, the channels in the wood direct the sunlight in the same way every time. “This means your cat would not have to get up out of its nice patch of sunlight every few minutes and move over,” Li said. “The sunlight would stay in the same place. Also, the room would be more equally lighted at all times.” Working with transparent wood is similar to working with natural wood, the researchers said. However, their transparent wood is waterproof due to its polymer component. It also is much less breakable than glass because the cell structure inside resists shattering. The research team has recently patented their process for making transparent wood.  The process starts with bleaching from the wood all of the lignin, which is a component in the wood that makes it both brown and strong. The wood is then soaked in epoxy, which adds strength back in and also makes the wood clearer.  The team has used tiny squares of linden wood about 2cm x 2cm, but the wood can be any size, the researchers said.

Wood is a fad for tall buildings

GFIS - 7 hours 48 min ago
Wood is all over the news — from CNN, to Forbes — as being the future of skyscrapers, but not everyone is so sure. Source: The Ubyssey “We are on this hype of ‘Oh, timber is fantastic — aren’t we great we’re using timber?’ but that’s like a pendulum swing phenomenon,” said Perry Adebar, UBC’s civil engineering department head and an expert in high rise concrete buildings. “Eventually, we’ll come back to being rational and we’ll use materials were they should be, and we won’t build timber buildings and cover them in drywall. We’ll be able to enjoy the beauty of the material.” Frank Lam, senior chair professor of wood building design and construction in the faculty of forestry, had a similar view. “The main thing for the future is two things. One of the drivers is it’s novel at the moment — architects and engineers are saying ‘I want to try it. I want to build the tallest wood building in the world,’” said Lam. “You will see intermittent buildings like [Brock Commons] in different cities and places around the world.” But is the future tall wood buildings? Lam isn’t so sure. “I hope to see, through this exercise with Brock Commons, that we can see more wood buildings, not necessarily big tall ones — even four, five, six stories, office buildings is where the big market is — where the bang for the buck is,” said Lam. Wood is a great material — it’s economical and environmental, but as Adebar emphasized, it needs to be used for the right reasons. Wood is like a bundle of straws — very strong if you push on the ends of the straws, but very week if you bend them. Just think back to grade school when you continually snapped pencils in half by holding them just a little to tightly. How many times did you ever squish a pencil into breaking? Try it — it’s nearly impossible. The other obvious drawback is that wood and water don’t mix well — wood rots, loses its strength and eventually decomposes and water is a very real concern (obviously) in Vancouver. So how does Brock handle the rain? What’s the first thing you grab before heading out on a wonderfully rainy and wet Vancouver morning? Your raincoat and boots. Brock does the same thing. Brock’s rain boots are a concrete foundation, basement and first floor. Its raincoat is the water tight envelope that encases the building. Wood also burns more easily than concrete, is less durable and can rot if wet. While Brock Commons and other wood buildings take precautions against these shortcomings, wood’s natural properties lend themselves to some applications better than others. Adebar cited the fact that the wood in Brock Commons is almost entirely covered with concrete and drywall to keep it dry and away from any possible fires.  But wood is probably here to stay and will continue to be used to build skyscrapers. “Exactly how far it will go? I’m not sure,” said Adebar. “I hope we do it for the right reasons and not for the political reasons.” Adebar argued wood should be used for purposes it’s best suited for and should be used aesthetically too. Lam, a wood expert, again agreed with Adebar. “I was fortunate enough to go into the building and I did see the part of the dry wall,” said Lam. “The feel between the wood exposed surface and the drywall surface is quite different. It’s unfortunate that they had to cover up all the wood. “I don’t see us building timber structures covered in drywall. No one, I think, likes that idea. “We need to come back to appreciating all materials and using them where they should be.” Adebar thinks the future of construction lies in more — and better — integration of materials. Hybrid structures will use concrete, steel, wood, mass timber and glass. These Frankensteinian buildings will take advantages of the natural strengths of each material and minimize the shortcomings of each. Lam, while more optomistic about the use of wood in future buildings, also doesn’t see wood skyscrapers like Brock Commons as the future. He wants to see Brock used as a proof of concept to learn from – as does Adebar – to better understand mass timber and its properties. Lam also sees more four, five and six story office buildings – like the Forestry Building – being made primarily from wood. “[Brock Commons] is step one – definitely. This is not the end of the story,” finished Lam.

Wood made in a petrie dish

GFIS - 7 hours 49 min ago
It may sound like magic but a Canterbury University researcher thinks 3D technology could hold the key to a whole new industry in 3D printing wood. Source: TVNZ Associate Professor David Leung has just received funding of $255,000 to unlock just how to do it. He says the idea is to take a group of cells he has in a petri dish and then make them become wood. “We have the basic idea. So that’s why we now have to go through that idea, go though that step by step.” That’s “the big secret” he says, but what he can tell us is it will start with growing wood cells in a lab before upscaling the process to produce the raw material for printing. In normal 3D printing, the raw material is usually plastic, and it’s laid down in successive layers to build up a solid object. But recently, researchers have been able to 3D print cells into living tissue, and algae into tiny structures. “That gave me a great inspiration that 3D printing can work with living, live plant cells,” Professor Leung said. Professor Leung believes something similar might be possible with tree cells grown in a lab to produce, say, extra strong lengths of wood. “I’m very excited by this.” He has three years funding to turn that excitement into something more solid and give New Zealand an exciting new industry to take to the world.

Scion CEO to retire

GFIS - 7 hours 50 min ago
Scion CEO Dr Warren Parker is to retire once his replacement is in place at the Rotorua headquartered Crown Research Institute. A search for his replacement is underway. Source: Timberbiz Dr Parker joined Scion in March 2011 and after almost six years at the helm and more than 20 years in senior executive roles wants to now focus on directorships, grandchildren and checking off his ‘bucket list’. “It has been a privilege to lead Scion through a positive period of change including implementing the CRI Taskforce reforms and strengthening industry, iwi and international relationships,” he said. “The challenges posed by climate change and the imperative to manage land within tighter environmental limits, means a vibrant forest industry is even more vital to New Zealand’s economic and environmental future than in the past. “It is especially important for the prosperity of regional economies and in helping iwi meet their development aspirations. “The science at Scion uniquely applies across the value chain, is internationally competitive and underpins an increasingly strong technology commercialisation pipeline that will support the growth of New Zealand’s bioeconomy. “It is an appropriate time for me to hand over to a new leader to take Scion through its next phase of growth and impact.” Scion Chair Tony Nowell acknowledged the excellent progress under Dr Parker’s leadership. “The institute is in very good heart, is about to embark on the second phase of major facilities modernisation at its Rotorua Campus and has a very able executive team in place to keep up the momentum of current initiatives,” he said. “It is an exciting time for a new CEO to build on the very good platform Scion now has in place with industry, iwi, government agencies and research collaborators. “Dr Parker will work closely with the Board to ensure a smooth transition to his successor. The new appointee is expected to be in place early in the New Year.”

Driving ex Holden workers to the Green Triangle

GFIS - 7 hours 51 min ago
South-west Victorian civic and industry leaders are leading a push for redundant car manufacturing workers in South Australia to be redeployed across the border. Source: ABC News The Glenelg Shire Council, in south-west Victoria, has partnered with the Committee for Portland and Portland-based logistics company Porthaul to entice workers at Holden’s Elizabeth plant to relocate. The Elizabeth plant is due to shut its doors in early 2017, leaving more than 1000 staff out of work. Glenelg Shire CEO Greg Burgoyne said Porthaul currently had more than 50 vacant truck driving positions, with many other local logistics firms also recruiting. “We have jobs across the board really in terms of supply chain, including truck drivers,” he said. “There’s also a lot of professional jobs that we can’t fill here like engineers and paraprofessionals that we’re looking for in the design and manufacturing space as well.” More than 10 Green Triangle based timber companies are presenting at the job showcase in Adelaide today, alongside the Mount Gambier City Council and Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast. Mr Burgoyne said the region was an ‘attractive option’. “The cost of living here, the cost of housing, and the economics really stack up,” he said. “When you put that up against great work opportunities, we think that’s a pretty easy sell.” Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast chief executive David Wheaton said forest industries had identified that 200 more skilled staff would be needed by the end of 2017 to cope with harvest demands. “The expo will give us the opportunity to talk directly with the Holden workers and others in the auto chain affected by Holden’s impending closure,” he said. “We hope to match them with jobs and lifestyle to suit them and their families.”

Where should we grow our trees?

GFIS - 7 hours 52 min ago
Existing plantation areas are shrinking and new investment has stalled. Rod Keenan examines the economic, environmental and social drivers behind the need for better plantation policy in Australia and the innovative investment models required. Source: Policy Forum Forest plantations have been part of the Australian landscape since the early 1900s. Australia’s two million hectares of softwood and hardwood plantations provide more than 80% of the country’s wood for forest products industries. Wood demand is continuing to grow with our increasing population and will potentially rise further in a carbon-constrained economy. Some argue that plantation timber should completely replace native forest harvesting. But plantation investment has stalled and there have been few new plantings in Australia since 2008, raising the question of whether plantations in Australia can meet a growing local and global demand for wood? And if so, how? In 2002, I chaired a national conference on plantations. At that time, plantation policy was driven by the 2020 Vision to treble the area of plantations from one million to three million hectares. We felt that most technical issues for plantations had been addressed and that the challenges had moved on to other dimensions, including improving biodiversity and environmental outcomes and addressing community needs and concerns. It’s timely therefore, to take stock of how we have fared. Plantations expanded rapidly from the 1950s onwards. One million hectares of pine plantations were established, largely on converted public native forests, by state forest agencies with financial support from the Federal Government. In the 1990s in Victoria, and later in Queensland, the public pine estates were sold off to international investment firms and pension funds. In 2002 we were at the peak of a wave of private investment in hardwood plantations on agricultural land that began in the early 1990s, primarily through companies operating managed investment schemes (MIS). The global financial crisis that began in 2007 saw the demise of these MIS companies, which became highly dependent on cheap debt and the tax advantages of this investment. International investors acquired many of these MIS estates and most of Australia’s plantations are therefore now largely under private ownership by larger international and national investors. With strong local housing markets and high international demand, plantations in the right location and growing conditions are generally making good returns for their owners. However, investment in new plantations is at a standstill and there has been little new planting since the demise of the MIS companies. Many of these plantations were established on lower rainfall sites or on poor soils and the productivity does not justify re-planting. Others are too far from mills or processing plants. Tens of thousands of hectares of hardwood plantations are being harvested and converted back to farmland. This has implications for our national carbon budget and for future wood supply. While we produce most of our sawn timber for housing locally, Australia has a significant trade deficit in terms of the value of wood products. We export a large amount of unprocessed wood as chips and import processed paper and board products. We also export an increasing quantity of raw softwood logs. Most of our pine-based processors are operating older mills and would like to re-invest and expand. There is also the opportunity for more regional investment in pulp and paper plants like the Visy mill in Tumut, New South Wales. If we want to increase plantation timber production, what are the options? We can either increase the plantation area, or increase the growth rate from the existing estate, or both. Speaking at a recent industry conference, Dr David Brand, CEO of Australia’s large hardwood plantation company, Newforests, suggested that with the high capital cost of land and the time required to produce a sellable product (at least 10 years for pulpwood and 25 years for a pine sawlog), investment in new plantations is of limited interest to most investors. Increased demand for plantation land would further push up the capital cost through competition. He argued that focusing on getting maximum production out of the existing estate is the best option. Others, like Tony Price from woodchip exporters Midway Ltd, suggest that with the right investment arrangements, farmers may be willing to allocate a portion of their land to tree growing. From 10% to 20% of most farms could be planted with trees with little impact on farm output. In fact, trees may actually enhance crop or livestock production, while also providing water quality or biodiversity benefits. Who might put up the capital and what kinds of investment or partnership models might be attractive to farmers? Financial institutions with longer time horizons, such as superannuation funds or the Future Fund, may be interested but farmers would also need the right incentives through annuities, lease payments or a share of the timber returns to allocated land and participation at sufficient scale. A payment for the carbon sequestered in forest plantations would increase the investment attractiveness. However, current policies do not allow for Emissions Reduction Fund payments in more productive higher rainfall areas that are close to existing processing plants. This is a distinct difference to the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme, which allows carbon credits for all tree growers. It has been suggested that between 14.6 and 21.3 million hectares will need to be converted to woody tree cover if Australia is to meet ‘deep decarbonisation’ and long-term climate policy objectives. Models that provide integrated investment in timber production, carbon and biodiversity conservation are being promoted globally through initiatives such as the Global Partnership for Forest Landscape Restoration and the Global Landscapes Forum. If plantations in Australia are to make a substantial contribution to meeting future demand for wood products both globally and locally, new investment models and approaches to plantation establishment and investment are needed. These could potentially involve partnerships with local farming families through joint ventures, land leases and other arrangements. There is also the opportunity to explore different species, processing approaches, products and markets for plantation hardwoods. Plantations in Australia have undergone rapid change in ownership, markets and planting rates in the last 15 years. We said in 2002 that plantation policy needs to be dynamic and institutions need to be in regular dialogue with stakeholders to remain effective. This has not happened. Policy and institutional arrangements need to take account of the changing investment environment to ensure that plantations deliver economic, environmental and social benefits for the entire Australian community. Rod Keenan is a professor in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences at the University […]

Jobs for Tassie in wood pellet plant

GFIS - 7 hours 55 min ago
More than 55 jobs could be created if a Northern Tasmanian wood pellet plant was to go ahead. Source: The Examiner A funding commitment of $250,000 was announced by the state government to complete a $5 million feasibility study into the viability of the project. If it were to proceed, the $115-145 million plantation fibre-only wood pellet plant would employ 25 full-time equivalent workers on site, and an estimated 30 jobs in raw material processing and supply. Minister for Resources Guy Barnett said the government was committed to rebuilding the forest industry, which he believed was a key employer of Tasmanians. Pre-feasibility work has already been completed for the Northern plant project and Mr Barnett said it had the potential to open up a new export market for the state. “Analysis undertaken by New Forests Asset Management has indicated a significant market for advanced wood pellets in Japan, where there is an active policy framework to support increased renewable energy generation,” Mr Barnett said. “Advanced wood pellets are a sustainable and renewable energy option that can be directly substituted for coal in existing large power stations. “Our commitment sends a strong signal to both investors and potential customers that the project is supported by the Tasmanian Government as a longterm, sustainable value-adding enterprise.” The project is one of a number of Tasmanian initiatives utilising wood pellets as a renewable energy source. A Dorset Renewables Industries project at Scottsdale expects to see a former Gunns site transformed into a timber production operation, employing 15 workers. While the state’s largest native forest sawmiller announced a $1.3 million project earlier this month which would see the business producing energy from waste and creating 12.5 full time jobs. Neville-Smith Forest Products will use waste from its Mowbray plant to produce wood pellets as part of an ongoing investment in the forest sector, which includes a $442,000 government grant. Executive Chairman James Neville-Smith said the recognition of wood as a sustainable building material was increasing. “I have an unquestionable belief in the demand for sustainable wood products, and there is no reason we shouldn’t be able to produce enough out of Tasmania,” Mr Neville-Smith said.

Agroforestry is not the answer

GFIS - 7 hours 56 min ago
A forestry veteran says industry must be wary of government calls for agroforestry to play a more significant role in timber production. Source: ABC Rural Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce announced a $520,000 research and development project in May to look into growing trees for harvest on farmland. The Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) has been given the responsibility of co-ordinating the project and look into tree varieties, soil types and planning for plantations on farmland. The Victorian timber industry then expressed a similar interest in agroforestry in September with the release of the Forestry Industry Taskforce Statement of Intent. The Taskforce is made up of foresters, unions and conservation groups working to balance the needs of the timber industry with the interests of conservationists and chair Professor Don Henry said agroforestry could play a significant role. “If we just keep going on like we are, everyone loses,” he said. “And they have identified a better future for all if we can look at things like plantations and agroforestry.” But forestry consultant Peter Devonshire said the value of agroforestry would be lost if any attempts were made to implement agroforestry plantations on a large scale. Mr Devonshire cultivates agroforestry plots on his Budgeree property, 170 kilometres south east of Melbourne. He said agroforestry was not designed to imitate timber plantations. “I think it’s certainly something farmers should look into but I get the impression that [industry’s] looking at large scale agroforestry plantations,” he said. “[Agroforestry plantations] will survive for a while, while the encouragement is there, but not necessarily afterwards.” Mr Devonshire said agroforestry had to be driven by landholders, and he said it was not about mass production. “It must be a landowner-understood process,” he said. “They can put 20, 30 or 40 per cent of their farm in for trees and that’s going to be more sustainable because they can get more benefits than just wood out of it. They’ll get the shelter, the biodiversity and the climate amelioration.” Peter Devonshire said despite his belief that agroforestry cannot make a significant contribution to timber production, farmers have a lot to gain from the integration of trees and native plants onto farmland. Mr Devonshire said agroforestry combined the principles of conservation and timber production. On his property, Mr Devonshire has been growing native tree varieties, which could ultimately be harvested in small bush plots, with native shrubs dispersed throughout. He said it was quite removed from conventional timber production. “Conventional plantations usually are a monoculture, one species aiming into one particular market,” he said. “[Here] we’ve got some overstory trees, spotted gum, they are going to be our main return income trees 20-odd years down the track, but you’ll also see a lot of wattle and native species. Effectively it’s like a native forest.” Mr Devonshire is involved in Landcare and is primarily focussed on biodiversity “We’ve got many species of plants and it’s attracting back in native animals.” But Mr Devonshire has the potential to harvest his spotted gum. “The spotted gum is a semi-durable species and it will be used for either decking or flooring,” he said. “Weatherboards even, natural edged weatherboards. And if we do some thinning I can [create] some poles to use around the farm.” He said more conventional farmers could use a slightly different form of agroforestry by cultivating grass instead of native bush to integrate the forest with the traditional farming system. “[Farmers can use] grass that has been a paddock, they’ve plant their 1000 trees and they will keep grazing the grass underneath,” he said. “That’s a different form of agroforestry and probably a more broadly accepted form.”

Foresters fire up for 2016 bushfire season

GFIS - 7 hours 58 min ago
Managing natural landscapes and plantations in Australia’s fire prone environment is a problem that demands the attention of the finest minds in the country. Source: Timberbiz Mount Gambier is to host some of the finest minds in forest fire management at a one-day forum on 7 October, which includes presentations from Euan Ferguson, a former head of country fire agencies in South Australia and Victoria and Dr Kevin Tolhurst, an experienced fire ecologist based at the University of Melbourne. Rob de Fégely, National President of the Institute of Foresters of Australia said: “Sadly, most of what we hear from our political leaders are calls for more public money to be spent on fire-fighting helicopters but the best way to stop a wildfire is to never allow it to get out of control in the first place. “This Forum provides a wonderful opportunity for policy makers from across the country to hear straight from the mouths of experts just what we need to be doing to manage fire risk right across the country. “Community expectations and aligning public policy with operational requirements are likely to be two key topics for discussion.” Senator Anne Ruston, Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, will also address the Forum More information from www.consec.eventsair.com/QuickEventWebsitePortal/ifa-fire2016/home

Why urban trees solve so many of our problems

GFIS - 9 hours 38 min ago

The perks of living near urban trees are pretty incredible.

New report finds no slowdown in tiger trafficking

GFIS - Wed, 28/09/2016 - 22:42
Johannesburg, South Africa, 29th September 2016—a new report from TRAFFIC and WWF finds no evidence of a decline in tiger trafficking across Asia, with parts equating to a minimum of 1755 tigers seized between 2000 and 2015—an average of more than two animals per week.

New app developed for forestry professionals in Texas

GFIS - Wed, 28/09/2016 - 17:12

COLLEGE STATION, Texas— For the first time, foresters, landowners and contractors in Texas can now access guidelines for practicing sustainable forestry on their mobile devices. The Texas Forestry Best Management Practices Handbook is now available as a smartphone application, enabling quick and easy acc

Perils for the Last Place Where Tigers, Orangutans, Elephants and Rhinos Survive in the Wild

GFIS - Wed, 28/09/2016 - 16:56

The world-renowned Leuser Ecosystem in northern Sumatra, Indonesia is the last place on Earth where Tigers, Elephants, Orangutans, and Rhinos still survive together in the wild. 

Conservationists recently breathed a sigh of relief that key threats to the Leuser -- including government schemes for large-scale road and oil palm development that would also promote illegal logging, mining, and poaching -- were being set aside as part of a moratorium on forest destruction

But dangerous new plans are just on the horizon, with a big push coming from the Aceh Provincial Government. 

New Threats

The biggest new threats are proposed energy plants and roads to be constructed in critically important areas for conservation.  These proposals are being touted as promoting sustainable development in Aceh, but in reality they will lead to severe environmental degradation.

Two particularly alarming developments are a massive new geothermal plant planned by Turkish company PT Hitay Panas Energy in the heart of the Leuser Ecosystem, and a major hydroelectric scheme on the Kluet River proposed by PT Trinusa Energy Indonesia.  

Both schemes are being fast-tracked by senior levels of the Aceh Government, as evidenced by a recent letter of support from the Governor of Aceh Province

This letter requests Indonesia’s Minister of the Environment and Forestry to rezone part of Gunung Leuser National Park, which comprises a critical element of the Leuser Ecosystem. 

Re-zoning this area would allow the proposed mega-geothermal project to proceed.  But this would set a damning precedent -- promoting large-scale projects in a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is already formally considered "In Danger". 

Why is the government pushing these destructive plans within a World Heritage Site?  Especially when far more sustainable locations -- such as the Seulawah and Takengon regions that are much closer to existing transmission networks and major population centers in Aceh -- are readily available?  

Alarm Bells and Local Fury

Alarm bells are ringing.  A number of local civil-society organizations have already written to the President of Indonesia, the Minister of Environment and Forestry, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, the World Conservation Union (IUCN), and many others to oppose the proposed projects.

But given the money and power of those pressuring for the new projects, there is great worry that they will be pushed through regardless.  

Beyond these protests, a civil lawsuit has been lodged by nine community groups (known as GeRAM) living in the Leuser area.  Abu Kari, a local community leader and one of the GeRAM plaintiffs, tell ALERT his views:

“I’m furious.  We call upon President Jokowi to intervene immediately.  When the forests of the Leuser Ecosystem are opened and disturbed we suffer from fires, flooding and landslides.  Too many people have already died from this, and now we see more foreign projects behind plans to destroy our homes, our families and our livelihoods.

We have had enough and we will fight this.  If we lose the Leuser Ecosystem we lose our one chance at long-term economic development.  We could even lose our lives, and those of our families and friends.

We beg President Jokowi to uphold environmental planning laws in Indonesia.  We are in court now to fight for the Leuser Ecosystem and we invite the people of Aceh, Indonesia, and the world to join our fight.”

Hope Ahead?

Thankfully, it appears the giant geothermal scheme in the Kappi region is coming under fire.  The Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry and her colleagues have been ‘shooting down” the plans in the media and declaring their opposition to the Aceh Governor’s request to rezone Leuser.

But this is just one small battle in a tide of attempts to open up the Leuser Ecosystem and other critical wildlife habitats in northern Sumatra for development.

For instance, beyond the Kluet River hydroelectric project, which would imperil key habitats for orangutans and Sumatran elephants, additional plans for new electricity projects are being proposed for Gayo Lues District and several watersheds in East Aceh.

Vigilance is Vital

It is essential that northern Sumatra is monitored closely, to prevent these and other ill-advised schemes being approved in the near future.

Your voice does make a difference -- a big difference.  Please add your name to GeRAM’s petition to the President of Indonesia to protect the Leuser Ecosystem.  Do this for the sake of Sumatra’s unique biodiversity and the local people who depend on these areas for their livelihoods.

ALERT will do its best to keep you posted on new developments.

International Day of Action on Throwaway Cups

GFIS - Wed, 28/09/2016 - 16:54
MEDIA RELEASE: Civil society organisations around the world are taking action on Thursday 29 September 2016 to raise awareness that using throwaway cups causes harm to people, forests, water and the climate. The Environmental Paper Network (EPN) is launching its ‘Cupifesto – A Manifesto for No Throwaway Cups’ urging drinks retailers and politicians all over […]

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GFIS - Wed, 28/09/2016 - 15:46
 

Digging up Past Connections at Bent Creek

GFIS - Wed, 28/09/2016 - 14:00
A rock protruding through the grass in the lawn at the Bent Creek Experimental Forest was the beginning of a part time, amateur archaeology “dig” for Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) employee, Linda Benz. It is well known that rocks…Read more ›

CIFOR at IUFRO conference in Beijing

GFIS - Wed, 28/09/2016 - 12:53
The IUFRO Regional Congress for Asia and Oceania will be held in Beijing from 24 to 27 October. Covering approximately...

The Shinyanga revolution: Tanzanian success story creates momentum for land restoration

GFIS - Wed, 28/09/2016 - 12:18

Blog originally published on the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) website. By Kerstin Reisdorf With massive commitments to land restoration such as the Bonn Challenge and the AFR100, there is a buzz in the...

The post The Shinyanga revolution: Tanzanian success story creates momentum for land restoration appeared first on Agroforestry World.

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