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Africa

Kenya to plant a 'green dress' the size of Costa Rica

Kenya aims to restore trees and vegetation across almost nine percent of its land mass by 2030, the government said on Thursday, in a bold initiative to combat climate change, poverty and hunger. The 5.1 million hectares of deforested and degraded land targeted for landscape and forest restoration is equivalent in size to Costa Rica in Central America.

Red list: Hunting pushes eastern gorillas close to extinction

Illegal hunting in Democratic Republic of Congo has wiped out 70 percent of Eastern gorillas in the past two decades and pushed the world's biggest primate close to extinction, a Red List of endangered species showed. Four out of six species of great apes are now rated "critically endangered," or one step away from extinction, by threats such as hunting and a loss of forests to farmland from West Africa to Indonesia, according to the annual list by wildlife experts. Eastern gorillas, revised from a lesser category of "endangered," join their sister species, the Western gorilla, and both species of orangutan which were already on the list as critically endangered.

The other two species of great apes, chimpanzees and bonobos, are rated endangered. "To see the Eastern gorilla — one of our closest cousins — slide towards extinction is truly distressing," said Inger Andersen, director general of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) which compiles the Red List. Millions of people died in fighting in the mineral-rich east of Democratic Republic of Congo from 1996 and 2003 and militias and miners often hunted gorillas for food.

Namibia to introduce stiffer penalties for poaching

Namibia's nature conservation laws will be amended this year to provide for stiffer penalties for poachers following an increase in rhinoceros and elephant killings, says Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta. Making the announcement when he tabled the Ministry's budget in the National Assembly here last Thursday, he said in the coming year, he would table new legislation and amendments to other legislation to strengthen Namibia's ability to combat poaching and the illegal trafficking of wildlife products and increase fines and penalties significantly.

First elephant for Somalia in twenty years

A male elephant marched hundreds of kilometres and briefly crossed into Somalia this month marking the first time the animal has been seen in the country in 20 years, conservationists said Wednesday. Morgan, a male bull in his 30s, was fitted with a tracking collar in December in Kenya’s coastal Tana River Delta, but in mid-February began an unexpected march northwards to Somalia, reaching the border nearly three weeks later. His march has excited conservationists who say it shows the elephant remembered ancient routes after decades of absence due to war.

GABON’S ECO-GUARDS IN UNEQUAL BATTLE AGAINST ELEPHANT POACHERS

Gabon, which along with Democratic Republic of Congo now has Africa’s biggest forest elephant populations, is deploying scores of “eco-guards”, as they are called, to ward off poachers honing in on a prime continental target.
The wild territory in the heart of central Africa’s tropical forest basin on the border with Cameroon and the Congo has seen a massive jump in ivory smuggling in recent years.
About 11,000 elephants have been slaughtered for their tusks in less than 10 years in the Minkebe national park, the most threatened of three in the region, with Ivindo and Mwagna, according to the National Agency for National Parks (ANPN).
Some 100 eco-guards patrol the three sprawling parks in an increasingly dangerous job. Minkibe is the size of Belgium, with towering trees - some 150 feet high (46 metres) making aerial surveillance impossible.
Between “150 and 200 kilogrammes” (330 to 440 pounds) of ivory are smuggled out of the reserve every week, he says, accounting for about 15 to 20 slain elephants.
A dense terrain of some 7,000 square kilometres (2,700 square miles) with no roads or villages can only be crossed by boat and has become a lair for poachers, very hard to monitor.
Foot patrols of up to 50 eco-guards with a small military and police escort are outgunned by the poacher gangs often equipped with assault rifles. In early December, one of the guards was injured in a clash with poachers from Cameroon and had to be evacuated.
President Ali Bongo Ondimba is promoting a “Green Gabon” in a bid to draw tourists, while promising tough action against smugglers.
The state prosecutor at the north eastern regional capital of Makokou, Alain-Georges Moukoko, denounces “organised crime” in the gold and ivory business and says “we need more severe punishment.” At present, the maximum penalty for poaching is six months in prison.
A short jail term will never dissuade poachers while ivory fetches 80,000 CFA francs (122 euros / $133) a kilo, a notorious trader who claims to have repented, told AFP after two spells behind bars.
“The higher we go towards Cameroon, the more it’s worth,” says the Gabonese dealer, who wears two panther teeth on a gold chain.
Cameroon is a key transit route for ivory, which can fetch 1,000 or even 2,000 euros per kilo in China, one of the countries where it is prized. “The margin is enormous,” Machot notes.
About 50 percent of the poached ivory goes to China, he says, but there are also major clients elsewhere in Asia, as well as in Europe and the United States. -AFP
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Rwanda to meet forestry targets in time

Rwanda's forestry coverage target of 30 per cent of the total surface area is to be met before the 2020 deadline as government turns focus to agro-forestry, Dr Vincent Biruta has said. Briefing a senatorial standing committee in charge of economic development and finance, on the status of forestry in the country, the Minister for Natural Resources said the country's current forest coverage has so far reached 29.2 per cent from 25.9 per cent in 2010, with the target expected to be hit by 2018. A ministry report shows that at least 4.7 percentage points were added to the country overall acreage in less than five years. At least 714,102 hectares are expected to be entire forests reserves before the year 2020, from 694,402 hectares, it says. Submitting the outcomes of the 2010 national forestry policy, Minister Biruta said, so far, the country managed to preserve five national forests of which the newly-gazetted Gishwati-Mukura Forest Reserve was added to Nyungwe, Akagera and Volcanoes.

Cameroon benefits from agroforestry in rural areas

Commercial agriculture in Cameroon has received a major boost and the impact of climate change minimised in Cameroon thanks to the adoption of agroforestry techniques by thousands of farmers.
The World Agroforestry Centre (formerly the known as the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry-Icraf), an organisation with a vision of rural transformation in the developing world, introduced agroforestry methods to rural farmers in the central African country some 20 years ago.

Greenpeace tasks Spain, France, Gabon on ship’s timber cargo

Greanpeace has called on Spain, France and Gabon to urgently investigate circumstances surrounding a ship carrying timber believed to have been illegally logged in Africa and destined for the European market. “The controversy surrounds its origin and legality,” says Hellen Dena, Greenpeace Africa’s spokesperson, adding that Gabonese authorities are reported to have investigated the case and have called upon Interpol to open an international investigation.
“All countries that could potentially be the origin of the timber are part of the Congo Basin, a region where illegal logging is a widespread problem. The forestry sector in the region is beset by rampant corruption, a lack of transparency and a lack of proper monitoring and law enforcement on the ground whilst significant amounts of illegal timber are still exported to international markets every year,” she adds.
The European Timber Regulation (EUTR) prohibits the placing of illegal timber on the European market and requires that operators exercise due diligence to prevent the contamination of their supply chain.
But Greenpeace insists that both France and Spain have been slow in the implementation of this law, and that authorities have so far failed to conduct sufficient and effective checks.
Dena submits: “Greenpeace urges both countries to take immediate steps, seize the timber and determine whether the operators involved acted in compliance with their obligations under the EUTR. In the case of non-compliance with the timber regulation, sanctions should be imposed.
“Greenpeace also urges the Gabonese government to start an immediate investigation and give the Spanish and French authorities full access to all the documents required to investigate this case.”

Rwanda to meet forestry targets in time

Rwanda's forestry coverage target of 30 per cent of the total surface area is to be met before the 2020 deadline as government turns focus to agro-forestry, Dr Vincent Biruta has said. Briefing a senatorial standing committee in charge of economic development and finance, on the status of forestry in the country, the Minister for Natural Resources said the country's current forest coverage has so far reached 29.2 per cent from 25.9 per cent in 2010, with the target expected to be hit by 2018. A ministry report shows that at least 4.7 percentage points were added to the country overall acreage in less than five years. At least 714,102 hectares are expected to be entire forests reserves before the year 2020, from 694,402 hectares, it says. Submitting the outcomes of the 2010 national forestry policy, Minister Biruta said, so far, the country managed to preserve five national forests of which the newly-gazetted Gishwati-Mukura Forest Reserve was added to Nyungwe, Akagera and Volcanoes.

After errors, Congo Basin forest effort restarts with new scrutiny

Protecting increasingly threatened forests in central Africa’s Congo Basin will require not just cash but African governments enforcing their own forest regulations while pulling their people out of poverty. "At the end of the day, governments need to take responsibility” for forests, said Per Pharo, director of the Norwegian government’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, which has committed more than $2 billion to protect forests in countries from Indonesia to Brazil, Norway and Britain earlier this year withdrew funding from a $186 million Congo Basin Forest Fund after finding the project’s governance “inconsistent”, and saying there was little evidence the project was effectively supporting long-term protection of the region’s forests.

Kenya: Nairobi National Park in Danger

Touted as the city in the sun, and the only city with a national park within it, Nairobi's future to sticking to that iconic status is slowly fading away. Established in 1946 as a seasonal park, Nairobi National Park's acreage has remained intact with the animals confined in 117.21 square kilometres (28,963 acres). Proposals to have phase two of the Standard Gauge Railway cut through the park has irked conservationists. This comes a few months after the Ministry of Transport and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) struck a deal allowing 89 acres of the park land hived off to pave way for completion of the Nairobi Southern Bypass.
Earlier in the year 211 acres had been chopped off for phase one of SGR that is under construction. A total of 300 acres of park land have seen been cut off. There are fears that the second phase might eat up more than 500 acres of the Park.

Kenyan AP officer denies illicit tree logging

An Kenyan AP officer and three other people are charged with an endangered tree logging. The four denied having logged sandalwood worth Sh20 million. According to the Prosecutor the four were intercepted at Kiamunyi, on the Nakuru-Ravine Highway on Sunday while ferrying seven tonnes of sandalwood believed to have been from Baringo South subcounty.

Tanzania: deforestation ruins Kilimanjaro

The environmental stakeholders have been called upon to regroup and forge the way forward in tackling environmental degradation in Kilimanjaro region. Mr Leonard Massawe, the Executive Director of Lepaje, an NGO that fights environmental degradation, said here that special efforts should be directed to protect water sources, areas around Mount Kilimanjaro and curb deforestation. The director said the environmental degradation pace in Moshi is worrisome and that unless thorough measures are taken against people involved in the acts, Kilimanjaro will soon lose its natural beauty.
"The pace of environmental degradation is alarming in Kilimanjaro region as there are businessmen who have engaged illegally in timber and log trade and are not dealt with properly," lamented Mr Massawe. He expressed concern on the loss of biodiversity to the area that was, for generations, a major source of abundant drinking water for all residents, irrigation and a power generating source for the National Grid. Read more

Ghana hoping to issue FLEGT licenses in 2016

Ghana believes it may be able to issue FLEGT licenses as early as 2016. The country has made progress in implementing its legality verification system and “just a few issues need to be addressed before the country can secure approval to issue FLEGT licenses”. FLEGT licenses provide a “green lane” for wood imports under the EU Timber Regulation and are part of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between Ghana and the EU.

Effective forest management contributes to the economic growth in Gambia

Effective forest management can contribute to the economic growth of the country as well as enhance the livelihood of households, the director of the Gambia forestry department has said. Sambou Nget made this statement recently at a tree planting exercise

Fighting timber trafficking in Senegal - will president Sall's new measures make a difference?

Every year, Senegal loses 40 000 hectares of forest, especially in the Casamance region where timber trafficking has increased. To address this, Senegalese President Macky Sall announced a number of new measures on 24 July 2015. Deemed courageous by environmental organisations, these measures include the immediate and countrywide suspension of issuing timber licences; the mobilising of defence and security forces; the recruitment of 400 officials for the Department of Water and Forestry; and new tighter penalties for offenders.
Source: allAfrica

Illegal timber sale Ghana worsens

The Ghana Forest Ministry confirms that illegal timber are being sold on the local market at an alarming rate. According to Musah Abu Juam, technical Director of Forestry at the Ministry of Lands and Forestry, about 80 percent of timber sold in Ghana are illegal and inferior. Mr Juam spoke at the workshop ‘Supporting the Implementation of the Public Procurement Policy on Timber and Timber Products in Ghana’ that the government is the major buyer of illegal timber on the market. He stated that to address the problem, government must start using legally-acquired timber for all its construction projects. Mr. Juam called for an effective implementation of the Public Procurement Policy on Timber & Timber Products to curb the trade of illegal timber in the country.

African nations aim to brake surging trade in illegal timber

Forest protection agencies in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique and Madagascar will step up joint efforts to combat the rapidly expanding trade in illegal timber under a new deal. The Zanzibar Declaration on Illegal Logging, signed on Wednesday at a global gathering on forests in South Africa, aims to improve communication between customs authorities and collaboration among forest officials from the east and southeast African nations.
If properly managed, forests provide jobs for workers and homes for wildlife. They also act as a filter pulling planet-warming carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, so protecting them is crucial for the broader environment. Across the region, the illegal timber trade is flourishing at an alarming pace, said Juma S. Mgoo, chief executive officer of Tanzania's Forest Service. Criminal groups are benefiting from the environmental destruction.
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

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Asia

vietnam: fisheries exports certification to be expanded nationwide

Certification for fisheries exports to Korea and China will be expanded nationwide starting next month under the National Single Window (NSW), the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development announced. Issuance of export certificates for fisheries products has been under pilot implementation since May 16 for several companies exporting to Korea and China in the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department’s (Nafidad) branches 4, 5 and 6. This is one of the efforts by the Nafidad to improve one-stop access to the ministry’s services.

Red List: Giant pandas no longer ‘endangered’ in China

The latest estimates from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the world’s most comprehensive inventory of plants and animals show a population of 1,864 adult giant pandas. Although exact numbers are not available, adding cubs to the projection would mean about 2,060 pandas exist today, said the IUCN. ”Evidence from a series of range-wide national surveys indicate that the previous population decline has been arrested, and the population has started to increase,” said the IUCN’s updated report.

Forest fires threatens several areas in Vietnam

Prolonged dry weather has put many parts of Việt Nam at a risk of forest fires, the Forest Protection Department warned. On Monday, the department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development asked provinces and cities to tighten inspections and supervision on forest fire fighting and prevention. The department also named 16 localities across the country at highest risk of forest fires.

Cambodia wants to blast illegal timber smugglers with rockets fired from helicopters

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered the head of a recently established anti-logging committee to get tough on the country’s illegal timber trade by blasting smugglers with rockets fired from helicopters.

But local rights groups and the opposition said Hun Sen’s order failed to address the root causes of illegal logging in Cambodia and urged him to take action against high-ranking officials and businessmen who are profiting from the trade.

Speaking at the inauguration of the new headquarters of the Ministry of Environment, the prime minister called on National Military Police Commander and head of the 10-member Coalition Committee for Forest Crime Prevention Sao Sokha to use deadly force against timber traffickers. (RFA)

Indian forest officers suspended for illegal tree felling in tiger reserve

A forester and a forest guard have been suspended for allegedly acting in connivance with illegal tree cutters in reserve forest area of Kalagarh forest division of Corbett Tiger Reserve. In an investigation conducted by the forest department in December 2015, it was found that trees were felled illegally with the connivance of lower level forest officers. Around 20 people were arrested in the area over the last couple of months. "The 20 accused belong to Kotdwar area. It was found that they cut precious Sal and other trees from the Kalagarh forest. They took a truck inside the forest with the connivance of some forest personnel, against whom action has been taken," a senior official said. The accused are currently out on bail.

Another endangered gaur found dead in protected southern Vietnam forest

Dong Nai park rangers are investigating the death of a wild gaur (Bos gaurus), the world’s largest bovine, the second such death at the Dong Nai Culture and Nature Reserve in two weeks. Le Viet Dung, deputy head of the Dong Nai Forest Protection Agency, said park rangers had seen the animal grazing in the Ma Da Forest on March 13. But they found its carcass body Monday while patrolling the area. Dung said they found three small wounds in the shoulder and belly of the male gaur, which was aged around 10 and weighed 800kg. “The gaur’s body parts were intact.” Park rangers are working with the local police and animal health agency to identify the cause of death. On February 28 rangers had found the head and skeleton of a female gaur weighing around 200 kg, also in Ma Da Forest.

Cambodia: forestry crimes decrease by 9 percent in 2015

Forestry crimes fell by around 9 percent last year compared to 2014, according to an annual report released by the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture. “For 2015, there were 2,189 cases related to forestry, wildlife and encroachment on state forest land,” the report says. “There were 1,546 cases sent to the court and fines issued in 643 smaller cases.” In 2014, the ministry reported 2,400 cases of forestry crimes, which included illegal logging, hunting protected wildlife and crimes committed against forestry officials. “In 2015, 996 cubic meters of logs, 470 cubic meters of sawn timber, 113 cubic meters of Kra Nhung rosewood, 4,018 kilograms of wildlife material, 2,709 hectares of state forest land was cleared and 486 chainsaws were confiscated,” the report says.

Etihad Airways signs declaration to support prevention of wildlife trafficking

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is one of the signatories to the Declaration of the United for Wildlife International Taskforce on the Transportation of Illegal Wildlife Products. James Hogan, Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer, who signed the declaration on behalf of the airline, said: "We recognise the significant role that the airlines can play in preventing the smuggling of wildlife and products. Read more

Indian forest officers suspended for illegal tree felling in tiger reserve

A forester and a forest guard have been suspended for allegedly acting in connivance with illegal tree cutters in reserve forest area of Kalagarh forest division of Corbett Tiger Reserve. In an investigation conducted by the forest department in December 2015, it was found that trees were felled illegally with the connivance of lower level forest officers. Around 20 people were arrested in the area over the last couple of months. "The 20 accused belong to Kotdwar area. It was found that they cut precious Sal and other trees from the Kalagarh forest. They took a truck inside the forest with the connivance of some forest personnel, against whom action has been taken," a senior official said. The accused are currently out on bail.

Vietnam: wildlife trafficking poses risks to public health

Wildlife trafficking in Vietnam and the high demand for exotic meat, jewelry, medicine and even pets is a threat not only to bio-diversity, but also to public health, according to environment experts. Experts said the illegal trade of products, which has both domestic and international origins, increases the risk of spreading diseases because trafficked animals are not quarantined. According to the Forest Protection Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, about 5,400 violations related to wildlife management and protection were reported across the country over the last five years. Nearly 60,000 endangered wildlife species were seized. (VNS)

Cambodian Officials being accused of illegal logging practices

Villagers in a forest community in northeastern Cambodia’s Stung Treng province have accused local forestry officials of colluding with illegal loggers to clear trees in a designated wildlife sanctuary so they can sell the timber for personal profit.
The residents of Chhvang village, Sam’ang commune in the province’s Thala Barivat district told RFA’s Khmer Service on Monday that a number of business groups have been felling trees in a local wildlife sanctuary with the blessing of local authorities.
Workers hired by the groups have been felling and cutting logs in the area for several months, but authorities have not prevented the illegal activity, they said.
The four to six worker groups, with four to six people each, stay in tents in the forest while they cut down trees to generate money for deputy community chief Phoeuk Si and two others surnamed Pheap and Luon, the villagers said.
A villager from the ethnic Kuoy minority group, who spoke on condition of anonymity, voiced concern over the inability of authorities to prevent forest crimes in the area, noting that a number of wildlife animal sanctuaries are under the control of private individuals.

EU and Vietnam expect to sign FLEGT-VPA by end 2016

The EU and Vietnam reached important agreements during their fifth round of negotiations on the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade. According to Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan, the talks on January 21 and 22 focused on putting in place a management system to ensure the legality of Vietnamese timber, especially the legal origin of imported wood.
The VPA on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade aims to ensure that all Vietnamese wood products exported to EU countries are of legal origin. Once in effect, the agreement is expected to boost Viet Nam’s wood processing and export industry, allowing for sustainable growth and market expansion.
In a joint announcement released after the meeting, the two sides highlighted that efforts will be made to conclude the negotiations by the end of 2016. The result of the fifth round of talks is important to the free trade agreement between Viet Nam and the EU, particularly in terms of protecting the environment and bio-diversity. The EU, which makes up about one-fourth of world consumption, is now the fourth largest importer of Viet Nam’s timber and wood products, after the US, Japan and China. In the first eight months of 2015, Viet Nam’s timber and wood product exports to the EU brought in VND9,900,800 million, while its timber imports from the bloc was VND2,486,400 million.

Japanese satellite to monitor illegal logging on 3 continents

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are set to begin monitoring rampant illegal logging in tropical rain forests near the equator, using the advanced land observation satellite Daichi-2.
The two agencies will start the project from this autumn, and release the data on their websites for developing countries that are struggling to deal with illegal logging.
The predecessor satellite, Daichi, has achieved remarkable results in monitoring illegal logging in the Amazon. Daichi-2 will play a role in protecting tropical rain forests all over the world, widening the observation areas.
Daichi-2 is a satellite with onboard radar that can also capture images of the areas at night and without regard to weather conditions. The satellite, which was launched in 2014, has so far been used mainly for observing land deformation and floods caused by disasters.
It is difficult to monitor illegal logging in vast rain forests from the ground. But as the Daichi-2 radar can track vegetation changes on the ground, it has been adopted for monitoring illegal logging.
Data can be captured at a resolution of about 50 meters by 50 meters, and the monitoring area extends across 16.6 million square kilometers of tropical rain forests in Africa, Southeast Asia, South America and other areas. The two agencies will create maps showing newly deforested areas, and release the data on the websites free of charge every six weeks.
The agencies will also train 500 people overseas, over a period of five years, who can analyze the data, and hold an international conference with relevant countries. The project will cost ¥500 million in total over the five-year period.
The satellite Daichi has succeeded in detecting 140 cases of illegal logging annually in Brazil, in monitoring conducted from 2009 to 2011 at the request of the Brazilian government.

Two men fined for smuggling rosewood

The southern Vietnam province Tay Ninh fined two local men VND45 million (US$2,000) each for smuggling more than 1.3 tonnes of rosewood. A 26-year-old driver and a 43-year-old truck owner from Tan Chau District were found to be carrying 270 pieces of rosewood from Cambodia to the district in a truck on Sunday. They told the police they were to deliver the timber to a local man who, however, denied he was going to receive the timber and, hence, was not be fined. The timber, worth VND300 million ($13,300), and the truck, worth VND180 million ($8,000), would be added to local public property. Drivers are usually paid about VND3 million ($133) per trip to transport smuggled timber from Cambodia to HCM City.

Cambodia to tackle illegal timber trade.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has set up a committee to stop the smuggling of timber across the border to Vietnam and warned that he will remove the governor of the southeastern province that serves as the main gateway for the logs if he and a local district official fail to curb the illegal activities.
Hun Sen appointed National Military Police Commander Sao Sokha to head up the 10-member committee called the Coalition Committee for Forest Crime Prevention to crack down on illegal timber smuggling into neighboring Vietnam. Hun Sen also ordered the closure of Cambodia-Vietnam border checkpoints to prevent timber transports.
Cambodia has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, largely due to illegal logging. A report issued last year by the U.K. environmental rights group Global Witness found that government and military officials collude with businessmen to illegally cut and transport Cambodian timber mainly to China.

MYANMAR REJECTS CHINA’S REQUEST FOR TIMBER-BASED INDUSTRIAL ZONE

Rumours have circulated recently about Myanmar signing an MoU with China to facilitate the trading and cultivating of timber; they have since been dismissed by the Myanmar government.“The Chinese government’s representative group came to us. We held a discussion with civic organisations. They requested the establishment of a timber-based industrial zone in Myanmar, perhaps in Lashi or Muse, for log trading. Our ministry replied that this would not be possible,” said Khin Maung Yi.China’s request came after several visits by Myanmar officials to China in an attempt to curb illegal timber smuggling perpetrated by Chinese nationals. During the Myanmar representatives’ negotiations in China, Chinese officials promised to cooperate and said: “Logs from Myanmar entering through any route and from any region will not be allowed.”China earned US$2.7 billion from the illegal log trade with Myanmar between 2000 and 2014 and also earned $4.6 billion in profit from transforming illegally-traded tamalan timber into finished industrial products in 2014 alone.

Plantations main cause of mangrove loss

Plantations are the top cause of mangrove defores­tation in Malaysia and Indonesia, a National Uni­versity of Singapore study found. Covering Asean, the study found that Malaysia lost 18,836ha of mangrove forests from 2000 to 2012. At least 38.2% of this was due to mangroves being converted to oil palm plantations. Other notable causes of mangrove loss, the report found, were due to logging – legal or illegal – which was reflected in the study as mangrove forest regrowth (17.6%).
Assistant Professor Daniel Friess from the Department of Geography at the National University of Singapore (NUS), and Dr Daniel Richards, who was formerly with the Department and is now with the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at The University of Sheffield, discovered that the mangrove deforestation rates in Southeast Asia were lower than previously thought. They identified the rapid expansion of rice agriculture in Myanmar, and sustained conversion of mangroves to oil palm plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia, as increasing and under-recognised threats to the mangrove ecosystems.
The findings were published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, in December 2015.

Vietnamese police raid timber warehouses near Cambodia border

Hundreds of police officers and forest rangers raided large timber warehouses, including illegal ones, in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai on Wednesday, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported. The officers on police trucks came into the warehouses and then blocked entry while they inspected the timber. Most of the warehouses served as destinations for hundreds of cubic meters of timber transported from border areas near Cambodia. Gia Lai’s police and forest protection authorities said they were ordered by the Ministry of Public Security to join the raid just minutes before it happened. Vietnamese police raid timber warehouses near Cambodia border

Dispite Lao Government ban on timber exports truck loads of logs to Vietnam

Laos has continued to transport logs from its forests to Vietnam, despite a government ban on timber exports that took effect in August and a leaked report by an international environmental group two months ago, revealing huge increases in illegal logging with the implication of government collusion.
The Lao government issued a decree on August 8 2015 prohibiting the export of logs and mandating that timber must be processed in Laos before it is exported to foreign countries. Previously, the government had banned the export of logs but exceptions were allowed only when it approved them. But an official from the Lao Government Office who now works in Savannakhet city told RFA’s Lao Service that he saw dozens of trucks in the province transporting timber to Vietnam last December 15. News of the activities in Savannakhet comes just two months after a report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) cited massive and systematic corruption and poor governance of logging activities in the country’s four southernmost provinces from November 2012 to May 2015. The report, marked as a “final draft for internal use only,” came about from a project agreement with the Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. RFA

Civil societies Sarawak must stop turning peatland into oil palm plantations

Two civil societies have called on the Sarawak government to stop further turning peatland into oil palm plantations. Sarawak used to have about 1.6 million hectares of peatland. The state lost about 100,000ha of it to oil palm plantation by the early 2000s.

EU Now Vietnam's Fourth Biggest Timber, Wood Product Buyer

The European Union (EU), which makes up about one fourth of the world consumption, is now the fourth largest importer of Vietnam's timber and wood products after US, Japan and China, Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported.
Nguyen Ton Quyen, Vice President of the Vietnam Timber and Forest Products Association (VIFORES), made the statement at a workshop on Vietnam-EU trade in timber and wood products in Hanoi. The event was jointly held by VIFORES, the Forest Products Association of Binh Dinh (FPA Binh Dinh), the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of Ho Chi Minh City (HAWA) and US-based non-profit Forest Trends.

The EU is the second largest buyer of Vietnam in terms of wood furniture listed under HS codes 94, mostly importing wooden seats, outdoor furniture, and furniture for office and bedrooms from the partner. The three main European destinations for Vietnam's wood product are the UK, Germany and France, together accounting for two thirds of the exporter's timber and wood product sales in the EU. The EU is also one of Vietnam's key timber suppliers. Last year, the bloc shipped to Vietnam US$172 million worth of timber, or one fourth of Vietnam's exports. Vietnam is negotiating a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU within the framework of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). Once the agreement is signed, the Vietnamese Government will put forth closer mechanisms to ensure the legality of the country's wood products exported to the EU.

Greenpeace: China's panda reserves under threat from illegal logging

Illegal logging in panda sanctuaries in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan is destroying the world's largest habitat for the iconic creatures, an environmental group said in a report published this week. The Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is becoming fragmented by the loss of forest, putting pandas and other wildlife in danger, Greenpeace said in a report released online. The reserve is home to around one-third of the existing world population of giant pandas, a creature that has come to symbolize China's wildlife and its soft power around the world. After a two-year investigation into deforestation in the sanctuaries, Greenpeace found that some 3,200 acres of natural forest has been lost to forestry companies looking to grow profitable timber. While Chinese law expressly forbids the clear cutting of any natural forest in Sichuan, the exploitation is being packaged by local authorities as "forest reconstruction," Greenpeace said in a statement issued along with the report.

Asean countries to re-establish continuos rainforest in joint initiative

An ambitious initiative to re-establish a continuous rainforest spanning three countries is taking shape well in Sabah and that now boasts of having totally protected areas nearly twice the size of Singapore. The three countries are Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. State Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said these conservation areas had now been increased to about 1.15 million ha in recent years. This was nearly double the 700,000ha of totally protected areas Sabah had when it signed up for the Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative in 2007. He said Sabah had also set up forest corridors linking three of the largest pristine areas — Danum Valley, Imbak Canyon and Maliau Basin enabling wildlife such as elephants and orang utan to move among them. These cover an area of about 500,000ha in all. In addition, he said the state had successfully restored about 50,000ha of degraded forests through replanting of native tree species in areas such as the Ulu Segama-Malua forest reserve.

Laos to investigate enormous illegal logging increase

A leaked report by an international environmental group revealing huge increases in illegal logging in Laos with an implication of government collusion has prompted officials in the small Southeast Asian nation to take action to examine discrepancies in timber export and import figures with China and Vietnam.

Asean meet to discuss illegal wildlife and timber trade

Wildlife trafficking and timber smuggling are the two newest issues to be brought up at the 10th Asean Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC). Malaysian Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Alwi Ibrahim said the two crimes were among eight areas of concern to be discussed. “These eight issues were discussed in previous meetings, some of which are drug trafficking, piracy, terrorism and economic crimes. “We will also include new issues that are relevant in this meeting to consider the opinions of Asean leaders, including wildlife and timber trafficking,” he said after chairing a preparatory meeting.

Cambodian villagers fall victim to clampdowns on forest communities

Cambodians authorities have cracked down on villagers in three forest communities, arresting them or forcing them to stop clearing land for subsistence agriculture, while companies, military personnel and the government continue to encroach upon the areas, according to commune leaders and rights group officials. A provincial court in southeastern Cambodia on Monday sentenced three community activists to five years in prison for destroying trees under the control of the country’s Forestry Administration, prompting criticism from a rights group which said the punishment was too severe for such a minor offense, according to a local leader. The Svay Rieng provincial court has yet to issue arrest warrants for the community leader and two activists who were sentenced, said Suon Seiha, a community leader in Andong Trabek commune. He accused officials of fabricating charges against the three, who are poor villagers, and called the court’s verdict unjust. The land and forest in question has belonged to 86 families since 1979, he said, but the Forestry Administration, a government authority under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries that manages forests and forest resources, encroached upon the area in 2008 and planted trees on 71 hectares (175 acres). RFA

Dien Bien loses forests to illegal loggers

The Northern Vietnam province of Dien Bien has lost 22,000ha of forest because of illegal logging, and the loss is expected to increase as forest rangers admit they cannot stop illegal logging. Figures indicate that forest areas in the province's Muong Nhe District has fallen to 72,000ha as of December last year, from 88,000ha in 2010, which means a total of 16,000ha has lost their forests. The illegal logging has taken place in most areas having forests throughout the district, including Lenh Su Sin, Huoi Phi Nhat and Muong Nhe communes. At Lenh Su Sin Commune, trees have been replaced with barren hills on an area of 3,000 hectares.

Lao Loggers Backed by Corrupt Officials Pillaged Champassak Forests

Illegal logging in southern Laos’ Champassak province was particularly devastating on forests during last July, according to a local police officer, who said businessmen working in tandem with high-ranking officials raced to cut timber in the region ahead of the start of the rainy season. The police officer, who spoke to RFA’s Lao Service on condition of anonymity, said that logging trucks bearing both Lao and Vietnamese registrations, and carrying both legal and illegal loads, can be seen at all times throughout central and southern Laos hauling timber into neighboring Vietnam. And while local authorities often know that the wood has been illicitly procured, there is little they can do to stem the flow across the border.

Lao officials fail to enforce government ban on timber exports

A recent ban on the export of raw logs imposed by the Lao government to increase the value of processed wood products is not being enforced in the country’s southern provinces because some national leaders are involved in timber smuggling, a civil society official with knowledge of the situation said. Although Vientiane imposed the export ban on Aug. 18, hundreds of trucks in Champasak, Salavan, Sekong and Attapue provinces, which have more timber than do the northern provinces, are continuing to transport wood to neighboring Vietnam around the clock, the official, who requested anonymity, and locals told RFA’s Lao Service. “This means the announcement cannot be implemented for enforcement because people and relevant officials know well that those who are behind the log smuggling are some national leaders,” said the civil society leader who requested anonymity.

Nine Cambodian provinces face loss of EU funding for forestry management project

Nine forest communities across Cambodia on Friday expressed concern about illegal land encroachment and logging operations as a European Union-funded sustainable forest management project which helped communities in wooded areas thrive comes to an end. Representatives from nine forest provinces – Kampot, Kep, Takeo, Pursat, Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear, Kratie, Stung Treng and Ratanakiri – said during a national workshop on the project in Phnom Penh that once the funding ends this month, instances of illegal land encroachment and logging will increase.
Kalyan Hou, the Cambodia coordinator of The Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC) said the EU funding helped reduce poverty in the country and allowed villagers to develop sustainable food supplies. Without finding from the EU, the forest communities would face management issues, she told RFA’s Khmer Service. “We want the EU to continue supporting us,” she said. Chhuon Phal, a forest community representative from northern Cambodia’s Stung Treng province, said the EU-funded project taught villagers how to use forest resources in their daily lives. The U.S. $1.6 million sustainable forest management project began in December 2010 and covers 136,666 hectares (337,700 acres) of land on which 42,566 families live. RFA

Cambodian forest caretakers confess to illegal logging

Members of a community-based organization in Cambodia responsible for protecting local forest resources have confessed to illegally cutting down trees to sell to local businessmen, prompting the group’s leader to threaten to resign. Moeung Yay, Forestry Commission leader for the Ou Chum commune in Cambodia’s eastern Ratanakiri province, said that he will convene a community meeting next week to announce his resignation, citing his failure to prevent the illegal logging. Logging in the forest—which had been entrusted by Cambodia’s Ministry of Agriculture to the commune for its use and protection—has been carried on by “powerful” community members, including several local officials, in spite of written pledges not to illicitly harvest timber. “They have logged for a long time now, and the logging is definitely increasing,” Moeung Yay said. “They sell the timber to buyers, with some buyers going down to the forest to buy, and we can’t do anything about them,” he said. RFA

Report: Illegal timber trade from Myanmar to China growing

The illicit timber trade between Myanmar and China is rebounding to near its peak of a decade ago as loggers push deeper into Myanmar to strip its forests, according to a report released Thursday by an environmental group.
The London-based EIA says it is calling on both governments to stop the trade worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year that is reducing Myanmar's forests and supplies China's wood-processing industry, which makes furniture for domestic and international markets.
The nongovernmental organization said Chinese businesses acquire the rights to illegal log mountains, paying off corrupt officials in gold bars and bribing armed groups and the military to pass through checkpoints. The logging is done by poor Chinese villagers. Dozens of them were convicted earlier this year following raids by Myanmar authorities, but the "shadowy kingpins" who organize the trade and reap the profits remain untouched, the report said.
Julian Newman, campaign director for EIA, said at the report's launch in Beijing that the volume of illegal timber crossing from Myanmar into China was approaching 900,000 cubic meters (31.8 million cubic feet) a year — not far off the 2005 peak of about 1 million cubic meters which fell after Chinese authorities temporarily clamped down.
Newman said the rosewood and teak was coming from deeper in Myanmar as Chinese investment in building dams and infrastructure in the country leads to more roads and access to forests that were previously untouched. EIA
Download report here

Villagers in Cambodia’s Stung Treng Say waterway contaminated by local saw mill

Ethnic Kuy villagers in northeastern Cambodia’s Stung Treng province called for an investigation into a saw mill they say has polluted their local waterway and caused residents to contract a skin disease. The indigenous villagers from Thala Barivat district told RFA’s Khmer Service that the Ou Svay stream they use to cook, bathe and water their crops is contaminated, and urged the Ministry of Health and local nongovernmental organizations to help them resolve the situation. Around 3,000 people from 900 families live in the district and, according to villager Noun Rim, some 30 percent of area children and 20 percent of adults are now suffering from an itchy rash that covers their entire body. She said symptoms of the disease began to appear shortly after the mill, which went into operation earlier this year, dumped waste from a resin used to coat wood for furniture into the stream. RFA

IWPA members get green light to continue trade with Myanmar

The US Treasury Department has extended the license authorising members of the International Wood Products Association to engage in activities necessary and incidental to purchase and importation of wood and wood products from or involving the Myanma Timber Enterprise (MTE) and/or its affiliates and subsidiaries, up to 31 July 2017. The MTE was given to understand that this license applies specifically to IWPA members and is not open to nonIWPA members.
Click here for more information

Singapore says Indonesia to share names of companies causing forest fires

Indonesia has agreed to share with Singapore the names of companies suspected of causing forest fires that have led to a deterioration of air quality in the city state. Indonesia's Minister of Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya Bakar, told Singapore's Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Vivian Balakrishnan, that the names would be shared once the information had been verified, Singapore's National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a statement. Haze has engulfed Singapore and Malaysia for several days, pushing the PSI air quality index to unhealthy levels of over 100 in the city state on a 24-hour basis. The three-hour gauge of PSI hit a high of 249 late on Monday night, the NEA said.
Source: Reuters

High volume of teak veneer flitch exports raises questions

Photographs of partially processed logs being readied for export have appeared in the Myanmar press the accompanying report says teak logs which had been debarked and had been roughly „shaved‟ with a chainsaw were seen being loaded into containers for export. Myanmar introduced a log export ban in 2014 which prohibits the export of timber classified within HS code 44.03 (wood in the rough whether or not stripped of bark or sapwood). However, the logs being shipped were said to have been classified as HS code 44.07 i.e. teak veneer flitches.
One industrialist commented that it appeared the logs were “clear-shaved‟ of knots and bumps and debarked for export under an incorrect HS code in order to circumvent the log export ban. It came to light that some 3500 tons of teak veneer flitches were shipped last year. Veneer quality teak logs make up a very small proportion of total log harvests such that local millers are amazed that such a high volume of veneer quality logs could be secured. Harvested logs are mostly of sawmill grades and analysts comment that it is surprising that such a high volume of veneer flitches could be obtained.

VIETNAM AND EU AGREE ON TIMBER EXPORT REGULATIONS

Vietnam and the European Union have agreed that the Timber Legality Assurance System of Vietnam (VNTLAS) will be applied to wood and wood products exported to the EU, and also to other countries, as well as the domestic market. The two sides reached agreement during their sixth session negotiating the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT), said Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hà Công Tuấn at a press conference in Hanoi. Tuấn stated that during this sixth session, Vietnam and the EU also reached a consensus on applying the FLEGT licensing mechanism to timber exported to the EU. The two sides entered into negotiations on FLEGT-VPA in October 2010. All FLEGT-licensed timber and timber products from Vietnam will be considered legal and, as such, not subject to the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation. The EU, which is responsible for about one-fourth of world timber consumption, is now the fourth largest importer of Vietnam’s timber and wood products, after the US, Japan and China.
Brazil

Brazil ranks highest in killing of land and environmental activists

According to a report released by a UK-based NGO/non-profit organization, Global Witness, Brazil leads the list of countries with the highest number of activists murdered for defending the environment and land rights The study found that in Brazil there were 29 activists killed in 2014, and acknowledged the number is probably much higher given the lack of reporting in remote areas.

Wildfires in Brazil’s Amazon Increased in 2015

A significant increase was registered in Brazil of the number of fires in its territory during 2015, with the greatest increase registered in the Amazon region, according to the National Space Research Institute (INPE). More than 235,000 heat spots were detected by Brazilian satellites last year, a strong increase in comparison to the 184,000 detected in 2014. The Brazilian institute says that this is the second worst year of fires since 1999.
“It was a drier year,” INPE researcher Alberto Setzer said in an interview to Globo’s IG News website. “A great part of the country faced prolonged drought. A few weeks ago there was still smoke in Manaus (capital of Amazonas state) as well as several cities in Para state due to fires.” Almost all of the fires were started by man. According to Setzer the majority of fires recorded last year was started for the sole purpose of deforestation, to clear land, and are considered environmental crimes. The researcher says that not enough is being done, especially in the Amazon region to curb this sort of action. “There is a failure in the monitoring (of the fires) since the detection of these heat spots by satellite are almost in real time and the information is readily available.” The INPE study shows that the Northern state of Para, in the heart of the Amazon region, was the state which registered the most heat spots in 2015: 44,794. For Setzer the tendency is that this year the number of fires will subside. “When there are very intense fires, which end with the vegetation (we see) the following year there is not much to burn,” stated the researcher.

Destruction of Brazil's Amazon forest jumps 16 percent in 2015

The destruction of Brazil's Amazon forest, the world's largest intact rainforest, increased by 16 percent in 2015 from a year ago as the government struggles to enforce legislation and stop illegal clearings.
Satellite data for the 12 months through the end of July released on Thursday showed that 5,831 square km (2,251 square miles) of forests were cleared in the Brazilian Amazon, an area half the size of Puerto Rico. The data released by the environment ministry on Thursday confirmed preliminary information released by environmental institutions recently that were showing an increase in deforestation after a fall seen in 2014.
It comes at a sensitive moment for the Brazilian government as countries around the world gather in Paris to discuss a new global climate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation makes up to around 15 percent of world's heat-trapping gases, more than the entire transport sector. A strong increase in the Mato Grosso state, Brazil's top grains and livestock producer, was the main factor behind the increase. Landowners in Mato Grosso cleared around 1,500 square kilometers (Km2) of forests, compared to around 1,000 Km2 in 2014.

Brazil to release more forest concessions

The Brazilian Forest Service (SFB) announced that the Federal government would make available 2.11 million hectares of forest concessions from 2016. In proposing this the authorities point out that forest concession management models facilitate forest maintenance and protection. It is considered that the forest concession model provides for legal controls which may not be provided under other land management models. In addition, such management systems provide for dialogue between the government and the private sector in support of rational exploitation of forest resources. Currently, the SFB maintains forest concession contracts in five National Forests in the Amazonian states of Pará and Rondônia. They have set aside the total of 842,000 hectares of natural forest that will be sustainably managed by eight companies for the next 40 years.

Norway to complete $1 billion payment to Brazil for protecting Amazon

Norway will make a final $100-million payment to Brazil this year to complete a $1-billion project that rewards a slowdown in forest loss in the Amazon basin, Norway's Environment Ministry said on Tuesday. Brazil had more than achieved a goal of reducing the rate of deforestation by 75 percent, the condition for the payments under an agreement for 2008-15 meant to protect the forest and slow climate change, it said. The remaining cash would be paid before a U.N. summit on climate change in Paris in December, the ministry said. Since 2008, Norway has paid about $900 million to Brazil's Amazon Fund. Reuters
Indonesia

Leuser Ecosystem still exploited by palm oil companies despite moratorium: NGO

The Rainforest Action Network, a California-based environmental group, has released a report showing that palm oil companies operating in the Leuser Ecosystem in Aceh are still clearing forests despite a national moratorium. The report titled "Protecting the Leuser Ecosystem," which was released recently, states that Landsat satellite imagery showed palm oil concessionaires clearing 294 hectares of forest between July and September. "While in July 2016, 38 hectares of forest were lost in Leuser concessions, this increased to 58 hectares in August 2016. September 2016 satellite analysis showed more than a threefold increase over the previous month, with a loss of 199 hectares of forest," the report says. According to the report, 7,187 hectares of forest and peatland were destroyed in Aceh province between January and September. Read more

Indonesian Riau province declares emergency as forest fires flare

Indonesia's western province of Riau has declared a state of emergency over forest and land fires blazing on the island of Sumatra. The fires, which send choking smog over Southeast Asia every year, raged uncontrollably across several provinces last year, costing an estimated $16 billion, and pushed average daily greenhouse gas emissions above those of the United States.
The governor of Riau has declared an emergency now, to be able to prevent a repeat of the haze that occurred in 2015," said provincial government spokesman Darusman, adding that life in the province continued to be normal. About 500 military and police personnel and a water-bombing helicopter have been deployed to help fight the fires but the haze had not yet reached urban areas, he said. The fires are often set by plantation companies and smallholders to clear land. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has urged authorities to contain so-called hot spots, where fires start and spread to their surroundings. This year, Widodo set up an agency to restore around 2 million hectares of carbon-rich peat lands which typically produce more smog than forest fires. (Reuters)

Indonesia's anti-graft commission: government agreed to combat corruption in the forestry industry

Indonesia's anti-graft commission on Monday said government agencies have agreed on a plan to combat corruption in the forestry industry that costs the state billions of dollars in lost revenue and is behind fires that pollute Southeast Asia. The attempt to address a longstanding crisis in the management and conservation of Indonesia's prized tropical forests comes after a study by the anti-corruption commission estimated that the commercial value of undeclared logging was US$60.7 billion to $81.4 billion between 2003 and 2014. The study released in October estimated the government's loss of revenue from royalties at $6.5 billion to $9 billion over the same period. Dian Patria, head of corruption prevention for natural resources at the Corruption Eradication Commission, said top officials from other ministries and agencies have given their backing to the plan. Protecting extensive tropical forests that are among the largest in the world is a key issue for Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Unreported timber production deprives the Indonesian government of revenue it could use to improve infrastructure and services for its still largely poor population of more than 250 million. (Jakarta Post)

Indonesia pledges no repeat of haze crisis

The Indonesian authorities have given their assurance to their Malaysian counterparts that they will take proactive measures to prevent the haze from recurring this year. Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said if the haze happens again this year, the effects would be less severe than last year. This was because measures taken by the relevant authorities in Indonesia included improving the irrigation system in oil palm plantations and cancelling the concession of 20 oil palm companies. He said this in a press conference after paying a courtesy call on Mentri Besar Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin. "The Indonesian government will also acquire three Bombardier planes to be used to fight forest fires," said Dr Wan Junaidi. He said the decision to buy the planes was made after Indonesia found that it was more effective in putting out forest fires.

INDONESIA SLAMS FRANCE’S PROGRESSIVE PALM OIL IMPORT TAX

Indonesia, the world’s largest palm oil producer, has voiced out against a plan by the French government to impose progressive import taxes for palm oil starting from 2017, citing the move to be “discriminating "and "unreasonable,” a top government official has said. The French Senate approved a biodiversity billion on Jan. 21 that included a palm oil tax hike of 300 euros ($327) per ton in 2017 from what’s currently 103 euros per ton, which would later increase annually to reach 900 euros per ton by 2020, according to Arif Havas Oegroseno, a deputy in charge of maritime sovereignty at the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Natural Resource. The deputy, who recently met with the French ambassador in order to deliver the government’s concerns, claimed the French government is giving unequal treatment to palm oil as it is imposing the regulation on rapeseed oil, sunflower oil and soy oil that’s produced there. “This could be just a way for France to protect their vegetable-based oils, which would be a violation of the World Trade Organization in the 1994 general tarrif and trade article 2 paragraph 3, as well as the internal regulation of the European Union market article 110,” Arif said. The progressive tax would also show a backwards move compared to the Amsterdam Declaration on Global Change — a pledge signed by France, the Netherlands, among other countries, in 2002 to support sustainable palm oil that’s environmentally friendly and without deforestation — since it would “punish” Indonesia’s palm oil with high taxes, according to Arif. Instead of higher taxes, he said that Indonesia should be given incentives for its efforts to foster a sustainable palm oil industry. - Jakarta Globe

Demand for Expensive Furniture Is Fueling Illegal Logging in Indonesia

Palm oil plantations and forest fires aren’t the only threats to Indonesia’s orangutans. The country’s oldest and most ecologically important forests are being raided by illegal loggers to feed worldwide demand for rare hardwoods. Much of that timber is used to make expensive furniture or flooring.
Despite a supposed moratorium on forest clearing, a 2014 investigation by the University of Maryland found that Indonesia has the world’s highest rate of deforestation. Much of that forest clearance, according to the study, is illegal and takes place in national parks and other protected areas that should be safe habitats for orangutans and other rare wildlife. Indonesia is one of the world’s biggest timber exporters, earning about $10 billion a year.
Although illegal logging is a pervasive problem, the situation has improved in recent years. “Indonesia used to have completely out-of-control illegal logging in the late ’90s and early 2000s,” said Jago Wadley, senior forest campaigner for the Environmental Investigation Agency. “It was estimated that at least 80 percent of the wood produced in Indonesia during that period had broken one law or another.” Read More

Indonesia suffers setback in penalizing the companies allegedly responsible for its annual forest fires

Indonesia’s efforts to penalize the companies allegedly responsible for its annual forest fires suffered a setback on Wednesday after a judge rejected a US$565 million lawsuit against a pulp and paper firm. Indonesia brought a civil case in a South Sumatra court against PT Bumi Mekar Hijau (BMH), a supplier to Asia Pulp and Paper, one of the world’s biggest pulp and paper companies. The $565 million in damages would have been the largest financial award ever levied against a company accused of forest burning activities in Indonesia with the intent of sending a strong message to those responsible for the annual haze. “The lawsuit against PT Bumi Mekar Hijau is rejected because the evidence is not proven,” said presiding judge Parlas Nababan. He did not comment any further and then ended the court proceedings. Read more

SVLK fails to stop illegal logging

Indonesia’s timber legality system has not been able to stop pulp and paper giants from using illegally sourced timber, as the system is filled with loopholes, an investigation has found. According to the investigation, pulp and paper companies PT Adindo Hutani Lestari (AHL) and PT Toba Pulp Lestari (TPL) have not been compliant with the country’s timber legality system, called the Wood Legality Verification System (SVLK), even though both firms received legal certification and continued to supply timber to pulp and paper giants.
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Indonesia is punishing more than 20 companies for starting forest fires

Indonesia is punishing more than 20 companies in an unprecedented move for starting deadly forest fires that killed 19 people, a government official said. Three companies have been shut down permanently after having their licences revoked over their role in the blazes that choked vast expanses of south-east Asia with acrid haze and cost Indonesia US$16bil (RM68bil).

A new chapter to the Indonesia EU FLEGT-VPA soap

Both Indonesia and the EU have restated their stances on timber legality certification, with the latter insisting that their voluntary partnership on forest law enforcement governance and trade (FLEGT-VPA) will go nowhere unless the Indonesian government revives “green certification” requirements for all timber products.
EU Ambassador to Indonesia Vincent Guérend said on 23 November last that the EU was ready to implement the FLEGT-VPA in April next year as long as Indonesia applied its timber legality verification system (SVLK) to all of its timber products — both upstream and downstream. Once the FLEGT-VPA between the two countries is fully operational, Indonesia’s SVLK-certified timber products will no longer need to go through due diligence processes as they will be acknowledged to be in full compliance with the bloc’s timber regulations. Read more

World Bank: Fires cost Indonesia US$16b, twice the tsunami bill

According to the World Bank Indonesia’s economy took a US$16-billion hit this year from forest fires that cloaked Southeast Asia in haze, more than double the sum spent on rebuilding Aceh after the 2004 tsunami. The fires and resulting haze are an annual occurrence caused by slash-and-burn land clearance. But the blazes in 2015 were the worst for some years, causing air quality to worsen dramatically and many to fall ill across the region. In a quarterly update on the Indonesian economy, the World Bank said the fires had devastated 2.6 million hectares (6.4 million acres) of forest and farmland across the archipelago from June to October. The cost to Southeast Asia’s biggest economy is estimated at 221 trillion rupiah (US$16.1 billion), equivalent to 1.9 percent of predicted GDP this year, it said. In contrast, it cost US$7 billion to rebuild Indonesia’s westernmost province of Aceh after it was engulfed 11 years ago by a quake-triggered tsunami, with the loss of tens of thousands of lives, the bank said.

Indonesian SVLK timber may enter EU without inspection

The EU has stated that it is poised to fully implement a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on forest law enforcement, governance and trade (FLEGT) with Indonesia. The move would mean that all Indonesian SVLK timber products could enter the EU market without inspection. EU Ambassador to Indonesia Vincent Guerend promised that his party would fully implement the agreement on April 1, 2016. The FLEGT implementation, he said, would benefit Indonesia, which currently has a 40-percent market share in the EU tropical timber market. However, he said that timber products must have the required V-legal documents attached, as regulated by Indonesia’s Timber Legality Verification System (SVLK).
As V-legal documents would be considered equal to a FLEGT license, Indonesian timber would automatically pass the due-diligence examination that is usually required before products enter the EU market. Commenting on Indonesia’s plan to exempt furniture products from V-legal documentation as cited in Trade Ministerial Regulation No. 89/2015, Guerend said it would be the government’s job to ensure all products came complete with V-legal documents and were from sustainable sources.

Indonesian carbon emissions worse than USA

The Indonesian forest fires have been so bad that carbon emissions from peatland burning alone have equaled those produced by the entire United States. Following several recent intense outbreaks of fires, Indonesia is now on track to experience more fires this year than it did during the 2006 fire season, one of its worst on record.

Indonesia loses up to US$9b from timber clearing

Unreported forest clearing cost Indonesia up to $9 billion between 2003 and 2014 in lost timber royalties - about three times the royalties it actually received, an investigation by the country's main anti-graft agency showed on Friday. An eight-month investigation by the country's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) estimated the value of the lost timber at up to $81 billion, with the cleared land often used for growing crops or mining. A copy of its report, seen by Reuters and due to be handed to government ministers on Friday, will put further pressure on President Joko Widodo who has been criticised by green groups and other Southeast Asian nations on forestry policy and for failing to stop the annual "haze" problem from forest-burning. "Where does the money go - it goes to the corrupters," Dian Patria, group head of corruption prevention for natural resources at the KPK told Reuters. "It could be $9 billion, it could be more, because these are quite conservative figures.

Indonesia burns, but its government moves to increase forest destruction

Europe, particularly the Netherlands and United Kingdom, have become the biggest and strongest markets for Malaysian timber products in recent years as demand in other parts of the world weaken. As a result, this year should see 15 per cent to 20 per cent growth in "intake of timber products from Malaysia to Europe", said Malaysian Timber Council CEO Datuk Dr Abdul Rahim Nik. This he said, contrasts with the drop in sale of Malaysian timber products to the Middle East because of the drop in oil prices which has impacted economies in that region. Since August, forest and peatland fires have become so widespread across Indonesia that, in satellite images, the nation has looked like an over-lit Christmas tree.

NASA: Indonesian forest fires could become worst on record

Forest fires blanketing Southeast Asia in choking haze are on track to become among the worst on record, scientists warn, with a prolonged dry season hampering efforts to curb the crisis. Malaysia, Singapore and large expanses of Indonesia have suffered for weeks from acrid smoke billowing from fires on plantations and peatlands that are being illegally cleared by burning. The crisis grips the region nearly every year during the dry season, flaring diplomatic tensions among the neighbors as flights are grounded, schools close and pollution levels reach hazardous highs. But the current outbreak is one of the worst and longest-lasting in years, with an El Nino weather system making conditions drier than usual in Indonesia and keeping much-needed rain at bay. Scientists at NASA now warn this year’s outbreak is on a trajectory similar to 1997 -- widely regarded as the most serious haze event on record -- and could exceed those unprecedented levels. "Conditions in Singapore and southeastern Sumatra are tracking close to 1997," Robert Field, a Columbia University scientist based at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, was quoted as saying by the US science agency.
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Fire engulfs orangutan conservation site in East Kalimantan

Fire has engulfed at least 200 hectares of an area in a conservation center for orangutans in East Kalimantan – the second such blaze there in the past few months – but the endangered apes there remain safe for now Nico Hermanto, a communications officer with Borneo Orangutan Survival, which runs the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Reintroduction Center, said the fire began on Thursday afternoon and was extinguished by 1 a.m. on Friday, before flaring up again later in the day. He said this was the second fire incident at the site in the past few months, attributing both incidents to the unseasonably harsh dry season this year as a result of the El Niño weather phenomenon. “This is the second fire incident in Samboja Lestari. Previously only 30 hectares were burned, but now it has affected a larger swath of land – 200 hectares,” Nico said on Friday. “Fire is still burning in several spots – we’re having difficulties putting it out. There is potential that the fire will expand. We will keep working on extinguishing the fire.”

Forest Fires, Haze Crisis Returning to Sumatra With a Vengeance

Satellite imagery picked up more than 600 fire hot spots across Sumatra on Wednesday, with the provinces of Jambi, Riau and South Sumatra accounting for most of the sightings. Indonesia’s weather agency, the BMKG, detected 229 hot spots in Jambi, 189 in South Sumatra and 178 in Riau, fanning fears that a particularly acute dry season this year could result in a worse-than-usual haze threat from the annual forest fires that blight Sumatra.
“Sumatra is burning up,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Twitter on Wednesday in response to the BMKG’s report. He argued that the numbers indicated that the fire season in Sumatra this year would be worse than last year or in 2013, when choking haze from forest fires in Riau sent air pollution indexes in Singapore and Malaysia to record hazardous levels.
Source: Jakarta Globe

Indonesia wants to investigate illegal forest land use permits

The Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) started work last Friday to deal with the rampant illegal issuance of forest use permits by enlisting the help of three relevant ministries. KPK leaders on Friday held a meeting with Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya and Agrarian and Spatial Planning Minister Ferry Mursyidan Baldan to devise a strategy to deal with the issue. "The KPK asked us to come to map a number of areas of forests, including mining areas, in every city and regency [nationwide]. There has been a real problem of overlapping use of land.

Indonesia acts against timber, palm oil firms over haze

Indonesia has revoked the licence of a timber supplier and suspended the operations of three palm oil plantation operators over fires that have blanketed Southeast Asia in haze, an official said Tuesday. The illegal blazes in Indonesia have sent smog floating over the region in recent weeks, causing thousands to fall ill, worsening air quality and reducing visibility in the archipelago, as well as in neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia.
The fires, mostly started to clear land for palm oil and pulp and paper plantations on Sumatra and Borneo islands, are an annual occurrence. But President Joko Widodo has insisted this year that law-breakers will be punished.
The environment ministry on Monday decided to revoke the licence of Indonesian wood supplier Hutani Sola Lestari, based on the western island of Sumatra which is at the centre of the haze outbreak, ministry spokesman Eka W. Sugiri told AFP. AFP

Indonesia arrests seven company executives for illegal forest fires

Indonesian police nabbed seven corporate executives in connection with illegal forest fires across Sumatra and Kalimantan, as part of a wide-ranging effort to arrest the haze crisis. Suspects from the latest bust included a senior executive from Bumi Mekar Hijau, a unit of Singapore-based Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), which is also Indonesia's largest pulp and paper producer. The national impetus, revealed on Wednesday, includes deploying more police to help with firefighting and handling probes against culprits, and increasing cloud-seeding sorties to douse the blazes, especially those burning on dry peatlands.

Bogor Police Arrest 10 in Illegal Logging Operation

Police in Bogor have arrested 10 loggers over the illegal clearing of over a dozen pine trees at a national park in West Java. Adj. Comr. Hariyanto, chief of the Caringin Police, told reporters that officers had detained the loggers on Friday after receiving a tip from local residents. The loggers were found chopping down pine trees at Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park, a 150 kilometer conservatory area located between two volcanoes, following reports from local residents.
Hariyanto said they also confiscated 14 pine trees which had been felled, adding that the suspects were planning to sell the trees to buyers in Jakarta. "We have handed over the suspects to the Bogor Police for further investigation," said Hariyanto. Acha Sokoy, chief forest ranger at the national park, said they would boost security across the conservation zone after the incident. "We will coordinate with local residents and also the police so such an incident will not happen again," Acha says.
Source: Jakarta Globe

Trade Ministry: Indonesia won't budge on timber ban

The Indonesian government is keeping the country's doors closed on lumber exports to prevent illegal logging and ensure an adequate supply for the domestic wood processing industry, according to a Trade Ministry official.

More than 25 million Indonesians exposed to haze from forest fires

According to Indonesian officials more than 25 million people on Sumatra and Borneo islands are exposed to smog caused by forest and plantation fires. Six provinces on Sumatra and Borneo have declared haze emergencies and advised residents to stay indoors, said Tri Budiarto, emergency response deputy at the National Disaster Management Agency. Three aircraft and 13 helicopters had been deployed to the affected areas to seed rainclouds and drop water. The practice of open burning to clear land is illegal but is common in Indonesia. The government has warned that the El Nino weather phenomenon, which is expected to last until October, would result in an extended dry spell and more forest fires in Indonesia.

New tax incentives in Indonesia, timber sector included

The Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry aims to have 2 million ha. of industrial plantations established by 2019 but progress has been slow as few companies are prepared to invest. As of the end of June only 10-15 companies had shown an interest and submitted applications to the Ministry.
The Director General of Sustainable Production Forest Management in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Ida Bagus Putra Parthama, said the number of applications was far below expectations. The main reason cited for the poor response was the regulations banning plantation log exports. Ida said that the Ministry will consult with the Ministry of Trade to discuss a possible revision of the export ban.
Source: ITTO

Indonesia starts legal action against 4 companies linked to forest fires

Indonesia has ordered four companies to suspend operations for causing forest fires which have sent smoke across a swathe of Southeast Asia, an environment ministry official said on Tuesday. “These suspensions will be in effect until the criminal proceedings undertaken by the police are finished,” said secretary general at environment ministry Bambang Hendroyono. Three plantation companies have had their permits frozen and one forestry company has had its license revoked, he added. Reuters

Indonesia burns, but its government moves to increase forest destruction

Europe, particularly the Netherlands and United Kingdom, have become the biggest and strongest markets for Malaysian timber products in recent years as demand in other parts of the world weaken. As a result, this year should see 15 per cent to 20 per cent growth in "intake of timber products from Malaysia to Europe", said Malaysian Timber Council CEO Datuk Dr Abdul Rahim Nik. This he said, contrasts with the drop in sale of Malaysian timber products to the Middle East because of the drop in oil prices which has impacted economies in that region. Since August, forest and peatland fires have become so widespread across Indonesia that, in satellite images, the nation has looked like an over-lit Christmas tree.

Honey Hunters May Be to Blame for Central Java Forest Fire, Indonesian Minister Says

Honey-harvesting activities by local farmers could be behind a massive forest fire that has ravaged the forested slopes of Central Java’s Mount Lawu volcano since Saturday, officials say. Officials estimate that 70 hectares of forest have been burned down since the fire started, with firefighters still struggling to put out the blaze. “Forestry officials and local volunteers have been trying to contain the fire. Straddling the border between Central and East Java, the region around Lawu and the adjacent Mount Merbabu are prone to forest fires, particularly during the dry season.

Great green hopes for Indonesia

There is hope for Indonesia’s environment, at least according to the president’s special envoy on climate change, Rachmat Witoelar, who revealed this week the government’s bid to set a higher national emissions reduction target ahead of the UN climate change conference in Paris at the end of the year. No clear-cut number was mentioned, pending President Widodo’s approval, but Rachmat’s remarks raise hope that Indonesia, along with other nations, can establish a global emissions reduction target — the basis for a new legally binding climate change regime to replace the expired Kyoto Protocol.

Indonesia: rapid identification to eliminate protected timber exports

The head of Indonesia‟s Forest Products Research and Development Centre, Dwi Sudharto, said because global markets demand precise information on timber species used in various wood products, rapid and accurate wood identification tools are invaluable.
Wood products exported from Indonesia are accompanied by information on species used and auditors for timber legality certification are the first line of defense against illegal timber export.
To strengthen the capacity for quick and accurate identification wood types the Bogor Forest Products Research and Development Centre has an extensive xylarium (a collection of well-curated authenticated wood specimens) extending to over 34,000 specimens of timber species. This collection is said to be the third largest in the
world.

The Mount Leuser National Park Center and the Aceh Police signed a memorandum of understanding on stamping out illegal logging.

The Mount Leuser National Park (TNGL) Center and the Aceh Police signed on Friday a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on stamping out illegal logging, which continues to expand in the TNGL.The signing of the MoU was witnessed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Asia and Pacific regional director Shahbaz Khan, Director General of Environmental and Forestry Enforcement Istanto, as well as a number of officials from the Aceh Police and the TNGL Center.

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Malaysia

seven elephants die after getting stuck in mud pool

Seven endangered pygmy elephants died after being stuck in a mud pool for over a week near a Timber Camp in Rinukut, Tawau. Wildlife rangers managed to rescue the two of the nine, however, five were already dead when the team arrived, while two others had to be put down. Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the department had received a report on Sept 10 from people using the route. “When our team managed to reach the area, five (two adults, a juvenile and two newborns) of the nine trapped elephants were already dead as evidently they were stuck in that pool for at least a week prior,” he said. Two of the nine managed to be pulled out and eventually ran back into the forest, he said.

“Unfortunately the other two elephants were too weak, dehydrated and blind that they had to be euthanised to put them out of their misery,” he said.

Illegal wildlife trade via social media

Illegal wildlife traders in the Malaysia state of Sabah have turned to the social media such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to promote their activities. “They are carrying out illegal wildlife trade, selling various protected wildlife species including reptiles, birds and mammals mainly for pets,” said Sabah Wildlife Department director William Baya during a press conference at the SWD headquarters. “They carry out this trading through their closed network. However, among the thousands of their members, there are also thousands of wildlife sympathisers who alert and provide information to the Wildlife Department. “It is through these members that the department was able to arrest members of the group who were trying to sell protected animals,” he said. Among the wildlife species that were marketed via the social media domain were the honeybears, anteaters, wild cats and hornbills. William said for the last six months of this year, there had already been 23 recorded cases involving 35 individuals who were apprehended for various offences, including hunting, selling and transporting protected animals.

2,940 forest, bush fire outbreaks recorded in 10 days: Malaysia

The Malaysia Fire and Rescue Department (JBPM) recorded 2,940 forest and bush fire outbreaks in the first 10 days of this month. Its director-general, Datuk Wan Mohd Nor Ibrahim said the number showed an increase over the same period last year and he did not dismiss the El Neno phenomenon as a cause, besides human factors such as carrying out open burning. “Last year, 1,708 forest and bush fires were recorded in a month, but within 10 days (in April, this year), the number reached almost 3,000, which is rather high. “In March alone, 8,914 cases were reported nationwide,” he said after the launching of the Emergency Response Team (ERT). According to him, within the 10 days, Sabah recorded the highest number of cases at 457, followed by Johor (380), Perak (353) and Kedah (255). He said in 2014, there was a decline in the number of cases and most of the forest fire outbreaks only occurred around February until March.

Forest Certification for 12 forest timber licences in Sarawak by 2017

A total of 12 forest timber licences within the Heart of Borneo (HoB) areas are now progressing towards Forest Certification by 2017 as a result of a policy direction set by Chief Minister Adenan. According to state Forestry director Sapuan Ahmad, the chief minister’s policy on sustainable forest management is to ensure forest areas in the state are sustainably managed based on international standard and recognised by global communities. He added that the state government has developed a Project Implementation Framework (PIF) that will provide a broad guideline for Sarawak to realise HoB objectives. The PIF outlines five essential pillars; namely sustainable forest management, eco-tourism, sustainable agriculture, community-based/rural poverty eradication programme and conservation on biological diversity.

The Bornean Banteng will likely be Malaysia's next species to become extinct

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If conservation efforts are not stepped up, the Bornean Banteng, the cattle known for their “white socks” will likely be Malaysia’s next species to become extinct . According to Environment minister Masidi Manjun, it’s estimated (that) there are only 500 bantengs or wild buffalo left in the wild. The Banteng is sought for its meat and horns.

Global food giants drop Malaysian palm oil firm over bad environmental practices

Three major food companies have dropped their deals with Malaysian palm oil company IOI due to deforestation in the latter's plantations in Indonesia. According to Singapore’s Straits Times, Unilever, Mars, and Kellog's have all dropped IOI as their palm oil supplier after the firm was suspended from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) involving NGOs due to non compliance of rules. The suspension came about after a year-long investigation into complaints lodged against IOI regarding deforestation in its plantations in West Kalimantan. Unilever owns 400 brands, including Dove soap, Mars makes M&M's, while Kellog's is popular for its Kellog's Corn Flakes. The decision by the three firms is expected to hurt IOI's finances as palm oil revenue contributed to 80 per cent of the firm's income in 2014, the report said.

Labuan marine life unaffected by El Nino

The higher temperature of sea water due to the El Nino phenomenon has not affected turtle landings and the corals in Labuan marine parks, according to the Department of Marine Parks. Its Labuan director, Anuar Deraman, said the number of turtle landings for the first quarter of this year remained unchanged from the corresponding period last year. There were at least seven nests with a total of 1,556 eggs on one of the parks, he said.
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Injured tiger rescued in Perak

A tiger has been rescued from a trap set for wild boars in a plantation in Perak. The 17-year-old animal weighing about 200kg was injured in the legs, according to Tapah police chief ASP Noor Shahariman Ngah. A team of 25 people from the police, the Perak Department of Wildlife and National Parks, and the National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Sungkai set out to rescue the tiger. This is the second incident involving a tiger in the country in about two weeks. (Bernama)

Sabah using satellites to monitor hotspots

Sabah Forestry is using satellites to monitor hotspots daily as the state faces a two-month long dry spell with one of the lowest recorded rainfall. Historically, January and February have always been wet months for Sabah.

Logging Concessionaires Should Be Held Responsible To Replant Trees

The Association for the Protection of Natural Heritage of Malaysia (PEKA) has recommended that all logging concessionaires take the responsibility to replant trees which they have felled in an effort to conserve Malaysian forests. Its president said this was crucial in ensuring that the country's natural environment would be protected and preserved. "The trees felled must be replanted by the companies which had obtained the timber concessions.

The Malaysian state of Perlis issued a fatwa on environmental pollution

Concerned by the numerous environmental issues plaguing the country, the Perlis Fatwa Committee has come up with a fatwa (edict) on environmental pollution. Perlis mufti Datuk Dr Asri Zainul Abidin (pic) said the committee declared that any act that pollutes the environment and affects direct physical harm to humans, animals and plants is forbidden, except if there is a greater interest (maslahah) or in order to avoid a clear harm (mafsadah).

Malaysian timber sector stunned by government’s decision to increase levi on foreign workers

The Timber Association of Sarawak (STA) has expressed disappointment with the government’s decision on
the sudden increase in levies by 100% of foreign workers, had objected strongly with justifications to the policy of reducing the nation’s dependency on foreign workers using higher levies as a tool and hence the proposed levies increment.

The move, STA said, was clearly in contrary to the assurance put forward by the government to the industries through various consultations and the spirit of engagement with stakeholders.

With the current challenging economic conditions and rising cost of doing business caused by the minimum wage, higher energy costs, higher costs of raw materials inputs and lower sales revenue, not to mention the revised higher minimum wage due for implementation on July 1, 2016, STA said many businesses would suffer even more severely with this extra hike in levies.

Since the timber sector in Malaysia is highly dependent on the export markets, this sudden increase in the cost of doing business would certainly lead to increase in the prices of timber products and thus render our products being less competitive compared to similar products from our competitors such as Indonesia and Vietnam.”

WWF: Malaysia should do more to protect it’s wildlife

WWF-Malaysia has expressed its sadness regarding the recent news of a Malayan tiger which was killed after being hit by a vehicle traveling along the East Coast Expressway in Terengganu. Further inspection of … Read more

Scientists warn: don't underestimate impact of bauxite-mining on environment

While Kuantan may be seeing some improvement to its environment following the moratorium against bauxite mining, academics say the long-term damage may be much harder to fix.
United Nations University research fellow Prof Dr Jamal Hisham Hashim said unless the mining areas were rehabilitated, a temporary ban on bauxite mining would not be enough to fix things. He said rehabilitation meant measures like refilling mines and repairing damage to roads and neighbourhoods near mines.
“Rehabilitation isn’t likely, especially not by illegal miners. They can leave it to the land owners to clean up the mess,” he said, during a forum on sustainable bauxite mining at University Malaya.

Over 2,000ha of forest reserves in Kedah have been cleared illegally to make way for new agricultural areas

Forestry Department director Aman said among the areas which had undergone serious deforestation for illegal cultivation were Langkawi and Kubang Pasu, where land had been planted with rubber trees on a large scale. There are about 300,000ha of forest reserves in the state and if illegal land clearing is not curbed immediately, the forest reserves will be gone. He said the locals cleared and cultivated the forests in order to obtain permanent land titles from the state government after cultivating the land for some time. The Forestry department would propose to the state government to extend some form of compensation to the illegal settlers so that they would vacate the areas.
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About 80% of orang utan habitat are now protected, thanks to the Sabah Forestry Department

Sabah’s move to protect key orang utan habitats in the state’s east coast is paying off with a sharp decline in orphaned animals being sent to a rehabilitation centre in Sepilok.

Sabah Wildlife Department assistant director Dr Sen Nathan said only two orang utan were brought to the centre, about 30km from Sandakan, last year. In comparison, the centre received about 15 to 20 orang utan two or three decades ago. “This decline is mainly because as much as 80% of orang utan habitat are now protected, thanks to the efforts of the Forestry Department,” Sen added.
He said these areas included the Ulu Segama-Malua forest reserve, Dermakot as well as the Lower Kinabatangan wildlife sanctuary. Sen said that Sepilok and the adjoining 4,300ha Kabili forest reserve were home to dozens of the rehabilitated creatures that now had their own offspring. - The Star

MTCC Secures Award From PEFC

The Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) has received an award from the Programme for the Endorsement for Forest Certification (PEFC) for the third highest increase in the number of certified companies through Chain of Custody (CoC) certification in 2015.
The award was received during the PEFC General Assembly held recently, MTCC said in a statement today. Its Chief Executive Officer Yong Teng Koon said last year, MTCC registered 59 new CoC certificate holders representing a 21 per cent increase as compared to 2014. "The increase underlines MTCC's commitment to promoting responsible practices and the use of certified timber sourced from sustainably managed forests in Malaysia," he said.

PEFC is the world's largest forest certification scheme, with two-thirds of all certified forests globally certified to PEFC. By obtaining the CoC certification, Yong said, timber and timber-related companies not only help protect the forests but also gain better market position and positive brand image for their products as well as improved access to the global market.
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Malaysian bauxite scandal might even got more worse

The bauxite scandal in Malaysia might even got more worse as the Selangor government is now conducting tests on raw water from Pahang following fears of bauxite sediment pollution in rivers there.
Selangor is receiving raw water supply from Pahang through the Pahang-Selangor Raw Water Channelling Project (PPAMPS) to meet the needs of consumers until the completion of the Langat 2 water treatment plant in 2019.
Bauxite polluted water will contribute to ghastly health problems for Malaysians, including respiratory, neurological, and kidney disorders and damages.

Pahang coast at least three years badly affected by bauxite-mining disaster

According to Malaysian Society of Marine Sciences chairman Dr Harinder Rai Singh the contamination would be fatal to marine life. Harinder, who is advising the environment department on the marine ecology affected by the bauxite contamination in Kuantan, said the contamination would harm the breathing system of sea creatures. “It affects all forms of life, from the planktons to the top carnivores in the area, even the marine mammals,” said Harinder, who is also a marine expert at the Malaysia National Oceanographic Data Centre.

Three-month suspension on bauxite mining in Pahang imposed

A moratorium on bauxite mining in Pahang has been imposed and will start from Jan 15 for three months. Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said during this period bauxite stockpiles at the Kuantan port and 11 other areas would be cleared. Wan Junaidi said the stockpiles would be allowed to be exported during this time. To counter the problem of pollution and illegal mining the Government has made the decision to restrict the number of Approve Permits (AP). Wan Junaidi said APs will only be issued to companies and not individuals.

CHIEF MINISTER: BAUXITE-MINING DISASTER TO BE COMPARED TO ILLEGAL LOGGING IN SARAWAK

The environmental “disaster” Pahang is facing with bauxite mining bears similarity to what Sarawak faces with illegal logging, says Tan Sri Adenan Satem. The Chief Minister of Sarawak described Pahang’s bauxite and Cameron Highlands incidents as “disasters”, adding that greed, corruption, weak enforcement, and public apathy contributed to this.

In the Malaysian state of Kelantan, the flood situation is getting worse, but illegal logging still continues

The floods in Kampung Pasir Gajah, which forced hundreds of villagers to evacuate, did not stop a Forestry Department enforcement unit from entering a nearby forest reserve and seizing heavy machinery used by illegal loggers. The armed team members waded through chest-high floodwaters before reaching the Bukit Kambing forest reserve on Wednesday. They seized a four-wheel drive vehicle blocking the path into the illegal logging site and found an abandoned lorry, excavator and pile of logs.

Seven of the 17 primates in Malaysia face extinction

After the vanishing of the Sumatran Rhino in Malaysia, seven of the seventeen primates currently living in Malaysia facing the same fate. According to Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Malaysia director Dr Melvin Gumal said many primates were at risk from hunting and land clearing. Some gibbons, he said, were “territorial” and that it was not so simple for them to move when their trees were chopped down. “So when the land they’re on is converted, they lose out,” he said. He said while it was good for primates to have large protected areas to live in, enforcement was most important of all. “It’s one thing to say please do not hunt. It’s a different thing to be on the ground,” said Gumal. With this in mind, he said some, like orang utans, bred slowly, with each female giving birth to only three or four young in their lives. The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry previously said it would commit to retaining 50% of forest cover and ensure jungles were not fragmented. Dr Dionysius said it was good to have government policy on keeping forests here intact, but efforts must be taken to ensure there were animals, especially primates there.

Despite heavy mud flood last November at the Kuala Lumpur-Karak Highway, logging still being rampantly carried out in the Lentang Permanent Forest Reserve.

A non- government body claims logging, the main cause of mud flood at 52.4 km of the Kuala Lumpur-Karak Highway on Nov 11, is still being rampantly carried out in the Lentang Permanent Forest Reserve. According to the Association for the Protection of Natural Heritage of Malaysia has strong evidence that logging activities are becoming more serious. To prove this, Peka with several media agencies checked the areas involved, and the result was shocking when signs showed that intrusion into the forest was still taking place.

Sarawak to go big on eco-tourism

Sarawak government aims to further enhance its eco-tourism, making it an industry bigger than the timber business. Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem said serious initiatives must be taken to preserve the flora and fauna for the future generations and tourism sector.
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Mastermind behind illegal logging activities reveals allies' identities

The Terengganu Forestry Department is hot on the heels of three illegal loggers in Besut following the arrest of a mastermind active in the Pelagat forest reserve who revealed their identities after questioning. The mastermind, had been on the department’s wanted list for the past two years for illegal logging in the Gunung Tebu forest reserve.
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Sabah is sacrificing its forest revenue in order to save the forest

Sabah though may have lost substantial revenue from the forest and its resources, it has achieved many milestones in forest management and conservation. “Due to deliberate conservation measures and economic diversification, forest revenue today accounts for only four percent or less of the total state revenue,” Sabah Forestry Department Director Datuk Sam Mannan told Bernama.
However, he said, conservation measures caused high opportunity costs. For example, land with good palm oil potential in the Ulu Segama-Malua Sabah Forest Management (SFM) and Forest Stewardship Council (SFC) certified areas, demand a current market price of at least USD10,000 (RM42000) per hectare, excluding the timber resources on the land.

SCIENTIST: MALARIA HIGHLY-LINKED TO DEFORESTATION IN MALAYSIA

In a research published in the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal, scientists led by Kimberly Fornace of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said their analysis showed that changes in the way land is used is a key driver in the emergence of P knowlesi in people.

Deforestation in Malaysia and the changes it causes to the environment are highly likely to be to blame for a steep rise in human cases of a type of malaria usually found in monkeys. The mosquito-borne disease, known as Plasmodium knowlesi malaria, is common in forest-dwelling macaque monkeys and was only recently found for the first time in people, the scientists said in a study of the issue. Yet, with widespread deforestation alongside rapid oil palm and other agricultural expansion, the disease has now become the most common form of human malaria in many areas of Malaysia, they said, and has been reported across Southeast Asia.

Sarawak Timber companies expects sector to remain robust due to firm demand

The firm demand and strong US dollar are likely to keep Sarawak’s export log market buoyant next year. According to timber firm Subur Tiasa Holdings Bhd, timber consuming countries, especially India, is a steadily growing market for tropical logs, the prices of which are expected to be sustained going forward as supply of the timber remains tight.

Kelantan Forestry Department: No to corruption

Kelantan Forestry Department is uncompromising with any of its rangers or officers found involved in any wrongdoing, including corruption, as it will tarnish the image of the department.
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Life of Malaysian indigenous people being threatened by extensive logging

For centuries, the jungle and rivers have provided everything for the Temiar people, the orang asli (indigenous people of Peninsular Malaysia) who have always lived in this part of the country. But the modern world has come calling, and ecroaching into their space. Now, the Temiar’s very existence is under threat. Extensive logging, legal or otherwise, have stripped large tracts of jungle bare. Limat Belias, 35, from Kampung Sedal remembered a time where the jungle was virtually their supermarket. “Now, it’s difficult to find the animals which used to be plentiful, and also edible plants,” he said. Worse still, Limat said floods and landslides happen more often now.
These not only endanger their lives but leave orang asli villages which dot the hills surrounding Gua Musang isolated and cut-off from supplies such as fuel or non-traditional foods like cooking oil or noodles which they have now come to rely on. The supply of fish, which is a major source of protein for the Temiar, is also dwindling out due to river pollution, also a result of the logging. “It used to be very easy to get fish before the logging started. Now we get sick just by drinking the river water,” said Limat.
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Orangutans habitat disappearing

The orangutan is facing a serious threat of extinction if nothing is done to safeguard their habitat.
Malaysian Primatological Society (MPS) president Dr Mashhor Mansor said the primates, which were an endangered species, might go extinct by 2020 due to forest fires and poachers. “It defies logic to see efforts being done to counter the threat to pandas but none for the orangutan population, which should be our responsibility,” he said during the launch of the Post-Haze Orangutan Conservation Fund 2015 at Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Malaysian timber products get thumbs up

Timber certification is an effective tool in helping Malaysian timber and timber-related companies create a competitive market position for their products as well as improve market access and brand image. This was confirmed through the positive feedback from trade visitors and large retailers at the Malaysian Timber Certification Council’s (MTCC) participation in two major trade expos in Germany recently.
“The Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS) demonstrates not only that Malaysian tropical forests are managed sustainably, but that it also responds to the demand by international market for responsibly-sourced timber products. “Certification will create better market conditions for Malaysia’s timber-based products such as plywood, pulp and paper, furniture and others. “This ultimately will contribute to the economic growth of our country while safeguarding the nation’s precious forest resources,” said MTCC chief executive officer Yong Teng Koon.

Malaysia committed to stop forest loss, degradation

Malaysia is committed in maintaining at least 50 per cent of forest and tree cover in perpetuity through ‘zero net deforestation and degradation’; thus, halting net forest loss by deforestation and stopping net decline in forest quality. This would be achieved by reforestation and enrichment of degraded land to increase carbon sequestration and mitigate climate change effects, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Dato Sri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar in his speech for joint high-level segment of COP21/CMP11 in Paris, France on December 7.

Malaysian state of Perak issues order to stop the clearing of mangrove forest in Kuala Sepetang

The Perak government has issued a stop-work order on the clearing of a part of the mangrove forest in Kuala Sepetang pending an investigation.
Kuala Sepetang assemblyman Chua Yee Ling said she was informed by the state Tourism and Culture Committee about the development following her open letter to the Perak Mentri Besar. “I am relieved by the immediate response and look forward to the best solution on this matter. “Sadly, the plot of land already cleared will need 30 years for new mangrove trees to grow.

Malaysia and Indonesia to spend $5m each on joint palm council’s initial operations

Malaysia and Indonesia will invest $5 million each on the initial operations of a new joint palm oil body aimed among other things at stabilizing prices and managing stock levels. The council secretariat will be located in Jakarta and its membership will be extended to all oil palm cultivating countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Thailand, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Uganda.

15 to 20 per cent growth for Malaysian timber related exports to Europe

Europe, particularly the Netherlands and United Kingdom, have become the biggest and strongest markets for Malaysian timber products in recent years as demand in other parts of the world weaken. As a result, this year should see 15 per cent to 20 per cent growth in "intake of timber products from Malaysia to Europe", said Malaysian Timber Council CEO Datuk Dr Abdul Rahim Nik. This he said, contrasts with the drop in sale of Malaysian timber products to the Middle East because of the drop in oil prices which has impacted economies in that region.

After the vanishing of the Sumatran Rhino from the Malaysian jungles, now the Malayan Tiger faces extinction

After the shocking news that that Sumatran Rhino’s vanished from the Malaysian jungles, now the Malayan Tiger is facing extinction. Less than a year ago, information compiled from research conducted within three priority tiger sites in the peninsula indicated that we only have 250 to 340 tigers remaining in the wild. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) last month officially listed the Malayan tiger as “Critically Endangered” under the IUCN Red List for Threatened Species, meaning that it faces an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. This means that the Malayan tiger is just one step away from being “Extinct In The Wild”.

Sarawak Chief Minister welcomes international corruption bodies to Sarawak to check for illegal logging

Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Adenan Satem welcomes international anti-corruption bodies and forestry experts to his state to check on illegal logging. Rather than pointing fingers and making accusations, he said it was best if all parties could come forward and help solve the problem. Adenan, who took over from his predecessor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud over a year ago, said the state was looking for information from expert groups overseas who had data and information on illegal logging in Sarawak. "This information would be useful to us – come and tell us, we can work together," he said at the 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference 2015.

Sumatran Rhino vanished from the Malaysian jungles

Sumatran rhinoceroses are now considered extinct in the wild in Malaysia, says leading scientists and experts in rhino conservation. The experts urge conservation efforts in Indonesia to pick up the pace and pinpoint three actions: captive breeding, intensive management zones and the single population strategy as key conservation actions, but necessary reproductive technology for captive breeding may still take years to develop.
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1,000 illegal logs in Sarawak confisticated

Sarawak Marine Police Force has seized about 1,000 illegal logs in Sungai Sarawak Pakan. State Marine Police Region Five commander Assistant Commissioner Kalai Chelvan Nadarajan, in a statement said acting on a tip-off, the team - including one officer from the Sarawak Forest Department office, four marine police personnel and two police officers from the district police station conducted the checks at the logging area. He said initial checks revealed that the logs, which were found in different types and sizes, were believed to have been extracted illegally to be sold in the local market. “All of the logs of various types and sizes were confiscated and handed over to the Forestry Department in Sarikei for the next course of action.

IS SARAWAK REALLY COMBATTING ILLEGAL LOGGING??

During a workshop on Environmental Protection in Sarawak, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum said (that) so far no cases of illegal logging had been registered with the courts since Sarawak’s crackdown on illegal logging began last year. This bombshell is very much in contrast with earlier reports that under the Ops Gergaji 49 locations have been raided and more than 400 bank accounts has been frozen valueing about RM600 million. It looks like offenders are issued on-the-spot fines. To create more awareness on the the seriousness of illegal logging offenders should be brought to court instead. Judge Malanjum wants to review Sarawak’s enforcement system. Besides the working relationship between the courts, prosecuting officers and investigating officers must be improved.
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The Malayan Sun Bear needs help

The Malayan Sun Bear, so named due to the golden crescent patch of fun on its chest, is the smallest among the eight species of bears found worldwide. The Malayan Sun Bear can be found in Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia (in both Peninsular and Borneo).The Malayan Sun Bear can be found in Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia (in both Peninsular and Borneo). Globally, the population of the Malayan Sun Bear is suspected to have dwindled by 30% since the 1980s. The Malayan Sun Bear has lost much of its habitat due to forest conversion for urban development, monoculture plantations (rubber and oil palm), and other development. Aside from losing their habitat, the Malayan Sun Bear is also threatened by poaching for the illegal wildlife treade which sees this adorable animal killed for its bile, meat and bones. Although there are laws to protect the Malayan Sun Bear, the war against illegal poaching of this animal is still an uphill battle.

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Illegal logging, a phenomenon in Malaysia

According to a non-governmental organisation with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, Malaysia has an illegal logging rate of 35 per cent. Read more

Malaysian Timber Certification Council encourages wood-based industries to source materials from sustainably-managed forests

Wood-based products industries are encouraged to consider sourcing materials from sustainably-managed forests to ensure the forests' sustainability. In a statement the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) believed the nation's green economy could benefit further from a two-pronged strategy which included growing the demand for certified wood products locally and the export of certified tropical timber.
"This is where the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS) plays a vital role in linking the upstream and the downstream sectors through forest management certification and chain of custody certification respectively," according to MTTC Chief Executive Officer, Yong Teng Koon.
The MTCS is a country-driven initiative and a national commitment towards ensuring sustainable forest management. Since the implementation of MTCS in 2001, a total of 4.66 million hectares of forest areas and 349 timber companies have been certified. As at Apr 1, 2015, Malaysia has exported a cumulative total of over one million cubic metres of certified tropical timber to 47 destinations all over Asia-Pacific, West Asia, Europe, South Africa, US and Canada.

Sarawak wants to enhance its image, but it might be too late!

In order to enhance it’s image and reputation in the international market, Sarawak wants to enforce it’s improved Timber Legality Verification System (STLVS) immediately. The Sarawak Forest Department, Sarawak Forestry Corporation and Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation, under the auspices of the Ministry of Resource Planning and Environment, renewed their commitment by signing the Inter-Agency Standard Operating Procedure for Performance of Forestry Function in Sarawak for the STLVS. Read more

Sabah wants to become a key timber producer again

Sabah is set to become a key timber producer again in about five years but much of it will no longer come from the natural forests here. The state is expected to produce about five million cubic metres of timber annually. Almost all of it would come from tree plantations currently maturing, said Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan.
“We are aiming for an income of as much as RM500mil (RM2.16bil) per year once the harvesting from the tree plantations is in full swing.” He said the tree plantations mostly belonged to the state-owned Yayasan Sabah, producing quality timber of local tree species. Read more

In Malaysia, more forest is set aside for timber production than for conservation

Malaysia’s biodiversity is exceptional. but it’s in danger of losing its wild flora and fauna as the country continues to lose its forests. One of the country’s leading botanists, Dr Saw Leng Guan, warns that the future of Malaysia’s biodiversity is in peril as wild habitats are lost when forests are converted to other land uses. Data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature shows that 195 species of vertebrates in Malaysia are endangered. Already extinct are the Indian grey mongoose, Javan rhinoceros and banteng (wild jungle cattle). Some scientists recently declared the Sumatran rhinoceros to be extinct in the wild in Malaysia as only three captive individuals remain in Sabah.
As for plants, 421 species in Peninsular Malaysia are endangered. Four species are extinct: the Oreogrammitis crispatula fern, known only from Bukit Larut in Perak and last collected in 1952; the Oreogrammitis kunstleri fern from Gunung Ledang, last collected in 1880; Begonia eiromischa, known only from one site in Penang, now a farm; and hardwood tree Shorea kuantanensis, known only from Bukit Goh forest reserve near Kuantan, now an oil palm estate. Read more

Illegal logging remains rampant in Sarawak

24 September 2015
Despite its efforts to combat illegal logging, Sarawak’s journey to curb illegal logging is still a long and winding road, with many potholes to show for decades of destruction. Earlier this week Radio Free Sarawak announced that KTS, one of the big six timber companies in Sarawak, has been caught illegally logging outside their concession area and within the water catchment area, polluting the stream. The community has made their complaint to the Forest Department and a police report will follow.

Malaysia in bad light over rapid deforestation

The vanishing hills of Tanjung Bungah, Penang are among the many instances where nature is being sacrificed in the name of development. While open spaces and fields in Kuala Lumpur have been taken over for other activities for decades, illegal logging and excessive land clearing have continued in several parts of the country including Perak, Pahang, Kelantan, Sabah and Sarawak.
According to WWF-Malaysia, the lower Kinabatangan floodplains in Sabah have been reduced to scattered pieces while endangered animals such as elephants have lost their natural homes. Flooding has also intensified. Even the iconic Malayan tiger will soon be extinct following land-clearing and poaching.
The United Nations’ Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation website said Malaysia’s deforestation rate was accelerating faster than that of any other tropical country in the world. Between 1990 and 2010, Malaysia lost an average of 96,000ha or 0.43 per cent per year, or 8.6 per cent of its forest cover, or about 1,920,000ha in total. Apart from deforestation, the remaining forests face threats from unsustain-able logging, illegal removal of forest products and encroachment.

Sarawak timber firms unfazed by lower log output

17 September 2015
Sarawak timber companies’ logs production have taken a hit in the first half of this year following tightened measures by the state authorities to clamp down rampant illegal logging activities. Four public-listed timber firms, Jaya Tiasa Holdings Bhd, Subur Tiasa Holdings Bhd, Ta Ann Holdings Bhd and WTK Holdings Bhd, saw their log outputs fell between 12% and 25% during the period under review.Despite a drop in export sales, most of the companies earnings from timber have not been negatively impacted – thanks to the steep hike in log prices.
Tropical logs’ prices have soared in view of the prolonged tight supply situation as Sarawak’s annual production volume dwindled in recent years. The weakened ringgit against US dollar has spurred log exports.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission detained eight Kelantan Forestry Department officers linked to illegal logging

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has detained eight Kelantan Forestry Department officers and a senior officer with a state-linked company. They were among 11 people picked up as part of MACC’s investigations into illegal logging in the Ulu Sat forest reserve in Machang. Sources said this was the biggest arrest involving Kelantan government staff by the MACC. MACC is looking for another individual in connection with the case. “Ten suspects were detained for accepting money from the contractor, while the contractor was detained for giving the bribe.” The Forestry Department staff include forest rangers based in Machang, while the contractor was appointed by a state-owned company to cut logs in its concession area in Ulu Sat. The senior officer is believed to have received between RM70,000 and RM80,000 from the contractor, while the other nine accepted between RM700 and RM10,000 each. “The rangers accepted the money to allow the contractor to cut timber beyond the concession area. MACC has identified at least five areas where the contractor was believed to have carried out illegal logging,” said a source.

Timber-based Minho's Klang landbank lures interest

Timber stocks are not in vogue currently. But Minho (M) Bhd, primarily a manufacturer and exporter of timber products, has been generating a lot of investor interest for its land bank in Klang. The share price of the low-profile company has been moving up, gaining 83% year-todate, outperforming the stock market’s benchmark index, which is down over the same period. While the company’s mainstay is in timber products, what is more interesting is its 100 acres in Klang, mostly in the prime commercial area in Kapar. According to Minho’s annual report, at last revaluation, the 100-acre land is worth more than RM120mil. Notably, the group’s current market capitalisation is about RM160mil.
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Dead end for Malaysia - EU VPA ?

The first Malaysia - EU negotiations on a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) started back in 2006, but so far not much progress has been made. In order to ensure a legality assurance system for it's timber, Malaysia introduced it's own TLAS in 2013. However, the Malaysian Timber Legality Assurance System (MYTLAS) has several drawbacks, especially when the timber involved is not from sustainable resources. Where Indonesia has already signed a VPA and the Indonesian Timber exports to the EU are significant benefiting from the partnership, it’s incomprehensible that Malaysia can't get its act together. Continue reading

Sabah sacrificing forest revenue for sustainable future

15 September 2015
The government of Sabah has accepted the fact that Sabah’s forest revenue has to be reduced to give way for sustainable forest management (SFM) for a sustainable future. According to the director of Sabah Forestry Department, Datuk Sam Mannan, Sabah’s forest revenue last year was only three per cent of the revenue in 1979, which was RM1.1 billion (equivalent to RM5.8 billion today) and dropped to RM175 million last year. “The Sabah Forestry Department began SFM in 1989 with the assistance from a German agency. Besides the tough task of getting the industry to change its mindset on what constitutes ‘sustainability’, we also had to inform the state government of Sabah that the revenue from the forestry sector was going to decline after the implementation of SFM. According to Datuk Mannan Sabah has doubled its Totally Protected Areas (TPA) from 800,000 hectares to 1.55 million hectares or about 21 percent of Sabah since the establishment of Heart of Borneo (HOB) in 2007.

Sabah’ commitment to Sustainable Forest Management

The Sabah Forestry Department is taking all the necessary measures to increase its acreage of protected forests to 2.2 million hectares (ha), or 30 per cent of the state's land area, by 2025, said its Director Datuk Sam Mannan. As of today, about 1.5 million ha have been gazetted as Totally Protected Areas (TPA), he said, adding that the department hoped to gazette about 200,000 ha of forests a year in order to reach its target.

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Terengganu authorities are fighting a losing battle against illegal loggers

It looks like the authorities in the Malaysian state of Terengganu are fighting a losing battle against illegal loggers, who are not only causing widespread damage to the environment, but also threatening rice output by padi farms here. Illegal logging has been detected at eco-sensitive water catchment areas in the Pelagat and Gunung Tebu forest reserves, which are essential to fill the Paya Peda Dam in Hulu Besut. Water from the dam is used to irrigate 10,000ha of padi fields. The dam was recently completed at a cost of RM349 million and can store 168 million cubic metres of water. However, illegal logging could cause the dam to be filled with sediment, thus, making it shallower. “The problem is going to start when the dry spell arrives. The dam might dry up, and when it rains, it might not be able to contain excess water because it has become shallow,” said Terengganu Forestry Department director Azmi Nordin, adding that he feared the consequences of illegal logging in catchment areas.

Sarawak’ timber export down 12.3 pct in first half

The Sarawak’ export of timber products has decreased by 12.3 per cent in the first half (January to June) of this year compared to the same period last year. According to Second Minister of Resource Planning and Environment Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, RM3.2 billion was recorded in the first half compared to RM3.6 billion in the corresponding period last year. “In general, timber products suffered from weak demands this year,” he said at Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation’s (STIDC) Raya celebration.

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Selangor state government to allow Expressway to cut through protected forest reserve

The Selangor state government approved to cut an Expressway through the Ampang Forest Reserve - a water catchment forest and part of the Selangor State Park, which is a protected area which is moreover the only state park in Selangor. The Expressway will cause fragmentation to the last remaining contiguous forest in Selangor. This in essence, not in tandem with the Central Forest Spine initiative – an initiative to safeguard contiguous forests in Peninsular Malaysia and create ecological linkages where forests have been fragmented. Millions of ringgits are needed to create or enhance ecological linkages where forests have been fragmented due to roads and other developments, as such not allowing fragmentation to occur makes economic sense in the long run. Traffic jams were cited as the reason for approval but in WWF-Malaysia’s opinion, allowing a highway to cut through water catchment forests is definitely not the solution to ease traffic jams.

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Peru

Peru: Forestry production to boost national economy

Peru shelters between 10 and 12 million hectares of Amazon forest needed to bolster the national economy through a new forestry engine created under the framework of the National Plan for Productive Diversification (PNDP), Production Minister Piero Ghezzi announced. Currently, less than 2 million hectares are used in Peru. However, he stressed the availability of fine wood ready for commercial purposes. Ghezzi highlighted the current administration managed to "invigorate" the sector by taking several measures contained in the PNDP. Among actions, authorizing the Development Finance Corporation (Cofide) to rely on a S/200 million fund to execute projects and develop the national forestry industry in Peru was mentioned.
Another measure is related to the construction of a modern Technological Innovation Center (Cite) in rainforest city of Pucallpa (Ucayali region). The said project will entail an investment worth S/85 million (about US$25.15 million).

New frog species found in Peru

A new frog species has been recorded by scientists in the Megantoni Sanctuary, on the edge of the Manu National Park. The land frog belongs to the Bryophryne genus, and was found during a routine biological survey by national park service guards and scientists from the natural history museum of the San Agustin University of Arequipa. The scientists first reported the find to the scientific community in July this year. The frog’s features include olive green bumps as well as red and orange marks on its skin, it does not have a visible tympanum or hearing organ, and its feet are not webbed. Its habitat, like that of the other eight Bryophryne species, is the mossy montane cloud forest on the eastern slopes of the Andes, around 3,500 meters above sea level (some 11,500 ft). Last month, the Executive issued a law through the Ministry of the Environment, D.S.010-2015-Minam, to foster scientific investigation in protected natural areas, simplifying paperwork and permits to help researchers build up scientific information in the 76 protected areas in the country.

Peru dismissed its top anti-illegal logging official

Peru has dismissed its top anti-illegal logging official, Rolanda Navarro, despite claims that he was doing too good a job at breaking up the organized crime groups profiting from ravaging the country’s vast Amazon rainforest. “By sacking this highly valuable public officer, President Humala of Peru seems to be trying to send a message to all the other public servants to not attempt to stop the illegal logging mafia,” Julia Urrunaga, Peru Director at the Environmental Investigation Agency, (EIA) said in a statement.
According to the EIA, some 80 percent of Peru’s timber exports come from illegally logged wood, including trees felled inside national parks and indigenous reserves. It is then “laundered” to give it the necessary papers to make it appear legitimate. Navarro had been scoring some notable successes recently, including what has been reported to be the largest seizure of illegal timber in Peruvian history. Last November, his name was prominently displayed on a symbolic coffin at a protest organized by logging supporters — a sure sign that the clandestine industry had been feeling the squeeze from Navarro and his OSINFOR agents. Now, those same demonstrators may be toasting a return to the days when they were able to ransack rare species from the Amazon.

Drones Used To Document Illegal Logging In The Amazon

The Amazon Basin Conservation Association in Peru is using drones to help keep an eye on the Amazon rainforest as well as to document any illegal logging activities that are going on in the area.
Vietnam

Significant ivory seizure in Vietnam

In the midst of the 17th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES CoP17), more than 300 kg of ivory has been seized in Vietnam. The seizure, originating from Nigeria, was made at Noi Bai International Airport, Hanoi, yesterday and comprised 309 kg of elephant ivory falsely declared as glass. The seizure follows one made in March 2016, when Customs officials at Noi Bai Airport seized 238 kg of ivory and 248 kg of pangolins scales also arriving by air from Nigeria. “The authorities in Vietnam are to be commended for making this important seizure which in some ways exemplifies why we are here at CITES,” said Dr Chris R. Shepherd, Regional Director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia.

Vietnam: fisheries exports certification to be expanded nationwide

Certification for fisheries exports to Korea and China will be expanded nationwide starting next month under the National Single Window (NSW), the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development announced. Issuance of export certificates for fisheries products has been under pilot implementation since May 16 for several companies exporting to Korea and China in the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department’s (Nafidad) branches 4, 5 and 6. This is one of the efforts by the Nafidad to improve one-stop access to the ministry’s services.

Forest fires threatens several areas in Vietnam

Prolonged dry weather has put many parts of Việt Nam at a risk of forest fires, the Forest Protection Department warned. On Monday, the department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development asked provinces and cities to tighten inspections and supervision on forest fire fighting and prevention. The department also named 16 localities across the country at highest risk of forest fires.

Another endangered gaur found dead in protected southern Vietnam forest

Dong Nai park rangers are investigating the death of a wild gaur (Bos gaurus), the world’s largest bovine, the second such death at the Dong Nai Culture and Nature Reserve in two weeks. Le Viet Dung, deputy head of the Dong Nai Forest Protection Agency, said park rangers had seen the animal grazing in the Ma Da Forest on March 13. But they found its carcass body Monday while patrolling the area. Dung said they found three small wounds in the shoulder and belly of the male gaur, which was aged around 10 and weighed 800kg. “The gaur’s body parts were intact.” Park rangers are working with the local police and animal health agency to identify the cause of death. On February 28 rangers had found the head and skeleton of a female gaur weighing around 200 kg, also in Ma Da Forest.

Vietnam: wildlife trafficking poses risks to public health

Wildlife trafficking in Vietnam and the high demand for exotic meat, jewelry, medicine and even pets is a threat not only to bio-diversity, but also to public health, according to environment experts. Experts said the illegal trade of products, which has both domestic and international origins, increases the risk of spreading diseases because trafficked animals are not quarantined. According to the Forest Protection Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, about 5,400 violations related to wildlife management and protection were reported across the country over the last five years. Nearly 60,000 endangered wildlife species were seized. (VNS)

EU and Vietnam expect to sign FLEGT-VPA by end 2016

The EU and Vietnam reached important agreements during their fifth round of negotiations on the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade. According to Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan, the talks on January 21 and 22 focused on putting in place a management system to ensure the legality of Vietnamese timber, especially the legal origin of imported wood.
The VPA on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade aims to ensure that all Vietnamese wood products exported to EU countries are of legal origin. Once in effect, the agreement is expected to boost Viet Nam’s wood processing and export industry, allowing for sustainable growth and market expansion.
In a joint announcement released after the meeting, the two sides highlighted that efforts will be made to conclude the negotiations by the end of 2016. The result of the fifth round of talks is important to the free trade agreement between Viet Nam and the EU, particularly in terms of protecting the environment and bio-diversity. The EU, which makes up about one-fourth of world consumption, is now the fourth largest importer of Viet Nam’s timber and wood products, after the US, Japan and China. In the first eight months of 2015, Viet Nam’s timber and wood product exports to the EU brought in VND9,900,800 million, while its timber imports from the bloc was VND2,486,400 million.

Two Vietnamese men fined for smuggling rosewood

The southern Vietnam province Tay Ninh fined two local men VND45 million (US$2,000) each for smuggling more than 1.3 tonnes of rosewood. A 26-year-old driver and a 43-year-old truck owner from Tan Chau District were found to be carrying 270 pieces of rosewood from Cambodia to the district in a truck on Sunday. They told the police they were to deliver the timber to a local man who, however, denied he was going to receive the timber and, hence, was not be fined. The timber, worth VND300 million ($13,300), and the truck, worth VND180 million ($8,000), would be added to local public property. Drivers are usually paid about VND3 million ($133) per trip to transport smuggled timber from Cambodia to HCM City.

Vietnamese police raid timber warehouses near Cambodia border

Hundreds of police officers and forest rangers raided large timber warehouses, including illegal ones, in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai on Wednesday, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported. The officers on police trucks came into the warehouses and then blocked entry while they inspected the timber. Most of the warehouses served as destinations for hundreds of cubic meters of timber transported from border areas near Cambodia. Gia Lai’s police and forest protection authorities said they were ordered by the Ministry of Public Security to join the raid just minutes before it happened. Vietnamese police raid timber warehouses near Cambodia border

Dispite Lao Government ban on timber exports truck loads of logs to Vietnam

Laos has continued to transport logs from its forests to Vietnam, despite a government ban on timber exports that took effect in August and a leaked report by an international environmental group two months ago, revealing huge increases in illegal logging with the implication of government collusion.
The Lao government issued a decree on August 8 2015 prohibiting the export of logs and mandating that timber must be processed in Laos before it is exported to foreign countries. Previously, the government had banned the export of logs but exceptions were allowed only when it approved them. But an official from the Lao Government Office who now works in Savannakhet city told RFA’s Lao Service that he saw dozens of trucks in the province transporting timber to Vietnam last December 15. News of the activities in Savannakhet comes just two months after a report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) cited massive and systematic corruption and poor governance of logging activities in the country’s four southernmost provinces from November 2012 to May 2015. The report, marked as a “final draft for internal use only,” came about from a project agreement with the Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. RFA

EU Now Vietnam's Fourth Biggest Timber, Wood Product Buyer

The European Union (EU), which makes up about one fourth of the world consumption, is now the fourth largest importer of Vietnam's timber and wood products after US, Japan and China, Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported.
Nguyen Ton Quyen, Vice President of the Vietnam Timber and Forest Products Association (VIFORES), made the statement at a workshop on Vietnam-EU trade in timber and wood products in Hanoi. The event was jointly held by VIFORES, the Forest Products Association of Binh Dinh (FPA Binh Dinh), the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of Ho Chi Minh City (HAWA) and US-based non-profit Forest Trends.

The EU is the second largest buyer of Vietnam in terms of wood furniture listed under HS codes 94, mostly importing wooden seats, outdoor furniture, and furniture for office and bedrooms from the partner. The three main European destinations for Vietnam's wood product are the UK, Germany and France, together accounting for two thirds of the exporter's timber and wood product sales in the EU. The EU is also one of Vietnam's key timber suppliers. Last year, the bloc shipped to Vietnam US$172 million worth of timber, or one fourth of Vietnam's exports. Vietnam is negotiating a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU within the framework of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). Once the agreement is signed, the Vietnamese Government will put forth closer mechanisms to ensure the legality of the country's wood products exported to the EU.

Vietnam loses forests to illegal loggers

The Northern Vietnam province of Dien Bien has lost 22,000ha of forest because of illegal logging, and the loss is expected to increase as forest rangers admit they cannot stop illegal logging. Figures indicate that forest areas in the province's Muong Nhe District has fallen to 72,000ha as of December last year, from 88,000ha in 2010, which means a total of 16,000ha has lost their forests. The illegal logging has taken place in most areas having forests throughout the district, including Lenh Su Sin, Huoi Phi Nhat and Muong Nhe communes. At Lenh Su Sin Commune, trees have been replaced with barren hills on an area of 3,000 hectares.

Vietnam and EU agree on timber export regulations

Vietnam and the European Union have agreed that the Timber Legality Assurance System of Vietnam (VNTLAS) will be applied to wood and wood products exported to the EU, and also to other countries, as well as the domestic market. The two sides reached agreement during their sixth session negotiating the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT), said Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hà Công Tuấn at a press conference in Hanoi. Tuấn stated that during this sixth session, Vietnam and the EU also reached a consensus on applying the FLEGT licensing mechanism to timber exported to the EU. The two sides entered into negotiations on FLEGT-VPA in October 2010. All FLEGT-licensed timber and timber products from Vietnam will be considered legal and, as such, not subject to the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation. The EU, which is responsible for about one-fourth of world timber consumption, is now the fourth largest importer of Vietnam’s timber and wood products, after the US, Japan and China.
World

Global supply chains still tainted with illegal palm oil

An Eyes on the Forest report demonstrates how crude palm oil tainted by illegally grown palm fruit from government-protected areas in some of the last remaining habitats of critically endangered Sumatran tigers, elephants, and orangutans entered the supply chains of several of the most well-known palm oil suppliers in the world: Wilmar, Golden-Agri Resources, Royal Golden Eagle and Musim Mas. “We are disappointed that despite their corporate commitments to stop deforestation, none of these groups has barred legally questionable oil from their supply chains,” said Nursamsu, Deforestation Monitoring and Advocacy Manager of WWF-Indonesia. “In an environment where there is widespread illegally grown oil palm, increasing numbers of dealers and increasing numbers of independent mills without their own plantations, buyers need to focus on tracing all palm oil supplies all the way to the plantation level.”

World Bank unveils aid plan to fight climate change

The World Bank announced its plan to help developing countries add 30 gigawatts of renewable energy to the world's energy capacity and to mobilise US$25 billion in private financing for clean energy by 2020, China's Xinhua news agency reported. The Climate Change Action Plan, released by the Washington-based lender is designed to help countries meet their Paris COP21 pledges and manage increasing climate impacts.
Under the plan, the World Bank will quadruple funding for climate-resilient transport, integrate climate into urban planning through the Global Platform for Sustainable Cities, and boost assistance for sustainable forest and fisheries management.

Wildlife poachers are prowling one of the oldest rainforests in the world

Wildlife poachers are evidently prowling the Royal Belum State Park, one of the oldest rainforests in the world dating back over 130 million years that is home to 14 of the world's most threatened mammals. Recovered wire snares provide evidence of the intention of these poachers, suspected to be foreigners, to trap large mammals such as the tiger, bear, deer, seladang and tapir, according to the Perak Department of Wildlife Protection and National Parks. Its director, Rozidan Md Yasin, said four wire snares were found in the Sungai Dadek area of the park near Gerik in an anti-poaching operation mounted by the department over three days from March 7. The Royal Belum State Park is home endangered species such as the Malayan Tiger, white-handed Gibbon, Asiatic Elephant, Malayan Sunbear, Sumatran Rhinoceros and Malayan Tapir.
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German environmental group announces support to Yaguas Reserved Zone in Peru

A team from the Frankfurt Zoological Society is in Yaguas —a reserved zone in Loreto region— looking to provide support for management actions since September last year.
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Canada Just Protected A Rainforest Twice The Size Of Belgium

Environmentalists are hailing the Canadian government's landmark deal to protect 85 percent of the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia from logging and development -- an area more than twice the size of Belgium.

The agreement, struck in partnership with First Nations and logging companies, permanently protects a vast swath of the largest coastal temperate rainforest on Earth. Commercial logging will be permitted in 15 percent of the region, but under a sustainable plan that won't remove more wood from the area than the ecosystem can withstand.

"This is huge, the fact that this isn't just a conservation agreement, that we've integrated the concept of an economy that can sustain itself within an ecosystem,"said Valerie Langer, a director at ForestEthics, one of the leading environmental groups behind the deal. "Our goal was to [figure out] how we were going to shift our economy so we don't destroy what we live in." - The Huffington Post

Peru dismissed its top anti-illegal logging official

Peru has dismissed its top anti-illegal logging official, Rolanda Navarro, despite claims that he was doing too good a job at breaking up the organized crime groups profiting from ravaging the country’s vast Amazon rainforest. “By sacking this highly valuable public officer, President Humala of Peru seems to be trying to send a message to all the other public servants to not attempt to stop the illegal logging mafia,” Julia Urrunaga, Peru Director at the Environmental Investigation Agency, (EIA) said in a statement.
According to the EIA, some 80 percent of Peru’s timber exports come from illegally logged wood, including trees felled inside national parks and indigenous reserves. It is then “laundered” to give it the necessary papers to make it appear legitimate. Navarro had been scoring some notable successes recently, including what has been reported to be the largest seizure of illegal timber in Peruvian history. Last November, his name was prominently displayed on a symbolic coffin at a protest organized by logging supporters — a sure sign that the clandestine industry had been feeling the squeeze from Navarro and his OSINFOR agents. Now, those same demonstrators may be toasting a return to the days when they were able to ransack rare species from the Amazon.

Drones Used To Document Illegal Logging In The Amazon

The Amazon Basin Conservation Association in Peru is using drones to help keep an eye on the Amazon rainforest as well as to document any illegal logging activities that are going on in the area.
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USA

California’s Drought Is Stressing Out Nearly a Billion Trees

The drought in California has killed off as many as 12.5 million trees, and according to new research, it’s stressing out nearly a billion more. In a new study, scientists looked at how the Golden State’s forests have responded to minuscule rainfall, high temperatures, and beetle infestations over the past four years. But instead of focusing on how many trees have died, Greg Asner, a global ecologist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, used a high-resolution mapping platform and laser-guided spectrographic imagery from airborne surveys to get a better understanding of how the entire forest was reacting to the drought.
Romania

Romania classifies illegal logging as a threat to national security

Romania has toughened its legislation in order to protect its natural resources by defining illegal logging - but also any action “which endangers the country’s water, forests and land” as a threat to national security. The law, which was adopted late last year by parliament, was signed into force on Monday by President Klaus Iohannis.

Illegal logging has been affecting Romania for years, but the problem became so bad that thousands of people took to the streets in protest last May, forcing the government to declare a national emergency. As a result, the Forest Law was changed, increasing penalties for illegally chopping down trees five-fold. Romania is more affected by illegal logging than any other country in Europe. Some 80 million cubic metres of wood have been illegally chopped down over the past 20 years, resulting in a loss of five billion euro to the country, according to official data. A report released in April 2015 by the US branch of the Environmental Investigation Agency said that even the biggest wood product companies were involved in illegal logging.

EU aims to crack down on unsustainable palm oil and illegal logging

In the next five years, the major European players, including Germany, want palm oil production to become 100% sustainable and to see an end to illegal logging. EurActiv Germany reports. It's no secret: European companies regularly violate the rights of thousands of people in developing and emerging countries. Whether through the exploitation of tin mines in the Republic of Congo or atrocious working conditions in Bangladeshi textile factories. Over the next six months, the Dutch government wants to use its presidency of the European Council to apply a "Fairtrade cure" to the global supply chain and to show that it is serious about the new UN development goals. A crucial first step was taken on Monday (7 December), at a conference on sustainable supply chains in Amsterdam.
In a joint statement, Denmark, Germany, France, the Netherlands and the UK announced that they would seek to make palm oil production 100% sustainable by 2020. In addition, they announced that they would seek an end to illegal deforestation by private companies by 2020 as well. "We've seen the devastating forest fires that have hit Indonesia. Unfortunately, this is not the first case. There are too many land conflicts and social tragedies in South-East Asia as a result of illegal logging. We have to fear a repetition of these tragedies in Africa, which is the 'new frontier' of palm oil overexploitation. We cannot sit on the fence on this issue," explained the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen.

Tropics in Trouble: New data reveals forest clearing hotspots

Tropical countries alone lost nearly 10 million hectares (25 million acres) of tree cover in 2014, an area about the size of South Korea. And tree cover loss in the tropics is accelerating. Those following tropical deforestation tend to focus on two countries, Brazil and Indonesia, and for good reason, as the two countries contain some of the world’s most extensive tropical forests. However, Brazil has reduced deforestation in the Amazon by 70 percent over the last decade, and is widely considered a success story in forest conservation. Indonesia recently extended a moratorium to prevent future licensing of forest clearing in some of the country’s richest forests.
In 2014, however, we see an uptick in tree cover loss in both countries. Observers have suggested that Brazil’s increase could be due to changes in commodity prices and legislation. In Indonesia, the latest data is disappointing following the drop in tree cover loss in 2013, but loss remains well below the rates seen in 2012. (Read more about these stories in our forthcoming blog on September 3.) Increasingly, however, Brazil and Indonesia alone do not paint the whole picture. More than 62 percent of tropical loss in 2014 occurred in countries outside of Brazil and Indonesia, compared to 47 percent back in 2001.

The future of tropical forests

As of today, less than 25 per cent of tropical forests have escaped industrial logging and each year new concessions are given to industrial loggers in forests that had hitherto never been logged. While parts of the forest remain following logging, truly intact tropical forests may soon become a thing of the past. Logging pushes roads into the forest. It’s estimated that an astonishing 25m kilometres of road will be built in the tropics by 2050. Roads begin to isolate fragments of forest, and some ground-dwelling specialist species fail to cross even small openings. By the end of the century, the world’s remaining tropical forests will be left in a fragmented, simplified, and degraded state. No patch will remain untouched – most remnants will be overrun by species that disperse well, which often means “weedy” plants like fast-growing pioneer trees and small rodents that thrive in disturbed areas. Most of the rest will be “the living dead” – tiny remnant populations of plants and animals hanging on with no future. Read full story.

Tropical forests almost the size of India set to be axed by 2050

Tropical forests covering an area nearly the size of India are set to be destroyed in the next 35 years, a faster rate of deforestation than previously thought, a study warned. The Washington-based Center for Global Development, using satellite imagery and data from 100 countries, predicted 289 million hectares (714 million acres) of tropical forests would be felled by 2050. The results will have dangerous implications for accelerating climate change, the center's study said.
Deforestation contributes to climate change as forests store carbon while acting as a filter taking the heat-trapping carbon dioxide gas out of the atmosphere. The biggest driver of tropical deforestation by far is industrial agriculture to produce globally-traded commodities, including soy and palm oil.
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

Number of trees halved to 3 trillion in the world

There are just 3.04 trillion trees in the world, data from the first spatially continuous map of forest tree density suggests. The estimate of the ratio of trees per person is 422:1. Though 3.04 trillion trees is an “order of magnitude higher” than previous estimate, the number of trees cut down each year is a staggering 15.3 billion and the global forest cover loss is approximately 192,000 sq. km per year. As a result, the global number of trees has reduced by as much as 46 per cent since the start of human civilisation. These are some of the results of a study published today in the journal Nature. As per the study, a tree is defined as a “plant with woody stems larger than 10 cm diameter at breast height.” Of the 3.04 trillion trees in the world, the tropical and subtropical forests have the highest number of trees at approximately 1.39 trillion (nearly 43 per cent), followed by boreal regions (0.74 trillion trees accounting for 24.2 per cent) and finally the temperate regions at 0.61 trillion trees (21.8 per cent). While the tropical forests have the highest number of trees, they have also witnessed the highest rate of tree loss.

World deforestation slows down as more forests are better managed

The world's forests continue to shrink as populations increase and forest land is converted to agriculture and other uses, but over the past 25 years the rate of net global deforestation has slowed down by more than 50 percent. Some 129 million hectares of forest - an area almost equivalent in size to South Africa - have been lost since 1990, according to FAO's most comprehensive forest review to date, The Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015.
It noted however, that an increasing amount of forest areas have come under protection while more countries are improving forest management. This is often done through legislation and includes the measuring and monitoring of forest resources and a greater involvement of local communities in planning and in developing policies. The FAO study covers 234 countries and territories and was presented during the World Forestry Congress in Durban, South Africa.

Tree loss slows, but covers area twice size of Portugal in 2014

The rate at which trees were cut down slowed globally for a third year in a row in 2014, but tree loss still covered an area twice the size of Portugal, an environmental research group said. Losses also accelerated in some previously overlooked regions as land was cleared to grow rubber, soy or palm oil, or for beef production, according to U.S.-based think-tank World Resources Institute (WRI). The world lost 18.8 million hectares (46 million acres) of tree cover in 2014, down from 20.64 million hectares in 2013 and 23.53 million hectares in 2012, according to satellite data obtained by the University of Maryland and Google and published by the WRI.Countries with the fastest acceleration of tree cover loss were Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Madagascar, Uruguay, Paraguay, Liberia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Vietnam and Malaysia.
Source: Reuters, Reporting by Michael Taylor

FERN Annual Report 2014

In March 2015 Fern entered its third decade of campaigning for an EU that protects rather than destroys forests, and which respects rather than ignores the rights of those who depend on them. This annual report outlines the key events of our year April 2014 to March 2015 but also marks some of the highlights of our 20 years of campaigning.

To download report click here
More information: www.fern.org

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