The Norwegian parliament voted to make Norway the world's first country to ban its biofuel industry from importing deforestation-linked palm oil starting in 2020. A 2017 report by Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN) showed palm oil-based biofuels have a more detrimental effect on climate change than using fossil fuels. The resolution calls on the government "to formulate a comprehensive proposal for policies and taxes in the biofuels policy in order to exclude biofuels with high deforestation risk."
On January 1, 2018, the Chinese government implemented a new environmental tax policy, effectively ending the pollutant discharge fee that had been in effect for the past 40 years. The Environmental Protection Tax marks the beginning of a slew of new policies aimed at getting China’s pollution under control and will undoubtedly affect businesses, especially manufacturing firms.
Latin American countries, regions and cities demonstrated clear ambition and leadership at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23) held in Bonn, Germany. Mexico and Costa Rica joined 23 other countries in signing on to a new global coalition committed to phasing out coal and supporting clean power policies and investments, while restricting financing for coal plants. Buenos Aires, Caracas, Mexico City, Quito, Rio de Janeiro, and Santiago de Chile were among 25 global cities that committed to develop and implement more ambitious climate action plans before 2020.
During a high-level session at World Water Week in Stockholm, H&M group and WWF announced a new initiative to help Turkey tackle its water challenges, particularly pollution, and ensure sustainable, clean water supplies for businesses, people and nature. The project will focus on improving water management methods and policies in in the Büyük Menderes river basin, which is home to large-scale agriculture and industry, including textile operations, as well as rich biodiversity.
Gender inequality is still widespread in the forestry industry and existing roles for women are poorly supported by current forestry policy. The current issues for gender equality are the widespread misconceptions that forestry work is too physical or the environment is too dangerous for women to work in, and also a significant lack of gender-balanced and women-friendly policies in developing countries. Learning from developed countries where affirmative action in offering education, training, and childcare to working women is a suggested way to bring gender equality to forestry. Recently, FSC released a Guidance Document on Promoting Gender Equality in National Forest Stewardship Standards.
A new report published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s State of the World’s Forests suggests that improving co-operation between nations’ farming and forestry sectors will help to reduce deforestation and improve food security. The report shows that in more than 20 countries the increasing forest cover and food security can happen at the same time, and among those countries the common features are secure land tenure and effective land-use planning. As thus, the coordinated policies between forestry and agriculture are essential, which are lack in many countries actually.
A new research published by the journal Conservation Letters studies the industrial palm oil plantations and regional greenhouse gas emissions levels. The paper summarizes the results of a case study focused on an oil palm operation in Gabon, and suggests that tropical African countries could largely offset the emissions created by converting the land to palm oil plantations if they enact mandatory policies regulation which forests can be cleared and how much remaining forest must be set aside for conservation. If those mandatory measures are lack, unsustainable levels of climate-warming carbon emissions could be created by converting Africa’s tropical forests into monoculture palm plantations.
Fern have produced a report outlining China’s efforts in combatting the trade of illegally sourced timber. The report covers the forest policies and timber trade trends in China as well as the engagement from national and international bodies. Strategies for China-EU efforts in tackling illegal logging and forest governance failure and other drivers of deforestation are also shared. One recommendation includes a robust enforcement of the EUTR in imports from China.
A recent study released by an initiative bringing together the UN’s environment, agriculture and development agencies warns that agriculture is the world largest driver for deforestation, responsible for perhaps 80 percent of deforestation globally. Misguided government subsidies aimed at helping farmers produce food more efficiently often end up leading to deforestation. Governments need to broaden approaches to identifying root causes of deforestation and changing the offending policies.
Indonesia has long been accused of not managing forests in a sustainable manner and of failing to curb illegal logging and trade in regard to the export of forest-sourced products. The demand to implement sustainable forest management policies is getting stronger. The voluntary PEFC/IFCC (the Indonesia Forest Certification Co-Operation) certification has been seen as a “passport” for the companies to allow their products to entre countries that set sustainable forest management preconditions. Forestry companies’ policies need to be tested on the ground.
A meeting between the International Board of Directors of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) acknowledged positive signs shown by Resolute Forest Products (Resolute FP). The meeting was held in response to an open letter from FSC to Resolute FP requesting they stopped discriminatory activities against FSC and demonstrate respect to their requirements after repeated public attacks by Resolute FP on FSC’s management policies. These attacks followed the suspension of three of Resolute FP’s FSC certificates. The meeting proved to be constructive and the two parties agreed to continue to work together to help the restoration of the suspended certificates.
1. Zero deforestation commitments. 2015 may be the year that many of the zero deforestation commitments are actually implemented.
2. Joko Widodo’s forest commitments. As Indonesia’s new president takes on the challenge of reforming the forestry sector, look out for greater scrutiny of concession licensees, as well as a crack-down on forestry-related corruption.
3. The Brazilian Amazon. There are concerns that Brazil’s current downward deforestation trajectory may not last.
4. Will Paris product a binding climate framework? Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation is expected to have a central role in the climate talks in Paris at the end of the year.
5. Where are the new deforestation hotspots? Data from the WRI suggests that deforestation may be rising in several countries, including Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Ecuador and Ghana amongst others. 2015 will also uncover new studies and tools that will help better quantify change in forest cover.
6. Falling commodity prices. Lower prices reduce the profitability of converting rainforests for palm oil plantations. On the other hand, companies may be less likely to adopt environmental measures if they have less cash on hand.
7. Myanmar. As Myanmar opens up further to foreign investors, concerns about the fate of the country’s forests will rise.
8. Dams in the Amazon. Indigenous groups and environmentalists are ready to fight against Brazil’s hydro projects in the Tapajos basin.
9. RSPO and zero deforestation. If the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) does move towards zero deforestation it has a critical tool in place to do so: last year members were required to submit the GPS coordinates of their concessions.
10. Jurisdictional initiatives. Sub-national efforts to develop forest-friendly policies and initiatives will move forward in 2015.
Five of the world’s largest palm oil producers have announced an immediate moratorium on palm oil sourced via clearance of potential high carbon stock forests. A year-long study aims to establish a threshold for defining what constitutes high carbon stock (HCS) forest. The move comes after intense campaigning by environmentalists pushed dozens of major palm oil buyers to establish zero deforestation sourcing policies for palm oil, which is one of the top drivers of forest conversion in Malaysia and Indonesia. The moratorium may provide a temporary reprieve from green groups, which have portrayed the five companies – dubbed the Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto Group for the name of their sustainability initiative – as laggards in the sector for continuing to chop down forests.
Are we actually making progress on preventing deforestation? Q&A with Mongabay.com founder Rhett Butler
The founder of the independent news site dedicated to rainforests points to a slowing deforestation rate in Brazil, new initiatives extending our capacity to monitor forests and zero deforestation commitments from the private sector as reasons for optimism. He thinks that most consumers aren’t aware of the issues to the extent it affects their purchasing decisions, except in particularly egregious cases. And he says that NGO campaigns targeted at brands are effective in that these brands are more likely to change their policies quickly than governments and consequently the brands will push governments to reward their commitments by forcing the laggards to catch up.
Asia Pulp and Paper have signed an agreement to end natural forest logging. Suppliers of the Indonesian based company will be bound to log solely plantation timber and not use timber with high conservation value or from peat swamps. AP&P have received widespread lobbying from Greenpeace and WWF to change their timber sourcing policies. However, it is understood the company’s real fear was that paper mills in Japan were beginning to ask questions about responsibly sourced timber.
Jakarta, 3 September 2013 - The palm oil sector was the single largest driver of deforestation in Indonesia between 2009-2011, accounting for about a quarter of the country’s forest loss, revealed Greenpeace International in new mapping analysis published today. The analysis shows that significant deforestation took place in concessions currently owned by members of the palm oil industry’s largest sustainability organisation, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, including companies such as Singapore-based Wilmar International. More damning is the revelation that RSPO concessions accounted for 39% of the fire hotspots on palm oil concessions in Riau during January-June 2013.
"The RSPO wants its members to be industry leaders in sustainability, but its current standards leave them free to destroy forests and drain peatland. Year after year, Indonesia's forest fires and haze wreak havoc on the region, and the palm oil sector is a main culprit. While RSPO members might have no-fire policies, the peatland they have cleared and drained is like a tinderbox – one spark is all it takes," said Bustar Maitar, head of Greenpeace International’s Indonesia Forest Campaign.
Short opinion piece on the major themes that were discussed at a recent Forest Legality Alliance meeting in Washington DC between members and experts involved in the harvest, manufacturing and trade of forest products. Illegal logging rates worldwide have declined by about 20 per cent since 2008. The main drivers indicating a shift were deemed to be that legality requirements are now in the mainstream (already in the US, EU and Australia and they are being explored in China and Japan), proactive companies are taking control of their supply chains, and the introduction of public procurement policies in some of the world’s major cities, in particular in Latin America, that require the sourcing of legal timber products.
An overview of rainforest-related news stories in 2012 including coverage of the main research publications on the impacts of rainforest logging, global trade and deforestation, deforestation-free sourcing policies and country-by-country summaries.
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has published a report, Wood for Good: Solutions for Deforestation-Free Wood Products, analyzing tropical wood production’s effect on deforestation and offering solutions for sustainable production. The report identifies a threefold solution to meet the global demand for sustainable tropical wood: 1) turn to responsible plantation forests; 2) governments to develop policies that make sustainable forest management an attractive business prospect; and 3) all stakeholders should demand products certified by FSC or PEFC.
Experts are warning that the focus on Brazil, which hosts 60% of the Amazonian rainforest, is deflecting attention from increasing Amazonian deforestation in neighbouring countries such as Bolivia, Peru, Columbia and Venezuela. The main driver is considered to be the commodities boom centred on exports to China and other Asian economies. Conservation International in Bolivia say that government policies and subsidies encourage business development in the Amazon which inevitably leads to deforestation.