A database of over 4,000 chemical substances potentially found in plastic packaging, has been made publicly available. The Chemicals associated with Plastic Packaging (CPP) database (see CW; CRM) is the outcome of a collaboration between seven NGOs and research organisations in Europe and the US. The work has been submitted to Science of the Total Environment, and is now available, prior to peer review, as a preprint. The database is provided with the preprint as supplementary information.
A new study finds that illegal logging, coupled with weak state-run timber licensing systems, has led to massive timber harvesting fraud in Brazil, resulting in huge illicit harvests of Ipê trees. Ipê wood is largely shipped to the U.S. and Europe with the high value (up to $2,500 per cubic meter at export). Buyers all along the timber supply chain turn a blind eye toward fraud, with sawmills, exporters, and importers trusting the paperwork they receive, rather than questioning whether the lower prices they pay for Ipê and other timber may be due to timber laundering. This process is doing major damage to the Amazon. To reduce document fraud, the Brazilian federal government required that all states register or integrate their timber licensing systems within a national timber inventory and tracking system known as Sinaflor. While this should reduce fraudulent paperwork, better oversight of forest management plans and more onsite inspections of timber operations are needed also.
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.
The Brazilian government has revised upward its estimate for the extent of Amazon rainforest destroyed last year. Figures released last week by Brazil’s National Space Research Agency (INPE) put Amazon deforestation at 6,207 square kilometres for the year ended July 31, 2015. That represents an increase of 6.5 percent relative to the estimate of 5,831 square kilometres published last December.
Protected areas (PAs) are established as a way to prevent ecosystem damage, but a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE finds that this may not be working very well in many areas. According to the research, forests occupied one-third of the world's total land area in the year 2000. Of this, 19 percent was under some form of protection, and 25 percent was intact. However, the world’s PAs have lost 3 percent of their forest cover in just over a decade. By comparison, they pegged the total loss of the world’s forests – both protected and non – at 5 percent. The largest losses occurred in Australia, Oceania, and North America, which all exceeded 5 percent. However, positive results were found in Latin America where losses were 1 percent in Pas compared to the 5 percent outside them.
A new report by Forest Trends, a US based NGO, found out that around five football fields of tropical forest have been illegally cleared every minute between 2000 and 2012, which losses have been driven by consumer demand for beef, leather and timber in Europe and US. The values of this trade in commodities including timber, leather, beef, soy and palm oil, accounting for $61bn a year. The majority of the illegal deforestation for commercial agriculture has been in Brazil and Indonesia. The local governments are lack of capacity to enforce laws to against illegal logging. Report found that licences and permits to cut the trees are often acquired through corruption. Authors believe that consumer countries in EU could have done more to tackle the problem. Strong regulations rather than voluntary actions is the better solution. The biggest concern for campaigners now is the spread of illegal deforestation to new countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
The American Forest and Paper Association has released its 2014 Sustainability Report, exhibiting the substantial and measureable progress that US pulp, paper, packaging and wood products have made towards achieving sustainability goals. The report outlines how paper mills self-generate most of their energy needs, and most of that energy is renewable and that the forest products industry is the second largest producer of combined heat and power electricity in the manufacturing sector.
A new paper by Chatham House and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has found that timber harvested illegally in Africa, Asia and Latin America continues to be sold on world markets, despite international efforts to curb the trade. Experts say that the EUTR and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) are complementary. However, there is a lack of coordination between the agencies involved in enforcing the rules of the two systems. One of the biggest loopholes identified is that both CITES- and FLEGT-licenced timber is exempt from the due diligence requirements under the EUTR, so fraudulent paperwork could escape scrutiny.
Data released this week by Terra-i, a collaborative mapping initiative, shows that deforestation in Ecuador for the first three months of 2013 was pacing more than 300 percent ahead of last year's rate. The report comes shortly after Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa killed off a proposed plan to prohibit oil drilling in Yasuni National Park in exchange for payments equivalent to half the value of the park's unexploited oil reserves.
Terra-i, a collaboration between the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the School of Business and Engineering (HEIG-VD) in Switzerland and King’s College London (KCL), uses NASA satellite data to detect deforestation in Latin America on 16-day basis. The system shows that between Jan 1 and Mar 7 this year, some 9,075 ha of Ecuador's forests were cleared. By comparison, 2,931 ha of forest were chopped down during the year-earlier period.
The Paraguayan government has extended the “Zero Deforestation Law” for a further five years, resulting in an important conservation win for this highly threatened eco-region.
The Land Conversion Moratorium for the Atlantic Forest of Paraguay, also known as the “Zero Deforestation Law” was enacted in 2004 and dramatically slowed the country’s deforestation rate by prohibiting the transformation and conversion of forested areas in Paraguay's eastern region. The Atlantic Forest corridor covers Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina, and is one of the world's most endangered tropical rainforests, with just 7 percent of its original surface coverage remaining.
Paraguay previously had the second-highest deforestation rate in the world, and nearly 7 million hectares of Atlantic Forest were lost to slash-and-burn methods of agriculture and ranching. Most of the remaining forests have been exploited for timber, and some are second growth forests recovering from deforestation. After Paraguay approved the Zero Deforestation Law for the eastern part of the country in 2004, there was a decrease of deforestation by about 90%.
With deforestation up by 90% on 2012’s rate of loss, Brazil has bolstered the number of environmental inspectors in the forest to curb illegal clearing. Landowners clearing forests are struggling to escape detection by the government’s near-real-time satellite forest monitoring system, DETER, but are starting to clear smaller forest areas that the system cannot see at its 25-hectare resolution. A higher resolution system that would detect this clearing, known as PRODES, is only used annually. Environmentalists believe the more relaxed revisions to the Forest Code, implemented in 2012, accounted for this rise in clearing.
The Brazilian government released data that confirmed an increase in Amazon forest loss, with the majority of clearing taking place in Mato Grosso for agriculture. Reasons for the increase are thought to derive from weakening of the country's Forest Code, which limits clearing on private forest land, and agricultural exports have also become more commercially attractive for farmers.
‘Green Carbon, Black Trade’, a joint report from UNEP and INTERPOL says that $30-$100 billion of revenue are lost by key logging countries each year to the illegal timber trade. The losses are mainly attributed to key logging countries in Central Africa, the Amazon Basin and South East Asia. An editor of the report highlights how organised crime has become more sophisticated over the past decade with government websites hacked to extract logging permits, falsifying certificates and laundering timber by selling it through plantations.