Archive | Trees & Forestry

Indonesia Palm Oil Company Promises to Preserve Forests

Indonesia’s biggest palm oil manufacturer on Wednesday promised to meet new standards aimed at preserving ecologically important peatswamp forests.

The announcement was cautiously applauded by environmental groups like Greenpeace.

Palm oil producer Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) and its subsidiary SMART, part of the Sinar Mas Group, pledged to partner with The Forest Trust (TFT)  to develop new environmentally responsible practices.

SMART president director Daud Dharsono told the press that the companies would not develop plantations on High Carbon Stock and High Conservation Value forests and peatlands, which are prized by scientists for their biodiversity and their role in keeping the climate stable.

Scientists believe the deforestation of the carbon-rich forests plays a major part in global warming. Indonesia is the third biggest emitter of heat-trapping greenhouse gases due mainly to its ongoing destruction of the peatlands to make way for palm oil plantations.

Malaysia and Indonesia contribute about 85 percent of global production of palm oil, a cheap alternative to vegetable oil used in cooking oil, cosmetic products, soap, bread, margarine, and chocolate.

“Without better stewardship, the phenomenal growth of the palm oil industry could spell disaster for local communities, biodiversity and climate change as palm plantations encroach further and further into forested areas,” said  TFT executive director Scott Poynton, as reported by AFP.

“We all know that this agreement counts for nothing if it’s not now implemented,” he added.

“We have worked with other companies to clean up their supply chains successfully, and it is our intention to do so again,” he said.

Greenpeace warily welcomed the move, saying it would put its campaign against GAR on hold to see if the company follows through with its promises, AFP reports.

Posted in Conservation, Trees & Forestry0 Comments

Malaysia Rapidly Destroying Ecologically Important Peatlands

Malaysia is destroying forests more than three times faster than all of Asia combined to make way for palm oil plantations, according to a study released Tuesday.

Analyzing data acquired from satellite images of the region, researchers  said the country obliterated an astonishing 872,263 acres, about one-third of its biodiversity-rich peatswamp forests, in the past five years.

The report, which was commissioned by the Netherlands-based Wetlands International, found that the swamps of stored carbon from decomposed plants could disappear from the state of Sarawak by the end of the decade if the clearing continues.

The country is deforesting an average two percent a year of the swamps on Sarawak, Malaysia’s largest state on its half of the island of Borneo, which it shares with Indonesia and Brunei.

That’s nearly 10 percent in the last five years. Asia in its entirety deforested at a rate of just 2.8 percent in that period.

“We never knew exactly what was happening in Malaysia and Borneo,” said Wetlands spokesman Alex Kaat, according to AP. “Now we see there is a huge expansion (of deforestation) with annual rates that are beyond imagination.”

The Sarawak peatswamps, home to such animals as the Borneo pygmy elephant and the Sumatran rhino, were initially harvested for timber. Now companies are totally clearing the forests to make way for palm oil plantations.

“As the timber resource has been depleted the timber companies are now engaging in the oil palm business, completing the annihilation of Sarawak’s peat swamp forests,” Marcel Silvius from Wetlands said in a statement.

“Unless this trend is halted, none of these forests may be left at the end of this decade.”

Malaysia and Indonesia contribute about 85 percent of global production of palm oil, a cheap alternative to vegetable oil used in cooking oil, cosmetic products, soap, bread, margarine, and chocolate.

Kaat said the report proves that deforestation is occurring at a faster rate than the Malaysian government has admitted.

“The new studies conclude that 20 percent of all Malaysian palm oil is produced on drained peatlands. For Sarawak, this is even 44 percent,” researchers said.

In addition to the risk it poses to the forests’ many rare species, the draining of peatswamps causes massive carbon emissions.

“The production of palm oil is welcome only if expansion can be done in a sustainable way,” the environmental group said.

The study was conducted by satellite monitoring and mapping company SarVision.

Posted in Biodiversity, Conservation, Ecosystems, Trees & Forestry0 Comments

Biomass Gets a Boost: EPA Eases Up on Regulations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is scaling back on greenhouse gas permitting requirements for facilities that burn biomass.

The EPA said it would take a three-year deferral to determine whether the biomass materials – which include farm waste, sawmill scraps and forest thinnings – should be considered a green resource.

The deferral came after members of Congress put pressure on the EPA to ease up on regulations, saying the stringent rules on industrial carbon emissions would get in the way of developing a new biomass industry that could act as a major job creator and a source of domestically produced fuel.

“We are working to find a way forward that is scientifically sound and manageable for both producers and consumers of biomass energy. In the coming years we will develop a commonsense approach that protects our environment and encourages the use of clean energy,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a news release. “Renewable, homegrown power sources are essential to our energy future, and an important step to cutting the pollution responsible for climate change.”

The EPA said it would amend the regulation issued earlier this month that included biomass facilities in emissions regulations. The new rule will go into effect July 1.

More than two dozen members of Congress contend that that biomass can be considered carbon neutral if regulators count emissions as something that would result anyway when wood rots.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has launched an initiative to create jobs by putting people to work thinning national forests to reduce the threat of forest fires. To pay for those jobs, he’ll need nearby biomass-burning facilities that will purchase trees and branches from thinned woodlands.

Timberland owners, who have been struggling with declining lumber prices since the housing market tanked, say biomass should be considered a green fuel.

“It is now critical that we work together in the coming months on deliberate steps to support biomass energy production,” Dave Tenny, president of the National Alliance of Forest Owners, said in a statement, according to AP.

Others say biomass isn’t as green as it seems. Meg Sheehan of the Stop Spewing Carbon Campaign in Cambridge, Mass. claims that the EPA is ignoring the fact that biomass produces more greenhouse gas than coal.

“I find it very disturbing that the Obama administration and [USDA] Secretary [Tom] Vilsack are punting on making this decision until after the next presidential election,” AP quoted Sheehan as saying. “I think it shows extreme disregard for the health of the American people.”

Posted in Air Pollutants, Biofuels & Biomass, Global Warming & Climate Change, Trees & Forestry0 Comments

89,000 More Acres in Adirondacks Protected from Development

New York State has paid $30 million to preserve 89,000 acres in the Adirondack Park from development, news sources reported Thursday.

APNewsBreak and the New York Times said the conservation easement from the Nature Conservancy establishes perpetual public rights for the timberland, with several snowmobile trails and some new hiking and fishing access. Lumbering will continue.

“It’s a very exciting day for us, and I think a really strategic investment by the state of New York in the Adirondack economy, and really, the tourism economy of the state,” said Michael T. Carr, executive director of the Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy, according to the New York Times.

The Nature Conservancy has worked over the past several years to protect swaths of Adirondacks land once owned by Finch, Pruyn & Co., a paper manufacturer. The environmental group paid $110 million in 2007 to buy 161,000 acres from the company.

Last year, the nonprofit sold 92,000 of those acres to a Danish pension fund in an agreement allowing selective logging to continue in some areas under strict environmental standards.

Stuart F. Gruskin, executive deputy of New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, praised the new agreement as a solution to revitalize the North Country economy with tourism opportunities while protecting the lands under sustainable forestry development measures.

The Nature Conservancy plans to sell its remaining 65,000 acres to the state in increments over the coming years, AP said.

Posted in Conservation, Trees & Forestry0 Comments

Can I eat the raw sap from a maple tree?

Posted in Trees & Forestry1 Comment

Tamanu Oil from Calophyllum Inophyllum

Tamanu Oil

This image of the trees in which tamanu oil is derived from was made available by <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/tgerus/3657117980/sizes/o/” rel=”nofollow”>Flickr</a> and used by EcoWorld under the authors’ use of Creative Commons Licensing.

This image of the trees in which tamanu oil is derived from was made available by Flickr and used by EcoWorld under the authors’ use of Creative Commons Licensing.

Posted in Trees & Forestry0 Comments

Pine Beetles Threaten North American Forestry

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, March 18 (UPI) — The pine beetle infestation of western Canadian forests is expected to close at least 16 major sawmills and cut exports by half, a report said Thursday.

The International Wood Markets Group forecast released in Vancouver, British Columbia, said losses due to the insects would also cause lumber prices to rise, the Vancouver Sun reported.

“Sawlog shortages caused by the mountain pine beetle could trigger the permanent closure of about 16 large primary sawmills and/or plywood production facilities within the British Columbia interior by 2018,” the report said.

The pine beetle is expected to kill 11 billion square feet of timber in British Columbia and western Alberta, the report said.

Eradication efforts have been under way for the past 10 years in what the group called the largest-ever natural environmental disaster in North America, the Sun said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Bugs, Insects, & Invertebrates, Trees & Forestry0 Comments

Study Debunks Amazon Rain Forest Theory

BOSTON, March 16 (UPI) — A NASA-funded study contradicts a previous U.N. report that the Amazon rain forests thrive during long droughts.

The Boston University study, using NASA satellite data, concluded Amazon rain forests were remarkably unaffected by a once-in-a-century drought in 2005, neither dying nor thriving, contrary to a report by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“We found no big differences in the greenness level of these forests between drought and non-drought years, which suggests that these forests may be more tolerant of droughts than we previously thought,” said Arindam Samanta, the study’s lead author.

The U.N. panel’s report, published in 2007 by the journal Science, claimed the rain forests actually thrive from drought because of more sunshine under cloudless skies, the scientists said. The latest report said that study was flawed and not reproducible.

“This new study brings some clarity to our muddled understanding of how these forests, with their rich source of biodiversity, would fare in the future in the face of twin pressures from logging and changing climate,” said Boston University Professor Ranga Myneni.

The research that included Sangram Ganguly of the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute in Sonoma, Calif., appears in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Biodiversity, Drought, Trees & Forestry0 Comments

Winter Overcomes 1,200-year-old Oak

CHIRK, Wales, Feb. 10 (UPI) — A Welsh oak tree, already more than 300 years old when King Henry II spared it in 1165, couldn’t withstand the unusually cold winter of 2010, locals say.

Mark Williams, a historian of the Wrexham area in North Wales, told the BBC he and Deryn Poppit visited the tree Tuesday and found its trunk had been split. He said ice apparently formed around the base of the tree, which had a circumference of 34 feet.

“The tree is on marshy ground in a basin with a stream running down nearby,” he said. “With the stream overflowing because of melting snow, the water must have settled around the trunk and it looks as if this has caused it to split.”

The Great Oak at the Gates of the Dead near Chirk was 1,200 years old, dating from the 9th century. According to legend, in 1165, King Henry II of England, preparing to meet Owain Gwynedd in the Battle of Crogen, commanded his men to clear Ceiriog Woods but ordered the Great Oak to be spared.

“Although some parts of the tree were rotten, some of it was still as strong as an oak,” Williams said.

Mike McKenna, owner of Kronospan, a wood-panel producer in Chirk, has retained a firm of tree surgeons to determine if anything can be done to keep the Great Oak going.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Trees & Forestry0 Comments

Eastern U.S. Forests Growing Faster

EDGEWATER, Md., Feb. 2 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they’ve found evidence that forests in the Eastern United States are growing faster than they have during the past 225 years.

The Smithsonian Institution ecologists focused on the growth of 55 stands of mixed hardwood forest plots in Maryland. Geoffrey Parker, who has tracked the trees’ growth for 20 years, said the plots range in size with some as large as 2 acres. Parker’s research is based at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, 26 miles east of Washington in Edgewater, Md.

Parker and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute postdoctoral fellow Sean McMahon said the forest is growing, on average, an additional 2 tons per acre annually. That’s the equivalent of a tree with a diameter of 2 feet sprouting up over one year, the researchers said.

Parker and McMahon said their findings suggest the faster growth rate are due to climate change and, more specifically, rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, higher temperatures and longer growing seasons.

The scientists, who said their findings might have significant ramifications in weather patterns, nutrient cycles, climate change and biodiversity, report the research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Biodiversity, Trees & Forestry0 Comments

No Posts in Category
Advertisement