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22 June 2007 @ 03:33 pm
206 - Earth's Tree News  
Today for you 36 new articles about earth’s trees! (206th edition)
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Newsletter is best read with the view set to its widest margin!
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--British Columbia: 1) Beatle salvage ends the logging’s future, 2) 100 year-old garden,
--Washington: 3) 4,000 mile hike from South Puget Sound to Bering Sea,
--New Jersey: 4) Save Seton Hall old growth
--North Carolina: 5) State allowances for forest conservation
--USA: 6) Road removal funds might fly
--Canada: 7) Save the Cumberland Wilderness
--UK: 8) Save Gillies Hill, 9) Strategy for Trees, Woods and Forests, 10) Treesit ends,
--Iraq: 11) $4.6 million for forest recovery
--Macedonia: 12) police detected wrongdoings for personal gain
--Mozambique: 14) New forest cover numbers
--Namibia: 15) Teak trees logged despite newly established UN project,
--Uganda: 16) internally displaced people clash with forestry authority
--Brazil: 17) Brazilian Movement of Landless Rural Workers,
--Costa Rica: 18) Clouds and amphibians vanish from cloud forest,
--Chile: 19) Pinochet’s legacy lives on to the destroy 12,600 hectares
--India: 20) Brunei to maintain forest cover, 21) Crocodiles as forest defense,
--Burma: 22) Digging up live ancient trees to sell to affluent Chinese
--Bhutan: 23) Logging will not be privatized
--Cambodia: 24) Deaths threats from Global Witness
--Vietnam: 25) A migration back to the forests
--Malaysia: 26) illegal logging in the Sungai Menyala
--Indonesia: 27) CPAWS Wildlands League, 28) Visit Indonesia Year" in 2008, 29) Orchid forest, 30) endangered Oranguntans
--Australia: 31) tropical rainforests more important in 'cleaning' than previously thought, 32) Chopping down protected trees as a from of protest,
--World-wide: 33) biological corridors, 34) Kapok tree can travels across the ocean, 35) Geographic Information Science Center of Excellence,

British Columbia:

1) The cookie-cutter response to dealing with the infestation is to dramatically increase logging rates and replicate the same kind of logging virtually everywhere. Consequently, millions of living trees fall along with the dead ones. This is one reason why five of B.C.'s leading environmental groups have joined with five labour organizations, including three unions representing forest industry workers, in a call to radically rethink the response to the infestation. In a co-published report released today, the unions and environmental groups point to a host of disturbing trends that have emerged during the current beetle-fuelled salvage logging boom. Perhaps the most significant finding is that while there is clear evidence that the logging of beetle-attacked pine trees has increased, live spruce and fir are also being cut. In fact, for every two pine trees logged, one or more spruce or fir come down. Compounding worries, in many "pine-leading" forests large numbers of trees have survived the attack unscathed. These so-called "understorey" trees are smaller than the surrounding dead, older pine, and they are flourishing. When such sites are logged, all those healthy trees are levelled in the name of salvaging economic value from the dead pine. This is a horrendous waste. First, forests that sustain wildlife and moderate water flows -- helping to mitigate catastrophic floods -- are wiped away. Second, all the years that it took those healthy understorey trees to grow is wiped away, too. Fieldwork by provincial and federal forest scientists suggests that if the dead pine were just left alone on such sites, it would take as few as 20 years for the living trees in their midst to reach a commercial size. That's far more desirable than logging such sites today, destroying all the trees, setting the reforestation clock back to zero, and having no economic prospects for 80 or more years. The same scientists say that if we left these and other sites alone for now, only about one-quarter of forests where pine trees dominate would make sense to log and replant. The other troubling thing about the current logging boom is that more and more usable wood is getting wasted. The sharp increase in waste over the past three years correlates with changes to provincial forest policies that essentially allowed companies to take the best logs and leave much of the rest behind provided a token payment was made to the province. http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/editorial/story.html?id=fe37ca89-3cc0-4bc9-bdcf-ef0d6ea9
6604

2) Peter Buckland and I are wandering the five-acre garden whose care he has inherited on a remote inlet on the west coast of Vancouver Island, B.C. Giant rhododendrons stretch around gnarled fruit trees; roses roam willy-nilly over gates, garden sheds and fences. And all around, pushing in on the garden's tenuous margins, is some of the densest rain forest this rugged western edge of British Columbia's Vancouver Island has to offer. The area qualifies as one of the world's most unlikely spots for a garden, yet within its confines more than 100 species of imported trees, shrubs and plants have been identified. Some have survived in the wet, acidic soil for some 90 years. I've come to the garden because of a book I discovered in a Victoria bookshop, "Cougar Annie's Garden," by Vancouver Island resident Margaret Horsfield. She writes of "a half-lost garden walled in by tall trees and taller tales," and of the "small and strong and grittily determined" woman, Ada Annie Rae-Arthur, who carved it out of the rain forest. A tiny orange floatplane delivers me to a curve in the sea known as Boat Basin, a 35-minute flight out of the village of Tofino. Our route was identical to that taken by Ada Annie and her husband, Willie Rae-Arthur, their three children and all the family's worldly goods in April 1915 aboard the steamer Princess Maquinna. By any reckoning few places on Earth are less suited for farming. But that is what the provisional government encouraged settlers to do at the turn of the century with the offer of up to160 free acres to those able to tame the land. Most of the would-be farmers took one look at the unwelcoming terrain and threw up their hands; others gave it a valiant but short-lived try. Ada Annie was the exception. Her pioneer effort is the only one that endured. "It was her life, her passion," Buckland says. When Cougar Annie died, Buckland began coming to the garden monthly, hacking away at the tangle of the now overgrown garden. Then, in 1987, he built a house near the beach and moved permanently to Boat Basin. "A lot of people thought I was completely nuts," he says. "But all I knew was that I had to let the garden breathe again." Buckland established the nonprofit Boat Basin Foundation for the purpose of drawing attention to the botanical diversity and historical importance of the garden and to provide a field center for temperate rain forest ecology study. Annie's Garden is now part of the Temperate Rainforest Field Study Centre. http://www.oregonlive.com/oregonian/stories/index.ssf?/base/travel/1181622310225100.xml&coll=7

Washington:

3) From the Puget Sound to the Bering Sea: Four thousand miles along the edge of the Pacific, by foot, raft, and skis. An expedition to explore and communicate the broad environmental issues facing this region: Halfway through our first packrafting day on the upper Sauk River, we came to a bridge, only to run into a group of folks in wetsuits, helmets, and very large rafts - heading for the class IV rapids below. That was our signal to walk for awhile. A little while later, we were back in the rafts. We ended up on a Sunday night at one of Darrington, Washington’s three bars (pop 1200), chatting with the bartender and the locals. We’re talking about the trip, being distracted by television poker, and an old retired logger (drunk), turns to Hig and says “You guys are tree-huggers, aren’t you?”. Hig replies with “Yeah, kind of…” - and the logger goes off into his rant about old-growth forests. He feels that we should cut the old growth, because it’s all rotten, and allow the new trees to grow. We’ve wandered through a lot of these “new” forests on this trip - stick straight skinny trees, all the same height, growing so closely that almost nothing grows underneath. Hig’s favorite analogy is to suburban housing developments. Second growth forests - at least the young ones - are like those cookie-cutter housing developments (always called something like “Ridgeview”) where each house is exactly the same. Old-growth forests are like old European cities - diverse and interesting, a mix of old and new. The big old snags and rotten logs are part of the history and part of the charm (in addition to being important ecologically). They’ve got more culture. I think we should get bumper stickers for our rafts: “I like my forests rotten.” Floating down the Sauk and Skagit Rivers from Darrington, we increased our average daily speed by leaps and bounds. The sun came out, burning the backs of our hands, and leading me to conclude that it’s always rainy in the mountains, and only sunny when we approach human civilization. The Skagit River is wide, and pretty, but the dams upsteam keep it much more tame, and we were beginning to tire of the constant green corridor - smooth river, houses and trees on the banks, and clearcuts on the hillsides. So yesterday, we increased the interest a bit by having a flotilla of media along. Ok, it was only 2 more boats - a reporter and photographer from the Seattle PI, showing up to float with us between Lyman and Sedro Wooley. http://www.groundtruthtrekking.org/blog/?p=92

New Jersey:

4) Several years ago, the Sierra Club was involved in the effort to keep the forest at Seton Hall Preparatory School standing. We were successful, but it looks like the old growth forest is threatened again. Seton Hall Preparatory School is planning to clear-cut 22 acres that contain 1000 trees with 33 different tree species, an old growth forest of 50 trees 150 -240 years old, an arboretum of rare tree species, and the historic remains of the estate of George McClellan (Governor of New Jersey 1878-1881, Civil War general, candidate for President). The school's Headmaster, Michael E. Kelly wants to cut the forest to add 2 parking lots, bleachers, athletic fields, tennis courts and a hamburger stand to an existing athletic facility. Please take a minute to send a letter to those who would rather see athletic fields than one of the few old-growth forests left in New Jersey. Follow this link: http://actionnetwork.org/campaign/SetonHall2

North Carolina:

5) Last week, the House Agriculture Chairman’s Draft Conservation Title was released, with allowances for increased opportunities for forest conservation programs. That’s great news, but Congress has a long way to go to ensure there is sufficient funding for important conservation programs for family forest landowners. These family forest landowners face economic challenges such as increasing property taxes, pressure to develop their land and loss of markets for wood products. They also face ecological threats such as exotic pests and disease that are forcing some landowners to abandon their forest heritage.Why should protecting these forests matter to all of us in North Carolina? More than 118,000 North Carolinians are employed in the forestry industry; more than 1.9 million people visit our state’s private forests each year to hunt, fish and observe wildlife. Our forests provide habitat for wildlife and fish, including the eastern wild turkey, black bear, and short-nose sturgeon. Bird-watching and photography alone contribute $510 million annually by attracting more than 2.4 million people to North Carolina. In addition, nearly 1.9 million people hunt or fish here each year, spending more than $2 billion annually. North Carolina is the fourth most forested state in the United States. Of our 31.7 million acres of land, 18 million acres is forest land — that is 56 percent of the state. Families and individuals own nearly 89 percent of North Carolina’s forests. We have more private landowners than all other states in the nation — over 700,000. They produce 81 percent of the wood used by North Carolina’s forest industry. From an environmental perspective, forestlands contribute to cleaner air, help reduce global warming, reduce damage from flooding, foster groundwater recharge and address sediment and nutrient issues. And North Carolina’s forests serve as compatible buffers around the many Department of Defense test and training ranges, such as our own Fort Bragg, to help protect them from encroachment. The 2007 Farm Bill can and should be structured and funded to support the stewardship of these important resources. Family-owned forested lands are a mainstay of our vibrant rural economies. http://www.fayobserver.com/article?id=265351

USA:

6) By the Forest Service's count, there are nearly 25,000 miles of low standard or unauthorized roads on the 13 national forests that span the agency's Northern Region. The Wilderness Society's Joe Kerkvliet calls them “ticking time bombs.” Without proper maintenance, forest roads can spew sediment that harms fish habitat and water quality. “When a road starts falling apart, it begins to deliver tons of sediment into nearby streams,” Kerkvliet said. “Heavy rains or rain on snow can cause massive failures or landslides. These roads have the potential to create serious environmental damage.” Congress is considering a new $65 million program to decommission roads the Forest Service either doesn't want or didn't authorized. The “Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Initiative” under consideration by the House would set aside funding for road decommissioning, road and trail repair and maintenance, and the removal of fish barriers. The program is part of a bill that funds the Interior Department and U.S. Forest Service. It successfully passed the full House Appropriations Committee the first week of June and could be considered by the full House as early as next week. The Senate version of the general funding bill also includes language addressing the issue of decommissioning roads. “This is the first time Congress would set aside money specifically for decommissioning roads,” said Bob Ekey, regional director of The Wilderness Society. “It's a very important issue for the Northern Rockies. The Forest Service doesn't have the funding to keep up with road maintenance. A lot of these roads just continue to bleed sediment into streams.” http://www.missoulian.com/articles/2007/06/21/news/mtregional/news08.txt

Canada:

7) The sun pierces the forest’s canopy, sending down rays of light to reveal a lush undergrowth of green plants, small white flowers and a single lady’s slipper. A few metres away, an idyllic little pond is surrounded by a lush forest that stretches toward the sky, so high it’s difficult to crane the head back far enough to see the treetops. Near it is a pile of bear scat that reminds us that we’re not alone. These luxuriant scenes differ vastly from a clearcut that is barely half a kilometre away. Here, greyness predominates. Large tree trunks left behind by loggers are bleached nearly white. Branches are strewn about, dozens of tree stumps dot the field as far as the eye can see. Both scenes were found during a recent visit to the Chignecto Game Sanctuary, a 25,000-hectare piece of wilderness that sits in the middle of Cumberland County. "We want this practice stopped," author and environmentalist Harry Thurston said as his arm arced over the clearcut. "We want the province to immediately place a moratorium of logging inside the game sanctuary." Mr. Thurston is referring to Cumberland Wilderness, a group of Cumberland County citizens concerned about conserving wilderness areas for outdoor recreation and wildlife habitat. http://thechronicleherald.ca/NovaScotia/842510.html

UK:

8) With its historic woodland, stunning scenery and protected wildlife, Gillies Hill is a well known and popular site for locals and visitors alike. Rare red squirrels, Peregrine Falcons, Buzzards and Roe Deer have been regularly spotted in the vast area of woodland near Cambusbarron, in Stirling. In addition it boasts Wellingtonia Firs and a Scots Pine which the Forestry Commission has designated as one of Scotland's top 100 heritage trees. But the hill is also steeped in history. Gillies Hill is reputedly where Robert the Bruce's camp followers took shelter during the battle until their famous charge against the enemy on 24 June, 1314. The followers emerged from the woods and the English army took fright, mistaking them for Scottish reinforcements. More than 600 years later, battle is about to commence again. This time, however, campaigners are fighting to stop the land from being demolished, not taken over. Two major companies are planning to restart quarrying on the site and their plans could see the whole woodland area being razed to the ground. Permission for small scale quarrying was granted by the then Stirling District Council in 1982 but for the last 10 years there has been little activity on the site. Now Tarmac and German giants Heidelberg Cement, which recently bought Hanson Aggregates, the company which had announced its intention to recommence quarrying work, are planning to restart quarrying on a much larger scale. Local residents have set up the Save Gillies Hill Campaign group and have organised a two mile march over the hill on Sunday to coincide with the 693rd anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/tayside_and_central/6568819.stm

9) A vision of how England's trees, woods and forests can yield environmental, social and economic benefits for future generations was set out today by Barry Gardiner, Minister for Biodiversity, Landscape and Rural Affairs. From helping to combat climate change to boosting business opportunities, a new Strategy for England Trees, Woods and Forests -http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-countryside/rddteam/forestry.htm - highlights the potential of these important natural resources to improve life for people and wildlife. The strategy shows how long-term sustainable management of trees, woods and forests can help people and wildlife adapt to a changing climate and how people can make the most of their local woodlands. It also highlights the way in which woodlands protect and enhance natural resources, improve urban environments, and promote better markets for sustainable woodland products and services. Many schemes around the country are already helping to meet the strategy's objectives. Barry Gardiner today visited a former Nottinghamshire coalfield community where local people have play a vital role in the Sherwood Forest Community Rangers Project to transform 2,000 acres of collier waste into community woods with 30 miles of footpaths and tracks and spectacular views across open countryside. http://media.netpr.pl/notatka_79786.html

10) The last demonstrator has been removed from woodland near Brecon, Powys, where protesters chained themselves to trees to try to stop a gas pipeline. Six were arrested when the operation began on Tuesday, and the last three have now been taken away. Dozens of people who wanted to stop the pipe crossing a historic woodland had set up a camp at Penpont, with some there for several months. National Grid won a court order allowing it to evict the protesters. The penultimate protester, a woman, was brought down and arrested at lunchtime on Wednesday after she had complained of feeling unwell. They object to this section of the £840m pipeline, planned to stretch from Pembrokeshire to Gloucestershire, cutting through the Brecon Beacons National Park. Five men and one woman were questioned on suspicion of obstructing a High Court enforcement officer after police moved in on Tuesday. Two were appearing before Llandrindod Wells magistrates on Wednesday, and others were cautioned. One protester had chained himself to a bicycle and was hanging from a chain from the branches. Others had built platforms more than 20 feet (6m) into the trees. Bailiffs had to stop work overnight because it was considered too difficult and dangerous to reach the remaining protesters in the dark. The woodland, at Penpont, between Brecon and Sennybridge, has been fenced off and police stayed at the site throughout the night. More than 100 police, court officials and National Grid security guards have been involved. Farmer Glyn Powell told BBC Radio Wales he understood the need to protest at times, but said there was little sympathy for the protesters locally. However, he described the operation to remove the protesters as "overkill". "Generally people have not been particularly favourable towards the protesters although this saga seems to have given them a higher profile," he said. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/6220928.stm

Iraq:

11) The Ministry of Agriculture’s Public Company for Horticulture and Forestry have started executing its national project for developing Iraq’s forests. The project will take four years to complete and has received allocations of more than six billion dinars (approximately US$4.5 million). A ministry source said a plan was devised last year to compensate for scores of trees that were randomly torn down during the last two decades. Most of these areas are in the artificial forests which, before the fall of the regime exceeded 60,000 dunums (one dunum equals about 2500 square metres). The project will introduce new species to better the environment and will also have economic benefits from the production of commercial woods. The source pointed out that last year’s project for developing and improving forests was completed with allocations of more than 810 million dinars. In related news, 180 agriculture departments throughout Iraq’s provinces have started planting 50 dunums in each province with trees. The total area to be planted exceeds 9,000 dunums. http://www.iraqdevelopmentprogram.org/idp/news/new1664.htm


Macedonia:

12) Macedonian police detected wrongdoings for personal gain in the public enterprise Makedonski Shumi (Macedonian Forests). The first case is linked to two employees in the enterprise's Strumica office, who are suspected of fraud in connection with the number of timbers. They have embezzled more than 12.000 euros and later they also misappropriated additional 2.000 euros. This is a second case of embezzlement in "Makedonski Shumi" Strumica Office, and a third-in-row fraud in the past two weeks. Makedonski Shumi is in charge of huge natural resources and is one of the most indebted public enterprises in the country. It owes the state hundreds of millions of denars. http://www.makfax.com.mk/look/agencija/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=2&NrArticle=72633
&NrIssue=377&NrSection=10

Mozambique:

13) The first Mozambican national forest inventory in more than a decade has shown that 51 percent of the country's surface is covered with forest, and a further 19 per cent by other types of woodland. Agriculture Minister Erasmo Muhate unveiled the survey results in Maputo on Wednesday. The inventory, he said, provided "valuable data about the extent of forest resources, their composition in terms of tree species, the commercial amounts of wood, and the distributions of these resources throughout the country". The survey took two years to compile, and cost about 2.5 million US dollars, mainly provided through an Italian grant. Previous forest surveys, in 1980 and 1994, have been less ambitious. The survey document distributed at the Wednesday ceremony described them as "basically exploratory inventories, with limited field work". But the new inventory has produced detailed maps of Mozambique's vegetation cover, based on satellite images. These were backed up by field visits throughout the country. A representative sample of 650 forest areas were surveyed, to provide detailed quantitative and qualitative analyses of forest resources. The inventory, said Muhate, "will facilitate planning, aimed at the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources". In addition to the 70 per cent of the land (or 54.8 million hectares) that is classified as forested or wooded, 12 per cent is grassland, 15 per cent is used for agriculture, and three per cent is classed as "other areas". The most heavily forested areas are north of the Zambezi river. 77 per cent of Niassa province (9.4 million hectares) is forested and 61.7 per cent (4.8 million hectares) of Cabo Delgado. The provinces with most forest loss are Maputo and Inhambane in the south, and Nampula in the north. Only just over a third of these three provinces is forested. The current rate of deforestation is 0.58 per cent annually - which means that Mozambique is losing 219,000 hectares of forest and woodland per year. http://allafrica.com/stories/200706200842.html

Namibia:

15) San people in the area are shocked and upset by the wholesale onslaught on trees for which they feel responsible. By Sunday afternoon, 12 of the teak trees had already been chopped down and sawn into planks. The shocked residents of Nhoma village, who are about to proclaim their area as a conservancy, said they were never asked permission. The loggers, who reportedly work for Petrus Sipipa, came all the way from Rundu to chop down the trees. On Friday theycould not produce a permit. Their activities were put on hold until Sunday, when the loggers produced a permit issued by the forestry office at Tsumkwe, allowing them to chop down 100 Zambezi teak trees. The newspaper was unable to confirm when the permit was signed. According to a lodge owner at Tsumkwe, Estelle Oosthuysen, the residents of Nhoma told her they were not even asked if the trees could be chopped. "They are very upset and informed me that two weeks ago a forestry official came around to have a look at some trees, but did not say for which purpose." The wood fellers set up camp just 10 metres way from a village hut and are using water from the community tap without being given permission," the lodge owner added. Ironically, Government is implementing a programme funded by the World Bank called the Indigenous People Development Plan (IDPD). The IPDP targets San people living within conservancies and community forests in Namibia. According to a brochure published by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the World Bank defines indigenous peoples "as a group with a social and cultural identity distinct from the dominant society that makes them vulnerable to being disadvantaged in the development process." The IPDP must ensure that indigenous people benefit from development projects, and that potential adverse effects of development on indigenous peoples are avoided or mitigated. Another project, the Integrated Community-Based Ecosystem Management (ICEMA) project, supports activities within the larger framework of a national Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) programme.http://allafrica.com/stories/200706190545.html

Uganda:

16) The internally displaced people (IDP) living in Omee Upper Camp in Wiceri Central Forest Reserve in Amuru district over the weekend clashed with the National Forestry Authority officials who were demarcating the boundaries of the forest. Armed with spears, pangas, arrows and bows and axes, the IDPs chased away the forestry authority officials, whom they accused of grabbing their land. The army, the Police and local authorities intervened and quelled the riot. The security team, lead by the officer in charge of the district Police station, Charles Okullu, advised the National Forestry Authority (NFA) officials to suspend the exercise. The IDPs, who placed big logs across the road, vowed to set ablaze the NFA vehicles if they attempted to reach the camp. "The staff wanted to open the forest boundary so that we know how many people are living in the reserve. We were not going to evict anybody now. I appeal to the people not to look at NFA as land grabbers," the NFA Aswa range manager, Jimmy Ouna, told the IDPs during a meeting. He said the forest reserve, which measures 6507.6 hectares, was gazetted on April 1954. The LC3 chairman of Pabbo sub-county, Christopher Ojera, accused NFA officials of inciting people against the Government. "NFA should stop their operations until all the problems are sorted out." He added that NFA should first sensitise the area leaders about their activities before they demarcate the boundaries of the forest. Amuru sub-county councillor Gilbert Olanya said NFA should show them evidence from Parliament showing that Wiceri is a forest reserve. http://allafrica.com/stories/200706190042.html

Brazil:

17) Last week the Brazilian Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) held its fifth National Congress in Brasília, the country’s capital. The power the MST has garnered throughout its 23 years was palpable, as more than 17,500 delegates from 24 states and almost 200 international guests marched to the Square of the Three Powers, situated between the buildings of the executive, judicial and legislative branches of government. Marchers hung a huge banner in the square that read, “We accuse the three powers of impeding agrarian reform.” In the minds of most MST members, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and the Workers’ Party (PT) have failed to implement the radical economic and social reforms that were promised, especially agrarian reform. According to José Maria Tardin, who was elected as the first PT mayor in the state of Paraná in 1989, and now works in the MST, “For the left, Lula is the biggest political tragedy in the history of Brazil.” In a discussion with reporters, founder and national organizer of the MST João Pedro Stedile recalled that when Lula was elected in 2003, the MST hoped that Brazil would overturn many of the neoliberal policies imposed on the country by Washington and institutions like the International Monetary Fund. However, “nobody can say that Lula is implementing an alternative project,” said Stedile. “We cannot be so simplistic as to say that everything is Lula’s fault, but the Lula government does not represent the working class, and is not on the left.” He pointed out that during Lula’s first four-year term, the financial sector accumulated more capital than it did during the previous eight years under President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. This public acknowledgement of the fracture in the MST’s historic alliance with Lula and the PT represents a major shift toward a more confrontational stance. http://news.nacla.org/2007/06/19/brazils-landless-workers-confront-lula/

Costa Rica:

18) "We lived in cloud forest when we first arrived," Mr. Fogden says. "It's not cloud forest anymore, really." Besides losing potential ingredients for new drugs or other useful compounds, scientists worry about more lost benefits as species vanish. Healthy ecosystems are complex. Complexity lends resilience, the ability to ride out disturbances. A resilient ecosystem will continue delivering the "services" humans expect, whether it's harvesting abundant tuna from the sea or tapping fresh water as it tumbles down a mountainside. Each species removed from an ecosystem brings it closer to a largely invisible threshold of collapse. Scientists tend to use this economic reasoning about nature's importance when talking with journalists. When pressed, though, they make a different argument. Species "should be preserved because of their intrinsic value," says Kayri Havens, director of the Institute for Plant Biology and Conservation at the Chicago Botanic Garden, "because they deserve to exist. Just as we do." Resplendent quetzals, iridescent tropical birds that he used to observe feeding frogs to their young, are scarcer. Quetzal hatchlings may have lost a vital source of protein and calcium with the disappearance of once-abundant amphibians, he reasons. Keel-billed toucans, meanwhile, have moved up from the foothills to the mountain, perhaps competing with the quetzal. So has the morpho, a bright blue lowland butterfly. Snakes, which also fed on the frogs, are much harder to come by even as lowland honeybees that previously avoided the mountain's hive-infesting fungi now swarm up the mountain.http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0621/p25s05-sten.html

Chile:

19) Last month, on Endesa's behalf, a woman named Maria Teresa Cañas Pinochet - niece of Chile's recently deceased former dictator Augusto Pinochet - filed more than 50 mining exploration petitions that together correspond to 12,600 hectares of land in the vicinity of the Puelo. The river, which begins in Argentina's Lake Puelo and flows west, eventually depositing in the Pacific Ocean, happens to be Chile's second most voluminous river, after the Baker River. War Drums Against Endesa The move has immediately put area environmentalists on alert. According to Mauricio Fierro of the Puerto Montt-based environmental group Geoaustral, in obtaining those exploration rights, Endesa is taking a classic step toward exerting control over the river valley. "What normally happens in Chile with any project, whether it's real estate development, or constructing a hotel or building, whatever, is that people ask first for a mining exploration right and later an exploitation right. Why? In order to have control over the property and so that no one can come and stop what you're doing," says Fierro. Not coincidentally, Cañas Pinochet filed similar mining petitions last year for territory in Aysén's Baker and Pascua river valleys. "It's all based on something called the Mining CodeŠIt's the most important and powerful law that exists in Chile," says Fierro. "To put it simply, anyone who has those rights, who pays for the licenses, can enter on a property and look around, excavate, do whatever they want on the property. That's why Endesa uses that method for taking control of properties." Endesa's interest in the powerful Puelo is nothing new. The company, which has held the river's water rights since 1990, at one point contemplated building what would have been Chile's largest dam and reservoir, a project so grand it would have dwarfed Region VIII's Ralco dam. Currently the biggest in the country, the 690 MW-Ralco dam is also owned by Endesa. Last year, however, the Spanish company hinted it now plans to construct one large dam and reservoir, plus two smaller "run-of-the-river" dams. The large, 320 MW-facility would dam the Puelo River and hold back an estimated 5,000-hectare reservoir. The smaller, non-reservoir dams would be built along the nearby Manso River. In total the project would produce roughly 720 MW and could cost as much as US$650 million. http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/781/1/



India:

20) Brunei's success in maintaining its 55 per cent forest cover is commendable and it is a "realistic" goal to keep this figure and guard against any diminution of the sultanate's rainforest area. This was the consensus at the wrap-up session of the plenary meeting yesterday on Brunei's forestry policy held with the participation of a team of experts pooled under a mechanism called Asean Peer Consultation Framework (PCF) in Forestry. Participants of the two-day meeting, however, initially considered a proposal to raise the sultanate's forest cover to as high as 90 per cent. But after a long and drawn out debate, a guest participant from Germany pointed out that Brunei is already doing an exemplary job maintaining a 55 per cent forest cover. Participants eventually settled for the original figure of 55 per cent forest area to be gazetted as permanent forest estate. Participants of the meeting held at The Empire Hotel & Country Club stressed the importance of maintaining "realistic" goals and interdepartmental cooperation. 'At this meeting we are aware of our goals. We're securing forest conservation through achievable targets," said an employee of the Department of En vironment, Parks - and Recreation. In addition, the participants discussed a plan to set local standards on monitoring logging damages. http://www.brudirect.com/DailyInfo/News/Archive/June07/220607/nite33.htm

21) The next time the poachers are out to plunder the mangrove inside Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary, they have to be ultra careful lest they lose a limb or two. In a unique experiment, the forest department last week set at large 48 crocodiles bred in captivity into the water bodies of Bhitarkanika to ward off human interference into its fast-depleting mangrove forests. “The fear of marauding crocs who have been seemingly performing the role of “honorary forest guards” in the core area of the wildlife sanctuary, greatly regulates human intrusion. Now the crocs’ habitat is being expanded to areas subjected to wanton tree felling,” forest officials said. The crocs were released in Kharinasi and Jamboo areas of the sanctuary, said the officials. These pockets located on the southern-most part of the 672 square-kilometre sanctuary are visibly marked by skeletal forest cover. A number of thickly populated human settlements dot the area within the sanctuary, resulting in rampant felling of mangrove and conversion of green field into paddy and shrimp cultivation. “We are pressing into service these reptiles for forest conservation. Once the crocs are firmly ensconced in the water inlets, human intrusion would greatly be curtailed. As the people here take the water route to sneak into the forest, we feel the crocs will come in handy to protect the greens,” said Golakh Rout, additional conservator of forest, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division. The mangroves along the Orissa coast are threatened by high density of population and competing demand for land for agriculture and prawn farming. As many as 410 revenue villages comprising two lakh population thrive on the encroached forestland. Most of the settlers are from neighbouring states and Bangladesh. http://www.telegraphindia.com/1070620/asp/frontpage/story_7947100.asp

Burma:

22) Not content with selling huge quantities of timber to China, Burmese businesses are now digging up whole trees and exporting them to Chinese customers who pay up to 100,000 Yuan (US $13,000) for a good specimen. The prized trees are Ye-Htin-Shu (known by their Latin name ‘Podocarpus nerrifolia’), believed by the Chinese to bring good luck. “Wealthy people buy the trees and replant them in their gardens,” said Aung Kyaw Zaw, a Burmese analyst who lives o¬n the China-Burma border. Trees were also offered as gifts to gain favor with high-ranking officials, he said. The more mature the tree the higher the price. Some of them are 100 years old. An official of o¬ne Burmese company involved in the sale of trees to China compared the business with jade-trading. “The price depends o¬n the tree’s appearance, size and quality,” said the official, who works for the Maha-Kywe Company, based in Naung Cho, near Lashio Township. The company has exported about 30 trees to China, and has permission to sell a further 70. Special heavy machinery is employed to dig up the trees, complete with roots, and transport them by road through the border trading town of Muse to Ruili, in China’s Yunnan province. Ye-Htin-Shu are rare trees and grow in lowland and valley areas of Burma’s Shan State, near Naung Cho, Kutkhai and Hsipaw Township. They serve a valuable purpose in water and soil preservation, according to Hkun Seng, a Kachin environmentalist who recently conducted field research in northern Shan State. Many Ye-Htin-Shu trees were destroyed because they were clumsily uprooted and inexpertly packed for transport, Hkun Seng said. The trees are a lucrative source of income not o¬nly for the export companies but for local government officials who man checkpoints o¬n the road to China and demand transit fees, taxes and even bribes before allowing the unusual freight to pass. Traders have to pass through about eight check points between Naung Cho and Muse. The junta’s paramilitary militia groups in northern Shan State http://www.unpo.org/article.php?id=6855

Bhutan:

23) Following a long drawn debate, which saw the house expressing two opposing views the National Assembly, on June 15, resolved that logging would not be privatised. The Speaker, Dasho Ugen Dorje, said that the government must follow the resolution passed by the 50th session of the National Assembly and maintain 60 percent forest cover at all times. The 50th session of the National Assembly in 1979 had resolved that all logging activities were to be done by the government and no private businessmen would be granted forest coups as per His Majesty the King’s command. A complete ban on commercial felling was also imposed in southern Bhutan. The Assembly, however asked the government to look into ways to ensure that supply was not erratic. The BCCI chimi, Zhamling Dorji, had submitted that with logging monopolised by the Forestry Development Corporation Ltd. (FDCL), prices of sawn timber was escalating because of an acute shortage of sawn timber. The supply was also erratic.


Cambodia;

24) Piseth, aged 38, was on his way to Kompong Speu in southern Cambodia on 16 June 2007 when he received a call on his mobile phone from a number he did not recognise. When he replied, a man's voice said to him: "Is that you Lem Piseth?” --Yes. Who are you? – “You are insolent. Do you want to die? Why are you insulting me like this? Because of the story about the forest and, know this, there will not be enough land to bury you in." The unknown caller then hung up and when the reporter tried to call the number back, he reached a call centre. "It is obvious that the Global Witness report on the over-exploitation of the Cambodian forests is upsetting some people," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "Since this report was released, all media have been subjected to unjustified state censorship. We urge the authorities to identify those who made these threats so that Lem Piseth can safely resume his work." Following publication of the Global Witness report, Piseth wrote four articles on the damage resulting from deforestation in Kampong Thom province, particularly in the Tumring region, where it has been particularly disastrous. While reporting in Kampong Thom, the reporter said he was followed by police and the military. He had to leave the hotel room he was staying in for several nights at the request of the owners, who gave him no explanation. Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said on 8 June that "the media has had a week to put out news [about the report] and that is more than enough. Newspapers can refer to it, but not reproduce it. If this ban is not respected, we will take the necessary legal steps." http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/84236/

Vietnam:

25) DAK LAK — Rising migration to Central Highlands provinces is leading to increasing deforestation, particularly in the provinces of Dak Lak and Dak Nong. Local authorities in Dak Lak said they were concerned the influx of people was getting out of hand as many move into the forests to make a living by cutting down trees. The Director of the Planning Office under the Dak Lak Settlements Committee, Pham Van Ngan, said local forests were in danger of disappearing. "The situation is becoming uncontrollable," said Ngan. "The Government should help us find a solution or we will see our forests gradually disappear. According to Ngan the flood of immigrants coming to the province started in 2005. Dak Lak authorities recorded 2,321 people or 500 new households settling in the province during the last two years. There were 256 new households or 1,188 immigrants in 2005, 186 new households or 821 immigrants in 2006, and 67 new households with 312 immigrants in the first quarter this year. However, local authorities said the real number was much higher as many people who settle down in the forest come in small groups of ten to 20 and not all family members are noted by authorities. According to statistics from the Dak Lak Forest Management Department, nearly 100ha of forest have been occupied for cultivation by migrants. According to the head of the department, at least 20ha of forest have been cut down by immigrants in the first four months this year. The department said officers had recently discovered eight Mong ethnic minority households with 50 members from the northern province of Ha Giang had settled in the jungle at Lak District’s Dak Nue Commune. http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/showarticle.php?num=01POP210607

Malaysia:

26) Forest rangers and the police are investigating illegal logging in the Sungai Menyala forest reserve near here, after finding a cache of logs a week ago. Patrolling rangers looking for trespassers found some 30 logs worth about RM500,000 in an area more than three kilometres from the Port Dickson-Sua Betong. They also found four heavy machinery nearby, believed to have been used to move the logs. The logs may have been left there, ready to be moved out of the reserve at the right time. The rangers, from the Negri Sembilan-Malacca Forestry Department, immediately set up a round-the-clock surveillance at the area, and lodged a police report on Thursday. The department is investigating the matter, said Negeri Sembilan/Malacca Forestry Department director Ahmad Zainal Mat Isa when contacted. Port Dickson police chief Superintendent Mazlan Othman, said the police are assisting in the investigation, focussing on trespass of the forest reserve. http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Sunday/NewsBreak/20070617180056/Article/index_html


Indonesia:

27) A leading conservation group urges the province to protect carbon stores and biodiversity in addition to setting targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. "The public does not realize that there is so much carbon stored in our natural wild forests," says Janet Sumner, Executive Director, CPAWS Wildlands League. "If we were to foolishly convert these carbon rich forests and peatlands into industrial developments, then we would undo our emission reductions," Ms. Sumner adds. Yesterday, the province announced its intentions to achieve aggressive emissions reductions. In response, CPAWS Wildlands League urges the province to address two outstanding areas that are part of an effective approach to reducing the dangerous effects of climate change: 1) Securing our current carbon stores. The province must safeguard the current carbon stores residing in terrestrial ecosystems such as the Boreal Forest. Carbon rich forests and peatlands are also home to Woodland Caribou and Polar Bear. So protecting these forests would also have additional biodiversity benefits; and, 2) Protecting intact ecosystems so they may help shield us from global warming. Not only do natural wild forests store more carbon than managed ones, but they also represent the timeliest and most cost effective approach to keeping carbon stored.
http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/June2007/19/c6787.html

28) Indonesia has announced it will stage a "Visit Indonesia Year" in 2008 -- but tourist packages may not include visits to its once pristine tropical forests, savanna grasslands, and lowland forests, as unprecedented deforestation threatens to wipe out these magnificent habitats. The Culture and Tourism Ministry hopes to attract 6 million foreign tourists and generate around US$5 billion in foreign exchange earnings. As part of the promotion, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono officiated at the opening ceremony of the annual Bali Arts Festival in Denpasar on Saturday, and the national airline Garuda sponsored a "Bali Food Festival" in Beijing. The Indonesian Arts Institute is planning an International Arts Festival in November, to draw experts in arts and culture from Europe, Australia, the United States and other Asian countries. Environmental groups hope some of this revenue will go toward protecting Indonesia's unique natural assets. Rully Sumada, forest expert at environmental group Walhi, says that 60 percent of the country's protected and conservation areas have been badly damaged by illegal logging and palm oil plantations. She believes that at the current rate of deforestation, at 2.8 million hectares a year, forests in Sumatra, Borneo, and Sulawesi will be gone by 2012 while forests in Papua and elsewhere will be wiped out by 2022 due to the continued felling of trees. http://www.upiasiaonline.com/economics/2007/06/18/feature_ecotourism_at_risk_in_indonesia/

29) Imagine an orchid forest with more than 45 different species including dancing and dragon scale varieties, sambas breeding deer, flying fox, short- and long-tailed macaque birds, wild boar and 40-meter-high, 150-year-old bangkirai trees. A forestry student's dream come true and a native bird-watcher's paradise. And now it's accessible to those of us without hiking boots. This is one of the world's most beautiful virgin conservation forests -- and it is at Jakarta's front door, in East Kalimantan. It is the Bukit Bangkirai forest and conservation parkland, located in Samboja district, Kutai Kartanegara regency. There are three roads that lead to this incredible 1,500-hectare wonderland as well as wide-ranging accommodation to suit just about anyone. Bukit Bangkirai forest is internationally recognized yet still one of Indonesia's best kept tourism secrets. It boasts various species of hardwood trees -- including the bangkirai tree (Shorea laevis), which can survive for more than 150 years and will usually grow as high as 50 meters. Bukit Bangkirai is a tropical rainforest and natural monument, and home to other woods including ulin (Eusideroxylon Zwageri), blackwood or ebony (Ebenaceae), red meranti (Shorea smithiana), kempas (Koompassia malaccensis) and kruing (Dipterocarpus). A two-ha area within the forest has been intentionally filled with jungle fruit tree species in a bid to preserve the mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana), the durian family, including lai (Durio kutejensis), and the mentega (magarine) fruit (Diospyros). Bukit Bangkirai's orchid forest provides orchid lovers with the opportunity to feast their eyes on a collection consisting of 45 species, including the black orchid (Coelegyne pandurata), sugarcane orchid (Grammatophyllum speciousum), dragon scale orchid (Cymbidium antropurpureum) and dancing orchid (Bromheadia fynlaysoniana). A 3.5-ha breeding ground for deer from the sambas family (Corvus unicolor) was cleared but sadly locals today say it has been neglected for too long and is now overgrown with underbrush. "I'm not sure when, but the deer breeding activities stopped long ago," said Nyoman Suterini, owner of a food stall in the area. http://www.thejakartapost.com/misc/PrinterFriendly.asp

30) Indonesia’s efforts to crack down on illegal logging are holding out some hope for endangered oranguntans, the red-haired apes that inhabit the Indonesian rainforest, the UN Environment Programme says. But hundreds of orangutans have fled their homes and ended up in “refugee” camps as illegal logging rapidly destroys the last remaining rainforests of Southeast Asia. UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner says, “Indonesia cannot and should not have to deal with this issue alone.” International support and regional cooperation, especially from timber importing countries, is essential to preserve the remaining orangutans, the rainforests of Southeast Asia, and the people whose livelihoods rely on these ecosystems, he says. In recent weeks, Indonesian authorities have stepped up action against the illegal timber trade, arresting six people and seizing 30,000 cubic meters of processed wood in Nunukan, East Kalimantan province on the island of Borneo. Another 40,000 cubic meters of processed wood was confiscated in Kutai, East Kalimantan and several more arrests were made. The seizure of 70,000 cubic meters of illegal wood represents around 3,000 truck loads of timber, but Steiner points out that by some estimates illegal logging is clearing 2.1 million hectares of forest in Indonesia worth an estimated $4 billion every year. “This may equate to several hundred thousand truckloads - corresponding to a continuous line of trucks from Paris to Bangkok,” said Steiner, speaking at the conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES, that concluded Friday in The Netherlands. More wardens on the ground as well as improved policing and customs operations are needed, he said. http://www.savetheorangutan.co.uk/?p=439

Australia:

31) Scientists have found that Australia's tropical rainforests are a lot more important in 'cleaning' the earth's environment than anyone previously thought. All trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere but until now, scientists had thought the temperate forests found in the northern hemisphere were better at sucking up CO2 than the tropical rainforests of South-East Asia. Environmental scientist at Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory, Lindsay Hutley, says the new research turns the traditional view of global carbon patterns on its head. "This new work is kind of reversing that, suggesting that actually there's quite a significant sink from the tropics and much weaker sink from the northern hemisphere," he said. Dr Hutley says the new paper, published in the journal Science, reinforces what he has been finding in his own work on tropical savannas in north Australia. It turns out tropical savannas are also good at taking carbon out of the atmosphere. "I guess it just reinforces how important tropical ecosystems are," he said. "We know how important they are in terms of biodiversity but now this work suggests that they're having a major impact on the global carbon balance and perhaps a more significant impact on it than what we previously thought." http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/06/22/1958683.htm


32) Hundreds of Australian farmers are planning to chop down protected trees on their properties in a day of protest against strict land-clearing laws, prompting public condemnation on Wednesday from environment groups. Fed up with government restrictions on the use of their land, the farmers in New South Wales state are organising a day of civil disobedience on July 1, with proposals to cut down a tree on each property. "It's been a long campaign by farmers who have been sidelined by the government. This day of clearing a tree, taking a tree out, has been bandied about for a long time," local farmer Alistair McRoberts told Australian radio on Wednesday. The move comes as the Australian and New South Wales governments continue their investigation into whether one farmer in the Gwydir Valley bulldozed part of an internationally protected wetland and cleared it of vegetation. Australian Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull has warned farmers against breaking any laws on land clearing or tree felling, saying that this would constitute criminal action rather than an act of civil disobedience. "The proposition that we're all entitled to do with our land whatever we like is simply not true, whether you live in the country or the city," Turnbull said on Tuesday. McRoberts said his group represented a minority of farmers, but after more than a decade of talks with governments and environment groups, many farmers in the Gwydir Valley had not been properly compensated for locking away large tracts of land. He said the government wanted to stop land clearing because it wanted the vegetation to be used to offset carbon pollution from the country's vast coal industry. In a joint statement, Australia's Wilderness Society, WWF Australia and the Australian Conservation Foundation said the planned protest should be condemned. http://www.forests.org/articles/reader.asp?linkid=76479

World-wide:

33) As the world warms from human-emitted greenhouse gases during this century, one-quarter of all living things could disappear, says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Robust, genetically diverse populations have a much better chance of weathering this climate change than those that are inbred and few in number, scientists say. So the best way to help wildlife persist through this trying time is to give it ample room to feed, breed, and multiply. This means preserving tracts of wilderness large enough to establish healthy populations. And it means establishing "biological corridors" between wilderness areas - especially up mountainsides and through north-south pathways - so wildlife can move as climate changes. Groups around the world are working to establish these wildlife highways, with varying degrees of success. In North America, the Wildlands Project is pushing for a huge "Yellowstone-to-Yukon" wildlife corridor. In Central America, conservationists are slowly and sporadically working on the Meso-American Biological Corridor. The dream: A monkey should be able to go up a tree in Panama and not have to climb down until it reaches Mexico. The grand vision of the IUCN is an uninterrupted connection between Argentina and Alaska along the hemisphere's western mountain ranges. But the golden toad's disappearance has weakened one of the assumptions underlying these efforts: Setting aside a reserve doesn't necessarily shield species from extinction. Wildlife is vulnerable even in protected areas. " And for highly specialized animals, like those trapped atop tropical mountains, corridors will help little. In these cases, some scientists call for an "amphibian ark," a network of zoos that breed amphibians in captivity with the goal of one day reestablishing wild populations. At El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center (EVAC) in Panama, researchers recently succeeded in breeding the golden frog (not to be confused with the extinct golden toad), a species native to the area - and none too soon. Last year, the frog disappeared from the wild. "Chytrid came and basically gave the last blow," says EVAC director Edgardo Griffith. http://iht.com/articles/2007/06/20/business/money.php


34) Celebrated in Buddhist temples and cultivated for its wood and cottony fibers, the kapok tree now is upsetting an idea that biologists have clung to for decades: the notion that African and South American rainforests are similar because the continents were connected 96 million years ago. Research by University of Michigan evolutionary ecologist Christopher Dick and colleagues shows that kapok---and perhaps other rainforest--trees colonized Africa after the continents split when the trees' seeds traveled across the ocean. The findings, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), appear online this week in the journal Molecular Ecology. "This research provides vital information for one of the most highly threatened areas of the planet, tropical rainforests," said Sam Scheiner, program director in NSF's Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research. "In order to plan for and mitigate global climate change, we need to understand the history of life on Earth through studies like this one." Oceanic dispersal links the world's rainforests, said Dick, "and this study is one of the first to catch that process in action at the species level. Although single seeds are very unlikely to survive an oceanic voyage and then successfully become established elsewhere, such improbable events become probable over 10 to 15 million years." Dick studied the rainforest form of Ceiba pentandra, a species of kapok that grows taller than a 16-story building, its head poking above the forest canopy. Its flowers produce more than 50 gallons of nectar per tree in a season, attracting bats that travel as far as 12 miles between trees and transfer pollen in the process. When the seed pods ripen, they break open to reveal fluffy fibers that are used to stuff pillows and mattresses. The seeds, which are about the size of a sunflower seed, are buoyant and able to float down rivers along which the colossal trees grow. Dick and colleagues investigated which of several possible scenarios could be the reason for the current distribution of Ceiba pentandra. Dick concluded that extreme long distance travel by wind or ocean currents explains how the trees spread from South America to Africa. He plans to continue investigating the role of oceanic dispersal to see if the same is true for other species and for entire plant communities. http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=108787&org=NSF&from=news


35) On any given day, Professor Matthew Hansen might study deforestation within the rain forests of the Congo River Basin in Zaire, or on the scattered islands of Indonesia. The irony is that he does this work in a lab at South Dakota State University, in the heart of a prairie ecosystem that is about as far removed from rain forest as anyplace on earth. Hansen is co-director of the Geographic Information Science Center of Excellence at SDSU. It’s a new research center that has been at full staff for less than two years but has already brought in about $4 million in grants —mostly from NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Monitoring changes to the land surface, also called terrestrial monitoring, is important as many aspects of the earth system are affected by natural and human disturbance. Hansen said SDSU is an ideal place to do such work because it has close ties to the U.S. Geological Survey Center for EROS, near Sioux Falls. EROS — the Center for Earth Resources Observation and Science — is the largest archive in the world for satellite and aerial images of the earth’s surface. Hansen knows what the rain forest is like because he worked a few years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Zaire. It is virtually impossible to track deforestation in the Congo River Basin from the ground, he said — there is simply no way to find all the farmed clearings, mining operations or settlements that are nibbling away at the forest over time. But having the expertise and resources to analyze satellite images makes such monitoring possible and adds an element of transparency to what’s going on in any given region. “If you cut down a rain forest, you’ve changed many aspects of the earth system. The exchanges of energy between the land and atmosphere are altered, carbon previously fixed in the form of trees released to the atmosphere through burning, the local hydrologic cycle disrupted, and local floral and faunal biodiversity permanently changed. As this happens repeatedly, the effects of these changes are manifested at regional, continental and global scales,” Hansen said. http://www3.sdstate.edu/SDSU/NewsDetail45702.cfm?ID=46,6056