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27 May 2008 @ 10:46 pm
346 - Earth's Tree News  
Today for you 37 new articles about earth’s trees! (346th edition)
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--UK: 1) Beauty spot turned to 4x4 race track by “vandals,” 2) eco-group opposes 32 eco-houses, 3) New treetop walkway,
--Scotland: 4) Woodland stats
--Africa: 5) Millions of hectares will be turned to large scale biofuel plantations
--Cameroon: 6) Citizen’s get 8% of the forest and foreign countries get the rest
--Sierra Leone: 7) Timber export debates
--Congo: 8) European envoy visits forests slated for destruction
--Kenya: 9) Save Mau Complex forests, 10) More on Mau, 11) What’s left of Taita, 12) Import substitution, 13) Renewing a failed Samba system, 14) charcoal industry soon to be streamlined,
--Eritrea: 15) Replanting mangroves brings back fisheries,
--Columbia: 16) Environmental damage caused by cocaine use
--Brazil: 17) More at ease poring over satellite data, 18) Diagem temporarily freezes its exploration activities, 19) Indigenous oppose Altamira dam,
--India: 20) Satellite-linked fire alert system, 21) World’s richest bio-diversity hotspot loses its glory,
--Thailand: 22) Turning rice farmers into green desert farmers and eucalyptus history
--Bangladesh: 23) Forests endangered and indigenous people tortured for ‘development’
--Vietnam: 24) People encroach on Central Highlands province in Kon Tum
--Papua New Guinea: 25) Save the Mangroves
--Philippines: 26) Legal logging is the real problem, 27) Five bulldozers roaring like lost motorcycles in the forests,
--Solomon Islands: 28) Logging companies rob government, 29) Loggers whine,
--Indonesia: 30) Loggers traffic sex slaves
--New Zealand: 31) Government promises programs to help deforestation crisis, 32) Alternative forest products: mushrooms,
--World-wide: 34) Society for Ecological Restoration International releases report, 35) Monkey meat consumption limits natural reforestation, 36) Risk assessment of invasive species,


1) THRILL-seeking 4x4 drivers have turned a popular Mole Valley beauty spot into swampland, cutting down trees so they can illegally access protected woodland. The off-roaders have churned up large areas of earth on Ranmore Common and made it almost impossible for other vehicles and pedestrians to use byways leading up to the woodland. Residents and countryside groups are in outrage over the damage which has been caused. Rob Onslow, who lives in Fetcham, said: “There’s beautiful woodland up there that’s covered in bluebells. It really is stunning and people come from miles to see them. “But the four-wheel drivers have absolutely torn the woodland apart. It’s absolutely ruined.” The worst hit area is woodland off Drove Road and the byway itself. "Vandals" Mr Onslow, 38, said it looked as if the 4x4 drivers were using the area as an off-road course. He said: “It used to be possible to take a child’s buggy up Drove Road. Now it’s just a bombsite.The people who cause this kind of damage are simply vandals in four-wheel drives. “They have nothing but contempt for our rural woodland, which they use as a kind of playground.” As well as access issues for those who want to use the road, there are also problems with water holes, which have formed and flood on to neighbouring farmland in heavy rain. A spokesman for Surrey County Council, which is responsible for the upkeep of the byway, said 4x4s were entitled to use the road. He added: “The county council do have the right to put a Traffic Regulation Order in place but wants all residents to be able to enjoy the countryside and would rather work with all parties for an amicable solution.” http://www.surreyad.co.uk/news/2028/2028925/thrillseekers_have_ruined_beauty_spot

2) A protest group has been formed to oppose plans to build eco-houses in an amenity woodland near Nairn. Locals claim proposals by the Forestry Commission Scotland will mean the felling of up to 70 trees in Kilnhill Wood, Lochloy. They say the plans for 32 houses and eight chalets go against the local structure plan and will create an “unacceptable increase” in traffic on Lochloy Road. The commission lodged a planning application with Highland Council in February. The protest group, known as Friends of Kilnhill Wood, has gathered 400 signatures for a petition against the development and has commissioned an ecologist to look at the site, which they claim is home to various animals and birds. Spokesman Terry Cowan, 41, of Maviston Steading, Lochloy, said: “A lot of people use that wood for walking, cycling and horse riding. It is an amenity woodland. “The Forestry Commission are selling it as a ‘new community’ but it will be at the detriment of the existing community.” Ecologist Gus Jones found evidence of bats, badgers and red squirrels living in the wood, while owls and other birds of prey are also thought to roost there. Mr Cowan said that with the A96 corridor proposals due out soon, there were other more suitable sites. The Green Party recently pledged their support for the Kilnhill Wood development, saying it would give people the chance to live and work in a woodland setting. They also called for more emphasis on affordable housing and for an environmentally friendly way of dealing with sewage. http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/651310?UserKey=0

3) A treetop walkway which takes visitors 60ft up into the canopy for a close-up look at life among the leaves has been unveiled at Kew Gardens. The £3 million steel structure, which runs for 650ft through the Capability Brown woodland at the Royal Botanic Gardens aims to help show the importance of trees to wildlife and the climate. It is hoped it will be the highlight of Kew's summer festival celebrating trees. The Xstrata Treetop Walkway includes a "Rhizotron" underground exhibit to highlight the root-life of trees, follows on from the success of a smaller temporary walkway at Kew several years ago. The walkway will be open to the public from Saturday. http://ukpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5gjtFMoYrj1YeSz4PBm_EtPHRMQ_w

4) Scottish Woodlands manages more than 170,000 hectares of woodland, valued in excess of £500m, for more than 1,500 clients. As well as explaining the investment opportunities, however, Mann wants to see the forestry industry recognised for its importance to the Scottish economy. “With competing demands for land from food producers, biofuels and the like, land value is rising and woodland is rising in value too,” he said. “Our production in the UK only satisfies about 20% of our requirements, but we have the real opportunity to increase that figure and even become self-sufficient. That would have a knock-on effect for the economy.” A recent report showed that the value of the forestry sector to the Scottish economy was nearly £1 billion, with about 20,000 jobs involved. It is estimated a developed biomass industry in the UK would be almost 10 times as important as the recycling industry in employment terms, with twice as many employees as the air transport industry. Forestry Commission Scotland is targeting sales of £320m of freehold forest per year to fund a woodland creation programme, and private-sector investors are being provided with incentives to plant 8,000 hectares for increased production of commercial timber and as a climate change mitigation measure. “There was a very good rationale behind this heavy tax discounts of the 1970s and 1980s,” said Mann. “Britain was seriously short of timber and it takes about 35 years to bring a woodland to maturity. Incentive schemes remain but are geared differently.” http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/natural_resources/article3998


5) Africa is expected to produce a relatively small but still substantial part of the global biofuel demand. Millions of hectares will be turned into large scale biofuel plantations. This will hardly take place in current agricultural areas. Especially natural areas of wetlands and rainforest - the hotspots for biodiversity - are vulnerable for this development. These are the main outcomes of the study 'Biofuel production in Africa' (1), today presented by Wetlands International at the Convention of Biological Diversity in Bonn. The report describes the expected impact of biofuel production on African wetlands and their values in 2020. Africa wide food production is not directly at risk being pushed away by biofuel production. Although millions of African hectares might be turned into biofuel production, this will largely take place outside existing agricultural areas. The African share of biofuel production for EU and North American and upcoming Asian markets is expected to remain relatively modest in the coming decades (an assumed 5% in 2020). Major consumer markets (US, EU) will preferably support their own agricultural sector to produce feedstocks for biofuels. Countries like Brazil will remain better equipped to extend its biofuel production and to serve the world markets with low production costs. A large and increasing share of European and American agricultural production is turned into biofuels. As a result, African food prices too will rise. This creates opportunities for farmers but also jeopardizes the position of the landless and urban poor when foodprices rise. http://yubanet.com/enviro/Biofuel-demand-and-Africa-threat-to-wetlands-and-forests.php


6) The trade union boss questioned why Cameroonians who are the owners and custodians of the forest should control only 80,000 hectares. "How can one explain that out of 620 forest exploiters operating in Cameroon, 600 Cameroonian exploiters control only 8 per cent of the forest whereas 20 foreign exploiters control the rest of the forest", he wondered. Nkodo Dang stated that it is inconceivable that a Cameroonian wanting to bury his or her family member lacks even wood to make a coffin. It was also with consternation that Nkodo Dang and his colleagues questioned the whole idea of forest certification which, though reserved for the Cameroonian government, has witnessed a gradual influence from foreign NGOs. The trade unionists are particularly irked by the fact that the said report has failed to carryout a comparative study of the situation and proceeded to mask the realities of the Cameroonian forest. To the retired exploiter, Nkodo Dang wondered why he could not make his report at the time he was on the field. In other words, he said, if the system is bad, then he must have contributed to it. Cameroon, according to Nkodo Dang, has 22.5 million hectares of forest of several categories: equatorial forest, savannah forest, scrub and mangrove. But how come trouble comes in only when it concerns the exploitation of equatorial forest? This is the question, Nkodo Dang asked. Of the 600 tree species in Cameroon, he said, only 30 are exploited.http://allafrica.com/stories/200805261366.html

Sierra Leone:

7) The lifting of the ban on logging which tends to suggest that while cutting down logs and perhaps producing forest products, Sierra Leoneans are not allowed to export timber. For some reason, some Sierra Leoneans have argued that they make a living out of timber export and have not viewed with favour the continuous ban on timber export as they believe that the livelihood of some Sierra Leoneans is threatened. Those who are in favour of continuing the timber export ban believe that the export on forest products is a conservative move that is designed to discourage excess logging. Excess logging itself is blamed for the scarcity of water and even for the fast disappearance of vast forests that one dotted the landscape of Sierra Leone. Those who are in favour of lifting the ban on timber export may not be aware that it is intended to encourage some sort of conservation of our forests for posterity. It is common knowledge that to deplete our forest is to invite future problems, including the scarcity of water and the consequences of excessive deforestation which terminates with desertification. Many parts of Sierra Leone are already savannah, meaning that no big trees are expected to grow there again and subsequently when grass disappears, then sand will surface. The ban on timber export is therefore a sensible move to delay desertification, enhance the availability of water and other environmental advantages. It is also interesting to note that those countries who are importing timbers andencouraging Sierra Leoneans to export timbers through cash incentives have vast forest lands in their countries which they are trying to conserve by encouraging the importation of timber. One would wonder why countries with large expanses of forest would prefer to import timber than cut down their own trees? http://forum.visitsierraleone.org/forum_posts.asp?TID=2757&PID=31644#31644


8) The envoy from Europe can hardly believe his eyes. Butterflies the size of dessert plates are fluttering around his nose. Orchids hang in cascades from towering trees. Hornbills sail across the treetops. The tropical air is filled with the saturated scent of growth and proliferation. Biologists have already tracked down more than 10,000 plant and 400 mammal species in the Congo basin. These plants and animals are part of the world's second-largest uninterrupted rainforest, one of the planet's most potent carbon storage systems. Indeed, it is for precisely this reason that Hans Schipulle, 63, is tramping around in the wilderness near the Sangha River on a humid morning in the Central African Republic. The envoy from Europe can hardly believe his eyes. Butterflies the size of dessert plates are fluttering around his nose. Orchids hang in cascades from towering trees. Hornbills sail across the treetops. The tropical air is filled with the saturated scent of growth and proliferation. Biologists have already tracked down more than 10,000 plant and 400 mammal species in the Congo basin. These plants and animals are part of the world's second-largest uninterrupted rainforest, one of the planet's most potent carbon storage systems. Indeed, it is for precisely this reason that Hans Schipulle, 63, is tramping around in the wilderness near the Sangha River on a humid morning in the Central African Republic. Bayanga, a nearby village, is living proof of the traditional conflict between protecting the environment and fighting poverty. Until recently, its residents benefited from the destruction of the rainforest. A sawmill in Bayanga provided employment for 370 people, but the mill was shut down after Schipulle and his alliance presented an urgent appeal to the government in the capital Bangui to prevent a dubious logging company from being allowed to overexploit 4,520 square kilometers (1,745 square miles) of forest. http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,554982,00.html


9) The Government has sworn to act to save the Mau Complex forests. Prime Minister Hon. Raila Odinga who chaired a meeting over the Mau said the Government was treating the matter seriously and was determined to come up with a solution. “We are concerned about the situation in Mau and want to find a solution to the increased human activity there,” the East African Standard quotes him. KFWG member and UNEP Policy and Programme Officer, Mr Christian Lambrechts, gave a presentation on the status of the forests and raised alarm over the future of projects that depend on the Mau Complex. Read more on this latest development here at the East African Standard online edition. A copy of a report from an aerial survey of the Mau forest complex authored by UNEP, KFWG and Ewaso Ngiro South Development Authority can found on the KFWG website at this link: http://www.kenyaforests.org/reports/Mau%20Complex%20Forest%20Rapid%20Aerial%20Assessment%2023J
an%2008.pdf - http://kenyaforests.wildlifedirect.org/2008/05/27/high-profile-attention-on-the-mau-compl

10) As the Prime Minister, when Mr Raila Odinga visits the Mau Forest Complex Tuesday, he will be hard put to make unpopular pronouncements, but which will nevertheless safeguard the future of millions of Kenyans, who depend on the environmental services offered by the Mau. The flight Mr Odinga takes Tuesday will be over parts of the 400,000-hectare forest complex that are now reeling under widespread invasion by illegal settlers, logging and destruction of indigenous trees, hundreds of acres of forest land that are now converted into cropland, encroachment by tea plantations and pockets of thick smoke emanating from tens (if not hundreds) of charcoal burning kilns. Mr Odinga is likely to relive a tour made by Environment and Natural Resources minister John Michuki on May 8. The latter is said to have been "horrified' by the destruction of this all-important life-supporting natural system. It is believed that Mr Odinga's interest and decision to tour the Mau was occasioned by prompting from Michuki. Earlier, a combined team of conservationists from Unep, the Kenya Forestry Working Group and the Ewaso Nyiro South Development Authority had made a rapid aerial assessment, which unearthed the "mayhem" wrought on the Mau forests. The team conducted the surveillance trip on January 23, with the aim of ascertaining some complaints made of increased forest destruction after the disputed 2007 December presidential elections. The team overflew a number of forests that constitute the Mau Forest Complex -Maasai Mau, Ol Pusimoru, Transmara and South West Mau. The team later prepared a report, "Southern Mau Complex Forests Rapid Aerial Assessment", that paints a rather gloomy picture on the status of the forests. http://allafrica.com/stories/200805270188.html

11) I FIRST VISITED THE TAITA Hills a decade ago with James Mwang’ombe, the programme co-ordinator of the Taita Hills Forests Programme. Mwang’ombe was probably the best guide to have on the trip. He grew up around the hills and his late father worked in the Tsavo. As a toddler, Mwang’ombe even walked up to an elephant and touched it and has lived to tell the tale. I was mesmerised because l had not imagined such stunning, vivid landscapes. These were hills that we had whizzed by since childhood, as we drove past Voi to Mombasa, just standing there like most hills do, still and silent, carpeted in green. But in the company of Mwang’ombe, driving up and down the hills, all that changed — the hills came alive, the forests were full of creatures you won’t see anywhere else on earth, and as the evening drew on, we were enveloped in a fine mist of white — and my love affair with the mist mountains began. A decade later, I returned to the hills. Standing by a church built a century ago on the steep slope of the Bura Hill, I heard the dreaded sound of a power saw and turned to see a group of local men standing around a gigantic fig tree not less than five metres away. By the time I got there, the ancient tree had come crashing to the ground. I was stunned. I asked them why they had to cut the tree. “Because it was interfering with the powerline,” said one of them. They could have easily trimmed the branches, I thought, but when l asked what they would do with the huge old tree now lying on the ground, the answer came in a chorus: “Charcoal!” In my naivety, I had thought that nobody was cutting indigenous trees on the Taitas any more. After all, the Taita Hills are biological hotspots and the forests hold the treasures of the Taita community. It was time to make contact with Mwang’ombe again to find out what the status of the Taitas was. “It has been estimated that up to 98 per cent of the forest has been lost in the past 200 years,” Mwang’ombe explained. “However, the estimates between Independence in 1963 and now vary from 20-50 per cent depending on the forest area.” He continued: “For example, estimates put loss of indigenous forest cover of Chawia at about 50 per cent, and that of Mbololo forest at 20 per cent. In the past decade, forest cover loss has been quite minimal. “However, there has been some destruction, especially through forest fires like the ones that devastated Mwambirwa forest destroying about 300 hectares in 1997 and 2002.” The ban on timber harvesting from government forests — imposed in the 1980s — also shifted the logging from protected to non-protected areas. http://www.nationmedia.com/eastafrican/current/Magazine/mag260520082.htm

12) In the late 1960s Kenya embarked on a production regime known as import substitution. Under the scheme, the country was supposed crank up manufacturing chiefly to save on foreign currency. Unfortunately, the scheme failed as red tape starved the industries of imported inputs and machinery. Later when Kenya switched to export promotion, a Bretton Woods-driven liberalisation of the economy caught all industries napping. Subsequently, all have become fair game for competition from imports from Asia and other countries that channeled practical efforts to promoting their manufacturing for export. ONE IMPORT-SUBSTITUTION FIRM IS the Webuye-based pulp and paper manufacturer Panafrican Paper Mills (PPM). Mooted in 1969, it began operating in 1974 under the management of joint partner Orient Paper of India. However, it has been on a drastic decline, as we report in our business pages, and now needs massive corrective intervention from its shareholders. The State a week ago injected Sh140 million to stanch the cash flow crisis at the firm, in addition to lining up several other incentives for the rescue. These include ceding 18,000 hectares of forest for 18 years to the firm and significantly reducing royalties on tree-cutting. This is a godsend for the economy of Webuye, which has wallowed in uncertainty since the firm’s three-decade forest lease expired. But we ask the government to seriously rethink its joint venture with Orient. The first question it should answer is whether it is still viable. In the coming years, we will see mega-plants being built in China to take advantage of massive afforestation programmes flood the world with cheap paper. Two, does the firm have the capacity to reforest as it claims? How has it performed in the past? http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/nmgcontententry.asp?category_id=24&newsid=124012

13) People living next to forests will be allowed to cultivate their crops in the forests, akin to what was earlier called the shamba (garden) system. Speaking at the Kenya Forestry Research Institute in Muguga Wednesday, Forestry and Wildlife minister, Dr Noah Wekesa said the reintroduction of the system is aimed at encouraging conservation among the communities. Dr Wekesa said the system would be done in a "controlled manner" to prevent further depletion of the area under forest cover. "We are already doing this in some areas and I think it is working well," he said. Previously, environmentalists had opposed the move, saying this might encourage illegal logging. Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai is on record saying the shamba system was not a good idea, as it would be difficult to control the cutting down of trees. http://allafrica.com/stories/200805211114.html

14) The Sh30 billion charcoal industry will soon be streamlined to ensure that part of its proceeds go to forest conservation efforts. The Kenya Forest Services is pushing for streamlining of the industry through new regulations governing production, transport and use. "This is a big industry worth Sh30 billion and if only a small percentage of this can go to conservation then it would do a lot," said Kenya Forest Services director, Mr David Mbugua. The industry also employs thousands in production, transport, and in both wholesale and retail trade. According to Mr Mbugua, the charcoal industry can no longer be ignored due to its huge economic significance. "Whether we want to or not, we cannot do away with charcoal since about 70 to 80 per cent of Kenyans depend on charcoal and wood as a source of energy," said Mr Mbugua. Efforts to prohibit charcoal burning have in the past failed mainly due to huge demand, lack of capacity by the relevant authorities and collusion with charcoal burners. The new drive to regulate the charcoal industry arose from the new Forest Act of 2005 which requires formulation of regulations on the production, transport and use of charcoal. Once the regulations are in place, the private sector will be able to invest more in development of the industry. "People will now deal in it as a legal business and they will improve on the technologies used in charcoal burning," said Mr Mbugua. Current charcoal making technologies are obsolete and have not been improved leading to a lot of wastage of wood. Burning 10 tonnes of firewood gives one tonne of charcoal, explained Mr Mbugua. According to the KFS director, the new rules are at an advanced stage of formulation and will soon be presented to the Forestry and Wildlife minister for gazzettment. The rules outline how a percentage from every charcoal bag will be charged. http://allafrica.com/stories/200805211045.html


15) Fisherman Ali Osman grins as he hauls a large emperor fish out of the shallow Red Sea waters off Eritrea. Other fish flop on the sea's flat surface as four young fishermen wade through the high tide to take back an impressive haul to their village, Hirgigo."If it wasn't for the mangroves, there wouldn't be so many fish," Ali says, pointing at a thick tree line marking the border of desert and sea. The forest of new mangrove trees has given fish, crabs and oysters vital shelter to feed and breed in an area where there were previously only arid mud flats. Marine life, and their human hunters, are not the only beneficiaries of an eco-project in this Horn of Africa village that has won global awards as a model for reducing poverty and feeding the hungry. Led by US scientist and humanitarian Gordon Sato, the project has transformed an area where fresh water is too scarce to support conventional agriculture. Leaves from the trees - a million mangroves grow in a 6km swathe from Hirgigo - provide fodder for livestock, so villagers no longer have to trek into distant highlands to feed their sheep and goats. The decade-old Manzanar project's low-tech, self-sustaining cycle also provides ground fishmeal and dried mangrove seeds to feed protein-hungry animals. Salih Mohamud, a 60-year-old father of four, says while watching his livestock contentedly: "I was given three sheep, now I have 15. I was a poor man, now I am rich." http://www.busrep.co.za/index.php?fSectionId=&fArticleId=4417619


16) The British and Colombian governments have launched a joint drive to highlight the environmental damage caused by cocaine use. Colombian vice-president Francisco Santos Calderon said taking it was seen as a "victimless crime" in Europe but it was devastating his country. Some 2.2 million hectares of rainforest had been lost to cocaine production over the last 20 years, he added. Home Office minister Vernon Coaker said this was the "real price" of the drug. The two politicians were joined at the launch of the Shared Responsibility campaign in London's Trafalgar Square by Alex James, the former bassist with the pop group Blur. Mr Calderon said: "We need to show the consequences - the consequences to human beings and also the consequences to the environment." Cocaine consumption fuels exploitation, violence and environmental damage in Colombia, the world's second most bio-diverse country, he added. Drug barons were devastating the country's soils and water sources by using harmful or banned pesticides, Mr Calderon said. Mr Coaker said that although drug consumption was at an 11-year low, cocaine was the only drug that had risen in use since 1998. He said the campaign was "trying to put across the message that the real price of cocaine is not what somebody pays on the street, and not only what an individual does in the UK when they snort powder cocaine". Mr James, a former cocaine user who recently presented a BBC Panorama documentary on the effects of the drug, backed the environmental focus of the campaign. He said: "I don't know why we care more about monkeys dying than people dying but we do. So this is a really intelligent way of going about it." http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/7413454.stm


17) Gilberto Câmara, a scientist who leads Brazil’s national space agency, is more at ease poring over satellite data of the Amazon than being thrust into the spotlight. But since January, Dr. Câmara has been at the center of a political tug-of-war between scientists and Brazil’s powerful business interests. It started when he and his fellow engineers released a report showing that deforestation of Brazil’s portion of the rainforest appeared to have shot up again after two years of decline. Since then, Dr. Câmara, who leads the National Institute for Space Research here, has found himself having to defend his agency’s findings against one of Brazil’s richest and most powerful men: Blairo Maggi, who is governor of the country’s largest agricultural state, Mato Grosso, and a business owner known as the “Soybean King.” Governor Maggi was exercised enough by the report — which led to harsh measures stifling business in his state — that he asked for, and got, a meeting with the president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The stakes could not be higher for Mr. da Silva. Stewardship of the Amazon has always been a touchy subject, with many Brazilians fearful that world powers would try to impose their standards on the rainforest. But in recent years, the debate over the Amazon has intensified, with many outside the country seeing an intact rainforest as a key to controlling global warming. At the same time, Brazil’s economy has taken off — largely because of businesses that are claiming more of the Amazon’s land for crops and livestock, and more of its trees for logging. The space agency has two systems for measuring deforestation. A yearly satellite analysis called Prodes measures deforested areas as small as about 15 acres, while a lower-resolution system called Deter is designed to map areas greater than about 60 acres in real-time, giving law enforcement information to act quickly to stop further destruction. The controversy over the space agency’s figures have centered on the information provided by Deter. In the past, Dr. Câmara said, the agency included mostly large swaths of cleared land in its analysis. But environmental researchers have been clamoring for years for satellite researchers to expand monitoring to include areas thinned by logging and surface fires, rather than just areas that have been clear cut. The agency uses the term progressive degradation to refer to this systemic process of forest degradation that has become increasingly common in the Amazon in recent years. The agency began including it in its analysis in 2005, Dr. Câmara said. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/25/world/americas/25amazon.html?_r=1&ref=world&oref=slogin

18) Diagem Inc. temporarily froze its exploration activities in the Juina Diamond Province of Mato Grosso, Brazil and has initiated procedures to significantly reduce its Brazilian workforce until a resolution to the embargo imposed by the Brazilian Federal Environmental Agency ("IBAMA") is reached. Diagem's legal counsel in Brazil is confident that the IBAMA embargo can be nullified in a relatively short period of time as the deforestation was not performed by Diagem, but by other non-related parties prior to Diagem starting its evaluation program. Diagem is also confident that it will successfully contest an unjustified C$1.1 million fine that is considered illegal, abusive and excessive in this context. The Company is dedicating its financial and human resources to reversing the embargo. However, during this mandated standby, the Company will continue to comply with obligations to the government and other stakeholders and to maintain its surface and mineral rights, facilities and assets in good standing to the extent permitted by the law. "The Chapadao Kimberlite Project has the potential to become a major employer in the community and has the promise of a significant return for the shareholders who have long supported the Company," commented Denis Francoeur, CEO of the Company. "The goal of the Company is to rapidly resume evaluation work on the project, which is undoubtedly in the best interest of the shareholders and the community of Juina. Diagem plans to rehire the laid-off employees once the embargo is lifted". http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/markets/industries/industrials/diagem-temporarily-halts-field-

19) The Amazonian city of Altamira played host to one of the more uneven contests in recent Brazilian history this week, as a colourful alliance of indigenous leaders gathered to take on the might of the state power corporation and stop the construction of an immense hydroelectric dam on a tributary of the Amazon. At stake are plans to flood large areas of rainforest to make way for the huge Belo Monte hydroelectric dam on the Xingu river. The government is pushing the project as a sustainable energy solution, but critics complain the environmental and social costs are too high. For people living beside the river, the dam will bring an end to their way of life. Thousands of homes will be submerged and changes in the local ecology will wipe out the livelihoods of many more, killing their main food sources and destroying their raw materials. For the 10,000 tribal indians of the Xingu, whose lives have changed little since the arrival of Europeans five centuries ago, this will be a devastating blow. “This is the second time we are fighting this battle,” says Chief Bocaire, a young leader of the Kayapo, one of more than 600 Indians from 35 ethnic groups who gathered in record numbers in Altamira. For most it has been an odyssey of several weeks, travelling in small boats to reach the roads. “In 1989, our parents defeated a similar proposal with the help of the international media. Now it is back. But we are ready to fight again. This time we speak their language, and we are more determined than ever,” says Chief Bocaire. With so much at stake, tensions spilled over into violence this week when an engineer from the power company Eletrobras was caught up in a melee with Indians wielding machetes. Paulo Fernando Rezende had his shirt ripped from him and was left with a deep cut to his shoulder. Nineteen years ago, the Indians called on the support of the rock star Sting and the late Body Shop founder Anita Roddick. Pictures of the pair alongside Chief Raoni, with his lower lip distended by a traditional lip plate, sent their message to the outside world. The reservoir will flood up to 6,140 square kilometres (2,371 square miles). Scientists say it will cause a dramatic increase in greenhouse-gas emissions from the decomposition of organic matter in the stagnant water of the reservoir. http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/05/23/9155/


20) New Delhi: A satellite-linked fire alert system, developed by NASA and currently on trial in Madhya Pradesh, is turning out to be an effective tool in saving wildlife and bio-diversity from forest fires. This computer programme, called Fire Alert and Message System (FAMS), has been developed by NASA and the University of Maryland, US. With the help of the alert system, in place since April 2007, forest officials now respond to fire outbreaks faster. The reaction time has been reduced to two hours from the earlier eight hours to even a couple of days. Locating the place of fire in forest areas was difficult, said a forest department official. Such delays can cause major losses to Indian forests every year. A moderate Forest Survey of India (FSI) estimate says that timber worth Rs 35 crore is lost in fires in 63 million hectares of Indian forests every day, apart from unaccounted damage to bio-diversity. But if figures from a UN study in 1987 are calculated on the present prices, the annual loss is estimated to be around Rs 410 crores, says environment ministry estimates. FSI data shows that 50 per cent of Indian forests are fire prone. India's first system, a combination of satellite-based detection of fire and a computer programme, sends an alert to the nearest forest official whenever it detects a fire, reducing the reaction time by several hours. The system processes remote sensing data of active fire locations obtained through a satellite and then sends alerts through SMSes and e-mails from the nearest beat guard to the state's chief conservator of forests. The system also builds the database of fire locations, which can be used to identify fire sensitive zones scientifically and also to plan fire control strategy. http://news.in.msn.com/national/article.aspx?cp-documentid=1417926

21) Right under the nose of three state governments -- Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka -- the world’s richest bio-diversity hotspot is fearing to lose its glory due to massive deforestation. Environmentalists say that this thick forest in the Sahyadri range, which is also home to several wildlife, has already lost two acres of its forest to timber mafia and instances of forest fire. However, with a view to protect the forest, they have also held several round of talks with the villagers of Virdi, which has a cluster of 2,000 population in Maharashtra. "There is a need of a combined effort to curb such mass scale deforestation in important areas of biodiversity richness, but being private areas owned by villagers and given the political or social influence, authorities can do little, especially in a state like Maharashtra, whose entire Western Ghats have under pressure for years and continue to reel under the demons of rapid industrialisation and urban development," said state's renowned environmentalist Nirmal Kulkarni. Besides, it is also found that the trees are cut just next to the village in the thick forest in the Karnataka jurisdiction. Goa's state tree Mhadad (terminillia grenalata) is also found in this stretch and is being robbed away by timber lobby. Other tree species like Kinnal (terminillia panigulata) are also facing the wrath, the environmentalists say. http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/001200805251867.htm


22) The farmers produce more logs than Advance Agro can process, so they sell them to the pole and fibreboard industries. The eucalyptus-farming scheme has proven so successful that the company contracted an additional 500,000 farmers since 2005. Some 300 schools have also joined in, growing seedlings donated by Advance Agro in school compounds and selling the trees when they mature. But things were not always so green for eucalyptus farming and the pulp and paper industry in Thailand, which have had a troubled history. In the late 80s and through the 90s, Thai villagers and activists marched against expanding eucalyptus plantations which have taken over natural forests, farms and settlements. Though not a scene typical of rural padi farms in Thailand, it nevertheless is becoming commonplace as more of such trees are sprouting up in the country’s agriculture sites. Some 1.5 million Thai farmers are growing eucalyptus trees on empty spaces around their crops, under contract with Advance Agro Public Company, maker of the Double A brand of office paper and Thailand’s biggest pulp and paper manufacturer. The farmers, scattered over the central plains, south, north and north-east of the country, nurture some 300 million eucalyptus trees to be used for paper-making. In the village of Chiangtai in Chachoengsao province in eastern Thailand, farmer Patchai Kanpawa first planted eucalyptus on unused land in his 9ha rice fields four years ago and has since harvested 3,000 trees. While Kanpawa, 67, utilises rice field embankments for his eucalyptus trees, other farmers grow them in bigger parcels of land among their plots of rice, sugarcane, cassava, corn and other crops. Such small-scale tree-farming is said to be less ecologically damaging than vast industrial tree plantations. Kanpawa says eucalyptus cultivation has not adversely affected his rice yields. He cuts the trees when they reach a diameter of 6.5cm – the minimum for pulp production. The first 1,000 trees felled earned him 100,000 bahts (RM10,000). That drew the attention of other villagers and now, half of the 150 families in Chiangtai, about an hour’s drive from Bangkok, are cultivating eucalyptus trees. Advance Agro processes the logs at its two pulp and two paper mills in Thatoom in Prachinburi province, east of Bangkok. http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2008/5/27/lifefocus/21193971&sec=lifefocus


23) Environmentalists yesterday called on the government to stop the encroachment of forest land in the name of industrialisation. They during a press conference yesterday also demanded that the indigenous people's land rights be established through an effective land commission in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) and the proper implementation of the CHT peace treaty. Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (Bapa) organised the conference styled "Forests endangered, indigenous people tortured in the name of development" at Dhaka Reporters Unity to describe the current situation of the forests in danger. Speaking at the conference, Bapa President Prof Muzaffer Ahmad said forests are our national assets and the indigenous people have been conserving the forests for decades but these forests are now on the verge of destruction. He also said the forests and rivers of the country are being ruined in the name of industrialisation. This is polluting the environment and causing severe natural disasters. "Development should be human and environment friendly but some non-government and business organisations ignoring facts are destroying our common properties and are also evicting indigenous people from their lands," he said. The lone mangrove forest of the country--the Sundarbans--is being demolished to feed newspaper and hardboard factories in Khulna, he said adding that lands are being taken over by expanding industries and cultivable lands in the CHT area are losing fertility due to the effluents discharged by industries. "We are not against industrialisation but we do not want development that destroys our forests, rivers and puts the indigenous people at risk," he said, adding, "Development is for the people… not for merely development and we should not go for anything that goes against the greater interest of the ethnic people." Prof Muzaffer also said the ownership of lands should be specified and the rights of the ethnic communities should be protected. He stressed the importance of planting local species of tress instead of opting for alien species to save the biodiversity of the country. "The environment will be damaged and natural disasters will be more destructive if we do not take steps to save our forests and rivers," he added. http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=37919


24) KON TUM — People in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum are increasingly encroaching on forest land to plant cassava, rubber and coffee due to the crops’ soaring prices, says Deputy Director of Kon Tum Forestry Farm Nguyen Duc Chien. The forestry official spotlights an alarming rise in illegal logging and forest encroachment, saying that violators are using all sorts of tricks to get away with illegally exploiting the forests. Chien says that people in Kon Tum Province have infringed upon more than 4,400 ha of forest land, out of the 16,000 ha of Kon Tum Forest managed by the province’s forestry farm. In the past five months alone, more than 550 ha of forest land has been invaded by people from Kon Tum. Nguyen Khac Hien, deputy head of the forest farm’s Technical Department says the areas cleared of trees are getting larger day by day. Today, this figure is more than 4,400 ha but tomorrow it may be 5,000 ha, says Hien. Among the worst hit forests are those in Dak Kam Commune of Kon Tum Town and Ngoc Wang Commune of Dak Ha District, says Hoang Trung Dung, an officer from the farm. Rising prices for cassava, rubber and coffee have given locals extra incentive to break the law. The price of raw cassava rose to VND80,000 per 100kg from VND50,000, while dry cassava shot up to VND130,000 per 100kg from VND80,000, says Lam Thi Minh Thuy, an official from Kon Tum Province’s Agriculture Department. Prices for rubber and coffee are also rising, with rubber getting especially pricey. Rubber prices rose to VND19,000 per kg, three times higher than before, says Thuy. Farm officer Dung says loggers are using tricks such as lighting forest fires at night, to get away with cutting down trees and collecting timber illegally. In the daytime, they plant cassava, rubber and coffee on the forest land which they have just cleared, he says. But while farm officers are aware of what’s being done, Chien says he doesn’t have enough staff to adequately enforce the law. "We also lack the necessary technical means and the farm has no right to punish the people who illegally invade forest land and cut down trees," said Chien. http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/showarticle.php?num=01AGR260508

Papua New Guinea:

25) Scientists are warning Papua New Guinea's mangrove forests will disappear within 20 years unless moves are made now to protect them. A marine biologist from the University of PNG, Thomas Maniwavie, says the harvesting of mangrove forests has become an unsustainable commercial industry. He says the increasing population and the rising cost of cooking fuels like kerosene, has led to the increased burning of mangrove forest wood. Dr Maniwavie, says if alternatives aren't found then mangrove forests will be wiped out because of over harvesting by 2028. "Firstly village women and elderly women were picking up firewood, in small bundles for sustainable usage, then switch to menfolk in fact chopping down trees, and then only within the last five years menfolk have come along with chainsaws and with chainsaws they've ripped down more trees than they're required," he said. "I'm quite fearful that if this rate continues we might end up having no mangroves in the next twenty years or so." http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/news/stories/200805/s2257227.htm?tab=pacific


26) Environmentalist groups claimed legal, not illegal or even illegal as it is easy to get papers nowadays as long as one have connections, large-scale logging, small-scale mining and illegal mining operations which had no permits or even have permits were major culprits in deforestation. Two months ago, a mini-gold processing plant in Rosario, Agusan del Sur whose pond tailings containing waste toxic materials like cyanide, acids, mercury used in gold processing were spilling over the streets, to farms and nearby houses were found to have no single permit at all. And it has been operating for years without environmental compliance certificate or ECC. Similar operations are found in almost all gold rush areas in Caraga Region were most if not all had no business, barangay permits at all therefore cannot be monitored that if concerned government agencies are monitoring. And wood processing plants who had no logging concession at all which were pre-requisites in operating logging business were allegedly buying illegally cut logs from illegal loggers who allegedly paying protection money all the way to concerned government agencies including law enforcers from NBI, CIDG, police and military, selected media men particularly radio stations and to the insurgents. Said revelations were exposed by three former workers of well-known illegal logging operators who were relatives or closely associated with political dynasty clans. The three who requested not to be identified for fear of their lives in their tape recorded revelations claimed the reason why illegal logging and mining are hard to stop because “everybody is benefited from government men to the insurgents operating in the area”. An Army colonel confirmed that allegedly the New People’s Army are getting its bulk of its revolutionary taxes from illegal logging and mining activities in Caraga Region. The expose’ claimed from the area where logs are cut and towed via Agusan River, there are more than twenty checkpoints. They alleged that each checkpoints get protection money that varies according to number of logs towed to Butuan City. The protection money ranges from P1,000 to P20,000 allegedly collected by each checkpoint located along Agusan River. http://www.mindanao.com/blog/?p=3713

27) LA TRINIDAD, BENGUET—Abraham Akilit, manager of the National Irrigation Administration in the Cordillera Administrative Region, was shocked to see five bulldozers roaring like lost motorcycles in the forests. Akilit led a team to inspect the Mt. Ahin watershed in the boundary of the provinces of Ifugao, Benguet and Mountain Province last month. “Like in the other national parks, the bulldozers were meant to clear the forest for vegetation,” Akilit said. Attracting most attention are the Mt. Pulag National Park that straddles Benguet, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya, and the Mt. Data National Park in Buguias, Benguet, and in Bauko, Mountain Province. “Crucial sections of Mt. Data and Mt. Pulag are becoming vegetable gardens. This is a sad development,” Akilit said. At stake in these national parks are mossy forests, the most critical portions of the country’s forests, said Manuel Pogeyed, Benguet’s environment and natural resources officer. “They provide the habitat of endangered species of plants and animals.” Samuel Peñafiel, director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the Cordillera, agreed. “The mossy forests act like a sponge. They hold water and organic matter which are crucial to forest life and biodiversity. This is why mossy forests are attractive to vegetation,” he said. Pulag, the highest peak in Luzon and the second tallest mountain in the country, had been reported to host 33 bird species and several mammals believed to be in danger of becoming extinct, like the deer, longhaired fruit bat and the giant bushy tailed cloud rat (Crateromys schadenbergi). http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20080522-138043/From-mossy-forests-

Solomon Islands:

28) Logging companies in the country have been accused of robbing the government, the country, and resource owners of millions of dollars over the past twenty years by manipulating the country's determined price system for the export of round logs. A logger, who chose to remain anonymous, says that he totally supports the recent upward review by the Government of the determined export price for round logs, describing it as "still very unfair on the country and the resource owners." In response to the threat by the logging companies to withhold their log exports as a way to put pressure on the government to reconsider its decision, the logger said the Government must immediately investigate the administration of log exports by the Forestry Department up until now. "If the Government carries out a surprise audit of the way the Forestry Department has been administering log exports, the Government would find massive corruption of the export system initiated by logging companies in the last twenty years," the logger said. He stated that the corruption involved both corrupting the Forestry Department and deliberate manipulation of the system, enabling loggers to avoid paying for the right level of export duties. http://solomontimes.com/news.aspx?nwID=1823

29) An ISABEL landowner says the Government’s recent decision to increase the determined price on logs is forcing loggers to stop their operations. Konide landowner Cecil Evo said this yesterday. He said this is already happening with logging companies operating on Isabel. “One logging company has already cut down its staff and another, Green Tree, halted discussions with resource owners,” he said. Mr Evo said the move will also affect government revenue because the economy still relies heavily on logging. The Government’s decision to increase the determined price was to ensure resources owners and the government get a fair share of the revenue from logs. http://solomonstarnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1553&change=71&changeown=


30) The illegal logging destroying Indonesia’s tropical forests is fuelling another illicit trade: the trafficking of girls as sex slaves. Girls as young as 13 are being lured from their homes with promises of employment as waitresses or maids, and then pressed into servicing loggers, their bosses and forestry officials deep within the jungles of West Kalimantan, on Indonesia’s side of Borneo island. Maria, a child’s rights activist, stumbled upon the jungle brothel during a trip to West Kalimantan to rescue teenagers in illegal gold mines The girls, many of them between 13 and 17, had been trafficked from within West Kalimantan, or Indonesia’s main island of Java, 920km away, she said. “If they want to run, they’re in the middle of the forest, living beside a river, which is too deep and dangerous to swim,” said Maria, who asked that her real name not be used for fear of being tracked down by the traffickers. The girls were paid as little as 300,000 rupiah per month (Dh118), and forced to live in appalling conditions, she said. “They didn’t even have simple houses; they were living in huts or just tents made of plastic, with thatch roofs. There were no facilities for them,” Maria said. With high unemployment levels and low education, many village girls in Indonesia jump at any offers to work overseas or in other cities, particularly because salaries in foreign countries are higher. Last year about 4.3 million people, mostly women, left Indonesia for Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and the Middle East to work as maids or sometimes as nurses, collectively bringing home US$13 billion. http://redapes.org/news-updates/illegal-logging-trade-forces-jungle-brothel-in-indonesia/

New Zealand:

31) "We will be promoting international cooperation to reduce global rates of deforestation and illegal logging to support action on climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development," said Jim Anderton. International action will include the development of financial mechanisms to assist developing countries to reduce deforestation; commissioning research on further steps to address international trade in illegally-logged wood and Ministerial-level engagement with key consumer countries and those countries from which there is a risk of export to New Zealand of illegally-logged wood. "We will also be supporting efforts to have the threatened and commonly illegally logged timber, kwila, listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). A listing would allow trade in this type of timber to be effectively monitored and controlled internationally." Jim Anderton said that verifying the legality of wood products at the border was not straightforward and even if documentation is supplied, verifying its authenticity is not easy. Imposing a ban on illegal timber would be impractical and ineffective if it was not backed up by reliable traceability and verification systems involving exporting countries. For this reason we need to develop cooperative mechanisms with our trading partners to prevent illegally-logged wood being exported to New Zealand. Bilateral agreements offer the best prospect, in the short term, of providing practicable mechanisms to effectively identify and prevent illegal wood from entering New Zealand. It is precisely these sorts of bilateral mechanisms that I plan to discuss with counterparts in the Asia-Pacific region over the next two months. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0805/S00555.htm

33) Juken New Zealand has come up with a new crop in its Gisborne forests that might one day outstrip the value of its trees and generate hundreds of new jobs in this district. It yesterday launched First Light Mushrooms, a company owned by the Nakamoto family and run by Sheldon Drummond, which is exporting gourmet forest mushrooms to untapped markets in Asia and Europe. Together with Food and Crop New Zealand, the company has been researching and trialling mushrooms all over New Zealand for the past eight years. It led them back to this district, which had the most friable rich volcanic soils, as well as the rainfall and the climate best suited to forest mushrooms, Mr Drummond told a gathering at the Marina Restaurant yesterday. The project had been kept under wraps until it was commercial, he said. It was now growing the first variety -- saffron milk cap mushrooms -- in commercial quantities, he said. Six others, including Perigord black truffles, bianchetto, shor, porcini, matsutake and burgundy would follow over the next few years. Mr Drummond said the company was now at the stage where things would start literally mushrooming. "At the moment we are talking in kilograms, by next year we will be talking tonnes and after that it will be tonnes per day," he said. "Over the next five to eight years we will be generating jobs in their hundreds," he said. One of the biggest challenges would be finding the people -- growing mushrooms was a complex science. http://www.gisborneherald.co.nz/Default.aspx?s=3&s1=2&id=9d077854722847178d4182c9bef81578


34) Society for Ecological Restoration International (SER) released its May 2008 Briefing Note on the "Opportunities for Integrating Ecological Restoration and Biological Conservation within the Ecosystem Approach" at the Convention on Biological Diversity's Ninth Conference of the Parties held in Bonn, Germany, May 19-30, 2008. The SER Briefing Note states that the Ecosystem Approach, as developed by the CBD and others, provides us with a comprehensive framework where ecological restoration and biological conservation represent key support beams. George Gann, SER's Chair, argues that "as habitat destruction increases and the effects of climate change continue to accelerate, conservation alone is no longer sufficient in protecting the health and continuity of many species". The Briefing Note calls attention to the complementary roles of ecological restoration and biological conservation, and their potential for integration within a unified ecosystem approach. According to Keith Bowers, SER's Vice Chair, "large-scale conservation planning is now taking into account the important role of ecological restoration in preserving biodiversity, whether it is restoring critical elements of the landscape matrix or entire habitats from the ground up". In the United States, two statewide conservation plans have been built around ecological restoration principles: the New Mexico Forest and Watershed Health Plan and the Statewide Strategy for Restoring Arizona's Forests. Ultimate success will depend on avoiding top-down approaches by consulting with all stakeholders (e.g. private landowners, indigenous peoples, and government agencies) from planning to implementation and monitoring. According to Jim Harris, SER's Science and Policy Working Group Chair, "there is an increasing awareness of the fundamental interdependencies linking biodiversity and ecosystem services however the precise relationships between the protecting diversity and human well-being are not yet clearly understood or quantified, and require further research and a precautionary approach". Collaborative efforts between those working in the fields of restoration and conservation, specifically utilizing an integrated ecosystem approach, will yield synergies needed to effectively deal with the daunting challenges of preserving biodiversity while simultaneously improving human livelihoods. http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Integrating_Restoration_And_Conservation_Within_The_Ecosyste

35) Monkeys are being slaughtered by the million every year to cater to the rising demand for "bushmeat," with dire consequences for the tropical forests they roam in Africa, Asia and South America. The commercialization of the practice - bushmeat fetches high prices in cities like London - along with modern hunting methods, is devastating monkey species, researchers told the UN biodiversity conference taking place in the German city of Bonn. The monkeys play a key role in spreading the seeds of certain trees, either because the seeds are better able to germinate after being passed through the monkeys' digestive systems, or because they are released from their hard pods by the monkeys while foraging. The German-based conservation group Pro Wildlife assembled 92 international researchers from the fields of ecology, botany and anthropology to assess the impact of monkey hunting and present their findings to the 5,000 delegates attending the two-week conference. The results were alarming: in many cases there are no laws against the hunting and in others the law is not applied. Monkey meat used to be consumed by indigenous peoples in a sustainable way, but now there is a lucrative trade in the meat, Sandra Altherr, a Pro Wildlife biologist, says. "In many rainforest regions, the larger monkey species have already disappeared, and the hunters have ever smaller species in their sights," Altherr says. "These days they are even shooting squirrel monkeys, which have very little meat on them," she says. Squirrel monkeys, which range through Central and South America generally weigh around a kilogram. According to Pro Wildlife, recent research shows that in those regions of the South American rain forests where monkey species have been exterminated, certain tree species have little chance of survival. "They help reforest the rain forests. If they are not there, the surrounding ecosystem can get out of balance in the longer term," Altherr says. http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/206910,dire-outcome-for-forests-as-monkeys-fall-to-hun

36) A new report, entitled "A Risk Assessment of Invasive Alien Species Promoted for Biofuels," is calling on governments to carefully weigh the risks posed by biofuel crops that stand a chance of becoming invasive species against the perceived benefits. The report, authored by the Global Invasive Species Program (GISP), identifies all the crops being used or considered for future production and ranks them according to the likelihood of their becoming invasive. According to GISP, the damage wrought by invasive species worldwide incurs yearly costs that top $1.4 trillion; the U.S. spends about $120 billion every year to control the populations of over 800 invasive species. Countries in Asia and Africa, in which so-called second generation biofuel crops are being introduced, lack the necessary resources to adequately contain invasive species. A plant like Arundo donax (the giant reed), which has been proposed as a potential biofuel crop, is already invasive in many regions of North and Central America. Not only it is naturally flammable, but it also consumes large quantities fo water -- roughly 2,000 liters per standing meter of growth. Or take oil palm, for example: The African species, which has been recommended for use as a source of biodiesel, has spread like wildfire in certain parts of Brazil -- turning diverse forest habitats into homogeneous fields of palms. While the report isn't intended to discourage all biofuel production, it is meant to serve as a useful reference for policymakers and businesses considering their use. It lists the following as potential risk-mitigating strategies: 1) Risk assessments - use of formal risk assessment protocols to evaluate the risk of invasion 2) Benefit/cost analysis - presenting business plans that can show real benefits before funds are made available 3) Selection of native/low-risk species - creation of incentives for the use of species that pose the lowest risk 4) Risk management - includes monitoring and contingency planning, such as control measures when an outbreak occurs. http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/05/invasive-biofuel-species.php