Land titling for indigenous communities leads to forest protection

By Mike Gaworecki
New research provides yet more evidence that granting indigenous and other local communities formal title to their traditional lands can be a boon to efforts to conserve forests.

Deforestation is responsible for as much as 10 percent of total global carbon emissions, which means that finding effective means of keeping forests standing is crucial to global efforts to halt climate change.

Previous studies have found that securing indigenous land rights is a successful path to keeping forests and the carbon sinks they represent intact. A 2016 analysis by the World Resources Institute (WRI) focused on Bolivia, Brazil, and Colombia, for instance, determined that tenure-secure indigenous forestlands could help avoid the release of carbon emissions equivalent to taking nine to 12 million passenger vehicles off the road over the next 20 years.

According to another report released last year as part of a collaborative research project by the Woods Hole Research Center, the Rights and Resources Initiative, and WRI, there is a lot of carbon stored on indigenous lands, making increased land titling a significant opportunity for climate mitigation. But the research found that, while indigenous peoples and other local forest communities manage at least 24 percent of the carbon stored above-ground in Earth’s tropical forests, or some 54,546 million metric tons of carbon (MtC), more than 22,000 MtC of that is at risk of deforestation or degradation because it is found in regions where the local communities do not enjoy formal recognition of their claim to the land.

A more recent study not only found that well-trained indigenous technicians are every bit as capable of collecting the necessary data to monitor forest carbon stocks as professionals, but that in some cases, at least, they can do it quicker and cheaper than the professionals.

The efficacy of land titling as a forest protection measure are less clear, however. But now the authors of a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) last week say they found that forest clearance is actually reduced by more than three-quarters and forest disturbance by roughly two-thirds over the two-year time span immediately following the granting of land title to an indigenous community.

Source: Land titling for indigenous communities leads to forest protection, peer-reviewed study finds – Mongabay, 2017-04-10

Greenhouse gas effect from mangrove forest conversion is quite significant

Clear-cutting of tropical mangrove forests to create shrimp ponds and cattle pastures contributes significantly to the greenhouse gas effect, one of the leading causes of global warming, new research suggests.

A seven-year study, led by Oregon State University and the Center for International Forestry Research, spanned five countries across the topics from Indonesia to the Dominican Republic. The researchers concluded that mangrove conversion to agricultural uses resulted in a land-use carbon footprint of 1,440 pounds of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere for the production of every pound of beef; and 1,603 pounds of released carbon dioxide for every pound of shrimp.

Source: Greenhouse gas effect caused by mangrove forest conversion is quite significant – EurekAlert! Science News, 2017-04-10

Forests are moving away from Americans

By Darryl Fears
Over several decades in the past century, city populations swelled as Americans moved away from rural forests. Now the forests are moving farther away from Americans.

A new study of satellite images taken over 10 years starting in 1990 shows the rural forest canopy disappearing. Forest space disappeared from the United States in such big chunks that the average distance from any point in the nation to a forest increased by 14 percent, about a third of a mile.

While that’s no big deal to a human driving a car with a pine-scented tree dangling from the rearview mirror, it is to a bird hoping to rest or find food on epic seasonal flights across the globe, according to the study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One.

But forests aren’t just for the birds. They improve the quality of life for fauna and flora, from bears to flowers. Altering forests can change the dynamics of ecosystems and can potentially “affect water chemistry, soil erosion, carbon sequestration patterns, local climate, biodiversity distribution and human quality of life,” a statement announcing the report said.

Source: Americans once moved away from forests. Now forests are moving away from Americans. – The Washington Post, 2017-02-22

Local raw materials under threat from deforestations

By Franklin Alli
The federal government has been called upon to come up with legislation to tackle deforestation which stakeholders say is now threatening local sourcing of raw materials.

Vanguard learned that due to indiscriminate felling and burning of economic trees and deforestation in almost all forest reserves across the country over three million jobs have been lost in timber and wood production and processing under the Pulp, Paper and Paper Products, Publishing and Printing Sectoral Group of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN.

Dr. Frank Jacobs, MAN President, said: “It is important that the government pays close attention to afforestation in order to redress the situation. Forestry Research Institutes in the country should be empowered to effectively carry out their functions and legislation should be enacted and enforced, as the case may be, to check incessant felling of trees.

“As a result of other developmental needs, our forest reserves are rapidly being depleted as both economic and other trees are felled continuously.

Source: Local raw materials under threat from deforestations — MAN – Vanguard New, 2017-02-02

How local elites earn money from burning land in Indonesia

by Alice Cuddy
A “fire economy” has emerged in Indonesia in which the blazes tearing through the country’s land and forests, driven largely by the global demand for palm oil, are lining the pockets of local elites and their patronage networks, according to a new study.

“Fire economy and actor network of forest and land fires in Indonesia,” published in the journal Forest Policy and Economics, details the ways in which a variety of people “benefit directly and indirectly from the business of fire, enjoying profits and economic rents at the expense of environmental quality.”

The study — carried out by scientists from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the University of Riau and Bogor Agricultural University — focuses on four districts in Riau province, on Indonesia’s main western island of Sumatra.

The province reportedly experiences the most frequent fires in Indonesia, due largely to the massive conversion of forests and peatlands to oil palm estates, where slash-and-burn methods are employed to clear land for planting. The practice is illegal in almost all cases.

The fires do not only impact the local environment, with blazes in Indonesia regularly resulting in haze that affects the whole region, particularly Malaysia and Singapore, and that has been linked to a slew of premature deaths.

At the heart of the issue are the “enormous benefits” reaped by those involved in the fires, said one of the study’s authors, Herry Purnomo.

Source: How local elites earn money from burning land in Indonesia – Mongabay, 2017-01-16

Humans have destroyed 7% of Earth’s pristine forest landscapes just since 2000

By Chelsea Harvey
The world’s natural places are disappearing at a galloping clip, says a new study, released Friday in the journal Science Advances. It suggests that more than 7 percent of Earth’s natural, intact forest landscapes have been lost since 2000 — and these ecosystems may be in danger of disappearing entirely from at least 19 countries in the next 60 years.

These landscapes represent some of “the last portions of the Earth that are not significantly affected by human influence,” said Lars Laestadius, a forest expert, consultant on natural resources policy and co-author of the new study. “As we lose these, we lose something that is bigger than ourselves.”

The study defines “intact forest landscapes” as areas greater than 500 square kilometers, or 193 square miles, containing a mosaic of forests and other associated ecosystems, such as plains or wetlands. The key is that these areas must be undisturbed by human activities — they can’t be fragmented by roads or deforestation or other industrial operations. Once that happens, the ecosystems cease to be considered “intact.” And as the new study indicates, this is happening more and more frequently around the world.

Source: Humans have destroyed 7% of Earth’s pristine forest landscapes just since 2000 – The Washington Post, 2017-01-13

World rubber crisis warning as forest devastation found by Scots conservation team

by Brian Donnelly, Senior News Reporter
A SCOTS research team has warned a worldwide rubber shortage is looming as demand grows, costs rise and an adequate man-made substitute is yet to be found.

The natural commodity used throughout modern life is dwindling to such an extent that Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh researchers said if farmers in Africa and Asia continue to fell trees at the current rate more than half of the world’s main source of the critical plant will be gone in 30 years.

It means an impending rubber shortage that would affect production of everything from wellington boots to aviation tyres and scientists are calling for better management methods and policies in major producing countries including China, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos.

Source: World rubber crisis warning as forest devastation found by Scots conservation team – HeraldScotland, 2017-01-06

Significant deforestation in Brazilian Amazon goes undetected, study finds

Efforts by the Brazilian government over the past 15 years to curb deforestation have been a widely celebrated success, but a new study finds that there’s more deforestation happening in Brazil than official accounts suggest.

The study, led by researchers from Brown University, compared data from Brazil’s official Monitoring Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon by Satellite Project (PRODES) with two independent satellite measures of forest cover. The study found that about 9,000 square kilometers of forestland not included in PRODES monitoring were cleared from 2008 to 2012. That’s an area roughly the size of Puerto Rico.

“PRODES has been an incredible monitoring tool and has facilitated the successful enforcement of policies,” said Leah VanWey, co-author of the research and senior deputy director at the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society. “But we show evidence that landowners are working around it in ways that are destroying important forests.”
The research is published in the journal Conservation Letters.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-10-significant-deforestation-brazilian-amazon-undetected.html#jCp

Source: Significant deforestation in Brazilian Amazon goes undetected, study finds – Phys.org