Posts tagged deforestation.
Heartbreaking and absolutely infuriating. Click through for article and video.
One year ago National Geographic posted this open letter from eleven respected scientists alarmed by the prospect of a massive palm oil plantation in a global biodiversity hot spot. Close to 2 million hectares of Congo Basin rainforest are already earmarked for destruction by palm oil plantations.
We are witness to extinction.
A selection of gorgeous images captured by Landsat 7:
- Antarctic Pack Ice
- Antarctica’s Byrd Glacier
- Mount Etna, Italy
- The meandering Mississippi River
- Vatnajokull Glacier in Iceland
In Austerity Crisis, Greeks Turn to Wood-Burning, Illegal Logging
“A steep increase in heating costs has led many Greeks to switch from heating oil to wood-burning. But the price of using cheaper fuel is growing.
Illegal loggers are slashing through forests already devastated by years of summer wildfires. Air pollution from wood smoke is choking the country’s main cities. And there has been an increase in blazes caused by carelessly attended woodstoves.
Three children died in a northern village last month when a fire gutted the home of their grandparents, who had recently changed from oil-fueled central heating to a wooden stove to save money.
In Athens, the capital, officials have warned of severe health risks from the low-lying smog that smothers the city at night, when fireplaces and woodstoves burn at full blast in poorly insulated homes. Greece’s leading medical association is demanding urgent action to clean the air. But those warnings have largely been ignored for a simple reason: Burning wood provides the same warmth as heating oil, for roughly half the cost.
For the past three years, the country has been wracked by its worst financial crisis since the end of World War II. Living standards have plummeted, pensions have been slashed and a quarter of the workforce is unemployed, following deeply resented cutbacks demanded in return for international bailouts shielding Greece from total ruin.
The heating crisis was triggered by taxation changes, and made desperate by financial woes. For years, fuel for vehicles was taxed more heavily than heating oil. That encouraged crooked traders to sell heating fuel for use in vehicles and pocket the difference.
Hoping to boost faltering revenues and foil tax fraud, the government this year harmonized taxes on vehicle fuel and heating oil, which now costs about 40 percent more than last winter, although lower-income residents of colder areas get a rebate. Critics say the move backfired due to a drastic decline in sales.”
Part of this complicated issue is that Greeks aren’t used to paying market rates for basic services. Nor is the government itself used to the process of collecting taxes (sounds weird, but true). After recent austerity cuts, taxes and public services adjusted to (or attempt to) reflect a more market-oriented structure to help create a less corrupt, tax-dodging culture. The measures, as the above shows, may have been too strong and too fast, causing more damage to the country than taking a slower approach.
Tech-laden study shows that cutting forests increases runoff that kills corals. Apparently common sense still needs scientific evidence.
A team of international scientists has found that soil erosion, land degradation, and climate change pose a mounting threat to coastal reefs and their ecosystems in the western Indian Ocean.
The study examined sediment and freshwater discharge over recent decades in two catchments in Madagascar’s Antongil Bay and the island nation’s Great Barrier Reef of Tulear, and the climatic processes that drive them.
Deforestation is often linked with degradation of terrestrial ecosystems but until now no study has revealed its impact on adjacent coral reefs.
“Results from the study suggest that changes in land use - primarily the removal of forests - and Madagascar’s increased population density are the key drivers of long-term reef sedimentation trends but that these are slow processes,” said study co-leader Dr Jens Zinke, of UWA’s Oceans Institute.
Dr Zinke said those factors combined with climate changes - including hinterland rainfall, temperature and El Niño-Southern Oscillation - to influence the amount of sediment transported through river run-off, which is subsequently deposited in coastal waters and reflected in elevated geochemical indicators in corals.
“This is the first direct evidence that catchment activity in Madagascar through deforestation and land use practices affects near-shore reef ecosystems,” Dr Zinke said. “Just as importantly, these results reinforce the need to incorporate terrestrial land-use management in the design of coral reef protection networks in the region.”
“When water quality deteriorates, we see deterioration of important habitats, including coral reefs that are home to many species of reef fish, crustaceans and marine mammals.”
The study, Linking coral river runoff proxies with climate variability, hydrology and land-use in Madagascar catchments, is published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin.
Report: Emboldened by warmer climates, Pine Bark Beetles devastate forests: "Unstoppable eating machines" ›
Vulnerable trees losing natural defenses against the beetles, which are now seen as “one big salad.” The beetles are surviving winters because the climate has turned warmer on average. And since spring comes earlier, the beetles are able to fly further north, extending their range.
The conifer forests of the North American west have been under a massive assault over the past decade by bark beetles: one species alone, the mountain pine beetle, has killed more than 70,000 square miles’ worth of trees, equivalent to the area of Washington State, and two recent studies have shed some light on how climate change is helping fuel the assault, and what’s likely to happen in a world that continues to warm.
The first, published in the journal Ecology, shows how intense drought can bring on a population explosion in the voracious insects — and how this creates a vicious cycle of tree-killing even when drought subsides. The second, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) reveals that warming lets beetles move to higher elevations, where they’re encountering trees that are unusually susceptible to infestations.
More at Climate Central
China’s demand for illegal wood is devastating rare forests and killing rare species across Asia. Al Jazeera does not hold back in this in-depth look at China’s blatant ignorance of environmental destruction.
China’s skyrocketing demand for timber to fuel its economic boom is driving illegal logging and contributing to the destruction of forests in Asia and Africa, needed now more than ever to halt climate change, a new environmental report says.
China is now the biggest international consumer of illegal timber, according to the report from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), which adds that the trade is causing the destruction of vast tracts of forest in developing countries.
Globally, the trade in illegal timber is worth between $30 billion and $100 billion a year, according to an Interpol and United Nations Environment Programme report.
Warning: Article is not for the weak-kneed…
Great idea to help pay for adaptation projects in developing countries.
In one of the most radical climate programmes yet by an oil-producing nation, the Norwegian government has proposed increasing its carbon tax on offshore oil companies by £21 to £45 (Nkr410) per tonne of CO2 and a £5.50 (Nkr50) per tonne CO2 tax on its fishing industry.
Norway will also plough an extra £1bn (Nkr10bn) into its funds for climate change mitigation, renewable energy, food security in developing countries and conversion to low-carbon energy sources, Environmental Finance reported.
It will step up spending on new projects to combat deforestation in developing countries to £44m, taking up its spending overall on forestry programmes to £327m. Previous forestry projects have involved Brazil, Indonesia and Ethiopia.
Full story at The Guardian
Click to embiggen. At UMass-Amherst, I recall a professor (a one Mr. Dr. Jack Ahern) showing us Massachusetts was deforested not once or twice, but four times in its near 400 year history. Now it’s one of the most forested states (yep!).
Amazing photos of vintage logging industry in the Redwood Forests of California via U of C
Any image of deforestation is synonymous with the construction of contemporary metropolises. What’s most profound about the industrial moguls of the 19th century is that even though they were fierce in the utilization of natural resources that led to a catastrophic decline, they recognized the need for conservation practices and restorative developments.
The Pinchots, millionaires from the wallpaper industry, pushed their son Gifford into forestry. What started as an investment in an industry led to conservation of natural resources, support for academic programs, and further development of infrastructure in the United States. The US Forest Service gave us telephone poles, railroad ties, land for grazing livestock, and timber to fuel construction for modern life.
Yes, it is a tragedy that natural history was destroyed by old logging practices. But we’re lucky enough to be living in an age where more people are understanding the limitations of our landscape. The thing we need to work on now is our frivolous consumption (ie: disposable goods).
Family income has dropped; the cost of fuel is rising; remittances are down; farmers and herders have lost their assets and livelihoods; the wheat harvest has been delayed; and deforestation is rising,According to a a joint assessment by the World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the Syrian Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform. The United Nation’s IRIN News Agency reports that the Syrian conflict has left up to three million people in need of food assistance and agricultural support in the next year. (via nickturse)
The annual destruction of the Amazon rainforest is tallied every August and announced to a world sadly accustomed to the idea that its greatest tropical forest is being wiped off the face of the Earth. Invariably, the area of destruction is so large that the loss is expressed in terms of states or countries—a Vermont here, an Ireland there—roughly equivalent measures meant to make the scale of the catastrophe more readily apprehensible, as if all of us could say, for example, that this many Connecticuts make a Texas or that there are so many Switzerlands to a France. Oddly, the effect of the news seemed to be a lulling of concern, as if the Amazon could go on disappearing indefinitely, without ever actually doing so.
Urban growth, Uganda (1974-2008)
Check out the delta, the water is highly eutrophic.
Via Climate Nasa
“”The main goal of this project is to develop low-cost Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that every conservation biologist in the tropics can use for surveying forests and biodiversity,” said Koh via email. “Drones are already being used for many purposes including the military, agriculture, and even in Hollywood for filming. But they are still not commonly used for conservation purposes.”
The reason, says Koh, is the high cost of commercial systems, which can run $10,000-50,000. Koh’s first drone cost less than $2,000 and can be carried in a backpack.”
“Drone” used to detect illegal logging and deforestation. Concept is to make homebrewed monitoring devices for every-day conservation researchers and environmental activists.
Autopilot drone flying a transect
Background: Autopilot drone developed by a team of ecologists and software developers for forest monitoring, real-time land use mapping, and biodiversity conservation. This is part of a series of field tests in a remote forest area in Sumatra, Indonesia. The plane is fully autopilot, except when landing (due to a small landing area).
Autopilot system is based on ArdupilotMega developed by an open-source community at http://diydrones.com.
The plane is a low cost Hobbyking Bixler RC model.
Camera system is a GoPro Hero HD (version 1).
#1: Logging transect, http://youtu.be/IOm9v0Ewcek
#2: Orangutan search, http://youtu.be/hXTbJA-304k
#3: River mission, http://youtu.be/4icq_takJLw