Corruption in Peru Aids Cutting of Rain Forest
Here in Pucallpa, a city at the heart of Peru’s logging industry on a major tributary of the Amazon, the waterfront is dominated by huge sawmills piled high with thousands of massive logs. They are floated in from remote logging camps, pulled by small motorboats called peke pekes, while trucks stacked with logs and lumber jam the roads.
A military officer stationed here to patrol the Ucayali River said that he had largely stopped making checks of the riverborne loads of timber, though the checks are supposed to be mandatory. In the past, he said, he had repeatedly ordered loads of logs to be held because they lacked the required paperwork, only to learn that forestry officials would later release them, apparently after creating or rubber-stamping false documentation.
In some cases, he said, loads of mahogany, a valuable type of wood that has disappeared from all but the most remote areas, were given fake documentation identifying the wood as a different kind.
“It’s uncontrollable,” said the officer, who was not authorized to speak publicly. Referring to local forestry officials, he said, “The bosses give jobs to people they trust and then take a cut of the bribes they get.”
Mr. Berrospi, who worked as an environmental prosecutor until August, recited a bitter catalog of frustrations. The local authorities are paid off by loggers to create or approve false paperwork, he said. On one occasion, he said, he was offered about $5,000 to stop an investigation. He reported it to a local prosecutor who specialized in corruption cases, but said he was dismayed by the response.
“Listen, in one year here you’ll get enough to build yourself a house and buy a nice car,” he recalled the other prosecutor saying. “So take care of yourself.”
Devastating account of terribly corrupt culture in Peru, causing government officials to get rich while ignoring rampant deforestation in the Amazon. U.S. lumber companies might (surprise!) be partially to blame. Via NYTimes
The Arctic sea ice has been surprising scientists for the last six years. It set a new record for melting back during the International Polar Year in 2007.
Last year it beat that record, but at the same time the seasonal ice in the Bering Sea has been increasing – also to a record last winter. Whatever is driving these changes is also beginning to affect the vegetation on land.
Great maps! Check out the study. Also, shout out to Alaska Public Radio! Hi guys!
Flames consume trees along US Highway 120 as a fire burns out of control in Buck Meadows, California | image by Justin Sullivan
The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, Rainforest Alliance, and the World Wildlife Fund are pleased to announce the release of three new, self-paced and web-based courses on climate change and REDD+ on www.conservationtraining.org.
The curriculum, Introductory Curriculum on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and Conserving and Enhancing Forest Carbon Stocks (REDD+), provides an introductory level of understanding on climate change, deforestation, forest degradation, and REDD+. This new version contains up-to-date information on policy and implementation as well as a cool new facelift and improved interactivity. It is divided into three courses:
•Course 1, Introduction to Climate Change and the Role of Forests, the focus is on background information on climate change, the drivers of deforestation, and strategies for reducing deforestation and forest degradation.
•Course 2, REDD+ Policy, we cover the essential aspects of the technical, political, financial, social, and environmental issues related to REDD+.
•Course 3, REDD+ Implementation, the focus is on the basics of implementing REDD+ activities at various scales.
The course is freely available to anyone who is interested.
Basically, methods to conserve forests. www.conservationtraining.org
EPA substantially revamps its climate change pages. Tons of data, reports, charts, graphs, and factsheets now round out the agency’s information section.
Above, screens of the EPA’s “indicators”, which shows how climate change is impacting environmental systems from GHG concentration studies, to drought measurements over time, to glacial melt and sea level rise, even winter bird counts - cumulatively, the U.S. is about to experience some very dangerous environmental problems.
Sea level rise and drought are the most visible, with coast lines eroding and people’s homes slowly sliding into the ocean. Drought is also an obvious indicator the public can relate to. Water shortages in the southwest, wildfires and bark beetle forest slaughters in the midwest and west, and severe crop loss across regions. Health problems, like increased asthma, Lyme disease, though, will kill the most people, but these will slide under the visibility radar.
Check out the EPA Climate Change Indicators, here. Hover your cursor over the tabs for more options.
Thousands evacuated as Idaho wildfire grows
AP: More than 2,300 houses were evacuated in Idaho this week as strong winds stoked the nearby Beaver Creek Fire. The wildfire, reportedly ignited by lightning Aug. 7, is estimated to have grown to 144 square miles and is 6 percent contained.
More than 700 firefighters are battling the blaze near the Idaho ski town Ketchum.
An additional 7,500 homes are on evacuation alert as the fire continues to grow.
Photo: Helicopters battle the 64,000 acre Beaver Creek Fire on Friday, Aug., 16, 2013 north of Hailey, Idaho. A number of residential neighborhoods have been evacuated because of the blaze.(AP Photo/Times-News, Ashley Smith)
Finally, some good news about the effects of climate change. It may have triggered a growth spurt in two of California’s iconic tree species: coast redwoods and giant sequoias.
Something isn’t right about this story. The researchers are quoted as saying they don’t really know the source of the sequoia’s growth spurts.
Wildfires are projected to burn more land as temps continue to rise. Via Union of Concerned Scientists.
Nice white paper from Vermont Transportation. They’re taking a “no-regrets” approach to climate adaptation - very rare in the US.
An overview of climate related adaptation and resilience oriented efforts underway at the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans).
In recognition of the potentially negative consequences of climate change to well-being of Vermont, VTrans is in process of incorporating adaptive management, policies, and plans into every level of planning, design, operations, and maintenance.
Experts believe that global climate change will fuel increasingly frequent and severe weather events resulting in more frequent flooding in the Northeastern U.S.
Existing flood vulnerability of the transportation system will be exacerbated by the effects of climate change increasing the risk of costly delays, detours, and premature infrastructure replacement. Recent flooding events following tropical storm Irene revealed the need for preemptive actions and planning to minimize the costs of similar events in the future.
Many of the lessons learned during the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene are applicable to this effort. Enhancement of emergency procedures and systems, employee training, public outreach, and rapid hydraulic assessment tools are examples of some of the positive adaptive outcomes. Going forward, the Agency should expand programs and projects focused on gathering and monitoring data, increasing adaptive capacity, and incorporating risk-management into the decision-making process.
The recommendations made in this report have ‘no-regrets’ in that they will increase the effectiveness of long-term decision making under any future climate scenario.
Real-time map of all forests on Earth launches next month
An online map that tracks in near real-time the vegetation area of all the world’s forests simultaneously will launch next month, after a preview was shown at a United Nations summit yesterday. Called “Global Forest Watch 2.0,” the map is a project years in the making led by the World Resources Institute, a nonprofit advocacy group focused on ecological issues.
They designed the map to help monitor and stop illegal forest clearing and deforestation by loggers and ranchers around the globe. “Deforestation continues today in part because by the time satellite images are available, analyzed, and shared, the forest clearing is long done,” the group notes on its website.
Nice map. Helps monitor illegal tree slaughter. Check it out if you can.
These photos of camouflaged animals by Art Wolfe are like the “Where’s Waldo” of the animal kingdom. You can see more here.
Superior profile from NatGeo.
Who are the elite hotshots, which lost 19 firefighters in a Arizona blaze on Sunday?
The 19 firefighters who lost their lives battling a raging wildfire in centralArizona on Sunday were members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite crew of U.S. wildfire firefighters based in Prescott, Arizona.
Hotshot crews—there are roughly 107 in the U.S.—consist of 20 firefighters who have been specifically trained to respond to fires in remote regions with little or no logistical support.
"In the world of wildland firefighting today, the hotshot crews are similar to the Special Forces in the military," said Dick Smith, a retired firefighter who spent 38 years fighting wildfires with the U.S. Fire Service. "They’re highly trained and can meet the highest physical requirements."
Candidates for the Granite Mountain Hotshots had to show that they could pass the arduous Pack Test and complete a series of physical activities, ranging from 40 sit-ups in 60 seconds to 7 pull-ups to a 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometer) run in just under 11 minutes.
"We believe in rigorous physical and mental training, which allows us to perform at the optimum level in any location and under any circumstances," said the Hotshots’ website.
"We are routinely exposed to extreme environmental conditions, long work hours, long travel hours and the most demanding of fire line tasks."
Becoming a Hotshot
The 2,000 or so firefighters who make up the nation’s elite hotshot crews work in groups of 20, in crews scattered across the United States. During peak wildfire season, the crews are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.