Archive for ‘Deforestation’

Shorter Lived Climate Forcers: Agriculture Sector and Land Clearing for Livestock

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

In this video presentation, Gerard Wedderburn-Bisshop, World Preservation Foundation Senior Scientist, puts forward the case for how, with the devastating effects of climate change being felt ever-more quickly and with increasing intensity, the importance of embracing fast-acting solutions to mitigate climate change has increased dramatically.

In recent years, greater understanding of climate science has advanced considerably, and scientists and even policy makers now recognise that climate change in the short term is being driven by extremely potent, shorter-lived climate forcers. By reducing these climate forcers — namely black carbon, methane and tropospheric ozone — cooling begins rapidly.

Globally, the production of meat and dairy are significant contributors of these fast warming agents with far reaching consequences on planetary warming and environmental devastation. These include the major effects of black carbon due to biomass burning, on West Antarctica as well as the tropical monsoons; deforestation; soil carbon loss; and, food and water security. It’s estimated that 47% to 60% of the black carbon reaching West Antarctica and causing rapid melting is due to biomass burning resulting from livestock pasture management.

CO2 from pasture maintenance fires, reforestation of pastures and soil carbon uptake on relief of grazing pressure may also play a part in a fast-acting solution to the climate crisis.

This video is a synopsis of the paper Gerard wrote that examines the contributions of agriculture, namely livestock farming, to planetary warming through the shorter-lived climate forcers, and the effect of animal agriculture abatement on alleviating global warming and environmental collapse. We also propose four policy measures to immediately reduce the shorter-lived warming agents.

(By: Gerard Wedderburn-Bisshop: Senior Scientist, World Preservation Foundation )

Afforestation will hardly dent warming problem: study

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Schemes to convert croplands or marginal lands to forests will make almost no inroads against global warming this century, a scientific study published on Sunday said.

Afforestation is being encouraged under the UN’s Kyoto Protocol climate-change treaty under the theory that forests are “sinks” that soak up carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air through photosynthesis.

But environmental researchers, in a new probe, said that even massive conversion of land to forestry would have only a slender benefit against the greenhouse-gas problem.

This is partly because forests take decades to mature and CO2 is a long-lasting molecule, able to lurk for centuries in the atmosphere.

But another reason is that forests, even as they absorb greenhouse gas, are darker than croplands and thus absorb more solar heat — and in high latitudes, this may even result in net warming.

Vivek Arora of the University of Victoria in British Columbia and Alvaro Montenegro of St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia modelled five scenarios in which afforestation was carried out over 50 years, from 2011 to 2060.

They used a Canadian programme called CanESM1 that simulated the impacts on land, sea and air if Earth’s surface temperature rose by some 3.0 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 compared to 1850.

Even if all the cropland in the world were afforested, this would reduce the warming by only 0.45 C (0.81 F) by a timescale of 2081-2100, according to the study, which appears in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Fifty-percent afforestation would brake it by an even tinier 0.25 C (0.45 F).

Both scenarios are, of course, wildly unrealistic because of the need to grow food.

Fifty-percent afforestation would require at least a doubling in crop yield to feed the human population because half of the crop area would be taken out of use.

The other three scenarios found that afforestation in the tropics was three times more efficient at “avoided warming” than in northerly latitudes and temperate regions.

The study said that afforestation does have other benefits, for the economy and the ecoystem.

“There’s nothing wrong with afforestation, it is positive, but our findings say that it’s not a response to temperature control if we are going to be emitting (greenhouse gases) this way,” Montenegro told AFP.

The study said bluntly, “Afforestation is not a substitute for reduced greenhouse-gas emissions.”

In forest programmes, policymakers would be advised to focus afforestation efforts in the tropics but also push hard against deforestation, which accounts for 10 to 20 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions globally.

Avoiding deforestation is under discussion for post-2012 climate action under the UN flag.

Source: Afforestation will hardly dent warming problem: study – Physorg

Date: 19 June 2011

World ‘must invest $40bn a year in forests’: UN

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Investing $40 billion annually in the forest sector is needed for the world to transition into a low carbon, resource-efficient green economy, according to a UN report released here Sunday.

The additional investment “could halve deforestation rates by 2030, increase rates of tree planting by around 140 per cent by 2050,” said the report published by the Nairobi-based United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

“Carefully planned investments would also contribute to increased employment from 25 million today to 30 million by 2050,” it also added.

The cost of ensuring a green transition would equal $40 billion a year or around 0.034 per cent of global GDP, the report said.

Such an investment, equivalent to about two-thirds more than what is currently spent on the sector, would also remove an extra 28 per cent of carbon from the atmosphere, the Nairobi-based UNEP said.

Earlier this week the UNEP warned that fires, felling and agriculture are whittling Europe’s forests down into isolated patches, threatening to speed up desertification and deplete wildlife.

The UN Environment Programme is working with scientists to draw up maps of areas that need to be replanted to help reconnect fragmented forests. The maps will submitted at a June 14-16 ministerial meeting in Oslo.

Source: World ‘must invest $40bn a year in forests’: UN – France 24 International News

Date: 05 June 2011

People destroy forests at peril – ILO chief

Monday, June 6th, 2011

“This year’s theme “Forests – nature at your service” reminds us that we destroy forests at our peril,” Director General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Juan Sumavia said here Sunday.

“Their fate dramatically illustrates how social development, economic growth and environmental sustainability are inextricably intertwined,” noted Sumavia. “The un-sustainability of the prevailing model of growth has been increasingly laid bare – economically, environmentally, socially and politically.”

Environmental degradation is one manifestation of the imbalances produced by this inefficient model of growth. Another is its failure to yield sufficient opportunities for the decent work that people need.

“The economic crisis which it did produce has forced millions of people out of work and pushed many more back into poverty. Globally, there were 27.6 million more unemployed people in 2010 than before the crisis. The number of workers in extreme poverty in 2009 is estimated to have been over 40 million more than it would have been without the crisis. And the pre-crisis situation was already unacceptable”, he explained.

Environmental degradation and misuse of the forest resource and the deep-seated crisis of jobs and decent work are interconnected.

In an inefficient growth model with a marked deficit of decent jobs, the quest for survival along with the unbridled exploitation of resources fuels unsustainable use of forests with loss of jobs and livelihoods. It also and fosters intolerable labour practices such as forced labour.

Yet forests are at the service of job creation. We must also take steps to ensure that they are at the service of decent job creation.

Tens of millions depend directly on forests for their living. For 60 million indigenous and tribal peoples, forests are not only the economic basis of their survival but also the very foundation of their cultural and spiritual identity. Some 14 million are employed in the formal forestry sector. And the survival of a much larger number depends on informal and often subsistence use of forests.
ILO research has shown that there are significant sustainable employment and income opportunities in Amazon forests. Another study in collaboration with China suggests that reforestation can create several hundred thousand temporary and permanent rural job opportunities.

Under the Green Jobs Initiative involving the United Nations Environment Programme, the International Trade Union Confederation, the International Organisation of Employers and the ILO, “our recent global study “Skills for Green Jobs” highlights the role of training in controlling deforestation (Brazil), job creation for low income and unemployed youth (Republic of Korea), and contributing to poverty reduction (Uganda),” he pointed out.

Brazil is building decent work standards into forest management in the Amazon region. Similarly, programmes for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+) increasingly recognize that the co-benefits of employment, income and local governance are critical for the success of these schemes.

“We must use the opportunity of the Rio UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 to make progress towards an inclusive growth model with policies that are efficient for people, for productive investment and for nature,” concluded Samuvia.

Source: People destroy forests at peril – ILO chief – Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)

Date: 05 June 2011

Rising forest density offsets climate change-study

Monday, June 6th, 2011
  • Trees get denser, store more carbon-study
  • Forest density can complicate U.N.-led carbon market

By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

Rising forest density in many countries is helping to offset climate change caused by deforestation from the Amazon basin to Indonesia, a study showed on Sunday.

The report indicated that the size of trees in a forest — rather than just the area covered — needed to be taken into account more in U.N.-led efforts to put a price on forests as part of a nascent market to slow global warming.

“Higher density means world forests are capturing more carbon,” experts in Finland and the United States said of the study in the online journal PLoS One, issued on June 5 which is World Environment Day in the U.N. calendar.

Trees soak up carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, as they grow and release it when they burn or rot. Deforestation in places from the Congo basin to Papua New Guinea is blamed for perhaps 12 to 20 percent of all emissions by human activities.

The report, based on a survey of 68 nations, found that the amount of carbon stored in forests increased in Europe and North America from 2000-10 despite little change in forest area.

And in Africa and South America, the total amount of carbon stored in forests fell at a slower rate than the loss of area, indicating that they had grown denser. [ID:nLDE75407A]. Forests in Asia became less dense over the same period.

And some countries still had big losses of carbon, including Indonesia and Argentina. The study did not try to estimate the overall trend, saying there was not yet enough data.

Greater density in some countries, including China, was probably linked to past forest plantings, lead author Aapo Rautiainen of the University of Helsinki told Reuters.

“Forests that were established in China a few decades ago are now starting to reach their fast-growing phase. That is a reason for rising density now,” he said.

WARMER

Global warming, blamed by the U.N. panel of climate experts mainly on human use of fossil fuels, might itself be improving growth conditions for trees in some regions. Warming is projected to cause heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels.

The United States has had among the most striking shifts — timberland area expanded by just one percent between 1953 and 2007 but the volume of growing stock surged by 51 percent.

A shift towards farming in the Midwestern United States meant that forests in the east had been left to grow, and get denser.

The report also suggested that forest managers might rotate fellings less frequently since trees kept thickening.

But it could complicate efforts to design market mechanisms to encourage developing nations to safeguard tropical forests. Under the U.N.-led effort, people would get tradeable credits for slowing the rate of deforestation.

Measuring the density of a forest requires more complex monitoring than just measuring the extent of a forest by photographing it from a plane or by satellite.

“There does need to be a greater sampling to be able to come to a legitimate and credible number for the carbon,” said Iddo Wernick, a co-author at the Rockefeller University in New York.

Negotiators from about 180 nations will meet in Bonn, Germany, from June 6-17 to discuss measures to slow global wraming, including the protection of tropical forests. (Editing by David Cowell)

Source: Rising forest density offsets climate change-study – Thompson Reuters Foundation AlertNet

Date: 05 June 2011

Plants suck 123 billion tonnes of CO2 a year

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Measurements were taken from 253 flux towers around the world, including this one high above the tropical forest in Ghana.

Measurements were taken from 253 flux towers around the world, including this one high above the tropical forest in Ghana.

Trees, shrubs and grasses around the world take in 123 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year through photosynthesis, an international research team has calculated.

Altaf Arain, an associate professor of geography and earth sciences at McMaster University in Hamilton, said:

  • The results published online in Science Xpress on Monday mark the first time researchers have based such a calculation on such a large number of actual measurements instead of mainly computer modelling.
  • During photosynthesis, plants take in carbon dioxide, storing it as energy in the form of sugars. However, they also release large amounts of carbon dioxide while consuming the sugars as energy for growth and sustaining themselves or when they die and decompose — a process known as respiration.
  • Plant photosynthesis and respiration together control a large part of the carbon exchanged between the land and air. That may partly offset some of the carbon released through the burning of fossil fuels, estimated to be around seven billion tonnes a year. However, plants ultimately give off nearly as much carbon dioxide as they consume.
  • Rainfall important – the combined data from around the world showed that availability of water, including rainfall, plays a large role in the amount of photosynthesis that plants undergo.
  • Respiration response to the temperature was the same in various regions across the world, including tropics and the temperate forests.

Source: Plants suck 123 billion tonnes of CO2 a year – cbc.ca

Date: 06 July 2010

Deforestation Statistics

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Deforestation is the practice of clearing the natural forests for the purpose of agriculture, logging etc. It is one of the numerous environmental issues which are threatening the basic existence of several plant and animals species of the world today. Even if you are not sure as to why does deforestation happen, a look at the deforestation statistics is good enough for you to understand how it can trigger a series of domino effects on the lifeforms of the planet.

It’s obvious that humans will bear the brunt of the same in the long term, but the effects of deforestation are bound to be much more prominent on the life forms endemic to the particular region.

Deforestation Statistics Worldwide

The statistics of deforestation reveal that seven countries of the world amount to around 60 percent of the total deforestation on the planet. These seven countries include Brazil in Latin America, Canada and the United States in North America, Indonesia and China in Asia, Russia in Europe and the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa.

The data compiled by the World Resources Institute reveals that the planet has already lost 80 percent of its forest cover to deforestation, and going by the alarming rate at which the trees are being cut, it won’t take much time for that figure to reach the 100 percent mark. The West African region, which boasted of lush green tropical forests in the 19th century, has been stripped of 90 percent of its forest cover over the last century. The same trend of deforestation continues in the two remaining rainforest biomes in South America and Asia respectively.

Going by the statistics compiled by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), agriculture is the most important cause of deforestation on the planet. While subsistence farming accounts for 46 percent of the total deforestation in the world, commercial agriculture is responsible for 32 percent. Other prominent causes of deforestation include logging at 14 percent, and fuel requirements at 5 percent.

Amazon Deforestation Statistics

Even though the vast area of Amazon Basin may make it look insignificant, the rate of deforestation in the Amazon is much higher than in any other part of the world. The Amazon rainforest which roughly account for about 2,488,642 square miles, has lost 15 percent of its forest cover since 1970 alone. For instance, Brazil, which is home to approximately one-thirds of the remaining rainforests of the world, has been experiencing an average loss of 21,536 square miles of forest cover annually, over the last few years. This, however, appears to be insignificant as it accounts to only 0.8 percent of the total forest cover of the country.

The rainforest deforestation statistics reveal that 60-70 percent of the deforestation in Amazon can be attributed to cattle ranches, while a significant part of the remaining 30 percent can be attributed to small-scale subsistence agriculture. Recent studies pertaining to the facts about deforestation have revealed that deforestation for the purpose of large scale farming is relatively low.

As far as the deforestation statistics for the United States are concerned, the country has lost 831 square miles of the forest cover between 2001 and 2005. Regeneration of depleted forest cover, new forest plantations, declaring forested areas as reserved etc. are some of the popular deforestation solutions being implemented around the world today. Even though the forest cover raised by these methods is inferior as compared to the primary forest cover, it can still keep the various problems associated with deforestation at bay.

Source: Deforestation Statistics - buzzle.com

Date: 29 June 2010

Experts Warn Climate Change Is Beginning to Disrupt Agriculture

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

With the added environmental stresses of climate change, prices of staple crops could double

Every nation — developed and otherwise — is dependent upon a stable agricultural sector, and climate change threatens that stability, a panel of experts said yesterday.

World population is expected to swell by 50 percent by 2050. This alone is a challenge for the world’s supply of vital grains, said Gerald Nelson, an agricultural economist and fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute. But then you have to tack on the impacts of climate change.

Global agriculture, he said, could adapt to climate change for about $7 billion annually, with most of the resources being devoted to research, new irrigation techniques and training small farmers for rises in sea level.

Agricultural management directly affects how the three major greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide — are cycled through the environment. According to United Nations Environment Programme, “Agriculture, deforestation and other forms of land use account for nearly one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions.”

Source: Experts Warn Climate Change Is Beginning to Disrupt Agriculture - Scientific American

Date: 17 June, 2010

Forest, agricultural fires threaten the Arctic: report

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010


Forest fires and straw and stubble burning for farmland in regions as far afield as North America and Eastern Europe have a devastating effect on the Arctic’s environment, a Norwegian study published Tuesday found.

According to the study published by the Research Council of Norway, fires in North America and Eastern Europe release persistent organic pollutants (POPs), including the toxic compound polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB).

These POPs, which are the result of accumulated pollution and have been stocked in North American and Eastern Europe soils over time, are now found at record levels in the Arctic, where they are brought by winds and contaminate the food chain.

Source: Forest, agricultural fires threaten the Arctic: report – france24

Date: 01 June, 2010

Indonesia to scrap permits to save forests – official

Monday, May 31st, 2010

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Indonesia will revoke existing forestry licences held by palm oil and timber firms to save natural forests under a $1 billion climate change deal signed with Norway last week, a government official said on Monday.

Indonesia’s president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who announced the deal last week in Oslo, said new concessions for the conversion of natural forest and peatlands would be suspended for two years. But he did not say at the time how existing concessions would be affected.

Preserving forests is seen as crucial to slowing climate change because trees absorb enormous amounts of greenhouse gases.

Source: Indonesia to scrap permits to save forests – official – reuters

Date: 31 May, 2010

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