Deforestation within the Amazon has fallen substantially since the turn of the millennium, a new report has indicated.

On Monday (5 October), a research paper was published by The Amazonian Network of Georeferenced Socio-Environmental Information (RAISG), which is a group of Latin American social and environmental organisations. The study stated that the destruction of primary forests across the Amazon basin has declined significantly since the 2000s.

According to the report, deforestation within the Amazon basin fell sharply between 2010 and 2013. However, of more note is that the researchers also examined Amazon forests outside of Brazil – making it the first paper to document change in primary forest in the Amazon outside of Brazil – where a sizeable decline was also noted.

While there has been wide-scale monitoring of illegal logging within Brazil, which is held up as the figurehead in the fight against deforestation, less is generally known about the surrounding countries that the Amazon rainforest also cover, Mongabay reported. Some data about these non-Brazilian countries are known, but this is typically just about net forest loss and lacks depth.

Carlos Souza of Imazon, a Brazilian NGO that is one of the partners in the research, explained: “The Global Forest Watch data includes forest changes including secondary growth forests and plantations; the RAISG report change is primary forests.”

That is why the researchers broadened their deforestation study to include the likes of Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia, along with others.

Using satellite imagery they found that overall annual deforestation across the non-Brazilian Amazon fell 55 per cent since 1970 from an average of 11,480 square kilometres to 5,132 square kilometres. Much of this decline has been witnessed in the past five years.

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India has announced new plans to combat climate change and protecting the world’s forests is at their heart.

The world’s third largest polluter has been exploring ways of balancing its development with environmental protection as it tackles climate change. As industry and population grow at pace in India, the nation has set out plans for lowering the carbon footprint of its rapid development.

Central to these plans is increasing the amount of “green cover” in the country, with the government hoping to grow Indian forests and thus grow its carbon sinks, reported.

At present India ranks behind China and US as the biggest polluters on the planet. Furthermore, according to the World Health Organization the country provides 13 of the 20 biggest polluting cities on Earth. As such, these new plans are welcomed by organisations such as Greenwood Management, which wants to see the planet’s forests protected.

Ahead of the UN climate change summit in Paris at the end of the year, Prakash Javadekar, India’s minister for environment, forests and climate change, has promised a “new prescription” from India to reduce greenhouse gases.

He said: “We want to clean our air, our water, our environment, so we are addressing a challenge which takes care of our climate change mitigation and adaptation measures as well.

“Our national plan will give you a new prescription from India on this issue. We will grow our forests, we will raise our forests, we will raise our carbon sinks… we will raise our benefits. We want to have more green cover.

“I have a definite plan for the next 15 years. The forest quality will improve. We will improve it with people’s participation, with innovation, with technology, with many things.”

However, Mr Javadekar’s announcement has been met with a mixed reaction, with critics claiming that this is little more than a smokescreen to cover the damaging activities undertaken by private companies, including the emphasis placed on coal mining and the continuing use of coal as the primary source of electricity.

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Ireland’s forestry industry is calling on the Agricultural Department to help it meet what it has described as a “colossal” demand for forestry land.

According to Padraig Egan, the general manager of SWS Forestry, the industry is facing a shortage of land, which is stunting its growth and could hinder forestry investment, with financial backers reportedly ready to throw their weight behind this market, reported.

Speaking at the National Ploughing Championships, Mr Egan said: “The type of land that has been planted within the last 10 years is the heavy grass, rushier type land, marginal agricultural type land… That is going to run out in this country but there is a massive resource.”

Conor Daly, a director at The Forestry Company, added: “There’s a huge demand for timber in Ireland, colossal demand. The mills can simply not get enough timber.

“Every year there’s 100,000 truckloads of timber brought into the country, it’s colossal we just don’t have enough timber in the country and we’re not planting enough timber now to meet demand. We’re simply not planting enough trees in Ireland.”

Unsurprisingly, therefore, both stressed that they want to see more land made available for sustainable planting, something that is supported by Greenwood Management.

Meanwhile, Minister of State Tom Hayes provided some good news in response, revealing that a new programme would be introduced that would make it easier for investors and farmers to get hold of new land to grow forests on.

Mr Egan described the introduction of the new programme as a good move for the industry. He commented: “The new scheme is good, I think it’s attractive for farmers but is also attractive for investors.

“Now that investors don’t have to qualify as a farmer an investor can be a teacher, a plumber, a county council worker, he can go and buy a bit of pension for himself and buy a bit of land for a premium and that is marvellous.”

This positive view was echoed by Mr Daly. However, he urged the government to do more to make timber investors aware of the programme, rather than leaving it up to the forestry industry to spread the word.

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Publicly shaming areas of high deforestation is an effective method of preventing tree loss, a new study has claimed.

Brazil has been publishing ‘blacklists’ of areas that exceeded a certain deforestation limit since 2008. And according to scientists from the Center for Development Research (ZEF) and the Institute for Food and Resource Economics (ILR) at the University of Bonn it has had a positive effect.

By naming the guilty areas, deforestation rates have been reduced by 26 per cent a year. In 2004 trees were being felled on more than 27,000 square kilometres of land, the area was reduced to fewer than 10,000 square kilometres starting in 2009, the study found.

Brazilian authorities monitor areas for deforestation using satellite images – of the 771 areas in Brazil, 50 were added to the blacklist. The researchers compared those which are then blacklisted with those that have not been named and shamed.

Dr Jan Börner, a junior professor at ZEF, said in a news release: “Between 2008 and 2012, many blacklisted districts have apparently witnessed a collective effort to safeguard their reputation. This effort seems to have been an important driver in protecting more than 4,000 square kilometers, about 40 times the area of the Black Forest National Park in Germany.”

The researchers say that the blacklists alert authorities, charities and companies to the problem areas, which in turn enables them to take the necessary action to address what is happening in that region.

Börner explained: “The media and non-governmental organisations can then increase pressure to hold responsible local actors accountable.”

Elías Cisneros, a junior researcher at ZEF, added: “Blacklisted municipalities may have been worried about economic penalties, among other things.”

The findings of the report could encourage other governments to publicly shame areas with high deforestation levels, or even organisations that can do more to combat the problem.

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China’s growing demand for wood is leading to a rise in illegal logging in Burma’s forests, a new investigation has found.

As the world’s largest country by population, when China’s demand for a product increases it usually bodes well for that specific industry. In this case, timber traders and investors would welcome the news that the Asian superpower is looking to import more wood, however, the actual effects of China’s intensifying timber demands have been quite different.

According to a report by the Environmental Investigations Agency (EIA), the illegal timber trade in which trees in Myanmar’s frontier forests are felled and taken over land into China has flourished over the past 20 years. In fact, the investigators say it is one of the largest illegal timber markets in the world, worth hundreds of millions of dollars every year.

Worryingly, the research suggests that this illegal timber trade has gone virtually unchecked and it goes on to state that Chinese and Burmese businesses are working with Burma’s military and local Chinese officials to facilitate the illicit trade.

The findings of the report get worse still. The trees that are being illegally chopped down in Burma are a high value species of rosewood and teak that comes from an area – Burma’s forests in Kachin state which borders China’s Yunnan province – that has been subjected to regular conflict in recent years.

Julian Newman, campaigns director of the EIA, a UK-based NGO, explained that China must address the illegal timber trading, which is not only causing problems from the environment with trees being felled unsustainably, but it is also contributing to further conflict in the region and undermining the global timber industry.

He said in a statement: “We want to convince the Chinese government and Chinese companies to act. They can play a very positive role if they want to. The Yunnan [provincial] government has stopped logging for four months, until the end of the year.”

This issue was first thrown under the spotlight after the Burmese army raided an illegal logging operation in Kachin state in January. The incident led to the arrest of more than 155 Chinese nationals and a diplomatic row ensued when 153 of the prisoners were given life sentences in July – the other two were adolescents given shorter sentences. The Chinese prisoners were later freed having been given a presidential pardon.

When the EIA was in the region its investigators saw signs that the illegal trade was still ongoing, with freshly cut down teak trees being sent across the border.

The report reiterates that both the Burmese authorities and the Chinese Government officially oppose illegal logging, with the latter stating that it will respect the forestry laws of other countries. According to Mr Newman, following the light that has been shed on the illegal trade, talks have now been scheduled for 24 September between forestry officials from both countries, but they will not involve anyone at the ministerial level.

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Controlled and selective logging can help forests recover their carbon stocks far quicker while also benefitting the timber industry, a new study has found.

Research by CarboForExpert in Switzerland and CIRAD in France showed sustainably logged tropical forests play a key role in global carbon sequestration, which in turn has important implications for global climate.

By analysing the recovery time of logged trees in the Amazon rainforest, the researchers discovered that forests logged with reduced-impact logging techniques have the ability to recover their initial carbon stock in seven to 21 years. This recovery speed is far quicker than that of forests that have been logged commercially.

It demonstrates the importance of forestry management, with the areas of forests chopped down and the techniques used to do so carefully controlled to minimise the impact on the environment while also accelerating the recovery time by which the trees can begin to absorb carbon from the atmosphere again.

Forest management regulations vary among Amazonian countries, but less than five per cent of tropical forests are under some form of recognised, sustainable management. Poor logging practices continue to degrade many forests, while others continue to be cleared and converted into more profitable pasture and plantations.

Countless products and industries around the world rely on wood, so the balance must therefore be struck between commercial logging and sustainable forestry. The researchers say they hope that this study will provide valuable insight into the best techniques for finding this balance.

Ervan Rutishauser who led the research commented: “While carbon-oriented forestry might trigger a shift toward sustainable forest management, wood supply shall remain the principal objective of forest management. Our aim is to provide scientific evidence and practical guidance to define sustainable harvest intensities that ensure both long-term timber harvest and maintenance of carbon stocks.”

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Brazil’s work to curb deforestation in the Amazon rainforest has not only provided a welcome boost for the environment but it has also helped save lives.

This is the finding of a piece of research carried out by the University of Leeds in the UK. The study found that the reduced deforestation in Brazil is responsible for saving as many as 1,700 lives every year, something that is largely attributed to better air quality, which is yet another reason why organisations such as Greenwood Management encourage sustainable forestry to ensure the protection of the world’s trees.

In a report published by Nature Geoscience the researchers state that between 1976 and 2010, around 15 per cent of the Brazilian Amazon was destroyed. The most commonly used technique to destroy areas of forest is fire, and these forest fires emit dangerous toxins and smoke that is detrimental to people’s health.

Between 2008 and 2015 Brazil has cut the rate of deforestation by 75 per cent. And with this lower amount of deforestation there are fewer fires and thus cleaner air, which is allowing people living in or near the Amazon to live longer and avoid serious health risks, the researchers say.

Lead author Dr. Carly Reddington offered some insight into the university’s methodology: “We used satellite observations of the amount of smoke in the atmosphere to study whether there was a link between deforestation rate and air quality. We were able to demonstrate that when there is less deforestation in Brazil, there are fewer fires and less smoke in the atmosphere – it is amazing that you can see this effect from space.”

The publication of these findings comes in the same week that the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany released its own research showing that unclean air was responsible for around three million deaths every year.

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The World Forestry Congress (WFC) has set out its vision for the future of the planet’s forests that focuses on more than just tackling climate change.

The XIV World Forestry Congress meeting in Durban, South Africa concluded on Friday (11 September). The event moved beyond the idea of preserving forests for the sake of combatting climate change and instead examined how the world’s forests can also end hunger and improve livelihoods.

At the end of the meeting, which was the largest ever gathering to debate the fate of the Earth’s trees, a vision of what the world’s forests should look like in 2050 was drawn up. This has been dubbed the Durban Declaration, a document that outlines the ways in which companies and governments could work together to protect and grow the number of trees on the planet.

WFC stated that the forests of the future are going to be “fundamental” for food security and improved livelihoods. The organisation’s declaration added that forests and trees must also be integrated with other land uses such as agriculture in order to address the causes of deforestation and conflict over land.

Critical to this vision being realised is forestry investment, WFC says. Specifically, the declaration outlines a series of actions needed, including further investment in forest education, communication, research and the creation of jobs, especially for young people.

There was also a message ahead of the UN Conference on Climate Change, which will take place in Paris from 30 November to 11 December 2015. The XIV World Forestry Congress participants – of which there were 4,000 from 142 countries – recommended a set of actions that include increasing understanding among governments and other stakeholders of both the challenges and opportunities that climate change presents.

The Congress meeting takes place every six years and features delegates from NGOs, businesses and governments.

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Satellite images have shown that large areas of forest in Peru have been felled despite legal attempts to curb deforestation.

According to the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP), between August 2014 and July 2015 the rate of deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon has not slowed down. This finding, which comes as a result of monitoring satellite images taken of the rainforest, comes despite the fact that there was a nine-month legal suspension of farming activities.

MAAP states that the deforestation is the result of an increase in illegal gold mining and cacao plantations in the forests. Specifically, the research highlights two main areas that are going unchecked and unregulated: illegal gold mining in Madre de Dios and clearing of primary forests for cacao in Loreto, Peru.

In the last year, 725 hectares of forest have been cleared (224 hectares since February). In other words, about 1,000 soccer fields have been cleared for illegal gold mining throughout the year.

Meanwhile, as for the cacao deforestation in Tamshiyacu, Loreto, the company United Cacao has cleared 150 hectares in recent months. This brings the total of deforestation caused by the cacao company to add to 2,276 hectares.

Satellite images clearly show the plot of farmland being used and since August 2014 this has steadily grown, with new strips and plots of land cleared to grow the crops. “These people are consistently violating the law and ignoring the authorities,” commented Julia Urrunaga, director of Peru programmes at the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

While disheartening news for environmentalist and the Peru government, it does highlight the value of new technologies in monitoring and combatting deforestation. Organisations such as Greenwood Management encourage the use of more advanced forestry management techniques to ensure trees are not illegally felled.

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To protect Asia’s forests, nations must not just invest in the forest themselves but also the people who are living within them.

This is the view of the RECOFTC (the Regional Community Forestry Training Centre for Asia and the Pacific), an international not-for-profit organisation that promotes community forestry. Its executive director, Tint Lwin Thaung, said: “If we truly want to sustain Asia’s forests, we need to address inequality and poverty by investing in people living in the forests.”

As many as 450 million people across Asia rely on forests for income, food or their homes. However, while the Amazon rainforest – being the largest area of forest in the world – takes much of the attention when it comes to deforestation, Asia’s forests have been coming under severe threat from illegal logging and palm oil production.

Forests across the Asia-Pacific region account for 20 per cent of the planet’s woodland and thus are a key weapon in the battle against climate change, which is why firms such as Greenwood Management attempt to draw attention to the importance of protecting them. Indeed, studies have shown that strengthening community forest rights can cut CO2 emissions by reducing deforestation, and improve forest health.

Trevor Abrahams, secretary-general of the World Forestry Congress, echoed the RECOFTC’s message. He said: “The question is not just how do we manage forests in a sustainable way, but how do we make sure that the people living in them are at the centre of decision-making.”

Community forestry – a popular forestry management technique – hands the power of how to protect and preserve local forests over to those who live in and around the forests. Following the XIV World Forestry Congress event, which took place in July, this approach looks set to become far more commonplace, particular across Asia-Pacific.

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The rate of deforestation around the world has slowed but more must be done, a new study has urged.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) published a report on Monday (7 September) stating that while deforestation has continued over the past 25 years, the rate of it has slowed by more than 50 per cent.

Entitled ‘The Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015′, the study was the FAO’s most comprehensive look into global forests, covering 234 countries and territories. It found that around 129 million hectares of forest – an area almost equivalent in size to South Africa – has been lost since 1990.

However, the UN organisation also found that a much greater proportion of the planet’s forests were now coming under protection while forestry management techniques are also improving. The result is that the rate of deforestation is slowing down.

According to the research, in 1990 forests made up 31.6 per cent of the word’s land areas – in 2015 this stands at 30.6 per cent. Positively, the net annual rate of forest loss has slowed from 0.18 per cent in the early 1990s to 0.08 per cent during the period 2010-15.

On presenting the findings of the report at the World Forestry Congress in Durban, South Africa this week, FAO director-general Jose Graziano da Silva said: “Forests play a fundamental role in combating rural poverty, ensuring food security and providing people with livelihoods. And they deliver vital environmental services such as clean air and water, the conservation of biodiversity and combating climate change.”

He added: “The direction of change is positive, but we need to do better. We will not succeed in reducing the impact of climate change and promoting sustainable development if we do not preserve our forests and sustainably use the many resources they offer us.”

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There are three trillion trees on Earth, a new study has claimed, which is eight times the estimates made by some scientists.

Researchers from Yale University in the US collected on-the-ground data for the number of trees in more than 400,000 plots of forest from all continents except Antarctica. They also used satellite imagery to examine how the density of trees in the plots was related to local characteristics such as the climate, vegetation, soil conditions and the impacts of human activity, and used the information to build models for the number of trees in various regions.

This methodology led to the conclusion that there are far more trees on the planet than originally thought. However, even the estimated total of 3,040,000,000,000 – which equates to roughly 422 trees for each person alive – is almost half (46 per cent) the number of trees there were on Earth when human civilisation first emerged around 11,700 years ago.

As such, while the findings were surprisingly positive, the clear message remains: more most be done to protect the world’s forests. This is a message embraced and fully endorsed by firms such as Greenwood Management.

Lead author Thomas Crowther, post-doctoral fellow at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, said: “Trees are among the most prominent and critical organisms on Earth, yet we are only recently beginning to comprehend their global extent and distribution. They store huge amounts of carbon, are essential for the cycling of nutrients, for water and air quality, and for countless human services.”

He added: “We’ve nearly halved the number of trees on the planet, and we’ve seen the impacts on climate and human health as a result. This study highlights how much more effort is needed if we are to restore healthy forests worldwide.”

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The snack food industry has been singled out for its use of palm oil, which is a major contributor to deforestation.

Many companies around the world have made zero deforestation commitments, which include eradicating palm oil from within their supply chain. However, with the oil being such a key ingredient within many packaged foods, the snack food industry more than any other needs to ensure its products are not fuelling deforestation.

Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has targeted firms that are yet to take action on the issue of deforestation by urging them to enact strong palm oil procurement policies. Their current failure to do so, the organisation says, is allowing for social and environmental violations to spread around the world.

Palm oil production is a major contributor to deforestation, with trees felled to create room for the planting of oil palms, which in turn is leading to increased greenhouse gas emissions, soil erosion and biodiversity loss, which is why firms such as Greenwood Management support campaigns that attempt to tackle this issue. It is a particular problem in South-East Asia.

However, not only does it contribute to deforestation and thus climate change, but palm oil production has had a string of ethical failings in its past. These include using child labour and encroaching on holy lands or lands used by indigenous tribes.

Gemma Tillack, agribusiness campaign director for RAN, commented: “As palm oil plantations continue to spread across Indonesia, Malaysia and beyond to Africa, Papua New Guinea and Latin America, endangered rainforests are falling faster than ever and systematic abuse of communities and workers’ rights remains rife throughout the industry.”

The food companies targeted in RAN’s latest message include Kraft Foods Group, Nissin Foods, Hillshire Brands, Heinz, Campbell Soup, Hormel and PepsiCo.

RAN is calling for these companies to be “leaders not laggards” in the fight against deforestation.

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Fresh fears have been raised about the pace of deforestation after claims surfaced that an area of forest the size of India could be lost by 2050.

A report by the Center for Global Development (CGD) has predicted that 289 million hectares of tropical forest will be lost in the next 35 years. It has unsurprisingly triggered renewed calls for a much closer monitoring of deforestation combined with far sterner punishments for those found guilty of illegal logging.

The CGD’s forecasts come after the US organisation studied satellite images from 100 nations. As well as losing an India-sized area of forest by the middle of the century, scientists Jonah Busch and Jens Engelmann have also predicted that mankind will burn through a sixth of its remaining carbon budget by 2050.

If the current rate of deforestation continues then this will add 169 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere over the next 35 years, the researchers say. As the world leaders prepare to meet at the UN climate change event in Paris later this year, it is expected that they will agree to keeping global temperature rises below 2 degrees centigrade – the amount of CO2 added to the atmosphere through deforestation would take the planet close to the limit by itself, without accounting for all the other types of carbon emissions.

The report states: “In light of new data and a new understanding of the dynamic trajectory of forest loss, we have undertaken new projections of future pan-tropical forest loss in scenarios with and without carbon pricing policies.

“Our model projected that future business-as-usual tropical deforestation will rise rather than fall as projected by previous models, resulting in an area of forest loss the size of India over the next 35 years.”

The scientists urged that the Paris climate agreement must therefore focus on “providing funding and other resources to stop tropical deforestation”.

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Boreal forests have been thrust into the limelight this month after researchers have said that this specific type of woodland is at risk of being wiped up as a result of climate change.

A team of researchers came together from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Natural Resources Canada, and the University of Helsinki in Finland to examine the health of the world’s boreal forests. The findings, which were published in the journal Science, were far from positive.

Boreal forests account for almost a third (30 per cent) of the planet’s forest cover. However, rising temperatures are posing a serious threat to these trees and thus the report calls upon governments to transition to adaptive forest management so as to secure future sustainable development of these natural resources.

“Although most of the boreal forests have retained the resilience to cope with current disturbances, projected environmental changes of unprecedented speed and amplitude pose a substantial threat to their health,” the scientists said.

The researchers found that boreal forests are unable to migrate to cooler climates in the north at a fast enough rate to escape the rising temperatures in their current areas – the boreal ecosystem exists in the subarctic climate in the Northern Hemisphere, such as northern most Europe, Asia and North America. Indeed, various studies on boreal forests have now shown that climate zones in these areas are moving northwards as much as 10 times faster than the trees’ ability to migrate.

IPPC – integrated pollution prevention and control, which is a directive of the European Union – has created a worse case scenario in which temperatures in the arctic and boreal domains could warm at the average rate of 0.5 degrees centigrade per decade, and may further warm up by anywhere between six and 11 degrees centigrade over vast northern regions by 2100. This could render a large proportion of the land on which the boreal forests can be found as uninhabitable for these trees.

With boreal forests making up so much the Earth’s total tree cover – therefore playing a major role in depleting the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – it is paramount that they are protected. Reviewing governments’ forestry management techniques in the areas where these forests grow will be of utmost importance, the researchers say.

IIASA ecosystems services and management programme researcher Anatoly Shvidenko commented that there was still some uncertainty of what effect warmer climates would have on boreal forests. “These forests evolved under cold conditions, and we do not know enough about the impacts of warming on their resilience and buffering capacity,” he explained.

The joint report has called for constant monitoring and research to continuously assess the state of boreal forests and improve the understanding of feedbacks and interactions in order to decrease the risk of catastrophic tipping points, where the forests switch from being a net sink for CO2 to a major source of increased greenhouse gas emissions.

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The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is being urged by industry to build upon the good work it has already done and do even more to tackle deforestation around the globe.

Major companies such as Unilever, Mars, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts have all raised the bar when it comes to committing to zero deforestation in their supply chain. They are now calling on The RSPO to take its initiatives surrounding palm oil production further in order to protect the world’s forests, which is something that Greenwood Management would also fully endorse.

Palm oil production is a major contributor to deforestation, with trees felled to create room for the planting of oil palms, which in turn is leading to increased greenhouse gas emissions, soil erosion and biodiversity loss.

A decade ago, the RSPO established standards to encourage companies to protect valuable areas of rainforest. It has been successful and, as Business Green recently reported, “it has often been held up by its supporters as evidence of the way in which sustainable supply chain initiatives can deliver environmental improvements on the ground”.

However, despite the progress that has been made regarding the demand for palm oil, which is used widely in food production, it is still a major cause of deforestation, particularly in South East Asia and Africa. Moreover, with the aforementioned companies setting new, higher standards of zero deforestation, the RSPO seal of approval on products containing palm oil – which signifies that it is not contributing to deforestation – is looking outdated.

The RSPO has responded by creating RSPO Next, which purportedly aims to recognise those companies making strides in completely eliminating deforestation from their supply chains. To meet the standards, companies must fulfil the following six criteria: no deforestation, no fire, no planting on peat, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, respect for human rights and transparency.

The question now remains if RSPO Next has gone far enough to ensure companies commit to deforestation and whether or not it will be strictly enforced.

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A major wealth fund manager in Norway has opted to take its money out of Asian companies due to their lack of commitment towards zero deforestation.

On Monday (17 August) it was announced that Norway’s $870 billion sovereign wealth fund would be divesting from four major Asian firms:: South Korean companies Daewoo International and Posco, and Malaysia’s Genting and IJM.

At the start of 2015, $270 million was invested in these four companies. Ethics advisors to the wealth fund investigated these businesses and found that they were contributing to deforestation, either directly or through their supply chain. Specifically, these companies stand accused of clearing tropical forest for palm oil plantations in Indonesia or Malaysia.

Palm oil remains a critical aspect of the battle against climate change; widely-used as an ingredient in processed food, palm oil is blamed for harming the environment due to deforestation as well as the fact that its production results an a huge rise in methane emission – methane is a greenhouse gas that is 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

More generally, of course, reducing deforestation remains of paramount importance to stop climate change. It is estimated that deforestation accounted for 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions between 2000 and 2009. This is why Greenwood Management supports the decision of the Norwegian health fund to divest from companies that have been proven to exacerbate this problem.

However, it is not just environmental issues that were raised; other ethical concerns surrounding the four companies that will now be without the Norwegian funds include labour rights abuses, such as employing child workers.

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund is officially known as the country’s Government Pension Fund Global. As of last year it held about one per cent of global stocks and bonds.

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Drought is one of the biggest threats to the world’s forests, with a new study finding that a shortage in rainfall can stunt tree growth for up to four years.

Princeton University examined data from the International Tree Ring Data Bank to chart tree growth and measure it against areas that had experienced drought. The researchers found that trees could take up to four years to return to normal growth rates in the aftermath of a severe drought.

This is a pressing issue because the world’s forests store half of all the carbon on the planet. If they are unable to grow, the amount they can absorb and store will be severely limited – a particularly pressing issue as climate change sees global temperatures rise and drought become more common. This is why Greenwood Management, along with many other companies, champions any research that highlights the importance of Earth’s forests.

One example the study uncovered was in Europe, where in 2003 a heatwave reduced the growth of trees and plants by 30 per cent. The results of the research, which were published in the journal Science, stated that on average, in the aftermath of a drought growth was nine per cent slower than expected during the first year of recovery and five per cent slower in the second year.

Lead author Dr William Anderegg, a researcher at Princeton University, explained: “One plausible scenario could be that drought killed off branches or even whole trees in that forest and that the remaining surviving trees were able to access more light and nutrients after drought, leading to higher growth rates.”

Speaking to Carbon Brief he added: “Droughts are projected to become more frequent and more severe with climate change. This implies that forests in many regions will spend more time recovering from drought and likely will be more vulnerable to drought-driven mortality.

“There’s a lot more work to be done here, but determining whether forests will continue to be carbon sinks in the coming decades or whether they could become a carbon source to the atmosphere, greatly accelerating climate change, is absolutely crucial.”

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Furniture giant IKEA has made a substantial forestry investment thought to be in the region of 100 million euros.

The Swedish company announced this past week that it has bought 33,600 hectares of forests in Romania, where it already has investment heavy in sustainable forestry. While the cost of this investment has not been revealed, market data available on the price of forest land in Romania suggests it could be around 100 million euros.

The woodland that has been bought is located in central and north-eastern Romania. It means that Romania is now the first country to house the full life cycle of an IKEA product; the furniture items are made from Romanian timber, manufactured in the country and then sold in the nation’s outlets.

IKEA’s acquisition not only demonstrates a commitment to sustainable forestry, which Greenwood Management fully endorses, but also the financial sense in forestry investments.

Frederik de Jong, chairman of the board at IRI Investments SRL, which is the IKEA subsidiary that manages this investment, commented: “The investment in woodland is a way for us to diversify our assets. We are happy to expand our forestry activities to Romania, a country that’s important for our furniture production.”

Violeta Nenita, operations manager of South East Europe purchasing at IKEA, added: “More than 14,000 people work for our suppliers in Romania, and the value of products purchased by IKEA Group in Romania rose to 400 million euros per year. We have over 15 years of collaboration with our existing suppliers, during which most of them have registered increased sales and have significantly improved their production capacities.”

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The pace of deforestation in India has reached a faster pace in the past year than it has in decades, according to one activist.

Eminent environment activist Rajendra Singh is well known in India, having carried out extensive work in water harvesting and water management, for which he won Ramon Magsaysay award in 2001. He has also been awarded the Stockholm Water Prize this year in recognition of his innovative water restoration efforts in Indian villages.

Mr Singh has alleged that since Narendra Modi became Indian Prime Minister in May 2014, the problem of deforestation has worsened in the country. Speaking at an afforestation programme organised by the Indian forest department, the activist stated that the past 12 months have been the worst for deforestation since the 1980s.

Specifically, Mr Singh says forest land that ought to be protected has instead been given to coal miners and thermal power projects. He added that areas of forest which had formed part of the Tadoba Tiger Project has been given to the Adani Group, an Indian multinational conglomerate company.

As India’s population and economy grows rapidly, protecting the nation’s forests is of utmost importance, and Greenwood Management supports any attempts to shed light on worrying deforestation practices.

Mr Singh issued a warning to the country, saying that the government’s current behaviour of giving off areas of forests to private companies, which they subsequently cut down for commercial reasons, illustrates how “insensitive” they are towards environment and our future.

Mr Singh, or ‘the water man’ as he is otherwise known, did however praise recent efforts to clean the Ganges.

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