Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio has confirmed that his philanthropic foundation will invest a further $15 million into the protection of forests, oceans and clean energy across the globe.

Mr DiCaprio – best known for films such as Romeo and Juliet, The Wolf of Wall Street and The Beach – spoke at the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award Ceremony in Davos, Switzerland, regarding his ongoing commitment to global environmental causes. He hopes the money, which follows a vast amount of other funding his foundation has already invested into the arena, will also help to advance the rights of indigenous people all over the world.

Mr DiCaprio said: “Generosity is the key to our future. Currently, less than three per cent of all philanthropic giving goes to defending our planet. So much can be done if we work together. With your help, we can quickly identify and fund the most innovative and effective projects that have the greatest potential to avert the crisis we face.”

The major chunk of the new funding – $6 million – was awarded to Oceana and Skytruth for their Global Fishing Watch, which is a specialist platform that makes use of satellite data in order to track fishing activities. A further $3.4 million was awarded to Clearwater and the Ceibo Alliance in a bid to help the groups to stamp out oil extraction on indigenous and community lands in South America.

Meanwhile, $3.2 million was handed to Rainforest Action Network and Haka in order to assist them in their work to protect one of Sumatra’s last intact rainforests, the Leuser Ecosystem. The Solutions Project was granted the remainder of the money in order to continue its work promoting the community-level clean energy projects in the United States. The Nature Conservancy also benefited from some funds to put towards its debt-for-nature swap in the Seychelles.

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A new report has confirmed the important role the central Amazon rainforest of Brazil plays in global weather patterns.

An international research team that was led by Penn State University carried out a nine-month long study in the Brazilian rainforest. Their findings will likely now be put to use to allow climate prediction models to measure the Amazon’s impact on weather patterns in the future.

Jose D. Fuentes, professor of meteorology at Penn State, said: “The Amazon rainforest plays an important role in the southern hemisphere by transpiring moisture that is transported by clouds to many places that need precipitation. However, there’s a big gap in our knowledge of the underlying processes that influence the formation of clouds.”

The research team looked at the levels of trace gases, including ozone, as well as wind speed and precipitation. They discovered that convective storms were able to carry air particles from the Earth’s atmosphere to the surface, therefore increasing the surface ozone levels dramatically.

“Deep, convective storms have two channels, one with upward moving air and another with downward moving air. Downdrafts bring ozone molecules down from the upper troposphere (the lower layer of Earth’s atmosphere) to the surface where they can mix and react with other chemicals,” added Mr Fuentes.

The team also found that the process of cloud formation can be accelerated in the rainforest, when the ozone mixes with hydrocarbons. As the rise in ozone at the Earth’s surface can bring about many atmospheric chemical processes, it is likely that some of these will affect cloud formation due to the linked reaction of hydrocarbons emitted from plants. Water vapour then rises and condenses into particles that act as cloud condensation, following which, a visible cloud will form when enough water vapour condenses on the cloud condensation. In the rainforest, the proliferation of hydrocarbons – which are hydrogen/carbon molecules emitted by vegetation – ensures that the reaction is faster and greater, leading to a higher amount of cloud formation.

“The more we know about the rainforest’s atmospheric chemistry and how that can influence cloud formation, the more we’ll understand the Amazon’s role in global weather patterns – and how changes in the rainforest could affect those patterns,” Mr Fuentes went on to say.

Companies such as Greenwood Management have long been working to protect forests and promote the importance of this protection on a global scale.

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As long as more forested land is not cleared for rearing cattle, boosting the level of beef production in Brazil could help to lower its national emissions, a new report has found.

The report, which was published in Nature Climate Change, found that emissions across the country could be lowered if beef production were raised because the amount of carbon stored in pastureland would rise.

The country is home to over 200 million cows and is one of the biggest exporters of beef in the world. While greenhouse gas emissions are produced as a result of converting land into pasture for cows to graze, and transporting animals, the report has argued that the industry – previously one of the biggest drivers of deforestation in Brazil – could actually now be a positive in terms of lowering emissions.

The link between deforestation and beef production is now broken, according to the authors of the report,
Prof Dominic Moran, an economist at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and Rafael de Oliveira Silva from the University of Edinburgh and SRUC.

While beef production levels have been rising since 2005, deforestation rates have been falling since that time. This shows, say the authors, that deforestation is no longer linked to beef production and this means that the beef industry could work to lower its emissions.

Between 10 and 20 per cent of the country’s total national annual emissions could be deleted if farmers worked towards higher beef demands and got more out of their existing pastureland, says the report. This would then boost the level of carbon the land was able to store. As Brazil is the twelfth largest emitter of CO2, in the world, these figures are significant.

Long term, there would come a time when the grasses on the pastureland would reach their limit in terms of how much carbon they were able to store. This, however, would not be reached for around half a century, the researchers said.

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The tree farm said to be the forerunner of sustainable forestry is celebrating 75 years since its establishment.

The Clemons Tree Farm near Montesano in Grays Harbor County, Washington state, was the first tree farm in North America to be certified under the American Tree Farm System. Today, Washington state has 35 tree farms that have been sustainably managed under the ATFS certification program for over 50 years. A further 204 tree farms have been managed in this way for more than 25 years.

The long-term benefits that come from sustainably managing forestland include a cleaner water supply, carbon sequestration and an improved fish and wildlife habitat.

In honour of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of sustainable forestry, the Washington Tree Farm Program, Washington Farm Forestry Association and Washington DNR Small Forest Landowner Office is hosting Tree Farm Day, and a 75th Anniversary of Sustainable Forestry Proclamation Ceremony.

Events such as these help to highlight the myriad benefits that looking after forestland can bring to both the local environment and local people.

Companies such as Greenwood Management are working to protect forests around the world and welcome the news of this celebration of sustainable forestry.

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Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), the largest supplier of pulp and paper in the world, has announced that it is to add a further project to the Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) it adopted in 2013.

The organisation will build a $10 million programme to boost the economic development of 500 small villages located close to its Indonesian supply chain. It is hoped the funds will encourage local communities to foster the economic development which will help to protect the surrounding forests.

Dewi Bramono, deputy director of sustainability and stakeholder engagement for APP Indonesia, told Mongabay: “For the 500 villages program, APP and its pulpwood suppliers are prepared to budget up to $2 million per year for the next five years.

“The programme will involve capacity building for the community, and provision of tools, equipment and/or facilities to develop the agroforestry programs either through loans and/or in-kind donations.”

The new programme will see assistance given to local people to plant rice paddies, understory plants – which can grow in the shade – and vegetables, all without damaging the native forest land. Mr Bramono said that low-cost or free seedlings would also be given to local farmers, as well as classes in how to best fertilize and irrigate the land. The organisation also said that it will offer loans in the form of either livestock or money in order to help local people begin their own livestock companies.

“We are currently in the process of identifying which communities/villages pose higher potential threats to deforestation using information from the social High Conservation Value assessment, social conflict mapping and forest threat mapping,” the organisation’s Mr Bramono said.

This data will then be merged with a wide range of socio-economic assessments which together will help to pinpoint which programmes and efforts will help to decrease the deforestation risk in any given forested area.

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The Rainforest Alliance has confirmed it has appointed a new president and that its commitment to preserving and protecting forests across the globe is stronger than ever.

Nigel Sizer has been named as the new chief following posts including global director of the Forests Program at the World Resources Institute, where he launched partnerships such as the Global Restoration Initiative and Global Forest Watch. These two projects have ensured that access to data regarding forests around the world are now available to everyone. Mr Sizer will take up his new position on 1 February 2016.

Mr Sizer also worked to develop efforts to link Indonesian communities with global carbon markets when he was vice president for Asia-Pacific with the firm Rare. Mr Sizer was also the head advisor on climate change and related Asia energy issues to former US President Bill Clinton and has advised the Coalition in Support of Amazonian Peoples and their Environment.

Daniel Katz, Rainforest Alliance founder and board chair, said: “With the recent Paris Agreement underlining the crucial role forests play in fighting climate change, the world is keenly aware that we must work together to ensure forests are conserved and carefully managed for the survival of people and our planet. Nigel has seen first-hand the vital connection between sustainable land-use and forests.”

Mr Sizer said he would be working to “build on the organization’s impressive track record to further green forestry and farming and lift millions out of poverty”.

Companies such as Greenwood Management have long been working to protect forests and promote the importance of this protection on a global scale. Greenwood supports the ongoing work by the Rainforest Alliance to do just that.

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Environmental groups from across the US have urged parts of Canada to ensure that their logging industries continue to put the forest conservation and protection at the top of the agenda.

Thirteen US green groups wrote to the premiers of French Quebec and Ontario, calling on them to ensure forestry stewardship requirements are maintained for the logging sector in Canada’s boreal forests. The boreal forest is one of the biggest terrestrial reservoirs of carbon in the world and also provides one of the largest freshwater sources. It is home to a vast number of migratory birds and many important plant and animal species. Local people also depend on the forests for their livelihoods and for their health.

The green groups included Green America, Friends of the Earth (US), Natural Resources Defense Council and Rainforest Action Network. They said that some members of the logging industry were trying to dilute forest protection and human rights “at the very time that many are looking to Canadian provinces to strengthen conservation.”

The groups also urged the logging sector to “work with, not against, the very system that has given them social license in the marketplace.” The letters sent to the premiers from the green groups read: “We stand ready to work with Canada’s forest products industry to better meet our mutual goals, but we also stand ready to challenge companies that are fragmenting the last intact forest areas in the Boreal Forest, that do not adhere to best practices and, most importantly, that fail to respect the free, prior and informed consent of affected First Nations in their traditional territories.”

Ross Hammond, the US campaigns director for ForestEthics, one of the environmental groups involved, highlighted the importance of practicing sustainable forestry for many reasons, from a natural resource perspective to a corporate selling power angle. He said: “Companies with billions in buying power use the FSC [Forest Stewardship Council] label to indicate responsible logging practices. The provinces and the logging industry need to recognize the potential economic consequences of abandoning FSC certification.”

Previously, the Quebec Forest Industry Council (QFIC) had threatened to remove the FSC certification from the Quebec forests due to limits on the level of industrial logging.

Danielle Droitsch, NRDC senior policy analyst, Canada Project, told the National Observer: “Decades ago environmental groups and the logging industry worked together to found the FSC as an independent, science-based forest certification program.

“Fifty million hectares of Canadian forest is FSC-certified, with the majority in the heart of Canada’s Boreal Forest. The logging industry must meet higher environmental standards in these forests, but customers recognize and reward the effort.”

Populations of Canada’s woodland caribou continued to fall over the past year, despite a federal mandate directing provinces to help the species recover.

In related news, the number of Canada’s woodland caribou – which are related to European reindeer – has continued to fall over the last 12 months, as a result of the ongoing destruction of its boreal forest habitat, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society said in a new report.

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Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, is said to be eyeing fiscal changes that would work to stimulate and boost the country’s economy, an official has confirmed.

Rousseff is considering structural alterations to tax, labour and pension laws that would bring positive change to Brazil’s economy without forcing an end to the Government’s austerity drive. It is thought that these measures could mean more positive times ahead for the country’s ecomomic situation.

The anonymous official told Reuters: “The country needs stimulus measures, but without incurring fiscal costs. We are not going to give more tax breaks or cheap credit. We are not going to use the past model.”

Last week, the President said that the Brazilian Government’s planned changes would “deepen democracy and strengthen the foundations of sustainable growth.”

The news of the planned reforms come shortly after Rousseff signed off on the country’s 2016 Budget and just weeks after new finance minister, Nelson Barbosa, was appointed.

Juan Jensen, partner with Sao Paulo-based consultancy 4E Consultoria, told the publication that it was hoped the changes would bring a positive uptick for the Brazilian economy, saying: “The announcement of economic reforms sounds like the best option at this moment.”

Rousseff told a press conference that the Government would do everything it can “to guarantee growth in some sectors” of the economy, while also mentioning that state development bank, BNDES, will need to provide financial support to smaller, “fragile companies”, in order to boost success.

Rousseff also reaffirmed her commitment to returning Brazil to economic stability, as well as reiterating her Government’s fiscal goal. The goal includes hitting a primary budget surplus of 0.5 per cent of GDP this year, excluding payments on interest.

“Our objective is to return as much as possible to the center of the inflation target. Reestablishing fiscal balance is fundamental to reduce inflation,” said Rousseff.

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One of the world’s leading forest certification schemes has endorsed New Zealand’s Forest Certification Scheme, meaning that sustainable forestry can now be promoted across New Zealand through independent, third-party certification.

The Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), agreed to certify New Zealand’s scheme earlier this week in Switzerland. Dr Andrew McEwen, chair of the NZ Forest Certification Association (NZFCA), said: “We are delighted to be the 37th national scheme endorsed by PEFC and to be able to offer this scheme to New Zealand forest owners and managers, processors and others in the value chain.”

PEFC oversees more than 268 million hectares of certified forests across the globe and works to promote sustainable forest management by linking the entire supply chain to boost good practice in forests. It also works to ensure that wood products produced by these forests are done so to high social, ethical and ecological standards.

Ben Gunneberg, CEO of PEFC International, said: “New Zealand has a long standing reputation for the quality of its forest management and wood manufacturing. The availability of PEFC certification will enhance that reputation in its extensive overseas markets.

“With the endorsement of the New Zealand system, the country’s forest owners can now obtain PEFC certification for their responsible forest management practices, enabling processors and others along the forest products supply chain to procure PEFC certified material from local, sustainably managed sources as well as access to new markets”, added Mr Gunneberg.

Companies such as Greenwood Management are working to protect forests around the world and welcome the news of this forestry certification scheme being rolled out to New Zealand.

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A new study carried out by Cambridge University has found that greenhouse gas emissions could be drastically reduced if the areas of forest and wetland were expanded.

Agriculture currently accounts for around 10 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, but this could be lowered by 2050 if forested areas were boosted, the report, which was published in the Nature Climate Change journal, said.

The research found that the farming industry would be able to reach the Government target of an 80 per cent reduction in gas emissions if it matched the amount of land reserved for forests and wetlands to that of its European neighbours such as France and Germany.

Senior author of the study, Professor Andrew Balmford, said: “Land is a source of greenhouse gases if it is used to farm fertiliser-hungry crops or methane-producing cattle, or it can be a sink for greenhouse gases – through sequestration. If we increase woodland and wetland, those lands will be storing carbon in trees, photosynthesising it in reeds, and shunting it down into soils.

“We estimate that by actively increasing farm yields, the UK can reduce the amount of land that is a source of greenhouse gases, increase the ‘sink’, and sequester enough carbon to hit national emission reduction targets for the agriculture industry by 2050.”

The report said that expanding forest cover from 12 per cent to 30 per cent of all UK land over the next 35 years would create a carbon ‘sink,’ which would be capable of drawing in and storing carbon. This would not only help to protect the forested land itself, but would also help to protect the environment.

Dr Toby Bruce, from Rothamsted Research, who was co-author of the report, added: “The current findings show the value of land sparing for reducing greenhouse gases. To allow this productivity needs to increase on the remaining land, for example, by minimising crop losses to pests, weeds and diseases or by improving crop nutrition.”

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The issue of sustainable forestry has been placed onto the world stage at the recent 2015 PEFC Forest Certification Week, which was linked to the World Climate Summit.

Officials from numerous UN countries discussed goals relating to sustainable forestry management, with the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in mind. The agenda – which lists 17 goals relating to sustainable development and the wiping out of poverty over the coming years – will see forestry play a key part in achieving the aims.

PEFC International CEO, Ben Gunneberg, said: “Eighty per cent of the world’s poorest live in and around forests, and we have a role to play to enable these communities to have sustainable livelihoods and pull them out of poverty in a way that no one has been able to do before.

“Our work must go beyond forest management, we must put stronger emphasis on non-wood products, on trees outside forests, on a landscape approach. We need sustainable landscapes for sustainable livelihoods.”

Awards were also given to countries that had achieved positives in the sustainable forestry arena. China was applauded for certifying the largest amount of forest acreage among member countries in 2015. Sweden and Canada were also rewarded for high levels of forest growth in certified forest areas.

Sustainable logging and replanting also has a major role to play in forestry conservation, which is why these practices are supported by companies such as Greenwood Management.

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The new Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro highlights the importance of preserving the local natural environment and the damage that has already been done to rainforests by humans.

The aim of the museum, which opened earlier this month, is to boost awareness of the future of the planet. It forms the pivot around which the Brazilian Government will revitalize the historic district in time for its hosting of the 2016 Olympic Games.

Leonardo Menezes, the museum’s content manager, told ETV Radio of the museum: “It explores how our choices are building different tomorrows…are they going to be sustainable or not?”

Visitors to the museum are sent on a journey that investigates the impact humans have had on the earth over the years and how human efforts have had both positive and negative impacts on the natural environment.

“The idea is to show that we are connected to all other beings, plants and animals that are living here with us,” Mr Menezes added.

Visitors will also see statistics and images of forest fires and issues such as traffic build-up in order to highlight the damage that has been done to the planet. Large digital screens show visitors a message, which reads: “We cultivate, we explore, we transform. Today we are a planetary force.” The museum also features a number of screens offering questions to help work out a carbon footprint.

However, critics of the new museum have argued that it does not do enough to shine a light on Brazil’s key issues, such as deforestation or ocean pollution. With the general public, though, it seems to be popular, with residents calling it the new “beach of Rio,” which is said to be one of the best accolades for a new venue in the country.

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Policies which aim to lower deforestation in the Congo Basin may actually be contributing to increased deforestation and timber production, new research has shown.

Jodi Brandt, assistant professor at Boise State University, links tropical deforestation taking place in the Congo Basin and across the globe with a boost in international demand for timber. Ms Brandt believes that efforts by both environmental groups and Governments to lower deforestation are being contradicted by the rising demand for timber and foreign investment.

The study revealed that the issue of forest loss could be being made worse by ‘indirect deforestation’, which includes legal logging roads constructed by timber companies, something which needs highly selective logging. Ms Brandt’s report found that selective logging contributes to the spreading out of logging activities over larger areas, wreaking havoc on forest areas. These remote forest areas are also subject to increased human presence as a result of the legal logging activities taking place close to them, something which could be causing more damage to the forest itself.

Ms Brandt said: “The global conservation community has invested tremendous resources in sustainable forest management principles and has supported policy changes in its favor. But our results suggest caution and highlight a need for more rigorous and systematic scrutiny of commercial logging practices and sustainable forestry policies in tropical forest ecosystems worldwide.

“Human activities often have unintended consequences, so we need to regularly assess, in an unbiased manner, the impacts of our activities and policies. We hope these papers stimulate a conversation and more research about the sustainability of industrial logging not just in the Congo but in other tropical forests around the globe.”

Responsible and sustainable logging and replanting also has a major role to play in forestry conservation, which is why these practices are supported by companies such as Greenwood Management.

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Coffee giant Starbucks has been accused of lagging behind with the promises that it made to aiding the prevention of global deforestation.

The popular brand is said to be still purchasing palm oil and other agricultural products that could well be linked to deforestation in tropical forests, according to a consortium of science, environmental and labour groups.

The organisations, which include the International Labor Rights Forum, the Center for International Policy, Rainforest Action Network and the Union of Concerned Scientists, sent a letter to the CEO of the coffee chain, Howard Schultz, asking him to further commit to the firm’s pledges to ensure its procurement policy does not contribute to deforestation. Palm oil is still included in a number of items that remain on the menu at Starbucks, including its Cranberry Bliss Bar and its Java Chip Frappuccino, the Huffington Post reported.

More than 300,000 consumers have also called on Starbucks to go “deforestation-free”, and this, along with the letter, is hoped to have the desired affect on the corporation.

Lael Goodman, a UCS analyst, told the newspaper: “Starbucks likes to promote itself as a responsible corporate citizen, but it lags far behind consumer and industry standards for protecting forests. To maintain its do-gooder reputation, Starbucks should permanently sever any connection to forest destruction by adopting a strong procurement policy that clearly spells out a timetable for implementation.”

Earlier this year, Starbucks pledged that it would put a “stronger focus” on the preservation of forests. However, this wording did not sit well with many organisations working to limit deforestation, as they said it fell short of the ‘No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation’ sourcing policy that is now industry standard.

The letter sent to the coffee chain called for further action, saying: “Starbucks’ brand is synonymous with sustainability and innovation. We are sure that Starbucks … does not wish to be further associated with these problematic issues.”

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The recent climate change talks held in Paris – at which Brazil’s rate of deforestation was a major topic – were marked by transforming the Eiffel Tower into a virtual forest.

Belgian-Tunisian artist Naziha Mestaoui’s project, One Heart One Tree, saw the Parisian landmark turned into an interactive digital forest for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21).

Virtual trees were projected onto the tower in a bid to “encourage the reforestation of the planet”, Ms Mestaoui told HuffPost Tunisia.

People across the globe were able to download the One Heart One Tree app, which tracked their heartbeats and made use of them to create each tree that was digitally projected onto the Eiffel Tower. The names of each of the app users, along with personal messages, were also projected onto the tower, the artist confirmed.

Linked into the project was the chance to purchase actual trees that could be planted in an area of the buyer’s choosing, such as Australia, Brazil, Senegal, India, France, Peru or the Ivory Coast. A charitable donation was asked for in exchange for the tree planting, and buyers will be able to track the growth of their tree for the coming three years.

“So far, we’ve counted 52,000 trees that are going to be planted,” Ms Mestaoui said, adding that nature and technology could go hand in hand, rather than working against each other. “It’s up to us to build bridges to connect the different sectors. Art serves above all to connect, to show us the world, to stimulate the imagination, and to expand the realm of what’s possible.”

Companies such as Greenwood Management are busy playing key roles in assisting with reforestation projects in Brazil and around the world and projects such as the one in this story are helping to highlight the importance of the issue.

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The true impact of forest degradation on carbon emissions can now be measured far more accurately, which should in turn help to highlight the need to protect the world’s forests.

Previously, data regarding deforestation verification was an inexact science which relied heavily on satellite images which provided estimations of how much forest had been destroyed. Now, following research by remote sensing scientist Alessandro Baccini from Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts, forests are able to be tracked in real time. This means that REDD verification of deforestation will now to be far more accurate.

Baccini and his team of researchers have developed equipment that allows for forests to be watched at just 30 metres away, rather than the 500 or so metres that satellite imaging allowed.

Baccini told Mongabay: “For each 30-meter cell in the entire tropics, if that cell is deforested we know the carbon density of that vegetation before, and can make an accurate comparison…And it’s a huge difference. The problem before: when it was 500 meters, you couldn’t detect deforestation at smaller scales, like trees cut down here and there. So much critical information was missing. There was this mismatch between the carbon density and the deforestation. Now we’ve solved that mismatch.”

Using Landsat technology which is capable of detecting a missing area of forest cover, or even a single missing tree, the researchers are now able to tell exactly how much carbon storage is lost when a tree is cut down or burned.

Baccini added: “This combined data really makes [deforestation results] more transparent and easier to understand, and should provide more confidence that we know what emissions come from deforestation. If you want REDD to be successful and stabilize the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, to have a big impact on [stabilizing] the climate, REDD needs to be able to measure emissions on a global scale.”

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Research has suggested that a substantial proportion of investors are unaware of whether or not the companies they are investing in are ethical or not.

Conducted on behalf of Triodos Bank, the study found that 63 per cent of investors do now know whether or not the activities of the industries or companies they are putting their money into are ethical.

In fact, just 25 per cent of people say that they know their investments are ethical, highlighting a substantial gap in knowledge for many people looking to do good and make money.

This knowledge gap is something that needs addressing, particularly in light of the fact that 85 per cent of investors would act if they felt that their investments were at conflict with their personal ethical beliefs and preferences.

Huw Davies, head of personal banking at Triodos, commented: “The results show that people do care about the activities their pensions and investments are financing, and would be willing to act if these clashed with their principles.

“But with almost two-thirds oblivious to where their money is being invested, millions run the risk of inadvertently investing in areas which contradict their personal ethical preferences.”

The study found that human trafficking is the activity that would top most people from investing financially, as cited by 70 per cent of respondents.

Forced labour or child labour was the second biggest issue, followed by pornography, animal testing and arms and munitions trading.

Many companies are growing wise to the need to behave responsibly in business. Companies like People Tree in the fashion world and Greenwood Management in the forestry sector are allowing investors and consumers the reassurance that their money will be supporting an ethical way of life.

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Two major companies have made a public commitment to helping tackle deforestation.

M&S and Unilever have issued a joint statement in which they have made clear their own deforestation pledges to help make a dent on the 3.3 million hectares of forest lost each year.

The firms said in a joint statement: “Governments have an indispensable role to play … As individual companies we will collaborate with governments on public-private partnerships that support our shared objectives.”

They added that they will look to source their commodities, such as palm oil, soy, beef and paper, from countries that have made ambitious commitments to improve their sustainability and forestry management techniques.

To encourage countries to work with them, the companies will also provide comprehensive policies to help deliver more sustainable forestry management practices.

The chief executive of M&S, Mark Bolland, added: “We have learnt that working alone in our own supply chains is not enough. We need partnerships to solve the deforestation crisis at a whole landscape level. It is about produce and protect.”

The statement was issued at the COP21 climate change summit in Paris. In addition to the companies’ statement, the gathering heard from Britain’s Prince Charles who is urging more countries and big businesses to commit to stabilising forest loss rates and then to go further and start implementing reforestation procedures.

However, Unilever’s commitment in this area goes further than just looking at forestry. It has also made a pledge to help support sustainability on other areas and is intending to eliminate coal from its energy mix and up its efforts to move towards renewable sources. The company aims to take this a stage further by 2030 and source all of its energy from renewables by this date.

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Official figures from Colombia show that forest clearances in the country rose by 16 per cent in 2014 compared to the previous year.

The country’s Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM), which is part of the ministry of environment and sustainable development, revealed that more than 140,000 hectares of forest was lost last year. Of this, 45 per cent of the deforestation took place in the Colombian Amazon and just under a
quarter was in the Andes area.

However, even though forest clearances in the Amazon accounted for almost half the total during 2014, the figure for the rainforest was eight per cent lower than the previous year.

The area which suffered the greatest rates of clearances was the province of Caqueta in the Amazon, followed by the Andes region of Antioquia. The cocoa-growing areas of Norte de Santander and Putumayo were also badly affected during 2014.

The report noted that a combination of cocoa growing and clearances for other agricultural purposes, along with mining and illegal logging, were the main reasons for the loss of forestry in Colombia last year.

The country has pledged to achieve a net rate of zero deforestation in the Amazon by the end of the decade. According to reports, it is looking to set up a partnership with Norway to protect its rainforests, which are mainly found in the South East of the country.

However, there are concerns that the 2015 forest clearance rate could be even worse than last year’s figures, due to an number of environmental issues. It’s believed that Colombia lost in the region of 92,000 hectares of forestry in the first eight months of this year, with forest fires having a major impact.

The Colombian report comes as official data from Brazil also showed a rise in clearances in its part of the Amazon. Companies including Greenwood Management are working in Brazil to sustainably manage the Amazon and replant trees to offset losses.

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The future of Brazil’s rainforest and forestry around the globe came under the spotlight at the international climate change summit in Paris today (1 December).

Prince Charles met with world leaders and indigenous people to discuss what is being done to protect forestry assets, which play a key role in reducing climate change.

He said: “It’s very simple. We must save our forests. There is no Plan B to tackle climate change without them.

“We must do all that we can to support the communities that live within forests. For indigenous peoples, this is a question of the proper safeguarding of their reserves, traditions and cultures.”

The Prince, who is well-known for his support of environmental issues, called for more support for schemes in developing countries to compensate them if they put measures in place to stop illegal logging and forest clearances.

Around $1 billion of international aid is being used to support forest conservation but businesses can earn around $135 billion from logging according to Andrew Mitchell of the Global Canopy Programme.

Responsible and sustainable logging and replanting also has a major role to play in forestry conservation, which is why these practices are supported by companies such as Greenwood Management.

Prince Charles said: “Given that we have managed to reduce the world’s tropical forests so significantly over recent decades (with over 500 million hectares lost since 1950), the restoration of forest landscapes should not be an afterthought – but an equal priority to halting deforestation and degradation.”

Leaders from almost 200 nations are taking part in the climate change summit. They are aiming to reach agreement on reducing global warming to 2C at the meeting, which lasts for a fortnight.

After burning fossil fuels, such as coal, forest clearances are estimated to be the second biggest factor in human-caused climate change.

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