FOREST FIRES & DEFORESTATION

FOREST FIRES ARE RAGING ALL AROUND THE WORLD FROM GLOBAL WARMING AND CLEARING FOR AGRICULTURE AND BUILDING LAND

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"Mmmm. Those crazy hippies might have a point. It is getting a little warmer than I'd Like."

 

 

We need to plant more trees - a whole lot more trees, not clear them, and especially not waste timber that is a vital renewable resource for zero carbon house building. Forest fires that cause deforestation are raising the temperature of Planet Earth and there is no Planet B.

 

The deliberate setting of forest fires aimed at clearing land for agriculture or building should be made an international criminal offence by the United Nations.

 

Irresponsible logging should also be made an international criminal offence. Timber should be harvested sustainably, with approved replanting schemes as part of a Circular Economy. No tree should be cut, except for diseased and dying trees, without a replanting plan. A local Arboriculturist or Arboricultural Consultant should certify any reason for removal of a tree, such as a dangerous situation on an incline, close to a building.

 

Log and coal fires should be restricted in use, with climate offset mitigation measures in place for limited recreational residential use.

 

To make this work, we'd need to make it easy for lumber companies and timber growers to carry on with legitimate business, without burdening them with red-tape. Civil servants and policy makers often overlook the difficulties of running a legal enterprise, without making these essential entrepreneurs feel like criminals, or not appreciated for what they are doing.

 

FOREST FIRE A TO Z

 

Amazonian

Australian

Bolivian

Brazilian

British Columbian

Canadian - Saskatchewan

Chilean

Greece

Japanese

Malaysian

Mongolian

Portugal

Russian

USA - California, Yosemite

       - Montana

       - Georgia

       - Sacramento

 

 

 

BRAZIL - Soldiers investigate illegal clearing of the Amazonian forest. There are new ways of tracking illegal clearing using mobile phones to listen for chainsaws. Satellites also play a part in monitoring unauthorized activity.

 

 

BIODIVERSITY

 

Deforestation on a human scale results in decline in biodiversity, and on a natural global scale is known to cause the extinction of many species. The removal or destruction of areas of forest cover has resulted in a degraded environment with reduced biodiversity. Forests support biodiversity, providing habitat for wildlife; moreover, forests foster medicinal conservation. With forest biotopes being irreplaceable source of new drugs (such as taxol), deforestation can destroy genetic variations (such as crop resistance) irretrievably.

Since the tropical rainforests are the most diverse ecosystems on Earth and about 80% of the world's known biodiversity could be found in tropical rainforests, removal or destruction of significant areas of forest cover has resulted in a degraded environment with reduced biodiversity. A study in Rondônia, Brazil, has shown that deforestation also removes the microbial community which is involved in the recycling of nutrients, the production of clean water and the removal of pollutants.

It has been estimated that we are losing 137 plant, animal and insect species every single day due to rainforest deforestation, which equates to 50,000 species a year. Others state that tropical rainforest deforestation is contributing to the ongoing Holocene mass extinction. The known extinction rates from deforestation rates are very low, approximately 1 species per year from mammals and birds which extrapolates to approximately 23,000 species per year for all species. Predictions have been made that more than 40% of the animal and plant species in Southeast Asia could be wiped out in the 21st century. Such predictions were called into question by 1995 data that show that within regions of Southeast Asia much of the original forest has been converted to monospecific plantations, but that potentially endangered species are few and tree flora remains widespread and stable.

Scientific understanding of the process of extinction is insufficient to accurately make predictions about the impact of deforestation on biodiversity. Most predictions of forestry related biodiversity loss are based on species-area models, with an underlying assumption that as the forest declines species diversity will decline similarly. However, many such models have been proven to be wrong and loss of habitat does not necessarily lead to large scale loss of species. Species-area models are known to overpredict the number of species known to be threatened in areas where actual deforestation is ongoing, and greatly overpredict the number of threatened species that are widespread.

A recent study of the Brazilian Amazon predicts that despite a lack of extinctions thus far, up to 90 percent of predicted extinctions will finally occur in the next 40 years.

 

 

 

 

CATTLE RANCHING

 

Deforestation in Brazil increased by 88% for the month of June 2019, as compared with the previous year. Some 80% of the deforestation of the Amazon can be attributed to cattle ranching, as Brazil is the largest exporter of beef in the world. The Amazon region has become one of the largest cattle ranching territories in the world.

 

CLIMATE CHANGE

 

In terms of climate change, cutting trees both adds carbon dioxide to the air and removes the ability to absorb existing carbon dioxide. If tropical deforestation were a country, according to the World Resources Institute, it would rank third in carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions, behind China and the U.S.

 

Twenty-three percent 23% of tree cover losses result from wildfires and climate change increase their frequency and power. The rising temperatures cause massive wildfires especially in the Boreal forests. One possible effect is the change of the forest composition.

 

 

 

 

DEFORESTATION

 

Deforestation occurs around the world, though tropical rainforests are particularly targeted. If current deforestation levels proceed, the world's rainforests may completely vanish in as little as 100 years, according to National Geographic. Countries with significant deforestation in 2016 included Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other parts of Africa, and parts of Eastern Europe, according to GRID-Arendal, a United Nations Environment Program collaborating center. The country with the most deforestation is Indonesia. Since the last century, Indonesia has lost at least 39 million acres (15.79 million hectares) of forest land, according to a study by the University of Maryland and the World Resource Institute.

 

Deforestation is the permanent destruction of forests in order to make the land available for other uses. An estimated 18 million acres (7.3 million hectares) of forest, which is roughly the size of the country of Panama, are lost each year, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

 

Deforestation is considered to be one of the contributing factors to global climate change. According to Michael Daley, an associate professor of environmental science at Lasell College in Newton, Massachusetts, the No. 1 problem caused by deforestation is the impact on the global carbon cycle. Gas molecules that absorb thermal infrared radiation are called greenhouse gases. If greenhouse gases are in large enough quantity, they can force climate change, according to Daley.

 

While oxygen (O2) is the second most abundant gas in our atmosphere, it does not absorb thermal infrared radiation, as greenhouse gases do. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most prevalent greenhouse gas.

 

DEFORESTATION STATISTICS:

- About half of the world's tropical forests have been cleared, according to the FAO.

 

- Forests currently cover about 30 percent of the world’s landmass, according to National Geographic.

 

- The Earth loses 18.7 million acres of forests per year, which is equal to 27 soccer fields every minute, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

 

- It is estimated that 15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation, according to the WWF.

 

- In 2016, global tree cover loss reached a record of 73.4 million acres (29.7 million hectares), according to the University of Maryland.

 

- CO2 accounts for about 82.2 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Trees can help, though. About 300 billion tons of carbon, 40 times the annual greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels, is stored in trees, according to Greenpeace.

 

ECONOMICS

 

Damage to forests and other aspects of nature could halve living standards for the world's poor and reduce global GDP by about 7% by 2050, a report concluded at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting in Bonn in 2008. Historically, utilization of forest products, including timber and fuel wood, has played a key role in human societies, comparable to the roles of water and cultivable land. Today, developed countries continue to utilize timber for building houses, and wood pulp for paper. In developing countries, almost three billion people rely on wood for heating and cooking.

As human population grows, new homes, communities, and expansions of cities will occur. Connecting all of the new expansions will be roads, a very important part in our daily life. Rural roads promote economic development but also facilitate deforestation. About 90% of the deforestation has occurred within 100 km of roads in most parts of the Amazon.

The European Union is one of the largest importer of products made from illegal deforestation.

 

GOOD FOOD GUIDE

 

For consumers, it makes sense to examine the products and meats you buy, looking for sustainably produced sources when you can. Nonprofit groups such as the Forest Stewardship Council and the Rainforest Alliance certify products they consider sustainable, while the World Wildlife Fund has a palm oil scorecard for consumer brands.

 

 

 

 

PALM OIL

 

The social and environmental impacts of oil palm cultivation is a highly controversial topic. Oil palm is a valuable economic crop and provides a major source of employment. It allows many small landholders to participate in the cash economy and often results in the upgrade of the infrastructure (schools, roads, telecommunications) within that area. However, there are cases where native customary lands have been appropriated by oil palm plantations without any form of consultation or compensation, leading to social conflict between the plantations and local residents. In some cases, oil palm plantations are dependent on imported labour or illegal immigrants, with some concerns about the employment conditions and social impacts of these practices.

Biodiversity loss (including the potential extinction of charismatic species) is one of the most serious negative effects of oil palm cultivation. Large areas of already threatened tropical rainforest are often cleared to make way for palm oil plantations, especially in Southeast Asia, where enforcement of forest protection laws is lacking. In some states where oil palm is established, lax enforcement of environmental legislation leads to encroachment of plantations into protected areas, encroachment into riparian strips, open burning of plantation wastes, and release of palm mill pollutants such as palm oil mill effluent (POME) in the environment. Some of these states have recognised the need for increased environmental protection, resulting in more environment-friendly practices. Among those approaches is anaerobic treatment of POME, which can be a good source for biogas (methane) production and electricity generation. Anaerobic treatment of POME has been practiced in Malaysia and Indonesia. Like most wastewater sludge, anaerobic treatment of POME results in dominance of Methanosaeta concilii. It plays an important role in methane production from acetate, and the optimum condition for its growth should be considered to harvest biogas as renewable fuel.

Demand for palm oil has increased in recent years due to its use as a biofuel, but recognition that this increases the environmental impact of cultivation, as well as causing a food vs fuel issue, has forced some developed nations to reconsider their policies on biofuel to improve standards and ensure sustainability. However, critics point out that even companies signed up to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil continue to engage in environmentally damaging practices and that using palm oil as biofuel is perverse because it encourages the conversion of natural habitats such as forests and peatlands, releasing large quantities of greenhouse gases.

 

Oil palm production has been documented as a cause of substantial and often irreversible damage to the natural environment. Its impacts include deforestation, habitat loss of critically endangered species, and a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

The pollution is exacerbated because many rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia lie atop peat bogs that store great quantities of carbon, which are released when the forests are cut down and the bogs are drained to make way for the plantations.

Environmental groups, such as Greenpeace, claim the deforestation caused by making way for oil palm plantations is far more damaging for the climate than the benefits gained by switching to biofuel. Fresh land clearances, especially in Borneo, are contentious for their environmental impact. Despite thousands of square kilometres of land standing unplanted in Indonesia, tropical hardwood forests are being cleared for palm oil plantations. Furthermore, as the remaining unprotected lowland forest dwindles, developers are looking to plant peat swamp land, using drainage that begins an oxidation process of the peat which can release 5,000 to 10,000 years worth of stored carbon. Drained peat is also at very high risk of forest fire. There is a clear record of fire being used to clear vegetation for oil palm development in Indonesia, where in recent years drought and man-made clearances have led to massive uncontrolled forest fires, covering parts of Southeast Asia in haze and leading to an international crisis with Malaysia. These fires have been blamed on a government with little ability to enforce its own laws, while impoverished small farmers and large plantation owners illegally burn and clear forests and peat lands to develop the land rather than reap the environmental benefits it could offer.

Many of the major companies in the vegetable oil economy participate in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, which is trying to address this problem. For example, in 2008, Unilever, a member of the group, committed to use only oil palm oil which is certified as sustainable, by ensuring the large companies and smallholders that supply it convert to sustainable production by 2015.

Meanwhile, much of the recent investment in new palm plantations for biofuel has been funded through carbon credit projects through the Clean Development Mechanism; however, the reputational risk associated with the unsustainable palm plantations in Indonesia has now made many funds wary of such investment.

 

 

 

 

RATE OF LOSS

 

Global deforestation sharply accelerated around 1852. It has been estimated that about half of the Earth's mature tropical forests - between 7.5 million and 8 million km2 (2.9 million to 3 million sq mi) of the original 15 million to 16 million km2 (5.8 million to 6.2 million sq mi) that until 1947 covered the planet - have now been destroyed. Some scientists have predicted that unless significant measures (such as seeking out and protecting old growth forests that have not been disturbed) are taken on a worldwide basis, by 2030 there will only be 10% remaining, with another 10% in a degraded condition. 80% will have been lost, and with them hundreds of thousands of irreplaceable species.

There is agreement that destruction of rainforests remains a significant environmental problem. Up to 90% of West Africa's coastal rainforests have disappeared since 1900. In South Asia, about 88% of the rainforests have been lost. Much of what remains of the world's rainforests is in the Amazon basin, where the Amazon Rainforest covers approximately 4 million square kilometres. The regions with the highest tropical deforestation rate between 2000 and 2005 were Central America - which lost 1.3% of its forests each year - and tropical Asia. In Central America, two-thirds of lowland tropical forests have been turned into pasture since 1950 and 40% of all the rainforests have been lost in the last 40 years. Brazil has lost 90–95% of its Mata Atlântica forest. Paraguay was losing its natural semi humid forests in the country's western regions at a rate of 15.000 hectares at a randomly studied 2-month period in 2010, Paraguay's parliament refused in 2009 to pass a law that would have stopped cutting of natural forests altogether.

Madagascar has lost 90% of its eastern rainforests. As of 2007, less than 50% of Haiti's forests remained. Mexico, India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Bangladesh, China, Sri Lanka, Laos, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Guinea, Ghana and the Ivory Coast, have lost large areas of their rainforest. Several countries, notably Brazil, have declared their deforestation a national emergency. The World Wildlife Fund's ecoregion project catalogues habitat types throughout the world, including habitat loss such as deforestation, showing for example that even in the rich forests of parts of Canada such as the Mid-Continental Canadian forests of the prairie provinces half of the forest cover has been lost or altered.

 

 

 

 

SLASH AND BURN

 

Burning can be done quickly, in vast swaths of land, or more slowly with the slash-and-burn technique. Slash and burn agriculture entails cutting down a patch of trees, burning them and growing crops on the land. The ash from the burned trees provides some nourishment for the plants and the land is weed-free from the burning. When the soil becomes less nourishing and weeds begin to reappear over years of use, the farmers move on to a new patch of land and begin the process again.

 

The degradation of forest ecosystems has also been traced to economic incentives that make forest conversion appear more profitable than forest conservation. Many important forest functions have no markets, and hence, no economic value that is readily apparent to the forests' owners or the communities that rely on forests for their well-being. From the perspective of the developing world, the benefits of forest as carbon sinks or biodiversity reserves go primarily to richer developed nations and there is insufficient compensation for these services.

 

Developing countries feel that some countries in the developed world, such as the United States of America, cut down their forests centuries ago and benefited economically from this deforestation, and that it is hypocritical to deny developing countries the same opportunities, i.e. that the poor shouldn't have to bear the cost of preservation when the rich created the problem.

 

TREE PRESERVATION ORDERS (TPOs)

 

In the UK they have TPOs. These orders are to protect trees that are considered to be of special beauty or specimen interest, such as to benefit the local community. The United Kingdom Parliament has declared a Climate Emergency with more than 200 local authorities following the lead of central Government.

 

WOOD IS GOOD

 

Timber grown for wood is only good if part of a replanting scheme, with at least 2 trees planted for every one felled, though we would suggest up to 10 trees should be planted to offset the loss of carbon absorption during growth.

 

 

 

 

DESERTIFICATION COP HISTORY

 

COP 1: Rome, Italy, 29 Sept to 10 Oct 1997

COP 9: Buenos Aires, Argentina, 21 Sept to 2 Oct 2009

COP 2: Dakar, Senegal, 30 Nov to 11 Dec 1998

COP 10: Changwon, South Korea, 10 to 20 Oct 2011

COP 3: Recife, Brazil, 15 to 26 Nov 1999

COP 11: Windhoek, Namibia, 16 to 27 Sept 2013

COP 4: Bonn, Germany, 11 to 22 Dec 2000

COP 12: Ankara, Turkey, 12 to 23 Oct 2015

COP 5: Geneva, Switzerland, 1 to 12 Oct 2001

COP 13: Ordos City, China, 6 to 16 Sept 2017

COP 6: Havana, Cuba, 25 August to 5 Sept 2003

COP 14: New Delhi, India, 2 to 13 Sept 2019

COP 7: Nairobi, Kenya, 17 to 28 Oct 2005

COP 15:  2020

COP 8: Madrid, Spain, 3 to 14 Sept 2007

COP 16:  2021

 

 

CLIMATE CHANGE COP HISTORY

 

1995 COP 1, BERLIN, GERMANY
1996 COP 2, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
1997 COP 3, KYOTO, JAPAN
1998 COP 4, BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
1999 COP 5, BONN, GERMANY
2000:COP 6, THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS
2001 COP 7, MARRAKECH, MOROCCO
2002 COP 8, NEW DELHI, INDIA
2003 COP 9, MILAN, ITALY
2004 COP 10, BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
2005 COP 11/CMP 1, MONTREAL, CANADA
2006 COP 12/CMP 2, NAIROBI, KENYA
2007 COP 13/CMP 3, BALI, INDONESIA

2008 COP 14/CMP 4, POZNAN, POLAND
2009 COP 15/CMP 5, COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
2010 COP 16/CMP 6, CANCUN, MEXICO
2011 COP 17/CMP 7, DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA
2012 COP 18/CMP 8, DOHA, QATAR
2013 COP 19/CMP 9, WARSAW, POLAND
2014 COP 20/CMP 10, LIMA, PERU
2015 COP 21/CMP 11, Paris, France
2016 COP 22/CMP 12/CMA 1, Marrakech, Morocco
2017 COP 23/CMP 13/CMA 2, Bonn, Germany
2018 COP 24/CMP 14/CMA 3, Katowice, Poland
2019 COP 25/CMP 15/CMA 4, Santiago, Chile

2020 COP 26/CMP 16/CMA 5, to be announced

 

 

BIODIVERSITY COP HISTORY

 

COP 1: 1994 Nassau, Bahamas, Nov & Dec

COP 8: 2006 Curitiba, Brazil, 8 Mar

COP 2: 1995 Jakarta, Indonesia, Nov

COP 9: 2008 Bonn, Germany, May

COP 3: 1996 Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov

COP 10: 2010 Nagoya, Japan, Oct

COP 4: 1998 Bratislava, Slovakia, May

COP 11: 2012 Hyderabad, India

EXCOP: 1999 Cartagena, Colombia, Feb

COP 12: 2014 Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea, Oct

COP 5: 2000 Nairobi, Kenya, May

COP 13: 2016 Cancun, Mexico, 2 to 17 Dec

COP 6: 2002 The Hague, Netherlands, April

COP 14: 2018 Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, 17 to 29 Nov

COP 7: 2004 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Feb

COP 15: 2020 Kunming, Yunnan, China

 

 

 

OUR (SUGGESTED) SIX STEPS TOWARD A COOLER PLANET

 

1. TRANSPORT: Phase out polluting vehicles. Governments aim to end the sale of new petrol, and diesel vehicles by 2040 but have no infrastructure plan to support such ambition. Such infrastructure should exceed the performance of fossil fuel filling stations, prolong EV battery life and provide power grids with a measure of load leveling. Any such system should seek to obviate the provision of millions of fast charge points where implementation could prove to be a logistical nightmare and an inefficient energy delivery system. This may involve international agreement as to energy storage format and statute to steer car makers to collaborate (in part) in a world of competition.

 

Marine transport can be carbon neutral given the right policies, with phased transition in specific stages such as not to unduly penalize present investment in LNG shipping and other recent MARPOL compliant IC powered vessels. Future cargo vessel should be at least in part powered by renewable energy, on the road to zero carbon, making allowances for technology catch-up from 2030 with scrappage trade in on outdated ships and marine taxes on internal combustion engines.

 

Air travel powered by kerosene should attract hefty mitigation offset, where low carbon alternatives should be encouraged.

 

2. RENEWABLESRenewable energy should replace carbon-based fuels (coal, oil and gas) in our electricity for homes, factories, heating and transport. Coal and nuclear power plants should be phased out.

 

3. HOUSING: On site micro or macro generation is the best option, starting with new build homes that are both affordable and sustainable by design to replace crumbling housing stocks. Encourage building in timber to provide carbon lock from a renewable natural resource. Make sustainable housing a permitted development. Taking out the need to apply for planning permission, will cut out council blockers from the decision making process, to stamp out empire building agendas.

 

4. AGRICULTURE: We need to grow more trees to absorb carbon emissions from a growing population, air travel, and to build new homes. We should promote reductions in food waste and eating of foods that use less energy to produce. Educating children on these matters in schools and via campaigns such as no meat Mondays, should be part of ordinary study.

 

5. INDUSTRY: Factories should be aiming for solar heating and onsite renewable energy generation. EV parking and even service facilities should be part of new industrial estates as part of any building permissions.

 

6. POLITICS: - National governing bodies need to adopt rules to eliminate administrative wastages, to include scaling down spending on war machines, increasing spend on educating the public and supporting sustainable social policies that mesh with other cultures. This includes fostering policies and making funds available to close links in the technology chain to make up for lost time. Kleptocratic empire building must cease in the search for natural equilibrium.

 

 

 

EASTER ISLAND - Was once well populated by trees, but they went too far, just like the Egyptians when they destabilized the banks of the Nile by burning trees to make plaster.

 

 

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LINKS & REFERENCE

 

https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/forests/

https://www.livescience.com/27692-deforestation.html

 

 

 

SOIL EROSION - The more land that we lose to grow crops the greater the food security issue. As the ice caps melt, desertification spreads to make Earth more uninhabitable.

 

 

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DESERTIFICATION IS WHERE AGRICULTURAL LAND IS DEGRADED TO THE POINT WHERE IT BECOMES A DESERT