A farmer holds an open cocoa pod on a farm outside of Kumasi, Ghana. Ghana is the world's second biggest cocoa producer after Ivory Coast. Photo: Getty Images.

Up to 58,000 square miles of forests are being lost to deforestation every year, contributing to climate change and the loss of habitats for millions of species. Can you tell us about the key drivers for forest loss across Africa?

Deforestation is directly being caused by activities such as illegal logging, agricultural development, mining and infrastructure projects – but there are reasons behind these activities which are often overlooked.

Poverty is one of the most significant indirect reasons causing deforestation across Africa – and it is increasing. The population across Africa is growing annually, and because we have a large land area with ample forests, Africans are using it to farm as a means of securing their food security while lifting themselves out of poverty.…  Seguir leyendo »

A swathe of deforested land is visible in the morning mist in Magdalena Valley, Antioquia. April 2018. (Lucy Sherriff)

For Colombia, peace has come with caveats. In 2016, guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) finally laid down their weapons, ending over half a century of conflict. Thousands of fighters had spent decades occupying Colombia’s forests, and most got up and left their secret mountain hideouts. Families who had fled the fighting started to return. Old farms re-opened, and new ones sprang up. Gold and coal miners moved in.

The forests had protected the FARC fighters from attacks and surveillance. In turn, FARC’s presence in the Magdalena River Valley, nestled between the central and eastern Andes, kept the forests intact.…  Seguir leyendo »

En agosto de 2015, un hombre intenta apagar un fuego cerca del río Pardo, en la Amazonía. Credit Nacho Doce/Reuters

En el transcurso de catorce años, el bosque tropical de la Amazonía sufrió las tres peores sequías en cien años. En 2005 y 2010, la superficie del océano alcanzó temperaturas inusualmente elevadas, por lo que se debilitaron los vientos alisios, que ayudan a llevar humedad a la región. Entre 2015 y 2016, a consecuencia de la combinación de factores oceánicos con los efectos de la deforestación y el calentamiento inducido por carbono, se produjo una sequía todavía más intensa.

Los datos recopilados en toda la cuenca del Amazonas —de satélites, estudios aéreos y torres de flujo atmosférico— presagian sequías más prolongadas y frecuentes para las décadas siguientes.…  Seguir leyendo »

A tropical rainforest with a small river inside the heart of Madidi national park, Bolivia.CreditTomas Zrna/Moment Open, via Getty Images

Sit on a log by the Madidi River in Bolivia at dusk and you can hear what an Amazon forest should sound like. The music includes red howler monkeys, breathy thumps from the mutum jungle fowl, droning cicadas, eerie calls locals attribute to deadly bushmaster vipers and the unhinged excitement of elusive titi monkeys. Around your feet, the beach is crisscrossed by jaguar tracks and those of the pony-size tapir, a shy beast that, if you keep quiet, will saunter out of the forest and swim across the river.

This is what scientists call an “intact forest landscape.” It’s a swath of at least 500 square kilometers (about 193 square miles, equal to 70,000 soccer fields) of unbroken forest.…  Seguir leyendo »

A sawmill in Peru, where more than half of the logging operations are illegal. Credit Tomas Munita for The New York Times

Strange as it may sound, we have arrived at a moment of hope for the world’s forests. It is, admittedly, hope of a jaded variety: After decades of hand-wringing about rampant destruction of forests almost everywhere, investigators have recently demonstrated in extraordinary detail that much of this logging is blatantly illegal.

And surprisingly, people actually seem to be doing something about it. In November, the European Court of Justice put Poland under threat of a 100,000-euro-per-day fine for illegal logging in the continent’s oldest forest, and early this month Poland’s prime minister fired the environment minister who authorized the logging.

In Romania, two big do-it-yourself retail chains ended purchasing agreements with an Austrian logging giant implicated in illegal logging there.…  Seguir leyendo »

A principios de octubre, poco después de la llegada del huracán María a Puerto Rico, el director ejecutivo de Tesla, Elon Musk, dijo en Twitter que su empresa podía, si le daban la oportunidad, reconstruir la red eléctrica de la isla para el uso de energía solar. Salir a decir eso en medio de tanto sufrimiento humano fue una audacia. Pero con una perspectiva tecnológica, el momento elegido para hacerlo fue perfecto. A fines de octubre, en el Hospital del Niño de San Juan se instalaron paneles solares y baterías de alta capacidad, y hay en marcha otros proyectos.

Esta clase de respuesta a un desastre natural (reemplazar una red de distribución basada en los combustibles fósiles por otra con energías renovables) es digna de elogio.…  Seguir leyendo »

«Y como si un viento silencioso y frio pasase sobre ellas, tienen el largo murmullo de las hojas secas. ¡El murmullo de un viejo jardín abandonado, jardín umbrío!».

En mi lejano país, al contrario que en el resto de España, se habitan aún hoy mil núcleos de aldeas, villas y ciudades. Esta dispersión, tan meteorizada como peculiar, al borde de una extinción casi dramática y definitiva, deja sin embargo un poso genético que a muchos de nosotros nos llena de optimismo identitario. No he conocido a uno solo de mis paisanos que no se sienta orgulloso de su tierra, con un sentimiento tan afectivo que va más allá de la vida.…  Seguir leyendo »

Illegal logging and the associated trade is a major cause of deforestation and forest degradation and accounts for a large proportion of forest sector activities around the world. Trade in illegal timber can be highly lucrative and involves the buying and selling of timber which may have been harvested, transported or processed illicitly.

This year, Vietnam became the seventh country to conclude negotiations with the European Union for a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA). The agreement aims to tackle illegal logging, improve forest governance and promote trade in verified and licensed legal timber products from Vietnam to European and international markets. Earlier in 2017, Indonesia – one of the world’s largest timber exporters – became the first country to officially issue licensed timber under the agreement.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los grupos de presión ruralista de Brasil ya no necesitan presionar tanto al gobierno. En buena medida, han conseguido lo que tanto han buscado: ocupar importantes cargos de poder en Brasilia. En 2014, los brasileños eligieron no solo el congreso más conservador del país desde el fin de la dictadura, sino también el más dominado por el frente parlamentario agropecuario –suma 230 de los 513 diputados–, la más eficiente de las agremiaciones legislativas.

Tras apoyar el proceso de destitución de Dilma Rousseff y con Michel Temer como presidente, ese sector conservador dominó por completo el gobierno. Desde entonces, hemos asistido a una ofensiva contra las conquistas sociales –y ahora ambientales– de la última década.  …  Seguir leyendo »

Los aymara designaban así, con ese nombre, al territorio que hoy es la república de Chile, significando un lugar tan lejano y apartado que en ese confín se acababa la tierra.

Después de este verano que mi mujer y yo hemos pasado en Santiago se me ocurre, sin embargo, que subyace a esa palabra originaria otra posible definición, quizás profética: Chile como el límite donde lo que se acaba no es el espacio, sino el tiempo, los días que le quedan a la tierra en poder de los humanos.

Nunca han descendido sobre este país meridional tantas catástrofes naturales seguidas. Por una vez, no se trata de los terremotos y tsunamis que nos han asediado desde tiempos inmemoriales.…  Seguir leyendo »

Here in Chile, in the far south of the Southern Hemisphere, it has been the summer of our discontent. Never have so many natural catastrophes in a row hit this country at the end of the world. For once, it is not the earthquakes that have assailed us since time immemorial or the tsunamis that often follow, devastating land and coast, mountainscapes and ocean. This time, our unprecedented woes have all been man-made.

First were the forest wildfires, mostly to the south of Santiago, the worst in recorded history. Countless acres have been burned to cinders, killing people and livestock, leveling a whole town, destroying centenarian trees as well as newer woodlands meant for export.…  Seguir leyendo »

The UK Department for International Development’s (DFID) new Economic Development Strategy, published at the end of January, sets out an ambitious but pragmatic agenda for international development, focusing on investment in sustained, job-creating growth which will help countries move beyond the need for aid. On the UN’s International Day of Forests, it is a good time to showcase the role that UK leadership in tackling illegal logging and improving forest governance is primed to play in delivering this strategy.

For nearly two decades, DFID has shown remarkable global leadership on forests and a willingness to innovate that is rare among donor institutions.…  Seguir leyendo »

La humanidad siempre ha tenido una relación compleja con los bosques. Estos tienen diversas funciones esenciales: regulan el clima y las lluvias, depuran el aire y el agua, mantienen infinidad de especies vegetales y animales, y proveen de medios de vida a más de mil millones de personas. Aun así, seguimos destruyéndolos, tanto que sólo subsiste la mitad de la cubierta forestal original del mundo.

El precio de la deforestación es altísimo. Los árboles al crecer consumen grandes cantidades de dióxido de carbono, lo que los hace herramientas esenciales para la absorción de las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero (procedentes de autos, fábricas, centrales de energía y ganado) que dan lugar al cambio climático.…  Seguir leyendo »

Chatham House’s recent paper, Woody Biomass for Power and Heat: Impacts on the Global Climate, highlights how the use of wood for electricity generation and heat in modern (non-traditional) technologies has grown rapidly in recent years, and has the potential to continue to do so. EU member states’ national targets for renewable energy generation agreed in 2009 have helped ensure that the EU is now the world’s largest producer and consumer of wood for energy. And although other member states use wood more extensively for heat, the UK is the EU’s largest user for electricity generation, mostly sourced from the US and Canada.…  Seguir leyendo »

The rainforests of Didy in eastern Madagascar usually ring with the calls of the indri, the island’s largest lemur. There is a different noise now: the chopping of trees, digging of gravel, and cheers of encouragement from the thousands of illegal miners who have flooded to these forests since sapphires were discovered in late September.

Bemainty, an area in the west of Didy, is experiencing a sapphire rush. Rosey Perkins, a gemologist, visited soon after the rush began in October. She estimated 45,000 people were already involved and that the mine was growing by 1,500 to 2,000 people a day. By now it may be significantly bigger.…  Seguir leyendo »

Today Indonesia begins issuing the first ever FLEGT licenses for timber exports bound for the EU market. A major step in the battle against illegal logging and trade in illegal timber, these licenses are issued under a national system to verify the legality of all timber and timber products. A commitment to licensing its timber exports to Europe was made in the country’s Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU, although the licensing system applies to all exports and to the domestic market. The scale of this achievement can not be underestimated given the size of the country and of its forest sector – there are hundreds of thousands of forest enterprises ranging from large-scale concession holders and processing industries, to smallholders and micro-scale loggers, saw-millers and manufacturers.…  Seguir leyendo »

Among the unfortunate headlines about Boko Haram and email scams, it is easy to overlook that Nigeria boasts seven national parks and some of the richest biodiversity in West Africa. Nearly all of that flora and fauna is concentrated in Cross River State in the country’s southeast corner, abutting Cameroon. There, the Nigerian government hopes to have the magnificent Cross River National Park listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

To spend time in this landscape is to understand why it deserves such a distinguished designation. Jagged mountains, made soft by knee-high grass, rise out of jungle thick with fog and bird songs.…  Seguir leyendo »

Flying over the mountains into Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a few years ago, I sat next to a volunteer taking her first trip to the country. “I see trees,” she said, pointing down at the hillsides. “They told us there are no trees.”

Foreign descriptions of the country frequently claim it is almost completely deforested; people often reference a striking 1987 National Geographic photograph of the border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, forested on one side and barren on the other, as proof. In the common imagination, Haitians literally devour their forests; last week a meteorologist in Florida, describing the impact of Hurricane Matthew, said, “Even the kids there, they are so hungry they actually eat the trees.”

In fact, about a third of Haiti is covered in trees, and many areas with little forestation have always been that way.…  Seguir leyendo »

The forest was assessed by teams that measured trees in 480 sample plots across Kasigau Corridor. Independent environmental consultants from the United States used analytical software involving 60 algorithms to determine the amount of carbon in the forest.

Results were verified by the environmental audit firms Verified Carbon Standard and Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance, both based in Washington. The latter’s social audit includes weeks of meeting with local councils and questioning them independently.

In the early days, critics feared that “carbon credit cowboys” would displace or exploit locals and pocket profits. But setting up and verifying REDD+ is too complicated, expensive and stringent for speculators to make easy money.…  Seguir leyendo »

Will no one stop Poland destroying Europe’s most precious forest

Białowieża is “the misty, brooding forest that loomed behind your eyelids when, as a child, someone read you the Grimm brothers’ fairytales”, in the words of American ecologist Alan Weisman. This unique place of towering hornbeam and fungi the size of dinner plates is Europe: 1,500 sq km of woodland on the border of Poland and Belarus is the last lowland remnant of what covered our continent after the ice age. It is home to 20,000 species, including 12 carnivores such as lynx and wolves, 120 species of breeding bird such as the three-toed woodpecker and rare insects and invertebrates that were lost to the rest of Europe a century or more ago.…  Seguir leyendo »