Bosques (Continuación)

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 »

Russian lumber in transit in 2008. Credit Michael Christopher Brown/Magnum Photos

I have loved wood and the smell of sawdust ever since I was a child and got to wander among the open sheds at the local l

umberyard. But for years now I have had a sick feeling every time I shop for almost anything made of wood. The prices are often unbelievably good, but then I notice the words “Made in Vietnam,” or some other country where illegal logging is demolishing forests at appalling speed, largely for the United States and European markets.

So I was pleased when I read this month that a federal judge had approved a criminal settlement in just such a logging case.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hace 30 años la Organización para la Alimentación y la Agricultura de las Naciones Unidas lanzó el Plan de Acción por los Bosques Tropicales, la primera iniciativa global intergubernamental para luchar contra la pérdida de bosques. Desde entonces la deforestación ha seguido su ritmo sin pausa, y no parece que el último esfuerzo internacional por detenerla (conocido como Programa de reducción de emisiones de carbono causadas por la deforestación y la degradación de los bosques, o REDD+) vaya a ser más eficaz. Irónicamente, lejos de proteger los bosques del mundo el resultado más notable de ambos acuerdos ha sido la producción de muchos y muy costosos estudios de consultoría.…  Seguir leyendo »

La déforestation est responsable de 10 % des émissions de gaz à effet de serre au niveau mondial. La forêt amazonienne illustre bien la tragédie environnementale qui se cache derrière ces chiffres. La déforestation y a atteint un pic en 2004, avec 2,8 millions d’hectares, l’équivalent de la Belgique, déboisés en l’espace d’une année seulement.

Pour sauver la forêt amazonienne, plusieurs options sont aujourd’hui sur la table : instaurer des zones protégées, interdire et mettre à l’amende les coupes d’arbres en forêts, ou au contraire subventionner les propriétaires forestiers pour les inciter à conserver leurs forêts intactes.

Un exercice difficile

Mais quelle est la politique la plus efficace ?…  Seguir leyendo »

I just returned home after a three-week trip to America to learn that the supermarket chains here no longer sell my favorite brand of four-ply toilet paper. The reason? Its producer — Asia Pulp and Paper — is one of five companies being investigated by Singaporean authorities in connection with forest fires in Indonesia that have left parts of Southeast Asia blanketed in a choking, dangerous haze for weeks.

For the first time, Singapore is applying pressure to businesses that could be responsible for making its air almost unbreathable. But banning a brand of toilet paper and other paper products is not likely to curb the Indonesian fires, which have happened every fall for decades at great cost not only to the regional economies, but also to the global environment.…  Seguir leyendo »

Forest fires have been burning out of control across Indonesia for months, blanketing Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan province and other parts of South-East Asia in smog. Credit Hugo Hudoyoko/European Pressphoto Agency

When President Obama welcomes President Joko Widodo of Indonesia on his first White House visit next week, he will have a valuable opportunity to help curb one of the world’s largest sources of carbon emissions.

Indonesia’s widespread conversion of peatlands and forests for logging and agricultural use has made the country one of the world’s biggest carbon polluters. Halting deforestation and preserving these natural areas, even partially, could decrease carbon dioxide emissions half a gigaton annually by 2030 — roughly the same reduction levels Mr. Obama has sought in the United States in updated fuel efficiency standards and power-plant regulations.

Washington has already incorporated climate issues into its dealings with Indonesia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cuando el Papa Francisco visitó América Latina en julio hizo una conmovedora defensa de la selva amazónica y de las personas que la habitan. “El hogar de todos está siendo saqueado, destruido y dañado con impunidad”, dijo a activistas reunidos en la Cumbre Mundial de Movimientos Populares en Bolivia. “Es un grave pecado no defenderla por cobardía”.

Atender el llamado del Papa Francisco no es solo una cuestión moral sino práctica. Más adelante en París, durante la Conferencia de las Naciones sobre Cambio Climático en la que se diseñará una respuesta a los desafíos que plantea el calentamiento global, se debería adoptar una serie de políticas para proteger a los bosques tropicales y a los pueblos que las habitan.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the last 40 years, more than one billion acres of tropical forests have vanished, equivalent in size to over half of the continental United States. The rate of cutting, burning and clearing shows no signs of abating.

Tropical forests store huge amounts of carbon. When their trees are cut or burned, the carbon is eventually released into the atmosphere, mixing with oxygen to form the long-lasting greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. The pace of deforestation is so great today that it accounts for an estimated 12 to 15 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions annually.

Economic forces drive this destruction — for timber, rangeland, mining and development.…  Seguir leyendo »

Edwin Chota encontró la muerte en la selva que luchaba por proteger. Este activista ambiental peruano había solicitado ayuda a su gobierno tras recibir amenazas de muerte por parte de los taladores ilegales que pululan por la zona vecina a su aldea, situada en la profundidad de la selva amazónica. Pese a su solicitud, en septiembre, él y otros tres prominentes miembros de la comunidad asháninka de Perú, fueron emboscados y baleados a muerte en un sendero de la jungla cuando se dirigían a un encuentro con activistas de Brasil, su país vecino. La viuda de Chota viajó durante seis días por vía fluvial para llegar a la capital regional e informar de los asesinatos.…  Seguir leyendo »

The loss of native tropical forests accounts for more than 10% of the carbon emissions responsible for the changing climate, receiving much-deserved attention at the recent U.N. climate change conference in Warsaw.

When forests are cleared and burned, the carbon contained in the trees and other vegetation — roughly half of their dry weight — is released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas contributing to global warming. Most of the carbon dioxide emissions caused by human activity come from fossil fuels. But native tropical forests average about 150 tons of carbon per hectare, and millions of hectares are cleared and burned every year.…  Seguir leyendo »