‘Guardian of the Forest’ ambushed and murdered in Brazilian Amazon

‘Guardian of the Forest’ ambushed and murdered in Brazilian Amazon

SOURCE: MongaBay DATE: November 2, 2019 SNIP: A young indigenous Guajajara leader was murdered reportedly by loggers Friday in the Brazilian Amazon, raising concerns about escalating violence against forest protectors under the government of President Jair Bolsonaro. Paulo Paulino Guajajara, 26-years-old, was shot in the head and killed in an ambush in the Araribóia Indigenous Reserve, in the Northeast state of Maranhão, indigenous chief Olímpio Iwyramu Guajajara confirmed to Mongabay. The murder was also confirmed on Friday night by Mídia Índia, a collective of indigenous communicators of various ethnicities. Paulo was a member of “Guardians of the Forest,” a group of 120 indigenous Guajajara that risk their lives fighting illegal logging in the Araribóia reserve, one of the country’s most threatened indigenous territories. The Guardians also act to protect the Awá Guajá people, an uncontacted group of hunter-gatherers described by NGO Survival International as the most threatened indigenous group on the planet. Indigenous leader Laércio Guajajara, also a “Guardian,” was hit by two grazing shots in his back and his arm during the ambush, but was able to escape the scene and was later taken to a hospital, the chief said. According to Olímpio, all three have been threatened by loggers over the past several months. Violence against indigenous peoples has escalated in Brazil over recent years, making it one of the most dangerous nations on earth for indigenous and environmental activists: 135 indigenous people were murdered in 2018, an increase of almost 23 percent from 2017, according to a report released last month by Brazil’s Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI). The report also included preliminary data for 2019, noting...
Climate emissions from tropical forest damage ‘underestimated by a factor of six’

Climate emissions from tropical forest damage ‘underestimated by a factor of six’

SOURCE: The Guardian and Science Advances DATE: October 30, 2019 SNIP: Greenhouse gas emissions caused by damage to tropical rainforests around the world are being underestimated by a factor of six, according to a new study. Research led by the University of Queensland finds the climate impact of selective logging, outright clearing and fire in tropical rainforests between 2000 and 2013 was underestimated by 6.53bn tonnes of CO2. The numbers are likely conservative, and also did not include emissions from other woodlands or the massive boreal forests in the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere. Study co-author professor James Watson of the University of Queensland and the Wildlife Conservation Society said: “We have been treating forests as pretty one-dimensional, but we know degradation impacts carbon. The bottom line is that we knew the numbers would be big, but we were shocked at just how big.” Watson said the numbers used for tropical rainforests were “conservative”, adding, “this is a carbon time bomb and policymakers have to get to grips with this”. When countries declare greenhouse gas emissions from changes in forests, they do not account for the CO2 that forests would have continued to soak up for decades had they not been cleared or damaged. This is a measure known as “forgone removal”. The study, published in the journal Science Advances, also accounted for those emissions up to the year 2050 – a timeframe relevant to the global Paris climate change agreement. The study found 6.53bn tonnes of CO2 for foregone emissions and the impacts of other damage that wasn’t being counted. Journal article abstract: Intact tropical forests, free...
Amazon rainforest ‘close to irreversible tipping point’

Amazon rainforest ‘close to irreversible tipping point’

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: October 22, 2019 SNIP: Soaring deforestation coupled with the destructive policies of Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, could push the Amazon rainforest dangerously to an irreversible “tipping point” within two years, a prominent economist has said. After this point the rainforest would stop producing enough rain to sustain itself and start slowly degrading into a drier savannah, releasing billions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, which would exacerbate global heating and disrupt weather across South America. The warning came in a policy brief published this week by Monica de Bolle, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington DC. The report sparked controversy among climate scientists. Some believe the tipping point is still 15 to 20 years away, while others say the warning accurately reflects the danger that Bolsonaro and global heating pose to the Amazon’s survival. “It’s a stock, so like any stock you run it down, run it down – then suddenly you don’t have any more of it,” said De Bolle. The policy brief noted that Brazil’s space research institute, INPE, reported that deforestation in August was 222% higher than in August 2018. Maintaining the current rate of increase INPE reported between January and August this year would bring the Amazon “dangerously close to the estimated tipping point as soon as 2021 … beyond which the rainforest can no longer generate enough rain to sustain itself”, De Bolle wrote. Carlos Nobre, one of Brazil’s leading climate scientists and a senior researcher at the University of São Paulo’s Institute for Advanced Studies, questioned her calculation that estimated deforestation...
Romania forest murder as battle over logging turns violent

Romania forest murder as battle over logging turns violent

SOURCE: BBC News DATE: October 21, 2019 SNIP: Forest ranger Liviu Pop was responding to a tip-off about illegal logging when he was shot dead with a hunting rifle this week. He is the second Romanian forest ranger killed in just over a month, and the two deaths have heightened fears for the safety of those whose job it is to protect the forests of this eastern EU country. Romania is home to more than half of Europe’s last remaining old-growth and primeval forests — valuable ecosystems home to bears, wolves, lynx, and wildcat. There is considerable alarm at the levels of violence illegal loggers are willing to use in order to steal wood. That wood can end up anywhere across Europe, from furniture to paper or building materials. Liviu Pop had gone out to investigate a possible case of illegal logging in a mountainous region of Maramures in north Romania when his colleagues became concerned. They tried to reach him by phone but received no response, according to local media reports. The body of the married father of three was found by police in a forest gorge on Wednesday night. An investigation has been opened but there are no suspects at this stage, case prosecutor, Bogdan Gabor, told the BBC. Romania’s state-owned forest management company, Romsilva, which manages 48% of the country’s forests, strongly condemned the latest killing and cited alarming numbers of attacks against forestry workers who were trying to protect against “wood thieves”. It has counted 16 attacks on its forestry workers this year alone. The head of the Silva Trade Union Federation, Silviu Geana, complains...
Aviation climate targets may drive 3 million hectares of deforestation

Aviation climate targets may drive 3 million hectares of deforestation

SOURCE: Rainforest Foundation Norway DATE: October 1, 2019 SNIP: As the general assembly meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) got underway in Montreal, Rainforest Foundation Norway’s new report ‘Destination deforestation‘ goes into the heated debate about “flight shame” and the role of the aviation sector in contributing to the climate crisis. The report reviews the status of the targets the aviation industry has set for alternative fuels and shows how high the risk is that expanding biofuel use in aviation will cause the last thing the world wants or needs right now: increased deforestation. The aviation industry has set an aspirational goal to reduce its CO2 emissions by 50 percent in 2050 (compared to 2005), without limiting growth. Central to this vision is a near complete shift from conventional jet fuel to alternative aviation fuels. Near total replacement of fossil fuel would be needed to meet this target. A number of technologies are available to produce aviation biofuels, or even to produce aviation fuels from electricity, but the only one of these technologies currently operating at a commercial scale is the ‘HEFA’ (Hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids) process to produce jet fuel from vegetable oils and animal fats. The cheapest and most readily available feedstocks for HEFA jet fuel are palm oil and soy oil, which are closely linked to tropical deforestation. Unless alternative aviation fuel policies actively support more sustainable options, it is likely that meeting the aviation industry’s aspirations to reduce emissions would lead to a sharp increase in demand for soy and palm oils. The report estimates that meeting the aspirational targets outlined by...