Armed with smartphones, Cameroon forest defenders take on illegal loggers

GR: Around the world, legal and illegal resource use is destroying wildlife habitat, eroding soils, and polluting water. Earth has been no match for humans, either those believing they are practicing sustainable harvest, or those just wanting wealth.

“KADEY, Cameroon, In an innovative push to combat illegal logging and the corruption that enables it, community volunteers in Cameroon are being trained to use smartphones to take geo-tagged images of freshly cut stumps and relay the information to the authorities.

“Under a partnership between the government and environmental groups, young people are using satellite-linked phones to document tree-cutting in areas where logging is not allowed.

“They can then upload the photos and make toll-free calls to report the suspicious activity, not just to the police and forest ministry, but also to the National Anti-Corruption Commission, said Bangya Dieudonne, a forestry and wildlife official in Kadey, in the country’s East Region.

“Getting these three institutions informed makes it difficult for forest exploitation criminals to bribe their way through,” he said.

“Training frontline forest defenders aims to reduce illegal deforestation, which is depriving the government of billions of CFA francs in income, hurting communities that make their living from the forest, and making the country more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, officials said.

“With corruption continuing to hamper forest management, new and stronger measures are needed, Dieudonne said.

“So far, more than 100 people have been trained as community “forest defenders” in the East Region and other areas where logging has been especially prevalent, officials said.” –The Local Africa News (More: Armed with smartphones, Cameroon forest defenders take on illegal loggers • The Local Africa News.)

Rates of Hothouse Gas Accumulation Continue to Spike as the Amazon Rainforest Bleeds Carbon

GR:  Earth’s lungs weakening.

“Back in June, atmospheric carbon monitors indicated that the Amazon Rainforest was leeching out more carbon dioxide than it was taking in. This is kind of a big deal — because the vast expanse of trees and vegetation in the Amazon represents a gift nature has given to us. For all that lush vegetation draws in a considerable amount of carbon dioxide and stores it in leaves, wood, bark and soil. And this draw-down, in its turn, considerably reduces the overall rate of atmospheric carbon accumulation coming from human fossil fuel burning.

“Over the years and decades, this great service has saved the world from an even more rapid warming than it is presently experiencing. But not even the great forests could stand for long against the unprecedented plume of carbon coming from human fossil fuel industry. For the great belching of heat-trapping gas by all the world’s engines, furnaces, and fires is equal to about 4 or 5 of the Siberian flood basalts that triggered the worst hothouse extinction event in Earth’s deep history.

No surprise here, planetary warming does not care about the election. Now including October data. pic.twitter.com/SEUbaNRaxT — Gavin Schmidt (@ClimateOfGavin) November 15, 2016

(Very high surface CO2 concentrations over the Amazon Rainforest and West Africa are an indication that key global carbon sinks aren’t functioning. Instead, at least for the period of June through November of 2016, they appear to be emitting very high volumes of stored carbon back into the atmosphere. Image source: The Copernicus Observatory.)

“And so the world has warmed very rapidly regardless of the mighty effort on the part of forests like the Amazon. And that very heat is now harming the trees and damaging the earth to which they are wed. For when soils warm, the carbon they take in is leached out. And along with the heat comes fires that can, in a matter of minutes, reduce trees to ash and return the captured heat-trapping carbon to the world’s airs.

Atmospheric CO2 Accumulation Increasing Despite Plateau in Human Carbon Emissions

(During 2015, atmospheric CO2 increased by a record annual rate of 3.05 ppm. This happened during the build-up of one of the strongest El Ninos on record. But as a weak La Nina settled in during late 2016 and equatorial Pacific Ocean waters cooled, annual rates of carbon dioxide accumulation is again on track to hit a new record high. During mid-November, daily CO2 readings hit above 405 parts per million. An indication that rates of accumulation had not at all backed off from present record highs. Image source: The Keeling Curve.)

“Now such a destructive process appears to be well under way. And it seems that an apparent blow-back of greenhouse gasses from one of the world’s largest carbon sinks is presently ongoing even as rates of atmospheric carbon dioxide accumulation are spiking. For in 2016, the world is now on track to see a record annual rate of atmospheric CO2 increase in the range of 3.2 to 3.55 parts per million.” –Robert Fanney (Continue reading:  Rates of Hothouse Gas Accumulation Continue to Spike as the Amazon Rainforest Bleeds Carbon | robertscribbler)

Study: Protected Forests on Public Land Burn Less Severely Than Logged Areas

GR: Theodore Roosevelt formed the U. S. Forest Service to protect the forests from abusive logging and grazing practices.  Clearcutting was a major cause of problems caused by erosion and sedimentation of streams and lakes. The first head of the Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot, fought to regulate the abuse, but he failed.  The timber and cattle industries succeeded in limiting reforms that would slow their profits.  The Forest Service routinely uses income-tax revenues to fund operations that benefit timber and cattle companies. So, for more than a century now, U. S. forests have steadily declined in both productivity and biodiversity.  The mismanagement by the nation’s foresters is typical of the other branches of public land and resource management including the largest land manager, the U. S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management.

Map:  Location of fires >1,000 acres in pine and mixed-conifer forests with relatively frequent fire regimes in ecoregions of western United States from 1984 to 2014.

“TUCSON, Ariz.— A new study published in the scientific journal Ecosphere finds that public forests that are protected from logging burn less severely than logged forests. The study is the most comprehensive investigation of its kind, spanning more than 23 million acres and examining three decades’ of forest fire data in the West. Among the major findings were that areas undisturbed by logging experienced significantly less intensive fire compared with areas that have been logged.

“The findings come as many federal land managers and members of Congress claim that more logging will reduce wildfires. Several bills have been introduced in Congress to increase logging on vast areas of public land; these have typically been presented under the guise of addressing forest fire concerns, but eliminate most analysis of environmental impacts and reduce environmental protections.

“We were surprised to see how significant the differences were between protected areas managed for biodiversity and unprotected areas, which our data show burned more severely,” said lead author Curtis Bradley, with the Center for Biological Diversity.

“For this study scientists set out to determine whether reduced forest protections and increased logging are associated with lower fire severity. They analyzed fires that burned in pine and mixed-conifer forests starting about 30 years ago, at the earliest point for which comprehensive data were available, to compare where and how fires burned using satellite imagery and maps from the U.S. Geological Survey’s “protected areas database.” The results demonstrated that fires burned relatively cooler in areas managed for biodiversity (Gap 1 in figure below), including national parks and wilderness areas where fires are generally allowed to proceed naturally versus areas managed for multiple use (Gap 3) and areas with little to no mandate for protection (Gap 4) such as private forest lands managed for timber production.

“The study focused on forests with relatively frequent fire regimes, ponderosa pine and mixed-conifer forest types; used multiple statistical models; and accounted for effects of climate, topography and regional differences to ensure the findings were robust.

“The belief that restrictions on logging have increased fire severity did not bear out in the study,” said Dr. Chad Hanson, an ecologist with the John Muir Project. “In fact, the findings suggest the opposite. The most intense fires are occurring on private forest lands, while lands with little to no logging experience fires with relatively lower intensity.”

Chart:  Forests with the highest level of protection (GAP 1 and 2) had the lowest levels of high severity fire — results are shown for 3 statistical models examined.

“Our findings demonstrate that increased logging may actually increase fire severity,” said Dr. Dominick A. DellaSala, chief scientist of Geos Institute. “Instead, decision-makers concerned about fire should target proven fire-risk reduction measures nearest homes and keep firefighters out of harm’s way by focusing fire suppression actions near towns, not in the back country.”

“The authors noted that even in protected forests they found an appropriate mix of low, moderate and high-intensity fire, which is ecologically beneficial since many wildlife species depend on post-fire habitat, especially “snag forest habitat” created by patches of high-intensity fire. Many studies indicate that significant damage to wildlife habitat can result from logging of both unburned mature forests and snag-forest habitat.”

–Curtis Bradley, Center for Biological Diversity, (520) 345-5710, cbradley@biologicaldiversity.org

–Dr. Chad Hanson, John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute, (530) 273-9290, cthanson1@gmail.com

–Dr. Dominick A. DellaSala, Geos Institute, (541) 482-4459 x 302 or (541) 621-7223 cell, dominick@geosinstitute.org

Source: Study: Protected Forests on Public Land Burn Less Severely Than Logged Areas

Soil Erosion, Deforestation, Farming

“The Orinoco Basin extends across Veneuela and Colombia. The river’s delta is covered with tropical rain forest. For many years now, colossal palm oil plantations have been encroaching on this forest.

“But the forest floor is relatively poor in nutrients and rich in oxygen, making it unsuitable for monocultures. Once the soil is depleted, the planters use artificial fertilizers to keep production going as long as they can, and then they move on. But there’s another way. Planting many diverse crops in the same ground can help balance out soil use.” Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.dw.com

GR:  Forest soils are conditioned to support forests.  In dense forests, large proportions of the nutrients are contained in the trees.  Remove the trees and much of the natural wealth of the ecosystem is lost. Moreover, without their protective tree cover, soils wash away leaving behind little opportunity for forest recovery.  The suggestion that planting diverse crops is a good option is not a good one. Remove the trees and much of the local biodiversity is lost.  Even if crops can be planted that will protect the soils and maintain the amount of local biomass production, the loss of biodiversity and the loss of regional climate effects of the forest are not acceptable.

Forests are removed to produce food and desired products for human use.  The process is not sustainable.  We have to have the forests to maintain healthy Earth ecosystems. Thus, we have to reduce human need for food and products.  We have to reduce the human population.  Letting it continue to grow will bring about a terrible disaster for the Earth and all its life, including us.

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