Forest News, October 5-11


Emily Kaldjian

Visit us every Monday for recent news on deforestation, forest legality, and developments in forest technology!



Ivory Coast seeks to save forests from illegal cocoa boom,” 5 October, Reuters

In Mont Peko National Park, thousands of leafless Iroko and Samba trees tower over a sea of lush plantations like headstones, a testament to the heavy environmental cost Ivory Coast has paid for a dramatic rise in its cocoa production. Ivorian officials say 99 percent of the park's 34,000 hectares have been destroyed by cocoa farmers taking advantage of the chaos wrought by a decade-long political crisis in the West African nation. With the years of turmoil over, the government of President Alassane Ouattara is preparing to re-exert state authority by expelling tens of thousands of farmers from parks and reserves in an attempt to save the dwindling forests.

Anti-Logging Vigilantes Get International Recognition,” 6 October, VOA Cambodia

In late November 2011, Minh Ny found himself in a brawl with a group of heavily-armed policemen in Kompong Thom province’s Sandan district as the police attempted to handcuff the late environmentalist Chut Wutty. Ny, a 52-year-old from the Kuoy indigenous minority, said the encounter was typical of the one-week campaigns against loggers that villagers have been conducting for almost a decade. Deep in the jungle, they confiscate chainsaws and logs from illegal loggers, often attracting the attention of local police in the process, he said.

Neighbours turn up the heat on Indonesia over forest fires,” 6 October, Today Online

For weeks now, the quality of life in parts of South-east Asia has been left to sheer chance — the direction of the wind. Every day, it alone determines which city will be shrouded by peaty white smoke blowing from burning forests in Indonesia. Like neighbours who must tolerate the bad habits of the family next door, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand have endured the annual problem of smoke that stings the eyes, irritates the throats and shuts down schools and airports. Now their patience is wearing thin, and harsh words are flying across the borders in a departure from region’s non-confrontational etiquette.

Brazil's indigenous people take up arms against loggers in Amazon,” 6 October, Washington Post

The Guardians are one of two indigenous groups on this eastern fringe of the Amazon that have taken radical action to reduce illegal logging. They have tied up loggers, torched their trucks and tractors, and kicked them off the reserves. As a result, such logging has sharply declined in these territories. But the indigenous groups have faced reprisal attacks and death threats for their actions, raising fears of more violence in an area known for its lawlessness. The clashes highlight the continuing grave threat to the Amazon, the world’s biggest remaining rainforest, which plays a crucial role in maintaining the world’s climate and biodiversity. From 2005 to 2012, deforestation plunged in Brazil, as the government increased its conservation efforts and cracked down on illegal loggers. But since then, the numbers have begun to creep up again. In 2014 alone, almost 2,000 square miles of Amazon rain forest were cleared by farmers, loggers and others.President Dilma Rousseff recently promised to end illegal logging in the Amazon by 2030.

The Great Myanmar Timber Heist,” 7 October, The Diplomat

While the world is focused on a China creating islands in the South China Sea, analysts and commentators may be missing another development in Chinese international affairs of equal importance. Very real environmental and regional security repercussions from the One Belt, One Road strategy are already emerging in the greater Mekong sub-region. And these impacts can be seen at first hand in the jungles and towns of Myanmar’s Kachin state and Sagaing region.

Alarm bells over Indonesia’s plan to reduce green timber certification,” 7 October, Mongabay

Green groups and some government officials and entrepreneurs in Indonesia are concerned about the Trade Ministry’s plan to reign in sustainable timber requirements for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the furniture and handicraft industries, seen as a setback for a country that was once synonymous with illegal logging. The ministry says it will waive the requirements for such businesses to obtain Timber Legality Verification System (SVLK) certification before exporting their products.

Big palm oil's pledge to preserve forests vexes Indonesia,” 7 October, Reuters

The Indonesian government is asking major palm oil companies to row back on the historic "no deforestation" pledges they made at last year's United Nations climate change summit, officials and company sources say. Major palm oil companies were invited to a series of meetings at the economics ministry last week, where officials expressed concern the pledges the plantation companies made are causing big problems for smaller palm oil firms in their supply chain, the sources told Reuters.

Nepal's forests under threat over fuel crisis,” 7 October, BBC

Nepal's world-renowned community forests are under threat from a sudden rise in demand for firewood because of a fuel crisis, officials say. A blockade on the Himalayan nation's border with India has halted imports. Ethnic communities in the southern plain bordering India are protesting against the new constitution, saying it does not adequately represent them. At least 40 people have died and hundreds of trucks have been stuck across the border in India.

Clear-Cut: Lumber Liquidators Pleads Guilty to Importing Illegal Wood Products,” 8 October, Huffington Post

It's official: Lumber Liquidators, the nation's leading hardwood flooring retailer, broke the law, and now they're paying the price. After a two-year investigation, yesterday the Department of Justice announced a plea agreement with the company, with Lumber Liquidators agreeing to $13.2 million in penalties for importing flooring made of illegally logged wood. This marks the first time a major U.S. company has been found guilty of a felony for smuggling illegal wood products into the country.

Cambodian Village Chief Threatens Arrest For Complaints Over Illegal Logging,” 9 October, Radio Free Asia

A village leader in eastern Cambodia’s Ratanakiri province has confiscated a petition from villagers seeking a halt to illegal logging on a nearby sacred mountain, threatening to have them arrested if they persist in their complaints, sources said. Ethnic Lao residents of Cambodia who moved two years ago from border areas to the province’s Lum Phat district are now being helped by local police and other authorities to clear land on Phnom Kunthy mountain near Patang village for their own use, villagers told RFA’s Khmer Service on Friday.