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Montana Logging Collaborative Fails Restoration Goals

The Wildlife News

March 23, 2015

 by George Wuerthner

The Forest Service (FS), the timber industry and some environmental groups formed a collaborative groups several years ago known as the Southwest Crown of the Continent (SWCC). The goal ostensibly is to promote healthy ecosystems, but the real goal is to increase logging in the Seeley-Swan and Lincoln areas. The SWCC “restoration” objectives appear to be in direct conflict with sound science and well established principles.

The Southwestern Crown Collaborative

The collaborative first misinterprets ecological parameters to create a problem that they can solve with logging. Then the logging creates extra problems like spread of weeds on logging roads, which in turn requires more management. It is a self-fulfilling management that damages our forest ecosystems, and wastes tax payer money to subsidize private timber interests.

The Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR) program supported by the SWCC collaborative has the following goals.

Reduce the risk of uncharacteristic wildfire

Improve fish and wildlife habitat

Maintain or improve water quality and watershed function

Maintain, decommission, and rehabilitate roads and trails

Prevent or control invasions of exotic species, and

Use woody biomass and small-diameter trees produced from restoration projects.

Unfortunately this is not “restoration” rather it is degradation.

The first goal to cut risk of “uncharacteristic wildfire demonstrates a failure to understand wildfire ecology. . There are  no uncharacteristic wildfires occurring in the SWCC. The bulk of this area consists of forests like lodgepole pine, subalpine fir, western larch and so forth that naturally burn as mixed to high severity fires. They burn in large fires whenever there is drought coupled with warm temperatures, low humidity and high winds—assuming an ignition. That is the way these forests replace themselves. There is nothing unusual about any of the fires that have burned and will burn in this area.

Then the second objective is “improve fish and wildlife habitat”. Ironically large severe wildfire fire is one of the major factors that creates dead wood. Dead wood is critical to many wildlife species. Fires also create the patchy age forest stands that is important for many wildlife species. Fires are even important for aquatic ecosystems.  Dead wood in streams is important for bull trout and other fish. Fire promotes the young forests that snowshoe hares like–hence also lynx. Etc. So if the FS reduces the “risk” of wildfire–especially large fires, it is harming wildlife and fish habitat.

Next we come to maintain or improve water quality and watershed function. Again this is a good goal, but when you put in a bunch of roads and disturb the forest floor with logging equipment you are not improving water quality. Even temporary roads can cause significant run-off of sediment. Cutting of the sub-surface water flow by road construction can also cause more surface flow leading to greater erosion and sedimentation in streams. So “treating” the forests here automatically degrades the water.

Of course, one of the justifications I hear all the time for logging is that after cutting the trees the FS will close roads. Yet one doesn’t have to create logging roads, so you can close them, nor do you need to cut trees to close roads. If existing roads are causing problems for water quality or wildlife than the FS legally should close them, and they don’t need to log to do this.

Another goal is to prevent and control invasions of exotic species. A very laudable goal. But the biggest factor in the spread of weeds is disturbance from logging roads and equipment. So in treating the forest, you create the problem you need to solve. This is great for creating an endless job for the FS but it’s not in the public interest.

Finally the last objective is to use woody biomass from “restoration” projects. This last aim acts as if biomass is somehow unnecessary for forest ecosystem function. Nothing could be further from the truth. The removal of biomass harms forest ecosystems, nutrient cycling, wildlife habitat, etc. There is a deficiency of dead wood in many of our forested landscapes, particularly the heavily logged Seeley Swan Valley.

In short, the SWCC is clearly not using good science, and ignoring the multiple ways that logging harms the environment. Furthermore, since nearly all timber sales are money losers, this policy just foster greater dependency by communities and industry on government largess or welfare. It’s time to wean the Montana timber industry off of the government teat.

WATCH: A Message to Nature Conservancy & African Wildlife Foundation from Evicted Samburu

Just Conservation

May 21, 2013

Nakuru talks to Jo Woodman about her eviction from her home to make way for conservation. Video editing by Zoe Young.

The Samburu of Kisargei, in Kenya’s Laikipia district, were brutally evicted from the lands they call home after it was sold to the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF). AWF – with funds from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and a private donor – says it bought the land on the understanding that no-one lived there. When the Samburu protested and took the matter to the courts the land was hurriedly ‘gifted’ to the government. Nakuru Lemiruni’s six children were all born in Kisargei and she says she ‘cannot think of any other land as home’. She wanted to send a message to AWF. This is it.

Police chose a Friday “market day” for their attack, when the men were away and only women, elders and children were in their homes. Fanning out across the 17,000- acre Eland Downs Ranch, police burned the Samburu families’ homes to the ground along with all their possessions.

FLASHBACK | Conservation International: Privatizing Nature, Plundering Biodiversity

conservation-international

Seedling | Grain

October 2003

by Aziz Choudry

Conservation International’s corporate sponsor list reads like a list of the US’ top fifty transnational corporations. Biodiversity conservation is at the top of Conservation International’s list of goals. But as the list of Conservation International’s dubious ventures and questionable partners around the world grows, Aziz Choudry is starting to wonder if it is time to ‘out’ this ‘multinational conservation corporation’ and show its true colours.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C, with operations in over 30 countries on four continents, Conservation International claims to be an environmental NGO. Its mission is “to conserve the Earth’s living natural heritage, our global biodiversity, and to demonstrate that human societies are able to live harmoniously with nature.” [1] This all sounds very laudable and Conservation International has some very high profile fans. This year Colin Powell shared the podium with Conservation International President Russell Mittermeier at the launch of the Bush Administration’s “Initiative Against Illegal Logging” at the US State Department. In December 2001, Gordon Moore, who founded Intel Corporation, donated US $261 million to Conservation International, supposedly the largest grant ever to an environmental organisation. Moore is chairman of Conservation International’s executive committee. Conservation International has repaid Moore’s largesse by nam-ing an endangered Brazilian pygmy owl after him. [2]

Symphony of Failure

Vickrey

Environmental Activism in Four Movements

Counterpunch

October 16, 2013

by Gregory Vickrey

 

Allegro – Local Failure

In 2010, I wrote an article titled, “Environmentalism is Dead,” decrying the ineptitude and/or downright skullduggery of large environmental nonprofit organizations. At the time, I still held the foolhardy belief that we could keep environmental activism alive at the local level through traditional nonprofit vehicles, particularly because of the “good people” typically involved in such outfits and the hypothesis suggesting small and nimble – and the development of personal relationships – could create more effective tactics within a comprehensive strategy or agenda.

Of course, I was wrong.

I suppose one could argue isolated circumstances prove exceptions to the more idealistic rule, but conversations with activists around the United States and Canada, in particular, have only supplemented my own experiences to the point where the hypothesis above demonstrates abject failure in practice among the grassroots, local and regional fare.

Environmentalism truly is dead.

Keep Off The Grasslands | Mark Dowie On Conservation Refugees

WKOG Editor: We especially like the fact that Dowie distinguishes between member-funded and corporate-funded  NGOs. We also enjoyed the irony that the person who alerted Dowie to the indigenous peoples predicament was Rebecca Adamson, who, in turn, has capitalized on the indigenous rights paradigm to become a corporate broker.” [Further reading on More on Adams:  The Corporate Buy-In]

Video | These people have names…

Nakuru Lemiruni sends a message to those responsible for evicting the Samburu tribe from their land. The Samburu of Kisargei, in Kenya’s Laikipia district, were brutally evicted from the lands they call home in 2010 after the land was sold to the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF). AWF, using funds from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), says it bought the land on the understanding that no-one lived there. When the Samburu protested and took the matter to the courts the land was hurriedly ‘gifted’ to the government. Police chose a Friday “market day” for their attack, when the men were away and only women, elders, and children were in their homes. Fanning out across the 17,000- acre Eland Downs Ranch, police burned the Samburu families’ homes to the ground, along with all their possessions. Identified in the Kenyan press as “squatters,” the evicted Samburu families petitioned a regional court to recognize their ancestral claims to the land where they lived and grazed their cattle The suit has been filed by the Samburu against the African Wildlife Foundation and the former President. They need money and public support to win.

+++

The Sun Magazine

Issue 452 | August 2013

by Joel Whitney

Journalist Mark Dowie was speaking at an environmental conference in Ottawa, Canada, in 2004 when he was approached by Rebecca Adamson, a Cherokee and the founder and president of First Peoples Worldwide. She began telling him how conservationists were mistreating indigenous tribes around the world. Intrigued, Dowie decided to look into the subject and write about it.

He traveled for four years to remote parts of the globe, and what he found troubled him. Everywhere he went, native people were being kicked off their ancestral lands to make way for national parks or protected wilderness areas. Dowie wrote a book and titled it Conservation Refugees: The Hundred-Year Conflict between Global Conservation and Native Peoples. He estimates that over the past one hundred years there have been 20 million such refugees worldwide.

He also discovered that the large conservation organizations were partnering with corporations that wanted to build oil wells or gas pipelines or mine for minerals on these lands. Originally conservationists were opposed to drilling and mining, but, Dowie says, the lines between the conservation giants and the corporate giants are being blurred: “International conservation organizations remain comfortable working in close quarters with some of the most aggressive global resource prospectors.” These extractive projects are far more environmentally destructive than the presence of indigenous people, he says. In fact, it’s indigenous traditions that have protected these biologically rich lands, often for millennia.

Dowie was born in Toronto, Canada, and spent his formative years in Wyoming. He calls himself a “Wyoming cowboy,” and his son and ex-wife still own a ranch on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana. Dowie worked for Mother Jones magazine from 1975 to 1985, first as general manager, then as publisher, and finally as editor. In addition to Conservation Refugees, he is the author of Losing Ground: American Environmentalism at the Close of the Twentieth Century and American Foundations: An Investigative History. During his nearly forty years in journalism, he has won nineteen awards, been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and contributed to the Times of London, Harper’s, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Nation. He is currently a contributing editor at Orion and has taught environmental reporting and foreign correspondence at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

I visited Dowie at his home on Tomales Bay in Inverness, California, to discuss the fate of the conservation refugees. Inverness sits on the eastern shore of Point Reyes Peninsula, a protected national seashore. Dowie lives there with his wife — the artist Wendy Schwartz — and their yellow lab, Gracie, who welcomed me with a volley of barks as I crossed the yard on my first visit.

Dowie invited me to follow him through the reeds to his shore-side observatory, a small structure on stilts in the inlet. Six foot three and bowlegged, he stooped a little as he guided me past the poison oak. At seventy-four Dowie is silver haired, broad shouldered, and quietly assertive. When questioned, he answers quickly and without meandering. When challenged, he smiles as if appreciative of the chance to clarify his meaning. He emphasizes that the conflict between native peoples and conservationists is not a story of good guys versus bad guys but “good guys versus good guys.”

 

Whitney: Your book starts close to home with the story of Yosemite National Park.

Dowie: The creation of Yosemite was a long process that began with its “discovery” by white European Americans. Native Americans, of course, were already there. John Muir, forefather of the American conservation movement, is often cited as the park’s founder. He wrote and spoke lyrically about the spiritual renewal urbanites experienced when they entered places like Yosemite Valley — which he defined as a “wilderness” despite its long-standing human population.

Boreal Forest Agreement With Industry: Not One Hectare Of Forest Has Been Protected In Three Years

Boreal Forest Agreement With Industry: Not One Hectare Of Forest Has Been Protected In Three Years

Canadian-Boreal-Forest-Ag-006

The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement” (CBFA) was reached on 18 May 2010. Photograph: Richard Brooks/Greenpeace/EPA.

“Efforts to control corporations’ destructive impacts must have a critique of corporate power at their heart and a will to dismantle corporate power as their goal, otherwise they reinforce rather than challenge power structures, and undermine popular struggles for autonomy, democracy, human rights and environmental sustainability” – Corporate Watch [Britain]

Bolivia: The US Is Spying on Latin America Under the Cover of USAID and other NGOs

 “I am convinced that some NGOs, especially those funded by the USAID, are the fifth column of espionage in Bolivia, not only in Bolivia, but also in all of Latin America,” Morales said during a press conference in Oruro, a southwestern Bolivian city.

Feb 10, 2012

China Daily

LA PAZ – Bolivian President Evo Morales on Thursday accused the United States of spying on his and other Latin American countries.

The Bolivian president said the spying is done under the cover of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

“I am convinced that some NGOs, especially those funded by the USAID, are the fifth column of espionage in Bolivia, not only in Bolivia, but also in all of Latin America,” Morales said during a press conference in Oruro, a southwestern Bolivian city.

Morales said the United States, through the cover of development aid operations of those organizations, knows “all the details of the activities of the social sectors and union leaders” in those Latin American countries.

The president regretted that some union leaders were allegedly used by these NGOs to stir disputes such as the one over a highway project in an indigenous territory in his country.

The Commodification of Earth’s Forests: The Key Players Behind REDD

“The ALBA bloc also agreed to Bolivia’s proposal to reject the idea of seeing forests as simply carbon-offsets to be traded on the carbon market, as it is with the currently promoted policy of REDD. In its place, ALBA will advocate a mechanism denominated “sustainable life of forest” in which an integral vision takes into account the role forest play not only in absorbing carbon but also in regards to food production, water, biodiversity, and land.” See full article: ALBA nations prepare to fight for humanity at Durban climate summit

Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, produced a statement on REDD (September 2010) explaining in more detail his opposition to REDD (available here in Spanish, pdf file – 734.6 kB). See more on Morales regarding his leadership on environment and climate change: Who Really Leads on the Environment? The “Movement” Versus Evo Morales.

Image: The Unsuitablog

An Excerpt from a Must Read Document Written by Carbon Trade Watch

(Full document: http://www.carbontradewatch.org/downloads/publications/REDD_key_players.pdf)

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

The WWF, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, Environmental Defense Fund, Woods Hole Research Center, CIFOR, Wildlife Conservation Society and other “conservationist” NGOs are among those who stand to make billions of dollars from REDD+.

The interests of these conservation NGOs and large corporations have become more clear. Corporations on one hand have been using these NGOs as their best green public relations’ agencies – if paid the right amounts of money, and the NGOs funds on the other hand, have grown more dependent on the “contributions” from these same corporations.

TNC states in its website that they “pursue non-confrontational, pragmatic solutions to conservation challenges”, however, right below they continue saying that they “partner with indigenous communities, businesses, governments, multilateral institutions, and other non-profits”.25 Conservation organizations such as these thrive on these types of conflicts of interest. The Noel Kempff Climate Action Project in Bolivia where TNC is a partner mentioned in above, shows how social and environmental considerations are left aside over profit interests. CI is also an intensive promoter of REDD+ including a very controversial REDD-type project in the Lancondon rainforest in Chiapas, Mexico. In 2009, the government of Chiapas began work on the Climate Change Action Programme for the State of Chiapas (PACCCH), financed by the British Embassy, with CI as a key actor in its implementation. The pilot projects were planned by CI for 2011 Several groups like The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Conservation International (CI), for example, have lobbied for sub-national targets to be at the core of REDD+. Sub-national targets allow the implementation of specific projects without having a national-based target. An insider who is employed by a leading green group explained to the journalist Johann Hari the motivations: “It’s because they will generate a lot of revenue this way. If there are national targets, the money runs through national governments. If there are subnational targets, the money runs through the people who control those forests – and that means TNC, Conservation International and the rest. Suddenly, these forests they run become assets, and they are worth billions in a carbon market as offsets. So they have a vested financial interest in offsetting and in subnational targets, even though they are much more environmentally damaging than the alternatives. They know it. It’s shocking.”24

TNC states in its website that they “pursue non-confrontational, pragmatic solutions to conservation challenges”, however, right below they continue saying that they “partner with indigenous communities, businesses, governments, multilateral institutions, and other non-profits”.25 Conservation organizations such as these thrive on these types of conflicts of interest. The Noel Kempff Climate Action Project in Bolivia where TNC is a partner mentioned in above, shows how social and environmental considerations are left aside over profit interests.

CI is also an intensive promoter of REDD+ including a very controversial REDD-type project in the Lancondon rainforest in Chiapas, Mexico. In 2009, the government of Chiapas began work on the Climate Change Action Programme for the State of Chiapas (PACCCH), financed by the British Embassy, with CI as a key actor in its implementation. The pilot projects were planned by CI for 2011 in Chiapas – where there are 1.3 million hectares of land considered natural reserves – fall under the framework of an agreement signed in November 2010 between California in the US, Chiapas in Mexico and Acre in Brazil. The agreement establishes the bases for initiating a carbon credit scheme incorporating REDD+ and other forest carbon schemes into the regulatory frameworks of these municipalities. However, immediately outside the area designated for the sale of carbon credits, there is a continued promotion for the expansion of agroindustry, tourism development, industrial plantations of oil palm, and other activities that lead to deforestation.26

Another example of how these NGOs are counter-acting real environmental and social struggles is to take a closer look into their partners. CI’s corporate partners include several polluting industries such as ArcelorMittal, Barrick Gold, BP Foundation, Cargill, Chevron, Coca-Cola, Kimberly-Clark, Kraft Foods, McDonald’s, Monsanto, Newmont Mining Corporation, Rio Tinto, Shell, Toyota Motor Corporation, Walmart, among many others. Despite the ghastly record of human rights violation and environmental destruction of these climate criminals, CI blatantly states: “We believe that corporations are a major ally in our conservation efforts… We’ve always taken pride in our relationships with our creative corporate partners. Many have been making a difference for decades; others are just getting started.”27 In May this year, the magazine Don’t Panic secretly filmed a senior employee discussing with undercover reporters ways in which the organisation could help an arms company boost its green credentials. The film shows the CI employee suggesting North African birds of prey as a possible endangered species mascot for the arms company because of the “link to aviation”.28

These corporate partnerships are not only allowing these industries to greenwash their destructive activities, but also by paying CI or any other green group, they are buying the silence of “recognized” conservation groups about the environmental and social impacts that these activities entail.

There are many more players that are pushing for legitimizing and expanding REDD+. For example, key funders that are promoting REDD+ are the Climate and Land Use Alliance (Ford Foundation, Packard Foundation, Climate Works, Betty and Gordon Moore Foundation), the Clinton Foundation, the Norwegian Agency for Development and Cooperation (NORAD), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ, Germany), the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) to name a few.

Read the full report: http://www.carbontradewatch.org/downloads/publications/REDD_key_players.pdf

The latest publications from Carbon Trade Watch:

@COP17 in Durban: NO REDD+ TEACH-IN
Friday, 2 December 14:00 to 17:00 at the Chemistry Building: CC1 (room size 309)
University of KwaZulu-Natal – King George V Avenue, Glenwood, Durban
“Africa says NO to a new form of colonialism!”
The purpose of this Teach-In is to share the truth about Reducing Emissions Deforestation and Forest Degradation with grassroots and community-based groups and facilitators. Will be organized using participatory workshops using popular eduction dynamics, multimedia and games.
http://www.carbontradewatch.org/take-action/cop17-in-durban-no-redd-teach-in.html

1. No REDD popular education blog!
Some say that the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) scheme could help communities who rely on the forests while others see REDD+ as paving the way for land grabs around the world which threaten the livelihoods and cultures of communities and the forests. This educational booklet aims to decode the complexities of REDD+ using clear and straight-forward language while opening up a space for critical perspectives. This REDD+ popular education blog contains a series of educational booklets that can be used as tools for widening on-going collective discussion and learning about REDD+.
All the booklets can be downloaded in English and Spanish at http://noreddpoped.makenoise.org
Please, feel free to print, reproduce and disseminate as much as you want!

http://www.carbontradewatch.org/articles/no-redd-popular-education-blog.html

2. No REDD Papers
This booklet aspires to broaden the debate on the forest offset scam known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) mechanism. It aims to highlight critical perspectives that are frequently drowned out by large NGOs, corporative lobbies, governments, carbon traders, international financial institutions and the United Nations.

http://noredd.makenoise.org/just-released-no-redd-papers-vol-1.html

3. No REDD Platform – Environmental groups denounce diversion of forest funding to REDD plantations
The No REDD Platform, a coalition of environmental groups and Indigenous peoples organizations, has launched a call to the international donor community to halt the diversion of forest conservation funding to dubious schemes to “Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and enhance forest carbon stocks” (REDD+), which are being promoted within the framework of the United Nations Climate Convention. The Platform charge that climate policy makers are working with a flawed definition of “forests” that includes monocultures, genetically engineered trees and agrofuel plantations.

http://noredd.makenoise.org/environmental-groups-denounce- diversion-of-forest-funding-to-redd-plantations.html

4. REDD+ Fact sheets

Key arguments against REDD+ (English and Castellano)
There are many who defend REDD+ for valuing ecosystems services; there are others who see it as the only way to protect forests and stabilize the climate. But whatever form REDD+ takes, even if it includes Human Rights safeguards, it will be designed to allow industrialized countries and polluting industries to continue polluting. Corporations and Northern countries responsible for the climate crisis need to take responsibility for their own emissions by addressing the structural changes necessary to be made in the North and stopping pollution at the source.
http://www.carbontradewatch.org/publications/key-arguments-against-

reducing-emissions-from-deforestation-and-degradation.html

Some key REDD+ players
There are billions of dollars at stake and no real obligation to respect human or collective rights – the so-called ‘safeguards’ mentioned in the negotiating text states that they should only be “promoted and supported” rather than being obligatory for governments. These sneaky words are absolutely inadequate to protect Indigenous and forest-dependent Peoples’ rights. REDD-type projects have already resulted in land grabs, jailings, servitude and threats to cultural survival. It is crucial to ask who is gaining from REDD+, who is making the decisions, where is the money coming from and who is pushing REDD+, and why. This is an overview of some of the key players who are behind designing, implementing and profiting from REDD+.
http://www.carbontradewatch.org/publications/some-key-redd-players.html

5. The CDM in Africa: Marketing a new land grab
The United Nation’s carbon offset mechanism is rewarding pollution, and could lead to a land grab for industrial agrofuels, tree plantations, genetically modified crops and biochar projects in Africa. This briefing, produced by the Gaia Foundation in collaboration with the African Biodiversity Network, Carbon Trade Watch, Timberwatch Coalition and Biofuelwatch, examines the experience of the United Nation’s carbon market, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), and looks at emerging threats.
http://www.carbontradewatch.org/articles/africa-s-pollution- and-land-grab-threat-from-un-carbon-market.html

6. Beating Goliath: A resource for corporate campaigners
This publication gathers case studies from previous successful campaigns against corporations, looking at how they won and what we can learn from them. It provides links to many useful resources for activists, and highlights current campaigns engaged in the fight against climate change through targeting corporations.
http://www.carbontradewatch.org/articles/beating-goliath- a-resource-for-corporate-campaigners.html

7. Letting the market play: corporate lobbying and the financial regulation of carbon trading
The European Union is changing its rules on how carbon is traded in response to a series of fraud cases and the financial crisis. This report co-published by Carbon Trade Watch and Corporate Europe Observatory looks at how corporate lobbies are trying to influence this process, and notes that such measures are bound to fall short since they attempt to “regulate the unregulatable”.
http://www.carbontradewatch.org/articles/letting-the-market-play- corporate-lobbying-and-the-financial-regulation-of-carbon-trading.html

8. EU Emissions Trading System: failing at the third attempt
Emissions trading is the European Union’s flagship measure for tackling climate change, and it is failing badly. In theory it provides a cheap and efficient means to limit greenhouse gas reductions within an ever-tightening cap, but in practice it has rewarded major polluters with windfall profits, while undermining efforts to reduce pollution and achieve a more equitable and sustainable economy. The third phase of the scheme, beginning in 2013, is supposed to rectify the “teething problems” that have led to the failures to date. This report co-published by Carbon Trade Watch and Corporate Europe Observatory shows how the third phase of the ETS will continue the same basic pattern of subsidising polluters and helping them to avoid meaningful action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
http://www.carbontradewatch.org/articles/eu-emissions-trading-system- failing-at-the-third-attempt.html

ENGOs sign over right to criticize, companies continue to log caribou habitat

May 26, 2010

The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement Reconsidered

ENGOs sign over right to criticize, companies continue to log caribou habitat

by Dawn Paley

Clearcutting in the boreal forest in Alberta. The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement allows an area the size of Prince Edward Island to be cut in the caribou range, while deferring logging to outside the caribou range an area the size of Toronto. Photo: Dru Oja Jay

VANCOUVER—Last week’s announcement of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) was celebrated by environmental groups as a historic deal that could save a significant amount of sensitive woodland caribou habitat.

An early criticism of the deal was that Indigenous governments and organizations were left out of the creation of the agreement. The public was also left in the dark while the CBFA was negotiated in secret between nine environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) and 21 forestry companies.

The 71-page agreement has yet to be released on the CBFA website. The Vancouver Media Co-op obtained a leaked copy shortly after the deal was announced.

Greenpeace and the other ENGOs involved in the agreement have chosen their words carefully. Greenpeace has called the deal an “unprecedented accord…covering more than 72 million hectares of public forests, an area twice the size of Germany.” The agreement includes what the proponents are calling a series of interim measures to protect caribou habitat while various levels of government take action to create protected areas for caribou.

Further investigation reveals that this agreement aims to silence all criticism of logging practices in the boreal forest in return for less than two years of diverting harvesting and road building from 72,205 hectares of woodland caribou habitat into other areas of the boreal forest.

View enlarged version. Map source: Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. Annotations and overlays by Petr Cizek and Dru Oja Jay.

The 21 logging companies involved in the deal are grouped together as the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC). Together, FPAC member firms hold tenures for over 72 million hectares of boreal forest, stretching north from the Northwest Territories down through northeastern British Columbia and continuing east all the way to Newfoundland. Included in these tenures are 29,336,953 hectares of caribou range lands, according to the report.

Between April 1, 2009 and March 31, 2012, FPAC companies had scheduled to harvest and build roads on 756,666 hectares inside caribou range lands. That means according to existing industry plans, the vast majority of caribou range lands were not slated to be harvested by the spring of 2012, when the current agreement expires.

Far from protecting caribou lands in their entirety, the outcome of the CBFA reduces the FPAC affiliate cut in caribou range lands from 756,666 to 684,461 hectares until spring 2012. This means 72,205 hectares of harvesting and road building will be “deferred” to “areas outside of caribou range.” In other words, there is no change in the amount of harvesting, only in the locations where harvesting takes place.

While the agreement technically “covers” a forest twice the size of Germany, the amount of caribou range that will not be cut before 2012 as a result of the agreement is only slightly larger than the City of Toronto.

The deal still allows 684,461 hectares to be cut in caribou habitat. This, despite the fact that an expert committee of the Canadian Wildlife Service recently recommended that virtually all industrial activity within woodland caribou range be suspended. In agreeing to the CBFA, the nine ENGOs involved are actively supporting the logging of an area larger than the entire province of Prince Edward Island within caribou habitat between now and 2012.

According to section 14.F of the deal, “FPAC members will publicly state that between April 1 2009 and March 31, 2012 there will be no harvesting or road building in approximately 28,651,492 hectares of caribou range in their tenures (or over 97.6 per cent of the caribou habitat in managed forest).”

By reducing the overall number of hectares of caribou range they refer to, logging companies and ENGOs can claim a near total halt on logging in caribou range lands, even though they’ll still log 684,461 hectares, almost 10 times the area they’re claiming to have saved.

Finally, the “three year” deal actually started more than a year ago, on April 1, 2009: industry promises for harvesting deferrals expire April 1, 2012.

But the numbers game is far from the only Orwellian aspect of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement.

Until April 1, 2012, nine ENGOs have signed on to work together with FPAC companies in “developing and advocating for policies and investments that improve the competitiveness of the Canadian forest sector, create a climate of greater investment certainty, while at the same time have a neutral to positive impact on the sector’s ecological performance.”

In addition, these ENGOs have agreed to express a “continuum” of support for FPAC members, ranging from “recognizing that [sic] the leadership represented by the commitment of FPAC Members to develop and implement the CBFA” to “demonstrating support for products from the boreal operations of FPAC members.”

To ensure that the days of Greenpeace dropping banners from Abitibi-Bowater’s HQ are long forgotten, the agreement stipulates that ENGOs will take back whatever bad things they may have said about FPAC member companies in the past.

This mandatory change in tone by environmental groups takes a couple of forms.

According to Section 6.3.D.ii, “Where an FPAC Member demonstrates an impediment to selling forest products to a specific customer from the boreal as a result of past or current advocacy work or communications, ENGOs will communicate with that customer to confirm they are receiving all joint communications related to progress in implementing the CFBA and that this should be taken into consideration in making procurement decisions.”

The agreement also stipulates that ENGOs will “review and update” their websites to “remove or update any information superseded by the CFBA.” For example, should Canfor find a photo or story about their activities in the boreal forest on the Forest Ethics website objectionable, “immediate steps will be taken to revise that material.”

The agreement also means that if an environmental group which is not a signatory of the deal should happen to tell someone from, say, the David Suzuki Foundation about plans to denounce one of the companies involved in the CBFA, the person from the Suzuki Foundation must warn FPAC member companies immediately.

ENGOs and FPAC will then jointly plan how to respond, which includes actively working together to “have such a third party appropriately modify its position and/or public statements.” This legalese means that the ENGOs and FPAC might jointly threaten to sue or sue the third party. In the past, industry has undertaken such SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) suits, but it is precedent-setting that ENGOs have now become willing participants in striking down criticism of forest practices across Canada.

In return for swapping 72,205 hectares of harvesting out of the boreal forest and maintaining “voluntary deferrals” for another two years, the CBFA transforms the nine ENGOs involved into a promotional service, protection racket and intelligence gathering service for twenty one companies that are actively logging woodland caribou habitat within the boreal forest.

Dawn Paley is a Vancouver-based journalist and a member of the Vancouver Media Co-op.

Claims vs. Actual Protection: Land mass comparisons:

Click to enlarge:

Click to enlarge

Signatories to the CBFA:

Environmental Non-governmental Organizations:

Canadian Boreal Initiative
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
Canopy
David Suzuki Foundation
ForestEthics
Greenpeace
The Nature Conservancy
Pew Environment Group
International Boreal Conservation Campaign
Ivey Foundation

Logging companies (grouped together as the Forest Products Association of Canada):

AbitibiBowater Inc.
Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc.
AV Group
Canfor Corporation
Canfor Pulp Limited Partnership
Cariboo Pulp & Paper Company
Cascades inc.
Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd.
F.F. Soucy Inc.
Howe Sound Pulp and Paper Limited Partnership
Kruger Inc.
Louisiana-Pacific Canada Ltd.
Mercer International
Mill & Timber Products Ltd.
NewPage Corporation
Papier Masson Ltée
SFK Pâte
Tembec
Tolko Industries Ltd.
West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.
Weyerhaeuser Company Limited

http://www.dominionpaper.ca/articles/3450

COMMON DREAMS | Mainstream Green Groups Cave In on Climate

Note – This article has been endorsed by James Hansen.

Published on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 by CommonDreams.org

Mainstream Green Groups Cave In on Climate

Dangerously Allow Industry to Set Agenda

by Gary Houser and Cory Morningstar

“Governments will not put young people and nature above special financial interests without great public pressure. Such pressure is not possible as long as big environmental organizations provide cover. So the best hope is this — individuals must demand that the leaders change course or they will lose support.” – Dr. James Hansen

With climate scientists warning that we are in a global emergency and tipping points leading to runaway catastrophe will be crossed unless carbon pollution is rapidly reduced, one would expect groups identified as environmental defenders to be shifting into high gear. Instead, we are witnessing the unspeakably tragic spectacle of a mainstream environmental movement allowing itself to be seduced and co-opted by the very forces it should be vehemently opposing. At the very moment when moral leadership and courage are needed the most, what we see is a colossal failure of both – with potentially irreversible consequences for our civilization. If Congress chooses an inadequate response to the crisis, policies can get “locked in” which virtually guarantee that these tipping points are crossed. These organizations are using their significant financial resources to create a public impression that the “environmental community” has given its “stamp of approval” to this policy and to marginalize the voices of the genuine grassroots activists who represent the heart and soul of the climate movement. With nothing less than the future of the planet at stake, these groups must now be publicly challenged and held accountable for their actions.

The stage has been set for this necessary debate by publication of Johann Hari’s excellent commentary entitled “The Wrong Kind of Green“. In this piece, Hari provides important insight into some of the relevant history. He describes how in the 1980s and 1990s some of the larger environmental groups began to adopt a policy often called “corporate engagement”. The basic idea was that by participating in “partnerships” with corporations – some involving receipt of monetary contributions – there would be opportunity to exert positive influence.

It is not possible to look into the minds of those who promoted this shift. Perhaps there was a sincere hope that corporations would be moved toward more responsible behavior. Whatever the case, the critically important task at this time is not to evaluate possible motives but rather the real life consequences. To do so honestly, all self-interested blinders must be set aside.

The truth is that this policy has created a “slippery slope” leading to severely compromised stances – nowhere more apparent than in regard to the over-arching issue of climate. In 2007, a coalition was formed between corporations and environmental organizations called the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, or USCAP – whose purpose was to influence U.S. climate legislation. Some of the large groups that joined were Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the Nature Conservancy, and National Wildlife Foundation. In January 2009, USCAP presented its proposals and these became the framework of the Waxman-Markey bill.

The physical context is that previously projected worst case scenarios are already being surpassed and humanity is running out of time. Ice is melting far more rapidly than expected, releasing the “albedo effect” where open water absorbs more heat and accelerates further melting. The normally quite cautious National Science Foundation is ringing alarm bells about the methane – a greenhouse gas over 30 times as powerful as CO2 – now venting from the Siberian seabeds. According to the NSF statement: “Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming.” These are only two examples of “reinforcing feedbacks” that can significantly move the process closer to tipping points.

Within a context so dire that in reality a war-time level of mobilization is needed, what kind of legislation is being offered? First of all, the emission reduction targets themselves – apart from the theoretical strategies for achieving them – categorically ignore the science. The goals do not even aim at stabilization at 350 ppm (let alone the lower figures more likely to be necessary) and the time frame for enacting meaningful reductions is not even remotely close to the speed needed to prevent disaster.

Beyond the issue of targets is that of reduction strategies. USCAP would like to see a trillion dollar carbon market put into place, where traders can claim “pollution rights” to the sky and seek profits from the exchange of such “rights”. Such a system – which would determine whether life-supporting ecosystems survive or collapse – would be placed into the same manipulative hands on Wall Street that brought on the financial meltdown. As this commentary goes to press, several traders in the European carbon market (the world’s prototype) have been arrested in connection with a

), NRDC and EDF are sending their own people to promote it at carbon trade conferences.

The next immoral concession is to allow the industry to “buy” its way out of actually reducing emissions by supporting so-called “offsets” – such as forest preservation projects in the developing world. Sounding plausible in theory, offsets are actually riddled with verification issues and defects such as loggers simply moving elsewhere. But the bottomline “wrong” here is that any form of offsetting should never be looked at as an alternative to reducing emissions. It should only be seen as an additional action to take.

Then there is the unbelievable capitulation represented by the removal of EPA authority to regulate coal-burning. Now that the EPA has finally been empowered by the Supreme Court to act against a carbon-fueled ecocide, this ability has been effectively stripped from the House bill without a murmur from the USCAP “greens”. The result of all these concessions is a pathetically weak bill that the Congressional Budget Office estimates will not even begin to reduce emissions until 2018. Other studies indicate that if all available offsets are used, reductions could actually be postponed an astonishing 19 years until 2029.

The USCAP “greens” proclaim that their positions are being driven by “political expediency”. But there is a stunning “disconnect” which these groups have been reticent to address. How does one negotiate with a melting iceberg? Can the inexorable laws of physics be placed “on hold” while emission reductions are scuttled in a process of political “horse-trading”? What is the meaning of “expediency” when it leads to the collapse of society as we know it? John Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Reseach, stated at the “4 Degrees and Beyond” conference at Oxford that “political reality must be grounded in physical reality or it is completely useless”.

The Sierra Club is experiencing what may be a positive change in leadership and to its credit has not adopted the policy of “corporate engagement” described, yet it has failed to truly mobilize its base against the dangerous shortcomings of the USCAP endorsed legislation. In 2008, the Sierra Club bestowed its highest honor – the John Muir Award – to climate scientist Dr. James Hansen. In presenting the award, Sierra Club President Allison Chin said: “He is truly a hero for preserving the environment”. How does the Sierra Club reconcile the honoring of this man for warning the world and then essentially ignore his core message that present climate legislation is based on false solutions that will waste precious time?

NRDC and EDF, on the other hand, have gone far beyond mere silence. While their websites claim a dedication to public service ( NRDC’s motto is “The Earth’s Best Defense”), they have been actively promoting the USCAP accomodation. If they had not lost sight of their original missions, they would have sought out members of Congress willing to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and used their resources (in 2008, NRDC had an operational budget of 87 million dollars) to throw weight behind them. Instead of emboldening this kind of voice, they have done the exact opposite by allowing industry to define what is “feasible”.

The real climate movement – the one with its backbone intact and composed of grassroots activists and principled groups like Friends of the Earth and Center for Biological Diversity – is already in a “David versus Goliath” situation as it tries to confront the most powerful lobby in the country. But that task has been made infinitely more difficult by these big budget groups using their money to isolate and “box in” the smaller ones.

We close this commentary with the following direct appeal to both the leadership and the members of these groups that have chosen the path of accommodation:

The verdict is in. Your experiment in “corporate engagement” has resulted in a disastrous failure that now threatens the planet. We fully expected the massive campaign from the fossil fuel industry to strip any substance from this legislation. But you have blindsided those of us who are fighting with all our hearts for the future of the earth. Your coffers have grown and now you are using this money to drown us out.

Your stance does not represent those in the grassroots movement, many of whom are young and see the disasters that are looming within their own lifetimes. In your comfortable offices, you do not speak for those willing to put themselves on the line and engage in nonviolent civil disobedience against the very forces you seek to accomodate. The rationale for your corporate “partnerships” was the issue of exerting influence. But the question begging to be asked is who influenced whom? Though your treasury is more full, what truly has been gained and what has been lost?

Your intentions may have been honorable, but the agenda of “defending earth” has been hijacked. Along the way, your vision became blurred and you lost sight of this mission. In this “experiment’, you are the ones who have been “had”. It now appears to have been a terrible Faustian bargain, and we are all paying the price. At the very moment of greatest need for an empowered public advocacy in the face of the most overwhelming threat in human history, your leadership is not to be found.

Your accommodation and your defense of abominably weak Congressional legislation has already had a destructive global impact. It was this legislation that set the bar intolerably low in Copenhagen and instigated a “race to the bottom”. The entire world-wide movement for climate sanity has become blocked by the denial, blindness, and paralysis embodied in U.S. climate policy. When you take this stance in the name of “defending the earth”, you are actually creating an insidious and dangerous deception.

For the sake of the planet, we appeal to your organizations to reclaim the integrity of your original visions. The position you presently advocate will squander the precious little time we have to implement true reductions before the irreversible tipping points are crossed. The stakes could not be higher. We ask that you join hands with the grassroots activists and groups and support the following eight points:

1) Officially recognize that we are truly in a global emergency and that irreversible tipping points are likely to be crossed if humanity does not act in time;

2) Officially recognize that this emergency is of such a magnitude that a war time level of mobilization is needed in order to effectively deal with it;

3) Stand squarely for the necessity that climate legislation be based on the setting of emission reduction targets and a time frame which are defined by the science;

4) Due to the severe ecosystem damage that will ensue in response to a 2 degree (celsius) rise, an overall goal of no more than one degree (celsius) rise must be sought;

5) Clearly renounce cap and trade and offsets as false solutions that will squander precious time;

6) Stand squarely against any attempt in Congress to strip EPA of its authority to regulate carbon;

7) Support a comprehensive approach to the crisis that combines elements of legislation, regulation, and public investment;

8) Support a legislative component based on a continually rising carbon fee with a 100% distribution of the proceeds to U.S. citizens, with the amount of the fee determined by an emission reduction schedule driven by science.

We also ask the members of these groups to withhold their organizational support until their leadership recognizes the necessity of these changes. On this defining issue of our time, may we strive to remove the barriers that divide us and work together.

Gary Houser is a public interest writer, documentary producer, and activist with Climate SOS seeking to raise awareness within the religious community (here) about the moral issues at stake and working to create a more empowered climate movement.

Cory Morningstar, in addition to being a mom, is an activist with Canadians for Action on Climate Change and has collated latest scientific findings here.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/04/20-1

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