July 28, 2010

Using Enforcement Response to Reduce Deforestation Rates in Brazil

Treehugger posits that credit is due to IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental enforcement agency, for the  observed declining rates of deforestation in Brazil.

Between 2000 and 2008, the Amazon rainforest lost an average of 18,786 km² annually; last year, that number was down to 7,464 km² last year — evidence of a shift in tactics. Ten years ago, says [IBAMA director Luciano] Evaristo, IBAMA was “looking blindly for deforestation,” with “no tools” to catch deforestation operations before it was too late. Even simple factors like cloud cover would make monitoring parts of the Amazon virtually impossible, and those cutting down the trees knew that.

In the past, IBAMA agents would essentially just drive around, trying to catch farmers and ranchers in the act. But even if a farmer or ranger was found to be illegally deforesting their land, the fines imposed on them were often contested in an endless legal battle. Amazingly, less than 1 percent of fines for deforesting have ever been paid.

After 27,772 km² of forest was deforested in 2004, the highest rate ever recorded, it became clear that these old enforcement methods really weren’t effective.

Since then, advances in technology and better enforcement methods have changed the way IBAMA operates. A recently launched satellite, developed with the help of the Chinese, allows the enforcement agency to peer through clouds, greatly enhancing their monitoring ability. Every 15 days, IBAMA receives new satellite imagery showing the latest spots where deforestation is taking place, allowing officers to close down such operations much more quickly than they could before.

Those caught illegally deforesting their land, usually farmers and ranchers making room for cattle or crops, can now expect a harder hit to their pocketbooks. Instead of only imposing fines, now enforcement agents seek to “decapitalize the crime,” says Evaristo. Deforesting cattle ranchers can now expect to have their livestock seized, while farmers’ crops will be forced to rot in the ground. Those caught with illegal timber operations, too, may be squeezed out of business; IBAMA posts the names of those landowners on their Web site for the world to see.

Pilot Project on Forest Carbon Trading Established in Nepal

Filed under: biodiversity, climate, Forests — inece @ 3:35 pm

Nepal Forest, flickr user dey

From SciDev.Net

A pilot project underway in Nepal aims to strengthen the capacity of the government and community forest user groups (CFUGs) to measure and monitor carbon stored in the country’s forests.

A project management unit (PMU), launched 16 July 2010, has initiated a payment distribution system to reward CFUGs that increase and maintain carbon storage levels.

The four-year project, covering three watersheds, will be managed by PMU partners — the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, Asia Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bio-resources, Federation of Community Forestry Users, Nepal, and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.

“If the forest biomass increases by two tonnes per hectare over the next year, then the CFUGs will be paid a sum for each extra tonne of carbon per hectare stored, based on the market rate for carbon,” Eak Rana Magar, PMU coordinator, told SciDev.Net.

A forest carbon trust fund will initially regulate trade between carbon ‘sellers’ and ‘buyers’.

For the full article, visit SciDev.net, Nepal foresters ready to sell carbon stocks.

July 26, 2010

CNN: In Defense of the Seas — Tony Oposa

Filed under: marine — Tags: — inece @ 4:04 pm

INECE EPC Member Tony Oposa is profiled in a recent CNN Ecosolutions video “In Defense of the Seas” in recognition of his work to protect the marine environment in the Philippines.

Philippines: Forgotten law never enforced can solve water crisis, floodings

Filed under: Asia, water management — Tags: — inece @ 2:54 pm

Flood Waters in the Philippines by flickr user Edward Allen L. Lim

An article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer quotes INECE EPC Member Tony Oposa in asserting that promoting full compliance with an existing law that requires the development of reservoirs to collect rainwater could help solve the country’s ongoing water crisis and control regular flooding troubles.

“The water shortage and rationing that we are again going through has been coming for a long time. We are being flooded during the rainy season, yet we are undergoing severe water shortage. And all because we forgot, or simply neglected to implement, a simple law that requires the construction of rainwater catchment/collectors in every barangay,” [Mr. Oposa] said.

He described the most simple rainwater catchment system as a specially prepared hole in the lowest level of a vacant lot to capture rain water from the sky or from the ground. If properly designed, ground catchment systems can collect large quantities of rainwater.

Oposa said harvested rainwater can provide supplemental water for nonpotable household requirements, mitigate flooding by providing a receptacle for excess water and increase soil moisture levels for urban greenery, thus providing areas for recreation.

But by far the most important benefit is the replenishment of and improvement in the quality of ground water from where the country draws its supply of drinking water, he said.

In June 2009, Oposa and the Global Legal Action on Climate Change wrote to the DPWH inquiring into the implementation of the law.

In its reply dated Aug. 6, 2009, the DPWH said that from January to June 2009, it had put up only four demonstration rainwater collectors.

The law mandates that there should be at least 100,000 rainwater collectors and catchment areas all over the country by 1991.

With the number of basins already built by the DPWH, compliance with the RA 6716 is actually at 0.004 percent, said Oposa.

For the full article, visit the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

July 23, 2010

INECE “Inspection Month” Builds Capacity for Controlling Hazardous Waste at Seaports

Filed under: INECE Secretariat, seaports — inece @ 9:03 pm

photo by flickr user photohome_ukParticipants in INECE’s Seaport Environmental Security Network launched a 45-day International Hazardous Waste Inspection Month at Seaports on 1 June 2010.

15 countries from Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas participated in the event which was designed to build capacity to detect and deter illegal shipments through seaports.

The Inspection Month resulted in increased awareness of the need for interagency collaboration and confirmed the benefits of joint environmental inspections at seaports.

A report from the project will be available on the INECE website later in the summer. See http://inece.org/seaport/ or email sesn@inece.org for more information.

Trafigura found guilty of exporting toxic waste

Filed under: seaports — inece @ 8:55 pm

BBC reports that:

A Dutch court has found multinational Trafigura guilty of illegally exporting toxic waste from Amsterdam and concealing the nature of the cargo.

In 2006, Trafigura transported waste alleged to have been involved in the injury of thousands of people in Ivory Coast. Trafigura denied any wrongdoing.

It expressed disappointment in the ruling and is considering an appeal.

The firm was fined 1m euros (£836,894) for its ship, the Probo Koala, transiting Amsterdam with its cargo.

The ship then went on to unload its cargo in Ivory Coast.

For more details about the ruling, along with a timeline of the Trafigura incident, visit the BBC News page.

INECE’s Seaport Environmental Security Network was established to raise awareness of the issue of illegal hazardous waste trafficking through seaports and to build capacity among competent authorities at ports to detect and deter illegal shipments. See http://inece.org/seaport/ for more information

July 22, 2010

Strategic Environmental Assessment in Action

Filed under: Publications — Tags: — inece @ 4:27 pm

Strategic Environmental Assessment in Action (second edition) presents a coherent and straightforward how-to approach to the strategic environmental assessment (SEA) process.

The book defines SEAas a systematic process for evaluating the environmental consequences of proposed policy, plan or programme initiative in order to ensure they are fully included and appropriately addressed at the earliest stage of decision making on par with economic and social considerations.

Recommended audiences for the book include people who write SEA regulations and guidance; people who carry out SEAs and students of environmental management; people who want to influence strategic actions, or are responsible for SEA quality assurance; and environmental lawyers and law students.

Part I provides an overview of the aims, principles, advantages and problems of SEA, as well as looking at key SEA regulations and their requirements.

Part II examines the SEA process in considerable detail including setting the policy context, describing the baseline, identifying alternatives, predicting and evaluating impacts and using the SEA information in decision-making.

Part III is devoted to assuring SEA quality with a discussion of resources and capacity building.

Ordering information: http://www.earthscan-usa.com/Books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=240525

July 21, 2010

Scientific American: Unfair trade — A week in the world of illegal wildlife trafficking

Filed under: biodiversity — inece @ 7:21 pm

A recent Scientific American blog article presents a round-up of 10 major illegal wildlife trafficking cases that have been covered by the media in the past week.

New UNFCCC Report on Legal Considerations of a Potential Gap between Commitment Periods

Filed under: climate — Tags: — inece @ 7:08 pm

The Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) may end from 2013 unless the world can agree and put into force a new round of carbon emissions targets before then, a U.N. paperindicates.

The paper describes the mechanisms that could create a “gap” between Kyoto Protocol commitment periods and the consequences, noting that, under such a scenario “no new CDM project activities could be validated or registered, emission reductions or removals that occurred after the first commitment period could not be verified, and corresponding CERs could not be issued.”

The paper then explores legal options available to ensure that no gap is created between the first and subsequent commitment periods, including (A) amending the Protocol; (B) provisional application of an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol; and (C) extending the first commitment period.

The paper is available through the UNFCCC web site: http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2010/awg13/eng/10.pdf.

July 19, 2010

Decline in Illegal Logging Observered in New Chatham House Report

Filed under: biodiversity, Environmental Crime — Tags: — inece @ 2:59 pm

The most thorough assessment to date of the global fight against illegal logging finds that a decade of international effort to tackle the problem is having a dramatic and beneficial effect both on forest dependent communities and on the global climate.

According to the report, Illegal Logging and Related Trade: Indicators of the Global Response, total global production of illegal timber has fallen by 22 per cent since 2002.

From Chatham House’s Press Release:

The report states that illegal logging has dropped by 50 per cent in Cameroon, by between 50 and 75 per cent in the Brazilian Amazon, and by 75 per cent in Indonesia in the last decade. This reduction, documented in three of the five tropical timber producers studied, has prevented the degradation of up to 17 million hectares of forest, an area larger than England and Wales combined.

By preventing forest degradation, which is often the first step towards forest destruction, efforts to tackle illegal logging in these three countries may over time help prevent – at relatively low cost – the release of up to 14.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide – the equivalent of half the carbon dioxide released by human actions worldwide each year. Conversely, if the timber were harvested under government auspices an estimated $6.5 billion dollars could be raised in these countries alone, more than twice that which the world spends each year in overseas aid for primary school education.

Some news articles urge caution when evaluating the report’s findings. The New Scientist’s Timber piracy down – but we’re not out of the woods article suggests that some of the decrease in illegal logging may be due to the fact that timber removal practices are simply being legalized, as opposed to stopped altogether.

At the same time, a New York Times article Ranchers and Drug Barons Threaten Rain Forest reveals that “[g]reat sweeps of Guatemalan rain forest, once the cradle of one of the world’s great civilizations, are being razed to clear land for cattle-ranching drug barons.”

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