Forests, Forestry, and Climate Stability

” Š although the Bali declarations endorse the
idea of including forest protection in the next
climate agreement, they say nothing about which
avenue to take – an issue that is now being hotly

“… it is perfectly legal to ship illegally cut
logs to the United States and Europe (although
efforts are
under way to change that).

Vol 452
6 March 2008

Save the trees

Scientists and policy-makers will meet in Bonn
this June to discuss one of the most pressing
concerns to come out of December’s United Nations
climate meeting – how to manage the world’s
tropical forests. Jeff Tollefson examines some of
the proposals.

Rainforest nations walked away from the United
Nations (UN) climate meeting in Indonesia last
December with pretty much all they had hoped for:
a place at the negotiating table and an
acknowledgement that deforestation belongs in a
future global-warming treaty.

The landmark decision in Bali was accompanied by
an outpouring of concern – and in some cases
money – from the international community. Little
more than a month later, however, the European
Commission released a proposal that would ban
forestry credits of any kind from the world’s
largest carbon market until 2020. The document
highlights old divisions over whether to
integrate forestry issues into the cap-and-trade
programme for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions
or to tackle problems such as deforestation
separately through government programmes. Rather
than open up the European market, the commission
proposes funnelling a portion of the proceeds
from the carbon market into deforestation

Advocates of rainforest conservation have in the
past focused on issues of biodiversity and the
preservation of indigenous communities. The
climatic implications of deforestation, which
releases the carbon stored in plants and soils
into the atmosphere, both heightens the urgency
and opens the door to potential solutions. Yet
although the Bali declarations endorse the idea
of including forest protection in the next
climate agreement, they say nothing about which
avenue to take – an issue that is now being hotly

Monitoring emissions

The discussions kicked off in Kyoto in 1997,
when the United States pushed to make for-
estry part of the market-based cap-and-trade
programme. Europe eventually accepted the
programme, but was sceptical about includ-
ing deforestation, unconvinced that the tech-
nology was advanced enough to monitor and
quantify emissions resulting from deforesta-
tion. Reforestation projects were included in
the final agreement, but avoiding deforestation
was left out.

Ten years later, with the scientific commu-
nity generally agreed that satellite monitoring is
ready for prime time, rainforest nations banded
together in favour of a market-based approach
tied to national baselines – similar to the way
developed nations would certify industrial
emissions (see ‘Taking steps at a local level’).
Brazil seemed to be out in the cold last year
when it continued to push for the creation of an
international fund, independent of an eventual
carbon market, that could be tapped in support
of programmes to halt deforestation.

In the end, however, UN negotiators failed
to settle the issue. “When we went into Bali, we
all thought that carbon markets would win, but
after Bali there are more and more voices say-
ing, ‘maybe the market doesn’t work that well
here’,” says Fred Stolle, a researcher with the
World Resources Institute, an environmental
think-tank based in Washington DC. Stolle
says the European proposal puts the whole
idea of a market-based forestry programme
“on shaky ground”, because where Europe
leads, others may follow.

This dilemma has advocates of a market-
based approach looking to the United States for
leadership. The leading global-warming legis-
lation in the Senate would set aside 2.5% of the
credits in an eventual cap-and-trade system for
forestry and deforestation projects. A coalition
of businesses and environmental groups, rep-
resented by the lobbying firm Covington and
Burling, based in Washington DC, is pushing
to expand that and other provisions that would
allow forestry to play a greater role.

An international fund such as that backed
by Brazil might be useful to help pay for infra-
structure issues as nations develop the exper-
tise to track and police deforestation, sceptics
argue, but the resources necessary to address
such a problem can be raised only if avoiding
deforestation becomes a private economic
enterprise. “In global markets, forests are worth
more dead than alive, and this is what we need
to turn around,” says Andrew Mitchell, director
of the Global Canopy Programme in Oxford,

After more than a decade of
work, scientists say today’s
computer models could
allow virtually any nation to
monitor deforestation rates
and participate in some kind
of international treaty. Greg
Asner, who studies rainforests
at the Carnegie Institution in
Stanford, California, says the
latest validation on his model
suggests an error margin
of about 0.5% for broad
deforestation; that margin
increases to around 10% for
selective logging.

The question faced by
delegates at the next United
Nations climate talks will
be how to translate such
information into a workable
system that rewards countries
for reducing deforestation.
The Coalition for Rainforest
Nations, led by Papua New
Guinea and Costa Rica, has
proposed national baselines
to ensure that problems do
not migrate from one region
to another.

Costa Rica, India and other
nations are pushing for ways
to reward countries that have
already halted or prevented
deforestation, including
building a tourism industry
around the natural resource.
Advocates say this would
ensure the problem doesn’t
move from one country to
another while providing
additional assistance
for countries that are
managing their resources

All of these countries will
probably need to build up
expertise in running their own
monitoring programmes,
but Asner says his computer
model is simple enough for
him to be able to train his
technicians in a couple of
months. “I think that the key is
planting the seed and building
the scientific capacity within
these nations,” he says. J.T.

Moreover, having developing nations sign up
to cap-and-trade commitments in the forestry
sector will build momentum and increase pres-
sure on countries such as China as well, says
Stuart Eizenstat, a partner with Covington and
Burling who served as chief negotiator for the
US delegation to Kyoto. “This could open up
a way of breaking this impasse between devel-
oped and developing countries.”

To market

But perhaps the biggest fear among sceptics is
that an endless stream of deforestation credits
will simply allow companies in the developed
world to pay a little extra and pass costs on
to consumers without otherwise changing
their policies. Artur Runge-Metzger, who is
in charge of climate issues at the European
Commission, says deforestation accounts
for 5-6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide annu-
ally, compared with 2 gigatonnes in the entire
European trading scheme. “That would flood
the market,” he says, revealing a major reason
behind Europe’s stance. “We want to see real
emissions reductions in Europe.”

Eric Bettelheim, executive chairman of Sus-
tainable Forestry Management in London, calls
this logic “nonsense”, saying forestry projects
will come online over time as countries develop
their monitoring systems, link up to the inter-
national system and work through projects.
Moreover, as some 20% of global greenhouse-
gas emissions come from deforestation each
year, from a theoretical standpoint, deforesta-
tion can’t make up more than 20% of the solu-
tion if it represents only 20% of the problem. “It
is not the purpose of a market to punish indus-
try,” he says. If reducing emissions through
deforestation is the cheapest option, “it’s the
logical thing to do”.

Kevin Conrad, director of the New York-
based Coalition of Rainforest Nations, plays
down the European Commission’s move to
bar forestry projects, expressing confidence
in the UN talks. He says developing nations
would be suspicious of any new non-market
initiative, such as the millennium development
goals for deforestation, that would be perenni-
ally under-funded and bureaucratic. “Devel-
oping countries are trying to test the sincerity
of developed countries, saying
‘Don’t try to fool us dangling
some new-fangled fund in front
of us’,” Conrad says. “What we
want is just our right to be at
the table in the markets that are
already in the tens of billions of
dollars per year.”

How much money would flow into this
sector ultimately depends on the actual cost
of curbing deforestation, and for this there is
a range of estimates. Doug Boucher, director
of the tropical forests and climate initiative for
the non-profit Union of Concerned Scientists
based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is in the
process of compiling and analysing various
studies on the issue. He says the numbers vary
from a few dollars per tonne of carbon dioxide
for individual projects to $10-30 per tonne for
some of the economic models. For perspective,
carbon dioxide credits are currently trading at
more than $30 per tonne in Europe, although
they have been much lower in recent months.

In principle, Boucher says, the calculation
is easy: saving a forest costs at least as much
as a person would have earned cutting it
down. And there will be additional costs for
developing monitoring systems, administer-
ing programmes and enforcing laws, many of
which already exist. Such aspects could benefit
from traditional international aid, especially as
countries gear up. Brazil recently sent a special
police unit into the Amazon as part of an effort
to bring illegal clearing under control – and to
demonstrate its commitment to the problem.

Others are looking at financing mechanisms,
including some form of carbon insurance that
could be activated if a project that had been paid
for turned sour for any reason. New financial
institutions would be needed to link the global
capital markets to people on the ground. Annie
Petsonk, an attorney with Environmental
Defense, a non-profit advocacy group in New
York, says farmers might even be able to take
out a project loan from “forest carbon” banks.
“Could you use all of the learning that has been
developed in the past 10-15 years in micro-
finance?” she asks. “Could you
apply that to carbon?”
But developed nations con-
tribute to the emissions too.

The expansion of palm-oil plantations in Indonesia, driven
in part by European demand for biofuels, is a primary cause
of deforestation. When it comes to timber, it is
perfectly legal to ship illegally cut logs to the
United States and Europe (although efforts are
under way to change that). Cattle ranching is a
leading cause of deforestation in the Amazon,
and two-thirds of Brazil’s beef goes to Europe,
says Mitchell of the Global Canopy Programme.
“Europe’s markets are causing these emissions
and, more and more, the developing world is
saying that it doesn’t want to be blamed.”
But a well-designed and focused programme
could markedly affect global deforestation.

More than half of the emissions from deforesta-
tion come from two states in the Brazilian Ama-
zon and one province in Indonesia, according
to a preliminary analysis of deforestation trends
between 2000 and 2005 by the World Resources
Institute and South Dakota State University in
Brookings. Whether such a programme could
garner the political will and international
backing to succeed remains to be seen.


Lance et al.:
We should stress also that those samae old trees are revcered and regarded
as gods by some forest inhabiting tribes like the Tarahumara people in
Mexico, or also some of the more tropical tribes in Southern Mexico.

On Sat, Mar 8, 2008 at 1:23 PM, Lance Olsen <> wrote:

” … people from 57 countries sent a third of a
million protest emails to staff members of large
environmental groups, protesting their fiction
that killing centuries old trees in ancient
forests is environmentally sound and well-managed

” It is exceedingly difficult for them to admit
they are wrong and move on forest policies that
work to end industrial forest logging and support
local development based upon standing forests.”

March 9, 2008

“Forest Liars” Campaign Launches

Naming Names to End Ancient Forest Logging

By Ecological Internet, Inc. &

(Earth) – Ecological Internet’s campaign to end ancient forest
logging as a keystone response to the climate change and
biodiversity crises intensified this past week. Over one
thousand people from 57 countries sent a third of a million
protest emails to staff members of large environmental groups,
protesting their fiction that killing centuries old trees in
ancient forests is environmentally sound and well-managed
forestry. The alert remains current and can be found at:

Greenpeace, WWF, Rainforest Action Network, NRDC, Forest
Ethics, Friends of the Earth and Rainforest Alliance were
called upon to immediately end their support for the Forest
Stewardship Council’s (FSC) greenwashing of first time logging
of primary and old-growth forests — or face continuing
protest. The protest contained detailed ecological analysis
debunking claims that logging ancient rainforests has
environmental merit.

FSC issues “certifications” that allegedly show ancient forest
logging is “well-managed”, legitimizing the destruction
forever, by themselves and others, of hundreds of millions of
hectares of primary rainforest. At least sixty percent of FSC
timbers come from first time industrial logging of ancient
forests, and their current market demand and planned growth
depends upon it. Claims that FSC certified old-growth logging
protects biodiversity and ecosystems have increasingly been
called into question by new ecological science, lax certifying
organizations’ conflicts of interest and a litany of
questionable certifications.

Outrageously, now the “Forests Liars” — FSC with the
endorsement of member NGOs — claim certified logging of
primary forests has carbon benefits and deserves to be
compensated in the carbon market. Despite no mention of carbon
balances in FSC rules, logging companies and carbon offset
projects are claiming FSC certification makes them “carbon

“After nearly a decade of protesting leading environmental
organizations’ greenwashing of continued old-growth logging,
and being resoundingly ignored, we have no choice but to
pursue more aggressive protest options. To date we have
received no substantive rebuttal to our critique that there is
no such thing as ecologically sustainable ancient forest
logging; that FSC destroys biodiversity, ecosystems and the
climate, and by its very existence legitimizes continued
industrial development of ancient rainforests. They should
know better and admit they are wrong rather than resorting to
spin and vilification [1]. ”

“No one is ever very happy to be protested against,
particularly when the morality of their livelihoods is
questioned and there is minor disruption of daily routines
[2]. Those receiving protests are staff members of
organizations greenwashing the logging of ancient forests,
falsely claiming it protects biodiversity and the climate.
Ecological Internet’s network will continue speaking
ecological truth to power. The loss of large, intact natural
habitats including primary rainforests is the main reason the
biosphere is failing, and those apologists causing the loss
will not go unchallenged.”


1.) Friends of the Earth International sent a strongly worded
response to protesters saying they “oppose all allegation
made” and are not FSC supporters. The alert text and protest
email correctly referred to the Friends of the Earth movement
and nowhere was FOE-International named. They did confirm that
many Friends of the Earth national groups are FSC members.

A disgruntled Rainforest Action Network employee questioned
the targeting of staff members in organizations supporting
FSC that do not directly work on the matter, and dismissed
the alert as an attempt to create controversy. One would
presume all employees of the RAINFOREST Action Network care
about the fate of ancient rainforests (although perhaps not,
given their absence on most current rainforest issues). All
employees working for ancient forest logging apologists are
fair target for protest.

2.) All Ecological Internet protest network participants
should remember when assessing ad hominem responses that for
many years these organizations have been telling their members
and the public that ‘FSC is the answer to the world’s forest
problems’. It is exceedingly difficult for them to admit they
are wrong and move on forest policies that work to end
industrial forest logging and support local development based
upon standing forests. They are wrong and know it, but are
proud and more concerned with maintaining their environmental
bureaucracies than the truth. Please continue to participate:

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