Futures Forum: Eco-imperialism, zero-deforestation and palm oil
Futures Forum: Singapore smog and palm oil
It has also looked at the position of indigenous peoples - when their livelihoods collide with other issues and interests:
Futures Forum: Climate change: the great carbon offsetting scam
Futures Forum: On the Transition: "Future Primitive"
The Independent newspaper ran several stories on the issue of palm oil five years ago, including:
The guilty secrets of palm oil: Are you unwittingly contributing to the devastation of the rain forests? - Environment - The Independent
Palm oil deal 'a threat to the rainforest' - Nature - Environment - The Independent
This and other campaigning since then seems to have had an effect:
Online protest drives Nestlé to environmentally friendly palm oil - Green Living - Environment - The Independent
Unilever drops major palm-oil producer - Nature - Environment - The Independent
With the result that 'big food' companies might be 'the answer' to saving the rainforest:
Rainforests ‘out of danger’ thanks to global giants
TOM BAWDEN ENVIRONMENT EDITOR
Thursday 06 November 2014
The battle to save the rainforest is finally being won, according to a leading conservationist previously known for his pessimism.
The dramatically improved prospects for the rainforests have been triggered by a switch in land use from slash-and-burn subsistence farming to the production of commodities such as soy, palm oil, cattle and wood pulp, according to Rhett Butler, founder of the influential Mongabay.com website that tracks the world’s tropical forests.
These commodities industries are dominated by a handful of global giants, which are more responsive to pressure from environmentally conscious Western consumers than the local farmers who were formerly responsible for much of the deforestation.
The rainforests’ cause is further helped by new technological developments such as drones and satellites which make it easier to spot illegal loggers, Mr Butler said.
Writing on Yale’s Environment website, Mr Butler said: “For a decade-and-a-half, I have devoted tens of thousands of hours to the cause of protecting forests. I’ve witnessed incredible destruction, and there has been reason for despair. But lately – for the first time, really – I’ve started seeing cause for optimism about the future of forests.”
He added: “I’m no Pollyanna. My new view isn’t blind optimism – it’s informed optimism, because there are emerging trends that should give us hope that forests can be preserved.”
Sally Uren, chief executive of the sustainable development charity Forum for the Future, told The Indpendent that she too was starting to feel more positive about the rainforests’ outlook.
“The issue has definitely risen up the agenda of big corporations in the past two years. They increasingly realise that there is a strong rationale for preserving these landscapes because they are very reliant on commodities from those regions,” she said.
In pictures: Biggest threats to the rainforests
“There is a much greater sense of shared responsibility and I am feeling reassured by the seriousness with which many big multinationals are taking this responsibility,” she added, pointing to the consumer goods giant Unilever and the Sky broadcasting company as examples of businesses getting tough on deforestation.
Mr Butler pointed to several positive developments in the last few weeks, with dozens of the world’s largest buyers and sellers of soy, palm oil, cattle and wood pulp establishing policies committing them to “excluding” deforestation from their supply chains.
The biggest coup, he says, came in September when Cargill, which sells £85bn-worth of commodities around the world a year, committed to “zero deforestation” across all its supply chains. In September, politicians from around the world pledged in New York to halve the rate of destruction of rainforests by 2020 and to halt it altogether by 2030.
The plight of the rainforests has come a long way since Sting brought the situation to the world’s attention in the early 1990s. At that point about 11.3 million hectares of rainforest was lost each year, falling slightly to about 9.3 million hectares a year by 2012, still stubbornly high. The rate of loss looks set to tumble in the coming years, Mr Butler says.
Rainforests ‘out of danger’ thanks to global giants - Environment - The Independent
Surprising reasons to be optimistic about saving forests
Amazon deforestation moratorium extended 18 months
APP boosting timber productivity to support zero deforestation policy
Amazon deforestation in Brazil drops 18% in 2013/2014
The problem, however, is that the discredited 'slash-and-burn' method of gaining a livelihood from the rainforest is associated with those who have always lived in the forests:
Indigenous Peoples in Indonesia Scapegoats for Forest FiresFirst Peoples Worldwide » Indigenous Peoples in Indonesia Scapegoats for Forest Fires
Nevertheless, as Rhett Butler of Mangabay points out in the original article:
Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com
November 14, 2014
Indigenous communities in the Amazon have stewarded the region's forests and biodiversity for generations, yet until recently, then were often excluded from conservation initiatives.
Even more locally, there is growing recognition of the role communities play in maintaining forest cover. Research published earlier this year by World Resources Institute and the Rights and Resources Initiative concluded that community-managed forests experienced an average deforestation rate that is 11 times lower than land outside their borders. Legally-recognized community-managed forest amounts to 513 million hectares or an eighth of the world’s forests.
And that area may be about to expand. Last year Indonesia's Constitutional Court invalidated the Indonesian government's claim to millions of hectares of forest land, ruling that indigenous and local communities have the right to manage their customary forests. The decision is significant because the central government currently controls the country's forest estate, enabling it to grant large logging and plantation concessions even in forests that have been managed—and kept standing—by local people for generations.
Some indigenous groups are even looking at new business models that would allow them to earn livelihoods while doing what they always did—preserve forests—through nascent payments for ecosystem services or taking over management of conservation areas.
Surprising reasons to be optimistic about saving forests