Cheap furniture endangering forests
Saturday 25 March 2006, 6:29 Makka Time, 3:29 GMT
Critics say illegal trade in timber also exploits the poor
Increasing global demand for cheap Chinese furniture is affecting tropical forests as much of the timber comes from countries where illegal logging is rampant.
Reports by environmentalists in the past few weeks have highlighted China's role in the destruction of tropical forests in Asia and Africa.
Import of wood products from China by the United States and the European Union have increased almost nine fold since 1998, according to a report published on Frday by US-based Forest Trends and the Center for International Forestry Research.
At the same time, China has become the world's leading importer of wood from tropical, developing countries such as Indonesia and Papua New Guinea where illegal logging is common, the report said.
About 70% of all timber imported by China is converted into products for export and the country has captured one-third of the global trade in furniture over the last eight years.
From the ABC
Industry condemns 'misleading' forestry claims
The Tasmanian timber industry has hit back at the Wilderness Society's claims logging activity in southern Tasmania's Florentine Valley is destroying high conservation value forest.
Timber Communities Australia has accused the Wilderness Society and the Greens of misleading the public.
The Wilderness Society says Prime Minister John Howard has broken a promise to protect 18,700 hectares of old-growth forest in the Styx and Florentine valleys.
Spokesman Geoff Law says the logging industry is getting $250 million through the Community Forest Agreement.
"With these millions and millions of dollars being poured down the throat of the Tasmanian logging industry, why is it that we are still losing key areas of old-growth forest?" he said.
Timber Communities Australia says the areas are not that significant.
It says a 1989 report compiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature affirms logging on the World Heritage boundary would not diminish the area's values.
GUS: NOT SIGNIFICANT? Industries can be very cavalier with the value of things... especially natural things like reefs, forests, deserts, etc.. If appears that if it does not bring money it has no value... One of the major problem is that logging on the World Heritage boundary may not diminish the "area's value" in dollars and cents but it diminishes its integrity as feral species and diseases can quickly take hold and its beauty is massively compromised by an ugly scar on edge arbitrarily decided by governmental decree... Pity that our primal grocer is still bent on selling more stuff, including more uranium to anyone with a promise of behaving goodly... Let's be real here, the nuke industry is a very costly industry in the LONG run... It's costing about 80 billion pounds for the UK to decommission its aging nuclear power plants and as more plants are built around the world, cost will be measured in trillions of dollar and many other side effects...
Back to the forest... Our little grocer has broken another agreement... what's new?
Hug a tree today... and ask for forgiveness. A bird might sing...
From the New york Times
Forests in Southeast Asia Fall to Prosperity's Axe
By JANE PERLEZ
Published: April 29, 2006
LONG ALONGO, Indonesia — For as long as anyone can remember, Anyie Apoui and his people have lived among the majestic trees and churning rivers in an untouched corner of Borneo, catching fish and wild game, cultivating rice and making do without roads. But all that is about to change.
The Indonesian government has signed a deal with China that will level much of the remaining tropical forests in an area so vital it is sometimes called the lungs of Southeast Asia.
For China, the deal is a double bounty: the wood from the forest will provide flooring and furniture for its ever-expanding middle class, and in its place will grow vast plantations for palm oil, an increasingly popular ingredient in detergents, soaps and lipstick.
The forest-to-palm-oil deal, one of an array of projects that China said it would develop in Indonesia as part of a $7 billion investment spree last year, illustrates the increasingly symbiotic relationship between China's need for a wide variety of raw materials, and its Asian neighbors' readiness to provide them, often at enormous environmental cost...
read more at the new york Times...
Gus says it's appalling... and we're selling gas, uranium without any idea... We're now a nation of grocers... we used to be a nation of providers and inventors... Thank you Johnnee.... Please do something... Do some carbon trading fast...
Global pulp mill industry on verge of collapse: report
The rapidly expanding world pulp mill industry could be poised for collapse due to a failure by financial institutions to research how wood can be found to feed new mills, a report says.
The report by the Indonesian-based Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) says that false assumptions about the origins and cost of wood used in emerging-market mills has led investors to channel billions of dollars into financially risky and environmentally destructive ventures.
The report, funded by the European Commission and the United Kingdom's Department for International Development, analysed 67 pulp mill projects.
A lack of due diligence may lead to "a new wave of ill-advised projects, setting up investors, forest-dependent communities and the environment for a precipitous fall," a statement accompanying the report warned.
More than $US40 billion has been poured into pulp mill projects over the last decade, with another $US54 billion expected to be invested by 2015, the report said.
read more at the ABC
See the cartoon at head of this line of blogs...
Brown 'too scared' to debate forestry issues
The Greens leader, Senator Bob Brown, has been accused of being too scared to debate forestry issues.
The federal Forestry Minister, Senator Eric Abetz, says Senator Brown failed to ask a single question about forestry during Senate estimates hearings this week.
Senator Abetz claims this is because Senator Brown is too afraid to debate with people who understand the issues.
"He knows the officials would embarrass him and expose him as a liar for the information that he spreads around the community," he said.
"And that is why he refuses to engage."
Senator Brown has responded by accusing Senator Abetz of not being across his forestry portfolio.
Senator Brown has also challenged Senator Abetz to a public debate to be held at the Hobart Town Hall.
"If he would like to have a debate on Tasmania's appalling forest industry, then let's book the Hobart Town Hall," he said.
"He can name the time, I'll be there and I'll pay for it."
Gus says the federal Forestry Minister, Senator Eric Abetz, has as much affinity to a tree as a chain-saw... would not recognise the true value of trees unless it is turned into wood-chips... See cartoon at top of blog... May fungus rot his mahogany desk.
Court rejects Gunns' claim against 20 activists
A court has thrown out a third attempt by Tasmanian Timber company Gunns Limited to sue a group of 20 environmental activists.
Timber firm Gunns was seeking to recover almost $7 million in damages from federal and state leaders of the Greens, and from conservationists.
The company alleged the group had waged a campaign against Gunns, which interfered with profits and disrupted logging operations.
Justice Bernand Bongiorno struck out Gunns' statement of claim, saying it sought too much against too many people in one proceeding.
He says Gunns can choose to pursue individuals on specific matters.
Greens leader Bob Brown is pleased with the decision.
"Descriptions of burdensome, unjust, echoed through the court room," he said.
He says it is a victory for people who have campaigned to save Tasmania's forests.
"Gunns is of course able to come back and make more discreet and specific claims if it wishes to - that hangs over our heads," he said.
"All I can say is I'm very proud to be with the other 19 defendants."
Wilderness Society spokeswoman Virginia Young says the case has been an unjust burden for the defendants for almost two years.
"It has been a very traumatic journey for all of the defendants in this case, very distressing to have been put before the courts for standing up for Tasmania's forests," she said.
Gus: Carry on the fight for Tassie forest... see cartoon at head of this line of blogs...
Gus: ... and while our Peter Garrett was too busy to go and chew the controversial fat with the tree-fellers in Tasmania — those professional chaps working hard at destroying old growth forests with chainsaws, while the newer woods go up in flames — an animal species of unique existence become extinct... Not so strangely, I have a profound tear in my eye. This from The Independent:
"We have to accept the fact that the baiji is extinct. It is a tragedy, a loss not only for China, but for the entire world,"
Gus: see cartoon at the head of this line of blogs... Too often, we realised we've lost so much when there is not enough left to sustain the continuum... By then, we cry, well some of us cry while the destructioners move on to other grounds. We cry, too late, when we should have protected in the first place. Sure, we know better but we still prefer our wood-chip comfort above the being-there value of trees that grew tall already in the days of Elizabeth the First... We are a rotten species...
Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced a $200 million plan to help stop deforestation in Asia.
The Government is under pressure from the Opposition and climate change economist Sir Nicholas Stern to do more to tackle global warming.
Mr Turnbull says a global response is needed and the $200 million project will be used to plant trees and reduce illegal logging in South-East Asia.
"The funding will go, given the nature of our geography, will largely go to South-East Asia," Mr Turnbull said.
"The biggest deforesters in the world or the places where the most deforestation of tropical forests is occurring are in Brazil and Indonesia, they're the top two so naturally our focus is going to be on our part of the world but we're not limiting it to that."
But Labor wants the Government to agree to new targets for cutting emissions.
Environment spokesman Peter Garrett says it will not hurt the economy.
"It's clear, crystal clear that the Prime Minister is wrong," Mr Garrett said.
The $200 million will be spent over five years in several countries.
Gus: Why not spend this moneys to stop logging of old growth forests in Tasmania, Victoria and NSW? But no the Primus Rattus goes on a public relation exercise with his new Minister for Watery Knees and Nuclear Dump. That's 40 million bucks a year to tackle a problem that can simply "disappear" by changing illegal logging into legal logging with a stroke of the Indonesian Government's pen... While the real problem is LEGAL logging anywhere in the world... Planting more trees is a good thing, but cutting remaining old growth forest anywhere in the world (including Australia) is a crime against nature, the future and humanity. See cartoon at the head of this line of blogs.
Missy Higgins in internet performance to plead for the Kimberley
Bran Nue Day...
American taste for soft toilet roll 'worse than driving Hummers'Extra-soft, quilted and multi-ply toilet roll made from virgin forest causes more damage than gas-guzzlers, fast food or McMansions, say campaignersThe tenderness of the delicate American buttock is causing more environmental devastation than the country's love of gas-guzzling cars, fast food or McMansions, according to green campaigners. At fault, they say, is the US public's insistence on extra-soft, quilted and multi-ply products when they use the bathroom."This is a product that we use for less than three seconds and the ecological consequences of manufacturing it from trees is enormous," said Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defence Council."Future generations are going to look at the way we make toilet paper as one of the greatest excesses of our age. Making toilet paper from virgin wood is a lot worse than driving Hummers in terms of global warming pollution." Making toilet paper has a significant impact because of chemicals used in pulp manufacture and cutting down forests.A campaign by Greenpeace seeks to raise consciousness among Americans about the environmental costs of their toilet habits and counter an aggressive new push by the paper industry giants to market so-called luxury brands.
see toon above and the green holocaust as well... and use a brick (like they do in some third-wold countries)...
Australian Greens leader Bob Brown says he cannot afford to pay a $240,000 Forestry Tasmania bill, a move which could see him lose his seat in the Senate.Senator Brown was ordered to pay the money after losing a federal court case to stop logging in the Wielangta Forest in south-east Tasmania.He says he has been told he could end up bankrupt if he does not pay, meaning he would lose his Senate seat.Senator Brown says he is now campaigning to raise the money which must be paid by the end of the month."As a Senator, and somebody who's been able to accrue assets down the line, I'll be talking with people who may be able to lend that money and if not, I'll be taking some more adventurous action," he said.http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/06/08/2592384.htm?section=justin-------------------------PRIMARY Industries and Water Minister David Llewellyn has suggested the endangered swift parrot is virtually doomed.Mr Llewellyn told State Parliament this morning there were fewer than 1000 breeding pairs left in the wild."That means they are unlikely to be viable in the long term," Mr Llewellyn said.It is the first time the State Government has given such a grave outlook on the species' survival.More than half the breeding population nested in the Wielangta State Forest in the South-East last season.Logging operations planned for the area were temporarily suspended by Forestry Tasmania.The Tasmanian Greens yesterday called on the Government to permanently protect old-growth nesting habitat to give the birds the best chance of survival.Greens Leader Nick McKim said Mr Llewellyn had written-off the species in order to allow logging to continue in contentious old-growth forests.Mr Llewellyn said a threatened species plan was currently being prepared by the DPIW threatened species unit and the Forest Practices Authority to identify and protect habitat.He did not immediately commit to protecting nesting areas in Wielangta.http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2009/03/11/60595_tasmania-news.html
Gus: What rattus could not achieve, in 10 years of environmental degradation, is being done right under our noses, under the guiding greased palm of "the law" (created to achieve this specific purpose under the guise of protecting industrial development)...
A beautiful parrot — the fastest flying parrot in the world — is being "extincted" by humans who are destroying its habitat and the most revered "greenie" in the world, Bob Brown, — who helped save a lot of the Tasmanian wilderness as well as many others — is being crucified for having done his best to protect the future... Shame on us for letting this happen. Shame on our government to let this happen. Shame on humanity for its hypocrisy in having no real respect of other life forms...
A new study has found that while some countries have expanded their forest cover in recent decades, it has been at the expense of poorer neighbouring countries.
The research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looked at the forest cover and trading patterns of 12 countries, including eight where forests had increased in the past several decades.
The researchers from Belgium and the United States found that half of the gains made by creating new forests have been undermined by importing forest products from neighbouring countries that don't protect their environment.
In Vietnam, for example, stronger domestic conservation policies have encouraged farmers to regrow forests on the marginal areas of their land. But as a result, some of the timber products Vietnam once produced itself must now be imported from other countries
"This illustrates the diabolical problem of leakage, and the ever present danger of unintended consequences which we come upon time and again," says Dr Andrew Reeson, an economist from CSIRO Ecosystem Services.
A peace deal has been signed that will see more Tasmanian forests protected from logging.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard signed the historic Heads of Agreement with Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings in Hobart today.
The Federal Government will provide a $250 million assistance package to workers who will lose their jobs. The federal funds will help transition the Tasmanian timber industry out of native forests.
see toon at top...
The unaccounted cost of environmental damage wrought by businesses in 11 major industries probably equals 41 per cent of their profits.
That's the estimate in a report by global accounting and consulting giant KPMG, which sought to quantify the 'externalities' businesses impose through environmental damage.
First of all, you may ask, what is an 'externality'?
It is a term economists use to describe a cost (or benefit) imposed by one person or group on others who were not compensated (or did not pay) for that cost (or benefit).
Environmental degradation is an externality that is caused in varying degrees by most types of business activity, yet businesses rarely have to cover the full cost of the damage they cause.
One estimate in the KPMG report puts that unaccounted cost to the environment at $US2.15 trillion for the top 3,000 global listed companies in 2008.
This story begins with a Tasmanian man fern (Dicksonia antarctica) for sale in a London nursery. Along with the healthy price tag, some £160, is a note: "This tree fern has been salvage harvested in accordance with a management plan approved by the Governments of Tasmania and the Commonwealth of Australia." If you were to believe both governments, that plan ensures that Tasmania has a sustainable logging industry - one which, according to the federal minister responsible for forests, Eric Abetz, is "the best managed in the world".
The truth is otherwise. The man fern - possibly several centuries old - comes from native forests destroyed by a logging industry that was recently found to be illegal by the Federal Court of Australia. It comes either from primeval rainforest that has been evolving for millennia or from wet eucalypt forests, some of which contain the mighty Eucalyptus regnans. These aptly named kings of trees are the tallest hardwood trees and flowering plants on Earth; some are more than 20 metres in girth and 90 metres in height. The forests are being destroyed in Tasmania, in spite of widespread community opposition and increasing international concern.
Clearfelling, as the name suggests, first involves the complete felling of a forest by chainsaws and skidders. Then, the whole area is torched, the firing started by helicopters dropping incendiary devices made of jellied petroleum, commonly known as napalm. The resultant fire is of such ferocity it produces mushroom clouds visible from considerable distances. In consequence, every autumn, the island's otherwise most beautiful season, china-blue skies are frequently nicotine-scummed, an inescapable reminder that clearfelling means the total destruction of ancient and unique forests. At its worst, the smoke from these burn-offs has led to the closure of schools, highways and tourist destinations.
A conservation group is calling on the West Australian Government to change the criteria for classifying old growth forest after it found karri trees up to 600 years old are being wood-chipped.
The Forest Alliance sent two karri samples - one from a stump in a clear-fell area and the other from a woodchip mill - to a laboratory in New Zealand for testing.
Alliance spokeswoman Jess Beckerling says the results are astounding.
"We've gone to the best radio carbon dating laboratory that is available and we've gone to the head of that school and he's given us a 91.4 per cent probability that the sample that we sent from the woodchip mill is between 511 and 596 years old," Ms Beckerling said.
"These 600 year old trees - ancient trees - are trees that are our natural heritage and for them to be getting torn down predominantly for woodchips, and those woodchips are being exported to Japan and coming back to us as junk mail brochures, is shocking to everybody in Western Australia, I'm sure."
Environment Minister Bill Marmion has been contacted for comment.
Nothing new... see toon at top...
The Victorian Government has forced Zoos Victoria to end a campaign encouraging visitors to use toilet paper made from recycled products. Tess Lawrence reports.
Victorian politician Peter Walsh has skid marks on his political undies. Shit happens.He is Agricultural Minister for what laughingly passes as a Government in Victoria.And he has just given Victoria’s zoos the bum’s rush on the very successful‘Crapman’ campaign that encouraged zoo visitors to consider toilet paper used from recycled paper and products endorsed by the Forest Stewardship Council, rather than wood from those forests where culling has an adverse impact on animals and their habitat.This ridiculous edict comes from a man who won an Environment Centenary Medal in 2002!Then again, he did once order a multi-thousand dollar investigation into the sightings of ‘big cats’ in Victoria, to prove they didn’t exist. Money well misspent. Sightings persist.http://www.independentaustralia.net/2013/australian-identity/victoria/peter-walsh-flushes-zoos-victorias-crapman-campaign/
Victorian politician Peter Walsh has skid marks on his political undies. Shit happens.
He is Agricultural Minister for what laughingly passes as a Government in Victoria.
And he has just given Victoria’s zoos the bum’s rush on the very successful‘Crapman’ campaign that encouraged zoo visitors to consider toilet paper used from recycled paper and products endorsed by the Forest Stewardship Council, rather than wood from those forests where culling has an adverse impact on animals and their habitat.
This ridiculous edict comes from a man who won an Environment Centenary Medal in 2002!
Then again, he did once order a multi-thousand dollar investigation into the sightings of ‘big cats’ in Victoria, to prove they didn’t exist. Money well misspent. Sightings persist.
See toon at top...
When future historians cast around for symbols of our current age of consumerism, I reckon they'll be hard pressed to go past toilet paper."For centuries, billions of humans cleansed themselves after defecation using a soft, paper product made from trees," could well be the introduction to the year 2497 (digital) bestseller What Went Wrong?Think about it. You and I can live up to two months without food, perhaps three days without water but roughly five minutes with no oxygen.Despite this, the dominant global culture of the west insists we cut down one of our major sources of oxygen - trees - at a rate of 27,000 a day so even our most humble citizen may wipe their bottom.Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/executive-style/culture/blogs/all-men-are-liars/flushing-our-future-down-the-toilet-20131104-2wvg1.html#ixzz2jiVrLJGwSee toon at top...
The Federal Government has asked the World Heritage Committee to strip tens of thousands of hectares of newly protected Tasmanian forest of world heritage status.
The former environment minister last year successfully applied to extend the World Heritage area of Tasmania's forests by 170,000 hectares.
But the Coalition Government has now asked the committee to de-list almost half of that new area.
Liberal Senator Richard Colbeck says UNESCO was misled about its heritage values.
He believes there is a strong case to have some of the listings reversed because swathes of forest have been logged, and do not meet anyone's definition of wilderness.
"They're areas that have been extensively logged over broad areas over a considerable period of time," he said.
"This is nothing more than a land grab, and it's taking away areas that have been valuable, sustainable forest resource areas for a long long time and it's about closing down forest industry in Tasmania, it's about nothing else."
It is a bit rich for the libs to signal they want to cut trees down, when part of the plan for Tony Abbott's useless "direct action" in regard to climate change is to plant trees... All this makes sense like black pudding in a dark tunnel of which both ends have been shut. But it always has been CONservative policy to cut trees down to destroy the environment for profit.
Whether it's Rattus Howard or Tony Shocker, the same applies...
See toon at top.
The University of Sydney has been accused of breaking its own environmental policies by investing $1m in the company behind the controversial Maules Creek mine.
Greenpeace said Dr Michael Spence, vice-chancellor of the University of Sydney, had confirmed that 0.1% of the university’s long-term investment fund was used for Whitehaven Coal shares.
Whitehaven oversees the Maules Creek mine, a project that which will involve the flattening of rare box gum woodland in the Leard State Forest in northern New South Wales.
Protesters have repeatedly clashed with police at the mine site, with opponents of the project claiming it will endanger more than 30 threatened species, suck up valuable water resources and trigger a significant output of carbon emissions.
Greenpeace said the University of Sydney should sever its links to Whitehaven. The environmental group claimed the university was in breach of its own investment and environmental policies, which state it will “manage the activities over which it has control and which impact upon the environment in accordance with the principles of ecological sustainability”.
David Ritter, chief executive of Greenpeace Australia, said the University of Sydney was out of step with public opinion.
“This mine does not have any social licence, by any reasonable understanding of the term,” he told Guardian Australia. “When you have a proud history like the University of Sydney, you really don’t want to be involved in something like this.
“We are talking about a mine that is directly responsible for the destruction of a critically endangered ecosystem. I don’t understand how you can have principles of ecological sustainability and then be involved in a project of such destruction.”
read more: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/aug/19/greenpeace-calls-sydney-university-dump-maules-creek-mine-stock
The Tasmanian government has repealed the state’s forestry peace deal after both houses of parliament passed a vote to scrap the plan on Tuesday evening.
The termination of the four-year peace deal, which ended a 30-year battle between environmentalists and loggers over Tasmania’s forests, will remove 400,000 hectares (988,000 acres) of state-wide native forest from reserves for logging.
The Forestry (Rebuilding the Forest Industry) bill passed the Liberal-dominated lower house after being amended in Tasmania’s upper house.
The bill scraps the forestry peace deal, introduced by the previous Labor government, to allow widespread logging in the protected 400,000-hectare area in six years’ time. The peace deal had provided payment to loggers to move away from felling native forests.
The specialty timber sector will have access to a wider 1.1m hectares of previously protected forest for selective logging.
The Liberal state government, which won power earlier this year with a pledge to rip up the forestry peace deal, claims the protection of vast swaths of forest has hindered job creation.
Will Hodgman, Tasmania’s premier, said: “For more than 30 years, environmentalists, with the help of Labor and the Greens, have progressively locked up hectare after hectare of productive forests, destroying businesses and jobs, regional communities and livelihoods.
“We took a clear plan to the election to say “enough is enough” and rip up the job-destroying forest deal.”
But the scrapping of the deal could restart some of the fervent protests previously seen in Tasmania’s forests. The government has introducedtough anti-protest laws, aimed squarely at activists who disrupt timber operations.
Environmentalists argue that the state’s native forests are far more valuable left standing, to be used for carbon storage and also for tourism. Tasmania’s tourism industry employs around 15% of the state’s workforce, compared to around 1% of people employed in the forestry sector.
Jenny Weber, campaigner at the Bob Brown Foundation, said, “Tasmania’s government has issued a licence for native forest annihilation in an era when native forest logging should cease, for climate mitigation and ecosystem benefits.
Logging Threatens One of Europe's Last Virgin Forests
By Nils Klawitter
One of Europe's most beautiful forest areas is disappearing piece by piece in Romania's Carpathian Mountains. Some of the logging is illegal. The wood is then sold to make flooring or heating pellets that are sold in Germany and other countries.
It's not easy to fight for your cause with pepper spray in your mouth and eyes, but Gabriel Paun tried it anyway in front of the gate of a huge sawmill in the Romanian town of Sebes. On that day last winter, Paun had followed a truck loaded with lumber after the vehicle left the Retezat National Park, located in the heart of the Carpathian Mountains -- one of Europe's most beautiful forested regions -- and in the heart of a threatened world.
Paun was wearing a brown vest over a camouflage hoodie. He had a buzzed, military style haircut. Paun, an activist with the Romanian organization Agent Green, followed the truck to the sawmill. He had a suspicion and all he had to do was make one phone call to confirm it.
In Romania there is a hotline to check the origins of lumber transports. The system can use the license plate number to track each truckload of wood. Paun dialed the number and an employee at the Environment Ministry's wood tracking section picked up the phone. Her answer left no doubt: She said the lumber was "illegal." Paun followed the truck to the entrance of the sawmill, which belongs to Austria's Schweighofer Group, and informed security guards working for the company. But instead of taking the wood out of circulation, they put Paun out of commission: first with blows, then with pepper spray, causing Paun to fall to the ground. Everything was captured on shaky video images and uploaded to YouTube.
The film snippet is a hit in Romania, where it has become a symbol for the Romanians' concern for their forests -- and for their powerlessness to stop it from disappearing. At stake here is one of the last virgin forests in Europe. These are regions roamed by brown bears, wolves and lynxes, and many of these areas have remained untouched for centuries.
The Carpathian Arc contains the largest contiguous forested region in Central Europe. Roughly one-third of the area of Romania -- 6.6 million hectares (16.3 million acres) is forest, but Romanians are seeing it hemorrhage on a daily basis. A 2012 study by Greenpeace revealed that the equivalent of three football fields filled with trees is disappearing every hour. The Romanian government estimates that roughly 4 million cubic meters (141 million cubic feet) of lumber is illegally removed by forest workers every year -- enough to fill one and a half Cheops pyramids.
A Dramatic Increase in Deforestation
According to the Greenpeace study, the deforestation dramatically increased between 2000 and 2011. It was the period when Austrian wood processing companies like Egger, Kronospan and Schweighofer moved into Romania and quickly dominated the market. But nobody grew as large as Schweighofer. The company reported sales of €465 million ($519 million) in 2013, generating impressive profits of €96.5 million.
The four sawmills operated by Schweighofer are the gates to the clear-cutting. This is the end of the road for most of the lumber trucks from the Carpathians. Here the logs are peeled, milled and shredded. Much of this lumber ends up as wood pellets, parquet and laminate flooring in German and Austrian DIY stores.
Group CEO Gerald Schweighofer had just sold his family's company to a Finnish corporation when he arrived in Bucharest in 2002 to relaunch the business. He couldn't have picked a better time. One year later, the government under Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase auctioned off a large proportion of the lumber in national forests on the basis of 10-year contracts -- but it was primarily large companies like Schweighofer that succeeded in making purchases. During the auctions in Romania, Schweighofer was always "served first," says Vasile Coman, who heads a medium-sized lumber company in the north of the country. "They always had priority because of their contract and selected the best wood at the lowest price." Then the general auction would begin and Schweighofer would "hit again".
read more: http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/illegal-logging-in-romania-benefits-germany-a-1032253.html
A deal to end the lengthy stand-off over Australia’s renewable energy target has hit a dramatic late hitch after Labor accused the Coalition of trying to include the burning of wood waste as a renewable energy source.
The federal government and the opposition have held on-off talks for several months over a deal to cut the renewable energy target (RET), which mandates that 41,000 gigawatt hours of Australia’s energy must come from renewable sources such as solar and wind by 2020.
Talks between Greg Hunt, the environment minister, Ian Macfarlane, the industry minister, and Mark Butler, Labor’s environment spokesman, in Melbourne on Friday agreed that the RET be cut to 33,000GWh, with exemptions for energy-intensive industries such as aluminium.
However, Labor has objected to part of the deal after claiming that the government introduced a last-minute amendment that the burning of wood waste be included in Australia’s renewables target.
The burning of native wood, or other biomass, for energy is viewed as environmentally damaging by the Greens and some conservation groups.
Butler said the inclusion of wood waste burning was a “last-minute trick” that Labor wouldn’t support.
read more: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/may/08/australias-renewable-energy-deal-hits-last-minute-snag-over-wood-burning
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