REDD+ Africa: looking past Trump’s U.N. proposed climate budget cuts

first_imgArticle published by Glenn Scherer Adaptation To Climate Change, carbon, Carbon Credits, Carbon Finance, Carbon Market, Carbon Trading, Climate, Climate Change, Climate Change Denial, Climate Change Politics, climate policy, Climate Politics, Drinking Water, Environment, Environmental Law, Environmental Policy, Environmental Politics, Estuaries, Featured, Foreign Aid, Forest Carbon, Global Environmental Crisis, Global Warming, Global Warming Mitigation, Globalization, Green, Mangroves, Poverty, Poverty Alleviation, Redd, Redd And Communities, Sustainability, Sustainable Development In March, the Trump administration proposed the elimination in its entirety of the Global Climate Change Initiative (GCCI), established by President Obama to integrate climate change funding into U.S. foreign assistance.Though Congress has yet to finalize a 2018 budget, Trump’s cuts if implemented, would end the GCCI, reducing to zero all U.S. payments to U.N. climate change programs, including the Global Climate Fund (GCF), Global Environmental Facility (GEF); Clean Technology Fund (CTF); and Strategic Climate Fund (SCF).These losses would impact UN-REDD+ programs (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) in Africa and around the world only to a degree, since many are funded by other nations or supported by private groups.However, Trump’s proposed cuts, if approved, would impact REDD+ programs in Malawi in the short term, and likely in other countries, if U.S. international climate change funding is not restored. Community residents at Cassou Forest in Burkina Faso watering a plant nursery. Reforestation is seen as essential to carbon sequestration in Africa and around the globe. Photo by Sophie MbuguaIn July, a community-led Kenyan conservation organization called Mikoko Pamoja, Mangroves Together, was among the 2017 Equator Prize winners. The program was singled out as an exceptional REDD+ project, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, a global United Nations initiative to combat climate change.Mikoko Pamoja’s effort, carried out on the southern coast of Kenya about 50 kilometers from Mombasa, is the first community-run REDD+ project of its kind in the world. It has been validated to generate and sell mangrove carbon credits to companies and individuals globally.REDD+ is a U.N. policy mechanism that helps developing countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions on forested lands. Negotiated under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2007, the initiative was expanded in 2010 to include sustainable forest management, and conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks among its tools.At the time, the UNFCCC also established the Green Climate Fund (GCF), a financing mechanism for advancing low-emission, climate-resilient solutions in the developing world. Developed countries agreed to mobilize $100 billion per year for GCF by 2020.As of 2017, about $10.3 billion had been pledged for GCF by 43 national governments, though a mere $6.3 million had been disbursed. Since 2008, over $4 billion in support for REDD+ has been pledged and partially distributed through multilateral funds or programs.That was how things stood after the GCF Board meeting in Songdo, Korea this April.But as REDD+ projects gear up in Africa, and in developing nations around the globe, the long term future of the GCF, REDD+ and other U.N. climate programs are in doubt due to the election of Donald Trump — the only current major world leader, to outspokenly deny the reality of human-caused global warming.The July 2017 Green Climate Fund board support for the early phases of REDD+ acknowledged that current funding levels are inadequate for supporting the mechanism, and the GCF board called for action to mobilize significant multiple sources of funding from public, private, domestic, international, multilateral and bilateral sources.Recent deforestation at Mau Forest in Kenya. Conversion of forests to agriculture is one of the major causes of deforestation in Africa. Photo by Sophie MbuguaTrump sows climate chaos abroadIn March, 2017, the Trump administration’s “skinny budget” proposed the elimination in its entirety of the Global Climate Change Initiative (GCCI), established by President Obama to integrate climate change financial considerations into U.S. foreign assistance through a range of bilateral, multilateral and private sector mechanisms.The GCCI, according to Meena Raman of the Third World Network (TWN), was part of Obama’s plan to provide the “fast-start finance” needed to address climate change agreed to at the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit.The Trump administration, in its March 2018 budget proposal called for combined cuts of $10.1 billion to the two primary agencies doing international climate work, the U.S. State Department and U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID).Trump’s proposal to end the GCCI, and eliminate all international climate-related spending (a cut of at least $1.3 billion dollars), has yet to be acted on by Congress, which has until October 1st to approve next year’s budget, though that vote could be delayed until December.Many Democrats in Congress were quick to reject the administration’s proposed cuts. “I am deeply disappointed and dismayed to find out that despite the concerns raised by bipartisan Members of Congress… President Trump appears determined to gut U.S. national security by slashing the State Department and USAID,” said Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland.Rainforest in Madagascar. Deforestation across Africa is worsening climate change, diminishing biodiversity, degrading watersheds, stealing away traditional livelihoods and impoverishing the landscape. REDD+ is intended to keep forests intact and carbon out of the atmosphere. Photo by Rhett A. Butler / MongabayPotential Trump climate program cuts: by the numbersUnder Obama, the GCCI funding request for 2016 was $1.3 billion. It roughly allocated $500 million for the GCF; $12 million for the UNFCCC/IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change); $168 million for the Global Environmental Facility (GEF); $170 million for the Clean Technology Fund (CTF); and $59 million for the Strategic Climate Fund (SCF). It also included $25 million for the Montreal Protocol and $348 million for international climate change programming at USAID. Another $459 million was allocated for international climate programs at the State Department.Trump’s proposed 2018 “America First” budget would eliminate all international climate change programs, climate change research and partnership programs. Ending GCCI would reduce to zero all U.S. payments to all U.N. climate change programs, including the GCF, GEF, CTF, and SCF. Trump also proposes discontinuing all funding to Obama’s Clean Power Plan, reducing the likelihood of the U.S. meeting its Paris Climate Agreement carbon reduction pledge.How much damage this might do to REDD+ in the short and long term remains uncertain. “The U.S. cutbacks to REDD+ are hitting some of the key countries that directly benefitted from U.S. support on REDD+, such as Malawi. But for the UN-REDD+, we do not envisage the Trump proposed cuts as being a major [immediate] threat, as UN-REDD+ is mainly funded through bilateral initiatives from Germany, Norway, the UK, and Japan,” said Tim Christophersen, a lead expert of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on Forests and Climate Change.USAID is investing $1.8 million in REDD+ and $100,000 in REDD+ preparedness in Malawi as part of its “fast track” climate finance program. This would likely be lost if Congress votes to approve Trump’s proposed aid cuts.Of the $10.3 billion promised to GCF by the world’s nations, $3 billion was originally pledged by the United States. President Obama rushed to honor that commitment, at least partially, paying out $1 billion before leaving office. But Trump says he will renege on the remaining $2 billion GCF pledge.Experts expect those cuts to be confirmed by Congress, though some in his own party have balked at the administration’s foreign aid cuts. GOP Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina believes Trump’s budget is “dead on arrival, it’s not going to happen, and it would be a disaster. This budget destroys soft power, it puts our diplomats at risk and it’s going nowhere.”Downtown Kinshasa, DRC. Rapid population growth and urbanization are resulting in severe deforestation across Africa, as rural forests are converted to agriculture to feed city dwellers. Photo courtesy of MONUSCO Photos licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licenseSo far, no other country has indicated it will step in to fill the resulting climate funding gap. “The impact of this reduction is likely to become more apparent at the point in time when GCF starts discussing replenishments,” Ravi Prabhu, Deputy Director General for Research with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), told Mongabay. He explained that the GCF board will likely set a replenishment trigger when there is a gap of $6-7 billion between what has been allocated and what has been pledged, with a $2-3 billion buffer.Given the U.S. withdrawal of funding, he added that “there was a feeling among experts that the GCF might need to reduce the trigger amount in order to replenish in time, and that “the board would prioritize discussions to make this happen sooner rather than later”.U.S. climate cuts serious to developing worldThe United States is the biggest historical emitter of greenhouse gases, contributing to costly global impacts ranging from sea level rise to extreme weather. In 2015 alone, the U.S. emitted 6.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. That’s why critics argue that the U.S. elimination of international climate change aid is irresponsible, and why the U.S. should keep its financial commitments to developing countries under the UNFCCC.Raman urges Congress to reject Trump’s cuts and to meet U.S. climate obligations to the rest of the world, warning that America “has withdrawn from the Paris Agreement, but it has not withdrawn from the UNFCCC. Hence, it still has a legal obligation to provide the financial resources under the Convention. The issue is how to force it to do so when [the U.S.] has no political will to do so.”Tony Simons, the director general at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), told Mongabay that the proposed cuts are tragic because the U.S. has broken faith with a collectively negotiated international agreement and failed to address a global crisis.“It signals undoing all the knitting that has been done over the years [via international negotiations]. Climate change is long term and intergenerational. However, it’s encouraging that many sub-nationals [states] and companies in the U.S. are behind the collective process,” Simons told Mongabay.A tea plantation in Cameroon. Large scale agribusiness, driven by the developed world’s hunger for palm oil, rubber, tea and other commodities is driving African deforestation. Photo by Rhett A. Butler / MongabayRaman noted that the financial gap resulting from the U.S. default is significant. She sees grave implications for developing countries, which urgently need climate financing to bypass dirty fossil fuel technologies and to implement green, low-carbon energy sources quickly.In particular, lack of finance will heavily impact the capability of developing nations to meet their Paris greenhouse gas emission commitments, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC’s) submitted to the UNFCCC before Paris.Analysis shows that developing countries need around $3.5 trillion to implement their INDC’s by 2030, while the cost of adapting to climate change in developing countries could rise to between $280 and $500 billion per year by 2050, according to the U.N. Environmental Programme (UNEP).Raman believes the U.S. shortfall can be made up by other developed countries increasing their contributions: “If this is not done, then developing countries will not be able to do more climate action, as they have no resources of their own, [and that will] negatively affect the poor and the planet overall.”Trump administration officials contacted for comment by Mongabay failed to respond to the author’s queries.Jessica Sulubu of the Ihaleni Self-Help Group attends to mangrove seedlings in Kilifi coastal Kenya. The community supports itself partly by conserving mangroves and then selling mangrove seedlings to other communities who are reforesting mangroves along the Indian Ocean. REDD+ projects could help scale up such projects to address the social and economics needs of coastal communities. Photo by Sophie MbuguaREDD+ future projects at stake in AfricaThe Mikoko Pamoja project was launched in 2013 by two local communities that wished to sell carbon credits earned via mangrove conservation. Like other REDD+ initiatives, the project is built on an international partnership; it is supported by the Association for Coastal Ecosystem Services (ACES), a Scottish charity, and by the Plan Vivo Foundation, headquartered in the United Kingdom.Mikoko Pamoja now makes 3,000 tons of carbon (CO2) available for trade annually on the voluntary carbon market. The revenue earned flows into a community benefit fund, supporting local development projects in education, water and sanitation, and mangrove reforestation. About 3,500 community members are now benefiting from access to cleaner water, while 700 children receive educational materials through their schools.This REDD+ initiative has so far conserved 117 hectares (289 acres) of carbon-storing Rhizophora mucronata and Sonneratia alba, two types of mangrove listed as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.In the heart of Africa, another project is reaping the benefits of REDD+ financial investment. In the Congo basin — a mosaic of flooded forest, savanna, swamp, and rivers spanning six countries — the Isangi REDD+ project is among initiatives significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions by preventing deforestation caused by forest conversion to agricultural uses.Located in the Isangi territory, Yangambi District, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the project is expected to significantly reduce deforestation rates and annually sequester more than 280,000 tons of carbon in conserved forests over the next 30 years.This REDD+ project’s work sprawls across 180,000 hectares (695 square miles), and is financed by the Jadora Limited Liability Company based in the United States, and by Safbois, a private company in the DRC.Firewood for sale along a road in Burkina Faso. REDD+ programs can help communities in the developing world to jump from wood burning to alternative energy sources, bypassing dirty fossil fuels such as coal and oil. Photo by Sophie MbuguaAn estimated eight percent of carbon stored in living forests planet-wide is held within DRC forests, giving that country the fourth largest carbon reservoir on Earth, according to the NGO Greenpeace. As a result, the Congo basin rainforest — covering portions of Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the DRC — plays a critical role in regulating the global climate, and in maintaining these forests as a hedge against runaway climate change.While these particular projects are not directly reliant on U.S. funding for their continued existence, experts say that their success to date in combatting climate change in the developing world demonstrates why it is crucial that REDD+ funding continue growing.The urgent need to curb deforestation in AfricaBetween 2011-2015, intact forests worldwide stored an average of 2.1 gigatons of CO2 annually, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), proving that forest conservation via initiatives such as REDD+ is vital for carbon storage and greenhouse gas emissions reductions.Globally, forests cover slightly over 4 billion hectares (15.4 million square miles), or about 31 percent of the world’s land surface. But in Africa, while forests cover about 675 million hectares (2.6 million square miles), they account for just 23 percent of Africa’s land area, says the FAO and World Bank.Africa’s forests are also in rapid decline. Despite current efforts to reduce deforestation through REDD+ and other initiatives, about 3.4 million hectares (13,127 square miles) of forest are currently being lost annually — the world’s highest rate of continental deforestation, according to FAO’s 2016 State of the Forests report.Collecting firewood in the town of Basankusu, DRC. Despite current efforts to reduce deforestation through REDD+ and other initiatives, about 3.4 million hectares (13,127 square miles) of forest are currently being lost annually in Africa — the world’s highest rate of continental deforestation. Much of that loss is due to over-reliance on wood fuel. Photo by Francis Hannaway licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licenseThat report attributes the rapid loss to over-reliance on wood fuel — still the primary energy source in Africa for cooking and heating — and to agricultural expansion, urban growth, infrastructure development, and mining.Deforestation and forest degradation account for roughly 30 percent of Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the 2012 World Bank Action Plan for Engagement in Forests and Trees in Africa. And that’s clearly why, say experts, REDD+ needs greater U.S. support, not less.Building Africa’s REDD+ capacity REDD+ initiatives are at varying stages of preparation and implementation across Africa. Projects are funded either by UN-REDD, the UN’s Global Environmental Facility (GEF), private companies, bilateral agreements, or through multilateral initiatives, such as those funded by the World Bank and the African Development Bank. Those funded by the GEF could be the ones most likely immediately impacted by Trump’s proposed budget cuts.Larwanou Mahaman, a forest ecology professor at the University of Niamey in Niger, and a senior project officer at the African Forest Forum (AFF), told Mongabay that despite the fact that some REDD+ projects in Africa have started off well, very few countries as yet have operational projects.“In most [African] countries, it’s [still] just paperwork — preparing the readiness phase, strategy, policies and legal frameworks — that go towards implementing REDD+. Local communities haven’t started benefiting from REDD+” as yet, Mahaman said. The ecology professor attributes this slow start to a lack of expertise available for writing bankable proposals, as well as a lack of organized environmental data, such as country forest inventories — data vital to the REDD+ application process.Smoldering charcoal mounds in North Kivu, DRC. The majority of rural communities in Africa depend on charcoal for energy, something that REDD+ projects can address. Photo by Sophie MbuguaThe African Forest Forum (AFF), an NGO, is trying to build that capacity by training African governments, civil society, researchers and the private sector in how to complete the REDD+ project application process in order to access currently available funds.Christophersen explained that African countries have yet to realize major REDD+ results compared to their counterparts in Latin America, “whose measurable REDD+ carbon emissions cuts can now be sold to voluntary markets.”The Côte d’Ivoire REDD+ start-up exampleChristophersen singles out Kenya, the DRC, Zambia and Côte d’Ivoire as among the few African countries to have so far effectively implemented REDD+ national strategies. Côte d’Ivoire has created a detailed roadmap for the implementation of its national REDD+ process, and could stand as an example and guide to the rest of the continent.That being said, the country stands in great need of REDD+ assistance. Its total forest area has fallen sharply due to high rates of deforestation and degradation. From 2001 to 2015, Côte d’Ivoire lost more than 1.8 million hectares (6,949 square miles) of forest.Over that same period, it only managed to restore about 230,000 hectares (888 square miles) of forest, says Global Forest Watch, which estimates that Côte d’Ivoire’s current forest biomass carbon stock stands at 1.9 billion metric tons.Côte d’Ivoire has been supported by UN-REDD, and has jointly implemented forestry programs through the FAO, UNEP, and UNDP totaling $791,000 — not nearly enough to address the nation’s serious rate of deforestation, but at least a start. It seems likely that the country’s REDD+ work will be largely unaffected by Trump’s proposed budget cuts.The benefits of REDD+ are many: projects keep forests intact, help sequester carbon, protect watersheds, conserve biodiversity, and aid communities in diversifying livelihoods. Photo by Rhett A. Butler / MongabayAfrica plays catch-upLaunched in 2008, UN-REDD in Developing Countries is currently supporting 64 partner nations across the Asia-Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean, including 28 countries in Africa. But the program is still far from meeting its potential, largely due to the complexities and unpredictable fluctuations of the voluntary carbon trading market.“Voluntary markets simply cannot generate sufficient funding to create the [sequestered] carbon volumes required to make a real difference to deforestation rates. Apart from which voluntary markets often simply displace deforestation to other areas within a country,” says PrabhuSome African countries have yet to sign up for national REDD+ assistance, noted Prabhu. This national sign up procedure is required to avoid “leakages” within each country, where one community might be preserving its forests, while another community might be cutting theirs down.“Countries aren’t signing up at the national level,” says Prabhu. So far “it’s mainly private projects being implemented, selling carbon to the voluntary markets, which do not prevent [in-country] leakages.” For example, “Mikoko Pamoja could be preserving one area of mangrove, but another [Kenyan] community might be cutting forests elsewhere. In the end, the net effect on climate [could be] zero [if the] REDD+ projects… are not nationally coordinated.”Christophersen said that African nations urgently need to change their approach to land use by implementing new top-down policies to govern and regulate forests. “REDD+ aims to bring to [each] country a policy coherence and effectiveness that changes the deforestation trends nationally. You can’t do that by [stand alone] projects.” Instead a holistic approach is required, “that includes policies of land tenure and its governance.”But even if all of Africa’s nations get their REDD+ act together, there is still the question of where the big money needed to do the job will come from — especially now that the U.S. has withdrawn its support for climate change related foreign aid.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Could fungi provide an alternative to palm oil?

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Agriculture, Amazon Palm Oil, Deforestation, Environment, Forest Loss, Forests, Fungi, Habitat Loss, Industrial Agriculture, Land Use Change, Oil Palm, Palm Oil, Plantations, Rainforests, Research, Tropical Forests Palm oil is used in everything from margarine and ice cream to cosmetics and certain fabrics.But the palm oil industry has a history of association with deforestation and human rights abuses. As oil palm plantations continue to expand to more tropical areas around the world, many are worried they will come at the expense of rainforests.A biotech startup in the U.S. thinks it has found an alternative to palm oil – fungus that can be grown on food waste.But while lab experiments have demonstrated some success, it remains to be seen whether fungus-derived oil can be produced in quantities large and cheap enough to compete with palm oil. Fungi – a kingdom grouping that includes mushrooms, mold and yeast – have long been heralded for their beneficial properties. They’ve been used to soak up oil spills, boost your immune system and lower cholesterol, among other environmental and medical feats. Now, researchers have found one more use for fungi – as a possible alternative to palm oil.The palm oil industry has a history of association with deforestation and human rights abuses. But palm oil is also one of the most versatile products on the market, found in everything from margarine and ice cream to cosmetics and certain fabrics. One study by the Eden Tree, a green investment group, found that palm oil is found in over 50 percent of food and non-food products in major grocery stores.Palm oil comes from the fruit of the oil palm tree. Photo by Kimberley Brown for Mongabay.So, can fungi offer an alternative oil for these products?“Technically, yes,” said Melanie Valencia, an environmental chemist from Ecuador and one of the minds behind CarboCycle, a biotech startup that developed the technology to extract lipids from fungi that are similar to palm oil.“It’s really about how I feed [the fungi],” she said, explaining that the microorganisms actually grow on organic waste.Numbers from the Environmental Protection Agency show organic waste makes up more than half of solid waste produced in the U.S., and releases harmful methane and carbon dioxide emissions as it sits and decomposes. Recycling the waste alleviates this problem. It’s also an input that’s easy to manipulate – change the waste properties and you can change the kind of oil it produces.CarboCycle is a project born out of the environmental engineering lab at Columbia University in New York City, through research conducted by Valencia, Kartik Chandran and Shashway Vajpeyi. While not yet out of the lab, CarboCycle has been awarded the Colombia Venture Challenge, while the MIT Technology Review named Valencia one of the Top Innovators Under 35 in 2016 for her role in the project.Their initial aim wasn’t to develop an alternative for palm oil, but rather to address climate change issues. This is why they ended up with a technology that tackles both deforestation and overflowing landfills, aiming to “close the carbon loop,” as per their organizational motto.Valencia’s colleagues in the lab collect organic food waste from Columbia University’s dinning hall. Image courtesy of Columbia Engineering.According to Valencia, the biggest ecological problem with oil palm is the enormous amount of space it uses. The total land devoted to palm agriculture spiked between 1990 and 2012, from 6 to 17 million hectares worldwide, according to a recent article in the journal Global Environmental Change. In many cases, industrial cultivation of oil palm trees has led to the deforestation and degradation of rainforest habitat. This has been particularly severe in Indonesia, where millions of hectares of tropical forest – including peat forest, which stores more carbon per hectare than any other ecosystem in the world – have been converted into oil palm plantations.“It’s taking away the carbon sequestration capacity from a ton of soil,” Valencia said. In this sense, “palm is a bigger threat to our ecosystem than oil,” especially since future projections show that demand for the product is likely to rise, she added.According to the World Bank, demand for palm is expected to double by 2050, as emerging economies consume more and more processed foods, in which palm oil is a major ingredient.The production of oil from fungi takes up significantly less space, Valencia says, since all of the work is done in the lab. It’s production has several stages, from fermenting the organic waste on which the fungi will grow, to collecting the final microorganisms (fungi), and extracting lipids (the oil) from their cells.Before being fed to the fungi, organic waste is pulped and processed. Image courtesy of Columbia Engineering.A machine processing some of the lipids that have been extracted by fungi and yeast products, which were grown using the organic waste. Image courtesy of Columbia Engineering.Another benefit of this process is its minimal retention time. The whole operation from beginning to end takes only two to four days, which means that under appropriate conditions CarboCycle could produce at very high rates. Valencia said storing the stock is her only concern about space.In the initial stages of their research, Valencia and her colleagues spoke to companies that use palm oil in their products, including major brands like Dannon and Johnson & Johnson, many of which said they were looking to take palm oil out of their production chain due to the negative PR the industry garnered over the years. This is one reason Valencia is optimistic about CarboCycle’s future. She and her colleagues are currently applying for grants, while looking for funding and businesses to partner with in order to really get CarboCycle off the ground and out of the lab.However, even though they are optimistic, Valencia said producing at scale is a whole other ball game, and one of the biggest challenges for startup companies trying to tackle environmental problems.This is not the first time that scientists have claimed to find an alternative to palm oil. Researchers have also looked at algae and yeast, but haven’t been able to produce either at scales large enough to compete with palm oil.Ashwin Ravikumar, an environmental scientist and assistant professor of environmental studies at Amherst College, said cost is another major barrier that laboratory-based alternatives to oil palm will face. Oil palm is too cheap to compete with, he said, mainly because land is so cheap, particularly in the Amazon where there is a major lack of forest protection.An oil palm plantation in La Concordia, Ecuador, that belongs to ANCUPA, the National Association of Oil Palm Cultivators. Photo by Kimberley Brown for Mongabay.However, he says that this reality should not be accepted as a fixed status quo.“To say that oil palm is cheap and that’s the way it is, like this fact that just exists out there, is to dangerously de-politicize the entire nature of the sector,” he saidAccording to Ravikumar, governments could play a major role here by increasing protected forest area and calling off development projects in certain parts of the Amazon, which would naturally increase the price of land. But, he said, many of them won’t.The Amazon in particular has been a major concern for environmentalists. Currently, around 85 percent of the world´s supply of palm oil is produced in Malaysia and Indonesia alone. But as demand rises and plantation land becomes less available in these areas, producers are increasingly looking elsewhere to expand cultivation. The Amazon and other tropical areas around the equator are hot spots for future plantations since oil palm trees need temperatures between 25 and 28 degrees Celsius, regular rainfall and strong sunlight to thrive.According to Ravikumar, this expansion could lead to deforestation of huge swaths of rainforest, and destroy local biodiversity, cultural diversity and carbon stocks in the process. Research published in a 2006 study in Nature estimates the Amazon rainforest stores between 90 and 140 billion metric tons of carbon, which, if released, could significantly affect climate change.Recently deforested land next to an established oil palm plantation and natural rainforest in Sabah, Malaysia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.But according to industry specialists, oil palm plantations do not have the same environmental impacts as they once did. Mauricio Viteri is a manager at Oleana, an umbrella organization that represents various actors in the palm oil sector in Ecuador. He says outside pressures have caused the industry to make major changes in all aspects of its production process. This includes establishing the industry-founded Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the world’s largest palm oil certification body, to ensure producers follow environmental protection regulations and do not contribute to more deforestation.“Initially, yes, in places like Malaysia and Indonesia there was concern about the environmental impact [of oil palm]. But not in the Americas,” Viteri said.Environmentalists are skeptical that this accreditation goes far enough. Valencia herself said the certification is better than nothing, but the global community could be doing more.“I think we’ve overused the sustainable word,” she said, “We have the capacity to regenerate, so why not reach for that?”FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.center_img Article published by Morgan Erickson-Davislast_img read more