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Not All Forests Are Created Equal: Reforesting the Tropics for People, Biodiversity, and Carbon

Guest Bogger

Sarah Jane Wilson
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Geography, McGill University

Montreal, Canada

It’s after sunset and getting dark fast. The electricity is out—again—so a single candle casts a small pool of light on my survey papers. Chickens peck around my feet in the dirt-floor kitchen. Wood smoke and mouthwatering wafts of dinner fill the cool Andean air. Read More

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Capitalist Manifesto: Major Palm Oil Companies Try to Rewrite the Book on Forest Conservation

The word “manifesto” rarely conjures up positive connotations. That word brings to my mind Karl Marx’s famous tome, at best, and, at worst, images of a bearded man in a remote cabin. Regardless, it’s a word most often associated with people or groups with strongly held convictions trying to shake up the status quo. It is odd then that a group of major palm oil producers and traders should use that term for a recent effort to redefine “sustainable” palm oil. Read More

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Fires in Indonesia and Accountability in Singapore: What to Expect This Summer in Southeast Asia

Last week, an official from Indonesia’s national disaster agency warned that fires from Indonesia are likely to spread haze to Singapore and Malaysia yet again. A year ago in June, air pollution levels in Singapore reached record highs because of these fires. Read More

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10 Reasons, 5 Years: What’s Changed about Deforestation

From time to time we take a look at things we published several years ago, to see whether they’re still up to date. We often need to decide whether to reprint them as is, revise them first, or simply decide to stop using them. This requires figuring out whether the information they contain is still valid, or has become somewhat obsolete in light of new science and recent political developments. Read More

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Deforestation and its Drivers: What Does ALL the Science Say?

Over the years that we’ve worked on reducing the global warming pollution, we’ve delved quite a bit into the scientific studies on what drives tropical deforestation. We’ve looked at major causes, such as palm oil and beef, and tried to keep up with the new literature on deforestation so that our actions and the policies we suggest are based on the latest science. Most recently, this is reflected in our review of cases in which tropical countries have significantly reduced deforestation or even reforested. Now, there’s a new report out that is an important step forward in summarizing what the science – all the science – tells us about the causes of deforestation and what can be done about it.

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Successes in Reducing Deforestation and the Global Warming Pollution it Causes

I’m now in Bonn at the United Nations climate negotiations, where the big news is that in the last week the world’s two biggest emitters – China and the United States – have announced important actions to cut their carbon pollution, especially from the coal that they burn. These steps are welcome, but they are plans, not accomplishments, and they come late compared to other countries that have already acted to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.

Ironically, most of these successes are in tropical developing countries, where countries’ reductions in rates of deforestation and in some cases their reforestation of cleared land have cut their net emissions of global warming pollution. Their actions have already accomplished more for the climate than the actions of many developed nations have.

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Palm Oil, Deforestation, and the Fast Food Industry: Would You Like a Side of Forests with That?

I travel a lot for my job and after long days on the road the one thing that gets me through is constancy. I pack basically the same clothes for every trip and try to keep up the same workout routine, but the one place it’s hard to keep things constant is in what I eat. Read More

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Peat Soils vs. the Forests Above: Which Holds More Carbon?

At first glance, tropical peat soils might not seem all that exciting. Dead branches and leaves that have not fully decomposed because of waterlogged conditions? Once upon a time, even I might have found this, well, boring. Read More

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Global Agriculture As Part of the Climate Solution

For quite a while, agriculture was dismissed as a possible way to mitigate climate change, because it’s where our food comes from, and we can’t live without food. From this obvious fact came the misinterpretation that we couldn’t cut agricultural greenhouse gas emissions without threatening food security. Read More

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Cows Are the Real Hogs: The IPCC and the Demand Side of Agriculture

One small but important breakthrough in the new IPCC report on climate mitigation, released Sunday in Berlin, is that the chapter on agriculture, forest, and other land use (AFOLU) looks at the demand side, not just supply. In other words, it not only asks how we can create less global warming pollution in producing food and wood products, but also what kinds of food and wood products we ought to be producing and consuming if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change. Read More

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