The week before last I had the opportunity to go to London to participate in a workshop at Chatham House, on an idea that may turn out to be very important in ending tropical deforestation. Over the past several years there has been important progress in reducing forest degradation, based on a simple principle: if it’s against the law to cut down trees in one country, then it should also be illegal to import the cut timber from those trees into other countries. In other words, we should respect and help enforce the laws that protect forests in the countries that we import from.
May 2nd, 2013
December 3rd, 2012
I’m now in Doha, Qatar, at the international climate negotiations (“COP18″), and today was Forest Day. This annual event focuses on the role of forests and deforestation in emissions of global warming pollution, and often is the venue for presenting some of the newest science from around the world. Read More
November 30th, 2012
We all know that “sustainable” is a good thing but the word is only as strong as its definition. Right now, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has a huge opportunity to strengthen its definition by adding critical forest and climate protections to its standards. The world is watching and waiting to see if “sustainable” palm oil will be a truly sustainable solution for the future. Read More
November 27th, 2012
Over the past several years, one of the few pieces of hopeful news about global warming has been the annual release of data from Brazil on its rate of Amazon deforestation. Since forests are immense storehouses of carbon, deforestation causes high levels of greenhouse gas emission. Brazil, which contains about 60% of the Amazon forest, is key to those emissions, and over the last six years it has made important progress in reducing its deforestation rate.
Today, the new data for 2011-2012 were released, and once again they are a ray of sunshine on an otherwise gloomy day. They show a decrease of deforestation to 4,656 square kilometers – down 27% from last year.
September 10th, 2012
Last winter, after two weeks at the climate negotiations in Durban, I took a few days of vacation and visited the unique “Afrotemperate forests” of the Southern Cape of South Africa, in the Knysna-Tsitsikamma region. Natural forests cover less that 0.5 percent of South Africa, which is much more famous for wildlife-rich savannas and for the incredibly biodiverse fynbos vegetation around the Cape of Good Hope. Read More
September 6th, 2012
Over the past five years, I’ve noticed that our work here at UCS on tropical deforestation has gradually changed its emphasis from actions in tropical forest countries, such as REDD+, to what can be done in consuming countries (which are not the same as developed countries) about the demand that drives tropical deforestation. Read More
September 4th, 2012
I’m writing this post from the back porch of my parent’s house (even on vacation there is no rest for a Concerned Scientist). Away from the glass, steel, concrete, and brick of Washington, DC, here I realize I am immersed in a world of wood. Read More
July 3rd, 2012
In preparing our new UCS report on meat and deforestation, I’ve been surprised at how often people think you’re saying “meat” when you actually said “beef.” Beef is meat, of course, but it’s not the only kind, and in fact it’s not even the most popular kind. Worldwide, pork actually has the largest share of meat consumption (40 percent) with poultry second at 34 percent. Beef makes up only 24 percent, and is continuing to decline in relative terms. Read More
April 30th, 2012
Question: Which U.S. law that protects endangered species, tropical forests, and U.S. jobs is now in need of protection itself?
Answer: The Lacey Act.
For the last 100 years the Lacey Act has protected endangered species within the United States by making it illegal to transport them across state lines. In 2008, the act was amended to include a ban on the importation of illegally harvested timber from foreign countries. Now these amendments are under attack in Congress.
April 27th, 2012
Today is National Arbor Day here in the US of A (dates differ in other countries), a day for people around the country to plant and care for trees and if you can’t do that it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on the importance of trees and forests. While I make a living thinking about trees, I rarely get a chance to step back and reflect on what they have meant to me. Read More