Ruling Guards Old Growth

A federal judge has reinstated rules designed to protect endangered plant and animal species amid old-growth trees.


Bad land-planning adds to destruction of world's rainforests, leads to conflict, and impoverishes local people



12th January 2006: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Bad land-planning adds to destruction of world's rainforests, leads to conflict, and impoverishes local people

The world's rainforests continue to disappear at an alarming rate despite attempts by national governments and international agencies to 'zone' forests into areas for protection and management, a new report by the Rainforest Foundation reveals today [1]. The report, 'Divided Forests' [2] shows that large-scale forest planning exercises in countries such as Indonesia, Brazil and Cameroon have been seriously flawed, resulting in vast areas being allocated to timber companies which then damaged or destroyed the forest.

A particular problem with most large-scale 'forest zoning' exercises has been the failure to involve, or take account of, people living in the forest and depending on it for their survival. In countries such as Cameroon, whose entire area of rainforest was zoned in the 1990s using satellite images, this has resulted in the imposition of timber-felling areas over the forests needed for peoples' livelihoods, causing persistent local conflict.

The report warns that current efforts, backed by the World Bank, to 'zone' the world's second largest rainforest - that of the Democratic Republic of Congo - could also have disastrous consequences, with as much as 600,000 square kilometres at risk of being felled for timber [3].

"The zoning of rainforests has a huge impact on forest peoples' survival, on their livelihoods, as well as on biodiversity," says report author Alison Hoare. Rainforest Foundation Director Simon Counsell said, " Large-scale forest zoning should be based on meticulous ground-truthing, taking into account subsistence uses of forests, and on the traditional rights held by local people. It is not good enough to simply carve-up forests on the basis of satellite images, giving the lions'-share to logging companies".

For further information:

Simon Counsell,
Rainforest Foundation

T (office): +44 (0) 207 251 6345 T


[1] The Rainforest Foundation UK supports indigenous people and traditional populations of the world’s rainforests in their efforts to protect their environment and fulfil their rights.

[2] 'Divided Forests: towards fairer zoning of forest lands' includes case studies of forest zoning exercises in Brazil, Australia, Cameroon and Indonesia. The report sets out recommendations to help ensure that the environmental and social impacts of large-scale zoning are taken into account. The report can be downloaded free from

[3] A national forest zoning exercise, funded by the World Bank, was recently initiated in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which eventually could cover the country's entire 1 million square kilometres of forest. According to the World Bank, up to 35 million of DRC's people depend at least partly on the forest for their survival, but World Bank documents also suggest that 600,000 square kilometres of forest could eventually become zoned for industrial timber production.




Fears for Dwindling Forests in Pakistani Quake Zone

The October 8 earthquake that flattened much of northern Pakistan has taught a lesson to mountain villagers that conservationists had long failed to instill: the importance of their forests. Despite the harsh lesson, conservationists and government officials are worried that necessity will drive survivors to cut down trees to save themselves from the winter.



Deutsche Bank gibt offenbar Geschäft mit indonesischem Zellstoffkonzern auf

Imageschäden: Deutsche Bank gibt offenbar Geschäft mit indonesischem Zellstoffkonzern auf (22.12.05)

Nach Angaben der Umweltschutzorganisation Robin Wood zieht sich die Deutsche Bank endgültig als Finanzberater aus einem stark kritisierten Übernahmegeschäft in der indonesischen Zellstoff-Industrie zurück. Die Organisation bezieht sich hierbei auf Angaben des "Umweltmanagers" der Großbank, Michael Hölz, und führt die Entscheidung auf den "Druck von Robin Wood und weiteren Umweltorganisationen" zurück. Das an der Börse in Singapur notierte Unternehmen United Fiber System (UFS) plane, seine Zellstoffproduktion weiter auszubauen und das Zellstoffwerk Kiani Kertas in Südkalimantan zu übernehmen. Die Deutsche Bank habe bislang dieses millionenschwere Geschäft koordiniert.

Die ganze Nachricht im Internet:



Wie die WTO die letzten Urwälder wegverhandelt


Die Welthandelsorganisation (WTO) will den Handel mit Industriegütern erleichtern. Zu den Industriegütern zählt sie unter anderem Holz - egal woher es stammt. Was das für die letzten Urwälder der Erde bedeutet, zeigt Greenpeace in einer neuen Studie: Trading away the ancient forests (Wie die Urwälder wegverhandelt werden). Sie wurde am Freitag in Hongkong veröffentlicht. Dort findet vom 13. bis 18. Dezember die sechste WTO-Ministerkonferenz statt.



People, not state, protect forests

Sanitsuda Ekachai

Can people co-exist with forests? This nagging question will come to the fore once again if the controversial community forest bill makes it to Parliament for a final vote. This is a case of asking the wrong question. If we really want to protect the remaining forests that have survived a series of state plundering, a different question must be asked:

Can our forests survive state mismanagement and exploitation if we don't allow people's participation and public monitoring?

For that is the heart of the original version of the people's draft bill. No matter what the opponents say, their arguments boil down to their belief that the villagers - particularly the hill peoples - are forest destroyers. And that the forests will remain in good hands under state control.

Sadly, this myth also runs deep among the city middle-class who have been brainwashed by mainstream education and mass media to blame deforestation on the hill peoples and poor forest settlers.

But who really are the bad guys?

Within only 40 years, Thailand's forests which once covered half of the country have dwindled to just about 20%. This should be no big surprise.

Although commercial logging was banned in 1989, illegal logging supported by men in uniform continued unabated. Meanwhile, the policy of successive governments to expand cash crops for export has caused massive land-clearing and deforestation. The same can be said with the military's counter-insurgency policy to destroy guerrillas' strongholds by building roads and human settlements in forests. More forests also fell prey to big dams, commercial tree farms and encroachment by big-time land speculators.

To cover up their failure, the forest authorities increased the figures of forest cover by speeding up the number of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries while barring human activities there.

The fact is, all forests have long been inhabited, both by the indigenous forest dwellers and by the more recent settlers who first came with state endorsement. But the 1962 National Park Law has since then turned more than one million poor families into criminals and subjected them to the misery of eviction.

Meanwhile, the forest authorities continue to turn a blind eye to illegal logging and forest encroachment by influential people while renting out good forests for peanuts to commercial tree farm investors.

Exactly 25 years ago, Ban Huay Kaew in Chiang Mai became the first village to fight for community rights to protect their forests from investors' encroachment. It quickly grew into a nationwide movement demanding state recognition and support for local communities' participation in forest conservation and rights to sustainable use. The demand for community rights to co-manage their natural resources is endorsed in the 1997 charter as a constitutional right. Hence the people's community forest draft bill.

But the Thaksin government wants to retain the power to evict forest dwellers at will. A new phrase was added into the people's original version to give the authorities sole power to demarcate special forest zones where villagers must be evicted.

Note, however, that the Thaksin government has plans to build more dams in forests as well as open up national parks -- more to the tourism industry and to lift the tourism ban in wildlife sanctuaries. Plans also are afoot to build roads in Thung Yai, a World Heritage site. Strong resistance to these plans comes mainly from community forest groups. It is understandable why the authorities want them out.

Last month, Somyong Oongaew of Petchabun's Nam Nao community forest was the latest in a long list of forest fighters gunned down because they stood in the way of those with money and power.

As long as we make the poor the scapegoats of deforestation, the local communities' struggle to protect their forest homes will remain an uphill battle. Many more forest fighters like Somyong are also likely to lose their lives - thanks to our wrong question, which leads us to the wrong answer.


Sanitsuda Ekachai is Assistant Editor, Bangkok Post.
email: sanitsudae@bangkokpost.co.th



WTO Threatening Last Ancient Forests

Greenpeace warned the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that further opening of forestry trade threatens the remaining ancient forests, particularly in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Brazil. The "World Trade Organisation is pushing for less regulation rather than more ... which would take us exactly into the wrong direction."



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