Thursday, May 27, 2010

Scientists to Congress: Don't Cook the Books on CO2 Emissions from Bioenergy

This week, ninety of America's leading scientists delivered a letter urging U.S. House and Senate leaders to make sure that any climate/energy bill or regulation accurately accounts for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions when it comes to bioenergy.

According to the scientists, what the United States decides to do in terms of accounting for bioenergy will have major repercussions around the globe. "U.S. laws will also influence world treatment of bioenergy. A number of studies in distinguished journals have estimated that globally improper accounting of bioenergy could lead to large-scale clearing of the world's forests."

Specifically, the incorporation of the latest science into national and product-based carbon accounting could have big implications on the paper industry. This is evidenced by the strategically crafted response by AF&PA CEO Donna Harmon to the US EPA's recent ruling that it would not automatically treat biogenic carbon sources as "carbon neutral." Unfortunately, the industry is doing the equivalent of arguing against the existence of gravity, because the science is more and more clear, and the myth is gradually being dispelled of the inherent "carbon neutrality" of burning biomass energy and of status-quo forestry.

The letter from the scientists cautions decision makers about the basic mistake that biomass is "carbon neutral," explaining: "Clearing or cutting forests for energy, either to burn trees directly in power plants or to replace forests with bioenergy crops, has the net effect of releasing otherwise sequestered carbon into the atmosphere, just like the extraction and burning of fossil fuels. That creates a carbon debt, may reduce ongoing carbon uptake by the forest, and as a result may increase net greenhouse gas emissions for an extended time period and thereby undercut greenhouse gas reductions needed over the next several decades."

Burning wood waste for energy will continue to be a part of the comprehensive solution at pulp and paper mills into the future, and the industry is noteworthy in its efficient use of this material. Its clearly not the goal of these scientists or outspoken conservationists to eliminate this practice, but the critical issue is that we have to follow the science and count it correctly, in order to arrive at optimal public policy decisions and useful product carbon footprinting comparisions that help consumers make responsible choices.

For the full list of the 90 scientists and the text of the joint letter, go to

Monday, May 24, 2010

Children’s Book Publishers Using Paper Linked to Rainforest Destruction

Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has released a new report, entitled Turning the Page on Rainforest Destruction; Children’s Books and the Future of Indonesia’s Rainforests, finds that a majority of the top ten U.S. children’s publishers have released at least one children’s book that tested positive for paper fiber linked to the destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests, including some books that describe the benefits of rainforest conservation.

“Considering that many publishers have already made public commitments to reduce their environmental footprint, we were surprised by the industry-wide scope of the problem,” said Lafcadio Cortesi of Rainforest Action Network. “We don’t think that kids and their parents want to choose between loving books and protecting the rainforest.”

RAN had 30 colored children’s books tested for fiber associated with deforestation in Indonesia and found that 18 of the 30 books (60 percent) contained controversial fiber. RAN’s tests point to a growing industry trend toward the overseas printing of children’s books, as well as other glossy paper books like coffee table books and textbooks, on fiber that is from controversial and endangered sources.

“There are clear, workable alternatives to printing on paper that destroys the world’s last remaining rainforests,” continued Cortesi. “The publishing industry shouldn’t tolerate printing even one book that contributes to rainforest destruction, species extinction and climate change. ”

Worldwide, the degradation and destruction of tropical rainforests is responsible for fifteen percent of all annual greenhouse emissions. The carbon emissions resulting from Indonesia’s rapid deforestation account for up to five percent of global emissions: more than the combined emissions from all the cars, planes, trucks, buses and trains in United States. This huge carbon footprint from the destruction of forests and peatlands has made non-industrialized Indonesia the third-largest global greenhouse gas emitter, behind only the U.S. and China.

The full text of the report can be downloaded at

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Canadian forest industry and environmental groups sign world's largest conservation agreement

Today, Environmental Paper Network member organizations ForestEthics, Canopy and Greenpeace, along with 6 other leading environmental organizations and twenty-one forest products companies, announced a landmark Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. The ambitious initiative commences with a moratorium on all logging across more than 70 million acres of rich Boreal Forest, as key parties begin long-term conservation planning over 175 million acres – an area the size of Texas.

Find out the full list of signatory organizations and companies, and read the press release here.

The largest conservation initiative in history
, the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement seeks to conserve critical Boreal Forest land, preserve the vulnerable woodland caribou, and implement world-leading forestry practices. While this planning is done over the next three years, members of the Forest Products Association of Canada will honor a moratorium on logging covering 29 million hectares (71 million acres) of prime caribou habitat – an area the size of New Zealand.

Read the details of the agreement >>

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New investigation finds suspect clearing operations of natural forest in Indonesia

Release from WWF - Apr 29, 2010

The coalition Eyes on the Forest (EoF), based on the ground in Indonesia, has published a new Investigative Report on two Asia Pulp & Paper (APP)/Sinar Mas Group (SMG) wood suppliers who conducted natural forest clearance in Kerumutan peat forest, Sumatra. These forests are some of the last refuges for the endangered Sumatran elephant and the critically endangered Sumatran tiger. If forest clearing isn't halted, both could become locally extinct in a few years' time. Forest loss is the single biggest threat to Sumatra’s elephants. Most of Sumatra’s decline of local elephant herds, from 1400 to less than 200, happened where large areas of forest were lost or severely fragmented.

The Investigative Report found that natural forest clearance operations by both APP-affiliated companies are legally questionable based upon existing laws and regulations as they cleared natural forest with dense canopy cover which is not allowed to be converted into plantations, and both companies cleared natural forest on peat with a depth of more than 3 meters deep, which is not allowed to be converted into plantations

The two companies, PT Bina Duta Laksana and PT Mutiara Sabuk Khatulistiwa, also have majority of the concessions overlaps with national Protected Area and some of the concessions overlaps with provincial Protected Areas (RTRWP). The natural forest clearance and plantation development in these concessions do not provide any benefit for the local communities, moreover they create social-economic conflicts as villagers suffer economic losses.

These forest clearance operations also significantly contribute to global climate change, the EoF analysis of satellite imagery found that by 2005, the majority of both concessions were still covered by quite dense canopy natural forest. However, by 2008, at least 9,678 ha and 6,560 ha of natural forest was lost respectively. Future forest clearance in Sumatra is planned in areas with deep peat, some more than 20 meters deep, which houses vast quantities of carbon that will be emitted as it is disturbed. The draining of peatlands and associated peat fires have been one of the drivers that made Indonesia the third-largest emitter of CO2 in the world, behind only the United States and China.

The EoF coalition is calling on the two companies and APP/SMG to immediately stop all further clearance of natural forest in their concessions due to the questionable legality of their activities, social conflicts, threat to critically endangered Sumatran tigers and other High Conservation Values, and its potential negative impacts on the climate.

Download the Investigative Report by Eyes on the Forest