The controversial, deadly and ineffective methods of protecting tree plantations from baboon damage in southern Africa is making headlines this week. Mongabay.com reports,
The African environmental group, GeaSphere, has lodged a complaint with the Forest Stewardship Council's (FSC) for certifying tree plantations as sustainable that are culling baboons in South Africa, as first reported by FSC-Watch. The primates are trapped with bait and then shot. According to the complaint, "unofficial numbers from reliable sources state that more than 1000 baboons have been shot over the past 2 years" in Mpumalanga Province.From the GeaSphere press release:
The environmental pressure group GeaSphere submitted a formal complaint to the FSC – Forest Stewardship Council – on Tuesday, 11 January 2011.
At least 1,914 permits to ‘remove’ baboons by a controversial ‘trap and shoot’ method by FSC Certified plantation companies have been issued by the authority during the past two years. Most of the affected troops were from the Sabie, Graskop and Blyde River areas in Mpumalanga province, South Africa.
GeaSphere is demanding an immediate moratorium on the killing of baboons by FSC certified companies and the de-certification of plantation companies involved in this practice. Baboons are a integral part of our environment. They perform various vital functions, such as dispersing seed of indigenous plants they naturally eat. Very little data is known about baboon dynamics in our area, or the long term consequence of removing baboons in such large numbers.
Baboons damage pine trees by removing patches of bark reducing the value of the timber and in some cases killing the trees – causing financial losses to the plantation industry. This problem was first reported in 1975, and ever since the timber industry was at war with the baboons.John Scotcher, FSC contact person in South Africa, told mongabay.com that,
.....the baboon culling did not go against any FSC regulations. Furthermore, Scotcher said that the FSC was aware of the culling prior to GeaSphere's complaint.
The complaint has been formally accepted by the FSC and will now be examined by an independent panel.
"Nobody from the FSC may be a member of the panel. [The panel] will consider the complaint and their findings will be binding on both the complainant and FSC," Scotcher explained. "If the panel identifies any transgressions of local laws or the FSC Principles and Criteria, then there may be a corrective action required from the affected companies."More information can be found at the Baboon Information Package on GeaSphere's website.