Quantcast

Norway Becomes World’s First Country to Ban Deforestation

Popular

Norway has become the first country to ban deforestation. The Norwegian Parliament pledged May 26 that the government's public procurement policy will be deforestation-free.

Any product that contributes to deforestation will not be used in the Scandinavian country. The pledge was recommended by Norwegian Parliament's Standing Committee on Energy and Environment as part of the Action Plan on Nature Diversity. Rainforest Foundation Norway was the main lobbying power behind this recommendation and has worked for years to bring the pledge to existence.


“This is an important victory in the fight to protect the rainforest," Nils Hermann Ranum, head of policy and campaign at Rainforest Foundation Norway said in a statement. "Over the last few years, a number of companies have committed to cease the procurement of goods that can be linked to destruction of the rainforest. Until now, this has not been matched by similar commitments from governments. Thus, it is highly positive that the Norwegian state is now following suit and making the same demands when it comes to public procurements."

Photo credit: World Wildlife Fund

Norway's action plan also includes a request from parliament that the government exercise due care for the protection of biodiversity in its investments through Norway's Government Pension Fund Global.

“Other countries should follow Norway's leadership, and adopt similar zero deforestation commitments," Ranum said. "In particular, Germany and the UK must act, following their joint statement at the UN Climate Summit."

Germany and the UK joined Norway in pledging at the 2014 UN Climate Summit to "promote national commitments that encourage deforestation-free supply chains," through public procurement policies and to sustainably source products like palm oil, soy, beef and timber, the Huffington Post reported.

Beef, palm oil, soy and wood products in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Indonesia, Malaysia and Papau New Guinea were responsible for 40 percent of deforestation between 2000 and 2011. Those seven countries were also responsible for 44 percent of carbon emissions, Climate Action reported.

Another Step in the Right Direction

Norway's recent pledge is yet another step the country has taken to combat deforestation. The Scandinavian country funds several projects worldwide.

The Norwegian government announced a $250 million commitment to protect Guyana's forest, WorldWatch Institute reported. The South American country, which has its forests zoned for logging, received the money over a four-year period from 2011 to 2015.

"Our country is at a stage where our population is no less materialistic [than industrialized countries] and no less wanting to improve their lives," Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Guyana's minister of foreign affairs, said. "We want to continue our development, but we can't do that without a form of payment."

The partnership is part of the UN's initiative Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, which was launched in 2008. Guyana is unique among its counterparts in the initiative because the country's forests don't face significant deforestation pressure.

Photo credit: World Wildlife Fund

In 2015, Norway paid $1 billion to Brazil, home to 60 percent of the Amazon forest, for completing a 2008 agreement between the two countries to prevent deforestation, according to mongabay.com. Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon decreased more than 75 percent over the last decade, representing the single biggest emissions cut in that time period. The deal helped save more than 33,000 square miles of rainforest from clear-cutting, National Geographic reported.

The partnership was praised by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon:

“The partnership between Brazil and Norway through the Amazon Fund shows intensified support for one of most impressive climate change mitigation actions of the past decades. This is an outstanding example of the kind of international collaboration we need to ensure the future sustainability of our planet."

The Amazon has lost around 17 percent of its trees in the last 50 years, according to World Wildlife Fund.

This TED talk explains how Brazil reached its goal:

Norway doesn't just focus on South American forests. The country is also hard at work in Africa and other regions of the planet.

Liberia, with the help of Norway, became the first nation in Africa to stop cutting down trees in return for aid, the BBC reported. The deal involves Norway paying the West African country $150 million through 2020 to stop deforestation.

"We hope Liberia will be able to cut emissions and reduce poverty at the same time," Jens Frolich Holte, a political adviser to the Norwegian government, said.

Liberia is home to 43 percent of the Upper Guinean forest and the last populations of western chimpanzees, forest elephants and leopards. The country agreed to place 30 percent or more of its forests under protection by 2020.

The Case for Deforestation Bans

Forests cover 31 percent of the land on Earth. They are the planet's figurative lungs, producing oxygen and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Forests also provide homes to people and much of the world's wildlife.

Fire burning in peat moss area in Central Kalimantan Indonesia. Photo credit: World Wildlife Fund

There are 1.6 million people who rely on forests for food, fresh water, clothing, medicine and shelter, according to the World Wildlife Fund. But people also see forests as an obstacle they must remove. Around 46,000 to 58,000 square miles of forest are lost each year—a rate equal to 48 football fields every minute.

Deforestation is estimated to contribute around 15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. Not only does deforestation contribute to climate change, it can also disrupt livelihoods and natural cycles, the World Wildlife Fund said. Removal of trees can disrupt the water cycle of the region, resulting in changes in precipitation and river flow, and contribute to erosion.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Jennifer Molidor, PhD

Climate change, habitat loss and pollution are overwhelming our planet. Thankfully, these enormous threats are being met by a bold new wave of environmental activism.

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump mocked water-efficiency standards in new constructions last week. Trump said, "People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once. They end up using more water. So, EPA is looking at that very strongly, at my suggestion." Trump asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a federal review of those standards since, he claimed with no evidence, that they are making bathrooms unusable and wasting water, as NBC News reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
(L) Rushing waters of Victoria Falls at Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, Zimbabwe pictured in January 2018. Edwin Remsberg / VW PICS / UIG / Getty Images (R) Stark contrast of Victory Falls is seen on Nov. 13, 2019 after drought has caused a decline. ZINYANGE AUNTONY / AFP / Getty Images

The climate crisis is already threatening the Great Barrier Reef. Now, another of the seven natural wonders of the world may be in its crosshairs — Southern Africa's iconic Victoria Falls.

Read More Show Less

Monsanto's former chairman and CEO Hugh Grant speaks about "The Coming Agricultural Revolution" on May 17, 2016. Fortune Brainstorm E / Flickr

By Carey Gillam

Former Monsanto Chairman and CEO Hugh Grant will have to testify in person at a St. Louis-area trial set for January in litigation brought by a cancer-stricken woman who claims her disease was caused by exposure to the company's Roundup herbicide and that Monsanto covered up the risks instead of warning consumers.

Read More Show Less
A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

Michael Schade / Twitter

At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.