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Power of Positivity

$2 Billion Investment in Forest Restoration Announced at COP23

By Mike Gaworecki

Last Thursday, at the UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany (known as COP23), the World Resources Institute (WRI) announced that $2.1 billion in private investment funds have been committed to efforts to restore degraded lands in the Caribbean and Latin America.

The investments will be made through WRI's Initiative 20×20, which has already put 10 million hectares (about 25 million acres) of land under restoration thanks to 19 private investors who are supporting more than 40 restoration projects.

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Indigenous Communities Gain Environmental Victory at COP23

Indigenous communities claimed a victory at COP23 in Bonn Wednesday, as governments acknowledged their leadership role in protecting forests and containing climate change.

Despite comprising 370 million of the world's population and having communal ownership of more than 20 percent of the world's tropical forest carbon, indigenous groups were sidelined at past international climate talks. Often forced to defend their land against the encroachment of agribusiness, loggers and oil corporations, indigenous peoples have long sought international recognition of their rights, autonomy and participation in negotiations.

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Trump Watch
The effects of post-fire logging after the rim fire, in the Stanislaus National Forest, nearly three years after the logging occurred. Chad Hanson

Congress, Trump Exploit Fire Tragedy to Promote Logging Agenda

By Chad Hanson

In the wake of the October 2017 fires in Northern California, which resulted in the loss of so many lives and homes, people affected by the tragedy are grieving and bewildered. Many people are searching for answers about what caused the fires, and a way forward to prevent similar loss of life and property.

It's frustrating, then, to watch Republican leaders in Congress and the Trump administration politicizing the recent tragedy as they push for a sweeping elimination of environmental laws on our national forests and other federal public lands to increase logging and backcountry fire suppression under the guise of community protection. On Nov. 1, the House voted 232-188 to allow for more "salvage logging" and other forms of tree-cutting on federal properties. According to the Associated Press, House Speaker Paul Ryan said the bill was needed to protect the nation's federal forests "from the kind of devastation that California experienced."

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Animals
Sumatran elephant. Paul Hilton / Wildlife Conservation Society

Palm Oil Producer Destroying Critical Elephant Habitat With Impunity

Between Aug. 21 and Sept. 5, conflict palm oil grower PT. Tualang Raya cleared another 18 hectares of critical lowland rainforests inside the Leuser Ecosystem. This rogue actor has continued razing forests with impunity despite Rainforest Action Network exposing its ongoing destruction since September 2015.

PT. Tualang Raya is clearing in disregard of a government moratorium on forest clearing for palm oil development. According to satellite imagery analysis, PT. Tualang Raya has cleared a total of 205 hectares of forest since June 2016 when a government circular letter demanded that palm oil companies halt forest clearance.

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Animals
Maxime Aliaga

Scientists Discover a New—and Endangered—Orangutan Species

By Jason Bittel

Scientists have discovered a new orangutan species in the mountainous forests of northern Sumatra. Of course, the Tapanuli orangutan has been here for quite a while—but it's new to us!

"Discovering a new species of great ape in this day and age just shows how little we know about the world around us and how much there still is to learn," said Erik Meijaard, a conservation scientist at the Australian National University and one of the authors of the new paper about the discovery, published online today in the journal Current Biology.

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A logger climbs down a mountainside while working on Admiralty Island in the Tongass National Forest. Michael Penn

National Forests, Endangered Species Under Attack as House Republicans Pass Reckless Logging Bill

In a partisan vote, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation Wednesday that would devastate national forests by gutting endangered species protections and rubber-stamping huge logging projects. The final vote was 232 to 188.

HR 2936, sponsored by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), also limits public comment and environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. Under the guise of reducing forest fires, the bill would increase unfettered logging across national forests and public lands, increase fire risk and harm forest health, while doing nothing to protect communities.

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Forests cleared for oil palm plantations in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace

Better Land Use Can Achieve 30% of Carbon Cuts by 2030

By Tim Radford

Land use is often a forgotten priority, yet those of us who wish to contain global warming and avert catastrophic climate change have a natural ally: the land.

As nations plan to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion, an international team of scientists has calculated just how much the natural and farmed world could contribute to future stability by absorbing ever more carbon dioxide.

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Photo taken by Hélio Madeiras, a firefighter in Portugal. Facebook

Wildfires Rage Through Portugal and Spain, Kill at Least 39

Wildfires have killed at least 39 people in Spain and Portugal since Sunday.

Hundreds of fires in both countries are being fanned by winds from Hurricane Ophelia in the north, currently barreling towards Ireland, and encouraged by extremely dry terrain from a scorching hot summer in the region.

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A simulated view of the Mountain Valley Pipeline from Giles High School in Pearisburg, Virginia. Hill Studio for Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition

Major East Coast Pipelines Approved by FERC Despite Strong Opposition

Federal regulators approved plans for two controversial new natural gas pipelines along the East Coast Friday.

In a divided 2-1 vote, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave the green light to the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipeline projects, which would carry shale gas through Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur, the only dissenting vote, expressed concerns in her written dissent on the redundancy of the collective 900 miles of pipeline, the potential environmental impacts and the relatively small accounted demand for the Mountain Valley project.

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