Human activity has pushed atmospheric carbon dioxide to higher levels today than they have been at any other point in the last 23-million-years, potentially posing unprecedented disruptions in ecosystems across the planet, new research suggests.
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More than a third of the world's old growth forests died between 1900 and 2015, a new study has found.
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By Hans Nicholas Jong
The Indonesian government has backed down from a decision to scrap its timber legality verification process for wood export, amid criticism from activists and the prospect of being shut out of the lucrative European market.
By Lamfu Fabrice Yengong and Sylvie Djacbou Deugoue
Biodiversity loss is a global crisis. In May last year, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) warned that over 1,000,000 species are threatened with extinction worldwide. On May 22, the International Day of Biodiversity, it is important to recall the silent victims of our country's obsession for industrial growth at the expense of our forests.
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by Rhett A. Butler
Despite the global economic slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon appears to be continuing largely unabated with forest clearing over the past 12 months reaching the highest level since monthly data started being released publicly in 2007, according to official data released Friday by the country's national space research institute INPE. Forest loss in Earth's largest rainforest has now risen 13 consecutive months relative to year-earlier figures.
Official Brazilian government data showing annual deforestation (Aug 1-Jul 31 year) in the Brazilian Amazon since 1988.
Amazon rainforest canopy in Brazil. Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay
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Australia's unprecedented wildfires that raged for months and destroyed millions of acres were likely made worse by industrial logging of native forests, according to a new commentary from five scientists published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.
By Richard Orange
The harvesting machine takes just one second to fell the towering spruce, and another to strip the branches and scan its trunk for defects.
Demand for Wood<p>According to the latest figures from the <a href="http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/1256261/icode/" target="_blank">UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)</a>, global forest production hit record levels in 2018. Up 11% on the year before.</p><p>"We see an increasing demand for almost all of our products," says Göran Örlander, strategist at Södra, Sweden's largest association of forest owners. "The most obvious demand is for biofuels at the moment. Everybody wants to have biofuels to replace fossil fuels."</p><p>The idea is that burning wood becomes close to carbon neutral if the forests from where it is taken are replenished at the same rate as they are felled for fuel.</p><p>But critics question whether this is the case in every country which claims to provide sustainable wood, and say some of what is supplying the current boom in biomass fuels comes from existing forests rather than sustainably managed plantations.</p><p>They also point to the carbon emitted from the soil of cleared forests, and to the emissions created in the felling and processing of wood products.</p>
Not Just for Heating<p>Södra has teamed up with Dutch airline KLM to explore the feasibility of producing jet fuel from forest biomass, and is also working with the Scandinavian airline SAS on plans for a pilot biofuel plant in the north of Sweden.</p><p>Bioplastic packaging — some of which relies on wood fibers — currently makes up just one percent of total plastics production. But that is expected to grow over the coming years. </p><p>Architecture firms are also racing to use cross-laminated timber to replace carbon-intensive concrete and steel, and wood-based fibers now represent about six percent of all textiles.</p><p>The attraction is clear. When wood is used in buildings, for example, carbon is taken out of the carbon cycle and stored for as long as the building stands.</p><p>But according to preliminary findings from a joint United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and UN Food and Agriculture Organization study into future supply and demand scenarios, even if every effort were made to maximize global forest cover, doubling the use of wood in buildings, furniture and other products would reduce rather than increase the amount of carbon sequestered globally.</p><p><span></span>"The projected increase in wood products carbon in this scenario was not enough to offset the loss in biomass carbon due to increased removals depleting forest stocks," the authors wrote.</p>
The Limits of Wood<p>There are also limits to the use of wood for heat and power.</p><p>Back in 2010, EUwood, a study led by the University of Hamburg warned that "even if all measures for increased wood mobilization" were implemented, by 2020 the European Union's domestic sources would struggle to satisfy wood demands and meet renewable energy targets.</p><p>By 2018 the EU was already supplementing its wood pellet consumption with imports to the tune of eight million tons. And some conservationists argue member states' use of biomass is driving deforestation and boosting carbon dioxide levels.</p><p>But at Växjö Energy, a Swedish heat and power plant, which became a 100 percent biomass facility in December, chief executive Erik Tellgren is not worried about supply. He says forest owners currently leave most of the branches and tops of trees they cut down to rot.</p><p>"There is still a potential of at least twice the amount of residue streams in the forest today that is simply left there," he says. </p>
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The landscape of Minnesota is changing as the climate crisis intensifies. Animals and plants that once were only found in the southern part of the state have moved north, suggesting that as the climate changes, Minnesota, by 2100, will start to resemble an environment similar to the one found in Kansas, a few states to the south.
By April M. Short
The world's wildlife is in danger of dying off, and inevitably taking humanity out with it. Humans have destroyed enormous portions of the planet's natural spaces, and caused a climate disaster as well as the unprecedented acceleration of mass extinction events. Among the many species struggling to stay afloat are the butterflies, birds, bats, bees and other pollinators we depend upon in order to grow basic food crops. People cannot live without the earth's diverse wild plants and animals.
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By Austyn Gaffney
Wayne Brensinger, 63, has spent his entire life exploring Deer View Farm in eastern Pennsylvania. From an early age, he hunted squirrels and deer, drank clean spring water, and meandered down game trails through 500 acres of Northern Appalachian woodlands, with just 25 acres cleared for corn and soybeans. The property, in his family for over 150 years, was an idyllic place to grow up and raise his own children.
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