Although traditionally focused on rural agriculture, the FAO, a United Nations agency, is increasingly looking at the urban dimension of its mandate.
“A key element of success is the integration of the urban forestry aspect in the overall urban planning process.”
Simone Borelli Food and Agriculture Organization
That consideration was spurred in part by last year’s U. N. conference on cities, Habitat III. The four-day summit resulted in a 20-year urbanization strategy, the New Urban Agenda, that calls for more robust urban planning as the world heads toward a global population that will be 70 percent urban by 2050.
Illegal logging might appear to be a simple story: A bad guy chopping down trees to make a big profit without obtaining any permission from local authorities or local communities, thus causing great harm to both people and the environment.
For most urban dwellers, particularly Westerners, cliché images come to mind of far-away scorched forests and scores of proud indigenous men, women and children, together with magnificent animals, left homeless by this brutal act.
And someone, somewhere, living la dolce vita on a hefty bank account hidden away in some fiscal paradise, along with content, corrupt public officials benefitting from bribes that have allowed the transport and trade of this illegal timber.
Illegal logging, however, is far more complex than this simple narrative! The tale above might be a popular one, but it is misinformed. Before measures can be taken to curb illegal logging, a lot of preliminary work is needed to further assess the activity’s causes, complex dynamics, impacts and trade-offs.
Tropical forests are global centres of biodiversity and carbon storage. Many tropical countries aspire to protect forest to fulfil biodiversity and climate mitigation policy targets, but the conservation strategies needed to achieve these two functions depend critically on the tropical forest tree diversity-carbon storage relationship. Assessing this relationship is challenging due to the scarcity of inventories where carbon stocks in aboveground biomass and species identifications have been simultaneously and robustly quantified. Here, we compile a unique pan-tropical dataset of 360 plots located in structurally intact old-growth closed-canopy forest, surveyed using standardised methods, allowing a multi-scale evaluation of diversity-carbon relationships in tropical forests. Diversity-carbon relationships among all plots at 1 ha scale across the tropics are absent, and within continents are either weak (Asia) or absent (Amazonia, Africa). A weak positive relationship is detectable within 1 ha plots, indicating that diversity effects in tropical forests may be scale dependent. The absence of clear diversity-carbon relationships at scales relevant to conservation planning means that carbon-centred conservation strategies will inevitably miss many high diversity ecosystems. As tropical forests can have any combination of tree diversity and carbon stocks both require explicit consideration when optimising policies to manage tropical carbon and biodiversity.
Ongoing deforestation is a pressing, global environmental issue with direct impacts on climate change, carbon emissions, and biodiversity. There is an intuitive link between economic development and overexploitation of natural resources including forests, but this relationship has proven difficult to establish empirically due to both inadequate data and convoluting geo-climactic factors. In this analysis, we use satellite data on forest cover along national borders in order to study the determinants of deforestation differences across countries. Controlling for trans-border geo-climactic differences, we find that income per capita is the most robust determinant of differences in cross-border forest cover. We show that the marginal effect of per capita income growth on forest cover is strongest at the earliest stages of economic development, and weakens in more advanced economies, presenting some of the strongest evidence to date for the existence of at least half of an environmental Kuznets curve for deforestation.
To make this documentary film, ISCP interviewed farmers on the Indonesian island of Sumatra who are producing kopi luwak, or civet coffee, which is made from partly digested coffee beans eaten and defecated by palm civets. One farm owner told us that he treats the civets well in captivity, but we show in our film that the opposite is the case. One farm owner says that his kopi luwak is now only produced from civet faeces collected in the wild. It is very difficult to know whether such claims by kopi luwak producers are true. Rudianto Sembiring from the Indonesian Species Conservation Programme urges people not to drink kopi luwak unless they are absolutely not sure that the source of the coffee is civet droppings collected in the wild.
An intact forest landscape (IFL) is a seamless mosaic of forest and naturally treeless ecosystems with no remotely detected signs of human activity and a minimum area of 500 km2. IFLs are critical for stabilizing terrestrialcarbon storage, harboring biodiversity, regulatinghydrological regimes, and providing other ecosystem functions. Although the remaining IFLs comprise only 20% of tropical forest area, they account for 40% of the total aboveground tropical forest carbon. We show that global IFL extent has been reduced by 7.2% since the year 2000. An increasing rate of global IFL area reduction was found, largely driven by the tripling of IFL tropical forest loss in 2011–2013 compared to that in 2001–2003. Industrial logging, agricultural expansion, fire, and mining/resource extraction were the primary causes of IFL area reduction. Protected areas (International Union for Conservation of Nature categories I to III) were found to have a positive effect in slowing the reduction of IFL area from timber harvesting but were less effective in limiting agricultural expansion. The certification of logging concessions under responsible management had a negligible impact on slowing IFL fragmentation in the Congo Basin. Fragmentation of IFLs by logging and establishment of roads and other infrastructure initiates a cascade of changes that lead to landscape transformation and loss of conservation values. Given that only 12% of the global IFL area is protected, our results illustrate the need for planning and investment in carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation efforts that target the most valuable remaining forests, as identified using the IFL approach.
Erik Solheim, the man in the hot seat at the United Nations Environment Programme, is Norway’s former environment minister, a peace negotiator that brought an end to civil war in Sri Lanka and the chair of OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC).
But in his latest role as executive director of the UN agency, he faces his biggest challenge yet – protecting the earth’s fragile natural ecosystems while persuading the corporate world that sustainability makes business sense.
Identifying hotspots of species threat has been a successful approach for setting conservation priorities. One important challenge in conservation is that, in many hotspots, export industries continue to drive overexploitation. Conservation measures must consider not just the point of impact, but also the consumer demand that ultimately drives resource use. To understand which species threat hotspots are driven by which consumers, we have developed a new approach to link a set of biodiversity footprint accounts to the hotspots of threatened species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The result is a map connecting consumption to spatially explicit hotspots driven by production on a global scale. Locating biodiversity threat hotspots driven by consumption of goods and services can help to connect conservationists, consumers, companies and governments in order to better target conservation actions.