21ST MARCH - INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE FORESTS
On the occasion of March 21st, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly as International Day of the Forests (1), the World Rainforest Movement (WRM) and more than 300 signatories call on the General Assembly and UN Institutions and Initiatives related to forest issues to use the new initiative to address the underlying drivers of deforestation.
The letter is motivated by the fact that in spite of several UN initiatives aimed at calling attention for forests at the international level, the process of deforestation -affecting especially tropical forests - continues and the proposed solutions have not slowed down tropical forest loss worldwide - on the contrary. “The proposals discussed at UN-level, by the FAO, CBD, UNFCCC, UNCCD and UNFF, to solve the forest crisis, for example REDD+ (2), are false solutions because they do not address the underlying drivers of deforestation and strengthen a false idea of sustainability. This is why deforestation has increased in many countries, rather than decreased”, declares Winnie Overbeek, International Coordinator of the WRM.
Continuous forest destruction affects directly the life and future of hundreds of millions of forest peoples, therefore urgent action is needed such as recognizing the rights of forest and forest-dependent communities over their communal territories, as well as defining forests by their true meaning for these peoples, excluding industrial tree monoculture plantations from the present definition that the FAO applies and that defines these monocultures as “forests”(3).
Furthermore, the large-scale land grabbing and destruction of tropical forests worldwide driven by transnational corporations (TNCs) that increasingly certify their activities as “sustainable”, needs to be urgently halted, as well as the increasing human rights violations their actions provoke, including intimidations, affecting those defending the tropical forests and the rights of forest-dependent communities against these threats. Besides, governments and the UN in the first place should support efforts to consume less forest destroying products instead of promoting initiatives that make consumers buying the certified products
from large-scale operations and companies that continue to destroy forests.
The letter concludes affirming that “Above all, on this first International Day of Forests we call on the UN and its forest-related institutions to heed the lessons of past initiatives aimed at ending deforestation: Halting forest loss will remain an illusion until action is undertaken to eliminate the underlying causes that drive deforestation.“
The full version of the letter is available (also in Spanish, French and Portuguese) at http://www.wrm.org.uy/forests/letter_Day_of_the_Forests.html
For further information:
Winnie Overbeek +55 27 8821 9007
Teresa Perez (WRM Secretariat) +598 99 367 966
2.- Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, see
Survival International Press Release, London, 15 February 2013 - The Argentine gas giant Pluspetrol has publicly backtracked on plans to expand the notorious Camisea gas project in southeast Peru into one of the most biodiverse places on earth, following a shock exposure this week by The Guardian newspaper and Survival International.
The company has released a statement in which it admitted planning what it described as ‘superficial geological studies… for scientific interest,’ in Manu National Park, but promising that it had now abandoned these plans.
The Peruvian national parks authority Sernanp has also released a statement following the media storm, confirming it had denied Pluspetrol’s request to work in the area on the grounds that the Manu’s protected status ‘expressly prohibits the exploitation of natural resources’.
A leak had previously confirmed Pluspetrol commissioned a report by environmental agency Quartz Services S.A., which stated its plans ’will contribute not only to the continuity of activity on Block 88, but also to the development of the protected Manu National Park.’
The Camisea project is one of the biggest natural gas projects in the Amazon and is located in in an area known as ‘block 88’, the majority of which lies inside the Nahua-Nanti reserve for uncontacted Indians.
Any expansion of Camisea is prohibited by a 2003 Supreme Decree, but last year Peru’s Ministry of Energy approved further gas exploration inside block 88 in violation of the Decree and international law.
Expanding Camisea’s operations would put uncontacted tribes living near the gas block at extreme risk from disease, and would threaten to push them away from their homes as they flee the noise and destruction of the project.
Jose Choro, a former Nahua leader, told Survival, ‘All the time we hear helicopters. Our animals have left, and there are no fish.’
Peru’s key Amazon Indian organizations AIDESEP, ORAU, FENAMAD and COMARU recently appealed to the UN to stop the expansion of Camisea.
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘This is a resounding success for the indigenous people of Manu National Park and their supporters around the world. A company that was clearly planning to explore for gas in the park has, as a result of being exposed, categorically stated that it will not be carrying out further exploration activities. It is now time to focus attention on the Nahua-Nanti Reserve, where exploration continues apace. It, too, should be subject to the same restrictions as Manu National Park.’
Survival International helps tribal peoples defend their lives, protect their lands and determine their own futures. Founded 1969.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation has welcomed a recent General Assembly’s adoption of a resolution which recognized Ecotourism as "key in the fight against poverty, the protection of the environment and the promotion of sustainable development".
Small Planet Consulting, The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism (Web: www.bahamas.com) recently launched their first-ever birding tourism development plan. The preparation of the plan was championed by Earlston McPhee, head of the Sustainable Tourism Unit. McPhee is well known for his work for over 25 years in promoting sustainable tourism development in the Caribbean and around the world.Vancouver, Canada (26 October 2012) - Led by the Sustainable Tourism Unit and with the support of
The Bahamas depends heavily on its natural environment and has taken many steps to protect it. The country is one of the first in the world to establish a Sustainable Tourism Unit (STU), which initiated the development of the Bahamas Sustainable Tourism Development policy guidelines. The guidelines resulted in two Green Globe Environmental Achievements Awards from WTTC in 1996 and 1998. The Bahamas has long practiced sustainable management of public lands, including the designation of 26 national parks comprising over 700,000 acres of protected marine and land areas.
The Bahamas offers birdwatchers over 340 bird species, including about 110 species that breed in the country, over 170 migrant species and 50 rarely occurring vagrant species. There are 28 species that are not seen in the U.S., Canada or Europe. Most importantly, five of these species are endemic to the country – the Bahama Woodstar, Bahama Swallow, Bahama Warbler, Bahama Yellowthroat and Bahama Oriole.
Recognizing the potential of the commonwealth’s birding tourism assets and of sustainable birding tourism development, in 2009 the Sustainable Tourism Unit collaborated with the Bahamas National Trust, the agency responsible for the protection of the country’s natural and historical resources, to develop a fully accredited birding tour guide course. In 2011, the STU’s next step was to engage Judy Karwacki of Small Planet Consulting to assist with the preparation of a birding tourism development plan. Small Planet has assisted many destinations with wildlife and bird watching tourism product development and marketing, and is recognized for playing a key role in taking Guyana, SA, from a virtual unknown to one of the hottest destinations for birding tourism in the span of just a few years.
Following the completion of the birding tourism development plan, Small Planet assisted The Bahamas in implementing the first initiative of the plan. This was a birding product testing and familiarization trip for Dr. Rick Wright, a well-known U.S. birding tourism professional. Among other roles, Dr. Wright has served as the editor of the American Birding Association’s Winging It monthly newsletter and as department editor for their Birding magazine. He was formerly Managing Director of WINGS, one of the oldest and best known birdwatching tour companies in the world.
At the end of the product testing and familiarization trip, Dr. Wright confirmed that The Bahamas has everything it takes for a country to be a first-class birding destination and stated: “Everywhere you look there are birds, and birds in a wondrous combination of the familiar and the exotic and new. But best of all, there are birders to show them to you and to enjoy them with you. I can’t imagine a better place to spend a couple of weeks than The Bahamas.” Dr. Wright also stated that WINGS will be running a new birding tour to The Bahamas in November 2013, and he is writing an article about birding in The Bahamas for Winging It, to be published in 2013.
Along with the successful completion of the first trip, The Bahamas is now ramping up to implement additional familiarization trips and other key initiatives set out in the new birding tourism development plan. The Ministry of Tourism is actively seeking partnerships with international birding tour operators and media and welcomes all inquiries from interested partners. Meantime, Small Planet welcomes inquiries from destinations seeking to establish or expand their sustainable birding tourism programs.
Small Planet Consulting
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Sustainable Tourism Unit