Best of our wild blogs: 9 Feb 12

Fri 17 Feb 2012: 4pm, SBG Function Hall – Christina Colon on Ecology of the Malay Civet
from Otterman speaks

Tulostoma: Rare Fungus in Chek Jawa Coastal Forest
from Flying Fish Friends

Strange seagrass slug on Chek Jawa
from wild shores of singapore

Facilitating learning in the outdoors
from Nature rambles

All about Yellow Bittern 黄小鷺
from PurpleMangrove

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Don’t Flush Tiger Forests: Toilet Paper, U.S. Supermarkets, and the Destruction of Indonesia’s Last Tiger Habitats

WWF finds US grocery retailers stocking toilet paper linked to rainforest destruction
WWF 8 Feb 12;

WASHINGTON, DC: American companies and consumers are inadvertently contributing to Indonesian rain forest and tiger habitat destruction by buying toilet paper and other tissue products made with fiber from Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), according to a World Wildlife Fund report released today.

Don’t Flush Tiger Forests: Toilet Paper, U.S. Supermarkets, and the Destruction of Indonesia’s Last Tiger Habitats finds that APP, the fifth-largest tissue producer in the world, is rapidly expanding into the U.S. market with paper linked to rain forest destruction, originating from areas that are the last home for critically endangered species such as Sumatran tigers, elephants, and orangutans.

Products made with APP fiber, such as toilet paper, paper towels and tissue, are increasingly landing in grocery stores, restaurants, schools and hotels across the country under the Paseo and Livi brand names.

Eight large retailers – BI-LO, Brookshire Grocery Company, Delhaize Group (owner of Food Lion chain), Harris Teeter, Kmart, Kroger, SUPERVALU, and Weis Markets – have decided to stop carrying tissue products made with APP fiber during the last several months.

“We applaud the decision by these companies to remove these products from their stores,” said Jan Vertefeuille, head of WWF’s Tiger Campaign.

Since it began operating in Indonesia in 1984, WWF estimates that APP and its affiliates have pulped nearly 5 million acres of tropical forest on the island of Sumatra, which equals an area roughly the size of 4 million football fields or larger than the state of Massachusetts.

“Consumers shouldn’t have to choose between tigers and toilet paper,” said Linda Kramme, a WWF forest expert. “We’re asking retailers, wholesalers and consumers not to buy Paseo or Livi products until APP stops clearing rain forests in Sumatra.”

Fastest-growing toilet paper brand in the U.S.

APP distributes its tissue, paper and paper-based packaging products through a number of North American-based subsidiaries and affiliates, including Solaris Paper, Mercury Paper, Paper Excellence, Global Paper Solutions, and Eagle Ridge Paper.

In recent years, APP has greatly expanded into the U.S. tissue market, including through Paseo and Livi tissue products. Oasis Brands, which markets Paseo, announced in 2011 that Paseo had become the fastest-growing brand of toilet paper in the U.S. Paseo and Livi are also marketed as "away-from-home" products used in public restrooms in restaurants, office buildings, schools and hotels.

“More than 50 percent of shoppers say they consider sustainability when they shop, but Americans may not be aware that products used every day, like paper and tissue, can be linked to devastating impacts on forests in faraway places,” the report states.

To produce the report, WWF researched Paseo sales to U.S. grocery chains and found Paseo products being carried in grocery chains across the country in 2011. WWF contacted 20 grocers sourcing the largest amounts of Paseo to make them aware of Paseo's link to rain forest destruction.

The 12 companies identified and contacted, but that did not respond or commit to stopping Paseo sales, are:

• Albertsons LLC
• Giant Eagle
• Hy-Vee
• Ingles
• K-VA-T (sold at Food City)

• Lowes Food Stores
• Marsh
• Price Chopper
• Roundy’s (sold at Roundy's, Pick'n Save, Rainbow and Copps)
• Save Mart
• Spartan

“We urge companies to be responsible stewards of the planet and stop carrying Paseo products until APP stops clearing rain forest,” Kramme said.

Trying to improve the pulp and paper sector

Paseo is produced with pulp from APP, a subsidiary of China-based Sinar Mas Group and one of the world’s largest pulp and paper companies. APP owns two pulp mills on the Indonesian island of Sumatra – one of them among the world’s largest – and is responsible for more deforestation in Sumatra than any other company, according to field investigations, government data and satellite imagery.

The research into APP and its Paseo and Livi tissue paper brands is part of efforts by WWF to encourage a more responsible pulp and paper sector, specifically by addressing the increase in the United States of pulp and paper products produced with rain forest fiber or from plantation fiber from converted rain forest.

WWF is working to ensure that North American paper sourcing no longer negatively impacts Indonesian natural forests and instead drives demand for paper from responsibly developed and managed Indonesian plantations. WWF also is working with other Indonesian pulp and paper producers willing to adopt better practices to bring more options to the marketplace.

Many responsible companies are already showing leadership. One of the easiest ways that companies and consumers can help is by buying tissue products made with fiber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or 100 percent recycled fiber to ensure they aren’t contributing to forest destruction, and urging retailers to stop selling brands linked to destructive practices.

To download the report and learn more about WWF’s tissue campaign, please visit

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Indonesia: US Report Casts Doubt On Palm Fuel Benefits

Fidelis E. Satriastanti Jakarta Globe 8 Feb 12;

Indonesia has come under greater scrutiny over its policy to encourage palm oil development, following a report by US authorities that fuels derived from the commodity were not as environmentally friendly as initially believed.

Last month, the US Environmental Protection Agency put out a notice that palm oil-derived biofuels such as biodiesel and renewable diesel fell short of its threshold for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions savings of 20 percent compared to regular diesel.

Biodiesel was found to cut GHG emissions by just 17 percent of the life cycle of its production and combustion, while renewable biodiesel rated 11 percent.

“Our analysis of palm oil biofuels ... considers new data for Indonesia and Malaysia, where close to 90 percent of world palm oil is currently produced,” the notice said.

It highlighted two ways in which the palm oil production process was contributing to GHG emissions.

“For example, palm oil production produces wastewater effluent that eventually decomposes, creating methane, a GHG with a high global warming potential,” it said. “Another key factor is the expected expansion of palm plantations onto land with carbon-rich peat soils which would lead to significant releases of GHGs to the atmosphere.”

Meine van Noordwijk, chief science adviser at the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), said if more than 10 percent of palm oil originated from peatland plantations, then the EPA’s standards could not be met, regardless of all other efforts.

In 2009, 22 percent of Indonesia’s palm oil plantations were on peat soil, while in Malaysia the figure was 13 percent, according to the EPA.

Van Noordwijk also said a lifecycle assessment of any biofuel needs to look at the carbon debts created by conversion of forests to plantations, the emissions associated with production, and emissions associated with processing and transport.

“In the case of oil palm, all three contribute to the overall effect,” he said.

“If forests with more than 40 tons per hectare of carbon stock are cleared, there will be a carbon debt. If peatlands are used, there will be continuous emissions that are higher than the carbon sequestered in palm oil production, and if the processing units do not trap the methane from the mill effluent, emissions can be high.”

Van Noordwijk cited a study carried out by ICRAF with the Indonesian Palm Oil Commission (IPOC) showing that companies that avoided the conversion of high carbon stock forest and did not use peat soil could meet the EPA’s target and the more stringent requirements set by the European Union.

In 2008 the EU banned biofuels from palm oil grown from deforesting tropical forests peatlands.

Van Noordwijk also pointed out that the carbon sequestered from planting oil palms did not make up for clearing forests and peatlands for the plantations.

The palms themselves, he said, represent around 80 tons of carbon sequestered per hectare over a 25-year period, while the fruits harvested hold the equivalent of 10 tons of CO2 a year.

However, the draining of peat swamps releases 60 tons of CO2 per hectare per year.

“With more careful drainage practices it can be brought back to say 40 tons of CO2, which is still a lot compared to the 10 tons of CO2 per hectare per year that is harvested,” he said. “So, you gain 10 tons of CO2 from the plants, however, you release 60 tons of CO2 and 40 tons of CO2 if drainage is good. You’d need to pay the carbon debt.”

Abetnego Tarigan, director of Sawit Watch, an industry watchdog, said the government should pursue low-carbon development.

“How do we maximize existing areas rather than open new ones?” he said. “How do we optimize transportation efficiency, soil management and so on.”

Gamal Nasir, the Agriculture Ministry’s director general for plantations, denied that palm oil biofuels were ineffective in helping reduce GHG emissions.

“That’s not true. It can reduce emissions,” he said, adding that he minister would issue an official statement following a meeting on Monday to discuss the EPA’s report.

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Big boost for wildlife conservation: 23 new SOS projects

IUCN 9 Feb 12;

Beginning in January 2012, top species conservation experts from around the world have determined the allocation of $US 3.3 million to 23 species conservation projects. Gorillas, cockatoos, and frogs are just a few of the multitude of threatened species that are receiving a helping hand from SOS (Save Our Species), a global species conservation fund initiated by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), the World Bank and the GEF (Global Environment Facility).

Drawing on species conservation knowledge accrued over decades by IUCN, for the first call for proposals SOS focused on species groups that were completely assessed on IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species™ and already had specific conservation action plans in place. According to IUCN’s Red List, one in three amphibians, one in eight birds, and one in four mammals are at risk of extinction in the wild. Nineteen different organizations will use these funds to conserve threatened animal and plant species and their habitats.

“The dire situation facing the world’s biodiversity calls for an action and response. SOS is seeking to bring knowledge, expertise and funding together in order to address the plight of threatened species,” says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN’s Director General. “Through these exciting projects we hope to show that, if properly implemented, conservation works.”

A high variety of different species is crucial for ecosystem health and SOS aims to conserve a multitude of threatened creatures, focusing on Asian and African mammals, amphibians and birds with the new round of funds. SOS supports a variety of mammal projects such as conservation programmes targeting the critically endangered Cross River Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli) and Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis) in Africa, in addition to the endangered Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) in Pakistan.

Mammals represent the largest portion of the SOS portfolio, but they are not the only species at risk. SOS also supports bird and amphibian projects, protecting the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus) in Asia; a project to re-introduce the Philippine Cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia); and an initiative preserving the Golden Mantella Frog (Mantella aurantiaca) in Madagascar.

“Ignoring species conservation means ignoring a world in which species are currently disappearing at a rate 100 to 1,000 times higher than normal. The loss of wild plant and animal species is a real threat to human well-being, sustainable development and poverty reduction. In these times of economic turmoil, it would be wise not to further damage nature—our ultimate safety net,” says Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Director of IUCN’s Global Species Programme and SOS Director. “By implementing on the ground conservation action, the projects SOS select help protect entire habitats which both people and wildlife depend on.”

In October 2010, SOS was established with more than $US10 million in financing commitments in order to build a global coalition to protect threatened species and their habitats. This unique international alliance aims to raise awareness of biodiversity conservation and looks for participation from innovative companies across all industries. Nokia was the first company to join SOS.

“SOS was established to use the charisma of wild animals to explain the role of nature, generate interest in the plight of threatened species, and shed light on the complexity of conservation work,” says Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson of the GEF and Chair of the SOS Donor Council. “Today, with our core funding we are adding 23 new projects covering a large number of threatened species, including around 60 that will be closely monitored. So far we are on track. The only thing missing now is the private sector’s commitment to join our endeavour to save the planet’s captivating wildlife before it is too late.”

This decade has been declared by the United Nations as the Decade of Biodiversity. Issues surrounding species survival will be discussed at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Republic of Korea, from 6 to 15 September 2012.

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Scientists melt mystery over icecaps and sea levels

David Fogarty Reuters 8 Feb 12;

(Reuters) - U.S. scientists using satellite data have established a more accurate figure of the amount of annual sea level rise from melting glaciers and ice caps which should aid studies on how quickly coastal areas may flood as global warming gathers pace.

John Wahr of the University of Colorado in Boulder and colleagues, in a study published on Thursday, found that thinning glaciers and icecaps were pushing up sea levels by 1.5 millimeters (0.06 inches) a year, in line with a 1.2 to 1.8 mm range from other studies, some of which forecast sea levels could rise as much as 2 meters (2.2 yards) by 2100.

Sea levels have already risen on average about 18 centimeters since 1900 and rapid global warming will accelerate the pace of the increase, scientists say, threatening coastlines from Vietnam to Florida and forcing low-lying megacities to build costly sea defenses.

To get a better picture of the pace of the melting, Wahr and colleagues used a satellite that measures variations in gravity fields to study changes in the mass of large ice-covered areas. The data covered 2003-2010.

The glaciers and ice caps included those in the Arctic, South America, Asia as well as Greenland and Antarctica.

Globally, the rate of sea level rise has accelerated in recent decades to reach about 3.5 millimeters a year, with more than half coming from thermal expansion of the oceans.

Water expands as it gets warmer.

While the creeping annual increase might seem small, the rate of sea level rise is expected to grow. Yet scientists have struggled to refine estimates given the uncertainty about the future pace of global warming, growth trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions and the rate at which ice caps will melt.

Using satellite data instead of more limited and time-consuming data from ground measurements was crucial, Wahr said in an email to Reuters.

The team found that loss ice from Greenland and Antarctica was pushing up sea levels by just over one millimeter a year, comprising most of the 1.5 mm annual rise.

Glaciers and mountain ice caps elsewhere comprised the rest, at 0.4 mm/yr between 2003-10.

"That's a large number, and represents a lot of melting ice," said Wahr. "But it's at least 30 percent smaller than previous global estimates, none of which have used GRACE," he said, referring to the name of the satellite.


The United Nations' Climate Panel estimates sea global sea level rise of 18 to 59 centimeters from 1990 to the 2090s. But those numbers do not include melting from polar regions where the vast majority of the world's freshwater is locked away.

Some climate scientists say the rise is more likely to be between and 1 and 2 meters. They point to accelerating melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic icesheets over the past two decades. Both contain enough water to raise global sea levels by about 60 meters.

Other glaciers and mountain icecaps contain enough water to raise sea levels by nearly a meter.

GRACE measured the changes to ice mass over regions greater than 100 square kilometers. The data showed ice-covered areas in Asia, including the Himalayan and Karakoram ranges, was much less than other estimates, meaning the region contributed very little to sea level rise, in part because many glaciers were at freezing high elevations.

Wahr said the study gave a much clearer picture of what was happening to large ice-covered areas globally, particularly in remote parts of the Himalayas.

"There are simply too many glaciers, and most of them too remote to access, to be able to monitor all of them from the ground. There are more than 200,000 glaciers world-wide," he said, adding only a few hundred have been monitored over time spans of several years or more.

"With GRACE, though, we're able to directly monitor the sum total of all ice loss in an entire glacier system or ice cap."

Ongoing monitoring by the satellite should help scientists get a better handle on the pace of ice melting and sea level rise as the planet heats up.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, all 11 years in the 21st century so far, including 2011, rank among the 13 warmest in the 132-year temperature record.

(Editing by Ed Lane)

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