Palm oil mounts ‘new offensive’ in Colombia while workers decry labor conditions

first_img*Interviewee names have been changed and the palm oil company name omitted to protect sources.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Agriculture, coca plantations, Conflict, Deforestation, Development, Drug Trade, Environment, Featured, Forests, Habitat Loss, Industrial Agriculture, Oil Palm, Palm Oil, Plantations, Rainforests, Trees, Tropical Forests Article published by Morgan Erickson-Davis Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Demobilization of the FARC and other militant groups are opening vast areas of Colombia to new development.Colombia is Latin America’s biggest palm oil producer. Researchers expect the industry will be expanding into these new territories, and are worried about how Colombia’s native ecosystems will fare against new oil palm plantations and how communities will be treated by the industry.Advocacy organizations say Colombia is facing a grave security crisis for human rights defenders, unionists, community activists, and indigenous and Afro-Colombian leaders, with more than 120 social leaders reportedly killed so far in 2017.Mongabay traveled to Magdalena Medio to talk with oil palm plantation workers; they reported dangerous working conditions and deadly retribution from anti-union organizers. MAGDALENA MEDIO, Colombia – It is a usual hot and humid day at one of the oil palm plantations in Magdalena Medio, Colombia. Beneath the two-story canopy of the plantation, Francisco Calderón* sweats while carrying a wobbly 12-meter (40-foot) iron pole he uses to slice the precious fruit free. The work is long and back-breakingly arduous.The sheer weight and length of the pole makes balancing it an art. Calderón tightens his muscles and once more steers the pole towards the palm fruit to show the practice that has been damaging his body for more than two decades.As most of the plantation workers affirm, almost nobody reaches their full pension age working the palm trees. They say the hard task of cutting and lifting clusters of palm fruit damages one’s shoulders and back and makes plantation work impossible past a certain age.Colombia produces more palm oil than any other country in Latin America, and is the fourth-largest producer worldwide after Indonesia, Malaysia (together the two countries produce around 83 percent of the global supply) and Thailand. According to federal census data, Colombia had nearly 466,000 hectares of oil palm planted in 2015 – but as much as 16 million hectares of land is regarded as suitable for cultivation.Calderón deftly uses a long pole to harvest fruit from an oil palm tree. Photo by Bram Ebus for Mongabay.Palm oil is produced from the fruit of the oil palm tree. Photo by Bram Ebus for Mongabay.Currently, most oil palm grown in Colombia is done so on land that had already been deforested by the cattle industry. But monocrop agriculture such as oil palm cultivation can be very hard on the environment and conservationists worry industry expansion could threaten the country’s ecosystems, several of which are among the most biodiverse in the world.Conflict can also be a byproduct of the palm oil industry, with accusations of land-grabbing and even murder reported in many areas around the world where plantations are expanding. Such is the experience of Calderón, who says he knows of several co-union workers who were assassinated allegedly because of their involvement in palm oil workers’ unions.“To be a unionist, in this country and zone, is very difficult,” he says.Calderón, who is legal representative of a local palm workers union, is 48 and has already been working 28 years in the sector. Due to the heavy work, he could not continue in the plantation after a certain point and was reassigned to do a different task. His job now is to sit at a desk conducting quality control of oil palm fruit harvested at the plantation. Despite it being a reprieve from back-breaking labor harvesting fruit, Calderón says he is bored at his current position and laments he still has 14 years to go until his pension kicks in.Labor conditions: “The risk is permanent”Walking through an extraction plant in the Santander department is a hellish experience. Ticking, sizzling and hissing sounds of glowing hot machines dictate the rhythm of the work and the sweat drips from the foreheads of the plant workers who wear jean jackets, protection boots and helmets. A digital thermometer shows the temperature – 42 degrees Celsius (108 Fahrenheit).“The plant is 55 years old,” Calderón says. “It’s an obsolete plant, the risk is permanent.” About 60 to 80 workers are active on a daily basis in the extraction plant, where the palm fruit is cooked and where the palm oil is extracted. The oil is exported all over the world and ends up in many consumer products as biofuel, shampoos, snacks and toothpaste.Clusters of fruit from oil palm trees are cut from trees and collected in an ox-drawn cart. Photo by Bram Ebus for Mongabay.Oil palm fruit is transported by truck to the palm oil processing factory. Photo by Bram Ebus for Mongabay.A palm oil production factory in Magdalena Medio, Colombia. Photo by Bram Ebus for Mongabay.One of the faces between the rusty metal machines belongs to Antonio Ranchero*. “[The company*] needs to improve the security situation because accidents do happen.” A colleague of his reveals a hand that got stuck in a machine; he can no longer feel half of it. Calderón refers to the palm oil extraction plant as a “time-bomb” while he stands on a rusty platform just above a sweltering and humming machine.The work in the extraction plant is hard, risky and exhausting, but plantation work has an even worse reputation. Laura Palanca*, who currently works in reception for the same palm oil company, explains how she was bitten by a venomous snake hiding in a tree while working on an oil palm plantation about a year and a half ago. She says she still suffers from health complications.Most women who work at the plantation are tasked with pollination and herbicide application. Like at the factory, working conditions in the plantation are described as unbearable.“The temperature is really high,” Lyda Monterrey* says. The 45-year-old single mother of two does not wear a respirator or facemask as she sprays the palm fruit, saying is makes her work more difficult. She explained that a mask in front of her face would just fill with sweat. Monterrey said pollinators need to spray a daily quota of 10 hectares of palm trees. She believes the herbicide she sprays on the palm fruit affects her lungs, but she prefers not to wear face protection as it slows her down.Payment is also an issue. Despite working at the plantation,Monterrey says that she is not able to afford the education of both of her children at the same time.A plantation worker applies herbicide to an oil palm tree. Photo by Bram Ebus for Mongabay.Oil palm trees border the factory. Photo by Bram Ebus for Mongabay.Daily quotas set the tone on the plantation, according to workers interviewed by Mongabay, with different quotas for different tasks. They said each plantation worker is obliged to harvest a minimum of around 1,600 kilograms of palm fruit per day. The advantage of working on the plantation, the workers say, is the bonus payment they get if they harvest more than the quota, which gives them an additional bit of income above the minimum wage.But despite the hard work required on the plantation, Calderón says the company only values healthy workers.“The objective of the company is not to have sick workers,” Calderón says. “They are a cost, they become a burden, but we as workers give our lives to this company. We enter at a young age while healthy and we do not think that it is well earned, after giving your life to this company, to be thrown on the streets where nobody will give you work because you left your job as a sick person.” While both Palanca and Calderón were given desk jobs after they became physically unable to perform plantation work, they say they were forced to take a pay cut in their new positions.According to Ximena Alexandra Gómez, with labor protection group Corporación Justicia y Libertad, most workers in the sector do not possess fixed contracts and lose their jobs after having health problems. union pressures won contracts for its workers. But Calderón says a worker whose health becomes impaired may simply be stuck in a lower-paying job.“If one gets sick he receives two punishments. One is the disease and the other is the impairment of the salary,” according to Calderón, who after a lifelong career in palm oil says he now makes about $9 a day. Since all that is grown around his village Puerto Wilches is oil palm, food needs to be imported from other regions and is relatively expensive. To make ends meet, he sells eggs and clothing after a hard day’s work.The palm oil production company that was visited for this report did not respond to requests for comment.Palm oil in post-conflict ColombiaResearch by the government-run National Center of Historical Memory (CNMH) indicates palm oil and forced displacement often go hand-in-hand in at least five Colombian departments. CNMH found violence was aimed both at farmers who had land that was suitable for oil palm cultivation and at union leaders fighting for decent labor conditions and who were considered liabilities by palm oil companies.Calderón says “dark forces” are present in the area and that palm oil is the only industry offering jobs in his region, but that residents are fighting for their rights. “There are still no sufficient guarantees,” he said.A new wave of palm oil expansion may be on the horizon following successful peace negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). After 52 years of guerilla fighting, the FARC officially handed over its weapons to the UN in June 2017 and shifted its identity from an armed group to a political party.“In the peace agreement with the FARC they [are] talking about formalizing and opening up 7 million hectares to give Colombia the big push,” says Daniel Hawkins, director of investigation at the National Syndical School (ENS). “Where you had heavy FARC presence in the past, but now [that] they’ve demobilized it’s gonna open up [the land] for possible use for palm oil.”An oil palm plantation. Photo by Bram Ebus for Mongabay.Large territories that formerly were under the control of FARC guerrillas are now safe to enter. Conservationists worry this might mean a big push by agro-industry, including the palm oil sector.“That’s all gonna be in the departments of Meta, Casanare and Guaviare,” Hawkins said. He added that he didn’t expect much more activity in the Magdalena Medio region, where Calderón lives. “If you look to the Magdalena Medio region, there is not really much in terms of possible extension, because you already have heaps of palm oil there.”One region of particular concern is Colombia’s eastern plains – called the Altillanura. Comprising around 4.5 million hectares, the Altillanura’s acidic soil and conflict with the FARC had made it an inhospitable place for industrial agriculture. But along with FARC demobilization, advances in agricultural technology that could make acidic soil more suitable for crops is also making the region a hotspot for potential agroindustrial expansion.“[We believe] that there is a new offensive of monocrops due to the process in Altillanura lands and other parts of the country where these activities could not enter before because of the conflict,” said Pedro Arenas, director of the Observatory of Crops Declared Illicit, an international network of civil society organizations.Another opportunity for palm oil is to take over where an illicit crop has been grown before – the coca bush, which is the main ingredient of cocaine. After decades of war on drugs yielded insufficient results, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos and the United Nations are approaching coca cultivation and its marginalized farmers through a development angle. In 2016, a U.S. government report found Colombia had at least 188,000 hectares of coca crops – the highest in two decades.An ox peers from beneath the fronds of an oil palm tree. Photo by Bram Ebus for Mongabay.One of the key parts of coca reform is voluntary crop substitution, by which legal crops are grown on fields once used for coca cultivation. Monocrops, as oil palm, have been suggested as substitute crops. Data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) indicate that around 79,800 hectares of palm oil and 11,900 hectares of rubber had been planted via alternative development projects by 2014. The projects are undertaken by the UNODC and other international stakeholders, as well as national and regional Colombian authorities.As peace negotiations with Colombia’s second guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), are under way, more land stands to be secured for new investments like oil palm plantations. Meanwhile, advocacy organizations caution Colombia is facing a grave security crisis for human rights defenders, unionists, community activists, and indigenous and Afro-Colombian leaders, with more than 120 social leaders reportedly killed so far in 2017.“They catch us between two waters … you fight and you die fighting, or you will die from hunger,” Calderón says. “It’s that simple. That’s why we feel the strength to continue. If one day we die with our boots on, we are defending our work and dignity.”last_img read more

Cerrado: can the empire of soy coexist with savannah conservation?

first_imgCattle, Cattle Ranching, Deforestation, Drivers Of Deforestation, Dry Forests, Grasslands, Industrial Agriculture, Land Use Change, Savannas, Tropical Deforestation With new deforestation due to soy production markedly reduced in recent years by Brazilian laws and by the 2006 Amazon Soy Moratorium, agribusiness, transnational commodities companies like Bunge and Cargill, and investors have shifted their attention to the Cerrado, savannah.Four Cerrado states, Maranhão, Tocantins, Piauí and Bahia, known collectively as Matopiba, are seeing a rapid reduction in native vegetation as soy, cotton, corn and cattle production rises. Over half of the Cerrado’s 2 million square kilometers has already been converted to croplands, with large-scale agribusiness owning most land.One reason for the focus on the Cerrado: Brazil’s Forest Code requires that inside Legal Amazonia 80 percent of forests on privately held lands be conserved as Legal Reserves. But in a large portion of the Cerrado, property owners are only required to protect 20 to 35 percent of native vegetation.With little help coming currently from government, conservationists are responding with creative approaches for protection – developing partnerships with local communities, seeking signers for the Cerrado Manifesto to curb new deforestation due to soy, and restoring degraded lands to market the Cerrado’s unique fruits and other produce. Driving deep into the Cerrado, Bahia state, Brazil. Photo by Alicia PragerThis is the second of six stories in a series by journalists Alicia Prager and Flávia Milhorance who travelled to the Cerrado in February for Mongabay to assess the impacts of agribusiness on the region’s environment and people.Soybeans, corn, cotton – seemingly never-ending crops – stretch to the horizon, interrupted often by patches of native vegetation. That’s all there is to see, other than agribusiness signs and big trucks laden with produce as we tool along the arrow-straight asphalt of BR-020 on our 600-kilometer (372 miles) drive northeast from Brasília to Barreiras in Bahia state.That’s the same direction in which Brazil’s agribusiness is expanding as it marches farther and farther, deeper and deeper, into the Cerrado savannah.Over the past half-century technology investment, government subsidies, and cheap, available land have helped Brazil achieve one of the highest agricultural productivity rates in the world. From the 1970s onward, agribusiness grew exponentially in Central and South Brazil. More recently, the commodity sector hotspot has shifted northward into mostly unexploited territory – with predictable deforestation impacts.“It is estimated that the [greatest agricultural] land expansion occurs in areas with great productive potential, such as those of the Cerrado in the region known as Matopiba,” reads a recent Ministry of Agriculture report highlighting optimistic ten-year projections for the country’s agribusiness sector: “Despite its infrastructure shortcomings, [Matopiba] land prices are attractive, the [mild] climate corresponds to that of the Cerrado, and the [topographical] relief is favorable [for industrial cultivation],” says a glowing description in the report.Cerrado soy feeds a booming global soy protein market. Photo by Flávia MilhoranceInside the Matopiba soy empireMatopiba is an acronym for Maranhão, Tocantins, Piauí and Bahia states. It isn’t a familiar place name to most Brazilians, but is well known to large-scale farmers, as it refers succinctly to the nation’s latest agricultural frontier.In Matopiba, the soybean – due to its inexhaustible global market demand – stands head-and-shoulders above every other crop in importance. Soy experienced an astounding increase of 15 percent in occupied farmland in Matopiba between 2016/2017, with soy acreage likely to top 8.4 million hectares (32,432 square miles) by 2026/2027, says the ministry report.Crop monoculture, hampered by environmental laws in the Amazon, has been expanding rapidly into the Cerrado, the biodiversity-rich Brazilian tropical savannah which once covered two million square kilometres (772,204 square miles), an area bigger than Great Britain, France and Germany combined.More than half of the Cerrado’s native vegetation has been lost already to soy, corn, cotton and cattle, and the pace of deforestation here is far faster than in the Amazon today.The Cerrado biome, east and south of the Amazon, is largely made up of flat plateaus, ideal for the heavy machinery used in industrial agribusiness. Photo by Flávia MilhoranceCroplands make heavy demands on Cerrado water. Pictured here is a large-scale irrigation system. Conservationists are concerned about the draining of aquifers due to rapid agribusiness expansion. Photo by Flávia MilhoranceData that we compiled exclusively from Brazil’s Environment Ministry reveals that 65 percent of the Cerrado’s forest loss between 2013 and 2015 occurred inside Matopiba’s four states. Agribusiness-dominated Matopiba municipalities named in the government’s report are top deforestors. They includes Balsas, in Maranhão; Uruçuí and Baixa Grande do Ribeiro, in Piauí; and Formosa do Rio Preto, São Desidério, Correntina and Barreiras, in Bahia. Those localities account for 1,500 square kilometers (nearly 10 percent) of the 17,000 square kilometers deforested in the Cerrado over the 2013-15 period.During our February trip there, we drove more than 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles), exploring those Western Bahia municipalities and observing that the protection of the Cerrado’s environment and wellbeing of its people sometimes seems to stand at odds with the interests of the agribusiness sector. We witnessed ongoing deforestation, land conflicts and negative impacts on water resources, all which we will report about in upcoming stories in this series.The big question to be investigated here: can the Cerrado’s rapid ongoing growth in agricultural productivity coexist alongside the biome’s need for conservation?A gate and lane leading into a Cerrado farm. The region is predominantly occupied by large scale farms, but includes small scale farms as well. Photo by Flávia MilhoranceBrazil’s economic strength built on agribusiness Agribusiness accounted for 23 percent of Brazil’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 44 percent of exports in 2017. And while the country is still in the grip of an ongoing economic crisis, the small recovery the nation has celebrated – a 1 percent increase in GDP last year – is largely credited to the agribusiness boom.The huge boost that the sector provides annually to the Brazilian economy has also allowed it to gain tremendous political clout in the National Congress and the Executive branch, Today, the bancada ruralista, the agribusiness lobby, includes around 200 (40 percent) of congressional deputies. The ruralists have worked consistently to weaken environmental policies and laws.“Their influence is so strong, nothing can be done without their consent in Congress,” says Tiago Reis from the NGO Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM).In Matopiba specifically, the conversion of native vegetation to farmland started slowly, as early as the 1980s, but intensified in the 2000s. Agronomist Deosdete Santiago arrived in Barreiras almost forty years ago, and witnessed the early land rush in Western Bahia. He was brought there by a government project job but soon was “seduced,” he says, by the lure of agribusiness.For years, he sold Monsanto pesticides and witnessed a dramatic growth in the size of farms. “I used to work with small farmers, but today I see the region taking the course of Mato Grosso state, Brazil’s greater agribusiness producer,” Santiago explains. Matopiba’s expansion was driven by large-scale, often absentee landowners. Today, just ten Matopiba firms control an area of one million hectares (3,861 square miles) of farmland. Also, many small producers are tied to larger ones via financing and the selling of their crops, writes economist Julliana Ramos Santiago, whose Masters thesis documented agribusiness expansion in Western Bahia.The Cerrado, the second largest biome in Brazil after the Amazon, possesses perfect soils and climate for growing soy, cotton and corn. However, these crops are fed by chemical fertilizers and protected by chemical pesticides, which can pollute rivers and aquifers. Photo by Flávia MilhoranceForest losses in the Cerrado biome, 2000 to 2014. Please click the map for the interactive version. Credit: Willie Shubert  / Map for EnvironmentThe state’s support for the industry in the Cerrado has been intermittent over the years. But in 2015, the Ministry of Agriculture launched a plan to address the lack of infrastructure there and give a boost to farming. Katia Abreu, a politician and cattle breeder from Tocantins state, (as well as the agriculture minister under the Rousseff administration at the time), was put in charge of the infrastructure project. Abreu spread the word to international investors that the Cerrado was open for agricultural expansion.But Rousseff’s impeachment in 2016 changed regional priorities. When Michel Temer took over as president, he extinguished the Matopiba infrastructure program and appointed a new agriculture minister, Blairo Maggi, a politician and large-scale soy grower from Mato Grosso state. Maggi quickly shifted the new administration’s attention to his home state, and sought an increase of investments there. During our travels, we saw partially built railroad and thermoelectric government projects abandoned in São Desidério, Bahia. The Ministry of Agriculture was contacted by Mongabay about this issue, and about the challenges in Matopiba in general, but it didn’t reply to questions.Despite Brasília’s pivot away from the Matopiba region, the expansion northward spurred by Agriculture Minister Abreu has continued, driven by the agribusiness elite, investors, and transnational commodities companies.Farmland investors have rushed to buy land in Matopiba, where soybean production alone has grown by 250 percent in the last decade. And Congress has taken notice: a law currently being reviewed by the legislature (279/16) could give the sector a boost. If approved, it would create the Matopiba Agency, with the goal of strengthening the region’s agribusiness position.A small farm close to Correntina, Bahia state. While soy is king in the Cerrado, cattle ranching also plays a significant role. Photo by Alicia PragerCerrado’s weak protections, growing weaker The bancada ruralista, operating from a position of power in the Congress and within the Temer administration, currently is winning in its effort to boost agribusiness profits while reducing environmental protections, according to conservationists questioned on the matter.The most recent of those battles was won in the courts this year, when the constitutionality of the New Forest Code, legislated in 2012 with the help of the bancada ruralista, was upheld by Brazil’s Supreme Court. The 2012 code, far weaker than the original 1965 forest code, requires that 80 percent of forests on privately held lands be conserved as Legal Reserves, inside Legal Amazonia. However, in a large portion of the Cerrado, property owners are only required to protect 20-35 percent of native vegetation on their lands. This lower ratio of protected-to-cultivated land is a huge reason why the Cerrado has been drawing so much agribusiness attention since 2012.“It is dramatic what is happening,” says Edegar de Oliveira, coordinator of the agriculture and food program at WWF-Brazil, an NGO. “The Cerrado is not being protected by conservation parks nor by the Forest Code.”While environmentalists lament the weak legal protections given the Cerrado, agronomist Fernando Sampaio complains of the law’s stringency. He believes that the New Forest Code represents “one of the most strict conservationists’ laws on the planet” because environmental laws in other nations do not force landowners to set aside portions of their priavate property as Legal Reserves for the preservation of native vegetation, as Brazil does.“Imagine telling a Texan or Australian farmer he can’t use 20, 50 or 80 percent of [his or her] private land! This is unthinkable,” says Sampaio, who is executive-director of the Mato Grosso state project, “Strategy of Producing, Conserving and Embracing.”“The problem,” says Sampaio, is that Brazil is putting “on the shoulders of one part of society, the farmers, all the cost for [protecting] the climate, water and biodiversity, [responsibilities] which belong to everyone.”Sampaio suggests that instead the government should give compensation to farmers who don’t deforest lands which they could legally otherwise convert to crops. He also urges that the government create new protected areas with available but unused public land. Currently, a mere 7.5 percent of the Cerrado has officially been conserved, while nearly 50 percent of the Amazon is under some form of protection, either as government administered conservation units or as indigenous preserves.Importantly, illegal deforestation in both the Amazon and Cerrado remain a very serious problem, a crisis made worse by waning enforcement efforts due to deep budget cuts at IBAMA, and other Brazilian agencies charged with forest protection.A forested area surrounded by pasture and cropland. Most Cerrado property owners are required to protect 20-35 percent of native vegetation on their lands. While some environmentalists would like to see that percentage increased, farmers point out that the U.S. and other countries do not have similarly restrictive laws regulating private property use. Photo by Alicia PragerSaving Matopiba’s natural landscapeAs the agriculture frontier expands, and legal protections remain weak, a host of international, national and regional environmental NGOs have stepped up to try and protect the Cerrado. One strategy is to establish close relationships with local players in order to better surveil and safeguard the forest landscape.Edegar de Oliveira travelled with a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) expedition to Matopiba last year, which resulted in a WWF-Brazil report containing recommendations for responsible investments by companies producing or acquiring commodities. Oliveira believes that, properly encouraged, there is a possibility of achieving the dual goals of Cerrado agribusiness and conservationists, but only through careful attention. The WWF expedition witnessed some environmentally responsible soy producers, he says, but also some “very traumatic ones.”Researchers say that Brazil’s agricultural productivity could easily be increased, while at the same time conserving the Cerrado and not expanding deforestation. For example, cattle sector productivity in the Matopiba region is very low, according to a report by the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. An increase in cattle farm productivity could allow unused pasture to be converted to soy. Agribusiness could also generate more growth by avoiding new deforestation and utilizing already degraded lands for soy, corn, cotton and other crops.“The pieces of the puzzle are already on the table,” says Bernardo Strassburg, founder of the International Institute for Sustainability in Rio de Janeiro. Key policies just need to be enforced and readjusted here and there, he urges.Among suggested changes are better enforcement of the New Forest Code, as well as an expansion of the already successful Amazon Soy Moratorium (ASM) to the Cerrado. The ASM, achieved in 2006 via a coalition of environmental groups and commodities companies, has been a key factor in reducing deforestation due to new Amazon soy farms. The Cerrado Manifesto, a similar voluntary agreement, was recently proposed, but it has so far received support mostly from international food retailers and fast food chains. Critically, to date it has failed to gain backing from the big transnational commodities companies such as Bunge or Cargill.Environmentalists like Strassburg and de Oliveira say that there are numerous other policies on the table, whose implementation will be crucial to save the savannah biome.While in the Cerrado, we reached out to the Association of Farmers and Irrigators of Bahia (AIBA), based in Barreiras and representing 1,300 producers in the region. AIBA didn’t receive us, nor did they reply to our emailed questions.Already degraded Cerrado lands could offer an opportunity for agribusiness expansion without causing further deforestation. Photo by Alicia PragerHome grown Cerrado solutionsDeosdete Santiago told us that he gave up his work with Monsanto in the 1990s, after he realized that the sale of agribusiness pesticides, used in very large amounts on soy, was a “heavy game” and a “harming dazzle” that was “full of contradictions.”“I decided to change to simpler things,” Santiago explains. We met him at his family-owned business, a farming tool store in Barreiras. He was most eager to show us a small cafe and food market tucked in one corner of his store. There he serves food produced by traditional communities and made from the Cerrado’s native plants – more than 10,000 species grow there, including fruits and other produce known nowhere else in the world. Santiago thinks these foods could be cultivated instead of so much soy. The native foods cafe is part of Santiago’s latest endeavor, what he calls, the Mundo Lindo (Beautiful World) Foundation.But building public awareness of the savannah’s natural worth is a slow process, he says. “We try hard, but probably you won’t see anybody coming in here today.” A main goal of Santiago’s foundation is to restore deforested areas surrounding the Cerrado’s natural springs. Water, he explains, is one of the region’s most valuable resources, and one in great danger of harm from agribusiness. “The math of economic growth cannot disregard this liability, which is only increasing through the years.”FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.Deosdete Santiago operates a cafe and food shop that sells sustainably grown regional products. He thinks that if farmers actively grew and marketed the Cerrado’s native fruits and produce, they could diversify their agricultural production, which would help protect both the local economy and the environment. Photo by Alicia Prager Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img Article published by Glenn Schererlast_img read more

Why the differentiation now?

first_imgDear Editor,No one should be surprised, not even the motion mover and seconder, by the recent and alarming declaration made by a senior politician and Georgetown City Councillor; who said that an Alliance For Change (AFC)-sponsored no-confidence motion against the Town Clerk of Georgetown is likely to be defeated because A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Councillors were not properly consulted.I have not, in a long time, heard such utter nonsense muttered by someone who ought to know better. Did the AFC and APNU not enter the Georgetown Municipality as a coalition party? Why the differentiation now?Is this political elder and rabble rouser saying that his party members who are Councillors are unable to vote with their consciences, but rather are shackled to toeing the purported party line at the expense of the city and its citizens? Come on, this is 2018, not the 1960s.But the question to be asked is whether his declaration was made purely out of self- interest?In the interest of readers’ awareness and understanding of what obtains at City Hall, and how immoral they are there, it should be noted that both gentlemen, the subject of the no-confidence motion and the Councillor who is advocating that the motion be defeated due to his and his colleagues not being properly consulted, are both members of the notorious ‘Fantastic Four’ or ‘Fabulous Four’ gang, which has now become the ‘Terrible Trio’ or the ‘Terrific Triumvirate’ gang with the recent demise of one of their cohorts.Let’s face it: whistleblowers are hardly lining up to rat out the mob. Not members of the clan, not ex-Mafiosi with a bone to pick, not victims of extortion rackets. Why? Because of the ancient tradition of omertà, the unwritten code of honour that you’ll never utter a word about the family, or expect retaliation. Fear has, for decades, kept organised crime as a flourishing industry.And everyone knows that the Georgetown City Council has, over the last two and a half to three years, become a gangsters’ paradise.This brings us to the question that has been asked for years now by members of the legal fraternity, and that is: if you encourage someone to kill, are you guilty of murder?In the interest of the Town Clerk not being given a “Get out of Jail Free” card by some politicians for reasons best known to them, in spite of all of the well-known offences that he has committed, and which are prudently enunciated in the motion, I ask that all Councillors do as John Quincy Adams once said, and that is: “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.Best regards,Sambu Jacobuslast_img read more

Garda raid uncovers almost €80,000 worth of cannabis in house in West Donegal

first_imgA substantial amount of cannabis has been uncovered during a raid at a house in West Donegal earlier today.More than €76,000 worth of the drug was found when Gardai raided a house in Derrybeg.It is not believed that the drugs were part of a grow house which has been the case during many recent finds in Donegal. However, it is believed the drugs were packaged and were ready for sale or distribution across the county.The raid followed intelligence which led Gardai to the house in which the drugs were found.As well as members of the Garda National Drugs Unit, members of the Organised Crime Bureau and Customs officers took part in the operation.Gardai have not disclosed if anybody was arrested as part of the operation. Garda raid uncovers almost €80,000 worth of cannabis in house in West Donegal was last modified: March 22nd, 2019 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:cannabisdrugsWest Donegallast_img read more

GMSA ‘investing in South Africa’s future’

first_imgGMSA’s new parts distribution centre, a massive 38 000-square metre structure, represents a total investment of R250-million and is home to 120 employees. It aims to optimise storage and logistical operations and accelerate the distribution of parts and accessories to GMSA’s 139 local dealers, as well as to Israel and 10 other African countries. Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material Uplifting lives of communities Speaking at the opening of General Motors South Africa’s new parts distribution centre at Coega outside Port Elizabeth, Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Elizabeth Thabathe commended GMSA for helping to educate its employees and their communities, and urged other multinationals to follow suit. Investing in education was also an investment in the future of the country, the deputy minister said, urging “other multinational and transnational companies [to] emulate the example set by GMSA, its holding company and partners worldwide”. General Motors Africa MD Edgar Lourencon, also speaking at the opening, said that General Motors SA had invested over R100-million in the education of its employees and their children since 2004. SAinfo reporter “It is very encouraging to note the efforts of General Motors South Africa towards the education of their workers, their families and communities, as well as in poverty alleviation initiatives within the communities in which [it] operates,” Thabathe said at the official opening of the centre in the Coega industrial development zone last week. Thabethe said GMSA had evolved not only as an employer but as a major player and contributor to uplifting the lives of communities around it through its corporate social responsibility programme. The government was please to witness the continued contribution of companies such as GMSA to South Africa’s automotive industry, she said. 19 November 2010last_img read more

SA ‘to be palaeoscience world leader’

first_img The Wits centre became the ninth centre of excellence in the country. “Apart from knowledge development, a major outcome of this centre is without a doubt human capital development at different levels, from semi-skilled through to professional, and the creation of expertise and careers in newly developing fields such as palaeotourism,” Hanekom said. The centres of excellence programme forms part of government interventions being introduced to strengthen research capacity in palaeosciences and encourage a thriving research environment. “Because of its ancient rock history, [South Africa] has a remarkably diverse palaeontological and archaeological heritage, which includes the earliest evidence of life, a rich record of the origins of fish, reptiles, early dinosaurs, mammals, and it has an amazing record of distant human origins and culture,” Rubidge said. “The establishment of the Centre of Excellence for Palaeosciences will enable Wits University and its partners to explore this heritage and establish South Africa as world leader in this field of research.” SAinfo reporter 12 April 2013 The launch of the Centre of Excellence for Palaeosciences at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg will help establish South Africa as a world leader in this field, says Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom. Hanekom launched the centre on Thursday in association with its partners: the National Research Foundation, the University of Cape Town, Iziko Museum in Cape Town, the National Museum in Bloemfontein, Albany Museum in Grahamstown and Ditsong Museum in Pretoria. The opening came after two years of research and public consultation led by the Science and Technology and Arts and Culture Departments. “The Centre of Excellence partnership between Wits and our South African partner institutions will comprise some 30 scientists and many more students and technical personnel, as well as established international research partnerships, making this one of the largest palaeoscience collaborations in the world,” the head of the centre, Professor Bruce Rubidge, said in a statement. Some of the activities to be carried out by the centre include research on the development of new knowledge and technology, education and training, networking across national and international boundaries and knowledge sharing, among others.‘Preserving and developing knowledge’ “With our geographic location comes the responsibility to protect, preserve and develop knowledge about our abundant fossil wealth,” Hanekom said at the launch. “This strategy for the Palaeosciences sets out some of what the South African government plans to do to meet its responsibility in this regard.” The Centres of Excellence programme was introduced in 2004 as part of the National Research and Development Strategy.last_img read more

10 months agoNice chief Julien Fournier a target for Southampton

first_imgTagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Nice chief Julien Fournier a target for Southamptonby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveNice chief Julien Fournier is a target for Southampton.The Daily Mail says Fournier, the general manager of French club Nice, is lined up to be the next director of football at Southampton.The vastly experienced 44-year-old who played a key role in persuading Patrick Vieira to become Nice’s manager, has worked previously as secretary general of Marseille and was the youngest president of Strasbourg.Southampton sacked Les Reed as vice-chairman in November and technical director Martin Hunter.The club’s Chinese owner, Gao Jisheng and his family, who took control in the summer of last year, have been working on a restructure of the club after appointing highly-rated Ralph Hasenhuttl as manager. last_img read more

5-Star Wide Receivers Could Be Following No. 1 QB Tate Martell To Ohio State

first_imgThe No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the country committed to Ohio State this evening and with his pledge, a five-star wide receiver (or two or three) could be following him to Columbus. Tate Martell, a four-star quarterback in the 2017 class out of Las Vegas, announced his commitment to Ohio State on Twitter. The 5-foot-10, 203-pound prospect out of Bishop Gorman (Nevada) is very close with Tyjon Lindsey, a five-star wide receiver in the same class. They played together at Bishop Gorman before Lindsey moved back to California this winter. Lindsey congratulated Martell on Twitter regarding his commitment. Martell responded, “You are next!” OMM I HAD NO IDEA THIS WAS COMING..CONGRATS TATE MAN NO MATTER WHAT WE’RE ALWAYS BROTHERS, TOGETHER OR NOT. Love u https://t.co/fs6kw8Z08x— Tyjon A. Lindsey ® (@tyjonlindsey) June 13, 2016Thanks bro! You are next! https://t.co/GtChALHEPf— Tate Martell (@TheTateMartell) June 13, 2016There has long been speculation that Martell and Lindsey will end up playing for the same school. Ohio State has now obviously added half of the potential package deal and the Buckeyes are believed to be the favorite to land the other half. Lindsey, a speedy 5-foot-8 wideout out of California, is currently crystal-balled to Ohio State. 247Sports.247Sports.He recently did this at Rivals’ 5-Star Challenge. HOUSE CALL . #RivalsChallenge WR MVP @RivalsCamp pic.twitter.com/g3cStTWmMg— Tyjon A. Lindsey ® (@tyjonlindsey) June 12, 2016Martell will surely be recruiting Lindsey to Columbus, but the Corona, Calif. product won’t be the only five-star wide receiver the quarterback tries to push to the Buckeyes.  Jeremy Birmingham of Eleven Warriors says five-star wide receivers Trevon Grimes and Donovan Peoples-Jones will also be a “priority” for Martell.  Martell (@TheTateMartell) will three five-star WRs his priority: Trevon Grimes, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Tyjon Lindsey.— Jeremy Birmingham (@Birm) June 13, 2016Peoples-Jones (No. 6), Grimes (No. 28) and Lindsey (No. 30) are all ranked in the top 30 of 247Sports’ Composite Rankings for 2017.Ohio State’s 2017 class is the No. 1 class in the country. MORE FROM COLLEGE SPUN:The 10 Most Aggressive Fan Bases In CFBIn Photos: Golfer Paige SpiranacESPN Makes Decision On Dick Vitalelast_img read more

Hospital Foundation announces two new team members

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Fort St. John Hospital Foundation announced last week that two new members have joined their team.Foundation executive director Niki Hedges said that Jessica Cotton has been brought on to serve as the Foundation’s new Special Events and Administration Coordinator, while Megan Brooks will be working in Donor Relations.Cotton previously spent the past two years on the provincial executive board for Kin Canada and a member and past president of our local Kin Club, to raise funds and equity for associations including Kin Canada, Cystic Fibrosis Canada, STARS Air Ambulance, the Hal Rogers Endowment Fund, among others. She also ran some of the local Kin Club’s events, including RocKin the Peace 2018 and the 2019 Kin Convention.Most of Brooks’ family lives in Fort St. John and have been entrepreneurs and landowners since the community was founded. Her great-grandfather opened the very first general store in Fort St. John originally located in his log cabin, when his business expanded he decided to open up shop where Whole Wheat & Honey is today. Brooks has a background of small business as a Graphic Designer and headed, designed and implemented several promotional and marketing campaigns and had also worked as a care aide for adults with developmental disabilities.The Foundation also announced several big upcoming events in October and November.Shoppers Drug Mart “Women in Health” Fundraiser for the Fort St. John Hospital Foundation, October 6th – November 2ndThe Annual West Jet Raffle, Friday, October 12thBe an Angel Gala at the Pomeroy Hotel and Conference Centre, Saturday, November 3rdThe 15th Annual Moose FM “Light a Moose Radiothon” November 28th – 30thThe Foundation will also be hosting its Annual General Meeting on September 19th. In order to be eligible to vote at the AGM, a $10 fee must be paid at least 30 days in advance, with the deadline set for August 17th.last_img read more