Protecting forests is essential to safeguard biodiversity and mitigate climate change, writes Protect the Forest in its feedback on EU's 2030 Climate Target Plan.

Protect the Forest has given feedback on EU's 2030 Climate Target Plan.

Read the full feedback from Protect the Forest here:

There is a climate and biodiversity crisis in the world, and a catastrophic future lies ahead. Both crises are intertwined. Protecting and restoring forests is essential. Natural forests store large amounts of carbon. If they are cut down, carbon is released to the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide emissions from bioenergy are considered as zero emissions. However, bioenergy is not carbon-neutral. The burning of bioenergy emits carbon dioxide immediately which contributes to the greenhouse effect just like fossil fuels. The atmosphere does not differentiate between different sources of carbon. It takes many years to compensate for these carbon emissions: in a 50-100 year perspective, biofuels can even have larger climate impact than fossil fuels.

In order to mitigate climate change, everything possible should be done to prevent carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere. The use of both bioenergy and fossil fuels need to be reduced. The purported climate benefits of biofuels need to be re-evaluated urgently.

By decreasing harvest rates and protecting older natural forests, carbon will continue to be absorbed and stored in the soil. Emissions from forest harvesting are not fully accounted for in greenhouse gas emission inventory reports. Instead, harvested wood products, which include paper products and wood used for energy, are considered as carbon dioxide removals. The concept of replacing natural forests with plantations and harvested wood products to create sinks and mitigate climate change is false, as it fails to account for the carbon lost from the destroyed natural forest and when wood is used for energy.

The urgency needs to be acknowledged. According to IPCC, the net emissions of greenhouse gases need to decrease with about 50 % globally by 2030 in order to avoid a global mean temperature increase of 1,5 C above pre-industrial levels. It generally takes 50-100 years for felled trees in the boreal region to grow back and re-absorb the emitted carbon dioxide. In e.g. Sweden, about 80 % of the annual harvest is used for bioenergy, paper and other short-lived products, which increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for decades. If the increase of carbon to the atmosphere continues and the temperature increases with more than 2-3 degrees C as compared to-pre industrial levels, there is a major risk that climate tipping points will be reached where changes can become uncontrolled and practically irreversible.

Climate policy measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

• Protect at least 30 % of the forest land in the EU. The forests should be ecologically representative and well connected.
• Prioritize and incentivize protection of all remaining primary and natural forests including peat-land forests. All forest biotopes under the EU Habitats Directive must have a favorable conservation status in the EU.
• Re-direct EU subsidies for cutting and burning wood to protecting and restoring natural forests.
• Restore wetlands on drained peat-lands, since they emit a lot of greenhouse gases.
• Implement full accounting of the full climate impact of biofuels.
• Harvested wood products (HWPs) should not be considered as carbon sinks - it risks leading to increased harvesting rates without accounting for the emissions caused by the forest felling.
• Support and promote the use of nature-oriented and continuous cover forestry to decrease the release of greenhouse gases from soil. However, high conservation value forests should be exempted from forestry, not felled.
• Promote natural regeneration and favor mixed forests with a greater proportion of deciduous trees.
• Produce less short-lived forest products since these require a lot of energy to produce and release carbon to the atmosphere rapidly. Prioritize long-lived products instead.
• Reduce the energy consumption and reduce the consumption of paper, forest products and other natural resources. Promote energy efficiency and recycling.

See references in the attachment here.

The full feedback on EU's 2030 Climate Target Plan can also be read here.

More than 100 social leaders from across Colombia have already been assassinated in 2020. Between March 19 and 20, 2020, in the course of 24 hours, three social leaders in Colombia were murdered.

One of the victims were Ivo Humberto Bracamonte Quiroz, the social leader of Norte de Santander Department near the Venezuelan border. In another attack, Ángel Ovidio Quintero, a young social leader of Antioquia, was killed. Marco Rivadeneira was a social leader of Putumayo and worked for over 15 years as a leader of peasant and social organizations in Colomibia. He was participating in a meeting with peasant leaders when armed men barged into the meeting and forced Marcos to leave with them. He was later assassinated.

More than 100 social leaders from across Colombia have already been assassinated in 2020. Since the peace agreements between the National Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia were signed in 2016, over 800 social leaders and human rights defenders have been assassinated in what organizations deem a genocide.

Protect the Forest condemns the murders of the three social leaders in Colombia.

“Our thoughts go to the victims, their families and the environmental and social movements that have lost three dedicated leaders,” said Elin Götmark, spokesperson, Protect the Forest.

Read a joint statement from Comité Colombia, Foro Social Panamazónico, on Censat Agua Viva - Friends of the Earth Colombia's website regarding the death of Marco Rivadeneira here (in Spanish).

Forest with wood anemones (Anemone nemorosa). Foto: Birgitta Tulin.

Today, the 21st of March, is the United Nations’ International Day for Forests.

The forest is home to about 80 percent of the world's terrestrial species.

The forests comprise over 60,000 known tree species.

Deforestation continues at an alarming rate, causing large emissions of greenhouse gases.

What makes a tree a tree?

What makes a tree a tree? Despite numerous studies, scientists are still struggling to nail down the defining traits of these tall and long-lived woody plants. The world's oldest tree, according to the article's author, is a Pinus longaeva, which is 5,067 years old. The world's largest tree in volume of total wood is Sequoiadendron giganteum, and the tallest is Sequoia sempervirens, and both of them are thousands of years old. A Populus tremuloides clone has been estimated to be 80,000 years old. In Sweden there is Old Tjikko, Picea abies, a clone that is 9,550 years old.

Nevertheless, the scientists cannot point to any particular set of genes that confer tree-ness. The author of the article suggests that it may be time to start thinking of tree as a verb, rather than a noun. Tree-ing, or tree-ifying, like swimming or flying, with no finish in sight until a lightning, a pest, or a forest machine ends the tree-ing.

The Panamazónico Social Forum (FOSPA) will be held in the city of Mocoa, Colombia, on the 13-16th of November 2020. It was supposed to be held on the 22-25th of March 2020 but is postponed till November due to COVID-19. Mocoa is located in the Amazon rainforest region of Colombia.

In March 2017, a large landslide caused by rains overflowed the Mocoa River and its tributaries Sangoyaco and Mulatos. The tragedy killed 254 people.

Several organizations from 9 countries of the Amazon and over 1800 people are registered to participate in FOSPA 2020. Some current initiatives in FOSPA are: River defense articulation, climate change and the Amazon, report on the panamazonic conflicts, defense of body and territory of the Andean Amazonian women, intercultural education, food security and sovereignty, companies and human rights in Panamazónia, as well as democratization of communication for good living.

Villages, communities, processes and a comprehensiveness of social actors who inhabit the Andean Amazon, as well as those who hold the territory important and are socially committed to action, investigation, oversight and analysis, are invited to participate in Forum, where work is interweaven in recognizing diversities. Everyone is invited to be an active part of the Social Forum Panamazónic, to strengthening initiatives for the defense and survival in Amazonian territories.

By the life, We defend the Amazon!

If you want to learn more about Panamazónico Social Forum, watch this on YouTube.

Read more about the Panamazónico Social Forum here.

One of the forests planned for logging at Maskaure. Photo: Björn Mildh

The state-owned forestry company Sveaskog will sell and harvest a total of 2,600 hectares of woodland in Maskaure Sami village in Arjeplog municipality, Norrbotten, Sweden. This is no coincidence, write Leif Lundberg from Maskaure Sami village, Johanna Nilsson, Marcus Lidström and Björn Mildh all three members of Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, in an open letter to Sveaskog. The Sami 'no' vote must be respected and the remaining grazing and natural forests should be saved, not clear-cut, they write. Here is the open letter to Sveaskog:

Dear Eva and Viveka,

Again, we turn to you so that we are ensured to receive a relevant answer.

Sveaskog's planned land sale can be seen on the company's website and the sales this year include 10,400 hectares. More than 9,000 hectares of the forest land is located in the county of Norrbotten.

In the consultation with Sveaskog Maskaure Sami village said no for the first time ever to Sveaskog's 17 planned loggings in the village's reindeer grazing forests. The reason they said no was not to create contradictions but because of the ever increasing lack of reindeer grazing forests, especially winter grazing.

The reindeer are starving. Almost all Sami villages are in the same, difficult predicament because of forestry. It is not possible to conduct reindeer husbandry without pastures and these pastures are in the forests which are planned for logging.

For the same reason, the Sami village publicly protested against Sveaskog's continued sale of woodland. Especially since the sale is done without any consultation, over the heads of the Sami. 9,720 hectares have already been sold. The forest land which is sold is usually harvested and the soil is prepared for plantations. This is the worst option for the reindeer grazing pastures!

We are aware that Sveaskog has a mission to sell 10% of its land holdings. But the company can choose which land it puts up for sale.

Dear Eva and Viveka,

How can it be that Sveaskog just this year wants to sell 5 + 1 forest properties in Maskaure Sami village, a total of 2,200 hectares? (one forest, the sixth, has just been planned, it is 400 hectares but not on the website yet).

Are the Board of Directors and management of Sveaskog clear about the company's planned land sale?

In addition, Sveaskog wants to have consultations to harvest 32 natural forests of about 400 hectares within the reindeer pastures of the Sami village. All together that is 2,600 hectares!

It is not a coincidence that the all-state company Sveaskog this year wants to sell and log a total of 2,600 hectares of woodland in the same Sami village, Maskaure, the village that dared to say no to the company.

Sveaskog, you are acting deeply unjustly against our indigenous people. No forests shall be sold without an equal consultation in beforehand.

The Sami's no is to be respected.

The remaining grazing and natural forests must be saved, not cut.

Leif Lundberg, Maskaure Sami village

Johanna Nilsson, member of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation in Luleå

Marcus Lidström, Chairman, Norrbotten County Association

Björn Mildh, member of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation