GFW News Roundup: Forest stories from around the world that demonstrate the power of spatial analysis and open data in improving management of forest landscapes

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Top Reads of the Week

Agribusiness steps up for forests. Bunge, one of the world’s largest palm oil companies, joined a number of corporate giants when it announced a zero-deforestation palm oil policy last week. According to advocacy groups, this policy could have an especially large impact in reducing deforestation and related emissions, as Bungie sources an outsize proportion of its palm oil from peat-rich regions of Sarawak, Malaysia. (via Mongabay)

New IPCC report highlights threats, opportunities for world’s forests in a changing climate. The newest report from the world’s leading climate scientists points to deforestation and land use change as a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.  It also warns of increasing threats to forests and stored carbon from climate change, expressed through drought, fires and pests. The IPCC does estimate, however, that halting deforestation and promoting reforestation can provide between 24-30 percent of total mitigation potential. (via Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)

“The only truly uninhabited place is Antarctica.” Ninety three percent of economic concessions for logging, mining, oil and gas and agriculture  in eight tropical forest countries overlap with Indigenous Peoples or local communities, setting the stage for conflict over land and forest resources, according to a new analysis from RRI. These concessions accounted for 40% of Peru’s land area and 30% of Indonesia’s, respectively. (via Rights and Resources Initiative)

Intercepting illegal wood. Interpol and the World Customs Organization seized $20.6 million worth of illegally sourced wood (15,000 cubic meters) from Peru this week, just a month ahead of the country hosting of the UN Climate Conference. (via E&E ClimateWire)

Land-use change and deforestation

Politics at play in the Amazon. A new background paper from the Center for Global Development dives into the domestic politics that enabled Brazil’s unprecedented reversal in deforestation over the past decade, highlighting the role of political will. The question now becomes: will Brazil’s politics now reverse those gains? (via Center for Global Development)

Jokowi shakes up his cabinet. Less than two weeks into his tenure as Indonesia’s president, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo merged the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Forestry together and appointed Siti Nurbaya Bakar to lead the new agency. While it is unclear what the implications of this merger will be, environmental groups such as Greenpeace and Indonesian Forum for the Environment are concerned that the monitoring capacity of the Forestry Ministry will be diminished. (via Mongabay)

All-time, top-ten most memorable trees. The United Kingdom is voting for its ‘tree of the year’ from a list of ten notable trees, ranging from the apple tree that inspired Newton’s theory of gravity to a tree that sheltered Robin Hood to a yew tree where the Magna Carta was signed. The Woodland Trust, who is sponsoring the contest, hopes to set up a trust to protect the historic trees. (via the Guardian)

Land tenure and indigenous rights

Indigenous groups push back in Peru. The Shipibo community of Korin Bari, an indigenous group in the Peruvian Amazon, is suing the government to gain a formal land title for their traditional lands. This case follows the early September murder of four community leaders in nearby Saweto who were likewise attempting to formally title their village. (via the Ecologist)

A missing perspective. In her keynote address to the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) last month, Carole Colfer of CIFOR urged the forestry community to better integrate gender into their research. Forestry institutions “have been ignoring the potential contribution of half the world’s population,” according to Colfer. Watch the address here. (via CIFOR)

Industry and forests

New palm oil certification body. Malaysia’s green palm oil certification scheme will launch in January 2015, according to Malaysia’s plantation industries and commodities minister. The Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification framework, delayed since last year, will be latest palm oil certification scheme, along with the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) certification and the industry-standard Roundtable on Responsible Palm Oil (RSPO). (via Yahoo! Finance)

Fashionable forests. Clothing brands Levi Strauss, Marks & Spencer, Portico Brands, and ASOS have pledged to go deforestation-free. These brands join twenty five others (Zara, H&M and Patagonia among them) that have committed to eliminating fabrics that contain high-risk wood fibers. Learn more about how dissolving pulp used in textiles is driving deforestation at Mongabay. (via Environmental Leader)

Red tape gets in the way of zero deforestation. Government policies are getting in the way of sustainable practices by major companies, according to new commentary from Reuters AlertNet. These companies believe that smarter regulations, and an increase in overall enforcement of forest laws, is necessary to halt deforestation.  (via Thomson Reuters Foundation)

REDD+, forests and climate change

Mitigation, meet adaptation. A new study based on research in Cameroon and the Congo Basin suggests that climate adaptation and mitigation need to be integrated more closely. Farmers facing changing climate and crop production will expand arable land by clearing forest, researchers predict, eliminating potential benefits from REDD+ programs. Thus, unified policy approaches are necessary. (Via CIFOR at Thomson Reuters Foundation)

Remote sensing for the environment

Local maps from above.short documentary shows how drones are being used for participatory mapping in the Setulang community of North Kalimantan, Indonesia. Community leaders hope that the maps will protect local forest reserves from the encroachment of oil palm growers. (via Vimeo)