In this post, Rob Little provides his video version of Mongabay’s environmental news for the week of April 30.
STORY 1: Cambodian activist Chut Wutty was shot dead by military police at an illegal logging site last week. His death is a tragic casualty in the conflict arising between aggressive logging companies and communities dependent on the health of the forest. Corrupt soldiers, pocket-lining politicians, and relentless logging companies are the main causes of Cambodia’s deforestation. Chut Wutty knew the risks he was taking yet he also knew the people he represented would not be survive unless someone stood up against the deforestation juggernaut.
STORY 2: Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment is planning to sue 14 pulp and paper companies for illegally clearing forest land in Riau Province on the Island of Sumatra. 2 pulp and paper giants have been linked to 12 of the 14 companies under investigation. These two companies have been heavily criticized for destroying critical rainforests and peatlands. Their names are Asia Pulp and Paper and Asian Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited.
According to Tempo, the Ministry of Environment is preparing to pursue this claim as a civil suit, which was originally closed as legal case under pressure from National Police officials in 2008. The Ministry of Forestry is opposing the lawsuit, yet as of February the Ministry of Environment said it was looking into allegations. Damages include illegally logged timber, carbon emissions, degradation of water sources, erosion, soil damage, and biodiversity loss. In all these damages are estimated to cost the country $225 billion.
STORY 3: Just how far can a polar bear swim? They can actually swim incredible distances. According to a new study published in zoology, polar bears regularly swim over thirty miles a day and in one case as far as to hundred and twenty miles. Researchers believe that the polar bear’s ability to tackle such long distance swims may help it survive as seasonal sea ice vanishes due to climate change.
STORY 4: Many communities living in and around tropical forests remain highly dependent on the forest, yet relatively few products have been successfully commercialized in ways that generate sustained local benefits. When commercialization does happen, outsiders or only a select few insiders reap the benefits. In some cases this exploitation has lead to resource depletion or conversion of forests into a stretch single crop. This monoculture model destroys the diversity of the forest. Eco Ola, a group in Peru is now using a form of farming known as permaculture. This method mimics the structure of a natural forest in order to maintain balance. Their model includes a canopy of timber and fruit trees, an understory of bananas and chocolate trees, and a shrub layer of herbs, beans, and peppers. Eco Ola is competing against many greenwashing companies, yet their success may break the destructive cycle of slash and burn subsistence farming.