Rainforest Destruction – the Problem and the Solution

The Congo and Amazon Basins make up the largest area of rainforest on this planet, home to approximately 60 million people, including several million indigenous peoples (IPs) who are dependent upon the forest for their livelihoods.

In some areas, the very existence of rainforest is evidence that forest communities are not only effective forest managers, but have skills and familiarity with environmental protection that others could learn from. However, such skills and knowledge are frequently not recognised and these peoples are often wrongly accused of being responsible for forest degradation. Industrial logging, agricultural clearances, oil and gas exploration, government policies and even nature conservation efforts are evicting the very people from the forest who have been its custodians for centuries, displacing and marginalizing forest dwelling communities.

Lacking official identity papers, forest peoples are often not recognised as citizens. Without this recognition it is hard for them to even claim the most basic rights. Most indigenous and other forest communities lack secure rights to the lands they have inhabited and protected for hundreds, even thousands of years. Where they do have rights on paper, they’re rarely implemented in practice, meaning that crucial rights of communities to own lands are not recognised at all.

Consequently, decisions about the forest are often taken without any thought on existing rights, and communities are marginalized and excluded, frequently losing land, homes and livelihoods in the process. Many suffer genocide, land theft, high mortality rates and human rights abuse; and have been pushed out of their rainforest homes and now live on the side of roads.

It has been well documented that forest communities’ knowledge and practices of managing their environment and natural resources are among the most effective means of forest protection. But, without effective and secure management arrangements that allow for this to take place, and without the empowerment and education of forest communities themselves, forest protection cannot be achieved in a sustainable manner.

The solution

The Rainforest Foundation UK (RFUK) actively works to reduce the rate of rainforest destruction and disenfranchisement of indigenous and forest communities, primarily in Central Africa’s Congo Basin, and South America’s Amazon region. RFUK is one of the few organisations linking human rights and the environment. We support forest peoples in exercising their rights which contributes to reducing rainforest destruction.

The Vanishing Rainforest

The Vanishing Rainforest

The role of rights in forest management is crucial. Many forest conservation or extraction projects are planned and managed by the state or other external institutions; the final decisions are rarely within reach of communities. These processes often ignore a crucial point: forest people are dependent upon and have rights to the forests in a way that other actors do not.  Forest-dependent peoples’ rights as decision-makers must be recognised.

Instead of purchasing land or conserving forests purely for their biodiversity-value, RFUK works to promote respect for community rights and use of those rights, tackling the root of problems related to deforestation.

RFUK takes on the challenges of forest communities’ lack of management of lands and resources through assisting forest peoples to map and demarcate their lands and resources, and to make use of this information as a basis for advocating for their rights. This work is developed based on participatory processes to ensure that communities are adequately informed to decide what they need and how they want the information to be used.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - August 27, 2014 at 7:27 am

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Adopting energy saving measures in the home

Today, most households are keen to adopt energy saving measures in the home to tackle soaring energy bills and help the environment at the same time. One of the easiest and quickest ways to incorporate energy saving measures at home and in the workplace is with low energy lighting. The cost of lighting can contribute as much as 8% towards a home’s electricity bill, yet a simple step such as replacing a traditional tungsten bulb with a fluorescent bulb can save around £3 a year, amounting to £35 over the lifespan of the bulb. Similarly, replacing a 50W halogen bulb with a 6W LED bulb can save £4 per year, or £70 over the lifetime of the bulb. Multiply this by all the bulbs in the home and the savings really start to mount.

Low Energy Lighting

Low energy bulb technology has made some great advances to enable you to give your home the effect you want with different types of lighting, whether it is a homely cosy atmosphere or bright light for close up work in the study or kitchen. Many people complain about how slow some energy saving bulbs are to light up to full brightness and when they do, they say they are still much dimmer than a traditional tungsten bulb. Compact fluorescents do take a little longer to light up because there is a coating inside that takes time to begin fluorescing to full brightness. Developments have led to some improvement in this time delay and it is sure to improve further in the future. The other most common low energy lighting on the market is the LED, which replaces halogen down lighters. They are a little more expensive but the energy savings are greater in the long term. If you do prefer your halogen bulbs, you should look for ones that come recommended by the Energy Saving Trust as these use 30% less electricity than the equivalent standard halogen bulb.

The Eco-Design Handbook: A Complete Sourcebook for the Home and Office

The Eco-Design Handbook: A Complete Sourcebook for the Home and Office

Low energy lighting wattage equivalents are vastly different from what we are used to with 40, 60 and 100 watt tungsten bulbs. Wattage is not an indicator of brightness but lets you know that the higher the wattage, the more light it produces and therefore it consumes more energy. It is not, however, a precise indicator of how bright a bulb will be. As a rough guide, the commonly used 60W tungsten bulb will require an 11 or 12 W energy saving bulb and a 100 W standard bulb is equivalent to an 18 or 20W energy saving bulb. This is where manufacturers of low energy bulbs have been misleading in the past, stating that their bulbs were the equivalent brightness to a 100W tungsten bulb and the consumer is disappointed when they try them out at home to discover they are no where near the same brightness.

Fortunately for the consumer, choosing an energy saving bulb should be made much easier as all manufactures must now state a bulbs output in lumens, a unit of measure that can more accurately indicate a bulb’s light output. For example, the 100W equivalent in lumens is approximately 1200 lumens, a 60W is 700 lumens.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - August 17, 2014 at 10:05 am

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Gold- a glistening new light in the Fairtrade world

The mining of gold has long been controversial in ethical terms, where widespread poor labour conditions and child labour are commonplace. The new Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold certification has been introduced to help ensure decent working conditions and pay for artisanal and small scale miners (ASM). ASMs are miners who do not necessarily use technology and skill, but use hard work to gain their crops. ASM miners are often at the bottom of the pile in terms of wealth and receive very low money for the gold they yield. Poverty is commonplace amongst these miners and with it comes poor health and sanitation.

The new label aims to strengthen the miners’ organisations in order to improve their bargaining power and ensure they have a more say over their place in the supply chain. The label aims to eliminate child labour under the age of 18 and improve general working conditions, including regulating the use of chemicals. This new process also aims to encourage mining businesses to participate in community projects and address women’s equality issues.

The certification is undertaken jointly by FLO (Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International) and ARM, the Alliance for Responsible Mining. So far, the partnership has been working with miners in Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador, but it is expected to also work with more Latin American and then African and Asian countries in the near future.

The certification aims to create a more transparent supply chain where customers can be sure that the gold they purchase has been ethically sourced. All Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold will carry a jewellery mark to signify this.

This will all come as a relief to those who have been avoiding gold or feeling guilty about the gold we have bought in the past. This new label gives us the opportunity to improve the working conditions of small scale miners and in turn, improve the gold mining industry at large.

Article by Fairtrade jewellery specialist, Green Tulip.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - August 17, 2014 at 8:15 am

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How to make your onlife life more ethical

Ethical Consumer have released a series of reports that reveal the ethics behind the worlds’ leading internet brands. Here’s the list;

Search engines – 14 brands

Social networks – 31 brands

Web browsers – 9 brands

Email providers – 16 brands

Mobile phone operating systems – 5 brands

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Posted by Eco Warrior - August 15, 2014 at 11:18 am

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Illegal loggers threaten one of the Brazilian rainforest’s last hunter-gatherer tribes

It’s often easy to forget that, along with the forest itself and the wildlife it sustains, people also rely on pristine rainforest environments. Now it looks like the very survival of one previously-uncontacted tribe is under threat as illegal loggers venture into their traditional territory.

In 2010, when a handful of tribe members were first spotted from the air, the sight gripped the world’s press: people who had never before come in contact with the outside world. The tribe is still unnamed, but three weeks ago a few dozen of its members turned up outside the settlement of an Asháninka indigenous community on Brazil’s Envira River, making contact with a settled population for the first time.

Mystery nomads seek help from civilisation

It appears the tribe have been driven away from their traditional Peruvian rainforest lands, where they have led a nomadic existence for millennia, by illegal loggers and possibly also drug traffickers, who have started operating in their homelands.

Brazil’s Indian Affairs Department says the tribe took the extraordinary decision to make contact with outsiders at the village of Sympatico in the state of Acre, at least seven days travel by foot and boat from the nearest road. It’s believed there are at least four similar ancient communities living in Acre, totalling around 600 indigenous people, and two more ‘lost’ tribes in Peru itself.

The tribe’s appearance mirrors international concern over the presence of heavily armed loggers in Peru, which is tipped to end the lifestyles of the planet’s last such tribes. The illegal loggers are on a mission to harvest precious hardwoods like mahogany and teak, which are in turn destined for British and US garden furniture.

There’s also a roaring illegal trade in African hardwoods, which is destroying vast tranches of natural forest and means local communities are losing natural resources like food, fuel and medicines.

International law fails indigenous Indians

The tribespeople have international law on their side, which says they have the right to their traditional territories. But illegal loggers in Brazil’s rainforest don’t care about the law. Breaking it goes with the scenery, and the rewards can be rich.

How to buy sustainable hardwood garden furniture

If you want to buy hardwood garden furniture this summer, make sure it comes from a sustainable source. Luckily it’s easier to buy teak grown on plantations with sustainable harvesting. The best way to stay safe is to buy FSC-certified garden furniture, which ensures the plantation’s techniques fulfil rigorous requirements including looking after ecosystems and respecting the rights of indigenous people.

Article on behalf of the Rainforest Foundation.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - August 13, 2014 at 10:35 am

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How to Reduce Plastic Bottle Waste – EarthLust Style

Water is one of life’s essential ingredients; we all need it to survive and some experts recommend we should drink as much as eight glasses a day. At home we can easily drink clean, safe water from the tap and we are lucky to be able to do that, as the same is not true in every country. But when we are on the go, how do we carry our drinking water in an ecologically sound way?

Most people don’t think twice about picking up some bottled water from the shop, but if you were to do that every day it soon adds up, both financially and in terms of how many bottles we are discarding. Plastic can be recycled, of course, but it still needs to be created in the first place. For every plastic bottle in the UK that IS recycled, many more are simply thrown away and headed for landfill sites. Some plastics take hundreds of years to break down. So what’s the answer?

Next time you leave the house for the day, rather than buy a new bottle at lunch you could simply take a drink from home. Stainless steel water bottles are becoming increasingly popular as water carriers for a range of activities. They are useful for camping, sports and for lunches for both adults and children. They are also more hygienic and safer than using old plastic bottles.

Companies such as EarthLust have been producing high quality stainless steel flasks for some time now. With eco-chic becoming a style ‘must have’, their bottles are adorned with a range of unique designs and patterns.

You probably don’t want your water consumption to be adding to the 1.5 million tonnes of plastic waste that we create each year in the UK alone. Using an alternative such as the EarthLust stainless steel water bottles is a great place to start.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - August 10, 2014 at 12:20 pm

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5 Steps to Making a Business More Eco-Friendly

In 2014 we’re all being encouraged to do our bit to help to ‘go green’ and look after the environment however we can. Whether it’s buying a hybrid car or a model with reduced emissions or recycling the waste we would otherwise have thrown out, it’s something that people in all walks of life are getting involved in and businesses are no different.

Previously a lot of companies would have worked with paper-based systems and just thrown whatever is no longer needed in the bin to end up with the rest of the rubbish on a landfill site. Nowadays, however, people are much more aware of the need to recycle and protect the planet that they’re encouraging their employers to bring in special bins designed for materials that can be recycled, and even suggesting ways that the company itself can be more eco-friendly.

Going Paper-Free

One such suggestion is to ditch the paper-based systems altogether in favour of electronic systems. In the past, memos would have been scribbled down on paper and passed around the office for everyone involved to see. Today, however, it is much more efficient – especially for those who work with computers anyway – to send an email to their colleagues or message them over instant messaging systems such as Skype. By doing this they can not only get instantaneous feedback, but they reduce the amount of waste created because they don’t use any at all. In fact, a lot of offices have gone completely paperless with everything done electronically and even printers recycled so that no waste is created unless it is absolutely essential to do so.

Another top tip to help a business to become more eco-friendly is to downsize the office. If, for example, you have five members of staff and you’re spending money on rent each month as well as the electricity and business rates, it may be worth looking into a smaller location or even weighing up if you need to work away from home at all… Some business owners have set up premises in their back gardens through log cabins from Garden Buildings Direct and other online retailers and converted the traditional home office into a solid structure at their home where they have everything they need as well as the home comforts to give it a more relaxed feel which will be good for morale and also means you don’t add to the pollution in the city centre by driving each day.

Green Power!

The Sustainable MBA: The Manager's Guide to Green Business

The Sustainable MBA: The Manager’s Guide to Green Business

Another idea is to change where you get your power from. Depending on your location and the type of business you run, you can swap your typical electricity for ‘green power’ from wind or solar energy for example. This may push your bill up slightly, but you’re doing your bit for the environment by using renewable energy sources.

Using energy-efficient lighting will also prove to be highly beneficial to both the bank balance and the environment. These bulbs may take a while to warm up and take effect in comparison to the traditional light bulbs we’ve all grown accustomed to, but they have proven to significantly reduce electricity bills as they only require a fraction of the power.

Finally, you need to remember that you have to practice what you preach. If you want your company to do its bit to look after the environment, then you need to set the example for others to follow and it doesn’t matter if you’re the MD or the intern. If you can instill a culture of recycling, switching off unnecessary power and utilising renewable energy sources then hopefully your colleagues and superiors will follow suit. ‘Going green’ starts with individuals and spreads throughout organisations – it has been proven to work the world over – it just needs someone to make that first step into a greener future.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - August 6, 2014 at 2:31 pm

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Don’t Delay Recycle Today – Infographic

Interesting infographic on recycling electrical goods from www.edwardes.co.uk


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Posted by Eco Warrior - August 1, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Categories: Recycling   Tags:

Eco Conscious Shoppers

We have to accept that a product which is sustainably produced with full attention given to using only top quality pure and natural ingredients will be more beneficial then a cheap product, synthetically manufactured for long shelf life and high volume sales. Yet, with such a high quality product, less is always more!

The same applies with dietary food supplements. Cheap versions are often full of ‘fillers’ with no bio-available active ingredients. So it turns out that all vitamins and mineral supplements may not be born equal.

Eco Cosmetics

Awareness is growing to understand that the main theme of industrially produced cosmetics’ is the use of low-cost manufacturing chemical substances such as: emulsifiers, hydrocarbon-based substances, synthetic preservatives, petrochemical derivatives, mineral oils and silicates. They are designed to make foam and perfume and enter the skin quickly, often intoxicating and damaging it, due to the presence of many additives but often with very few or no helpful active agents.

Mother nature – fresh – by design

What is astonishing is that in a world full of potions, supplements, vitamins and minerals, there are products that actually deliver, and ‘do what it says on the tin’, but without synthetic additives, preservatives, mineral oils and unnecessary fillers. To discover these unique products and find out that they really do work is a real joy! They deliver what they promise.

These products are fresh, use exclusively pure, botanical ingredients , without any preservatives at all.  Certified cruelty free – without any animal testing – they are produced sustainably and environmentally friendly.

These products do not contain any solvents, PEGs, GMOs, outriggers, perfumes, petrochemical derivates, mineral oils, additives or preservatives nor flavour enhancers in the dietary supplements.

I guess in life we all have to make a choice,what we want, what works for us, what works for the planet. This company ‘delivers the goods’ in this regard pure and fresh, so that Mother Nature’s bounty can indeed work her magic!

Eco Products that are 100% different, 100% ethical and 100% eco-friendly because they:

* REFUSE animal testing, nor commissions third parties to do so. This refusal is extended to any producer or supplier. Animals are not test subjects: they do not need make-up, moisturisers or wrinkle-preventing products.

* USE recyclable packaging materials. In addition if you return 10 empty glass jars, you can choose a free product.

* AVOID Co2 emissions (The company has won the prestigious “Sustainability Oscar”).

* EMPLOY fair and equal trade commerce buying directly from producers without using intermediaries.

Eco Dietary Supplements:

Treat yourself today and bring your body into balance with itself naturally: http://www.purenaturalfresh.com

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Posted by Eco Warrior - July 29, 2014 at 2:12 pm

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Humanity’s impact on the Amazon rainforest has been ‘grossly underestimated’

All too often we seem to take one step forwards… then two steps back. On one hand there’s good news, with the mighty USA, one of the world’s biggest contributors to climate change, finally promising to take worthwhile action to combat global warming. On the other hand there’s dreadful news as new research led by Lancaster University, UK, reveals how humanity’s impact on the Amazon rainforest has been grossly underestimated.

Rainforests only cover 6% of the earth’s surface and they’re restricted to tropical regions. But they are home to more than half of the planet’s plant and animal species. Their sheer diversity is incredible. Which is just one reason why the news released by Lancaster University on 22nd May is so devastating.

Rainforest degradation is almost as devastating as actual deforestation

According to an international team of researchers, selective logging and human-led surface wildfires result in an annual loss of 54 billion tons of carbon from the Brazilian Amazon, with a subsequent hike in the amount of greenhouse gases being emitted. It’s the equivalent of 40% of the planet’s annual carbon loss through complete deforestation, just as damaging as cutting the forest down full stop, and the findings have dismayed those involved in rainforest conservation as well as climate scientists.

The study is the biggest so far to explore both above and below-ground carbon loss from logging and ground-level forest fires. The data is based on samples from 70,000 trees plus thousands of soil, dead wood and other samples taken from 225 sites spread right across the verdant, incredibly rich and diverse eastern Brazilian Amazon.

Canopy damage lets in sun and wind

The process usually kicks off with logging, which normally focuses on precious woods like mahogany and ipe, the felling of which damages nearby trees. Post-logging, canopy damage lets the sun and wind in, which further affects the ecosystem and increases the risk of forest fires. In combination logging and fires hurt the primary forest so badly it turns into a thick scrub, which is capable of storing as much as 40% less carbon than forest left in its natural state.

Throwing away the rainforest climate change book

It’s terrible news when, thus far, most tropical climate change initiatives have focused on cutting emissions through deforestation, without taking into account the emissions from degradation. And it means the book will have to be thrown away in favour of a new way of quantifying the real effects of human activities on the lungs of the world.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - July 6, 2014 at 7:27 am

Categories: Conservation   Tags:

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