News in brief - March 2015

4 March 2015

Supply Change, an initiative that keeps track of corporate and investor promises to end deforestation, will be launched on 25 March 2015Forest Trends says it convened the project in response to the growing number of public commitments made by businesses investors and governments to reverse their role in forest loss. Carbon Disclosure Project, Ecosytems Market Place and WWF will run, providing “up to the minute accounting of corporate actions on deforestation relative to public pledges.” This is the latest in a spate of supply chain monitoring initiatives. TFT, an NGO that works with agribusiness companies, has revamped its website to give more information about whether environmental targets are being met. Last month Forest Watch reported on Global Canopy Programme’s “Forest 500” project (FW201), which tracks the policies of key companies and investors potentially involved in deforestation.

Following last month’s quiet approval of genetically engineered (GE) trees in the US (FW201), the World Rainforest Movement urged organisations globally to ensure that Brazilian authorities turn down the commercial release of genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus. There had been grave concern that, on 5 March, FutureGene, a company fully owned by the pulp and paper company Suzano, would be authorised to release such eucalyptus commercially. In the end, the meeting to approve GE eucalyptus trees was occupied and cancelled. This issue is not likely to go away, however. If Brazil permits the commercial release of GE eucalyptus, it will have negative repercussions in Brazil, the rest of Latin America and around the world (FW196).

Fern’s new seven-minute film Stories from the ground was launched on 12 March ahead of a week-long conference of forest experts in Brussels. The film shows that unless those who rely on forests for their survival are heard and have their rights met, forests will disappear; and that the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) process is having a tangible positive effect in forested countries. The film is introduced by Sorious Samura, the Emmy and Bafta winning journalist, best-known for his film Cry Freetown. He explains that forest destruction is “a disaster for the fight against climate change and the millions of people who rely on forests for their survival.” Listen to what they have to say here. Also available in French and Spanish.

The European Commission is reviewing the impact of the EU FLEGT Action Plan. Through the European Forestry Institute, it has recruited a team of consultants who will discuss with stakeholders, carry out desk studies and visit both FLEGT VPA and non-VPA countries to assess the progress made and the problems encountered. They will also advise the Commission on the future direction the Action Plan should take. From 16 - 19 March 2015, the Commission and EFI have organised a week to discuss the FLEGT Action Plan, and the review will be an important topic of discussion. Shortly, a website for comments will be launched and an inception report made available; watch this space for updates.

FERN works to achieve environmental and social justice with a focus on forests and forest peoples' rights in the policies and practices of the European Union.

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