Forest Call to Action : Brazilian congress adopts controversial land use law – but YOU can sign petition to help!
The Brazilian Congress has passed a catastrophic forestry bill that gives loggers and farmers free rein to cut down huge swaths of the Amazon. Now only President Dilma can stop it.
Fortunately, the timing is on our side — in weeks Dilma will host the world’s biggest environmental summit and insiders say she cannot afford to open it as the leader who approved the destruction of the rainforest. She’s facing mounting domestic pressure, with 79% of Brazilians rejecting this new bill. Now, if we join them we can turn up the global heat and push her to axe the bill, not the rainforest.
To sign the petition to ask the President to intervene – click here http://www.avaaz.org/en/veto_dilma_global/?wwf
Brazil‘s congress recently voted to ease rules mandating the amount of forest farmers must keep on their land, delivering a long-sought victory to the country’s powerful agriculture lobby and a political defeat for president Dilma Rousseff.
Though the bill will require millions of hectares of already cleared land to be replanted, environmentalists say it makes it too easy for farmers, responsible for much of the deforestation of the Amazon and other swaths of environmentally sensitive land in recent decades, to comply with regulations that stipulate how much forest they must preserve.
Rousseff still has the option to veto the bill, one of the most controversial to pass Brazil’s congress in recent years. The bill was supported by some of her party’s senators and members of its multi-party coalition, even though the president had previously said she would veto earlier versions of the law that contained provisions perceived as too lenient on farmers who have cleared woodlands for agriculture.
The final law, which was changed dramatically from a hard-bargained version her government was backing, will leave it to federal states to decide how much forest needs to be replaced alongside rivers, making it possible for big farming states to make only minimal demands of farmers.
“The approved bill gives a total and unrestricted amnesty to those who deforested … and goes against what the government itself had wanted,” environmental group Greenpeace said in a statement. “If [Rousseff] doesn’t react and veto this text, this future will be her legacy,” it said.
Pushing through the more lenient language the farming lobby sought was only possible through a rebellion by senators from within the government coalition.
A big enough majority in Congress could also knock down a veto by Rousseff, should she choose to use it.
“We lost. The government lost,” said the leader of Rousseff’s Workers party in the lower house of congress. The powerful farming lobby in congress had fought hard to minimise obligations the new law would impose on them.
The bill and its likely future impact have been watched closely in and outside Brazil, home to the world’s biggest rainforest and a country considered a reference for how other developing nations manage their woodlands.
In June, Brazil will host the Rio+20 summit, a meeting at which government leaders and policymakers from around the world will discuss global environmental policy.
Head of the national agriculture confederation, Katia Abreu, defended the new law, saying it did “not necessarily” mean states would impose softer rules than the central government would have on mandatory riverside forest coverage. She said it would also allow better made-to-measure rules to be set according to each region’s characteristics.
But Abreu hinted the new rules would be less rigid, saying farmers would have been obliged under the previous bill to replant 30 million hectares (74m acres) of forest and sacrifice land on which they grew billions of dollars worth of crops. She said it would only be possible to know how much would now have to be replaced after states had set rules.
A technician consulted on the policy said one drawback of allowing individual states to regulate it was that the process would probably take a year or two. That means replanting would likely be delayed until clear rules were made.
Deforestation in Brazil has slowed in recent years because of greater law enforcement and the use of satellite imagery to track areas with the most troubling rates of tree cutting.
A key provision of the forest code, as it is known, would allow landowners to count woodland on river margins, hilltops and steep inclines towards a total proportion of forest that must be preserved on their land. At present, such land isn’t allowed in their calculation. Farmers argue that uncertainty over existing legislation, which has effectively been suspended in recent years, impeded investments. And Brazil’s growing output of food crops – and an enviable position as an agricultural powerhouse – could face setbacks if farmers continue to be held back by doubts about how they can use their land.
Brazil is the world’s top producer of coffee, sugar, beef and orange juice and a major producer of soy and corn. Agriculture accounts for more than 5% of Brazil’s GDP.
Environmentalists say farmers would have to reforest land equivalent to the combined area of Germany, Austria and Italy to fully comply with existing regulations. Advocates of the new bill, however, say it would still result in a net gain of millions of hectares of forest coverage.
Under the terms of the new bill, farmers must sign up for a reforestation programme that will use satellites to track compliance. Those falling foul of the new law could be denied rural finance.
One government official estimated last year that 24m hectares (59 million acres), roughly an area the size of the United Kingdom, would be reforested as a result of the new code. But experts say the area to be replanted will be difficult to gauge until more data is collected about rural properties.
- Brazilian Congress scales back Forest Code (blogs.nature.com)
- Brazilian congress adopts controversial land use law (guardian.co.uk)
- Petition Calls on Brazilian President to Veto ‘Catastrophic’ Forest Code (commondreams.org)
- Help Save the Brazilian RainForest from the new Forest Code bill that is under evaluation in the Brazilian Government! (machita75.wordpress.com)
- Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff Faces Defining Decision Over Forest Bill (nytimes.com)
- Brazil’s new forest code faces international opposition (pri.org)
- Stop the Amazon Chainsaw Massacre Luis Morago – Avaaz.org (point4counterpoint.wordpress.com)
- Veto Dilma! – Please sign petition to stop President Dilma from destroying Mother Earth (007blueray.wordpress.com)
- FRA calls for Rousseff Forestry Act Veto (your-story.org)
- Petition calls on Brazilian president to veto ‘catastrophic’ forest code (guardian.co.uk)
- Brazil Forest Code Passes In Defeat For Dilma Rousseff (huffingtonpost.com)
- Controversial Forest Code Law Passes In Brazil (huffingtonpost.com)
- Brazil’s Congress approves controversial forest law (samuelasarenews.wordpress.com)
- Rousseff pressed to veto Brazil forestry law (mnn.com)
Biological diversity does not come easily near the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Hoover Street. From LA Times and Children and Nature.
The neighborhood just west of downtown is one of the most crowded in Los Angeles County, with 25,352 people per square mile. It’s chock-full of buildings and has lots of pavement, little landscaping and many economically disadvantaged families.
In that setting, Leo Politi Elementary School wanted only to make a dreary corner of campus more inviting to its 817 students. Workers ripped out 5,000 square feet of concrete and Bermuda grass three years ago and planted native flora.
What happened next was unforeseen. It was remarkable.
The plants attracted insects, which attracted birds, which attracted students, who, fascinated by the nature unfolding before them, learned so much that their test scores in science rose sixfold.
In the words of Leo Politi’s delighted principal, Brad Rumble, “We’ve gone from the basement to the penthouse in science test scores.”
As Rumble stood in the garden recently, 10-year-old Jacky Guevera fixed her eyes on an orb spider spinning a web near a pair of bushtits building a nest in the limbs of a crape myrtle tree.
“At our school, flycatchers drink the water in the vernal pool,” said Jacky, who dreams of becoming an ornithologist. “Scrub jays hang out in the oaks. The snapdragon’s red flowers attract Anna’s and Allen’s hummingbirds.”
“I can identify each of these birds when I see them,” she added confidently as she sketched images of the garden’s wildlife.
Three years ago, the school’s standardized test scores in science for fifth-graders showed that 9% were proficient and none were advanced. Last spring, 53% of fifth-graders tested as proficient or advanced.
Leo Politi’s garden grows where a towering apartment complex once stood. The structure was torn down in 1991 to make room for the school, named in honor of Leo Politi, a children’s book author and illustrator who earned the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1950 for “The Song of the Swallows,” his book about the swallows at Mission San Juan Capistrano.
In partnership with Los Angeles Audubon, Leo Politi in 2008 became one of the first elementary schools in the city to apply for and win “schoolyard habitat” and partner’s grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
With $18,000 from the agency, and volunteer assistance from environmental students at Dorsey High School, Leo Politi removed the concrete and grass from the forlorn corner of campus. Dorsey students wielded rakes and shovels and helped select and plant bushes, flowers and trees, including six live oaks that now shade a slope Rumble calls “our oak highlands.”
Nature responded quickly to the clumps of rye grass, owl’s clover and waist-high thickets of white sage and wildflowers: California poppies, California wild roses, tidytips and island snapdragons.
“First to arrive were insects — lady beetles, butterflies and dragonflies — almost as if they were lying in wait,” Rumble said. “They were followed by birds that feed on them.”
At that point, students were hooked. “Questions about why some birds flocked to one plant and not another led to discussions about soil composition and water cycles, weather patterns and seasons, avian migration and the tilt of the Earth in its orbit around the sun,” Rumble said.
Now, the children are studying the dynamics governing the behavior of birds and the ecological systems that support them. They are also compiling an online illustrated survey of every species documented in their urban bird sanctuary, calling it “A Field Guide to the Flora and Fauna of Leo Politi Elementary School.”
To education experts, the concept of project-based learning is nothing new. “If students are actively engaged in a real-world project — whether it be working on a car engine, designing a dress or cultivating a garden — it’s going to turbo-charge classroom curriculum,” said Guilbert Hentschke, a professor of education at USC’s Rossier School of Education.
“Most educators intuitively or professionally understand this,” Hentschke added. “And most would love to do it, but they don’t always have the time, money, staff or space.”
Lourdes Ortiz, a director of instruction for the Los Angeles Unified School District, said Leo Politi’s experience is one reason administrators are encouraging schools across the district to develop projects unique to their needs.
“They could be gardens or something else,” Ortiz said. “More and more students are also going to be learning from projects linking them to life outside of class.”
Fish and Wildlife dispenses about $60,000 a year in its Pacific Southwest Region to help teachers and students create wildlife habitat on school grounds, said Carolyn Kolstad, the agency’s regional schoolyard habitat coordinator. About 50 schools in the area have been helped over the last four years.
The benefits are much greater than pure science, said Robert Jeffers, lead arts and humanities teacher at Dorsey and Los Angeles County teacher of the year in 2010.
At Leo Politi, the garden has “instilled a profound sense of responsibility and awareness of nature,” Jeffers said. “Now these kids can tell the difference between a crow and a raven, which requires cognitive skills of understanding subtleties and nuances important throughout life.”
Jeffers’ point is evident in Mary Ellen Rhieman’s twice-weekly Audubon class, where second- and third-graders learn about the distinguishing marks of bird species, flight patterns and the use of avian field guides.
On a recent weekday, talk turned to the use of metaphors and adjectives — “formidable,” “ungainly,” “exquisite” — in recent news articles about an albatross with a 7-foot wingspan found wandering in Los Angeles, and a bald eagle living outside the Orange County Zoo’s bald eagle exhibit.
What’s all that got to do with science test scores?
Everything, her students say. They see how the skills they use to describe downy woodpeckers and eagles in poetry or essays — observation, concentration and attention to detail — also help them in daily life.
“What is a pattern?” asked Rhieman, a retired principal teaching under a special contract funded by private donations.
“Something that repeats,” several students said in unison.
“Like the roller-coaster flight of a lesser goldfinch,” added another.
The garden and Rhieman’s class are springboards for older students who receive weekly after-school workshop lessons in science illustration taught by Stacey Vigallon, director of interpretation for L.A. Audubon.
That five-week class concluded with students learning to mix up to 10 shades of green with colored pencils. Among them was Jesus Olvera, 11, who labored over a rendering of a burrowing owl. No sooner did he complete a meticulous sketch of the bird’s eyes than he erased it and started over.
After four successive attempts at perfection, Vigallon intervened.
“At some point, Jesus, you have to commit — so finish those eyes and move on,” she advised with a smile. “Sometimes meeting a deadline is more important than achieving absolute perfection.”
Since the garden was planted, students have documented and illustrated more than 25 species of birds, including the meadowlark that dropped in around Thanksgiving, an ash-throated flycatcher that visits each autumn and a white-crowned sparrow spotted last Sunday.
Rumble, who sits on L.A. Audubon’s board of directors, recalled the day when he urged kids over the public-address system to step outside and “look up at the more than 60 turkey vultures circling overhead.”
“Luckily, the vultures’ arrival coincided with recess,” Rumble said.
As he spoke, Jerry Molgado, 10, watched a small black-and-white bird on the branch of a Western redbud tree.
“It’s a black phoebe,” Jerry said. “It likes to fly off and swoop in the air, then hurry back to the same branch. It’s chasing insects.”
The White House convenes a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss the importance of environmental education and the core concepts and principles that contribute the most to environmental literacy, including panel discussions with environmental education leaders, remarks from several Administration officials and a panel on the Federal government’s on-going commitment to the field of environmental education.
- Sarbanes: Environmental Education Must Be Priority (baltimore.cbslocal.com)
- ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION – Invitation to contribute to 100th milestone edition (naeeuk.wordpress.com)
- ‘Environmental education’ celebrates with milestone edition! (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Free Environmental Photos for Educational Use (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- ‘Environmental education’ celebrates 100th milestone edition! (naeeuk.wordpress.com)
- ‘World Environmental Education Day’ – good time to review our crucial relationships with the environment, especially children and nature (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Sponsorship for NAEE journal (naeeuk.wordpress.com)
- Agenda 21 Brainwashing: “Integrating Population Issues Into Environmental Mass Media Coverage” (revolutioninmedia.com)
- Colorado Alliance Experiential Education Environmental Ed Conference-Teaching Outside the Box Conference (recreation-law.com)
- National Environmental Education Week is April 15-21 (naeeuk.wordpress.com)
Earth Week usually runs from April 16th to Earth Day, April 22nd. This leads up to Earth Day 2012 on Saturday! Here are some ideas to GO GREEN!
Henricus Peters is Co-Chair of NAEE
What can you do this Earth Week 2012? There are many green ideas for Earth Week 2012 — Celebrate with green Earth Week Activities!
- Less is More - Purchase items with less packaging.
- Paperless Technologies - Invest in a kids ereader or kids tablet
- Go Chemical Free – Adopt a chemical free lifestyle
- Hybrid Light Bulbs – Use hybrid light bulbs in your home and office
- Paperless Tablet PC – Unless you are a “committed luddite” – Invest in a Slate/Tablet PC
- Green Energy – Advocate the use of sustainable, renewable, clean energy.
- Earth Day Songs – Celebrate Environment Week with Earth Day Songs
- Recycling – Start a recycling program at your school, office, or workplace.
- Eco-Challenges - Convert waste materials into new things that are functional or beautiful, or both.
- Sustainable Reading - Plant a new tree for every book you read
- Earth Day Movie - Check out Disneynature’s Chimpanzee Movie at a theater near you
- Green Transportation – Walk, ride or bike - Skip the car!
- Plant a Tree or Garden – Green your environment with trees, gardens and flowers.
- Turn off the lights – Turn off all unnecessary lights
- Go Flexitarian – Give up meat for one day
- Phantom Energy – Unplug Appliances to reduce the use of phantom energy
- Pick up the Garbage - Spend some a couple hours picking up litter at your local park, river or highway
- Earth Week Activities -Teach children how to be environmentalists early! They are the future.
- Source: http://earthday2012.com/earth-week-2012-green-week-2012/