Tiara Fuller

Pirelli Tires Commits to Deforestation Free Rubber

Tire Leader Joins Michelin – World Waits for Bridgestone, Continental, and Goodyear

Global tire giant Pirelli, a major user of natural rubber, has released a sustainable rubber policy that promises to protect people and forests by banning deforestation, land grabbing, and labor abuse.

“Pirelli’s announcement is good news for gibbons, tigers, and elephants whose habitat has been destroyed by rapidly expanding rubber plantations,” said Mighty Earth Campaign Director Kristin Urquiza.  “When buying tires, people want to think about performance, safety, and fuel economy, not destruction of wildlife habitat and human rights abuse.”

Demand for natural rubber is driven by the production of tires for the more than one billion vehicles – commercial, passenger, and aircraft – that operate around the globe. Much of the expansion of natural rubber plantations to meet rising global demand has come from extremely rapid deforestation in Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and, Myanmar.  From 2001-2014, tree cover loss in Cambodia accelerated faster than any country in the world, according to data from the World Resources’ Institute Global Forest Watch.

The tire industry accounts for at least 70 percent of global natural rubber consumption with the top five brands - Bridgestone, Michelin, Goodyear, Continental, and Pirelli – accounting for about half of the industry’s consumption. Michelin had previously adopted a strong No Deforestation policy.

“Bridgestone, Continental, and Goodyear need to join the race towards a responsible tire industry while there are still forests left to save,” Urquiza said. “We hope to work with the company and other civil society partners to increase the clarity of its policy, and ensure that its suppliers implement it right away.”

There’s a lot at stake. Loss of forests account for approximately 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and is a major contributor to climate change. By some estimates, the expansion of deforestation for rubber between now and 2024 could release the same amount of carbon dioxide – a major rubber carbon bomb – as the country of India does annually.

The Pirelli policy marks the third policy of its type from tire producers. In 2016 Michelin, a French tire producer, announced a sourcing policy. And earlier this year Luxembourg Socfin Group announced its own. Mighty Earth is calling on all major tire companies to pass similar policies.

 

Image credit: Peter Martin

 

 


L’importante annonce de l’industrie du chocolat — Ce qu’elle signifie

Déclaration d’Etelle Higonnet, Directrice Afrique de Mighty Earth

BONN, Allemagne, le 16 novembre — L’industrie du chocolat a décidé aujourd'hui  de mettre fin à la déforestation liée à la culture du cacao en Afrique de l’Ouest. Après avoir connu un passé amer, les forêts d’Afrique peuvent désormais aspirer à des lendemains meilleurs.

En promettant de mettre un terme à la destruction de ces forêts et de restaurer les zones précédemment détruites, un véritable avenir pour la faune et la flore d’Afrique de l’Ouest se dessine.

Cette annonce intervient après l'enquête de Mighty Earth sur l'industrie du cacao en Côte d'Ivoire et au Ghana, qui a montré que la production de cacao entraînait une déforestation massive, notamment dans les aires protégées comme les parcs nationaux ou forêts classes, qui constituent parmi les dermiers habitats ouest africains pour les chimpanzés et éléphants de forêt.

Le pacte signé aujourd’hui n’est que le début d’un long chemin à parcourir, car  plus de 90 % des forêts de Côte d'Ivoire ont disparu et 7 000 kilomètres carrés de forêts ont été défrichés au Ghana entre 2001 et 2014. Les éléphants, les chimpanzés et d’autres espèces de singes moins connues, mais non moins remarquables, ont été contraints par l’activité liée à l’industrie du chocolat de se réfugier dans de minuscules parcelles résiduelles de forêt. La tâche sera en effet ardue avant que les consommateurs puissent à nouveau manger en toute bonne conscience le chocolat de leurs marques préférées. Mais ces consommateurs et les Africains de l’Ouest savent au moins que le secteur du chocolat et leurs gouvernements s’attaquent enfin de manière sérieuse au problème.

Le pacte signé aujourd’hui est l’accomplissement d’une croisade menée par un véritable héros des forêts, le prince de Galles. L’engagement personnel sincère et de longue date du prince Charles en faveur de la préservation des forêts tropicales s’est traduit par cette initiative dont on se souviendra peut-être longtemps comme le moment à partir duquel les forêts d’Afrique de l’Ouest ont commencé à repousser.

Cette avancée est bien sûr le fruit d’un travail d’équipe. Un projet de cette envergure n’aurait tout simplement pas pu voir le jour sans la participation des gouvernements ghanéen et ivoirien, la créativité et les efforts sans faille de la fondation Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) et de la Fondation mondiale du cacao . Le secteur du chocolat a entendu les centaines de milliers de consommateurs à travers le monde qui veulent pouvoir s’adonner à leur plaisir coupable sans arrière-pensées. Les gouvernements d’Afrique de l’Ouest ont quant à eux écouté leurs citoyens qui réclament la protection et la restauration de leur patrimoine naturel. Merci à la Fondation Arcus dont le soutien a rendu possible ce travail.

Mais ces bonnes intentions doivent maintenant se traduire concrètement et rapidement sur le terrain. Les entreprises hautement lucratives qui pendant des années se sont approvisionnées en cacao dans des parcs nationaux et des aires protégées doivent notamment contribuer financièrement et de manière substantielle à la restauration de ces zones précieuses. Pour ce secteur dont le chiffre d’affaires est estimé à 100 milliards de dollars par an, adopter ces bonnes pratiques ne représenterait pour chaque entreprise qu’un pour cent de son revenu annuel. Nous veillerons à ce que cela se produise.

Comme prochaine étape, l’industrie du chocolat doit annoncer qu’elle étendra son engagement pour un cacao « zéro déforestation » à la production de chocolat dans le reste du monde. Que ce secteur prenne des mesures pour protéger l’habitat des chimpanzés en Côte d’Ivoire est une initiative formidable. Pour autant, cela ne veut pas dire qu’un consommateur doive se sentir responsable de la mort d’un orang-outan en Indonésie ou d’un paresseux au Pérou en mangeant une tablette de chocolat.

Enfin, l’utilisation généralisée de pesticides par la filière du cacao a considérablement dégradé la qualité des cours d’eau et menacé la santé des communautés locales. Ce secteur devra également renforcer son engagement auprès des travailleurs et des communautés qui vivent à proximité des plantations de cacao en interdisant l’utilisation de pesticides dangereux et en adoptant rapidement des systèmes de cultures biologiques et sous ombrage.


Today’s Big Chocolate Industry Announcement – What It Means

Francais

Statement of Etelle Higonnet, Mighty Earth Africa Director

BONN, Germany, November 16- After a bitter past, the chocolate industry is off to a sweet new start when it comes to protecting forests, as it agreed today to end deforestation for cocoa in West Africa.

By promising to end forest destruction and restore previously destroyed areas, there’s finally new hope for a living future for the wildlife of West Africa.

This framework comes after Mighty Earth’s investigation into the cocoa industry in Ivory Coast and Ghana, which found that cocoa production is driving massive deforestation and environmental destruction, including inside protected areas like national parks and in some of the last chimpanzee and forest elephant habitat in West Africa.

Today's announcement represents the start of this work, not its end. More than 90 percent of Ivory Coast’s forests are already gone, and 7,000 square kilometers of Ghana’s forests were cleared between 2001 and 2014. Elephants, chimpanzees and some spectacular but little known species of monkeys have been pushed by the chocolate industry into tiny remnant

patches. There is a lot of work indeed to be done before consumers can feel good again about consuming some of their favorite chocolate brands.  But consumers and West Africans can at least know that the chocolate industry and their governments are finally setting about the task in a serious way.

 

Today’s pact is a signature accomplishment for a true forest hero, the Prince of Wales. Prince Charles’ longstanding and profound commitment to rainforest conservation has translated into an initiative that may be remembered years from now as the moment West Africa’s forests began to grow back.

Of course, this breakthrough was a team effort. A plan of this ambition would simply not have been possible without the involvement of the Ghanaian and Ivorian governments, the steadfast labors and creativity of IDH, the sustainable trade initiative, and the World Cocoa Foundation.  The chocolate industry heard the voices of hundreds of thousands of consumers around the world who want to be able to feel good about their guilty pleasure. West African governments are listening to their citizens who want their natural heritage protected and restored. Thank you to the Arcus Foundation whose support made this work possible.

These good intentions must now translate into real action on the ground on a rapid timeline. In particular, the highly profitable companies that have sourced cocoa from national parks and protected areas for years need to make a sizable financial contribution to restoring these precious areas. This is an 100 billion dollar a year industry and the cost per company of doing the right thing would be a small fraction of a percent of their annual revenue. We’ll be watching to make sure this happens.

As an immediate next step, the chocolate industry must announce that it will extend its commitment to No Deforestation Cocoa to chocolate production around the world. It’s great that the industry is taking steps to protect chimpanzee habitat in Ivory Coast, but that doesn’t mean anyone wants to eat a chocolate bar that killed an orangutan in Indonesia or a sloth in Peru.

Finally, the widespread use of pesticides in the cocoa industry has significantly impaired waterways, and threatened the health of local communities. The industry should reinforce its commitment to its workers and the communities who live near cocoa by banning hazardous pesticides, and moving quickly toward organic, shade-grown systems.


Guest Post: Young Conservationist’s Response to Mighty’s Chocolate Investigation

 

I’m Hannah and I’m 10 years old. I live in Manchester, England. And here is how Mighty Earth inspired me to try and spread the word.

I read a brief newspaper article that mentioned how chocolate is damaging the environment and that Mighty Earth had done a report on the matter. So being a budding conservationist and nature lover I went onto Mighty Earth’s website to find out more. What l read there horrified me. Almost all major chocolate companies were sourcing their chocolate illegally from places where there used to be rain forests, therefore encouraging more forests to be cut down. It is threatening countless species and needs to stop!

I really wanted  to help so I emailed Mighty Earth to ask. They advised me to :

  1. To try to by organic and fair trade chocolate.
  2. Ask at cafes and shops where their chocolate has come from; even if they don’t know it makes them think.
  3. Ask at my school and see if we can do a project on the matter.

I was super excited. I have told my friends at school and my sister (Alice); they are all really interested and enthusiastic. My class has researched the chocolate industry and made posters in computing time. I have told friends and family at various events and informed people in many other ways. I really feel like I’ve made a difference and truly hope that by writing this blog I will spread the word and inspire you to get involved.

 


Rare victory for rainforests as nations vow to stop 'death by chocolate'

The Guardian | Nov. 8 2017

Plans by the governments of Ghana and Ivory Coast drawn up after Guardian investigation revealed links between the cocoa industry and rainforest loss.

Read more


Local Groups Sign Open Letter Calling on Tyson CEO to Fulfill Sustainability Promises

October, 2017- Over 230 local business, farmer, environmental, and community groups from across the country have joined the nation-wide campaign to hold America’s largest meat company accountable for the water pollution affecting their communities. The groups, whose members represent communities from the Heartland to the Gulf, have released an open letter calling on the CEO of Tyson Foods to fulfil sustainability promises by making a clear commitment to reduce water pollution caused by the company’s supply chain.

“Americans should not have to choose between producing food and having healthy clean water” said Lucia von Reusner, Campaign Director for Mighty Earth. “Our nation’s largest meat companies shape our food system on a massive scale, and can implement the solutions needed to keep our waters clean.”

The coalition launch comes in response to a report released earlier this summer from Mighty Earth linking America’s biggest meat companies to the largest Dead Zone on record in the Gulf of Mexico, in addition to a variety of other environmental and public health issues in the U.S. A recent analysis of America’s tap water quality found that over 17 million Americans are exposed to unsafe levels of carcinogens from agricultural pollution in their drinking water.

The meat industry is the main source of water pollution in the United States. The bulk of this pollution comes from growing the vast quantities of animal feed used to raise meat, and the pollution washing off poorly managed fields is “one of America’s most widespread, costly, and challenging environmental problems,” according to a report from the EPA.

Mighty Earth’s report identified Tyson Foods as the company most responsible for driving the practices causing this pollution, given its dominant position as America’s largest meat company and expansive footprint in all regions of the country most affected by agricultural run-off pollution. Tyson’s new CEO Tom Hayes has pledged to ‘show how much good food can do’ and ‘place sustainability at the center of the company’s future plans’. The letter is calling on Tom Hayes to fulfil those promises with a clear commitment to reducing water pollution.

The full letter and list of signatories is included below. Local news outlets covered the release of the letter- for example, coverage in ABC Local news in Iowa includes CEO of Des Moines Waterworks, which has attracted national attention for the high levels of agricultural pollution it has been forced to treat.

###

Tom Hayes, Chief Executive Officer
Tyson Foods, Inc.
2200 W. Don Tyson Parkway
Springdale, AR 72762

Dear Mr. Hayes,

As representatives of organizations whose members are affected by the pollution driven by Tyson’s meat production here in the United States, we are writing to encourage your company to adopt more sustainable practices throughout its supply chain that reduce water pollution and protect our natural landscapes. In its position as the nation’s largest meat company, Tyson Foods has a unique opportunity to reduce the environmental consequences of meat and lead the industry towards better farming practices.

There is a need for rapid action: the meat industry, including its feed supply, is the main source of water pollution in the United States. Pollution from raising meat is contaminating drinking water across the Midwest, and flowing downstream along the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico where it causes a massive dead zone every summer- an area so polluted that marine life cannot survive. The bulk of this pollution comes from the vast quantities of animal feed produced to raise meat, and are a result of practices driving high soil erosion rates, loss of natural landscape buffers, and excess fertilizer application.

This year, the runoff pollution reached such levels that the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico was the largest on record, due in large measure to Tyson and other companies’ continued tolerance of substandard practices in their supply chains. Fortunately, solutions are available to reduce meat’s environmental impact through better feed sourcing practices, which need to be rapidly implemented to prevent this disaster from recurring.

We hope you will immediately announce a sustainable agriculture policy that ensures all of your suppliers adhere to the following best practices for responsible feed production and sourcing:

  •    Cover cropping and conservation tillage practices to prevent soil erosion,
  •    Protecting and restoring natural landscape buffers to absorb runoff,
  •    Optimizing fertilizer application to prevent excess runoff,
  •    Incorporation of rotationally-raised small grains into the feed rotations
  •    A moratorium on further clearance of native ecosystems such as the iconic American prairie

You have pledged to “place sustainability at the center of the company’s future plans” and show “how much good food can do.” We applaud these statements, and believe a commitment to ensuring feed is sustainably sourced is crucial for demonstrating the company’s ambition.

As the nation’s largest meat company, Tyson Foods has a key role to play in keeping our waters clean and our soils healthy. Please advise us by November 17, 2017 on how Tyson Foods will address the urgent environmental and public health impacts from its supply chain, and lead the industry towards a more sustainable path forward.

Sincerely,

Dallas, TX
Be Raw
Dallas Sierra Club
Texas Campaign for the Environment
Bois d'Arc Meat Company
Chelles Macarons
The Caribbean Cabana
Taboo Tattoo
Armoury D.E.
First Unitarian Church Climate Action Team
R. C. Rogers
Dragon's Snacks
Sureshort Visuals
Push Yourself Through
Heat Roc Nation
Made With Love Market
White Rock Granola
MaDear's Jellies
Yiayia's Greek Bakery
Williams Farm
Texas Hill Country Olive Country
Rockin Jr Ranch
Good Water
Simple Splendor Sauces
Samco World Imports
Tilly's Old Fashion
Meat Maniac
Perky Pickles
Energy Gardens Terrariums LLC
Reclaimed Wood Designs
The Plain Ole Salsa Company
Brags Farms
Jordan Cordori Industries
Paisley Farms
Companion Roasters
Kaitlyn's Styles
SMU Environmental Society
Garden Cafe
Noble Rey Brewing Company
UTD Sustainability Club
GROW North Texas
Heddin Family Farms
The Green Room
Hide Bar
Piney Woods Farm Alliance
Indigenous Roots
Timothy's Tasty Organic Lemonade
Native Trashion
Elliott Grows LLC
Hartrickson Family Farm
Arlington Conservation Council
Society of Native Nations
Systems Change not Climate Change
Helping Hands Medical Clinic

Chicago, IL
Phayes Men
Cloud Vapor Lounge
Chicago Honey Co-op
Wolf Bait and B-Girls
Crate Free Illinois
Patch Work Farmes
Mint Creek Farm
Closed Loop Farms
Prairie Rivers Network
Midwest Pesticide Action Network
Environment America
Sandbox Organics Farm
Chillinois Young Farmers
Modern Grill
Ricci Kapricci Salon
North Halsted Dental Spa
Horizon Cafe
Anton's Barber Shop
Nearly New Bikes
Klein's Bakery
Bourgieous Pig Cafe
Sir and Madame
Sip and Savor
The Silver Room
Jefferey Dollar
Jojayden Handmade
Rajun Cajun
The Silver Umbrella
350 Chicago
Illinois Stewardship Alliance
Community Dining
Rustico
Sagano Sushi
Spilt Milk Pastry
George's Restaurant
L!VE Cafe
Citrine Cafe
Geppetto's Oak Park
2 Amigos
Furious Spoon
Damn Fine Coffee Bar
Tusk
El Condor
Hairitics Dye for Your Beliefs
FELT
Sugar Beet Co-op
The Urban Canopy
The Wright Way Farm, LLC
Nichols Farm and Orchard
Family Farmed

New Orleans, LA
The Bike Shop
Midway Pizza
Good Bird
Freret Beer Room
Piccola Gelateria
St. Lawrence
Earth Odyssey
J and M Jewelry
Tulane Green Club
BABE
JuiceNOLA
The Daily Beet
LA Shrimper's Association
Heartsleeve
Drip Affogato Bar
Freda New Orleans
Southern United Neighborhoods
Allie's Natural Hair Community
Harley London
New Orleans Food & Farm Network
Kaya Swamp Tours
Lifecity
GrowOn Urban Farm
Care2.org
9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement & Development
A Community Voice
350.org - NOLA chapter
Fair Grinds Coffeehouse
ACORN International
Gulf Restoration Network

Fayetteville, AR
Omni Center
NWA Labor Council
Arkansas Sierra Club
White River Waterkeepers
Buffalo River Watershed Alliance
Northwest Arkansas Emerging Leaders
Ozark River Stewards
Puritan Coffee & Beer
Dirty Apron Bake House
French Metro Antiques
Morning Star Zen Center
Nomads Fayetteville
Heart and Wrench
Nu Fangled Images
Sun Sugar Farms
Barkansas Life
Flora & Fauna
Hustlewood LLC
Ozark Apothecary
Peacock Pigments
Mountain Greenery
Huddle on Forest

Omaha, NE
GC Resolve
Nebraska Communities United
Nebraskans for Peace
Omaha Together One Community – Environmental Sustainability Action Team
Indivisible Omaha
Omaha Permaculture
Douglas County Farmers Union
Pharmacy Express, Omaha
The Gourmet Granola
Nolis Pizzeria
Barley Street Tavern
Beercade
Star Deli
Jake’s Cigars
Full House Bar
Clifford Cycles
Krug Park
1912
Burrito Envy
Premier Therapy
Benson Brewery
The Sydney
Omaha Bicycle Co.
Drastic Plastic Clothing
13th Street Coffee
Ted & Wally’s Ice Cream
Krazy Woman Orchard
Lauren Beths Popcorn
Copin Designs

Kansas City, MO
Exploring Roots
Red Ridge Farm
Sacred Sun Cooperative Farm
Mama Linda'a LLC
Syntax Land Design, LLC
Attitude
Inkwell Cafe
ReRuns Vintage
Mid Coast Modern
Frame Works
Pink Pony Farms
MM Farms
Heartland Conservation Alliance
Green Room Burgers and Beer
Midwest Cyclery
Novus Escape Room
Automan Autoplaza
Endicott Salon
Westport Hookah
Design in the City
Shopgirls
5B&Co Candlemakers

Des Moines, IA
Optimal Lifeservices (Plain Talk Books)
Fontenelle Supply Co.
Artisan's Jewelry Designs
Miyabi-9
Domestica
Wanderlust
Blue Planet Groupe
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Des Moines
HOQ Restaurant
Bruce Owen Jewelry
American Plumbing Supply
Porch Light
Locally Grown Clothing Co
Green Goods
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
RAYGUN LLC
Grade A Gardens
Lost Lake Farm
Nomad Farm & Gardens
Boone County Organics
Preservation
Peep Toe
Teresa Kitchen Collage
The Continental Inc
Minijoops
LeonaRuby
Urban Ambassadors


Statement on 23 companies’ call for end to deforestation to produce meat

Today, 23 major meat retailers and consumer goods companies joined a call to the world’s major soy and cattle companies to take joint action to stop the destruction of the Cerrado, Brazil’s highly biodiverse savannah forest that provides much of the water for Brazil. Agricultural interests like the American companies Bunge and Cargill have already destroyed more than half of the Cerrado, leading to the call for urgent action.

Today’s announcement could represent the beginning of the end of deforestation in Latin America. The commitment was announced today at a meeting hosted by the Prince of Wales and Unilever, and signed by companies like Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Walmar, and McDonald’s. These companies have recognized that with 500 million acres of heavily degraded land available across Latin America, expanding agriculture does not require destruction of native ecosystems.

Now, it is up to the agribusinesses that dominate the global soy trade to act on this strong call from their customers. In particular, as Mighty Earth’s Mystery Meat investigation showed, Cargill and Bunge have each been responsible hundreds of thousands of acres of deforestation each across the continent. We hope these companies will now respond to their customers’ demand for environmentally responsible raw materials, and extend their own success in fighting deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon to the rest of Latin America.

The world has just 1000 days to meet companies’ 2020 pledge to eliminate private sector-driven deforestation. The original Soy Moratorium effectively eliminated deforestation for soy in the Brazilian Amazon in less time than that. Progress is possible, but it will require immediate action by Cargill and Bunge and their peers - and consequences to them from the 23 signatories if Cargill and Bunge don’t act.

Along with a range of technical experts, academics, companies, and civil society organizations Mighty Earth developed a technical proposal for a land-use change monitoring system for soy-growing areas in Latin America. The cost would be between $750,000 and $1,000,000 to establish, one seventy thousandth of these companies annual profit. Once the system is up and running, the annual cost could drop to possibly half that amount.

Today’s statement is a step forward, but companies need to continue pushing for a comprehensive solution such as the one described above. Just over the border from Brazil lies the Bolivian Amazon, where companies like Cargill have contributed to the destruction of approximately 10 million acres of forest, habitat for rare sloths and jaguars, and home to threatened indigenous communities. These same companies are also driving extensive deforestation in Argentina and Paraguay’s Gran Chaco, where action can be extended as well. Indeed, while the original Brazilian Soy Moratorium (and related Cattle Moratorium) have been wild successes, their flaw was that they were limited to just one ecosystem, permitting deforestation to continue apace elsewhere. Companies shouldn’t repeat the mistake of focusing too narrowly when a more comprehensive solution is tantalizingly within reach.

We congratulate the retailers and other consumer companies and many civil society organizations who contributed to today’s announcement. While it must be followed by real pressure and a comprehensive approach to make a real difference for all Latin America, it is a game changer.

Sincerely,

Glenn Hurowitz, Mighty Earth CEO


In Rare Instance, Environmentalists Agree with Scott Pruitt’s EPA: Lower Biodiesel Mandates

Earlier this month, Scott Pruitt’s EPA issued an unusual request: it asked for public input on the idea of reducing mandated biodiesel levels.

While this action was almost certainly spurred by oil companies, interested in reducing their obligation to purchase biodiesel under the Renewable Fuel Standard, it led to a rare moment of agreement between Pruitt and his oil company backers and the community of environmental, conservation and anti-hunger groups working this issue. Reducing biodiesel production would be a good thing.

Biodiesel: Not at All “Green”

The biodiesel industry has successfully marketed their product as clean-burning and climate-friendly, but new research paints the fuel as anything but green. The overwhelming majority of biodiesel consumed in the United States comes not from waste or recycled oil, but from virgin vegetable oils, primarily soy. These oils are closely linked in the global market to expanding vegetable oil production in Latin America and Southeast Asia, two regions suffering massive deforestation for the production of vegetable oil crops.

In short, any increase in biodiesel production means that more land has to come under cultivation, which means that somewhere in the world, a forest or prairie will be razed. And when all those land impacts are added up, biodiesel looks even worse for the climate than dirty old oil.

It’s also no accident that the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico was the largest ever this year, or that Lake Erie is perennially choked by algal blooms. In the US, where corn ethanol production is even bigger that soy biodiesel, over 7 million acres in the U.S. were converted to agricultural production for biofuels since 2007. That’s an area the size of Delaware.

What was once prairie, grassland and forest, providing natural habitat and clean drinking water, is now industrial scale farms. Pesticide and fertilizers run-off pollutes waterways, locally and downstream.

Why Reduce Biodiesel Mandates Now?

The EPA’s request for comments comes at an interesting time. The Commerce Department recently recommended that the tariffs be imposed on biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia. The tax credit for biodiesel is also in limbo, since it expired at the end of 2016 and has not yet been renewed.

Both these developments are good – let’s not import biodiesel from countries undergoing massive deforestation for the crops used to make the biodiesel, let’s not use taxpayer money to subsidize polluting fuels – but the story doesn’t end there.

There is still the critical question of what the EPA does with biodiesel mandate levels. If current levels are maintained, but Argentina and Indonesia imports decline, that leaves a market opening for biodiesel production to ramp up somewhere else. Which we don’t want. Even domestic biodiesel production is linked to expanding markets for palm oil, a crop that has enormous carbon emissions.

Where Conservationists and Oil Companies Agree

That’s why Mighty Earth joined a coalition of progressive groups last week, in addition to tens of thousands of citizens, and asked Administrator Pruitt last week to reduce the federal biodiesel mandate. We’re proud to partner on this issue with the Clean Air Task Force, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Rainforest Action Network and Action Aid USA, and others.

And if this puts us in agreement with Administrator Pruitt and the oil companies, albeit for very different reasons, so be it. We’ll keep fighting them to maintain strong fuel economy standards and move the vehicle fleet toward electrification. But on this one topic we agree – biodiesel mandates need to go.

Coda: Trump Walks Back Pruitt Proposal

The EPA biodiesel proposal drew fierce backlash from the Midwestern delegation and the corn and soy lobbying groups, intent on preserving this enormous agricultural subsidy.

And the administration relented. Bloomberg News reported that President Trump personally intervened, directing Administrator Pruitt to reverse course on potential biodiesel reductions.

The agricultural lobby may have won this round, but it’s more and more clear that that a wide variety of stakeholders want biofuel policy reform. From an environmental and conservation perspective, reducing the use of vegetable oil-based biodiesel and corn ethanol would be a major step in the right direction.


Six Maps that Explain the Ivory Coast Cocoa Crisis

Mighty partnered with MapHubs to map deforestation linked to Cocoa in the Ivory Coast. Leo Bottrill and Kris Carle, MapHubs’ Founders, explain through six maps how this was possible

The best way to describe mapping Ivory Coast deforestation is a club sandwich. The ubiquitous double decker sandwich requires piling layers, turkey, bacon, lettuce, and tomato on top of each other to a precarious height, which is held in place by a cocktail stick.

 

Like the unwieldy club sandwich, we assembled multiple map layers to interpret the scale and causes of deforestation in the Ivory Coast. To make managing multiple datasets and maps easy, we used MapHubs - our simple map making and data management technology - which, like the proverbial cocktail stick, keeps everything in its place.

 

Through six maps below, here are some insights into how cocoa has impacted the Ivory Coast’s forests.

 

Map 1 - Ivory Coast Deforestation in 1990, 2000, and 2015

We obtained the three datasets of forest loss in the Ivory Coast in 1990, 2000, and 2015 from the National Bureau of Technical Studies (BNETD). The exact methodology was not provided, but it appears to be NASA Landsat data. By computing the area of each pixel of the image, we obtained statistics for the entire country. As of 2015, we found that 3.7% of Ivory Coast’s land area remains forest.

 

We then overlaid this with protected areas and summarized the values inside each protected area polygon. This allowed us to rank the protected areas by their loss for each time range, total remaining forests, and percentage of remaining forest.

We also used Tree Cover loss data from University of Maryland’s Global Land Analysis and Discovery (GLAD) Lab (http://glad.umd.edu/). This dataset has tree cover canopy density for the year 2000, and tree cover loss for each year between 2000 and 2015. For this dataset we quantified the tree cover loss for each year based on the canopy density using increments of 10 between 20% and 80%. By removing these lost areas from the 2000 baseline and summarizing what was left at each tree canopy density interval, we found a similar result of 3.6% forest remaining, when using the 70% tree canopy density threshold. As the table above illustrates, the Ivory Coast’s forest loss spiked considerably after 2011.

 

The table below provides a ranking of the Ivorian parks: which have the highest % age of forest left, and which have the highest volume of forest left.

 

Map 2 - Deforestation inside Peko National Park

We took advantage a recent advance in satellite technology called “nano satellites”, which are tiny shoebox-sized satellites that fly in constellations around the earth. The advantage of nano satellites is they image the entire planet every day . This greatly increases the odds of obtaining a cloud-free image in the notoriously cloudy tropical rainforest. Planet (planet.com), a nano satellite company, generously gave Mighty Earth access to their imagery archive for the Ivory Coast. We used Planet’s imagery and their handy comparison tool to illustrate how Peko National Park was further deforested by encroaching cocoa growers between December 2015 and January 2017.

 

Map 3 - Mapping Cocoa in Scio Forest Reserve

When zoomed in closer, the impact of cocoa within the Ivory Coast’s protect areas becomes more apparent. This map shows deforestation inside Scio Forest Reserve caused predominantly by cocoa growers. Very little forest remains in the reserve.

 

Map 4 - Cocoa roads

To verify whether Scio had been converted for cocoa production, we used OpenStreetMap to map roads and settlements inside the park. DigitalGlobe - a satellite company - have made their premium high resolution base map available for tracing in OpenStreetMap. With this incredible imagery, we were able to map both the road network and human settlements throughout Scio.

Example low resolution imagery
Same area with DigitalGlobe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We imported the road and settlement data into MapHubs. We then overlaid with park boundaries and add features such as streams and rivers. Finally, we used recent Planet imagery to identify cocoa growing areas and map cocoa households as well as the remaining forest areas. The resulting map illustrates that Scio’s forest has been almost completely converted to cocoa production with remnant forest found along the waterways and in small isolated patches.

 

Map 5 - Time Lapse Map for Deforestation

This gif illustrates how the pattern of deforestation inside Scio has been repeated across the Ivory Coast’s protected area system. Using GLAD Tree Cover Loss data, we animated a time series to illustrate deforestation from 2000 to 2014. The time series illustrates that during this period, deforestation largely occurred within the remaining forest reserves and national parks - the only areas left in the Ivory Coast with large stands of natural forest. Note the purple area is chimpanzee habitat, which along with southwest Ghana constitute some of the largest and last remaining chimpanzee habitats in West Africa.

 

Map 6 - Deforestation across West Africa

Cacao being a major driver of forest loss across West Africa with the Ivory Coast and Ghana that are the world’s #1 and #2 cacao producers have been particularly hard hit, notably in protected areas where the best quality forest remains. The bigger question is where next? As the table above illustrates, Liberia’s forests still remain largely intact but will likely come under increasing pressure from cocoa and other commodities such as oil palm.

 

 

 

 

Some final thoughts  

Cocoa supply chains can be mapping to the farm level

 

From our experience making these maps, it’s feasible to map all of the cocoa growing areas including settlements, households, and roads. This could largely be accomplished with OpenStreetMap using DigitalGlobe imagery. We also wrote an algorithm that can identify cocoa households, which should speed up the mapping process.

 

Once mapped, this data would provide a basis for building deforestation-free cocoa supply chains. All cocoa associations would need to provide GPS points for all member locations, which most currently don’t. This could then be verified from a national spatial database of households.

 

This would be relatively easy, fast, and inexpensive to do and could potentially be replicated in other forest countries.

 

Monitoring Forests is about to get a lot easier.

With support from Mighty, we are building a rapid response forest alert system, which will provide regular forest monitoring. Using GLAD Alerts from the University of Maryland coupled with Planet imagery, the tool will allow Mighty to monitor hundreds of different locations for deforestation. Mighty and their partners will receive regular PDF reports documenting deforestation and rankings We plan to make this application to other be used by government agencies, cocoa growers and purchasers, and watchdog organizations. Our goal is to make forest monitoring effective, simple, affordable to any group wishing tackling deforestation. If you would like more information, please contact us here.

 

MapHubs is a pretty handy cocktail stick for your maps

 

On just this one project, we’ve used over 50 map layers and made 25 interactive maps. When combined with other Mighty campaigns, we are talking a lot of maps and data layers, which can be complicated to maintain.

 

Mighty use MapHubs Pro to store and manage all of their map layers and interactive maps, which are easily found by keyword and grouped according to campaigns. While the platform is private, Mighty can publish a map such as this one publicly on their website or in social media:

 


If you are interested in learning more about MapHubs Pro visit our site at maphubs.com or drop us a line at [email protected].

 

 


New Investigation Into British Retailers' Supply Chains Finds Soy Linked to Deforestation

A new Mongabay investigation into the supply chains of major Britsh retailers including McDonalds, Tesco, and Morrisions, buy from Cargill which raises their poultry on imported soy directly linked to deforestation in Bolivia and Brazil. Read the full article here.

 

Banner Image Credit: © Jiri Rezac / Greenpeace


#CleanItUpTyson campaign kicks off across the country

Last week, communities from Des Moines to New Orleans met in town halls across the country to build the call for Tyson’s CEO to #CleanItUpTyson. Community members gathered to share ideas and brainstorm strategies for urging America’s largest meat company to clean up pollution from its supply chain that’s contaminating local drinking water and causing a massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

The local campaigns are part of Mighty Earth’s national effort to hold the meat industry accountable for reducing its vast environmental impact, which is driving widespread water pollution, clearance of natural landscapes, high rates of soil erosion, and greenhouse gas emissions. Local communities from the Heartland to the Gulf are among those most affected by the meat industry’s impacts, and pay billions each year in clean up costs.

Participants got creative with ideas for media outreach, petitioning, coalition building, and grassroots organizing in their communities., and drove from up to three hours away to attend.

In Chicago, Illinois:

 

In Dallas, Texas:

 

Des Moines, Iowa:

 

Fayetteville, Arkansas

 

Kansas City, Missouri

 

New Orleans, Louisiana

 

Omaha, Nebraska


This palm oil company promised destruction - and it delivered.

The palm oil industry has become notorious for deforestation and abuse of indigenous communities. Some companies have made progress in addressing these issues through the adoption and implementation of strong forest conservation and human rights policies. However, deforestation is continuing across Indonesia because of rogue companies that are attempting to evade these new environmental and social requirements on a vast scale.

 

We’ve always thought these companies knew exactly what they were doing, knew the damage their wholesale destruction of forests would do to ecosystems and communities. But it’s rare to see explicit proof of companies’ foreknowledge of the massive impacts they cause. However, exactly that type of proof recently fell into Mighty Earth’s lap.

 

We recently received the social and environmental impact assessment that was submitted to the Indonesian government in 2009 as part of the permitting process for establishing a 39,000 hectare palm oil plantation called PT Bio Inti Agrindo (PT BIA). The plantation is located in Papua, Indonesia’s largest remaining intact rainforest. The plantation is now owned by the South Korean conglomerate POSCO Daewoo. All palm oil companies in Indonesia are required to submit these assessments, known as “AMDALs”, but rarely are these AMDALs seen by the public.

 

Throughout the assessment, the company explicitly acknowledges the devastating impacts its development would have on the environment and on the local community. What’s truly sad is that all of the impacts the company anticipated came true. Unfortunately, the Indonesian government licensed PT BIA for development despite the consequences detailed in the assessment, underscoring the leniency of the Indonesian Government’s permitting process for palm oil and other industrial development at the time.

 

There are dozens of pages of anticipated negative impacts listed in the report. Among the most shocking:

  • Polluting the Bian and Fly Rivers with toxic waste, despite acknowledging that the community uses these rivers daily for drinking, bathing, and fishing. While it does state an intent to build a wastewater treatment facility, the report acknowledges that the pollution levels are likely to exceed the facility's capacity.
  • Destroying the habitat of several protected species, including the tree kangaroo, through the conversion of native forest to monoculture plantation.
  • Increasing the risk for severe public health impacts like the spread of malaria, ISPA (acute respiratory tract infection), and diarrhea due to the water pollution and ecosystem changes.
  • Constructing the palm oil plantation on customary lands.
  • Spurring social restlessness, conflict and anarchy.

 

 

 

See below for selected excerpts:

 

 

 

“B. THE SOUNDING OF SIGNIFICANT AND IMPORTANT IMPACT

Result of impact identification and prediction as spelled out in the document of Reference Framework on Environmental Impact Analysis (KA-ANDAL) is that the subject matters of impact due to this activity plan of oil palm plantation project construction and the construction plan of PT Bio Inti Agrindo’s processing plant, in Papua province are as follows:

  • (1)  the degradation of Bian River’s and Fly River’s water quality
  • (2)  the increasing rate of soil erosion
  • (3)  the disturbance to protected Flora /vegetation and Fauna/wild animals
  • (4)  local community’s complaint and restlessness (community’s perception)
  • (5)  community’s health”

 

 

PT BIA outlined the expected intensity and duration of the impact of its development as follows (bold font added for emphasis):

 

 

 

“•       The use of local people’s communal right on land: temporary, during the commencement period of construction

  • The upgrade of dust’s degree: every day, during the activity period (25 years) 

  • The degradation of water quality due to PKS waste: every day, during the activity period (25 years) 

  • The increase of boar and rat pest: 5-6 years during the commencement 
period of construction
  • The damage of road due to excess load of CPO: every day, during the activity period (25 years) 


 

The nature of community’s perception impact (complaints and restlessness) above if the source of impact is not managed well, it is estimated to occur a conflict and social anarchy.”

 

 

 

In reference to the impact on community health specifically, PT BIA expected:

 

 

 

“The nature of impact of oil palm plantation and processing plant construction activity plan on community’s health parameter is deemed as a negative impact. The oil palm plantation activity and the dumping of liquid waste into Bian and Fly rivers will have an impact on the health of those communities using the rivers for daily purpose. This will trigger the emergence of various diseases such as malaria, ISPA (acute respiratory tract infection), and diarrhea.

 

The emergence of malaria disease is based on such considerations like among others the disturbance of mosquito habitat existing at the project site and the entry of occupants who are in general susceptible to malaria disease.

 

The intensity of impact will occur continuously until the end of activity.

The other environmental component going to suffer the impact of this community’s health is social restlessness (community’s perception). By the degradation of community’s health condition and the emergence of various diseases, it will result in social restlessness (community’s perception that tends to be negative).”

 

 

Indeed, several of these exact impacts were described to Mighty Earth in July 2017 during a meeting with Pastor Nikodemus Rumbayan MSC, Parish Pastor in Muting, one of the villages affected by PT BIA. He especially emphasized the pollution of the Bian River due to the dumping of palm oil waste, the worsening health condition of the community, and the rising social tensions due to the land conflict between indigenous clans that was spurred by PT BIA’s development. These impacts were also revealed in a recent article published in the South Korean weekly news magazine SisaIN, which was based on interviews with affected community members.

 

Community blockaide to stop POSCO Daewoo’s expansion in July 2014.

 

Bullet shells from shots fired by the military at the Indonesian flag the community protesters were holding. As PT BIA predicted, its development on customary lands and degradation of the local environment has created conflict and social unrest. Photo credit: SKP KAMe Merauke.

 

 

The environment and social impact report also admitted that the project would harm the habitat of fauna in the area of PT BIA, including several protected endangered species. Here are just a few excerpts:

 

 

“The nature of this wild animals relocation and migration impact constitutes a secondary impact due a change to the animals’ habitat function due to a change to secondary forest’s vegetation to become an open area and monoculture crops.
The subsequent impact is the migration of those animals to another area or the decrease of protected animals population in said area covering:

  • Protected animal species : cuscus (Phalanger gymnotis), tree kangaroo (Dendrologus ursinus), and deer (Cervus timorensis).
  • Protected aves species: cassowary (casuarius casuarius), fish eagle (Pandion haliaetus), big beak parakeet (tanygnathus megalorinchos), blue chest Cendrawasih (Ptiloris magnificus), and yellow crest cockatoo (cacatua galerite)
  • Protected reptile species: fresh water crocodile (Crocodilus novaeguineae), Irian turtle (Carettachelys coraceae) and lizard (Varanus gouldi).”

 

It describes the potential impact on these protected species as follows:

 

 

“Onshore fauna /wild animals; the construction activity of oil palm plantation as a whole is potential to degrade the quality of wild animals’ habitat existing at the study area. In addition to habitat, this activity is also potential to decrease the abundance of animals’ feed in the form of vegetation (herbivora) and animals (carnivora). In the review on wild animals preservation, it is not only the protected wild animals need to maintain, but also the other animals being the feed of carnivora that need to maintain. The activities estimated to damage wild animals’ habitat is land preparation 
(land opening) and road network building activities

Aquatic biota; as the subsequent impact of the degraded water quality is the 
degradation of aquatic biota’s habitat (plankton, nekton and benthos)”

 

Fish dead in the Bian River, due to the toxic pollution coming from PT BIA.

 

“The impact of oil palm plantation and processing plant construction activity on this wild animals is deemed as an important negative impact with significant weight of impact (-3) based on the following considerations:

(1) the loss of original vegetation will reduce the population of protected wild animals of quite wide diversity, due to the loss of their habitat functioning as a place to find feed, nesting, egging, and breeding, even though certain animals will undergo a migration out of the study area

  • (2)  the presence of outsiders working at the project area, tends to cause a potential decrease of unique wild animals, due to a demand for being owned and raised (for aves species) even for being taken their meat (deer) through hunting
  • (3)  the migration of wild animals particularly boar and rat will potentially become a pest for plants, either oil palm plant or community’s feed plant, that might impact on the death/damage of cultivation crops which shall be detrimental to the community 

  • (4)  the impact characteristic of this wild animals’ migration can be classified as permanent impact, except for mobile species (certain aves)”

 

“The impact of oil palm plantation construction plan on nature’s vegetation constitutes a primary impact where by total felling down system, the floristic composition in the existing land will be replaced with monoculture vegetation system. Further, since the previous existing vegetation constituted a habitat of various wild animals (protected and non-protected ones), then this impact is classified as an important impact.”

 

 

Tree kangaroo, baby in pouch, roaming the underbrush in Papua. In its environmental and social impact assessment, PT BIA acknowledged that it would destroy tree kangaroo habitat and have a perminant negative impact on the species and other protected species in the area. Photo credit: Bustar Maitar

 

While it’s impossible to reverse all of the damage its already caused, POSCO Daewoo must immediately enact a moratorium on forest clearing in order to do no further harm, adopt a comprehensive group-level No Deforestation, No Peat, and No Exploitation policy, and undertake credible sustainability assessments (High Carbon Stock and High Conservation Value) aligned with the industry benchmark for responsible production, the High Carbon Stock Approach. In addition, POSCO Daewoo must take responsibility for the negative impacts PT BIA knowingly brought to the environment and communities in Papua. It should invest in extensive forest restoration, clean up the Bian and Fly rivers until water quality is restored to its original condition, and seek to resolve the social conflicts it has spurred to the satisfaction of the community.

This case also raises questions about whether exciting licenses should be reviewed and, in instances where companies have inflicted significant harm to community health and wellbeing, peatlands, or Indonesia’s dwindling rainforests, revoked.

 

PHOTOS OF THE PT BIA SITE FROM 2010-2016

2010: FOREST COVER AT THE SITE OF PT BIA

2012: MONOCULTURE PALM PLANTATION HAS ALREADY BEGUN REPLACING THE NATURAL FOREST, FIRES ARE CLEARLY VISIBLE

2012: BULLDOZER CLEARING MORE FOREST

2012: WHAT'S LEFT BEHIND AFTER THE FOREST DESTRUCTION

2016: BOUNDARY BETWEEN THE PT BIA PALM OIL PLANTATION OWNED BY POSCO DAEWOO AND THE STANDING FOREST

Photo credit: Mighty Earth

2016: AERIAL DRONE VIDEO OF PT BIA

Credit: Mighty Earth, June 2016

 

 

To read the full social impact assessment, click here.

 

 

Caption for banner image: According to Pastor Nikodemus Rumbayan MSC, Parish Pastor in Muting, the village Chief’s wife had to go to the hospital after bathing in the water because her skin broke out in rashes. She was urged to keep quiet about the incident.

Photo Credit: SKP KAMe Merauke

 


New satellite mapping reveals POSCO Daewoo continues to clear Indonesian rainforest at rapid pace in second half of 2017

Company could clear all remaining forest on its palm oil plantation by end of the year

 

New satellite mapping of Papua, Indonesia - home to the third largest rainforest in the world - shows that the Korean conglomerate POSCO Daewoo has continued to rapidly clear large areas of the rainforest for palm oil production at its palm oil plantation called PT Bio Inti Agrindo (PT BIA).

 

The mapping shows that POSCO Daewoo has destroyed an area of forest approximately half the size of the metropolis of Seoul, South Korea — an estimated total of 27,050 hectares of mostly primary rainforest – as of August 19, 2017.

 

Of PT BIA’s two blocks of land, block I has already been completely cleared, totaling 6,816 hectares of deforested land.

Map depicting cleared areas and remaining forest at Block II of POSCO Daewoo’s PT BIA concession in Papua, Indonesia. Click here to see an interactive version of this map.

 

The new Planet satellite map of block II above depicts the area cleared from February 21, 2017 to August 19, 2107 – a total of 4,203 hectares, outlined in orange. The area outlined in yellow was cleared prior to February 21, 2017, a total of 16,031 ha. Combined with the complete clearing of block I (6,816 ha), POSCO Daewoo has cleared an estimated total of 27,050 ha of mostly pristine rainforests. Given its pace of clearing, it is likely more deforestation has occurred in the past month, but no cloud-free satellite image was available in this timeframe.

 

An estimated 8,032 ha of forest remain in the PT BIA concession, outlined in green. At POSCO Daewoo’s extremely rapid pace of clearing, it could clear the entirety of the remaining forest in its concession by the end of 2017. Indeed, the visible outline of new roads into the forested area indicate more clearing is imminent. POSCO Daewoo has refused to institute a moratorium on forest clearing.

 

This animation shows the conversion of forest to plantation by POSCO Daewoo from February 21, 2017 to August 19, 2017, totaling an approximate 4,201 hectares.

 

Animation using Planet satellite imagery, showing forest clearance by POSCO Daewoo at its PT BIA palm oil plantation in Papua, Indonesia between February 21, 2017 and August 19, 2017, totaling 4,203 hectares.

 

 

 

 

Clearance at PT BIA from July to September 2017 using Sentinel-1 radar data.

 

POSCO Daewoo should be on a black list for any potential customers, business partners, or financiers who are striving to achieve responsible business practices and supply chains.
Caption for banner image: New palm oil saplings planted on land that used to be covered by virgin rainforests at POSCO Daewoo’s PT BIA concession. @Mighty Earth, June 2016.