Specifically, the proposal is designed to ensure that the American people are receiving their fair share from the sale of publicly owned resources and modernize how we as a country manage energy development.
TWS ONRR Hearing Statement (PDF)
[ The Wilderness Society opposes Rep. Cook’s proposed California Minerals, Off-Road Recreation, and Conservation Act ]
The Subcommittee on Federal Lands is hearing comments on CMORCA, a bill proposed by Rep. Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley).
Climate change is devastating wild lands and the wildlife that thrives inside them, according to findings of a government study.
A Conservation Superhero
For José Román Carrera, protecting forests is a matter of life and death.
“I received 82 death threats,” Román recalls of the years he spent helping to establish Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve in the 90s. “And those were just the written ones. I also got many, many calls saying, ‘Leave the country or we’ll kill you, we’ll get your mother.’ I was shot at in my car – 17 bullets. Another time they put a bomb at my house.”
“But I’m still here,” he says with a laugh. “They tried to kill me and they didn’t. Eventually they realized I would never leave. I had to protect the Maya Biosphere Reserve.”
Those who know Román say his extraordinary commitment hasn’t waned over the course of his 25-year career. Fourteen years ago, he joined the Rainforest Alliance and currently supports forestry communities all over Latin America with his unflagging, fearless dedication – thankfully, with fewer death threats.
His great passion is for the forestry concession system. “The idea is to improve their incomes without destroying the forest,” Román says. “I am totally convinced that it works. Just look at the Maya Biosphere Reserve. In the buffer zone, the rate of deforestation is 7 percent. In the core zone (where no deforestation is allowed) it’s 2 percent. In the concession areas where the Rainforest Alliance has been continuously working with forest communities for 10 years, the deforestation rate is zero.”
Román traces his love for conservation to his childhood, when he would walk five kilometers through the forest every day to get to school.
“I saw macaws, deer, sometimes I would see a jaguar,” he remembers. This was during Guatemala’s civil war, when the army and guerillas were fighting, making the area unattractive to businesses. After the peace accord, companies – as well as illegal loggers, marijuana growers and looters of the famed archeological site Tikal – started coming in and destroying the forests. “Now, where my family lives, most of the tropical forests have disappeared,” Román says.
Román admits he’s “in love” with his work and calls his wife an angel because she also believes in conservation and improving livelihoods of forest-dependent people. Together the couple provides four to six scholarships each year to boys and girls from Román’s hometown.
“If I hadn’t had scholarships, I couldn’t have studied,” explains Román, who was one of 10 children. “I had to leave the community to study. We didn’t have roads! I’m just paying back what I received. My dream is to provide even more scholarships.”
For Román, maintaining his zeal for community-based forest management is easy. “When you go to one of these communities and you see women integrated into timber and non-timber production and also in the governments of these enterprises, when you see teenagers becoming professionals – teachers, nurses, technicians – you have faith.”
Learn more about the Rainforest Alliance’s (CFC# 11353) work supporting conservation superstars like José at www.ra.org!
Helping a Rain Forest in Need
By Jarett Emert and Brian McFarland
Floating down the Jurupari River, after more than 20 hours of flying and over 7 hours of driving down pothole-lined highways, it is now more apparent than ever the importance of our work. With each bend along the river, a new dazzling sight is seen. Towering trees stand over 120 feet with bright red and yellow flowers, colorful toucans and scarlet macaw parrots flying overhead, the chattering of squirrel monkeys, dozens of rural communities settled along the remote riverside, and hoatzins, ancient birds whose young still have claws on their wings that are reminiscence of pterodactyls, are nestled in trees.
We work for the Carbonfund.org Foundation, a nonprofit that provides funding to energy efficiency, renewable energy and forestry projects around the world and here in the US. In addition, we have developed several world-class forest conservation projects in the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest, including the Envira Amazonia Project alongside the Jurupari River, that are designed to mitigate deforestation, improve the life quality of local communities, and preserve some of the richest biodiversity on Earth.
The Amazon rainforest is often referred to as the “lungs of the Earth,” but the effects of deforestation have threatened that. Deforestation accounts for 15 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than the entire global transportation sector and second only to the energy sector. Think about all the vehicles in traffic, not just on the Capital Beltway or Connecticut Avenue, but in every town and major metropolitan area each day of the year and consider that global deforestation accounts for significantly more greenhouse gas emissions — it is astonishing and disastrous, but provides a tremendous opportunity to make lasting change.
The Envira Amazonia Project is protecting nearly 500,000 acres of rainforest from deforestation. We have worked with the owners of this land to voluntarily forego plans to convert the forests to a large-scale cattle ranch. Instead they will implement numerous activities to assist local communities and mitigate deforestation pressures, such as offering agricultural extension training courses, patrolling potential deforestation sites, granting land tenure to local communities, and establishing alternative economic activities including commercializing the collection of medicinal plants and açaí. Through all of this work, the Envira Amazonia Project will mitigate the release of more than 12.5 million tons of carbon dioxide.
To date, we have brought four projects like the Envira Amazonia Project through a rigorous certification process that ensures they are delivering net positive climate, community, and biodiversity benefits. These certification standards are known as the Verified Carbon Standard and the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Standard and all four of Carbonfund.org’s projects earned Gold Distinction for their exceptional climate change adaptation, biodiversity, and/or community benefits. Such local benefits included providing agricultural extension courses, building health clinics, and distributing mosquito nets to local communities.
With help from the Combined Federal Campaign contributors, Carbonfund.org Foundation (CFC# 62681) is working actively to further our incredible efforts to protect these rainforests and enhance the lives of these rural forest communities.
The Power of a Shed: Income from Sustainable Harvesting
By Sarah Campbell
Since 1999, the Amazon Conservation Association’s “Conserving Brazil Nut Forests” program has supported more than 600 harvester families in the protection of nearly two million acres of rainforest in southeastern Peru and northern Bolivia. This part of the world, where the Andes Mountains meet the rainforest, has long been recognized as one of the most biologically rich regions on Earth.
Native to the Amazon basin, Brazil nut trees are some of the largest in the rainforest. They grow up to 165 feet tall and have a lifespan of several hundred years. Because these trees produce selenium-rich nuts only when growing in a healthy rainforest—they do not thrive except in the wild—the earnings from harvesting nuts serves as an incentive for forest protection.
The Bolivian Tacana people, who live in remote communities along the Madre de Dios River, harvest Brazil nuts as a primary source of income every year. The Tacana economy depends almost exclusively on the harvest of wild Brazil nuts, which takes place every January to March. More than 700 Tacana people rely on the Amazonian rainforest to support themselves, harvesting approximately 480 tons of nuts annually across a forest territory of more than 840,000 acres. Their territory is so extensive that some nuts, collected from the most distant trees, must be stored for weeks or months at a time before they are sold to processors along the river, and poor storage and drying conditions can lead to mold and contamination. In years past, the Tacana would lose approximately 15 percent of the harvest to spoilage every year, representing a loss of about $130,000 in annual revenue—a tremendous loss for people who live on about $1 a day.
In 2013, ACA and partners helped the Tacana construct 72 payoles, Brazil nut drying sheds, to store their harvest while waiting for river transport. These simple drying and storage buildings provide an alternative to storing nuts on the ground and keep spoilage to a minimum. In 2014, the Tacana built 25 additional payoles for individual families, and earlier this year, they completed six communal payoles to function as Brazil nut warehouses, located in strategic places near major loading areas on the river.
What seems small can make such a difference.
“After working with [the Amazon Conservation Association] over a number of years, we believe that we can improve the management and conservation of our forests,” says Edgar Garcia, a Tacana leader. “We have faith that [the Amazon Conservation Association] will [continue to] help us in this.”
The Amazon Conservation Association envisions a thriving Amazon that sustains the full diversity of life—plant, animal, and human. With help from the Combined Federal Campaign and EarthShare, the Amazon Conservation Association (CFC#49371) and its partners on the ground are able to continue supporting sustainable livelihoods like Brazil nut harvesting, keeping forests standing and traditional practices alive.
Visit www.amazonconservation.org to learn more about ACA's work protecting habitat, supporting sustainable livelihoods, identifying and tracking threats to the Amazon, and promoting field research and education!