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Monday, 4 March, 2002
Mexico's 'devastating' forest loss
By Nick Miles
BBC Central America and Caribbean correspondent
Lacandon jungle

Scars on Mexico's forests can be seen from the air
Scars on Mexico's forests can be seen from the air
Deforestation — which environmentalists say is one of the most pressing concerns affecting the planet — will top the agenda at a United Nations meeting of environment ministers in New York on Monday.
Mexico is one of the world's worst affected countries. Depletion of forest cover is taking place twice as fast than previously thought, with more than one million hectares being lost each year.
A number of initiatives to resolve the problem — including the eviction of illegal settlers from protected forest land — have been announced by President Vicente Fox.
But environmentalists say the settlers are just a scapegoat and the government is ignoring the real problem, illegal wood cutting.
According to a recently published government report, Mexico now has the second fastest rate of deforestation in the world, second only to Brazil.
Nowhere is the deforestation worse than in the southern state of Chiapas.

The forests around the town have been devastated by small scale logging

Ryan Zinn, development worker
In the south east corner of Chiapas lies the Lacandon jungle, a million hectares of, until recently, pristine tropical forest.
It's one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet home to rare parrots, jaguars and hundreds of species of hardwood trees.
From the air the damage caused by logging and illegal farming settlements is plain to see. The light coloured maize fields form a patchwork amongst the bottle green expanse of tropical forest.
"The farmers here have no right to the land, it is a reserve," state government forestry advisor Hernan Alfonzo told me as we come in to land at a small airstrip cut out of the jungle
"It's not just the land they grow crops on that's lost," he said. "Thousands of hectares of forest go up in smoke every year as the fires they light to clear their land rage out of control."
Suspicion
Parrot
The jungle is in an area of high biodiversity
Landing at the hamlet of San Gregorio we are greeted with understandable suspicion by the inhabitants.
San Gregorio is home to 50 families.
Until 20 years ago they were farm labourers working in the north of the state, but they lost their jobs when much of the area was turned over to cattle raising and their labour was no longer needed.
"The people here are threatened by the government with eviction all the time," said Antonio Jimenez, who heads an organisation representing the forest farmers.
"They literally have nowhere else to go, and they don't create the environmental havoc the government says they do, they protect the environment, it's in their interests to do so," he added.
The claim is backed up by environmentalists working in the area.
"The farmers here are cultivating in a sustainable way," said botanist Miguel Angel Garcia.
"They no longer need to destroy more and more of the forest because their fields remain productive."
'Smokescreen'
There is a growing body of opinion that the government's focus on removing the settlers from their land is simply a smokescreen deflecting attention from the widespread illegal logging going on across the country.
Development worker Ryan Zinn working near the town of San Cristobal has been studying the problem.
"The forests around the town have been devastated by small scale logging concessions," he told me, as we stood in a recently cut area of the forest.
"The municipal governments hand out permits illegally to local consortia.
In many cases what we see are not huge logging companies but the middle men of the intermediaries who are causing much of the deforestation," Mr Zinn said.
Huge task
It's a problem the federal government acknowledges.
"We're working to bring an end to the corruption," said Hernan Alfonzo.
"Corruption has been endemic amongst officials because of the low salaries of the inspectors and the big profits to be made.
Logs

Illegal logging is on the increase
Illegal logging is on the increase
"We're now putting in place teams of new inspectors to check all the wood leaving the state," he added.
This, however is a massive task. The agency has just a hundred inspectors having to cover an area of about a hundred thousand square miles.
Even if the will to protect the environment in this part of southern Mexico is there, the finance to bring about change is lagging far behind.
See also:

Saturday, 15 October 2005
Amazon drought emergency widens
Aerial view Anama lake, Brazil, amid drought

Lakes such as the Anama have been drying up in the drought
Aerial view Anama lake, Brazil, amid drought
Lakes such as the Anama have been drying up in the drought
A worsening drought in the Amazon basin has prompted Brazil to extend an emergency across the Amazonas state.
Brazil's military has been distributing supplies and medicine to tens of thousands of people stranded by the dramatic drop in water levels.
Witnesses say rivers and lakes have dried up completely, leaving behind kilometres of sand and mud.
Environmental campaign group Greenpeace has blamed deforestation and global warming for the drought.
It quoted scientists as saying that the burning of forests has raised temperatures in the Amazon, preventing the formation of clouds.
Brazilian government meteorologists, however, have said the drought is the result of unusually high temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, that have also been linked to this year's devastating hurricanes.
Airlift lifeline
Brazil's armed forces have been delivering water, food and medical supplies to communities isolated by the worst drought in the Amazon for decades.
The air force has been distributing water-purifying chemicals to counter the threat of disease from water supplies contaminated by dead fish in the Amazon.
Low river levels are preventing boats — for many the only means of transport — from using the Amazon safely, leaving communities depending on government airlifts for their survival.
Big ships have been left stranded in the world's second-largest river and millions of fish are rotting in the sun, witnesses say.
Friday, 21 October 2005
Amazon 'stealth' logging revealed
By Simon Watts
BBC News
An area deforested by soybean farmers is seen in Para, Brazil
An area deforested by soybean farmers is seen in Para, Brazil
Scientists from Brazil and the US say new research suggests deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon has been underestimated by at least 60%.
The team has completed a study using a more advanced technique of satellite imagery that can pick up more types of logging activity.
These include selective logging, where loggers pick out trees of value but leave the surrounding forest intact.
Brazil's government welcomed the report but said the figures were exaggerated.
Nasa's help
Deforestation in the Amazon is on such a massive scale that the only way of measuring it is by using satellites.
The trouble has been that while traditional aerial images can show areas that have been completely destroyed, they do not reveal selective logging of valuable trees such as mahogany.
Map of Amazon River
An area deforested by soybean farmers is seen in Para, Brazil
With input from the Nasa space agency, the joint US and Brazilian team used an ultra-high-resolution technique to examine just how much selective logging was going on.
The report was published in the US journal Science.
The researchers concluded that the area of rainforest destroyed between 1999 and 2002 was thousands of square kilometres bigger than previously thought.
They also found that about 25% more carbon had been released into the atmosphere than estimated — possibly enough to affect climate change.
Brazilian officials praised the scientists for highlighting the issue of selective logging, but said the new figures were hard to believe.
The businessmen involved in the practice claim picking out individual trees is more environmentally friendly than the blanket clearance of huge areas.
But environmental campaigners say that to reach the prized trees, roads have to be built and heavy equipment brought in.
This, they say, can be of no benefit to the Amazon.
Thursday, 22 September 2005
Fires rage in Brazil's rainforest
Aerial view Anama lake, Brazil, amid drought
Aerial view Anama lake, Brazil, amid drought
A state of emergency has been declared in Brazil's western state of Acre as fires continue to rage across the country's vast Amazon region.
Thousands of hectares of the world's largest rainforest have already been destroyed by the blazes.
Acre's Governor Jorge Viana urged the federal government in Brasilia to act swiftly, expressing particular concerns about pollution caused by the smoke.
Hundreds of soldiers, rescuers and also local residents are battling the fires.
Correspondents say it is not known what caused the blazes, some of which broke out nearly two weeks ago.
Some 500 people have been evacuated from the area, officials said earlier this week.
In the past, authorities have blamed farmers who burned forested areas in the dry season to make space for their crops.
The blazes have often raged out of control in recent years.

'Save the Amazon
save the climate'
'Stop the deforestation
in the Amazon'
Greenpeace activists dressed as cows participate in a protest to raise awareness on the impact of livestock, which they say are mainly responsible for the deforestation of the Amazon, next to Brasilia Cathedral at the Esplanada dos Ministerios in Brasilia September 16, 2009.

The signs read 'Save the Amazon save the climate' and 'Stop the deforestation in the Amazon'.

Farmers burn the Amazon forest to make it easier to clean big areas that will be turned into grazing lands.

REUTERS/Roberto Jayme
Greenpeace activists dressed as cows participate in a protest to raise awareness on the impact of livestock, which they say are mainly responsible for the deforestation of the Amazon, next to Brasilia Cathedral at the Esplanada dos Ministerios in Brasilia September 16, 2009.
The signs read 'Save the Amazon save the climate' and 'Stop the deforestation in the Amazon'.
Farmers burn the Amazon forest to make it easier to clean big areas that will be turned into grazing lands.
Extreme drought in the Amazon rainforest linked to deforestation and climate change
MANAQUIRI, Brazil — The devastating drought currently affecting the Amazon rainforest is part of a vicious cycle created by the combined affects of global warming and deforestation and could cause the collapse of the rainforest, according to scientists from the Large Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia and Greenpeace.
"Brazil is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate changes in the world because of its invaluable biodiversity.  If the Amazon loses more than 40% of its forest cover, we will reach a turning point from where we cannot reverse the savannization process of the world's largest forest," said Carlos Nobre, from the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and President of the International Geosphere Biosphere Program (IGBP).
Seventeen per cent of the Amazon has been completely wiped out over the past 30 years, according to INPE, and even more has been damaged by destructive and illegal logging and other human activities.
Life on Earth depends on ancient forests for its survival.
They are the richest most diverse habitats, and help stabilize climate and regulate the weather.
"This drought and its effects are really shocking.  Towns are lacking food, medicines and fuel because boats cannot get through," said Carlos Rittl, Greenpeace Brazil's climate campaigner.
"If the landscape I've seen this week is a sign of things to come, we're in serious trouble.  We risk losing the world's largest rainforest, the network of rivers and invaluable and varied life it sustains, much of which we haven't even discovered or researched."
'Stop the deforestation
in the Amazon'
A Greenpeace activist dressed as a cow participates in a protest to raise awareness on the impact of livestock, which they say are mainly responsible for the deforestation of the Amazon, next to Brasilia Cathedral at the Esplanada dos Ministerios in Brasilia September 16, 2009.

The signs reads 'Stop the deforestation in the Amazon'.

Farmers burn the Amazon forest to make it easier to clean big areas that will be turned into grazing lands.

REUTERS/Roberto Jayme
A Greenpeace activist dressed as a cow participates in a protest to raise awareness on the impact of livestock, which they say are mainly responsible for the deforestation of the Amazon, next to Brasilia Cathedral at the Esplanada dos Ministerios in Brasilia September 16, 2009.
The signs reads 'Stop the deforestation in the Amazon'.
Farmers burn the Amazon forest to make it easier to clean big areas that will be turned into grazing lands.
Amazonian deforestation and fires account for more than 75% of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions and place it amongst the top four contributors to global climate change.
"The Amazon is caught between two destructive forces and their combined effects threaten to flip its ecosystems from forest to savannah if measures are not taken to stop deforestation and combat climate change," said Rittl.
Greenpeace is calling on governments to take urgent action to stop deforestation and commit to the massive CO2 reductions needed to protect the Earth's biodiversity and millions of people who are at risk from the impacts of climate change and ancient forest destruction.
Greenpeace has been gathering dramatic images of the worst drought in 40 years in the Amazon this week.
The Amazon River basin is at its lowest level in decades.
Floodplains have dried up and people are walking and using bicycles on areas in which canoes and riverboats used to be the only means of transport.
Large boats have become stuck in the dry mud and the landscape is covered with thousands of rotting dead fish, which are attracting dozens of vultures.
      In the Amazon: Carlos Rittl, Greenpeace Brazil  October 18, 2005    
Friday, 27 June, 2003
Amazon destruction speeds up
Logging in the rainforest.

An area the size of Haiti has been lost to farming over 12 months
An area the size of Haiti has been lost to farming over 12 months
New satellite information from Brazil has revealed a sharp increase in the rate of destruction of the Amazonian rainforest.
The information shows the speed of deforestation increased by 40% between 2001 and 2002 to reach its highest rate since 1995.
Figures from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) show more than 25,000 square kilometres of forest were cleared in a year — mainly for farming.
Environmentalists have expressed alarm at the development which represents a sharp reversal of a trend in which destruction had been slowing.
"The rate of deforestation should be falling, instead the opposite is happening," said Mario Monzoni, a project co-ordinator for Friends of the Earth in Brazil.
AMAZON DEFORESTATION
2002: 9,840 square miles (25,476 sq km) lost
2001: 7,010 square miles (18,166 sq km) lost
Environmental organisations say one major cause is the spread of large-scale soya farming in the southern Amazon.
Soya production is growing rapidly in the area as a crop that offers large profits for farmers and gives a sizable boost to Brazil's trade accounts.
But campaigners also blame the authorities for failing to enforce environmental protection laws.
The country's centre-left government, under the leadership of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is due to announce new proposals next week to tackle deforestation.
Task ahead
View from the air

The images show the progression of deforestation in Rondonia, southern Brazil.

Tree-clearing has begun in the 1985 photo, in a typical herringbone pattern fanning out from roads and rivers.

By 1992 it is much more advanced and the town in the centre of the image has grown.

Photo: Images courtesy of Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center.
The images show the progression of deforestation in Rondonia, southern Brazil.
Tree-clearing has begun in the 1985 photo, in a typical herringbone pattern fanning out from roads and rivers.
By 1992 it is much more advanced and the town in the centre of the image has grown.
The new Environment Minister, Marina da Silva, who has long campaigned to protect the Amazon, has promised to action but she inherits a difficult situation, says the BBC's Sao Paulo correspondent Tom Gibb.
On the one hand, the country has a new multi-million dollar satellite and radar monitoring system providing plenty of accurate data as to where deforestation is occurring.
But budget cuts on the ground mean that environmental protection agents often do not even have enough money to buy petrol for their boats and cars, let alone mount operations to arrest illegal loggers and farmers, our correspondent says.
Likewise, loopholes and corruption in Brazil's chaotic judicial system mean those caught destroying the forest almost always go unpunished.
The Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world and is home to 30% of all animal and plant life on the planet.
In the last 15 years, 243,000 square kilometres have been deforested, the equivalent of 5% of the Brazilian Amazon.
25 June, 2001
Amazon forest 'could vanish fast'
Amazon otter on log 

The giant Amazon otter is one species that depends on the forest

Photo:BBC
The giant Amazon otter is one species that depends on the forest
By BBC News Online's environment correspondent Alex Kirby
The destruction of the Amazon rainforest could be irreversible within a decade, according to a US scientist.
James Alcock, of Pennsylvania State University, says the forest could virtually disappear within half a century.
His estimate of the possible rate of destruction is faster than most others and Mr Alcock, professor of environmental sciences at Penn State's Abington College, says the danger lies in a complex feedback process.
Research published in the journal Science earlier this year suggesting that deforestation rates in the Amazon could reach 42% by 2020 were based on unreliable facts and "ecological futurology", Brazil's science and technology ministry said.
Point of no return
But Professor Alcock's forecast, based on a mathematical model of human-driven deforestation, is starker still.
Without immediate and forceful action to change current agricultural, mining and logging practices, he says, the forest could pass the point of no return in 10 to 15 years.
Boat on Amazon — Photo: BBC
Human pressures on the forest are growing
And the model indicates that the forest, far from having 75 or 100 years to reach total collapse as other researchers predict, could essentially disappear within 40 or 50 years.
Professor Alcock is presenting his findings at a conference in Scotland being held jointly by the Geology Societies of America and London.
He hopes to develop his research with fieldwork in the Amazon, although he argues that his model is also a useful predictor of what could happen in the other great tropical forest systems, in south east Asia and the Congo river basin in Africa.
Professor Alcock, who says the size of the Amazon river basin has already been reduced by about 25%, believes the threat lies in a process known as evapotranspiration, in which the rain that falls on a forest is retained and then returned to the atmosphere.
But without a healthy vegetation base, he says, there is little to stop the water running off, and this creates the potential for a highly unstable forest system.
Risks are close
"Because of the way tropical rainforests work, they are dependent on trees to return water to the air", he said.
"This interdependence of climate and forest means risks to the forests are much closer at hand than we might expect.
"It's a very difficult problem because of several pressures. For example, you can't say: 'Leave the rainforests alone' when people are living in poverty."
Deforested land — Photo: BBC
Forest loss leaves little in its wake
Professor Alcock says plans to preserve small areas of forest would probably not work, because damage to the overall system would limit the rain necessary for their survival.
Less rain falling on the forest could also increase the likelihood of fires.
Another consequence he foresees is the extinction of many creatures that depend on the forest for survival.
Professor Alcock said: "There are already a large number of species that are endangered, because the forest itself is endangered.
Estimates 'exaggerated'
"We might be able to keep a few animals at the zoos, but we'd surely lose a lot of amphibians, reptiles and insects."
However, Philip Stott, professor of biogeography at the University of London, UK, told BBC News Online: "This model sounds to me to be highly simplistic in political, economic and ecological terms.
"Many scientists believe that deforestation estimates are greatly exaggerated, and that in the Amazon 87% may still be intact — perhaps more.
"There's always a lot of secondary regeneration, and you'd have to take that into account in any modelling."
15 May, 2001
Amazon destruction surges
Workers in the Amazon
Workers in the Amazon
The destruction of Brazil's Amazon rainforest jumped to a five-year high last year, alarming environmentalists and embarrassing the Brazilian Government.
The government had hoped that forest clearance was decreasing, but satellite images analysed by its Space Research Institute reveal that between 1999 and 2000, almost 20,000 sq km were cleared.
This creates a hole about the size of Belgium, and is a 15% increase on the previous year.
The secretary for Amazon affairs for the Environmental Ministry, Mary Allegretti, blamed the increased deforestation on an improved economic climate.
Demand for land
Rainforest destruction
Rainforest destruction
If the Amazon disappears, much of the planet's wildlife will lose its habitat
An unexpectedly healthy recovery from Brazil's recession, following the devaluation of its currency in January 1999, sparked more demand for timber and land.
Ms Allegretti said the rain forest was cut down by logging companies and farmers in search of land.
Independent research institutes forecast that if the government continues with its road building and farming programmes in the Amazon region, up to 40% of the total rainforest will be destroyed within 20 years.
Environmentalists say action needs to be taken to reverse the unsustainable destruction of the Amazon, which is home to up to 30% of the world's animal and plant life.
"The beginning of the new millennium could not have been worse for the Amazon, the figures are worrying if we look to the future," said the World Wildlife Fund in a statement.
Ms Allegretti said the government would introduce a licensing system for properties where deforestation was worst.
Government action
Brazilian police chase landless rural workers in the Amazon city of Belem, north of San Paulo
Brazilian police chase landless rural workers in the Amazon city of Belem, north of San Paulo
Brazilian police clash with the Landless Rural Workers movement
But our correspondent Jan Rocha says that within the next two weeks a controversial bill which would allow Amazon farmers to legally clear much greater areas of forest will be debated in Congress.
The bill is supported by farmers and opposed by environmentalists, she says.
The government is also considering building more energy plants in the area, as the country is suffering from a chronic energy shortage.
In 1970, about 99% of the Amazon, which is sometimes termed the "lungs of the planet", due to the huge amounts of oxygen produced by its trees, was still standing.
WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Tom Gibb
"Despite tough laws, illegal logging has continued"



SEE ALSO:
Brazil's unsustainable Amazon scheme
14 Aug 02 | Americas
Brazil's rainforest slaves
30 Jul 02 | Crossing Continents
Brazil spies on Amazon loggers
25 Jul 02 | Americas
Amazon destruction rate 'falls'
12 Jun 02 | Americas
In 2001, for example, IBAMA (the Brazilian Environmental Agency) issued authorisation documents for deforestation of 5,342 hectares, but the total deforestation showed by satellite images from INPE (the Brazilian Institute of Space Research) reveals that 523,700 hectares were deforested.
In other words, in 2001 just 1% of the total deforestation area was authorized.
Previous years' data is similar.
Friday, 30 August, 2002
Clock ticking for Indonesian rainforest
Deforested area of Tesso Nilo
Vast tracts of the forest have been destroyed
Richard Galpin
By Richard Galpin
BBC correspondent in Jakarta
The Indonesian island of Sumatra is the sixth largest island in the world and once boasted some of the most extensive and richest areas of tropical rainforest anywhere on the planet — but no longer.
It is estimated 60% of the total forest cover has been destroyed over the past 100 years, with the rate of destruction increasing rapidly in the 1970s and 80s under the authoritarian regime of former President Suharto.
His government was particularly keen on dividing up vast areas of the country's forests into concessions given to powerful businessmen to log and convert into rubber and palm-oil plantations.

Every day up to 350 lorries have been travelling along this road. I believe 100 of them contain illegal logs from Tesso Nilo

WWF official
This along with the resettlement of millions of people from over-crowded Java to islands such as Sumatra and Borneo, all of whom needed land to farm, saw deforestation reach unprecedented levels.
Today it is estimated around two million hectares (five million acres) of Indonesian forest are lost every year — an area equivalent to the size of Belgium.
And the majority of the logging is believed to be illegal.
Race against time
In Sumatra environmentalists are now fighting a desperate battle to save the last substantial part of the lowland forest still standing.
Sumatran tiger and cub
Sumatran tigers are under threat
The forest in Riau province is called Tesso Nilo and organisations such as the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) believe it is critical it is turned into a special conservation area.
"This lowland forest is the prime habitat of the Sumatran tiger, elephants and other important species," said Nazir Foead of WWF Indonesia.
"If Tesso Nilo forest goes, then the chances of survival for these endangered species will be very, very slim."
Unparalleled diversity
On top of this, recent research commissioned by WWF discovered that Tesso Nilo has the highest level of biodiversity on earth.
Scientists found more than 200 vascular plant species in just 200 square metres of forest — far more even than in the Amazon.

I will not ask my people to stop the logging. I will tell them to carry on, as long as these companies are getting our wood, then why should we stop?

Village chief Mohammed Hatta
But time is fast running out for the world's richest forest which presently occupies an area of just 1,500 square kilometres (579 square miles).
If the current rate of logging continues, it will have disappeared within the next four years.
Driving into the area it is easy to see why. A major road has been built through the forest making it easy to access the timber.
Every few minutes lorries laden with logs groan along the road belching diesel fumes into the atmosphere.
"Every day up to 350 lorries have been travelling along this road," said one WWF official who has been monitoring the logging here.
"I believe 100 of them contain illegal logs from Tesso Nilo."
Easy money
We drove further into the forest and soon could hear the sound of chainsaws in the distance.
The illegal loggers are a mixture of local villagers and gangs of people who have come from further afield, generally from other provinces in Sumatra.
What they have in common is poverty. The case of Kamarudin, a local villager, is typical. We followed him as he slashed his way deep into the forest, with his chainsaw balanced on his shoulder.
Logging truck
A constant stream of trucks take the trees for pulping
It did not take him long to find what he wanted — a large tropical hardwood tree called Meranti. The tree, which took decades to grow, came crashing to the ground within a couple of minutes.
"Chopping down trees like this hardwood Meranti, I can earn $60 a week," he said. "Much more than the rubber plantation where I used to work where the money wasn't enough to feed my family."
Local anger
We went back to Kamarudin's village in the middle of the forest — a desperately poor area.
More and more villagers have been turning to illegal logging over the last five years since the Asian economic crisis hit Indonesia.
According to the village head, Mohammed Hatta, it will not be long before more than half the families here are involved in chopping down wood.
Mr Hatta is actively encouraging this because he believes his people have the right to do so, as he says the land is theirs.
Such a direct challenge to the authorities would have been unthinkable under the repressive regime of former President Suharto. But since the advent of democracy in 1998 local communities have been asserting themselves much more.
Mr Hatta is angry that over the years the government has given the rights to the whole of Tesso Nilo forest to several logging and plantation companies.
"I will not ask my people to stop the logging," he said, "I will tell them to carry on, as long as these companies are getting our wood, then why should we stop?"
Indonesian logger
The loggers are driven by poverty
Massive operation
The scale of the main forestry industries in the area is breath-taking. We visited the Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper company (RAPP) on the outskirts of the forest, one of two such businesses based in the province.
It is a huge, hi-tech industrial complex housing the world's largest pulp mill. It produces almost two million tons of pulp every year, consuming eight million tons of wood in the process.
It is a non-stop operation. The mill operates 24-hours a day, with a never-ending convoy of trucks arriving at the factory to supply the wood.
Back in 1993 the government gave RAAP a concession of around 3,000 sq km which it could log and then re-plant with acacia trees.
Part of this concession lies within the Tesso Nilo forest itself.
No guarantees
A spokesman for the company told the BBC the forest it was given to convert to acacia plantations was already degraded — in other words had already been substantially logged.
But WWF says this is wrong, "RAPP is chopping down primary rain-forest," said Mr Foead.
The company is trying to promote itself as environment-friendly because it says within six years it will have planted enough acacia trees to provide a sustainable source of wood for the pulp mill.
Ironically it can only do this by first destroying swathes of Sumatran rain-forest.
Environmentalists also believe illegal logs from Tesso Nilo are being sold to RAPP. The capacity of the mill is so huge that around one-fifth of the wood supply is provided by outside contractors.
The company says there are stringent checks on the sources of logs provided by these contractors, but admits it cannot guarantee all the wood is legal.
WWF remains optimistic it can save Tesso Nilo from the loggers by persuading the government to turn it into a national park. But it will be an uphill struggle.
Indonesia's Forestry Minister Mohammad Prakosa told the BBC he could not simply revoke the licences given to the companies which had been given the right to log the area.
And even if Tesso Nilo did become a national park, it would still not be safe from the illegal loggers.
The experience in Indonesia's other national parks has been that illegal logging has continued unabated as law enforcement across the country is so weak, not least because the police and other officials are notoriously corrupt.
Empty water reservoir
Ladakh
Between Kun lun mountain range and the Great Himalayas
Tomsk State University — 11 August, 2005 — researcher Sergei Kirpotin
All happened in the last three or four years
The huge expanse of western Siberia is thawing for the first time since its formation, 11,000 years ago.
This could potentially act as a tipping point, causing global warming to snowball, scientists fear.

More than 90% of the original national forest cover has now been lost.
The situation is an "ecological landslide that is probably irreversible and is undoubtedly connected to climatic warming," researcher Sergei Kirpotin, of Tomsk State University, Russia, told New Scientist magazine.
The whole western Siberian sub-Arctic region has started to thaw, he added, and this "has all happened in the last three or four years".
       Siberia, Alaska      
       Dramatic permafrost melt — click here      
Friday, 23 August, 2002
Indonesia risks losing rain forests
logs on a trailer
The loss of forest also destroys wildlife habitat
Deforestation across the world is still of grave concern to environmentalists.
They warn that rain forests in countries such as Indonesia and Brazil could disappear within 20 years.
Illegal logging is a particular problem in Indonesia, according to Marco Tacconi, an economist at the Centre for International Forestry Research.
He blamed illegal logging primarily not on poverty, but corruption.
It is estimated that two-thirds of all logging in Indonesia is illegal.
Mr Tacconi maintained that people who lived in the forests did not have the financial resources to carryout such an activity.
Indonesian rainforests
Indonesia has about 10% of the world's remaining tropical forests — second only to Brazil
Forest cover fell from 162m ha (400,300,000 acres) in 1950 to 98m ha (242,200,000 acres) in 2000
Nearly 2m ha (4,942,000 acres) are now being destroyed every year
Sources: World Resources Institute, Global Forest Watch, Indonesia
Laws flouted
There are laws against illegal logging but they have little impact.
While the government has introduced curbs on exports, these are believed to have had little effect because much of the timber illegally collected is used domestically.
Mr Tacconi has never heard of anyone being jailed following the prosecution of people caught transporting or exporting logs.
"Everybody knows that the law enforcement is very weak," he said.
The Indonesian government's senior economic policy adviser, Mahendra Singer, admitted the legal process to prosecute the illegal loggers needed to improve.
"I'm not trying to give an excuse," he told the BBC's World Business Report.
"We have to understand the experience as well as the constraints and limitations that the present legal system can do."
He admitted that the government was only just beginning to pass laws which deterred illegal logging.

SPECIAL REPORT
See also:

Wednesday, 25 January 2006
Scientists find 'smallest fish'
By Roland Pease
BBC science correspondent
The world's smallest known fish can measure as little as 7.9mm
The world's smallest known fish can measure as little as 7.9mm
Scientists have discovered the smallest known fish on record in the peat swamps of the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
Mature individuals of the Paedocypris genus can be as small as 7.9mm (0.3in) long, researchers write in a journal published by the UK's Royal Society.
But they warn long-term prospects for the fish are poor, because of the rapid destruction of Indonesian peat swamps.
The fish have taken extreme measures to survive in extreme habitats - pools of acid water in a tropical forest swamp.
Food is scarce but the Paedocypris — smaller than other fish by a few tenths of a millimetre — can sustain their small bodies grazing on plankton near the bottom of the water.
small fish against finger
Human threat
To keep their size down, the fish have abandoned many of the attributes of adulthood — a characteristic hinted at in their name.
Their brain, for example, lacks bony protection and the females have room to carry just a handful of eggs.
The males have a little clasp underneath that might help them fertilize eggs individually.
Being so small, the fish can live through even extreme drought, by seeking refuge in the last puddles of the swamp.
But they are now threatened by humans.
Widespread forest destruction, drainage of the peat swamps for palm oil plantations and persistent fires are destroying their habitat.
Science may have discovered Paedocypris just in time — but many of their miniature relatives may already have been wiped out.
Pygmy Elephants and Palm Oil Threat
The only hope for these elephants now is protection of the lowland forest as nature reserves or sustainably managed logging concessions.
Forests are being burned and peat wetlands drained for plantations, causing huge releases of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Land clearances in Indonesia to meet the growing global demand for palm oil pose a serious threat to the environment.
Gorillas, orangutans, and corals are among the plants and animals which are sliding closer to extinction.
     Clock ticking for Indonesian rainforest       
     Deforestation illegal logging primarily not because of poverty but corruption     
      Destruction of rainforest Indonesia Riau province     
        Piranhas — new dams bring caribe attacks        
        Fish that walk on land        
        Scientists find 'smallest fish'       
        New species of grenadiers found in the western Mediterranean        
        New species uncovered in Venezuela        
        Ocean census discovers new fish       
       Ice sheet reveal ancient plant matter      
       High-resolution polar ice and sea ice elevation      
 
 
 
 
 
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