Last stand - Saving the world's forests

A note from the editor

Wayne Ellwood

Time to stop the plunder

One of my vivid boyhood memories is of scrambling amongst granite outcrops of the Canadian Shield in the shimmering heat of a July afternoon.

I emerged from the forest into mottled sunshine and stretched out on flat, lichen-covered rocks, high above the black waters of a quiet lake. Stately white pines touched the sky. Underfoot was a cushion of sharply perfumed pine needles. The air was calm.

That moment of perfection emerges still on those rare occasions when I am able to venture into the woods. But the truth is that like many of us in our modern world I’m a city guy. Most of the trees I encounter are in my local park.

And that’s a problem. Because we’re losing our intimate relationship and understanding of forests as the world urbanizes. We don’t see the clear-cut hillsides, the splintered stumps and the plunder. They are outside our field of vision. Partly this stems from our mistaken sense that the natural wealth of the planet is boundless and inexhaustible. But this is folly.

As this month’s Big Story argues, we can no longer afford to cut-and-run. The forces that are destroying the world’s last ancient forests need to be resisted, and the communities whose lives and culture are rooted there, defended. At stake is nothing less than the ability of the land, water and wildlife to provide for future generations.

Elsewhere in this issue we welcome the return of New Zealand-based contributor, John F Schumaker, who explains the difference between depression and demoralization in our modern consumer culture.

Wayne Ellwood for the New Internationalist co-operative.
www.newint.org

Keynote article.

Stumped: a young boy surveys the remains of giant conifers on a mist-shrouded inlet in the US Pacific northwest.

Stumped: a young boy surveys the remains of giant conifers on a mist-shrouded inlet in the US Pacific northwest.

RooM the Agency/Alamy

Last stand

The world’s last great woodlands are fast disappearing – with untold consequences for the environment and for us. Time to stop the destruction, argues Wayne Ellwood.

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From the air, the earth is shorn and desiccated. Waves of heat billow upward, mixed with plumes of smoke. A few lonely trees stand in relief against the flattened landscape, while knots of cattle clump together in dusty paddocks ringed by barbed wire. This is the Brazilian state of Rondônia, the heart of the Amazon, wedged between the vast state of Amazonas to the north and, due south, Bolivia.

Fifty years ago, Rondônia was swathed in dense tropical rainforest. Today, it is one of the most de...




Features.

Young girls protect themselves from thick smoke as forest fires swept across Sumatra and Borneo in September 2015. The fires are set to clear the jungle to plant oil palms.

A burning problem

It happens every year: thousands of hectares of Indonesian rainforest are torched to clear land for palm oil, timber and other agribusiness operations. It’s a perfect storm of destruction. Nithin Coca reports from Sumatra.

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A group of women enter the bamboo forest garden at Hokokuji Temple in Kamakura, Japan.

Forest bathing

Escaping the pressures of modern life in Japan. By Tina Burrett and Christopher Simons.

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Ugandan cattle herder Lawrence Kamonyo and his wife, flanked by rows of pine trees planted by the German company Global Woods. The wood is certified but Kamonyo lost his land and his livelihood.

Certified nonsense

Sustainable forestry may be an oxymoron. Chris Lang finds some holes in the system.

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Forest facts

Facts and figures about trees and forests, from carbon control to biodiversity.

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Don’t even think about it: a sign in Mondulkiri province in eastern Cambodia warns against illegal logging.

Logging louts

Forest communities are under siege in Cambodia, says Fran Lambrick.

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Green machines

Diana Beresford-Kroeger unveils the hidden bio-chemistry of trees.

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A young Pole wearing clothes with nationalistic symbols burns a flare in front of the National Stadium in Warsaw during the anti-migrant March of Independence in November 2015.

A rightwing spiral

Dominik Sipiński reports on the rise of a nationalist Poland.

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Numbers game: edu-businesses are keen to exploit the profit potential of schools around the world.

PISA-envy, Pearson and Starbucks-style schools

Good for corporations, but what about the pupils? Adam Unwin and John Yandell consider the impact of edu-businesses.

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Web exclusives.

Children of war.

Regional conflicts overshadow Iraqi mental health

When looking at the Middle East, all attention is focused on Syria right now, writes Sophia Akram.

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Rêve Générale to Panama Papers

From France to Iceland, two seemingly disparate movements converge around the same dream, writes Jamie Kelsey-Fry.

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Net gains for politicians

Steve Parry explains why politicians and the internet don't get on.

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Seattle, home of the 1999 WTO protests, campaigning for internet freedom in 2015.

Claiming our victories

Don't listen to the cynics - Mark Engler thinks activists should pat themselves on the back.

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Agenda.

The mayor of Sinsan village points out a map of the proposed air city development on Jeju island, and its negative consequences for locals.

Upping the ante aero

Rose Bridger on the threat of an aerotropolis on Jeju Island.

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Animal wrongs

Animal wrongs

Finland's poor record on animal rights is threatening its reputation as a civilized, ethical country. Kelsi Farrington reports.

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25 years ago in New Internationalist...

Chris Brazier remembers the editorial contributions of David Ransom.

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A cleaner cup of tea

A cleaner cup of tea

Sabita Banerji on improving tea workers' lives.

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Introducing... Caterina Martins

Richard Swift introduces Portugal's 'Caterina the Great'.

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Philippines at risk of 'AIDS epidemic'

Philippines at risk of 'AIDS epidemic'

UN warning must be heeded, writes Iris Gonzales.

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Run for your life

Giedre Steikunaite considers the importance of the Palestine Marathon.

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Big hydro bad news

Big hydro bad news

Klara Sikorova bemoans the destruction of communities in Georgia caused by big hydropower projects.

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Keystone sting

Keystone sting

Trade agreements could threaten Keystone protester victory, writes Colin Roche.

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New app could help Iranians avoid morality police

New app could help Iranians avoid morality police

Hazel Healy reports on an innovation that could help women in Iran.

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Regulars.

Letters

Praise, blame and all points in between? Your feedback published in the April 2016 magazine.

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David Ransom, 2 December 1946 – 14 February 2016.

David Ransom: a tribute

2 December 1946 – 14 February 2016

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Clockwise from top: The iconic view of Rio and the Lagoa da Zona Sul; the beautiful game outside a church in Providencia, Rio’s oldest favela; 15-year-old belles from the Cerro-Korah favela attending a debutante ball organized as a good-will gesture by the Pacifying Police Unit; Zumbi da Silva, a former rubbish-picker in Esqueleto who now works in a new recycling co-operative.

Country profile: Brazil

Jan Rocha on the challenges and paradoxes in one of the world's most unequal countries.

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The demoralized mind

John F Schumaker asks how we can treat our sick culture and make ourselves well.

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Worldbeaters: Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hawkish Hillary is a friend of bankers and warmongers, despite her Democratic credentials.

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The freedom of the city

Trust between communities is being rebuilt, writes Ruby Diamonde.

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A word with Shazia Mirza

Comedian Shazia Mirza reveals her inspirations, fears and political passions.

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Film, Book & Music Reviews.

Dheepan – a man of many talents.

Mixed Media: Films

Dheepan, directed by Jacques Audiard; The Measure of a Man, directed by Stéphane Brizé; Our Little Sister, directed by Kore-eda Hirokazu.

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Malawi Mouse Boys in emotive action – beats selling roasted field-mice.

Mixed Media: Music

Forever Is 4 You by Malawi Mouse Boys; Wa Di Yo by Lakou Mizik.

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Mixed Media: Books

Angry White People by Hsiao-Hung Pai; A Girl in Exile by Ismail Kadare; The Egyptians: A Radical Story by Jack Shenker; How Did We Get Into This Mess? by George Monbiot.

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Also out there...

More reviews from the April 2016 magazine.

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