To celebrate Earth Day 2017, which is tomorrow, I would like to highlight the important findings of a paper by Campbell et al. published earlier this month in Nature (1). The paper documents, through the analysis of air trapped in ice from Antarctica, that the growth of global terrestrial gross primary production (GPP) –the amount of carbon dioxide that is ‘fixed’ into organic material through photosynthesis– is larger now than it has been at any time during the last 54,000 years. This basically means that the planet is greener and nature is thriving more now than at any time during human history, despite all the havoc we humans are wreaking everywhere.
During this week’s Climate Change Conference in La Paz, several participants expressed concern about Bolivia’s plans for oil drilling in National Parks following the recent Supreme Decree 2366 of 20 May 2015, which explicitly permits oil drilling in some protected areas in Bolivia in the name of poverty reduction and integral development for the people living in these areas.
In the conference session on Climate Change and Ecosystems, the panelists were asked if it was not contradictory to allow oil exploitation in national parks, and if anybody knew of any examples anywhere in the World where it had been done successfully. One of the panelists, Stanley Arguedas, Co-President of the Commission on Environmental Management of the International Union of Nature Conservation (CGE-IUCN) from Costa Rica, admitted that he did not personally know of any successful examples, but that, in theory, oil exploitation could be done in protected areas without compromising the objectives of the national park.
This tiny theoretical opening, coming from a top conservationist, is what I would like to explore in this blog.
Within the Bolivian government, there are parts that encourage a massive expansion of the agricultural frontier, and other parts that work to control deforestation in order to reduce the local and global impacts of climate change. These are pretty much opposing policies, so consider the following hypothetical question: How large an area would we have to reforest in order to compensate the carbon emissions caused by the expansion of the agricultural frontier by 2.5 million hectares, if we wanted to reach carbon emission neutrality by 2030. Read More »
During the first week of September 2014, the California-based film company GLP films came to Bolivia to make a video about the Joint Mitigation and Adaptation Mechanism for the Integral and Sustainable Management of Forests and Mother Earth, which is Bolivia’s alternative to the international REDD+ mechanism to reduce deforestation (see expedition web-site).
The video project is financed by the Think Tank Initiative managed by the International Development Research Centre in Canada, and the resulting video is expected be featured at a side event at the COP20 in Lima in December 2014.
Under the direction of Lykke Andersen from INESAD, and with the help of many other institutions and individuals, a 6-person film crew, armed to the teeth with gear, visited La Paz, Rurrenabaque, Bella Altura, Pando, Santa Cruz, Concepción, and El Torno.
By: Lykke E. Andersen*
During the last decade, Bolivia had one of the highest per capita deforestation rates in the World (1). Apart from this being decidedly unkind to Mother Earth and exacerbating problems of wild fires, droughts and flooding in Bolivia, this also caused Bolivians to be among the biggest contributors to CO2 emissions in the World (approximately 11 t/CO2/person/year – more than almost all European countries and more than twice the global average) (2).
This was obviously a major problem in Bolivia, and at INESAD we have been working for several years on promoting policies to reduce deforestation. Thus, we should be thrilled by the recent news from ABT showing that Bolivia has reduced deforestation by 64% since 2010 (see Figure 1).
But it almost seems too good to be true. I suspect that everybody working in this area are asking themselves: Can this really be true?
In continuation with the SimPachamama launch month at INESAD, this week has seen a number of articles published around the topics of gaming, deforestation and climate change:
By Ioulia Fenton
In conjunction with its partners, the Institute for Advanced Development Studies (INESAD) has designed statistical tools, using extensive real life data, to simulate what kinds of policies are likely to make a measurable impact on reducing deforestation while maximizing human wellbeing in Bolivia. As the “How to Live Well in Bolivia” infographic released by INESAD earlier this month illustrates, two policies working in tandem are predicted to have the best results. An internal US$450 tax on every hectare of cleared forest, structured in a way as to mainly affect large-scale commercial agriculture, could raise one billion dollars every four years and kick start deforestation reduction efforts. While laudable on its own, the policy would not be enough. A matching system of payments from rich countries to Bolivia for reducing deforestation that would raise an additional one billion dollars every two years is predicted to act as a catalyst. If the money is then spent on paying people to conserve their forests, on creating green jobs (such as within the eco-tourism sector), and financing anti-poverty initiatives, every year, together, the dual policy effort is forecast to engage 72 percent of the rural population, increase the income of the poor who participate by 29 percent, and achieve a 29 percent reduction in deforestation. (Play the SimPachamama simulation game to see if you can keep forests standing while making the community happy and wealthy). Read More »
By Ioulia Fenton
Let’s say you live in a fairly rich country and you are actually quite well off. You use lots of paper in your job, drive a car, heat and air-condition your house, and regularly fly for work, vacation, and to see your family in another country. You know that this causes tons of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to be released into the atmosphere, which is driving climate change, and that if everyone in the world had your kind of a lifestyle then we’d need five planets, not one, to survive. So you decide that you want to do something about it. Even though you have started to recycle, have put energy saving light bulbs in your house, bought a Prius, and always carry your water bottle and coffee thermos flask, somehow you feel that this is not enough: the Carbon Footprint Calculator still tells you that your kind of life needs more than four planets. Read More »
According to a recent study funded by the World Bank and published in Science magazine, tropical land use change was responsible for 7 to 14 percent of gross human-induced carbon emissions between 2000 and 2005. Forests are valuable storage places for large amounts of carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming when it enters the earth’s atmosphere. This is because plants absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) and transform it into energy necessary for growing in a process called photosynthesis (for details, see the May 2013 Exactly how to trees fight climate change article by Institute for Advanced Development Studies (INESAD) researcher Tracey Li). Land use changes such as clearing forests for agriculture or construction mean that forests are less able to extract CO2 from the atmosphere and store it. Additionally, burning trees—which, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are made up of around 50 percent carbon—to clear land releases the carbon that was previously stored in the them.