News Article | May 3, 2017
In a major change, Brazil's Ministry of the Environment is looking for a company to help it monitor deforestation in the Amazon. "This is a surprise for everyone … crazy stuff," says Tasso Azevedo, coordinator of the Greenhouse Gas Emission Estimate System and Observatório do Clima in São Paulo and former head of the Brazilian Forest Service. The controversial proposal led to the firing of one of the ministry's top scientists, who is a vice president of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Since 1988, the ministry has relied on the National Institute of Space Research (INPE) to analyze land cover changes in the Amazon, which holds the world’s largest intact swaths of forest. Efforts to combat deforestation there have been the focus of worldwide interest, in large part because of the region’s rich biodiversity and the forest’s role in shaping regional climate. The ministry says INPE will continue to monitor the Amazon, but researchers worry that the $25 million annual contract will result in significant duplication of effort, a waste of scarce resources, possible confusion over deforestation rates, and create an apparent conflict of interest for the ministry. The data from INPE's remote sensing analyses helped the ministry create and enforce policies that slashed deforestation by 72% between 2004 and 2016. The flagship effort at INPE is the Program for Monitoring Deforestation of the Amazon by Satellite (PRODES), in which technicians analyze LANDSAT data to identify clear-cuts larger than 6.25 hectares and produce a yearly estimate of deforestation in the Amazon. Since 2004, INPE has added techniques to detect smaller patches of illegal cutting, and also created a program called DETER to provide monthly and weekly updates that could be used for enforcement. The long track record with PRODES and INPE's newer approaches have won praise from international experts. "Brazil is the leading country in terms of monitoring deforestation," says Matthew Hansen of the University of Maryland in College Park. "No one touches Brazil." But on 20 April, the ministry quietly issued a 160-page request for proposals for "contracting specialized services of support to the infrastructure of geoprocessing and remote sensing activities to meet the demands of environmental monitoring and geoprocessing." The 2-week deadline for proposals closes Thursday, after which the ministry will consider any bids for up to 60 days. The 12-month contract could be extended for up to 5 years. News of the proposal request was first reported Wednesday by Estadão. The decision to hire a commercial firm to do remote-sensing analysis was disputed within the ministry. The head of the program to combat deforestation, mathematician Thelma Krug, who helped create PRODES, reportedly objected to the decision. She was dismissed from her position on 19 April, the day before the request for proposals was issued. In a statement, the ministry said she wanted to spend more time on her work for IPCC. "She's a scientist who knows better than anyone in Brazil what's going on with measuring deforestation in the Amazon," says Paulo Moutinho, an ecologist at the Amazon Environmental Research Institute in Brasília. Her firing was "not good news for Brazilian society or those trying to protect the forest." In a statement yesterday, the ministry said that the purpose of the contract is to add technology, such as radar imagery, not available from INPE. The space agency will continue to monitor and estimate deforestation in the Amazon, the ministry said, and disputed that work done under the contract would be redundant with INPE’s activities. But Raoni Rajão, a social scientist at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, says that much of the work called for by the bid request is already being done by INPE, so hiring a contractor to replicate it is "basically a waste of money." The contract would eat up 18% of the ministry's budget, which was cut 51% in March to $142 million. That's money that could be better spent fighting illegal logging, which rose 29% last year, says Carlos Souza, a remote sensing expert with Imazon, a research institute in Belém. There's also the potential for conflict of interest, critics say. The ministry would be paying a company to evaluate deforestation, which is one measure of how well the ministry is doing its job. That raises important questions, Souza says: "How transparent will the system be? Can it be verified by civil society?" INPE's methods are transparent and its analysis independent of the ministry, experts say. "If you want to save the Amazon," says Moutinho, "we need a very robust monitoring system of deforestation." Rajão, who has created an online petition to ask the ministry to cancel the request, also worries that the ministry could cherry-pick deforestation data from the contractor or INPE and highlight the better-looking numbers. Multiple sources of government information could create confusion over the status and trends of deforestation, he says. A big value of INPE’s annual deforestation estimates is that they offer a simple, clear indicator about how the world's largest rainforest is faring, says tropical ecologist Dan Nepstad of the Earth Innovation Institute in San Francisco, California. "It's become part of the national narrative on the Amazon," he says.
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: ENV.2009.4.2.3.2 | Award Amount: 1.96M | Year: 2010
The project CORPUS - Enhancing Connectivity Between Research and Policymaking in Sustainable Consumption aims to develop novel approaches to knowledge brokering (KB) between policy-making and research. It will foster evidence-based policy-making at the example of sustainable consumption by applying and testing a combination of online and offline KB methods. It will stimulate community-building across the involved researchers and policy-makers to arrive at a self-sustaining process of knowledge management in sustainable con-sumption policies. The CORPUS Web Platform is to become a central reference point for high quality information and networking among European professionals working with sustainable consumption. It will provide a space for incubating and nurturing knowledge to be shared among researchers and policy-makers through private domain, and scientific results to be disseminated in the public domain, and a transparent, effective interaction (dialogue) between scientists and policy-makers. The Interaction Exercises in three priority areas of sustainable consumption (food, mo-bility, housing) will explore novel modalities of knowledge brokerage through different forms of face-to-face dialogues. They provide specifically tailored arenas for personal exchange, infor-mation provision, and offline community-building. Since community-building is crucial for successful and ongoing knowledge exchange, a sepa-rate work package is dedicated to building of relationships, governing the network, and stimulat-ing engagement of participants. Another work package provides resources for initial fine-tuning and recurrent adaptations of the process and ensures the transferability of the projects results by systematically reflecting the empirical experiences against the background of knowledge management theory. Related to that, a built-in evaluation further enhances continued learning on the knowledge brokerage approach taken within CORPUS.
News Article | March 7, 2016
RICHLAND, WA — Airborne particles known as "aerosols" strongly impact the way clouds form and change, but accurately capturing this effect in computer climate models has proved to be notoriously difficult. A new study in the Proceedings on the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition online February 26, 2016, suggests why — either the models are failing to capture in sufficient detail the processes at work in clouds, or aerosols are now so pervasive in the atmosphere thanks to modern-day pollution that their specific effects on clouds are hard to pin down. A key problem is that we generally do not have data on clouds from the preindustrial era, before there was pollution, for comparison with the clouds of today. Because clouds are a key part of Earth's climate system, working out how they behaved before the Industrial Age might ultimately help us better determine how much the world will eventually warm up. The study points to at least two ways to potentially improve how the clouds are simulated in climate models. One is to better differentiate cloud types in models to account for their variability. Another would be to study clouds that are not influenced by the pollution that humans have been putting out since the Industrial Age started. "We might have to find clouds far away from civilization," said study author Steve Ghan of the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "But, there are parts of the world that are pretty darn clean." One of the toughest questions dogging climate scientists is how much the earth will warm from all the greenhouse gases humans are putting into the atmosphere. Computer models put out a range of possibilities, and the smaller the range, the more sure scientists can be of the result. For example, scientists use models to calculate a property called climate sensitivity — or how easy it is to warm the earth with additional greenhouse gases. Ultimately, climate sensitivity will tell us the temperature we will end up at so we don't have to wait until the earth adjusts to the added gases, allowing us to prepare for or impede climate change. Conceptually, climate sensitivity would be straightforward to estimate if one focused on just a few limited components of the Earth system — namely, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, sunlight hitting the earth, and Earth bouncing some of the sunlight back to space. Under this greatly simplified model, scientists could be pretty confident in their climate sensitivity value: the earth will most likely warm about three-fourths of a degree Celsius for every unit of the sun's energy trapped in the atmosphere, with a possible range of a quarter of a degree more or less. But the sunlight bouncing off the Earth's atmosphere is complicated by the presence of clouds that change in ways that are poorly understood. Climate scientists want to incorporate all the pieces that make up the earth system to nail down a value for overall climate sensitivity. For their part, Ghan and colleagues have been exploring the contribution of clouds and the tiny aerosol particles that influence cloud properties. "It's not enough to have particle emissions and solar energy balance alone, because a lot is going on in between," said Ghan. Currently, when scientists use models to calculate the extent to which aerosols — through clouds — affect the earth's climate, they get a much, much wider range and greater uncertainty than for greenhouse gases. Why? Clouds are complex — their properties are influenced by tiny aerosol particles called cloud condensation nuclei that cloud droplets form around; a greater number of particles leads to more cloud droplets which in turn affects the cloud brightness and lifetime, since small cloud droplets hang around for hours, and larger water droplets are more prone to come down as rain, if they're heavy enough. The physics and chemistry underlying these and other components mean scientists have to represent daunting complexity in models. Also, clouds are ephemeral creatures. The measurements of clouds that scientists now take have no counterpart in the geologic record, unlike greenhouse gases that are preserved in bubbles in ice cores. Between ice cores, rocks, trees and fossils, researchers have a good idea how much carbon dioxide existed in the pre-industrial atmosphere. But they can't tell how often dinosaurs cavorted under cloudy skies. To see how well cloud and aerosol measurements are represented in models, Ghan and colleagues compared different models to each other and to measurements and examined how they re-created the past and present. They did this by essentially taking apart the simulations and testing the pieces. A climate model is like a train barreling through a tunnel — scientists put data on the train at one end and the train delivers a view of the climate out the other. In a perfect world, the simulated climate would take a smooth ride through that tunnel. But it's possible that a rollercoaster resides within, taking the simulation through twists and turns that don't resemble reality. To compare the different models, the team looked at the rides taken by the individual components of the equations that make up the simulations. The relationship between the pre-industrial and present day values of any given component, say, the changes in the concentrations of cloud droplets resulting from a change in aerosols, should be the same across the nine different computer models they tested and should be reflected in data from observations. The team found, however, that pre- and post-industrial values didn't agree and, in some cases, that there was even a difference in sign (that is, one model yielded a positive value while another yielded a negative one). That indicated they could not model pre-industrial clouds using measurements that have been collected in a post-industrial world. "It's very curious. With greenhouse gases, climate sensitivity doesn't change over eight hundred thousand years. It works. Why don't clouds?" Ghan said. Additional research is needed to figure out why pre-industrial clouds differ from today's clouds. But Ghan said there are several potential directions to go. One, clouds may be more complex than currently represented in models. For example, clouds could have layers that scientists haven't accounted for in models that complicate the transfer of sunlight in and out of the system. In this case, old and present-day clouds would actually be the same, but it would mean the models are missing essential complexity needed to simulate how aerosols and clouds interact. Two, today's clouds in regions of the world where observations are made are never as clean as they were in pre-industrial times. "Present day variability doesn't apply to pre-industrial times because everything's different now that we've been putting greenhouse gases and pollutants in the air for so long," said Ghan. Scientists can explore this option by studying clouds in pristine regions of the world, such as in the southern hemisphere between the latitudes of 40 and 50 degrees. A third explanation could be that the equations used to represent the cloud-aerosol interaction aren't quite right and need to be revisited. In the future, distinguishing between these options may help scientists shine light on cloud modeling's cloudy history. This work was supported by the US Department of Energy Office of Science, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Austrian Science Fund, the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre, the UK Natural Environment Research Council, the UK European Research Council, Japan's Ministry of the Environment, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and the US National Science Foundation. Citation: Steven Ghan, Minghuai Wang, Shipeng Zhang, Sylvaine Ferrachat, Andrew Gettelman, Jan Griesfeller, Zak Kipling, Ulrike Lohmann, Hugh Morrison, David Neubauer, Daniel Partridge, Philip Stier, Toshihiko Takemura, Hailong Wang, and Kai Zhang. Challenges in Constraining Anthropogenic Aerosol Effects on Cloud Radiative Forcing Using Present-day Spatiotemporal Variability, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, Early Edition, February 22, 2016, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1514036113.
News Article | November 24, 2016
Additional details on the AlphaValue report concerning the financial situation of EDF EDF strongly contests the alleged accounting and financial analyses by the firm AlphaValue carried out at the request of Greenpeace and relating to the situation of EDF. EDF recalls that its accounts are audited and certified by its statutory auditors(1) and that the dismantling costs of EDF's existing nuclear power fleet have also been subject to an audit mandated by the French Ministry of the Environment, Energy and the Sea; the summary audit report, made public on 15 January 2016, confirms EDF's estimates. EDF files a criminal complaint to draw the consequences of these false allegations and this misleading information. A key player in energy transition, the EDF Group is an integrated electricity company, active in all areas of the business: generation, transmission, distribution, energy supply and trading, energy services. A global leader in low-carbon energies, the Group has developed a diversified generation mix based on nuclear power, hydropower, new renewable energies and thermal energy. The Group is involved in supplying energy and services to approximately 37.6 million customers, of which 27.8 million in France. The Group generated consolidated sales of €75 billion in 2015, of which 47.2% outside of France. EDF is listed on the Paris Stock Exchange.
News Article | December 15, 2016
Initial forest data for the scenario analyses was generated by means of satellite imagery and the NFI sample plot data. The spatial forest data enabled the use of patch- and landscape-scale models in predicting the presence of flying squirrels. "Integrating the estimation method with the MELA model will allow the impact assessment of alternative felling scenarios in areas of different sizes," explains Helena Haakana, Researcher at Luke. The same approach can be applied to assess the impacts of habitat conservation measures on wood production and forest revenues. The sample plot data from the NFI is commonly used in national and regional scenario analyses to assess the development of forest resources and future felling potential. The NFI covers the whole country, but the fairly sparse network of sample plots allows calculations only for large areas, such as provinces. Satellite imagery provides a means to estimate forest data for smaller areas and on full geographic coverage. This allows scenario analyses of forest production and utilization possibilities also at local level, for example, for municipalities. In addition, spatially explicit constraints on wood production, such as steep slopes and local land-use plans, can be taken into account in the analyses. Regional variation in the impacts of fellings on the predicted habitats suitable for the flying squirrel The Siberian flying squirrel is strictly protected in Europe and classified as a near threatened species in Finland. One reason for this population decline is most probably the loss of suitable habitats, resulting from intensive forest management. The flying squirrel prefers mature spruce-dominated mixed forest with some deciduous trees such as aspen. The development of suitable habitats for the flying squirrel was studied in three alternative felling scenarios in Southern Finland. The results confirmed that increasing the utilisation rate of felling potential from the level of business-as-usual to meet the policy targets of regional forest programmes would decrease the amount of suitable habitat in the future. The impacts varied between the regions, depending on the species density and forest structure. However, the occurrence of the flying squirrel could not be accurately predicted with forest and landscape variables only. Obviously, there are other factors than forest management, such as predators and historical species distribution, also affecting presence. The research was carried out in cooperation with the Finnish Museum of Natural History in a project funded by the Finnish Ministry of the Environment entitled "Habitats of the Siberian flying squirrel (Pteromys volans) in South Finland and the development of potential habitats in different cutting scenarios in 2005 – 2055." Explore further: A new solution for the management of up-to-date forest resource information in Russia More information: Helena Haakana et al. Comparing regional forest policy scenarios in terms of predicted suitable habitats for the Siberian flying squirrel (), Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research (2016). DOI: 10.1080/02827581.2016.1221991
News Article | December 21, 2016
WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A new video released today from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) shows that Romanian suppliers to the Austrian timber giant Holzindustrie Schweighofer (Schweighofer) appear to be systematically laundering logs through real and fictitious log depots to obscure their forest origins. Given the high risk of illegal logging in Romania and the wealth of evidence that Schweighofer has previously sourced illegal timber, the company’s extensive sourcing from log depots presents a particular challenge to the company as it struggles to clean up its supply chain. Romanian law requires that all log transports originating from a logging site contain an APV number (actul de punere în valoare), linking the logs to a specific forest harvesting permit. In contrast, subsequent transports of logs, including from log depots, do not contain this APV number. In September 2016, EIA investigators witnessed a number of trucks entering Schweighofer’s sawmill in Sebeș, Romania. The officially listed origin for 80% of these trucks was in log depots – most of which were located within seven kilometers of the company’s sawmill. In one instance, investigators observed a log truck entering the town of Sebeș, with an official transport document showing origin in the forest, with an APV number. Thirty minutes later, the same truck entered Schweighofer’s sawmill – now registered with a new transport document originating from a depot, but for the exact same quantity of wood. The GPS coordinates for this new document show that it was registered not in a depot, but in a random location on the freeway less than one kilometer from Schweighofer’s sawmill. In December 2016, Romania’s Ministry of the Environment launched a new website called Forest Inspector, providing public access to detailed information about all timber transports in the country. Analysis of transports visible on this website shows that in the month of September alone, over 300 trucks in the Sebeș area used a similar mechanism – registering new “depot” transport documents for the exact same volume, on the exact same day, as an earlier “forest” document, demonstrating the widespread nature of this laundering scheme. Twelve percent of these came from within or just outside of natural parks. “The lack of forest origin information in so many of Schweighofer’s log purchases makes it impossible for the company to ensure legal timber sourcing,” said David Gehl, Eurasia Programs Coordinator at EIA. “With the Forest Inspector website, Romanian citizens now have a unique way to help protect their forests by holding companies to account for buying legal wood.” EIA’s new video comes after a surprise decision by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to ignore the recommendations of its panel report to disassociate itself from Schweighofer due to findings that the company had extensively sourced illegal logs and had an inadequate due diligence system for excluding illegal timber. The FSC panel further recommended that Schweighofer ensure that “all timber can be traced from the stand in the forest to mill gate including any timber that is purchased from third parties.” “Schweighofer’s customers should demand that the company publicly release proof of the legal forest origin of every board it sells,” said Gehl. “Until Schweighofer does this, its customers should know that they could be buying illegal wood.”
News Article | August 29, 2016
For a number of years now, an increasing number of synthetic nanoparticles have been manufactured and incorporated into various products, such as cosmetics. For the first time, a research project at the Technical University of Munich and the Bavarian Ministry of the Environment provides reliable findings on their presence in water bodies. Nanoparticles can improve the properties of materials and products. That is the reason why an increasing number of nanoparticles have been manufactured over the past several years. The worldwide consumption of silver nanoparticles is currently estimated at over 300 metric tons. These nanoparticles have the positive effect of killing bacteria and viruses. Products that are coated with these particles include refrigerators and surgical instruments. Silver nanoparticles can even be found in sportswear. This is because the silver particles can prevent the smell of sweat by killing the bacteria that cause it. Previously, it was unknown whether and in what concentration these nanoparticles enter the environment and e.g. enter bodies of water. If they do, this poses a problem. That is because the silver nanoparticles are toxic to numerous aquatic organisms, and can upset sensitive ecological balances. In the past, however, nanoparticles have not been easy to detect. That is because they measure only 1 to 100 nanometers across — a nanometer is a millionth of a millimeter. "In order to know if a toxicological hazard exists, we need to know how many of these particles enter the environment, and in particular bodies of water," explains Michael Schuster, Professor for Analytical Chemistry at the TU Munich. This was an analytical challenge for the researchers charged with solving the problem on behalf of the Bavarian Ministry of the Environment. In order to overcome this issue, they used a well-known principle that utilizes the effect of surfactants to separate and concentrate the particles. "Surfactants are also found in washing and cleaning detergents," explains Schuster. "Basically, what they do is envelop grease and dirt particles in what are called micelles, making it possible for them to float in water." One side of the surfactant is water-soluble, the other fat-soluble. The fat-soluble ends collect around non-polar, non-water soluble compounds such as grease or around particles, and "trap" them in a micelle. The water-soluble, polar ends of the surfactants, on the other hand, point towards the water molecules, allowing the microscopically small micelle to float in water. The researchers applied this principle to the nanoparticles. "When the micelles surrounding the particles are warmed slightly, they start to clump," explains Schuster. This turns the water cloudy. Using a centrifuge, the surfactants and the nanoparticles trapped in them can then be separated from the water. This procedure is called cloud point extraction. The researchers then use the surfactants that have been separated out in this manner — which contain the particles in an unmodified, but highly concentrated form — to measure how many silver nanoparticles are present. To do this, they use a highly sensitive atomic spectrometer configured to only detect silver. In this manner, concentrations in a range of less than one nanogram per liter can be detected. To put this in perspective, this would be like detecting a box of sugar cubes that had dissolved in the Walchensee lake. With the help of this analysis procedure, it is possible to gain new insight into the concentration of nanoparticles in drinking and waste water, sewage sludge, rivers, and lakes. In Bavaria, the measurements yielded good news: The concentrations measured in the water bodies were extremely low. In was only in four of the 13 Upper Bavarian lakes examined that the concentration even exceeded the minimum detection limit of 0.2 nanograms per liter. No measured value exceeded 1.3 nanograms per liter. So far, no permissible values have been established for silver nanoparticles. Representative for watercourses, the Isar river was examined from its source to its mouth at around 30 locations. The concentration of silver nanoparticles was also measured in the inflow and outflow of sewage treatment plants. The findings showed that at least 94 percent of silver nanoparticles are filtered out by the sewage treatment plants.
News Article | March 14, 2016
« DOE seeking input on operation of integrated biorefineries | Main | GKN Driveline introducing eAxle for mass-market C-segment vehicles » A Japanese partnership comprising the Kanagawa Prefectural Government; the municipal governments of the cities of Yokohama and Kawasaki; Toyota; Toshiba; and Iwatani announced the forthcoming start of a four-year project to implement and evaluate an end-to-end low-carbon hydrogen supply chain which will use hydrogen produced from renewable energy to power forklifts. (Earlier post.) The project will be carried out at facilities along Tokyo Bay in Yokohama and Kawasaki, with support from Japan’s Ministry of the Environment. Electricity generated at the Yokohama City Wind Power Plant (Hama Wing) will power the electrolytic production of hydrogen, which will then be compressed, stored, and then transported in a hydrogen fueling truck to four sites: a factory, a vegetable and fruit market, and two warehouses. At these locations, the hydrogen will be used in fuel cells to power forklifts operating in diverse conditions. This low-carbon hydrogen supply chain is expected to reduce CO emissions by at least 80% compared with a supply chain using forklifts powered by gasoline or grid electricity. The project’s aim is to establish a hydrogen supply chain, investigate costs, and estimate potential CO reductions that can be achieved with a full-fledged supply chain in the future. Systems to produce hydrogen by electrolyzing water using wind power. Hydrogen will be produced using renewable energy generated at Hama Wing to operate a Toshiba water electrolysis system with a production capacity of 10 Nm3/hour. The management system will enable flexible, CO -free, hydrogen production that accounts for temporary discrepancies between power output and hydrogen demand. Systems to optimize storage and transportation of hydrogen. Sufficient hydrogen to power fuel cells for two days will be stored onsite. Electricity will also be stored in an environmentally-friendly storage battery system that re-uses batteries from hybrid vehicle batteries, thus ensuring a stable hydrogen supply even when Hama Wing is not operational. The hydrogen will be compressed for use in forklifts, and delivered in hydrogen fueling trucks (the first of their kind to be used in Japan). The consumption of hydrogen by the forklifts will be constantly monitored, so as to ensure optimal transportation and supply to meet user needs. Use of fuel cell forklifts. Twelve forklifts will operate at the four selected locations to demonstrate their viability in a range of operating conditions. Japan’s first fuel cell powered forklifts, which Toyota introduced in February 2016, emit zero CO during operation. Hydrogen supply chain feasibility study. The demonstration project will provide data for assessing future courses of action required to reduce hydrogen costs, including the establishment of a mass production process, and the steps needed to implement deregulation. It will also contribute to discussions on developing a model for promoting the adoption of hydrogen through technological innovation, and the development of full-fledged supply chains, based on projections of needs in 2030. Schedule. Following a preparatory period, trial operations of the project are scheduled to begin this autumn, with the introduction of a single forklift at two facilities, and the initiation of the hydrogen delivery system using hydrogen refueling trucks. Full-scale operations will start in FY2017, when a total of 12 forklifts will be deployed—three each at four facilities. During this time, the entire system will start operating, including production, storage, compression, delivery and use of hydrogen.
News Article | December 9, 2016
WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Romania’s Ministry of the Environment today released a new website allowing real-time tracking of all timber transports across the country. This new map-based interface, “Forest Inspector,” represents a groundbreaking approach by the government to involve its citizens in the fight against illegal logging – a pervasive problem which continues to threaten the country’s valuable forests, among Europe’s oldest and most pristine. “EIA congratulates Romania’s government for creating this unique and groundbreaking public access to key forest information,” said David Gehl, Eurasia Programs Coordinator for the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a US-based NGO that has documented the international trade in illegally cut Romanian timber. “It takes a nation to protect a national treasure. Romania’s new interactive website allows all of Romania’s citizens to take real action to stop illegal logging and help protect Romania’s valuable forests.” The “Forest Inspector” portal allows users to view ongoing and historical data about all timber transports in Romania. This new interface builds upon a series of previous government initiatives. In 2014, Romania’s government created a hotline where citizens could call to check if logging trucks seen on Romania’s roads were officially registered. Public statistics show that a quarter of all phone calls since 2014 identified illegal trucks. A mobile app version introduced in 2016 led to a 30% increase in the number of trucks registering official transport documents, which would seem to indicate a dramatic decrease in the number of log trucks illegally transporting timber. The new interface released today provides full public access to a logging truck’s journey, including whether it is registered, the type and quantity of logs it is transporting, and the exact GPS coordinates where the logs were loaded on to the truck. The interface does not currently link transport documents and harvesting permits; a critical element needed to prevent the laundering of illegally-cut timber that has been commonplace in Romania. Involving citizens directly in governance of a country’s forests is the approach that can truly ensure effective governance and transparency for managing and protecting the world’s forests. Ultimately, full transparency and public access is the only way to have a robust, sustainable system to hold governments and companies accountable for complying with the laws in place to protect the world’s forests. “With the future addition of a link between transport documents and harvesting sites, the Forest Inspector website could truly link the logs on the road to the forest stand itself,” said Gehl. “Romania is well on its way to becoming a world-leader in involving its citizenry in governing its own forests in a unique and innovative way.”
News Article | November 21, 2016
Sub-culture icon “Billy The Exterminator” recently featured a Toronto area bed bug exterminator that forgoes pesticides in lieu of heat on his new show “Billy Goes North”, a series that focuses on the unique aspects of pest control north of the border. Joining “Billy” was Dan Morgan, CEO of Green Tech Bug Heat, Ontario’s ‘green’ bed bug exterminator’ that uses heat as opposed to chemicals to kill bed bugs. The show, which began its first Canadian season this year, has quickly gained an impressive following both in Canada and south of the border. The “Billy Goes North” episode focused on a severe bed bug infestation in a multi-unit rented house where the heat (140 degrees F.) permeated even the hardest to reach places and killed all of the bed bugs and their eggs without using pesticides. Morgan highlighted that using heat to kill bed bugs is much more effective than the traditional chemical treatments and that his system saves an estimated 1000 gallons of chemical exposure to the planet each and every year in his operation alone. “We are proud to be Southern Ontario’s ‘green’ bed bug solution. Our bed bug heat extermination is far superior to chemicals and the fact that it’s eco-friendly is something we’re really proud of”, says Morgan. The typical bed bug heat treatment takes anywhere from eight to fourteen hours to complete properly and results in a 100% kill of all of the bed bugs and their eggs in just one treatment. Once the home cools down (a few hours) the homeowner comes right back in to a bed bug free home. “More people are opting for our bed bug heat treatment because they know that it’s much more effective than using chemicals and the fact that it’s a green technology makes everyone feel better” said Morgan. About Green Tech Bug Heat Green Tech Bug Heat (a division of Royal Forest Pest Services Inc.) is a Toronto based bed bug exterminator that uses heat (as opposed to chemicals) to kill bed bugs. Licensed by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Green Tech Bug Heat has an “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau and is a member in good standing with the NPMA, CPMA and SPMAO.