Ministry of the Environment

Narva-Jõesuu, Estonia

Ministry of the Environment

Narva-Jõesuu, Estonia
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News Article | May 3, 2017
Site: www.sciencemag.org

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.


News Article | May 24, 2017
Site: www.greentechmedia.com

In the wake of presidential elections, France’s growing renewables industry could benefit from the appointment of an environmental activist to head energy policy. Emmanuel Macron, who enjoyed a landslide victory in France’s May 7 elections, has appointed nature documentary maker Nicolas Hulot as Minister of Ecological and Solidarity-Based Transition, in charge of the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs. Hulot, a former press photographer who rose to fame on the back of environmental documentaries such as Ushuaïa, le magazine de l'Extrême, has been critical of France’s dependence on nuclear energy. News of his appointment resulted in a seven-point drop in share price for the state-owned utility Électricité de France (EDF), which gets 78 percent of its generation from 58 nuclear reactors across the country. EDF shares had previously surged on the back of speculation that Macron would push nuclear as part of his government’s energy agenda. Now “there is a fear of a stricter ecological line given Hulot's history as an environmental campaigner," Andrea Tueni, a markets analyst with Saxo Bank, told Reuters. This could be a boon for French renewable energy interests, which were already favored by the previous government. In 2015, France adopted an Energy Transition for Green Growth Act, which sets a target of 40 percent renewable energy in the power mix by 2030, up from less than 17 percent currently. The country is also planning to cut nuclear power’s share of the mix to 50 percent by 2025. Just before Hulot’s appointment, his predecessor, Segolene Royal, unveiled a slew of renewable energy-related proposals, including a decree for the development of energy self-consumption and orders providing added support for solar power. Macron swept to power with pledges to build on this progress, promising to launch renewable energy tenders for up to 26 gigawatts of capacity by 2022. “Macron wants to double France’s solar and wind power capacities, which stood at 6.8 gigawatts and 11.7 gigawatts last year, partly by simplifying authorization processes,” Bloomberg reported. Industry observers were guardedly optimistic about the outlook for renewable energy in France under the new leadership. “We would not want to be confident about anything at this stage,” said Michael Brown, director of the distributed energy markets research and consulting company Delta Energy & Environment (Delta-ee). “It appears there is an energy transition going on in France, and the pace of that transition seems unlikely to slow down. It may even go a bit faster with the Hulot influence. Everyone knows what his background is and what his priorities are," said Brown. France must still go through a legislative election to pick the 577 members of the National Assembly, the country's lower house of parliament, next month. The outcome of this remains a big unknown. Macron’s party, En March!, a progressive movement founded just over a year ago, has no current representation in the assembly, and voters will have had little time to weigh its candidates. Macron has said at least half of his 577 proposed appointees for the assembly will be people with no previous political experience. If En March! faces an electoral setback, Hulot might have only limited room for sweeping policy moves. That, in turn, might be a major source of frustration for a seasoned campaigner such as Hulot, Brown hinted. At the time of being appointed, Hulot said on Twitter: “Those who know me know that being a minister is not for me an objective in itself. However, I believe that the political situation opens a new opportunity for action that I cannot ignore.” But with assembly elections still to come, and the summer break following soon after, it could be September before Hulot has a chance to set policy -- if at all. “It will depend a lot on the elections early June,” said Josefin Berg, senior analyst for solar demand at IHS Markit. “But we haven't seen any indicators that he seeks to disrupt what the previous government put in place.”


The world is in serious need of solutions to create sustainable growth and jobs. The World Circular Economy Forum 2017 is bringing 1,500 specialists from around the world to Finland to show how this can be done. The groundbreaking event will focus on the world's best circular economy solutions in which business and the environment go hand in hand. The host country Finland is the first in the world to have published a comprehensive road map to a circular economy. The country's leading future-oriented think-and-do tank Sitra is now inviting the shapers of our future well-being to celebrate Finland's 100th year of independence at the forum. Come and experience Finland's own inspirational story as a global leader as we put the circular economy into practice and deliver concrete benefits across all sectors of business and society. "A circular economy is about using resources more efficiently and creating more value with what we have," says Dr Mari Pantsar, Director of Sitra's Carbon-neutral circular economy. "It can be the win-win approach everyone is looking for. For companies, circular products and business models help cut costs, manage risks and create new revenue. For societies, moving away from the current linear 'consume-and-throw-away' economy offers large benefits for tackling the climate crisis, reducing waste and creating jobs." The forum features more than 130 recognised speakers from across the world, including top business and political leaders, representatives of NGOs and innovators. Among the speakers are Amra Balic, Managing Director at BlackRock; Flemming Besenbacher, Chairman of Carlsberg; Isabel Fernandez-Niemann, Head of Wholesale Banking at ING; Janez Potocnik, Co-chair of the UN International Resource Panel; Ashok Khosla, Founder and President of Development Alternatives; and Achim Steiner, Director of Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford. Former NASA Astronaut Dr Cady Coleman also brings her inspiring circular economy story about surviving in a closed system with limited resources during her six month expedition to the International Space Station. The programme highlights how the circular economy plays an important role in the realisation of the UN's global sustainable development goals (SDGs). Future well-being is built on co-operation between different sectors. The World Circular Economy Forum 2017 contains 17 plenary and parallel sessions showcasing circular economy solutions for business, finance and cities. The event offers three days of discussions, networking, side events and business excursions. Twenty-three exhibitors will be presenting their most interesting circular economy solutions at the venue. See the programme and full list of speakers on the event website www.wcef2017.com. Representatives of the media interested in being accredited to cover the World Circular Economy Forum are kindly asked to fill in the registration form by 26 May 2017. For further details, please contact Communications Specialist Sanna Autere, sanna.autere@sitra.fi, +358 (0)50 331 7510, or see the event website www.wcef2017.com. A live stream of the event will be available at live.wcef2017.com. Organisers of the WCEF2017 include the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, the Ministry of the Environment of Finland and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland, in co-operation with the following institutions: the European Commission, the European Environment Agency (EEA), the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the Koli Forum, the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the World Resources Forum (WRF). This information was brought to you by Cision http://news.cision.com


The host country Finland is the first in the world to have published a comprehensive road map to a circular economy. The country's leading future-oriented think-and-do tank Sitra is now inviting the shapers of our future well-being to celebrate Finland's 100th year of independence at the forum. Come and experience Finland's own inspirational story as a global leader as we put the circular economy into practice and deliver concrete benefits across all sectors of business and society. "A circular economy is about using resources more efficiently and creating more value with what we have," says Dr Mari Pantsar, Director of Sitra's Carbon-neutral circular economy. "It can be the win-win approach everyone is looking for. For companies, circular products and business models help cut costs, manage risks and create new revenue. For societies, moving away from the current linear `consume-and-throw-away' economy offers large benefits for tackling the climate crisis, reducing waste and creating jobs." The forum features more than 130 recognised speakers from across the world, including top business and political leaders, representatives of NGOs and innovators. Among the speakers are Amra Balic, Managing Director at BlackRock; Flemming Besenbacher, Chairman of Carlsberg; Isabel Fernandez-Niemann, Head of Wholesale Banking at ING; Janez Potocnik, Co-chair of the UN International Resource Panel; Ashok Khosla, Founder and President of Development Alternatives; and Achim Steiner, Director of Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford. Former NASA Astronaut Dr Cady Coleman also brings her inspiring circular economy story about surviving in a closed system with limited resources during her six month expedition to the International Space Station. The programme highlights how the circular economy plays an important role in the realisation of the UN's global sustainable development goals (SDGs). Future well-being is built on co-operation between different sectors. The World Circular Economy Forum 2017 contains 17 plenary and parallel sessions showcasing circular economy solutions for business, finance and cities. The event offers three days of discussions, networking, side events and business excursions. Twenty-three exhibitors will be presenting their most interesting circular economy solutions at the venue. See the programme and full list of speakers on the event website www.wcef2017.com. Representatives of the media interested in being accredited to cover the World Circular Economy Forum are kindly asked to fill in the registration form by 26 May 2017. For further details, please contact Communications Specialist Sanna Autere, sanna.autere@sitra.fi, +358 (0)50 331 7510, or see the event website www.wcef2017.com. A live stream of the event will be available at live.wcef2017.com. Organisers of the WCEF2017 include the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, the Ministry of the Environment of Finland and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland, in co-operation with the following institutions: the European Commission, the European Environment Agency (EEA), the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the Koli Forum, the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the World Resources Forum (WRF). This information was brought to you by Cision http://news.cision.com http://news.cision.com/the-finnish-innovation-fund-sitra/r/world-s-best-circular-economy-solutions-to-be-presented-in-helsinki--5-7-june-2017,c2261214


News Article | May 10, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.com

The world is in serious need of solutions to create sustainable growth and jobs. The World Circular Economy Forum 2017 is bringing 1,500 specialists from around the world to Finland to show how this can be done. The groundbreaking event will focus on the world's best circular economy solutions in which business and the environment go hand in hand. The host country Finland is the first in the world to have published a comprehensive road map to a circular economy. The country's leading future-oriented think-and-do tank Sitra is now inviting the shapers of our future well-being to celebrate Finland's 100th year of independence at the forum. Come and experience Finland's own inspirational story as a global leader as we put the circular economy into practice and deliver concrete benefits across all sectors of business and society. "A circular economy is about using resources more efficiently and creating more value with what we have," says Dr Mari Pantsar, Director of Sitra's Carbon-neutral circular economy. "It can be the win-win approach everyone is looking for. For companies, circular products and business models help cut costs, manage risks and create new revenue. For societies, moving away from the current linear `consume-and-throw-away' economy offers large benefits for tackling the climate crisis, reducing waste and creating jobs." The forum features more than 130 recognised speakers from across the world, including top business and political leaders, representatives of NGOs and innovators. Among the speakers are Amra Balic, Managing Director at BlackRock; Flemming Besenbacher, Chairman of Carlsberg; Isabel Fernandez-Niemann, Head of Wholesale Banking at ING; Janez Potocnik, Co-chair of the UN International Resource Panel; Ashok Khosla, Founder and President of Development Alternatives; and Achim Steiner, Director of Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford. Former NASA Astronaut Dr Cady Coleman also brings her inspiring circular economy story about surviving in a closed system with limited resources during her six month expedition to the International Space Station. The programme highlights how the circular economy plays an important role in the realisation of the UN's global sustainable development goals (SDGs). Future well-being is built on co-operation between different sectors. The World Circular Economy Forum 2017 contains 17 plenary and parallel sessions showcasing circular economy solutions for business, finance and cities. The event offers three days of discussions, networking, side events and business excursions. Twenty-three exhibitors will be presenting their most interesting circular economy solutions at the venue. See the programme and full list of speakers on the event website www.wcef2017.com. Representatives of the media interested in being accredited to cover the World Circular Economy Forum are kindly asked to fill in the registration form by 26 May 2017. For further details, please contact Communications Specialist Sanna Autere, sanna.autere@sitra.fi, +358 (0)50 331 7510, or see the event website www.wcef2017.com. A live stream of the event will be available at live.wcef2017.com. Organisersof the WCEF2017 include the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, the Ministry of the Environment of Finland and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland, in co-operation with the following institutions: the European Commission, the European Environment Agency (EEA), the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the Koli Forum, the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the World Resources Forum (WRF). This information was brought to you by Cision http://news.cision.com To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/worlds-best-circular-economy-solutions-to-be-presented-in-helsinki-5-7-june-2017-300455216.html


Grant
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
Site: www.scientificcomputing.com

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.


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.”

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