I was very happy when our partner Fairventures sent us the book by Sarina Albeck. What a welcome distraction and opportunity to spend a few socially distanced hours on the sunny balcony – and learn a lot in the process.

In her book Sarina approaches the questions about the causes of deforestation in Indonesia. She does this in a very personal way, starting from the feeling that we all know: it’s not good what’s happening – that should change. But what is actually happening? And why? On the one hand she is dealing the forest, but equally with the people. The following passage is freely translated from German:

There is surprisingly little space for people in our utopia. Sometimes they appear on the margins: as losers of land rights conflicts or as henchmen of corporations in the clearing of large forest areas. Or we imagine them as nomadic primitive peoples who have nothing to do with modernity. Rarely do we see them as normal people with needs and opinions, families living in towns or villages, as farmers, security guards, teachers, saleswomen, men on motorcycles, women with an annoying husband, a sick child who has to go to the doctor, people with a desire to consume (…).

Of course, I point to the point. And I am polemizing. Nevertheless, my impression is that we are allowing ourselves a too simple view of a complex topic. A simplification that is not only useless, but damaging.

The answer she presents as a consequence of her considerations revolves around the concept of Fairventures Worldwide. She portrays Johannes Schwegler, who set up the non-profit enterprise that encourages and enables small-scale farmers on the island of Borneo to plant commercial forests. Why not natural rainforest? Because it would ignore the causes.

Where there used to be rainforest, there are now many open spaces in Kalimantan. Theoretically they could be used for agriculture. Occasionally this happens, but without satisfactory results. The main reason for this is the condition of the former forest soils: they are degraded and hardly fertile anymore. (…) The Sengon is the protagonist of this story.

The Sengon is a pioneer tree – a species that grows even under unfavourable conditions and prepares the ground for other plants. In this way, the land regains its value: catch crops such as peanuts or cocoa can be cultivated. And the sengon grows so fast that it can be felled after seven to ten years.

Sarina introduces the people she has met and talks about what she has seen and how she understood it. She simplifies without becoming under-complex and brings together a variety of reality fragments from which, piece by piece, a rough picture emerges.

The 170 loosely printed pages are a very good introduction to the problems of deforestation, rainforest protection and meaningful reforestation. Unfortunately, as far as I know, not translated yet.

Sarina Albeck: Bäume für Borneo. Wie Aufforstung die indigene Bevölkerung schützt und den Klimawandel bekämpft. Oekom 2020, 19,00 €

The most difficult thing was to bring the seedlings from Chitipa, 100 km away, to Nthalire, reports Madalitso from St. Ignatius Secondary School in Malawi. Because of the heavy rainfalls the road was impassable at times: “There was even a time when we spend a night on the way because the vehicle was stuck. The experience of travelling was not so pleasing.”

Nevertheless, they made it: 1450 seedlings were planted around the school grounds in December: fruit trees such as banana, mango, papaya, guava or avocado – and with blue gum, pine, senna and cassia also ornamental and useful wood. The plants are intended to embellish the school grounds and are also a practical teaching unit for the students. The effects of climate change are increasingly noticeable in sub-Saharan Africa. And Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. The project is an attempt to explain the changes to the pupils and to develop strategies on how to adapt.

St. Ignatius is one of eight schools in Malawi, Zambia and South Africa participating in the project A Tree in Africa. Since all schools have different prerequisites, there are eight different implementations. The coordination is mostly done by the local scout network. The scouts train the students and together with the school staff they take care of planting, care and recycling.

In St. Ignatius there is a Wild Life Club, led by the teachers for geography and agriculture. About 50 pupils from this club took part in the planting campaign. Now it has to be shown how many seedlings will make it through the dry season.

More about the project and the other schools you can find here.

Interview with Markus Wolff from the Remscheid Forest Cooperative on the status quo and perspective of our forest.

In many cases, private forest ownership is divided into small areas through inheritance – in the Bergisches Land on average this is less than two hectares per owner. Profitable management of this land is hardly possible anymore and therefore many forest heirs/owners look to interested buyers as a way out. Then there are, among other things, investors with clear deforestation plans because in NRW up to two hectares can be cut down without the need for a permit.

In order to prevent this and instead manage the forest sustainably, the Remscheid Forest Cooperative was founded 6 years ago. It now cultivates almost exactly 70 hectares of forest and has 232 members – more recently the Panterito Foundation.

Markus Wolff is the founder and chairman of the board of the cooperative – and at the same time he is the Head of the Remscheid City Forestry Office, because only a union makes it possible for the cooperative to do what private owners surrender to. He spoke to Kristina from Panterito about the condition and future of the forest.

Mr. Wolff, there has been a lot of media coverage about drought, forest fires, and the effects of climate change on the forest. Do you also feel this in your forest regions?

Of course. There is no forest in Germany or in Europe, which is not currently visibly or invisibly affected by climate change and is therefore also stressed.

What are the typical signs?

Decreased vitality of the trees. They are just weakened. This expresses itself in being more susceptible to harmful organisms, they lose their leaves early or, if they are a spruce or other conifers, they quickly dry and then become brown.

Although we are still relatively well off. The Bergisches Land is one of the main areas of damage in NRW. Last week I did a tour with a school class in our forest and I noticed that we are still in a comparatively good to very good position due to our forest management.

What are you doing differently?

We do not do anything differently in the forest cooperative to what we do in our urban forest – both are so-called “naturally” cultivated. These are criteria of the ANW, the Association for Natural Forestry, which, among other things, aims to rejuvenate the forest early, thereby bringing in more structure, more diversity, more mix and therefore the trees are simply more vital and resistant.

What are the biggest challenges facing the cooperative now? On the one hand, of course, adaptation to climate change, but on the other hand, there is also the question of how profitability can be achieved – or is that not the focus at all?

Of course, profitability is in a sense a black zero. In view of the fall in price of wood, this is a challenge, no question. But there are indications that the forest is increasingly coming into focus as a result of this change in overall political awareness and that we can open up new markets. That we can achieve yields for CO2 storage, for example, or that we will be rewarded for ecosystem services in the future and for many other things where it is now being felt that we simply cannot work without or with less forest.

It was not until the end of September at the “National Forest Summit” that the Federal Minister of Agriculture, Julia Klöckner, pledged additional funds worth millions to repair the damage. It is now crucial that the urgently needed funds are used in a well-focused manner. If funds are linked to measures for ecosystem services instead of as a flat rate, they promote the conversion of industrial forests into healthy ecosystems in the long term, explains the 12-point paper from NABU, for example.

Project start on a historic date: On today’s global Climate Day, countless people, together with Fridays For Future, set an example for a radical change of direction in climate policy as well as all areas of society. There are no excuses: it is high time to act.

The perfect day to start the project ONE CREW ONE TREE. As of today, the company will donate a tree to event staff artlogic for every paperless order that is processed. It is particularly nice that the international branches participate in this project as well.

Panterito will accompany ONE CREW ONE TREE in the concept phase as well as the implementation and will support the selection of reforestation projects. This is already the second joint project. artlogic has already, in cooperation with Panterito, been compensating its CO2 emissions for several years through an agroforestry project in Panama.

The next goal is to extend this concept to other sectors.

On Arbor Day, Global Forest Watch released the latest figures on global rainforest loss.

In the year 2018, the tropics lost 12 million hectares of forest, including 3.6 million hectares of original rainforest.

Primary rain forests store more carbon than other forests, represent the most diverse habitat of the earth and are difficult or impossible to restore due to their complexity. Despite the fact that more and more countries and companies are committing themselves to abandon deforestation, the loss remains stable compared to the last ten years (except in 2016 and 2017, where record losses were recorded due to severe forest fires).

Global Forest Watch collects its data from satellite figures that is then analysed in regards to tree population. These empirical figures usually deviate strongly from the statements of the FAO, which are based on information provided by the governments.
The exact numbers provided by Global Forest Watch, a detailed list of the countries with the highest losses as well as largest increases, and spotlights on some countries and regions can be found here – in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French.