Worldwide: Tropical forests at risk

The Japan-based International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) reported May 25 that 95 percent of the world’s tropical forests either are not managed sustainably or are unprotected. “It is clear … that the security of most tropical forests is still in great jeopardy, which demonstrates a collective failure to understand that forests can generate considerable economic value without being destroyed,” said Manoel Sobral Filho, the group’s executive director.

The report urges the international community to develop incentives for nations to protect their tropical forests, a call officially endorsed by the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, a 1,200-member scientific society in 70 countries.

Rainforest trees absorb vast quantities of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, and therefore have the capacity to curb climate change.

The ITTO findings were reported by SciDev.Net.

United Kingdom: University teachers say no to Israeli ‘apartheid’

The annual national conference of the largest union of university teachers in Britain adopted a resolution on May 29 urging its 69,000 members to consider a boycott of Israeli institutions and academics who do not take a public stand against Israel’s discriminatory “apartheid” educational policies toward Palestinians.

Delegates of the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education voted 106-71 in favor of the resolution in spite of an aggressive campaign by Jewish groups in the U.S. and Britain and by Israeli organizations to oppose it.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted the sponsor of the boycott motion, philosophy lecturer Tom Hickey, as saying, “The majority of Israeli academics are either complicit or acquiescent in the Israeli policies in the occupied territories. Where is the response from academic scholars to the horrors of life in the refugee camps? Where are the words of condemnation?”

East Timor: Violence disrupts city

Fifty thousand residents of the capital city of Dili have fled their homes for outlying areas and another 50,000 have taken refuge as a result of violence and looting. Many homes have been burned and thousands of people are in need of shelter, food and water.

Colonized and occupied for hundreds of years by Portugal, Australia and Indonesia, the East Timorese face a legacy of mass unemployment, poverty and alienation, all of which have fueled the disorders.

In response to a call from the newly elected East Timor government, Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Portugal sent troops to help restore order in the fractured city.

However, the Communist Party of Australia said its government had covert plans to oust East Timor’s democratically elected Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, a leader of the Fretelin Party. Negotiations between Alkatiri’s government and Australia on the control of the oil- and gas-rich seabed known as the Timor Gap are under way, the CPA said, and Alkatiri has been outspoken in defense of East Timor’s ownership claims.

Brazil: International peace meeting

For the first time in decades the executive committee of the Athens-based World Peace Council met in Latin America. Committee members gathered in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, in late May.

Highlighting specific issues such as U.S. and European Union threats to Iran, the war in Iraq, Washington’s abuse of the United Nations, the further militarization of the EU, imperialism’s interference and exploitation in Africa, the deterioration of conditions in Sudan, and the need to remove all foreign military bases worldwide, the group’s closing communiqué noted: “On the one hand, imperialist aggressiveness is accelerating and intensifying, creating serious threats on our planet. At the same time, however, the peoples’ movements for peace are growing massively all over the world against it.”

The body welcomed developments in Latin America where people “are defying imperialist intimidation, are finding and blazing new paths to the peoples’ benefit.”

Kenya: Environmental problems ‘systemic’

In an address to the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Nairobi last month, environmental activist Wangari Maathai told the 1,500 members present that conflicts were the result of leadership decisions and that it was not only lawmakers or parliamentarians who had to change, but the entire system.

“There is an inevitable linkage between peace, sustainable management of resources and good governance,” she said, according to the Nairobi East African Standard. Maathai emphasized roots of conflict and the consequences of greed and exploitation.

Maathai, who is now Kenya’s assistant environmental minister, was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her “contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace in Kenya.”

The Japan-based International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) reported May 25 that 95 percent of the world’s tropical forests either are not managed sustainably or are unprotected. “It is clear … that the security of most tropical forests is still in great jeopardy, which demonstrates a collective failure to understand that forests can generate considerable economic value without being destroyed,” said Manoel Sobral Filho, the group’s executive director.

The report urges the international community to develop incentives for nations to protect their tropical forests, a call officially endorsed by the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, a 1,200-member scientific society in 70 countries.

Rainforest trees absorb vast quantities of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, and therefore have the capacity to curb climate change.

The ITTO findings were reported by SciDev.Net.

World Notes are compiled by Pamella Saffer (psaffer@pww.org).

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