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Failure to Protect Forests Risks 22,322 Million Metric Tonnes of Carbon Emission

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Deforestation by Crustmania via flickr

New research shows that indigenous and community forestlands hold one quarter of all tropical forest carbon, and failure to prioritize the rights of forest guardians could risk huge levels of carbon emissions.

Deforestation will be a key topic at Marrakech climate change conference, with research showing that securing community land rights is cost-effective solution.

At least one quarter of the carbon stored above-ground in the world’s tropical forests is found in the collectively-managed territories of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, according to new research released one week before negotiators meet in Marrakech for the UN’s annual global climate conference. Community lands contain at least 54,546 million metric tons of carbon (MtC), equivalent to four times the total global carbon emissions in 2014. The analysis—authored by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC), and World Resources Institute (WRI)—looks at lands legally owned and customarily claimed by communities in 37 tropical countries.

One tenth of the total carbon contained above-ground in tropical forests—22,322 MtC—is in collectively managed forests that lack formal, legal recognition. Without secure rights, these communities and their forests are at risk of illegal, forced, or otherwise unjust expropriation and capture by more powerful interests, thus displacing the residents, destroying the forests and releasing the carbon they contain into the atmosphere.

“Tropical forests represent some of the most carbon-rich landscapes on the planet,” said Wayne Walker, PhD, scientist at Woods Hole Research Center. “Both satellite and on-the-ground evidence suggest that Indigenous Peoples and local communities are the best stewards of these lands, the carbon they contain, and the wealth of other environmental services they provide.”

The findings serve in part as a response to the criticism that many tropical forest nations have not embraced this cost-effective solution to preventing further emissions from forest loss. Despite peer-reviewed evidence that strong land rights allow Indigenous Peoples and communities to outperform all other land management strategies, only 21 of 188 countries included forest peoples in their national plans for reducing carbon emissions under the Paris Agreement, according to an RRI analysis released earlier this year.

While the report reaffirms the critical amount of carbon held in legally owned or designated community forest in Brazil (14,692 MtC), Indonesia (7,068 MtC) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC – 6.941 MtC), neither Indonesia nor the DRC have legally recognized the rights of forest communities. Brazil’s neighbors, the Amazonian countries of Colombia (4,572 MtC), Venezuela (3,526 MtC), Peru (2,995 MtC), and Bolivia (1,915 MtC), rank fourth, fifth, seventh, and ninth, respectively, in terms of total collectively-managed carbon. Papua New Guinea (3,513 MtC), Mexico (2,196 MtC), and India (1,068 MtC) round out the top ten countries.

These figures rely on conservative estimates that only include the documented extent of community-managed forests in the tropics; the full extent is known to be much larger. Recent studies show that Indigenous Peoples and local communities customarily claim at least 50 percent of the world’s lands—including forests—but legally own just 10 percent of global lands, and have some degree of recognized management rights over an additional 8 percent.

“Tropical forests contain an untapped wealth of opportunities in the effort to limit climate change, said UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz. “Securing the rights of Indigenous Peoples to own and manage their forests is an inexpensive way to limit emissions while improving communities’ economic stability. But too many governments and private sector leaders keep their heads in the sand while the forests are destroyed.”

Deforestation contributes 24 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally and 58 percent in Latin America alone. Research released in early October by WRI found that in tropical forests where indigenous and community land rights were recognized and protected, the deforestation rates were two to three times lower than elsewhere in Bolivia, Brazil, and Colombia.

“The global community needs to recognize the scientific evidence: keeping tropical forests intact prevents carbon emissions, and forest peoples do the job better than anyone else,” said Katie Reytar, research associate at World Resources Institute. “The Marrakech conference presents an opportunity to act on this evidence. We need to take concrete steps toward recognizing rights, before global warming reaches the breaking point.”

The new report follows up on an earlier report released in 2014 by RRI and WRI and related studies conducted by a consortium of scientific, policy and indigenous organizations in 2014 and 2015. By expanding the sample size to include nearly twice as many countries as previous assessments, along with more recent, spatially-explicit carbon estimates, the study released today presents a more comprehensive picture.

Economic benefits of indigenous land rights quantified

Securing the ownership rights of these forests for the Indigenous Peoples and local communities that live there is both a sensible and cost-effective method for lowering carbon emissions, according to the earlier report from WRI. When accounting for the ecosystem services that the tropical forests provide—soil retention, pollination, biodiversity, flood control, and a source of clean water—along with tourism and other economic sectors that benefit from community forests, the benefits over the next 20 years amount to $523 billion to $1.165 trillion in Brazil, $54-119 billion in Bolivia, and $123–277 billion in Colombia.

In contrast, the cost of securing these land rights—only a few dollars per hectare of forest each year—is less than 1 percent of the total benefits in each country. This contrast becomes even more apparent when considering that the world’s forests—when intact—remove 20-30 percent of carbon dioxide emissions.

“The economics of climate change match the science,” concluded Alain Frechette, senior policy advisor at the Rights and Resources Initiative. “To limit climate change, we need economically feasible and long term solutions that protect human rights, reduce poverty, and support sustainable development. Securing the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities helps secure everyone’s right to a more stable and sustainable future.”

Environment

5 Eco-friendly Appliance Maintenance Tips

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Eco-friendly Appliance
Shutterstock Photos - By Punyhong | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/punyhong

Modern day society is becoming ever more conscious about the effects of human consumption on the environment & the planet.

As a collective, more people are considering taking action to positively counteract their environmental footprint. This is accomplished by cutting down on water consumption, recycling and switching from plastic to more sustainable materials. Although most people forget about the additional things that can be done at home to improve your individual eco footprint.

Appliances, for example, can be overlooked when it comes to helping the environment, despite the fact they are items which are found in every household, and if they are not maintained effectively they can be detrimental to the environment. The longer an appliance is used, the less of an impact it has on the environment, so it is essential for you to keep them well maintained.

If you’re considering becoming more eco-conscious, here are 5 handy appliance maintenance tips to help you.

Don’t Forget to Disconnect From Power First

General maintenance of all your appliances start with disconnecting them from power; microwaves, washing machines and ovens all use residual energy when plugged in, so it’s essential to unplug them.

Disconnecting the plugs can help keep them in their best condition, as it ensures no electrical current is running through them whilst they are supposed to be out of use. Additionally, this can help you save on energy bills. By doing this you are minimising your energy footprint.

Here we break down 4 tips to keep the most popular household appliances maintained.

Eco-Friendly Oven Maintenance

Ovens generally require very little maintenance, although it is essential to stay on top of cleaning.

A simple task to make sure you don’t have any issues in the future is to check the oven door has a tight seal. To do this ensure the oven is cold, open the oven door and use your hands to locate the rubber seal. You can now feel for any tears or breaks. If any have occurred simply replace the seal. More oven tips can be read here.

Eco-Friendly Refrigerator Maintenance

When keeping a fridge in good condition, don’t forget about exterior maintenance. Refrigerator coils, although an external fixture, can cause damage when overlooked.

Refrigerator coils can be found either at the front or rear of a fridge (check you user manual if you are unsure of its location). These tend to accumulate various sources of dust and dirt over a substantial time-period, which clog refrigerator coils, causing the refrigerator to have to work twice as hard to stay cool. An easy tip to solve this is to periodically use a vacuum to get rid of any loose dirt.

Eco-Friendly Washing Machine Maintenance

Most people tend to remember the basics tasks for maintaining a washing machine, such as not to overload the machine, not to slam the door and to ensure the washing machine is on a solid and level platform.

In addition, it is necessary to routinely do a maintenance wash for your washing machine. This means running an empty wash on the highest temperature setting and letting it complete a full wash to erase any build up and residue. You should repeat this task at least once a month.

Try to schedule this task around your bulk wash load times to save on water consumption.

This will help keep your washing machine in peak working condition.

Eco-Friendly Dishwasher Maintenance Tips

Dishwasher maintenance can be simple if implemented after every wash cycle.

To keep your best dishwasher hygiene standards, scrape away excess food whilst making sure to keep the filter at the bottom of the cavity empty between cycles. This simple task can be highly effective at preventing food build up from occurring in your dishwasher.

If you need additional tips or tasks you, can reference your manufacturer’s guidebook to check for a full breakdown. You can also head to Service Force’s extensive database of repair and maintenance manuals – including extensive troubleshooting guides for all of the critical appliance maintenance procedures.

In conclusion, you can save both money and energy by keeping your appliances in peak condition. The steps outlined in this guide will help us all preserve the environment and reduce industrial waste from discarded appliances.

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Environment

Two Ancient Japanese Philosophies Are the Future of Eco-Living

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Eco-Living
Shutterstock Photos - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Our obsession with all things new has blighted the planet. We have a waste crisis, particularly when it comes to plastic. US scientists have calculated the total amount of plastic ever made – 8.3 billion tons! Unfortunately, only 9% of this is estimated to have been recycled. And current global trends point to there being 12 billion tons of plastic waste by 2050.

However, two ancient Japanese philosophies are providing an antidote to the excesses of modern life. By emphasizing the elimination of waste and the acceptance of the old and imperfect, the concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi have positively influenced Japanese life for centuries.

They are now making their way into the consciousness of the Western mainstream, with an increasing influence in the UK and US. By encouraging us to be frugal with our possessions, (i.e. using natural materials for interior design) these concepts can be the future of eco-living.

What is Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai??

Wabi-Sabi emphasizes an acceptance of transience and imperfection. Although Wabi had the original meaning of sad and lonely, it has come to describe those that are simple, unmaterialistic and at one with nature. The term Sabi is defined as the “the bloom of time”, and has evolved into a new meaning: taking pleasure and seeing beauty in things that are old and faded. 

Any flaws in objects, like cracks or marks, are cherished because they illustrate the passage of time. Wear and tear is seen as a representation of their loving use. This makes it intrinsically linked to Wabi, due to its emphasis on simplicity and rejection of materialism.

In the West, Wabi-Sabi has infiltrated many elements of daily life, from cuisine to interior design. Specialist Japanese homeware companies, like Sansho, source handmade products that embody the Wabi-Sabi philosophy. Their products, largely made from natural materials, are handcrafted by traditional Japanese artisans – meaning no two pieces are the same and no two pieces are “perfect” in size or shape.

Mottainai

Mottainai is a term expressing a feeling of regret concerning waste, translating roughly in English to either “what a waste!” or “Don’t waste!”. The philosophy emphasizes the intrinsic value of a resource or object, and is linked to hinto animism, the notion that all objects have a spirit, or ‘kami’. The idea that we are part of nature is a key part of Japanese psychology.

Mottainai also has origins in Buddhist philosophy. The Buddhist monastic tradition emphasizes a life of frugality, to allow us to concentrate on attaining enlightenment. It is from this move towards frugality that a link to Mottainai as a concept of waste can be made.

How have Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai promoted eco living?

Wabi-Sabi is still a prominent feature of Japanese life today, and has remained instrumental in the way people design their homes. The ideas of imperfection and frugality are hugely influential.

For example, instead of buying a brand-new kitchen table, many Japanese people instead retain a table that has been passed through the generations. Although its long use can be seen by various marks and scratches, Wabi-Sabi has taught people that they should value it because of its imperfect nature. Those scratches and marks are a story and signify the passage of time. This is a far cry from what we typically associate with the Western World.

Like Wabi Sabi, Mottainai is manifested throughout Japanese life, creating a great respect for Japanese resources. This has had a major impact on home design. For example, the Japanese prefer natural materials in their homes, such as using soil and dried grass as thermal insulation.

Their influence in the UK

The UK appears to be increasingly influenced by thes two concepts. Some new reports indicate that Wabi Sabi has been labelled as ‘the trend of 2018’. For example, Japanese ofuro baths inspired the project that won the New London Architecture’s 2017 Don’t Move, Improve award. Ofuro baths are smaller than typical baths, use less water, and are usually made out of natural materials, like hinoki wood.

Many other UK properties have also been influenced by these philosophies, such as natural Kebony wood being applied to the external cladding of a Victorian property in Hampstead; or a house in Lancaster Gate using rice paper partitions as sub-dividers. These examples embody the spirit of both philosophies. They are representative of Mottainai because of their use of natural resources to discourage waste. And they’re reflective of Wabi-Sabi because they accept imperfect materials that have not been engineered or modified.

In a world that is plagued by mass over-consumption and an incessant need for novelty, the ancient concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi provide a blueprint for living a more sustainable life. They help us to reduce consumption and put less of a strain on the planet. This refreshing mindset can help us transform the way we go about our day to day lives.

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