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Greenpeace steps up protest against Polish forest logging
by Staff Writers
Warsaw (AFP) Aug 31, 2017

Two-year Amazon study yields 381 new species
Washington (UPI) Aug 31, 2017 - Scientists have described 381 new Amazonian species in a new paper published this week.

The species were identified over the course of a two-year survey by a team of researchers working with the World Wildlife Fund and Brazil's Mamiraua Institute for Sustainable Development.

The haul of newly named species includes 216 plants, 93 fish, 32 amphibians, 20 mammals, 19 reptiles and one bird.

Researchers discovered a new species of marine mammal, the Araguaian river dolphin, as well as a new monkey species, fire-tailed titi monkeys.

The report, published online this week, comes as Brazil's government continues to face criticism over its attempt to open up large portions of the Amazon to mining. On Wednesday, Brazil's government blocked the president's mining decree.

"We are only at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to unveiling the incredible species that live in the Amazon, yet instead of this precious area being safeguarded, it is under greater threat than ever before," Sarah Hutchison, head of programming for Brazil and Amazon at WWF, told The Independent.

Some estimates suggest pollution, deforestation and other man-made impacts have accelerated the natural rate of extinction by as much as 1,000-fold.

Scientists suspect there are many more species waiting to be discovered in the Amazon, but the statistics suggest some of those species are likely to disappear before humans get a chance to study and protect them.

Brazilian president Michael Temer said the opening up of the eastern Amazon's Renca reserve to commercial activities would boost the country's economy. But the move is facing significant opposition.

"If the government insisted on opening up these areas for mining without discussing environmental safeguards it will have to deal with an international outcry," WWF officials said.

"Opening up these areas for mining without discussing environmental safeguards is a social and environmental international affront," added Mauricio Voivodic, WWF-Brazil's executive director. "In addition to demographic exploitation, deforestation, loss of biodiversity and water resources, this could lead to an intensification of land conflicts and threats to indigenous peoples and traditional populations."

Some 50 environmental activists blocked logging equipment and vehicles Thursday in Poland's ancient Bialowieza forest, as authorities continued to fell trees despite an EU injunction to stop, Greenpeace said.

The right-wing government has vowed to continue logging in the forest that includes Europe's last primeval woodland following last month's ruling from the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the bloc's top court.

"Around 30 people blocked the road to trucks transporting chopped wood, thus joining those who for three days now have been blocking harvesters in another part of the forest," Greenpeace Polska spokeswoman Marianna Hoszowska told AFP.

"The brutality of the logging supporters is counterproductive. There are more and more of us and the scope of our activity will increase," Greenpeace Polska director Robert Cyglicki added in a statement.

Cyglicki later reported that one of the trucks had "unloaded its wood and left it in the forest" but qualified the success by adding that it was owned by "just one of the 120 companies that buy wood cut down in Bialowieza".

"That's the extent of the devastation," he said.

Bialowieza, which straddles the border with Belarus, includes one of the largest surviving parts of the primeval forest that covered the European plain ten thousand years ago.

The vast woodland is home to unique plant and animal life, including some 800 European bison, the continent's largest mammal.

The Polish government began logging in May last year, saying it was clearing dead trees to contain damage caused by a spruce bark beetle infestation, fight the risk of forest fires and preserve road traffic.

Scientists, ecologists and the European Union protested and activists now allege that it is being used as a cover for the commercial logging of protected primeval forests.

An online letter in support of the "Defenders of the forest" protesters has so far been signed by nearly 150,000 Europeans on the website of the citizens' movement We Move Europe.

The ECJ said its decree "ordering the immediate halt to the forest's exploitation" was temporary pending a final court ruling in the case, which could take months or possibly years.

The court was acting on a July 13 request by the European Commission, the 28-nation EU executive, for "interim measures" to stop the large-scale logging.

Polish Environment Minister Jan Szyszko has said he would appear in person before the ECJ on September 11 to "defend the honour of Polish science, Polish rangers and residents" of the area.

Ancient trees reveal relationship between climate change, wildfires
Washington (UPI) Aug 29, 2017
New analysis of centuries-old trees in South America has revealed a strong correlation between wildfires and periods of warming. The history of Earth's climate features frequent fluctuations in global temperatures, including many periods of warming. In modern history, periods of warming have occurred more frequently - interrupted by shorter and shorter periods of more and more moderate ... read more

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