Dear Members and Friends,
Autumn has already set in … It is cold and grey but when the sun makes its appearance, the trees offer us an explosion of light and color. The most ancient traditions see trees as symbol of life, but now they are mistreated by humans, through deforestation in Asia, Brazil, and Madagascar for the exploitation of palm oil, soy oil and the traffic of precious wood.
Another report: ocean abysses are becoming objects of greed among the economic powers: “The Sea is the future of men” is a title in Figaro magazine of October 22nd, 2010. Not satisfied with destroying forests and mistreating the forest canopy, exploiting lands and seas, man strives to patent all that he can from the depths. He justifies his pillage by calling it scientific research for the future of all yet for the benefit of the very few. TENDUA is bringing up many questions just to make us all aware of the problems, so that we can look for concrete solutions and change our daily attitude.
There is a little hope with the outcome the European week for the sharks in 2009 and the objectives set for 2010. The Newsletter will also contain some very concrete advice on how to help out birds when winter sets in.
Our agenda will take us to Montier-en-Der to the festival of animal photography, the meeting-place of nature lovers during the 3rd week-end of November. Finally, another event not to be missed next January: the Scuba Diving Exhibition in Paris and the presence of TENDUA on the stand of AQUAREV.
Happy reading !
Deforestation, palm oil and soy oil
What does deforestation mean? It is defined as, “The destruction of forests by cutting down or burning trees to create agricultural or urban spaces, or to use the wood for heating or construction”. The consequences are the disappearance of ecosystems, erosion of grounds and climate change.
Having deforested, sacrificed their forests, Malaysia is experiencing its 4th generation of palm trees and has exported its “know-how” to Indonesia. A palm tree begins to produce oil at about 4 years and is productive for 20 years. The addition of fertilizer will allow it to pursue its production for another twenty years. Besides the artificial fertilizers, the problem connected to this monoculture is the impoverishment and pollution of soils and waters generated by the decomposition of the colossal organic mass of these plantations.
The scale of deforestation is alarming. Concerning Indonesia the figures are as follows:
- Loss of over 50% of its forest in the last fifty years,
- Two million acres per year are destroyed, i.e. one football field every 15 seconds,
- 98% of tropical forests in Indonesia could disappear by 2022,
- The main reason is the predicted tripling of oil palm plantations by that date.
Big Malaysian, Indonesian and Sri Lankan consortiums produce 85 % of the palm oil consumed in the world (38 million tons in 2006 against 21 millions in 2000) and sell it to international groups such as Unilever that produce a range of products from physical care to food and maintenance. The only reason of this craze for the palm oil is its moderate production cost, which is not echoed, of course, on the consumers, but allows a higher profit margin.
In fact, palm oil can be found in practically all products of everyday life: the famous chocolate paste Nutella, chocolates, sweet and salted biscuits (mark Björg, Organic products from Monoprix Department store in particular), detergents, creams and soaps (Dove), cosmetics, soups, breads (Harry’s), etc. …
- palm tree with oil begins to produce at about 4 years until 20 years, The addition of fertilizer will then allow to pursue this production
- © Kalaweit
As of now, there is no label “certified organic production” for palm oil. The only valid label this day is the clear label “WITHOUT palm oil” indicated on certain products (some Jacquet’s breads). Be vigilant: “vegetable oil” means usually palm oil: olive or colza oil would clearly be indicated. The Organic or vegan labels can contain palm oil.
There has been some encouragement for the “sustainable development” of palm trees with oil, but does this really mean a way to stop deforestation? France is not yet finished with “helping” the Indonesians.
What are the underlying interests in this kind of sustainable development? The “sustainable effect” seems to concern only already established interests.
Anyway, the suggested approach of rich countries that want to export their know-how is about how to manage durable forestry. But at a closer look, the exploitation of the Southeast forest resources is increased because of the needs for wood in construction and paper for the North. Are we just trying to make ourselves feel better or is this the only opportunity not to destroy everything? ...
While we “look” for solutions “to prolong the resources”, the forest disappears and the ecosystems which live there as well: rivers are polluted, the ground and aquatic fauna dies …
16 % of the Amazonian forest has been converted into soy culture. According to studies made by Lester Brown , in 2005, out of 220 million tons of soy produced all over the world, 15 million tons are consumed “directly” by human beings (tofu, soy milk, yoghurts, candles, cosmetics), 144 million tons to feed livestock, in particular dairy cows, pigs and poultry: soy oil cake is very rich in proteins (In France, soy represents 70 % of the consummate oil cakes  ). This culture is rapidly growing because it favors a fast and low cost growth in animals. The top 2 producing and exporting countries are Brazil and Argentina. This is without even mentioning the problem of OGM soya… Still 33 million tons are produced for soy oil among which 7 % is used for agro-fuel. The environmental and human cost is very heavy: in South America, in 100 years, more than 90 tribes dependent on the forest disappeared with their language, knowledge and culture.
In 15 years, between 1995 and 2005, the Earth has lost 3 % of its forest surface. The primary forests  among which more than 2/3 are in Brazil (Amazonia), the Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia - play nevertheless an essential role on the climate and counter greenhouse gases. The forest absorbs the light, where the naked ground sends back the energy of the sun towards the atmosphere. The average local ambient temperature can increase 10°C after deforestation takes place in a tropical zone. This local reheating modifies the atmospheric pressure, which influences the movement of air masses and causes the storms to occur. The pluviometric cycles are modified at a world level, provoking droughts and abnormal floods.
In concrete terms, we are not suggesting giving up in despair, but becoming aware of what we are consuming and perhaps reducing our consumption of products containing palm or soy oil. And even more importantly, talking about these problems around us: this way more consumers will become conscious of the situation. When consumers gain awareness, companies will take into account their points of view and governments will be pressured to take a position. “When you believe in something you can”.
Illicit export of rosewood and ebony from Madagascar
Apart from palm oil plantations in Indonesia or soy in South America, forests suffer simply from the illegal cutting of trees for furniture.
In 2009, 52 000 tons of wood, that is approximately 100 000 trees – rosewood and ebony – which means 14 000 ha of forest from the Masoala, classed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, were exported mainly toward China.
Of course, it makes us wonder: how can we pillage this much precious wood from a UNESCO primary forest world heritage site?
We would say it is the fault of corruption, but we’d also have to point to the importers (China) and the transporters (CGM and Delmas). What kind of steps should be taken to counter this? Or would we have the courage to stand in the way of man’s need to work and step out of poverty? Whatever the case may be, the profit gathered from the illegal exploitation only flows to a handful of people. However, the greater damage concerns us all. And it is certainly not the Malagasy people who protested against this illegal felling last spring.
This is undoubtedly a non-subject for our Western media.
A new target: Ocean pillage
It is not enough for man to threaten the life of the planets’ forest. It seems he also has to attack the ocean floors. It is true that the Sea has always fascinated man, but this fascination has led him once more to conquest, with an objective as long as his nose: his immediate profit (money and power) and making people believe in solutions that concern the well-being of all. Rabelais warned us: “Science without conscience is only the soul’s ruin”.
An article from Figaro magazine from last October 22 explained to us « how the ocean floors will change our lives (…), organisms with incredible faculties will benefit areas of medicine, minerals and fuel”.
The article also reports a recent inventory of 6000 marine species discovered by 2700 researchers in the last 10 years.
Other sources state a total of 230,000 marine species, a number that could be multiplied by 5 or 10, if we were to estimate our ocean’s biodiversity. To sum up, evaluations vary from 1 to 10 million species… “Potential pharmacy for humanity” as the journalist pointed out.
It is now understandable how much the economic factor is at stake: the Chinese have officially invested 55 million Euros in the depths of the Quingdoa bay. This is scary, in that the US, Russia, Japan and France hope to share the grail of the oceans among themselves.
Indeed, it seems that 25 to 30% of the world energy reserves (minerals, gas, hydrocarbons) are to found at the bottom of our oceans, and only 5% have been explored to this day. Technologies have broken the records: the new Chinese submarine explorer has been lowered to 3759 m, and is conceived to go down 7000m, surpassing the French Nautile that can go down a mere 6000m and the Japanese Shinkaï that only flirts with 6500m. For memory’s sake, at 1000m deep, pressure is 100 times higher than at sea level: at 10,000m it is at a pressure of 1 ton/cm²… And our planet, already very damaged by human activities at the surface, is 60% ocean.
We can understand therefore that if scientists get interested in ocean depths, they can only conduct their projects with colossal budgets coming from those who have the financial means: oil, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, who hope to eventually commercialize the riches of the abyss.
But where will this crazy race, which has already begun, for patents and other licenses lead us, on fractions of the genetical heritage of sea organisms from the high sea, meaning they don’t belong to any one country?
Is it to bring us a so-called “better” humanity that involves destroying age-old ecosystems just recently discovered by man?
After cutting down the trees, the Earth’s very lungs, after destroying ecosystems, tampering with the climate with our industrial activities, do we now have to empty out the oceans in the name of “progress” for our so-called civilized society?
Fourth European Shark Week (8-16 October 2010
Spain has been the country that captures the most sharks in Europe. It is also one of the two countries in the EU that allows fishermen to take off shark fins in the ocean. Although dispensations require people to keep the animals’ bodies, the finning at sea makes monitoring difficult. There is thus a risk that a good number of fining remains undetected.
Last year, during the 3rd European week for sharks (10-18 October 2009), people wrote up a petition addressed to the Spanish prime minister, in order to forbid the practice of finning.
In January 2010, more than 90,000 signatures from 16 European countries (20,000 coming from France) were brought to Mr. Zapatero asking him to give up opposing the enforcement of the European banning of shark finning and support the initiative of the EU toward a more efficient regulation of shark finning.
Since then, Spain initiated a pilot study on fins attached to the body. We are waiting for the results.
For the 4th European Shark week, the campaign orchestrated by Shark Alliance (“Focus on Finning”) has been directed toward the European parliamentarians who are co-decision makers in Fishing, since the signing of the Lisbon treaty. They will be asked to sign a Written Declaration  for the enforcement of legislature on finning.
The most simple and most efficient way to put the banning of finning into practise would be to require that the sharks be brought to harbour with their fins still intact, “naturally attached”. At the European Parliament, the deputies involved in this question are looking for the support from colleagues toward a Written Declaration calling for the European Commission to establish a requirement of this nature in its next proposal revising this banning.
Half of the signatures from the parliamentary Assembly would allow this declaration to become the Parliament’s official position. That is why it’s important to solicit your euro-deputies during the next 2 weeks. By participating in this action, you help determine the survival of the shark population, because finning is the principal cause of their disappearance in the world.
You can sign the petition on line at the following website:
Make sure you do so before the beginning of December 2010.
And in your everyday life, you can pay attention to products containing shark’s squalene (in cosmetics and food complements) and to caterers and restaurants proposing shark to their menus.
Source: Shark Alliance
Discovery of the Smallest Frog
MEXICO, August 24 - RIA Novosti
In « La Bonita », an area located between Colombia and Ecuador, Colombian and Ecuadorian researchers have discovered the smallest frog in the world, the Mexican television announced on Tuesday.
Females measure 18mm, whereas males only 12mm. The frog is brown, but its skin is so translucid that you can even see its skeleton.
The frog was baptized Osornophryne cofonrum and will appear from now on in the Book of Protected Species from both countries (Columbia and Ecuador).
Winter has come: let us think of the birds
Many species are in decline, like our unhappy sparrow and the more and more rare robin… as well as all the others.
You can help them get through the winter by setting up a drinking place and a bird’s house with seeds you can buy in a garden store, grease balls (for finches and sparrows) even vegetable and fruit skins, which are too ripe for blackbirds and thrushes.
Don’t forget to change the water everyday (a big dish for their bath would be highly appreciated as well). Thank you Bérangère for all this information and the link for the LPO for any complementary information:
According to the last update of the IUCN red list :
There are 17,291 endangered species out of the 47,677 recorded species. In the last 40 years, the number of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish has declined by 30%.
13% of birds; 22% of reptiles; 25% of mammals, 33% of sharks and rays (cartilaginous fish), 35% of invertebrates, 41% of amphibians and 70% of plants are endangered of are in confirmed decline. And this is only according to what has been discovered and listed: what do we have to say about the extinction of what hasn’t yet been recorded?
We also know that 60% of ecosystems on the world scale are degraded and the species extinction rate has multiplied by 200 during the course of the last two centuries.
A note of Hope ?
In conclusion, here is the message of the Secretary General announcing 2010 as the year of Biodiversity. The speech is meaningful, but what is our actual situation today at the closing of 2010?
"You are the biodiversity. The major part of the oxygen that you inhale comes from some plankton of the oceans and the luxuriant forests of our planet. Fruits and vegetables that you eat, were probably pollenized by bees, and the water which you drink is a part of a wide cycle where you have your place, with clouds, rain, glaciers, rivers and oceans.
Your diet depends almost completely on plants and on animals that surround us, from grasses, which give us some rice and some wheat, up to fishes and in the meat, which result as well from breeding as from the wild life. Your body contains 100 trillions of cells and it is connected to all, which so surrounds you that to the outside world, within a system magnificently complex and timeless. You share your atoms with every being and every object of the natural world; you are at once an ancient and incredibly young person. Biodiversity is life and biodiversity is you.
You share the planet with about 13 million different alive species, including plants, animals and bacteria, among which only 1,75 millions were identified and registered. This incredible wealth is an incalculable treasure, which constitutes the real foundation of your human well-being. The systems and the processes generated collectively by these million neighbors produce your food, your water and the air that you inhale … the fundamental principles of the life.
As if it was not sufficient, they also supply the wood and the natural materials for furniture, constructions and fuels, mechanisms to regulate the climate, control the floods and recycle your waste, as well as the new components and the chemicals allowing to produce medicines. The biodiversity can seem to you so evident, and it is so evident everything around you, that it is sometimes easy to forget it. You are a member of it and you cannot live without her.
The contribution of the biodiversity to your life is not only practical, physical and utilitarian, it is also cultural. The variety of the natural world was a constant source of inspiration throughout the history of the humanity, it influenced the traditions, and the way our society evolved and supplied the goods and the basic services, which allowed the business and the economy to build themselves. The disappearance of a unique species represents an incalculable loss and impoverishes us all.
The loss of a symbolic species is not only a cultural tragedy; it also threatens our own survival. Wonderful and plentiful variety of the natural world is put in danger by the human activities. The cutting down or the fire of forests, the disappearance of mangrove swamps, the practice of the intensive farming, the attacks of the pollution, the overfishing and the effects of the climate change, all this destroys the biodiversity.
We can stop it, the question is to know if we are going to do it. The international Year of the biological variety represents our chance to prove it."
November 18-21, 2010: Festival of animal photography at Montier-en-Der
Like every year since 14 years, Montier-en-Der comes alive with the arrival of the greatest animal photographers in France and abroad.
29 Nov. – 10 December 2010: Cancun
The Conference on climate change that follows up the summit of Nagoya last October is going to take place in Cancun. Its goal was the adoption of a new strategic plan for 2010-2020.
14-17 January 2011: Scuba-Diving Salon in Paris
TENDUA will be present at the Salon of Scuba-diving in Paris at the AQUAREV stand, our partner. Come find us there: the themes for 2011 are close to TENDUA: Egypt and sharks.
We note the publication of the book by Emmanuelle Grundmann at Calmann-Lévy: « 2100: seuls au monde? L’homme sans la biodiversité » “2100: alone in the world? Man without biodiversity.”
- The youngest elephant from a herd of 23 elephants crossing the Lockout plain in the Masaï Mara in Kenya
- © M. Dupuis
The subjects we have covered in our newsletter are important ones; our motivation is to inform you, so that new thoughts can be born, a moment of consciousness takes place, a desire to do things differently. You can choose to think it is too late, but we can also believe our personal and daily actions can help change the course of things.
Beauty around us can bring us hope: a smile, a light, an affectionate gesture, and baby animals.
Thank you for your attention and don’t hesitate to let us share your comments with us. Also let us know of any reading that would kindle the next issue of our newsletter.