Climate Change Impacting Endangered Cultures, Species

Plans To Fight Defend Ecosystems

Forests in East Africa are still vanishing due to agriculture and the need for fuel wood and charcoal. This deforestation threatens ecosystems that support millions of people and endangered species.

wildlife conservation Tanzania

To help stop this growing crisis, dozens of NGOs and thousands of stakeholders across five nations have united to develop plans that can make this entire region more sustainable and resilient. These plans include:

  • forest conservation,
  • reforestation,
  • agroforestry,
  • sustainable agriculture/aquaculture,
  • solar energy,
  • wildlife conservation,
  • ecotourism and more.

The projects include Burundi, Kenya,RwandaTanzania and Uganda. They represent one of the largest, proven carbon-capture opportunities available today.

Save Kilimanjaro ecosystem

“These projects are all planned by the stakeholders who depend on their success,” said Gary Chandler, founder and executive director of Sacred Seedlings. “They are large enough and comprehensive enough to make a significant impact across East Africa and around the world.”

Chandler hopes that these plans will serve as models and motivation for similar projects around the world. As he explains deforestation generates about 20 percent of greenhouse gasses, which contribute to global warming and climate change.

Deforestation cripples our planet’s ability to filter carbon dioxide from our air. Deforestation also threatens endangered species and endangered cultures around the world.

Tanzania lion conservation

NGOs behind the visionary plans include Mellowswan Foundation Africa-Tanzania, Megabridge Foundation, Youth Link, Earth Keepers Centre, and many others. The plans to fight climate change will conserve forests, while restoring ecosystems and watersheds with more than 100 million new trees just in Tanzania. The projects are ready to proceed once funded.

Save Kilimanjaro

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems. Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support.

forest conservation and reforestation

For more information about these projects, visit 

China Grabbing Latin America’s Vanishing Resources

China Trashing Latin America To Fuel Growth

In January 1997, Panama awarded concessions to a Chinese company to operate port facilities on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts at both ends of the Panama Canal, just after having obtained control of it from the US.

When did Latin America and the Caribbean wake up to its dramatically expanding new relationship with China? November 2004, when the then Chinese president Hu Jintao visited Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Cuba and apparently spoke of the possibility of investing US$100 billion in the region – although the Chinese government later claimed it had been mistranslated and the US$100 billion referred to bilateral trade.

deforestation and endangered species

That, at least, is what Evan Ellis, a researcher at the U.S. Army War College and considered by some to be a leading expert on China-Latin America relations, states in his new book China on the Ground in Latin America: Challenges for the Chinese and Impacts on the Region. Ellis’s main argument is that in the last few years the Chinese have started to establish a new, “significant” physical presence in Latin America and the Caribbean – following trade deals, acquisitions, loans and loan-backed construction projects, among other things. As a result, Ellis argues that China now finds itself, for the first time in its 5,000 year history, connected to however many million non-Chinese people in other countries and dependent on the “success and well-being of its commercial representatives in distant parts of the world.”

While the focus of his book is Chinese acquisitions, loans, other commercial dealings and the challenges these pose for the Chinese government, companies and Chinese people living in Latin America, Ellis has various things to say about the environment.

Chinese companies have focused on developing their physical presence in Latin America in the sectors that are most likely to generate environmental impacts and concerns: petroleum, mining and agriculture. The Chinese presence in petroleum is most significant in Venezuela, Ecuador and Argentina, and in mining in Ecuador and Peru.

Resistance from “environmentalists and local communities” is one of the major challenges facing Chinese companies trying to make acquisitions and win contracts in Latin America. To date, projects involving Chinese investors have “often” been “opposed on environmental grounds, or because of their impact on local communities and indigenous groups,” writes Ellis, citing the Chone dam project and Mirador mine in Ecuador, the Belo Monte dam in Brazil, the Rio Blanco mine in Peru, the Lupe mine in Mexico, a soy processing facility in Rio Negro in Argentina, the Agua Zarca dam project in Honduras, and the River Magdalena in Colombia as examples.

deforestation is taking Latin America's biodiversity with it.

Opposition to Chinese projects on environmental grounds is “likely to expand in the future because of the number of potential projects. . . that involve environmentally sensitive areas.” These include plans to develop Goat Island, Jamaica, into an “international shipping hub” and the exploitation of the Ishpingo, Tambococha and Tiputini (ITT) oil fields in the far east of the Yasuní National Park in Ecuador where Ellis says the “Chinese corporations who have already done the exploratory drilling are the leading contenders” to win contracts.

Indeed, Ellis states that although “no official link” exists between ITT and the construction of a new refinery on Ecuador’s Pacific coast, “a senior Ecuadorian source speaking off-the-record suggested that the granting of the rights for ITT may be a condition pursued by the Chinese for the funding of the Refinery. . . which would be fed by the petroleum extracted there.”

Environmental concerns are a major challenge for Chinese companies not because they are “inherently less respectful of the environment” than others, but “because of a confluence of factors” including the high environmental impacts of the sectors they are focusing on, a “cultural distance” between Chinese and Latin American people, and Chinese companies’ lack of experience in the region. One example: “Chinese executives and managers often presume that local authorities will be able to force local residents to comply with decisions to relocate their homes. . . and may mistakenly presume that, as long as they have reached an agreement with the appropriate government authorities, the local communities and other actors will comply with the decisions.”

deforestation and indigenous tribes in Amazon

“Environmental complaints” have already been made about various ongoing Chinese projects. These include the Marcona mine in Peru run by the company Shougang, the Cerro Maimon mine in the Dominican Republic, and the Sierra Grande mine in Argentina.

Chinese companies “have made efforts to improve their environmental practices where they have felt it necessary to do so, in order to avoid problems with governments and communities.” Ellis cites new technology by company Bosai to address dust problems caused by bauxite mining in Guyana as one example, and ten “environmental protection projects oriented toward wastewater, dust and air pollution” at the Marcona mine in Peru as another.

Offshore drilling by Chinese companies in Latin America and the Caribbean is particularly risky in terms of environmental impacts because “they are relatively new to producing and using deepwater drilling technology.” Ellis argues that Chinese operations are “arguably even more vulnerable to such risks” than was BP before the Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico blowout in 2010.

Although “many Chinese companies in Latin America do behave badly” – either “due to a combination of willful imposition of Chinese norms and practices that do not function well in the new context, or accidentally, due to a lack of knowledge regarding local norms” – they “do not inherently behave worse than their Western counterparts” (Ellis’s italics).

A “significant portion” of the new Chinese presence in Latin America is in the renewable energy sector where companies “have been a key force in the “green revolution” transforming the energy generation mix” and “slowly moving the electricity infrastructure of the region away from fossil fuels.” Ellis states that “of the many projects and acquisitions by Chinese firms in the electricity generation sector. . . only a very small number have involved traditional fossil fuel power generation facilities”, with a focus instead on hydroelectric and what Ellis calls a “wave of new solar and wind power projects” across Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Mexico.

What better way to end than with one particularly emblematic example and startling claim? Despite a January 2014 announcement that work would begin on a canal through Nicaragua by the end of this year or early 2015, “as this book went to press, a public announcement regarding the route to be taken by the canal had not been made, nor had any information been made public regarding environmental impact” (my italics, this time). Indeed, a report published in September by the Alexander von Humboldt Studies Centre in Nicaragua states that “technical information of environmental character generated during the design, construction and operation of the Great Canal and associated projects will remain confidential,” under the terms of the concession agreement. Von Humboldt calls the canal – due to be built by the Hong Kong-based HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company – and associated infrastructure the biggest environmental threat to the country in its history.


public relations firm and public affairs firm Denver and Phoenix

Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. It’s also promoting forest conservation, reforestation, sustainable agriculture, and wildlife conservation through its subsidiary–Sacred Seedlings. Please contact Gary Chandler at to join our network.

Palm Oil Executive Jailed For Illegal Deforestation

Crimes Against Nature Going To Court

The director of the Indonesian palm oil company PT Kallista Alam, Subianto Rusyid, has been found guilty of illegally clearing peat forest in Aceh, Sumatra, and has been sentenced to eight months in jail. The judges also fined him 150 million rupiah (about 13,000 US$), and said he would be imprisoned for a further three months if the fine was not paid.

palm oil deforestation

This follows on from a court ruling in a civil case in January in which Kallista Alam was ordered to pay 114.3 billion rupiah (about 9.7 million US$) in compensation and 251.7 billion rupiah (close to 21 million US$) to restore the 1,000 hectares it deforested illegally.

The company was convicted of illegally burning large swathes of the Tripa peat forest, which lies within Sumatra’s Leuser Ecosystem – the only place on earth where tigers, elephants, rhinos, and orangutans can be found living together in the wild. That case was brought against Kallista Alam by the Indonesian environment ministry.

The court also ordered the confiscation of 5,769 hectares of land managed by Kallista Alam and set a five million rupiah (about 426 US$) daily fine for each day the company delays paying the compensation and restoration costs.

palm oil deforestation

The judges heard evidence about how much damage the forest burning had caused to the soil structure in Tripa: peat layers 10 to 15 centimetres deep were destroyed. Gases triggered by the burning exceeded the permitted Threshold Limit Value. Judges at the Meulaboh District Court have also sentenced Kallista Alam’s development manager, Khamidin Yoesoef, to three years in prison and a fine of three billion rupiah (about 256,000 US$) or a further five months in prison. Kallista Alam is appealing against all three verdicts.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has identified Sumatra’s Leuser Ecosystem as one of the world’s “irreplaceable areas.”

Ian Singleton, director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, said the new judgement was a victory in terms of law enforcement, coming on top of the fine imposed on Kallista Alam in January.

Orangutan habitat and palm oil plantations

The public prosecutor had asked for a ten-month jail sentence for Subianto Rusyid, who was accused of negligence for failing to control his subordinates. In May, Fadila Ibra from the Coalition to Save Rawa Tripa was quoted by the Jakarta Globe as saying this demand was too lenient given the environmental damage caused, and was less than half the sentence the law stipulates. “This will not deter those who have destroyed the environment,” Fadila was quoted as saying.

Fadila has been quoted as saying Subianto could have been punished with five years in prison and a two billion rupiah fine.

The Aceh branch of Walhi (Friends of the Earth Indonesia) filed a lawsuit demanding that the 1,605 hectares in the Nagan Raya district that were allocated to Kallista Alam in August 2011 by the then governor of Aceh province, Irwandi Yusuf, should be taken over and managed by the local government. The area has again been declared a conservation area. As part of the Leuser Ecosystem, it should already have been protected.

After a large-scale international protest, the Indonesian environment ministry decided to investigate Irwandi Yusuf’s issuance of the permit. In September 2012, the new governor, Zaini Abdullah, revoked it in accordance with a ruling by the Administrative High Court in Medan, which said it was illegal.

PT Kallista Alam appealed and, in May 2013, the Banda Aceh Administrative Court ruled in the company’s favour and overturned the revoking of the permit, saying that it was not legally binding because the court decision was being challenged in the Supreme Court. The company’s Supreme Court appeal has since been rejected in a ruling that supersedes that of the Banda Aceh court.

There are criminal and civil prosecutions underway against four other oil palm companies with concessions in Tripa: PT Surya Panen Subur II, PT Dua Perkasa Lestari, PT Gelora Sawita Makmur, and PT Cemerlang Abadi.

Indonesia deforestation and endangered species

Destruction of Orangutan Habitat

Tripa is one of only three remaining peat swamp forests in Sumatra where orangutans can be found. There were some 2,000 to 3,000 orangutans in the area in the 1990s, but only a few hundred are left today.

Up to 100 orangutans are thought to have perished in forest clearing and peat burning in Tripa, and experts say they are now close to being exterminated in the area.

Orangutans are not the only animals in jeopardy in Tripa; the area has also been home to Sumatran tigers, Malayan sun bears and other endangered and protected wildlife.

Indonesia’s peatlands cover less than 0.1 per cent of the Earth’s surface, but their destruction is causing 4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions every year. According to Greenpeace, the annual clearing of Indonesia’s peatlands releases some 1.8 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases and some put the figure at 2 billion.

Under Indonesian law, development on peat up to three meters deep is still legal, and the palm oil industry’s certification system, the RSPO, does not ban all development on peat.


public relations firm and public affairs firm Denver and Phoenix

Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. It’s also promoting forest conservation, reforestation, sustainable agriculture, and wildlife conservation through its subsidiary–Sacred Seedlings. Please contact Gary Chandler at to join our network.

Heroic Efforts To Save Wildlife, Ecosystems

Saving Animals, Endangered Species

Like thousands of other people, I’m very concerned about the plight of animals on our beautiful, but vanishing planet. Animals around the world are under siege like never before. In many cases, the problems are escalating due to the anemic global economy.

Save Kilimanjaro ecosystem

Rhinos, tigers, orangutans and many other species are critically endangered species and could be extinct within just a few years. The animals in our oceans are facing the same plight. Dolphins, whales, sharks, and many other ocean dwellers are being pushed to the verge of extinction.

On the domestic side of the animal kingdom, the problems are just as daunting. Cats, dogs, horses and many other creatures are neglected, abused, and tortured by people who often are equally as abusive to people. Millions of unwanted and abandoned pets and horses are killed each year. Often under inhumane and horrific conditions.

Indonesia deforestation and endangered species

The good news is that some very brave and beautiful souls are working hard to give these creatures a voice and a chance. Celebrities and unsung heroes alike are joining hands and rising up against greed, cruelty and injustice. People such as Captain Paul Watson, The Barbi Twins, Ken Wahl, Paul McCartney, Yao Ming, Bruce Springsteen, and many, many others are worthy role models for all of us.

Tanzania lion conservation

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