Sep. 26th, 2011

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Kenyan Nobel laureate Maathai dies

(CNN) -- Kenyan Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the Nobel Peace Prize, died Monday of an unspecified illness. She was 71.

"It is with great sadness that the Green Belt Movement announces the passing of its founder and chair, Prof. Wangari Muta Maathai, after a long illness bravely borne," her organization said.
Maathai, an environmentalist, had long campaigned for human rights and the empowerment of Africa's most impoverished people.

More than 30 years ago she founded the Green Belt Movement, a tree-planting campaign to simultaneously mitigate deforestation and to give locals, especially women and girls, new purpose. They have since planted more than 40 million trees.

In 2004, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to promote sustainable development, democracy and peace. She was the first woman from the continent to win the prize.

"Her departure is untimely and a very great loss to all of us who knew her—as a mother, relative, co-worker, colleague, role model, and heroine—or those who admired her determination to make the world a peaceful, healthy, and better place for all of us," said Karanja Njoroge, executive director of the Green Belt Movement.

Born in Nyeri, Kenya, on April 1, 1940, Maathai blazed many trails in her life.
She was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree. In December 2002, she was elected to Kenya's parliament with an overwhelming 98% of the vote.MORE
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No Birds Sing in Monoculture 'Forests'


MONTEVIDEO, Sep 24, 2011 (IPS) - Artificial single-species forests are expanding fast in countries of the developing South, fuelled by low production costs and incentives from governments, and causing severe social and environmental impacts, warned experts from around the world who met this week in the Uruguayan capital.

The so-called "green deserts" are encroaching on the fertile soil of South America and other regions, with the proliferation of plantations of fast-growing and high water-demanding trees to be used to produce pulp and paper, and for other industrial uses, displacing local communitiesand threatening native ecosystems.

Many governments in the global South support this model of investment, production and consumption, which is replicated from the North, said the participants in the International Symposium on Forestation, held Wednesday Sep. 21, the International Day of Struggle against Tree Plantations.

"Some 350 kg of paper per person a year are consumed in Europe, half of which is packaging, while in Brazil and Uruguay the average is 50 kgs per person annually," Brazilian activist Winfridus Overbeek, international coordinator of the Uruguay-based World Rainforest Movement(WRM), told IPS.

Overbeek said that in Europe as well as North America, there is no longer enough space to plant the trees required for that high level of consumption, so companies are shifting production to countries of the developing South.

He also pointed to the different opportunities found by transnational corporations in the developing world, where fertile land abounds and production costs and wages are lower than in the industrialised North.

In several countries of Latin America, as well as in southern Africa and in Asia, monoculture eucalyptus and pine plantations are advancing, to supply paper pulp factories. Plantations of oil palm, first established in Indonesia, are also expanding in those areas.

Meanwhile, "to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis, false solutions to protect the planet have been created," said Overbeek. "The production of biofuels, produced with palm oil, for example, is promoted, even though the processing and transportation releases into the atmosphere the same amount of carbon that it is supposed to reduce."

Moreover, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), one of the "flexibility" mechanisms defined in the Kyoto Protocol, allows developed countries to continue emitting greenhouse gases while investing in projects that supposedly boost local development and cut emissions in the developing world as offsets for their own polluting. 

"One of those activities is, precisely, planting trees on a large scale," Overbeek complained. 

Guadalupe Rodríguez, a member of the Germany-based Rainforest Rescue, told IPS that "monoculture forests tend to be seen as a good thing
, because they are green and pretty. But if you approach them, you won't hear a single bird, because there is nothing there, just silence. 

And then there is the murdering of the people who protest

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