Karelia, Russia – These forests of pine, spruce and birch trees on Russia’s north-west frontier with Finland stretch in every direction to the horizon. When the sun shines, the dazzling green is fragmented by lakes of sky-blue water.
Yet the impact of humankind is everywhere. Tracks criss-cross the woodland, accommodating logging vehicles – diggers with robotic chainsaws and trailer trucks. At road intersections, ribbons tied around trees signpost areas earmarked for clearing.
Swedwood Karelia LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Swedish furniture giant IKEA, owns a logging concession of around 300,000 hectares here. Its factory on the edge of the town of Kostomuksha processes logs into planks. Eventually, they will end up as flat-packs in hundreds of IKEA’s stores worldwide.
Swedwood is active in the Karelia Forest, one of the
last old-growth forests in Europe [Yulia Shcherbina/Al Jazeera]
For IKEA, Russia is a prime territory for expansion. Not only are two of its top three globally performing stores located in Moscow, but the country’s vast boreal or taiga forest belt is a source of high-quality timber.
Yet IKEA’s logging in Karelia has raised uncomfortable questions about its reputation for sourcing sustainable wood. And attention has also brought into focus wider problems associated with commercial forestry in northern Europe and Russia.
In April, environmental NGOs held protests outside eight IKEA stores in Sweden to raise awareness of a study conducted into IKEA’s activities in Karelia by Protect the Forest and Friends of the Earth Sweden.
The NGOs claim that IKEA, through Swedwood, is helping to destroy ecosystems that are home to endangered species by clear-cutting already depleted old-growth forests.
Genetic engineering has failed to increase the yield of any food crop but has vastly increased the use of chemicals and the growth of “superweeds”, according to a report by 20 Indian, south-east Asian, African and Latin American food and conservation groups representing millions of people.
The so-called miracle crops, which were first sold in the US about 20 years ago and which are now grown in 29 countries on about 1.5bn hectares (3.7bn acres) of land, have been billed as potential solutions to food crises, climate change and soil erosion, but the assessment finds that they have not lived up to their promises.
The report claims that hunger has reached “epic proportions” since the technology was developed. Besides this, only two GM “traits” have been developed on any significant scale, despite investments of tens of billions of dollars, and benefits such as drought resistance and salt tolerance have yet to materialise on any scale.
Most worrisome, say the authors of the Global Citizens’ Report on the State of GMOs, is the greatly increased use of synthetic chemicals, used to control pests despite biotech companies’ justification that GM-engineered crops would reduce insecticide use.
In China, where insect-resistant Bt cotton is widely planted, populations of pests that previously posed only minor problems have increased 12-fold since 1997. A 2008 study in the International Journal of Biotechnology found that any benefits of planting Bt cotton have been eroded by the increasing use of pesticides needed to combat them.
Additionally, soya growers in Argentina and Brazil have been found to use twice as much herbicide on their GM as they do on conventional crops, and a survey by Navdanya International, in India, showed that pesticide use increased 13-fold since Bt cotton was introduced.
Dig farm-fresh foods? Be part of growing interest on Maui
Maui County Farm Bureau’s on a mission to honor its future leaders, cook up tours, demos and contests for Agricultural Month in September
September 25, 2011
By CARLA TRACY – Dining Editor (firstname.lastname@example.org) , The Maui News
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Mauians love his ripe, juicy Kula strawberries and his sweet, round Kula onions. He’s even launching a pumpkin patch in October, complete with a corn maze or labyrinth, for those in the Halloween state of mind.
But Chauncey Monden, 38, of Kula Country Farms, is not your typical farmer.
In fact, the average age of a Maui farmer is 62.5. Before they age more and retire, we’d better get the younger generation excited about that field, or Maui’s farming lifestyle may just go the way of the dinosaurs.
“It’s a hard life,” says Monden. “With weather, bugs, water bills, taxes, rocky soil, sloped ground, farmlands being sold off, houses encroaching, dust and competition with Mexican and other farmers, it’s tough.”
“There’s a lot of regulations that are difficult to comply with, then you have to market yourself. I don’t have all of the answers. I just know, you’ve got to love it.”
MALP Educational MeetingFree to the public
Date: Tuesday May 24, 2011
Place: Maui Community Service Bldg
next to CTHAR Extension Services (Map) on the UH Maui campus.
Time: Pupus will be served at 6:30 pm and the talk will begin at 7:00.
Submitting a Successful Farm Plan for County of Maui Ag Zoning Requirements
Many have found the requirements by the County of Maui for a Farm Plan intimidating and confusing. Our speaker, Tracy Stice will introduce the Farm Plan and share his experience of successfully completing four plans himself.
Tracy has been actively involved in the real estate business as a Real Estate Broker on Maui for over 30 years. One of his specialties is in the buying and selling of agriculturally zoned properties in the Upcountry and Haiku area. He is passionate about farming and sustainability.
As part of his talk, he will use his Maliko Farm as an example of successfully implementing a farm plan.
The Green House is offering three workshops on Saturday, April 2.
How Does Your Garden Grow…Backyard Aquaponics
Environmental Engineer Jeremai Cann, aka Dr. Sustainability, will lead this workshop covering everything you need to know to start your own aquaponics system (organic gardening with fish and plants). Grow your own dinner and lessen your reliance on imported food!
The Green House
Saturday, April 2nd
10:00 – 11:30pm
“Turn used water into real savings” — Greywater Harvesting
Jeremai Cann will lead this workshop on how to create your own “greywater” catchment system. Greywater refers to the reuse of water drained from baths, showers, washing machines, and sinks for irrigation and other water conservation applications. Reduce your use of tap water while helping the environment and lower your monthly water bill.
The Green House
Saturday, April 2nd
It’s Easy Being Clean…Natural Green Cleaning Recipes
Learn how to whip up a batch of handmade soap and explore simple cleaning recipes that are safe, effective, inexpensive. You may already have many of the ingredients in your kitchen cupboards. A booklet of natural cleaning recipes will also be shared.
The Green House
Saturday, April 2nd
Advanced registration required for all workshops.
Go to www.thegreenhousehawaii.com to register online, or call (808) 524-8427.
Maui Land Preservation Workshop
Wednesday March 16, 2011. A workshop highlighting land preservation tools that communities and landowners can utilize to achieve their sustainability goals.
Held at Maui Economic Opportunity,
99 Mahalani Street,
Wailuku, HI 96793.
Wednesday March 16, 2011
A North Kohala dairy is hoping to extend how long it can use state land by replacing its 25-year leases, two of which end in 2019 and 2020, with a new, 30-year lease.
Its request, which triggered an environmental assessment process, would also allow the farm to grow mixed forage plants — Guinea grass, tinaroo and desmodium — which “sprout as ‘volunteers’ in Kohala pastures, are grown naturally by simply spreading manure and providing irrigation, and then are chopped for the cows,” according to the draft environmental assessment.
Boteilho Hawaii Enterprises already uses eight state properties, with about 880 acres total, for Clover Leaf Dairy, one of the three remaining dairies in the state. The dairy has leases for several parcels, and owner Ed Boteilho said he wanted to combine the lease and extend the term. The request for a new lease was provisionally approved by the state’s Board of Land and Natural Resources in September. The company has been at the location since 1985, and keeps about 800 cows, with about 650 cows giving milk at any time.
According to land board records, Boteilho Hawaii Enterprises pays about $28,000 a year in rent; land board records said an appraiser would determine the fair market rent for the property if the lease were to be extended.
The company wants to change the lease terms “to make the dairy more efficient and allow prudent acquisition of new equipment,”
Unique opportunity for those interested, or already involved, in a related career
A unique opportunity is available for organic inspectors or those interested in working in the organic field — including county extension agents, regulatory agency staff, organic processors and industry activists — in order to better understand the organic inspection and certification process.
The county Department of Research and Development has provided a grant to enable the International Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA) and Hawaii Organic Farmers Association (HOFA) to offer “Basic Organic Farm (Crop) Inspector Training,” to be held Jan. 25-29, and “Process and Handling Inspector Training,” to be held Feb. 1-5, in Hilo.
The registration deadline is Sunday, Dec. 12.
KALAMAULA, Molokai – Sunlight will be providing the power needed to run lights, electronics and air conditioning at the Nature Conservancy’s office on Molokai beginning Wednesday, the environmental organization announced.
Rising Sun Solar of Maui installed the office’s 8.88-kilowatt photovoltaic array on the roof of the building in the Molokai Industrial Park on the hot and sunny leeward side.
“We were able to basically cover all of our energy needs and put a cap on our energy costs into the future,” said Suzanne Case, the conservancy’s Hawaii executive director. “It’s good for Hawaii both economically and in terms of sustainability.”
Tapping into sun power will help with the organization’s energy costs on Molokai, which has some of the highest electrical rates in the nation, according to Matias Besasso, a partner with Rising Sun Solar.
“Not only can it reduce costs, but it can lead to job creation and greater energy independence and self-sufficiency for Molokai’s people,” he said.
The conservancy’s Molokai director, Ed Misaki, said the solar energy system has been planned for three years.
“Going green is one of our big goals,” he said.