Best of our wild blogs: 25 Feb 18

Morning Walk At Punggol Promenade Nature Walk (24 Feb 2018)
Beetles@SG BLOG

Seasonal Butterfly Appearances
Butterflies of Singapore

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Singapore must ensure adequate supply of water to meet growing needs 'by the 2050s'

Today Online 24 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE — The Republic must make sure it has an adequate supply of water to meet the growing needs of households and industries by the 2050s, before the expiry of the second water agreement with Malaysia, Minister in Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing said on Saturday (Feb 24).

Mr Chan was speaking at a Chinese New Year dinner for the Tanjong Pagar and Radin Mas constituencies, where he laid out the Government's long-term investments in infrastructure among other things.

Apart from major projects in the pipeline previously announced – such as the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail (HSR), the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rail Transit System (RTS) Link and the Tuas mega port for example – Mr Chan also revealed that beyond the 2050s, Singapore will be "in full swing to redevelop the next generation of Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats".

This will ensure that every public housing estate is a "microcosm of Singapore with diverse age profiles and flat types to cater to the evolving needs of Singaporeans", he said. "We will overcome the current situation where we have an age gradient in our towns; from Tanjong Pagar on average, having the oldest flats; to Punggol in the north having the newest," he added.

The Government has previously said the country aims to be self-sufficient in water by 2060, and the issue has been described by national leaders as a strategic priority.

Stressing the need to be prepared, Mr Chan – who is among the front runners to succeed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong when he steps down – said: "This is why we are building the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System (DTSS) Phase 2 to recycle as much water as we can, and we will continue to explore collecting every drop of water that falls on Singapore soil," Mr Chan said.

Construction work for the second stage of the DTSS began last November. Estimated to cost S$6.5 billion, the work comprises the creation of a 100km underground "superhighway" to transport used water to water reclamation plants.

This will serve the western part of Singapore, including the downtown area and upcoming major developments such as Tengah Town and Jurong Lake District. When completed in 2025, the system allows 83ha of land to be freed up.

Mr Chan stressed that the Government is not making plans "just for the next few years in the short-term". "Instead, we have exciting plans for the next few decades," he said.

The HSR project is expected to be completed in the 2020s, along with the Johor-Singapore RTS Link and the Cross Island Line, he noted.

In the 2030s, the Paya Lebar Airbase will be relocated to Changi and Tengah, which in turn frees up the airspace restriction on the development of the entire eastern Singapore. The new Changi Airport Terminal 5 will also be up and running,and Singapore can think about redeveloping Terminals 1, 2 and 3 after which The Punggol Digital District and Tengah New Town will be completed as well.

Come the 2040s, the Tanjong Pagar and Pasir Panjang ports will be moved to the Tuas mega port, with operations being integrated. "Our status as air and sea hubs has enabled us to generate at least 10 per cent of our gross domestic product directly, creating many good jobs for Singaporeans. This is over and beyond the indirect benefits that our airport and sea port bring to the rest of the economy," Mr Chan said.

Further over the horizon, the Government is building "for the next 100 years" with investments in an underground electricity distribution network to "replace the ageing electricity network left to us by the British. Even as we speak now, we are reclaiming land to make sure that our reclamation can withstand the effects of global warming and the related rise in sea levels", he added.

"All these are plans for our future generations of Singaporeans," Mr Chan reiterated. "It is a testimony to our determination as a nation to continue to defy the odds of history to stay as an independent, sovereign and thriving country that will make Singaporeans proud to call home and welcome foreigners who wish to partner us."

Singapore must ensure adequate water supply to meet growing needs by 2050s: Chan Chun Sing
Channel NewsAsia 24 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE: Singapore must ensure it has an adequate supply of water for households and industries by the 2050s, before the water agreement with Malaysia expires in 2061, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing on Saturday (Feb 24).

“This is why we are building the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System Phase 2 to recycle as much water as we can, and we will continue to explore collecting every drop of water that falls on Singapore soil,” he added.

The deep tunnel sewerage system is the nation’s way of collecting and transporting used water from across Singapore to three water reclamation plants - Changi, Kranji and Tuas – for treatment.

The water is then purified to become NEWater, or discharged into the sea.

Under national water agency PUB’s masterplan, NEWater and desalination will meet 85 per cent of Singapore’s water demand by 2060. That is also when the total water demand is expected to double.

The water issue was among the infrastructural plans Mr Chan touched on during his speech at the annual Chinese New Year dinner attended by grassroots advisers and residents of Tanjong Pagar and Radin Mas constituencies.

He stressed that Singapore must continue to invest in infrastructure to make the country attractive for companies and create “good jobs for our people”.

“We are building for the next 100 years with investments in an underground electricity distribution network to replace the ageing network left to us by the British … (We are) making sure that our land reclamation can withstand global warming and the predicted rise in sea levels,” he said.

The minister cited developments such as the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail in the 2020s; Changi Airport Terminal 5 which is expected to be completed around 2030; the Tuas mega port which is scheduled for completion in 2040; and the need to have an adequate supply of water by the 2050s.

“Beyond the 2050s, we will be in full swing to redevelop the next generation of HDB flats and towns to ensure that every HDB estate is a microcosm of Singapore, with diverse age profiles and flat types to cater to the evolving needs of Singaporeans,” said Mr Chan.

“We will overcome the current situation where we have an age gradient in our towns - from Tanjong Pagar on average, having the oldest flats, to Punggol having the newest.”

On investment in education, Mr Chan said it must continue to be “the linchpin” in Singapore’s economic strategy, stressing the need for lifelong learning and early childhood education.

Nearly a week after Budget 2018 was announced, he also reiterated why the use of Singapore’s reserves should not be taken lightly, drawing a link between the reserves and the strength of the currency.

Concluding, Mr Chan said Singapore has strong fundamentals but the country must continue to maintain its edge.

“The next lap of our economic growth story will depend more than ever on our ability to innovate and tap the global markets for our growth,” he said.

“So long as we stay united, be clear eyed about our challenges, and face them squarely together, there is absolutely no reason why we cannot celebrate SG100 with even greater pride and confidence.”

Source: CNA/gs

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Singapore still lags in global urban farming push

Walter Sim Straits Times 24 Feb 18;

Even as the trend of urban farming has taken root in major city centres around the world, Singapore has lagged behind in this global push.

Paris, for example, has gone big on urban farming with Mayor Anne Hidalgo setting ambitious targets last September for over 1 million sq m of rooftop gardens and planted walls by 2020 - of which a third is to be dedicated to agriculture.

The first tranche of projects will involve 32 sites across the French capital, including a 900 sq m space on the rooftop of the French Post Office building. This is expected to yield 425 tonnes of fruit and vegetables. As well, 8,000 litres of beer and 95kg of honey are expected to be produced.

But in the Garden City that is Singapore, where vertical greenery is increasingly commonplace, the authorities have acknowledged that city-based agricultural practices are still nascent.

Last November, Singapore's Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority said: "While there is growing interest from companies to develop edible rooftop gardens as part of their corporate social responsibility efforts, the concept of rooftop farming in Singapore is still new and limited to small-scale community-based farming."

Urban farming typically utilises high-tech systems that tap much less water, power and space than that required on traditional farms, and has been touted as an environmentally sustainable boost to food security in congested cities.

Singapore's Urban Redevelopment Authority is making a bigger push for commercial urban farms, which are large-scale, high-productivity and high-intensity, to boost food security. Some commercial city farms include Comcrop's 600 sq m space at *Scape in Somerset, and a rooftop farm at CapitaLand's Raffles City, with the Spa Esprit Group using the produce to make beauty products. Community farms include one atop a tower at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, and students at Singapore Management University's upcoming Prinsep Street Residences will also be able to grow their own produce.

Walter Sim

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Malaysia: Catching wild jumbos a mammoth task

The Star 25 Feb 18;

KOTA KINABALU: An operation to catch two bull pygmy elephants, while preventing another 17 from damaging the property and crops of villagers in Sabah’s central Telupid district, is proving to be a mammoth task.

Rangers from the state’s Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) have been chased by the animals, which have resisted efforts to push them back into the jungle.

“It is a big group of elephants – around 20 of them are wandering into small farms and plantations.

“The elephants sometimes break up into smaller groups of four to five, making it difficult for the team to control them or push them back into the forest,” WRU acting manager Diana Raminez said yesterday.

“An aggressive cow elephant, which even chased a ranger, was captured around midnight on Feb 21 and the team is now targeting two bull elephants,” said Rami­nez.

The cow elephant was translocated to the Imbak forest reserve.

The team of 10 rangers has been working round the clock to prevent the elephants from causing more damage.

Over the past month, villagers have been terrorised by several aggressive elephants.

The herd includes four calves.

The translocation cost of about RM30,000 per elephant is being funded by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council.

Among the villages affected are Kg Gambaron 1, Kg Gambaron 2, Kg Batu 4, Kg Bintang-Mas, Kg Bauto, Kg Telupid, Kg Gaab, Kg Lubang Batu and Kg Maliau.

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Indonesian communities help government to curb ocean waste

I Made Surya Antara 24 Feb 18;

Kuta, Bali (ANTARA News) - Thousands of Indonesian communities across the nation have been helping the government to curb ocean waste to 70 percent by 2025, an official stated.

Deputy leader of Science and Technology Desk at the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime, Safri Burhanudin, stated here on Saturday that nearly 10 thousand communities, with 100 to 200 members in each community, are continuing to clean plastic wastes from local beaches and coastal areas.

"One of the areas which have been regularly removing plastic waste from beaches is Bali," he noted.

Bali is the most popular tourism destination in Indonesia that is famous for its beautiful beaches, but it has been affected by plastic waste and other products that have been polluting the coastal areas for years.

Indonesia has committed to reduce the amount of plastic and other waste products that pollute its water to 70 percent by 2025, as an effort to support the United Nation's new Clean Seas Campaign.

Earlier, during the 2017 World Ocean Summit in Bali, the Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs, Luhut Panjaitan, announced that Indonesia had pledged up to US1 billion a year to reduce the ocean waste.

Panjaitan also proposed some measures to achieve the 70 percent reduction target by using biodegradable materials to produce environmentally friendly plastic, regulating a nationwide tax on plastic bags, as well as developing a sustained public education campaign.

The commitment was also stressed by President Joko Widodo during the G20 Summit last year in Hamburg, Germany, highlighting that Indonesia would be free from plastic waste by 2025.

In order to achieve the target, Burhanudin revealed that the ministry has been carrying out measures, such as clean beaches campaign involving communities and research, to recycle the waste.

According to the ministry`s data, Indonesia produces 5.6 million tons of plastic waste per year, comprising 3.3 million tons that can be reused as fertilizers and 1.6 million tons are recyclable wastes.

Burhanudin lauded some research conducted by University of Udayana, Bali, to recycle plastic waste as a material for asphalt.

The ministry also supports the construction of waste-to-energy power plant in Bali in 2018.
Editor: Ade P Marboen

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Indonesia Raises $1.25b in First Asian Sovereign Green Gond Sale

Jennifer Hughes, Fransiska Nangoy & Maikel Jefriando Jakarta Globe 23 Feb 18;

Hong Kong/Jakarta. Indonesia has become the first Asian country to sell "green" bonds internationally in a $1.25 billion deal as one of the world's worst greenhouse gas emitters tapped into investor interest in climate-friendly investments.

Globally, $155.5 billion of so-called green bonds were sold last year, according to the London-based Climate Bonds Initiative. But only a handful of governments have themselves sold such deals, where the proceeds are earmarked for investment in environmentally friendly projects.

Indonesia on Friday (23/02) sold $1.25 billion in five-year green Sukuk bonds -- which means the deal conforms to Islamic finance norms as well. The deal carried a coupon of 3.75 percent compared with the 4.05 percent rate that bankers initially used as guidance for investors.

Indonesia is considered one of the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gases, particularly due to its regular devastating forest fires blamed on clearing land for agriculture. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has committed to cut emissions by at least 29 percent by 2030 and approved a two-year extension to a moratorium on issuing new licences to use land designated as primary forest.

Indonesia has also set targets to cut the use of dirty coal in energy and aims for renewables to make up nearly one-quarter of its energy mix by 2025 from around 12 percent at present, with around 1,800 MW of wind projects targeted for completion.

But despite such commitments environmentalists say more needs to be done to meet its targets and prevent repeats of the massive forest fires in 2015, often blamed on the draining of peatland forests and land clearance for crops such as palm oil.

Documentation for the new bonds said Indonesia had confirmed no financing would go to fossil-fuel based infrastructure, nor projects involving the burning of peat. But it did warn that some projects may still include "an element of deforestation."

Global green bond issuance hit a record for the fifth consecutive year in 2017 and bankers expect further growth in the market this year.

In Asia, Chinese and Indian companies have led the way in tapping the green market to finance environmentally friendly projects but governments had until now stayed away. Worldwide, countries to have sold sizeable amounts of green bonds include Poland -- the first-ever -- and France.

Luky Alfirman, head of the Budget Financing and Risk Management office at the Ministry of Finance told reporters on Friday the proceeds from its green bonds would be used to finance projects such as renewable energy, green tourism and waste management.

The government has also said it will take up more projects to address climate change mitigation and adaptation, which requires alternative financing.

CIMB, Citigroup, Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC, HSBC and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank were bookrunners on the deal.

Indonesia also on Friday raised $1.75 billion selling a 10-year sukuk bond at the same time as the green deal. The longer-dated paper sold with a coupon of 4.4 percent, down from initial guidance of 4.7 percent.


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Best of our wild blogs: 24 Feb 18

Strategic Environmental Assessments — A Holistic Approach to Urban Sustainability

Biodegradable plastic signifies false hope for threatened Mediterranean seagrass community
The Dorsal Effect

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Indonesia: Agency eyes restoration of 140 thousand hectares of Riau`s peatlands

Antara 23 Feb 18;

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - The Peatland Restoration Agency has targeted to restore a total of 140 thousand hectares of peatland areas in Riau Province this year, or an increase of over 400 percent than that in the previous year.

"We had restored a total of 27 thousand hectares of peatland areas last year. For this year, we have targeted to restore 140 thousand hectares of peatlands," Nazir Foead, the agency`s head, noted at a meeting with the Riau provincial government`s representatives here on Friday.

Foead expressed optimism that the target would be achieved owing to the involvement of various teams, including those from the Riau Peatland Restoration Agency and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

"I believe we can accomplish the target," he emphasized, adding that this year, Rp49.5 billion had been allocated for rewetting the peatland areas in Riau Province, or is higher than that of last year.

Riau, one of the provinces in Sumatra Island prone to forest and land fires, has some 4.8 million hectares of peatlands. However, the agency has targeted to restore 900 thousand hectares of peatland areas in Riau.

Last year, the Peatland Restoration Agency had assisted 75 villages and urban villages spread across seven targeted provinces of Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, and Papua.

In order to support the restoration program, the agency has build several infrastructure, such as by drilling wells and building canals in the provinces of Jambi, Riau, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, and South Kalimantan.

A total of over 200 thousand hectares of peatland areas located outside those owned by plantation companies had been rewet, he added.

Reported by FB Anggoro

Editor: Heru Purwanto

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Indonesia: Tapir dies after falling into well

Antara 24 Feb 18;

Jambi, Jambi Province (ANTARA News) - A Tapir has reportedly died during treatment after being rescued from a well in which it was stuck for a day.

The well belonged to a citizen of the Muntialo village in West Tanjungjabung subdistrict of the Jambi province.

The Tapir reportedly died on early Thursday morning due to respiratory failure as he was stuck in the muddy well for a long time. "We evacuated the Tapir and treated it for one night but it could not be saved," Head of Section III Jambi Natural Resources Conservation Hall, Faried, said on Friday.

The adult male Tapir had been evacuated to the Taman Rimba Jambi zoo after being rescued from the well to receive treatment.

"Initially, our plan was to release it back in the wilderness after it recovered but Tapirs are sensitive and require special attention. We did not get the chance to release it," he added.

The Tapir weighed nearly 100 kg and had come from the protected peat forest in the Bram Itam area, he added. Tapirus Indicus, according to the listed status, is a rare and endangered animal. It has also been included in the red list of species in the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

In Indonesia, international trade of Tapir is prohibited, as per the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species.

Reported by Dodi Saputra
Editor: Heru Purwanto

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Study to challenge claim Indonesia second-biggest marine polluter

Moses Ompusunggu The Jakarta Post 23 Feb 18;

A top Indonesian marine scientist has said that Indonesia is planning to conduct a large-scale research study aimed at challenging international findings that the world’s largest archipelago nation is the world’s second-largest marine polluter.

"Many parties have said Indonesia's seas have been polluted by plastic and other [materials]. We want to determine whether this is accurate," said Dirhamsyah, who heads the Center of Oceanography Research at the government-sanctioned Indonesian Science Institute (LIPI).

Various studies indicate Indonesia is the second-biggest polluter of marine plastic debris worldwide after China. International parties like the United Nations have also pressured Indonesia to take stern action to deal with the plastic littering its seas on the back of its effect on sea ecosystems like coral reefs.

Indonesia's status as one of the biggest marine polluters on Earth was also highlighted in the UN's maiden Ocean Conference in New York last June.

A study published in the journal Science in January estimates that there were more than 11 billion pieces of plastic debris in coral reefs across the Asia-Pacific region. Surveying more than 150 coral reefs in Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar and Australia between 2011 and 2014, the study found reefs near Indonesia were littered with the most plastic, while the lowest concentration was found in Australia.

"People can say they accept or reject the results. But I personally don't really believe [the findings]," Dirhamsyah said, referring to the January study.

Reza Cordova, a LIPI marine scientist and lead researcher of the institution's upcoming study, said LIPI was trying to fill in the gaps in the data on marine debris in Indonesia's seas. The Indonesian government has yet to record official data on the matter. Most of the data, he said, came from outside parties like NGOs.

LIPI will begin gathering data for the study at the end of this month. It has identified around 20 locations in the country where sampling will take place. Eight universities across Indonesia and relevant agencies will help the institution conduct the study.

Researchers will focus on at least one seashore area in each of the 20 sampling sites, which are located in 16 provinces. In each seashore, researchers will use 50-100 m2 transects in three different locations to calculate the weight of and amount of debris in each transect.

The sampling will be conducted once a month, especially during full moons when high tides are expected to bring in more debris from the sea to the seashore. Reza said the results from the 20 locations could be used to calculate a nationwide estimate.

The method had never been used before, Reza claimed, adding that the institute was open to collaborating with NGOs to verify the sampling process.

Reza said it would take at least 12 months for his team to conclude the study, which he expected to be the basis for the country's effort to combat the problem of marine debris.

"From the study, we can give suggestions to the government on regions in Indonesia that need specific attention,” said Reza.

Globally, plastic debris is a major threat to coral reef ecosystems, apart from blast fishing by fisherfolk and coral bleaching caused by rising sea temperatures due to global warming.

Coral reefs are important for coastal communities because they help boost tourism and provide protection from waves and storms. More importantly, they also act as key spawning and nurturing grounds for fish and other sea creatures.

Plastics entering the sea carry pollutants and can be a magnet for harmful bacterial, which could lead to diseases in coral reefs entangled in the debris.

"Plastic is a silent killer for sea creatures," Reza said.

Andi Rusandi, director of marine conservation and biodiversity at the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, welcomed LIPI's initiative, saying it could help the government in its sea conservation efforts.

"As the study will calculate the amount of marine debris in Indonesia, it will help the government to take a step forward," Andi said. (ahw)

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Taiwan to ban disposable plastic items by 2030

AFP Yahoo News 22 Feb 18;

Taipei (AFP) - Taiwan is planning a blanket ban on single-use plastic items including straws, cups and shopping bags by 2030, officials said Thursday, with restaurants facing new restrictions from next year.

It is the latest push by Taiwan to cut waste and pollution after introducing a recycling programme and charges for plastic bags.

The island's eco-drive has also extended to limiting the use of incense at temples and festivals to protect public health.

Its new plan will force major chain restaurants to stop providing plastic straws for in-store use from 2019, a requirement that will expand to all dining outlets in 2020.

Consumers will have to pay extra for all straws, plastic shopping bags, disposable utensils and beverage cups from 2025, ahead of a full ban on the single-use items five years later, according to the road map from the government's Environmental Protection Administration (EPA).

"We aim to implement a blanket ban by 2030 to significantly reduce plastic waste that pollutes the ocean and also gets into the food chain to affect human health," said Lai Ying-ying, an EPA official supervising the new programme.

According to Lai, a Taiwanese person on average uses 700 plastic bags annually. The EPA aims to reduce the number to 100 by 2025 and to zero by 2030.

The government has already banned free plastic shopping bags in major retail outlets including supermarkets and convenience stores, expanding the move to smaller businesses including bakeries and drinks kiosks from this year.

The island started recycling plastic and pushing to reduce single-use plastic items more than a decade ago.

Last year, nearly 200,000 tonnes of plastic containers were recycled, the EPA said.

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Britain and Europe must ban palm oil in biofuel to save forests, EU parliament told

Forest peoples affected by plantations urge EU to enact ban despite diplomatic opposition
Jonathan Watts The Guardian 23 Feb 18;

If Britain and other European nations are to fulfil forest protection goals, they must ban the use of palm oil for biofuel and tighten oversight of supply chains, a delegation of forest peoples told parliamentarians this week.

The call for urgent, concrete action comes amid an increasingly heated diplomatic row over the issue between the EU and the governments of major palm-producing nations such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Costa Rica.

The European parliament voted last April to prohibit sales of biofuels made from vegetable oils by 2020 in order to meet its climate goals. This was followed by a related vote last month. Whether and how this might be implemented is now being considered by the European Commission and member states.

The pushback has been strong, particularly in south-east Asia, the origin of 90% of the world’s palm oil exports, which is used in hundreds of supermarket products. Palm oil can also be blended with diesel to power engines, which is what the ban would halt.

Influential politicians in these countries, many of whom are closely linked to the industry, accuse the EU of trade protectionism, colonial thinking and undermining poverty reduction efforts. Malaysia’s plantations minister described the proposed ban as “crop apartheid.”

But indigenous and other communities who are negatively affected by the plantations urge the EU to push ahead with the ban and to go further by tightening other supply chain controls to prevent damage to their land, rights and environment.

Franky Samperante, a founder of the indigenous peoples’ organisation Pusaka, said the Indonesian government had granted concessions to more than 50 companies to open plantations on 1.2m hectares of land claimed by local communities. For him, any palm oil from this area should be considered a conflict product and prohibited from sale in Europe.

“There should be sanctions. If not, there is no point,” he said.

Samperante is part of a group of 14 forest peoples representatives from 11 nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America visiting Europe this week to lobby for a new action plan on sustainable supply chains.

The delegation proposed concrete steps, including for European nations to establish sustainable trade ombudsmen to look into reports of human rights and environmental violations, and for companies to adopt binding human rights policies rather than voluntary actions. Their call was supported by a coalition of environmental NGOs including the Forest People’s Programme, Global Witness, Greenpeace, WWF and the Environmental Investigation Agency.

Tom Griffiths, the author of a report on rights and deforestation, said lofty goals to protect forests were being undermined by a failure to protect the rights of those who live in them.

“There are so many pledges and commitments by companies and government that sound good on paper, but the reality on the ground is starkly different,” he said. “At the meetings this we, they are all saying close the gap.”

Their recommendations will be presented at a multilateral meeting in Paris in June, when the French president, Emmanuel Macron, is expected to launch his strategy for “deforestation-free trade”.

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