On Tuesday December 4, 2012, Archangel Ancient Tree Archive will plant clones grown from stumps near the Oregon California border and 28 of California’s largest, oldest coast redwoods and giant sequoias — on four acres south of Port Orford, OR. The planting is Archangel’s first attempt to re-create an old-growth forest from its storehouse of rooted cuttings from “champion” trees, the tallest, oldest and largest samples of each species it can find. The group picked Port Orford, just north of the coast redwood’s main range, as a hedge in case global warming weakens the trees down south.
After two years of political wrangling that pitted rural agricultural interests known as “ruralistas” against environmentalists and many scientists, Brazil’s lower house approved legislation late Wednesday that would scale back the country’s vaunted forest protection code.
The legislation would clear the slate on older – and more often than not illegal – deforestation while scaling back protections along rivers and on hills. Deputies approvedthe main legislation in a 274-184 vote, and additional voting on 21 amendments advanced by the ruralistas went late into the night.
Details remain murky, but environmentalists immediately sounded the alarm. “O início do fim das florestas”Greenpeace Brazil proclaimed in a headline on its website. “The beginning of the end of forests.”
To be fair, such visions of doom should be considered in context. Although pressure on forests is on the rise, deforestation in the Amazon hit a record low last year. If Brazil can sustain and advance those gains, it would represent one of the most remarkable environmental success stories in recent decades. The fear is that weakening the law will reverse this progress and unleash a wave of new deforestation by convincing farmers and ranchers that Brazil doesn’t have the political will to truly enforce the law.