No. 16 Christmas letter
By Tiiu Miller | Ultimas Noticias No. 16 2009

Firstly, and most importantly, we at Rainforest Saver wish you all a very Happy Christmas and all the very best for the New Year!  

Thank you to all of you who have subscribed to our little newsletter. I hope you have found some things of interest, and would welcome any suggestions and contributions for the future.

If you are still desperately searching for a last minute Christmas present donations to Rainforest Saver are still very gratefully accepted, and we have, admittedly rather late, produced a nice gift card, illustrated below, to send to any recipient.


                                      Gift card

                               Gift card. Photo by Tiiu Miller 2009)

Some of you will have travelled to visit friends and relatives over Christmas. Have you considered RFS as a recipient for a carbon offset for your travel? Rainforest Saver is not an official carbon off setter, and is therefore relevant only to the entirely voluntary contributions of people who care. I quote the discussion of this issue on our website in Antony Melville's article (newsletter no.2)
"A rudimentary calculation suggests that with prunings being used for firewood and the small stuff rotting with the leaves to release methane, the Inga itself is probably only marginally, if at all, more of a carbon sink than the rough grassland it replaces, except in as far as it replaces other fuel and thereby is likely to save some CO2.  Its main value for carbon sequestration therefore lies with the displacement of forest destruction by slash and burn. On the basis of Victor Coronado's figure ... a five-year programme of Inga alley cropping would be displacing 20 ha of slash and burn per hectare of Inga. A figure for the carbon emissions from burning a typical hectare of secondary forest such as is cut by slash and burn farmers is needed. The value of standing tropical forest for carbon retention and absorption is a hot topic of discussion for the follow-up to the Kyoto protocol, but I have heard $15 per hectare quoted in a Brazilian context.

                                     Victor Coronado 

                          Victor Coronado. Photo by Antony  Melville 2007.

However many people would value highly the beneficial effect of reducing this pressure on the forests even without formal accreditation and would be happy to support it on that basis.  Indeed, there are many doubts about many of the carbon balancing schemes.  Ethical consumer (May/June 2007... downloadable from their website) has done an excellent report on the various carbon sequestration schemes and has found most of them seriously lacking.  They then go on to discuss alternatives to offset providers, such as supporting various organisations that are providing schemes that use less carbon, or educate or campaign on the issue. Inga alley cropping would most certainly qualify as a very good scheme on such a basis."
                       Slash and burn

                                      Slash and burn. Photo by Tiiu Miller 2009.

One could add that the Inga system is a no till system and ploughing releases carbon. But the big plus for offsetting one's emissions by supporting the Inga system is that, unless we provide the slash and burn farmers with an alternative, no one is going to prevent them cutting down the rainforest. If we lose the rainforests, we lose the battle for the climate, and much else besides. You can't tell starving people to go away and die. Some do emigrate to city slums, where there is no work for them and life is really dire. In theory we could stop illegal logging, stop the use of palm oil as fuel, and go vegetarian. There are campaigns on all these issues. But I note a lack of campaigns against slash and burn farmers. It would be hard to do, and moreover who is going to stop starving farmers from feeding their families the only way they know? Yet in Inga alley cropping we have an effective alternative, that both benefits the farmers and saves the rainforest.


               Rainforest waterfall

                                    Rainforest of the Pico Bonito park. Photo by Tiiu Miller 2009.

I hope  to work out some suggested figures in the very near future, like early January, but some of us have simply pulled out a figure from the hat, and just made whatever donation seemed affordable and appropriate.

Merry Christmas to all of you,


Secretary, The Rainforest Saver Foundation