save the trees


chinaberry tree broken






Dee Finney's blog

start date July 20, 2011

today's date August 17, 2014

page 730


The Chipko movement or Chipko Andolan is a movement that practiced the Gandhianmethods of satyagraha and non-violent resistance, through the act of hugging trees to protect them from being felled. This was first initiated by Amrita Devi while protesting against a King's men to cut the tree. The modern Chipko movement started in the early 1970s in the Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand, then in Uttar Pradesh with growing awareness of rapid deforestation. The landmark event in this struggle took place on March 26, 1974, when a group of peasant women in Reni village, Hemwalghati, in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand, India, acted to prevent the cutting of trees and reclaim their traditional forest rights, which were threatened by the contractors assigned by the state Forest Department. Their actions inspired hundreds of such actions at the grassroots level throughout the region. By the 1980s the movement had spread throughout India and led to the formulation of people-sensitive forest policies, which put a stop to the open felling of trees in regions as far as the Vindhyas and the Western Ghats. Today, it is seen as an inspiration and a precursor for Chipko movement of Garhwal. Its leader was Sunderlal Bahuguna.


The Chipko movement, though primarily a livelihood protection movement rather than a forest conservation movement, went on to become a rallying point for many future environmentalists, environmental protests and movements all over the world and created a precedent for non-violent protest. It occurred at a time when there was hardly any environmental movement in the developing world, and its success meant that the world immediately took notice of this non-violent movement, which was to inspire in time many such eco-groups by helping to slow down the rapid deforestation, expose vested interests, increaseecological awareness, and demonstrate the viability of people power. Above all, it stirred up the existing civil society in India, which began to address the issues of tribal and marginalized people. So much so that, a quarter of a century later, India Todaymentioned the people behind the "forest satyagraha" of the Chipko movement as amongst "100 people who shaped India".Today, beyond the eco-socialism hue, it is being seen increasingly as an ecofeminism movement. Although many of its leaders were men, women were not only its backbone, but also its mainstay, because they were the ones most affected by the rampant deforestation,, which led to a lack of firewood and fodder as well as water for drinking and irrigation. Over the years they also became primary stakeholders in a majority of the afforestation work that happened under the Chipko movement.

In 1987 the Chipko Movement was awarded the Right Livelihood Award 



"Maatu hamru, paani hamru, hamra hi chhan yi baun bhi... Pitron na lagai baun, hamunahi ta bachon bhi"
Soil ours, water ours, ours are these forests. Our forefathers raised them, it’s we who must protect them.
 Old Chipko Song (Garhwalilanguage)

In India the forest cover started deteriorating at an alarming rate, resulting in hardships for those involved in labour-intensive fodder and firewood collection. This also led to a deterioration in the soil conditions, and erosionin the area. As water sources dried up in the hills, water shortages became widespread. Subsequently, communities gave up raising livestock, which added to the problems of malnutrition in the region. This crisis was heightened by the fact that forest conservation policies, like the Indian Forest Act, 1927, traditionally restricted the access of local communities to the forests, resulting in scarce farmlands in an over- populated and extremely poor area, despite all of its natural wealth. Thus the sharp decline in the local agrarian economy lead to a migration of people into the plains in search of jobs, leaving behind several de-populated villages in the 1960s.

Gradually a rising awareness of the ecological crisis, which came from an immediate loss of livelihood caused by it, resulted in the growth of political activism in the region. The year 1964 saw the establishment of Dasholi Gram Swarajya Sangh (DGSS)(“Dasholi Society for Village Self-Rule” ), set up by Gandhian social worker, Chandi Prasad Bhatt in Gopeshwar, and inspired byJayaprakash Narayan and the Sarvodaya movement, with an aim to set up small industries using the resources of the forest. Their first project was a small workshop making farm tools for local use. Its name was later changed to Dasholi Gram Swarajya Sangh (DGSS) from the original Dasholi Gram Swarajya Mandal (DGSM) in the 1980s. Here they had to face restrictive forest policies, a hangover of colonial era still prevalent, as well as the "contractor system", in which these pieces of forest land were commodified and auctioned to big contractors, usually from the plains, who brought along their own skilled and semi-skilled laborers, leaving only the menial jobs like hauling rocks for the hill people, and paying them next to nothing. On the other hand, the hill regions saw an influx of more people from the outside, which only added to the already strained ecological balance.

Hastened by increasing hardships, the Garhwal Himalayas soon became the centre for a rising ecological awareness of how reckless deforestation had denuded much of the forest cover, resulting in the devastating Alaknanda River floods of July 1970, when a major landslide blocked the river and affected an area starting from Hanumanchatti, near Badrinath to 350 km downstream till Haridwar, further numerous villages, bridges and roads were washed away. Thereafter, incidences of landslides and land subsidence became common in an area which was experiencing a rapid increase in civil engineering projects.


Soon villagers, especially women, started organizing themselves under several smaller groups, taking up local causes with the authorities, and standing up against commercial logging operations that threatened their livelihoods. In October 1971, the Sangh workers held a demonstration in Gopeshwar to protest against the policies of the Forest Department. More rallies and marches were held in late 1972, but to little effect, until a decision to take direct action was taken. The first such occasion occurred when the Forest Department turned down the Sangh’s annual request for ten ash trees for its farm tools workshop, and instead awarded a contract for 300 trees to Simon Company, a sporting goods manufacturer in distant Allahabad, to make tennis rackets. In March, 1973, the lumbermen arrived at Gopeshwar, and after a couple of weeks, they were confronted at village Mandal on April 24, 1973, where about hundred villagers and DGSS workers were beating drums and shouting slogans, thus forcing the contractors and their lumbermen to retreat. This was the first confrontation of the movement, The contract was eventually cancelled and awarded to the Sangh instead. By now, the issue had grown beyond the mere procurement of an annual quota of three ash trees, and encompassed a growing concern over commercial logging and the government's forest policy, which the villagers saw as unfavourable towards them. The Sangh also decided to resort to tree-hugging, or Chipko, as a means of non-violent protest.

But the struggle was far from over, as the same company was awarded more ash trees, in the Phata forest, 80 km away from Gopeshwar. Here again, due to local opposition, starting on June 20, 1973, the contractors retreated after a stand-off that lasted a few days. Thereafter, the villagers of Phata and Tarsali formed a vigil group and watched over the trees till December, when they had another successful stand-off, when the activists reached the site in time. The lumberermen retreated leaving behind the five ash trees felled.

The final flash point began a few months later, when the government announced an auction scheduled in January, 1974, for 2,500 trees near Reni village, overlooking the Alaknanda River. Bhatt set out for the villages in the Reni area, and incited the villagers, who decided to protest against the actions of the government by hugging the trees. Over the next few weeks, rallies and meetings continued in the Reni area.

On March 25, 1974, the day the lumbermen were to cut the trees, the men of the Reni village and DGSS workers were in Chamoli, diverted by state government and contractors to a fictional compensation payment site, while back home labourers arrived by the truckload to start logging operations. A local girl, on seeing them, rushed to inform Gaura Devi, the head of the village Mahila Mangal Dal, at Reni village (Laata was her ancestral home and Reni adopted home). Gaura Devi led 27 of the village women to the site and confronted the loggers. When all talking failed, and instead the loggers started to shout and abuse the women, threatening them with guns, the women resorted to hugging the trees to stop them from being felled. This went on into late hours. The women kept an all-night vigil guarding their trees from the cutters till a few of them relented and left the village. The next day, when the men and leaders returned, the news of the movement spread to the neighbouring Laata and others villages including Henwalghati, and more people joined in. Eventually only after a four-day stand-off, the contractors left.


The news soon reached the state capital, where then state Chief Minister, Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna, set up a committee to look into the matter, which eventually ruled in favour of the villagers. This became a turning point in the history of eco-development struggles in the region and around the world.

The struggle soon spread across many parts of the region, and such spontaneous stand-offs between the local community and timber merchants occurred at several locations, with hill women demonstrating their new-found power as non-violent activists. As the movement gathered shape under its leaders, the name Chipko Movement was attached to their activities. According to Chipko historians, the term originally used by Bhatt was the word "angalwaltha" in the Garhwali language for "embrace", which later was adapted to the Hindi word, Chipko, which means to stick.

Subsequently, over the next five years the movement spread to many districts in the region, and within a decade throughout the Uttarakhand Himalayas. Larger issues of ecological and economic exploitation of the region were raised. The villagers demanded that no forest-exploiting contracts should be given to outsiders and local communities should have effective control over natural resources like land, water, and forests. They wanted the government to provide low-cost materials to small industries and ensure development of the region without disturbing the ecological balance. The movement took up economic issues of landless forest workers and asked for guarantees of minimum wage. Globally Chipko demonstrated how environment causes, up until then considered an activity of the rich, were a matter of life and death for the poor, who were all too often the first ones to be devastated by an environmental tragedy. Several scholarly studies were made in the aftermath of the movement. In 1977, in another area, women tied sacred threads, Raksha Bandhan, around trees earmarked for felling in a Hindu tradition which signifies a bond between brother and sisters.

Women’s participation in the Chipko agitation was a very novel aspect of the movement. The forest contractors of the region usually doubled up as suppliers of alcohol to men. Women held sustained agitations against the habit of alcoholism and broadened the agenda of the movement to cover other social issues. The movement achieved a victory when the government issued a ban on felling of trees in the Himalayan regions for fifteen years in 1980 by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, until the green cover was fully restored. One of the prominent Chipko leaders, Gandhian Sunderlal Bahuguna, took a 5,000-kilometre trans-Himalaya foot march in 1981–83, spreading the Chipko message to a far greater area. Gradually, women set up cooperatives to guard local forests, and also organized fodder production at rates conducive to local environment. Next, they joined in land rotation schemes for fodder collection, helped replant degraded land, and established and ran nurseries stocked with species they selected.


Surviving participants of the first all-woman Chipko action at Reni village in 1974 on left jen wadas, reassembled thirty years later.

One of Chipko's most salient features was the mass participation of female villagers. As the backbone of Uttarakhand's Agrarian economy, women were most directly affected by environmental degradation anddeforestation, and thus related to the issues most easily. How much this participation impacted or derived from the ideology of Chipko has been fiercely debated in academic circles.

Despite this, both female and male activists did play pivotal roles in the movement including Gaura Devi, Sudesha Devi, Bachni Devi, Chandi Prasad Bhatt, Sundarlal Bahuguna, Govind Singh Rawat, Dhoom Singh Negi, Shamsher Singh Bisht and Ghanasyam Raturi, the Chipko poet, whose songs echo throughout the Himalayas. Out of which, Chandi Prasad Bhatt was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1982, and Sundarlal Bahuguna was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 2009.


In Tehri district, Chipko activists would go on to protest limestone mining in the Doon Valley (Dehra Dun) in the 1980s, as the movement spread through the Dehradun district, which had earlier seen deforestation of its forest cover leading to heavy loss of flora and fauna. Finally quarrying was banned after years of agitation by Chipko activists, followed by a vast public drive for afforestation, which turned around the valley, just in time. Also in the 1980s, activists like Bahuguna protested against construction of the Tehri dam on the Bhagirathi River, which went on for the next two decades, before founding the Beej Bachao Andolan, the Save the Seeds movement, that continues to the present day.

Over time, as a United Nations Environment Programme report mentioned, Chipko activists started "working a socio-economic revolution by winning control of their forest resources from the hands of a distant bureaucracy which is only concerned with the selling of forestland for making urban-oriented products.". The Chipko movement became a benchmark for socio-ecological movements in other forest areas of Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar; in September 1983, Chipko inspired a similar, Appiko movement in Karnataka state of India, where tree felling in the Western Ghats and Vindhyas was stopped. In Kumaon region, Chipko took on a more radical tone, combining with the general movement for a separate Uttarakhand state, which was eventually achieved in 2000.

In recent years, the movement not only inspired numerous people to work on practical programmes of water management, energy conservation, afforestation, and recycling, but also encouraged scholars to start studying issues of environmental degradation and methods of conservation in the Himalayas and throughout India.

On March 26, 2004, Reni, Laata, and other villages of the Niti Valley celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Chipko Movement, where all the surviving original participants united. The celebrations started at Laata, the ancestral home of Gaura Devi, where Pushpa Devi, wife of late Chipko Leader Govind Singh Rawat, Dhoom Singh Negi, Chipko leader of Henwalghati, Tehri Garhwal, and others were celebrated. From here a procession went to Reni, the neighbouring village, where the actual Chipko action took place on March 26, 1974. This marked the beginning of worldwide methods to improve the present situation.


See also


  1. Jump up^ The women of Chipko Staying alive: women, ecology, and development, by Vandana Shiva, Published by Zed Books, 1988. ISBN 0-86232-823-3. Page 67.
  2. Jump up^ Bhishnois: Defenders of the Environment This Sacred Earth: Religion, Nature, Environment, by Roger S. Gottlieb. Published by Routledge, 1996. ISBN 0-415-91233-4. Page 159 .
  3. Jump up^ Khejarli - Chipko Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things, by Alex Tickell. Published by Routledge, 2007. ISBN 0-415-35843-4. Page 34.
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Box 5: Women defend the trees Global Environment Outlook, GEO Year Book 2004/5, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  5. Jump up^ Hijacking Chipko Political ecology: a critical introduction, by Paul Robbins. Published by Wiley-Blackwell, 2004. ISBN 1-4051-0266-7. Page 194.
  6. Jump up^ 100 people who shaped India - Chipko Movement India Today .
  7. ^ Jump up to:a b The Chipko Movement Politics in the developing world: a concise introduction, by Jeffrey Haynes. Published by Wiley-Blackwell, 2002. ISBN 0-631-22556-0. Page 229.
  8. Jump up^ The women of Chipko Staying alive: women, ecology, and development, by Vandana Shiva, Published by Zed Books, 1988. ISBN 0-86232-823-3. Page 67.
  9. Jump up^ Chipko Movement The Future of the Environment: The Social Dimensions of Conservation and Ecological Alternatives, by David C. Pitt. Published by Routledge, 1988.ISBN 0-415-00455-1. Page 112.
  10. Jump up^ Dankelman, Irene; Davidson, Joan (1988). "[Studying Chipko Movement – ] Pakistani Women Visit India's Environmental NGOs". Women and Environment in the Third World: Alliance for the Future. London: Earthscan. p. 129. ISBN 1-85383-003-8. OCLC 17547228. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  11. Jump up^ Chipko Right Livelihood Award Official website.
  12. ^ Jump up to:a b c Chipko! - Hill conservationists Tehelka, September 11, 2004.
  13. Jump up^ Starting.. Of myths and movements: rewriting Chipko into Himalayan history, by Haripriya Rangan. Published by Verso, 2000. ISBN 1-85984-305-0. Page 4-5.
  14. ^ Jump up to:a b “Hug the Trees!” - Chandi Prasad Bhatt, Gaura Devi, and the Chipko Movement By Mark Shepard. Gandhi Today: A Report on Mahatma Gandhi’s Successors, Simple Productions, Arcata, California, 1987, reprinted by Seven Locks Press, Washington, D.C., 1987.
  15. Jump up^ Ecological crisis Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution and Profit, by Vandana Shiva. Published by Pluto Press, 2002.ISBN 0-7453-1837-1. Page 3.
  16. Jump up^ Landslides and Floods Pauri district website.
  17. ^ Jump up to:a b c Chipko 30th Anniversary The Nanda Devi Campaign.
  18. Jump up^ [1][dead link]
  19. Jump up^ A Gandhian in Garhwal The Hindu, Sunday, June 2, 2002.
  20. Jump up^ The Chipko Movement: India’s Call to Save Their
  21. Jump up^ Bahuguna, the sentinel of Himalayas by Harihar Swarup,The Tribune, July 8, 2007.
  22. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Chipko Movement - India International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). December 2007.
  23. Jump up^ India: the Chipko movement Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
  24. Jump up^ Mishra, A., & Tripathi, (1978). Chipko movement: Uttaranchal women's bid to save forest wealth. New Delhi: People's Action/Gandhi Book House.
  25. Jump up^ Aryal, M. (1994, January/February). Axing Chipko. Himal, 8-23.
  26. Jump up^ Citation for the 1982 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership Ramon Magsaysay Award website.
  27. Jump up^ From Chipko to Uttaranchal: Haripriya Ranjan Liberation ecologies: environment, development, social movements, by Richard Peet, Michael Watts. Published by Routledge, 1996.ISBN 0-415-13362-9. Page 205-206.
  28. Jump up^ Chipko ..the first modern Indian environmentalist, and also to being the greatest... Ramchandra Guha, The Telegraph, September 4, 2004.

External links


Top 22 Benefits of Trees


Here are 22 of the best reasons to plant and care for trees or defend a tree’s standing:

Trees combat the greenhouse effect

Global warming is the result of excess greenhouse gases, created by burning fossil fuels and destroying tropical rainforests. Heat from the sun, reflected back from the earth, is trapped in this thickening layer of gases, causing global temperatures to rise. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a major greenhouse gas. Trees absorb CO2, removing and storing the carbon while releasing the oxygen back into the air. In one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the amount of CO2 produced when you drive your car 26,000 miles.

Trees clean the air

Trees absorb odors and pollutant gases (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone) and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark.

Trees provide oxygen

In one year an acre of mature trees can provide enough oxygen for 18 people.

Trees cool the streets and the city

Average temperatures in Los Angeles have risen 6°F in the last 50 years as tree coverage has declined and the number of heat-absorbing roads and buildings has increased.

Trees cool the city by up to 10°F, by shading our homes and streets, breaking up urban “heat islands” and releasing water vapor into the air through their leaves.

Trees conserve energy

Three trees placed strategically around a single-family home can cut summer air conditioning needs by up to 50 percent. By reducing the energy demand for cooling our houses, we reduce carbon dioxide and other pollution emissions from power plants.

Trees save water

Shade from trees slows water evaporation from thirsty lawns. Most newly planted trees need only fifteen gallons of water a week. As trees transpire, they increase atmospheric moisture.

Trees help prevent water pollution

Trees reduce runoff by breaking rainfall thus allowing the water to flow down the trunk and into the earth below the tree. This prevents stormwater from carrying pollutants to the ocean. When mulched, trees act like a sponge that filters this water naturally and uses it to recharge groundwater supplies.

Trees help prevent soil erosion

On hillsides or stream slopes, trees slow runoff and hold soil in place.

Trees shield children from ultra-violet rays

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Trees reduce UV-B exposure by about 50 percent, thus providing protection to children on school campuses and playgrounds - where children spend hours outdoors.

Trees provide food

An apple tree can yield up to 15-20 bushels of fruit per year and can be planted on the tiniest urban lot. Aside from fruit for humans, trees provide food for birds and wildlife.

Trees heal

Studies have shown that patients with views of trees out their windows heal faster and with less complications. Children with ADHD show fewer symptoms when they have access to nature. Exposure to trees and nature aids concentration by reducing mental fatigue.

Trees reduce violence

Neighborhoods and homes that are barren have shown to have a greater incidence of violence in and out of the home than their greener counterparts. Trees and landscaping help to reduce the level of fear.

Trees mark the seasons

Is it winter, spring, summer or fall? Look at the trees.

Trees create economic opportunities

Fruit harvested from community orchards can be sold, thus providing income. Small business opportunities in green waste management and landscaping arise when cities value mulching and its water-saving qualities. Vocational training for youth interested in green jobs is also a great way to develop economic opportunities from trees.

Trees are teachers and playmates

Whether as houses for children or creative and spiritual inspiration for adults, trees have provided the space for human retreat throughout the ages. 

Trees bring diverse groups of people together

Tree plantings provide an opportunity for community involvement and empowerment that improves the quality of life in our neighborhoods. All cultures, ages, and genders have an important role to play at a tree planting or tree care event.

Trees add unity

Trees as landmarks can give a neighborhood a new identity and encourage civic pride.

Trees provide a canopy and habitat for wildlife

Sycamore and oak are among the many urban species that provide excellent urban homes for birds, bees, possums and squirrels.

Trees block things

Trees can mask concrete walls or parking lots, and unsightly views. They muffle sound from nearby streets and freeways, and create an eye-soothing canopy of green. Trees absorb dust and wind and reduce glare.

Trees provide wood

In suburban and rural areas, trees can be selectively harvested for fuel and craft wood.

Trees increase property values

The beauty of a well-planted property and its surrounding street and neighborhood can raise property values by as much as 15 percent.

Trees increase business traffic

Studies show that the more trees and landscaping a business district has, the more business will flow in. A tree-lined street will also slow traffic – enough to allow the drivers to look at the store fronts instead of whizzing by.

To learn about different types of trees and view photographs, visit the SelecTree website.

To receive up to seven free trees, please contact Trees For a Green LA (City of Los Angeles residents only).

To learn about protecting trees in your community please see our FAQs.

children and trees

JOHANNESBURG, 3 December 2013 (IRIN) - Several issues around the UN mechanism that aims to curtail greenhouse gases by preventing forest loss were resolved in Warsaw at the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the meeting is being described by many as the “Forest COP”. 

The decisions were mostly on how a UN mechanism known as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) and its successor, REDD+ (which additionally aims to reverse forest loss) will be governed. 

Perhaps the most significant development is a decision that affects local communities and indigenous peoples who live in, or depend on, forests. It has now become mandatory for countries who want to access funds for projects to conserve their forests to show that they are involving local forest-based communities in their efforts, and ensuring their livelihoods are safe. 

REDD+ was initially designed to benefit countries with rainforests but now covers all developing countries, which could be compensated for preserving their forests, either from a fund or with carbon credits to be traded on international carbon markets. But private companies as well as countries can earn carbon credits to help them offset their industrial emissions, and this has long been a sore point with the critics of REDD. 

So, will REDD+ decisions help forest-linked communities and forests? IRIN takes a closer look. 

Help the people, save the trees 

Forests are known to remove huge amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, while the destruction of trees releases carbon back into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change. Environmentalists have long argued that REDD+ must not simply protect trees, it must also protect biodiversity and forest-dependent communities. The logic is that if you don’t help the people who live with the forests, you can’t expect them to help save the trees. 

Several studies - including an assessment by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), the world’s largest network of forest scientists - show that efforts to conserve forests, and so reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, cannot work without protecting biodiversity and the well-being of forest dwellers. 

“There is clear evidence that including objectives to improve the livelihoods of forest-dependent people and local communities will strengthen local involvement and acceptance, and thereby support REDD+ goals,” said Christoph Wildburger, the coordinator of IUFRO’s Global Forest Expert Panels (GFEP) initiative, was quoted by IRIN as saying in 2012. 

"Forest carbon (which is based on removal of carbon from the atmosphere) is NOT equivalent to industrial carbon (released by burning fossil fuels that have previously been locked away underground). Therefore, using forest carbon as offsets does not slow down climate change, but rather allows the status quo of ever-increasing impacts to continue"
“Socio-economic impacts should therefore be considered early on in REDD+ planning and implementation. Tenure and property rights, including rights of access, use, and ownership in particular, also need to be emphasized, as they are crucial to ensuring the sustainable success of REDD+ activities." 

Global thinking on forest management, even in developing countries where governments are often pressed to concede rainforest exploitation rights, has been moving towards decentralized forest management that allows local actors increased rights and responsibilities, which has been found to be effective in protecting forests. 

In the 2010 UNFCCC meeting in Cancun, Mexico, the rights of indigenous forest communities and biodiversity were recognized as "safeguards", or conditions that countries were required to meet to qualify for REDD+ funding. But subsequent meetings failed to make adherence to those conditions mandatory, which is what forest-linked communities and civil society said was necessary. 

Despite the best attempts of environmentalists and similar lobby groups, language in the proposed climate treaty that would make countries accountable for ensuring the rights of the forest-based communities remained “substantially weak”, says Anggalia Putri Permatasari, Forest and Climate Change Officer, Association for Community-Based and Ecological Law Reform in Indonesia. 

Instead of a system to monitor, report and verify (known as the MRV) for safeguards, she said, countries at the 2011 meeting in Durban, South Africa, settled for language that “obliged” them to provide a “summary of information on how safeguards are addressed and respected”. 

What happened in Warsaw? 

The incessant lobbying by civil society and other groups paid off. Countries adopted a package of seven decisions finalizing the basic governance framework for REDD+, said Allison Silverman, an attorney with the US-based Center for International Environmental Law. 

The framework requires countries to show that they have made efforts to improve the lives of forest-based communities and will involve them in initiatives to conserve and protect forests in a meaningful way. ”These benefits are known at the UNFCCC as ‘non-carbon’ benefits’,” she said. 

Is this good enough? 

Well, no. Raja Jarrah, climate advisor with the NGO, CARE International, answers the question candidly, “As with almost all the decisions on REDD+, the wording leaves a lot of room for interpretation… the spirit of the decision might be seen as making it ‘mandatory to report on safeguards’, but what it actually does is ask countries to provide their ’most recent summary of information on how all of the safeguards’… have been addressed and respected.” 

He points out that neither “summary” nor “information” is defined. The language also does not stipulate how this information will be verified by indigenous peoples and local communities. Jarrah thinks the Warsaw decision has not really taken the issue forward since Cancun. 

Permatasari, the Indonesian activist, admits the Warsaw decisions on REDD+ do not address the Safeguards Information System (SIS), which defines the information countries need to provide, and the manner in which it should be provided. Environmentalists realize they still have a “great battle” ahead at the next UN talks in Lima, Peru, in 2014 to determine the details of the SIS. 

Jarrah says in Durban it was acknowledged that “information must be transparent and cover all the safeguards, but national sovereignty and circumstances were also stressed, thereby giving countries more or less carte blanche to report as they will”. 

Permatasari feels the general message now is that in the long run the success of REDD+ will depend on “whether it creates long-term benefits for communities that live in and around forests and does not harm them. Recognition and protection of community rights is the first step towards achieving this”. 

Pasang Dolma Sherpa, national coordinator of the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities, sees the biggest challenge as ensuring that national governments recognize the rights of forest-based communities at all tiers of government in a meaningful manner. Nepal has a community-based forest monitoring system in place and is regarded as much more advanced in recognizing the rights of indigenous communities, but she says the recognition is still “superficial”. Dolma Sherpa notes that a process involving indigenous and forest-dependent people and communities must be put in place at all levels of government to record their grievances. 

Countries have begun to develop their SIS frameworks, but are recognizing that they do not really know how to go about it, reports the REDD+ Safeguards Working Group (R-SWG), a North-South coalition of civil society and indigenous people’s organizations. 

Lakpa Nuri Sherpa, of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)-Environment Programme, based in Thailand, points out that most of the information on REDD+ is only available in English; and there is a need to translate it to make communities aware of the requirements for implementing REDD+, and their role in the process. 

Will REDD+ prevent deforestation? 

Activists like CARE’s Jarrah say that for REDD+ to work, the world has to tackle the demand-driven drivers of deforestation. These include a growing global demand for beef from ever larger cattle ranches, soya for animal feed and biofuels, palm oil for a variety of food and non-food uses, and of course tropical timber. 

Where will the money come for REDD+? 

REDD+ was supposed to have been funded by carbon markets, which have not really worked. This is largely because mitigation efforts to create carbon credits have so far not been able to place a decent value on carbon. There was a lot of talk on the sidelines of the Warsaw conference about the enormous amounts of money it will take to conserve forests, and that public funding will not be adequate. 

Juan Carlos Carrillo from Mexican Environmental Law Center and a member of the R-SWG, says, it “seems to be clear that markets won´t save forests and therefore the GCF [Green Climate Fund ] will play a more important role.” The GCF is the biggest fund created under the UNFCCC to raise funds for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries. 

In 2004, the World Bank created a BioCarbon Fund that allocates money to develop projects that sequester or conserve carbon in forests and agro-ecosystems. Rich countries like the US have already begun channelling money to this fund. The Bank hoped to create a market for soil carbon credits that will help small-farm productivity, and mobilize increased private sector investment in the agriculture sector. However, NGOs like ActionAid say farm soils will not be able to sequester the massive amounts of carbon required for such a market. 

Jarrah says the “BioCarbon Fund is to help prime a system for trading forest carbon, since the carbon market itself is dysfunctional”. Forest-dependent communities don’t really mind where the money is coming from (the private or public sector), but what does matter is the price the planet is paying if the money comes from the carbon market. At issue is the principle of forest carbon credits acquired by private companies. Since they are actually emitting the gases, practically, they are the ones who can trade to offset their continuing emissions. 

“If - and it's a big if - we had ambitious global emissions reduction targets, offsets might make sense to help us achieve these,” he said in an email to IRIN. “But we don’t, so offsets are simply a method to avoid reducing emissions. Forest carbon (which is based on removal of carbon from the atmosphere) is NOT equivalent to industrial carbon (released by burning fossil fuels that have previously been locked away underground). Therefore, using forest carbon as offsets does not slow down climate change, but rather allows the status quo of ever-increasing impacts to continue.” 


Theme (s): Aid Policy, Economy, Environment, Food Security, Governance,Human Rights, Natural Disasters,

Save America's Forests has joined with other forest protection groups, and groups fighting against incinerators that burn trees for energy. Together, we have created a new campaign:

the Anti-Biomass Incineration/Forest Protection Campaign

On July 14 and 15 of 2010, five leaders of the new Anti-Biomass Incineration/Forest Protection Campaigntraveled to D.C. and joined with Save America's Forests in over 30 visits with members and staff of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. We found that Congress is rapidly moving ahead promoting progams to accelerate logging of our public and private forests and build wood incinerators.

Most members of Congress erroneously believe that burning trees for energy is green energy.

We must tell members of Congress, especially those who care about the environment, that burning trees in incinerators is bad environmentally, bad economically, and will cause increased air and water pollution with severe human health consequences.

Below are two letters to President Obama and Congress signed by over 50 groups opposing increased logging and biomass incineration. One letter focuses on the Wyden logging bill and the other letter focuses on the Renewable Electricity Standard, the Clean Air Act and the tailoring rule. Also below are many documents we are sharing with Congress, along with other information and links about the dangerous new biomass incineration threat to America's forests, air and water, human health, and our economy.

Look at these other groups' websites for more information

Energy Justice Network - Filled with facts on biomass and incineration 
The Biomass Accountability Project - Massachusetts campaign against incinerators
Cascadia’s Ecosystem Advocates - Oregon campaign
Buckeye Forest Council - Ohio campaign 
Massachusetts Forest Watch - Biomass clearcutting in forest of Boston's water supply

San Rafael Falls
Photo Chris Matera, Massachusetts Forest Watch
Giant Clearcut in Quabbin Reservoir, a Massachusetts state-owned forest, 
and drinking water supply for 2 million people, including Boston

 LISTEN TO ANTI-BIOMASS CAMPAIGN EXPERT AND AUTHOR MARY BOOTH PH.D. EXPLAIN WHY BIOMASS IS THE PROBLEM NOT THE SOLUTION - "The country is looking for alternatives to fossil fuels, and some power companies are seeing a solution in biomass - electricity from the burning of wood and plant materials. While regulators consider biomass a renewable energy source, some scientists say it could be worse for the climate than coal. Living on Earth's Mitra Taj reports on the ongoing debate over biomass' emissions.

December 2010 Radio Program - Vermont Pownal Proposed Biomass Incinerator - WAMC - Northeast Public Radio -Listen to experts refute claims by Biomass Industry that the Incinerator will be clean and not injurious to humans

November 2010 Radio Interview - FRED THE SHOW - 102.3 The Talk Monster! WGOW-FM - Listen to 3 experts with the Anti-Biomass Incineration - Forest Protection Campaign, explain why biomass electricity is a disaster for the forests and global warming - CLICK HERE FOR STREAMING AUDIO (MP3 File) 45 minutes -

July 29, 2010 Press Briefing - Listen to a recording of 6 experts with the Anti-Biomass Incineration - Forest Protection Campaign discuss the problems with biomass incineration, including pollution and carbon emissions, health, economics, legislation, forest ecology, the myth of energy independence, and public opposition - CLICK HERE FOR STREAMING AUDIO (WMA file). 45 minutes.

Moderator - Carl Ross, Director, Save America's Forests


Information on Forests and Biomass Incinerators

Fact Sheets, Articles, Etc.

Letters Opposing Logging Forests for Biomass Incinerators

  1. Letter to the President and Congress Opposing Biomass Incineration and Increased Logging - July 29, 2010
  2. Letter to Congress Opposing Wyden Bill - March 2010
  3. 90 Scientists Letter to Congress - Biomass Tree Incinertors Not Carbon Neutral


  1. Scientific Paper - Indiana Case Study - March 2013- Pollution and Drought - Using Biomass Incinerator to Generate Electricity
  2. Plan To Use Wood At Nine Ohio Power Plants Suspended - 12.5.10 - The Columbus Dispatch
  3. China Adding 500 Gigawatts of Renewable Power by 2020 - 12.4.10 - Clean Technica - 
    Includes massive bioenergy increase including 50 million tons of biomass pellets
  4. Republicans Kill Section 1603 Renewable Energy Cash Grants - 12.4.10 - Clean Technica
  5. EPA To Weaken Boiler Rules 12.2.10 - E&E News
  6. Press Release - December 1, 2010 - New US Government Report Finds Incinerators the Most Expensive Way to Generate Electriicty
  7. * VICTORY * - Giant Burger Wood Burning Facility Defeated, Will Close Down - 11.18.10 -
  8. Press Release -11.16.2010-Campaign Says EPA’s Clean Air Act should prohibit burning forests for “green” energy
  9. Common Dreams - 11.4.2010 - Rachel Smolker - Mind Boggling Forest-Gobbling Biomass Boondoggle
  10. Florida Alligator - Alexander Klausner - Group Attempting to Stop Biomass Facility
  11. E&E News-Dina Fine Maron-8.19.10-Scientists: No Carbon Credits for Logging Forest Understory
  12. Akron Beacon Journal - Bob Downing - August 1, 2010 - Burning Trees at Ohio Facility Fuels Debate
  13. Florida Tribune - Bruce Ritchie - July 29, 2010 - 55 Groups Urge Obama and Congress No Biomass Incinerators
  14. NY Times Green Blog - Matt Wald - July 29, 2010 - Biomass Incinerators - Meg Sheehan quoted
  15. E&E News - Dina Fine Maron - July 12, 2010 - New Campaign Lobbies Congress Against Biomass Incinerators
  16. Press Release - July 29, 2010 - Letter to Obama, Congress Opposing Biomass Incineration
  17. Press Release - July 29, 2010 - Florida Biomass Incineration Lawsuit
  18. Eugene Weekly - BIO MESS - July 22, 2010 - Camilla Mortensen - Samantha Chirillo of Cascadia's Ecosystem Advocates

Forest Destruction

  1. Review of Duke Southeastern Biomass Energy Feasibility Study - Mary Booth
  2. Clearcut Disaster - Mary Booth - Environmental Working Group - Report
  3. Forest Impacts - fact sheet
  4. Incinerators and Whole Trees - fact sheet
  5. WHOLE TREES, Not "WASTE" - 
          The incinerator industry spokesman falsely claims incinerators do not burn whole trees, only "waste" - 
                "...not aware of any facilities that use whole trees"
          However, the incinerator facilities own documents PROVE that incinerators burn whole trees
                - Fitchburg, MA - "the facility burns whole-tree chips" 
                - Ryegate, VT - “The Ryegate Power Station burns 250,000 tons of whole-tree chips per year.”
    Bethlehem, NH - "The facility uses approximately 675 tons (per day) of whole-tree chips.”

Forests - Carbon Sequestration

  1. Decade-old Error by Scientists Counts Deforestation and Tree Incineration as Carbon Neutral - Searchinger - scientific paper
  2. US National Forests, Carbon Sequestration, and Climate - fact sheet
  3. Public Lands, Logging, Carbon Sequestration - Depro, et al. - scientific paper
  4. Old-Growth Forests As Global Carbon Sinks - Luyssaert, et al - scientific paper
  5. Old Growth Forests Sequester Carbon - Zhou - scientific paper

Carbon Emissions - Pollution

  1. 90 Scientists to Congress - Biomass Tree Incinertors Not Carbon Neutral - Letter
  2. Regarding Carbon Dioxide, Biomass Incinerators Are Dirtier Than Coal - Fact Sheet
  3. Carbon Neutrality Myth - Fact Sheet
  4. Logging Forests Is Not Carbon Neutral - Fact Sheet

Pollution - Human Health

  1. Biomass Health Fact Sheet - Save America's Forests
  2. American Lung Association Massachusetts Letter Opposes Biomass Incinerator
  3. American Lung Association National Letter Opposing Biomass Incineration
  4. Health Impacts of Incinerators - Fact sheet
  5. Medical Associations Oppose Incinerators
  6. Massachusetts Breast Cancer Association Letter
  7. Medical Letter to Congress
  8. Massachusetts Medical Society - February 25, 2010 Testimony Against Biomass Incinerators
  9. North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians Letter
  10. Biomass Is The New Coal - Report by PFPI - 2014

    Environmental Justice

  1. NAACP - Valdosta Georgia - Letter to Congress Opposing Local Biomass Incinerator
  2. Bullard - Dismantling Energy Apartheid in US 2.9.2011
  3. Bullard - 40 Env Justice Groups Call to Action 11.13.2010

Wood - Biomass Incineration

  1. Map of Wood Incinerators in the U.S.
  2. Biomass Incineration Fact Sheet



  1. Information Sheet - Gainsville Biomass Incinerator
  2. 9.1.10 - Florida Aligator - Florida Supreme Court May Hear Biomass Incinerator Case
  3. 8.25.10 - Press Release


  1. Proposed Incinerator Said To Be Medical Atrocity - 10.27.2010 - Valdosta Daily Times
  2. Growing oposition of proposed biomass energy plant - 10.27.2010 - Valdosta Daily Times
  3. Technical Informaiton on Proposed Valdosta Biomass Incinerator-10.27.2010-Valdosta Daily Times
  4. Valdosta Daily Times Questions, Criticizes Proposed Biomass Incinerator - 10.26.2010
  5. Video About Valdosta Biomass Incinerator - 2 minutes - Seth Gunning

  1. Biomass Invades Southern Indiana - 11.27.19 - Bloomington Alternative
  1. Official Comments On Wood Incinerators to Mass. Dept of Energy Re: Renewable Portfolio Standard - 10.21.2010
  2. Manomet Study: Biomass is Not Carbon Neutral - June 2010 (large file - 6 gb)
  3. Manomet Study Executive Summary - June 2010
  4. Secretary of State Responds to Manoment: Letter on New Biomass Incinerator Rule - July 2010
  5. Review of Manomet Study with Additional Important Facts - Mary Booth
  6. Shocking Map of Masschusetts Forests if logged for wood incinerators
  7. Channel 5 Boston TV News Video Series on Biomass Incinerators-Clearcutting in Mass. October 2010
  1. Plan To Use Wood At Nine Ohio Power Plants Suspended - 12.5.10 - The Columbus Dispatch
  2. *VICTORY * - Giant Burger Wood Burning Facility Defeated, Will Close Down - 11.18.10 -
  3. Ohio Biomass Incinerator - Forest Factsheet - Logging of Whole Trees


  1. Eugene Weekly - BIO MESS - July 22, 2010 - Camilla Mortensen - Samantha Chirillo of Cascadia's Ecosystem Advocates


  1. The Texas Tribune - 11.5.10 Biomass Power Plants Rise in East Texas


  1. December 2010 Radio Program - Vermont Pownal Proprosed Biomass Incinerator - WAMC - Northeast Public Radio -Listen to experts refute claims by Biomass Industry that the Incinerator will be clean and not injurious to humans
  2. Summary of Issues in Vermont Prepared by Chris Matera for Biomass Public Hearing from the "Vermont Biomass Working Group" on November 30, 2010 in Randolph Vermont
  3. Biomass Facility in Ashland Wisconsin DEFEATED - 11.29.10 - Journal Sentinel - XCEL cancels biomass gasification facility that would have beent the largest wood-burning power plant in the Midwest


  1. Jobs Fact Sheet
  2. Letter to Senator Stabenow from Dr. Bill Sammons

Comments on Agency Rules, etc

Save America's Forests endorses some but not necessarily all the views in the documents in this section, but makes them all available for the information they contain

  1. Comments on USDA Farm Program "Biomass Crop Assistance Program" FPEIS by NRDC, NSAC, and Biomass Accountability Project - August 16, 2010
    - Attachment A - BCAP FPEIS
    - Attachment B - BCAP FPEIS

  2. Comments to EPA on "Tailoring Rule" - EPA Call for Information on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Associated With Bioenergy and Other Biogenic Sources- September 13, 2010
    - Comments by Anti-Biomass Incineration and Forest Protection Campaign
    - Comments by Center for Biological Diversity
    - Comments by Sound Resource Management Group - Jeffrey Morris, Ph.D.
    - Comments by Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance - GAIA

  3. Official Comments On Wood Incinerators to Massachusetts Dept of Energy Re: Renewable Portfolio Standard by Stop Spewing Carbon and Allies - 10.21.2010

  4. EPA Decision to to Exempt CO2 Biomass Emissions from Clean Air Act Regulations for Three Years -Statement by Save America's Forests, Biofuelwatch, Buckeye Forest Council - 4.5.2011

Government Information

  1. Federal ARRA $50 Mil Logging-Biomass Incinerator Program - USDA Project List - August 2010
  2. Energy Use in U.S. - 50% of so-called "renewable energy" is tree incinerators and other biomass energy
  3. Definition of "Biomass" in the 2005 Energy Policy Act

Since 1989, Save America's Forests has been bringing the nationwide 
campaign for forest protection to the halls of the U.S. Congress.