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Posts Tagged ‘Illegal Logging’

Everyone who makes films has to be an athlete to a certain degree because cinema does not come from abstract academic thinking; it comes from your knees and thighs” – film-maker and documentarian Werner Herzog.

On Tuesday, September 6, three powerful new films chronicling EIA’s recent undercover investigations into timber smuggling, the ivory trade and whaling will make their world debut in the USA on Nat Geo Wild.

Paul Redman and Clare Perry filming in a Japanese fish market (c) EIA

Broadcast under the collective banner of Crimes Against Nature, Blood Ivory depicts the brutal horror of elephant poaching in Kenya and black market trade in the marketplaces of Hong Kong and China; Making a Killing exposes Iceland’s hunting of endangered fin whales to package and sell for consumption in Japan; and Chainsaw Massacre uncovers the Vietnamese army’s involvement in the widespread smuggling of timber from neighbouring Laos.

Each film follows seasoned EIA investigators in the field as they methodically piece together the clues of wildlife and forest crime and follow evidence trails leading to corrupt officialdom, organised criminal syndicates and grasping businessmen. Along the way, viewers will share the setbacks and successes in films rich with imagery both startling and haunting.

What they won’t see, and possibly won’t suspect, is the long year of preparations and often physically and emotionally demanding work behind the scenes to get three one-hour films in the can.

The project effectively began in 2009, following EIA’s tiger team in China and Nepal for a pilot film eventually broadcast early last year on Nat Geo Wild as Eco Crime Investigators – Inside the Tiger Trade.

The broadcast, first in the USA and subsequently worldwide (and it’s still in heavy rotation), was such a success that further programmes were commissioned.

On location in Kenya with Mary Rice and Dave Currey (c) EIA

Initial meetings with the London-based production company hired by Nat Geo to make the films focused on the likely scope of the three investigations, the probable shooting times and budget requirements for each, and a loose schedule around which investigators would have to fit all their usual campaign work and commitments.

It was in October 2010, when filming was concluded in Iceland and underway in Vietnam, that I was brought onboard as Project Co-ordinator; you could draw up a job description for the role which might run to several sides of A4, or you could just as accurately say my primary function was to help ease the process along as required.

Both EIA and the production company shared the same goal – to make the best programmes possible; naturally, both came at it with different considerations to the fore. The nature of conducting investigations in the field is that you never know what’s going to turn up and where it might lead; the nature of film-making is that you have to satisfy those commissioning the venture that they’re going to end up with a solid narrative arc and a substantial conclusion, preferably before shooting begins.

From the word ‘go’, EIA was adamant that its investigators would not serve as props, nor would they be mouthpieces for scripted lines which might in any way reflect poorly or inaccurately on the organisation, its methodology or its invaluable work. At the same time, we accepted that the film-makers needed to distil often-complex issues in a way that was accurate and wouldn’t leave viewers scratching their collective brows and reaching for the remote control. Looking at the finished products (and I believe I must have done so a score of times for each!), I think it’s fair to say this was achieved remarkably well.

In the field was where problems could most easily arise as directors fretted that they wouldn’t get the key shots they needed within the timeframe allowed, or when they were debriefing an investigator following an emotionally exhausting undercover filming session and needed the same kind of projected energy on take seven as was given the first time around. But our investigators are nothing if not troopers – and on many occasions during this project they were fixers and guides too – and the passion they have for their various campaigns all but radiates from the screen.

Julian Newman interviewed during filming in Laos (c) EIA

When location filming concluded by late March, it remained to fine-tune the narratives, film interviews with the key campaigners and nail down the voice-over and visual inserts such as animated maps..

With security the key consideration for EIA, this was also the time for me to go through each film with a fine toothcomb and ensure that the identity of our undercover Chinese investigator was protected at all times; you’d be amazed at how often somebody’s features can be fleetingly reflected in background mirrors and table tops.

All that remains now is for you to watch the films, and help EIA by spreading the word for others to do the same.

* After the US premiere on Tuesday, the three programmes are due to be broadcast on Nat Geo Wild in other territories, including the UK, later this year – watch our website and blog for details as we learn them.

Paul Newman, Press OfficerPaul Newman

Press Officer

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One of the most difficult things to deal with when working in EIA’s forest campaign is jet lag.

By the time you’ve ensured you have all your equipment, contacted your sources, confirmed meetings and booked travel plans, actually sitting on the plane with no communications for 11 hours is a bit of a break. But knowing that sleep deprivation is at the other end is something I try not to think about. There are three of us here in Thailand from EIA’s Forest Team to launch our new report “Crossroads: The Illicit Timber Trade Between Laos and Vietnam” and to follow up on our campaign in Indonesia with our partner Telepak.

The forests of Laos are in crisis. Credit EIA.

The forests of Laos are in crisis. Credit EIA.

Our press conference was held at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand, where the findings of our undercover investigations traced the illegal trade of logs from Laos to Vietnam. A lot of work was done beforehand, arranging the undercover investigations and writing the new report, making the new film, working with our superb communications team, contacting the media and arranging for facilities, so when I was hit by the dreaded jet lag at 4am and lay there willing myself to go back to sleep, my mind was actually on this issue. The forests of Laos are in crisis. The people of Laos are ending up with a raw deal, and those with vested interests continue to make deals for huge profits. It’s wrong that a country blessed with the mighty Mekong River, beautiful forests filled with a wide biodiversity and a gentle people whose culture and livelihoods depended on their forests are under such a threat. I say depended, because if the timber industry of Vietnam continues to use the raw materials from Laos the way it is doing now, those who rely on the forest are doomed.

 Forest landscape, Attapeu, Laos. Credit EIA.

Forest landscape, Attapeu, Laos. Credit EIA.

I also find it greedy and short-sighted that a country such as Laos, which is blessed with its bountiful natural resources, is selling the energy from the Mekong River to neighbouring Thailand and its forests to the highest bidder, with nothing going back to its people.

As my jet lag continued and I saw the first light of a new day, I was also reminded of the many individuals in Laos and Vietnam who are quite simply champions. The courageous, the patriots, the ones with massive hearts and compassion for their country. Those are the people that the forest team in EIA is so lucky to work with.

So when I sat in front of the journalists and diplomats at the FCCT this morning, I was reminded that our work supports those who live in countries where having a press conference and naming names is far too dangerous for them, and coping with jet lag is nothing compared to what they are facing. But because of them, I know our campaigns will go from strength to strength.

Faith Doherty

Faith Doherty

Head of Forest Campaign

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Today our blog celebrates its first birthday!!

A year ago this very day I wrote the very first, very humble, blog post.

The birth of the blog owes much of its final impetus to Michael Ambjorn and ultimately Ogilvy & Mather’s Idea Shop. It seems like a long time ago now but the enthusiasm from this team of marketing professionals, from our 45 minutes session in East London, was insatiable. We had good content and we needed to share it.

Since then, it’s been a steep learning curve and I’m working out what works and what doesn’t. Yes, there’s been the odd 303 redirects, a few typos and some broken links but overall, 12 months on, it has grown into something that the whole organisation is really proud of.

Every EIA campaigner has now contributed to the blog, from each of our campaigns. So you, as the reader, can now get first-hand information on what it’s like at EIA, what it’s like out in the field, gather expert opinions as well as tap into more personal reflections on the topics EIA works on (as well as interesting tangents!)

EIA HQ

We’ve also encouraged those more behind the scenes to step up to their e-literary debut; Charlotte Davies, our intelligence analyst has taken a particular shine to our blog and written some fantastic posts. Our comms and fundraising team had have time in the e-limelight as well as our volunteers, who donate their time so enthusiastically thoroughly deserving airtime.

Pangolin. S Megan 2007 - WikiMedia CommonsAnd thus, we have religiously published our weekly blog for the last 52 weeks (perhaps a few exceptions for national holidays) on a whole host of topics; from tigers to rhinos, from our community projects in Tanzania to whaling in the Faroe Islands and gala dinners to pangolins! An unexpected bonus is that the blog content fuels our monthly emails which have, in turn, dramatically improved internal communication and encouraged more cross-campaign dialogue.

More than that, the expert opinion of campaigners is being picked up by other groups and organizations, such as REDD monitor and Global Tiger Initiative on blogs and Computer Aid, Client Earth and others on Twitter; so our outreach exponentially increases.

But it’s not just about churning content out; it’s about building a dialogue as well. We are keen to hear your feedback and have made every attempt to respond to comments written by you. We are only human however, and apologise if some have slipped through the net. Please keep your comments coming; what would you like to see improved? Do you have a favourite blog post? What would you like to hear more of?

What are the stats?

• 68 blog posts

• 154 comments

• 15,482 visits

Technical Paragraph – for the geek within

Sticky Content generously donated places on their course for many of our campaigners, a huge thank you to them. They highlighted the important differences between writing for print and the web; tough lessons including “don’t expect people to read all your content” and “write your copy, halve it and then halve it again”.

Michael Ambjorn at Eurocomm

Michael Ambjorn at Eurocomm

Following a communications conference in Italy, there have been some subtle differences to the blog; improved Search Engine Optimisation, shameless promotion, more links and pingbacks, using alt.text and keywords, all of which has helped build a strategy to use the blog more effectively and to help make sure we are findable on Google. We’re not there yet but have made some great improvements. A huge thank you to Steve Seager and Michael Gaasterland on Twitter

The next 12 months

With all going well, we will have the new EIA website up and running soon (I don’t want to jinx the date!) and this will see the blog fully integrated into the website. It’s an exciting time for EIA comms as we finally make that leap into Web 2.0. The blog and our other social media platforms will become an integral part of the website and we will continue to produce fantastic content as our campaigners get more into the swing of blogging.

Conclusion

Watch this space.

Afterword

A few days ago I bumped into Ruth Jamieson from Ogilvy at the latest Ideas Shop at Marketing Week Live and I see Michael Ambjorn at IABC events; it’s great to keep in touch with the people that took the time to dispense small pearls of wisdom to us. Those pearls, 12 months on, have had such a huge impact on how we communicate here at EIA, so thank you to all those who have made it possible.

Sophia Cheng

Sophia Cheng

Fundraising & Communications Officer

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Logging the Moratorium Zone in Indonesia’s REDD+ Pilot Province

Yesterday, EIA and Telapak released a new briefing paper – Caught REDD Handed- exposing illegal deforestation in Indonesia.

In summary, the briefing exposed how, on the very day Indonesia’s president signed a new moratorium on forest exploitation in areas of peatland and primary forest across Indonesia, EIA and Telapak were filming a Malaysian owned plantation company actively clearing about 5,000 hectares of it in the REDD+ Pilot Province, Central Kalimantan. The moratorium was breached on day one – hardly a good sign for what is already a weak moratorium.

Excavator clearing forest in PT Menteng area May 2011

Investing in Criminal Deforestation

Worse still, EIA’s research also reveals that Norway, Indonesia’s biggest REDD+ donor, stands to profit from the illegal deforestation of moratorium land through the $41.5 million of shares the country’s pension fund holds in the Malaysian company Kuala Lumpur Kepong. This is despite both the moratorium and the REDD+ Pilot Province being cornerstones of a US$ 1 billion Letter of Intent (LoI) on REDD+ between the two countries. Jago’s previous blog on the moratorium

The briefing also reveals how this is not Norway’s only investment in deforestation in Indonesia. EIA’s research reveals that during 2010, Norway’s portfolio of logging and plantations investments had increased in value from $437 million to $678 million, with $145 of this increase being profits to Norway from increased share values.

EIA has repeatedly warned Norway that its Pension Fund is in danger of profiting from the violation of the forests of Indonesia, but, it seems, to no avail. Indeed, as the briefing explains, Norway has actually put more money into, and made more money from deforesting industries in Indonesia and its neighbouring countries over the year, than it has granted to Indonesia under the Letter of Intent on REDD+.

Despite the whole idea of REDD+ being to reverse the structure of financial incentives – from those that encourage deforestation to those that encourage forest protection, the case of Norway’s pension fund reveals how the financial incentives in the forestry sector remain perverse.

Log in land cleared by PT Menteng, May 2011

EIA and Telapak have submitted the briefing to the Indonesian and Norwegian authorities, in the hope that both parties might prevent the moratorium being swept aside by realities in crime riddled Central Kalimantan.

While Indonesia needs to deliver on its pledges to clean up crime, corruption and illegal plantations in Central Kalimantan and nationwide, Norway’s finance ministry needs to get its pension fund REDD Ready by divesting from companies that drive the very deforestation Norway is hoping to see reduce in Indonesia.

For further information on the breach of the moratorium, see the following resources:

EIA/Telapak Press Release in Englishand Bahasa Indonesia

Caught REDD Handed Briefing in English& Bahasa Indonesia

EIA interviewed on Radio Australia

News coverage on Reuters & Mongabay, and in REDD Montor

 

Jago Wadley

Senior Campaigner

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As the plane dipped to one side, the window revealed a sea of deep green below. Thousands of trees packed together like tiny cotton balls, their canopies forming a roof over one of nature’s greatest shows. Beneath, a beguiling cast of orang utans and gibbons, birds and insects.

Orang-utan, Borneo, Indonesia. Credit Jason Cheng

Orang-utan, Borneo, Indonesia. Credit Jason Cheng

Just a few decades ago this majestic scene would have met visitors anywhere they arrived on the island of Borneo. It’s the good fortune of passengers between Jakarta and Palangkaraya, in Central Kalimantan, that their flight path passes over Sebangau National Park, a vast expanse of peat swamp and one of the last bastions of rainforest on Borneo. But it’s a throwback to a seemingly distant past, a time when the level of destruction that would subsequently unfold in Borneo would have been unimaginable.

Today, the island’s landscape is scarred by logging roads that carve deep into the interior, pockmarked by coal and gold mines, rendered monochrome by palm oil plantations that stretch to the horizon. It serves as a salutary lesson in how much damage humans can do in a relatively short space of time; in 1950, almost all of Borneo was under forest cover. By 2005, almost half of it had gone. Rampant, unsustainable development proved just how fragile the rainforest can be. Even Sebangau has barely escaped the teeth of the chainsaw.

If this dystopian vision jars with Borneo’s evocative reputation, and is too gloomy for a Friday afternoon, now might be a good moment to point out that the game isn’t up: it just means the stakes are higher.

Since beginning its forest campaign at the end of the last century, EIA has demonstrated how a combination of hard evidence, relentless campaigning and, fundamentally, a belief that things can change can make a difference. The rate of deforestation in Indonesia, while still high, has slowed. Illegal logging has fallen and new regulations in both Indonesia and the EU gives us our greatest chance yet to clamp down further, addressing our culpability as consumers in driving this crime.

While EIA occasionally grabs the headlines, the unsung heroes of this work are the Indonesians who face the realities of forest crime every day. These men and women have seen their homes destroyed and their livelihoods stolen from them in the name of development. While EIA campaigners can always leave Indonesia, can at times switch off from the work, they lack that luxury. People like Wancino, who I met in Central Kalimantan last month, stand up to vested interests with wealth and power vastly beyond their own.

Together with EIA’s partners Telapak, we spent several days touring the less salubrious sights Borneo has to offer. We raced down peat drainage canals in a boat rigged up with a car engine, Indonesian pop music blaring out of a boom box. We drove for almost an hour through a bizarre, desert landscape; rainforest replaced with bright white sand after the illegal gold-miners had plied their trade. We fell in peat swamp that came up to our knees in newly opened palm oil plantations, the baking sun beating harshly down now the canopy has gone. It’s not hard to be overwhelmed by the sheer scale of destruction, or the brazen nature of the crime, but people like Wancino don’t give up.

Those on the front line. Papua province, Indonesia. Credit Jason Cheng

Those on the front line. Papua province, Indonesia, another area of Indonesia EIA work in. Credit Jason Cheng

‘In the past the forest was friendly to the people,’ he told me. ‘We looked after each other.

‘Then one day the government gave a plantation to people who had money. They cleared the forest. The people’s forest, where the animals were, was gone.

We had no power. However much we protested, there was no response – not from the government, or the people who took the land.’

Wancino has no option but to fight for the forest that’s left – and neither do we.

Tomasz Johnson

Forest Campaigner


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Saving the world's forests, EIA has been working on this campaign for over 10 years. Credit EIA.

Saving the worlds forests, EIA has been working on this campaign for over 10 years.

Sitting on the Eurostar, once again on my way to Brussels and this time for what should be a defining moment for our campaign against illegal logging, I have been thinking about the amount of time I have spent in meetings and how much I have learned over the years about getting legislation through the European Union.  

As campaigners, we’re supposed to be flexible enough to take whatever is thrown at us, and turn complicated and over-talked issues into something anyone can understand. But nothing prepared me for what I had to deal with when I first went to Brussels. I have sat through meetings where I have literally not understood a single thing that has been said to me as to why something could not possibly happen. This, I have now learned, is the whole idea. A lot of governments I have lobbied over the years have used a similar practice and, drawing on that experience, I decided that if we wanted something to go through and if we couldn’t do it directly, then we would go over, under and around ’the problem’ in our own way.

I remember the first time I was invited to speak to a hearing on forestry issues, which at that time did not have illegal logging issues on the top of its agenda but instead focused on forest issues that were going nowhere. I had been invited by Europe-based NGO’s to talk about our campaign to a large group of Commission representatives from about five different Directorates. (Ministries).  I had no idea what I was walking into. The Commission was keeping everyone focused on some issue that was going around in circles and seemed totally pointless to me, but I was told “this is a consultation and it’s formal, so we need to ensure what we are saying goes on the record”. I sat there with huge admiration for my colleagues as they continued to make their point to the grey suits sitting on a panel in front of us in an enormously large room. Then it was my turn.

EIA have been in Brussels finalising the VPA between Indonesia & the EU

EIA have been in Brussels finalising the VPA between Indonesia & the EU

“Europe has made a lot of money from illegal logging and the illegal trade in timber for so long now that it’s become the norm.” I said. “Traders and importers know who the bad guys are. Our desire for cheap tropical timber means that we’re fuelling corruption, ensuring the middle men make all the money and there’s no chance for anyone wanting to work legally, let alone sustainably. It’s ensuring that those who do the right thing are unable to work with a level playing field and only those who have connections are able to make real profits. Producer countries are losing millions in lost state revenue and we’re creating a new breed of timber barons. Let me tell you how this works in the case of Indonesia.”

“Excuse me, but this is not on the agenda,” said a grey suit.

“Really? I am going to continue because it should be on your agenda.”

And I did. Our main objective in Europewas to have a law that would make it an offence to supply and sell illegally sourced timber. With illegal logging rampant in Indonesia at that time, the EU needed to take some responsibility. It sounded so simple.

Yesterday, EIA and Telapak held a debriefing on the conclusion of an accord between Indonesia and the EU called a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA).

Indonesia has agreed to implement a credible timber licensing scheme to eliminate illegally produced timber in its trade with the EU. Although this is a milestone for Indonesia, it is the way this agreement was reached that is so extraordinary. Read more about the new VPA.

Over the years, the divide between stakeholders was huge. But yesterday, as we spoke of the journey we have all taken to get to this point, emotions ran high. Compared to the meeting I first went to in Europe all those years ago, this was something entirely different and the feeling of ownership from everyone made the difference.

Faith Doherty

Faith Doherty

Senior Campaigner

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When I joined EIA back in the mists of time (well, 1997 actually) I was quickly dispatched to a remote part of Wales to undergo camera training. I especially remember the joys of performing a manual white balance with a bulky Hi-8 format camera on a bleak hilltop buffeted by strong winds.

Fast forward to February 2011 and I find myself in the more congenial environment of Arusha, northern Tanzania, helping train Tanzanian NGOs in the use of cameras and a lot of other skills that we at EIA use in our campaigning.

This is the final documentation workshop of EIA’s three-year initiative to support Tanzanian NGOs through training in stills and video cameras, and other vital campaigning skills such as writing press releases and effective lobbying. The 25 participants have come from across Tanzania; Kilwa in south Tanzania, the island of Zanzibar, Kigoma in the west, Morogoro in the centre and Bagamoyo in the north.

The participants work on a range of issues, from environmental problems like forest loss and wildlife protection, to social challenges such as women’s rights, drug use and support for pastoralist communities. At the outset I ask them if they have ever used cameras in their work before and only a couple of hands raised. After a few days of intensive training, they are asked to spend the weekend documenting a local issue using cameras.

Julius. Capacity Building. Credit EIA

Julius, from our partner the Journalist's Environmental Association of Tanzania, who has become an excellent trainer and now has the nickname "fundi picha", meaning picture technician.

When we get back together on Monday, the results are truly impressive. Everyone has obeyed the basic rules; focus, exposure, framing, each video shot at least ten seconds long, and not too much wild zooming and panning. Their enthusiasm for the potential of visuals is palpable.

It strikes me how liberating technology has become. Back in 1997 when I did my basic training the video cameras were bulky and expensive, with short battery life and limited tape length. We also had to beg cut-price access to professional edit suites to make our campaign films, which often meant grafting through the night. Now all that has changed. The video cameras the Tanzanian NGOs are using are relatively cheap; provide high definition images via memory card and batteries last for many hours. Coupled with a laptop, the groups have all they need to produce broadcast quality films.

The people we have already trained in past workshops are already putting these skills to good use. In Arusha it is great to catch up with Steve and Elisha, who I met at the first training we provided back in 2009. They are now mentoring some of their NGO colleagues and producing excellent and effective films. It is also good to work again with Julius, from our partner the Journalist’s Environmental Association of Tanzania, who has become an excellent trainer and now has the nickname “fundi picha”, meaning picture technician.

On the last night of the workshop the hotel where we have been doing the training throws a surprise party. As the dusk gathers and the imposing vision of nearby Mount Meru fades into the darkness, satisfaction at a successful gathering is tinged with regret that our current project in Tanzania is nearing its end. Yet it is clear to me that this work will leave a strong legacy; a community of NGO activists putting their documentation skills and camera equipment to good use to push for environmental and social justice in their country. As for EIA, we will continue to work together with our many friends in Tanzania after the training project ends in June.

Julian Newman. Campaigns Director.

Julian Newman

Campaigns Director

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‘So why should people in this country care?’

Spreading word of EIA’s activities and investigations via broadcast, print and electronic media can present all sorts of interesting challenges in the shifting landscape of how information is delivered and consumed in the early 21st Century.

But with traditional forms such as newspapers under mounting pressure and the rise of the blogosphere and online news outlets, it’s almost reassuring that many journalists still often seize on the hoary staple concerns of their profession: ‘What’s the local angle?’

Before joining EIA, I spent the best part of 25 years in the regional UK press on a variety of daily and weekly titles, so it’s a question with which I’m probably too familiar, having doubtless irked many a press officer and organisation in my time with the same parochial demand.

It’s not necessarily a shortcoming of the news-gatherers, more a pragmatic awareness of the fact that getting their audience to stay with a story past the first two or three paragraphs can be a tricky proposition and anchoring a story in a geographical context with which they’re familiar is one way to respond to that.

My first editor was a twitchy obsessive on the point – if you couldn’t get the name of a community within your circulation patch, and therefore an intimately local angle, into the first paragraph then you’d fail to connect with the readers and it was assumed they’d glance disinterested at the opening words and swiftly move on to the WI meeting reports and photo spreads of fancy dress dog shows (a deranged-looking poodle dolled up as Queen Victoria seemed to win every time). Either you rewrote the story or it was spiked.

Credit Jason Cheng

‘So why should you care?'

Most EIA investigations are conducted in far-flung countries and address issues of global significance; anchoring its findings in such a localised manner can sometimes seem a little perverse but it’s not impossible – and if it helps readers and viewers to consider their role in the issue, it’s all to the good.

And some campaigns are certainly easier to track back to a journalist’s local patch, whether it’s Little Bimblington-on-Sea or the country as a whole.

The Forestry Campaign’s work on illegal logging is a good example; if a UK reporter is at a loss to think how their audience can connect to protected trees being plundered from Indonesia’s national parks by a powerful criminal timber mafia, there’s a wealth of localised access points and issues with which to engage them, from climate change and carbon emissions to the introduction of EU legislation banning stolen timber (a prohibition which owes an enormous debt to EIA’s work).

It’s possible to get even closer in to Joe Normal’s life; in fact, to right outside his back door when you can tell him that the timber thieved from many thousands of miles away has found its way into the outdoor furniture and decking in his garden.

Similarly, the Global Environment Campaign is an easier sell because it involves issues on which our domestic taxes are being spent every day.

While recently pitching a story concerning e-waste, the journalist candidly asked me: ‘So, you’ve got a mountain of discarded technology from this country that’s supposed to properly disposed of but is instead winding up in huge piles in Africa, where children are being poisoned because they’re stripping out toxic raw materials in primitive circumstances? Why should people in this country be concerned about that?’

Because we in the developed world are morally obliged to deal with our own waste and not offload it on poor, developing countries? Because we’re paying our taxes in this country to have it properly and safely disposed of? Because the chain of personal responsibility can start with the very television set or computer monitor through which the individual is learning about the issue? It doesn’t come much closer to home than that.

Other issues and campaigns can be a harder sell, and are sometimes dependant on the personal concerns of the journalist to whom one is pitching.

Images from EIA investigation, March 2010. Credit EIA

Images from EIA investigation, March 2010.

Last year, one reporter succinctly summed up for me her difficulties in convincing her editors to run a story about the annual slaughter of Dall’s porpoises in Japan, which EIA was again attempting to highlight: ‘So, Japanese people are killing unprotected porpoises and then selling the toxic, mercury-polluted meat to Japanese people who might be getting sick from it? That’s not a story, that’s more like poetic justice.’

Despite raising considerations such as the unsustainability of the hunts and the fact that Japanese consumers are by and large deliberately kept ignorant of the health risks, it remained a no-sale. Fortunately, the good people at Al Jazeera felt that not all stories need to be happening on their audience’s collective doorstep to be of interest and value, and put together an excellent report.

It seems to me that the more interconnected we all become, whether it’s via the internet or international trade and political agreements, the more the world becomes one big ‘local patch’ in which everyone has a vested interest, where thinking globally and acting locally is becoming more than a cute slogan. It’s becoming a necessity.

Paul Newman, Press Officer

Paul Newman

Press Officer

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New Year Greetings one and all.  Here we go again. But before we do, I want to say a big ‘Thank You’ to all of you – members, supporters, Facebook followers and Twitter fans – for taking an interest in EIA’s work and for lending your support wherever and whenever you can as EIA could not do this without you.

I can’t believe we’ve already said goodbye to another year.  Where do they go?  I have to admit that it’s been a struggle to drag my brain kicking and screaming back to the fray; the seasonal interlude seems like a distant memory already.  Business as usual and certainly our inimitable brand of investigation and campaigning will once again be in big demand. Operating as independent eyes and ears, prepared to say what needs to be said, constantly raising the bar and setting new benchmarks and expectations for key governments and decision makers, we have a number of key targets for the coming year.

As the Year of the Tiger draws to a close in February, it remains to be seen whether the adoption of the St Petersburg Declaration and the Global Tiger Recovery Program in November 2010 will set tigers in the wild on the road to recovery, doubling the tiger population by 2022 which is the ambitious goal. EIA will continue to monitor and assess whether the political promises made have been turned into action or whether they are just lip service.

2011 Year of Forests. Credit Jason Cheng

Will forests be smiling in 2011?

Whilst 2011  has been earmarked as international Year of Forests, we have our work cut out for us in pushing through EU legislation to ensure that the wood products that reach our markets are indeed legal and not laundered as is so often the case. 2011 should also see the publication of our extensive investigation into Britain’s illegal e-waste trade with the aim of campaigning for change in the way we handle our e-waste and for improved enforcement of existing regulations. And of course our work combating illegal trade in ozone depleting substances continues, as do our efforts to protect Whales and Dolphins… Elephants continue to be under threat from poaching and illegal trade… EIA will be releasing the findings of a recent on-site investigation in China

Ivory products. Credit EIA

Ivory products.

which will demonstrate that large amounts of illegal ivory continue to flood into China – despite the fact that the Chinese authorities secured 60+tonnes in the official one-off stockpile sale back in 2009. Initial analysis indicates that rather than curb the market, the demand has actually increased. I’m tempted to say “told you so”, but that would be churlish. The list goes on…and whilst it may sometimes seem that we are simply plugging a hole in the dam, it’s important to remember that all efforts, no matter how small, do make a difference.

Save the Wild Tiger Forum - Dec 2010. Credit EIA

Save the Wild Tiger Forum - Dec 2010.

Keep an eye out for forthcoming events; following on from the RGS evening in there will be a Gala dinner on the 3rd March at the Mandarin oriental in Knightsbridge.  And following on from the success of the National Geographic film on EIA’s work on the Tiger Campaign, there are three more films in the pipeline.  Watch this space.

So, in signing off and in the words of Mark Twain, “New Year’s Day:  Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions.  Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”

Here’s to the year of the Bunnies.

Mary Rice. Credit EIA

Mary Rice

Executive Director

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Things are starting to slow down here at HQ, we’re down to just 6 people in the office! Looking back, 2010 has been a very eventful year. I have split this blog in two, firstly, I will review the year and highlight EIA’s achievements. Secondly, and you can find the second part here, we share the fantastic things you have been doing too.

Thank you to everybody who has supported us over the last 12 months, here are just some of our successes this year.

  • Copyright EIA/Mary RiceEIA played a crucial role in ensuring proposals by Tanzania and Zambia to sell 112 tonnes of stockpiled ivory through CITES failed.Despite limited resources we were able to carry out investigations in both countries, gathering irrefutable evidence that levels of poaching are much higher than reported. We published a report and video ‘Open Season’ and presented this evidence at CITES. EIA was the only voice to speak out against the real situation in Zambia and thanks to us both proposals were rejected. Read what Mary had to say.
  • New Chilling Facts Survey, coming soon.We provided evidence to ensure nine leading UK supermarkets reduced their use of climate changing HFCs following our second ‘Chilling Facts’ survey in February.
  • Once again EIA was at the forefront of protecting whales at the IWC. In June, proposals by Japan, Iceland and Norway to be allowed new commercial catch quotas threatened to seriously undermine the 24-year moratorium on whaling. Thankfully, our strenuous lobbying helped to stop them.

  • Copyright EIA/TelepakOur forest team had a major success as the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of banning imports of illegally logged timber and wood products. This follows the success of EIA’s efforts in the US to introduce a ban in 2008. It is a testament to EIA’s tenacity and commitment that after 10 years of campaigning, the world’s two largest markets for wood products, have now shut the door on imports of stolen timber. Read on.

  • Working with our Indonesian partners we highlighted the illegal exploits of timber barons Ricky Gunawan and Hengky Gosal in a damning report: ‘Rogue Traders: The Murky Business of Merbau Timber Smuggling in Indonesia’. The report received huge coverage, putting Gosal uncomfortably in the spotlight. Read Julian’s reaction.
  • Copyright istock.The Year of the Tiger made history as the highest level political meeting ever held for a single species in St Petersburg, at the International Tiger Forum. Debbie Banks and Alasdair Cameron were invited to the Forum, as experts in the field of illegal trade and enforcement in consumer countries. $330 million was pledged and Leonardo di Caprio donated $1 million, all the press were there. Read Debbie’s comments following the forum.

  • Our award-winning documentary Inside: The Tiger Trade continues to be broadcast internationally and is raising our profile telling the rest of the world how we work. Watch out for more documentaries next year. See the trailer here.

None of this would have been possible without your support – Thank you.

Our blog is in its 5th month and I am sure you will agree, it has gone from strength to strength. We have had nearly 5000 visits in that time and by far our most popular post has been this one. Thank you to all the campaigners to have contributed and all of you who have made comments.

I’ll leave you with the words of Louie Psihoyos, director of Oscar-winning documentary, The Cove

The Cove. Credit - thecovemovie.com“EIA is an amazing example of a small group of individuals using great science and passion to help save the environment … in the environmental movement, EIA is the equivalent of Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”

From everyone at EIA, Seasons Greetings and thank you once again.

Signing out for 2010,

Sophia Cheng

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