Some people launder money. Other people launder cattle.

“year after year, satellites that monitor changes in forest cover find the same thing: The Amazon is shrinking. Between August 1, 2018, and July 31, 2021, more than 34,000 square km (8.4 million acres) disappeared from the Brazilian Amazon. That’s an area larger than the entire nation of Belgium, and a 52 percent increase compared to the previous three years.”

“In a cattle laundering scheme, ranchers move cattle from “dirty” ranches, which contribute to deforestation, to ranches that are “clean,” with no recent forest loss. By the time those cattle arrive at slaughterhouses, the path they’ve taken is obscured, as is the damage they’ve caused.”

“Most major meatpackers and slaughterhouses — which influence the entire beef supply chain — screen the cattle they buy for deforestation. Ranchers that sell to them, known as direct suppliers, provide the location of their farms. And the meatpacking companies hire consultants to check those locations for any recent forest loss, using data collected by satellites.
But this screening process misses a lot — perhaps even the majority of deforestation in the beef supply chain — undermining the integrity of their zero-deforestation pledges.”

“according to decade-old agreements, major meatpackers in Brazil can only buy clean cattle: cows that come from land without any recent deforestation. The problem is, there are several ways to make cattle look clean, even when they’re not.

The most common way is pretty simple and takes advantage of the complex beef supply chain. A single cow could travel through as many as 10 farms before it’s ultimately killed; it might be born on one, reared on another, and fattened on a third, all before reaching a slaughterhouse.”

“slaughterhouses only tend to assess their direct suppliers, the last stop on the cow’s journey.”

“If small teams of outside researchers can pinpoint the source of forest loss along supply chains, it seems as though giant corporations should be able to as well. Remember, it has been more than 10 years since they committed to source clean cattle.

While some experts fault meatpackers for not doing more, rooting out forest loss among indirect suppliers is actually quite challenging. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, who first figured out how to do this, spent years developing computer programs to download records stored in clunky government systems. They then have to clean them up, link key bits of data together, and run the analysis.

These records are not designed to make cattle supply chains traceable, they just happen to serve that function if you know what you’re doing. “It requires a lot of computational expertise,” Brandão said. It’s not like meatpacking companies are just ignoring deforestation right in front of their eyes.”

“there isn’t a huge incentive for meatpacking companies to solve this problem in the first place, some experts say. If they choose not to buy from any ranches linked to deforestation, they’ll have a much smaller supply”

“Ultimately, to put an end to cattle laundering, meat companies would need to monitor the movement of individual cows, Gibbs said. “If we wanted to end laundering, we would need animal-level traceability,” Gibbs said. “Until we keep track of the individual animals, some level of laundering will keep happening.””

Biden’s $27 billion bet on forests

“there is one surprising area that’s so far survived the congressional gauntlet as part of a big climate spending proposal: forest management and conservation. The bill — which Democrats are trying to pass with a simple Senate majority using the reconciliation process — allocates roughly $27 billion for spending related to federal, state, and tribal forests.

While that’s just a sliver of the roughly $1.75 trillion spending package, it’s an enormous and historic number, said Collin O’Mara, CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “It’s the most significant investment ever in our national forests,” O’Mara told Vox. “It’s an astonishingly big deal.”

A large chunk of those funds would go toward preventing wildfires — which release huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and have devastated Western towns — and toward more equitable access to green spaces. The bill would also set aside billions of dollars for ecosystem restoration and more environmentally friendly farming practices.

Biden’s framework reveals that conserving forests and biodiversity is a core component of the nation’s plan to tackle climate change, as many scientists say it should be: Trees and soil are a natural sink for carbon dioxide, making forests a key solution for cutting climate pollution. Yet for decades, biodiversity conservation and climate change have largely been considered separate issues. The bill also shows that the US government has recognized the growing threat of climate-fueled wildfires and is willing to fund the Forest Service to do something about it.”

The surprising downsides to planting trillions of trees

“Solving a problem as vast as climate change or biodiversity loss is never as straightforward as planting lots of trees. People often think, “We’ll just plant trees and call that a restoration project, and we’ll exonerate our carbon sins,” said Robin Chazdon, a forest researcher at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Usually, she said, “that fails.”

Buzzy tree-planting programs tend to obscure the fact that restoration requires a long-term commitment of resources and many years of monitoring. “We should just stop thinking about only tree-planting,” as climate scientist Lalisa Duguma has said. “It has to be tree-growing.” Even fast-growing trees take at least three years to mature, he added, while others can require eight years or more. “If our thinking of growing trees is downgraded to planting trees, we miss that big part of the investment that is required,” Duguma said.”

” A bigger problem still is that many large planting campaigns don’t account for the underlying social or economic conditions that fuel deforestation in the first place. People may cut down trees to collect firewood or carve out land for their animals. In those cases, putting seedlings in the ground won’t do much to end deforestation. “Planting trees might not be the intervention,” Fleischman said. “The intervention might be giving people a substitute for firewood.””

“there are plenty of successful restoration programs — and they’re getting better, said Chazdon, who’s also an adviser for the WEF trillion trees campaign. “There is ample evidence that when restoration is done properly, it works,” she said.”

These 3 supertrees can protect us from climate collapse

“As more trees are cut down, there will be more frequent droughts, endangering food and water supplies, and livelihoods for millions of people.

That’s why giants like Brazil nut trees are so vitally important. Their ability to produce rain that feeds and cools the rest of the Amazon — and the region — is a true superpower.”

“Our current climate crisis is a result of humans putting too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Luckily, trees (and other natural systems) can remove and store some of that carbon. The stilt mangrove is unusually good at this task.”

“It’s why preserving and restoring mangroves is being hailed as a promising “negative emissions technology.””