All posts by Tom Bliss

Solar power, deforestation and climate change

Access to sustainable sources of energy is a major challenge for poverty alleviation and forest conservation across the tropics. In Africa more than 650 million people live without access to electricity. Lack of electricity and a continued reliance on wood and charcoal for energy not only causes health problems and deprives people of opportunities for education but is an ongoing cause of deforestation. In many parts of Africa the collection of fuel wood for cooking and heating is the leading cause of forest loss and degradation.  Providing sustainable energy to remote rural communities is the focus of a UBoC project in Tanzania run by the Tongwe Trust and Fauna and Flora International. With support from Premier Farnell the project has provided solar fridges for the storage of vaccines in local village dispensaries. The next exciting stage of this project will start in the New Year (more information available shortly). Meanwhile researchers at the University of Leeds have studied how projected changes to climate over the coming century will impact the amount of electricity generated by solar power.

Plans for Dam Withdrawn

I was delighted to learn this week that the Brazilian construction company planning to build one of the dams on Ashaninka land in the Peruvian Amazon has withdrawn from the project saying that it will ‘respect the opinion of local populations’  .  The Bettys and Taylor/UBoC project with The Rainforest Foundation UK has played a key role in this decision through its work with Central Ashaninka del Rio Ene (CARE), helping to make the voice of indigenous communities heard.  Continue reading Plans for Dam Withdrawn

How good are China’s new forests for the climate?

During the last decade, roughly 13 million hectares of forest were lost through deforestation each year; this is a reduction from the 16 million hectares deforested annually in the 1990s, but is still an alarmingly high amount. However, the net change in forested area for the same period was a loss of only 5.2 million hectares per year; reflecting the significant amount of natural forest recovery and deliberate afforestation that has occurred. Continue reading How good are China’s new forests for the climate?

Forest carbon projects trade $178 million in 2010

Forest carbon projects set records in 2010, trading $178 million for 30.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e). This is nearly a 50% increase over 2009 which was itself a record breaking year. The large surge in the forest carbon market was driven largely by Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) projects. Continue reading Forest carbon projects trade $178 million in 2010


Each year large areas of Amazon forest are cleared to make way for cattle pasture in a process called slash and burn. Trees are cut and left to dry before being burnt. As well as releasing large quantities of carbon dioxide these fires emit substantial amounts of smoke into the atmosphere which can cause air quality problems and additional impacts on climate. Black carbon within the smoke particles causes the particles to absorb radiation and warm climate. The smoke particles can also influence the properties of clouds (causing warming or a cooling) and can result in changes to rainfall patterns potentially delaying the start of the wet season. The overall climate impact of the smoke particles is not well known. Continue reading SAMBBA

Up in Smoke

Up in Smoke, a documentary about slash and burn agriculture and the attempts on the Inga Foundation to find a solution airs tonight (Tuesday 27th September, 10pm) on More 4. The program, which took 4 years to film, describes the attempts on Mike Hands and the Inga Foundation to stop slash and burn agriculture in Honduras.

The Inga Foundation is one of our project partners, see here for more information on their project.  Dominick Spracklen

Tribute to a Visionary

It was with great sadness that I learnt that Wangari Maathai had died on Sunday, aged 71.  Founder of the Kenyan Green Belt movement that mobilised impoverished Kenyan women to plant 45 million trees, she was one of the first to understand that environmental protection has a vital role to play in economic and social progress.  Continue reading Tribute to a Visionary