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Opinion-editorials

 "Today's actions will make a difference in tomorrow's world" - November, 2011

The Foundation "Floresta Unida" (FFU) is a non-profit organization that outlines and implements actions and concepts that help supporting a sustainable development of the forest heritage.
FFU is headquartered in Portugal and has offices in Spain, France, Italy and Chile and, among many other projects, has the largest worldwide project of sustainable reforestation, aimed at planting 400 million trees in a 30-year management period.
With the slogan, "We plant liberty and hope for the human race", FFU revitalizes many sustainable development programs always associated to the protection of the forest heritage. In Portugal, FFU is the only organization that is completely devoted to the preservation and recovery of forest ecosystems.
FFU differentiates itself because all of its projects contemplate not only implementing programs aimed at solving different problems, but also ensuring that they are permanently followed up and finding a quick solution that can be put into action upon identifying a problem, even in the most difficult areas.
This organization includes a multidisciplinary technical team with large experience in the forest sector, either national or international, and which elaborates recovery and maintenance plans of public or community green areas.
The most well-known project is "400 million trees", whose main objective is to plant 400 million trees during 30 years of management worldwide in locations lacking support.
FFU develops four main programs entailing completely unprecedented and innovative concepts. These programs are: "Tomorrow will always be green", "Tree forces", "Sustainability woodlands" and "Green life”.
These programs deal with:


– The implementation of forestation and management programs in those areas that need to be protected, reaching a total number of 550 million trees;
– Direct education of 2 million children;
– Support to scientific research;
– Plague and illness control;
– Creation of bonds between man and forest.


At FFU, we believe that "there are many forests over the world and each of them speaks a different language but we, at the association, perfectly understand what each forest says”. This happens because, before looking for any kind of support, Floresta Unida analyzes the problem in its whole, its different solutions and impacts on the most diverse levels and only after this careful review, a sustainable project arises to guarantee a successful result.
Being part of FFU means joining to the desire of changing and acting with professionalism and a real feeling that we will fulfil our objectives without being radical or extremist.
Overall, plantation is promoted to support forests without participating in tree management, monitoring, plague and illness control and other factors that may affect the rate of success of that same plantation.
It could be said that, for a long time, many people had the dream of having a child but they abandoned their baby at birth, they did not guarantee or provide him/her with a future or the tools needed to survive.
The same thing happens with the places planted without management. If nobody takes care of them or is concerned about their future, and without having the essential pillars, their lives are at risk.
The sustainability road of the forest heritage will not be a path to be travelled only by organizations like FFU but it will require the joint work of associations, volunteers and the adaptation to the new socioeconomic scenario.
Forest exploitation, tree chopping for different areas of consumption and exploitation of materials such as cork are topics and sectors Floresta Unida defends, where the forest economy is regarded as a huge stimulating factor for the social and economic recovery of countries like Portugal.

Alike other sectors, it is needed that this economic development happens in a regulated marketplace, with manufacturing basis prepared and managed by proper players and where woodlands and forest-related work are considered as an area where participants only are accepted if they have the correct information, respect forests and wish joining a productive and innovative sector.
Forest defence in today's world must be considered as the objective for joining preservation and exploitation areas in a balanced and sustainable way, since if forest economic interest vanishes, investors will leave and we will lose all we have now.
The use of the so feared and distorted forest equipment such as bulldozers and chain saws, among others, can be compared to the use of a weapon; the difference between a good and bad use lies precisely on who is using it.
Especially today, the preservation of the forest heritage depends on the needs of the operations that could need the use of machines for a preventive silviculture, cleaning scrublands, opening forest roads, etc.
Like any other area, sector or moment of our lives, our actions propel the reaction of the surrounding world. Beyond calling the attention of the worldwide population with symbolic actions full of irrationality, we must join our efforts and establish solid discussions and resolutions where sustainability is more than a fashionable word and it becomes a right for the coming generations.
More than a trend, sustainable and balanced care of the forest heritage must be approached with a spirit of mission and a will that guarantee the continuity of the heritage that belongs to all of us.

Written by:
David E.S. Lopes

President of Fundação Floresta Unida






“The challenge of measuring development” - March 2011

From the conceptual point of view, sustainability can be construed on the balance of three pillars: the environmental, the social and the economic one, and has become omnipresent in the public debate. In spite of this universal existence, this concept remains quite unclear for many people. The economic pillar has been the most privileged one. Regretfully and as it has been recognized by the European strategy for the sustainable development, the limiting pillar has possibly been the environmental one.
The human race does not belong to the category of productive species. In fact, it just transforms what other living beings produce or the existing resources. As a consuming species, it is easy to understand our complete dependence on what we find and move around us. Even though our consumption remained unnoticed for a long time, the increased population and, mainly, the exploitation capacity and intensity reached make it easily noticeable that the environmental pillar is the maintenance basis of the human society and, in consequence, the limiting factor for its development.
However, and in order to be able to evaluate our sustainability-related work as society, it is very important that we measure what must be measured. In the present years, there appeared researches and thoughts that allowed us to evaluate "our development" by computing calculation errors so commonly included in our usual indicators.
One of the most interesting initiatives that pretend to approach the development matter in a more holistic manner is the Genuine Progress Indicator as an alternative to the traditional approach, so much used and overestimated, the Gross Domestic Product. The GPI analysis allows us to evaluate that even when the wealth of certain countries grew in the last decades, at least when we use traditional indicators, this was not the case for GPI. In other words, it is an indicator that records the wealth produced in each country and that also considers some factors such as the environmental issues including pollution or the destruction of the natural resources, health related expenses, the fight against crime expenses or the expenses related to divorce or other family problems. This indicator also contemplates factors that can contribute to a genuine development of societies: elements such as voluntary work or family assistance.
In summary, if we wish to create a sustainable society, we need to identify a group of main indicators that reflect our evolution in a clear and unequivocal manner. Obviously, it is not "the solution" for sustainability but, undoubtedly, it is a significant contribution.

By Susana Fonseca

President of Quercus






“Waste and sustainability are today’s key words” - January 2011


This sustainability is not possible without the great civic sense of splitting and collecting waste. When we speak about collecting waste, we compulsorily think of OTTO and its containers.

Sustainability  

Plastics present in waste have a high energetic value and their use is boosted when incinerating organic waste and thus replacing the fossil energy.
An empty water bottle that is incinerated produces the energy needed to light a 60 watt lamp during an hour and a half.

Incinerated municipal wastes containing plastics allow for this energy saving. See the following figures, for example, the United Kingdom (11%), Germany (22%), USA (25%), Netherlands (32%) and finally, Denmark (58%).


Conclusions
The civic-mindedness of splitting and collecting waste depends on each citizen and the result of a reduced amount of waste sent to the dumping site and, in consequence, the harmonious solution to decrease the number of these spaces.
Our assignment is to recover energy through incineration or recycling in order to have a sustainable environment to pass on to the coming generations…


President of APIP

Marcel de Botton






“Product life cycle” - November 2010

 

Manufacture, transport, use, collect, reuse and recycle are our action words. Guarantee an ecological result through an efficient logic and holistic conception is our obligation.

Author: Sérgio Ramos


The life cycle of a product is a matter that goes beyond the marketing sphere, because the efficient maintenance of resources is essential for the economic progress and development. Sustainable growth must be the motto moving our next steps, since 2/3 of the energy is consumed by cities and almost 75% of the waste is also produced there. ( Read complete article )
 





“The importance of prevention” - September 23, 2010

In a consumer society like ours and which, simultaneously or in consequence, faces important challenges in the management of non-renewable resources, it becomes more and more important to bet in waste prevention, where the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) plays a predominant role.
Companies/organizations must understand the LCA of a product as an environmental management instrument. The LCA is a tool that allows us to systematically analyze the environmental impacts of the product throughout its stages, not only minimizing potential environmental impacts at the source, but also as a way of guiding the development of new products/solutions while stimulating the investigation and development areas.


General Director of Sociedade Ponto Verde
Dr. Luis Veiga Martins

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