Indonesia and the European Union finalised an agreement aimed at ending the trade in illegally sourced wood, the BBC said. Similar to deals made with several African countries, the accord means that EU companies will only be able to import Indonesian timber that is certified as complying with the country’s environmental laws.
Conservationists warned that Indonesia is preparing to approve the construction of several highways through a Sumatran park that contains one of the world’s few viable populations of wild tigers, according to the Associated Press.
White South African farmers are being courted by other African countries that believe the South Africans’ expertise can kick-start an agrarian revolution across the continent, The Guardian reported. Controversially, the farmers are being offered millions of hectares of supposedly virgin rain forest and bush, as well as land already worked by smallholders or used as pastures by herders.
Following recent heavy fighting in Myanmar’s northern Shan state, all the planned Salween dam sites in the country now lie in active military-conflict zones, according to the Salween Watch Coalition. The coalition demanded an immediate halt to all plans to build dams on the river in Myanmar.
US army engineers blew up a levee in the mid-western state of Missouri, hoping to save the Illinois town of Cairo from destruction by flood waters – but submerging 53,300 hectares of farmland in water, sand and silt for a crop season, The Guardian reported. The engineers’ commander said the “grave” decision would lead to “loss of property and livelihood, either in a floodway or in an area that was not designed to flood”, where the Mississippi and Ohio rivers meet.
The outbreak of tornadoes that devastated the southern US was the biggest in the country’s recorded history, the BBC quoted the National Weather Service as saying. From April 25 to 28, 362 tornadoes struck -- including 312 in one 24-hour period. In seven states, at least 350 people were killed by the tornadoes and the storm system that spawned them.
Meanwhile, drought continues to punish much of the Great Plains, The New York Times said. The extreme western region of Oklahoma is enduring its longest drought on record, with Boise City, for example, experiencing more than 220 consecutive days with less than a quarter-inch (about six millimetres) of rain in any one day.
If early estimates of Poland’s shale-gas deposits are confirmed, the country could become one of Europe’s largest natural-gas producers and free itself from energy dependence on Russia, according to Agence France-Presse. Nearly 90 exploration licences have been issued and international companies have descended on Poland to investigate the possibility of commercial gas extraction.
Total, the French oil giant, is to make a US$1.38 billion investment in solar panels, The Guardian said, reversing a trend that has seen Shell and BP reduce their role in green energy. The company is to buy 60% of the American company SunPower.
California is putting greater priority on conserving water, curbing greenhouse gas emissions, and cutting energy use