Talk by Alberto Goetzl in UMS

Mr. Alberto Goetzl is a U.S. Forestry and Forest Economist with Seneca Creek Associates. Below is a a little information about him and his visit to Malaysia (provided by the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur).

Alberto Goetzl

Alberto Goetzl

Alberto Goetzl has 30 years of experience in the field of natural resources and environmental policy.  Mr. Goetzl  is an expert on environmental issues, trade development and forestry, climate change and deforestation, illegal logging and economics.  He is visiting Malaysia to learn more about environmental issues in Malaysia and share his expertise with students and professionals interested in environmental issues, forest certification and other forestry issues.  He will visit many states in East and West Malaysia where he will talk about “Deforestation and Climate Change” at various venues.  Mr. Goetzl has worked with international organizations, forest products companies, landowners, homebuilders, trade associations and government agencies.  Please join us to learn more about American forestry practices and conservation policies, and share your views about the environment and forestry issues in Malaysia.

The talk about “Deforestation and Climate Change” in UMS was scheduled for August 5th 2009 (Wednesday) 2 p.m. at the School of Social Sciences. Greenpulse was very fortunate to have a short unofficial session with Mr. Goetzl prior to his talk. He gave us some ideas about initiating a recycling project in campus and encouraged our movement to get connected online so that people could know more about us. He is certainly one of the reasons why this blog was even set up in the first place.

Mr. Goetzl with Greenpulse members in UMS

Mr. Goetzl with Greenpulse members in UMS

A more spirited shot

A more spirited shot

The talk itself focused on the issue of deforestation, which coincidentally is a serious problem in Sabah. Mr. Goetzl talked about how the emergence of biomass as a renewable energy resource is threatening forests around the world. He also mentioned that trees function as ‘silos’ storing carbon, keeping it off the atmosphere.

“Deforestation means releasing carbon back into the atmosphere,” he explained.

The U.S. forestry consultant also talked about the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) Project where developed nations pay for projects in developing countries that protect the latter’s forests. The REDD Project is a form of ‘avoided deforestation’ as a solution to the issue.

Then there is the Lacey Act – an act in the U.S. which makes it unlawful to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce any plant in violation of the laws of the United States, a State, an Indian tribe, or any foreign law that protects plants [1]. Mr. Goetzl explained that the Lacey Act prevents wood products that are illegal into the U.S., regardless of where they are from. It is required in the Act that every detail regarding the raw wood in transaction be made transparent – the species, the country of harvest, and its origins, to name a few. U.S. buyers will at least ask questions to local suppliers before considering any purchase from them. “The Lacey Act is made such that its violation would be dealt with some very serious consequences,” he stressed. This ensures effective implementation of the Act.

Mr. Goetzl then wrapped up by emphasizing that the most basic thing that we could do is to protect those forests that are already gazetted for protection. If we cannot even protect what is already set aside for protection, don’t even mention about those which are not protected. The second thing he pressed upon was to tackle corruption – being as transparent as possible he believes is the way to go. The session then ended with a Q&A session where Mr. Goetzl humbly, yet convincingly answered the questions directed to him by the audience of students, lecturers and a handful of the public. Everyone then went home happily.

Click here to see the news coverage on this in the U.S. Embassy KL website. 🙂

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lacey_Act_of_1900

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