Indonesian president signs 3-year freeze on new oil palm licenses [09/20/2018]
- The moratorium has been in the works for a long time. President Jokowi first announced it more than two years ago, in the wake of the 2015 Southeast Asian haze crisis. - The moratorium will remain in place for three years. Environmentalists had called for there to be no limit on its duration. - The policy also mandates as sweeping review of oil palm licenses across the country.
Indonesia’s Teater Potlot takes on the plight of the Sumatran tiger [09/19/2018]
- A seventh-century Srivijaya king, Srijayanasa, believed progress should bring merit to man and creature alike. - “Puyang,” a play by a South Sumatra theater group, explores the undoing of this pact through the eyes of a mythical tiger. - Today, there are fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers believed to be living in the wild, as plantation and mining interests raze their forest homes.
Deep reefs were not spared by 2016 mass bleaching event on Great Barrier Reef [09/19/2018]
- New research finds that the mass bleaching event that led to the death of 30 percent of shallow-water corals on the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 also had a substantial impact on deep reefs. - Occurring at depths lower than 30 to 40 meters below the surface of the sea, deep coral reefs, also known as mesophotic reefs, were previously thought to be “ecological refuges from mass bleaching” thanks to cold water rising up from deeper in the ocean, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications this month. - But researchers determined that deep reefs’ ability to offer “ecological refuge” to coral has some important limitations, and that both shallow and deep reefs are at risk of mass bleaching in the future.
As turtles go, so go their ecosystems [09/19/2018]
- Turtles are among the most threatened of the major groups of vertebrates in the world, a new review paper says, perhaps even more so than birds, mammals, fish or amphibians. - Of the 356 species of turtles recognized today, about 61 percent are either threatened or have become extinct in modern times. - Turtles contribute to the health of a variety of environments, including desert, wetland, freshwater and marine ecosystems, and losing these animals could have serious ecological consequences, researchers say.
Connect the dots: Cerrado soy drives inequality to provide EU with chicken [09/19/2018]
- For nearly a century, traditional communities in the Brazilian Cerrado raised small livestock herds and planted sustainably on lands to which they lacked deeds. The savanna was largely ignored by industrial agribusiness, which lacked the technology to farm and water the semi-arid land. - That changed about 30 years ago, when agricultural advances made large-scale soy production possible there. Wealthy entrepreneurs flocked to the Cerrado and began laying claim to the lands worked by traditional communities. Deprived of their livelihoods, and sometimes forced from their homes, many people moved to cities newly built to service the soy boom. - Campos Lindos was one of those new cities. While many large-scale soy growers say they’ve brought prosperity to the Cerrado, Campos Lindos has poverty levels far higher than the Brazilian average, lacks many basic social services such as clean water and basic healthcare, and suffers high infant and maternal mortality rates. - Some blame these worsening social problems on the soy growers, whose crops analysts have traced to transnational commodities companies like Cargill and Bunge, and on to soy-fed chicken in the U.K., retailers like McDonalds, Tesco and Morrisons, and ultimately to consumers in the developed world.
Indonesian province calls time-out on mining [09/19/2018]
- The new government of East Nusa Tenggara, a mineral-rich province in eastern Indonesia, has pledged to reform its mining sector as officials and environmentalists cite the lack of benefits from the extractive industry. - The administration said it would not accept new mining license applications, and that those awaiting approval would be rejected. - Some environmental groups have praised the new government’s plan to reform the mining sector, calling it a positive step for sustainability.
Crop losses to insects will accelerate as the globe warms: study [09/18/2018]
- Insects already eat between 5 and 20 percent of the most important grain crops produced around the world — and new research finds that they could be responsible for even more crop damage in the near future as global temperatures continue to rise. - Insect-driven losses of wheat, rice, and maize — the three major grain crops, which together provide more than 40 percent of calories consumed by humans worldwide — will increase 10 to 25 percent for every degree Celsius the average surface temperature of planet Earth rises, according to a study published in Science late last month. - While bug populations may actually decline in some tropical areas, major grain-producing regions in northern climates are projected to be among the hardest-hit.
Audio: How the social sciences can help conservationists save species [09/18/2018]
- On this episode, we take a look at how the social sciences can boost conservation efforts. - Our guest is Diogo Verissimo, a Postdoctoral Fellow with the University of Oxford in the UK and the Institute for Conservation Research at the US-based San Diego Zoo Global. Verissimo designs and evaluates programs that aim to change human behavior as a means of combating the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products. - While we all come in contact with marketing campaigns nearly every single day of our lives, conservationists have been much slower to employ marketing principles in the interest of influencing human behaviors that are harmful to the planet. We discuss with Verissimo the intersection of social marketing and conservation science — in other words, how the social sciences can provide us with a better understanding of human motivation and behavior and help create a more sustainable world.
Agroforestry ‘a good investment’: Mongabay’s Washington Post op-ed (commentary) [09/18/2018]
- Mongabay’s Erik Hoffner is editing a series on agroforestry, the practice of growing useful trees with shrubs, crops, and herbs in a system that produces food, supports biodiversity, builds soil horizons and water tables, and captures carbon from the atmosphere. - Using what he’s learned from editing the series so far, he wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post’s global edition. - Below is an excerpt of the feature, arguing for greater investment in and deployment of agroforestry globally to benefit both people and planet. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Slave labor found at Starbucks-certified Brazil coffee plantation [09/18/2018]
- Brazil Labor Ministry investigators have raided the Córrego das Almas farm in Piumhi, in rural Minas Gerais state, and rescued 18 workers who were laboring on coffee plantations in conditions analogous to slavery. - The Córrego das Almas farm holds the C.A.F.E. Practices certification, owned by Starbucks in partnership with SCS Global Services. After hearing of the raid, the two companies responsible for issuing the seal said they would review the farm’s quality certificate. Starbucks says it hasn’t bought coffee from the farm in recent years. - The farm also holds the UTZ seal, a Netherlands-based sustainable farming certificate prized by the coffee industry. That seal of approval was suspended after the certifier was questioned by Repórter Brasil regarding the Ministry of Justice investigation. - Another inspection in Minas Gerais, in the town of Muzambinho, rescued 15 workers in conditions analogous to slavery from a farm owned by Maria Júlia Pereira, the sister-in-law of a state deputy, Emidinho Madeira.
Study games out oil palm development scenarios in Borneo [09/17/2018]
- The study authors quantify what will happen under a business as usual (BAU) approach, a strict conservation plan (CON), and expansion guided by sustainable intensification (SUS-INT). - Under a BAU scenario, all land currently zoned for corporate oil palm concessions are utilized to their maximum capacity. - At the other end of the spectrum, the CON scenario considers what will happen if Indonesia’s 2011 forest moratorium preventing new concessions on primary forest and peatland is applied to all currently undeveloped land, and companies adhere to zero-deforestation commitments. - In between the two, the SUS-INT option considers what would happen if plantations are expanded only in non-forested and non-peat areas, while yields are increased through improved cultivars and intensive management.
Brazilian elections and the environment: where top candidates stand [09/17/2018]
- The Brazilian elections are just weeks away, scheduled for 7 October. The five leading candidates are Jair Bolsonaro, Marina Silva, Ciro Gomes, Geraldo Alckmin, and Fernando Haddad, though none appears to have sufficient voter backing to win on election-day. A runoff with the top two will occur on 28 October. - This story offers an overview of the environmental stance of the top five. Jair Bolsonaro, leader in the polls, would pull Brazil out of the Paris Climate Agreement, abolish the Ministry of the Environment, and open the Amazon and indigenous lands for economic exploitation. - Marina Silva, a former environmental minister, established policies that reduced Amazon deforestation. She would keep Brazil in the Paris Agreement and use it as a means of shifting the nation’s agribusiness sector to be more sustainable, competitive and equitable. Ciro Gomes supports hydroelectric dams and the Paris Agreement. - Geraldo Alckmin supports agribusiness over environmental. Little is known of Fernando Haddad’s environmental positions, though he’s a strong proponent of bicycling to reduce car use. As important for the environment: the bancada ruralista agribusiness lobby looks poised to grow stronger in congress in the coming election.
How a national reserve stopped the extinction of the Peruvian vicuña [09/17/2018]
- In the 1960s, the total number of vicuñas in Peru was approximately 5,000. - The community of Lucanas was able to overcome violence from internal armed conflicts, and now those in the community use vicuña fur from Pampa Galeras National Reserve. - Every year, the Lucanas community exports 1,000 kilograms (about 2,200 pounds) of vicuña fur. - The National Service of Natural Protected Areas (SERNANP) will give a “green seal” to the fur sheared off the vicuñas by the community for their outstanding conservation practices.
As India’s Ganges runs out of water, a potential food shortage looms [09/17/2018]
- In the last three decades, the groundwater input to the Ganges River in India has declined by 50 percent during the summer, a new study has found, leading to the river losing water during those dry months. - The dwindling of the river’s water flow could severely affect the availability of water for surface water irrigation, with potential declines in food production in the future. - The low river flows could also prevent effective dilution of pollutants in the Ganges, which is already one of the most contaminated transboundary rivers in the world, the researchers say.
Satellites and citizen science pinpoint migratory bird refueling stops [09/17/2018]
- Researchers used satellite images to assess the effectiveness of financial incentive programs for farmers in creating habitat for waterbirds, including ducks, geese, and shorebirds, in California’s Central Valley, where nearly all natural wetlands have been converted to agriculture. - Observations of 25 waterbird species by hundreds of citizen scientists helped to identify the target zones for water management and to verify the birds’ use of managed areas. - The satellite data indicated that a severe drought substantially reduced the birds’ open-water habitat and that the incentive programs created more than 60 percent of available habitat on specific days during the migrations. - The researchers state that remotely sensed data can be used effectively to track water availability and regularly update water and wetland managers on how much habitat is available and where, so they can coordinate water management activities.
Putting the action in the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco [09/14/2018]
- The second day of California Governor Jerry Brown’s three-day Global Climate Action Summit on September 13 put a hard emphasis on action. There was discernible disgust with national leaders whose words have not resulted in greater ambition to drive down carbon emissions, protect forests and oceans, or provide the promised billions to developing nations who must adapt to or recover their losses from the ravages of global warming. - The tone for the summit stood in stark contrast to the ritual year-end United Nations climate summits that are routinely cautious and invariably disappointing gatherings, with one exception in Paris in 2015. Year after year, the world’s largest polluters water down agreements for aggressive climate action and push decisions off to the next set of negotiations. - All of this ambition, enthusiasm, and real climate action can leave observers with a distorted sense of optimism in the face of steadily deteriorating climate conditions. Speakers rightly noted that more money is still being spent annually to destroy nature than to protect it.
What’s causing deforestation? New study reveals global drivers [09/14/2018]
- Recent advances in satellite-based forest monitoring technology have helped conservationists locate where deforestation may be happening. However, limitations in knowing the causes behind canopy loss have hindered efforts to stop it. - A new study released this week provides a step forward toward this goal, identifying the major drivers of tree cover loss around the world. - Overall, it finds 27 percent of all forest loss — 50,000 square kilometers per year — is caused by permanent commodity-driven deforestation. In other words, an area of forest a quarter of the size of India was felled to grow commodity crops over 15 years. The next-biggest driver of forest loss worldwide is forestry at 26 percent; wildfire and shifting agriculture amounting to 23 percent and 24 percent, respectively. The study finds less than 1 percent of global forest loss was attributable to urbanization. - The study’s authors found commodity-driven deforestation remained constant throughout their 15-year study period, which they say indicates corporate zero-deforestation agreements may not be working in many places. They hope their findings will help increase accountability and transparency in global supply chains.
Common ground on the prairie (commentary) [09/14/2018]
- Good stewardship of our native grasslands is one of the best ways to survive the next weather event. Grasses are rooted in the ground, which enables the soil to absorb and retain more water. That, in turn, prevents sediment, fertilizer, pesticides, and other compounds in the soil from running off into nearby water ways. And by absorbing and storing more water, the land better withstands flood and drought alike. - Healthy grasslands also serve as a check against climate change, pulling heat-trapping carbon dioxide out of the air and storing it in the soil. Research shows that improving grazing management practices on just one acre of grassland can pull an average of 419 extra pounds of carbon out of the atmosphere each year. - This is an important message for the governors, mayors, CEOs and producers gathering in San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS). There, they will demonstrate the progress the public and private sectors have made in reducing carbon emissions and they’ll set ambitious new goals. Land stewardship will be high on the agenda, as it should be. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Latam Eco Review: Gold fever in Peru and cryptic fish from the deep [09/14/2018]
The most popular stories from our Spanish-language service, Mongabay-Latam, followed new deforestation from gold mining in Peru, new fish species deep in Chile’s sea, mining on Ecuador’s beaches, and hundreds of dead turtles in Mexico. Gold mining tears through Peru’s Amazon A new study shows that gold mining in Peru’s Madre de Dios region has […]
How much plastic is too much plastic for sea turtles? [09/14/2018]
- Researchers in Australia examined the digestive tracts of 246 dead sea turtles collected from along the coast of the state of Queensland and counted up to 329 pieces of plastic. - Younger turtles were found to have consumed considerably higher amounts of plastic pieces than adult turtles, the study found, possibly because they are less selective about what they eat. The young turtles also drift with ocean currents, just like plastic debris tends to do, and both might end up aggregating in the same places. - The higher the number of plastic pieces a turtle has inside its gut, the higher the chance of it being killed by the plastic. For an average-sized turtle, ingesting more than 14 pieces of plastic translates into a 50 percent likelihood of death.
On the hunt for a silent salamander-killer [09/13/2018]
- Sometime around 2008, a mysterious disease started killing off the Netherlands’ fire salamanders. Three years later, 96 percent were dead. - The disease turned out to be Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal), a relative of the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) that has been implicated in the decline or extinction of some 200 frog species around the world. - Scientists think Bsal originated in Asia and spread to Europe through the pet trade. And they believe it’s only matter of time before it gets to the U.S. – the world’s hotspot of salamander diversity, where nearly half of all species may be susceptible. - Now, scientists are in a race against time to find the fungus as soon as possible after it gets here in the hopes that quickly enacted quarantines may stop, or at least slow, its spread.
California targets fossil fuel-free electricity by 2045 [09/13/2018]
- On Monday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 100, which sets a goal of generating 100 percent of the state’s electricity from carbon-free sources by 2045. The same day, Governor Brown issued an executive order committing California to full, economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2045. - California was already known as a leader in climate action prior to SB 100, but the new law significantly accelerates its emissions-reduction timeline by requiring the state to get 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025 and 60 percent by 2030 — the latter target being 10 percent higher than California’s previous clean energy commitments. - Electricity generation is only responsible for 16 percent of California’s annual greenhouse gas emissions, however. That’s why Governor Brown issued the executive order, as well, committing the state to achieving carbon neutrality by 2045 and net negative greenhouse gas emissions thereafter.
Indonesian mine watchdog sues government for concession maps [09/13/2018]
- The Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam) filed the freedom-of-information lawsuit after failing to get a response to its earlier requests to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources. - The group contends that it needs the mapping data, in the shapefile (SHP) digital mapping format, to monitor whether mining concessions overlap onto conservation areas or farmland. - Jatam has previously successfully sued to obtain the release of similar records at the provincial level, and says the ministry’s refusal to comply is a violation of transparency provisions in both the freedom of information and mining laws.
Tagging and tracking the Tour de Turtles [09/13/2018]
- The Sea Turtle Conservancy’s Tour de Turtles kicked off last month, tagging and tracking 17 sea turtles during a marathon migration. - Turtles wear small transmitters during the annual event as they travel thousands of miles to from their nesting beaches to feeding grounds. - Data collected from satellite telemetry help scientists gain a clearer understanding of how four species of turtles behave at sea, furthering efforts to protect endangered species.
Humans reached Madagascar 6,000 years earlier than previously thought [09/12/2018]
- New research suggests humans reached Madagascar far earlier than previously thought. - The study, published today in the journal Science Advances, is based on analysis of giant elephant bird bones discovered in 2009. - Those bones showed “chop marks, cut marks, and depression fractures consistent with immobilization and dismemberment” by prehistoric humans. - Until now, the earliest documented evidence of humans in Madagascar dated to 2,400-4,000 years ago.
Forests and indigenous rights land $459M commitment [09/12/2018]
- A group of 17 philanthropic foundations has committed nearly half a billion dollars in support of land-based solutions to climate change and the recognition of indigenous peoples’ and traditional communities’ collective land rights and resource management. - The announcement is notable because it brings together a range of philanthropies that have often taken a siloed approach to tackling the world’s social and environmental problems. - The pledge, which includes both previous commitments and new money, raises the profile of two often overlooked opportunities in climate change mitigation: forests, which could help meet up to a third of global emissions targets by 2030, and indigenous and local communities, whose lands comprise nearly a sixth of global forest cover. - The foundations signed an agreement stating five shared priorities, ranging from the rights of indigenous communities to transitioning toward more sustainable food systems.
Why keep Africa’s dryland forests alive? [09/12/2018]
- Small holder farmers from 6,000 Malian households have restored 320 hectares of land through a combination of on-farm natural tree regeneration, water harvesting, moisture retention technologies, improved soil filtration, and enhanced soil humus. - This is just one of many efforts currently underway to restore Africa’s dryland forests. There are many obstacles left to overcome, but as the Mali example clearly shows, there are successes to celebrate and build upon, as well. - In sub-Saharan Africa, 80 percent of charcoal and firewood used by about 2.4 million people is harvested in woodlands found in the dryland areas. Experts say it’s time to start packaging these fragile yet rich and highly adaptive ecosystems into investment opportunities.
Runners’ woes at Asian Games highlight Jakarta’s air pollution problem [09/12/2018]
- Athletes competing in the just concluded Asian Games in Jakarta suffered from some of the worst air quality in a city hosting a major sports event in recent years. - Levels of PM10 and PM2.5, classes of particles in the air, exceeded World Health Organization guidelines for the duration of the Games, despite vehicle restrictions imposed by the Jakarta government. - Activists say officials are overlooking the fact that more than half the air pollution in Jakarta is caused by factors other than vehicle emissions, including several coal-fired power plants. - Officials in the central government have denied that there’s an air pollution problem, but those in the city administration have acknowledged the issue and called for a holistic approach to tackling the range of factors.
Illegal wildlife trade on Facebook in Thailand open ‘for all to see’ [09/12/2018]
- In a rapid assessment in 2016, carried out for just 30 minutes a day over a total of 23 days, wildlife trade watchdog TRAFFIC found 1,521 listings of live wild animals for sale on Facebook in Thailand. - The animals on offer belonged to at least 200 species, of which about half are protected by the country’s laws, while the rest aren’t regulated at all. - More than 500 individuals listed were mammals, with 139 listings of the Sunda slow loris, a threatened primate. - The listings also included the critically endangered helmeted hornbill and Siamese crocodile.
Palm oil giant’s claim it can’t control Liberian subsidiary a ‘red herring,’ NGO says [09/12/2018]
- The Forest Peoples Programme, an NGO, recently filed five new complaints against palm oil giant Golden Agri-Resources. The complaints were filed in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, or RSPO, of which the company is a member. - One of the complaints targets the company’s Liberian subsidiary, Golden Veroleum, which recently withdrew from the RSPO after losing an appeal against a different complaint filed against it. - The Forest Peoples Programme says it is egregious for Golden Agri to stay in the RSPO while its own subsidiary violates the organization’s standards. A spokeswoman for Golden Agri-Resources said the company has “no management control” over its Liberian subsidiary.
Conservation groups herald protection of tiger habitat in Malaysia [09/11/2018]
- The state government of Terengganu has set aside more than 100 square kilometers (39 square miles) for critically endangered Malayan tigers and other wildlife in Peninsular Malaysia. - The state’s chief minister said the newly created Lawit-Cenana State Park’s high density of threatened species made the area a priority for protection. - The park is home to 291 species of birds and 18 species of mammals, including elephants, tapirs and pangolins.
Criminalization and violence increasingly used to silence indigenous protest, according to UN report [09/11/2018]
- Indigenous peoples are facing criminalization and violence the world over, tactics employed by private businesses and governments seeking to use indigenous lands for their own gain through economic development projects, according to a report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council on August 27. - UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz said she has seen firsthand a sharp rise in instances of physical violence and legal prosecution against indigenous peoples in countries like Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, and the Philippines since her appointment as Special Rapporteur in 2014. - The Special Rapporteur identifies lack of official recognition of indigenous peoples’ land rights as one of the root causes of violence, sometimes even leading to indigenous communities being treated as trespassers on their own traditional territories.
World’s first indigenous REDD+ program suspended due to illegal mining [09/11/2018]
- In 2009, the Paiter-Suruí of Brazil became the first indigenous group in the world to design and implement a major forest conservation and carbon storage and offset project, a program financed by selling carbon-offset credits, and ultimately administered under the United Nations REDD+ program (Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation). - On Monday, the Paiter-Suruí announced the project is being suspended indefinitely due to an onslaught of diamond and gold miners and loggers which has caused a dramatic surge in deforestation within their 248,147 hectare (958 square mile) territory. - In its early years, the program – designed to prevent at least five million tons of carbon emissions in 30 years – was incredibly successful. Illegal logging in the indigenous territory dropped to almost zero from 2009 to 2012, a period during which surrounding regions saw deforestation rates more than double. - Analysts cite multiple reasons for the project suspension: the intrusion of external, powerful, self-interested actors; the lack of law enforcement in the indigenous territory; and the lack of state investment in indigenous education, health, and livelihood programs that could have alleviated individual economic and social pressures to secure short-term financial gain.
These Asian monkeys can’t taste the sweetness of natural sugars [09/11/2018]
- Asian leaf-eating monkeys cannot taste natural sugars and show no preference for foods flavored with sugars, a new study has found. - While these monkeys have the sweet-taste receptor genes needed to taste natural sugars, when the researchers expressed these genes in single cells, the cells did not show any response to maltose, sucrose, glucose, fructose, lactose or sorbitol. - The researchers also conducted a behavior test using sugar-flavored and non-sugar-flavored jellies, and found that colobine monkeys like the silvery lutung and the hanuman langur ate all of the jellies without preferring one over the other. On the other hand, Japanese macaques preferred sucrose and maltose-flavored jellies over bland ones. - This lack of preference for sugary foods, along with a previously known inability to taste bitterness, means these monkeys are less likely to face competition from other species for food sources.
Brazilian legislators break law, attack Amazon, trade freely with world: report [09/11/2018]
- A new Amazon Watch report offers evidence showing that six prominent Brazilian politicians are charged with, and/or guilty of, a variety of environmental, social, and economic crimes. All six are active in the bancada ruralista agribusiness lobby of congress, and all but one are up for election in October. - According to the report, the six have been strident advocates of the ruralist policies that are slashing environmental protections, exacerbating Amazon deforestation, and rolling back indigenous land rights. - Yet their agricultural commodities, and those of their political and business allies, are being sold to the U.S. and EU, with importers including soft drinks manufacturers Coca Cola (U.S) and Schweppes (Switzerland), the poultry producer Wiesenhof (Germany) and others. - The report says that transnational companies and consumers are thus unwittingly empowering the ruralists’ drastic legislative environmental attacks, and it calls for importing countries and companies to take responsibility for their actions. Mongabay profiles two legislators featured in the report: Adilton Sachetti and Nelson Marquezelli.
Climate mitigation has an ally in need of recognition and land rights: indigenous peoples in tropical countries [09/10/2018]
- Researchers have released what they called “the most comprehensive assessment to date of carbon storage” on forested lands occupied by indigenous peoples and local communities in 64 tropical countries. One of the main findings of the research is that indigenous peoples are far better stewards of the land than their countries’ governments. - The study, led by Rights and Resources International (RRI), found that indigenous peoples manage nearly 300 billion metric tons of carbon stored above and below ground on their lands. That sequestered carbon, the study found, is equal to 33 years’-worth of worldwide emissions, given a 2017 baseline. - The study’s release is timed to coincide with the September 12 opening in San Francisco of the three-day Global Climate Action Summit hosted by California Gov. Jerry Brown and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The connection between indigenous rights and environmental protection is expected to be a summit highlight.
Land hoarding: what Colombia’s new administration has inherited [09/10/2018]
- Local authorities say that they are no longer as trusting of the actions suggested by the federal government. - Humberto Sánchez, the mayor of San Vicente del Caguán, says that meetings carried out to stop the problem are completely useless. - San Vicente del Caguán is the most deforested municipality in Colombia.
Plantations can produce more palm oil if they keep riverbanks forested [09/10/2018]
- Conservationists have long known that keeping riverbanks forested in regions with heavy palm oil development helps protect wildlife and their habitat. - Now, a recently published study finds there are economic benefits to palm oil producers, as well. It finds oil palm plantations that maintain buffers of forest along rivers can improve their yields because these buffers reduce erosion. - The team found that a larger buffer has a bigger payoff in the long term, but a forest buffer of 10 to 20 meters could maximize yields even within a ten-year period. Meanwhile, buffers of 30 meters or more could maximize yields in the long term. - The authors note that their calculations were conservative, meaning that the economic benefits of riparian forest buffers to oil palm plantations may be even higher than their estimates indicate.
Tracking elephant movements reveals transboundary wildlife corridors [09/10/2018]
- Data from satellite tracking tags on 120 elephants in southern Africa have identified a suite of wildlife movement corridors across five southern African countries, suggesting the importance of cross-border coordination. - Wide-ranging movements of elephants include dispersal from northern Botswana north into Angola and south toward the Kalahari Desert. - Research findings have suggested that open and unimpeded movement corridors can help reduce conflict with human residents while blocked corridors can push elephants and other wildlife into new developments or villages, resulting in increased conflict.
The search for survivors in a post-nuclear reefscape [09/10/2018]
- The United States tested its largest thermonuclear bomb in 1954 over Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, generating radioactive fallout downwind, including over remote Rongelap Atoll. - We surveyed protected reefs of Rongelap and neighboring Ailinginae Atoll, finding extremely variable coral condition and widespread evidence of recent ocean warming. - Variation in reef condition underscored an increasing need to assist diver-based surveys with improved satellite and aircraft imaging to assess the health of the coral reefs. - Climate change mitigation is paramount to coral reef survival, as increasing ocean temperature could trump earlier nuclear radiation as a driver of reef degradation in the Marshall Islands.
Aligning forces for tropical forests as a climate change solution (commentary) [09/08/2018]
- Tropical forest governments need help to achieve their commitments to slow deforestation and are not getting it fast enough; companies could deliver some of that help through strategic partnerships, especially if environmental advocacy strategies evolve to favor these partnerships. Aspiring governments also need a mechanism for registering and disseminating their commitments and for finding potential partners. - Climate finance is reaching most jurisdictions, but not at the speed or scale that is needed. Tropical forest governments need help making their jurisdictions easier to do business in and more bankable; they are beginning to develop innovative ways to use verified emissions reductions, to create industries and institutions for low-carbon development, and to establish efficient, transparent mechanisms for companies to deliver finance for technical assistance to farmers. - Partnerships between indigenous peoples and subnational governments have emerged as a promising new approach for both improving representation of forest communities in subnational governance and delivering greater support, unlocking climate finance in the process. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Latam Eco Review: Salmon escape, jungle drones, and a new biosphere reserve [09/08/2018]
The most popular stories last week from our Spanish-language service, Mongabay-Latam, followed farmed salmon escapes in Chile, a new biosphere reserve in Ecuador, and high-tech forest monitoring in Peru. Patagonia’s fragile marine ecosystem reels from influx of escaped farmed salmon A storm battered salmon cages in southern Chile, setting 690,000 of the fish loose into […]
Climate leadership means keeping fossil fuels in the ground in tropical forests and beyond (commentary) [09/07/2018]
- Ahead of next week’s Global Climate Action Summit, Amazon Watch’s Executive Director Leila Salazar-López argues that California Governor Jerry Brown can show true climate leadership by phasing out oil and gas production in the state. - She notes that large volumes of crude oil from the Ecuadorian rainforest are processed in California, making the state complicit in the environmental problems plaguing indigenous communities in the Amazon and local communities living near refineries in the state. - This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Criminal mafias take over Colombian forests [09/07/2018]
- Of this lost forest, 900 square kilometers (350 square miles) were in the environmental corridor that connects the national parks of La Macarena and Serranía del Chiribiquete. - The government was late to arrive to the territories left by the now-disbanded FARC guerrilla group. - New paramilitary groups, including former factions of the FARC, the ELN guerrillas, criminal gangs and drug-trafficking enterprises have taken control of the territory, causing immense environmental and social damage. - The region is now facing an acceleration of what many have long feared: deforestation, land grabbing, expansion of the agricultural frontier, and an increase in illicit crop cultivation and illegal mining.
In other news: Environmental stories from around the web, September 7, 2018 [09/07/2018]
- Of this lost forest, 90,000 hectares were in the environmental corridor that connects the national natural parks of La Macarena and Serranía del Chiribiquete. - The government was late to arrive at the territories left by the now-extinct FARC guerrilla group. - New paramilitary groups, including the ELN guerrillas, criminal gangs and drug trafficking enterprises have taken control of the territory, causing immense environmental and social damage. - The region is now facing an acceleration of what many have long feared: deforestation, land grabbing, expansion of the agricultural frontier and an increase in illicit crops and illegal mining.
Indonesia gives in to bird traders, rescinds protection for 3 species [09/07/2018]
- The Indonesian government has removed three popular songbirds from its newly updated list of protected species. They are the white-rumped shama, straw-headed bulbul and Javan pied starling — a critically endangered species. - The move comes amid protests from songbird owners and breeders, who have raised concerns about loss of livelihoods. - The owners and breeders now say they will push for more species to be removed from the list. - Conservationists and scientists have blasted the ministry for backing down and called into question its assessment that protecting the three species would have had an adverse economic impact.
DNA database helps Nepal’s officials monitor tigers, punish poachers [09/07/2018]
- Nepal’s Centre for Molecular Dynamics has developed a DNA reference database containing genetic and geographic information on 120 of the country’s estimated 200 wild tigers. - Law enforcement officials used the database to identify the species, sex, and estimated geographic origin of confiscated animal parts suspected to be tigers, pinpointing most of them to individual national parks. - Such databases have the potential to support not only forensics, but also disease research and monitoring population dynamics, particularly if countries can share genetic data.
8 species of birds have possibly gone extinct over past few decades [09/06/2018]
- A new study has found that eight species of birds are likely to have completely disappeared in the past couple of decades. - Researchers recommend that three species currently listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List be reclassified as extinct, while one be treated as extinct in the wild. - Four more bird species are dangerously close to extinction, if not already there, and should be re-classified as critically endangered (possibly extinct), researchers say.
A Brazilian mourns what was lost in the National Museum fire [09/06/2018]
- Last Sunday, the Brazilian National Museum burned, with an estimated 90 percent of its priceless collection destroyed. In this story, co-published by ((O))eco and Mongabay, noted Brazilian science writer and journalist Peter Moon enumerates those losses and what they mean to Brazil and the world. - The museum’s Paleontology collection housed practically all fossils of plants and animals, vertebrates and invertebrates, discovered in Brazil from 1800 into the 20th century. The fire consumed the accumulated fossil record of tens of millions of years of evolution in Brazil and South America. - The Anthropology collection was also burned, a heartbreaking, irreplaceable loss of Brazil’s indigenous legacy. Gone is the entire Ethnology collection, which kept masks, weapons, utensils and other artifacts documenting the cultures of numerous Brazilian indigenous peoples, collected over two centuries. - Saved were the collections of invertebrates and vertebrates, and the botany collection, all installed 30 years ago in an annex. While the scientific value of those collections preserved is immense, Peter Moon laments the loss of the vast natural history archive: “Scientific collections, once lost, are forever.”