10-second nature news digest

Conservation news digest for busy people from @Mongabay. Story summaries that can be read in about ten seconds per post.

Popular topics:: Amazon | Animals | Brazil | Congo | Conservation | Deforestation | Featured | Indonesia | Logging | Malaysia | Oceans | Palm oil | Rainforests | Wildlife



Proposed Trump policy threatens Critically Endangered Grauer’s gorilla [02/21/2017]
- The largest great ape, Grauer’s gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri) has nearly disappeared in the past two decades. Numbers have plummeted by 77 percent; perhaps 3,800 remain. This animal, dubbed “the forgotten gorilla” because it was so little studied and was absent from most zoos, is in serious danger of extinction.
- Their slaughter was precipitated by the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s bloody civil war and by mining for coltan and tin ore, “conflict minerals” used in cell phones, laptops and other electronics. Gorillas are heavily poached by armed militias, miners, and less often, by refugees: the animals are being eaten nearly to extinction.
- The gorillas could suffer greater harm from warlords and miners if President Trump signs a proposed presidential memorandum leaked to Reuters. It would allow US companies to buy conflict minerals freely without public disclosure, likely increasing mining in the Congo basin — and poaching.
- Trump’s plan would nullify the current US Conflict Mineral Rule, passed with bipartisan support in 2010 and enacted as part of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Dodd Frank Act. Meanwhile, conservationists are hopeful that the Grauer’s gorilla can be saved — but only with a DRC and planet-wide response.


What happens when the soy and palm oil boom ends? [02/21/2017]
- Over the past 30 years demand and production of oils crops like oil palm and soybeans has boomed across the tropics.
- This rapid expansion has in some places taken a heavy toll on native, wildlife-rich ecosystems.
- Derek Byerlee, co-author of a new book titled The Tropical Oil Crop Revolution, spoke with Mongabay about the tropical oil crop sector and what's to come for the industry.


Scimitar-horned oryx return to the Sahara nearly two decades after going extinct in the wild [02/20/2017]
- This is the second group to be returned to the wild since the species was listed as Extinct in the Wild on the IUCN Red List in 2000.
- Eight female and six male scimitar-horned oryx were released on January 21 in the hopes that they would join the herd of 21 oryx that were reintroduced to Chad’s Ouadi Rimé-Ouadi Achim Reserve on August 14, 2016.
- The initial group of oryx — 13 females and 8 males — have reportedly thrived in their new habitat. In fact, on September 21, 2016, the herd welcomed what is believed to be the first scimitar-horned oryx born in the wild in more than 20 years.


African bush babies gain a new genus [02/20/2017]
- Genetic data has pointed toward a unique group of dwarf galagos living in Africa for a long time, but the physical similarity between the primates in the Galago family has confounded scientists.
- Using these genetic clues as a guide, a team of researchers examined the skulls and teeth of galagos and analyzed their calls.
- They concluded that five species previously placed in other genera should be placed in a sixth genus of the family Galagidae. They chose the name ‘Paragalago’ for the new genus.


Singapore’s wild bird trade threatens exotic species [02/20/2017]
- About 48 of the 108 species observed in Singapore's bird markets were listed in either CITES Appendix I or II, which means that their international trade is restricted.
- Unfortunately, most birds being sold in the markets are not listed in CITES, meaning that these birds are not subject to international regulations.
- Information about the harvesting, breeding, and trading of animals in Singapore is very hard to obtain, making it difficult to ascertain the impact of the trade on the birds' wild populations.


It’s World Pangolin Day! [02/18/2017]
- Pangolins are the world’s most trafficked animal.
- Populations of all eight species of pangolins are vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered, mainly due to the demand for their meat and scales.
- Hopefully, increased protection and attention will give these animals a chance to bounce back from near-extinction.


Protected areas found to be ‘significant’ sources of carbon emissions [02/17/2017]
- The researchers found 2,018 protected areas across the tropics store nearly 15 percent of all tropical forest carbon. This is because protected areas tend to have denser, older forest – thus, higher carbon stocks.
- Their study uncovered that, on average, nearly 0.2 percent of protected area forest cover was razed per year between 2000 and 2012.
- Less than nine percent of the reserves that the researchers sampled contributed 80 percent of the total carbon emissions between 2000 and 2012, putting this small subset of reserves on par with the UK’s entire transportation sector.
- The researchers say their findings could help prioritize conservation attention.


Newly discovered gecko loses scales in ‘really bizarre’ behavior [02/16/2017]
- The new gecko was discovered in a reserve in northern Madagascar, a region threatened by deforestation.
- It is a new member of the "fish-scaled" gecko genus. All other species have large, shed-able scales, but G. megalepis has the largest of all.
- The geckos so easily shed their scales (along with other tissues) that researchers had to devise a novel way to capture them.
- The researchers think another five Geckolepis species may be awaiting discovery in Madagascar.


Saving Jamaica Bay’s diamondback terrapins [02/16/2017]
- The Diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) is a turtle species native to coastal tidal marshes in the eastern and southern United States.
- Its population in New York City's Jamaica Bay has declined by more than half in the last decade – to an estimated 10,000 turtles today.
- The underlying causes for this decline are a mystery, but researchers are now engaged in a multi-year study to identify them. As the terrapin plays a crucial role in the ecosystem’s health and resiliency, their findings have important implications for Jamaica Bay.


Grief, anger and fear in the aftermath of a deadly coal-mining disaster in Jharkhand State, India [02/16/2017]
- On Dec. 29, 2016, the Lalmatia coal mine's massive overburden dump collapsed into the pit, killing 23 workers — including five whose bodies have still not been recovered.
- Workers claim they reported warning signs to management ahead of the disaster but were ignored. In the days following the collapse, inspection authorities said Lalmatia was not fit for mining.
- The mine is under the umbrella of government-owned Coal India Limited, but production was outsourced to a private company.
- India aims to ramp up its coal production to one billion tonnes per year, with "large scale contract mining" expected to play a major role in reaching this goal.


Wilmar grabbed indigenous lands in Sumatra, RSPO finds [02/16/2017]
- The Kapa are a Minangkabau people in Indonesia's West Sumatra province.
- The community accused Wilmar International, the world's largest palm oil company, of planting oil palm in their territory without their permission.
- Wilmar is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, meaning that it must respect the right of communities to veto development projects on their land.
- The RSPO recently decided that Wilmar had violated the Kapa's right to "free, prior and informed consent."


Camera traps proving to be powerful tool for studying endangered species in remote locations [02/15/2017]
- The only known population of the Sira curassow, a large bird in the Cracidae family listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, resides within the Sira Communal Reserve, a chain of isolated and high-elevation outcrops of the Peruvian Andes.
- Any monitoring technique that can potentially allow closer study of the Sira curassow (Pauxi koepckeae) is of critical importance in order to inform management strategies for the preservation of the species.
- The authors of a study published earlier this month in the journal Endangered Species Research say that the discovery that camera traps are such an effective tool for detecting the Sira curassow makes it possible to perform a robust assessment of the bird’s distribution and population size for the first time.


Getting there: The rush to turn the Amazon into a soy transport corridor [02/15/2017]
- The development over the last 40 years of Mato Grosso state in Brazil’s interior as an industrial agribusiness powerhouse has, from the beginning, been hindered by a major economic problem: how to get the commodities to the coast for profitable export.
- The first route of export from Mato Grosso was a costly and time-consuming southern one, with commodities trucked on a circuitous route to Santos in São Paulo state and Paranaguá in Paraná state on the Atlantic coast.
- The paving of the northern section of BR-163, running south to north through Pará state, opened a much less expensive, faster route, with commodities now moved to Miritituba on the Tapajós River, then downstream to the Amazon, and on to Europe and China.
- New infrastructure plans call for the channelization of the Juruena, Teles Pires and Tapajós rivers, creating a 1,000-mile industrial waterway. Two railways, one over the Andes, are also proposed. These schemes pose grave threats to the Amazon rainforest, biodiversity, indigenous and traditional communities, and even the global climate.


Seven ‘most wanted’ elephant poachers arrested in Malaysia [02/15/2017]
- The poachers were caught in a joint operation between the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) and Malaysia's Armed Forces on February 10.
- During the raid, the authorities seized animal parts worth about $112,300, as well as hunting gear and firearms, including shotguns, machetes, knives, bullets, explosives and firecrackers.
- During subsequent raids on February 11 and 12, Perhilitan officers seized two elephant tusks, elephant meat, and more weapons and equipment.


Latin America palm oil production doubled since 2001 without massive uptick in deforestation [02/14/2017]
- A study published earlier this month in the journal Environmental Research Letters by researchers with the University of Puerto Rico looks at the types of land being converted to oil palm plantations in Latin America.
- Much of the land that has been turned over to palm oil production was originally cleared by ranchers so they could graze their cattle on it, according to the study.
- If palm oil continues to replace pastures instead of forests, the authors of the study suggest, Latin America may be well positioned as a regional producer of sustainable palm oil.


Endangered species and habitats threatened by US-Mexico border wall [02/14/2017]
- In late January, the Trump administration announced that it will be moving forward with plans to build ‘the wall’ along the southern border with Mexico.
- According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an impregnable wall running across the entire 2,000-mile border between the two countries would “potentially impact” more than 111 endangered species, 108 migratory bird species, four wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries, and an unknown number of protected wetlands.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.


Scanning the barcode of wildlife [02/14/2017]
- DNA barcoding—the collection, extraction, sequencing, and translation of a species’ DNA into a digital barcode—is being used to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
- Investigators compare wildlife barcodes of evidence at crime scenes or confiscated animal products to the known barcode sequences of the suspected species.
- The Barcode of Wildlife Project fosters collaboration among partner countries to build a global reference library that connects the work of researchers across the globe on a single platform and allows for a species’ barcode to be a public resource for biodiversity conservation, invasive species monitoring, and wildlife crime mitigation.


Counterintuitive: Global hydropower boom will add to climate change [02/14/2017]
- For many years new hydropower dams were assumed to be zero greenhouse gas emitters. Now with 847 large (more than 100 MW) and 2,853 smaller (more than 1 MW) hydropower projects currently planned or under construction around the world, a new global study has shown that dam reservoirs are major greenhouse gas emitters.
- The study looked at the carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) emitted from 267 reservoirs across six continents. Globally, the researchers estimate that reservoirs contribute 1.3 percent of human-made greenhouse gas emissions, comparable to those from rice paddy cultivation or biomass burning.
- Reservoir emissions are not currently counted within the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC) emissions assessments, but they should be, argue the researchers. In fact, countries are currently eligible under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to receive carbon credits for newly built dams.
- The study raises the question as to whether hydropower should continue to be counted as green power or be eligible for UN CDM carbon credits.


Loving apes celebrated this Valentine’s Day [02/14/2017]
- The IUCN estimates that as few as 15,000 bonobos remain in the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Bonobos, unlike chimpanzees and humans, live in matriarchal societies and have never been observed killing a member of their own species.
- The California Senate passed a resolution stating that Valentine's Day (Feb. 14) would also be known as World Bonobo Day beginning in 2017.
- Bushmeat hunting, habitat destruction and the wildlife trade are the greatest threats to the survival of bonobos.


A Thai oil firm, Indonesian seaweed farmers and Australian regulators. What happened after the Montara oil spill? [02/14/2017]
- The 2009 Montara oil spill was the worst such offshore disaster in Australian history. The company behind it acknowledges "mistakes were made that should never be repeated."
- But while the firm has paid a penalty to the Australian government, it has yet to compensate Indonesia, which says it too suffered from the spill.
- Now, thousands of seaweed farmers are suing the Thai-owned oil and gas giant, seeking compensation in Australian court. The Indonesian government has also launched a lawsuit.
- The dispute highlights the complexity of regulating transnational corporations operating in maritime borderlands like the Timor Sea, a relatively narrow body of water rich in oil and gas reserves and surrounded by multiple countries.


Revisiting Java’s little Africa: Indonesia’s safari potential [02/13/2017]
- Baluran National Park is a reserve in eastern Java, Indonesia.
- Baluran may be the closest one can get to the equivalent of India’s or eastern and southern Africa’s experience of open savannas teeming with wildlife in Indonesia.
- This post is a commentary -- the views expressed are those of the author.


Trees need a little help to reclaim deforested land, study finds [02/13/2017]
- Scientists with the Swiss university ETH Zurich used forensic genetics to determine that seed dispersal and seedling establishment rarely occured more than a few hundred meters from the seed tree in their 216-square-kilometer (about 83-square-mile) study area in an agro-forest landscape in India’s Western Ghats.
- The scientists say theirs is the first large-scale, direct estimate of realized seed dispersal of a high-value timber tree — in this case, Dysoxylum malabaricum, or White Cedar, which is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
- That means that many tropical tree species that are important to humanity and for preserving biodiversity, like Dysoxylum malabaricum, are less likely to recover from logging and habitat degradation than we previously thought, according to Dr. Christopher Kettle of ETH Zürich, a co-author of the study.


India’s Manas National Park illustrates the human dimension of rhino conservation [02/13/2017]
- Manas National Park, one of India's rhino conservation areas, is at the heart of a proposed homeland for the Bodos, an indigenous ethnic group.
- From the 1980s until 2003, the park was engulfed by armed conflict, and its rhino population was wiped out. During this period, the Bodos were frequently portrayed as hostile to conservation efforts.
- A 2003 peace accord paved the way for the establishment of autonomous local governance, and the restoration of rhinos to the park. Former guerrillas now serve as anti-poaching patrols.
- With the Bodos in power, a new group has been cast as ecological villains: Bengali Muslims living in the fringes of the park.


Field Notes: Predicting how the pet trade spreads infectious disease [02/13/2017]
- The exotic animal trade is a multi-billion dollar industry, and the US is the world’s leading importer. While the US government is on the alert for well known animal-transmitted diseases, there is no mandatory health surveillance for most animals coming though US ports for commercial distribution.
- Live animal imports could bring new diseases into the US and infect endemic wildlife, with devastating consequences as, for example, was seen with the worldwide exposure of amphibians to Chytrid fungus which resulted in the decline of more than 200 species.
- Elizabeth Daut is drawing on her training as a veterinarian and her extensive experience with wildlife to create a computer model that evaluates the risk of importing infectious diseases to the US via the exotic animal trade.
- Predictions produced by her model could help prioritize which species and exporting countries might warrant extra attention at ports of entry. With a better understanding of disease risks, government agencies could improve surveillance and develop better infectious disease prevention plans.


Indonesia’s last stand for a coal industry in peril [02/13/2017]
- Environmental advocacy has significantly diminished the coal industry in many countries, and pressure is now focused on places like Indonesia where coal remains relatively strong.
- Indonesia is one of the world’s biggest exporters of thermal coal, and its two main customers, China and India, are the world’s biggest importers. As China and India scale back on coal use, Indonesia is trying to boost its domestic coal industry.
- Analysts say financing a domestic boost in coal will be hard, in part because foreign financiers are being pressured by environmental groups to pull out.


Investors learning to pay heed to community land rights [02/13/2017]
- Most conflicts besetting private investments in Africa – 63 percent – relate to pushing people off their lands.
- These conflicts affect agriculture, mining, and even green energy investments.
- In Southern Africa, 73 percent of conflicts turned violent and 73 percent halted work on the developments.


Increasing tree cover threatens world’s most endangered antelope [02/13/2017]
- Between 1985 and 2012, tree cover in hirola’s habitat has more than doubled.
- This increasing encroachment by trees is likely to blame for the decline in hirola populations in Africa, researchers say.
- Decline in elephant and cattle numbers in the region, an increase in browsing livestock, and increased drier conditions could have resulted in the increasing tree cover.


Forced evictions along Jakarta waterway a liability for Ahok as governor’s race nears finish line [02/13/2017]
- Flooding is massive problem in Jakarta. And most of its waterways are heavily polluted.
- The capital region's Governor Ahok has tried to address the problem — including by demolishing riverside slums.
- Residents of Bukit Duri, which stood on the banks of the Ciliwung River until the government tore it down last year, are suing the city in a class-action suit.


In one Tanzanian village, survival is intimately linked to forest conservation [02/12/2017]
- In Tanzania, expectant mothers need to pay for a birthing kit made up of latex gloves, plastic sheeting, soap, blades and umbilical ties that costs up to $23.
- It is a big expense for farming families who only make an annual income of $400-600.
- During her pregnancy, Jamila Sallimu Chikunda was told that a new program would help her pay for the birthing kit.
- The initiative is one of the many programs developed in Nanjirinji A thanks to income gained from the community-owned forest.


Chain saw injuries in Myanmar tied to illegal logging [02/12/2017]
- The dangers of chain saw use in Myanmar are compounded by a lack of training and protective gear in rural areas where inexperienced loggers can end up seriously injured or dead.
- Though a license is required to own a chain saw, one can also be rented fairly easily.
- A chain saw can cut down a tree many times faster than a hand-held saw, speeding up the movement of illegal timber from Myanmar to its main export destination, China.


Trophy hunters overstate contribution of big game hunting to African economies: Report [02/10/2017]
- Humane Society International (HSI) timed the release of the report to coincide with the start of Safari Club International’s (SCI) annual convention in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 1.
- US-based SCI, one of the world’s largest trophy hunting advocacy organizations, released a report in 2015 that claimed trophy hunting-related tourism contributes $426 million annually to the economies of eight African countries and creates more than 53,400 full- and part-time jobs.
- But the HSI report, prepared by Melbourne, Australia-based consultancy Economists At Large, found that SCI had “grossly overstated the contribution of big game hunting to eight African economies and that overall tourism in Africa dwarfs trophy hunting as a source of revenue,” according to a statement.


Newly discovered beetle catches a ride on the backs of army ants to get around [02/10/2017]
- “From above it is difficult to detect the parasite, because the beetle closely resembles the ant's abdomen,” von Beeren said in a statement. “When viewed from the side, however, it looks as if the ants had a second abdomen. To our surprise the odd looking 'ant abdomens' turned out to be beetles."
- In a BMC Zoology article, von Beeren and his co-author, Alexey Tishechkin of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Systematic Entomology Laboratory, write that what they’d observed was an “exceptional mechanism of phoresy,” which is when two organisms form a symbiotic relationship in which one (in this case, the beetle) travels on the body of another.
- The new beetle, named Nymphister kronaueri after Daniel Kronauer, an army-ant researcher at The Rockefeller University in New York who first discovered the species, uses its strong mandibles to anchor itself to ants’ bodies during the nomadic army ants’ regular emigrations to new nesting sites.


Trump administration delays listing of rusty patched bumblebee as endangered [02/10/2017]
- In January, 2017, the US FWS declared that it was placing the rusty patched bumblebee on the U.S. endangered species list.
- The listing would have taken effect today, making it the first wild bee species to be declared endangered in the continental US.
- But the USFWS has tentatively postponed the bee’s listing from February 10 to March 21.


Camera traps reveal undiscovered leopard population in Javan forest [02/10/2017]
- Government camera traps spotted three individuals in the Cikepuh Wildlife Reserve, along the southern coast of Indonesia's main central island of Java.
- The environment ministry says 11 leopards are thought to exist in the sanctuary.
- The Javan leopard is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN.


Ecological trap ensnares endangered African penguins [02/10/2017]
- Juveniles of the Western Cape population of African penguins, an IUCN-listed endangered species, still frequent a subpar hunting ground, even though other options are within reach.
- This population of penguins has declined by 80 percent in recent decades.
- The current research projects that Western Cape penguin numbers are half of what they would be without this ecological trap.


Brazil’s ‘river people’ join forces with indigenous communities, offer alternative to deforestation [02/10/2017]
- Extractive reserves are important to the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, creating buffer zones of protection from deforestation and the exploitation of natural resources.
- Extractive reserves cover 3.4 million hectares of land in Brazil, nearly all of it in the Amazon.
- Mining, logging and professional hunting are prohibited within the Xingu Resex, but trading posts allow for the exchange of goods gathered from within the reserve.


Greenpeace slams paper giant over loophole in fire-prevention policy [02/10/2017]
- APRIL is Indonesia's second-largest paper firm. It sources pulpwood from a vast network of suppliers in the archipelago country.
- It has come to light that APRIL's fire-prevention policy exempts short-term suppliers. These compose a major portion of its supply base.
- Some suppliers defined as "short term" by APRIL have actually been supplying the company for years, according to Greenpeace.


World’s largest tropical peatlands discovered in swamp forests of Congo Basin [02/09/2017]
- The peatlands, which weren’t even known to exist as recently as five years ago, were revealed to cover 145,500 square kilometres (or more than 17,500 square miles), an area larger than England, and to sequester some 30 billion metric tons of carbon.
- That makes them one of the most carbon-rich ecosystems on Earth, according to the researchers who made the discovery and subsequently mapped the peatlands.
- Professor Simon Lewis and Dr. Greta Dargie, who are both affiliated with the University of Leeds and University College London, first discovered the peatlands’ existence while doing fieldwork in the region in 2012.


Anger rises over human-elephant conflict in Tanzania [02/09/2017]
- On January 29, 2017, approximately 200 farmers from the village of Malinzanga in Tanzania stormed the office of the village chairman demanding something be done to protect their crops from elephants.
- Malinzanga is one of 23 agrarian villages that flank the eastern border of a large network of protected areas in Southern Tanzania, most notably Ruaha National Park.
- Ruaha and the surrounding territory currently support the largest population of elephants in East Africa, with just over 20,000 individuals.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily Mongabay.


The clouded leopard: conserving Asia’s elusive arboreal acrobat [02/09/2017]
- The clouded leopard is not closely related to the leopard, but has its own genus (Neofelis), separate from the big cats (Panthera). In 2006, the single species of clouded leopard was split in two: Neofelis nebulosa is found on the Asian mainland, while Neofelis diardi, the Sunda clouded leopard, occurs only on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.
- Another subspecies native to Taiwan (Neofelis nebulosa brachyura) is believed to be extinct, after none were found in a camera trapping survey conducted between 1997 and 2012.
- Originally, researchers found it difficult to breed the animals in captivity, since mates tended to kill each other. A variety of breeding techniques have however allowed zoos around the world to begin mating the animals successfully, to create and maintain a genetically viable captive population.
- Clouded leopards are incredibly elusive, and only with the advent of new technology, including camera traps and radio collars, have scientists been able to begin defining clouded leopard ranges, distribution, populations and threats. Public outreach is also helping build awareness around the plight of these Vulnerable wild cats.


Fighting rhino poaching in India, CSI-style [02/09/2017]
- RhODIS, the Rhino DNA Index System, relies on a database of rhino DNA collected from across rhino range states in Africa.
- The system, developed in South Africa, allows investigators to link captured poachers and confiscated horns to specific poaching incidents.
- Researchers are currently working to expand the database to include Asian rhino species.
- This year, India is expected to be the first Asian country to roll out the program as part of its anti-poaching strategy.


Efficient stoves and elephant grass aid primate conservation in northern Vietnam [02/09/2017]
- The Cao-vit, or eastern black crested gibbon (Nomascus nasutus), is a critically endangered primate only found in northern Vietnam and across the border in China’s Guangxi province.
- The conservation initiative helps provide fuel-efficient stoves at reduced prices to local communities where residents rely on firewood for cooking. The wood is often chopped down in nearby forests where the gibbons live.
- The increased efficiency of the stoves has reduced residents' need to harvest wood from forests.


Public criticism forces U.S. congressman to back off public land disposal bill [02/09/2017]
- The law would have allowed the sale of 3.3 million acres (1.34 million hectares) of public lands 'deemed to serve no purpose for taxpayers.'
- Supporters, including Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who introduced the bill to the House of Representatives, said that getting rid of the excess lands would provide the federal government with cash and rural communities with development opportunities.
- Chaffetz pulled the bill after an outcry from conservation groups and the public concerned about the loss of federal lands.


Fish magnet boom creates headaches in Indonesia’s war on overfishing [02/09/2017]
- Recent comments by Indonesian fisheries minister Susi Pudjiastuti indicate the government will crack down on fish aggregating devices, which have proliferated in the Southeast Asian nation's waters.
- Experts agree the issue deserves more attention from Jakarta but urge President Joko Widodo's administration to consider the impact a purge of the devices will have on small fishers.
- Minister Pudjiastuti has said that many of the devices are owned by large companies.


Shrugging off the risks, Laos plans to proceed with the Pak Beng dam [02/08/2017]
- The Pak Beng dam is the third of nine mainstream dams planned for the Mekong in Laos, and the second in a cascade of six on the country’s upper stretch of the river.
- If built, the 912-megawatt capacity dam will flood 4,178 hectares of land and create a 7,659-hectare reservoir along the river valley.
- A suite of project documents was published last month, including impact assessments that conclude the project will lead to loss of agricultural land, forest and fisheries as well as possible contamination. However, the developers claim mitigation measures will be able to overcome the negative social and environmental impacts.
- During a visit in January, Mongabay learned that people living in villages around the dam site had not been fully briefed on the project and its potential effects on their lives and livelihoods.


We can expect a lot more rain in a warming world, researchers say [02/08/2017]
- The frequency of large rainfall events is currently limited by physical balances in the atmosphere, according to David Neelin of the University of California, Los Angeles, the study’s lead author.
- Neelin and team concluded that if temperatures rise by three degrees Celsius above pre-industrial averages, the probability of the largest regional precipitation events observed in the past occurring again increase as much as tenfold in most regions.
- That means that, by the end of the century, accumulation of rainwater could pose a serious challenge to human infrastructure — as well as mankind’s ability to adapt to the changing climate.


Soy invasion poses imminent threat to Amazon, say agricultural experts [02/08/2017]
- The meteoric rise in soy production in the state of Mato Grosso is eating up rainforest and savanna at a staggering rate, with 1.2 million hectares under production in 1991; 6.2 million hectares in 2010; and 9.4 million hectares by 2016. Much of that soy is being exported to China, and it is expected that Brazil will grow more soy to meet Asia’s need.
- Since the time of Brazil’s military government (1964-1985), down to the present day, the national government has repeatedly offered lip service in support of Brazil’s agrarian poor, while offering large tax breaks and other major incentives to large landowners, large-scale agribusiness, and transnational commodities companies.
- This trend of overwhelming federal support for big soy growers seems likely to continue under current Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi (once dubbed the “Soy King”), and due to the powerful influence held by the ruralista agribusiness lobby in the National Congress.
- If China’s 21st century demand for soy, and Brazil’s ambition to meet that demand, don’t slacken, Amazon deforestation rates are likely to continue rising, and indigenous peoples are likely to see on-going threats to their communities and livelihoods. One place the threat is most dire is in the Tapajós Basin on the border of Mato Grosso and Pará states.


Giant catfish clocks longest ever freshwater migration [02/08/2017]
- The dorado catfish uses the massive Amazon River as its roadway, beginning its journey at the river's headwaters.
- It spawns in the far western Amazon, then drifts thousands of miles towards the estuary in the opposite direction.
- After two to three years in the estuary, the catfish makes its way back towards the headwaters through the Amazon floodplain.


Indonesian government moves further from community forestry target [02/08/2017]
- From 2015 to 2017, the government's annual budget for implementing a program to give local communities greater rights over the land they rely on has dropped by nearly half.
- The government's annual targets for allocating land under the program have similarly been lowered, although President Joko Widodo's administration continues to say it can meet the overall target of 12.7 million hectares — nearly the size of Greece — by 2019.
- A new Ministry of Environment and Forestry regulation is hoped to speed up the process for rezoning land under the various community forestry schemes, and the member of the relevant parliamentary commission says his side is seeking donor funding to support it.


Audio: An in-depth look at Mongabay’s collaboration with The Intercept Brasil [02/07/2017]
- Branford is a regular contributor to Mongabay who has been reporting from Brazil since 1979 when she was with the Financial Times and then the BBC.
- One of the articles in the series resulted in an official investigation by the Brazilian government before it was even published — and the investigators have already recommended possible reparations for an indigenous Amazonian tribe.
- We also round up the top news of the past two weeks.




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