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

Audio: Exploring humanity’s deep connection to water, plus the sounds of the Sandhill crane migration [03/20/2018]
- On today’s episode, we discuss humanity’s deep connection to water and hear sounds of one of the most ancient animal migrations on Earth, that of the Sandhill crane.
- Our first guest today is marine biologist and conservationist Wallace J. Nichols, the author of Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, & Better at What You Do.
- Our second guests are Ben Gottesman and Emma Brinley Buckley, researchers who are using bioacoustics to document Sandhill cranes on the Platte River in the U.S. state of Nebraska as the birds make a stopover during their annual migration. We’ll hear recordings of the cranes and other important species in this Field Notes segment.

How one of Indonesia’s biggest companies cut a secret deal to plant oil palm in Borneo [03/20/2018]
In the leadup to the release of the second installment of Indonesia for Sale, Mongabay’s collaboration with The Gecko Project, we are republishing “The Palm Oil Fiefdom,” the first installment in our series examining the corruption behind Indonesia’s deforestation and land-rights crises. This is the first part of the article, which can be read in […]

Keeping carbon in the ground can cut emissions and boost food security, study finds [03/20/2018]
- A new paper finds that a carbon tax meant to shift agricultural policies could raise food prices and threaten food security.
- However, improvements in storing carbon in the world’s soils could lessen the potential for worsening food security.
- The researchers suggest a globally coordinated effort on climate-friendly agriculture and land use would likely result in the best outcome for all.

UN’s Tauli-Corpuz, accused of terrorism in her native Philippines, plans to keep investigating ‘atrocities’ against indigenous peoples at home [03/20/2018]
- Victoria Tauli-Corpuz is one of the most prominent figures in the global movement for indigenous rights.
- This month, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration included her name on a list of suspected terrorists, along with a number of other environmental and human rights defenders.
- The Philippines is already the most dangerous country in Asia in which to be an environmental defender, with 41 murders recorded last year. Tauli-Corpuz fears it may be getting worse.

The world’s last male northern white rhino has died [03/20/2018]
- Sudan, a 45-year-old rhino believed to be the world’s last surviving male northern white rhino, died at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya on March 19.
- Sudan had been battling ill health over the past few months, and after his condition worsened considerably in the last 24 hours, veterinarians decided to euthanize him.
- Sudan lived at Ol Pejeta with the only other northern white rhinos left on Earth — his daughter, Najin, and her daughter, Fatu — under 24-hour armed surveillance.
- The survival of the species now hinges on costly and never-before-attempted in vitro fertilization using eggs from the remaining females, stored sperm samples, and southern white rhino females as surrogates.

Sarawak’s Penan now have detailed maps of their ancestral homeland [03/20/2018]
- Some 63 Penan communities came together to create 23 maps of their territory in central Borneo over the past 15 years.
- For three days in late November 2017, the Penan of the region celebrated the completion of the maps.
- The Penan now believe they are armed with the information that will help them hold on to their land in the face of pressure from outside timber and industrial agriculture interests.

Cerrado: Agribusiness may be killing Brazil’s ‘birthplace of waters’ [03/19/2018]
- The eighth World Water Forum takes place in Brasilia this week, and World Water Day is this Thursday, 22 March. So Mongabay here takes a close look at the Cerrado as Brazil’s “birthplace of waters.”
- The Cerrado savannah, despite its annual dry season, has in the past had water to spare. Eight out of 12 of Brazil’s major river basins and three aquifers — the Guarani, Bambuí and Urucuia — all rely on the Cerrado as a source for much of their water.
- Traditional communities are also reliant on the Cerrado’s aquifers and streams. But as agribusiness has moved into the region, putting large-scale irrigation into operation, those communities have complained of a diminishing water supply. A major water conflict arose recently between the town of Correntina and large-scale farms, in Bahia state.
- The diminishing Cerrado water supply has complex causes, including deforestation due to land conversion to agriculture; large-scale irrigation to grow water-intensive crops like soy, cotton and corn; and climate change. However, scientists say that addressing the problem proactively is critically important to local communities and all of Brazil.

Belize creates one of Central America’s largest biological corridors [03/19/2018]
- On Feb. 13, the government of Belize approved the 110-square-kilometer Belize northeastern biological corridor.
- The corridor aims to provide safe passage for wild animals like jaguars, pumas and Baird’s tapir to move freely between the Shipstern Nature Reserve and Freshwater Creek Forest Reserve in northern Belize.
- Private landowners have agreed to place their corridor-designated lands into a trust in perpetuity, with the lands to be managed as part of the protected area system for conservation purposes.

Ecuador: Sarayaku leader Patricia Gualinga defends territory despite threats [03/19/2018]
- Gualinga was cornered and threatened by an intruder at her home in Puyo, in the Ecuadorean Amazon, after the man broke one of her windows with a stone.
- Amnesty International issued an urgent appeal to Ecuador’s Ministry of Internal Affairs about the threat in a plea for Gualinga’s protection.
- The investigation is still underway, with no word on any suspects or leads.

Indonesia launches bid to restore national park that’s home to tigers, elephants [03/19/2018]
- Tesso Nilo National Park in Sumatra is home to critically endangered tigers and elephants, but has been heavily deforested by illegal oil palm plantations and human settlements.
- The government has introduced a program to gradually relocate the people living within the park’s borders, by encouraging them to shift away from oil palm farming to alternative and sustainable forms of livelihood.
- If successful, the program could serve as a model for restoring other national parks across Indonesia, which face similar problems of human encroachment.

Radar returns to remote sensing through free, near-real-time global imagery [03/19/2018]
- The European Space Agency’s launch of the Sentinel-1 satellite has made 20-meter resolution radar imagery of the whole planet freely available.
- The “all-weather, day-and-night supply of imagery of Earth’s surface” complements standard optical satellite imagery in detecting forest loss, even under heavy cloud cover.
- The Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP) demonstrates the benefits of analyzing free radar imagery to accurately quantify wet season loss of rainforest in the Peruvian Amazon.

FSC-certified timber importer failed to check legality of shipment from Cameroon [03/19/2018]
- Hardwood Dimensions, a timber importer in the U.K., violated the EU Timber Regulation by not properly verifying the legality of a shipment of Cameroonian ayous in January 2017.
- A judge ordered Hardwood Dimensions to pay 4,000 pounds ($5,576) plus court costs in the case.
- The case calls into question the effectiveness of Forest Stewardship Council certification, which Hardwood Dimensions has held since 2000.

Oil palm plantations’ dearth of biodiversity rubs off on nearby forests, study shows [03/19/2018]
- Oil palm plantations in Malaysian Borneo host a lower number of frog species than forests in same area.
- However, the plantations exhibit an edge effect that extends as far as 4 kilometers, resulting in a decline in the diversity of frog species in adjacent forests.
- The researchers suggest that for small forest patches or narrow corridors to be of long-term conservation value in oil palm landscapes, their sizes and widths need to adequately account for these edge effects.

Madagascar: Conservation official arrested for killing 11 endangered lemurs [03/16/2018]
- Two weeks ago, the bodies of 11 critically endangered lemurs were discovered in the Zahamena Ankeniheny Corridor protected area in eastern Madagascar.
- The lemurs were allegedly killed by one of the local officials charged with protecting them, to the dismay of conservation leaders.
- The alleged poacher was arrested on Feb. 27, and this week the police set out to arrest his suspected accomplices.
- The Madagascar government reacted to the poaching incident at the highest level, including pledges by the prime minister and minister of the environment to crack down on poaching.

Sharp-eyed Mongabay readers spot a jaguarundi (commentary) [03/16/2018]
- Last Monday, in an article about Brazil’s Cerrado, this Mongabay editor mistakenly identified an animal in a photo as a puma (Puma concolor).
- Within hours multiple readers corrected that mistake, properly identifying the animal as a jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi).
- Curiosity aroused, this editor went to work learning more about jaguarundis.
- Most interesting find: these small cats of North, Central and South America, were until recently on track to be reintroduced to Texas, but a new president and his plan for a U.S. / Mexico border wall has put those plans in limbo.

In other news: Environmental stories from around the web, March 16, 2018 [03/16/2018]
- There are many important conservation and environmental stories Mongabay isn’t able to cover.
- Here’s a digest of some of the significant developments from the week.
- If you think we’ve missed something, feel free to add it in the comments.

Better agricultural planning could prevent 88% of biodiversity loss, study finds [03/16/2018]
- Results of a new study reveal that nearly 90 percent of the biodiversity that scientists expect will be lost to future agricultural expansion could be saved if more effective land-use planning directed this expansion to areas with the fewest species.
- It found that 10 countries possessed the lion’s share of this potential, and could by themselves reduce the expected loss of the world’s biodiversity by 33 percent.
- However, there are caveats. The researchers write that most of these countries are among the “20 worst-ranked” in terms of environmental impacts and have governance and political issues that would impede effective land-use planning at a national level. And they say global land-use optimization aimed at protecting the natural resources of the world’s most biodiverse countries may come “at the expense of their own production opportunities and economic development.”
- The researchers write that in order for the world’s most biodiverse countries to reach their full conservation potential while providing for their human communities, global land-use policy and research need to better integrate the governance, political and economic challenges present in these countries.

150 years after being discovered, African monkey with handlebar moustache becomes its own species [03/16/2018]
An African monkey first described to science more than 150 years ago has now been elevated to full species status. The Blue Nile patas monkey is found in the Blue Nile basin of Ethiopia as well as in eastern Sudan. Its range is geographically distinct from that of other patas monkeys, as Sudan’s Sudd swamp […]

Save the Sumatran rhino ‘because we can’ (commentary) [03/16/2018]
- Mongabay sent contributing editor Jeremy Hance to Indonesia in 2017 to visit the last remaining Sumatran rhinos in the forests and protected sanctuaries where captive breeding is having some limited success.
- Hance argues today in an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald that we should save the Sumatran rhino, not only because losing biodiversity is bad for the health of humanity’s environment, but also “because we can.”
- To keep these ‘lovably weird’ rhinos from extinction, the Indonesian government must act, he argues, because even if there’s 100 left, that size population is unlikely to be viable in the long term.

Report finds projects in DRC ‘REDD+ laboratory’ fall short of development, conservation goals [03/16/2018]
- The Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) released a new report that found that 20 REDD+ projects in a province in DRC aren’t set to address forest conservation and economic development — the primary goals of the strategy.
- The Paris Agreement explicitly mentions the role of REDD+ projects, which channel funds from wealthy countries to heavily forested ones, in keeping the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius this century.
- RRI is asking REDD+ donors to pause funding of projects in DRC until coordinators develop a more participatory approach that includes communities and indigenous groups.

Conservationists rush to save Bolivian turtles threatened by egg trafficking [03/15/2018]
- The large-scale harvesting of the yellow-spotted Amazon river turtle (Podocnemis unifilis) for human consumption has contributed to the species’ decline, according to scientists. It is currently classified as vulnerable by the IUCN.
- A series of raids in mid-2017 saw authorities seize more than 50,000 river turtle eggs from poachers in the Beni department of Bolivia.
- A conservation project is trying to help river turtle populations recover, and has released 70,000 baby turtles into the Maniqui River since 1992.

Cerrado: can the empire of soy coexist with savannah conservation? [03/15/2018]
- With new deforestation due to soy production markedly reduced in recent years by Brazilian laws and by the 2006 Amazon Soy Moratorium, agribusiness, transnational commodities companies like Bunge and Cargill, and investors have shifted their attention to the Cerrado, savannah.
- Four Cerrado states, Maranhão, Tocantins, Piauí and Bahia, known collectively as Matopiba, are seeing a rapid reduction in native vegetation as soy, cotton, corn and cattle production rises. Over half of the Cerrado’s 2 million square kilometers has already been converted to croplands, with large-scale agribusiness owning most land.
- One reason for the focus on the Cerrado: Brazil’s Forest Code requires that inside Legal Amazonia 80 percent of forests on privately held lands be conserved as Legal Reserves. But in a large portion of the Cerrado, property owners are only required to protect 20 to 35 percent of native vegetation.
- With little help coming currently from government, conservationists are responding with creative approaches for protection – developing partnerships with local communities, seeking signers for the Cerrado Manifesto to curb new deforestation due to soy, and restoring degraded lands to market the Cerrado’s unique fruits and other produce.

Indonesia races to catch tiger alive as villagers threaten to ‘kill the beast’ [03/15/2018]
- A conservation agency in Indonesia’s Sumatra Island has deployed two teams to capture alive a wild tiger that has reportedly killed two people at an oil palm plantation.
- The incidents prompted villagers living near the plantation to threaten to kill the tiger themselves if it was not caught.
- Authorities are keen to take the animal alive, following the killing of a tiger earlier this month under similar circumstances.

Five years after zero-deforestation vow, little sign of progress from Indonesian pulp giant [03/15/2018]
- Environmental watchdogs have criticized Indonesian paper behemoth Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) for not making good on the zero-deforestation pledge it made five years ago.
- The NGOs have highlighted several key problems in the implementation of APP’s Forest Conservation Program, including virtually no progress in addressing longstanding land conflicts with local communities, and the glacial pace of peatland restoration.
- APP has acknowledged some of the shortcomings in the implementation of its pledge, but says many of the outstanding issues and complex and that it remains committed to its goal.

Bushmeat hunting threatens hornbills and raptors in Cameroon’s forests, study finds [03/15/2018]
- A new study has found that hornbills, vultures and eagles are being hunted for bushmeat in Cameroon in much greater numbers than previously thought.
- Researchers estimate that people living around the proposed Ebo National Park in Cameroon’s Littoral region consumed an average of 29 hornbills and eight raptors per month.
- But they remain unsure how the current levels of hunting are affecting the bird populations, given that so little is known about the latter.

For climate action to take hold, activists need more than just polar bears [03/15/2018]
- A new study finds that people who do not have “biospheric concerns” are unconvinced by climate change arguments that hinge on such avatars as polar bears, coral reefs and pikas.
- Researchers suggest policymakers, activists and the media must choose stories that hit closer to home, by focusing on the more personal impacts of climate change.
- Scientists would also like to see more research on how to convince people who are largely concerned with their own narrow interests that climate change, and nature in general, matters.

Activists eye bigger roles for local officials, businesses in Indonesia’s orangutan protection plan [03/15/2018]
- The Indonesian government is drafting another 10-year guideline for orangutan conservation that aims to staunch the decline in the population of the critically endangered great ape.
- This time around, orangutan experts want the federal government to lay out clearer guidelines for conservation roles to be played by local authorities and companies working in orangutan habitats.
- Local authorities and companies are seen as key to protecting the animals’ increasingly fragmented habitat, but tend to favor short-term development and business plans that don’t serve long-term conservation goals.

Will Madagascar’s industrial shrimp trawlers make way for local fishers? [03/14/2018]
- Shrimp is one of Madagascar’s most lucrative exports.
- But local fishers and environmental groups say shrimp trawlers are harming the country’s marine environment and leaving too few fish in the sea for the fishing communities that depend on them.
- Until now, relatively little has been done to address the issue.
- But there are small signs that may be starting to change, with fishing communities raising their voices to press for exclusive access to Madagascar’s coastal waters.

Carol Van Strum, crusader against Agent Orange, wins prestigious environmental award [03/14/2018]
- The international David Brower Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding environmental and social justice work was presented to Strum on March 1, 2018.
- Strum is the author of “A Bitter Fog,” which tells the story of the fight she helped lead against aerial herbicide spraying in the Five Rivers area of Oregon, which led to a temporary ban on aerial pesticide spraying on federal forests.
- Though the ban was rescinded, the work done by Strum and others on the issue contributed to a new national forest policy that favors selective harvests without herbicides.

Chocolate and agroforestry accelerate in El Salvador [03/14/2018]
- Cacao, which is the main ingredient in chocolate, is making a comeback in El Salvador. Centuries ago the crop was so valued that it was even used as a currency.
- Cacao has become increasingly attractive here since 2013, when industry experts warned about a shortage in the global supply of cacao caused by decreasing production in Africa. At the same time, a disease was wiping out coffee farms in El Salvador, accentuating the need for a new crop.
- The new effort to revive cacao cultivation involves growing it in agroforestry systems, where the short, shade-loving trees are cooled by other, taller, useful crops like banana, papaya and mango.
- Agroforestry combines multiple kinds of woody plants and crops in a system that cools the local environment, captures carbon from the atmosphere, boosts biodiversity and water tables, and provides multiple harvests throughout the year, which helps stabilize farmers’ incomes.

Analysis: U.S. call to drill off all coasts, economic and ecological folly? [03/14/2018]
- 90 billion barrels of recoverable oil, plus 327 trillion cubic feet of natural gas lie untapped offshore on the U.S. continental shelf. In January, the Trump administration ordered that the entire coast, in the Pacific, Atlantic, Gulf, and Arctic, be opened to drilling.
- Environmentalists and the coastal states fear oil spills that could devastate tourism. They also are concerned about the massive infrastructure (pipelines, terminals, refineries, pumping stations and more) that would be needed to support the industry.
- The executive branch has moved forward with efficiency to create a surge in U.S. oil and gas production: the Interior and Energy departments, and the Environmental Protection Agency have all worked to slash regulations and open additional lands and seas to oil and gas exploration, with the plan of achieving U.S. “energy dominance” around the globe.
- Most coastal states are resisting the federal oil and gas offshore drilling plan; Florida has already been exempted, while other states are likely to fight back with lawsuits. The irony is that a flood of new U.S. oil could glut the market and drive prices down, resulting in an economic disaster for the industry.

Mysterious new butterfly named after YouTuber Emily Graslie [03/14/2018]
- Scientists have named a new species of butterfly for Emily Graslie, the writer, producer and host of the YouTube channel The Brain Scoop, and the chief curiosity correspondent of Chicago’s Field Museum.
- The postage stamp-sized butterfly Wahydra graslieae is dark rust-colored with jagged bands of silver scales on the underside of its hind wings.
- The scientists identified the butterfly from a single museum specimen collected by American biologist Harold Greeney from the Ecuadorian Andes in 2004. The specimen remained inside a Tupperware box until 2016.

Camera traps nab crop-raiding animals near farms in the Amazon [03/14/2018]
- A team of scientists from the U.K. and Brazil used an array of 132 camera traps to snap more than 60,000 photographs around 47 farming communities in the Amazon.
- They also conducted 157 interviews with local farmers about the animals that they found most frequently in their fields.
- The researchers found that the animals that were most destructive to crops were also among the ones nabbed most frequently by their cameras.

Illegal cattle ranching deforests Mexico’s massive Lacandon Jungle [03/14/2018]
- According to authorities and residents, cattle from Central America are brought to Mexico illegally over the porous border with Guatemala and left to graze in the Lacandon Jungle, a protected area.
- The Lacandon Jungle in Chiapas state once covered 1.5 million hectares. Today, it is only a third of that size and continuing to shrink.
- A potent mix of poverty, porous borders and lack of government control of protected areas has contributed to the proliferation of small cattle ranches throughout the area, which, combined, have a major impact on the ecosystem.

Two dozen Latin American countries sign agreement to protect environmental defenders [03/14/2018]
- The Principle 10 treaty deals mainly with the defense of environmentalists, promoting transparency in public access to environmental information, and shoring up environmental democracy and justice.
- The principles were approved on March 4 in the so-called Escazú Agreement in Costa Rica, by 24 countries from around Latin America and the Caribbean. It must now be ratified by the member countries.
- Environmental activists have hailed it as a massive step forward in the protection of environmental defenders, in a region where such advocates face the greatest threats to their lives.

Hope for the rarest hornbill in the world (commentary) [03/13/2018]
- There are three Critically Endangered hornbill species in the world. The rarest, the Sulu hornbill in the Philippines, is little studied, does not occur in any protected areas, and is in imminent danger of extinction.
- In January 2018, a team of conservationists from the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore visited the only known habitat of this bird to assess its status and make recommendations regarding its survival.
- Five individuals were located, as well as a potential nesting site. Work will continue this year to train local rangers in hornbill study techniques; the patches of forest where the Sulu hornbill clings on should be granted legal protection from logging, hunting, and human encroachment.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

Small hydropower a big global issue overlooked by science and policy [03/13/2018]
- Brazil recently announced an end to its mega-dam construction policy, a strategy other nations may embrace as understanding of the massive environmental and social impacts of big dams grows.
- However, a trend long neglected by scientists and policymakers ¬ the rapid growth of small dams – has been spotlighted in a new study.
- Nearly 83,000 small dams in 150 nations (with 11 small dams for each large dam), exist globally, while that number could triple if all capacity worldwide is used. More than 10,000 new small dams are already in the planning stages. But small dam impacts have been little studied by scientists, and little regulated by governments.
- Environmentalists say that, with the rapid construction of new small dams, it is urgent for researchers to assess the impacts of different types of small dams, as well as looking at the cumulative impacts of many small dams placed on a single river, or on main stems and tributaries within watersheds.

In blood-sucking leeches, scientists find a genetic snapshot of local wildlife [03/13/2018]
- Scientists have identified mammals present at sites in Asia by examining the DNA in the blood sucked by leeches.
- They found that the nearly 750 Haemadipsa (blood-sucking) leeches stored the DNA of a diversity of other species, from mice to monkeys and birds, not to mention humans and domestic animals.
- Collecting terrestrial leeches is fast, cheap, and easy (they come to you!), and they feed on a broad spectrum of mammals, enabling them to serve as cost-effective tools for determining the presence of even scarce and elusive species.

Debates heat up as Indonesian palm oil moratorium is about to be signed [03/13/2018]
- Announced two years ago, a moratorium on new oil palm permits in Indonesia is about to be signed by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.
- But a coalition of environmental NGOs has criticized the latest draft of the moratorium, saying it contains many loopholes.
- The coalition has submitted a list of recommendations to the government, which has promised to follow up on their concerns.

Video: Rare newborn western lowland gorilla filmed in the wild [03/13/2018]
- The baby gorilla was born on Feb. 17 in the rainforests of Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo, according to WCS.
- The infant is the offspring of a female gorilla named Mekome and a male silverback named Kingo, who has been studied by the WCS Congo researchers of the Mondika Gorilla Project for about two decades.
- Mekome’s newest baby is her fifth offspring, and represents hope for the species, researchers say.

Sarawak makes 80% forest preservation commitment, but some have doubts [03/12/2018]
- The Malaysian state of Sarawak is committing to the preservation of 80 percent of its land area as primary and secondary forest, according to an announcement by Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
- According to data, concession boundaries for oil palm and other kinds of tree plantations covered 32.7 percent of Sarawak’s land area as of 2010/11, suggesting that if Sarawak is to fulfill its commitment to preserve 80 percent of its land as primary and secondary forest, then it may need to cancel some of these concessions.
- The director of environmental and human rights watchdog organization Earthsight expressed doubts that Sarawak will follow through on the commitment, and recommends the state increase transparency and crack down on illegal logging.

Gaza City residents’ water problems continue to compound [03/12/2018]
- Locked between increasingly-polluted seascape and the borders of one of the most tightly-controlled enclaves in the world, Gaza City residents say the water has become so polluted they can no longer go swimming.
- Situated at the borders of Egypt, Israel, and the Mediterranean Sea, Gaza’s 2 million residents fear that an ongoing electricity crisis has pushed their maritime ecosystem past the brink.
- 80 percent of Gaza’s Mediterranean Sea coastline is thought to be polluted and families who used to rely on it for livelihoods and leisure now fear its waters.

Cerrado: appreciation grows for Brazil’s savannah, even as it vanishes [03/12/2018]
- The Brazilian Cerrado – a vast savannah – once covered two million square kilometers (772,204 square miles), an area bigger than Great Britain, France and Germany combined, stretching to the east and south of the Amazon.
- Long undervalued by scientists and environmental activists, researchers are today realizing that the Cerrado is incredibly biodiverse. The biome supports more than 10,000 plant species, over 900 bird and 300 mammal species.
- The Cerrado’s deep-rooted plants and its soils also sequester huge amounts of carbon, making the region’s preservation key to curbing climate change, and to reducing Brazil’s deforestation and CO2 emissions to help meet its Paris carbon reduction pledge.
- Agribusiness – hampered by Brazilian laws in the Amazon – has moved into the Cerrado in a big way. More than half of the biome’s native vegetation has already disappeared, as soy and cattle production rapidly replace habitat. This series explores the dynamics of change convulsing the region.

Oil palm, rubber could trigger ‘storm’ of deforestation in the Congo Basin [03/12/2018]
- Earthsight documented approximately 500 square kilometers (193 square miles) of deforestation to clear the way for new rubber and oil palm plantations in Central Africa’s rainforest countries in the past five years.
- The team also found that companies in five Central African countries hold licenses for industrial agriculture on another 8,400 square kilometers (3,243 square miles) of land.
- The investigators warn that thousands of hectares of forest could fall to industrial agriculture in the COngo Basin, the world’s second-largest rainforest, if governance of the forest doesn’t improve.

Cambodia creates its first marine national park where pirate fishers prowl [03/12/2018]
- In February, Cambodia announced the establishment of its very first marine national park, covering 524 square kilometers (202 square miles) in the Gulf of Thailand.
- Koh Rong Marine National Park takes in the seven islands of the Koh Rong archipelago and the web of coral, seagrass and mangrove ecosystems around them.
- Wedged between Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodia’s tiny territorial waters have long been plundered by illegal fishing gangs feeding an ever-rising demand for seafood.
- But the declaration of the new park does nothing to protect the environment, at least in the short term, with no new patrols of the heavily fished waters until next year and a $2 billion island development plan allowed to continue unhindered.

Indigenous women march in Ecuador, vow to ‘defend our territory’ [03/09/2018]
- Long-experienced at organized activism, women from communities represented at the march are leaders in the struggle for indigenous territorial autonomy.
- Indigenous Ecuadorian women are victimized more than any other group in the country: 67.8 percent have reportedly suffered some kind of gender-related violence.
- The women will remain in Puyo through the week, where they are meeting with government leaders to discuss issues related to their communities.
- Chief among their concerns being addressed: the destructive forces of mining, logging, and other exploitative industries in their territory.

In other news: Environmental stories from around the web, March 9, 2018 [03/09/2018]
- There are many important conservation and environmental stories Mongabay isn’t able to cover.
- Here’s a digest of some of the significant developments from the week.
- If you think we’ve missed something, feel free to add it in the comments.

How deforestation risks for investors can become opportunities for conservation (commentary) [03/09/2018]
- Deforestation can damage a company’s reputation and business performance, presenting a real risk for investors.
- Recent research showcases examples of how companies have suffered from failing to properly manage deforestation-related issues. Impacts include multi-million dollar fines, loss of key customers, falling share prices, and even liquidation.
- Investors and companies can reduce these risks by adopting, implementing, and transparently reporting on credible zero-deforestation policies, and joining partnerships to improve production in key landscapes.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily Mongabay.

Colombian land defenders: ‘They’re killing us one by one’ [03/09/2018]
- Their fears are well-founded: Colombia is the second-most deadly place in the world for environmental leaders and land defenders.
- Rural resident leaders in the community of Carmen del Darien say that now their lives are under imminent threat because of their work to defend local land from palm oil and cattle ranching.
- In this intimate look into the lives and struggles of environmental activists and community members in Carmen del Darien, Mongabay reports from ground zero in the global grassroots battle to fend off the reach of powerful agribusiness interests.

Plastic not so fantastic for Bali’s iconic manta rays [03/09/2018]
- Two recent videos from a diving site in Bali known for its manta rays have garnered global attention for highlighting the dire state of plastic pollution in Indonesia’s waters.
- While the local government and volunteers have made efforts to clean up the garbage, a lack of proper planning and poor awareness of waste disposal means huge volumes of trash continue to be dumped into the ocean daily.
- Indonesia produces around 130,000 tons of plastic and solid waste every day, and is the second-largest plastic polluter in the world, behind China.

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