Communities in Mexico step up to protect a disappearing forest

first_imgComprising around 1.9 million hectares in Mexico and Guatemala, the Lacandon is regarded as one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. But Mexico’s Lacandon rainforest is experiencing significant deforestation activity, and the Guatemalan side of the ecosystem is even more affected.In Mexico, communities in and around the Lacandon are developing initiatives to help protect the forest through ecotourism.Movement leaders say they have seen success from their work in parts of the ecosystem, but they urge the need for institutionalization of their model and more collaboration with Guatemala to protect the Lacandon as a whole. GALACIA, Mexico – On a Saturday afternoon in January, Julia Carabias, one of Mexico’s most respected biologists, was making herself useful – putting a fresh coat of blue paint on the walls of a still-unnamed new restaurant she hopes will open on time and on budget. She and the community of Adolfo López Mateos, in Mexico’s southern state of Chiapas, are counting on it drawing patrons from miles beyond. The chefs are plucked from the local community, and the location is a winner, tucked into the side of a mountain, with sweeping views of the Lacandon jungle below and, if you time it right, a striking sunset of reds and oranges.This might seem an odd pursuit for Carabias, a soft-spoken yet formidable 62-year-old biologist and former environment minister. However, to those around her, it is not. A student who works with her said that she is to Mexico’s rainforest what Jane Goodall is to Africa’s chimpanzees. Her quest to open this restaurant and make it profitable is inextricably linked to her overarching goal: to save and reverse the rapid loss of flora and fauna in one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world.“This restaurant represents 2,000 hectares that are being protected,” says Carabias. “All of the ejido [communal village] decided to preserve the forest.”The Mexican portion of the Lacandon ecosystem comprises around 1.3 million hectares, mostly made up of rainforest. But human activity such as slash-and-burn farming and logging has greatly changed large portions of the landscape, with data from the University of Maryland indicating the Lacandon lost more than 11 percent of its tree cover between 2001 and 2014. The Guatemalan portion of the ecosystem (not included above) lost significantly more tree cover over this time, including its last remaining intact forest landscape (IFL) – an area of native vegetation cover large and undisturbed enough to retain its original biodiversity levels. Mexico’s Lacandon IFL remains, located mostly within the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve.In 1992, 154 countries signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In the quarter-century since, one certainty appears to have emerged, according to conservationists like Carabias: The international effort to curb climate change requires an army of biologists, conservationists, and local community leaders who not only are fiercely committed to preventing deforestation but also must be prepared to be social workers, economists, even painters and restaurateurs if the massive societal shifts needed to effect sustainable development are to stand a chance.Establishing viable business alternatives that preserve forests is critical to sustainable development. According to Carabias, convincing and then helping local communities to make fundamental changes in their lives requires an immense on-the ground effort over the course of years. Neither goal has been realized in any significant way.“I am completely convinced that what we need now is action,” Carabias told Mongabay. “We need to come to the basics, the grassroots, to try to implement all that we have thought about. And it’s not being implemented in the local regions.”Farmers-turned-conservationistsFor the communities in this small portion of the 1.9 million-hectare Lacandon — where Carabias’ organization, Natura Mexicana, works— going to the grassroots has meant navigating a complex and often fractious maze of land-rights issues among the three primary indigenous groups in the area. These groups, embroiled in conflict, have also found themselves at odds with families from all over Mexico who moved to the area in the 1960s and ’70s when the government was offering land in the area to anyone who wanted to relocate. The initiative was designed to allay poverty.Early morning mist covers the Lacandon Jungle on January 28, 2017, in the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, Mexico. Photo: Jonathan Levinson for MongabayThe Lacandon communities are primarily ejidos, communal land on which residents have permanent rights to their individual parcels of land but don’t own it outright. The people who live on the ejidos support themselves almost exclusively through sustainment agriculture.Shifting from an agrarian economy to service based eco-tourism has proven challenging.“They were working for themselves. If they want to get up that day they do. If they want to stop at 12 they do. They are the owners of their time,” says Carabias of typical ejido life.Carabias added that running a hospitality business where tourists go hungry if you’re not up and cooking by 6 a.m. means adjusting to a far more disciplined, structured life.“It’s a completely different way of thinking and acting and living,” she said. “That’s a difficult thing.”Scarlet macaws sit in a tree in the center of Natura Mexicana’s Chajul tation on January 27, 2017, in the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, Mexico. Photo: Jonathan Levinson for MongabayThe model being employed by Natura Mexicana in the Lacandon region is based on the REDD+ system that has been embraced by the international community. REDD, which stands for Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, is a controversial mechanism meant to transfer payments from developed countries to less-developed tropical countries with intact forests, the idea being that preserving those forests helps offset and prevent carbon emissions.The “+” in REDD+ indicates the inclusion of payments for social services and sustainable development programs. It was added after REDD implementers discovered that offering payments to preserve forests without providing an alternative to local communities left many residents without livelihoods.Proponents of REDD+ policies say the programs incentivize conservation in developing countries while promoting development and rapidly reducing carbon emissions.But REDD programs have been criticized for a number of reasons.An example is an international carbon-offset program that former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger hoped to negotiate in 2010 between California, the Brazilian state of Acre and Chiapas, where the Lacandon is located.The program, now shelved, was cynically dubbed, “pollute locally, restore globally” by critics, aimed to offset California’s carbon emissions by paying Chiapas and Acre to preserve their forests. Fundamentally, these programs require both parties to accurately measure the amount of carbon they are emitting and preserving – a tall order, according to conservation groups.Gary Hughes, a manager of Friends of the Earth, an environmental advocacy group, says it is virtually impossible to know how much carbon is being held in the forests.“It’s totally BS accounting because even the best folks working on forest carbon will say that the margin of error is something like plus or minus 30 percent.”Which is why Carabias is quick to point out that what they are doing in Lacandon is based on, but distinct from, REDD. The money to fund the program comes from the government and donors, not a carbon-offset agreement with another country or state. And they measure their success both in terms of hectares of conserved forest and also the stability of the eco-tourism businesses they help start.A community initiativeOn the same Saturday afternoon that Carabias was out painting a new restaurant, other biologists who work for her spent the day teaching computer skills at an elementary school in Galacia, a community in the area. It may not be the biology and conservation they studied in school, but for conservationists like Carabias, technology forms the frontline in curbing deforestation and loss of biodiversity.To Carabias, her local approach reflects her larger worldview.“What is absolutely necessary is to change the way development is occurring in the world,” she says. “That also implies organization of society, governance, democracy.”That, says Carabias, is one reason conservation efforts conceived by international bodies require such an enormous effort at the very lowest levels, where societal organization and governance take place.Julia Carabias, founder of Natura Mexicana, has a late night meeting with other biologists at the organization’s Chapel Station on January 27, 2017, in the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, Mexico. Photo: Jonathan Levinson for MongabayPreserving jungle on one ejido requires the cooperation of the entire community. Scaling that up requires cooperation of multiple communities. In Chiapas that means managing long-standing land feuds among many indigenous groups and recent transplants from elsewhere in Mexico.A strange aspect of Mexican law is that the original landowners still own the land the government sets aside as protected; they just aren’t allowed to use it.In 1978 when the government set aside 331,200 hectares of the Lacandon jungle for the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, indigenous groups effectively lost control of their land. The Chol and Tzeltal, two local indigenous groups, subsequently aligned themselves with the Zapatistas, a leftist guerrilla group based in Chiapas fighting for indigenous land rights, and have resisted conservation efforts.But the communities that have embraced conservation report being largely pleased with their efforts.In El Piru, an ejido of about 150 people and 31 households, a nascent eco-tourism business is coming into its own. The town is two kilometers down an easy-to-miss dirt road branching off Route 307, a two-lane road tracing the Mexico-Guatemala border.The first house you come to in El Piru belongs to Ascención Hernández Carbajal, better known as Choncho. He lives there with his wife and four children. His mom lives next door.Every morning at sunrise, Choncho gets on his four-wheeler and rides 10 minutes up a narrow dirt road encroached upon by jungle constantly trying to reclaim the land. He crosses a stream and arrives at his fields, where he grows beans and corn.The fields butt up against virgin tropical rainforest, its silhouette visible through the early-morning haze. In the tree line the growls of howler monkeys rise above the ceaseless cacophony of insect chirps.It is an immersive demonstration of the Lacandon’s vaunted biodiversity.Ascención Hernández Carbajal works in his fields with his son Ernesto on January 28, 2017, in El Piru, Mexico. Choncho, as he’s known, has contributed 30 hectares of pristine rainforest to the community’s conservation and eco-tourism projects. Photo: Jonathan Levinson for MongabayLater in the day, Choncho is standing on a platform, high above the jungle floor, guiding visitors through a jungle canopy tour that the community runs. He says that on occasion, curious spider monkeys perch on the zip lines observing the visitors.In addition to his farmland, Choncho has set aside 30 hectares of forest for conservation and ecotourism; in total, El Piru has committed 3,000 hectares of contiguous rainforest.“We are fighting to conserve the jungle and at the same time, with this project, earn enough to support our families,” says Choncho, wearing a harness and helmet as he watches a young woman slide down a zip line through the jungle canopy.Choncho wasn’t always a conservationist. He moved in 1994 to the Lacandon from Guerrero, a state on Mexico’s west coast, looking for a plot of land for himself and his family. When he arrived it was normal practice to clear-cut the forest and grow crops.But a few years ago that changed, when Natura Mexicana offered its support to develop eco-tourism businesses instead. Now the community runs canopy tours and kayaking trips on the Lacantun River.A skiff carrying biologists and students makes its way down the Lacantun river towards Natrua Mexicana’s Chajul station in the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve on January 27, 2017, in Boca de Chajul, Mexico. The river marks the southern border of the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, 330,000 hectares of preserved tropical rainforest. Photo: Jonathan Levinson for MongabayJuan Carlos, Choncho’s neighbor and colleague in the eco-tourism business, says the support they’ve received has been crucial.“A few years ago this form of conservation was unknown to us. And Natura came to give talks, to raise awareness, and teach the importance of conservation to the community.”Scaling up from one community to many is challenging. And efforts to work across borders are still a long way off.Different approaches over the borderIf instead of turning north from Route 307 towards El Piru you turned south and cross about two kilometers of farmland, you’ll arrive at the border with Guatemala and enter the Maya Biosphere Reserve, Guatemala’s attempt to conserve its portion of the jungle.There, Guatemalan conservationists have taken a different approach.The reserve is divided into three sections: a core zone where settlements, logging, and agriculture are forbidden; a multiple-use zone where settlements, agriculture, and some logging are permitted with permission; and a buffer zone where forest conversion for cattle ranching and agriculture is permitted.The mixed results are symptomatic of the lack of meaningful buy-in from the communities and government, say conservationists.The Maya Biosphere Reserve continues to see significant illegal activity, including armed groups vying for control of the land and a steady flow of families moving into the forest in search of their own plot of land. Adding to the pressure to deforest, lucrative and destructive oil palm plantations are also a growing presence in the reserve’s buffer zone.Carabias says there are a few examples of specific initiatives between Mexican and Guatemalan NGOs but meaningful cross-border cooperation between the two jurisdictions is mostly non-existent.“As far as governmental co-operation, we have nothing at all,” says Carabias of attempts to work with Guatemala. “The authorities of Guatemala have been very reluctant to work with this area. There is no collaboration.”And while Natura Mexicana has had its victories, Carabias tempers her optimism.“The pressure is still on. We are stabilizing it on the ejidos where we are working but we are impacting only 5 percent of the whole region.”There is an urgent need, she says, to institutionalize their model.“If not then we need a lot of Natura Mexicanas that don’t exist.”Local kids swim in the Lacantun river on January 28, 2017 in Boca de Chajul, Mexico. The river marks the southern edge of the 360,000-hectare Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, seen here just across the river. Photo: Jonathan Levinson for Mongabay Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by Morgan Erickson-Davis Agriculture, Community Development, Community-based Conservation, Deforestation, Ecotourism, Environment, Forest Loss, Forests, Habitat Loss, Logging, Montane Forests, Primary Forests, Protected Areas, Rainforests, Tropical Forests Citations:CartoCrítica. “Mexico protected areas.” Accessed through Global Forest Watch on 03/15/2017. www.globalforestwatch.org.Greenpeace, University of Maryland, World Resources Institute and Transparent World. “Intact Forest Landscapes. 2000/2013” Accessed through Global Forest Watch on 03/15/2017. www.globalforestwatch.orgHansen, M. C., P. V. Potapov, R. Moore, M. Hancher, S. A. Turubanova, A. Tyukavina, D. Thau, S. V. Stehman, S. J. Goetz, T. R. Loveland, A. Kommareddy, A. Egorov, L. Chini, C. O. Justice, and J. R. G. Townshend. 2013. “High-Resolution Global Maps of 21st-Century Forest Cover Change.” Science 342 (15 November): 850–53. Data available on-line from:http://earthenginepartners.appspot.com/science-2013-global-forest. Accessed through Global Forest Watch on 03/15/2017. www.globalforestwatch.orglast_img read more

Harsh sentence for blogger may haunt Vietnam’s environmental movement

first_imgArticle published by Genevieve Belmaker HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam – On April 6, 2016 dozens of tons of dead fish began washing ashore along Vietnam’s central coast. The phenomenon continued through the month, turning into what is considered the largest environmental disaster in the country’s history.Fishing communities in Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue provinces were decimated and left without a way to make income. Public blame for the disaster quickly fell on Formosa Ha Tinh Steel, a massive steel plant operated by the Taiwanese company Formosa Plastics, which reportedly discharged huge amounts of chemicals into the sea in the days before the dead fish appeared.However, the Vietnamese government didn’t announce Formosa’s culpability until June 30, nearly two months after the disaster had unfolded. This delay angered the public, leading to social media commentary and even demonstrations in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s largest cities. These protests were swiftly broken up by the government, and sites like Facebook and Instagram were blocked at times.These events brought the environment to the fore of public discussion in Vietnam and shone a spotlight on Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, a blogger known as Me Nam, or Mother Mushroom. The 37-year-old had been active online for years as a co-founder of the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers, a rare independent organization among the country’s state-owned news agencies.Mother Mushroom had written previously about environmental crimes and state repression, but the Formosa disaster drew major government attention to her writing. On October 10, 2016, she was arrested while visiting a jailed dissident. She was accused of defaming the government.Her Facebook page, which was last updated on May 13, 2016, features posts decrying pollution, a lack of government transparency and the need for a clean environment. It also shares pictures of alleged police brutality, another common theme in Quynh’s writing.On June 29 of this year, Quynh was sentenced to 10 years in prison for “conducting propaganda against the state.” The decision was met with shock, both within Vietnam and abroad. Members of local Facebook groups that rarely discuss Vietnamese politics shared the news of Mother Mushroom’s punishment widely. Many saw it as unfair treatment towards a woman who was simply trying to highlight environmental problems in Vietnam.State-run media outlets reported Quynh’s sentencing, but made little mention of the issues she wrote about. Instead, they focused on official accusations such as publishing distorted information and abusing democratic rights, a commonly used but highly ironic charge in a single-party state.The government, meanwhile, has been unrepentant. In March, Quynh received the International Women of Courage Award from First Lady Melania Trump. Vietnam reacted by saying this was “not appropriate and of no benefit to the development of the relations between the two countries.”Condemnation from organizations like Human Rights Watch over Quynh’s arrest has had no impact, and there is fear that Mother Mushroom’s harsh sentence may deter other activists from speaking up on the environment, which is seen as one of the few sensitive subjects which citizens can openly discuss in Vietnam.It appears likely that Quynh will serve her full term, though she remained defiant in the courtroom, which was guarded heavily during the completely closed one-day trial. Even Quynh’s mother wasn’t allowed to attend.“Each person only has a life, but if I had the chance to choose again I would still choose my way,” the blogger said before her sentence was announced.Michael Tatarski is a freelance journalist based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. You can find him on Twitter at @miketatarski.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Activism, Endangered Environmentalists, Environment, Environmental Activism, Environmental Politics center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Oil palm firms advance into Leuser rainforest, defying Aceh governor’s orders

first_imgBanner image: Mahouts atop Sumatran elephants in Aceh. Photo by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay. Article published by Hans Nicholas Jong Conservation, Corporate Environmental Transgressors, Deforestation, Drivers Of Deforestation, Elephants, Environment, Environmental Policy, Forestry, Forests, Governance, Law Enforcement, Leuser, Orangutans, Palm Oil, Palm Oil And Biodiversity, Plantations, Rainforests, Threats To Rainforests, Tropical Forests The government of Indonesia’s Aceh province has banned land clearance for oil palm development inside the Leuser Ecosystem.However, deforestation is still ongoing as some companies ignore the moratorium.During the first seven months of 2017, Leuser lost 3,941 hectares of forest cover, an area almost three times as large as Los Angeles International Airport, watchdogs say. Oil palm plantation companies are still eating away at the Leuser Ecosystem, one of Indonesia’s last best rainforests, despite a provincial ban on forest clearance to make way for the lucrative estates.In some cases, fruit from these plantations has entered the refineries of Wilmar International, Golden Agri-Resources, Musim Mas other palm oil giants that have promised to purge their supply chains of deforestation and other ills.Leuser straddles the border of Aceh and North Sumatra provinces, in the archipelago country’s westernmost reaches. It is home to an array of rare animals, including the unique Sumatran varieties of rhino, elephant, tiger and orangutan, In June 2016, the Acehnese government declared a moratorium on forest clearance for oil palm development, in a bid to prevent the loss of critical lowland forests in the Leuser Ecosystem.The moratorium was stipulated in a circular letter that ordered all oil palm firms to stop clearing forests, even within areas they have already been licensed to develop, while the government reviews their permits.That policy came on the heels of an announcement by President Joko Widodo that there should be no new oil palm plantation permits, with the country covered in the licenses already. But more than a year since Aceh issued its moratorium, plantations have continued to expand into Leuser.During the first seven months of 2017, Leuser lost 3,941 hectares of forest cover, an area almost three times as large as Los Angeles International Airport, according to local watchdog Forest, Nature and Environment of Aceh (HAkA).From May to June, Leuser lost 1,093 hectares of forest. In July it was 192 hectares, according to HAkA’s Agung Dwinurcahya.If every company operating inside Leuser adhered to the moratorium, including by guarding its concession against encroachers, he said, then there should be no more forest clearing inside the area.“But the moratorium is defied,” Dwinurcahya said. “Forest destruction clearly still happens every day, whether inside the Leuser Ecosystem or outside. It is done either by companies or by local people living around the forests.”Likewise, satellite monitoring and field investigations done by the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), a U.S.-based advocacy group, also showed that deforestation was ongoing in the critical ecosystem.“We know from on-the-ground reports and satellite imagery that the Leuser Ecosystem continues to be destroyed, despite national and regional protections in place,” RAN forests communication manager Emma Rae Lierley wrote in an email.A Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae), one of Leuser’s iconic species. Photo by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.Who are the culprits?Late last year, RAN produced a report about land clearing by oil palm companies within the Leuser Ecosystem. More recently, the NGO has set up a website, Leuser Watch, to provide continual updates on the companies identified in the 2016 report.Some companies operating inside Leuser are respecting the moratorium, RAN found. But others continue to destroy crucial lowland rainforests and peatlands inside the areas ceded to them by district chiefs, who are in charge of licensing for oil palm plantations.In some cases, “It’s not definitive yet that the deforestation was done by the companies,” HAkA’s Dwinurcahya cautioned. “It could be the case of local people entering their concessions and open up new lands.”But in others, RAN presents evidence, such as photos of company-owned bulldozers, indicating the firm is indeed responsible. The companies in question are PT Tualang Raya, PT Tegas Nusantara, PT Agra Bumi Niaga, PT Surya Panen Subur II, PT Aloer Timur, PT Putra Kurnia, PT Indo Alam, PT PNI Blang Tualang, PT Kallista Alam, PT Dua Perkasa Lestari, PT Indo Sawit Perkasa and PT Agro Sinergi Nusantara (ASN), previously known as PT Perkebunan Nusantara I.The most egregious offender is PT Agra Bumi Niaga. The latest data shows that since June 2016, the company has cleared 366 hectares of rainforest, including Sumatran elephant (Elephas maximus sumatrensis) habitat.Next on the list is PT Tualang Raya, with 187 hectares deforested in its concession during that the same period, and PT Surya Panen Subur II, with 173 hectares. None of the three could be reached for comment.In many cases, the growers are selling to the biggest names in palm oil, a product found in everything from chocolate to laundry detergent.Aerial view of the recent land clearing inside PT Agra Bumi Niaga’s concession in Peunaron Village. East Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Paul Hilton for RAN.PT Agra Bumi NiagaRAN tracked the fruit from PT Agra Bumi Niaga’s plantation to a mill owned by PT Ensem Sawita, a supplier to six of the world’s largest palm oil traders: Wilmar International, Musim Mas, Golden Agri-Resources, Cargill, IOI and Archer Daniels Midland.Some companies have responded to the report, such as Wilmar, Musim Mas and IOI.According to Wilmar, PT Ensem Sawita was not aware that its fruit supplier PT Putri Hijau was acquired by Agra Bumi. Therefore, Agra Bumi’s fruit might have entered Ensem Sawita’s supply chain via Putri Hijau.However, Ensem Sawita told Wilmar it had not sourced from Agra Bumi since July, when it learned about the problem via RAN’s report.“PT Ensem Sawita decided not to resume purchase from PT Agra Bumi Niaga until this [fruit] supplier has been assessed and implemented the necessary corrective actions as per recommended by an independent assessor,” Wilmar said in an August statement.Musim Mas said it met with Ensem Sawita in August to discuss the matter, and that during the meeting Ensem confirmed it had stopped buying from Agra Bumi. Ensem also told Musim Mas it had moved to achieve Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil certification, which would mean it had fulfilled basic legal requirements. (Many oil palm companies operate illegally, with district chiefs failing to regulate them.)An aerial image of PT Ensem Sawita’s palm oil mill. Photo by Paul Hilton for RAN.PT Surya Panen SuburPT Surya Panen Subur is operating in the Tripa peatland region, home to one of the largest concentrations of Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii), a critically endangered species. Its fruit makes its way into the supply chain of refiner Golden Agri.Golden Agri says the land clearing in Surya Panen’s concession is the work of local people who have encroached on it, not the company.“This issue is very complex and not an easy fix,” Daniel Prakarsa, head of downstream sustainability implementation at Golden Agri, said in an interview. According to a 2014 report by Golden Agri, the concession is being occupied by residents of Kuala Seumayam village and a company called CV Sawit Mandiri. Kuala Seumayam is home to some 500 people. Residents say they were kicked off their land when the district chief licensed oil palm planters PT Surya Panen and PT Kallista Alam to operate in the 2000s. That’s what they told Golden Agri, too. “The community informed [us] that they have customary rights to the land at these locations and that these areas are important for their livelihoods,” Golden Agri’s report read. “They are not receptive to external party opinion/criticism about their land-clearing activities.”Muhammad M. Nur, Aceh director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment, a pressure group, said the villagers could not be blamed for the land clearing. “It’s the fault of the government,” Nur said in an interview. “Why do they have to give business permits [to companies] for such a vast area of land for such a long period of time?”As for Surya Panen, “The company hasn’t taken firm action to stop illegal land clearing in its concession,” Walhi said in a statement.Golden Agri’s Prakarsa said the refiner would “mentor” its supplier to bring about a solution.“We acknowledge PT Surya Panen Subur II’s commitment and effort to continue seeking the best way to stop encroachment and deforestation by external parties,” he said. “As part of this effort, we are helping mentor PT Surya Panen Subur II to implement conflict resolution mechanism to resolve tenurial issue.”center_img A Sumatran orangutan. Photo by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.While deforestation in Leuser is still ongoing, it has slowed in past years.  “On average, the deforestation rate in Leuser is around 12,000 hectares per year,” Dwinurcahya said. “But until July this year, it had just reached 3,941 hectares, not even half of the annual rate.”There were 4,609 hectares deforested in the first six months of 2016 and 10,433 hectares within the same period in 2015.But Dwinurcahya said it was too early to credit the slowdown to the moratorium, because if the moratorium was truly enacted there would be zero forest loss. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Rainforests: the year in review 2017

first_img2017 was a rough year for tropical rainforests, but there were some bright spots.This is Mongabay’s annual year-in-review on what happened in the world of tropical rainforests.Here we summarize some of the more notable developments and trends for tropical forests in 2017. Between America’s abandonment of leadership on conservation and environmental policy, Brazil’s backtracking on forest conservation, massive forest fires worldwide, and the revelation of a sharp increase in global forest loss in 2016, 2017 was a rough year for tropical rainforests. Still, there were bright spots, including the establishment of new protected areas, better forest monitoring and research, and continued progress in recognizing the critical role local and indigenous communities play in forest conservation.The following is a short review of some of the more notable developments and trends for tropical forests in 2017. This review is not exhaustive, so feel free to add developments we missed via the comment function at the bottom.Reviews from past years: 2018 [Update 12/30/18] | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2009Forest lossAs reported in Mongabay’s last year-end review, there wasn’t a major update on global forest loss in 2016. In 2017 however, we got updates for both 2015 and 2016, and the numbers weren’t pretty: last year global forest loss hit the highest level on record (the dataset goes back to 2000).While much of that “loss” — which includes all tree cover loss, ranging from deforestation to harvesting of plantations to instances where blocks of forests have lost all their leaves from, for example, fire and beetle infestation — occurred outside the tropics, Brazil, Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malaysia, Bolivia and Laos made the top 10 list for 2016 in terms of loss of dense tree cover.Analysis suggests that tree cover loss in the tropics may have been higher than normal in 2016 due to fire. Brazil and Indonesia were both particularly hard hit by drought and fire during the 2015 El Niño, which would have shown up in satellite data in 2016.The continuation of severe fires in the tropics in 2017 — Brazil, Indonesia and Guatemala, for example — suggests the past 12 months will go down as another year of high forest cover loss. CommoditiesCommodity production is the biggest direct driver of tropical deforestation, so commodity prices are an important factor in deforestation trends. In 2017, prices of commodities most commonly linked to deforestation in the tropics were generally flat in dollar terms, with the exception of rubber, which rose by about a quarter, and cocoa, which fell nearly 30 percent. Energy and metals prices increased modestly over 2016.Adoption of commodity sourcing safeguards is often associated with falling commodity prices, which give buyers leverage for extracting concessions from suppliers. Continuing in that trend, in November the governments of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire said they would take action to address deforestation for cocoa production.Companies continued to make and strengthen No Deforestation, No Peat conversion, No Exploitation (NDPE) commitments, but some NGOs expressed concern about progress. For example, the Global Canopy Programme (GCP) said in its annual “Forest 500” report that less than a quarter of the companies assessed had extended zero deforestation policies to cover all of the commodities in their supply chains. GCP called out banks as laggards on zero deforestation, echoing campaigns that targeted financial institutions like HSBC and pension funds, which underwrite deforestation by lending to, and investing in, plantation and logging companies. A report from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) noted that some publicly traded companies aren’t disclosing the full extent of their “landbanks,” making it harder to determine whether they are abiding by their sustainability commitments. Some prominent companies that have signed NDPE agreements said they need more help from governments to make zero deforestation a reality.Some major companies made headlines for the wrong reasons in 2017. Goodhope Asia Holdings was sanctioned by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) for environmental and human rights abuses in Indonesia’s Papua region. It subsequently established an NDPE policy. Samsung’s relationship with Korindo, a South Korean conglomerate that has cleared thousands of hectares of Papuan rainforest, made it a target of Mighty Earth, an upstart campaign group that in 2017 also went after Burger King for deforestation in dry forests in Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina, as well as chocolate buyers for forest clearing in West Africa. JBS, the world’s biggest meat company, was sanctioned by Ibama, Brazil’s environmental protection agency, for buying cattle from illegally deforested areas in the Amazon. Pulp and paper giants APRIL and Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) got caught up in scandals that felt like throwbacks to their pre-NDPE days: APRIL for deforestation in Sumatran peatlands as well as transactions documented in the Paradise Papers, and APP for deforestation by allegedly “independent” suppliers that an Associated Press investigation said are actually owned by APP’s parent Sinarmas.An analysis by Brazilian NGO Imazon confirmed the role the cattle business plays in deforestation in the world’s largest rainforest. The study found that 88 percent of deforestation that occurred in the Brazilian Amazon between 2010 and 2015 was within the “zone of influence” of the 128 slaughterhouses that process 93 percent of cattle raised in the region. The findings suggest that slaughterhouses may offer the best leverage point in working to address deforestation in the cattle sector in Brazil.Mining may also be a bigger driver of deforestation than traditionally thought. A Nature Communications study estimated that mining caused five to 10 times as much deforestation as previously estimated in the Brazilian Amazon between 2005 and 2015. The researchers incorporated indirect deforestation from mining, including infrastructure built to support mineral extraction and transport, into their estimates, concluding that 11,670 square kilometers (4,500 square miles), an area twice the size of the state of Delaware, of forest loss was attributable to mining during that period.And finally, a paper in Environmental Research Letters highlighted a non-conventional driver of deforestation: money-laundering by narco-traffickers in Central America. The paper said profits from the drug trade are being used to finance agricultural expansion in the region.Lowland rainforest in Sulawesi’s Tangkoko Reserve, Indonesia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler for Mongabay.CertificationThe Forest Stewardship Council, a timber and wood products certification body, held its General Assembly, which takes place every three years. Notably, the assembly passed a motion to allow certification of plantations cleared post-1994. The move — which was opposed by some environmental members of the FSC — would expand certification to countries like Indonesia, where large-scale forest clearance has occurred for plantation development since that date. The body voted down a motion to increase transparency around certified concessions.Two leaders of eco-certification decided to become one. In June, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ announced they would merge to create a single sustainability standard and certification program under the Rainforest Alliance brand.The Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) announced it would stop working with certification in agriculture. In reaching the decision, Andre de Freitas, executive director of SAN, said “We have seen many positive impacts from certification for workers, producers and the environment. But we have also increasingly come to recognize the limitations of certification as a tool to drive change in agricultural production systems at scale.”Various parties reached agreement on a methodology for determining what areas should be off-limits for conversion within oil palm concessions. Known as the High Carbon Stock (HCS) Approach Toolkit, the methodology is the product of years of debate between palm oil producers, buyers, traders, and civil society groups.BrazilBrazil houses the largest extent of rainforest in the world, most of which lies within the Amazon. Since the early 2000s, Brazil has led the world in setting aside protected areas and indigenous reserves, creating financial incentives for forest conservation, building forest monitoring systems and reducing rainforest loss. As such, the country has been seen by forest giants like Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as donor nations like Norway seeking to reduce deforestation and associated emissions, as a model to potentially emulate.But Brazil’s success story started to sputter over the past few years as the costs of the country’s financial and political crisis has started to impact its conservation initiatives. Part of Brazil’s apparent success has been a façade — agricultural expansion in the woody grassland called the cerrado has allowed Brazil to ramp up commodity production, while slowing deforestation in the rainforest biome — but some of it has indeed been real, the product of a combination of policy, law enforcement, monitoring, and activism and pressure from civil society and indigenous peoples.In 2017, Brazil seemed to backtrack on recent progress, with President Temer leading a rollback of environmental protections, including reducing conservation areas, targeting indigenous land rights, cutting budgets for monitoring and enforcement, and granting amnesty for environmental crimes. Many of Temer’s initiatives were blocked by courts, public prosecutors, or public outcry. Things looked so bad at one point that Norway, which has put hundreds of millions of dollars into Brazil’s coffers for forest conservation, took the unusual step of condemning Temer’s plan to remove a vast swath of land from conservation areas. The government was also ineffective in stemming violence against environmental, indigenous and land rights reform advocates. More than 60 were killed through the first 10 months of 2017.While the broad trend in Brazil was bad news for its forests, there were moments of elation for environmentalists, including the creation of the 12,000-square-kilometer (4,630-square-mile) Turubaxi-Téa Indigenous Territory in Amazonas state; some of Temer’s most environmentally damaging proposals failed to advance; infrastructure expansion in Brazil and neighboring countries got bogged down by corruption scandals and basic economics; indigenous communities won a series of legal victories and settlements against the state, and the headline deforestation rate in the Brazilian Amazon fell 16 percent versus last year. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Indonesian rainforest. Photo for Mongabay by Rhett A. Butler.Indonesia2017 was an up and down year for Indonesia’s rainforests. Data released during the year showed that tree cover loss in Indonesia’s primary forests shot up in 2016 as a result of the 2015 fire crisis. And satellite data seems to suggest significant ongoing forest clearing into 2017, especially in Kalimantan and Papua.In an effort to avoid a repeat of past fire and haze crises, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo issued several policies governing the management of peatlands, including a land-swap mechanism that allows companies to trade carbon-dense areas in their concessions for lands elsewhere as a means to reduce fire risk. Some of the regulations were struck down by the Supreme Court. His administration also announced a plan to reduce fires by half by 2019. Indonesia’s parliament, however, pushed legislation, including a major palm oil bill that could become law in 2018, that threatened to undermine those goals by loosening restrictions on plantation expansion. An analysis by the World Resources Institute (WRI) concluded that Indonesia is likely to miss its near-term climate targets.Central government agencies also sent mixed signals. For the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, 2017 was all about attempting to assert control. It stepped up prosecution of firms linked to illegal fires and peatlands clearance — including plantation giants Asia Pulp & Paper and APRIL — but also took measures against groups seeking greater transparency and accountability in the forestry sector. Greenpeace and Forest Watch Indonesia engaged in legal battles trying to get the Indonesian government to publicly release oil palm concession data.Plantation lobby groups — the Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI) and the Indonesian Association of Forestry Concessionaires (APHI) — asked the Constitutional Court to revise the national forestry law and environment law so they aren’t strictly liable for fires that occur in their concessions. Plantation companies have argued that fires within their concessions are often the result of burning by communities on adjacent lands. These fires can quickly spread in peatlands because drained peat is highly flammable.The Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis) in Sumatra. Photo by Maxime Aliaga.Scientists’ decision to classify a second species of Sumatran orangutan reignited global interest in saving Sumatra’s fast-dwindling forests. The Tapanuli orangutan is classified as critically endangered and is immediately threatened by a planned dam. Conservationists warned that proposed road projects pose additional threats to endemic species in Sumatra. One of those species, the Sumatran rhino, may be on the brink of extinction in the wild, with fewer than 100 — and possibly fewer than 30 — surviving outside captivity.Jokowi’s administration made slow progress in recognizing customary land rights per a landmark court decision in 2013. By November, the government had rezoned 164 square kilometers (63 square miles) as customary forests. The Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) says that some 19,000 square kilometers (7,340 square miles) are immediately ready to be rezoned as customary forests.See Indonesia in 2017: A fighting chance for peat protection, but an infrastructure beatdown for indigenous communities for an in-depth look at other major environmental developments in Indonesia during 2017.Rainforest in Madagascar, which has experience an increase in its deforestation rate in recent years. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.Other geographiesAustralia often ranks among the countries with the highest forest loss, but the revelation that deforestation has surged in Queensland was particularly concerning to environmentalists, given the uniqueness of the ecosystem and its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef. A government assessment found that 3,950 square kilometers (1,525 square miles) of tree cover was cleared in Queensland between 2015 and 2016, 40 percent of which occurred in the Great Barrier Reef catchment.A paper in Nature Ecology and Evolution argued that forest loss in tropical Africa has been greatly overestimated due to inaccurate assumptions about original land cover. According to the research, some of the areas classified as once having forest were actually savanna. The study estimated forest loss in the region at just over 20 percent since 1900. That is roughly on par with the percentage loss in the Brazilian Amazon.A vast swamp in the heart of the Congo was determined to be the world’s largest tropical peatland. Estimated to cover 145,500 square kilometers (56,200 square miles), the peatland may hold more than 30 billion tons of carbon. Scientists made a case to governments that the area should be off-limits to logging and conversion for industrial agriculture.Myanmar’s national logging ban expired in March, although reports indicate that illegal logging persisted during the year-long moratorium.Please see Mongabay’s location feeds for news from more countries.Redwood forest in Santa Cruz County, California. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.Lack of U.S. ambitionThe Trump Administration‘s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, weaken environmental and conservation regulations at home, and signal an intent to cut protections for wildlife abroad raised fears that important conservation programs and grants that benefit rainforests will be reduced or eliminated when they come up for renewal in 2018. Given that many of these are federal programs run under the State Department or Fish and Wildlife Service, it is unclear whether subnational jurisdictions like states and cities will step in to fill the gap.Large-bodied animals like this knobbed hornbill play an important role in forest ecosystems. Studies show that the loss of seed dispersers can have long-term effects on the carbon storage of forests. Photo by Rhett A. ButlerResearchPlenty of important research on tropical forests was published in 2017. Here are a few highlights.A paper published in Science Advances assessed trends in intact forest landscapes (IFL), revealing that forest ecosystems greater than 500 square kilometers (190 square miles) in area and showing no signs of human impact declined more than 7 percent between 2000 and 2013. The rate of loss tripled in the tropics since the beginning of the study period. The research identified timber harvesting and agricultural expansion as the primary drivers of IFL loss. It seemed to suggest that timber certification seems to be contributing to IFL loss in the Congo Basin by opening up previously inaccessible areas to logging.A number of studies looked at the climate impacts of forest loss. A paper published in Environmental Research Letters assessed climate impacts of deforestation beyond releasing carbon dioxide, including methane and nitrous oxide emissions. The researchers estimated that tropical deforestation alone could cause a 1.5-degree Celsius (2.7-degree Fahrenheit) rise in global temperatures by 2100.A Science paper concluded that tropical forests are now a net source of carbon emissions, with deforestation and forest degradation releasing more CO2 into the atmosphere on an annual basis than forests can sequester. The research — which used satellite imagery, airborne LiDAR systems, and field measurements — put net annual emissions at about 425 million tons.A study published in Environmental Research Letters added further evidence that deforestation is becoming more industrialized, with a growing proportion of forest clearing being classified as medium, large or very large, corresponding to the rise of plantations and industrial agriculture in the tropics.A study in Scientific Reports found that protected areas lost only 0.2 percent of their forest cover between 2000 and 2012. While that loss was low, it resulted in a disproportionate amount of carbon emissions because the protected areas had higher density of forest cover relative to unprotected forests. Nine percent of the reserves accounted for 80 percent of the emissions from protected forest loss.Emissions from tropical forest degradation are higher than emissions from outright deforestation in many countries, found a study published in Carbon Balance and Management. Forest degradation emissions were primarily from logging, fuelwood harvesting and forest fires. According to the paper, the countries with the highest forest degradation emissions are Indonesia, Brazil, India, Malaysia and the Philippines.The 2015-2016 drought in the Amazon rainforest produced the highest temperatures and extended to the largest area ever recorded in the region, said a study published in Scientific Reports. The research estimated that temperatures were some 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than during the 1997-98 El Niño and extreme drought affected an area 20 percent larger than the previous record.A Nature Communications study estimated the extent of tropical forest fragmentation globally at 50 million fragments. The researchers argue that this fragmentation increases emissions from tropical deforestation by 31 percent.Yet another study warned about the potential adverse impacts of carbon-focused conservation policies on biodiversity. The Scientific Reports study found lack of correlation between tree biodiversity and carbon storage across different geographies.Amazon DamsEnvironmentalists and biologists are highly concerned about plans to build nearly 300 dams in the Amazon basin. New research published in 2017 adds to the evidence that their fears are well-founded. A PLoS ONE study forecast the impacts of six dams planned in Peru and Bolivia. It found that the six dams would retain nearly 900 million tons of river sediment annually, preventing those nutrients from reaching floodplains, potentially affecting food security downstream. The authors also said the dams would generate 10 million tons of carbon emissions annually and worsen mercury pollution. A separate study, published in Remote Sensing Applications: Society and Environment, found that Brazilian mega-dams flooded far larger areas than projected in the dams’ environmental impact assessments, resulting in higher carbon emissions and economic losses.Conservation technologyMonitoring technologies continued to make advances in 2017. By the end of the year, World Resources Institute’s Global Forest Watch had GLAD alerts — near real-time deforestation tracking — covering 22 countries. The platform also added 25 new datasets, ranging from palm oil mills to Brazilian Amazon land cover, as well as Places to Watch, a “data-driven storytelling initiative that combines deforestation alerts with satellite imagery.”Planet, which operates a constellation of shoebox-sized satellites, was increasingly being used for forest research and monitoring applications.Groundwork began to be laid for a biodiversity-monitoring satellite mission that would use the chemical signatures of plants to discern species richness.The Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP) continued to produce impactful reports on forest change in Peru and neighboring countries using satellite data.Buttress roots of a rainforest tree in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.Conservation strategyStill more research was published in support of the argument that granting land titles to indigenous and local communities is an effective conservation strategy. A Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper used remote sensing data to show that forest clearance and disturbance dropped sharply after the granting of land title to an indigenous community in Peru. Those findings were echoed more broadly in a Scientific Reports paper that found, on average, there was less deforestation and forest degradation in community-managed protected areas in the Peruvian Amazon than in those managed by the government.In recognition of the dividends of helping indigenous peoples and local communities in rural areas secure rights to their traditional lands, in October the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) announced the International Land and Forest Tenure Facility, a $100 million, fund for scaling up recognition of rights to collective lands and forests. The tenure facility aims to secure at least 400,000 square kilometers (154,400 square miles) of forests and rural lands for local and indigenous communities.A study published in PLoS Biology identified places where deforestation — and by extension, conservation — is most and least beneficial economically. It concluded that areas with high agricultural yields, low production costs and good access to markets — like the Atlantic Forest and the Gulfs of Guinea and Thailand — are places where conservation faces long odds in terms of economics. The research indicates that, overall, deforestation yields large net economic losses even once factoring in agricultural outputs.More academic papers added to the body of research showing the importance of protecting wildlife, including large-bodied birds and mammals, for maintaining forest carbon stocks.The lower Kinabatangan river. Photo by Rhett A. ButlerGains for rainforestsIn Sabah, the eastern state in Malaysian Borneo, a plan to build a bridge over the Kinabatangan River near a wildlife sanctuary was canceled. Conservationists said the bridge would have disrupted wildlife migration in an area that has been hard hit by extensive conversion of forests to oil palm plantations. Sabah also set aside a 1,010-square-kilometer (390-square-mile) tract of orangutan-rich rainforest slated for logging as a conservation area. And the state began to work with a “wall-to-wall” map of its carbon stocks, the result of a mapping campaign initiated last year. Those maps will help identify what unprotected areas are most important for conservation in Sabah.Norway continued to have an outsized role in tropical forest conservation efforts. In January, the Nordic country contributed $100 million toward a new fund that endeavors to support small farmers boost agricultural output while avoiding further deforestation and degradation. It later banned the public procurement and use of palm oil-based biofuel; hosted the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative to bring together faith leaders to build on the moral case for protecting tropical forests; and used diplomatic pressure to encourage Brazil to stand by its forest protection commitment.Papua New Guinea established its largest-ever conservation area after a 32-year process involving local communities and other stakeholders. Managalas Conservation Area covers 3,600 square kilometers (1,390 square miles).After a global outcry, Nigeria rerouted a super highway so that it would no longer cuts through the center of Cross River National Park, although concerns remained about the potential path of the road.Fungi in Costa Rica. Photo by Rhett A. Butler2018 OutlookBrazil: Watch for continuing fallout from the Lava Jato scandal, including impacts on large infrastructure projects that have involved corrupt dealings. Stripping corruption and contact-padding out of these deals, will make it harder to get big dams and roads financed.Indonesia: Sub-national and national elections are right around the corner. Typically politicians in Indonesia get their campaigns finances by granting plantation, timber and mining concessions, meaning that what happens in the run-up to an election can have significant implications for forests after the election. A major palm oil bill is currently working its way through parliament. 2018 isn’t expected to be an El Niño year, meaning fire risk should be lower than 2015-2016.United States: There is a great deal of uncertainty about what international conservation programs will proceed under the Trump administration. If the first year of the administration is any indication, there won’t be much leadership from the United States on conservation issues.Technology: Look for continuing advancements in satellite detection and analysis as well as on-the-ground sensor systems like camera traps. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly being applied to conservation challenges, and bioacoustics has huge potential to emerge as a good tool for biodiversity monitoring.Biodiversity: There’s a perception that biodiversity is losing out to climate in conservation policymaking, but in 2018 watch for a concerted push to get wildlife back on the public’s radar.center_img Article published by Rhett Butler Biodiversity, Carbon Emissions, Cattle Ranching, Commodity Roundtables, Community Forestry, Conservation, Conservation Technology, Dams, Deforestation, Drivers Of Deforestation, Environment, Featured, Fires, Forest Fires, Forest Stewardship Council, Forests, Green, Indigenous Peoples, Land Rights, Logging, Mining, Palm Oil, Peatlands, Protected Areas, Rainforest Destruction, Rainforests, Remote Sensing, Rspo, Satellite Imagery, Technology, Technology And Conservation, Tropical Forests, Year in review – rainforests, Zero Deforestation Commitments last_img read more

Environmental defenders increasingly targeted, data shows

first_imgAround the world, 197 people were killed in 2017 for defending or protecting land.A partnership between The Guardian and international NGO Global Witness has been tracking and compiling data on the deaths of land defenders since 2002.Land defenders are often private individuals and activists protecting nature reserves, natural wealth, and stand up against those who harm the environment. Land defenders around the world are increasingly being targeted for murder, according to an annual data analysis by The Guardian and Global Witness. According to the 2017 data, released in February, 197 land defenders around the world were killed last year. They are described by the Guardian people who were “standing up to the governments and companies that steal their land and harm the environment, calling out the corrupt and unjust practices that enable it.”The data collection project started in 2002, and since then the number of land defenders killed every year has increased four-fold. “The situation remains critical,”  said Ben Leather, senior campaigner for Global Witness in a statement. “Until communities are genuinely included in decisions around the use of their land and natural resources, those who speak out will continue to face harassment, imprisonment and the threat of murder.”The most dangerous region for land and environment defenders is Latin America, a position it has long occupied. According to Global Witness, agribusiness interests are now most commonly linked to murders. In the past, the mining industry has been the worst offender. Agribusiness and mining alone are connected to over 60 percent of known cases with links to a source.National parks remained extremely deadly in 2017. There were 21 recorded deaths linked to poaching in national parks. Park rangers often clash with poachers in small-scale, but deadly conflicts inside national parks.  Brazil remains the deadliest place in the world for land defenders with 46 deaths, spurred on in part by conflicting interests in the Amazon. Colombia is a close second, though, with 32 deaths, with conflicts related to the power vacuum caused with the FARC peace deal. In Peru, a group of six farmers were murdered by a criminal group that wanted cheap land for palm oil-related profit.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Endangered Environmentalists, Environmental Activism, Environmental Crime, Land Conflict, Land Grabbing Article published by Genevieve Belmakercenter_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Restoration optimism: Bringing nature back (commentary)

first_imgBiodiversity, Commentary, Conservation, Ecological Restoration, Ecosystem Restoration, Ecosystems, Editorials, Environment, Habitat, Habitat Degradation, Habitat Destruction, Habitat Loss, Researcher Perspective Series, Restoration, Rewilding Article published by Mike Gaworecki As we hear tales of environmental destruction from across the world, some conservationists are working not just to conserve what is left, but to put back what has been lost.A new website, www.restorationevidence.org, is working to gather the evidence for what works (and what doesn’t) to restore habitats and biodiversity globally. Run by the Endangered Landscape Programme and the Conservation Evidence project (where I work), the website aims to support decision-making by conservationists by providing them with concise summaries of scientific work.This will help those planning and implementing restoration projects globally to make the best possible decisions about how to spend restoration funds.This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay. I sit huddled in the hide, the sharp winter air stinging my cheeks and making my eyes tear up. Blinking, I catch sight of movement in the reeds. Out steps a bittern — a strange, heavy brown heron, once extinct in these parts. Cameras click excitedly around me as the bird slowly walks out of a patch of reeds, crosses bare ground, and then disappears again, swallowed by the swaying vegetation.Grinning from ear to ear, I am exhilarated by this close sighting. But the best part is knowing that, a little over 20 years ago, there were no hides, no reeds, and no bitterns; this was a carrot field, the peat soils drained and plowed. But, thanks to clever restoration efforts, nature has come back to Lakenheath Fen in the east of England.It gives me a huge sense of optimism to know that habitat loss is not the only possible direction of travel — habitat gain is also possible, even in manicured, intensively farmed Europe.Habitat restoration is a hot topic right now. Robin Chazdon, Executive Director of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, gave a plenary talk at at the International Congress for Conservation Biology entitled ‘Is Restoration the New Conservation?’ (A similar talk can be viewed here.) She is one of the leaders of PARTNERS, People and Reforestation in the Tropics, which aims to research the human and environmental impacts of restoration. ‘Rewilding’ is also big news, from Europe to South America, with ‘Feral’ by George Monbiot sparking debates on what bits of nature we want to restore, where, and how. And the Endangered Landscapes Programme, as part of its aim to support large-scale landscape restoration, has launched a website gathering the evidence on what works to restore lost habitats and species.Work to replant forest in Anamalais, India. Photo Credit: Claire Wordley.Restoration is firmly on the global environmental policy agenda, as well. Target 15 in the Strategic Plan of the Convention on Biological Diversity promotes the restoration of at least 15 percent of degraded ecosystems; countries around the world are getting behind this agenda, including through the Bonn Challenge, a global aspiration to restore 150 million hectares (more than 370 million acres) of degraded and deforested lands by 2020. Billions of dollars are being spent on efforts to restore degraded land, so how can we spend this money most effectively?Restoration Evidence is a subsection of www.conservationevidence.com that deals solely with habitat restoration. The website splits restoration efforts into what works for habitats (e.g., the vegetation), and what works for taxa (e.g., birds). Aiming to eventually cover restoration for all habitats and taxa globally, the main completed sections on Restoration Evidence so far cover forests, peatland vegetation such as bogs and peat swamp forests, and shrublands and heathlands, with information on how well restoration efforts work for target taxa including birds, bees, and amphibians. This website aims to reach new audiences by providing a resource for those specifically involved in habitat restoration projects.What is restoration?Restoration can mean many things to many different people. For the Restoration Evidence project, it means enriching habitats with biodiversity and restoring ecosystem processes — whether that means getting habitats closer to how we think they were, or, where conditions have changed or the ‘baseline’ is unknown, creating new biodiverse habitats. This flexible definition aims to ensure that the Restoration Evidence website has value for a range of potential users.For example, a forest restoration program may report on the five-year results of natural regeneration of forest at one site and a tree planting program at another site. Neither of these sites will look like a forest after five years, but it can be useful for other people to know whether the trees were larger, or survived better, in naturally regenerated versus planted areas.Equally, in some places we may not know what the habitat was ‘originally’ — this may have changed many times over millennia — but it may be that creating a wetland in this area is thought to be a good idea to help migrating birds, so this ‘restoration’ project may really be habitat creation.What is evidence, and why does it matter?The evidence collected on www.restorationevidence.org comes from academic scientists, NGOs, and government agencies around the world. All evidence has to meet two criteria to be included: that it tests a conservation intervention experimentally, and that it measures the results quantitatively (using numbers). The emphasis on an experimental approach includes only the evidence that best examines the causal relationships between an action and the results.Forest in Anamalais, India. Photo Credit: Claire Wordley.Do we really need more evidence? Don’t we know what to do already? Well, as the Conservation Effectiveness series here on Mongabay found, it can be quite hard to tell how well even widely used conservation interventions, such as protected areas and payments for ecosystem services (PES), actually work. Before we plow huge amounts of time, money, and effort into a strategy, it seems like a good idea to sit down and try to learn from the experiences of others.As more projects use well-designed trials to test whether their approach actually produced the desired outcomes, we can start to combine these experiments to get an overall picture of whether or not an intervention worked, and under what circumstances. Some of the actions explored on restorationevidence.org worked fairly reliably, like re-wetting peat; others worked well in some places, but not in others, such as spreading moss fragments; and others seemed not to work very well at all, such as adding root-associated fungi to peat swamp seedlings.As well as learning what works and what might not work, we can start to see what we don’t know. For some important restoration interventions, the effectiveness is still unknown, as they have not yet been tested. Furthermore, some areas (such as the tropics) are underrepresented in the number of published studies testing restoration efforts. Examining the impact of more interventions, especially in the tropics – and publishing the results — could help make future restoration efforts more successful.Restoring natural habitats can be challenging, but having the best available evidence for different restoration practices to hand should make it easier for those involved in bringing nature back to pick winning strategies. As more interventions are tested — and across more parts of the world — habitat restoration can become even more effective, and we can get better at bringing nature back.Evening at Lakenheath Fen in the UK. Photo Credit: Claire Wordley.Dr. Claire Wordley is a researcher with the Conservation Evidence group at the University of Cambridge. Her background includes working on the responses of tropical bats to forest fragmentation and agricultural activity. This led to an interest in researching how to make conservation change happen, and she now works at Conservation Evidence working with NGOs and government agencies to see how they can best use and produce scientific evidence.The Endangered Landscapes Programme is funded by Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, and is managed by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative.center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

‘Lost’ fairy lantern spotted in Malaysian Borneo after 151 years

first_imgIn January last year, a team of botanists spotted Thismia neptunis again, 151 years after it was first recorded in the rainforests of western Sarawak, in Malaysian Borneo.Thismia neptunis is tiny, standing at just 9 centimeters (3.5 inches) when flowering, and spends its life underground, parasitizing fungi for its food supply.Given that the species is likely restricted to a small area within a primary lowland rainforest of Sarawak, and might have fewer than 50 individuals, the researchers believe that the species qualifies as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. In 1866, the Italian botanist Odoardo Beccari chanced upon a peculiar plant in the rainforests of western Sarawak, in Malaysian Borneo, where he had set up camp. He made detailed sketches of the tiny plant, and many years later, formally described it as Thismia neptunis. There have been no records of the species in the scientific literature ever since.But in January last year, a team of botanists spotted the plant again, 151 years after it was first recorded, in the same rainforest. The scientists also took what they believe are the first ever photographs of the species.“To our knowledge, it is only the second finding of the species in total,” Michal Sochor of the Crop Research Institute in Olomouc, Czech Republic, and his colleagues wrote in a recent paper published in Phytotaxa. “Its original description is restricted to external appearance and so is the original drawing, otherwise very detailed. We therefore provide its amended description, inclusive internal characters, and very first photographic documentation of this iconic and, due to its peculiar appearance and also the name, almost mythical plant.”Left: Beccari’s original illustration. Right: Marianne North’s painting based on the original illustration. Via Wikimedia Commons (public domain).Thismia neptunis, flowering plants. Photographed by Michal Sochor and colleagues. Credit: Phytotaxa (2018). DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.340.1.5Thismia neptunis is tiny, standing at just 9 centimeters (3.5 inches) when flowering. But the small size isn’t the only reason it’s easy to miss. The species belongs to a group of plants that spend most of their life underground. The only time the plants surface above ground is to flower a few weeks in a year. Sometimes, they don’t even bloom every year.Their underground life makes them unlike other green plants. Thismia plants, dubbed fairy lanterns, are mycoheterotrophic, which means they lack leaves and chlorophyll and cannot photosynthesize. Instead, they parasitize fungi for their food supply.Sochor and his team discovered Thismia neptunis on a mountain massif in present-day Kubah National Park in Sarawak. This area, the authors write, was Beccari’s favorite place during his stay in Sarawak, where “he spent many months in a forest hut on eastern flanks of the massif.”Beccari later wrote in his book “Nelle foreste di Borneo” that the discovery of Thismia and other similar plants in the region was “a reward for his patient and careful search in places where the forest was thickest, the shade densest and the soil richest.”Since Sochor’s team studied only two flowering individuals and one bud, they were unable to estimate the distribution of Thismia neptunis. However, the researchers believe the species is likely restricted to a small area of primary lowland rainforest in Sarawak, a habitat that is under immense threat. They also think there might be fewer than 50 individuals, qualifying the species as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.Flower of Thismia neptunis. Credit: Phytotaxa (2018). DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.340.1.5Citation:Sochor, M. et al. (2018) Rediscovery of Thismia neptunis (Thismiaceae) after 151 years, Phytotaxa. DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.340.1.5 Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by Shreya Dasguptacenter_img Animals, Biodiversity, Conservation, Deforestation, Endangered Species, Environment, Forests, Green, Happy-upbeat Environmental, Research, Species Discovery, Threats To Rainforests, Tropical Forests, Wildlife last_img read more

Deadly oil spill in eastern Borneo spreads to the open sea

first_imgArticle published by Basten Gokkon Environment, Environmental Crime, Fisheries, Fossil Fuels, Marine, Marine Ecosystems, Oil, Oil Spills, Pollution, Water Pollution Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img An oil spill that began on March 31 in Balikpapan Bay has spread out to the Strait of Makassar and now covers an area of 130 square kilometers (50 square miles) — larger than the city of Paris.Indonesian state-owned oil company Pertamina has admitted responsibility after days of denials, but suggested the damage to its undersea pipeline was caused by a vessel passing through the area.The disaster has claimed the lives of five fishermen, contaminated a mangrove forest, prompted thousands of health complaints, and been linked to the death of an endangered dolphin. JAKARTA — An oil spill in Borneo that began over the past weekend has now spread across an area greater than the city of Paris and is heading out to the open ocean, the Indonesian government says.The spill, first reported on March 31, stems from a pipeline operated by state-owned oil firm Pertamina in the city of Balikpapan, in East Kalimantan province. A report released April 4 by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry said the slick was spreading out from Balikpapan Bay and into the Strait of Makassar, covering some 130 square kilometers (50 square miles).Pertamina, which for days had denied responsibility for the disaster, finally admitted on April 4 that one of its pipes used for transporting crude oil was the source of the slick.“Our preliminary investigation had indicated that the oil was ship fuel, but it was only until [the evening of April 3] that we got confirmation that it was from us,” Pertamina general manager Togar M.P. told reporters. “Ever since the incident was discovered, we have shut down the pipes.”A satellite image dated April 1 shows the extent of area that is covered with crude oil from an undersea pipe leakage in Balikpapan Bay. Photo courtesy of the Indonesian National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).The incident has been blamed for the deaths of five fishermen in a fire sparked by clean-up workers who were trying to clear the oil by burning it off the water’s surface.Some 34 hectares (84 acres) of mangrove forests are covered in oil, the environment ministry report said. The slick is also believed to have led to the death of an endangered Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), a protected species under Indonesian law, which was found washed up on the coast near the site of the spill.Thousands of people in Balikpapan, a city of 700,000, have also complained about health problems from the toxic slick.Authorities declared a state of emergency in the city on April 3, and warned residents not to light cigarettes in the area. They also distributed gas masks to protect against the acrid fumes and smoke.The East Kalimantan police and Pertamina are investigating the cause of the leak, after divers from the company found the pipe had moved some 100 meters (328 feet) from its initial position on the seabed.Togar suggested “an external heavy force” had caused the damage to the 20-year-old pipe. Balikpapan Bay sees heavy traffic, particularly of coal barges coming through from the Borneo hinterland.The police say a criminal prosecution may follow.Nearly 70,000 liters (18,300 gallons) of oil was collected as of Tuesday evening, and several oil booms have been deployed to contain the spill, the environment ministry said.“We have told our teams and also Pertamina to prioritize cleaning up the spill near settlements, considering the strong smell and other potential risks [from the slick],” Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said in a statement.The fire from the oil spill in Balikpapan Bay, East Kalimantan province. Photo courtesy of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) Balikpapan.Banner image: Indonesian officials clean up parts of the coast of Balikpapan Bay swamped with crude oil. Photo courtesy of the Environment and Forestry Ministry.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.last_img read more

Rubber plantation in Cameroon edges closer to UNESCO World Heritage Site

first_imgArticle published by Morgan Erickson-Davis Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Animals, Apes, Deforestation, Environment, Featured, Forests, Great Apes, Habitat Loss, Industrial Agriculture, Plantations, Poaching, Primary Forests, Primates, Protected Areas, Roads, Rubber, Satellite Imagery, Tropical Forests, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Wildlife Satellite data indicate the rubber plantation, operated by China-owned Sud Cameroun Hévéa (Sudcam), is currently less than one kilometer away from intact primary forest habitat. Development is ongoing amidst concerns about threats to endangered species within and outside the park, as well as alleged violations of community land rights and political affiliations with the Cameroonian government.The expansion of this rubber plantation is “by far the most devastating new clearing of forest for industrial agriculture in the Congo Basin,” according to Greenpeace.Rubber expansion also stands to affect the 9,500 people who live in villages on the reserve’s periphery. According to Greenpeace Africa, Sudcam did not obtain Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) from these communities before acquiring the land and residents have claimed that subsistence farmland has been taken away with little or no compensation.Members of the conservation community say that in order for rubber development to happen sustainably in Cameroon, companies need to collaborate with conservation NGOs to create robust buffers around wetlands and streams, develop wildlife corridors, establish areas to filter the runoff of toxins and sediment, and create bushmeat alternatives. They also recommend regulatory actions be taken in the U.S. and EU, which are major buyers of rubber. An industrial rubber plantation is currently developing land right on the edge of Cameroon’s Dja Faunal Reserve. And it’s getting closer, according to an analysis of satellite data released by Global Forest Watch. The data indicate the plantation, operated by China-owned Sud Cameroun Hévéa (Sudcam), is currently less than 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) away from intact primary forest habitat. Development is ongoing amid concerns about threats to endangered species within and outside the park, as well as alleged violations of community land rights and political affiliations with the Cameroonian government.Global Forest Watch analyzed satellite data collected by the University of Maryland’s Global Land Analysis and Discovery (GLAD) lab. It indicates that expansion is accelerating, with 10 square kilometers (3.9 square miles) of tree cover affected between November 2017 and January 2018 alone, according to the report. To date, Sudcam has been awarded more than 450 square kilometers (177 square miles) of land for development, of which it has cleared over 90 square kilometers (35 square miles). A 2018 Greenpeace report called this expansion “by far the most devastating new clearing of forest for industrial agriculture in the Congo Basin.”Imagery from Greenpeace shows the progression of clearing between 2011 and April 2017. Subsequent satellite data collected by the University of Maryland’s GLAD lab between May 2017 and the end of January 2018 show more deforestation. Analysis by Global Forest Watch indicates more than 10 square kilometers of rainforest were lost between November 2017 and January 2018 alone.Since Global Forest Watch’s report came out, more than 4,000 additional GLAD deforestation alerts have been recorded in the concession. One of these newly deforested areas is less than 500 meters (1,600 feet)  from Dja Faunal Reserve, which lies just across The Dja River from the concession. Satellite imagery from Planet Labs shows the extent of this clearing as of March 21.Biodiversity under threatThe Congo Basin contains one of the largest tracts of tropical rainforest in the world. The area protected within the Dja Faunal Reserve is considered one of Africa’s most undisturbed and species-rich rainforests. The reserve’s pristine condition and biodiversity have led to its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Important Bird Area. Dja is home to 107 known mammal species, including critically endangered western lowland forest gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), endangered chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and African forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis), and vulnerable giant pangolins (Smutsia gigantea). The reserve is also home to the indigenous Baka people, who carry out their traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle within the forest.The development of agroindustry is currently one of the top three major threats to biodiversity in the Dja area, according to Manfred Aimé Epanda, country coordinator for Africa Wildlife Foundation (AWF). He said poaching, another key threat, would likely be exacerbated by increased human traffic and accessibility brought about by plantation development. Clearing forest for the plantation will also fragment the habitat of endangered primates and disrupt wildlife corridors used by forest elephants, Epanda said. In addition, nearby waterways are at risk from pesticide pollution and sedimentation due to agricultural runoff and erosion.“A strategic impact assessment study of the periphery of the Dja is needed in order to capture impacts on biodiversity,” Epanda told Mongabay in an email.Dja Faunal Reserve contains some of Africa’s most pristine and species-rich rainforest. Photo by C. Hance of UNESCO.Critically endangered western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) rely on the dense intact rainforest of the Dja Faunal Reserve.While the reserve contains the most untouched tracts of forest, dense areas of tropical rainforest lie within the concessions awarded to Sudcam as well. According to a 2016 paper by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), an environmental impact assessment of the land earmarked for rubber plantations found that “the project area has abundant wildlife biodiversity.” CIFOR concluded that rubber development “may have serious negative impacts on the [region’s] rich biodiversity … particularly through the destruction of plant cover, increased hunting and poaching, and wildlife disturbance.”Communities at riskRubber expansion also stands to affect the 9,500 people who live in villages on the reserve’s periphery. According to Greenpeace Africa, Sudcam did not obtain Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) from these communities before acquiring the land. Under the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), FPIC is a right that allows indigenous peoples to grant or refuse consent for a project that could affect them or their land. Cameroon was one of the countries that voted in favor of the declaration at a U.N. General Assembly session in 2007. In the case of Sudcam, however, affected residents have claimed that subsistence farmland has been taken away with little or no compensation, Greenpeace Africa forest campaigner Sylvie Djacbou told Mongabay.“The Baka also stress the fact that graves and sacred sites which are very important to them spiritually were also destroyed,” Djacbou said.A young Sudcam rubber plantation near Ekok Village. Image courtesy of Greenpeace AfricaWhile the CIFOR paper stated that Sudcam intended to “build collective social and economic service facilities in the local communities,” Greenpeace says that community residents they interviewed told them that such facilities had not been made accessible. “The school and hospital supposedly built for communities are deep inside the concession, and inaccessible to members of local communities,” Djacbou said. “Since both the school and hospital are just inside Sudcam’s employee camp, we can assume that they are for its employees and not for the communities.”In addition, land tenure experts say Cameroon’s expropriation laws fail to recognize customary land rights. The CIFOR report states that “this causes particularly serious consequences to minority peoples who do not have formal legal titles to land and rely on respect of customary access rules for their subsistence.”Lack of transparencyCritics say a lack of transparency has dogged plantation development, adding to the discontent of local communities. According to CIFOR, Sudcam was awarded a temporary land concession of more than 450 square kilometers through presidential decree in 2008. However, an annual report for 2013 produced by Sudcam’s parent company GMG Global Ltd. lists Sudcam as the outright owner of the land it had originally leased. Since November 2016, GMG Global has been operating as a subsidiary of Halcyon Agri Corporation Ltd.“Greenpeace’s understanding is that Cameroonian law does not provide for freehold allotment of national lands, and Sudcam’s April 2013 land lease clearly indicates that its plantation is on national land,” Djacbou said.In addition, CIFOR’s report states that portions of the concessions now owned by Sudcam had been temporarily granted to logging companies, which were expelled to develop rubber plantations. Since, by law, national domain in Cameroon can only be granted if the land is not currently occupied or used, the report’s authors write that this suggests another breach. In its investigation, CIFOR learned that 20 percent of Sudcam’s shares were owned by an unknown “influential member of the Cameroonian political elite.” This lack of transparency in ownership, along with the suggestion of ties to the Cameroonian government, has led to rumors about possible political motivations behind granting Sudcam the land.Rubber is produced from the sap of the Pará rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis).Through interviews with 25 communities affected by plantation activities, Greenpeace Africa has learned that community members fear confronting the company and local authorities with their concerns due to a widespread belief that the president’s family is directly linked to the plantation. Further fueling this belief is the plantation’s close proximity to a mansion owned by President Paul Biya himself, according to the organization.Recent evidence suggests that Sudcam might be developing land outside its concession. In a report titled “The Coming Storm,” the non-profit environmental research organization Earthsight found that Sudcam had cleared roughly 3.3 square kilometers (1.3 square miles) of forest outside of the concession boundaries. While it is possible that additional permissions may have been given to Sudcam that Earthsight was not aware of, “it is notable that Sudcam parent company Halcyon Agri did not take the opportunity to deny this specific allegation in their response to our findings prior to publication,” Earthsight director Sam Lawson told Mongabay.Mongabay reached out to Sudcam, Halcyon Agri and the Cameroon government for comment, but received no responses as of publication time. In a response to Earthsite and Greenpeace reports released April 27, Halcyon Agri denied any connection to the government and clearance of forest outside its boundary, and disputed allegations that it violated land rights.Recommendations for moving forwardEpanda of AWF told Mongabay that there were a number of ways to mitigate the negative environmental impacts of rubber expansion. These include collaborating with conservation NGOs to create robust buffers around wetlands and streams; developing wildlife corridors between plantation blocks; setting up areas to filter the runoff of toxins and sediment; and creating bushmeat alternatives.On a national level, Greenpeace Africa “calls upon the Cameroonian government to suspend Sudcam’s lease agreements until clear preconditions and modalities are established.” Greenpeace also recommends participatory national land use planning and increased transparency. This would include obtaining the free, prior and informed consent of communities living in areas being considered for development.According to Earthsight’s Lawson, countries that are the ultimate destination for the rubber in a plantation, like the U.S. and the EU, must also take responsibility. “These governments need to take regulatory action, as they already have on timber, which forces importers to carry out due diligence to ensure their products and raw materials were legally sourced in the countries of origin,” he said.“They also need to use their influence to encourage the governments of producer countries like Cameroon to improve land governance, including being much more transparent regarding licensing.” Editor’s Note: This story was updated May 9 to include a response statement from Halcyon Agri.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.last_img read more

India: This draft national forest policy too gives short shrift to grasslands

first_imgThe Draft National Forest Policy 2018, which is open for public comments till April 14, has initiated discussions and debates across the country.If this draft becomes policy, it will replace the National Forest Policy of 1988. Both the versions give importance to increasing forest and tree cover in the country.Experts rue that this draft also misses the opportunity to give importance to grasslands that are home to much biological diversity and support important ecosystem services. In 1987, Asad Rahmani, ornithologist and the former director of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), wrote in the journal Oryx that the greatest threat to the great Indian bustard was the loss of grasslands in India. The bustard, likes open land with short vegetation. The sandy deserts of Rajasthan, open scrub forests of Maharashtra and semi-arid grasslands of peninsular India, Rahmani noted, were ideal habitat for this endemic bird.A year after this study in 1988, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) released a revised version of the National Forest Policy of 1988 (NFP-1988). The policy set a vision for covering one-third of the country in forests by planting trees in non-forest lands such as river banks, lakes, beaches and the “semi-arid, and desert tracts,” that bustards love. No part of the policy talked about protecting or restoring other ecosystems.The endemic Great Indian Bustards in one of its last bastions in the Desert National Park, Rajasthan. Photo by Prajwal K. M. / Wikimedia Commons.Grasslands were historically neglected ever since India’s first national forest policy, starting with the British administration. These treeless, timber-free landscapes have been historically considered wastelands. This label annoys Rahmani no end.“It is our stupidity and culpability that we consider some ecosystems as waste,” he said, insisting that wastelands were created when human beings interfered with natural ecosystems.The narrative of grasslands as wastelandsSince the 1950s, ecologists and naturalists have repeatedly pointed out that India’s wildlife does not just inhabit forests. Bustards, blackbucks, wolves and foxes live in the semi-arid grasslands and deserts of western India. Endangered herbivores such as the Nilgiri tahr are found only in the shola-grasslands unique to the Western Ghats and the Vulnerable snow leopards thrive in the dry cold deserts of the Trans-Himalayas. “Many of these species are totally dependent on grasslands,” said Rahmani.Studies have shown that the openness of grasslands and deserts are vital for animals such as the wolves, which travel large distances tracking prey species. Openness is important for these prey species watching out for predators.Ancient grasses and short stunted trees also provide food for several herbivores like black bucks and chinkaras and support certain dryland fruits and insects that bustards depend on for sustenance. Open sandy beaches along the coastline and in the Andaman Islands, are important nesting sites for sea turtles like the endangered Olive Ridley turtle and leatherback turtle.Yet these ecosystems have been swathed in plantations of trees, said Sutirtha Dutta, a scientist from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). For instance, the Shokaliya grasslands, in the Ajmer district in Rajasthan, a prime habitat for the lesser florican (Sypheotides indicus), has been overrun with prosopis, an aggressive invasive species that converts open grasslands and deserts into woodlands. This affects the animals that depend on open habitats to find food or keep vigil against predators.“Despite all the good reasons for removing these plantations, there is inertia because this step will reduce the tree cover of Rajasthan,” Dutta said.Similarly, the Ranebennur Blackbuck Sanctuary in Karnataka, home to a sizeable population of blackbucks, is covered with eucalyptus plantations. The local forest department admits that the exotic from Australia has destroyed grassland habitat, but in its management plan recommends planting native fruit trees in the remaining open patches.Antelopes like the blackbuck need vast open tracts for courtship displays to attract potential mates during the breeding season. Photo by Asim Patel / Wikimedia Commons.“Here, excessive and blind reliance on tree cover as a conservation metric is harmful for managing non-forest ecosystems such as grasslands, deserts and wetlands,” Dutta asserted.Even government-led bodies have repeatedly pointed out that natural non-forest lands were important ecosystems in their own right. In 2006, the Planning Commission of India formed a task force to assess the status of grasslands and deserts in the country. A group of scientists (including Rahmani) and officials from the Ministry of Environment and Forests examined arid and wet grasslands, and cold and hot deserts.The report was clear. The colonial era mindset was hurting grassland and desert ecosystems in the country. The task force pointed out that over-grazing, diversion of land towards agriculture and haphazard afforestation drives in non-forest lands was destroying ecosystems that were not just home to wildlife, but also an important source of livelihood for local communities.Meanwhile the bustard, emblematic of semi-arid grasslands has lost more ground, becoming extinct even in sanctuaries like Ranebennur in Karnataka and more recently the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary in Maharashtra. The species was declared Critically Endangered in 2011 and in 2013. After several years of lobbying by ecologists like Rahmani, the MoEF began Project Bustard to safeguard the species and increase its numbers. It is one among the 17 species listed for the Species Recovery Programme of the MoEF.But what of the grasslands the bustards love?The new draft forests policy is a regressive stepIn 2016, it seemed that the MoEF had finally heard these concerns. Having declared it was time to upgrade the NFP-1988, the ministry released a new draft National Forest Policy and invited public comments. The policy reiterated the national goal of having one-third of India under tree cover. But a crucial caveat was added: “Rather than an exclusive focus on forest and tree cover, targeted efforts should be made to preserve the country’s varied ecosystems including alpine meadows, grasslands, deserts, marine and coastal areas etc.”Open grasslands help herbivores like the Chinkara spot predators and escape easily. Photo by Chinmayi S. K. / Wikimedia Commons.If passed, the policy would have been the first to include ecosystems other than the forest. But the draft was criticised for several other reasons. Rather than address those criticism the Ministry shelved the entire document.After two more years, a new version of the draft was produced this year in March.After decades of research pointing out the need to recognize non-forest ecosystems, the first few lines of the Draft National Forest Policy 2018 (DNFP-2018) turned out to be a word to word repetition of the 1988 policy. So much so that it re-produces the exact lines about planting trees in semi-arid and arid lands. There is no mention of other ecosystems.“It is a retrograde step,” said Rahmani, adding that the terms grasslands, wetlands, deserts, marine and coastal areas should be brought back.“It’s as if they haven’t read the new scientific literature produced either in this country or elsewhere in the last 30 years,” said Abi Tamim Vanak, an ecologist from the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE), who specialises in semi-arid grasslands. “If any biome does not, or historically did not have high tree-cover, then planting trees on it is as degrading as clear felling a primary rainforest.”Trees hold back the desert“This is partially true,” said Anoop K.R who is the Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF), Desert National Park, in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, “but we cannot think from a purely ecological viewpoint”. Thirty years ago, Anoop points out that Jaisalmer was inaccessible in the summer when sand dunes covered the roads and filled up the canals.“The only way to stop this (sand) was plant trees to stabilise the sand dunes and around canals and roads as shelter belts,” both vital to support the substantial increase in local and tourist population of Jaisalmer. Anoop also admits that the trees that can survive in the sandy areas, especially the dunes are predominantly exotic invasive species like prosopis.Thickets of the exotic invasive Prosopis tree, are converting vast open grasslands into woodlands. Photo by Thamizhpparithi Maari / Wikimedia Commons.Anoop agreed that grasslands are important for local communities. He points out that his department is not solely focussed on planting tree species in the deserts. “Our focus is on silvi-pastoral,” he said. “We are raising grasslands with a few trees – up to 200 per hectare,” he explained adding that it was important to not focus on plantations.But studies (including MoEFCC funded ones) also show that local communities depend heavily on open treeless grasslands. Dutta points out that semi-arid grasslands support up to 500 million domestic animals and the country’s dairy industry.Need to emphasise ecosystem diversityVanak and Rahmani believe that deleting lines about grasslands and other ecosystems, was a calculated move on the part of MoEFCC. The draft advocates afforestation programs and commercial plantations in areas outside forests, which is another label for ecosystems like grasslands. “This is essentially a form of privatising common lands,” observed Vanak.Grasslands provide ecosystem services to livestock-herding communities in India. Photo by Stevie Mann / ILRI, via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).Rahmani and Dutta allege that CAMPA funds (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority) compounded this problem. CAMPA funds are compulsory payments collected from industries when forests are diverted towards development activities. These funds are often used to plant trees in grasslands, destroying another ecosystem according to both researchers.“It is a double whammy!” commented Rahmani.Vanak is clear that such issues would continue as long as there was no unified policy that recognised the diversity of ecosystem types in the country.[Also read: Is the new forest policy draft missing the wood for the trees?]CITATION:Vanak, A.T., Hiremath, A., Krishnan, S., T.G., Ganesh & Rai, N. D. (2017). Filling in the (forest) blanks: the past, present and future of India’s savanna grasslands. 89-93.Vanak, A. T., Kulkarni, A., Gode, A., & Krishnaswamy, J. (2016). Extent and Status of Semiarid Savanna Grasslands in Peninsular India. ENVIS Bulletin on Ecology and Management of Grassland Habitats in India, 17, 192-201Dutta, S., Rahmani, A., Gautam, Kasambe, R., Narwade, S., Narayan & Jhala, Y.V. (2013). Guidelines for Preparation of State Action Plan for Resident Bustards’ Recovery Programme. Submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. New Delhi. Endangered Species Research. MoEF.Rahmani, A.(1987). Protection for the great Indian bustard. Oryx, 21. 174 – 179, d.o.i 10.1017/S0030605300026922. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by Maria Salazarcenter_img Agriculture, Birds, Endangered Species, Environmental Law, Forests, Grasslands, Habitat Degradation, Habitat Loss, Interns, Mammals, Research last_img read more