Cities need forests too: A call for forests amid our concrete jungles (commentary)

first_imgMore than half the world’s population lives in cities, and that’s set to rise to two-thirds – more than 6 billion people – by 2050. Yet we still depend on forests more than we think.Having wild places around is critical, not just for nature but also for people. A wealth of studies have shown that cities with plenty of trees feel like healthier, happier places than those without.While deforestation has many drivers, one underlying challenge is that society doesn’t value forests enough. That’s something we can – and need to – change as individuals and as a collective. It starts with spending time in forests, connecting with nature, and showing that we care.This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay. Human beings evolved among trees. Even today, hundreds of millions of people live in and around forests, and depend upon them directly for their food, fuel, and livelihoods.Many of us, however, now live in concrete jungles instead. More than half the world’s population lives in cities, and that’s set to rise to two-thirds — more than 6 billion people — by 2050.Yet we still depend on forests more than we think. Take Hong Kong, where I live, for example. It’s the very picture of a modern metropolis, and one of the most densely populated regions on Earth. Step back from the skyscrapers and the bustling streets, though, and nearly a quarter of Hong Kong is forested.Hong Kong’s forests were once home to a vast range of species, including elephants and tigers. But over the centuries, large areas were cleared, and most of the remaining trees were felled for fuel during the Second World War.Over the last half-century, however, forests have been making a comeback through active replanting and natural regeneration. Protected parks cover around 40 per cent of Hong Kong’s territory today, and, while there are no plans to reintroduce tigers, these parks harbor incredible biodiversity: more than 2,100 native plants, 50 species of mammals, over 500 species of birds, and 230 different butterflies.For a city of more than 7 million inhabitants, having these wild places around is critical, not just for nature but also for people. A wealth of research has shown that cities with plenty of trees feel like healthier, happier places than those without.Forests and Hong Kong. Photo Credit: Alice Zhuang/WWF.As air pollution emerges as a major global health risk, urban trees can be highly effective filters, removing harmful pollutants and particulates from the air. They also shield us against noise pollution, which can have significant physiological and psychological impacts.Hong Kong, like many major cities, also depends on its forests for its water supply. Forests are like giant sponges that soak up rainfall and release it slowly, keeping reservoirs recharged while also reducing the risk of flooding.In addition to mitigating global climate change by storing carbon, trees help to control local temperatures, as well. As climate change brings more extreme heatwaves, urban “heat islands” are an increasing problem. Strategically placed trees in cities not only provide much-needed shade, but can also affect the local micro-climate — they have been shown to cool the air by as much as 8°C, and reduce air conditioning use by 30 percent.But having access to forests and other green spaces also benefits us on a much more personal level. Most days, I take my dog for a walk in the forest and feel re-energized by the experience. It’s not just about the physical exercise: getting out into nature is the best way of mentally recharging your batteries.The Japanese concept of shinrin-yoku (“forest bathing”) recognizes all of these benefits for humanity, and it is now taking off in other countries as urban dwellers seek to reconnect with nature. Forest bathing is about immersing yourself in the sights, sounds, and sensations of the forest — and a growing body of evidence suggests it has multiple health benefits, such as reducing stress, reducing blood pressure, and boosting the immune system.Around the world, we are losing millions of trees every day. Even here in Hong Kong, development continues to chip away at forests and other natural areas — a phenomenon WWF and many local organizations are working hard to prevent.While deforestation has many drivers, one underlying challenge is that society doesn’t value forests enough. That’s something we can — and need to — change as individuals and as a collective. It starts with spending time in forests, connecting with nature, and showing that we care.To celebrate International Day of Forests today and Earth Hour on Saturday, I urge you to take the first step. Connect to forests — go down to the woods. Take a walk. Take the kids or the dog. Take a forest bath. Take a moment to breathe deeper.Forests of Hong Kong. Photo Credit: Alice Zhuang/WWF.Alistair Monument leads WWF’s Forest Practice. He is a qualified forester and auditor with 25 years of experience in over 40 countries, from multi-stakeholder initiatives, ethical certification, and conservation, to workers’ rights, ethical finance, and strategic program development. Alistair was previously the Asia Pacific Director at the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and was the founding Director of Accreditation Services International, FSC’s accreditation agency and FSC’s Asia Pacific Regional Office. Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change And Forests, Commentary, Conservation, Editorials, Environment, Forests, Global Warming, Health, Noise Pollution, Pollution, Public Health, Researcher Perspective Series, Urbanization, Water Article published by Mike Gaworeckicenter_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

Special judiciary on environmental crimes established in Peru

first_imgArticle published by Genevieve Belmaker The majority of crimes correspond to illegal mining and illegal logging, two activities that seriously affect the region and that so far in 2018 account for 53 complaints.One of the emblematic cases is related to the regional governor Luis Otsuka Salazar, who has two complaints about illegal mining and negligence in the performance of his duties.Aside from the court in Madre de Dios, experts hope to also see courts in other regions of Peru, including Loreto, Ucayali, Cusco, Piura, Lima and San Martin. On April 1 the first specialized court on environmental issues was launched in Madre de Dios, Peru. The region currently has the highest number of complaints of environmental crimes in the entire country, Julio César Guzmán Mendoza, the public prosecutor specialized in environmental crimes, told Mongabay.“As of February 20, 2018, we have 2,983 active environmental complaints in the judicial district of Madre de Dios,” Guzmán explained. “Of the approximately 20,000 cases in all of Peru almost 3,000 correspond to this region.” Complaints to the prosecutor’s office and related investigations include cases from 2009 through February 2018.Illegal mining is one of the most common environmental crimes in Madre de Dios. Photo by Rhett Butler/Mongabay.Most of the environmental crimes that occur in the region are related to illegal mining and logging, said Guzmán. But we must also add related crimes such as environmental pollution and deforestation.Illegal mining and damage to forestsOf the 64 cases presented so far this year, 15 complaints correspond specifically to illegal mining crimes and 38 refer to crimes against forests. The other 11 are linked to illicit trafficking of chemical inputs and use of machinery in illegal mining, environmental pollution, degradation of protected flora and fauna, and illegal trafficking of forest products.In 2017, of the 491 current cases, 97 are specifically related to illegal mining and 211 for deforestation, that is, 62 percent or 308 of the cases, correspond to these two environmental problems in the region: mining and illegal logging.Last year, in addition to the aforementioned crimes, there were reports of illegal trafficking of species, partly due to public officials granting illegal rights, among other crimes.For the prosecutor, one of the emblematic cases of Madre de Dios is linked to the regional governor Luis Otsuka Salazar, who has had a complaint about illegal mining against him since 2013. The complaint is in two courts, the transitory environmental preparatory investigation court of Cusco and the fourth preparatory investigation court specialized in environmental crimes of Madre de Dios.One of the areas affected by illegal logging is the buffer zone of the Tambopata National Reserve. Photo courtesy of Mininter.In addition, since 2016 the regional governor has also been investigated for the illegal granting of territorial rights, a process that is already in the fourth preparatory investigation court of Madre de Dios.In this case, the complaint was based on an audit report from the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic, which revealed the negligence and non-compliance of its functions as a regional authority.As for other emblematic cases, although all are important for the prosecutor, he highlighted those related to illegal mining in the sector called La Pampa or those of the native Tres Islas community.Entrapment in environmental justicePublic prosecutor Guzmán considers that the problem of environmental injustice in Peru can be clearly observed in Madre de Dios, where there is a conflict between the excessive burden of processes and the few assignments of prosecutors and attorneys to deal with them.“Although this new environmental court is a step forward, the problem of the justice system in Peru will not be solved by appointing a new judge or opening a new court,” Guzmán said.He also explained that the problem is not judicial, instead, it is due to the high burden to which prosecutors and attorneys are subject to, which leads to deficiencies in the investigations. “When there are deficient investigations, the judges are forced to release the defendants. And why does this happen? Because of a large amount of procedural burden which prevents further investigations.”Deforestation affects forest concessions in Madre de Dios. Owners must deal with illegal logging. Photo by Jack Lo Lau/Mongabay.In this regard, he mentioned that the office of the Specialized Attorney for Environmental Crimes of the Ministry of the Environment, which he directs, has a staff of eight lawyers for the 20,000 complaints that exist throughout Peru, including the 3,000 in Madre de Dios.In an interview with Mongabay, the president of the Superior Court of Justice of Madre de Dios, Kori Paulet Silva, said that currently there are only 200 cases prosecuted in Madre de Dios and that these are in the preparatory investigation stage in charge of the magistrates who work in the region.“Most of the complaints are still under investigation in the prosecutor’s offices specialized in environmental matters and these have not yet been prosecuted, so we have a low number of cases admitted to the Judiciary,” Paulet Silva explained, reaffirming that the entrapment is presented in the investigation stage, as he says, because in many cases the perpetrators of the crime are not identified, since these occur in remote fields and forests of the region. “If they don’t find the ones responsible for the crimes, and if the investigation does not move forward, then it does not advance towards its judicialization.”Paulet Silva indicated that the criminal activity against the environment is alarming in the region and that most of the cases are related to illegal mining, the same that drags other environmental crimes. “The immense wealth of Madre de Dios, which should be the engine for its development is, unfortunately, the entrance for underdevelopment,” he said.The new environmental courtPaulet Silva said he has some doubts about the new Specialized Court on Environmental Matters, including that the rule does not specify whether a judge will be in charge of a preparatory investigation or a judge for trial. The difference is that the first one is in charge of resolving the accusation requirements of the prosecutors, that is, reviewing the files and approving them so that they can enter the trial. The second one carries the judgments that lead to sanctions.Illegal and informal mining has already deforested more than 2,500 hectares of forest in Madre de Dios and pollutes the rivers with mercury. Photo: SPDA.The resolution of the Judicial Branch published on Jan. 24 in the newspaper El Peruano, states that, “The aforesaid court will have criminal, administrative litigation and constitutional environmental jurisdiction.”Paulet Silva indicated that he has already made the corresponding consultation with the executive directorate of the judiciary and is now awaiting a response. However, he said that this case could use a magistrate dedicated to applying the sanctions since Madre de Dios already has a preparatory investigation office that looks at environmental issues.A comprehensive vision of justice in PeruAlicia Abanto, assistant director for the Environment, Public Services and Indigenous Peoples at the Ombudsman’s Office, said that the creation of the new court is an appropriate measure adopted by the judiciary, especially in the region most affected by illegal mining.MMAP satellite images show deforestation in La Pampa, in Madre de Dios. Image via MAAP/Planet.However, she reflected on the complexity and role of other institutions that should contribute so that a judge can have all the elements to properly sanction the environmental crime.“The prosecution of crime and punishment is not only a function of the judge but also a task of the public ministry, prosecutors, police and other government agencies such as the Ministry of Energy and Mining or the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, to mention some related to environmental issues,” Abanto said.In relation to the overburdening of the Environmental Prosecutor’s Office, Abanto said that it would be convenient for the government to strengthen it with more resources and that also other prosecutors — Energy and Mining, of Agriculture, of Health — should be involved in the defense of the environment. “The protection of the environment is not only the responsibility of the Ministry of the Environment but of multiple sectors,” she said.Jean Pierre Araujo, lawyer of the forestry program of the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law (also known by its Spanish acronym SPDA), considered that the decision of the Judicial Power is in addition to the decision made by the Peruvian government in 2008, when the Specialized Attorney’s Offices for the Environment were created (also known by its acronym in Spanish, FEMA). “At that time we saw how there was an explosion of environmental complaints,” he explained.The expert of the SPDA stressed that this is a reform that follows from the Strategic Plan of the Environmental System of the Judiciary, approved in 2017 and in force until 2021. “It is a policy document that justifies these changes and allows the Judiciary, progressively, to improve the standards of knowledge and specialization in environmental matters.”However, he said that the courts for environmental crimes should also be established in other regions such as Loreto, Ucayali, Cusco, Piura, Lima and San Martin, among others. “The Strategic Plan includes nine priority regions for the establishment of environmental courts, but this year only one will be launched,” he explained.For his part, Mariano Castro Sánchez-Moreno, former vice minister of environmental management of the Ministry of Environment and ow a professor at the law school of the Catholic University of Peru, believes that the actions of the justice system in Peru have some gaps that must be overcome, such as the specialization.The former vice minister said that the treatment of environmental issues, “requires a sensitive management to what is happening.”“In addition, a knowledge of the legal matter to be treated in all its complexity,” he said. “Decisions should be taken considering the particularities that criminal environmental issues have.”He agreed with the other experts that the justice system, in general, should be strengthened. “The remediation and environmental rehabilitation are part of the system. The activity that has environmental prosecutors, the police and the Directorate General of Captaincies and Coast Guard, which is responsible for monitoring the rivers must have the right elements to perform their work in the right conditions,” concluded the expert.Banner image: La Pampa is another area destroyed by illegal mining in Madre de Dios. Photo courtesy of the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law.This story was reported by Mongabay’s Latin America (Latam) team and was first published in Spanish on our Latam site on February 23, 2018.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. 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 Amazon, Deforestation, Environmental Crime, Featured, Forests, Governance, Illegal Logging, Illegal Mining, Rainforests, Saving Rainforests, Saving The Amazon, Tropical Forests last_img read more

New research examines spread of payments for ecosystem services around the globe

first_imgBiodiversity, Climate Change, Community-based Conservation, Conservation, Conservation Finance, Deforestation, Ecosystem Services Payments, Environment, Payments For Ecosystem Services, Research, Tropical Deforestation, Water, Wildlife Conservation Article published by Mike Gaworecki There are currently more than 550 PES programs active around the world in developed and developing countries alike, and more than $36 billion in annual transactions have been made through these programs, according to a study published last month in the journal Nature Sustainability.Researchers found that PES programs designed to protect watersheds have seen the largest volume of global transactions and have spread the farthest worldwide, with $24.7 billion in transactions across 62 countries in 2015.Little research has focused on the question of whether or not any benefits of PES are sustained after payments cease, according to another study recently published in Nature Sustainability. But that research suggests that paying rural villagers to cut down fewer trees can not only boost conservation efforts while the payments are being made but even after they’re discontinued. After a series of floods and droughts in the late 1990s convinced the government of China that deforestation was a major threat to water quality and flood control, the country responded quickly, spending more than $100 billion in the first decade of the new millenium on landholder actions like planting trees and banning logging.Through its Sloping Land Conservation Program, for instance, China paid 32 million farmers and 120 million households to convert steep croplands to forest and grassland. The Natural Forest Conservation Program, meanwhile, focuses on reforestation efforts and logging bans. These two initiatives are now the largest payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs in the world.PES is a conservation strategy that involves a fairly basic concept: paying local residents and communities to manage their land in a way that ensures certain “services” provided by nature, such as carbon storage in trees, healthy watersheds, or preservation of biodiversity.Just two decades ago, PES was a rather obscure conservation strategy, but it has taken off in recent years. Whereas there were only three journal references to PES in 1995, according to a study published last month in the journal Nature Sustainability, there were 1,900 journal references in 2016.There are currently more than 550 PES programs active around the world in developed and developing countries alike, and more than $36 billion in annual transactions have been made through these programs, the study found.“There has been enormous interest around the globe in payments for ecosystem services, fueled by promising case studies and exciting transactions, but until now we’ve never had a firm grasp on just how large they have really become,” the study’s lead author, James Salzman, the Donald Bren Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law with joint appointments at the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California, Santa Barbara, said in a statement.“Payments for ecosystem services is a market-based approach that places a value on the many benefits that nature provides to people — clean water, flood control and wildlife habitat. Done right, trees can be worth more standing than cut down.”A researcher in Indonesia pulls up mangrove roots to assess their carbon storage potential. Photo by Kate Evans/Center for International Forestry Research.Salzman and team, which included researchers at Ecosystem Marketplace, an initiative of the NGO Forest Trends, write in the study that the rapid deployment of PES in China was not aimed solely at delivering benefits for the environment: “These programs, like many other government-financed PES programs, also have an explicit additional purpose of rural development. Assessments have found that all ecosystem services from 2000-2010 increased (except for biodiversity habitat) with mostly positive socioeconomic benefits.”The researchers found that PES programs designed to protect watersheds have seen the largest volume of global transactions and have spread the farthest worldwide, with $24.7 billion in transactions across 62 countries in 2015. (There were just $6.7 billion in transactions through watershed-focused PES programs as recently as 2009.) Through these schemes, communities, companies, governments, and other users pay upstream landowners to employ sustainable land management practices that reduce flooding risks and improve water quality.As Salzman and team note, there are numerous examples of successful conservation through PES. But the research is actually quite mixed in its conclusions as to whether PES programs effectively deliver environmental and socio-economic outcomes.As Mongabay found when we examined the research evaluating PES programs for our “Conservation Effectiveness” series, what evidence there is for how well PES schemes deliver those outcomes is quite weak. But the research we examined did seem to suggest that PES programs can deliver reductions in deforestation, forest fragmentation, and degradation, while boosting reforestation efforts and increasing forest carbon stocks — though these effects were generally found to be quite modest. A number of studies have found positive outcomes for the provision of hydrological services, as well. The research examining the impacts of PES on biodiversity were much less conclusive, however. And while it’s frequently the case that participants find the economic benefits of PES programs do not cover their opportunity costs (the benefits given up by participants when they choose not to plant crops on their land but to enroll in a PES program instead, for instance), many still report the program as having been worthwhile in their eyes.Far less research has focused on the question of whether or not any benefits of PES are sustained after payments cease, according to another study recently published in Nature Sustainability. Lead author Krister Andersson, a researcher with the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado Boulder in the U.S., says that some research has even shown that cash payments can backfire by negating non-monetary motivations people might have already had for wanting to conserve, leaving them less likely to protect their land after payments are withdrawn.Forest users in Indonesia take part in a simulation designed to test whether paying cash for conservation works. Photo by Tuti Herawati/CIFOR.However, Andersson and team say their research shows that paying rural villagers to cut down fewer trees can not only boost conservation efforts while the payments are being made but even after they’re discontinued. The researchers traveled to 54 villages near tropical forests in Bolivia, Indonesia, Peru, Tanzania, and Uganda and got a total of 1,200 tropical forest users to play a table-top simulation game that asked the participants to make decisions about how many trees they would harvest from a shared forest.The participants in the game had the opportunity to make a full day’s wages, and Andersson and team found that those who received cash payments cut down 19 percent fewer trees. The benefits were even greater when participants received cash and were encouraged to discuss their decisions as a group — that led to 48 percent fewer trees being cut down. Even after the payments stopped, the groups that had received cash payments and employed collective decision-making processes continued to conserve, maintaining a 23 percent reduction in the number of trees felled.“Our experimental results suggest that payments, especially when they are conditional on group cooperation, can help people realize the value of cooperation and that lasting cooperation can lead to better forest conditions,” Andersson said in a statement.Andersson added that his team’s findings could help inform efforts to reduce global deforestation and associated greenhouse gas emissions through PES programs: “If policymakers really want to be effective in the use of these Payments for Ecosystem Services, I would advise them to structure payments so that they reward cooperative behavior, pay attention to how much trust there is among the groups they are working with and do what they can to foster communication. These can be huge factors in making this work.”A Bornean orangutan at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in the state of Sabah, Malaysia. Through a PES program, Malaysian officials have worked with private parties in Sabah to restore and maintain 131 square miles of rainforest, home to one of the world’s highest concentrations of orangutans. The program sells “biodiversity conservation certificates,” each representing 100 square meters of forest restoration and protection for at least 50 years. Photo by Rhett Butler.CITATIONS• Andersson, K. P., Cook, N. J., Grillos, T., Lopez, M. C., Salk, C. F., Wright, G. D., & Mwangi, E. (2018). Experimental evidence on payments for forest commons conservation. Nature Sustainability, 1(3), 128. doi:10.1038/s41893-018-0034-z• Salzman, J., Bennett, G., Carroll, N., Goldstein, A., & Jenkins, M. (2018). The global status and trends of Payments for Ecosystem Services. Nature Sustainability, 1(3), 136. doi:10.1038/s41893-018-0033-0center_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

Small farmers not ready as Indonesia looks to impose its palm oil sustainability standard on all

first_imgArticle published by Hans Nicholas Jong 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 Agriculture, Certification, Environment, Farming, Forests, Indonesia, Oil Palm, Palm Oil, Plantations, Rainforests, Rspo, Sustainability Banner image: A Lubuk Beringin villager, Rahimah, 70, harvests palm nuts for palm oil on her agroforestry farm at Lubuk Beringin village in Jambi province, Indonesia. Photo by: Tri Saputro/CIFOR/Flickr The Indonesian government plans to make its sustainable palm oil certification scheme, the ISPO, mandatory for small farmers by 2020. These farmers account for 40 percent of the total oil palm plantation area nationwide, but were exempted from the initial ISPO rollout.A recent study shows that these smallholders are not ready to adopt the standard. They face a variety of challenges, largely stemming from the tenuous nature of their land ownership claims.The Ministry of Agriculture fears that under the existing ISPO compliance regulation, many farmers will end up in prison for failing to comply by the deadline. The government is now drafting an updated ISPO regulation. JAKARTA — The Indonesian government aims to impose its homegrown sustainability standard for palm oil on all operators, but concerns persist over the readiness of the previously exempt small-scale farmers who manage two-fifths of total plantation area nationwide.Mandatory participation in the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil scheme, or ISPO, was initially aimed at farmers and companies managing plantations of more than 25 hectares (62 acres) in size. This, however, exempts from certification the vast number of smaller plantations that, combined, account for 40 percent of oil palm plantations in the country.To date, less than 1 percent of independent smallholder farms are certified as sustainable under the ISPO and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the world’s largest association for ethical production of palm oil.The industry has long been associated with social and environmental problems such as forced labor and massive deforestation. The government, aware that any meaningful reform of the industry would have to include small-scale farmers, plans to make ISPO certification mandatory for these smallholders by 2020.The need to do so will only grow more urgent as the number of such operators continues to increase, expanding their share of Indonesia’s oil palm plantation area to 60 percent by 2030.“Independent smallholders are thus critical players for bringing sustainable, conflict-free palm oil into reality,” the World Resources Institute (WRI) said in a recent blog post.However, there are concerns that smallholders, long overlooked by both industry and government for assistance in adopting agricultural best practices, are not ready for ISPO certification.A truck transports recently harvested oil palm fruit, which will be pressed to make palm oil. Photo by John Cannon.Obstacles to certificationThe independent smallholders in question here differ from so-called plasma farmers, who also manage smallholdings but have agreements in place with larger companies that cover support and logistics, and ultimately guarantee that the companies will buy their palm fruit.Independent smallholders, by contrast, typically learn how to manage plantations with no training, no supervision, and limited support from the government. The result, says Arya Hadi Dharmawan, a researcher at the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB), is “a sad tale” of a large group of farmers for whom obtaining ISPO certification will be difficult.A recent IPB study of small farmers in the three provinces of Jambi, Riau and Central Kalimantan highlighted just how ill-prepared they were to meet the standard. For a start, Arya said, most of these farmers lacked land certificates.Under 2013 government guidelines for plantation licensing, small farmers are required to apply for a plantation registration certificate known as an STD-B, while large-scale producers (those cultivating more than 25 hectares) have to obtain a plantation business license called an IUP-B.The former is a simple land certificate with no requirement to carry out an environmental impact assessment (EIA), while the latter involves more complex procedures and regulatory requirements, including an EIA. In practice, however, STD-B certificates are rarely issued, Arya found during the study of small farmers in Jambi.“We thought it’d be easy [for these farmers to obtain ISPO certificates] because they’re located in [designated plantation] areas, but it’s not,” he said. They don’t have any papers, he added, and manage their land without formal borders, relying instead on mutual understanding with their neighbors.“As a result, only 1 percent of them have STD-B certificates,” he said.A second obstacle to certification is the farmers’ lack of access to ISPO-compliant fertilizers and seeds. The study found 89 percent of small farmers used lower-cost seedlings that provided smaller yields. Another challenge is the difficulty small farmers face in forming groups in order to have a firmer legal basis from which to operate.These problems all mean no small farmers are truly ready, Arya said, even in regions like Jambi, where they face fewer legal woes because they manage plantations in non-forest areas. In Jambi, he said, small farmers are only about “55 percent ready” to comply with the ISPO.Farmers in other regions are even less prepared, the study suggested. In Riau, Arya found that many farmers were managing plantations inside forest areas — a situation that would make it even harder for them to get the requisite paperwork for the land.“If that’s the case, then it’ll be difficult for these farmers to obtain ISPO certificates,” he said. “The ISPO will surely claim victims in the form of farmers whose plantations are in forest areas.”Elephant, orangutan, and tiger habitat cleared in the Leuser ecosystem for oil palm. Photo by Rhett A. ButlerPlantation to prisonThe government has acknowledged the uphill task it faces ensuring all oil palm growers are certified by 2020.“If we make certification mandatory for all 450,000 households [working as oil palm planters], then maybe our prisons will be full,” said Dedi Junaedi, plantation product director at the Ministry of Agriculture, which is managing the ISPO compliance program.Under the regulation mandating ISPO certification for all farmers, failure to comply is punishable by between three and 10 years in prison, and fines of up to 10 billion rupiah ($700,000).“That’s why we have to be careful,” Dedi said. “Just look at [the study] — the readiness [of small farmers] is still 50 percent.”An Orangutan (Pongo abelii). Orangutans in Indonesia and Malaysia have been highly impacted by oil palm production, bringing a strong organized response from international conservation NGOs and local wildlife activists. Photo by Rhett A. ButlerAcceptability and productivityThe ISPO was introduced by the government in 2011 as a mandatory certification scheme for all oil palm growers in the country, after several big buyers, including Unilever, Nestlé and Burger King, stopped buying palm oil from Indonesia over deforestation concerns.Compared against other certification schemes, primarily the RSPO, the ISPO is largely considered the weakest, as it adheres only to Indonesian laws and regulations, which in some cases are not specific enough and fall short of providing detailed guidance for best practices.A recent report commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe detailed some of the ISPO’s weaknesses, such as lack of traceability, lack of protection for the rights of workers — it doesn’t clearly prohibit the use of force or of child labor — and failure to recognize key instruments on community rights, making it a poor tool for safeguarding the rights of indigenous communities.The government, led by the Coordinating Ministry for the Economy, is drafting a presidential regulation to undergird the new ISPO scheme, with new provisions, such as traceability, to address the highlighted weaknesses.Part of these efforts to improve the ISPO is to make it mandatory for smallholders by 2020, so that large corporate consumers that previously claimed ignorance about their suppliers can no longer fall back on that excuse.Ultimately, the idea behind the ISPO is to make Indonesian palm oil and its associated products acceptable on the global market. It also aims to boost the productivity of smallholders, currently a third of that of big growers, by providing small farmers with certification-compliant fertilizers and seeds.“It’s such a shame our farmers lose such a huge potential,” said Musdhalifah Machmud, the coordinating economic minister’s deputy for food and agriculture.The revision of ISPO also dovetails with the government’s replanting program, in which small growers will receive financial aid and technical assistance to shift from less-productive crops to with newer variants with better-quality seeds and fertilizers. The government aims to replant 1,850 square kilometers (714 square miles) of smallholder plantations this year.“If we don’t do that now, our farmers will lose their potential of high productivity in the next 10 years,” Musdhalifah said.The government is concerned that if smallholder productivity remains low, the farmers will expand their plantations to boost output, raising the risk of forest clearing to make way for new land.“Currently, our farmers feel their productivity is low, so they think they need to increase the size of their plantations,” Musdhalifah said.The government expects to finish the revision of the ISPO this year, said Wilistra Danny, Musdalifah’s assistant for plantations.“Starting from a few weeks ago, we’ve started discussing the legal draft,” he said. “We’re hoping that the presidential regulation [on the new ISPO] can be issued this year at the latest. But the process is still long. We still have to discuss it with the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, and there’s going to be a harmonization process as well. All these will take quite a long time.”last_img read more

Dogs in India are a problem for wildlife, study finds

first_imgIndia is home to an estimated 60 million dogs, the fourth highest in the world.In a pan-India online survey, people reported domestic dogs attacking 80 species of Indian wildlife, of which 31 are listed under a threatened category on the IUCN Red List.Some experts have called for rethinking both dog population management and dog ownership policies in India, and addressing the threat of dogs as a conservation problem for wildlife. Dogs may be a human’s best friend, but can be a deadly menace to wildlife, including endangered species, according to a survey in India, home to the world’s fourth-biggest population of dogs.The findings, reported in a new study published in Animal Conservation, highlighted dog attacks on some 80 species, including threatened ones dwindling in numbers, such as the golden langur (Trachypithecus geei), the great Indian bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps) and the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas). Nearly half of these attacks took place in or around protected areas, the survey found.India is home to about 60 million of the world’s estimated 1 billion dogs. In a bid to understand the impacts of free-ranging dogs on native wildlife in the country, which many experts claim is an “underreported” fact, Chandrima Home of the Bangalore-based Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) and colleagues zoomed in on dog-wildlife interactions in India through an online survey and scrutinized reports from national print media.“We found it is largely a problem across India, despite the limitations of an online survey,” Home told Mongabay-India. “Dogs were reported to attack nearly 80 species of wildlife and most of the attacks were on mammals, largely ungulates like cattle and small carnivores. In some places, respondents reported multiple attacks. Majority of these attacks were by free-ranging dogs unaccompanied by humans and in packs. Nearly half of the attacks led to the death of the animal.”A pack of dogs predating on a hog deer across the highway adjoining Kaziranga National Park. Photo by Arif Hussain and Dipen Nath of Aaranyak.Wildlife going to the dogsOf the species that dogs reportedly attacked, 31 are listed under a threatened category on the IUCN Red List, including four critically endangered species. These include the great Indian bustard and the Bengal florican (Houbaropsis bengalensis), as well as the Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla). Others include the green sea turtle, Himalayan goral (Naemorhedus goral), Asiatic wild ass (Equus hemionus), red panda (Ailurus fulgens) and the golden langur.Some 73 percent of the 249 responses to Home’s online survey reported seeing domestic dogs attack wildlife, while nearly 78 percent of the respondents perceived the presence of dogs in and around wilderness areas to be harmful to wildlife.Globally, cats, dogs and even rodents and pigs are known to disrupt wildlife, endangering about 600 species that are classed as vulnerable to critically endangered in the IUCN Red List. Studies show dogs have contributed to 11 vertebrate extinctions and imperiled 188 threatened species worldwide.The high dog density in India is attributed to poor dog ownership rules and a lack of sustained efforts in population control, exacerbated by increased availability of food waste. Home said she believed a combination of all these factors influenced the negative impact of dogs on wildlife.“Since domestic dogs occur at densities higher than natural predators, the frequency of attacks on prey species is also likely to be high, especially in and around protected areas which are generally small in size in India,” she said. “Large mammals find it difficult to fight back when dogs charge in packs.”In India, most free-ranging dogs are loosely associated with humans, Home said. Even if they are pets, they are generally off the leash and therefore have a propensity to interact with wildlife in several cases, due to their proximity to buffer zones and protected areas.Dogs can venture out into these areas even if they are being fed at home. It is important to recognize the fact that a large proportion of these attacks occur without an accompanying human present, indicating that whether they are owned or not, these dogs’ free-ranging nature can have significant impacts on wildlife, Home said.“The effects of these attacks on populations that are actually in decline could be disastrous,” she said. “It’s almost like the final nail in the coffin. When a species such as the great Indian bustard has shown already serious decline due to numerous reasons, predation by domestic dogs can push the species to extinction.”However, the researchers cautioned against an “observation bias” in the data accumulated, since larger-sized species tend to get reported more.Dogs chasing an Indian wild ass in the Little Ran of Kutch, Gujarat. Photo by Kalyan Varma.Dogs exacerbate edge effectsAbout 48 percent of the attacks were reported within protected areas and the buffer areas around them, pointing to, as Home says, a “pervasive threat” to biodiversity. This highlights the role of dogs in driving changes at the boundaries of habitats, also called the edge effect, which has important implications for forest fragmentation and conservation.“When habitats are fragmented, there are several edge impacts,” Home said. “For example when a road passes through a protected area, there are impacts on the species that are at the boundaries. Similarly the movement of dogs within such areas and longer forays can extend the impact of the edge.”As an example, primatologist Parimal Bhattacharjee cites a recorded aggression in a small forest fragment in the northeastern state of Assam, in which a troop of six endangered Phayre’s leaf monkeys (Trachypithecus phayrei) were forced to abandon their regular areas following intense barking by domestic dogs.“Coupled with the fact that there is large scale destruction of habitat for the procurement of agricultural land and setting up new human settlements, high dependency of locals on fuel wood, the aggression between the Phayre’s leaf monkeys and dogs may result in expulsion of the monkeys from their native area,” Bhattacharjee, who was not associated with the study, told Mongabay-India.Dogs predating on a hog deer across the highway adjoining Kaziranga National Park. Photo by Arif Hussain and Dipen Nath of Aaranyak.Similarly, there are reports of golden langurs forced to clamber down from trees to cross roads and move across to the other side of the forest due to habitat fragmentation, and coming under attack from domestic dogs.“These [golden langurs] are non-urban species and when they enter villages at the edge of forests, they are subjected to aggression by dogs owned by villagers to protect livestock from predators,” Bhattacharjee said. “In certain areas, canopy construction was carried out to protect them from a combination of road kills and dog attacks.”Conservation biologist Sanjay Gubbi says domestic dogs have both direct and indirect impacts on wildlife, competing for prey with wild carnivores.“They hunt wild animals from smaller wildlife such as hare, monitor lizards to large mammals such as chital and sambar,” Gubbi of the Nature Conservation Foundation, who was not associated with the study, told Mongabay-India. “We see this regularly in our camera traps where domestic dogs are carrying or chasing wild prey. Hence they compete for prey with wild carnivores. Lowered wild prey density affects species such as leopards and can cause leopards to shift to domestic prey leading to increased human-wildlife conflict.”The experts also underscored domestic dogs as carriers of diseases that can be transmitted to wild animals such as the dhole, wolf, jackal, fox and other canids and felids.Dogs feasting on cattle carcasses at the Jorbeer dump in Rajasthan. Photo by Anoop Kumar/Desert National Park, RajasthanWhose dog is it anyway?About 87 percent of the people responding to the online survey felt the need to control dog populations around wilderness areas — an observation that underscores the need to rethink population management and address the threat of dogs as a conservation problem for wildlife, experts say. Some of the population control methods the respondents suggested using included trap-neuter-release, euthanasia, reducing food availability, or translocation of dogs to dog shelters.“When it comes to dog population management nobody actually wants to look at one of the most important problem in India, that is, dog ownership policies,” Home said. “People like to feed dogs (easy way to show compassion) but do not want to be responsible pet owners. Also sterilisation is considered the only way to curb population.“Restricting free-ranging behaviour is very important and that can only come with strong laws,” Home added. “In certain cases, hard decisions also have to be taken but in a humane way. One cannot have dogs around sensitive conservation areas. Disowned and feral ones should be removed. Animal welfare should not just be about dogs but also the gamut of wildlife being affected by the dogs themselves.”Dog feeding on barking deer. Photo by Siddharth Edake/The Energy and Resources Institute.However, behavioral biologist Anindita Bhadra, of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata, flagged a concern regarding the perception of dogs not being a part of the local biological diversity. “This is a very western view of dogs — dogs being considered only as pets. This is a very myopic view. Would researchers say the same about dholes or dingoes?” Bhadra said.Andrew Rowan, chief scientific officer for The Humane Society of the U.S. and former president and CEO of Humane Society International, said the issue of stray dogs killing wildlife in India is very similar to complaints in the U.S. by conservation biologists that cats are responsible for a huge proportion of bird mortality.“The core problem is the encroachment of human communities into protected areas and the humans are then accompanied by dogs who may, or may not, remain close to their human commensals as they explore their environment,” Rowan said.Citation:Home, C., Bhatnagar, Y.V., and Vanak, A.T. (2018) Canine Conundrum: domestic dogs as an invasive species and their impacts on wildlife in India. Animal Conservation. DOI: 10.1111/acv.12389This story was first published on April 3, 2018, by Mongabay-India. Article published by Shreya Dasgupta 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 Animal Behavior, Animals, Biodiversity, Conservation, Endangered Species, Environment, Forests, Green, Mammals, Protected Areas, Wildlife last_img read more

An anguished quest

first_imgCooped up alone in his Chinese hotel room, Darren Russell sat terrified. He was tough. He had suffered through plenty in the previous months and never said a thing. But now he was broke, sick and thousands of miles from home. So he surrendered to fear and reached for the phone. At 10:02 p.m. April 13, 2005, he dialed the international code for his father’s cell phone, but Mike Russell didn’t pick up. Voice shaking and rough, Darren left a message pleading for help. “I’m scared,” he said. “I want to get out of here. I’ve never been so scared in my life.” A world away in Calabasas, Maxine and Mike Russell were panicking because they hadn’t heard from their 35-year-old son. They had been getting daily updates from him, and now everything was going to hell. After months of fighting with his boss about what he thought were substandard conditions at the Decai school in Guangzhou, China, Darren had quit his job and threatened to go to the police. He had been kicked out of his apartment and shuttled to a hotel an hour away from the airport. Thieves stripped him of his college ring and $400. His mom wired $1,500 for a plane ticket home, but he couldn’t access the money. He didn’t have his passport or his laptop. She frantically worked the phones, contacting the State Department and trying to get her son home. Even from afar, they stayed in close contact. “We were inseparable,” she said. “There was never a day I didn’t speak with him. I knew if he didn’t call that he was hurt very badly.” On April 16, a State Department representative called instead. “I’m sorry to inform you,” a woman told her, “your son is dead.” Maxine Russell screamed. A new twist Authorities told the grieving mother that her son had been hit by a truck, that the force of the collision had split his skull and killed him. But something didn’t feel right to her. Her son was terrified of traffic in China and rarely ventured into the chaotic lanes without following a local. She began to wonder. He had no other broken bones, no lacerations that would indicate a truck had slammed into his body. It took three weeks to get his body home. The Russells buried him in May 2005 in Eden Memorial Park in Mission Hills, wondering all the while if he had been murdered. And the official word on his death kept changing. When Maxine requested English copies of his medical records, they arrived – in Chinese. When she had them translated, they turned out to be for a woman suffering from depression. Seeking answers and closure, Maxine Russell again contacted the State Department, along with the Chinese government, Congress, the Senate, the FBI and anyone else she thought could help. In the ensuing two years, she sent more than 1,000 packets describing the mysterious circumstances of Darren’s death. Most got no response. But she didn’t give up. She had a replica made of her son’s stolen college ring and a necklace with the Chinese character for White Rabbit – the nickname his students gave him – that she wears in remembrance. She started three Web sites, JusticeForAmericans-inChina.com, WhiteRabbitsMom.org and TeachingInChina.net, to tell the story herself. She kept pressing Congress, but things moved slowly. No one seemed interested in investigating an old death officially ruled an accident. So in March, she had her son’s body exhumed and autopsied by Dr. David Posey, a La Ca ada-based pathologist. He found knuckle marks on Darren’s cheek and defensive wounds on his hand. “The injuries to your son have been analyzed, and there are no injuries to suggest Darren was struck by a truck or other type of motor vehicle,” Posey wrote in his report. “Based on all of the evidence reviewed and examined and the autopsy findings, the cause and manner of death are as follows: CAUSE OF DEATH: Blunt force trauma to head and brain. MANNER OF DEATH: Homicide.” Off to China Before he ended up cold and broken in a Guangzhou morgue, Darren had big plans. He grew up in Van Nuys and studied sociology at San Diego State University. He was good with kids, devoted to his family and worked hard. “He always had a feeling for the underdog,” his mom said. “He always cared about others.” As a child, he doted on his grandmother. When he saw children crying, he would crack them up with impressions of Donald Duck. Though shy at first, he was remembered as a loyal, giving friend. After college, he joined his dad in the family scrap metal business. But Darren wanted more. He tried acting. He considered going back to school for a master’s degree in social work, but he wanted to see the world. He picked China. So, for five months in 2004, he moved to Hebei Province and taught English. Everything went smoothly, and he decided to return a second time, receiving 23 job offers and signing with a school in Guangzhou called Decai. He left the day after Thanksgiving in high spirits and made his mom promise she would visit. But things went bad from the start. Not paradise Instead of the picturesque, two-story school shown on the Internet, he taught English classes seven days a week in a shabby, rented room. He had 1,200 students, grades 1 through 12. Everything seemed shady. Maxine Russell flew in to visit him in January 2005 and was shocked. The apartment the school had provided her son had no hot water. Grates kept the windows open at all times. When he woke up, frost dotted his blankets. His mom pushed him to ask for a better place, but he assured her everything would be fine. “I’m not here to live in a fancy apartment,” he laughed. “I’m here to teach.” And he was very good at that, recalled his mother, a 20-year teacher herself. He led the kids in songs, taught them how to dance. But the long hours and rigorous workload ground him down. He got sick, developing a terrible cough and bronchitis. He approached his supervisor, Luo Deyi, and asked to have his work week reduced to six days. He was denied. Again, his mother pleaded with him, telling him to quit and come home. He refused, saying he didn’t want to abandon the kids he had come to love. “The students are just innocent victims,” he told her. “I’m not going to let them down.” Ever since he had arrived, his mother said, Decai kept her son’s passport, preventing him from leaving. Each time he asked for its return, he got another excuse about why it was needed to get the proper work visa. Attempts to locate the school and Luo Deyi were unsuccessful. But in an interview last year with the Associated Press, Luo said Darren’s “teaching methods failed to meet the requirement of the school and fit the students.” She also claimed he had a drinking problem, which his mother denies. “It was very strange and irresponsible for them to blame us for their son’s death,” Luo told the AP. The breaking point By early April, Darren had enough. He was getting injections four times a week for his bronchitis, and he had nothing left to give. He confronted Luo, demanded his passport and threatened to report the school to authorities. When he quit, Luo ordered him out of his apartment immediately. He grabbed his belongings and made plans to fly to Hong Kong, renew his visa and find another job. When he tried to go to the airport, he was instead taken to the hotel where he would make that fateful call. It is unclear who took him there. For three days, he tried to arrange a way out, but nothing worked. He had no money. The hotel took his laptop as collateral. Police held onto his passport. The wire transfer from his parents wouldn’t go through. The Russells tried to get their son to the airport or the American Consulate, where they planned to fly in to rescue him. He called to plead for their help. Within hours, he was dead. The truth Now, Maxine Russell believes the autopsy results give her the ammunition she needs to force an investigation. “Before, it was the word of a grieving mother,” she said. “Now that I have the information, it’s a whole different case.” Her congressman, Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, agrees. He was one of the few who was receptive to her calls for an investigation, assigning a caseworker in 2005 and personally contacting State Department officials. With the added weight of the autopsy, Waxman now plans to bring the case before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, perhaps as a prelude to an investigation of human rights violations. “I believe Mrs. Russell deserves answers to her questions,” he said in a statement. “The preliminary report received by Mrs. Russell raises these questions anew, and I hope that the State Department and others will review this information carefully.” Neither the State Department press office nor the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles responded to interview requests. Waxman’s elevated interest encouraged Maxine Russell, who persistently has chased after answers for two years. She wants concrete information about her son’s death. A State Department warning about travel to China. For other prospective teachers to hear what happened to her son and to only work for accredited universities. Legal help to transform a campaign run from her living room into a large-scale effort. “But I will never sue. No amount of money will bring my son back,” she said. “I just want to get the truth out.” [email protected] (818) 713-3738160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more