March 04, 2011
A review of mongabay.com's February 2011 stories.
The most visited item was a feature written in January that provides an overview of the social and environmental issues associated with oil palm expansion on forest and peat lands. But a hopeful palm oil story also ranked well: the decision by Golden Agri Resources (GAR) to adopt a comprehensive forest policy that prohibits conservation of conservation value forest areas, peatlands, and high carbon ecosystems. The policy also requires GAR, Indonesia's largest palm oil producer, to get free prior informed consent (FPIC) from local communities potentially affected by new plantations. While the story might be easily dismissed as a public relations stunt, there is reason this time to believe the policy is more than marketing—Greenpeace, one of GAR's fiercest critics, has cautiously welcomed the deal. The Forest Trust, a Switzerland-based NGO, will help GAR implement the policy.
Expansion of the oil palm estate and natural forest loss in Indonesia and Malaysia, 1990-2008. Click image to enlarge
Mongabay's interview with Gilberto Camara, head of Brazil's space agency INPE, also drew a lot of interest, including a retweet from Sophia Bush, an American actress. Camara discussed Brazil's advanced deforestation monitoring system.
Two other interviews ranked in the top 10 most popular news articles for the month: an interview with marine biologist and accomplished author Carl Safina of the Blue Ocean Institute, and a Q&A with Michele Raffin, who is on a private mission to save some of the world's most threatened birds.
Finally, one of the biggest stories of the month was a happy one for environmentalists: Sabah announced it would not proceed with a controversial coal-fired power plant that threatened some of the Malaysian state's richest ecosystems. Local activists had waged a long campaign against the project, which Dan Kammen, a renewable energy expert with UC Berkeley and the World Bank said was unnecessary given Sabah's cleaner energy options.