conservation news and environmental science news.
New review system helps companies adapt to ecosystem degradation
(03/11/2008) A new accountability initiative will help companies factor ecosystem degradation into their business decisions.
Deforestation causes snake invasion in the Amazon
(03/11/2008) An official with Brazil's environmental protection agency Ibama claims that snakes are invading the city of Belem due to deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.
Half of Madagascar's amphibians may still await discovery
(03/11/2008) Madagascar is one of the most unique places on Earth for wildlife. When the public thinks of Madagascar's fauna most likely they think of one of the fifty species of lemur. Yet, Madagascar possesses a wealth of endemic wildlife outside of these unique prosimians. For example, to frog-lovers Madagascar is a paradise. The only amphibians living on Madagascar are frogs; the island is devoid of toads, salamanders, or newts. But what it lacks in other amphibians it makes up for in the number and beauty of its frogs. Currently, 240 frogs have been catalogued in Madagascar, 99 percent of which are endemic. Yet, amphibian expert Dr. Franco Andreone believes that, according to recent field studies, this may only be half of the frogs that actually live in Madagascar. Dr. Andreone believes the final tally could reach 500 species!
Skoll Foundation puts $1M toward indigenous groups, conservation in the Amazon
(03/11/2008) The Skoll Foundation has awarded the Amazon conservation Team, an innovative organization the promotes biocultural conservation among indigenous groups in the Amazon, $1,015,000 to map, manage, and protect 100 million acres of rainforest. The award is one of 11 Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship presented by the Skoll Foundation in 2008.
Madagascar's deforestation rate drops 8-fold in parks
(03/10/2008) Madagascar's deforestation rate in protected areas has fallen by eight-fold since the 1990s according to conservation International and the Malagasy government.
Emissions from deforestation offset by increased tree growth in the Amazon
(03/10/2008) An increase in carbon sequestration by trees in the Amazon has roughly offset total emissions from deforestation in the region since the 1980s. A new study, published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, this trend may slow in the future, causing the world's largest rainforest to become a net source of carbon emissions and therefore contributing to climate change.
Eastern Europe could counter high food prices
(03/10/2008) Expansion of agriculture in Eastern Europe could help counter surging food prices said a top official from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Accurate forest data will help guide climate policy
(03/10/2008) As forests are increasingly seen as a means for fighting climate change, proper forest assessment becomes all the more important. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. (FAO) says it will call on member states to provide "accurate data". FAO data has been criticized by analysts for offering an incomplete picture of forest cover and trends.
New rule grants rainforest to mining firms in Indonesia for $80/acre
(03/10/2008) A new Indonesian rule will grant concessions to mining companies operating in rainforests for as little as $200 per hectare ($80/acre) according to Mining Advocacy Network, a conservation group.
Biochar fund to fight hunger, energy poverty, deforestation, and global warming
(03/10/2008) Biopact, a leading bioenergy web site, has announced the creation of a "Biochar Fund" to help poor farmers improve their quality of life without hurting the environment.
Corn ethanol is worsening the Gulf dead zone
(03/10/2008) Proposed legislation that will expand corn-ethanol production in the United States will worsen the growing "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico and hurt marine fisheries, report researchers writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Humans are appropriating 20% more resources than Earth can provide
(03/10/2008) Mankind is appropriating 20 percent more resources each year than Earth can produce, according to a report from environmental group WWF.
Scientists target safe-climate future
(03/10/2008) Friends of the Earth, Australia, working in conjunction with many of the world's foremost climate scientists recently published a report which should have quickly pervaded into mainstream media. It is a detailed, 100-plus page manifesto imploring immediate, radical action beyond not only the proposed climate change responses by the IPCC, mainstream environmental agencies, and world governments but outside the procedures and proceedings of our national and international authorities. Coverage of the ground-breaking report, however, remains mostly in the realm of climate sites and blogs, absent not only from major sources such as Reuters and Associated Press, but even from major conservation and environmental new sites.
Can snow leopards be saved?
(03/06/2008) conservationists and officials from twelve Asian countries are meeting in Beijing next week to discuss the fate of the endangered snow leopard. Less than 7,000 snow leopard remain in the wild.
How Old Is the Grand Canyon?
(03/06/2008) The Grand Canyon began to open at least 17 million years ago, report researchers writing in the journal Science.
Biomimicry of sea cucumber skin may help stroke treatment
(03/06/2008) Using sea cucumber skin for design inspiration, scientists have developed a new material that may improve treatment for Parkinson's disease, stroke and spinal chord injuries. The research is published in the journal Science.
Climate change leave Arctic tundra vulnerable to fire
(03/06/2008) Research from ancient sediment cores indicates that a warming climate could make the world's arctic tundra far more susceptible to fires than previously thought. The findings are important given the potential for tundra fires to release organic carbon -- which could add significantly to the amount of greenhouse gases already blamed for global warming.
Record food prices to climb through 2010
(03/06/2008) The U.N. expects record high food prices to continue through 2010, driving hunger and poverty in the world's poorest countries, said a top U.N. official Thursday.
Audubon bird watercolors on display for last time until 2018
(03/06/2008) More than 40 original Audubon watercolors depicting birds that once flourished but are now gone forever or threatened with extinction -- along with species that have come back from the brink -- will go on display as part of Audubon's Aviary: Portraits of Endangered Species, the fourth installment of the New-York Historical Society's five-year Audubon exhibition series, from February 8 through March 16, at the N-Y Historical Society, 170 Central Park West.
Cretaceous sea levels were 550 feet higher than today
(03/06/2008) Sea levels were 550 feet (170 m) higher in the late Cretaceous period, about 80 million years ago, than today, shows a new reconstruction of historic ocean basins published in the journal Science. The authors say the work may help model current global warming-driven sea level change.
Toyota, GM: Hydrogen fuels cells are not viable
(03/05/2008) Executives from General Motors Corp. and Toyota Motor cast doubts yesterday about the viability of hydrogen fuel cells for mass-market production in the near term, reports The Wall Street Journal. The executives said electric cars will be a better way to cut emissions and improve fuel efficiency.
Scientists seek to understand how climate will impact forest carbon
(03/05/2008) Forests contain nearly 40 percent of the world's carbon--more than the atmosphere contains--but too little is known about forest carbon dynamics to predict whether anthropogenic global change will increase or decrease forest carbon pools. Helene Muller-Landau, staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, announced a major global research effort to quantify forest carbon pools and fluxes. She announced the new effort at the Climate Change in the Americas Symposium, held Feb. 25-29 at the institute's headquarters in Panama.
Feds flood the Grand Canyon to save endangered fish
(03/05/2008) Federal government officials unleashed a flood of water from Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona to help restore the Grand Canyon's ecosystem which has suffered as a result of changes caused by the dam.
Photo: baby walrus getting its teeth checked
(03/05/2008) Pacific walrus calf Akitusaaq, just a mere 8 1/2 months old, has just grown in his first "teeth" at The Wildlife conservation Society's New York Aquarium.
Why Europe torpedoed the REDD forests-for-carbon credits initiative
(03/05/2008) Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) has been widely lauded as a mechanism that could fund forest conservation and poverty alleviation efforts while fighting climate change. At the December U.N. climate meeting in Bali, delegates agreed to include REDD in future discussions on a new global warming treaty — a move that could eventually lead to the transfer of billions of dollars from industrialized countries to tropical nations for the purpose of slowing greenhouse gas emissions by reducing deforestation rates. conservationists and scientists applauded the decision.
Fighting illegal logging to be a top G8 priority in 2008
(03/05/2008) As it assumes the chair of the G8, Japan will make sustainable forest management a top priority, said a top Japanese government official.
Mercury from coal-burning hurts the common loon
(03/04/2008) A long-term study by the Wildlife conservation Society, the BioDiversity Research Institute, and other organizations has found and confirmed that environmental mercury--much of which comes from human-generated emissions--is impacting both the health and reproductive success of common loons in the Northeast.
Global warming to worsen crop damage from frost
(03/03/2008) Global warming could worsen frost damage in the United States according to a new study published in the journal Bioscience.
Human impacts on primate conservation in central Amazonia
(03/03/2008) Deforestation in the Amazon is a serious concern. In the Brazilian Amazon, forests are cleared for cattle ranches, soybean cultivation, and selective logging practices. A new plan to settle approximately 180 families north of Manaus, the capital city of the state of Amazonas, has created widespread controversy. The land plots would be located within the study site of the longest-running study of forest fragmentation, the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project (BDFFP). Therefore, the plan would threaten scientific research at the BDFFP and other nearby research sites operated by the Instituto Nacional da Pesquisas de Amazônia (INPA) and Large Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA), as well as the future of the Central Amazonian conservation Corridor.
China's tropical rainforests decline 67% in 30 years
(03/03/2008) Tropical rainforest cover in southern Yunnan decreased 67 percent in the past 30 years, mostly due to the establishment of rubber plantations, according to a new assessment of tropical forests in southwestern China.
Fragmentation puts Mexican howlers at risk
(03/03/2008) Forest fragmentation is putting mantled howler monkeys in southern Mexico at risk, reports a new study, published in the inaugural issue of the open access e-journal Tropical conservation Science.
Belize's world famous coral reefs and rainforests at risk
(03/03/2008) Belize's world famous coral reefs and tropical forests are increasingly vulnerable to environmental problems which could impact its tourism-dependent economy, argues a Belizean ecologist writing in the inaugural issue of the open access e-journal Tropical conservation Science.
Screaming elephant-cousin threatened by logging
(03/03/2008) A small screaming mammal that may be the closest living relative of the elephant is threatened by logging and bushmeat hunting in East Africa, according to a study published in the inaugural issue of the open access e-journal Tropical conservation Science.
New 'red list' seeks to stave off global seafood collapse
(03/03/2008) Over-fishing and destructive fishing practices have had a considerable effect on oceanic ecosystems. In 2006 a highly-reported study found that without drastic measures all wild seafood will disappear from the oceans in 50 years. Greenpeace, working against such a crash, has started a campaign that highlights 'red fish'. The twenty-two 'red' species are seafood that consumers and suppliers (including supermarkets) should avoid due to their plummeting populations and/or the damage caused by harvesting them.
Fewer wolves may mean fewer pronghorn in Yellowstone
(03/03/2008) As western states debate removing the gray wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act, a new study by the Wildlife conservation Society cautions that doing so may result in an unintended decline in another species: the pronghorn, a uniquely North American animal that resembles an African antelope.
Rare frog breeds in captivity for the first time
(03/03/2008) A rare species of frog has been found breeding in captivity in New Zealand, reports the Associated Press. The finding offers hope that the species' vulnerability to extinction can be reduced.
American demand for gas, big cars begins to wane
(03/03/2008) With crude oil today setting an inflation-adjusted record high, the Wall Street Journal reports that Americans are cutting back on gasoline consumption.
'CAT scan' shows Hawaiian forests invaded by alien species
(03/03/2008) Invasive plant species are altering the ecology of Hawaiian rain forests, reports a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Photos: pair of kissing saki monkeys
(03/03/2008) The Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) has unveiled a new pair of saki monkeys at Prospect Park Zoo in New York.
How accurate is long-term climatology data from the Amazon?
(03/03/2008) With some models forecasting significant change in the Amazon rainforest over the next century, it has been unclear whether the temperature and precipitation data upon which the projections are made is accurate. Now, new research by Rafael Rosolem of the University of Arizona, shows that data associated with the Large-scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazon (LBA) -- an international research initiative focusing on how changes in land use and climate will affect the biological, physical, and chemical functioning of Amazonia -- is representative of normal climatology for the region. In other words, during most of the LBA data collection period, the data was not taken during severe drought or extreme wet periods.
Advice for your first visit to the rainforest
(03/03/2008) Harry S. Pariser has been writing travel guides and articles for many years now. His most recent guide is Explore Costa Rica which has extensive information about the nation and its rainforests.
China's wood industry fueled by illegal log imports from rainforest countries
(02/29/2008) While China has improved management of its forestry sector, expanding forest plantation cover and banning harvesting of natural forests, China's recent growth as wood-products exporter is built on timber imports much of which are illegal argues a researcher from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in a letter to Science.
Mapping the future of conservation
(02/28/2008) A new series of maps projecting habitat loss and the impact of climate change show that the world's most biodiverse regions are in most of need of conservation investments. The authors say the study, published online today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, will help drive future conservation decisions.
Saving forgotten species: An interview with Carly Waterman, Program Coordinator of EDGE
(02/28/2008) In January 2007 a new conservation initiative arrived with an unusual level of media attention. The attention was due to the fact that the organization was doing things differently—very differently. Instead of focusing their efforts on the usual conservation-mascots like the panda or tiger, they introduced the public to long-ignored animals: photos of the impossibly unique aye-aye and a baby slender loris wrapped around a finger appeared in newsprint worldwide. The new initiative EDGE (Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered), launched by the Zoological Society of London, was not concerned with an animal's perceived popularity, rather the chose their focal species on a combined measurement of a species' biological uniqueness and its vulnerability to extinction. Consequently, they hoped to make celebrities out of animals (big and small) most people had never heard of: the hairy-eared dwarf lemur, anyone?
Web site offers homepage for every one of Earth's species
(02/27/2008) Monumental may be the only way to properly describe the Internet's Encyclopedia of Life. Its creators have set themselves the task of gathering accurate and detailed information on the earth's known 1.8 million species until every tree, arachnid, rodent, and even virus will have its own in-depth webpage.
Half the Amazon rainforest will be lost within 20 years
(02/27/2008) More than half the Amazon rainforest will be damaged or destroyed within 20 years if deforestation, forest fires, and climate trends continue apace, warns a study published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Reviewing recent trends in economic, ecological and climatic processes in Amazonia, Daniel Nepstad and colleagues forecast that 55 percent of Amazon forests will be "cleared, logged, damaged by drought, or burned" in the next 20 years. The damage will release 15-26 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, adding to a feedback cycle that will worsen both warming and forest degradation in the region. While the projections are bleak, the authors are hopeful that emerging trends could reduce the likelihood of a near-term die-back. These include the growing concern in commodity markets on the environmental performance of ranchers and farmers; greater investment in fire control mechanisms among owners of fire-sensitive investments; emergence of a carbon market for forest-based offsets; and the establishment of protected areas in regions where development is fast-expanding.
Small fires a big threat to Amazon rainforest biodiversity
(02/27/2008) Small fires have a big impact in the Amazon rainforest, report researchers writing in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. The findings suggest a dire future for Earth's largest rainforest.
Greenhouse gas emissions have already caused the Amazon to dry
(02/27/2008) Anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases have already caused the Amazon to dry, finds a new study published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.
More people now live in cities than in rural areas
(02/27/2008) By the end of 2008, half of the world's 6.7 billion people will live in urban areas, according to a report released by the United Nations today.
A Doomsday Vault for Frogs?
(02/27/2008) The Amphibian Ark, a doomsday vault for amphibians, will highlight Leap Day, February 29th, to recognize 2008 as the Year of the Frog. The campaign seeks to raise awareness of the global plight of frogs and other amphibians threatened by habitat loss, climate change, pollution and an emergent disease. Joining in the effort is the Wildlife conservation Society?s (WCS) Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium, facilities that house some of the world's most threatened amphibians.
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