Conservation newsFounded in 1999, Mongabay is a leading provider of environmental science and conservation news.
Complete map of world forests to help REDD carbon trading initiative
(02/27/2008) Policymakers, conservationists and scientists have high hopes that REDD, a mechanism for compensating countries for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, will spur a massive flow of funds to tropical countries, helping preserve rainforests and delivering economic benefits to impoverished rural communities. To date, one of the biggest hurdles for the initiative has been establishing a baseline for deforestation rates -- in order to compensate countries for "avoided deforestation" it first must be known how much forest the country has been losing on a historical basis. Until now, with some notable exceptions, this data was based largely on spotty satellite assessment and surveys of national forestry departments by the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization.
$100 billion worth of carbon released from deforestation in Riau, Sumatra
(02/27/2008) A WWF study found that deforestation of nearly 10.5 million acres of tropical forests and peat swamp in central Sumatra's Riau Province over the past 25 years has generated 3.7 gigatons of carbon dioxide. Based on today's $32 closing price for a ton of carbon dioxide for European Union Allowances, the emissions had a theoretical trading value of $118 billion, assuming they could have been traded at the full E.U. carbon price at the time (voluntary offsets would have been worth about $13 billion).
Carbon trading could protect forests, reduce rural poverty
(02/26/2008) Carbon trading from avoided deforestation (REDD) credits could yield billions of dollars for tropical countries, according to analysis by mongabay.com, a leading tropical forest web site.
Soil erosion: the future of Easter Island
(02/25/2008) Today the saga that is Easter Island's past is well known. The tragic circumstances that led to the downfall of its early civilization through starvation and war are of epic proportions. Many scientists agree that the real life scenario born from this isolated island serves as a warning, about the interrelatedness between scarcity of natural resources and conflict, for all mankind. However, current natural resource practices suggest that this lesson has fallen on deaf ears.
Deep-sea krill discovered in Antarctica
(02/25/2008) Antarctic krill have been found living at depths up to 3000 meters near the Antarctic Peninsula, a finding that changes scientists' understanding of a fundamental part of the ocean food chain. Previously researchers believed that krill lived only in the upper ocean.
Tsunami alert lifted after strong earthquake in Indonesia
(02/25/2008) The tsunami warning following a 7.3 earthquake off the island in Sumatra, Indonesia has been lifted according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
Rats decimating Aleutian Islands' ecology
(02/25/2008) Rats are disrupting fragile ecosystems on the Aleutian Islands Archipelago, reports a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Aye-aye diverged from other lemurs 66M years ago
(02/25/2008) The aye-aye -- a bizarre, nocturnal lemur that taps on trees with its fingers to find its insect prey -- was the first of its family to branch off from the rest of the lemur line some 66 million years ago, report Duke researchers writing in the March 1 issue of Genome Research.
Global malaria map released - 35% of humanity at risk
(02/25/2008) Researchers have developed a spatial distribution map for malaria. The results are published in Public Library of Science (PLoS) Medicine.
Expedition finds inverted pyramid where sharks dominate marine ecology
(02/25/2008) A survey of a remote Pacific archipelago turned up pristine coral reefs that could offer a "baseline" for measuring the human impact on reefs worldwide, report researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) at the University of California at San Diego.
Reducing deforestation rates 10% could generate $13B in carbon trading under REDD
(02/25/2008) Cutting global deforestation rates 10 percent could generate up to $13.5 billion in carbon credits under a reducing emissions from deforestation ("REDD") initiative approved at the U.N. climate talks in Bali this past December, estimate researchers writing in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. But the researchers caution there are still substantial obstacles to overcome before carbon-credits-for-rainforest-conservation becomes a reality.
Rainforest logging threatens endangered sea turtles
(02/25/2008) Logging is having an unexpected impact on endangered sea turtles in Central Africa, reports a new study published in Oryx. Aerial surveys in Gabon reveal that logs lost during transport are clogging beaches, preventing critically endangered leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) from nesting.
Amazon rainfall linked to Atlantic Ocean temperature
(02/25/2008) Climate models increasingly forecast a dire future for the Amazon rainforest. These projections are partly based on recent research that has linked drought in the Amazon to sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic. As the tropical Atlantic warms, the southern Amazon -- the agricultural heartland of Brazil -- may see higher temperatures and less rainfall.
Deforestation a greater threat to the Amazon than global warming
(02/25/2008) If past conditions are any indication of future conditions, the Amazon rainforest may survive considerable drying and warming caused by global warming, argue researchers in a paper published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.
Widespread butterflyfish may go extinct due to global warming, pollution
(02/24/2008) The Chevroned Butterflyfish, a colorful fish found in tropical oceans around the world, faces extinction due to overexploitation, pollution and climate change, report researchers writing in the journal Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology. Despite its widespread distribution, the species could be doomed by its specialized feeding habitats: the Chevroned Butterflyfish (Chaetodon trifascialis) feeds on only one type of coral.
Amazon research and conservation cannot ignore social issues
(02/24/2008) For Amazonian conservation to be effective it must start paying more attention to social issues according to a new paper: Taking things public: a contribution to address human dimensions of environmental change. The paper's author, Dr. Diogenes Alves, of the National Institute for Space Research told mongabay.com that "the main point of this paper is that it became crucial to recognize the social, economic and political settings associated with environmental change in the Amazon."
Brazil's ecosystem payments system offers clues for REDD implementation
(02/24/2008) Brazil's existing system for environmental services payments could offer insight for implementing carbon-credits-for-forest-conservation (REDD) initiatives in the Amazon rainforest, argues a London School of Economics researcher in a new paper published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.
Brazil seeks $1B/yr in donations to save the Amazon
(02/23/2008) Brazil will establish a donation-based fund to help finance conservation in the Amazon, according to Bloomberg. The announcement comes after deforestation rates spiked during the last five months of 2007.
Arizona seeks to become the 'Persian Gulf' of solar energy
(02/22/2008) With a Spanish company's plans to dramatically expand solar capacity in the desert southwest of Phoenix, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano said Arizona could become the "Persian Gulf of solar energy," according to the Associated Press.
Deforestation, wildlife conflict will be the source of emerging diseases
(02/22/2008) Due to habitat destruction and human-wildlife conflict, the tropics will likely be the next hotspot for emerging infectious diseases, report researchers who have developed the first map of new pathogens.
Cyclone batters Madagascar
(02/22/2008) 29 people were reported dead after Cyclone Ivan, a category 3 storm, struck Madagascar. The storm flooded key rice-producing regions in the country and comes a month after Cyclone Fame killed 13 on the island.
Restoring soil carbon can reverse global warming, desertification and biodiversity loss
(02/21/2008) Restoring the ability of soil to store carbon by promoting native grasses and vegetation can help reverse global warming, desertification and biodiversity loss, says an Australian researcher.
Large-scale Amazon deforestation or drying would have dire global consequences
(02/21/2008) A new study shows that large-scale degradation of the Amazon, either through drying or continued deforestation, would have global consequence, including worsening climate change, causing regional vegetation shifts, and increasing dust in the atmosphere.
Photos: Caterpillar transforms from mimicking bird droppings to a leaf
(02/21/2008) Scientists have discovered the hormone that enables swallowtail caterpillars to morph from mimicking bird droppings to the bright color form that matches the leaves upon which they feed. The research is published in Science.
NASA: warming is causing Greenland ice to melt faster than expected
(02/21/2008) Warming air temperatures are causing Greenland's ice sheet to melt faster than previously anticipated, reported NASA on Wednesday. Though unlikely, the complete melting of Greenland's ice sheet would raise global sea level by 23 feet.
Private sector pumping hundreds of billions into cleantech
(02/21/2008) The private sector is "pumping hundreds of billions of dollars" into cleaner and renewable energies, says a new publication released yesterday by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Melting of permafrost could trigger rapid global warming warns UN
(02/21/2008) Melting of the Arctic permafrost is a "wild card" that could dramatically worsen global warming by releasing massive amounts of greenhouse gases, warned the U.N. on Wednesday at a meeting in Monaco.
Is Guyana's logging deal in its best interests?
(02/21/2008) In January Guyana awarded U.S. timber firm Simon & Shock International a 400,000-hectare (988,400-acre) logging concession near the Brazilian border. Final approval hinges on the completion of an environmental impact survey and a tree inventory. While Simon & Shock International says it plans to conduct selective logging, the firm has not announced whether it will seek Forest Stewardship Council certification, a mark for responsibly-harvested timber. Is there an alternative that can improve the lot for the average Guyanese? There may be. Last fall Guyana's President, Bharrat Jagdeo, hinted at the potential of using the country's forests as a giant carbon offset to counter climate change.
Amazon state launches Zero Extinction Program for endangered species
(02/21/2008) The Brazilian state of Para has launched the Zero Extinction Program, an initiative to prevent threatened species from going extinct by protecting their habitats.
Rainforest fragmentation affects reptiles and amphibians
(02/20/2008) Deforestation of tropical ecosystems is one of the major threats to biological diversity. Anthropogenic activities transform tropical environments into semi-natural landscapes generating a great amount of forest edge that limits with pastures and agricultural lands.
Ancient Amazon fires linked to human populations
(02/20/2008) Analysis of soil charcoal in South America confirms that from a historical perspective, fire is rare in the Amazon rainforest, but when it does occur, it appears linked to human activities. The research, published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, is based on dating of soil carbon, which provides a good indication of when fires occurred in Amazonia, according to lead author Mark Bush, head of the Department of Biology at Florida Institute of Technology.
World fertilizer prices surge 200% in 2007, hurting the poor
(02/20/2008) World fertilizer prices surged by more than 200 percent in 2007, as farmers sought to maximize corn production for ethanol, according to the International Center for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development (IFDC). Poor African farmers were hardest hit by the increase.
Global warming - not el Nino - drove severe Amazon drought in 2005
(02/20/2008) One of the worst droughts on record in the Amazon was caused by high temperatures in the Atlantic rather than el Nino. The research, published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, suggests that human-driven warming is already affecting the climate of Earth's largest rainforest.
Leading tropical forest site launches in Spanish
(02/19/2008) Mongabay.com, a leading forest conservation and environmental science news web site, today announced the availability of rainforest information and environmental science news in Spanish at es.mongabay.com. The announcement comes as Mongabay.com expands into several non-English languages, including Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, French, and Japanese.
Planktos kills iron fertilization project due to environmental opposition
(02/19/2008) Planktos, a California-based firm that planned a controversial iron-fertilization scheme in an attempt to qualify carbon offsets, announced that it failed to find sufficient funding for its efforts and would postpone its project indefinitely.
Amid accusations of bribery by loggers, Borneo chief's remains to be exhumed
(02/19/2008) Police have announced that they plan to exhume the body of Kelesau Naan to discover the cause of death. The Penan chieftain and passionate activist against logging disappeared in October while checking animal traps. His body was found on December 12th of last year. Several bones were broken, leading some to believe that Naan was assassinated because of his longtime work against loggers. Kelesau Naan had been one of the key figures in the Penan community's fight against logging. He was also a plaintiff and witness in a land rights claim that has been awaiting trial since 1998.
Fire policy is key to reducing the impact of drought on the Amazon
(02/19/2008) Gaining control over the setting of fires for land-clearing in the Amazon is key to reducing deforestation and the impact of severe drought on the region's forests, write researchers in a paper published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.
Small Amazon farmers especially vulnerable to climate change
(02/19/2008) Communicating the impact of climate change to small farmers in the Amazon will be key in helping them adapt to higher temperatures, more frequent and intense drought, and greater incidence of forest fires forecast for the region, according to a paper published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.
Photos of bizarre creatures discovered in Antarctica
(02/19/2008) Researchers aboard the Aurora Australis, an Australian vessel, have discovered a trove of strange creatures on the sea floor near East Antarctica.
Amazon riparian zones need to be expanded to protect wildlife finds study
(02/19/2008) Strips of forest mandated by Brazilian law along rivers and streams in the Amazon rainforest are too narrow to effectively safeguard biodiversity, reports new research published in the journal conservation Biology.
conservation strategies can mitigate the impact of global warming in the Amazon
(02/19/2008) Careful design of protected areas to safeguard key "refugia" and allow for migration can increase the resilience of Amazon biodiversity to climate change, report researchers writing in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.
Tuna may go the way of cod: a collapsed fishery
(02/18/2008) The collapse of the cod fishery could provide important lessons to prevent a similar fate for some tuna populations, say researchers presenting at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in Boston on February 18.
10-pound 'Giant Frog From Hell' discovered in Madagascar
(02/18/2008) Researchers have discovered the remains of what may be the largest frog ever to exist.
Gecko-inspired adhesive tape could improve recovery from surgery
(02/18/2008) Researchers are close to developing a biodegradable surgical adhesive based on biomimicry of gecko feet. Geckos are famous for their ability to walk on ceilings and vertical surfaces.
Why are oceans at risk from global warming?
(02/17/2008) Climate change is putting the world's oceans at risk by increasing the temperature and acidity of seawater, and altering atmospheric and oceanic circulation, warned a panel of scientists this week at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Boston.
How will global warming affect marine food chains?
(02/17/2008) Rising temperatures and acidity of the world's oceans due to human emissions of carbon dioxide is putting marine food webs at risk warned a researcher speaking at a press briefing at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston.
Mysteries of the Great White Shark unveiled
(02/17/2008) The Great White Shark has always been a creature of mystery. The world's largest shark has long fascinated humanity from the novel and film Jaws to recent sumptuous footage of the sharks catching sea lions in Planet Earth. The behemoth, who at times can reach seven meters in length, has also become famous for occasionally attacking swimmers and surfers, though scientists believe the sharks do not intentionally hunt humans. However, the great predator's behvaior and lifecycle remains mostly mysterious to science. Some of these mysteries are just now being unraveled thanks to the Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP) program.
Digital maps and mathematical analysis could reduce fishing bycatch
(02/16/2008) Images of dolphins and turtles ensnared in tuna nets are a heart-wrenching reminder of the impact of fisheries on ocean bio-diversity. Known in fisheries science as ‘by-catch,' this killing of non-target species is a complex problem that has resisted easy answers.
Past greenhouse warming events offer clues on future climate change
(02/16/2008) If carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels continue on a "business-as-usual" trajectory, humans will have added about 5 trillion metric tons of carbon to the atmosphere by the year 2400. A similarly massive release of carbon accompanied an extreme period of global warming 55 million years ago known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM).
Ocean trawling impacts can be seen from space
(02/16/2008) Bottom trawling, an industrial fishing method that drags large, heavy nets across the seafloor stirs up huge, billowing plumes of sediment on shallow seafloors that can be seen from space.
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