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Cooking oil, palm oil biodiesel can reduce emissions relative to diesel

(11/28/2007) A lifecycle analysis of biodiesel by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) shows that using palm oil derived from existing plantations can be an effective biofuel feedstock for reducing greenhouse gas emissions relative to conventional diesel fuel. However, palm oil sourced from rainforest and peatlands generating emissions 8 to 21 times greater than those from diesel.


Photo of the Venomous Gila Monster Getting an X-ray

(11/28/2007) Dr. Tim Georoff, a veterinarian for the Wildlife conservation Society's Bronx Zoo, handles this venomous lizard with great care as he prepares this female for an radiograph (X-ray).


Hope in Bali: the December Meetings on Climate Change

(11/28/2007) The fourth, and final, report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) painted the most irrefutable and sobering picture yet of global warming. Two thousand scientists from over one hundred countries agreed to the statement that "warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level". The report also stated that it was more than 90% certain that global warming is due to human activity. This report, released last week, will hopefully set the tone for the two week meeting in Bali, Indonesia on climate change and create the rapid and strong responses that are required.


Can wildlife conservation banking generate investment returns?

(11/27/2007) A commercial venture in the Malaysian rainforest will seek to generate competitive returns on investment by protecting wildlife. The scheme -- signed by the Sabah government and Sydney-based New Forests Pty Ltd -- will establish a wildlife habitat conservation bank to manage the 34,000 ha Malua Forest Reserve on the island of Borneo.


Carbon credits for forest conservation concept faces challenges

(11/27/2007) While environmentalists, scientists, development exports, and policymakers across the political spectrum are ethusiastic about the idea of offsetting carbon emissions by preventing deforestation (a concept known as "avoided deforestation" or Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD)), the concept still faces many challenges, especially in implementation.


NASA releases high-resolution map of Antarctica

(11/27/2007) A team of researchers from NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Science Foundation and the British Antarctic Survey today unveiled a high resolution, true-color map of Antarctica. The map is expected to help scientists better understand changes occurring on the icy continent.


Video game-makers score low on sustainability

(11/27/2007) While environmentalists, scientists, development exports, and policymakers across the political spectrum are ethusiastic about the idea of offsetting carbon emissions by preventing deforestation (a concept known as "avoided deforestation" or Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD)), the concept still faces many challenges, especially in implementation.


Dutch bank arranges carbon-conservation deal in the Amazon rainforest

(11/27/2007) Dutch bank Rabobank will launch the first-ever carbon credits project in the Xingu region of the Brazilian Amazon, reports The Financial Times.


Ground-breaking Amazon rainforest imagery will help monitor deforestation

(11/27/2007) Scientists have developed a ground-breaking high resolution snapshot of 400,000 square kilometers of Amazon rainforest. The work will help researchers remotely monitor deforestation, according to the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC).


Vulnerable Australian sea lions further threatened by gillnets and lobster pots

(11/26/2007) The Australian Sea Lion inhabits only the coastal waters off south and west Australia. Historically, they were hunted almost to extinction by Europeans of the 18th and 19th centuries for their fur and oil. Beginning in 1895, certain populations of the marine mammal were placed under protection until the species gained national protection in 1975. These protections have yet to achieve their goal; Australian Sea Lion populations remain low with some subpopulations in decline. Due to these facts, Australia recently changed their conservation status to 'threatened'.


Guyana's forests offered as massive carbon offset

(11/26/2007) Guyana has offered up the entirity of its remaining forest cover as a giant carbon offset, reports The Independent.


Palm oil industry announces "eco" standards for production

(11/26/2007) Palm oil producers -- under fire from environmentalists who say the industry is driving the wholesale destruction of biodiverse rainforests in Malaysia and Indonesia -- last week announced a new certification process to ensure greener environmental standards for palm oil, reports Reuters.


Transgenic plant may thrive under global warming-induced drought

(11/26/2007) Researchers have created a drought-resistant tobacco plant through genetic engineering, according to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The work could eventually lead to the development of crops that are better able to survive higher temperatures and reduced rainfall associated with global warming.


Global warming may provoke evolution

(11/26/2007) Some 80 million years ago, during a period of global warming, a group of relatively immobile salamanders trekked from western North America to the continent that became Asia, report researchers writing in this week's issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.


Drought hurts carbon sinks in North America

(11/26/2007) A new system for tracking carbon uptake in North America, shows that deciduous forests along the East Coast (32 percent) and the boreal coniferous forests (22 percent) of northern Canada absorbed the bulk of carbon dioxide emissions between 2000 and 2005, but suggests that climate change may increasingly affect carbon sinks, according to research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.


UN says palm oil destroys forests, indigenous cultures in Indonesia, Malaysia

(11/26/2007) Europe's demand for supposedly eco-friendly biodiesel is fueling destruction of biodiverse rainforests in southeast Asia, warns a new report from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).


Is the oil-palm industry using global warming to mislead the public?

(11/23/2007) Members of the Indonesian Palm Oil Commission are distributing materials that misrepresent the carbon balance of oil-palm plantations, according to accounts from people who have seen presentations by commission members. These officials are apparently arguing that oil-palm plantations store and sequester many times the amount of CO2 as natural forests, and therefore that converting forests for plantations is the best way to fight climate change. In making such claims, these Indonesian representatives evidently are ignoring data that show the opposite, putting the credibility of the oil-palm industry at risk, and undermining efforts to slow deforestation and rein in greenhouse gas emissions.


Termites may produce cleaner biofuels

(11/23/2007) Termites may be the key to greener, more effective biofuels, report scientists writing in the November 22 edition of the journal Nature.


Greenhouse gas levels rise to new record in 2006

(11/23/2007) Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels hit a new record in 2006 according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the U.N. weather agency.


Wind could supply baseline electrical power

(11/22/2007) Wind power, long considered to be as fickle as wind itself, can be groomed to become a steady, dependable source of electricity and delivered at a lower cost than at present, according to scientists at Stanford University.


Amazon rainforest children to get medicinal plant training from shamans

(11/21/2007) The Amazon conservation Team (ACT) -- a group using innovative approaches to preserving culture and improving health among Amazonian rainforest tribes -- has been awarded a $100,000 grant from Nature's Path, an organic cereal manufacturer. The funds will allow ACT to address one of the most pressing social concerns for Amazon forest dwellers by expanding its educational and cultural "Shamans and Apprentice" program for indigenous children in the region.


Past climate change triggered wars, population decline

(11/21/2007) Long-term climate change may lead to wars and population decline according to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The research looked at the cool period known as the Little Ice Age and found that the number of wars increased, famine occurred and the population declined.


Subway sandwiches launches first fast-food recycling program

(11/21/2007) Sandwich chain Subway is implementing a recycling program, switching from conventional napkins, cutlery and plastic cups, and reducing gasoline use in an effort to minimize its impact on the environment, according to a report published in The Wall Street Journal.


Asian countries sign symbolic global warming pact

(11/21/2007) Leaders of 16 Asian countries have signed a "vague" pact on climate change according to Reuters.


Carbon offset returns beat forest conversion for agriculture in Indonesia

(11/21/2007) Conversion of forests and peatlands for agriculture in Indonesia has generated little economic benefit while releasing substantial amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, reports a new study from the the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and their Indonesian partners.


Biodiversity conservation will only work if local people benefit

(11/19/2007) Biodiversity loss is already having an economic impact in Africa according to a 7-year monitoring project underwritten by Europeans and African governments. The project, known as the Biodiversity Monitoring Transect Analysis in Africa (BIOTA), relies on a network of biodiversity observatories equipped with weather stations, sensors and a monitoring program that includes remote sensing, data on soil fertility and agricultural indicators. Dr. Nina Farwig, a scientist at the Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz and a participating member of BIOTA-East Africa, says that conservation efforts in the tropics will only be effective if the local people benefit. Her work with BIOTA shows that even in the absence of extensive forest cover, a patchwork of agricultural landscapes can contribute to the biodiversity conservation.


Large-scale agriculture 'compromises' forest's ability to recover

(11/19/2007) As deforestation of tropical forests continues unhindered, one of the future hopes for these damaged ecosystems is regeneration in secondary forests. Some areas that were once slash-and-burned for cattle ranching or subsistence agriculture have been abandoned, allowing scientists to study the possibility of recovery in the rainforest. If anyone has a clear idea of the potential of secondary forests it is Robin L. Chazdon. Dr. Chazdon, a full professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut, has been studying the regeneration of secondary forest for over twenty-five years. She has published over 50 papers on tropical ecology, currently she serves as an active member of the Biotropica editorial board and is a member of the Bosques Project, which measures secondary forest recovery in Northern Costa Rica.


Only 150 vaquita remain

(11/19/2007) Only 150 individual vaquita, the world's smallest cetacean, remain, according to a new study published in conservation Biology. The species has been decimated as accidental bycatch in fishing nets in its Gulf of California habitat. Researchers--who say there may be only a two-year window to save the species from extinction--have launched a last-ditch conservation effort.


Rainforest Reserve Established in DR Congo to save bonobo

(11/19/2007) The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has announced the creation of a 11,803-square mile rainforest reserve to protect the habitat of the endangered bonobo, the so-called "peaceful chimp". The reserve is located in the Sankuru region, an area that experienced extensive fighting during the long-running civil war in the Congo.


Ocean CO2 collector could fight global warming and ocean acidification

(11/19/2007) Researchers have proposed a geoengineering solution to global warming that involves building a series of water treatment plants that enhance the ability of the ocean to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by removing hydrochloric acid from seawater by electrolysis.


Physicists join fight to save amphibians from extinction

(11/19/2007) Physicists have joined the fight to save amphibians from extinction by using Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) to investigate the properties of frogs skin.


Whale stranded 1,000 miles up the Amazon river

(11/17/2007) An 18-foot minke whale was found beached on a sandbar 1,000 miles up a tributary of the Amazon river, reported Globo television and the Associated Press.


Indonesia will need 7 years to stop illegal logging

(11/16/2007) Indonesia will take seven years to stop illegal logging and deforestation, said the country's minister of forestry.


7-year old nature guide becomes Belize environmental hero as adult

(11/16/2007) Each year hundreds of thousands of nature-oriented tourists visit Belize to see the Central American country's spectacular coral reefs, biodiverse rainforests, and ancient Mayan ruins. However few visitors realize that Belize's natural resources are at risk. Timber and oil extraction, agricultural encroachment, coastal development, pollution and unrestrained tourism are all increasing threats to Belizean ecosystems. Unless something is done to address these concerns, within a generation these pressures could present considerable problems for Belize. Dr. Colin Young, head of the environmental science program at Galen University in Belize, says that while he is greatly concerned about these issues, there is still time to ensure healthy forests and reefs in Belize.


Targeted payments to farmers could protect environment

(11/15/2007) Targeted payments to farmers in developing countries could be an effective approach to protecting the environment and addressing climate change, states a new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).


Hurricane Katrina released large amounts of carbon by destroying 320m trees

(11/15/2007) The destruction of 320 million large trees by Hurricane Katrina reduced the capacity of forests in the Southern United States to soak up carbon, reports a new study published in the journal Science. The research shows that hurricanes and other natural disturbances "can affect a landscape's potential as a 'carbon sink' because the dead vegetation then decays, returning carbon to the atmosphere, and because the old vegetation is replaced by smaller, younger plants."


Cow-like dinosaur discovered

(11/15/2007) A dinosaur discovered in the Sahara had a mouth that worked like a vacuum cleaner and operated more like a "Mesozoic cow" than a reptile, report researchers writing in today's issue of the journal PLoS ONE.


Changing carbon cycle may worsen U.S. CO2 emissions

(11/14/2007) The first State of the Carbon Cycle Report for North America, released online this week by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, finds the continent's carbon budget increasingly overwhelmed by human-caused emissions. North American sources release nearly 2 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year, mostly as carbon dioxide. Carbon sinks such as growing forests may remove up to half this amount, but these current sinks may turn into new sources as climate changes.


New system tracks CO2 emissions of 50,000 power plants worldwide

(11/14/2007) A new online database allows users to track carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of 50,000 power plants worldwide. The system, called CARMA—Carbon Monitoring for Action, was developed by the Center for Global Development (CGD), an policy and research group.


86% of sea turtle species threatened with extinction

(11/14/2007) Marine turtles have thrived for more than 100 million years. But only the last few hundred years have given the huge, spectacular, prehistoric amphibians serious trouble.


Law enforcement key to saving Borneo's rainforests

(11/13/2007) In an interview with mongabay.com, Dr. Rhett Harrison, a Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) associate researcher and Secretary for the Asia-Pacific Chapter of ATBC, says that law enforcement could be the key to safeguarding biodiversity contained in Borneo's lowland parks. Harrison says there may be opportunities for conservationists to work with oil palm to developers to ensure that existing forests are not converted for plantations and that palm oil can be produced in a sustainable manner. He also adds that carbon offsets may eventually offer a means to fund conservation and sustainable development efforts in areas that still have standing forest.


Sun Bears reclassified by IUCN as Vulnerable

(11/13/2007) The world's smallest bear has been recently classified as vulnerable by the IUCN due to habitat loss and poaching. Co-chair of the IUCN Bear Specialist Group, Dave Garshelis, states that "although we do not have any reliable population estimates for the sun bear, or any of the other Asian bears for that matter, we fear that bears in Southeast Asia are declining at a particularly rapid rate due to extensive loss of forest habitat combined with rampant poaching."


conservationist Schaller named to Time's 'Hero of the Planet'

(11/13/2007) Renowned conservationist Dr. George Schaller of the Wildlife conservation Society was recently named by Time Magazine as one of 60 'Heroes of the Planet.' He joins an elite group of environmental champions, including former Vice President Al Gore and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.


Global warming is melting soft corals

(11/13/2007) Soft corals are "simply melting and wasting away" due to global warming-induced environmental stress says Dr. Hudi Benayahu, head of Tel Aviv University's Porter School of Environmental Studies.


NASA: Arctic Ocean circulation reversal not due to global warming

(11/13/2007) A study published in Geophysical Research Letters shows that weakening of the Arctic Oscillation results from a cyclical process rather than climate change. The results suggest not all the large changes seen in Arctic climate in recent years are a result of long-term trends associated with global warming.


Greenwashing the palm oil industry

(11/12/2007) A new report from Greenpeace alleges that members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil -- an industry-driven initiative to clean up palm oil production -- are using palm oil derived by clearing endangered rainforests and draining carbon-rich peatlands on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.


Planned logging of Woodlark Island for biofuels opposed by islanders and scientists

(11/12/2007) On Woodlark Island, one-hundred and seventy miles from Papua New Guinea, a struggle is occurring between islanders and biofuel company Vitroplant Ltd. The company is planning to clear much of the island's forest for oil palm plantations to produce biofuels. Vitorplant Ltd.'s contract specifies that they would deforest 60,000 hectares of land for plantations; Woodlark Island is 85,000 hectares in total, meaning over 70% of the island would be converted. Last week, one hundred islanders (out of a total population of 6,000) traveled to the capital of Milne Bay Province, Alotau, to voice their concern over the plans to turn their forested island into plantations.


Missing link between humans and apes possibly discovered

(11/12/2007) A 10 million-year-old jawbone discovered in Kenya may represent a new species very close to the last common ancestor of gorillas, chimpanzees, and humans, report researchers writing in the current issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).


Chocolate first used more than 3100 years ago

(11/12/2007) Cacao, the source of chocolate, was in use at least at least 3000 years ago according to evidence found by archaeologists working in Honduras. The discovery pushes back the earliest known use of cacao by 500 years.


China begins blocking river for second largest dam

(11/12/2007) China began damming the Jinsha River for its biggest hydroelectric project after the Three Gorges Project, reports Chinese state media.


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