Conservation newsFounded in 1999, Mongabay is a leading provider of environmental science and conservation news.
Evolution of whales challenged
(12/19/2007) Modern whales appear to have evolved from a raccoon-sized creature with the body of a small deer, according to scientists writing in the journal Nature. The results challenge the theory that cetaceans are descended from even-toed ungulates (artiodactyls) like hippos, as previous molecular analysis has suggested.
Did U.S. negotiators go against the Bush administration in Bali?
(12/18/2007) Insiders in Washington are speculating that the US delegation to the U.N. climate talks in Bali went against the wishes of the Bush Administration as negotiations drew to a close last weekend, according to SPIEGEL ONLINE.
Will carbon credits-for-forests scheme be undermined by carbon negative bioenergy?
(12/18/2007) The Indonesian government has signed an agreement with energy giant Total E&P Indonesia on a carbon capture and storage scheme that could eventually lead to the development of carbon negative bioenergy production in the southeast Asian country, reports Biopact. The deal raises fears that feedstock for production could lead to large-scale deforestation of the country's remaining forests and undermine efforts to push forest conservation-for-carbon credits (or REDD) initiatives.
Study shows that sea turtles can recover
(12/18/2007) conservation of sea turtle nesting sites is paying off for the endangered reptiles, reports a new study published this week in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography. A team of researchers led researchers from IUCN and conservation International found that green turtle (Chelonia mydas) nesting on four beaches in the Pacific and two beaches in the Atlantic have increased by an four to fourteen percent annually over the past two to three decades as a result of beach protection efforts.
Rainforest destruction increasingly driven by corporate interests, not poverty
(12/18/2007) Tropical deforestation is increasingly enterprise-driven rather than the result of subsistence agriculture, a trend that has critical implications for the future of the world's forests, says Dr. Thomas Rudel, a researcher from Rutgers University. As urbanization and government-sponsored development programs dwindle in the tropics, industrial logging and conversion for large-scale agriculture -- including oil palm plantations, soy farms, and cattle ranches -- are ever more important causes of forest destruction.
Palm oil is a net source of CO2 emissions when produced on peatlands
(12/17/2007) Researchers have confirmed that converting peat forests for oil palm plantations results in a large net release of carbon dioxide, indicating industry claims that palm oil helps fight climate change are unfounded, at least when plantations are established in peatlands.
Photos: Two unknown mammal species discovered in "lost world"
(12/16/2007) Two mammal species -- a tiny possum and a giant rat — discovered on a recent expedition to Indonesia's remote Foja Mountains in New Guinea are likely new to science, report researchers from conservation International (CI) and Indonesia Institute of Science (LIPI). The area won international fame after a December 2005 survey turned up dozens of new species and gave urgency to conservation efforts in a region where logging and forest clearing for agriculture are a serious concern.
Bali delegates agree to support forests-for-climate (REDD) plan
(12/16/2007) Delegates meeting at the U.N. climate conference in Bali agreed to include forest conservation in future discussions on a new global warming treaty, reports the Associated Press. The move could lead to the transfer of billions of dollars -- in the form of carbon credits -- from industrialized countries to tropical nations for the purpose of slowing greenhouse gas emissions by reducing deforestation rates. Deforestation presently accounts for roughly 20 percent of anthropogenic emissions worldwide.
Photo: African wild dog pup gets a health check up
(12/14/2007) African wild dogs are among the most threatened canines on the planet.
Scientists: cut emissions now to avoid climate tipping point
(12/14/2007) Countries need to act soon to cut carbon dioxide emissions if the worst impacts of global warming are to be avoided, warned a panel of scientists speaking Thursday at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
Christmas shopping habits help drive global warming
(12/14/2007) Just as the conference in Bali on global warming wraps up with a middling agreement, consumers in the US and Europe are rushing to holiday stores, mostly unaware of how their Christmas consumerism affects global warming. The British independent think-tank, Nef (new economics foundation) has released a report highlighting the environmental cost of holiday shopping.
70% of rainforest island to be cleared for palm oil
(12/13/2007) Mongabay.com received information this week that the Malaysian company Vitroplant has been granted the permit it needs to begin developing 70% of Woodlark Island into palm oil plantations. In an e-mail received by one of the opposition leaders to Vitroplant, Dr. Simon Piyuwes said that "the government granted the permit to the oil palm company despite a widespread campaign and pressure from NGOs". In an earlier article Dr. Piyuwes stated that "we [the islanders] do not have money to fight the giant. We only hope for the support from the NGOs, and the mercy of the government to withdraw the project." It seems the government has refused Dr. Piyuwes what he hoped for.
Fish farms are killing wild salmon in British Columbia
(12/13/2007) Parasitic sea lice infestations caused by salmon farms are driving nearby populations of wild salmon toward extinction, reports a study published in the December 14 issue of the journal Science.
Prehistoric Carnivorous Fungi Lassoed its Prey
(12/13/2007) Scientists have discovered the oldest known carnivorous fungus, according to a study published in Science.
U.S. corn subsidies drive Amazon destruction
(12/13/2007) U.S. corn subsidies for ethanol production are contributing to deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, reports a tropical forest scientist writing in this week's issue of the journal Science.
Global warming will degrade 98% of coral reefs by 2050
(12/13/2007) Ocean acidification caused by human-induced carbon dioxide emissions could dramatically alter the planet's coral reefs and marine food chains, warns research published in the December 14 issue of Science and presented at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco.
Bloomberg calls for a carbon tax
(12/13/2007) New York City mayor and potential U.S. presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg said that carbon cap-and-trade schemes are vulnerable to "special interests, corruption, inefficiencies," and should be replaced by straight carbon taxes, reports the Associated Press.
Communities must benefit for forest carbon schemes to be effective
(12/13/2007) Much has been promised by what avoided deforestation carbon credits can do to support forest protection, increase tax revenues, and develop sustainable rural economies in our Zamrud Khatulistiwa or Emerald on the Equator.
Natural climate variations have larger effect on hurricanes than global warming
(12/12/2007) Natural climate variations, which tend to involve localized changes in sea surface temperature, may have a larger effect on hurricane activity than the more uniform patterns of global warming, a report in this week's Nature suggests.
Traffic cones used to protect seabirds
(12/11/2007) Bright orange traffic cones that warn drivers of danger on the road are now being used to steer seabirds away from deadly entanglement in fishing nets, the Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) reports. Argentinean marine biologist and inventor Diego Gonzalez Zevallos has conducted research funded by WCS and Fundacion Patagonia National on the issue for over five years.
Climate change already affecting water supplies in the Western U.S.
(12/11/2007) Climate change is already impacting water supplies in the western United States and is likely to reducer carbon sequestration by regional ecosystems, reports research presented at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
U.S. contributes $0 to World Bank's new $300m forest carbon fund
(12/11/2007) At U.N. climate talks in Bali, the World Bank officially unveiled its $300 million Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, a scheme that will offer tropical countries carbon offset credits to preserve forests.
Massive carnivorous dinosaur discovered
(12/11/2007) A massive carnivorous dinosaur discovered in Niger has been described as a new species, according to research published in current issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
Threatened birds may be rarer than previously thought, finds study
(12/11/2007) Geographic range maps that allow conservationists to estimate the distribution of birds may vastly overestimate the actual population size of threatened species and those with specific habitats, according to a study published online this week in the journal conservation Biology.
Greenland ice sheet melting hits record in 2007
(12/11/2007) The 2007 melt extent on the Greenland ice sheet broke the 2005 summer melt record by 10 percent, making it the largest ever recorded there since satellite measurements began in 1979, according to a University of Colorado at Boulder climate scientist.
U.S. hijacks climate talks, kills rainforest conservation plan
(12/11/2007) The United States again wrought havoc at UN Climate Change talks. In the early morning hours of talks, as diplomats faced exhaustion, the United States pulled the equivalent of a diplomatic nuclear option, scuttling frantic global efforts to save tropical forests.
Controversial dam in the Amazon gets Brazilian go-ahead
(12/11/2007) The Brazilian government has awarded rights to build and operate a controversial R$10bn hydroelectric power plant on the Madeira river in the Amazon rainforest near the border with Bolivia, according to FT.com.
Amazon conservation Team wins "Innovation in conservation Award" for path-breaking work with Amazon tribes
(12/11/2007) The Amazon conservation Team (ACT) was today awarded mongabay.com's inaugural "Innovation in conservation Award" for its path-breaking efforts to enable indigenous Amazonians to maintain ties to their history and cultural traditions while protecting their rainforest home from illegal loggers and miners.
10% of global CO2 emissions result from swamp destruction
(12/10/2007) More than 10 percent of annual carbon dioxide emissions result from the degradation and destruction of peat swamps, reports the first comprehensive global assessment on the links between peatland degradation and climate change.
Photos: Elusive long-eared jerboa caught on film for the first time
(12/10/2007) Extraordinary footage of the endangered long-eared jerboa was taken by scientists from the EDGE; this is the first time the jerboa, a hopping rodent that sports massive ears, has ever been caught on film. The nocturnal animal was captured springing across the desert sands, digging a burrow, and, oddly enough, persistently seeking the comfort of a scientist's sandals.
New theory on the evolution of pygmies
(12/10/2007) The small body size of forest-dwelling "pygmies" evolved as a life history consequence of early death, not as an adaptation to their environment or endurance against starvation, argues a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
A comprehensive look at the use of animals in Brazilian medicine
(12/10/2007) For millennia animals have been used in medicine as remedies. While this practice has all but disappeared in western countries, many cultures still employ traditional medicine that includes animal-derived remedies. Probably the most famous of these are the Chinese, who for example use seahorses for a variety of ailments and rhinoceros horn as an aphrodisiac. Lesser known and studied, though just as varied and rich is Brazil's long tradition of animal-remedies for all kinds of ailments. A recent study set out to document the wide-range of animals used in Brazilian traditional medicine and its possible consequences on animal populations, the environment, and Brazilian society.
Norway puts $560m toward rainforest conservation
(12/09/2007) Norway will commit NOK 3 billion ($560m) to rainforest conservation efforts in an effort to slow climate change, reports Aftenposten, a Norwegian newspaper.
World's largest spitting cobra discovered in Kenya
(12/09/2007) The world's largest spitting cobra has been discovered in Kenya, according to WildlifeDirect, a conservation group.
Rainforest destruction continues in tropical Asia
(12/09/2007) Tropical forests in Asia have been rapidly and extensively destroyed over the past generation, with significant implications for the region's biodiversity and global climate. A new study, published in the December volume of Current Science, finds that Asian forest loss has occurred mostly in poor, corrupt countries that have high population density and robust population growth rates.
Aceh, Papua, Amazonas governors sign carbon-for-forests pact
(12/08/2007) Three governors have signed the Forests Now Declaration to protect tropical forests for their carbon value. The Governors, Irwandi Yusuf (Aceh, Indonesia), Barnabas Suebu (Papua, Indonesia), and Eduardo Braga (Amazonas, Brazil), agreed to the declaration's action plan which calls for compensation for reduced greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and protection of standing forests. Deforestation and forest degradation account for roughly 20 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, but steps to reduce forest loss will help mitigate climate change. The UK government's 2005 Stern Review said that forest protection could be one of the most cost-effective ways to address climate change.
Amazon deforestation rates drop 20% in 2007
(12/08/2007) Deforestation rates in Brazil's Amazon rainforest dropped 20 percent since last year, reported the Brazilian National Institute of Space Research (INPE).
REDD will fail if needs of forest communities aren't addressed
(12/07/2007) Initiatives to reduce emissions by reducing tropical deforestation (REDD) will fail unless policymakers adequately address the underlying drivers of forest degradation and destruction, argues a new report published by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
Bali talks update: Brazil blocks deforestation initiative, US stalls
(12/07/2007) Thousands of United Nation's delegates are convening over the next ten days to chart a new course for tackling climate change. One of the hottest topics at the United Nations Convention on Climate Change is Reducing Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries (REDD). Tropical deforestation causes 20% of global greenhouse gases. REDD is based on the principal that if the world wants to fight climate change and deforestation - conservation behvaior must be more profitable than destruction. The UN diplomats are trying to reach accord on new financial resources that will empower developing countries to slow down their rates of deforestation.
Hurricane forecast calls for 7 hurricanes, 3 major, in 2008
(12/07/2007) Hurricane forecasters William Gray and Philip Klotzbach are predicting a "somewhat above-average" hurricane season for 2008. The Colorado State University researchers anticipate seven Atlantic hurricanes, three of them "major" (category 3 or higher), during the 2008 season. In total 13 named storms in the Atlantic are expected.
Rainforest logging moratorium established in Indonesian provinces, Amazonas state
(12/07/2007) Governors from the Brazilian state of Amazonas and the Indonesian provinces of Aceh, Papua and West Papua signed a historic agreement to protect threatened rainforests.
Peatlands restoration is a cheap way to cut CO2 emissions
(12/07/2007) Rehabilitating damaged peatlands in Indonesia may be one of the most cost-effective ways to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, said an international NGO.
Global warming will significantly increase bird extinctions
(12/06/2007) Where do you go when you've reached the top of a mountain and you can't go back down? It's a question increasingly relevant to plants and animals, as their habitats slowly shift to higher elevations, driven by rising temperatures worldwide. The answer, unfortunately, is you can't go anywhere. Habitats shrink to the vanishing point, and species go extinct. That scenario is likely to be played out repeatedly and at an accelerating rate as the world continues to warm, Stanford researchers say.
Merrill Lynch announces carbon credits-for-forest conservation partnership
(12/06/2007) Merrill Lynch is working with Carbon conservation, an ecosystem services firms, to explore opportunities in avoided deforestation and integrated sustainable land management. The partnership was announced Thursday in Bali, Indonesia, where more than 10,000 policymakers, scientists, and activists are meeting to discuss a post-Kyoto framework on limiting climate change.
U.S. to cut funding for rainforest conservation during Bali climate talks
(12/06/2007) While delegates meet in Bali to discuss a post-Kyoto framework on climate change, it appears likely that the U.S. Treasury Department will cut funding for the Tropical Forest conservation Act (TFCA), the largest pool of U.S. government money exclusively for helping developing countries conserve threatened tropical forests, according to the Tropical Forest Group, a forest policy group based in Santa Barbara.
Global warming accelerates destruction of the Amazon
(12/06/2007) Deforestation and climate change could damage or destroy as much as 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest by 2030, according to a new report from environmental group WWF. The report, The Amazon's Vicious Cycles: Drought and Fire in the Greenhouse, shows that degradation in the Amazon could release 55-97 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2030. Forest loss could also dramatically impact water cycles in the region, affecting rainfall that is critical for river flows and agriculture.
conservation promotes larger fish stocks and higher profits for fishermen
(12/06/2007) Using conservation techniques can promote larger fish stocks and higher profits for fishermen, reports a study published in the journal Science. The research suggests that industry opposition to lower catches in the short term, may be misguided.
Pictures of new species discovered in West Africa
(12/06/2007) Scientists have discovered significant populations of new, rare and threatened species in one of the largest remaining blocks of tropical forest in West Africa, reports conservation International (CI). The findings underscore the need to conserve the area's high biological richness.
China relaxing its control over the forestry sector
(12/06/2007) China's reforms in its forestry sector have slowed deforestation, improved environmental quality, and enhanced the competitiveness of Chinese wood products despite pressure from growing internal demand for wood products and a profitable export market, according to an assessment published in Science. The authors say the trend towards public sector management of forests is likely to grow.
Hot spring bacteria could fight global warming
(12/06/2007) A newly discovered species of bacteria living in hot springs could help fight global warming, according to a study published in Nature.
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