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Indigenous rights rising in tropical forests, but big gaps remain

(05/31/2012) In the last twenty years, rights for indigenous forest dwellers have expanded significantly, according to a new report by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI). Covering nearly thirty tropical forest countries, the report finds that indigenous people now hold rights to 31 percent of the forest land in these countries, rising from 21 percent in 1992. However, landmark land rights for indigenous people remain imperiled by lack of enforcement, land-grabbing, government ambivalence, and industrial development. The report comes less than a month before the Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development, a meeting of global leaders that marks two decades since the Rio Earth Summit.


Broadcaster for Radio Free Sarawak goes missing in Malaysia

(05/31/2012) Peter John Jaban, a broadcaster on Radio Free Sarawak better known by his on-air pseudonym Papa Orang Utan, was arrested on Thursday Kota Kinabalu International airport, while attempting to board a plane to Miri, Sarawak, reports The Sarawak Report.


Global deforestation alert tool developed from NASA satellite imagery launches

(05/30/2012) Mongabay.com is pleased to announce the beta version of a global forest disturbance alert system (GloF-DAS) developed in partnership with Cal State Monterey Bay and NASA Ames Research Center. The tool offers the potential to pinpoint areas that are being deforested on a quarterly basis.


Regulations help fish, and fishermen, recover in the U.S.

(05/30/2012) Marine fish populations in the U.S. are generally recovering, according to a new report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Last year six fish populations reached healthy levels in the U.S., boosting the total number of fish populations that have recovered to 27 since 2000. The success is due to the implementation of science-based annual catch limits which regulate how many fish are caught every year.


IKEA logging old-growth forest for low-price furniture in Russia

(05/30/2012) A new campaign is targeting IKEA, the world's biggest furniture retailer, for logging old-growth forests in the Karelia region of Russia. An alliance of groups, headed by the Swedish NGO Protect the Forest, allege that IKEA's subsidiary, Swedwood, is clearcutting thousands of hectares of old and biodiverse forests. But, Swedwood's 300,000 hectare concession is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), generally considered the world's strongest forestry certifier.


President Rousseff vetoes some controversial changes to Brazil's Forest Code

(05/29/2012) Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Monday revealed the details of her line-item veto to proposed changes to the country's Forest Code, which governs how much forest landowners are required to preserve. Rousseff vetoed a dozen clauses of the revised Forest Code and modified several others. The bill now goes back to the Chamber of Deputies, followed by the Senate and House, before returning again to Rousseff. A final decision isn't expected until after the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.


Herp paradise preserved in Guatemala

(05/29/2012) Fifteen conservation groups have banded together to save around 2,400 hectares (6,000 acres) of primary rainforest in Guatemala, home to a dozen imperiled amphibians as well as the recently discovered Merendon palm pit viper (Bothriechis thalassinus). The new park, dubbed the Sierra Caral Amphibian Reserve, lies in the Guatemalan mountains on the border with Honduras in a region that has been called the most important conservation area in Guatemala.


Featured video: baby hornbills grow up in a jar

(05/29/2012) A researcher in Malaysia has captured footage of Oriental pied hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris) raising chicks in an earthen jar in the Kenyir rainforest of Malaysia. The first video shows the father Oriental pied hornbill feeding the chicks, while the second shows a chick leaving its nest.


Another record in global carbon emissions puts globe on track for 'devastating consequences'

(05/29/2012) Last year global carbon dioxide emissions rose 3.2 percent to a new record of 31.6 gigatons, keeping the planet on track to suffer dangerous climate change, which could propel global crop failures, sea level rise, worsening extreme weather, and mass extinction. According to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), China's carbon emissions rose the most last year (9.3 percent) while emissions in Europe and the U.S. dipped slightly. China is the currently the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, while the U.S. has emitted the most historically.


Massive economic growth does little for happiness in China

(05/29/2012) Economic growth alone may not raise happiness, according to a recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy Science (PNAS). Despite a stunning economic growth rate of around 10 percent per year over the last two decades, China's people have not seem a big boost in their overall life satisfaction.


Palm oil giant making good on forest commitment in Indonesia, finds independent analysis

(05/29/2012) Palm oil giant PT SMART appears to be honoring its commitment to avoid conversion of high carbon forests in Indonesian Borneo, reports a new assessment published by Greenomics, an Indonesian environmental activist group. The report was issued 15 months after PT SMART — a subsidiary of Singapore-based Golden Agri Resources (GAR) and owned by Indonesia's Sinarmas Group — signed a landmark agreement with The Forest Trust (TFT) to spare forests and peatlands that have more than 35 tons of carbon per hectare. The deal came after a damaging Greenpeace campaign, which targeted PT SMART for clearing orangutan habitat in Kalimantan and cost the company millions of dollars in contracts.


Another red herring from Asia Pulp & Paper on its deforestation problem

(05/29/2012) In a press release issued last Thursday, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) asserted that the presence of mixed tropical hardwood fiber (MTH) in its products 'does not come from the felling of virgin tropical rainforest trees in Indonesia'. The embattled paper giant goes on to say that 'the presence of MTH fiber says nothing about whether the product is sustainable or not" and that "MTH can be found easily in recycled paper.' All these points are true. But what APP doesn't tell you is that its response is yet another facade in its effort to deflect criticism from its forestry practices.


Tropical dams are a false solution to climate change

(05/27/2012) Tropical dams emit considerably more greenhouse gas emissions than their temperate counterparts yet are being treated as a solution to climate change, warns a report published in Nature Climate Change.


Brazil's Rousseff vetoes part of controversial Forest Code revision

(05/25/2012) Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff today rejected 12 of 84 articles in a controversial bill that aims to relax restrictions on deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. The Brazilian government will announce the full details of the cuts on Monday.


Indonesia's deforestation rate falls, says Ministry of Forestry

(05/25/2012) Indonesia's deforestation rate fell from 830,000 hectares per year between 2006-2009 to 450,000 hectares per year between 2009–2011, said the Ministry of Forestry Thursday during the unveiling of its revision of a map that defines the country's moratorium on new logging and plantation concessions in primary forests and peatlands.


Greenpeace lifts pig iron ship blockade in Brazil

(05/25/2012) Greenpeace suspended its blockade of a pig iron shipment in the Brazil after industry representatives and authorities agreed to meet to resolve issues raised in a recent report by the activist group.


Rangers now allowed to shoot tiger poachers on sight in Indian state

(05/25/2012) In the wake of a surge in tiger poaching, the state government of Maharashtra, India will no longer consider the shooting of wildlife poachers by forest rangers a crime, reports the Associated Press.


Cute animal pictures of the day: silvery marmosets run free in zoo

(05/24/2012) The Zoological Society of London's (ZSL) Whipsnade Zoo is allowing its seven silvery marmosets (Mico argentatus) to roam the 600 acre facility freely.


Nearly 2,000 fish species traded in U.S. tropical aquarium market

(05/24/2012) The U.S. tropical aquarium market poses problems and opportunities for conservation, according to a landmark study published in the open-access journal PLoS ONE. The study reviewed import records in the U.S. for one year (2004-2005) and found that over 11 million wild tropical fish from 1,802 species were imported from 40 different countries. While the number of fish species targeted surprised researchers, the total amount of fish imported was actually less than expected.


New Google Earth tool maps deforestation, threatened forests in Sumatra

(05/24/2012) The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and a coalition of Indonesian environmental groups known as Eyes on the Forest have released a new Google Earth-based tool that maps forests, land use, carbon stocks, and biodiversity across the Indonesian island of Sumatra.


Less than 100 pygmy sloths survive

(05/24/2012) The pygmy three-toed sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus) is one of the world's most endangered mammals, according to a detailed survey of the population, which found less than 100 sloths hanging on in their island home. Only described by researchers in 2001, the pygmy sloth lives on a single uninhabited island off the coast of Panama. But human impacts, such as deforestation of the island's mangroves, may be pushing the species to extinction.


KFC linked to destruction of Indonesia's rainforests

(05/23/2012) Fast food giant Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is linked to the destruction of Indonesia's rainforests through its packaging sourcing practices, alleges a new report published today by Greenpeace.


Blue tarantula, walking cactus, and a worm from Hell: the top 10 new species of 2011

(05/23/2012) A sneezing monkey, a blue tarantula, and an extinct walking cactus are just three of the remarkable new species listed in the annual Top Ten New Species put together by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University. This year's list includes a wide-variety of life forms from fungi to flower and invertebrate to primate.


Island bat goes extinct after Australian officials hesitate

(05/23/2012) Nights on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean will never again be the same. The last echolocation call of a tiny bat native to the island, the Christmas Island pipistrelle (Pipistrellus murrayi), was recorded on August 26th 2009, and since then there has been only silence. Perhaps even more alarming is that nothing was done to save the species. According to a new paper in Conservation Letters the bat was lost to extinction while Australian government officials equivocated and delayed action even though they were warned repeatedly that the situation was dire. The Christmas Island pipistrelle is the first mammal to be confirmed extinct in Australia in 50 years.


Palm oil giant to produce 100% segregated, RSPO-certified palm oil

(05/23/2012) 100 percent of New Britain Palm Oil Limited's palm oil will be eco-certified, segregated, and fully traceable by the end of the year, reports the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).


KFC Australia stops using palm oil

(05/23/2012) Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) has stopped using palm oil for fast food sold in its Australian outlets, reports ABC News.


Indigenous group paid $0.65/ha for forest worth $5,000/ha in Indonesia

(05/23/2012) A palm oil company has paid indigenous Moi landowners in Indonesian Papua a paltry $0.65 per hectare for land that will be worth $5,000 a hectare once cultivated, according to a new report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Indonesian NGO, Telepak. The report outlines similar disadvantageous deals in timber with the same companies breaking their promises of bringing education and infrastructure.


Forest and environmental news in Indonesian

(05/23/2012) Mongabay.com is pleased to announce the launch of Mongabay-Indonesia (mongabay.co.id), an environmental news web site published in Indonesian. The site was officially unveiled Saturday, May 19 at an event in Jakarta.


Norway: Indonesia's forest moratorium isn't enough to meet emissions reduction target

(05/23/2012) Indonesia's moratorium on new forest concessions will not be enough to meet its 2020 emissions reduction target says the largest backer of the country's forest and climate action plan.


Groups urge President Obama to attend Rio+20 Sustainability Summit

(05/22/2012) Twenty-two conservation, indigenous, health and science groups have called on U.S. President Barack Obama to attend the up-coming Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development.


Seagrass beds store 20 billion tons of carbon

(05/22/2012) Just below the ocean's surface lies a carbon powerhouse: seagrass meadows. New research in Nature Geoscience estimates that the world's seagrass meadows conservatively store 19.9 billion metric tons of carbon, even though the threatened marine ecosystems make up only 0.2 percent of Earth's surface. The findings lend support to the idea that seagrass protection and restoration could play a major role in mitigating climate change.


New frog species leaves scientists' fingers yellow

(05/22/2012) A beautiful, yellow frog species has been discovered in western Panama, according to a new paper in ZooKeys. Scientists were surprised when handling the new species to find their fingers stained bright yellow by its skin, but even after laboratory research the purpose of this dye remains a mystery. The new species, named Diasporus citrinobapheus, is a member of the large rain frog family, whose members skip the tadpole stage and instead are born directly from eggs as tiny froglets.


Indonesia revises moratorium map; makes contested orangutan forest off-limits

(05/22/2012) Indonesia is making 'encouraging' progress on its push to reduce deforestation by improving governance over its forests and peatlands, but still needs to do more to enforce environmental laws, said the head of the country's Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) task force speaking at a press conference Monday in Jakarta. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, Head of the Indonesian President’s Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight (UKP4) and Chair of the REDD+ Task Force, said an effort to develop a map of Indonesia's forests and forest concessions has been completed, although the Ministry of Forestry has yet to deliver the map to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, missing last Friday's deadline. The map serves as the basis for a two-year moratorium on new forestry concessions in primary forests and peatlands had been completed.


Charting a new environmental course in China

(05/21/2012) Founded in 1951, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) works in more than 30 countries and has projects in all 50 of the United States. The Conservancy has over one million members, and has protected more than 119 million acres of wild-lands and 5,000 miles of rivers worldwide. TNC has taken an active interest in China, the world's most populated nation, and in many important ways, a critical center of global development. The following is an interview with multiple directors of The Nature Conservancy's China Program.


Over half of world's tiger reserves lack minimum protection

(05/21/2012) A year-and-a-half after a landmark summit that pledged to double the world's number of tigers by 2022, and still 65 percent of tiger reserves lack minimum standards of protection for the world's largest cat, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Reporting at the first meeting of all 13 tiger-range countries since the 2010 summit, WWF said that 41 tiger reserves of 63 did not have enough boots on the ground to combat tiger poaching.


Cute animal picture (and video) of the day: baby otters

(05/21/2012) The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Prospect Park Zoo in New York City has recently seen the arrival of three baby North American river otters (Lontra canadensis), the first born in the city at a zoo or aquarium in over 50 years.


As La Nina ends, world experiences 5th warmest April

(05/21/2012) La Nina conditions, which generally bring colder temperatures to many parts of the world, ended last month resulting in the fifth warmest April since record-keeping began, and the hottest April yet in the terrestrial Northern Hemisphere, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).


New armored lizard discovered in landmine-riddled region

(05/21/2012) A new lizard has been discovered in a war-torn area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). According to a paper in the African Journal of Herpetology<, the new species was found hiding under a rock in the high grasslands of the Marungu Plateau, an area known for landmines.


Video: Logging activist shot in Cambodia; big paper companies in Indonesia may face lawsuit

(05/21/2012) In this post, Rob Little provides his video version of Mongabay’s environmental news for the week of April 30.


Value of timber stocks could predict future logging roads, deforestation in the Amazon

(05/20/2012) A new model aims to forecast future logging road development by estimating the value of timber stocks across the Brazilian Amazon. The research, published in PLoS One, could help prioritize areas for conservation to protect the maximum area of forest.


Pictures: mama and baby orangutan saved from palm oil developers

(05/19/2012) A mother orangutan and its baby were rescued from an area of forest that was being bulldozed for an oil palm plantation in Sumatra, reports the Orangutan Information Centre (OIC), which participated in the translocation of the red apes.


Brazilian deforestation lower in 2012 to date

(05/18/2012) Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is lower in 2012 relative to the same period last year according to satellite-based data released by Imazon, an NGO.


Palm oil industry hires lobbying powerhouse to overturn EPA ruling on biofuels

(05/18/2012) The palm oil industry has hired lobbying powerhouse Holland & Knight to help overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that palm oil-based biodiesel fails to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets under the country's Renewable Fuels Standard, reports The Hill.


Giant prehistoric freshwater turtle discovered

(05/18/2012) Researchers working in Colombia has discovered the fossilized remains of a giant freshwater turtle that lived some 60 million years ago.


New 'bony-tongue' fish discovered in Myanmar

(05/18/2012) A new species of arowana, a highly valued aquarium fish, has been described from southern Myanmar (Burma). The description is published in last month's issue of the journal Aqua.


Picture: Shaq poses with tiny lemur

(05/18/2012) One of the world's most recognizable professional basketball players has used his stature to highlight one of the world's smallest primates: the mouse lemur from Madagascar. Shaquille O’Neal, a NBA legend who retired last year and earned a doctorate degree in education from Barry University earlier this year, posed with a mouse lemur at Zoo Miami in March. The diminutive primate, which measures only five inches and weighs two ounces, was dwarfed by the 7’1” 325-pound Shaq.


Growing cardamom impacts forests for decades

(05/17/2012) Over 25 years after people stopped growing cardamom in Sri Lanka's Knuckles Forest Reserve (KFR), the spice crop is still having an impact on the forest, according to a recent study in Forest Ecology and Management. The clearing of understory plants and the use of fertilizers continue to shape the forest in the protected area.


Tribe partners to protect Argentina's most endangered forest

(05/17/2012) Last month, three Guarani communities, the local Argentine government of Misiones, and the UK-based NGO World Land Trust forged an agreement to create a nature reserve connecting three protected areas in the fractured, and almost extinct, Atlantic Forest. Dubbed the Emerald Green Corridor, the reserve protects 3,764 hectares (9,301 acres) in Argentina; although relatively small, the land connects three protected other protected areas creating a combined conservation area (41,000 hectares) around the size of Barbados in the greater Yaboti Biosphere Reserve. In Argentina only 1 percent of the historical Atlantic Forest survives.


Animal picture of the day: the boat-billed heron

(05/16/2012) Boat-billed herons (Cochlearius cochlearius) are found in Central and South America, as far north as Mexico and as far south as Argentina. A notably bizarre heron, the species is the only member of the genus Cochlearius. Like many heron species it feeds on a wide variety of freshwater and terrestrial animals.


Featured video: why one scientist is getting arrested over climate change

(05/16/2012) In March 2012 the head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and well-known climatologist, James Hansen, spoke at a TED conference to explain what would push a 70-year-old scientist to participate in civil disobedience against mountaintop coal mining and the Keystone Pipeline, even leading to several arrests.


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