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Climate change shocker: Canada's ice shelves halved in six years

(09/28/2011) After the Arctic sea ice extent hit its second lowest size on record this summer—or lowest (depending on the source)—comes another climate change shocker: in the past six years Canada's millennia-old ice shelves have shed nearly half their size. One ice shelf—the Serson shelf—is almost entirely gone, while another—the Ward Hunt shelf—has split into two distinct shelves. The ice shelves have lost 3 billion tons in this year alone.


Deepwater oil spill likely to hurt fish populations over decades

(09/28/2011) Oil pollution doesn't have to kill fish to have a long-term impact, according to a recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Researchers found that Gulf killifish (Fundulus grandis) that had been exposed to very low to non-detectable levels of oil contamination from the Deepwater oil spill last year, still showed developmental problems that are likely to impact fish populations for decades to come.


Group pushes entrepreneurship model for conservation

(09/28/2011) The Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) is dedicated to protecting endangered species and preserving their natural habitats. This group supports innovative strategies for people and wildlife to co-exist and thrive. This year the group celebrates it's ten year anniversary. The WCN Expo is October 1st and 2nd, 2011. The following is an interview with Charles Knowles, the WCN's Executive Director and co-founder.


Over 100 arrested as tar sands civil disobedience spreads to Canada

(09/27/2011) After two weeks of sustained protesting at the US White House against the Keystone XL pipeline, with 1,252 people arrested, civil disobedience has now spread to Canada, home of the tar sands. Yesterday, around 500 people protested in Ottawa against Canada's controversial tar sands; 117 were arrested as they purposefully crossed a barrier separating them from the House of Commons in an act of civil disobedience.


Following violent crackdown against protestors, Bolivia puts Amazon road project on ice

(09/27/2011) After a police crackdown against indigenous activists, Bolivian President Evo Morales has suspended a large highway project through the Amazon rainforest. The police reaction—which included tear gas, rounding up protestors en masse, and allegations of violence—resulted in several officials stepping down in protest of the government's handling. Some indigenous people marched 310 miles (498 kilometers) from the Amazon to La Paz to show solidarity against the road, saying they had not been consulted and the project would destroy vast areas of biodiverse rainforest.


Scientists find frog genes that provide immunity to extinction plague

(09/27/2011) Scientists with Cornell have discovered genetics that may provide immunity to frogs in face of the killer amphibian-disease chytridiomycosis. This plague, which is spreading to amphibian populations worldwide, is responsible for a number of frog species' recent extinction. But now researchers report in a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that they are one step closer to understanding why some frog populations are able to fend off the disease, while others succumb with lightning-speed. In time, the results may lead to breeding strategies in captivity that could produce immune populations.


Featured video: new documentary puts human face on logging in Papua New Guinea

(09/27/2011) A new documentary, filmed single-handily by filmmaker David Fedele, covers the impact of industrial logging on a community in Papua New Guinea. Entitled Bikpela Bagarap(or 'Big Damage' in English), the film shows with startling intimacy how massive corporations, greedy government, and consumption abroad have conspired to ruin lives in places like Vanimo, Papua New Guinea.


Kenya should embrace living with nature as the model for a healthier, wealthier nation

(09/27/2011) Hundreds of thousands of Kenyans are supporting government efforts to enact progressive new policies through its Vision 2030 initiative as it promises to lift us out of a depressed economy and to take us onto a path to becoming a prosperous developed nation. For this to occur, development must be sustainable —but for now what the people want and need most is for the basic necessities for life to be assured like adequate water, sanitation, energy, health, education, homes, and jobs. It is unfortunate that some of our leaders are mistaken in believing that this means Kenya should look like USA or Europe with concrete cities and mega highways, speed trains, and artificial gardens—it will all be at the cost of our spectacular natural environment and wildlife heritage. Kenya hardly has any natural resources, what we have is wilderness and wildlife. For Kenya to stand apart, she must aspire to safeguard the environment and protect forests and wildlife as a central means of to attaining this sustainable development goal.


Indonesian president vows to dedicate remainder of term to protecting rainforests

(09/27/2011) Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Tuesday vowed to dedicate the last three years of his presidency to 'deliver enduring results that will sustain and enhance the environment and forests of Indonesia', reports the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), which hosted his speech. President Yudhoyono emphasized the importance of forests in mitigating climate change, safeguarding biodiversity, and helping alleviate poverty. He said conserving and sustainably managing Indonesia's forests is not necessarily at odds with growing the economy.


Caatinga ecosystem almost wholly ignored in Brazil

(09/26/2011) Tropical dry forests have received little conservation and research attention as compared to their rainforest cousins, leaving these ecosystems to become gravely threatened while still largely unknown to the public and scientists. A new study in mongabay.com's open access journal finds that Caatinga, a seasonally dry tropical forest, is the least-known forest in Brazil.


Restoring tropical forests by keeping fire far away

(09/26/2011) Keeping fire at bay could be key to reforesting abandoned land in the tropics, according to a new study in mongabay.com's open access journal Tropical Conservation Science. Measuring the recovery of regenerating forests in Kibale National Park in Uganda, the study found that suppressing fire allowed the forest to come back over a period of decades. Given the role rainforests play in sequestering carbon and safeguarding biodiversity, the study argues that reforesting abandoned land in the tropics should be a global policy and controlling fire may be an simple and largely inexpensive method to achieve the goal.


Expanding ethanol threatens last remnants of Atlantic Forest

(09/26/2011) Aggressively expanding sugarcane ethanol is putting Brazil's nearly-vanished Atlantic Forest at risk, according to an opinion piece in mongabay.com's open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science. Already down to less than 12 percent of its original extent, the Atlantic Forest—home to over 7,000 species that survive no-where else—is facing a new peril from ethanol, used as an alternative to gasoline and often touted as 'green' or 'environmentally-sustainable'.


Primary forest best for birds in Papua New Guinea

(09/26/2011) A new survey recorded 125 birds in Papua New Guinea's Waria Valley, of which an astounding 43 percent were endemic to the island. The survey, published in mongabay.com's open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science, was the first of its kind for the rainforest-studded valley and found that bird populations were most diverse and abundant in primary forests. The bird surveys were carried out in four different habitats including primary forest, primary forest edges, secondary forest edges, and agricultural landscape.


REDD+ would leave some species unprotected

(09/26/2011) REDD+ programs could leave some species high and dry even if its preserves the forests they call home, argues a new opinion piece in mongabay.com's open access journal Tropical Conservation Science. While the program would likely help habitat-dependent species, other important species could still vanish without additional measures to stem threats such as overexploitation and disease. While REDD+, or Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, has set preserving forests for their carbon value as its primary goal, the young program has been increasingly connected to efforts to conserve the world's biodiversity. However, the new paper, argues that conservationists must not become complacent.


Atlantic Forest stores less carbon due to drastic fragmentation

(09/26/2011) The Atlantic Forest in Brazil is one of the most fragmented and damaged forests in the world. Currently around 12 percent of the forest survives, with much of it in small fragments, many less than 100 hectares. A new study in mongabay.com's open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science finds that the bloodied nature of the Atlantic Forest impacts its capacity to sequester carbon. The study found that 92 percent of the forest stored only half its potential carbon due to fragmentation and edge-effects, which includes damage due to winds and exposure to drought.


Regulation that would have legalized illegal oil palm plantations revoked

(09/26/2011) A forestry regulation that would have allowed 7.4 million hectares of oil palm plantations in Indonesian Borneo to be legalized as forestry plantations has been revoked before it ever went into force, reports Bisnis.com, an Indonesian business daily.


Could blockbuster animated movies help save life on Earth?

(09/26/2011) Some scientists may scoff at the idea that animated anthropomorphized animals—from Bambi to Simba to Nemo—could have an important impact on conservation efforts to save real-world species, but a new opinion piece in mongabay.com's open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science argues that conservationists would do well to join forces with the makers of animated blockbusters to help save the world's dwindling biodiversity. The paper points out that a number of recent films focused on imperiled places, such as coral reefs (Finding Nemo) and the Atlantic Forest (Rio), as well as conservation problems like overfishing (Happy Feet) and climate change (Ice Age: the Meltdown).


Repeated burning undercuts Amazon rainforest recovery

(09/26/2011) The Amazon rainforest can recover fromlogging, but has a far more difficult time returning after repeated burning, reports a new study in mongabay.com's open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science. In areas where the Amazon had been turned to pasture and was subject to repeated burning, Visima trees become the dominant tree inhibiting the return of a biodiverse forest. The key to the sudden domination of Visima trees, according to the study, is that these species re-sprout readily following fires; a capacity most other Amazonian trees lack.


Indonesian president signs decree to reduce projected emissions 26-41% by 2020

(09/26/2011) Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono issued a decree cementing his 2009 commitment to reducing his country's greenhouse gas emissions, according to a statement from the President's office.


How to monitor biodiversity for REDD projects

(09/26/2011) Although the international program Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) was developed in order to lower greenhouse gas emissions by protecting standing forests, conservationists have long pointed out that another result from a well-crafted REDD program could be to conserve biodiversity. But one of the difficulties of including biodiversity is how to measure the success or failure of conservation in a REDD site. A new opinion piece in mongabay.com's open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science analyzes two effective ways to monitor biodiversity in REDD sites focusing on bats and big mammals.


Dam puts wild coffee species at risk of extinction

(09/26/2011) Coffee may be one of the world's most popular hot (and cold) drinks, however few coffee drinkers may know that there are dozens of different coffee species in the world and some are even endangered. Only discovered in 2004, Kihansi coffee (Coffea kihansiensis), makes its home in the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania. A new study in mongabay.com's open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science finds that the Kihansi coffee is nearing extinction due in part to a hydroelectric dam built upstream that has severely impacted the Kihansi River.


Panama canal drives forest conservation, offers insight on value of ecosystems

(09/26/2011) As demonstrated by growing enthusiasm for conserving forests and the rise of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) program, the public is increasingly aware of the role forests play in delivering ecosystems services — like clean air and water — that benefit mankind. Yet, science still lags conventional wisdom — researchers have yet to fully quantify much of what healthy forests provide. Bridging this gap is key to unlocking the full value of protecting and restoring tropical forests. The ambitious Agua Salud Project in Panama is attempting to do just that.


Nobel laureate and Green Belt Movement founder Wangari Maathai dead at 71

(09/26/2011) Kenyan environmentalist and Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai died Sunday after a battle with ovarian cancer. She was 71.


Activists worldwide push for leaving the fossil fuel age behind

(09/25/2011) On six continents, in over 75 percent of the world's countries, people came out en masse yesterday to attend over 2,000 events to demonstrate the power of renewable energy to combat global climate change. As apart of the 'Moving Planet' campaign organized by 350.org, activists created a giant human-windmill in Paris, gave out bike lessons in Buenos Aires, practiced evacuation measure in the Pacific island of Tuvalu imperiled by rising sea levels, and marched in Cape Town for a strong agreement at the next UN climate meeting hosted in Durban, South Africa.


Animal picture of the day: baby blue frog

(09/23/2011) The blue color form of the green-and-black poison dart frog (Dendrobates auratus) is occurs on the Pacific side of parts of Panama. This individual is a juvenile.


U.S. Lacey Act, programs in Rwanda and Gambia, awarded for forest protection

(09/23/2011) Forest policies in the United States, Rwanda, and Gambia won U.N. backed awards for contributing to efforts to protect and sustainably manage forests.


Tribal leader to the UN: Indigenous peoples of the Amazon are in danger

(09/22/2011) Amazonian indigenous peoples and their traditional territories are living under constant threat.


Animal picture of the day: world's tiniest rhino for World Rhino Day

(09/22/2011) The Sumatran rhino is the world's smallest species of rhino, but the Bornean rhino—a subspecies of the Sumatra—is even tinier.


New map reveals the most biodiverse place on Earth, but already threatened by oil

(09/22/2011) A new map highlights the importance of conserving Yasuni National Park as the most biodiverse ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere, and maybe even on Earth. Scientists released the map to coincide with the United National General Assembly in support of a first-of-its-kind initiative to save the park from oil exploration through international donations to offset revenue loss. Known as the Yasuni-ITT Initiative, the plan, if successful, would protect a 200,000 hectare bloc in Yasuni National Park from oil drilling in return for a trust fund of over $3 billion.


Amazon deforestation up moderately in August, but forest degradation falls

(09/22/2011) Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon continues to be slightly higher than this time last year, reports a new bulletin from Imazon, a Brazilian NGO.


Rich countries must maintain commitment to reducing emissions despite slow economy, says Indonesian official

(09/22/2011) Industrialized nations must do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from energy consumption, said an Indonesian official speaking at a workshop on climate finance.


Asia Pulp & Paper to undertake human rights audit

(09/22/2011) Paper products giant Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) will undertake a human rights audit across its Indonesian operations. The move, which APP says is an acknowledgment of a recent United Nations call for the global protection of human rights by businesses, comes as APP intensifies its effort to improve its image abroad. APP, a brand for paper products manufactured by several subsidiaries in Indonesia, has been beset by criticism from environmental and human rights group over its development of timber plantations on the island of Sumatra. The complaints have cost APP a number of prominent customers.


China's new forests aren't necessarily green

(09/21/2011) When most of Asia is cutting down its forests, China stands apart. In the last two decade the massive country has gained over 30 percent forest cover. However, a new opinion piece by Jianchu Xu, with the World Agroforestry Centre and the Kunming Institute of Botany, argues that China's growing forest is not what it appears to be. The problem, according to Xu, is that the statistics of forest cover include monoculture plantations.


Featured video: Sumatran species spring to life on video camera traps

(09/21/2011) New video camera trap footage has revealed the stunning and often hidden biodiversity of Sumatra's Leuser Ecosystem, the only place in the world inhabited by elephants, orangutan, tigers, and rhinos. The video camera trap project, dubbed Eyes on Leuser, has captured 26 species to date usinf 10 video camers, including astounding footage of a sniffing Sumatran tiger, a great argus pheasant displaying for the camera, a springing sambar, and an emerald dove chasing away a mouse deer.


Loango National Park lodge to re-open

(09/21/2011) A renowned ecotourism lodge will re-open in Gabon's Loango National Park more than a year after it suspended operations due to a dispute with authorities over flight access to the region.


Europe should lift duty on RSPO-certified palm oil to encourage use, says Dutch group

(09/21/2011) To encourage uptake of palm oil that is less damaging to the environment, the European Union (EU) should lift the import duty on palm oil certified under Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), said a Dutch industry group.


Indigenous people blockade river against 'murderous' oil company

(09/21/2011) Over the weekend more than 100 Shuar indigenous people, also known as Wampis, blockaded the Morona River in Peru in an effort to stop exploratory oil drilling by Canadian-owned Talisman Energy. The blockade in meant to prevent oil drilling in an area of the Peruvian Amazon known as Block 64, home to four indigenous tribes in total and the Pastaza River Wetland Complex, a Ramsar wetland site.


Scientists confirm ancient Egyptian knowledge: Nile crocodile is two species

(09/20/2011) DNA has shown that the Nile crocodile is in fact two very different species: a bigger, more aggressive crocodile and a smaller, tamer species that today survives only in West Africa. While the taxonomy of the Nile crocodile has been controversial for over a century, the new study points out that the ancient Egyptians recognized the differences in the species and avoided the big crocodile for its rituals.


Two arrested in connection with murdering Amazon activists

(09/20/2011) Two suspects have been arrested for allegedly taking part in the killing of Amazon activist, José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva, and his wife, Maria do Espírito Santo da Silva. The men, who are brothers, were arrested after police stormed their remote jungle camp on Sunday in Brazilian state of Para. A third man remains at large.


New US stamp seeks to raise money for endangered species

(09/20/2011) As of today, buying a stamp may help save some of the world's most beloved and endangered species. The US Postal Service has released a new stamp that will raise money for the Multinational Species Conservation Funds (MSCF) which works to save tigers, rhinos, great apes, marine turtles, and elephants. The new stamp sports the image of an Amur tiger cub, a subspecies of the tiger the Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) is listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List.


Converting rainforest to cropland in Africa reduces rainfall

(09/19/2011) Converting West African rainforests into cropland reduces rainforest in adjacent forest areas, reports research published in Geophysical Research Letters.


From Red to Green? How the Financial Credit Crunch Could Bankrupt the Environment - a book review

(09/19/2011) Paul Donovan and Julie Hudson, CFA argue in From Red to Green? How the Financial Credit Crunch Could Bankrupt the Environment that twin credit crunches – both environment and financial – have been underway for some time. With chapters on food, water, energy, infrastructure, housing, consumer durables, health, education, work and leisure accompanied by a thorough economic analysis regarding both credit and environmental debts driving supply and demand of these goods and services, the authors discuss at length how global economics may be impacted in an environmentally constrained future.


The Global Carbon Cycle: a book review

(09/19/2011) The Global Carbon Cycle, by Dr. David Archer, is an excellent primer on the global carbon cycle. An easily readable format, this lightweight book is an excellent companion to those who need a quick on-the-go reference or for those who need a compendium for their office or lab. With chapters on the basic carbon cycle, geologic carbon cycle, unstable ice age carbon cycle, present and future carbon cycle, and methane, The Global Carbon Cycle is an authoritative book with numerous examples explaining scientific phenomena associated the global carbon cycle.


Conservationists renew push for 'rainforest bonds'

(09/19/2011) Conservationists are renewing a push for a special class of 'rainforest bonds' to fund efforts to conserve tropical forests.


Picture of the day: Meandering river in the Amazon

(09/18/2011) Rivers in lowland Amazonia tend to meander due to the flatness of the basin. For example, the Amazon itself falls only 345 feet (105 m) from the Peruvian river port of Iquitos, a full 2,300 miles from the ocean. Thus the river descends at a rate of only 1.8 inches per mile (2.8 cm/km).


Measuring Livelihoods and Environmental Dependence: Methods for Research and Fieldwork - Book Review

(09/18/2011) eveloping a systematic approach applicable globally to measuring the environmental impacts associated with rural economic development in the developing world, as measured through landscape-level carbon accounting, is critically important as these communities begin to implement land-based carbon projects. To be able to successfully compare carbon sequestration activities between communities, we need to develop quantitatively robust methodologies to measure rural livelihoods' environmental impacts. With these methodologies in place it is possible to begin to measure financial effectiveness and equitable distribution of revenue associated with these land-based carbon projects.


Biodiversity and Social Carbon: Sustainable Development and the Carbon Market - Book Review

(09/18/2011) Our 21st century economy faces to twin challenges - biodiversity loss and climate change - and in Biodiversity and Social Carbon, authors Divaldo Rezende and Stefano Merlin, describe the Social Carbon methodology and its approach to protecting and enhancing biodiversity while mitigating climate change. Moreover, the authors also provide numerous case studies on how the Social Carbon methodology functions.


The Vietnam War’s ongoing effect on conservation

(09/16/2011) In the Phong Dien Nature Reserve in central Vietnam, an unlikely resource is hindering formal conservation efforts. Deep in the forest, villagers scavenge for scrap metal left during the Vietnam War. Unprecedented research from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation (ITFC) finds scrap metal gathering is a primary driver in forest degradation and trade in non-timber forest products in Vietnam.


Photo of the day: Turquoise waters along the California coast

(09/15/2011) A new study, commissioned by the California Department of Boating and Waterways and conducted by San Francisco State University (SFSU), finds that rising sea levels could take a substantial toll on one of California's biggest attractions: its beaches.


Tropical Ecology: A Book Review

(09/15/2011) Dr. Kricher's full-color textbook is a great introductory textbook for tropical ecology courses. With increased interest globally in forest carbon and the underlying tropical forest ecological fundamentals that forest carbon offsets are manufactured from allowing climate change mitigation, this book provides a one-stop tropical forest ecology resource for those who work in the forest carbon field in the tropics. Key topics addressed, through a pan-tropical lens, include evolution, tropical rain forest structure and biodiversity, carbon flux and climate change, forest fragmentation, nutrient cycling, species richness, and flora and fauna relationships.


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