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4.1-magnitude quake shakes San Francisco Bay Area

(01/08/2011) A 4.1-magnitude earthquake shook the San Francisco Bay Area Friday afternoon.


Leatherback sea turtles tracked for first time in South Atlantic

(01/07/2011) Leatherback sea turtles undertake one of the longest journeys of any animal as they traverse the oceans in search of food, navigating hazards such as plastic pollution and fishing operations. A new study published in the Royal Society Journal Proceedings B has for the first time mapped their odyssey through the South Atlantic.


Ancient bird evolved "clubs" to beat predators, each other

(01/07/2011) Researchers have discovered that the thick wing bones of an ancient flightless bird which once lived in Jamaica may have been used as clubs to beat predators and even members of its own species.


"End of Days" bird kill just a fraction of real death toll

(01/07/2011) The sudden en-masse deaths of thousands of birds in the Southern U.S. on the night of New Year's Eve have created a frenzy of media attention, but in reality hardly compare to the massive number that die each year because of human activity.


Harpy eagles nest in Belize for the first time in over 60 years (pictures)

(01/06/2011) Scientists have confirmed the presence of a harpy eagle nest in the Maya Mountains of Belize. The discovery represents the most northerly breeding pair in the Americas, and signals a comeback for a species which has become locally extinct in much of Central America due to human activity.


Bluefin tuna gets record price ($396,000) at Japanese auction

(01/06/2011) On Tuesday, a 752-pound Pacific bluefin tuna was sold at Japanese auction for the highest price ever received for raw seafood - $396,000. The price tops the previous record by more than $100,000 and comes at a time when tuna populations around the world are experiencing precipitous declines.


Renewed conflict between tribes and oil companies looms in Peru

(01/06/2011) Indigenous peoples and their allies have intensified their fight against two oil companies over contamination in the Peruvian Amazon. Last week, a group of indigenous protesters blockaded portions of the Marañon and Corrientes Rivers in the province of Loreto in northeastern Peru. The protesters were demanding that Pluspetrol, an Argentinean oil company, compensate them for a recent oil spill. As of December 28th, after eight days, the blockade remained unbroken.


With REDD, could financial markets become species' extinction risk?

(01/06/2011) The emergence of a Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) mechanism for protecting forests could introduce new risks for biodiversity by linking conservation finance to exotic financial derivatives, warn researchers writing in the journal Conservation Letters. Jacob Phelps, Edward L. Webb, and Lian P. Koh argue that REDD could effectively link the fate of some species to the short-term whims of the carbon market. Conservation projects funded primarily by REDD are most at risk of being undermined by declining in carbon prices or changing investor preference. The authors add that the short-term nature of REDD—which is seen as a stop gap measure of at most 30 years—may fail deliver benefits over the time-scale need to safeguard biodiversity.


Indonesia delays logging moratorium

(01/05/2011) Bureaucratic confusion has led Indonesia to delay implementation of its two-year moratorium on new logging and plantation concessions in forest areas and peatlands, reports the Jakarta Globe.


U.S. passes legislation to protect sharks

(01/05/2011) The U.S. Senate has passed the Shark Conservation Act, legislation that bans shark finning in U.S. waters.


Sustainability of Antarctic toothfish fishery, legitimacy of Marine Stewardship Council called into question

(01/05/2011) In November of 2010, the Antarctic toothfish fishery was deemed sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council. This certification goes against the advice of many marine scientists who claim that insufficient research has been done to determine the full impact of commercial fishing on this enigmatic species.


Mediterranean Sea may be polluted with 250 billion microplastics

(01/05/2011) The 2010 scientific expedition undertaken by the European program called Mediterranean En-Dangered (MED) reveals that 250 billion microplastics could be found in the Mediterranean Sea. The main goal of the program, which will end in 2013, is to quantify the distribution of plastic pollution and better understand its dynamics in the Mediterranean Sea. Microplastics are usually defined as plastic particles smaller than 5 millimeters, so for most part they are invisible to human eyes.


Atlantic ocean warming confirmed by corals

(01/05/2011) A new study investigating the ability of coral to record sea temperatures indicates that the Northwestern Atlantic has experienced unprecedented warming during the past 150 years.


GM crop contamination may be product of sloppy handling, not cross-pollination

(01/04/2011) A recent study has suggested that sloppy seed handling may be partially responsible for the presence of genetically modified plants in conventional fields. For years, farmers have been reporting that fields planted with traditional seeds sometimes yield GM plants. Many scientists believe that this pattern is due to cross-pollination: insects carry pollen from neighboring GM fields into conventional fields, resulting in some GM plants. But a new paper just published in PLoS One argues that the effect of cross-pollination is actually quite small. In the fields tested by the researchers, fewer than 1 percent of all conventional cotton plants produced genetically modified Bt seed as a result of insect cross-pollination.


U.S. bumble bees experiencing significant declines

(01/04/2011) Many US bumble bee populations have declined significantly over the past few decades, with certain species dropping off by as much as 96%. While the decline is linked to low genetic diversity and disease, an underlying cause remains uncertain.


Did Haiti's deforestation, hurricane trigger deadly earthquake?

(01/04/2011) Erosion caused by hurricanes and large-scale deforestation may have contributed to last year's devastating earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people in Haiti, according to a geologist at the University of Miami.


Malaysian customs seizes 1,800 trafficked reptiles

(01/04/2011) Malaysia ended 2010 with the confiscation of 4.3 metric tons of reptiles near the Thai border on December 20th, reports the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network, TRAFFIC. The confiscation was the largest of the year and consisted of over 1,800 monitor lizards, snakes, freshwater turtles, and tortoises.


Lemur poaching continues in Madagascar [warning: graphic pictures]

(01/03/2011) A lemur poacher was intercepted with 32 dead lemurs on New Year's Eve in Madagascar's northeastern town of Vohemar, suggesting that killing of lemurs for the commercial bushmeat trade continues on the island nation, reports Fanamby, a Madagascar-based conservation group.


Converting palm oil companies from forest destroyers into forest protectors

(01/02/2011) In efforts to save the world's remaining rainforests great hopes have been pinned on "degraded lands" — deforested lands that are presently sitting idle in tropical countries. Optimists say shifting agriculture to such lands will help humanity produce enough food to meet growing demand without sacrificing forests and biodiversity and exacerbating social conflict. But to date, degraded lands remain an enigma, especially in Indonesia, where deforestation continues at a rapid pace. Degraded lands are often misclassified by various Indonesian ministries—land in a far-off province may be listed as "wasteland" by Jakarta, but in reality is blanked by verdant forest that sequesters carbon, houses wildlife, and affords communities with food, water, and other essentials. Granting logging and plantation concessions on these lands can result in conflict and environmental degradation.


Lemur milestone: captive-born female successfully breeds with wild male

(01/01/2011) After 13 years of releasing captive-born lemurs into the wild, the Madagascar Fauna Group (MFG) has finally succeeded in breeding a captive-born black-and-white ruffed lemur female with a wild male, a pairing that last October produced twins in Betampona Natural Reserve. This is a milestone for lemur conservation, since it is the first time a captive-born lemur and a wild lemur have successfully mated and given birth.


Biopiracy crackdown results in $59M in fines for Brazilian companies, receives mixed reviews

(12/31/2010) The Brazilian government is stepping up anti-"biopiracy" measures and imposing substantial fines on companies which make use of rare plants or animals without giving adequate compensation to Brazil or its indigenous communities. The move attracts criticism by some who believe that it hampers scientific research.


Fisheries commissions' ability to manage diminishing tuna stocks called into question

(12/31/2010) During a meeting earlier this month, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) disregarded appeals from the EU and Japan, as well as from Commission scientists, calling for a substantial and immediate reduction in catch rates of bigeye and yellowfin tuna in response to diminished stocks. An earlier meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) resulted in only cosmetic cuts to Atlantic bluefin quotas, calling into question the ability of the global system of Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) to prevent overfishing.


Borneo province selected for Indonesia's first pilot under REDD program

(12/30/2010) Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has selected Central Kalimantan as the pilot province for the country's Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program, according to the President's office on climate change. Central Kalimantan was selected over eight other forested provinces, including Aceh, Jambi, Riau, and South Sumatra on the island of Sumatra; West Kalimantan and East Kalimantan on the island of Borneo; and Papua and West Papua in Indonesian New Guinea. Central Kalimantan was chosen due to its high rate of forest conversion, large expanses of peatlands and rainforests, the advanced state of carbon conservation test projects, and political interest in reducing deforestation and degradation.


U.S. Department of Energy makes $1.5B loan to massive solar plant

(12/30/2010) The U.S. Department of Energy has finalized a guarantee to provide a loan of $1.45 billion to Abengoa Solar Inc. which will fund the world's largest parabolic trough concentrating solar plant. The plant is expected to serve 70,000 households and avoid 475,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.


Ringed and bearded seals to be listed as Threatened

(12/29/2010) The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has proposed listing bearded and ringed seals as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. NOAA highlights the disappearance of arctic sea ice and reduced snow cover as the major threats to the species.


Seven Brazilian bird species granted endangered status

(12/29/2010) The US Fish and Wildlife service voted recently to designate several rare bird species as endangered under the US Endangered Species Act. The designation becomes effective on January 27, 2011 and will protect against the trade of, increase conservation funding to, and promote habitat safeguards of seven of the most imperiled species in Brazil.


Indonesian climate official: palm oil lobbyist is misleading the public

(12/29/2010) Alan Oxley, a lobbyist for industrial forestry companies in the palm oil and pulp and paper sectors, is deliberately misleading the public on deforestation and associated greenhouse gas emissions, said a top Indonesian climate official.


Growing Atlantic dead zone shrinks habitat for billfish and tuna, may lead to over-harvest

(12/29/2010) A dead zone off the coast of West Africa is reducing the amount of available habitat for Atlantic tuna and billfish species, reports the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in a study published in Fisheries Oceanography. The zone is growing due to global warming and is expected to cause over-harvest of tuna and billfish as the fish seek higher levels of oxygen in areas with greater fisheries activity.


EPA steps up greenhouse gas restrictions for nation's biggest polluters

(12/28/2010) The US Environmental Protection Agency recently issued its plan for establishing greenhouse gas emission restrictions for the nation's biggest polluters under the Clean Air Act. The restrictions are scheduled to take effect in 2012.


Most popular environmental news articles for 2010

(12/28/2010) The most popular environmental news article on mongabay.com during 2010 was the discovery of Durrell's vontsira, a carnivorous small mammal that lives in the marshes of Lake Alaotra in Madagascar. The article drew nearly 80,000 page views.


New plan underway to save South America's migratory grassland birds

(12/28/2010) A meeting between government representatives, scientists, and conservationists in Asuncion, Paraguay this month resulted in the adoption of an action plan to provide urgently needed conservation framework for the migratory birds of South America's disappearing grasslands.


Environmental atlas highlights human impact in Latin America and Caribbean

(12/28/2010) A new atlas produced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) combines striking satellite images and rigorous data to present a unique and complex view of environmental changes taking place in Latin America and the Caribbean.


UN report urges fishing subsidy reform

(12/28/2010) The continuation of government fishing subsidies is damaging to the world's oceans and should be halted, states the United Nations Environment Programme in a new publication that calls for subsidy reform. The report, Fisheries Subsidies, Sustainable Development and the WTO, finds that in many cases the subsidies encourage fishing in areas whose ecosystems are already overtaxed.


Will Indonesia's big REDD rainforest deal work?

(12/28/2010) Flying in a plane over the Indonesian half of the island of New Guinea, rainforest stretches like a sea of green, broken only by rugged mountain ranges and winding rivers. The broccoli-like canopy shows little sign of human influence. But as you near Jayapura, the provincial capital of Papua, the tree cover becomes patchier—a sign of logging—and red scars from mining appear before giving way to the monotonous dark green of oil palm plantations and finally grasslands and urban areas. The scene is not unique to Indonesian New Guinea; it has been repeated across the world's largest archipelago for decades, partly a consequence of agricultural expansion by small farmers, but increasingly a product of extractive industries, especially the logging, plantation, and mining sectors. Papua, in fact, is Indonesia's last frontier and therefore represents two diverging options for the country's development path: continued deforestation and degradation of forests under a business-as-usual approach or a shift toward a fundamentally different and unproven model based on greater transparency and careful stewardship of its forest resources.


Agricultural lending jumps in Brazil, will Amazon deforestation follow?

(12/27/2010) With commodity prices surging, lending to Brazilian farmers for tractors, harvesters and plows reached 8.2 billion reais ($4.8 billion) for the July through November 2010 period, a 64 percent increase since the same period last year and the fastest pace since 2004, reports Bloomberg.


Satellite data reveals fires in region plagued by illegal logging in Madagascar

(12/27/2010) New satellite data reveals active burning in Sava, a region in Madagascar that has been ravaged by illegal logging for rosewood and other valuable rainforest timber.


Rise in the number of whales hit by ships prompts Coast Guard to consider changes

(12/27/2010) A bumper crop of krill along the West Coast this past summer lured whales into the paths of cargo ships. With five collision deaths confirmed, and many more suspected, the US Coast Guard is investigating ways to mitigate future losses of these rare mammals.


New legislation places US at forefront of shark conservation

(12/27/2010) Last week the US Senate passed the Shark Conservation Act, which bolsters the prohibition of shark-finning in US waters and puts the US at the forefront of shark conservation.


Red pandas may be threatened by small-scale trade

(12/27/2010) Two studies investigated the scale and potential threat of continued trade in red pandas and found that while reports are low, the occurrence of isolated incidents may be enough to threaten species survival.


United States to back U.N. indigenous rights declaration

(12/23/2010) The United States will endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), making it the last industrialized power to support the agreement, which recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples on issues including free prior and informed consent (FPIC), right to sovereignty, territory and respect for traditional knowledge. The move was announced last week by President Barack Obama.


Wikileaks Cuba: More U.S. Cynicism on Climate Change

(12/23/2010) As more and more Wikileaks cables become available, a portrait of the U.S. attitude toward climate change is emerging and it is not flattering. In a previous article, I discussed American diplomats’ dismissive views toward Bolivia, a country which has done much to advance a progressive agenda on climate change. In another recently released cable, however, U.S. officials take a cynical view of Cuba. Over the past year or so, the island nation has criticized the U.S. for strong arming other countries when it comes to international climate change negotiations. Joining forces with leftist countries like Bolivia, as well as fellow island countries such as Tuvalu, Cuba has been an irritating thorn in the side of the Obama administration.


Kite-photography gives new perspective to whale migration

(12/22/2010) A new project sponsored by Nokia uses KAPing - kite aerial photography - to get an innovative look at whale behavior. The project will be taking place in Hawaii and will document the area's annual humpback whale migration.


Malaysia undermines commitment to protect Coral Triangle, backtracks on climate pledge

(12/22/2010) The Malaysian government will proceed with a plan to install a second-hand coal plant from China on the edge of the Coral Triangle in Borneo despite widespread condemnation from environmental groups and local people, reports Green SURF, a coalition that opposes the project.


Disappearance of arctic ice could create 'grolar bears', narlugas; trigger biodiversity loss

(12/22/2010) The melting of the Artic Ocean may result in a loss of marine mammal biodiversity, reports a new study published in the journal BNature and conducted jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), the University of Alaska, and the University of Massachusetts. The study is the first to project what might happen if species pushed into new habitats because of ice loss hybridize with one another, resulting in such crossbreeds as "narlugas" and "grolar bears".


Rainforest people sue logging company, Sarawak govt over planned deforestation

(12/22/2010) A community of forest people is taking a logging company and the state government of Sarawak to court over a plan to log 15,000 hectares of tropical rainforest, reports the Bruno Manser Fund.


Census: 308.7 million people live in the United States

(12/22/2010) 308,745,538 people were living in the United States on April 1, 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


Map: 15 million sq km of land suitable for forest restoration

(12/22/2010) 1.5 billion hectares (5.8 million square miles) of land are suitable for forest restoration, according a new analysis by the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration, a partnership between the World Resources Institute, South Dakota State University, and IUCN.


Attempt to reduce ethanol subsidies blocked by corn-belt senators

(12/21/2010) An attempt by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) to drastically reduce subsidies for domestic ethanol production and cut the tariff on imported ethanol was ultimately unsuccessful, reports Reuters. The proposal would have cut the annual cost of subsidies by $5.3 billion.


Wikileaks reveals Dalai Lama's climate change concerns

(12/21/2010) As disclosures from the Wikileaks scandal continue to reverberate, the public is learning about hidden U.S. diplomacy in all far corners of the globe. The latest unlikely story involves the Tibetan Dalai Lama no less, who spoke with American diplomats last year about climate change high atop the Himalayan Mountains. In a meeting with U.S. ambassador to India Timothy Roemer, the Dalai Lama argued that the U.S. should seek to employ a different strategy toward Tibet. Instead of pressuring Beijing on the political front, the Dalai Lama declared, Washington should seek to leverage environmental concerns in the hope of buying some relief for the Tibetan people.


Top 10 Environmental Stories of 2010

(12/20/2010) Below is a quick review of some of the biggest environmental stories of 2010: Climate change rears it ugly head; Oil spill in the Gulf; Agreement to save global biodiversity; Illegal logging crisis in Madagascar; REDD kicks off in Indonesia; Brazil deforestation falls to its lowest level; Hungary's red sludge; Nestle caves to social media activists; New mammals galore' and Global climate framework back on the table?


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