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News articles on asia
Mongabay.com news articles on asia in blog format. Updated regularly.
(05/27/2008) Waidi Sinun oversees three extraordinarily diverse conservation areas in the Malaysian rainforest, a career shaped by a love for the environment stemming from childhood memories, as well as the foundation that fostered his education.
Will consumers pay 10% premium for sustainable palm oil?
(05/21/2008) The first shipments of certified eco-friendly palm oil will arrive in Germany during the second half of 2008 according to the head of OVID, a German edible oil industry group.
Geriatric turtle sex only hope for world's rarest reptile
(05/21/2008) With only four individuals of the Yangtze giant softshell turtle left on Earth—one in the wild and three in captivity—conservationists have launched a desperate attempt to save the species from extinction.
Half of oil palm expansion in Malaysia, Indonesia occurs at expense of forests
(05/20/2008) More than half of the oil palm expansion between 1990 and 2005 Malaysia and Indonesia occurred at expense of forests, reports a new analysis published in the journal conservation Letters. Analyzing data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Lian Pin Koh and David S. Wilcove of Princeton University found that 55-59 percent of oil palm expansion in Malaysia and at least 56 percent of that in Indonesia occurred at the expense of forests. Given that oil palm plantations are biologically impoverished relative to primary and secondary forests, the researchers recommend restricting future expansion to pre-existing cropland and degraded habitats.
Tropical deforestation is 'one of the worst crises since we came out of our caves'
(05/15/2008) Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Forestry Week in Vietnam, keystone speaker Dr. Norman Myers stated: "I'm going to give you my bottom-line message right now, up front, this is a super crisis that we are facing, it's an appalling crisis, it's one of the worst crises since we came out of our caves 10,000 years ago. I'm referring of course to elimination of tropical forests and of their millions of species."
Will earthquake slow dam-building spree in China?
(05/14/2008) Monday's 7.9 magnitude earthquake in Sichuan province left more than 15,000 dead, 26,000 missing, and 64,000 injured, according to state media. The quake also "seriously damaged" two hydroelectric stations in Maoxian county, leading authorities to warn that the dams could burst. More than 2,000 troops were sent to work on the Zipingku Dam, a dam said to be in "great danger" of collapse upriver from Dujiangyan, the city at the quake's epicenter.
Indonesian palm oil firms pledge to stop clearing rainforests
(05/13/2008) Palm oil companies operating in Indonesia pledged to stop clearing forests for new plantations reports The Jakarta Post. The move is a response to growing criticism that oil palm expansion is destroying biologically-rich rainforests and contributing to global warming.
Massive deforestation of mangroves may have worsened scale of disaster in Burma
(05/13/2008) Weeks after the devastating cyclone Nagris struck Myanmar's Irrawaddy Delta on May 2nd, scientists and the media are debating the role in the scale of the disaster played by the region's deforestation of mangroves. According to recent studies, mangrove forests act as a buffer against the effect's of tropical storms like Nagris, though scientists don't yet fully understand the relationship between storm mitigation and mangroves.
China to push for overseas acquisition of farmland to improve food security
(05/13/2008) Worries over food security may drive China to seek agricultural lands abroad, according to a report from the Financial Times. Under a proposal by the Ministry of Agriculture, Chinese companies will be encouraged to acquire farmland overseas. The initiative would make foreign land acquisition by Chinese agricultural firms a central government policy.
Sustainability conference reveals a rift in the Malaysian Palm Oil Council
(05/01/2008) Last month's sustainability conference sponsored by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) revealed a rift between some planters and the industry marketing organization.
High palm oil prices kill the biodiesel market for Asia
(05/01/2008) High palm oil prices have forced investors to shelve plans for biodiesel refineries, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Unilever calls for ban on rainforest destruction for palm oil
(05/01/2008) Unilever, the world's largest consumer good company, will start using palm oil from certified sustainable sources this year and aims to have all its palm oil certified by 2015, according to a speech delivered today by CEO Patrick Cescau.
China aims for 100 gigawatts of wind power by 2020
(04/29/2008) China aims to expand its wind power generating capacity to 100,000 megawatts by 2020, more than doubling the current world's installed capacity, according to the Shanghai Daily and The Wall Street Journal's Environmental Capital blog.
Unilever admits it can't trace origin of palm oil used in its products
(04/21/2008) Unilever has admitted to Greenpeace that it can't trace the origin of palm oil supplied by firms operating in Indonesia. The relevation suggests that efforts to improve the sustainability of Indonesian palm oil have stalled as large tracts of rainforest continue to fall for the establishment of new oil palm plantations on the islands of Borneo, New Guinea, and Sumatra.
Borneo's pygmy elephants are an alien species
(04/18/2008) A new study suggests that the Borneo pygmy elephant -- one of Borneo's best known and charismatic animals -- is actually an invasive species introduced from a neighboring island by a former sultan. The finding offers hope that in Borneo, the elephant can avoid the fate that befell it in its native Java: extinction.
Malaysian palm oil industry puts sustainability in the spotlight
(04/17/2008) Seeking to differentiate its palm oil from that produced less responsibly in other countries, the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) sponsored a three-day meeting this week in Kota Kinabalu, on the island of Borneo.
Photos by late Borneo rainforest hero, indigenous rights activist go online
(04/17/2008) On April 19th over 10,000 of Bruno Manser's photographs will be made available to the public on-line. The pictures are rare documentation of the nomadic Penan peoples from the Malaysian state of Sarawak in Borneo. Swiss environmentalist Bruno Manser proved an unflinching and passionate advocate for the Penans in the 1990s as their territory was increasingly deforested by industrial logging companies.
The FSC is the 'Enron of forestry' says rainforest activist
(04/17/2008) On April 7th, Mongabay printed an interview with FSC International Communications Manager, Nina Haase, in which she defended the FSC against criticism leveled at it by various environmental organizations, such as The World Rainforest Movement and Ecological Internet. The interview drew strong reactions on both sides, and Simon Counsell, director of the Rainforest Foundation UK, requested a chance to respond to the FSC's interview in-depth. In his response, he states that the FSC has created a "'race to the bottom' of certification standards", alleging that the "FSC really has become the 'Enron of forestry'".
Palm oil boycott an unrealistic approach to conserving biodiversity
(04/15/2008) Boycotting palm oil produced in Southeast Asia in an "unrealistic" and "ineffective" approach to conserving the region's fast-disappearing rainforests, said a Princeton University researcher speaking at a conference on the sustainability of palm oil. Instead, NGOs should focus on engaging and working with the palm oil industry to reduce its impact on the environment. Addressing the first International Palm Oil Sustainability Conference in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, Princeton biologist Dr. David S. Wilcove said that the palm oil industry is too important to the economies of Indonesia and Malaysia to justify blanket import bans on the edible oil used in food, cosmetics, industrial products, and biodiesel. The palm oil industry contributes to health, education, and infrastructure in rural areas.
Malaysia rejects coal project in Borneo rainforest
(04/14/2008) Malaysia has rejected a $408 million coal-fired power plant near a protected rainforest area in Sabah, on the island of Borneo.
Lungless frog discovered in Borneo
(04/11/2008) A lungless frog has been discovered on the island of Borneo. Scientists say the species may shed light on the process of evolution in some organisms.
Saving the world's most recently discovered cat species in Borneo
(04/10/2008) Last year two teams of scientists announced the discovery of a new species of clouded leopard in Borneo. The news came as conservationists launched a major initiative to conserve a large area of forest on an island where logging and oil palm plantations have consumed vast expanses of highly biodiverse tropical rainforest over the past thirty years. Now a pair of researchers are racing against the clock to better understand the behvaior of these rare cats to see how well they adapt to these changes in and around Danum Valley in Malaysia's Sabah state. Andrew Hearn and Joanna Ross run the Bornean Wild Cat and Clouded Leopard Project, an effort that aims to understand and protect Borneo's threatened wild cats, which include the flat-headed cat (Prionailurus planiceps), marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata) leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) the endemic bay cat (Catopuma badia) and the Bornean clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa).
Wal-Mart pushes for greener maufacturing in China
(04/07/2008) Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, will hold a meeting of around 1,000 of its Chinese suppliers in an effort to reduce its environmental impact, said Lee Scott, Wal-Mart's CEO, in an interview with the Financial Times.
Poll: Chinese more concerned about the environment than Americans
(04/07/2008) A poll released today found that 10.2 percent of the Chinese population lists environmental concerns as the nation's number one issue. It is the fourth highest concern among the Chinese after health care, employment, and the income-gap. According to the poll, the Chinese view the environment as higher than corruption, social security, housing prices, and the cost of education.
conservation success story: birds stage dramatic recovery in Cambodia
(04/03/2008) According to a report released today by the Wildlife conservation Society (WCS), several species of rare waterbirds from Cambodia's famed Tonle Sap region have staged remarkable comebacks, thanks to a project involving a single team of park rangers to provide 24-hour protection to breeding colonies. The project pioneered a novel approach: employing former hunters and egg collectors to protect and monitor the colonies, thereby guaranteeing the active involvement of local communities in the initiative.
Invasive species cost China $14B per year
(04/01/2008) Rapid economic growth and giant infrastructure projects have allowed invasive species to spread throughout China and inflict more than $14.5 billion of damage to the nation's economy annually, according to a study published in Bioscience. The research warns that the Beijing Olympics may worsen the toll.
Asia Pulp & Paper destroying rare Sumatra forest
(03/27/2008) Companies linked to timber giant Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) are illegally building a road that runs through highly endangered peatland forest on the island of Sumatra, according to an investigative report published by Eyes on the Forest, a coalition of NGOs in Indonesia. The road would allow APP and its affiliates to log forests for timber and drain peat soil for the establishment of oil palm plantations. The action would release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from one of the world's largest contiguous tropical peat swamp forests.
FSC has 'failed the world's forests' say critics
(03/26/2008) The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has come under increasingly harsh criticisms from a variety of environmental organizations. The FSC is an international not-for-profit organization that certifies wood products: its stamp of approval is meant to create confidence that the wood was harvested in an environmentally-sustainable and socially-responsible manner. For years the FSC stamp has been imperative for concerned consumers in purchasing wood products. Yet amid growing troubles for the FSC, recent attacks from environmental organizations like World Rainforest Movement and Ecological Internet are putting the organization's credibility into question.
U.S. furniture demand drives illegal logging in Laos
(03/24/2008) In Vietnam the illegal timber trade continues unabated, in many ways due to the Southeast Asian country's growing economy and wealthy nations' insatiable demand for cheap furniture. Since 2000 Vietnam has seem a ten-fold increase in their furniture industry, a rise that is leading to large-scale illegal deforestation in the Mekong region, according to a report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Telapak Indonesia.
Ecosystems in the Philippines bounce back from the brink
(03/19/2008) The Philippines has often been an example for the worst-case-scenario in environmental degradation. Some scientists have even concluded that environmental efforts should put elsewhere, claiming the Philippines to be a lost cause. In his book Requiem for Nature John Terborgh writes the "overpopulated... Philippines are already beyond the point of no return." However, a recent paper entitled "Hope for Threatened Tropical Biodiversity: Lessons from the Philippines" argues that there are enough positive environmental and conservation trends in the Philippines to have hope and continue working for a better tomorrow.
New bird species discovered in Indonesia
(03/14/2008) A previously unknown species of bird has been discovered near a remote archipelago in Indonesia, reported a taxonomist writing in the March edition of The Wilson Journal of Ornithology.
India has 1400 tigers -- not 3500
(03/13/2008) A census of India's reserves found 1,411 tigers rather than the 3,508 estimated previously, according to the State Ministry of Environment and Forests.
China's emissions growth 2-4 times greater than expected
(03/11/2008) China's carbon dioxide emissions are growing far faster than anticipated according to according to a new analysis by economists at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, San Diego. The study, published in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, estimates China will see an 11 percent annual growth rate in CO2 emissions between 2004 and 2010, two to four times the 2.5 to 5 percent growth rate estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
New rule grants rainforest to mining firms in Indonesia for $80/acre
(03/10/2008) A new Indonesian rule will grant concessions to mining companies operating in rainforests for as little as $200 per hectare ($80/acre) according to Mining Advocacy Network, a conservation group.
Can snow leopards be saved?
(03/06/2008) conservationists and officials from twelve Asian countries are meeting in Beijing next week to discuss the fate of the endangered snow leopard. Less than 7,000 snow leopard remain in the wild.
China's tropical rainforests decline 67% in 30 years
(03/03/2008) Tropical rainforest cover in southern Yunnan decreased 67 percent in the past 30 years, mostly due to the establishment of rubber plantations, according to a new assessment of tropical forests in southwestern China.
China's wood industry fueled by illegal log imports from rainforest countries
(02/29/2008) While China has improved management of its forestry sector, expanding forest plantation cover and banning harvesting of natural forests, China's recent growth as wood-products exporter is built on timber imports much of which are illegal argues a researcher from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in a letter to Science.
$100 billion worth of carbon released from deforestation in Riau, Sumatra
(02/27/2008) A WWF study found that deforestation of nearly 10.5 million acres of tropical forests and peat swamp in central Sumatra's Riau Province over the past 25 years has generated 3.7 gigatons of carbon dioxide. Based on today's $32 closing price for a ton of carbon dioxide for European Union Allowances, the emissions had a theoretical trading value of $118 billion, assuming they could have been traded at the full E.U. carbon price at the time (voluntary offsets would have been worth about $13 billion).
Malaysia announces $103B development plan for Borneo island
(02/13/2008) Malaysia announced a $103 billion development plan for Sarawak, a state in northern Borneo.
5,000 mile-long tiger corridor proposed
(02/13/2008) The Wildlife conservation Society and the Panthera Foundation announced plans to establish a 5,000 mile-long "genetic corridor" from Bhutan to Burma that would span eight countries and allow tiger populations to roam freely across the largest remaining block of tiger habitat. The plan has been endorsed by leading conservationists and the new King of Bhutan, his Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.
Sumatran tiger faces extinction due to wildlife trade
(02/12/2008) The critically endangered Sumatran Tiger faces extinction due to the tiger parts trade in Indonesia, reports a new report from TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network run by IUCN and WWF.
10% of China's forests destroyed in recent storms
(02/11/2008) Winter snow storms in China have destroyed 10 percent of the country's forest resources according to Chinese state media.
First rainforest-for-carbon-credits deal becomes a reality
(02/07/2008) Villagers in Aceh, the Indonesian province that suffered through three decades of civil war and lost some 170,000 people to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, could soon see $26 million in carbon credits for protecting rainforests from logging under a deal announced today between conservationists, carbon traders, and the Aceh government.
Carbon tax would make China greener and reduce warming risks
(02/07/2008) Driven by booming economic growth and rapid urbanization, China's carbon dioxide emissions are surging. At the same time, forecasts suggest climate change will have an immense impact on the country, with rising sea levels projected to swamp key industrial areas and diminished rainfall reducing agricultural output. Given this outlook, a new policy paper published in Science argues that China will need to embark on a cleaner path to growth, one that is less dependent on coal. The authors say that international assistance in the form of carbon funds could help persuade Chinese leadership to move towards more environmentally-friendly energy technologies.
Staples dumps Asia Pulp & Paper over its destruction of virgin rainforests
(02/07/2008) Office supply giant Staples Inc. dropped Asia Pulp & Paper Co. Ltd. (APP), one of the world's largest paper companies, as a supplier due to concerns over its environmental performance, reports Tom Wright of the Wall Street Journal.
Borneo's Sabah state will see $32B in investment
(02/04/2008) Malaysia put forth a $32.4 billion development plan for Sabah, a rainforest state on the island of Borneo, reports Reuters.
Palm oil industry prepares geen initiative to counter criticism
(01/18/2008) Global food and consumer goods giants are backing a plan to certify that palm oil is produced in a way that doesn't drive destruction of tropical rainforests, reports The Wall Street Journal. The move comes as the palm industry is facing increasing scrutiny -- and consumer backlash -- for its practices which scientists say are driving large-scale destruction of forests across Indonesia and Malaysia, resulting in massive greenhouse gas emissions.
U.S. biofuels policy drives deforestation in Indonesia, the Amazon
(01/17/2008) U.S. incentives for biofuel production are promoting deforestation in southeast Asia and the Amazon by driving up crop prices and displacing energy feedstock production, say researchers.
Tropical islanders win battle against palm-oil
(01/16/2008) Mongabay has confirmed that the Milne Bay government has pulled plans to allow Vitroplant to log 70% of Woodlark Island for palm oil plantations. The Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, Hon John Hickey, stated in a press release that "Vitroplant did do a feasibility study and were keen to invest on the island. However due to landowner objections on the development of the oil palm industry on the island, the company has decided to pull out." Vitroplant has yet to comment.
E.U. may ban palm oil biodiesel
(01/15/2008) The E.U. may ban imports of certain biofuel feedstocks that damage the environment, reports The New York Times. Environmentalists say some biofuels like palm oil are driving the destruction of biologically-rich rainforests and may produce more emissions than conventional fossil fuels.
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