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News articles on asia
Mongabay.com news articles on asia in blog format. Updated regularly.
(06/22/2007) Indonesia say it aims to reduce forest fires by 40-50 percent this year, following nearly a decade of devastating seasonal fires that release large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, threaten critical orangutan habitat, and raise regional health risks.
NASA monitors China's Three Gorges Dam
(06/13/2007) Some call it the eighth wonder of world. Others say it's the next Great Wall of China. Upon completion in 2009, the Three Gorges Dam along China's Yangtze River will be the world's largest hydroelectric power generator and one of the few man-made structures so enormous that it's actually visible to the naked eye from space. NASA's Landsat satellites have provided detailed, vivid views of the dam since construction began in 1994.
Cuddly primate trade banned
(06/11/2007) CITES delegates agreed to a total ban on trade in the slow loris, a Southeast Asian primate commonly trafficked for the pet trade. Environmental groups welcomed the move.
98% of orangutan habitat gone in next 15 years
(06/11/2007) Indonesia is losing more than 2.1 million hectares (5.2 million acres) of forest a year to illegal loggers, states a new report from the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP). The report, which estimates the value of illicit timbering at $4 billion annually, warns that 98 percent of Indonesia's lowland forests will be gone by 2022, putting species like the orangutan at risk of extinction in the wild. The report, Last stand of the Orang-utan: State of Emergency, was released Monday at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species meeting in The Hague.
Chinese demand drives global deforestation
(06/10/2007) From outside, Cameroon's Ngambe-Tikar forest looks like a compact, tangled mass of healthy emerald green foliage. But tracks between the towering tropical hardwood trees open up into car park-sized clearings littered with logs as long as buses. Forestry officers say the reserve is under attack from unscrupulous commercial loggers who work outside authorized zones and do not respect size limits in their quest for maximum financial returns.
China Unveils Global Warming Initiative
(06/05/2007) Scientists documented 467 species, including 24 species believed new to science, during a rainforest survey in eastern Suriname, South America. The expedition, led by conservation International (CI), was sponsored by two mining companies, BHP-Billiton Maatschappij Suriname (BMS) and Suriname Aluminium Company LLC (Suralco), hoping to mine the area for bauxite, the raw material used to make aluminum. conservation International said the Rapid Assessment Survey (RAP) will help "give miners guidance on protecting unique plants and animals during potential future development," according to a statement from the organization.
Rare kangaroos released into New Guinea rainforest
(06/05/2007) China, soon to be the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, unveiled its first climate change initiative Tuesday. According to state media, the National Climate Change Program plan calls for China to reduce energy use 20 percent by 2010, promote carbon sink technologies and other adaptive technologies, raise the efficiency of coal-fired power plants, and increase the amount of renewable energy it produces.
Indonesia: No more rainforest clearing for palm oil
(06/05/2007) Indonesian Minister for Environment Rachmat Witoelar said Indonesia will not allow palm oil producers to clear primary forests for establishing plantations, reports Bloomberg. Indonesia is expected to surpass Malaysia as the world largest producer of palm oil this year. The government hopes to add 7 million hectares of plantations by 2011.
Greenpeace pressures China on global warming
(05/30/2007) Greenpeace stepped up the pressure on China to do something about its surging greenhouse gas emissions, launching a campaign that warns melting glaciers could hurt Chinese agriculture and hydroelectric projects. The environmental group cited a Chinese Academy of Sciences' projection that 80 percent of the glaciers in Tibet and the surrounding region could melt by 2035, though other research suggests more moderate melting.
Indonesia could earn $100-$180 million from carbon trading
(05/28/2007) Indonesia says it hopes to soon see millions of dollars from carbon trading, reports the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) in its latest update.
New snake-like lizard discovered in India
(05/28/2007) A previously unknown species of legless lizard as been discovered in a remote Indian forest, reports the Associated Press. Sushil Kumar Dutta, leader of a team of researchers from NGO Vasundhra and the North Orissa University, found the 7-inch long creature in the forests of Khandadhar near Raurkela in Orissa state, about 625 miles southeast of New Delhi.
Chinese support shark conservation, but still demand shark fin
(05/25/2007) There is growing public support in China for shark conservation measures, but little understanding of the role of shark finning in declining shark populations, reveals a survey by WildAid, an environmental group.
Experts: Borneo in urgent need of protection
(05/23/2007) A prominent group of 1500 scientists in over 70 countries have called for the urgent conservation of Borneo's forests, which are fast-disappearing on the southeast Asian island due to logging, fires, and conversion for oil palm plantations.
China city officials to get $258,000 bonus for environmental gains
(05/23/2007) Shanxi Province in China will pay city government officials 2 million yuan ($258,000) each if they are able to pull their cities out of the ranking of China's five most polluted cities, reports China state media. Cities that see their air quality improve 10 spots in the national ranking system, world reward city heads 2 million yuan ($258,000).
Saving big cats depends on science, practical interventions
(05/21/2007) Big cats are some of Earth's largest and most threatened predators. Long persecuted as perceived threats to livestock and humans, hunted for their skins and purported medicinal values, and losing critical habitat to deforestation and conversion for agriculture, big cat populations have dwindled around the world for the past century. Given these trends, it should come as no surprise that big cats have become the focus of conservation efforts. Not only are large predators often the most vulnerable to human pressures and the first to disappear from ecosystems, but efforts to conserve them effectively help protect thousands of other species that share their habitat. At the forefront of these efforts in Dr. Luke Hunter, a biologist with the Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) where he heads their Great Cats Program. In a May 2007 interview with mongabay.com, Hunter discussed strategies for conserving carnivores and offered insight for students interested in pursuing careers in conservation science.
China tropical log imports jump at Jiangsu port
(05/16/2007) Logs imports through Zhangjiagang Port in Jiangsu Province, China have increased significantly in 2007, reports the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) in its bi-weekly update.
Rare softshell turtle rediscovered in Cambodia
(05/16/2007) Scientists from conservation International have successfully hatched a clutch of eggs from one of the world's most endangered turtle species.
UN warns on dangers of bioenergy
(05/09/2007) Biofuels offer "an extraordinary opportunity" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but could make "substantial demands on the world's land and water resources at a time when demand for both food and forest products is also rising rapidly," said the U.N. in its first assessment on the growing bioenergy industry.
South Korea fishermen cheat on whale killing
(05/09/2007) Fishermen in South Korea are killing far more whales than they claim, reports an article in New Scientist Magazine. DNA fingerprinting of whale meat purchased in local markets suggests that South Korea caught 827 minke whales between 1999 and 2003, well above the 458 they reported.
Cuddly slow loris threatened by the pet trade
(05/09/2007) The slow loris, a big-eyed primate found in the rainforests of southeast Asia, is threatened by the international pet trade said ProFauna Indonesia, a wildlife activist group that has called for a ban on the illegal trafficking of the charismatic animal.
Massive oil palm expansion planned by Indonesia's richest man
(05/08/2007) Indonesia's richest man plans to spend $4 billion to expand his company's palm oil, energy, and pulp and paper holdings, according to a report from Reuters.
Peatlands store 100 years of CO2 emissions
(05/08/2007) The UN Convention on Climate Change is putting global climate at risk by ignoring carbon dioxide emissions from the destruction of carbon-rich peatlands in Indonesia, charged Wetlands International, a Dutch environmental group that has highlighted the climate impact of land-use change in southeast Asia.
Indonesia may import timber due to supply shortage
(05/07/2007) Indonesia, the world's largest exporter of tropical timber, may need to import wood from neighbors due to supply shortages caused by a crack down on illegal logging and resource depletion, reports the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO).
Indonesia will plant 2 billion trees in 2007
(05/07/2007) Indonesia plans to rehabilitate 59.2 million hectares (146 million acres) of damaged forest throughout Indonesia, according to Malam Sambat Kaban, Indonesia's Forestry Minister.
Malaysia will reforest 4000 ha of forest in Borneo
(05/07/2007) Malaysia plans to rehabilitate 4000 hectares (10,000 acres) of damaged forest is Sabah state, on the island of Borneo, reports the Associated Press. The environmental restoration and management plan for the Ulu Semaga-Malua forests will cost $58 million.
First ever photos of leopard with cub in Cambodia
(05/05/2007) WWF has captured the first ever photos of a wild leopard with cub in Cambodia. Leopards are exothermally rare in Cambodia, which has suffered one of the highest deforestation rates in southeast Asia due to illegal logging., clearing for agriculture, fires, and unsustainable hunting.
Indonesia to be recognized in Guinness Book of World Records for deforestation rate
(05/04/2007) Greenpeace is using an novel marketing ploy to raise awareness about forest loss in Indonesia: the Guinness Book of World Records. The green group has convinced the publisher of to recognize Indonesia as the "country with the fastest rate of forest destruction on the planet." Indonesia's high rate of forest loss is largely the result of poor forest management and corruption. Each year thousands of hectares are illegally logged for timber and burned to establish oil palm plantations.
Chinese traffic restrictions rapidly result in cleaner air
(04/30/2007) Chinese government restrictions on motorists during a three- day conference last fall cut Beijing's emissions of an important class of atmospheric pollutants by up to 40 percent, recent satellite observations indicate. The November restrictions are widely viewed as a dress rehearsal for efforts by the city to slash smog and airborne contaminants when China hosts the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.
Climate change may decimate Indonesia's food supplies, worsen fires
(04/30/2007) Climate change could worsen food shortages in Indonesia by delaying the onset of monsoon rains reports a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The findings suggest that the country could face increasing risk of drought and forest fire if nothing is done to control rising greenhouse gas emissions.
Dutch plan restricts biofuels that damage environment
(04/29/2007) The Netherlands has proposed a system to reduce the environmental impact of biofuels production. The country becomes the first in the world to establish such guidelines. Environmentalists have expressed increasing concern for the establishment of energy crops in biodiverse and carbon-rich ecosystems like the peatlands of Indonesia and the Amazon rainforest. They say that conversion of these forests for oil palm and soybeans is threatening endangered species and worsening global warming. Further, they warn, demand for such biomass energy products is driving up prices for food crops.
Dutch will demand rainforest-friendly palm oil
(04/27/2007) In a report scheduled to be released today, the Dutch government will outline criteria for growing biofuels in a more sustainable manner. The guidelines will be closely watched by the rest of Europe, which is currently struggling with the environmental pros and cons of large-scale energy crop production, especially in ecologically-sensitive areas like the Amazon and Indonesian rainforests.
China uses 'green construction' for Tibet railway
(04/26/2007) To the surprise of many observers, China went to great lengths to minimize the environmental impact of its new Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the highest railway in the world. Still, despite these efforts there will likely be detrimental environmental effects from its construction, writes a team of researchers in the latest issue of the journal Science.
Illegal logging in Malaysia due to gangsters
(04/25/2007) The Malaysian government has blamed "gangsters" for illegal logging syndicates in the country. Malaysia's deforestation rate has leapt by 86 percent since the close of the 1990s, according to data from the U.N.
Indonesia urges rich countries to ban illegally logged wood products
(04/25/2007) Indonesia has urged rich countries not to buy products made from illegally logged timber, echoing a similar call from Malaysia last month, according to the International Tropical Timber Organization's (ITTO) April 1 Tropical Timber Market Report.
China to push for sustainable logging overseas
(04/25/2007) In a surprising move, China has developed guidelines for the establishment of sustainable forest plantations abroad by Chinese firms, according to the International Tropical Timber Organization's (ITTO) April 1 Tropical Timber Market Report. The move comes as China faces increasing criticism from environmental groups for pillaging the world's forests to feed its rapidly growing economy.
China to spend $2.1B to protect wetlands
(04/25/2007) China says it will spend more than $2.1 billion (16.5 billion yuan) to protect and restore its highly endangered wetlands over the next five years.
China's demand for hardwood drives illegal logging says Greenpeace
(04/17/2007) Environmental group Greenpeace said on Tuesday China should take responsibility for illegal hardwood logging in Southeast Asia which supplied the raw materials for Chinese exports to the West.
Incandescent light bulb ban would cut India's GHG emissions 4%
(04/17/2007) A ban on incandescent light bulbs would cut India's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 4 percent said environmental group Greenpeace at a press conference Monday. Greenpeace argues that adopting compact florescent bulbs and other more efficient lighting technologies would help India fight global warming. India is already the world's fifth largest GHG polluter, accounting for around 3 percent of global emissions.
Damage to Yangtze 'irreversible' says China
(04/16/2007) Pollution, dams and excessive boat traffic have caused an 'largely irreversible' decline in the aquatic ecology of the Yangtze says a report issued by China's official State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).
Tsunami-producing quake caused mass coral death in Indonesia
(04/11/2007) Researchers say 300 kilometers of sea floor heaved more than a meter upwards, exposing -- and killing -- corals in unprecedented numbers. Scientists have reported what is thought to be one of the world's greatest mass death of corals ever recorded as a result of the earthquake in Aceh, Indonesia on 28 March 2005.
Indonesia seeks to increase deforestation rate, already world's highest
(04/09/2007) Already having the highest deforestation rate in the world, Indonesia's Minister of Forestry announced the country would increase its harvest quota for natural timber for 2007 by 12 percent to 9.1 million cubic meters according to the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). ITTO said the target quota may actually be 12.4 million cubic meters (53 percent higher than 2006) for the year.
Indonesia and Australia sign deforestation pact
(04/09/2007) Indonesia and Australia have agreed to reduce deforestation in southeast Asia according to Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian Minister for the Environment and Water Resources. Turnbull was in Jakarta meeting with the Indonesian Minister for Forestry, M. S. Kaban, and the Minister for the Environment, Rachmat Witoelar.
Photos of world's largest, rarest Easter bunny found in Sumatra
(04/04/2007) Scientists from the Wildlife conservation Society working in the rainforests of Sumatra have captured the world's largest rabbit on film using remote camera traps.
Palm oil doesn't have to be bad for the environment
(04/04/2007) As traditionally practiced in southeast Asia, oil palm cultivation is responsible for widespread deforestation that reduces biodiversity, degrades important ecological services, worsens climate change, and traps workers in inequitable conditions sometimes analogous to slavery. This doesn't have to be the case. Following examples set forth by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and firms like Golden Hope Plantations Berhad, a Malaysian palm oil producer, oil palm can be cultivated in a manner that helps mitigate climate change, preserves biodiversity, and brings economic opportunities to desperately poor rural populations.
Eco-friendly palm oil could help alleviate poverty in Indonesia
(04/03/2007) The Associated Press (AP) recently quoted Marcel Silvius, a climate expert at Wetlands International in the Netherlands, as saying palm oil is a failure as a biofuel. This would be a misleading statement and one that doesn't help efforts to devise a workable solution to the multiplicity of issues surrounding the use of palm oil.
The news of extinction: western media's response to the demise of the Baiji
(04/01/2007) The news came and went with an alacrity that I found alarming, almost jolting. I waited for weeks, faithfully; I could not believe that the initial announcement would be followed by nothing but silence on the issue, no rationalizations, no opinions, no discussions, no outpourings of grief. Just silence.
Logging reduces abundance of rare mammals in Borneo
(03/27/2007) Selective logging profoundly reduces the abundance of rare forest species according to surveys of logged and unlogged rainforests on the island of Borneo, one of the most biodiverse parts of southeast Asia. The results, published in a trio of papers, have implications for biodiversity and forest conservation efforts in one of the world's most threatened ecosystems.
Malaysia to use certification to crack down on illegal logging
(03/27/2007) Malaysia will ask its timber suppliers in other countries to provide certification on the origin of wood according to a report from the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). The move will help Malaysia fight allegations that its timber processors are complicit in the illegal logging industry.
Indonesia is 3rd largest greenhouse gas producer due to deforestation
(03/26/2007) Indonesia trails only the United States and China in greenhouse gas emissions, reports a study released Friday by the World Bank and the British government.
20 species of grouper fish are endangered
(03/21/2007) 20 of the world's 162 known species of grouper are threatened with extinction according to a survey by conservation groups. Grouper are popular food fish throughout the world, but due to their slow reproductive rates they are particularly vulnerable to overharvesting.
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