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News articles on conservation
Mongabay.com news articles on conservation in blog format. Updated regularly.
(04/16/2008) For mobile users a new mobile game hopes to raise awareness of the plight of the mountain gorilla and funds for their conservation. Silverback takes gamers through eight levels, following the life-span of a gorilla from childhood to adult. The game was originally developed in 2003 by Fauna & Flora International. Ken Banks, creator of www.kiwanja.net, helped develop the game. In 2006 the game was taken off-line where as Banks says it "sat on a virtual shelf, gathering virtual dust". He has now brought the game back in the hope that it will renew interest, and awareness, in the plight of the mountain gorilla.
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.
Indigenous peoples of Congo map their forests with GPS in an effort to save them
(04/13/2008) This week over five hundred villagers in the Democratic Republic of Congo's rainforest will employ GPS technology to map their forests in an effort to preserve their territory from logging companies.
Bats protect crops from insects
(04/04/2008) Bats eat as many insects at night as birds do during the day, according to research published in the journal Science.
Amazon soy ban seems to be effective in reducing explicit deforestation
(04/03/2008) An industry-led ban on soy production in the Amazon appears to be proving effective at reducing new clearing for explicit soy production, according to a survey published Monday by Greenpeace and the Brazilian Vegetable Oils Industry Association. The moratorium, which was signed by some of the largest soy crushers in the Amazon in response to a campaign by environmental group Greenpeace, went into effect in October 2006. While soy is believed to be having an indirect impact on deforestation by driving up land prices and competing with the dominant form of land use in the Amazon — cattle ranching — the news is a hopeful sign for conservationists.
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.
Bats eat as many insects as birds
(04/03/2008) Bats eat as many insects at night as birds do during the day, according to research published in the journal Science.
Investing to save rainforests
(04/02/2008) Last week London-based Canopy Capital, a private equity firm, announced a historic deal to preserve the rainforest of Iwokrama, a 371,000-hectare reserve in the South American country of Guyana. In exchange for funding a "significant" part of Iwokrama's $1.2 million research and conservation program on an ongoing basis, Canopy Capital secured the right to develop value for environmental services provided by the reserve. Essentially the financial firm has bet that the services generated by a living rainforest — including rainfall generation, climate regulation, biodiversity maintenance and carbon storage — will eventually be valuable in international markets. Hylton Murray-Philipson, director of Canopy Capital, says the agreement — which returns 80 percent of the proceeds to the people of Guyana — could set the stage for an era where forest conservation is driven by the pursuit of profit rather than overt altruistic concerns.
Monarch butterfly migration threatened by illegal logging in Mexico
(04/02/2008) Destruction of forests in central Mexico, is putting the Monarch butterfly's annual migration at risk, says a researcher from the University of Kansas.
First wolves killed in Wyoming after species loses ESA protection
(04/02/2008) In one of a series of controversial decisions regarding the Endangered Species Act recently, the federal government has dropped the Rocky Mountain grey wolf from the program. The announcement of the de-listing was made in mid-February, but did not go into effect until Friday when the reins of control were handed over from the federal government to the individual states. Over the weekend wolf-hunting began in Wyoming.
Private equity firm buys rights to ecosystem services of Guyana rainforest
(03/27/2008) A private equity firm has purchased the rights to environmental services generated by 371,000 hectare rainforest reserve in Guyana. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the agreement is precedent-setting in that a financial firm is betting that the services generated by a living rainforest — including rainfall generation, climate regulation, biodiversity maintenance and water storage — will eventually see compensation in international markets.
Fire monitoring by satellite becomes key conservation tool
(03/26/2008) Remote sensing is increasingly used as a tool for conservation management. Beyond traditional satellite imagery popularized by Google Earth, new sensing applications are allowing researchers located anywhere in the world to track fires, illegal logging and mining, and deforestation in some of Earth's most isolated regions using a computer or handheld device. The Fire Alert System is one example of an application that is harnessing the power of satellites to deliver key data to conservation managers. Developed by Madagascar's ministry of Environment, the International Resources Group, conservation International using data from the University of Maryland and NASA, the Fire Alert System enables near real-time monitoring of fires anywhere on the island of Madagascar, a hotspot of biological diversity. The system, which sends subscribers regular email alerts on newly-detected burning, will eventually be expanded to include all the world's protected areas, allowing managers to detect not only fires but potentially related activities like road building, logging, and even hunting.
Africa's lions are disappearing
(03/25/2008) The lion is Africa's best known carnivore. Once widely abundant across the continent, recent surveys show that lion populations have plunged from over 100,000 individuals to around 23,000 over the past century. The reason? Lions are poisoned, shot, and speared by locals who see them as a threat to livestock. While lion populations in protected areas remain relatively healthy, conservationists say that without urgent measures, lions may disappear completely from unprotected areas. The Kilimanjaro Lion conservation Project is working to avoid this fate by developing practical measures to encourage coexistence between people, livestock and predators. Key to the effort is reducing livestock losses to lions. Leela Hazzah, a field researcher with the project, says the "Lion Guardians" program at Mbirikani Ranch in Kenya has proved remarkably successful: not a single lion has been killed since its inception in November 2006. The program employs Maasai warriors to monitor lions and help local communities prevent attacks on livestock.
No global warming link to dying frogs?
(03/25/2008) Scientists have fired another salvo in the heated debate over the role of climate change in the global decline of amphibians. Writing in the March 25 issue of PLoS Biology, a team of researchers led by Karen Lips of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale report finding "no evidence to support the hypothesis that climate change has been driving outbreaks of amphibian chytridiomycosis" -- a disease blamed for large-scale die-offs of amphibians. Other researchers have argued that climate shifts are worsening the outbreak of the fungal disease.
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.
Illegal wildlife trade worth $20B/yr
(03/19/2008) The illegal wildlife trade generates $5 to $20 billion annually, making it the largest illicit market after guns and drugs trafficking, reports a study released by the Congressional Research Service.
Do parks worsen deforestation through 'leakage'?
(03/17/2008) The creation of protected reserves may be pushing development to neighboring areas, confounding overall conservation efforts in regions where development pressures are high. Such "leakage" -- as the displacement is called -- makes it difficult to assess the effectiveness of protected areas strategies.
Rwanda launches reforestation project to protect chimps, drive ecotourism
(03/17/2008) conservationists in Rwanda have launched an ambitious reforestation project that aims to create a forest corridor to link an isolated group of chimpanzees to larger areas of habitat in Nyungwe National Park. The initiative, called the Rwandan National conservation Park, is backed by the Rwandan government, the Great Ape Trust of Iowa, and Earthpark, a group seeking to build an indoor rainforest in the U.S. Midwest.
Satellite could help reindeer in the Arctic
(03/17/2008) Researchers have used satellite data to detect Arctic conditions that cause mass starvation of hoofed animals depended on by native peoples. Some 20,000 musk oxen died on Canada's far-northern Banks Island because of such conditions during the winter several years ago. Yet, their deaths went unnoticed until the next spring. The new satellite-detection method could provide an early warning to native people, giving them a realistic chance of getting food to herds to prevent mass starvation.
Amazon environmentalist gunned down in Peru
(03/14/2008) After reporting a truck loaded with mahogany illegally logged from the Amazon rainforest, Don Julio Garcia Agapito, a Peruvian environmentalist was gunned down by unknown assailants on February 26th, 2008. He is survived by his family.
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.
Predator of the world's largest macaw key to its survival
(03/13/2008) In a bizarre biological twist, a new study shows that the Hyacinth Macaw depends on its greatest predator, the Toco Toucan, for continued survival.
Merrill Lynch invests $9M in rainforest conservation, expects profit
(03/12/2008) Merrill Lynch's investment in a rainforest conservation project in the Indonesian province of Aceh is worth $9 million over four years, reports Thomas Wright of The Wall Street Journal.
Photos of rare pygmy hippo in Liberia
(03/12/2008) It's almost as though this normally shy mammal were posing for the camera. The black-and-white image of a pygmy hippopotamus half-facing the camera is the first ever of a pygmy hippopotamus in Liberia. Perhaps even more astonishing EDGE, the organization that accomplished the photo, believes the image to be only the second photographic evidence of the animal in the wild (the first was taken in 2006 in Sierra Leone). This incredibly secretive animal is usually known through its prints and dung.
Half of Madagascar's amphibians may still await discovery
(03/11/2008) Madagascar is one of the most unique places on Earth for wildlife. When the public thinks of Madagascar's fauna most likely they think of one of the fifty species of lemur. Yet, Madagascar possesses a wealth of endemic wildlife outside of these unique prosimians. For example, to frog-lovers Madagascar is a paradise. The only amphibians living on Madagascar are frogs; the island is devoid of toads, salamanders, or newts. But what it lacks in other amphibians it makes up for in the number and beauty of its frogs. Currently, 240 frogs have been catalogued in Madagascar, 99 percent of which are endemic. Yet, amphibian expert Dr. Franco Andreone believes that, according to recent field studies, this may only be half of the frogs that actually live in Madagascar. Dr. Andreone believes the final tally could reach 500 species!
Skoll Foundation puts $1M toward indigenous groups, conservation in the Amazon
(03/11/2008) The Skoll Foundation has awarded the Amazon conservation Team, an innovative organization the promotes biocultural conservation among indigenous groups in the Amazon, $1,015,000 to map, manage, and protect 100 million acres of rainforest. The award is one of 11 Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship presented by the Skoll Foundation in 2008.
Madagascar's deforestation rate drops 8-fold in parks
(03/10/2008) Madagascar's deforestation rate in protected areas has fallen by eight-fold since the 1990s according to conservation International and the Malagasy government.
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.
Human impacts on primate conservation in central Amazonia
(03/03/2008) Deforestation in the Amazon is a serious concern. In the Brazilian Amazon, forests are cleared for cattle ranches, soybean cultivation, and selective logging practices. A new plan to settle approximately 180 families north of Manaus, the capital city of the state of Amazonas, has created widespread controversy. The land plots would be located within the study site of the longest-running study of forest fragmentation, the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project (BDFFP). Therefore, the plan would threaten scientific research at the BDFFP and other nearby research sites operated by the Instituto Nacional da Pesquisas de Amazônia (INPA) and Large Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA), as well as the future of the Central Amazonian conservation Corridor.
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.
Fragmentation puts Mexican howlers at risk
(03/03/2008) Forest fragmentation is putting mantled howler monkeys in southern Mexico at risk, reports a new study, published in the inaugural issue of the open access e-journal Tropical conservation Science.
Belize's world famous coral reefs and rainforests at risk
(03/03/2008) Belize's world famous coral reefs and tropical forests are increasingly vulnerable to environmental problems which could impact its tourism-dependent economy, argues a Belizean ecologist writing in the inaugural issue of the open access e-journal Tropical conservation Science.
Screaming elephant-cousin threatened by logging
(03/03/2008) A small screaming mammal that may be the closest living relative of the elephant is threatened by logging and bushmeat hunting in East Africa, according to a study published in the inaugural issue of the open access e-journal Tropical conservation Science.
New 'red list' seeks to stave off global seafood collapse
(03/03/2008) Over-fishing and destructive fishing practices have had a considerable effect on oceanic ecosystems. In 2006 a highly-reported study found that without drastic measures all wild seafood will disappear from the oceans in 50 years. Greenpeace, working against such a crash, has started a campaign that highlights 'red fish'. The twenty-two 'red' species are seafood that consumers and suppliers (including supermarkets) should avoid due to their plummeting populations and/or the damage caused by harvesting them.
Fewer wolves may mean fewer pronghorn in Yellowstone
(03/03/2008) As western states debate removing the gray wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act, a new study by the Wildlife conservation Society cautions that doing so may result in an unintended decline in another species: the pronghorn, a uniquely North American animal that resembles an African antelope.
Rare frog breeds in captivity for the first time
(03/03/2008) A rare species of frog has been found breeding in captivity in New Zealand, reports the Associated Press. The finding offers hope that the species' vulnerability to extinction can be reduced.
Mapping the future of conservation
(02/28/2008) A new series of maps projecting habitat loss and the impact of climate change show that the world's most biodiverse regions are in most of need of conservation investments. The authors say the study, published online today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, will help drive future conservation decisions.
Saving forgotten species: An interview with Carly Waterman, Program Coordinator of EDGE
(02/28/2008) In January 2007 a new conservation initiative arrived with an unusual level of media attention. The attention was due to the fact that the organization was doing things differently—very differently. Instead of focusing their efforts on the usual conservation-mascots like the panda or tiger, they introduced the public to long-ignored animals: photos of the impossibly unique aye-aye and a baby slender loris wrapped around a finger appeared in newsprint worldwide. The new initiative EDGE (Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered), launched by the Zoological Society of London, was not concerned with an animal's perceived popularity, rather the chose their focal species on a combined measurement of a species' biological uniqueness and its vulnerability to extinction. Consequently, they hoped to make celebrities out of animals (big and small) most people had never heard of: the hairy-eared dwarf lemur, anyone?
Web site offers homepage for every one of Earth's species
(02/27/2008) Monumental may be the only way to properly describe the Internet's Encyclopedia of Life. Its creators have set themselves the task of gathering accurate and detailed information on the earth's known 1.8 million species until every tree, arachnid, rodent, and even virus will have its own in-depth webpage.
Half the Amazon rainforest will be lost within 20 years
(02/27/2008) More than half the Amazon rainforest will be damaged or destroyed within 20 years if deforestation, forest fires, and climate trends continue apace, warns a study published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Reviewing recent trends in economic, ecological and climatic processes in Amazonia, Daniel Nepstad and colleagues forecast that 55 percent of Amazon forests will be "cleared, logged, damaged by drought, or burned" in the next 20 years. The damage will release 15-26 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, adding to a feedback cycle that will worsen both warming and forest degradation in the region. While the projections are bleak, the authors are hopeful that emerging trends could reduce the likelihood of a near-term die-back. These include the growing concern in commodity markets on the environmental performance of ranchers and farmers; greater investment in fire control mechanisms among owners of fire-sensitive investments; emergence of a carbon market for forest-based offsets; and the establishment of protected areas in regions where development is fast-expanding.
A Doomsday Vault for Frogs?
(02/27/2008) The Amphibian Ark, a doomsday vault for amphibians, will highlight Leap Day, February 29th, to recognize 2008 as the Year of the Frog. The campaign seeks to raise awareness of the global plight of frogs and other amphibians threatened by habitat loss, climate change, pollution and an emergent disease. Joining in the effort is the Wildlife conservation Society?s (WCS) Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium, facilities that house some of the world's most threatened amphibians.
Carbon trading could protect forests, reduce rural poverty
(02/26/2008) Carbon trading from avoided deforestation (REDD) credits could yield billions of dollars for tropical countries, according to analysis by mongabay.com, a leading tropical forest web site.
Rats decimating Aleutian Islands' ecology
(02/25/2008) Rats are disrupting fragile ecosystems on the Aleutian Islands Archipelago, reports a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Reducing deforestation rates 10% could generate $13B in carbon trading under REDD
(02/25/2008) Cutting global deforestation rates 10 percent could generate up to $13.5 billion in carbon credits under a reducing emissions from deforestation ("REDD") initiative approved at the U.N. climate talks in Bali this past December, estimate researchers writing in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. But the researchers caution there are still substantial obstacles to overcome before carbon-credits-for-rainforest-conservation becomes a reality.
Amazon research and conservation cannot ignore social issues
(02/24/2008) For Amazonian conservation to be effective it must start paying more attention to social issues according to a new paper: Taking things public: a contribution to address human dimensions of environmental change. The paper's author, Dr. Diogenes Alves, of the National Institute for Space Research told mongabay.com that "the main point of this paper is that it became crucial to recognize the social, economic and political settings associated with environmental change in the Amazon."
Brazil's ecosystem payments system offers clues for REDD implementation
(02/24/2008) Brazil's existing system for environmental services payments could offer insight for implementing carbon-credits-for-forest-conservation (REDD) initiatives in the Amazon rainforest, argues a London School of Economics researcher in a new paper published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.
Brazil seeks $1B/yr in donations to save the Amazon
(02/23/2008) Brazil will establish a donation-based fund to help finance conservation in the Amazon, according to Bloomberg. The announcement comes after deforestation rates spiked during the last five months of 2007.
Amazon state launches Zero Extinction Program for endangered species
(02/21/2008) The Brazilian state of Para has launched the Zero Extinction Program, an initiative to prevent threatened species from going extinct by protecting their habitats.
Rainforest fragmentation affects reptiles and amphibians
(02/20/2008) Deforestation of tropical ecosystems is one of the major threats to biological diversity. Anthropogenic activities transform tropical environments into semi-natural landscapes generating a great amount of forest edge that limits with pastures and agricultural lands.
Fire policy is key to reducing the impact of drought on the Amazon
(02/19/2008) Gaining control over the setting of fires for land-clearing in the Amazon is key to reducing deforestation and the impact of severe drought on the region's forests, write researchers in a paper published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.
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