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News articles on ecological services
Mongabay.com news articles on ecological services in blog format. Updated regularly.
(08/05/2008) The major drivers of tropical deforestation have changed in recent decades. According to a forthcoming article, deforestation has shifted from poverty-driven subsistence farming to major corporations razing forests for large-scale projects in mining, logging, oil and gas development, and agriculture. While this change makes many scientists and conservationists uneasy, it may allow for more effective action against deforestation. Rhett A. Butler of Mongabay.com, a leading environmental science website focusing on tropical forests, and William F. Laurance of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama believe that the shift to deforestation by large corporations gives environmentalists and concerned governments a clear, identifiable target that may prove more responsive to environmental concerns.
Adaptation to climate change will be difficult for Madagascar
(07/29/2008) Madagascar's high levels of endemism coupled with its extensive loss and degradation of ecosystems leave its species particularly vulnerable to climate change. A new paper evaluates these risks and sets forth conservation priorities to best maintain the ecological resilience of the island nation.
Mangroves are key to healthy fisheries, finds study
(07/21/2008) Mangroves serve as a critical nursery for young marine life and therefore play an important role in the health of fisheries and the economic well-being of fishermen, report researchers writing in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Destruction of wetlands worsens global warming
(07/20/2008) Destruction of wetland ecosystems will generate massive greenhouse gas emissions in coming years, warn experts convening at an international wetlands conference in Brazil.
Forests cover 1/3 of U.S. but are responsible for 2/3 of its water supply
(07/16/2008) The single most important function of U.S. forests is their role in securing the country's freshwater supply at a time when water demand is surging but climate risks to forests are also increasing, say the authors of a new federal report released by the National Research Council.
Tropical biodiversity on "a trajectory toward disaster"
(06/26/2008) Despite recent debate over the extent of regenerating secondary forest cover, the effectiveness of protected areas and tropical extinctions protections, global biodiversity remains under great threat, warn scientists writing in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
Guiana Shield forests help preserve biodiversity and climate
(06/09/2008) The Guiana Shield region of South America could play a significant role in efforts to fight global warming as part of a broader strategy to protect the world's biodiversity hotspots and high biodiversty wilderness areas, said a leading conservationist speaking in Paramaribo, Suriname at a gathering of tropical biologists.
Environmental damage costs $4.8 trillion annually
(05/28/2008) Environmental damage and biodiversity loss in forest ecosystems costs 2.1 to 4.8 trillion dollars per year, according to a report released Thursday at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Bonn, Germany.
Forest carbon credits could guide development in Congo
(05/28/2008) An initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by offering carbon credits to countries that reduce deforestation may be one of the best mechanisms for promoting sustainable development in Central Africa says a remote sensing expert from the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC). Dr. Nadine Laporte, an associate scientist with WHRC who uses remote sensing to analyze land use change in Africa, says that REDD could protect forests, safeguard biodiversity, and improve rural livelihoods in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and other Central African nations.
Defaunation, like deforestation, threatens global biodiversity
(05/20/2008) Loss of wildlife is a subtle but growing threat to tropical forests, says a leading plant ecologist from Stanford University. Speaking in an interview with mongabay.com, Dr. Rodolfo Dirzo says that the disappearance of wildlife due to overexploitation, fragmentation, and habitat degradation is causing ecological changes in some of the world's most biodiverse tropical forests. He ranks defaunation — as he terms the ongoing biological impoverishment of forests — as one of the world's most significant global changes, on par with environmental changes like global warming, deforestation, and shifts in the nitrogen cycle.
Greenpeace says carbon fund will save forests and climate
(05/20/2008) In a report unveiled today at the UN conference on biodiversity in Bonn, Greenpeace announced support for a plan to save tropical forests through a fund for carbon and other ecosystem services.
Carbon market could fund rainforest conservation, fight climate change
(05/19/2008) A mechanism to fund forest conservation through the carbon market could significantly reduce greenhouse emissions, help preserve biodiversity, and improve rural livelihoods, says a policy expert with the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) in Massachusetts. In an interview with mongabay.com, WHRC Policy Advisor and Research Associate Tracy Johns says that Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), a proposed policy mechanism for combating climate change by safeguarding forests and the carbon they store, offers great potential for protecting tropical rainforests.
Prince Charles calls for rainforest protection to fight climate change
(05/15/2008) Ending the destruction of tropical rainforests is the simplest step to helping address climate change, said Prince Charles in an interview with the BBC.
Papua signs REDD carbon deal to generate income from rainforest protection
(05/14/2008) The government of the Indonesian province of Papua has entered into an agreement with an Australian financial firm to establish a forestry-based carbon finance project on the island of New Guinea.
Al Gore's investment firm bets that rainforest conservation will be profitable
(05/14/2008) Al Gore's investment firm has signaled an interest in the emerging market for ecosystem services by taking an equity position in an innovative Australian financial company.
U.S. climate policy could help save rainforests
(05/14/2008) U.S. policy measures to fight global warming could help protect disappearing rainforests, says the founding partner of an "avoided deforestation" policy group. In an interview with mongabay.com, Jeff Horowitz of the Berkeley-based Avoided Deforestation Partners argues that U.S. policy initiatives could serve as a catalyst for the emergence and growth of a carbon credits market for forest conservation. REDD or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation is a proposed policy mechanism that would compensate tropical countries for safeguarding their forests. Because deforestation accounts for around a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, efforts to reduce deforestation can help fight climate change. Forest protection also offers ancillary benefits like the preservation of ecosystem services, biodiversity, and a homeland for indigenous people.
Biodiversity key to fighting climate change
(04/29/2008) Scientists from Brown University have discovered that an ecosystem's productivity is directly linked to its diversity of plant species. The discovery has granted biodiversity new importance in the fight against climate change: the more productive the ecosystem the more carbon it captures.
Rainforest recovery after deforestation can be enhanced by artificial bat houses
(04/23/2008) "Bat boxes" could help in the recovery of tropical rainforest after deforestation, reports research described in New Scientist Magazine.
Rainforest peoples form alliance to demand payments for forest carbon credits
(04/07/2008) Rainforest peoples from 11 nations have formed a coalition to demand a greater say in future climate negotiations.
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.
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.
Markets could save forests: An interview with Dr. Tom Lovejoy
(03/20/2008) Market mechanisms are increasingly seen as a way to address environmental problems, including tropical deforestation. In particular, compensation for ecosystem services like carbon sequestration — a concept known by the acronym REDD for "reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation" — may someday make conservation a profitable enterprise in which carbon traders are effectively saving rainforests simply by their pursuit of profit. Protecting rainforests and their resident biodiversity would be an unintentional, but happy byproduct of profit-seeking endeavors.
Why Europe torpedoed the REDD forests-for-carbon credits initiative
(03/05/2008) Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) has been widely lauded as a mechanism that could fund forest conservation and poverty alleviation efforts while fighting climate change. At the December U.N. climate meeting in Bali, delegates agreed to include REDD in future discussions on a new global warming treaty — a move that could eventually lead to the transfer of billions of dollars from industrialized countries to tropical nations for the purpose of slowing greenhouse gas emissions by reducing deforestation rates. conservationists and scientists applauded the decision.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Is Guyana's logging deal in its best interests?
(02/21/2008) In January Guyana awarded U.S. timber firm Simon & Shock International a 400,000-hectare (988,400-acre) logging concession near the Brazilian border. Final approval hinges on the completion of an environmental impact survey and a tree inventory. While Simon & Shock International says it plans to conduct selective logging, the firm has not announced whether it will seek Forest Stewardship Council certification, a mark for responsibly-harvested timber. Is there an alternative that can improve the lot for the average Guyanese? There may be. Last fall Guyana's President, Bharrat Jagdeo, hinted at the potential of using the country's forests as a giant carbon offset to counter climate change.
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.
REDD will fail if needs of forest communities aren't addressed
(12/07/2007) Initiatives to reduce emissions by reducing tropical deforestation (REDD) will fail unless policymakers adequately address the underlying drivers of forest degradation and destruction, argues a new report published by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
Global warming accelerates destruction of the Amazon
(12/06/2007) Deforestation and climate change could damage or destroy as much as 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest by 2030, according to a new report from environmental group WWF. The report, The Amazon's Vicious Cycles: Drought and Fire in the Greenhouse, shows that degradation in the Amazon could release 55-97 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2030. Forest loss could also dramatically impact water cycles in the region, affecting rainfall that is critical for river flows and agriculture.
Merrill Lynch announces carbon credits-for-forest conservation partnership
(12/06/2007) Merrill Lynch is working with Carbon conservation, an ecosystem services firms, to explore opportunities in avoided deforestation and integrated sustainable land management. The partnership was announced Thursday in Bali, Indonesia, where more than 10,000 policymakers, scientists, and activists are meeting to discuss a post-Kyoto framework on limiting climate change.
Tropical forests face huge threat from industrial agriculture
(12/05/2007) With forest conversion for large-scale agriculture rapidly emerging as a leading driver of tropical deforestation, a new report from the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) suggests the trend is likely to continue with Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Peru, and Colombia containing 75 percent of the world's forested land that is highly suitable for industrial agriculture expansion. Nevertheless the study identifies forests that may be best suited (low population density, unsuitable climate and soils) for "Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation" (REDD) initiatives which compensate countries for preserving forest lands in exchange for carbon credits.
Returns from carbon offsets could beat palm oil in Congo DRC
(12/04/2007) A proposal to pay the Democratic of Congo (DRC) for reducing deforestation could add 15-50 percent to the amount of international aid given to the warn-torn country, reports a new study published by scientists at the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC). The funds would help alleviate rural poverty while cutting emissions of greenhouse gases and protecting threatened biodiversity.
Amazon deforestation could be eliminated with carbon priced at $3
(12/04/2007) The Amazon rainforest could play a major part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions that result from deforestation, reports a new study published by scientists at the Woods Hole Research Center, the Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia, and the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. At a carbon price of $3 per ton, protecting the Amazon for its carbon value could outweigh the opportunity costs of forgoing logging, cattle ranching, and soy expansion in the region. 2008 certified emission-reduction credits for carbon currently trade at more than $90 per ton ($25 per ton of CO2).
Dutch bank arranges carbon-conservation deal in the Amazon rainforest
(11/27/2007) Dutch bank Rabobank will launch the first-ever carbon credits project in the Xingu region of the Brazilian Amazon, reports The Financial Times.
Carbon credits for forest conservation concept faces challenges
(11/27/2007) While environmentalists, scientists, development exports, and policymakers across the political spectrum are ethusiastic about the idea of offsetting carbon emissions by preventing deforestation (a concept known as "avoided deforestation" or Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD)), the concept still faces many challenges, especially in implementation.
Can wildlife conservation banking generate investment returns?
(11/27/2007) A commercial venture in the Malaysian rainforest will seek to generate competitive returns on investment by protecting wildlife. The scheme -- signed by the Sabah government and Sydney-based New Forests Pty Ltd -- will establish a wildlife habitat conservation bank to manage the 34,000 ha Malua Forest Reserve on the island of Borneo.
Guyana's forests offered as massive carbon offset
(11/26/2007) Guyana has offered up the entirity of its remaining forest cover as a giant carbon offset, reports The Independent.
Targeted payments to farmers could protect environment
(11/15/2007) Targeted payments to farmers in developing countries could be an effective approach to protecting the environment and addressing climate change, states a new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Avoided deforestation beats timber, palm oil, in tax revenue for Indonesia
(10/29/2007) Indonesia could more than double its tax revenue by protecting forests and selling the resulting carbon emission credits instead of timber and palm oil, a University of Michigan researcher told Bloomberg.
World Bank offers $300M for forest conservation, emissions reductions
(10/15/2007) Tropical forest countries will be eligible for payments for preventing deforestation under a program unveiled last week by the World Bank.
Forests reduce flooding
(10/04/2007) While conventional wisdom holds that forests help buffer against catastrophic flooding, there has been little evidence to support such notions. A 2005 report by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) cited this lack of evidence and argued that flood mitigation efforts though forest preservation could not be justified on economic grounds. Now, a new study, published in the journal Global Change Biology, suggests that forests do impact the occurrence and severity of destructive flooding. A prominent researcher is already calling the new work a "landmark study" in support of forest conservation.
Carbon for forests will help Aceh recover from war, tsunami
(09/18/2007) Carbon credits through forest conservation will play an important role in Aceh's recovery from decades of civil war and the devastating 2004 tsunami, which left more than 167,000 people dead and 500,000 homeless in the Indonesia province, said Aceh governor Irwandi Jusuf in meeting in San Francisco.
Do Costa Rica's payments for environmental services work?
(09/17/2007) While Costa Rica is now known as a world leader for conservation policies and ecotourism, the Central American country had some of the world's highest deforestation rates prior to establishing its reputation. Clearing for cattle pasture and agriculture destroyed much of the country's biodiverse rainforests in the 1960s and 1970s.
Is peat swamp worth more than palm oil plantations?
(07/16/2007) Could peat swamp be worth more intact for their carbon value than palm oil plantations for their oil? Quick analysis suggests yes, though binding limits on emissions will be needed to trigger the largest ever flow of money from the industrialized world to developing countries. At stake: the bulk of the world's biodiversity.
Indonesia's peat swamps worth $39B/year
(07/11/2007) Indonesia's peat swamps are worth $39 billion in carbon credits per year, according to rough calculations by Bloomberg.
Mangroves more threatened than rainforests
(07/05/2007) Destruction of mangrove forests could leave the world deprived of their important ecological services by the end of a century, warns an international team of scientists writing in the July 6th issue of the journal Science.
First U.S. test of ecological services payment underway
(06/27/2007) Farmers in Jamestown, R.I., are being paid by local residents to delay haying their fields until after birds have completed nesting in a unique test to establish investment markets for ecological services.
Can cattle ranchers and soy farmers save the Amazon?
(06/06/2007) John Cain Carter, a Texas rancher who moved to the heart of the Amazon 11 years ago and founded what is perhaps the most innovative organization working in the Amazon, Alianca da Terra, believes the only way to save the Amazon is through the market. Carter says that by giving producers incentives to reduce their impact on the forest, the market can succeed where conservation efforts have failed. What is most remarkable about Alianca's system is that it has the potential to be applied to any commodity anywhere in the world. That means palm oil in Borneo could be certified just as easily as sugar cane in Brazil or sheep in New Zealand. By addressing the supply chain, tracing agricultural products back to the specific fields where they were produced, the system offers perhaps the best market-based solution to combating deforestation. Combining these approaches with large-scale land conservation and scientific research offers what may be the best hope for saving the Amazon.
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