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Mongabay.com news articles on forestry in blog format. Updated regularly.









Independent of climate, forest cover in southern Amazon may fall to 20% by 2016

(09/03/2008) Forest cover in the "Arc of Deforestation" of southern Amazonia will decline to around 20 percent 2016 due to continued logging and conversion of forests for cattle pasture and soy farms, report researchers writing in the journal Environmental Conservation. Analyzing high resolution satellite data from 1984 through 2004 for the Alta Floresta region in northern Mato Grosso, Fernanda Michalski, Carlos Peres and Iain Lake of the University of East Anglia found that forest cover declined from from 91.1 percent to 41.7 percent between 1984 and 2004. They note that while the deforestation rate has slowed to around 2 percent per year since peaking at more than 8 percent annually in late 1980s to mid-1990s, renewed expansion of road networks will enable loggers to increasingly exploit remaining forests, leading to degradation and likely eventual conversion for agricultural use. Overall Michalski and colleagues forecast that forest cover in Alta Floresta will fall to 21 percent by 2016, a decline of 77 percent since 1984.


Indian protesters win land rights battle against Peru's President Garcia

(08/31/2008) Peru's Congress rejected two decrees by President Alan García that made it easier for foreign developers to buy Amazon rainforest land. The repeal came just two days after lawmakers struck a deal with indigenous rights groups whose protests over the law had shut down oil and gas operations. The groups were worried that the laws weakened their land rights in favor of loggers, miners, and drillers.


Amazon deforestation jumps 69% in 2008

(08/31/2008) Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon increased 69 percent in the past 12 months as high commodity prices have driven forest conversion for ranches and cropland, according to preliminary figures released by Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE). The increase comes after three consecutive years of declining deforestation in Brazil.


Palm oil producers in Indonesia reject moratorium on forest destruction

(08/28/2008) Palm oil companies operating in Indonesia have rejected a proposed moratorium on clearing forests and peatlands for oil palm plantations, reports the Jakarta Post.


Pre-Colombian Amazonians lived in sustainable 'urban' society

(08/28/2008) Researchers have uncovered new evidence to support the controversial theory that parts of the Amazon were home to dense "urban" settlements prior to the arrival of Europeans in the 15th century. The study is published this Friday in the journal Science. Conducting archeological excavations and aerial imagery across a number of sites in the Upper Xingu region of the Brazilian Amazon, a team of researchers led by Michael Heckenberger found evidence of a grid-like pattern of 150-acre towns and smaller villages, connected by complex road networks and arranged around large plazas where public rituals would take place. The authors argue that the discoveries indicate parts of the Amazon supported "urban" societies based around agriculture, forest management, and fish farming.


Two large populations of endangered monkeys discovered in Cambodia

(08/28/2008) Conservationists have discovered "surprisingly large populations" of two globally threatened primates in a protected area in Cambodia. Surveys by scientists with the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Cambodian government counted 42,000 black-shanked douc langurs and 2,500 yellow-cheeked crested gibbons in Cambodia's Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area.


Biofuels 200 times more expensive than forest conservation for global warming mitigation

(08/27/2008) The British government should end subsidies for biofuels and instead use the funds to slow destruction of rainforests and tropical peatlands argues a new report issued by a U.K.-based think tank. The study, titled "The Root of the Matter" and published by Policy Exchange, says that "avoided deforestation" would be a more cost-effective way to address climate change, since land use change generates more emissions than the entire global transport sector and offers ancillary benefits including important ecosystem services.


China's log imports fall 19% in first half of 2008 due to high prices

(08/27/2008) China's imports of raw logs plunged 18.7 percent by volume for the first half of 2008 due to rising prices and a cooling Chinese economy, reports the International Tropical Timber Organization.


Haze risk returns as fires increase in Indonesia

(08/26/2008) The number of forest fires burning in Indonesia is increasing, raising concerns for the potential return of choking haze to the region.


Malaysian logging scandal may delay trade negotiations with the E.U.

(08/25/2008) Sarawak's Chief Minister, Taib Mahmud, has been linked to a timber trade scheme involving illegal imports of Indonesian logs and which were then re-exported as Malaysian timber to other countries, including China, Taiwan, and Japan, reports the Indonesian newspaper Tribun Pontianak. An environmental group is using the scandal as the basis for a request for the E.U. to delay timber trade talks with Malaysia.


Malaysia's rainforest logging plan may proceed despite risk to water supplies

(08/22/2008) Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak, Chief Minister of the Malaysian state of Kedah, is pushing ahead with a plan to log Ulu Muda forest reserve despite concerns that logging could hurt water supplies and threaten biodiversity.


Brazil may allow mining on indigenous lands in the Amazon

(08/21/2008) Lawmakers in Brazil are debating whether to allow mining companies to partner with indigenous groups to exploit mineral deposits deep in the Amazon rainforest, reports Bloomberg.


Biofuel production in Brazil may not hurt Amazon, food supply

(08/21/2008) Biofuel production in Brazil will not affect food production or the Amazon rainforest in coming years, claimed a study released Tuesday by an economist in Sao Paulo.


In Peru, a showdown between the president and tribes over mining and drilling in the Amazon

(08/21/2008) In Peru indigenous rights groups and congressional leaders are pairing up against President Alan Garcia to revoke a controversial land law passed last week, reports Reuters.


Brazil to establish oil palm plantations on degraded Amazon rainforest lands

(08/20/2008) Brazil will allow the establishment of oil palm plantations on degraded lands in the Amazon rainforest under a agreement signed between Brazil's ministers of agriculture and the environment, reports Folha de S. Paulo.


Markets could save rainforests: an interview with Andrew Mitchell

(08/17/2008) Markets may soon value rainforests as living entities rather than for just the commodities produced when they are cut down, said a tropical forest researcher speaking in June at a conservation biology conference in the South American country of Suriname. Andrew Mitchell, founder and director of the London-based Global Canopy Program (GCP), said he is encouraged by signs that investors are beginning to look at the value of services afforded by healthy forests.


Investors seek profit from conserving rainforest biodiversity

(08/13/2008) An investment firm has launched the first tropical biodiversity credits scheme. New Forests, a Sydney, Australia-based company, has established the Malua Wildlife Habitat Conservation Bank in Malaysia as an attempt to monetize rainforest conservation. The "Malua BioBank" will use an investment from a private equity fund to restore and protect 34,000 hectares (80,000 acres) of formerly logged forest that serves as a buffer between biologically-rich forest reserve and a sea of oil palm plantations. The conservation effort will generate "Biodiversity Conservation Certificates", the sales of which will endow a perpetual conservation trust and produce a return on investment for the Sabah Government and the private equity fund.


High mineral prices drive rainforest destruction

(08/13/2008) The surging price of minerals is contributing to degradation and destruction of rainforests worldwide, warns a researcher writing in the current issue of New Scientist.


Google Earth now reveals damage caused by the paper industry

(08/12/2008) A new web site uses Google Maps to provide information on the pulp and paper industry.


Oil development could destroy the most biodiverse part of the Amazon

(08/12/2008) 688,000 square kilometers (170 million acres) of the western Amazon is under concession for oil and gas development, according to a new study published in the August 13 edition of the open-access journal PLoS ONE. The results suggest the region, which is considered by scientists to be the most biodiverse on the planet and is home to some of the world's last uncontacted indigenous groups, is at great risk of environmental degradation.


"Turtle carbon" could help protect rainforests and save endangered sea turtles

(08/12/2008) Using carbon credits to promote rainforest conservation could help protect endangered sea turtles in some parts of the world, argues a carbon finance expert.


7 steps to solve the global biodiversity crisis

(08/11/2008) Many biologists believe Earth is entering a sixth mass extinction event, one that has is the direct of human activities, including over-exploitation, habitat destruction and introduction of alien species and pathogens. Climate change — largely driven by anthropogenic forces — is expected to soon increase pressure on Earth's biodiversity. With population and per-capita consumption expected to grow significantly by the mid 21st century, there seems little hope that species loss can be slowed. Nevertheless, writing in the journal PNAS, Stanford biologists Paul R. Ehrlich and Robert M. Pringle suggest seven steps to help improve the outlook for the multitude of species that share our planet.


Long-term memory may help elephants adapt to climate change

(08/11/2008) Long-term memory may be key to helping elephants survive future challenges, including climate change, reports a new study published in The Royal Society's Biology Letters.


Woolworths drops contract with APP, activist group remains wary

(08/10/2008) Last week Woolworths announced it was dropping its contract with Asian Pulp and Paper (APP). Woolworths had come under considerable fire for carrying APP, which has a notorious record of environmental degradation on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Previously APP has lost contracts with several other large companies including Office Depot, Wal-Mart, and Staples. APP has also fallen foul of several environmental groups like the World Wildlife Fund, the Rainforest Alliance, and the Forest Stewardship Council, which certifies sustainable wood products.


Private equity firm to sell biodiversity offsets from rainforest conservation

(08/06/2008) An investment firm has launched the first tropical biodiversity credits scheme. New Forests, an Australia-based company, has established the Malua Wildlife Habitat Conservation Bank in an attempt to monetize rainforest conservation. The "Malua BioBank" will use an investment from a private equity fund to restore and protect 34,000 hectares (80,000 acres) of formerly logged forest that serves as a buffer between biologically-rich forest reserve and a sea of oil palm plantations.


Australia's forests contain three times the expected carbon

(08/06/2008) Australia's natural eucalypt forests store three times the carbon conventionally believed, reports a new study by scientists at the Australian National University.


1.2 million ha of Congo rainforest certified for sustainable forestry

(08/06/2008) More than one million hectares of Congo Basin forests have been certified under a sustainable forestry scheme, reports WWF, an environmental group that has supported the initiative.


Reduced impact logging can save 160 m tons of carbon emissions per year

(08/06/2008) Improving inefficient logging practices could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from forest degradation, argues a new study published in the open-access journal PLoS.


Shift from poverty-driven to industry-driven deforestation may help conservation

(08/06/2008) A shift from poverty-driven deforestation to industry-driven deforestation in the tropics may offer new opportunities for forest conservation, argues a new paper published in the journal Trends in Evolution & Ecology.


Corporations become prime driver of deforestation, providing clear target for environmentalists

(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.


Logging company Danzer accused of tax fraud in the Congo

(07/31/2008) A major European logging company is using an elaborate profit-laundering system to smuggle timber revenue out of Africa and avoid paying taxes to the governments of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of the Congo, alleges a new report published by Greenpeace.


Secret power plan would devastate Sarawak's rainforest with 12 new hydropower plants

(07/23/2008) Environmentalists have called on the Malaysian government to develop a comprehensive energy policy, following the discovery of secret plans to build a network of power plants across interior Sarawak on the island of Borneo.


Brazil to send more police into the Amazon to fight illegal logging

(07/23/2008) Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed two decrees Tuesday to rein in illegal forest clearing in the Amazon, reports the Associated Press (AP).


Amazon timber industry declares ban on illegal logging

(07/18/2008) The Brazilian state of Pará today announced a ban on the sales of illegally logged timber from the Amazon rainforests.


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.


Wal-Mart to ban sales of wood products from threatened rainforests

(07/14/2008) Wal-Mart, America's biggest retailer, has joined an initiative to conserve the world's most valuable and threatened forests.


Environmentalists protest proposed logging of Malaysian forest reserve

(07/10/2008) Nineteen environmental groups launched a protest against a Malaysian state government plan to log Hulu Muda forest reserve, reports Bernama.


Pine beetles attack Canada, boosting GHG emissions

(07/10/2008) The mountain pine beetle, a small tree-devouring insect, has deforested an area of British Columbia the size of Louisiana — over 130,000 square kilometers. The 5 millimeter insect is a perfect tree-destroying machine. The beetles bore through the tree's bark to reach the phloem of the tree, which contains the tree's organic nutrients. The beetles then feed on these nutrients and lay their eggs. The trees defend themselves by secreting extra resin, but the beetles are often able to combat this by releasing a blue fungi. In about two weeks time, the tree turns a tell-tale red and essentially starves to death. The mountain pine beetles move on.


Palm oil industry moves into the Amazon rainforest

(07/09/2008) Malaysia's Land Development Authority FELDA has announced plans to immediately establish 100,000 hectares (250,000) of oil palm plantations in the Brazilian Amazon. The agency will partner with Braspalma, a local company, to form Felda Global Ventures Brazil Sdn Bhd. FELDA will have a 70 percent stake in the venture. The announcement had been expected. Last month Najib said Malaysia would seek to expand its booming palm oil industry overseas. The country is facing land constraints at home.


20% of Amazon timber illegally harvested from protected areas

(07/07/2008) 20 percent of Amazon timber is illegally harvested from protected areas according to a report published in O'Globo.


Rainforest destruction becomes industry-driven, concentrated geographically

(06/30/2008) New analysis of global deforestation reveals that the bulk of tropical forest loss is occurring in a small number of countries. The research — published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) — shows that Brazil accounts for nearly half of global deforestation, nearly four times that of the next highest country, Indonesia, which makes up about an eighth of worldwide forest clearing.


Sarawak to continue logging forests for oil palm plantations

(06/30/2008) Despite a prime minister's directive banning conversion of forest reserves for oil palm plantations, the Malaysian state of Sarawak will continue to open up forest land for oil palm plantations, reports the New Straits Times.


Sarawak to continue logging forests for oil palm plantations

(06/26/2008) Despite a prime minister's directive banning conversion of forest reserves for oil palm plantations, the Malaysian state of Sarawak will continue to open up forest land for oil palm plantations, reports the New Straits Times.


Malaysian government says no more forest clearing for oil palm plantations

(06/26/2008) The Malaysian government said it will prohibit forest clearing for the establishment of oil palm plantations.


EU may mandate certification system for Amazon timber

(06/20/2008) According to O Estado de Sao Paulo and the International Tropical Timber Organization, the European Union is considering a green-labeling program for certifying the origin of timber imports. The label is said to target widespread illegal logging in the Amazon. Europe about 47 percent of timber produced in the Amazon region.


China's log imports fall in Q1 2008

(06/20/2008) China's log imports fell 11.5 percent in volume during the first quarter of 2008, but higher prices resulted in an 8.2 percent rise in the value of imports, reports the International Tropical Timber Organization's (ITTO) Tropical Timber Market Report


Forestry will play a critical role in slowing global warming

(06/12/2008) While reducing deforestation and forest degradation would pay great dividends in the fight against global climate change by eliminating up to a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions, other mechanisms can also enhance the capacity of forests to sequester carbon from the atmosphere, show researchers writing in this week's issue of the journal Science.


REDD could trigger bias in conservation funding towards carbon-rich ecosystems

(06/12/2008) The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) mechanism proposed as a means to fight global warming and protect forests may leave some ecosystems at risk to development argue researchers in an editorial published in the journal Science.


Reforestation a growing, but complicated, initiative

(06/12/2008) As the rate of deforestation continues apace — 13 million hectares per year in a global basis — several countries have begun to look at reforesting degraded areas to aid suffering biodiversity, indigenous groups, and small local economies. However most of the interest and activity surrounding reforestation is as a tool to mitigate climate change. A new program just launched by the Nature Conservancy and several local partners plans to plant a billion trees in the fragmented Atlantic Forest of Brazil. The United Nations Environmental Program has already planted over two billion trees worldwide and plans to plant five billion more. China has planted billions more. However effective reforestation is not proving as easy as simply planting trees and waiting for them to grow, in fact, sometimes it may be best to leave the whole process to nature.


Unlocking the potential of forests to limit climate change

(06/12/2008) Understanding the complex interactions between forests and climate may "unlock the potential of forests to limit global climate change," argues a researcher writing in the journal Science.



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