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News articles on forests
Mongabay.com news articles on forests in blog format. Updated regularly.
(07/22/2006) Thursday Brazil and the U.S. renewed two Amazon forest research agreements. Brazilian Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Dr. Luis Manuel Rebelo Fernandes signed two continuation agreements for research on the Amazon: the Large-Scale Biosphere - Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA) and Biological Determinants of Forest Fragments Program (BDFFP). Implementation of the programs will be lead by Brazil's INPA, or the Brazilian Institute for Research in the Amazon.
Insect diversity in rainforests results from plant biodiversity
(07/18/2006) The high diversity of leaf-eating insect species in tropical forests results from the large number of plant species that exist in these ecosystems, according to new research published in the current issue of the journal Science.
Amazon Port Pits Farmers Vs. Rainforest
(07/18/2006) When U.S. grain giant Cargill opened a $20 million port in this sleepy Amazon River city three years ago, it expected to cash in on the rising global demand for soybeans that had become Brazil's richest agricultural export.
Logging resumes in Liberia
(07/17/2006) As former US president Bill Clinton arrives in Liberia to meet with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, it's time to take a look at the state of the forests in the country. While Liberia's brutal civil war delayed the commercial exploitation of its tropical forests during the 1990s, 'conflict timber' was a key source of revenue for warring factions. The harvesting of this wood, combined with collateral damage from military operations and wildlife poaching, took a heavy toll on Liberia's forests. With the end of the war, Liberia's new government--which took power at end of the war in 1998--immediately established forestry as a national priority and instituted a five-year tax holiday on timber industries. This policy, combined with the return of commercial interests to the country, repopulation, and reconstruction efforts, has put pressure on Liberia's remaining forest resources. Since the close of the 1990s, deforestation rates have increased by 17 percent, and primary forest cover in the country has fallen to just over 1.3 percent of the total land area (or 4.1 percent of the forest cover).
Japan depletes Borneo's rainforests; China remains largest log importer
(07/10/2006) Almost three quarters of Japan's tropical timber imports come from the endangered rainforests of Borneo according to figures from the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), an industry group. Meanwhile, ITTO says that China remains, by a large margin, the largest consumer of tropical logs. Japan is the third largest importer of tropical logs after China and India. 74 percent of tropical logs brought into Japan come from Sarawak, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo. Sawarak has seen a rapid decline in its forest cover since the 1980s, raising the ire of environmental groups and causing the Malaysian government to recently announce it would phase out logging in some areas. About 20 percent of Japan's tropical logs originate in Papua New Guinea.
Brazil establishes 3 new parks in the Amazon rainforest
(07/10/2006) Last month Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva decreed three new protected areas in the Amazon basin, placing 1.84 million hectares (4.55 million acres) of rainforest off-limits for development. The environmental ministry said that since 2002 President Silva has created 57 protected areas in the Amazon preserving some 19.3 million hectare of rainforest. More than twice that area -- at least 55 million hectares -- has been cleared since 1978, mostly as a result of forest conversion for cattle pasture and settlement.
Color-changing chameleon snake discovered in jungles of Borneo
(06/27/2006) Scientists discovered a species of snake capable of changing colors. The snake, called the Kapuas mud snake, resides in the rainforest on the island of Borneo, an ecosystem that is increasingly threatened by logging and agricultural development.
Documentary explores Borneo for possible anti-HIV medicine
(06/27/2006) Rainforest plants have long been recognized for their potential to provide healing compounds. Indigenous peoples of the rainforest have used medicinal plants for treating a wide variety of health conditions while western pharmacologists have derived a number of drugs from such plants.
When elephants attack. Surviving an elephant charge in the Congo rainforest of Gabon
(06/26/2006) The elephant charges. The ground trembles. Hearts racing, we are now sprinting through the forest dodging vegetation as the elephant plows right through it. The problem with being chased by an elephant, aside from their obvious size advantage, is they can run faster than you. While wild elephants can be dangerous animals under the right circumstances, other creatures are responsible for more deaths in Africa. Topping the list is the hippo, whose penchant for capsizing canoes that come too close results in the dumping of passengers who often can't swim. Buffalo, crocodiles, and lions are directly responsible for more deaths and injuries.
Pictures of Gabon: gorillas, rainforest and white sand beaches
(06/26/2006) Mongabay.com, a leading rainforest and environmental web site, today announced the availability of new photos from the Central African country of Gabon. Site founder Rhett A. Butler visited Loango National Park in Gabon in late May and early June.
Warming could cause rain forests to release more carbon dioxide
(06/20/2006) Extra amounts of key nutrients in tropical rain forest soils cause them to release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, according to research conducted by scientists at the University of Colorado (CU) - Boulder. Results of the research, conducted by Cory Cleveland and CU scientist Alan Townsend, are published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Saving Orangutans in Borneo
(05/24/2006) A look at conservation efforts in Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo. I'm in Tanjung Puting National Park in southern Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. At 400,000 hectares (988,000 acres) Tanjung Puting is the largest protected expanse of coastal tropical heath and peat swamp forest in southeast Asia. It's also one of the biggest remaining habitats for the critically endangered orangutan, the population of which has been great diminished in recent years due to habitat destruction and poaching. And orangutans have become the focus of a much wider effort to save Borneo's natural environment. We are headed to Campy Leakey, named for the renowned Kenyan paleontologist Louis Leakey. Here lies the center of the Orangutan Research conservation Project. Established by Birute Mary Galdikas, a preeminent primatologist and founder of the Orangutan Foundation International (OFI), the project seeks to support the conservation and understanding of the orangutan and its rain forest habitat while rehabilitating ex-captive individuals. The Orangutan Research conservation Project is the public face of orangutan conservation in this part of Kalimantan, the Indonesia-controlled part of Borneo. Borneo, the third largest island in the world, was once home to some of the world's most majestic, and forbidding forests. With swampy coastal areas fringed by mangrove forests and a mountainous interior, much of the terrain was virtually impassable and unexplored. Headhunters ruled the remote parts of the island until a century ago.
Ecuador's oil nationalization may hurt environment
(05/23/2006) Last week Ecuador seized Amazon oilfields controlled by Occidental, an American oil firm which produces about 20 percent of the country's oil output and has invested about $1 billion since 1999. The decision will bring a short-term boost in government revenue while appealing to street protestors who have caused havoc for the country's politicians over the past few years. However, looking the beyond the politics, the seizure could have implications for the environment of the country which is home to some of the world's most biodiverse ecosystems.
China's timber imports surge in 2006
(05/21/2006) According to China Customs, China's timber imports surged during the first quarter of 2006. Log imports increased 18 percent to 8.1 million cubic meters. China customs valued these imports at $897.42 million. Most of the log imports (64 percent) consisted of softwood logs from Russia. Sawnwood imports amounted to 1.45 million cubic meters worth some $385.72 million. Separately, the ITTO Tropical Timber Market Report reported that paper multinationals are aggressively investing in China's paper industry.
Shippers in Indonesia fight decree on illegal logging
(05/21/2006) According to a report from the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), shippers in Indonesia are threatening to stop transporting logs if the government insists on enforcing a new decree on the transportation of illegal timber. The Indonesian National Ship-owners Association says that the Indonesian government's proposal to impound ships carrying illegal timber would cause massive losses to the local shipping industry, according to the ITTO Tropical Timber Market Report. The association contends that authorities should only confiscate illegal wood, not the ships.
Scientists endorse plan to save rainforests through emissions trading
(05/19/2006) The Association for Tropical Biology and conservation (ATBC), the world's largest scientific organization devoted to the study and wise use of tropical ecosystems, has formally endorsed a radical proposal to help save tropical forests through carbon trading. Under the initiative proposed by an alliance of fifteen developing countries led by Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica, tropical nations that show permanent reductions in deforestation would be eligible to receive international carbon funds from industrial nations who could purchase carbon credits to help them meet their emissions targets international climate agreements like the Kyoto Protocol.
India's Himalayan forests disappearing
(05/17/2006) A new report says Himalayan forests are disappearing at such a high rate that they could be gone by the end of the century. In the May 20 issue of New Scientist Magazine Maharaj Pandit of the University of Delhi and a team of researchers report that widespread deforestation in the Indian Himalaya region threatens the region's biodiversity which includes tigers, black bears, musk deer, leopards, golden eagles and bearded vultures.
Amazon Stonehenge suggests advanced ancient rainforest culture
(05/14/2006) The discovery of an ancient astrological observatory in Brazil lends support to the theory that the Amazon rainforest was once home to advanced cultures and large sedentary populations of people. Besides the well-known empires of the Inca and their predecessors, millions of people once lived in the forests and shaped the environment to suit their own needs. Archaeologists with the Amapa Institute of Scientific and Technological Research said they uncovered the ruin near Calcoene, 390 kilometers (240 miles) from Macapa, the capital of Amapa state, near Brazil's border with French Guiana.
Roads tied to bushmeat hunting in Africa
(05/09/2006) A new study ties the presence of roads to bushmeat hunting in the Congo rainforest and also raises important questions on global conservation approaches. The study, published in the current edition of conservation Biology, found roads and associated hunting pressure reduced the abundance of a number of mammal species including duikers, forest elephants, buffalo, red river hogs, lowland gorillas and carnivores. The research suggests that even moderate hunting pressure can significantly affect the structure of mammal communities in central Africa. The researchers, lead by William F. Laurance of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, raise an interesting point with considerably wider implications for global conservation efforts, arguing that "as a multinational conglomerate, Shell-Gabon?s interests in environmental management at Rabi... largely reflect their sensitivity to international opinion and pressures from consumers." Drawing on their personal experiences in Africa and Latin America, the team writes "smaller corporations based in developing nations are sometimes less interested and often less capable of financially investing in environmental protection." This observation leads the researchers to ask, "As conservationists, do we pressure large, multinational corporations based in industrial nations to forego major projects in developing countries in an effort to limit environmental degradation, or do we favor such firms over smaller, national companies in the hope that they will be more sensitive to international pressures?" While their question us especially pertinent to Central Africa, it really applies to conservation on a worldwide scale. Multinational corporations can be particularly sensitive to criticism on their environmental policy and, as a result, can actually serve as competent stewards of the environment is some cases. Thus pressure exerted by green groups on large corporations may be an effective means for achieving conservation goals.
Can we save the rainforests? Lessons from the Amazon
(05/05/2006) When I think back over the last month, dozens of images come to mind. I am reminded of the many things we have learned during Project Peru 2, and the challenges that our team has overcome with your guidance and help. In a way all of the plants and animals in the rainforest rely on each other to survive in the same way that Warren, Ruben, Anna, Patrick, and I rely on each other.
Amazon rainforest: Empty of animals
(05/03/2006) Yesterday afternoon, we started seeing other people plying the river in canoes, and we knew that our trip was about to change. We were getting close to Yarina, the first of three towns along the Yanayacu River. As we grew closer to town, we stopped hearing Howler Monkeys. The troops of Squirrel Monkeys we had grown accustomed to seeing were nowhere to be found. Within only a few hours we left the truly wild rainforest behind, entering a rainforest inhabited by people.
Flooded forest habitat in the Amazon rainforest
(05/02/2006) The following is an update from The Wilderness Classroom's expedition to the Peruvian rainforest. We are near the end of our journey through the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, and we have experienced so many new sights and sounds that it is hard to recount all of them in our updates. Each week we've focused on a different topic to pass on the information that we are gathering for you. This week we will focus on habitat.
The Amazon: Fisherman's paradise
(05/02/2006) The following is an update from The Wilderness Classroom's expedition to the Peruvian rainforest. This morning, I joined Warren and our new guide, Ramon, for a paddle in search of animals. At Lake El Dorado, you do not have to go far to find animals. It seemed like everywhere we looked we found something new to look at.
Sloths are not lazy, they are just slow
(05/02/2006) I really enjoy our simple diet, but the thought of drinking something ice cold after weeks in the hot, wet rainforest was more than I could resist. After several weeks of eating rice, beans, fish, and bananas, we took a motor boat into the town of Bretana and treated ourselves to candy and ice cold Coca Cola! Bretana only has electricity from 7 PM until 10 PM, but they use their limited electricity to keep large coolers filled with cold drinks.
Emerging from the Wilderness
(05/02/2006) The following is an update from The Wilderness Classroom's expedition to the Peruvian rainforest. Yesterday, was a long, hard day of paddling in the hot sun. Plus, we had no real way of knowing where we were, how long it would take us to reach the mouth of the river, or where the ranger station was where we could find shelter. We spent the whole day following a quiet fisherman through a maze of lakes, flooded forest, and rivers that were often clogged with floating plants. When we tried to ask how much further we had, he would smile and say two hours more.
Is there any relief from the mosquitoes?
(05/02/2006) The following is an update from The Wilderness Classroom's expedition to the Peruvian rainforest. We are trying to answer the question: how do plants, animals, and people survive in the flooded forest? We have learned a lot so far, but I know that it would be very hard for Ruben, Anna, Patrick, and me to survive here without Warren.
China's Olmypics may destroy New Guinea's rainforests
(05/01/2006) Construction for the 2008 Olympics in China may fuel deforestation in New Guinea according to an article published last week in the Jakarta Post. The article reports that a Chinese company has asked the Indonesian government for permission to establish a timber processing factory in Indonesia's Papua province to produce 800,000 cubic meters of merbau timber in time for the Olympic games to be held in Bejing. Merbau -- a dark hardwood found in the rainforests of New Guinea -- is used for hardwood floors and currently commands prices of up to US$138 per square meter, making the proposal potentially worth more than a billion dollars.
Forest restoration important in Guyana
(05/01/2006) Located on the northern edge of South America, bordered by Suriname, Brazil, Venezuela, and the Atlantic Ocean, lays a small but vibrant country with a wealth of culture, biodiversity and opportunity. During the week of 13-17 March 2006, representatives from Guyanese government departments, civil society and indigenous peoples' organizations met in the capital city, Georgetown, with the World conservation Union (IUCN) and the International Tropical Timber Organization at a national workshop on Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR). The workshop introduced the concept of FLR with the intention of better understanding how it may be applied in the Guyana context.
Oil firm abandons road project for Amazon rainforest park in Ecuador
(04/26/2006) The Brazilian national oil company Petrobras abandoned plans to build an access road into Yasuni National Park, in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The decision follows years of intense pressure from environmental groups and recent criticism by the Ecuadorian government. Instead the company will use helicopter transportation inside the park, according to a statement from Petrobras.
Why is palm oil replacing tropical rainforests?
(04/25/2006) In a word, economics, though deeper analysis of a proposal in Indonesia suggests that oil palm development might be a cover for something more lucrative: logging. Recently much has been made about the conversion of Asia's biodiverse rainforests for oil-palm cultivation. Environmental organizations have warned that by eating foods that use palm oil as an ingredient, Western consumers are directly fueling the destruction of orangutan habitat and sensitive ecosystems. So, why is it that oil-palm plantations now cover millions of hectares across Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand? Why has oil palm become the world's number one fruit crop, trouncing its nearest competitor, the humble banana? The answer lies in the crop's unparalleled productivity. Simply put, oil palm is the most productive oil seed in the world. A single hectare of oil palm may yield 5,000 kilograms of crude oil, or nearly 6,000 liters of crude.
Environmentalists awarded prestigious prize for grassroots work
(04/24/2006) Tonight six grassroots environmentalists will be awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize. This year's winners include a Vietnam veteran fighting Pentagon plans to incinerate chemical weapons stockpiles, a man who tipped the United Nations to illegal logging in war-torn Liberia, the person behind the creation of the world's largest area of protected tropical rainforest, a lawyer in Ukraine who helped block the construction of canal that would have cut through the heart of the Danube Delta, a woman who won resitution for indigenous land owners from logging interests in Papua New Guinea, and a researcher who pushed social impact assessments for major dam developments in China.
Hudson Institute calls Amazon savanna biome a wasteland
(04/23/2006) In an April 21st, 2006 editorial published in the Canada Free Press Dennis T. Avery, senior fellow for Hudson Institute in Washington, DC and the Director for Global Food Issues, called Brazil's cerrado ecosystem a "wasteland" and criticized a recent report from the environmental activist group Greenpeace that linked Amazon deforestation to soy-based animal feed used by fast-food chains in Europe.
Fish Flow with the Floods in the Amazon
(04/12/2006) The entire life of the Tambaqui, also called a Pacu, follows the annual rise and fall of the floodwaters. The young are born in the river channel and are carried by the high water into the floodplain, where they live in the floating meadows and eat grass seeds. The fish use their keen senses of smell and vision to find their favorite fruits and seeds in the forest. Tambaqui are unique in their love for rubber tree seeds. They crush the hard seed coating with large molar-like teeth and swallow the seed whole. This does not destroy the seed, in fact, the process is a necessary step in germination, or preparing the seed to sprout. Later, the seed will grow into a rubber tree.
Carbon trading could save rainforests
(04/12/2006) A new rainforest conservation initiative by developing nations offers great promise to help slow tropical deforestation rates says William Laurance, a leading rainforest biologist from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, in an article appearing Friday in New Scientist.
Rainforest education site goes online; resources for students, teachers, and journalists
(04/12/2006) Mongabay.com, a leading environmental-science web site, announced today a revised version of a rainforest site, that has been a major resource on such forests for teachers, children, and researchers. "Mongabay.com is dedicated to providing necessary communication to those interested in the fate of our rainforests," Ira Rubinoff, director of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), said. "It has a scientific base that should provide reliable information to all who share an interest in the future quality of life on this planet." The revised site includes environmental profiles and deforestation statistics for more than 60 countries, and features thousands of rainforest wildlife photos from around the world. Additionally, the site includes a section geared towards children, with learning activities and educational resources for teachers.
Rivers are the highways of the Amazon
(04/11/2006) Rivers are the highways of the Amazon. Instead of driving cars and trucks, people use use boats to travel from place to place. Launchas are large boats powered by strong engines that travel up and down all the major rivers in the Amazon Basin. We have spent the last two day nights and two night on a launcha that is traveling up the Amazon River at about 10 miles an hour.
Brazil closes down illegal timber operation, seizes wood
(04/11/2006) Brazilian environmental authorities closed down an illegal logging operation in the Amazon according to a report from the Associated Press. An agent with Ipaam, the environmental authority of Amazonas state, told Michael Astor of the Associated Press that the Norte Wood logging company was operating without a license in town of Novo Aripuana. The agency made one arrest and seized 500 cubic meters of wood in the raid.
Exploring the Flooded Streets of Iquitos, Peru
(04/09/2006) Belen is on the edge of the large city of Iquitos. Belen is unique because much of the city is covered in water for most of the year. From January to May the streets, soccer fields, and gardens are underwater. Many of the houses are built on rafts that float up and down as the river rises and falls. Other houses are built on stilts so that the water does not cover the house when the water rises. The floating city was full of life: people paddling canoes, children swimming and laughing, people going about their daily lives in houses floating on the Amazon River.
Greenpeace accuses McDonald's of destroying the Amazon rainforest
(04/07/2006) After a year-long investigation, environmental group Greenpeace has accused McDonald's and other western firms of contributing to deforestation in the Amazon. Greenpeace's report, published today, alleges that much of the soy-based animal feed used by fast-food chains to fatten chickens is derived from soybeans grown in the Amazon Basin of Brazil. Thanks to a new variety of soybean developed by Brazilian scientists to flourish in rainforest climate, soybean production has boomed in the region in recent years as firms have converted extensive areas of rainforest and cerrado, a savanna-like ecosystem, into industrial soybean farms. High soybean prices have also served as an impetus to expanding soybean cultivation and Brazil is on the verge of supplanting the United States as the world's leading exporter of soybeans.
Tropical deforestation rates to slow in future - new study
(04/06/2006) As human population growth rates diminish in coming years deforestation rates are expected to slow according to research published in Biotropica online. The report offers hope that reduced rates of forest conversion can stave off a future extinction crisis in the tropics, where most of the world's biodiversity is found. Scientists estimate that as much as 50 percent of the planet's terrestrial biodiversity is found in tropical rainforests distributed around the world but the United Nations recently warned that the current rate of extinction is running 100 to 1,000 times the normal background rate.
United States and Indonesia to fight illegal logging
(04/05/2006) The United States and Indonesia today agreed to fight illegal logging in some of the world's most diverse rainforests. Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu and Chief of the US Trade Office (USTR) Robert Portman said the two countries will coordinate efforts of protect Indonesia's forests which have been significantly degraded and destroyed by the illicit timber trade. While Indonesia houses the most extensive rainforest cover in all of Asia, its natural forest area is rapidly being reduced by logging--most of which is illegal. Between 1990 and 2005 the country lost more than 28 million hectares of forest, including 21.7 million hectares of virgin forest, according to data from the United Nations.
(03/28/2006) Mongabay.com, a leading rainforest information web site, has launched a new section featuring photographs from the island of Borneo. More than 500 photos from Kalimantan have been added to the site.
Borneo rainforest protected, oil palm plantation canceled
(03/28/2006) Today Indonesia announced its would end plans to establish a 1.8 million hectare oil plantation in the rainforest of Borneo. The proposed plan, which was backed by Chinese investments, would have destroyed one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth.
Brazil to protect Amazon rainforest
(03/28/2006) At the United Nations-sponsored environmental conference meeting in Curitiba, Brazil announced plans to protect an additional 210,000 square kilometers (84,000 square miles) of the Amazon rain forest in the next three years.
Home Depot, Lowe's selling illegal wood from Papua New Guinea-Report
(03/23/2006) Consumers in the United States are being mislead as to the origin of merbau hardwood flooring being sold by Home Depot and Lowe's. According to a new report published by the Environmental Investigation Agency and their Indonesian NGO partner Telepak, such timber is coming from the forests of Indonesia's remote Papua Province, where 80 percent of logging is estimated to be illegal.
40 percent of the Amazon could be grassland by 2050
(03/22/2006) Scientists today warned that 40 percent of the Amazon rainforest could be lost by 2050 due to agricultural expansion unless strict measures are taken to protect the world's largest tropical forest.
Jungle trekking in Malaysia's Taman Negara
(03/21/2006) Taman Negara is Malaysia's largest and best-known national park. Spanning 4343 square kilometers, the protected forest area is home to some of southeast Asia'apos;apos;s rarest creatures including tigers, the Malaysian tapir, forest elephants, and the Sumatran rhino. Scientists believe that these rainforests may be the oldest on Earth. Untouched by glaciers during recent ice ages, Taman Negara'apos;apos;s forests have remained largely the same for some 130 million years. This stability produces some of the highest levels of biodiversity on Earth: more than 350 species of birds, 14000 species of plants, and 210 species of mammals can be found in Taman Negara.
Amazon rainforest grows fastest during dry season
(03/21/2006) New research out of the University of Arizona has found that the Amazon rainforest grows fastest during the dry season. The finding counters the convention in other ecosystems where peak plant growth generally occurs during the rainy season.
13 rare rhinos found in Borneo survey by WWF
(03/17/2006) World Wildlife Fund today released the results of a field survey from the island of Borneo which found that poaching has significantly reduced Borneo's population of Sumatran rhinos, but a small group continues to survive in the "Heart of Borneo," a region covered with vast tracts of rain forest.
Brazil to flood Amazon rainforest for hydroelectric power
(03/17/2006) Brazil's plans to dam two rivers in the Amazon basin to generate power threaten a treasure trove of animals and plants in a region with one of the world'apos;apos;s richest arrays of wildlife, environmentalists say.
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