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News articles on environment

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





Growing need for deforestation-free rubber as tire demand destroys native forests

(04/18/2015) Surging demand for natural rubber is decimating some of the world's most endangered forests, putting wildlife and critical ecosystem services at risk, warn scientists writing in the journal Conservation Letters. Reviewing a large body of published research, Eleanor Warren-Thomas of the University of East Anglia and colleagues detail the crop's expansion across across Southeast Asia in recent decades.


Your name here: auctioning the naming rights to new species to fund conservation

(04/17/2015) Meg Lowman is on a mission to save northern Ethiopia's church forests, one at a time. Numbering around 3,500, these small "sacred" patches of forest surrounding churches are isolated natural oases in Ethiopia's otherwise mostly agricultural terrain, and they are losing ground to human activity at an alarming rate. Church forests are considered critical conservation areas. They are home to hundreds of species found nowhere else in the world, with new discoveries still being made.


Recently discovered 'punkrocker' frog changes skin texture in minutes

(04/17/2015) In 2006, two scientists discovered a tiny new frog species in the Reserva Las Gralarias, a nature reserve in north-central Ecuador. They took its photograph and nicknamed it the "punkrocker" frog because of spine-like projections coming out of its skin. For the next three years, they did not find the punkrocker again. But when they did re-discover it in 2009, the team found that the punkrocker had more tricks up its sleeve.


Photo Essay: Geopolitical pawns, the fishermen of Lý Sơn, Vietnam

(04/17/2015) 'When they came, what could we do?' 46-year-old fisherman Nguyên Phú asks, crouching down like a frog with his hands above his head. 'We just put our hands up like this, and said, 'Don't shoot! Don't shoot!'' Their caution is warranted. If they venture too deeply into Vietnam's claimed territorial waters, a Chinese patrol boat will swoop down on them.


Indonesia's public water movement consolidates after two of its biggest wins

(04/17/2015) With the tide of privatized water in Indonesia as close to turning since the dictator Suharto was president, an entire spectrum of stakeholders are scrambling to chart a path forward on the heels of two landmark – and unexpected – court decisions. First, the Constitutional Court struck down the main governing law on water resources. Then a Jakarta court annulled the city's contract with private operators Palyja and Aetra, which have run the city's piped network since 1998 amid continual allegations of corruption and mismanagement.


Zimbabwe selling baby elephant calves to China, says environmental group

(04/17/2015) A hundred thousand African elephants were killed by poachers for their ivory between 2010 and 2012. Now a new threat looms: a growing wildlife trade in baby animals to satisfy international tourism. Zimbabwe has reportedly taken 80 elephant calves from their mothers and families in the wild, and is currently holding them in two heavily guarded facilities in Hwange National Park and near Victoria Falls. The baby animals await transport overseas for sale to unidentified buyers, possibly in China or other countries, says the international elephant rights organization, Global Action Ending Wild Capture (GAEWC).


Court rules deforestation of Peruvian rainforest for chocolate was legal

(04/16/2015) A regional court in Loreto, Peru recently ruled that the clearing of more than 2,000 hectares of forest by Cacao del Peru Norte for a plantation to grow cacao, the raw material behind chocolate, was legal, reported the investigative news site OjoPúblico on April 9. The ruling rejects contentions brought by Forestry Department that the company should have sought approval to clear the trees.


Lima to restore pre-Incan aqueducts to alleviate its water crisis

(04/16/2015) To tackle a looming water crisis, the city of Lima, Peru, is planning a series of green infrastructure projects, including the restoration of an ancient network of aqueducts in the mountains above the city. With a rapidly growing population of around 8.75 million Lima is the world's second largest desert city, and no stranger to water shortages.


Empowering women in order to save the harvest

(04/16/2015) There are plenty of technological challenges to reducing food waste in sub-Saharan Africa, but a challenge that might prove more important to overcome is gender inequality. Women are responsible for nearly half of agricultural labor in sub-Saharan Africa, with some estimates reaching up to 90 percent. But they often don't have the authority to make financial decisions for their families, even when it comes to managing or selling the crops they've grown themselves.


Criticism of GAR and Wilmar African oil palm projects highlight global ‘no-deforestation' challenges

(04/16/2015) Despite high-profile no-deforestation policies, palm oil giants Golden Agri-Resources and Wilmar have attracted criticism recently over their projects in Africa, particularly regarding the correct implementation of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of affected communities. Some NGOs have suggested these persistent problems indicate no lessons have been learned from years of bad practice in Indonesia.


The crop-saving champion of Tanzania: Bertha Mjawa

(04/15/2015) In the late 1980s, Bertha Mjawa remembers seeing endless quantities of fruits and vegetables getting thrown out across Tanzania because rot or insects had gotten to them. Years later, she has helped turn Tanzania into a model for reducing food waste.


Featured video: 'A river in dispute' documentary explores how a planned dam in the Amazon is affecting traditional communities

(04/15/2015) Under the threat of losing their lands to a hydroelectric power plant project strategic to the Brazilian government, communities along the Tapajós River, one of the most pristine in Brazil, prepare to defend what is theirs. A video documentary tells their story.


Expert panel rebukes Japan's new whaling proposal

(04/15/2015) Last year, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Japan must halt its whaling activities in the Southern Ocean as it found no evidence that the killing of hundreds of Antarctic minke whales was scientifically justified. The ruling sent Japan scrambling for a new plan to continue its 'scientific' whale hunt. But, now an expert panel has rebuked Japan's latest plan as well.


Fishermen's ire over trawler ban pushes Indonesia to form special task force

(04/15/2015) Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo will form a new task force to deal with fishermen’s concerns about the new ban on trawlers and seine nets, the result of a meeting between him and fishermen’s representatives who stated their case against the swiftness of its imposition.


Unique center trains Tanzanian farmers to preserve their fruits and veggies

(04/14/2015) Farmers and traders throughout sub-Saharan Africa lose nearly half of their fruits and vegetables before they reach the consumer. To get more food to people who need it, the Postharvest Training and Services Center teaches them better methods of storing, processing, and transporting their crops.


Americans join in protesting reclamation of Bali's Benoa Bay

(04/14/2015) Americans and Indonesians demonstrated in Washington D.C. last week in protest of a massive land reclamation project in Bali’s Benoa Bay, to which opposition, activists say, is coming from increasingly international circles. Meanwhile, the governor of East Java rejected a proposal to dredge sea sand for the project off the coast of his province.


Expedition in the Congo rediscovers lost primate

(04/14/2015) The last time there was a sighting of Bouvier's red colobus disco was all the rage, the Internet was non-existent, and Madonna still referred solely to the mother of God. But then the African monkey vanished and conservationists feared it had gone extinct—a victim of the bushmeat trade. For years, research groups called for an expedition to find out if Bouvier's red colobus still survived.


Innovative community fisheries initiative wins top social entrepreneurship prize

(04/13/2015) A program that helps restore overfished areas through community-based marine conservation has won the Skoll Foundation's top prize for social entrepreneurship. Today the Skoll announced Blue Ventures, which piloted its approach in Madagascar a decade ago before expanding to other regions, was one of four organizations to be honored with the $1.25 million Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.


A tale of two maps: Brazilian state won’t use new atlas to close Cerrado deforestation loophole

(04/13/2015) Farmers in north-central Brazil, where the savanna meets the Amazon rainforest, are clearing land at an unprecedented rate. The government hasn’t stopped the cutting, partly because it is using inaccurate, outdated maps that hugely underestimate the extent of its endangered dry forests.


Conservation and carbon storage goals collide in Brazil's Cerrado

(04/13/2015) Scientists are raising the alarm about the disparity between biodiversity goals and carbon goals in Brazil's Cerrado. New research is beginning to challenge the idea that the Cerrado is irrelevant to the battle to reduce atmospheric carbon.


Anti-mining activist shot dead in Guatemala

(04/13/2015) Earlier this month, environmental activist, Telésforo Odilo Pivaral Gonzalez, was killed by unknown assailants who shot him five times. The father of six children (ages 1-11), Pivaral Gonzalez had actively opposed a conflict-ridden Escobal silver mine project run by Canadian company, Tahoe Resources, and its local subsidiary, Minera San Rafael SA.


New solutions aim to deliver more grain from farm to table in sub-Saharan Africa

(04/13/2015) Corn is an integral part of many meals in Tanzania and its neighboring East African countries, but much of the harvest is lost to insects, rats, or mold. Researchers are developing ways to help farmers keep their harvest fresh longer in storage.


Scientists find new monkey with unique penis

(04/10/2015) Researchers were in for a surprise when they viewed footage from a remote and little-explored area of southeastern Tibet. Among the more than 700 photos of macaques, they spotted several with physical characteristics that hadn't been documented before; namely, genitals that were shaped and colored differently than other known macaques in the region. The scientists say these differences may make these macaques a new species.


Faulty impact assessments plague Indonesian mines: Komnas HAM

(04/10/2015) A member of Indonesia's National Human Rights Commission held up the Rembang cement factory case as an example of how environmental impact assessments are frequently manipulated by the companies required to undertake them.


Scientists raise concern over road proposed through protected forest in Cambodia

(04/10/2015) A group of scientists have expressed 'strong concerns' about mounting threats to wilderness and wildlife in Cambodia. In a resolution issued at the conclusion of their annual gathering in Phnom Penh, the Asia-Pacific Chapter of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) urged the Cambodian government to carefully evaluate the impacts of a proposed road in Eastern Cambodia.


Platform provides near-real time analysis of deforestation in non-Brazilian Amazon

(04/09/2015) A new platform will provide critical near-real time information and analysis on emerging threats to forests in the non-Brazilian Amazon. Officially announced today, the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP) in an initiative launched by the Amazon Conservation Association and Conservación Amazónica-ACCA.


Study finds abandoned pasture is 'a huge resource that is not being harnessed'

(04/09/2015) As tropical forests around the world are cleared for human development, scientists and conservationists are trying to find ways to both stem their loss and reclaim areas already deforested. In a recent study, researchers investigated restoration of abandoned agricultural land in Ecuador, finding that planting trees and even re-establishing pasture may help limit conversion of more forest to farmland.


Combating food waste in sub-Saharan Africa

(04/09/2015) In sub-Saharan Africa, a sizeable portion of essential food crops are lost before they can be eaten or sold. Long a neglected aspect of the agricultural system, this waste stream of food is starting to attract attention from global agriculture organizations and financial institutions, offering hope that the losses can be reduced, and with them rates of rural hunger and malnutrition.


Australia becomes first country to ban lion trophies

(04/09/2015) Last month, Australia became the world's first country to ban the import or export of lion trophies, often taken from so-called canned hunting where lions are raised solely to be shot by foreign hunters.


Long considered tree-killers, lianas may actually help rainforest restoration

(04/09/2015) Since the 1970s, research into climbing woody vines called lianas has focused primarily on the harm they inflict on rainforest trees, but a new paper suggests that if they are judiciously planted, they might help, rather than hinder, rainforest recovery.


Indonesia recognizes bribery might have enabled slavery in eastern waters

(04/09/2015) The composition of Indonesia's special team tasked with investigating slavery allegations against fishing company Pusaka Benjina Resources reflects the government's acknowledgement that the crimes might have happened with the assent of corrupt officials.


New group hopes to raise global profile of the peace-loving bonobo

(04/08/2015) Of the world's six species of great ape (not including us), it's safe to say that bonobos (Pan paniscus) are the least studied and least known publicly. But a new organization, the Bonobo Project, is hoping to change that. To the untrained eye, a bonobo looks little different from their closest relative, the chimpanzee. But the differences between these two cousins are actually quite large.


Condition of tropical forests 'worsening', could become 'critical'

(04/07/2015) World leaders are continuing to overlook the worsening condition of tropical forests despite the biome's vast potential to help mitigate climate change, support local livelihoods and ecosystem services, and stabilize global agriculture, warns a comprehensive review published by a body founded by Prince Charles.


Tiny Brazilian opossum could be farmers’ friend

(04/07/2015) André Mendonça pops open the spring-loaded door on the shoebox-sized trap and peeks inside. Two bulging, black eyes glare back at him. He pulls the trap off the tree limb and shakes the stunned, sopping wet creature into a clear plastic bag. “One more!” he says excitedly.


Brazilian farmers urge return of big cats to Cerrado to protect crops from rampaging peccaries

(04/07/2015) Margie Peixoto was driving her pickup across her farm in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul one February afternoon when she spotted some broken corn stalks and a trio of white-lipped peccaries ambling along the red-clay road as if they owned it. The moment these wild pig relatives spotted the truck, they snorted, snarled and disappeared into the head-high crop, where dozens more likely hid.


Overfishing leads to crashes in sardines and other forage fish

(04/07/2015) Some of the smallest fish in the sea play an outsize role in marine ecosystems. Populations of sardines, anchovies, and other so-called "forage fish" have undergone stupendous crashes whose effects ripple outward across the food web. New research shows that overfishing has caused or worsened these crashes and suggests some simple tweaks to fisheries management that could help fishermen and fish alike.


Who's to blame for forest loss in Borneo timber concession?

(04/06/2015) The apparent loss of some 4,000 hectares of forested peatland in Indonesian Borneo is raising questions on who bears responsibility for forest clearing in un-utilized concessions. On Monday, Greenomics-Indonesia issued a report revealing the loss of significant tracts of peat forest in a West Kalimantan concession held by PT Bumi Mekar Hijau (BMH), a plantation company whose operation in South Sumatra supplies Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) with woodpulp for its mills.


Where the wild things aren’t: study says U.S. protected lands aren’t where most biodiversity is found

(04/06/2015) The United States has one of the oldest, best-established park systems in the world. But what if those public lands -- mostly created to preserve scenic natural wonders -- are in the wrong place to conserve the lion’s share of the nation’s unique biodiversity?


Palm oil companies, NGOs endorse new deforestation-limiting toolkit

(04/06/2015) Forests not only house many of the world's species, but also much of its carbon. Now, a toolkit has been developed by a group of companies and organizations with the aim of helping other companies and NGOs identify High Carbon Stock (HCS) forests. The toolkit was endorsed last week by major NGOs and plantation companies in Singapore.


Restoration of artificial swamps could be a key to restoring rainforest health in Sumatra

(04/06/2015) The term "artificial" has acquired negative connotations in recent years. However, a recent study in Sumatra's Harapan rainforest details not only the ecological benefits, but rather the necessity, of improving artificial wetlands found along waterways in this rainforest ecosystem.


Paper or paperless? Navigating the ecological impact strait between Scylla and Charybdis

(04/06/2015) Where would we be without cell phones? According to the United States Census Bureau, the USA has about as many cell phones as people. Such electronic devices are only one of many technological products, such as tablets, laptops, desktops, and television sets that are nearly ubiquitous in today's world. All of these gizmos and gadgets, as well as electronic and hybrid vehicles, cannot operate without rare earth elements.


Fighting fire with money: can finance protect Indonesia’s forests?

(04/06/2015) In previous articles, we have seen an overview of the problems with the Indonesian palm oil industry. Such problems are largely caused by rent-seeking politicians and businessmen, who are willing to sacrifice endangered wildlife, the health of their countrymen and long-term environmental stability in the pursuit of profit. These actors exert a significant influence on and within the Indonesian government. As a result, Indonesia remains conflicted between the opposing goals of conservation and economic growth.


Kaiduan dam in Borneo meets fierce opposition

(04/06/2015) Activists are calling on the government of Sabah, Malaysia, to reconsider the proposed Kaiduan dam, saying it has not considered other solutions to Sabah's looming water crisis and has failed to consult with the indigenous people who will be displaced if the project proceeds.


Aceh's purge of illegal oil palm at 3,000 hectares and counting

(04/06/2015) A joint effort to eradicate illegal oil palm in an area of Indonesia's Aceh province that was devastated by flash flooding in 2006 has passed the 3,000-hectare mark. The plantations lie within the protected Leuser Ecosystem, the last place on earth where the Sumatran rhino, elephant, tiger and orangutan coexist in the wild.


KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut adopt zero deforestation policy for palm oil

(04/03/2015) Yum! Brands, the company that owns KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, on Thursday announced a zero deforestation policy for its palm oil sourcing. The move came after aggressive campaigns by environmental groups that argued the chains weren't doing enough to ensure the palm oil they used to fry foods wasn't linked to human rights abuses, destruction of peatlands, and logging of rainforests.


Kenya crackdown on terrorism threatens NGOs, wildlife, media

(04/03/2015) The terrorist attack that killed at least 147 people at Garissa University on April 2nd was another tragic milestone in Kenya’s ongoing battle with the al-Shabab terrorist group based in Somalia. In response to several other brutal attacks on civilians, Kenya’s government recently passed and proposed harsh new laws that are alarming environmental activists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the media, opposition politicians and the public.


'Lazy' sea lion sons rely on mothers' milk while diligent daughters learn to hunt

(04/03/2015) Young male Galápagos sea lions barely lift a flipper to hunt, new research from the Galápagos Islands shows. By comparison, young females are much more independent, providing many of their own calories by hunting at sea long before their mothers wean them.


Blockade at Wilmar mill could erupt into full-blown strike

(04/03/2015) Local people blocked the road to a Wilmar palm oil mill in Indonesia’s West Kalimantan province, demanding the release of nine day laborers who were arrested during an earlier protest over delayed wages. Trucks carrying fresh fruit bunches from nearby plantations were unable to deliver their cargo.


Common ground: balancing rights and responsibilities for natural resource investments and community development

(04/03/2015) Given globalization and rising demands for energy and raw natural resources, extractive industries and their investors deepen the search to the last reaches of the planet for fuel and material. Despite rapid urbanization, millions of people in remote and underserved regions from Colombia to Zambia increasingly come into contact if not conflict with mining, timber or agribusiness interests every day.


Turning prairies into gas: study finds U.S. biofuel production has big impacts on grasslands

(04/02/2015) Corn and soybean cultivation soared in the late 2000s, as U.S. agribusiness rushed to respond to federal legislation rewarding biofuels production. Debate since the institution of the program has centered on the question of whether biofuel crop expansions have come at the expense of plowed-under biodiverse grasslands and prairie ecosystems.


Could inland aquaculture help save the oceans and feed the world?

(04/02/2015) Mark Kwok has always loved the ocean. An avid diver and spear fisherman, he has travelled the planet in search of exotic fish and undersea adventure. Born into a wealthy Hong Kong family, he had the freedom to explore the world’s oceans. But in the last decade or so, he hasn’t been content just looking at fish. He’s been growing them. In a squat, unassuming cluster of buildings in an industrial suburb north of Hong Kong, Kwok is experimenting with a potentially revolutionary technology.


Reservations about Indonesian 'land reform' as details unclear

(04/02/2015) Indonesian civil society groups and experts welcome President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's campaign promise to redistribute nine million hectares of land to farmers – in principle. But they remain wary of what the program, whose details have yet to be made clear, might look like in practice. These reservations were expressed at a discussion on the plan held in Jakarta on April 1.


Russia and Canada lead the world in forest loss in 2013

(04/02/2015) Russia and Canada led the world in forest loss, accounting for nearly forty percent of the 18 million hectares of forest lost globally in 2013, reveals a new analysis based on high resolution satellite imagery. The research — released today on Global Forest Watch, a forest monitoring and research platform — was led by Matt Hansen of the University of Maryland and involved Google, World Resources Institute (WRI), and other institutions


Domino's, DairyQueen, Taco Bell, Burt's Bees score terribly on eliminating deforestation from supply chains

(04/01/2015) Despite a worldwide trend of companies establishing social and environmental safeguards for palm oil sourcing, some of America's best-known brands are still failing to adopt policies to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains, concludes a updated assessment from The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).


Illegal deforestation driven by EU appetite for beef, palm oil, soy, say new reports

(04/01/2015) A new report finds that the European Union is driving international trade in commodities grown on land cleared outside of the law. In 2012 alone, the report says, the EU imported $6.5 billion worth of illegally sourced beef, leather, palm oil and soy, which amounts to nearly one-fourth of all global trade and some 2.4 million hectares (59.3 million acres) of forest illegally cleared.


Tropical soundscapes offer clues to forest and animal community health

(04/01/2015) Marine biologists were the first to continuously eavesdrop on marine mammals using a technique called passive acoustic monitoring (PAM). By simply listening to these animals' sounds, researchers could collect valuable information about animal population density and distribution, population health, and responses to human disturbance. Given the challenges of studying animal communities as they migrate across the sweep of the world's oceans, acoustic surveys gained popularity as a tool for gathering data from otherwise inaccessible study sites.


Pollution from East Asia affecting air quality in Borneo's rainforests

(04/01/2015) A study published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics finds that industrial activities in East Asia are polluting the air in the rainforests of Borneo and that, once there, the pollutants could be traveling into the upper atmosphere and impacting Earth’s ozone layer.


Indonesia, Brazil subsidizing forest loss far more than REDD+ slows it

(04/01/2015) International aid to protect forests in Indonesia and Brazil pales in comparison to domestic subsidies for commodities driving deforestation there. A study finds that while the countries received an annual average of $1 billion via REDD+, their agricultural and biofuel subsidies for palm oil, timber, soy and beef amounted to $41 billion per year.


Archer Daniels Midland to demand suppliers stop chopping down forests

(03/31/2015) Agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM) will establish a zero deforestation policy for its global commodity supply chains, potentially forcing its soy, palm oil, and cattle suppliers to also eliminate deforestation from their operations or face losing business with the firm. The move, announced today and expected to be formally approved in May, came after a campaign by institutional investors and environmentalist groups.


Here comes progress: what will planned megaprojects mean for an Amazon city?

(03/31/2015) The city of Itaituba, in western Pará state, is home to several construction projects of strategic interest for the Brazilian government. However, with local infrastructure fragile, residents are worried they will not share in the spoils.


Chinese-backed smelter plan causes concern among Sulawesi fishermen

(03/31/2015) As a pair of Chinese-owned miners companies proceed with plans to construct nickel smelters in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi province, in line with a national edict to increase in-country mineral processing capacity, locals fear the factories will only intensify environmental degradation from the same firms' mining operations and harm fishing communities that rely on the area.


Tracking companies' zero deforestation commitments

(03/31/2015) Over the past three years dozens of companies have made 'zero deforestation commitments', establishing policies that set social and environmental safeguards for commodity sourcing and production. However these agreements are highly variable — some policies are quite strong, while others aren't worth the paper they're printed on. Furthermore, no one knows whether there will be follow through on the pledges.


Big surprise in the greenhouse: study finds economic costs of climate change hugely underestimated

(03/30/2015) Look at most climate change projection graphs and you will see a smoothly rising red line of increasing temperature, melting ice and other impacts. But climate does not work that way. Studies of the paleoclimate record indicate that when heat energy is rapidly added to the atmosphere -- as humans are doing today -- the climate can experience “tipping points,” with abrupt shifts and potentially disastrous results.


Nobody listened to them: fishing communities to be displaced by dams want a say in their future

(03/30/2015) Hydroelectric dams planned along the Brazil’s Tapajós River will evict over 2,500 people from small fishing communities and kill the fish they depend upon for survival, but the government is refusing to consult them about its plans.


9 months after Amazonian oil pipeline spill, effects and fears linger

(03/30/2015) When Peru's state-run oil company pulled out of this small Kukama Indian village in mid-December after cleaning up an oil pipeline spill, residents thought life could slowly return to normal. But more than three months later, wisps of oil floating down the Cuninico River—along with a larger spill in the neighboring community of San Pedro—are a reminder that the problems are not over.


Chocolate company, NGO work together to save lemurs

(03/30/2015) Despite its biodiversity and unique plants and animals, Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve hosts only around a dozen tourists each year. In an effort to increase tourism and research opportunities, the Lemur Conservation Foundation will be using the money raised during the Madécasse promotion to develop Camp Indri - the reserve’s only authorized tourist site.


Large animals invaluable for tree-seed dispersal and regeneration of tropical forests

(03/30/2015) Nearly two-thirds of tropical forests in Southeast Asia have been degraded by logging, agriculture and other human uses, and their fauna have been decimated by hunting and the bushmeat trade. But if those degraded tropical forests are to recover naturally, they will need to rely on their remaining large wild animals to disperse large tree seeds, according to a new study.


Locals revolt against gold miner in Sulawesi

(03/30/2015) Residents of Indonesia's Buyat Bay and a national legal aid institute are preparing a case against a gold miner they say began operating in secret without locals' consent. They also accuse the company, owned by a prominent politician, of failing to acquire the proper licenses, clearing forest in a protected area and damaging the environment.


Mobile app reveals what products contain palm oil

(03/30/2015) A new app enables iPhone and Android users to scan barcodes to reveal whether household products contain palm oil.


Record heat in Antarctica

(03/29/2015) The temperature in Antarctica hit a record high last week, reports Weather Underground.


APRIL suspends contractor after environmentalists expose ongoing deforestation

(03/28/2015) Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL) has suspended a contractor and a plantation manager after environmentalists exposed deforestation that violates the logging giant's sustainability policy.


Low crop prices means time is ripe for new forest protection programs

(03/27/2015) Today, conservation compliance is a U.S. policy between governments and farmers that reward farmers with federal subsidies for good conservation practices on designated vulnerable lands. But economist Clayton Ogg believes it could now be used to save forests in countries like Brazil, China, India, and Indonesia. "The main drivers for deforestation in recent years are high crop prices. However, as crop prices fall to more normal levels, farmers depend very heavily on government subsidies, and the subsidies become the major driver for deforestation," Ogg told mongabay.com.


Just how useful is forest restoration? New study seeks to find out

(03/27/2015) Across the world, scientists estimate there are about two billion hectares of degraded forestland. In Indonesia alone, 25 million hectares of former logging concessions currently have no management, according to research. A study recently published in mongabay.com’s open access journal Tropical Conservation Science suggests this may represent an important opportunity for biodiversity conservation through restoration.


New species of monitor lizards found on the black market

(03/27/2015) Searching the globe for undiscovered species takes biologists to far and remote locations, trekking through exotic locales that may yield a new discovery. However, exploring the black market can also produce results. And this is just the case for Rafe Brown, curator of the University Of Kansas (KU) Biodiversity Institute, during a recent visit to the Philippines. In a black market in Manila, Brown and his colleagues discovered two new species of water monitor lizard for sale.


Aceh unveils protected area in beleaguered Tripa peat swamp

(03/27/2015) As Indonesia's Supreme Court prepares to rule on an appeal from oil palm developer Kallista Alam, ordered to pay Rp366 billion in fines and reparations for cut-and-burning forest in the Tripa peat swamp region, the Aceh government has established a protected zone in the company's former concession, the culmination of a months-long program to rehabilitate the area.


APRIL violates sustainability policy by clearing peat forest after Jan cut-off

(03/26/2015) New data shows Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL) is continuing to destroy rainforests on deep peat despite a high profile pledge to clean up its operations. Today Greenomics-Indonesia released an analysis of two NASA Landsat images confirming that APRIL's subsidiary PT Riau Andalan Pulp Paper (RAPP) has cleared significant tracts of peat forest on Pulau Pedang island off Sumatra's coast since January 2015.


Why palm oil expanded, and what keeps it growing

(03/26/2015) Today, oil palm is Indonesia’s most important cash crop. In 2014, Indonesia produced 33.5 million tons of palm oil, generating $18.9 billion in export revenue. This makes palm oil Indonesia’s third most valuable export, behind only coal and petroleum gas. However, the rise of Indonesian palm oil is only a relatively recent phenomenon. The chart below shows the remarkable growth that the industry has displayed over the past 30 years.


Mexico’s club mosses at risk of extinction

(03/26/2015) All nine species of the club moss genus Phlegmariurus found in the state of Veracruz in eastern Mexico are at risk of extinction, according to a new study published in the journal Tropical Conservation Science. One of these species, P. orizabae, has not been recorded in the wild since 1854.


Indonesia's biodiversity-protected areas no match for encroachers, finds study

(03/26/2015) Indonesia's biodiversity-focused protected areas are failing to slow deforestation, while other categories have achieved mixed results, finds a new study. The coupling of poor law enforcement with the presence of high-value timber seems to be the main culprit.


Deer 'kissing' fawn among finalists in camera trap photo contest

(03/26/2015) A camera trap photo of a young buck touching noses with a fawn is among the finalists in a picture contest organized by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The image was snapped in a camera trap set up in Apopka, Florida.


Destruction of elephant, tiger, and orangutan habitat doubles

(03/25/2015) The rate of forest loss in Indonesia's Leuser Ecosystem — the only place on Earth where rhinos, orangutans, tigers, and elephants live in the same habitat — has more than doubled due to logging, encroachment, and conversion to industrial plantations, warn conservationists. In a statement issued Tuesday, the Sumatran Orangutan Society reported that 80,316 hectares of forest were lost between 2008 and 2013, a sharp increase from the 30,830 hectares cleared between 2002 and 2008.


Elephant poaching rate unchanged – and still devastating

(03/25/2015) New figures show essentially no change in the number of elephants killed in Africa by poachers last year, despite a high-profile meeting on the crisis which was attended by 46 countries and a number of commitments. Data from CITES' Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) estimated that around 20,000 elephants were killed in 2014, the same as in 2013.


Illegal cocoa plantations threaten Côte d’Ivoire’s parks and primates

(03/25/2015) Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s largest producer of cocoa, also boasts an ecosystem of great biological richness and species diversity, with over 2,250 endemic plants and 270 vertebrate species. Unfortunately, it also has the highest deforestation rate in all of sub-Saharan Africa, largely due to its rise as a significant player in the global agricultural economy after years of civil unrest.


Photos: expedition to Amazon’s white sands may have found new primate

(03/24/2015) Most people think of the Amazon rainforest as one massive, homogenous ecosystem—a giant castle of green. However, within the Amazon rainforest lie a myriad of distinct ecosystems, sporting unique characteristics and harboring endemic species. One of the rarer ecosystems in the Amazon is the white sands forest.


Reforestation programs may help reduce illegal logging in Indonesian Borneo

(03/24/2015) Can the act of planting a tree change one’s attitude towards forests and conservation? Erica Pohnan, Hotlin Ompusunggu, and Campbell Webb, from the conservation NGO Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI), set out to answer this question by evaluating the effectiveness of reforestation programs in and around Gunung Palung National Park in West Kalimantan, Indonesia.


'How about that extension?' activists ask as forest exploitation moratorium deadline nears

(03/24/2015) Less than two months before the expiration of an Indonesian forest exploitation moratorium set up under an agreement with Norway, activists called on Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar to extend the prohibition, as she promised to do after taking office last year.


World's fragmented forests are deteriorating

(03/24/2015) The world's forests are fragmented and deteriorating, states a new paper published in Science Advances. After analyzing satellite imagery and compiling data from long-term fragmentation studies, the authors conclude that 70 percent of remaining forest land exists within 1 km of an edge, which negatively impacts their fauna, flora, and ecosystem services.


Halloween in the Amazon: baby bird dresses up like killer caterpillar

(03/23/2015) 'Mama, I wanna be a toxic caterpillar,' says the little bird. 'Okay,' mamma answers, 'but first you gotta study your Batesian mimicry.' Meet the cinereous mourner, an ash-colored, Amazonian bird that looks rather hum-drum compared to many other birds found in the region. Yet, scientists have discovered something special about the birds: its newborn babies look and move like a neon orange, toxic caterpillar.


The great Arctic decline: another sea ice record broken

(03/23/2015) Every winter, sea ice in the Arctic expands, providing vital habitat for birthing seals, hunting polar bears, and foraging walruses. But as the Arctic has warmed faster than any place on the planet—due climate change caused by burning fossil fuels—sea ice is not expanding as far as it once did.


Seeing the trees but not the forest (commentary)

(03/20/2015) Understanding forest dynamics is necessary for the sound management of forests, for both production and conservation. This includes an understanding of the extent of forest area, information about what the forest contains and how the forest resource is managed. Forest monitoring provides this information.


Pleasure palace in Lao facilitates wildlife poaching for Chinese elites

(03/20/2015) A city-sized resort complex in Laos is facilitating large-scale wildlife trafficking for Chinese tourists, exacerbating commercial poaching in the Southeast Asian nation, warns a new report published by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).


Study finds roads in Southeast Asia may be devastating forests, wildlife

(03/20/2015) Habitat loss and illegal hunting are leading drivers behind mammal population decline and extinction in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia. But what's driving these drivers? Road infrastructure, according to research. Researchers conducted the first-ever comprehensive study examining the impacts of road infrastructure on mammal populations in Southeast Asia; their findings were recently published in PLOS One.


Carbon emissions flatlined last year

(03/19/2015) Global carbon emission plateaued last year, according to International Energy Agency, even as the world's economy grew three percent. This is the first time carbon emissions have stalled in the absence of an economic collapse. The news provides tentative hope that the world may finally tackling climate change ahead of much-anticipated climate talks in Paris.


Bottom trawling reduces size of commercially important flatfish

(03/19/2015) Oceans not only provide important ecosystem services, including climate regulation and nutrient cycling, but they also serve as a major contributor to food and jobs. Yet human actions in the oceans are having a major impact on species, sometimes in unexpected ways. Indeed, a recent study finds that bottom trawling may be making some fish skinner.


DRC mulls changing Virunga's boundaries for oil

(03/19/2015) Last Friday, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) announced it was considering changing the boundaries of Virunga National Park to accommodate oil exploitation. Africa's oldest park, Virunga is home to around a quarter of the world's mountain gorillas as well as thousands of other species, many of them threatened with extinction.


Riau misses deadline on 'village forest' project as zoning deadlock continues

(03/19/2015) A pair of local communities' five-year slog to establish village forest management areas in Riau is the latest victim of a deadlock over the Indonesian province's proposed zoning plan, whose long delay has been further exacerbated by the governor's arrest in a bribery case.


Who's funding palm oil?

(03/19/2015) Palm oil may be the single most important crop that you never heard of. A vegetable fat that resembles reddish butter at room temperature, palm oil is derived from the fruit of the oil palm tree. Both nutritious and highly versatile, palm oil is now an important component of products ranging from biofuels and food to soaps and cosmetics. Estimates indicate that as much as 50 percent of the products used by the average Western consumer every day contain palm oil or its derivatives.


Indonesia's small islands being rapidly damaged by industrial activities

(03/18/2015) Intense exploitation of Indonesia's natural resources is taking a special toll on the country's small islands, with many subject to an outpouring of mining concessions that cover huge swaths of their tiny areas, often to the chagrin of local populations.


Discovery of 'Lost City' spurs conservation pledge

(03/18/2015) Earlier this month, National Geographic made big news: the discovery of what it called a 'lost city' below the thick jungles of Honduras. While the coverage has led to scientists crying sensationalism, it also resulted this week in a commitment of protection by the Honduras President, Juan Orlando Hernández, for a long-neglected portion of the country.


Indonesia's indigenous people still suffer human rights violations, says report

(03/18/2015) Indonesia's indigenous population has suffered a long history of human rights violations says a report to be released by the country's National Commission on Human Rights in May.



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