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News articles on rainforests

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









Island biogeography theory doesn't explain biodiversity changes in forest fragments

(07/28/2008) Island biogeography theory, the idea that fragmented ecosystems have lower species richness per unit of area compared with contiguous habitats, has served as a useful conceptual model to understand the effects of habitat fragmentation but fails to explain the complexities of change in isolated forest fragments, according to a synthesis published last month in the journal Biological Conservation.


An interview a shaman in the Amazon rainforest

(07/28/2008) Deep in the Suriname rainforest, an innovative conservation group is working with indigenous tribes to protect their forest home and culture using traditional knowledge combined with cutting-edge technology. The Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) is partnering with the Trio, an Amerindian group that lives in the remote Suriname-Brazil border area of South America, to develop programs to protect their forest home from illegal gold miners and encroachment, improve village health, and strengthen cultural ties between indigenous youths and elders at a time when such cultures are disappearing even faster than rainforests. In June 2008 mongabay.com visited the community of Kwamalasamutu in Suriname to see ACT's programs in action. During the visit, Amasina, a Trio shaman who works with ACT, answered some questions about his role as a traditional healer in the village.


Newly discovered monkey is critically endangered by logging, poaching

(07/28/2008) A newly discovered species of monkey may already be threatened with extinction, according to a study published in the journal Oryx.


Unlike humans, tree shrews don't get drunk

(07/28/2008) The pentailed treeshrew, sporting a mouse-like body and feathery tail, seems an unlikely drinker. Yet, new research shows that this one-and-half ounce creature's main food source, the nectar of the bertam palm, is highly fermented. The nectar can contain a peak alcohol concentration of 3.8 percent. This is a little less than a Bud Light.


Loggers, palm oil firms eye remote rainforests of Papua for development

(07/25/2008) Commodity producers are eyeing one of the world's last relatively untouched tracts of rainforest for development, reports the Wall Street Journal.


14 countries win REDD funding to protect tropical forests

(07/24/2008) Fourteen countries have been selected by the World Bank to receive funds for conserving their tropical forests under an innovative carbon finance scheme.


Rainforest conservation could offset 500m tons of CO2 emissions at $2/ton

(07/24/2008) Industrialized nations could collectively offset 500 million tons carbon of dioxide emissions at roughly $2 per ton by protecting tropical rainforests, according to estimates published in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


New plan would pay tropical countries for saving forests, regardless of level of threat

(07/24/2008) Deforestation and forest degradation account for around a fifth of global carbon emissions from human activities, but new policy measures are focusing reducing such emissions as a cost-effective way to fight global warming. While the concept — known as REDD for "Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation" — has found wide support from politicians, scientists, and environmentalists, there are lingering concerns over how to compensate countries that have extensive forest cover and low rates of annual forest loss, since payments are based on historical deforestation rates. A new proposal seeks to get around this issue by factoring in all the terrestrial carbon in a tropical landscape — regardless of level of threat it faces — and packaging it as a tradable commodity.


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).


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.


Leaf-cutter ants test theories about the Amazon's biodiversity

(07/23/2008) No one knows for certain how many insect species reside in the Amazon. One oft-quoted estimate is 30 million, but the actual number could be significantly lower or higher than this. Either way, biologists have long wondered why the richness of insect diversity in the Americas' tropical forests is exponentially higher than temperate forests. Three popular hypotheses have emerged—the theory of refugia, the marine incursion hypothesis, and the riverine barrier hypothesis. To test these theories a group of scientists, headed by Dr. Scott Solomon, studied three species of leaf-cutter ant species from the Amazon.


Biofuels can reduce emissions, but not when grown in place of rainforests

(07/22/2008) Biofuels meant to help alleviate greenhouse gas emissions may be in fact contributing to climate change when grown on converted tropical forest lands, warns a comprehensive study published earlier this month in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Analyzing the carbon debt for biofuel crops grown in ecosystems around the world, Holly Gibbs and colleagues report that "while expansion of biofuels into productive tropical ecosystems will always lead to net carbon emissions for decades to centuries... [expansion] into degraded or already cultivated land will provide almost immediate carbon savings." The results suggest that under the right conditions, biofuels could be part of the effort to reduce humanity's carbon footprint.


600 species of mushrooms discovered in Guyana

(07/21/2008) In six plots of Guyanese rainforest, measuring only a hundred square meters each, scientists have discovered an astounding 1200 species of macrofungi, commonly known as mushrooms. Even more surprising: they believe over 600 of these are new to science — that's equivalent to a new species every square meter.


Implementing a butterfly farm: Iwokrama reserve's latest sustainable initiative

(07/20/2008) Iwokrama, which lies in the heart of Guyana's rainforest, is known worldwide for its innovative approach to preserving tropical rainforests and creating livelihoods for local communities. Their focus has been to create programs that utilize the forest sustainably, allowing for a mutual benefit between the people and the forest itself. Currently, Iwokrama has a number of initiatives under its umbrella, including eco-tourism, sustainable forestry, on-going research projects, and training programs. Amid these bustling projects, a new one has emerged: butterfly farming.


Destruction of wetlands worsens global warming

(07/20/2008) Destruction of wetland ecosystems will generate massive greenhouse gas emissions in coming years, warn experts convening at an international wetlands conference in Brazil.


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.


Moving species may be only way to save them from climate change

(07/17/2008) Desperate times call for desperate measures, according to a new paper in Science. conservation scientists from the US, the UK, and Australia are calling for the consideration of a highly controversial conservation technique: assisted migration. According to the policy piece, species would be relocated to sites "where they do not currently occur or have not been known to occur in recent history".


Amazon deforestation forecast for 2008 revised downward

(07/17/2008) Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon fell sharply in the month of May (1,096 square kilometers) compared to May a year-ago (1,222 square kilometers), according to preliminary satellite data announced by the country's environment minister on Tuesday. Brazilian Environment Minister Carlos Minc said a preliminary analysis by the government's National Space Research Institute (INPE) showed 1,096 square kilometers (423 square miles) of rain forest were cut down in May, down from 1,123 square kilometers (434 square miles) in April.


Orangutans persist in islands amid a sea of oil palm plantations

(07/17/2008) Orangutan are surviving in forest islands in a sea of oil palm plantations in Malaysia, reports a new survey by a government-backed conservation initiative. The finding underscores the need to protect critical forest areas for the endangered primates as forest continues to fall in southeast Asia at a rate that is the highest of any of the world's tropical forest regions.


Researchers fit Bornean elephants with satellite collars to track social behvaior

(07/14/2008) Three Bornean Elephants were fitted with satellite collars over the past week in the Kinabatangan marking the beginning of the first study on their social structure.


Fruit bats frequent clay-licks in the Amazon rainforest

(07/14/2008) In the Peru new research finds that female fruit bats are frequent visitors to clay-licks.


Birds face higher risk of extinction than conventionally thought

(07/14/2008) Birds may face higher risk of extinction than conventionally thought, says a bird ecology and conservation expert from Stanford University. Dr. Cagan H. Sekercioglu, a senior research scientist at Stanford and head of the world's largest tropical bird radio tracking project, estimates that 15 percent of world's 10,000 bird species will go extinct or be committed to extinction by 2100 if necessary conservation measures are not taken. While birds are one of the least threatened of any major group of organisms, Sekercioglu believes that worst-case climate change, habitat loss, and other factors could conspire to double this proportion by the end of the century. As dire as this sounds, Sekercioglu says that many threatened birds are rarer than we think and nearly 80 percent of land birds predicted to go extinct from climate change are not currently considered threatened with extinction, suggesting that species loss may be far worse than previously imagined. At particular risk are marine species and specialists in mountain habitats.


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.


Biofuels, food demand may doom tropical forests

(07/14/2008) Rising demand for fuel, food, and wood products will take a heavy toll on tropical forests, warns a new report released by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI).


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.


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.


Colorful insects help search for anti-cancer drugs

(07/07/2008) Brightly-colored beetles or caterpillars feeding on a tropical plant may signal the presence of chemical compounds active against cancer and parasitic diseases, report researchers writing in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. The discovery could help speed drug discovery.


Australia's largest retailer Woolworths greenwashes rainforest destruction in Indonesia, allege activists

(07/07/2008) Despite a year of protesting, Woolworths continues to carry paper sourced from 'the worst fibre manufacturer in the world'. Woolworths Limited is Australia's largest retailer and the world's 25th largest; it is also the only Australian company to make into the top twenty-five. It is the "Wal-mart of Down-Under". And much like Wal-mart, Woolworths has attempted to become more green recently. Though, according to a recent campaign entitled "Wake Up Woolworths", this is merely the worst in greenwashing.


Orangutan populations drop due to logging, expansion for palm oil

(07/03/2008) Orangutan populations have fallen sharply on the two islands where they still live, reports a new study published in the journal Oryx.


Brazil fines 24 ethanol producers for illegal forest clearing

(07/01/2008) Brazil fined two dozen ethanol producers accused of illegal clearing the country's endangered Mata Atlântica or Atlantic rainforest, reports The Associated Press.


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.


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.


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.


Tropical biodiversity on "a trajectory toward disaster"

(06/26/2008) Despite recent debate over the extent of regenerating secondary forest cover, the effectiveness of protected areas and tropical extinctions protections, global biodiversity remains under great threat, warn scientists writing in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.


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.


Britain, Norway commit $210 million towards Congo rainforest conservation

(06/24/2008) The governments of Britain and Norway last week announced a $211 million (108 million) initiative to conserve rainforests in the Congo Basin. The plan calls for the use of an advanced satellite camera to monitor deforestation in the region and funding for community-based conservation projects.


Amazon soy moratorium extended; may be expanded to other products

(06/23/2008) Soy crushers operating in the Brazilian Amazon have extended a two-year-old moratorium on the purchase of soybeans produced on rainforest lands deforested after 2006, reports Reuters.


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.


Scientists call for mining ban, new protected areas in Suriname

(06/20/2008) In a resolution set forth at their annual meeting in Paramaribo, Suriname, the largest group of tropical biologists called upon the Surinamese government to evict informal gold miners from three ecologically important areas in the South American country. Miners have been blamed for a number of environmental problems including over-hunting of wildlife, deforestation and destruction of riparian habitats, erosion, and mercury pollution in waterways.


Rainforests face array of emerging threats

(06/15/2008) Tropical forests face a number of emerging threats said a leading biologist speaking at a scientific conference in Paramaribo, Suriname.


More than 8% of the Brazilian Amazon is illegally owned

(06/14/2008) More 42 than million hectares — eight percent — of the Brazilian Amazon is not legally owned, reports a study released last week by a national environmental NGO.


Geology, climate links make Guiana Shield region particularly sensitive to change

(06/14/2008) Soil and climate patterns in the Guiana Shield make the region particularly sensitive to environmental change, said a scientist speaking at a biology conference in Paramaribo, Suriname.


New discoveries about past forest changes may help predict future ones in a changing climate

(06/12/2008) There is no better method to understand the future than to look to the past. Several new studies of the earth's glacial history are transforming the way scientists look at tree behvaior during extreme changes in climate. Scientists Remj Petit, Feng Sheng Hu, and Christopher Dick described such changes in relation to current global warming in the new issue of the journal Science. They report that already "in some parts of the world, tree species have started to shift their distributions in response to anthropogenic climatic warming", thus raising the stakes for understanding how tree species will adapt to coming changes.


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.


Lemurs are key to health of Madagascar's rainforests

(06/12/2008) Lemurs play a key role in the health of Madagascar's tropical rainforests said a renowned primatologist speaking at a meeting of conservation biologists in Paramaribo, Suriname.


Forests face governance challenges

(06/12/2008) Governments "own" about 86 percent of the word's forests, but recent changes in forest management structure means they effectively control far less than they did just a generation ago. As such, the fate of forests is increasingly determined by concesssionary agreements with extractive industries and the whims of market demand for commodities produced on forest lands. Climate change and rapid economic growth are poised to further complicate effective management of forest areas.


Brazil levies $279 million fine for illegal Amazon logging

(06/11/2008) Brazilian authorities slapped the largest-ever fine on a timber company now owned by a Swedish sporting goods magnate for alleged illegal logging, according to the Associated Press.


Kayapo tribe gets trust fund for Amazon protection

(06/11/2008) The government of the Brazilian state of Pará and conservation International-Brasil (CI) have established a trust fund to support conservation and sustainable development initiatives by indigenous Kayapó groups in the Amazon rainforest. The fund will have an initial endowment of 10 million reals (US$6.2 million).


Madagascar signs big carbon deal to fund rainforest conservation

(06/11/2008) Madagascar will sell more than nine million tons of carbon offsets to fund rainforest conservation in a newly established protected area. conservationists say the deal protect endangered wildlife, promote sustainable development to improve the economic well-being of people living in and around the park area, and help fight global warming.



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