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News articles on rainforests
Mongabay.com news articles on rainforests in blog format. Updated regularly.
(06/28/2007) Roughly 80 percent of Sulawesi's richest forests have been degraded and destroyed for agriculture, logging, and mining, reports a ground-breaking assessment of the Indonesian island's forests.
Madagascar rainforests get World Heritage Listing
(06/27/2007) The World Heritage Committee has named the rainforests of Madagascar as one of three new UNESCO World Heritage List sites.
Set back for AES on rainforest dam project in Panama
(06/26/2007) The World Heritage Committee moved to assess threats to La Amistad International Park, a World Heritage site shared by Panama and Costa Rica, from AES Corporation's planned construction of four hydroelectric dams on the park's border. The decision was based on an April 2007 petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and more than 30 other organizations in the United States, Panama, and Costa Rica.
Rainforest trees colonized Africa from the Amazon
(06/24/2007) A giant rainforest tree is helping scientists understand similarities between African and South American rainforests, reports research published in the journal Molecular Ecology.
Sedentary, not migratory birds, face higher extinction risk
(06/24/2007) Sedentary birds face considerably higher risk of extinction than migratory birds, reports a new paper published in the journal Current Biology. The findings have implications for the conservation of increasingly endangered wildlife populations.
Leading Amazon biologist imprisoned in Brazil; witch-hunt suspected
(06/23/2007) A world-renowned primatologist has been arrested in the Brazilian Amazon under charges that he was illegal sheltering 28 primates in his home, according to The Guardian. Supporters say Marc van Roosmalen, 60, has been framed by illegal loggers who have long been adversaries of the prominent conservationist.
Coffee plantations may preserve tropical bird species
(06/18/2007) Agricultural areas offer opportunities for conservation in deforested landscapes in the tropics, reports a study published in the April 2007 issue of the journal conservation Biology by Stanford University biologists.
World Bank to raise $250M for avoided deforestation in tropics
(06/11/2007) The World Bank will soon launch an "avoided deforestation" pilot project that will pay tropical countries for preserving their forests, reports The Wall Street Journal. The $250 million fund will reward Indonesia, Brazil, Congo and other tropical forest countries for offsetting global warming emissions. Tropical deforestation accounts for roughly 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but slowing deforestation slows emissions of heat-trapping emissions. Researchers estimate that "avoided deforestation" schemes may be one of the most cost effective ways to slow climate change. Further, avoided deforestation offers simultaneous benefits including preservation of ecosystem services and biodiversity.
98% of orangutan habitat gone in next 15 years
(06/11/2007) Indonesia is losing more than 2.1 million hectares (5.2 million acres) of forest a year to illegal loggers, states a new report from the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP). The report, which estimates the value of illicit timbering at $4 billion annually, warns that 98 percent of Indonesia's lowland forests will be gone by 2022, putting species like the orangutan at risk of extinction in the wild. The report, Last stand of the Orang-utan: State of Emergency, was released Monday at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species meeting in The Hague.
Chinese demand drives global deforestation
(06/10/2007) From outside, Cameroon's Ngambe-Tikar forest looks like a compact, tangled mass of healthy emerald green foliage. But tracks between the towering tropical hardwood trees open up into car park-sized clearings littered with logs as long as buses. Forestry officers say the reserve is under attack from unscrupulous commercial loggers who work outside authorized zones and do not respect size limits in their quest for maximum financial returns.
Google helps protect Amazon rainforest
(06/10/2007) Google is working with a indigenous tribe deep in the Amazon rainforest to protect their lands from illegal encroachment, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. For the first time, Google has confirmed details of the project. Working in conjuction with the Amazon conservation Team, Google Earth's technology is being used to monitor illegal mining and logging that threaten the lands of the Surui tribe in Brazil. Google is working with satellite providers to significantly improve image resolution in some of the most remote parts of the Amazon basin.
Amazon deforestation rates fall 89% for 2007
(06/08/2007) Deforestation rates fell by 89 percent in the Brazilian Amazon state of Mato Grosso for April 2007 compared with April 2006, according to the System Alert for Deforestation, an innovative deforestation monitoring program backed from Brazilian NGO Imazon. Mato Grosso, which has suffered some of the highest rates of deforestation of any state in the Brazilian Amazon, lost 2,268 square kilometers of forest between August 2006 and April 2007, a decline of 62 percent from the year earlier period when 5,968 square kilometers were cleared.
Amazon tribe blocks major Brazilian highway
(06/08/2007) Indigenous Amazonians have blocked a major highway in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso to protest a series of hydroelectric dams planned on the Xingu river, one of the Amazon's largest tributaries, according to Brazzil Mag and Survival International.
Archer Daniels Midland announces Amazon biodiesel plant start date
(06/08/2007) Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) plans to start operation of its $20 million biodiesel in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso in early August, a company official said this week, according to MarketWatch.
Logging roads rapidly expanding in Congo rainforest
(06/07/2007) Logging roads are rapidly expanding in the Congo rainforest, report researchers who have constructed the first satellite-based maps of road construction in Central Africa. The authors say the work will help conservation agencies, governments, and scientists better understand how the expansion of logging is impacting the forest, its inhabitants, and global climate.
Dorothy Stang fought for social equity in the Amazon
(06/07/2007) Murder is not a pleasant place to start an article. Destruction of enormous amounts of virgin forest also does not help improve ones feelings and thoughts. Leaving out millions of people and talking about only the rights of thousands is pretty discouraging if you wish to be transparent, progressive and see a future for a beautiful country with enormous potential.
Can cattle ranchers and soy farmers save the Amazon?
(06/06/2007) John Cain Carter, a Texas rancher who moved to the heart of the Amazon 11 years ago and founded what is perhaps the most innovative organization working in the Amazon, Alianca da Terra, believes the only way to save the Amazon is through the market. Carter says that by giving producers incentives to reduce their impact on the forest, the market can succeed where conservation efforts have failed. What is most remarkable about Alianca's system is that it has the potential to be applied to any commodity anywhere in the world. That means palm oil in Borneo could be certified just as easily as sugar cane in Brazil or sheep in New Zealand. By addressing the supply chain, tracing agricultural products back to the specific fields where they were produced, the system offers perhaps the best market-based solution to combating deforestation. Combining these approaches with large-scale land conservation and scientific research offers what may be the best hope for saving the Amazon.
Rainforest educational resource launched in 19 languages
(06/05/2007) Mongabay.com, a leading tropical rainforest information web site, today announced the availability of a rainforest educational resource in 19 languages at world.mongabay.com. The site explains what constitutes a tropical rainforest, why they are important, why they are threatened, and how they can be saved.
Unknown tribe found in the Amazon
(06/04/2007) An unknown Indian tribe has been discovered in the Amazon rainforest reports the Associated Press. The Metyktire tribe, with about 87 members, was found in late May around 1,200 northwest of Rio de Janeiro. Brazil's Federal Indian Bureau (FUNAI) says the tribe is a subgroup of the Kayapo tribe and lives on the Kayapos, 12.1-million-acre Menkregnoti Indian reservation.
Pictures of newly discovered species in Suriname
(06/04/2007) Scientists documented 467 species, including 24 species believed new to science, during a rainforest survey in eastern Suriname, South America. The expedition, led by conservation International (CI), was sponsored by two mining companies, BHP-Billiton Maatschappij Suriname (BMS) and Suriname Aluminium Company LLC (Suralco), hoping to mine the area for bauxite, the raw material used to make aluminum. conservation International said the Rapid Assessment Survey (RAP) will help "give miners guidance on protecting unique plants and animals during potential future development," according to a statement from the organization.
Globalization could save the Amazon rainforest
(06/03/2007) The Amazon basin is home to the world's largest rainforest, an ecosystem that supports perhaps 30 percent of the world's terrestrial species, stores vast amounts of carbon, and exerts considerable influence on global weather patterns and climate. Few would dispute that it is one of the planet's most important landscapes. Despite its scale, the Amazon is also one of the fastest changing ecosystems, largely as a result of human activities, including deforestation, forest fires, and, increasingly, climate change. Few people understand these impacts better than Dr. Daniel Nepstad, one of the world's foremost experts on the Amazon rainforest. Now head of the Woods Hole Research Center's Amazon program in Belem, Brazil, Nepstad has spent more than 23 years in the Amazon, studying subjects ranging from forest fires and forest management policy to sustainable development. Nepstad says the Amazon is presently at a point unlike any he's ever seen, one where there are unparalleled risks and opportunities. While he's hopeful about some of the trends, he knows the Amazon faces difficult and immediate challenges.
Mahogany logging threats tribal people, says report
(05/30/2007) Ahead of the CITES meeting in the Hague, a new report alleges widespread illegal mahogany logging in Peru.
Will Amazon drought worsen in 2007?
(05/29/2007) Contrary to popular belief, the Amazon rainforest is not rainy year round. Further from the equator, rainfall is more seasonal, with dry periods that sometimes last for months.
U.S. tropical timber imports fall by half in 2006
(05/28/2007) Tropical lumber imports into the United States fell from 353,985 cubic meters in 2005 to 176,806 cubic meters in 2006, reports the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) in its latest update. Tropical timber made up only 12 percent of U.S. hardwood lumber imports by volume for the year.
Uganda abandons rainforest logging for palm oil
(05/27/2007) The Ugandan government abandoned plans to log thousands of hectares of rainforest on Bugala island in Lake Victoria for a palm oil plantation, Reuters reported Saturday.
Experts: Borneo in urgent need of protection
(05/23/2007) A prominent group of 1500 scientists in over 70 countries have called for the urgent conservation of Borneo's forests, which are fast-disappearing on the southeast Asian island due to logging, fires, and conversion for oil palm plantations.
Uganda rainforest reserve safe, for now
(05/23/2007) Uganda's cabinet has suspended a proposal to allow a sugarcane grower to convert part of Mabria rainforest reserve for a plantation, reports Reuters. The plan, a pet project of president Yoweri Museveni, faced widespread opposition that was capped by deadly riots.
U.S. ethanol may drive Amazon deforestation
(05/17/2007) Ethanol production in the United States may be contributing to deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest said a leading expert on the Amazon. Dr. Daniel Nepstad of the Woods Hole Research Center said the growing demand for corn ethanol means that more corn and less soy is being planted in the United States. Brazil, the world's largest producer of soybeans, is more than making up for shortfall, by clearing new land for soy cultivation. While only a fraction of this cultivation currently occurs in the Amazon rainforest, production in neighboring areas like the cerrado grassland helps drive deforestation by displacing small farmers and cattle producers, who then clear rainforest land for subsistence agriculture and pasture.
Ancient Amazonian technology could save the world
(05/17/2007) Terra preta, the ancient charcoal-based soil used by ancient Amazonians to create permanently fertile agricultural lands in the rainforest, is getting serious consideration as a means to fight global warming and meet domestic energy demand, reports an article in Scientific American.
Peru makes progress on illegal mahogany logging
(05/16/2007) Last month Inrena, Peru's environmental agency, implemented regulations for mahogany loggers that will now require forest concession holders to replant ten times the logged amount of trees. Overall, the initiative calls for the production and establishment of one million of mahogany plantlets over 5 years.
New species of hummingbird discovered in Colombia
(05/15/2007) Ornithologists have discovered a previously unknown blue-and-green-throated hummingbird species in a cloud forest in Colombia, reports BirdLife International, a conservation group. The bird, called the gorgeted puffleg, measures up to 4 inches (10 cm) in length.
Environmental concerns mount as palm oil production grows
(05/15/2007) The booming market for palm oil is driving record production but fueling rising concerns over the environmental impact of the supposedly "green" bioenergy source. The two leading producers of palm oil, Malaysia and Indonesia, have rapidly expanded palm oil production in recent years, often at the expense of biodiverse rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands that store billions of tons of greenhouse gases. Environmentalists say that due to these factors, burning of palm oil can at times be more damaging the global climate than the use of fossil fuels.
Amazon nun-killer sentenced to 30 years in Brazil
(05/15/2007) Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura, a Brazilian rancher charged with ordering the killing of Dorothy Stang, an American nun, in the Amazon rainforest in February 2005, was convicted today of murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Reducing tropical deforestation will help fight global warming
(05/10/2007) Scientists have lent support to a plan by developing countries to fight global warming by reducing deforestation rates. Tropical deforestation releases more than 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year, though in some years, like the 1997-1998 el Nino year when fires released some 2 billion tons of carbon from peat swamps alone in Indonesia, emissions are more than twice that. Writing in the journal Science, an international team of scientists argue that the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation (RED) initiative, launched in 2005 by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, is scientifically and technologically sound, and that political and economic challenges facing the plan can be overcome.
Amazon rainforest locks up 11 years of CO2 emissions
(05/08/2007) The amount and distribution of above ground biomass (or the amount of carbon contained in vegetation) in the Amazon basin is largely unknown, making it difficult to estimate how much carbon dioxide is produced through deforestation and how much is sequestered through forest regrowth. To address this uncertainty, a team of scientists from Caltech, the Woods Hole Institute, and INPE (Brazil's space agency), have developed a new method to determine forest biomass using remote sensing and field plot measurements. The researchers say the work will help them better understand the role of Amazon rainforest in global climate change.
conservation is saving lemurs and helping people in Madagascar
(05/07/2007) Madagascar, an island nation that lies off the coast of southeastern Africa, has long been famous for its unique and diverse species of wildlife, especially lemurs--primates found nowhere else on the planet. In recent years, the island country has also become world-renowned for conservation efforts that are succeeding in spite of extraordinary pressures from a poor population that relies heavily on forest burning for basic subsistence. A large part of this success is due to the early efforts of Patricia Wright, a primatologist who has been working in the country for more than 20 years. Wright led the effort to launch the country's leading protected area and helped Madagascar become a leading global example of conservation despite its economic adversity.
ITTO has failed to end tropical forest destruction says Greenpeace
(05/07/2007) Greenpeace activists today abseiled from the top of the Crowne Plaza hotel in downtown Port Moresby, where delegates were gathering for the start of the 42nd International Tropical Timber Organization's (ITTO) committee meeting, and unfurled a banner which read 'ITTO Stop Forest Destruction'.
Tropical plants may be more adaptable to climate change
(05/07/2007) Tropical plants may be more adaptable to environmental change by extracting nitrogen from a variety of sources, reports a study published in the May 7 early online edition of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Indonesia may import timber due to supply shortage
(05/07/2007) Indonesia, the world's largest exporter of tropical timber, may need to import wood from neighbors due to supply shortages caused by a crack down on illegal logging and resource depletion, reports the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO).
Indonesia will plant 2 billion trees in 2007
(05/07/2007) Indonesia plans to rehabilitate 59.2 million hectares (146 million acres) of damaged forest throughout Indonesia, according to Malam Sambat Kaban, Indonesia's Forestry Minister.
Malaysia will reforest 4000 ha of forest in Borneo
(05/07/2007) Malaysia plans to rehabilitate 4000 hectares (10,000 acres) of damaged forest is Sabah state, on the island of Borneo, reports the Associated Press. The environmental restoration and management plan for the Ulu Semaga-Malua forests will cost $58 million.
Better forest policies would reduce illegal logging in the Amazon
(05/06/2007) Brazil could improve sustainable forest management, reduce illegal logging, and perhaps cuts deforestation by introducing coherent policies for timber operations in the Amazon rainforest argues a new paper published in Frontiers in Ecology. However, successful implementation of sustainable timber production will require overcoming significant biological and political hurdles, suggest the authors.
Climate change could dramatically change forests in Central America
(05/02/2007) Drought could cause dramatic shifts in rainforest plant communities in Central America, reports a new study published in the May 3 issue of Nature. The research shows that many rainforest plants are ill-equipped to deal with extended dry periods, putting them at elevated risk from changes in climate projected for the region.
Commercial hunting may be biggest threat to tropical rainforests
(05/01/2007) Commercial hunting is decimating wildlife populations across the tropics and may be one of the gravest threats presently facing rainforests, reports a series of studies published in the May issue of the journal Biotropica. The research reveals that large-scale loss of wildlife is already affecting forest health and regeneration.
Dutch plan restricts biofuels that damage environment
(04/29/2007) The Netherlands has proposed a system to reduce the environmental impact of biofuels production. The country becomes the first in the world to establish such guidelines. Environmentalists have expressed increasing concern for the establishment of energy crops in biodiverse and carbon-rich ecosystems like the peatlands of Indonesia and the Amazon rainforest. They say that conversion of these forests for oil palm and soybeans is threatening endangered species and worsening global warming. Further, they warn, demand for such biomass energy products is driving up prices for food crops.
Dutch will demand rainforest-friendly palm oil
(04/27/2007) In a report scheduled to be released today, the Dutch government will outline criteria for growing biofuels in a more sustainable manner. The guidelines will be closely watched by the rest of Europe, which is currently struggling with the environmental pros and cons of large-scale energy crop production, especially in ecologically-sensitive areas like the Amazon and Indonesian rainforests.
Ecuador: pay us not to develop Amazon oil reserves
(04/27/2007) Ecuador says it will wait a year to see whether the international community takes its offer to forsake development of a giant oil field in the Amazon rainforest in exchange for compensation, reports the Environmental News Service.
Chevron shareholders may be liable for billions in environmental damages
(04/25/2007) The lead lawyer in the landmark environmental lawsuit against Chevron in Ecuador is in California to warn that the oil major has failed to prepare for a possible multi-billion dollar damages bill within the coming months
New railway will facilitate logging in Congo
(04/25/2007) A new 800-km railway backed by a South Korean consortium will boost logging in the Republic of Congo, reports the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) in its April 1 Tropical Timber Market Report.
Illegal logging in Malaysia due to gangsters
(04/25/2007) The Malaysian government has blamed "gangsters" for illegal logging syndicates in the country. Malaysia's deforestation rate has leapt by 86 percent since the close of the 1990s, according to data from the U.N.
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