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News articles on south america
Mongabay.com news articles on south america in blog format. Updated regularly.
(01/17/2008) U.S. incentives for biofuel production are promoting deforestation in southeast Asia and the Amazon by driving up crop prices and displacing energy feedstock production, say researchers.
Amazon deforestation surging due to oil, soy prices
(01/17/2008) A Brazilian scientist has confirmed that forest clearing in the Amazon rainforest has surged in recent months, according to Reuters.
Politics and the Amazon
(01/14/2008) In terms of environmental conservation, the Amazon is a logistics nightmare. How does Brazil protect 4.2 million square kilometers of forest with a border of 10.938 km?
An interview with primate researcher Dr. Karen Strier: America's largest monkey recovering after brush with extinction
(01/10/2008) The Atlantic forest of Brazil boasts South America's largest primates, the Southern and Northern Muriqui. The muriqui are unique among all primates, because they are not territorial and do not display aggressive behvaior. The IUCN has classified the Southern Muriqui as endangered, while the Nothern Muriqui is critically endangered. Dr. Karen Strier has studied the Northern Muriqui in the field for twenty-five years. A professor of zoology and anthropology at the University of Madison Wisconsin, she is the author of Faces in the Forest: the Endangered Muriqui Monkeys of Brazil and a new textbook entitled Primate behvaioral Ecology.
Nature tourism taking a toll in the Galapagos
(01/05/2008) A booming "ecotourism" industry is bringing new threats to the Galapagos, reports a feature in the Wall Street Journal.
Brazil bans illegal soy and cattle production in the Amazon rainforest
(12/24/2007) The Brazilian government launched a new initiative to slow deforestation in the Amazon, setting the stage for the country to potentially earn billions from carbon trading schemes set in motion two weeks ago at the U.N. climate meeting in Bali.
Migrating frogs fare poorly when habitat altered
(12/19/2007) Habitat loss and fragmentation are putting amphibians already threatened by climate change, pesticides, alien invasive species, and the outbreak of a deadly fungal infection at greater risk of extinction, reported a study published in Science last week.
U.S. corn subsidies drive Amazon destruction
(12/13/2007) U.S. corn subsidies for ethanol production are contributing to deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, reports a tropical forest scientist writing in this week's issue of the journal Science.
Controversial dam in the Amazon gets Brazilian go-ahead
(12/11/2007) The Brazilian government has awarded rights to build and operate a controversial R$10bn hydroelectric power plant on the Madeira river in the Amazon rainforest near the border with Bolivia, according to FT.com.
Amazon conservation Team wins "Innovation in conservation Award" for path-breaking work with Amazon tribes
(12/11/2007) The Amazon conservation Team (ACT) was today awarded mongabay.com's inaugural "Innovation in conservation Award" for its path-breaking efforts to enable indigenous Amazonians to maintain ties to their history and cultural traditions while protecting their rainforest home from illegal loggers and miners.
A comprehensive look at the use of animals in Brazilian medicine
(12/10/2007) For millennia animals have been used in medicine as remedies. While this practice has all but disappeared in western countries, many cultures still employ traditional medicine that includes animal-derived remedies. Probably the most famous of these are the Chinese, who for example use seahorses for a variety of ailments and rhinoceros horn as an aphrodisiac. Lesser known and studied, though just as varied and rich is Brazil's long tradition of animal-remedies for all kinds of ailments. A recent study set out to document the wide-range of animals used in Brazilian traditional medicine and its possible consequences on animal populations, the environment, and Brazilian society.
Amazon deforestation rates drop 20% in 2007
(12/08/2007) Deforestation rates in Brazil's Amazon rainforest dropped 20 percent since last year, reported the Brazilian National Institute of Space Research (INPE).
Global warming accelerates destruction of the Amazon
(12/06/2007) Deforestation and climate change could damage or destroy as much as 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest by 2030, according to a new report from environmental group WWF. The report, The Amazon's Vicious Cycles: Drought and Fire in the Greenhouse, shows that degradation in the Amazon could release 55-97 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2030. Forest loss could also dramatically impact water cycles in the region, affecting rainfall that is critical for river flows and agriculture.
Tropical forests face huge threat from industrial agriculture
(12/05/2007) With forest conversion for large-scale agriculture rapidly emerging as a leading driver of tropical deforestation, a new report from the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) suggests the trend is likely to continue with Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Peru, and Colombia containing 75 percent of the world's forested land that is highly suitable for industrial agriculture expansion. Nevertheless the study identifies forests that may be best suited (low population density, unsuitable climate and soils) for "Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation" (REDD) initiatives which compensate countries for preserving forest lands in exchange for carbon credits.
Piranhas originated when Amazon was flooded by seawater
(12/04/2007) South America's piranha family of fish -- notorious as eaters of flesh -- can be traced back to a single ancestor which dispersed when the Amazon was flooded by seawater some five million years ago, report researchers from the Institut de Recherche Pour le Développement (IRD). Today piranhas are exclusively freshwater fish found from the Orinoco River basin in Venezuela to the Paraná in Argentina.
Amazon deforestation could be eliminated with carbon priced at $3
(12/04/2007) The Amazon rainforest could play a major part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions that result from deforestation, reports a new study published by scientists at the Woods Hole Research Center, the Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia, and the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. At a carbon price of $3 per ton, protecting the Amazon for its carbon value could outweigh the opportunity costs of forgoing logging, cattle ranching, and soy expansion in the region. 2008 certified emission-reduction credits for carbon currently trade at more than $90 per ton ($25 per ton of CO2).
Could the carbon market save the Amazon rainforest?
(11/29/2007) The global carbon market could play a key role in saving the Amazon from the effects of climate change and economic development, which could otherwise trigger dramatic ecological changes, reports a new paper published in Science. The authors argue that a well-articulated plan, financed by carbon markets, could prevent the worst outcomes for the Amazon forest while generating economic benefits for the region's inhabitants.
Dutch bank arranges carbon-conservation deal in the Amazon rainforest
(11/27/2007) Dutch bank Rabobank will launch the first-ever carbon credits project in the Xingu region of the Brazilian Amazon, reports The Financial Times.
Ground-breaking Amazon rainforest imagery will help monitor deforestation
(11/27/2007) Scientists have developed a ground-breaking high resolution snapshot of 400,000 square kilometers of Amazon rainforest. The work will help researchers remotely monitor deforestation, according to the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC).
Guyana's forests offered as massive carbon offset
(11/26/2007) Guyana has offered up the entirity of its remaining forest cover as a giant carbon offset, reports The Independent.
Amazon rainforest children to get medicinal plant training from shamans
(11/21/2007) The Amazon conservation Team (ACT) -- a group using innovative approaches to preserving culture and improving health among Amazonian rainforest tribes -- has been awarded a $100,000 grant from Nature's Path, an organic cereal manufacturer. The funds will allow ACT to address one of the most pressing social concerns for Amazon forest dwellers by expanding its educational and cultural "Shamans and Apprentice" program for indigenous children in the region.
Whale stranded 1,000 miles up the Amazon river
(11/17/2007) An 18-foot minke whale was found beached on a sandbar 1,000 miles up a tributary of the Amazon river, reported Globo television and the Associated Press.
In the Amazon, primary forest biodiversity tops that of secondary forest, plantations
(11/12/2007) Plantations and secondary forests are no match for primary Amazon rainforest in terms of biodiversity, reports the largest ever assessment of the biodiversity conservation value in the tropics.
Proposed gold mine proves controversial in French Guiana rainforest
(11/07/2007) Commercial gold mining threatens a key forest reserve and wetland in French Guiana say scientists who warn that exploitation could pollute rivers with toxic compounds, threaten wildlife, and put indigenous populations at risk.
Subtle threats could ruin the Amazon rainforest
(11/07/2007) While the mention of Amazon destruction usually conjures up images of vast stretches of felled and burned rainforest trees, cattle ranches, and vast soybean farms, some of the biggest threats to the Amazon rainforest are barely perceptible from above. Selective logging -- which opens up the forest canopy and allows winds and sunlight to dry leaf litter on the forest floor -- and 6-inch high "surface" fires are turning parts of the Amazon into a tinderbox, putting the world's largest rainforest at risk of ever-more severe forest fires. At the same time, market-driven hunting is impoverishing some areas of seed dispersers and predators, making it more difficult for forests to recover. Climate change -- an its forecast impacts on the Amazon basin -- further looms large over the horizon.
New peccary species discovered by embattled Amazon scientist
(11/04/2007) A new species of peccary has been discovered in the Amazon rainforest by a scientist recently charged with biopiracy by the Brazilian government.
Amphibian extinction may be worse than thought
(10/31/2007) Amphibian extinction rates may be higher than previously thought, according to new DNA analysis that found more than 60 unrecognized species in the Guiana Shield of South America.
Iguanas listen to birds to avoid predators
(10/29/2007) As the world's only sea-feeding lizard, Galapagos Marine Iguanas have long held a unique place in the animal kingdom. While most of their life is spent on land, these lizards forage the seas for their staple food: algae. Now, new research has provided this species with another distinction: although the Galapagos Marine Iguana is mute, it recognizes and utilizes the alarm call of the Galapagos Mockingbird. This is the first instance of a non-vocal species eavesdropping on another species' calls. Both the iguana and mockingbird fall prey to the Galapagos hawk, so by recognizing the mockingbird's warning the iguanas gain important information on avoiding predation.
conservationists need to work with, not against, rural poor
(10/24/2007) Rural populations have long been demonized by conservationists, but this is changing. Increasingly, conservation groups see that without the support of rural populations, protected areas can in places be little more than ineffective "paper parks". As such, today community involvement is viewed as a critical part of any conservation program, whether it be protecting biodiversity, slowing deforestation, curtailing illegal logging and poaching, or establishing reserves.
2007 Amazon fires among worst ever
(10/22/2007) By some measures, forest fires in the Amazon are at near-record levels, according to analysis Brazilian satellite data by mongabay.com. A surge in soy and cattle prices may be contributing to an increase in deforestation since last year. Last year environmentalists and the Brazilian government heralded a sharp fall in deforestation rates, the third consecutive annual decline after a peak in 2004. Forest loss in the 2006-2007 season was the lowest since record-keeping began in the late in 1970s. While the government tried to claim credit for the drop, analysts at the time said that commodity prices were a more likely driver of slow down: both cattle and soy prices had declined significantly over the previous months.
Amazon plant diversity still a mystery
(10/21/2007) The Amazon is one of the few places on the earth that still evokes an accurate sense of mystery. While the Taiga, Antarctica, and Sahara may compare to the Amazon in wilderness size, none hold the same mystique of unknown species. It is believed that one third of the world's species inhabits this tropical rainforest. The only region comparable in mystery (though not in species) may be the world's oceans.
Brazil to search for oil in the Amazon
(10/21/2007) Brazil's plan to seek oil in the Western Amazon has upset environmentalists, reports the Associated Press (AP). The National Petroleum Agency, or ANP, plans to put US$36 million toward oil and gas exploration in Acre, a state bordering Bolivia, according to Brazilian state media Agencia Brasil, but environmental officials say no impact study has been done to assess how the plan could affect the Amazon.
Uncontacted Amazon tribe spotted by plane in Peru
(10/21/2007) A group of uncontacted indigenous tribesmen were spotted by plane in a remote part of the Peruvian Amazon last month, according to Survival International. The region is threatened by illegal mahogany loggers.
Amazon rainforest burning "worst" in memory
(10/16/2007) Fires continue to rage in the Amazon, according to local reports. John Cain Carter, a rancher who runs Alianca da Terra, an environmental accountability group for agricultural operators, says that the fires are the worst he has ever seen in the region. "I have never seen fires this bad," he told mongabay.com. "The fires are even worse than in 1998's El Nino event." NASA satellite images released at the end of September confirm widespread burning in the Amazon state of Mato Grosso.
South American development plan could destroy the Amazon
(10/04/2007) A plan to link South America's economies through a series of infrastructure projects, could destroy much of the Amazon rainforest, warns a new study by conservationists.
Rainforest tribe establishes massive sustainable-use reserve
(10/04/2007) An indigenous group in Guyana has established one of the world's largest sustainable forest reserves, reports conservation International.
China urged to join sustainable soy efforts in the Amazon
(09/12/2007) Brazilian soy crushers have urged China to join an alliance to promote sustainable soybean production in the Amazon, according to Reuters. Brazil, soon to be the world's largest producer of soybeans, recently formed the Global Roundtable on Responsible Soy Association as concerns grow that global demand for biofuels will level the Amazon rainforest. Environmentalists say demand from China is playing an important role in surging soybean production in the region.
Land-clearing fires send smoke across Argentina, Paraguay
(09/11/2007) Thousands of fires likely set for land-clearing are sending thick smoke over southern South America, reports NASA.
Brazil's threatened Atlantic forest may be more resilient than thought
(09/06/2007) The Atlantic forest of Brazil, one of the world's most threatened biodiversity hotspots, may have served as a critical refuge for biodiversity during the ice ages. The findings suggest that despite being reduced to just 8 percent of its original extent due to agriculture and urban expansion, the Atlantic forest may be capable of recovery. In other words, the Atlantic forest may be more resilient to change than previously believed.
Tree resprouting offers hope in former pastures of Brazil's cerrado
(09/06/2007) Deforested landscapes in the Brazilian cerrado show hopeful signs of recovery even after long periods of intensive use, reports a study published in the journal Biotropica. Analyzing the natural reestablishment of native trees in former pastureland located in the dry woodlands of the Brazilian cerrado, a team of researchers found that while species richness was lower in older pasture, density and composition of regenerating trees did not change with pasture age.
Peru's deforestation rate surged in 2005
(08/30/2007) Peru's deforestation rates surged in 2005, according to new analysis published in the journal Science.
Scientists demand Brazil cease Amazon colonization project
(08/27/2007) A group of prominent scientists has called on Brazil to declare an immediate moratorium on a proposed forest colonization project that threatens one of the world's largest and long-running ecological experiments.
Land reform agency sanctions logging in Amazon rainforest park
(08/21/2007) Under the guise of a sustainable development scheme, a Brazilian land agency has granted large tracts of Amazon rainforest to colonists who quickly resold the forest to loggers, alleges a new report from Greenpeace. Some of the concessions were in the Amazon National Park, a national park.
Biofuels driving destruction of Brazilian cerrado
(08/21/2007) The cerrado, wooded grassland in Brazil that once covered an area half the size of Europe, is fast being transformed into croplands to meet rising demand for soybeans, sugarcane, and cattle. The cerrado is now disappearing more than twice as the rate as the neighboring Amazon rainforest, according to a Brazilian expert on the savanna ecosystem.
Clearing rainforest for cattle pasture drives surge in vampires
(08/15/2007) A new study confirms that vampire bats are thriving due to the clearing of rainforest for cattle pasture in Costa Rica. Instead of having to seek out scarce wildlife in the forest, vampire bats now prey on cattle kept in high densities on ranches.
New flycatcher bird species discovered in Peru
(08/13/2007) Scientists have discovered a previously unknown species of bird in dense bamboo thickets in the Peruvian Amazon.
Amazon deforestation in Brazil falls 29% for 2007
(08/13/2007) Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon fell 29 percent for the 2006-2007 year, compared with the prior period. The loss of 3,863 square miles (10,010 square kilometers) of rainforest was the lowest since the Brazilian government started tracking deforestation on a yearly basis in 1988.
Amazon deforestation rate falls to lowest on record
(08/10/2007) Deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon for the previous year were the lowest on record, according to preliminary figures released by INPE, Brazil's National Institute of Space Research.
New Park in Argentina Protects 500,000 Penguins
(08/09/2007) The government of Argentina will create a new marine park along the coast of Patagonia, reports the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife conservation Society. Located in Golfo San Jorge, the park will protect more than half a million penguins and other rare seabirds.
Experts: parks effectively protect rainforest in Peru
(08/09/2007) High-resolution satellite monitoring of the Amazon rainforest in Peru shows that land-use and conservation policies have had a measurable impact on deforestation rates. The research is published in the August 9, 2007, on-line edition of Science Express.
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