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News articles on threats to the rainforest
Mongabay.com news articles on threats to the rainforest in blog format. Updated regularly.
(09/19/2006) A new study from NASA scientists shows that forest clearing for large-scale agriculture has recently become a significant cause of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. The researchers warn that this change in land use may affect the region' climate and the Amazon's ability to absorb carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas.
Orangutan population plunges 43% in Indonesia
(08/14/2006) The Wildlife conservation Society-Indonesia Program said that Indonesia's population of orangutans fell nearly 43 percent in the past decade, from 35,000 in 1997 to 20,000 today. The decline has been caused by ongoing forest destruction and poaching in Kalimantan (Borneo) and Sumatra, the only two islands that still support wild orangutans. Environmental groups have warned that red ape could be extinct in the wild without urgent conservation measures.
46 arrested for illegal Amazon logging
(08/11/2006) The Associated Press reports that 46 people, including 16 agents of the federal environmental protection agency, were arrested for allegedly operating illegal logging operations in the Amazon rainforest and southern Brazil.
Small farmers good, big farmers bad for forest conservation say researchers
(08/08/2006) DResearchers presenting today at two symposia at the Ecological Society of America meeting in Memphis, Tennessee argue that the rural farmers are not necessarily at odds with efforts to preserve biodiversity in developing countries.
Tsunami reconstruction drives illegal logging in Indonesia
(08/06/2006) Tsunami reconstruction efforts are continuing to boost illegal logging and deforestation in Indonesia according to a new article published by the Associated Press.
Selective logging leads to clear-cutting in the Amazon rainforest
(07/31/2006) A new study links selective logging to clear-cutting in the Amazon rainforest. The research is significant because it identifies an important indicator of rain forest vulnerability to clear-cutting in Brazil.
Tropical Asia needs to act to save biodiversity, say scientists
(07/22/2006) A group of scientists urged governments of tropical Asia to take steps to stem biodiversity loss across the region. At the annual meeting for the Association for Tropical Biology and conservation, hosted at the Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in the Yunnan province of China, scientists said that population growth and booming economic expansion are fueling illegal logging, wildlife poaching, and habitat destruction. The scientists noted that populations of elephants, rhinoceroses, tigers, sun bears, orangutans, and other species unique to tropical Asia have fallen significantly in recent years as a result of these activities.
Amazon Port Pits Farmers Vs. Rainforest
(07/18/2006) When U.S. grain giant Cargill opened a $20 million port in this sleepy Amazon River city three years ago, it expected to cash in on the rising global demand for soybeans that had become Brazil's richest agricultural export.
Logging resumes in Liberia
(07/17/2006) As former US president Bill Clinton arrives in Liberia to meet with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, it's time to take a look at the state of the forests in the country. While Liberia's brutal civil war delayed the commercial exploitation of its tropical forests during the 1990s, 'conflict timber' was a key source of revenue for warring factions. The harvesting of this wood, combined with collateral damage from military operations and wildlife poaching, took a heavy toll on Liberia's forests. With the end of the war, Liberia's new government--which took power at end of the war in 1998--immediately established forestry as a national priority and instituted a five-year tax holiday on timber industries. This policy, combined with the return of commercial interests to the country, repopulation, and reconstruction efforts, has put pressure on Liberia's remaining forest resources. Since the close of the 1990s, deforestation rates have increased by 17 percent, and primary forest cover in the country has fallen to just over 1.3 percent of the total land area (or 4.1 percent of the forest cover).
Japan depletes Borneo's rainforests; China remains largest log importer
(07/10/2006) Almost three quarters of Japan's tropical timber imports come from the endangered rainforests of Borneo according to figures from the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), an industry group. Meanwhile, ITTO says that China remains, by a large margin, the largest consumer of tropical logs. Japan is the third largest importer of tropical logs after China and India. 74 percent of tropical logs brought into Japan come from Sarawak, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo. Sawarak has seen a rapid decline in its forest cover since the 1980s, raising the ire of environmental groups and causing the Malaysian government to recently announce it would phase out logging in some areas. About 20 percent of Japan's tropical logs originate in Papua New Guinea.
Bushmeat from African apes sold in American markets
(07/06/2006) Bushmeat from wild primates in Africa is ending up on plates in North America and western Europe according to an article published in the current issue of New Scientist. Justin Brashares, a wildlife biologist at the University of California at Berkeley who carried out a survey of clandestine markets in seven major cities, says that the meat, which includes chimpanzee and gorilla parts, makes up nearly a third of the illegal international trade in bushmeat killed in Africa.
Color-changing chameleon snake discovered in jungles of Borneo
(06/27/2006) Scientists discovered a species of snake capable of changing colors. The snake, called the Kapuas mud snake, resides in the rainforest on the island of Borneo, an ecosystem that is increasingly threatened by logging and agricultural development.
Africa's deforestation rate may be underestimated
(06/22/2006) Africa's deforestation rate may be underestimated by satellite imagery according to a researcher at the University of Wisconsin. Holly Gibbs, a Ph.D. candidate at the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment at the University of Wisconsin, presented her findings at a conservation conference held in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar.
Saving Orangutans in Borneo
(05/24/2006) A look at conservation efforts in Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo. I'm in Tanjung Puting National Park in southern Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. At 400,000 hectares (988,000 acres) Tanjung Puting is the largest protected expanse of coastal tropical heath and peat swamp forest in southeast Asia. It's also one of the biggest remaining habitats for the critically endangered orangutan, the population of which has been great diminished in recent years due to habitat destruction and poaching. And orangutans have become the focus of a much wider effort to save Borneo's natural environment. We are headed to Campy Leakey, named for the renowned Kenyan paleontologist Louis Leakey. Here lies the center of the Orangutan Research conservation Project. Established by Birute Mary Galdikas, a preeminent primatologist and founder of the Orangutan Foundation International (OFI), the project seeks to support the conservation and understanding of the orangutan and its rain forest habitat while rehabilitating ex-captive individuals. The Orangutan Research conservation Project is the public face of orangutan conservation in this part of Kalimantan, the Indonesia-controlled part of Borneo. Borneo, the third largest island in the world, was once home to some of the world's most majestic, and forbidding forests. With swampy coastal areas fringed by mangrove forests and a mountainous interior, much of the terrain was virtually impassable and unexplored. Headhunters ruled the remote parts of the island until a century ago.
Ecuador's oil nationalization may hurt environment
(05/23/2006) Last week Ecuador seized Amazon oilfields controlled by Occidental, an American oil firm which produces about 20 percent of the country's oil output and has invested about $1 billion since 1999. The decision will bring a short-term boost in government revenue while appealing to street protestors who have caused havoc for the country's politicians over the past few years. However, looking the beyond the politics, the seizure could have implications for the environment of the country which is home to some of the world's most biodiverse ecosystems.
China's timber imports surge in 2006
(05/21/2006) According to China Customs, China's timber imports surged during the first quarter of 2006. Log imports increased 18 percent to 8.1 million cubic meters. China customs valued these imports at $897.42 million. Most of the log imports (64 percent) consisted of softwood logs from Russia. Sawnwood imports amounted to 1.45 million cubic meters worth some $385.72 million. Separately, the ITTO Tropical Timber Market Report reported that paper multinationals are aggressively investing in China's paper industry.
Indonesia to have first biodiesel plant by 2008
(05/21/2006) Indonesia plans first to complete its first biodiesel plant by 2008. The $25 million plant, built by PT Bakrie Sumatera Plantations Tbk (BSP) and PT Rekayasa Industri (Rekin), will have a capacity of 60,000 to 100,000 metric tons a year. The plant will use crude palm oil (CPO) and other feedstock.
Bush Administration misleads public on deforestation effort
(05/21/2006) The Bush Administration is misleading the American public and the United Nations about its efforts to address tropical deforestation according to analysis by the Tropical Forest Group, an environmental advocacy group based in Santa Barbara, California. The Tropical Forest Group alleges that the US Tropical Forest conservation Act (TFCA), a key initiative to reduce carbon emissions and tropical deforestation, has been neglected for a year and a half despite recent claims by the Bush Administration that it was actively supporting the program.
Shippers in Indonesia fight decree on illegal logging
(05/21/2006) According to a report from the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), shippers in Indonesia are threatening to stop transporting logs if the government insists on enforcing a new decree on the transportation of illegal timber. The Indonesian National Ship-owners Association says that the Indonesian government's proposal to impound ships carrying illegal timber would cause massive losses to the local shipping industry, according to the ITTO Tropical Timber Market Report. The association contends that authorities should only confiscate illegal wood, not the ships.
Scientists endorse plan to save rainforests through emissions trading
(05/19/2006) The Association for Tropical Biology and conservation (ATBC), the world's largest scientific organization devoted to the study and wise use of tropical ecosystems, has formally endorsed a radical proposal to help save tropical forests through carbon trading. Under the initiative proposed by an alliance of fifteen developing countries led by Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica, tropical nations that show permanent reductions in deforestation would be eligible to receive international carbon funds from industrial nations who could purchase carbon credits to help them meet their emissions targets international climate agreements like the Kyoto Protocol.
What do bikini models and Merrill Lynch have to do with deforestation?
(05/14/2006) Last week a bikini-clad woman made international news wires when she disrupted a group photo shoot at a business summit in Vienna, Austria. The woman -- identified as Evangelina Carrozo, a beauty queen from Gualeguaychu, Argentina -- protesting the construction of two wood pulp plants under construction in Uruguay on the border with Argentina. The $1.8 billion project is the largest investment deal in the history of Uruguay, but has strained relations between Uruguay and Argentina, which says the plant may pollute downstream areas. Earlier this month, Argentina announced it had filed a claim against its neighbor before the International Court of Justice at the Hague, arguing that Uruguay failed to conduct a thorough environmental impact study.
High oil prices fuel bioenergy push
(05/09/2006) High oil prices and growing concerns over climate change are driving investment and innovation in the biofuels sector as countries and industry increasingly look towards renewable bioenergy to replace fossil fuels. Bill Gates, the world's richest man, has recently invested $84 million in an American ethanol company while global energy gluttons ranging from the United States to China are setting long-term targets for the switch to such fuels which potentially offer a secure domestic source of renewable energy and fewer environmental headaches. Biofuels are fuels that are derived from biomass, including recently living organisms like plants or their metabolic byproducts like cow manure. Unlike fossil fuels -- like coal, petroleum, and natural gas, which are finite resources -- biofuels are a renewable source of energy that can be replenished on an ongoing basis. In general, biofuels are biodegradable and, when burned, have fewer emissions than traditional hydrocarbon-based fuels. Typically, biofuels are blended with traditional petroleum-based fuels, though it is possible to run existing diesel, engines purely on biodiesel, something which holds a great deal of promise as an alternative energy source to replace fossil fuels. Further, because biofuels are generally derived from plants which absorb carbon from the atmosphere as they grow, biofuel production offers the potential to help offset carbon dioxide emissions and mitigate climate change.
Roads tied to bushmeat hunting in Africa
(05/09/2006) A new study ties the presence of roads to bushmeat hunting in the Congo rainforest and also raises important questions on global conservation approaches. The study, published in the current edition of conservation Biology, found roads and associated hunting pressure reduced the abundance of a number of mammal species including duikers, forest elephants, buffalo, red river hogs, lowland gorillas and carnivores. The research suggests that even moderate hunting pressure can significantly affect the structure of mammal communities in central Africa. The researchers, lead by William F. Laurance of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, raise an interesting point with considerably wider implications for global conservation efforts, arguing that "as a multinational conglomerate, Shell-Gabon?s interests in environmental management at Rabi... largely reflect their sensitivity to international opinion and pressures from consumers." Drawing on their personal experiences in Africa and Latin America, the team writes "smaller corporations based in developing nations are sometimes less interested and often less capable of financially investing in environmental protection." This observation leads the researchers to ask, "As conservationists, do we pressure large, multinational corporations based in industrial nations to forego major projects in developing countries in an effort to limit environmental degradation, or do we favor such firms over smaller, national companies in the hope that they will be more sensitive to international pressures?" While their question us especially pertinent to Central Africa, it really applies to conservation on a worldwide scale. Multinational corporations can be particularly sensitive to criticism on their environmental policy and, as a result, can actually serve as competent stewards of the environment is some cases. Thus pressure exerted by green groups on large corporations may be an effective means for achieving conservation goals.
Pacaya Samiria National Reserve: Macaws, monkeys, and...illegal loggers?
(05/02/2006) Yesterday started out like a normal day. We swatted bugs, and slowly baked in the hot, equatorial sun. However, as the day progressed, large, dark clouds appeared on the horizon, and the trees top began to sway violently back and forth. Within seconds the sky let loose. It began raining so hard that it was difficult to tell where the river stopped and the air began.
Forest restoration important in Guyana
(05/01/2006) Located on the northern edge of South America, bordered by Suriname, Brazil, Venezuela, and the Atlantic Ocean, lays a small but vibrant country with a wealth of culture, biodiversity and opportunity. During the week of 13-17 March 2006, representatives from Guyanese government departments, civil society and indigenous peoples' organizations met in the capital city, Georgetown, with the World conservation Union (IUCN) and the International Tropical Timber Organization at a national workshop on Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR). The workshop introduced the concept of FLR with the intention of better understanding how it may be applied in the Guyana context.
China's Olmypics may destroy New Guinea's rainforests
(05/01/2006) Construction for the 2008 Olympics in China may fuel deforestation in New Guinea according to an article published last week in the Jakarta Post. The article reports that a Chinese company has asked the Indonesian government for permission to establish a timber processing factory in Indonesia's Papua province to produce 800,000 cubic meters of merbau timber in time for the Olympic games to be held in Bejing. Merbau -- a dark hardwood found in the rainforests of New Guinea -- is used for hardwood floors and currently commands prices of up to US$138 per square meter, making the proposal potentially worth more than a billion dollars.
Why is palm oil replacing tropical rainforests?
(04/25/2006) In a word, economics, though deeper analysis of a proposal in Indonesia suggests that oil palm development might be a cover for something more lucrative: logging. Recently much has been made about the conversion of Asia's biodiverse rainforests for oil-palm cultivation. Environmental organizations have warned that by eating foods that use palm oil as an ingredient, Western consumers are directly fueling the destruction of orangutan habitat and sensitive ecosystems. So, why is it that oil-palm plantations now cover millions of hectares across Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand? Why has oil palm become the world's number one fruit crop, trouncing its nearest competitor, the humble banana? The answer lies in the crop's unparalleled productivity. Simply put, oil palm is the most productive oil seed in the world. A single hectare of oil palm may yield 5,000 kilograms of crude oil, or nearly 6,000 liters of crude.
Environmentalists awarded prestigious prize for grassroots work
(04/24/2006) Tonight six grassroots environmentalists will be awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize. This year's winners include a Vietnam veteran fighting Pentagon plans to incinerate chemical weapons stockpiles, a man who tipped the United Nations to illegal logging in war-torn Liberia, the person behind the creation of the world's largest area of protected tropical rainforest, a lawyer in Ukraine who helped block the construction of canal that would have cut through the heart of the Danube Delta, a woman who won resitution for indigenous land owners from logging interests in Papua New Guinea, and a researcher who pushed social impact assessments for major dam developments in China.
Hudson Institute calls Amazon savanna biome a wasteland
(04/23/2006) In an April 21st, 2006 editorial published in the Canada Free Press Dennis T. Avery, senior fellow for Hudson Institute in Washington, DC and the Director for Global Food Issues, called Brazil's cerrado ecosystem a "wasteland" and criticized a recent report from the environmental activist group Greenpeace that linked Amazon deforestation to soy-based animal feed used by fast-food chains in Europe.
Rainforest education site goes online; resources for students, teachers, and journalists
(04/12/2006) Mongabay.com, a leading environmental-science web site, announced today a revised version of a rainforest site, that has been a major resource on such forests for teachers, children, and researchers. "Mongabay.com is dedicated to providing necessary communication to those interested in the fate of our rainforests," Ira Rubinoff, director of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), said. "It has a scientific base that should provide reliable information to all who share an interest in the future quality of life on this planet." The revised site includes environmental profiles and deforestation statistics for more than 60 countries, and features thousands of rainforest wildlife photos from around the world. Additionally, the site includes a section geared towards children, with learning activities and educational resources for teachers.
Carbon trading could save rainforests
(04/12/2006) A new rainforest conservation initiative by developing nations offers great promise to help slow tropical deforestation rates says William Laurance, a leading rainforest biologist from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, in an article appearing Friday in New Scientist.
Brazil closes down illegal timber operation, seizes wood
(04/11/2006) Brazilian environmental authorities closed down an illegal logging operation in the Amazon according to a report from the Associated Press. An agent with Ipaam, the environmental authority of Amazonas state, told Michael Astor of the Associated Press that the Norte Wood logging company was operating without a license in town of Novo Aripuana. The agency made one arrest and seized 500 cubic meters of wood in the raid.
Greenpeace accuses McDonald's of destroying the Amazon rainforest
(04/07/2006) After a year-long investigation, environmental group Greenpeace has accused McDonald's and other western firms of contributing to deforestation in the Amazon. Greenpeace's report, published today, alleges that much of the soy-based animal feed used by fast-food chains to fatten chickens is derived from soybeans grown in the Amazon Basin of Brazil. Thanks to a new variety of soybean developed by Brazilian scientists to flourish in rainforest climate, soybean production has boomed in the region in recent years as firms have converted extensive areas of rainforest and cerrado, a savanna-like ecosystem, into industrial soybean farms. High soybean prices have also served as an impetus to expanding soybean cultivation and Brazil is on the verge of supplanting the United States as the world's leading exporter of soybeans.
Tropical deforestation rates to slow in future - new study
(04/06/2006) As human population growth rates diminish in coming years deforestation rates are expected to slow according to research published in Biotropica online. The report offers hope that reduced rates of forest conversion can stave off a future extinction crisis in the tropics, where most of the world's biodiversity is found. Scientists estimate that as much as 50 percent of the planet's terrestrial biodiversity is found in tropical rainforests distributed around the world but the United Nations recently warned that the current rate of extinction is running 100 to 1,000 times the normal background rate.
United States and Indonesia to fight illegal logging
(04/05/2006) The United States and Indonesia today agreed to fight illegal logging in some of the world's most diverse rainforests. Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu and Chief of the US Trade Office (USTR) Robert Portman said the two countries will coordinate efforts of protect Indonesia's forests which have been significantly degraded and destroyed by the illicit timber trade. While Indonesia houses the most extensive rainforest cover in all of Asia, its natural forest area is rapidly being reduced by logging--most of which is illegal. Between 1990 and 2005 the country lost more than 28 million hectares of forest, including 21.7 million hectares of virgin forest, according to data from the United Nations.
Brazil to protect Amazon rainforest
(03/28/2006) At the United Nations-sponsored environmental conference meeting in Curitiba, Brazil announced plans to protect an additional 210,000 square kilometers (84,000 square miles) of the Amazon rain forest in the next three years.
Home Depot, Lowe's selling illegal wood from Papua New Guinea-Report
(03/23/2006) Consumers in the United States are being mislead as to the origin of merbau hardwood flooring being sold by Home Depot and Lowe's. According to a new report published by the Environmental Investigation Agency and their Indonesian NGO partner Telepak, such timber is coming from the forests of Indonesia's remote Papua Province, where 80 percent of logging is estimated to be illegal.
40 percent of the Amazon could be grassland by 2050
(03/22/2006) Scientists today warned that 40 percent of the Amazon rainforest could be lost by 2050 due to agricultural expansion unless strict measures are taken to protect the world's largest tropical forest.
New satellite maps show forest loss and degradation
(03/22/2006) Greenpeace today launched a set of satellite maps showing the world's remaining extent of "intact forests", the planet's most biodiverse ecosystems.
Brazil to flood Amazon rainforest for hydroelectric power
(03/17/2006) Brazil's plans to dam two rivers in the Amazon basin to generate power threaten a treasure trove of animals and plants in a region with one of the world'apos;apos;s richest arrays of wildlife, environmentalists say.
Malaysia to phase out Borneo logging in parts of Sabah state
(03/16/2006) The Malaysian state of Sabah on the island of Borneo announced it will phase out logging in large parts of its remaining rainforests. Sabah, once home to some of the world's most biodiverse forests, was largely logged out during the 1980s and 1990s but some parts of the state still support wild populations of endangered orangutans. In recent years, the Malaysian government has set aside protected areas and sponsored reforestation projects in the state.
Papua New Guinea's forests under threat from corruption, illegal logging
(03/08/2006) Illegal logging is destroying large areas of rainforest in Papua New Guinea according to a report released last week by Forest Trends, a leading international forestry organization.
Congo Pygmies Losing Fight for Their Forests
(03/06/2006) Pygmy chief Mbomba Bokenu says he may soon let loggers cut his people's forests, and all he expects in return are soap and a few bags of salt.
Amazon to be logged sustainably says Brazil
(03/06/2006) Last week Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced a plan to allow sustainable logging across 3 percent of the Amazon rain forest. The law is aimed at undermining destructive illegal logging activities while generating revenue for forest management and protection, and income for rural Brazilians in the region who often must rely on subsistence agriculture or employment on ranches and plantations under sometimes slave-like conditions.
Malaria linked to Amazon deforestation
(02/02/2006) A pair studies in the Amazon rainforest suggest a link between deforestation and an increased risk of malaria. The first study, conducted in the Peruvian Amazon and published in January's issue of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, found that malaria epidemics in the region were correlated with deforestation. The later research, released in last week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that forest clearing around settlements in the Brazilian Amazon increases the short-term risk of malaria by creating areas of standing water in which mosquitoes can lay their eggs.
New tropical timber pact takes aims at illegal logging
(02/01/2006) Late last week, countries that export and export tropical timber reached a 10-year agreement to help promote the sustainable development of forests while fighting illegal logging.
Deforestation rates jump in Uganda and Burundi, fall in Rwanda
(01/25/2006) Tropical deforestation rates have skyrocketed in Uganda and Burundi, while declining significantly in Rwanda according to mongabay.com's analysis of data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
Venezuela plans 5000-mile pipeline across Amazon rain forest
(01/25/2006) Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's president, announced a plan to build a massive gas pipeline that would carry natural gas from the oil rich state 5,000 miles south. Environmentalists fear that the project could damage the Amazon rain forest by polluting waterways and creating roads that would attract developers and poor farmers, while analysts question the wisdom and viability of the plan which may cost $20-50 billion depending on who makes the estimate.
Parks, indian reserves slow Amazon deforestation
(01/25/2006) A new study shows that parks and indigenous reserves in the Amazon help slow deforestation.
Study finds deforestation has pushed orangutans to brink of extinction
(01/24/2006) A three year genetic study by wildlife geneticists from Cardiff School of Biosciences has shown a population collapse in the Bornean orang-utan.
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