Conservation newsFounded in 1999, Mongabay is a leading provider of environmental science and conservation news.
Biodiversity of rainforests should not be compared with oil palm plantations says palm oil council chief
(11/11/2008) Scientists should compare the biodiversity oil palm plantations to other industrial monocultures, not the rainforests they replace, said Dr. Yusof Basiron, CEO of the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC), in a post on his blog. Basiron's comments are noteworthy because until now he has maintained that oil palm plantations are "planted forests" rather than an industrial crop.
Limestone karsts - islands of biodiversity in Asia - under threat from mining
(11/10/2008) Researchers have devised a scientific methodology for prioritizing conservation of limestone karsts, biologically-rich outcroppings found in Southeast Asia and other parts of the world. The findings are significant because karsts — formed millions of years ago by sea life — are increasingly threatened by mining and other development
First RSPO-certified ("eco-friendly") palm oil shipment to arrive in Europe
(11/10/2008) The first shipment of palm oil certified under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is expected to arrive in Europe Tuesday, but an environmental group is already criticizing the initiative's credentials.
New species of flying lemurs discovered
(11/10/2008) A new study has found that colugos or flying lemurs are twice as diverse as previously believed.
A "biocentric" perspective on environmental degradation
(11/10/2008) A new online magazine will take a "biocentric" perspective to the planet's environmental problems. Ecological Internet, a pioneering environmental campaign group, published its first issue of New Earth Rising on Sunday. The issue includes original essays on climate change, water scarcity, over-consumption of Earth's resources, and deforestation.
American fast food is almost entirely made of corn
(11/10/2008) American fast food is almost entirely produced from corn according to a chemical analysis of dishes served at McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's. The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Facing extinction from rising seas, Maldives establishes fund to buy homeland abroad
(11/10/2008) The Maldives will establish a trust fund to buy a homeland abroad once rising sea levels swamp the island nation, says Mohamed Nasheed, president-elect of the Maldives. The funds would come from the country's revenue from tourism.
Hundreds of rare and bizarre marine species discovered
(11/09/2008) The evolutionary origin of deep sea octopuses, new species populating an underwater "continent", 12,000 amphipods crowding a square meter in the Gulf of Mexico, massive gatherings of white sharks in the middle of the Pacific: these are just a few highlights from the Census of Marine Life (COML)'s fourth report.
In final weeks, President Bush aims to extend his environmental legacy
(11/09/2008) On Tuesday, November 4th, the people of the United States elected a new president, Senator Barack Obama. Many feel a new day is coming on a number of issues, including the environment. However the Bush Administration has 72 days left in its term and appears hopeful to use every one of those to make last-minute changes to environmental rules that will have wide-ranging impacts on the nation's endangered species, air, water, parks, and undeveloped land. As the administration has done since taking office eight years ago, it is working toward such policies—all of them controversial—to benefit industry at the cost of the environment and health safeguards.
New gecko species discovered
(11/08/2008) A previously unknown species of gecko has been discovered in the South Pacific by French scientists, reports the Associated Press.
EU's sustainable biofuels push angers Malaysia, Brazil
(11/07/2008) Eight developing countries threatened to file a World Trade Organization complaint against the E.U. for its proposed legislation to require imported biofuels to meet environmental standards, reports Reuters.
South Africa auctions last of 'legal' elephant ivory to China, Japan
(11/07/2008) South Africa sold 47 metric tons of elephant ivory to Chinese and Japanese buyers for $6.7 million in what was the final of four auctions sanctioned by CITES, an international agreement on the wildlife trade.
Missing link between fish and land animals discovered
(11/07/2008) A study published in the October 16 issue of Nature details research into and implications of a fossil fish, Tiktaalik roseae, discovered last year at Ellesmere Island in Canada. The Devonian fossil shows an array of features found in both terrestrial and aquatic animals, providing the best glimpse so far into the transitory period during which vertebrates were able to adapt to life out of water. The find provides some of the first osteological evidence of neck development, a crucial adaptation to terrestrial life because it allows an animal's body to remain stationary while it surveys its environment.
20 convicted for poaching Asiatic lions in their last refuge
(11/06/2008) Twenty people have been convicted for poaching Asiatic lions last year in India's Gir National Park. The twenty individuals will spend three years in prison and be fined 10,000 Rs each.
Missing gorilla rangers return safely in Congo, one dies of cholera in camp
(11/06/2008) All of the missing rangers have now been accounted for after they fled Virunga Park Headquarters in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The headquarters was seized by rebels led by Laurent Nkunda on October 26th.
Sharks in trouble after nations fail to create sustainable management programs
(11/06/2008) Sharks are disappearing from the ocean at startling rates: currently one-in-five of these famous marine predators are threatened with extinction. According to a report from the Australian Government and TRAFFIC—an organization that monitors wildlife trade both legal and illegal—the collapse of shark populations is being caused largely by rising demand for shark fin in Asia. The report shows that legal fishing for sharks has become nearly as detrimental as illegal, since few fisheries have management strategies concerned with sustainability.
Obama may bring leadership, rather than obstruction, to climate change talks
(11/06/2008) The election of Barack Obama as president of the United States may bring a new era of U.S. leadership on climate.
Palm oil companies propose satellite monitoring of their plantations to ensure sustainability
(11/05/2008) The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is considering a proposal to use satellite imagery to enforce criteria that high value conservation areas are not converted to oil palm plantations, reports Ian Wood of the Telegraph. The move would boost RSPO's credibility at a time when the industry-lead sustainability initiative is under fire from environmentalists who say its performance to date suggests it is merely an exercise in greenwashing.
Brazil triples endangered species list
(11/05/2008) Brazil has nearly tripled the number of species on its endangered list due to development, overfishing, pollution, wildlife trafficking and deforestation, reports the Associated Press.
Louisiana cypress mulch industry devastates old-growth forests
(11/05/2008) The cypress forests of Louisiana have suffered much devastation from human development, coastal erosion, and exploitation by the lumber industry. Now, vast tracts are being clear cut for the production of cypress mulch. A new online campaign — saveourcypress.org — is seeking to reform the Louisiana cypress mulch industry.
Forest certification system needs reform to ensure sustainability - report
(11/04/2008) Demand for wood products is ultimately one of the largest drivers of global deforestation through both direct clear-cutting and selective logging, which increases a forest's vulnerability to fire and subsequent clearing and disturbance by other actors, including hunters, subsistence farmers, land speculators, ranchers and agro-industrial firms. Reducing the detrimental environmental impacts of meeting wood demand is critical to protecting the world's forests as healthy, productive and resilient ecosystems.
Review of the indoor rainforest at San Francisco's new Academy of Sciences
(11/04/2008) As a longtime resident of San Francisco's Inner Sunset district, I am quite familiar with the Academy of Sciences which is a short walk from my domicile. While I had visited it many times in its previous incarnation, the old (now demolished) museum was a far cry from the new high-tech building that opened this Fall. Both as someone who has traveled extensively in the tropics, and as the author of a number of travel guides which cover tropical rainforests and their ecosystems as well, I was looking forward to one of its most highly touted new features: the "rainforest dome."
Ugandan president continues to undermine national forest reserves
(11/04/2008) Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni — a leader who has repeatedly sought to hand forest areas over to industrial developers and undermine the sanctity of reserves — is now blaming the country's forestry agency for deforestation in Uganda.
New process may fight climate change by storing billions of tons of CO2 in rock
(11/04/2008) Researchers may have devised a way to store massive amounts of carbon dioxide in rock through a relatively simple process. The finding is described in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Rainforest agriculture preserves bird biodiversity in India
(11/04/2008) Conservation of biodiversity and agriculture have long been considered conflicting interests. Numerous studies have shown that when agricultural replaces a forest, biodiversity greatly suffers. However a new study finds it doesn't have to be that way.
Rainforest fungus generates biodiesel, may drive energy of the future
(11/04/2008) A fungus recently discovered in the Patagonian rainforest has shocked biologists and environmentalists: the fungus produces gas almost identical to diesel. In a paper announcing the discovery in Microbiology, scientists state that they believe the fungus, called Gliocladium roseum, could become an incredibly efficient green energy source.
Endangered wildlife in Malaysia falls victim to rampant poaching due to 'outdated' laws
(11/04/2008) In the face of rampant poaching of endangered animals, conservationists are calling for Malaysia to reform its 36-year-old wildlife protection law.
Forests for Climate initiative launches in Indonesia
(11/04/2008) Greenpeace has officially launched its Forests for Climate initiative (FFC), a non-market avoided deforestation scheme that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by slowing forest destruction.
Rise of industrial chicken farming imperils genetic stock of the industry
(11/03/2008) Industrial poultry farming is reducing the genetic diversity of chickens, putting them at greater risk of disease, report researchers writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The authors propose interbreeding commercial chickens with indigenous stocks to restore greater diversity within the industry.
Brazil charges 81 with illegal Amazon deforestation
(11/02/2008) Brazil will file charges against 81 people accused of being the biggest destroyers of the Amazon rainforest, reports the Associated Press.
Two new species of gecko discovered in Australia
(10/31/2008) Two species of gecko have been discovered in the southern deserts of Western Australia and South Australia, report researchers from the Western Australian Museum.
Massive bat species returns from the brink of extinction
(10/31/2008) A critically endangered bat species has made a dramatic recovery from the brink of extinction, report conservationists.
One-third of global marine catch used as livestock feed
(10/30/2008) Despite continuous warnings of emptying oceans due to overfishing, a new report finds that one-third of the world’s total marine catch is not feeding humans, but livestock. The fish are ground-up into meal and fed to pigs, poultry, and even farm-raised fish.
Elephant ivory auction produces low prices, controversy
(10/30/2008) The first internally-sanctioned auction of elephant ivory since 1999 produced lower-than-expected prices, but plenty of controversy, reports Reuters.
EU moves slowly towards a pact on illegal logging
(10/30/2008) The E.U. is slowly moving towards curtailing the illegal timber trade through import restrictions, reports Reuters.
Ozone hole is second-largest on record in 2008
(10/30/2008) The Antarctic ozone hole reached its second-largest size on record in 2008, reports NASA.
Climate change is a bigger economic risk than banking crisis
(10/30/2008) Unmitigated climate change will hurt the global economy more than the current banking crisis, said a leading environmental economist.
U.S., Mexico, Canada pledge to save the vaquita from extinction
(10/30/2008) The United States, Mexico, and Canada will work together to conserve the vaquita, the world's smallest, and most endangered, species of cetacean.
World military leaders meet in Paris to discuss role in fighting climate change
(10/30/2008) Acknowledging the security threats posed by global warming as well as past successes in controlling emissions of ozone-depleting compounds, military leaders from around the world will convene next week in Paris, France for “The Importance of Military Organizations in Protecting the Climate: 2008. The officials will be joined by a panel of climate experts.
Oil palm expansion in Indonesian Borneo increased 400-fold from 1991-2007
(10/30/2008) Annual forest conversion to palm oil plantations increased 400-fold from 1,163 hectares in 1991 to 461,992 hectares in 2007 in Central Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo, reports a new report published by Forest Watch Indonesia, a local NGO.
Coca-Cola announces water conservation goal
(10/30/2008) Coca-Cola Company has pledged to a 20 percent improvement in water efficiency over 2004 levels in its worldwide operations by 2012, saving some 50 billion liters of fresh water over projected use that year, reports WWF, which negotiated the agreement.
39 rangers missing in Virunga Park after headquarters overtaken by rebels
(10/30/2008) Five days after rebels occupied Virunga Park’s headquarters, thirty-nine wildlife rangers are still unaccounted in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). During the takeover, which included fighting between the Congolese army and the rebels, many of the rangers fled into the forest.
Researchers catch, then release, world's rarest big cat in Russia
(10/30/2008) The world’s rarest big cat is alive and well. At least one of them, that is, according to researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) who captured and released a female Far Eastern leopard in Russia last week. The capture was made in Primorsky Krai along the Russian-Chinese border by a team of scientists from WCS and the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Biology and Soils (IBS). The team is evaluating the health and potential effects of inbreeding for this tiny population, which experts believe contains no more than 10-15 females.
Previously unknown fungus may have triggered mass bat die-offs in the U.S.
(10/30/2008) Researchers have identified the fungus that may have been the culprit in mass die-offs of bats in the northeastern United States during the winter of 2006-2007. The research is published in this week's issue of Science.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service program restores bird habitat on farms and ranches
(10/28/2008) Matt Filsinger is driving his white pickup headed northeast from Sterling to look at two of his projects. This self-described introvert speaks enthusiastically about his job. “Ducks, ducks, ducks – that’s what I love!” says Filsinger, grinning broadly. Filsinger is a wildlife biologist with the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He works with private landowners to set aside land and create attractive habitat for imperiled species. Specifically, he designs wetlands to attract waterfowl. Partners for Fish and Wildlife is a successful program that has been around since 1987. Landowners, including farmers and ranchers, form partnerships with the program because they reap a variety of benefits from it. Nonprofit organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, Audubon and the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory are also partners. Collaboration between the federal government and private landowners is essential to preserving habitat and species, as 73 percent of the country’s land is privately owned, and most wildlife lives on that land.
Mystery cat discovered in Ecuador is likely a pampas cat according to expert
(10/28/2008) Two years ago a mysterious wild cat was spotted in Peru. The cat was photographed recently by Aldo Sornoza of Fundacion Jocotoco (FJ) in Ecuador's Jorupe Reserve, close to the Peruvian border.
How to Save Snow Leopards
(10/28/2008) The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is one of the rarest and most elusive big cat species with a population of 4,500 to 7,500 spread across a range of 1.2 to 1.6 million kilometers in some of the world's harshest and most desolate landscapes. Found in arid environments and at elevations sometimes reaching 18,000 feet (5,500 meters), the species faces great threats despite its extreme habitat. These threats vary across its range, but in all countries where it is found — Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and possibly Myanmar — the species is at risk. In some countries snow leopard are directly hunted for their pelt, in others they are imperiled by depletion of prey, loss of habitat, and killing as a predator of livestock. These threats, combined with the cat's large habitat requirements, means conservation through the establishment of protected areas alone may not be enough save it from extinction in the wild in many of the countries in which it lives. Working to stave off this fate in half a dozen of its range countries is the Snow Leopard Conservancy. Founded by Dr. Rodney Jackson, a biologist who has been studying snow leopard in the wild for 30 years, the Conservancy seeks to conserve the species by "promoting innovative grassroots measures that lead local people to become better stewards of endangered snow leopards, their prey, and habitat."
Yellowstone amphibians in decline due to climate change
(10/27/2008) Climate change appears to be responsible for a "marked drop" in the population of three of four species of amphibian once common to Yellowstone National Park, report researchers writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Air travel may be powered by biofuels in 3-5 years
(10/27/2008) Boeing says biofuel-powered planes are only three-to-five years away from being a reality, reports The Guardian.
Forest elephants learn to avoid roads, behavior may lead to population decline
(10/27/2008) Forest elephants in the Congo Basin have developed a new behavior: they are avoiding roads at all costs. A study published in PLoS One concludes that the behavior, which includes an unwillingness to cross roads, is further endangering the rare animals which are already threatened by poaching, development, and habitat loss. By avoiding roads, the elephants are increasingly confining themselves to smaller areas lacking enough habitat and resources.
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