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May in review: Jump in Amazon deforestation and murders, Indonesia’s ‘moratorium’

A review of’s April 2011 stories.

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May was a big month for tropical forest news. Brazil and Indonesia dominated the headlines and list of most popular stories for the month.

The Brazilian government confirmed a short-term surge in deforestation in Mato Grosso, a bellwether state in the southern Amazon, raising fears that recent gains in slowing forest loss may be reversed. Suspicion immediately fell on ranchers and farmers who are said to be expecting amnesty for illegal clearing under a bill that would amend the country’s Forest Code. That bill passed the Chamber of Deputies, Brazil’s lower house, just hours after an environmentalist and his wife were assassinated by gunmen thought to be linked to illegal loggers in Rondonia. Three days later, another prominent environmentalist was gunned down in Pará. The Brazilian government launched an investigation into the murders.

Land dispute-related in Brazil
Murders tied to land disputes in rural Brazil, cumulative total of 383 since 2000.

Meanwhile Indonesia, through a presidential instruction, finally unveiled the details of its five month-overdue moratorium on new logging and plantation concessions in primary forest areas and peatlands. The moratorium proved deeply disappointing to environmentalists, who hoped it would include secondary forests and now fear that it could fail to curb greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation. Some national parks were excluded from the instruction, raising questions on the status of existing protected areas in Indonesia.

Other popular stories on in May were two interviews on rhinos. The first, conducted with Rhishja Larson of Saving Rhinos, covered global rhino poaching for the traditional Chinese medicine market. The second was an interview with Susie Ellis, Executive Director of the International Rhino Foundation, about the plight of the Javan Rhino, which is now down to less than 50 individuals (zero live in captivity). In the interview Ellis addressed recent claims by Asia Pulp & Paper, a controversial paper supplier, that is is playing a significant role in protecting rhinos.

Most popular news articles – May 2011

  1. Brazil confirms big jump in Amazon deforestation [5778]
  2. Is Indonesia losing its most valuable assets? [4441]
  3. Indonesia’s moratorium disappoints environmentalists [3789]
  4. Belief and butchery: how lies and organized crime are pushing rhinos to extinction [3000]
  5. Google Earth animation reveals Indonesian forest targeted for destruction by pulp and paper companies [2987]
  6. World deforestation rates and forest cover statistics, 2000-2005 [2858]
  7. Brazil’s forest code debate may determine fate of the Amazon rainforest [2788]
  8. Google Earth reveals stark contrast between Sarawak’s damaged forests and those in neighboring Borneo states [2673]
  9. Climate change and deforestation pose risk to Amazon rainforest [2535]
  10. Killing in the name of deforestation: Amazon activist and wife assassinated [2418]
  11. Future threats to the Amazon rainforest [2364]
  12. How to save the Amazon rainforest [2281]
  13. Assassinations of environmentalists continue in Brazil’s Amazon, deforestation rises [2219]
  14. Down to 50, conservationists fight to save Javan Rhino from extinction [2103]
  15. Amnesty for illegal rainforest loggers moves forward in Brazil [2084]
  16. Ten-year-old takes on KFC for destroying US forests [2002]
  17. Uncovering the private lives of Amazon wildlife through camera traps [1998]
  18. NASA image reveals extent of deforestation in western Brazil [1980]
  19. Alleged chupacabra likely a “Xolo” dog; story a hoax [1854]
  20. Red rodent shows up at Colombian nature lodge after 113 years on the lam [1841]
  21. New paper stirs up controversy over how scientists estimate extinction rates [1836]
  22. New global carbon map for 2.5 billion ha of forests [1812]
  23. Visiting the rainforest – a practical guide [1808]
  24. New eco-tour to help save bizarre antelope in ‘forgotten’ region [1798]
  25. Scientists scramble to save dying amphibians [1796]
  26. Cambodia’s wildlife pioneer: saving species and places in Southeast Asia’s last forest [1784]
  27. World’s largest beef company signs Amazon rainforest pact [1779]
  28. Left alive and wild, a single shark worth $1.9 million [1703]
  29. Beaver dam lessens impact of massive oil spill in Canada [1667]
  30. Photos: the top ten new species discovered in 2010 [1512]
  31. Elephants: the gardeners of Asia’s and Africa’s forests [1484]
  32. Has the green energy revolution finally arrived? [1450]
  33. Forgotten species: the endearing Tenkile tree kangaroo [1435]
  34. On the edge of extinction, Philippine eagles being picked off one-by-one [1370]
  35. Dubai’s artificial islands have high environmental cost [1254]
  36. Why is oil palm replacing tropical rainforests [1158]
  37. Debate over rainforest conservation gets heated [1156]
  38. Congressman Rohrabacher believes chopping down rainforests will solve global warming [1146]
  39. REDD should fund efficient stoves, crop yield increases, says study [1135]
  40. Distressed Place and Faded Grace in North Sulawesi [1122]
  41. Papua New Guinea suspends controversial grants of community forest lands to foreign corps [1098]
  42. 7 conglomerates control 9M ha of land in Indonesia [1091]
  43. Obituary for the Baiji: Chinese river dolphin declared extinct [1034]
  44. A new front in the war over palm oil? [1031]
  45. No limbs or sight needed: bizarre new lizard uncovered in Cambodia [1023]
  46. Demise of passenger pigeon may be linked to rise of Lyme disease [1020]
  47. 3,000 amphibians, 160 land mammals remain undiscovered—that is if they don’t go extinct first [1014]
  48. Camera traps capture tiger bonanza in Sumatra forest slated for logging [1011]
  49. Elle MacPherson promotes consumption of illegal rhino horn [warning: graphic image] [1009]
  50. Global warming could doom the walrus [1006]

NOTE: Italicized titles represent news articles posted during the month.

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