The current economic, political, and environmental landscape of the Amazon is complicated at best. Protected areas have swelled in recent decades, indigenous rights have been improved in some places, while investments by both foreign and domestic financiers in large-scale energy and infrastructure development have raised questions about their environmental and social impacts in the world’s largest rainforest. Mongabay.org’s Special Reporting Initiative (SRI) program has recently awarded two different reporting prizes to journalists to tackle these vital and complicated issues in-depth.
A journalist with over 20 years experience reporting on the environment in South America, Barbara Fraser will explore the Amazon’s growing system of protected areas and their impacts on life in the region. In many cases, the mission of Amazonian protected areas has expanded from biodiversity conservation to improving human welfare. However, given the multiple purposes and diverse management of many of these area, it is often difficult to measure their effect on human populations. Fraser’s reporting will ask: what are the true effects of Amazonian protected areas on people, both locally and globally?
Photo by Rhett A. Butler / mongabay.com
Meanwhile, in an exciting partnership, Mongabay.org’s SRI program has awarded Brazil’s Agência Pública an increased prize to publish articles in both English and Portuguese on the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) role in the Amazon. BNDES, which now lends more money than the World Bank, has been expanding its funding of large-scale energy and infrastructure development across the Amazon. The Pública team will specifically look into the BNDES’s investment in one of the Amazon’s last wild river watersheds – the Tapajós in the Brazil. The area has been targeted for a complex of large hydroelectric plants, some of which are located in protected areas and indigenous territories. The resulting bilingual reporting will not only add to the global discussion on this important issue, but also contribute to the local dialogue.
More opportunities for in-depth, quality environmental journalism from mongabay.org are on the horizon. Applications are currently open for two more reporting opportunities, one of which is also on the topic of the social and environmental impacts of foreign development finance in the Amazon. The Amazon is fed by many watersheds in the Northern Andes, but with the rise of large-scale infrastructure projects in the region–including several hydroelectric dams–the ecological stability of much of the Amazon basin is at stake. This new SRI will explore how foreign financing–both from Brazil and China–is changing the landscape of the Western Amazon. This award also offers an increased prize for teams that plan to publish in both English and Spanish.
Photo by Rhett A. Butler / mongabay.com
The other SRI opportunity currently accepting applications will look at the current food-waste situation in Sub-Saharan Africa. A recent report estimated that up to half of the world’s food ended up in the waste-basket. In wealthy countries this food is often thrown away at the consumer and retail level due to over-buying, huge portions, or cosmetic food appearance standards. But in poorer countries, such as many in Sub-Saharan Africa, food ends up being lost before it even reaches the table due to lack of infrastructure, poor refrigeration, or unreliable transportation. The reporting will highlight potential improvements in bringing food to the table in these countries. These changes could go a long way toward solving the world’s most intractable and long-standing food crisis, while greatly improving the quality of life–and the future prospects–of the region.
Journalists are encouraged to apply for these awards by the deadline: Sunday, August 24th, 2014. Learn more about about how to apply here.
(08/01/2014) ‘You come across that crest, and … you’re going from forest that has already been exploited to this kind on no-man’s land… It just felt like you were going into this vast unknown wilderness’ – Mike Fay from Eating Apes by Dale Peterson and Karl Ammann. Mike Fay, famed explorer and conservationist, said this of the Ndoki Forest in the Republic of the Congo.
(07/25/2014) Shrimp farms, industrial plants, and one of Indonesia’s busiest thoroughfares make up Java’s north coast today. It’s a very different scene from the fishing villages with beachfront boat parking that stood here decades earlier. Which begs the question, where will fish live in this new ‘coast without mangroves, without coral, without seagrass,’ asks Alan Koropitan, a marine biologist based at Bogor Agricultural University.
(07/22/2014) Compared to maritime ministries worldwide, Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) is a teenaged neophyte. The governing body was formed a mere 13 years ago;a staggering fact for a country made up of two-thirds water where many of the 250 million people depend on fish for both protein and income. Mongabay.org’s SRI Fellow Melati Kaye reports on the state of Indonesian fisheries in the third installment of a four-part series.
(07/18/2014) Fifty-five crewmen, stripped to their briefs, sing Madurese sea shanties to synchronized gestures as they haul in giant seine nets, hand-over-hand, onto the swaying wooden deck of the M/V Sinar Indah out in the middle of the Bali Strait. This morning they had offloaded a bumper haul at their homeport of Muncar: seven tons of lemuru sardines Sardinella lemuru, the local specialty, for which dockside cannery agents offered $3,500.
(07/16/2014) Will Fiji implement a much-needed update to its fisheries laws before the September election? If you want to quiet a room in Fiji or feel like a lobster in a boiling pot, bring up coastal fishing rights, and ask what’s happening with the plan to update the country’s fisheries laws.
(07/09/2014) In what appears to be corruption in high places, the international body charged with protecting endangered species has turned a blind eye to massive illegal trade of endangered Great Apes. This was my distinct impression on reading the Great Apes report prepared by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Secretariat for the 65th CITES Standing Committee meeting, which will take place in Geneva in early July this year.
(07/08/2014) In spring and summer, after the monsoon storms have passed, the fishing boats set out again from tiny Kodingareng Island in the Spermonde Archipelago off the coast of South Sulawesi. In the afternoon heat, Abdul Wahid joins his fellow fishermen in the narrow shade of the beachfront village houses to check out the daily fish prices.
(07/07/2014) What does SOCO’s withdrawal really mean for the future of Virunga National Park? – Part II. Located in the eastern DRC, Virunga is the first national park created in Africa, a World Heritage Site and home to mountain gorillas, of which fewer than 900 remain. As such, SOCO’s announcement to suspend activities followed in the wake of a concerted campaign led by WWF to “draw the line” to save Virunga from devastation by prospective oil drilling.