Mongabay Series: Indonesian Palm Oil, Global Forests, Global Palm Oil

How does the global commodity collapse impact forest conservation?

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When commodity prices take a dive, common sense says forests should be safer from development — but it isn’t necessarily so.

How does the global commodity collapse impact forest conservation?
  • Since early 2014, prices for most commodities produced in the tropics have plunged.
  • The market rout is wreaking havoc on the state budgets of developing countries, curbing investment, and pushing producers to scale back on output and postpone plans for expansion.
  • In isolation, these developments would seem to be good news for tropical forests. But the reality is more complex,

Since early 2014, prices for most commodities produced in the tropics have plunged. Palm oil is down by 40 percent, logs from Malaysia and Cameroon are off by roughly a fifth, while soybeans have fallen by a third and beef a tenth. The price drop for industrial commodities like metals, minerals, oil and gas has been even more severe in some cases. The market rout is wreaking havoc on the state budgets of developing countries, curbing investment, and pushing producers to scale back on output and postpone plans for expansion.

In isolation, these developments would seem to be good news for tropical forests. After all, reduced investment and lower financial returns will make it less profitable for industries to exploit marginal lands for plantations, commercial agriculture, or resource extraction. Lower land prices may also make it cheaper to acquire or set aside areas for conservation.

But the reality is more complex: experts say low commodities prices can reduce government spending on programs for conservation, spur changes in land use including increased subsistence agriculture, provoke political pressure to reduce forest protection, and trigger different forms of investment that endanger forests.

Chevron's Duri oil field in Riau, Sumatra. Photo by Rhett A. Butler
Chevron’s Duri oil field in Riau, Sumatra. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

Slowing commodity sector provides a reprieve

In the short term, the dip in commodity prices may offer a reprieve for forests by drying up investment by natural resource and agricultural companies that are starting to be impacted by a credit crunch. Marginal producers with small profit margins and limited financial reserves are especially vulnerable.

Recent price trends for several commodities. Click to enlarge.
Recent price trends for several commodities. Click to enlarge.

“Low commodity prices will reduce the pressure on forests from investments in commercial agriculture, extractive industries, and forests,” said David Kaimowitz, Director of Natural Resources at the Ford Foundation. “They will do this both directly by making investment in these areas less profitable and indirectly by reducing tax and royalty revenues that governments can use for infrastructure investments.”

James Deutsch of Vulcan Philanthropies, Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen’s charitable foundation, has already seen evidence of this potential deforestation slowdown in Africa.

“I know of at least two huge mining projects in Central Africa that were likely to have significant biodiversity impacts that are either stalled or proceeding more slowly because of declining commodity prices,” Deutsch told Mongabay. “In these cases, I think the impact for conservation is very positive, buying us more time to establish policies and systems such as no-net-loss and biodiversity offsets, so that if these projects do eventually go forward their net impact is less severe.”

The slowdown buys conservationists time, whether they are operating in forests or deserts, says Stephen D’Esposito, President of RESOLVE, a Washington, D.C.-based policy group.

“During any period of low minerals prices, fewer projects will be developed, particularly larger, capital intensive projects,” he said. “In areas where projects, such as mines, don’t advance, there may be an opportunity to rethink land use. This could have benefits for developers, conservation and communities. Too often conflict occurs when development projects proceed without fully taking account of competing values. We’ve seen better planning lead to better results, such as in Mongolia, or for some energy development projects on federal lands in the U.S.”

John Reid of Conservation Strategy Fund, a group that uses economic modeling to support conservation, agreed.

“The decline in commodity prices could have a silver lining in that they provide time for conservation organizations — time to get ahead of threats, consolidate protected areas, build the understanding of the link between climate change mitigation and healthy forests, and promote green subsidies like the ones emerging to combat deforestation in many Latin American Countries,” Reid said. “These things are cyclical, so one can’t count on a permanently lower… cost of conservation, but there is a window of time during which some threats may abate and gains can [be] made in solidifying the environmental gains of the last decade.”

Opportunities to establish reserves

One of the biggest opportunities while commodity prices are low may be in establishing reserves, both through land acquisition and also by persuading governments to set aside protected areas. Two NGOs that focus on protected areas strategies — Rainforest Trust and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) — are already thinking along these lines.

“A decline in commodity prices will present a window of opportunity to protect ecosystems and wildlife across the tropics,” said Paul Salaman of Rainforest Trust. “Commodity price collapses can undermine the economic viability of extractive industries in Amazonian Brazil for example. In Peru, the oil price collapse may have influenced the President’s decision to declare the [creation of the] three million acre Sierra del Divisor National Park, rather than yield to the interest of extractive industries.”

Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy, added that opportunities lay in both conventional land acquisition and targeting distressed assets of struggling commodity companies.

“There’s been a lot of chatter in recent months about the potential for conservation interests to get more involved given the downturn in commodities and resulting financial distress — especially in the coal, energy and mining sectors. We’re looking at creative ways to insert ourselves into the bankruptcy/restructuring process to achieve conservation outcomes,” Tercek told Mongabay.

Rainforest in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.
Rainforest in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.

Buyers gain leverage

Another opportunity may be on the demand side of the commodity business. With prices at the lowest levels in more than a decade for some agricultural products, major buyers have more leverage to press suppliers for concessions, including how they produce commodities.

“Sectors are generally more open to sustainability commitments during down times,” Dan Nepstad, Executive Director at Earth Innovation Institute, told Mongabay. “The soy moratorium was born in Brazil, when soy was retracting in the Amazon Basin, for example.”

The soy moratorium — established in 2006 after a Greenpeace campaign targeted fast food companies in Europe over their use of soybeans from the Amazon — became the model for shifting commodity production away from high value forests. It was followed by widespread adoption of zero deforestation policies by companies operating in the cattle, palm oil, and pulp and paper sectors. Uptake of these commitments have accelerated during the recent downturn.

commodities-vs-forests

A complex picture

While reduced financial prospects for commodity producers may seem like a big win for forests, at a macro level, recent down cycles have shown little correlation to rates of forest loss. For example, during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, the rate of forest loss across the topics continued to rise, according to data from Global Forest Watch.

There are several explanations for this observation. For one, commodity producers make decisions based on expected prices. So as long as they believe prices will continue to rise in the long run, a short-term dip may not dissuade investments by well-capitalized players. In fact, those bigger players may see it as an opportunity to consolidate their market share by buying up competitors and marginal operators.

“Much of this depends less on current prices than on expectations about the future. Many of these are long-term investments,” explained the Ford Foundation’s Kaimowitz. “So the key is not what prices are today, but what companies think they will be in 10-20 years. There might be reasons for companies to be relatively bullish about longer-term commodity prices than about short-term prices.”

“I don’t think all commodity prices are down for the long haul,” added Daniel Katz of the Overbrook Foundation, noting long-term secular trends like population growth and rising consumption patterns, as the rest of the world catches up to levels of affluence in the West. “The markets are still going to command high prices for many commodities, and price fluctuations will continue.”

The largest agribusiness companies are often diversified. So while the price of some commodities may have halved, the decline for others may be more moderate and some, like cacao, are even bucking the trend.

Furthermore, macro trends aren’t necessarily reflective of local trends. Currency fluctuations, access to markets, and financial returns relative to other investments can run counter to broader trends.

“It is not a universal trend,” said Nepstad. “Beef is on an upswing, for example, with some countries’ beef sectors favored by Russia’s rejection of U.S. and European imports in retaliation against economic sanctions. Soy prices are very sensitive to crop failures, like the U.S. drought from a few years ago.”

“[We] need to understand the full suite of economic tele-connections, like the effect of mad cow on E.U. animal ration regulations, which led to a surge in demand for soy protein just as [the] Brazilian Real was devalued.”

And even when prices of commodities decline precipitously, they still may outperform other investment options. For example efficient palm oil growers in Indonesia are still making fat profits of $250 to $300 per ton despite an international price of around $550 per ton.

“My guess is that the prices won’t do much to slow oil palm expansion in Indonesia,” said Erik Meijaard, an ecologist at the Borneo Futures project. “This may be because this expansion is probably driven by perceptions about potential profits rather than good analysis.”

Meijaard noted that oil palm plantations rapidly expanded from 2010-2013, even through palm oil prices halved and there was a national moratorium on forest and peatland conversion in place. Palm oil still offers a higher return than the main alternatives: rubber and timber.

“There could be negative impacts on deforestation, for example, because it makes timber concessions even less profitable, pushing government to speed up the process for freeing up state forest land for conversion and plantation development,” said Meijaard.

Illegal forest clearing for oil palm in Riau, Sumatra. Photo by Rhett A. Butler
Illegal forest clearing for oil palm in Riau, Sumatra. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

Low prices can be a doubled-edged sword

Dire economic conditions can drive desperate measures by struggling producers. That could include cutting corners or walking away from conservation and other environmental commitments. Companies that fail may have their assets liquidated.

“Financial distress among commodity producers leaves open the possibility of abandoned reclamation liabilities as companies go bankrupt,” said TNC’s Tercek. “One of the risks of the bankruptcy restructuring process is that some firms may try to shed or walk away from reclamation and environmental cleanup obligations – particularly in states where they are ‘self-bonded’ against these liabilities (e.g., Wyoming, West Virginia).”

“This concern plays out when companies go bankrupt, are unable to restructure and then go into liquidation,” Tercek continued. “Worst-case scenario is that everyone walks away from the liabilities, including reclamation. We could see some of this happen in the coal mining sector, as well as others.”

Resolve’s D’Esposito said that some companies are under intense pressure to cut costs — impelling them to actions that negatively impact the environment.

“While leading companies are unlikely to renege on global, policy level commitments, they are likely to cut back funding that supports community level conservation and biodiversity protection programs,” he said. “Budget cuts are one issue but a greater loss may result from constraints on leadership and innovation. In this climate, it’s very difficult for leaders within companies to promote new projects or commitments.”

“In these circumstances it’s incumbent on conservation leaders to think creatively about win-win solutions to conservation and development opportunities.”

Logging in Borneo. Photo by Rhett A. Butler
Logging in Borneo. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

Uncertainty from governments

It’s not only companies that are feeling the heat from falling commodity prices — government treasuries are also taking a hit.

In countries where the natural resource and agribusiness sectors are particularly influential, down trends can increase political pressure to reduce environmental regulation.

John Reid of Conservation Strategy Fund says that, given the outsized role commodity production has played in economic expansion in Latin America in recent years, lawmakers may be particularly sympathetic to appeals to weaken environmental laws.

“The economic slowdown that is hitting the commodity-driven economies in Latin America brings several real perils for nature,” he stated. “First, environmental regulations get blamed for economic decline, even though their role is absolutely trivial when compared to the impact of the drop in Chinese demand for commodities. As a result you see efforts to roll back environmental impact assessment requirements. This happened in Peru with the 2014 paquetazo that limited the Environment Ministry’s authority.

“In Brazil this trend is evident in the current proposal to exempt priority projects from normal environmental licensing,” he continued. “Environmental regulation acting as the handbrake on development is an anti-conservation canard, but it’s a narrative used the world over to stop progress on protecting nature.”

And in Indonesia, low prices have led industry lobbyists to push for measures to boost demand for palm oil on a massive scale.

“The decline in CPO prices has led some Indonesian producers to lobby for a biodiesel mandate to prop up prices,” explained Chris Elliot of the Climate and Land Use Alliance, a coalition of philanthropic foundations. Once prices recover, this sort of mandate “could lead to more deforestation”.

TNC’s Tercek agreed.

“It’s important to note that commodity prices are cyclical,” he told Mongabay. “The threat of habitat conversion returns as soon as the commodity cycle kicks back up, absent new regulations. We can’t take our eye off the ball given the long-term nature of these threats.”

It may not be just nature that loses out from lobbying. Ford’s Kaimowitz said there’s a danger that progress on protecting the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities could also be undercut.

“Low agricultural, mineral, and energy prices should take pressure off forests and make governments more willing to provide secure land rights to indigenous and forest communities, but [low prices] can also have negative effects if governments cut back on environmental safeguards and regulations to try to attract investment,” he said.

There’s also a possibility that governments may respond to difficult economic times with increased investment in infrastructure, much like the United States did during the Great Depression.

“Economic decline could bring a counterintuitive rise in threats from big infrastructure projects,” said Conservation Strategy Fund’s Reid. “That’s because there is still a ton of liquidity in Asia, low returns in financial markets, and idle construction capacity. China could embark on a sort of global Works Progress Administration (WPA), paying its own firms to build infrastructure projects in developing countries with cheap credit to tide them over until domestic demand recovers.”

Indeed, since China’s economy began to slow markedly in 2011, the Chinese government and companies have announced plans to build a transoceanic canal across Nicaragua, a railway across South America, and a number of major road projects in Africa and Southeast Asia.

A wood fiber plantation for paper production in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler
A wood fiber plantation for paper production in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

Cuts in conservation programs

Beyond the risk of reducing environmental regulation and offering carrots to producers, governments may scale back on conservation programs during slow economic times. This is already happening in places ranging from the Amazon to Zambia.

“There’s a very clear impact in one place where Conservation Strategy Fund works, Mexico,” said Reid. “There government revenues depend on oil, so there’s less money to go around, and key government functions, such as managing national parks, have been hit hard. There have been huge, across-the-board cuts in Conanp, the Mexican park service. ”

Vulcan’s Deutsch added an example from southern Africa.

“There are places such as Zambia, which is heavily dependent on copper exports, where commodity price declines have heavily impacted the national economy and this has stressed conservation projects — either by making local people more desperate to find economic opportunities, or by impacting the economics of conservation (e.g. as a result of currency devaluations).”

Hard times may also mean reduced budgets for law enforcement, according to Adrian Forsyth of the Andes Amazon Fund.

And low prices can also spur companies to phase out research initiatives.

“With respect to the negative impacts, I have recently been engaged in several integrated research projects in the Alaskan Arctic,” said Carly Vynne, an independent ecologist. “Having the major oil and gas companies pull out, or downscale operations, is having negative implications for ongoing research programs, many of which have been funded by these groups. Loss of these research programs is likely to affect both local communities (losing staff and monitoring programs) as well as longer-term, large research projects (e.g. an integrated Arctic research program that last year received $1M from Shell will certainly not be renewed with their decision not to pursue offshore drilling).”

Rainforest in Borneo. Photo by Rhett A. Butler
Rainforest in Borneo. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

Overall outlook uncertain

Given the many factors at play, the impact of low commodity prices on conservation are far from certain. Past down cycles provide mixed evidence. Generally, low prices lead to lower investment, translating to lower land values. And vice versa.

However that relationship may not hold everywhere for all commodities. For example, countries that derive an unusually high percentage of their wealth from oil have sometimes experienced the opposite, according to Sven Wunder, a researcher at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

In countries like Gabon, Venezuela, and Cameroon, high oil prices generally led people to abandon agriculture and move to cities, translating to lower rates of forest loss nationally (the impacts are uncertain internationally since more food is imported). When Cameroon’s economy faltered, with low commodity prices in the mid-1980s, people left the services sector and went back to the countryside. Deforestation rates increased.

But that relationship isn’t sacrosanct, with Ecuador providing a strong counterexample. Unlike its peers, Ecuador plowed oil revenue into road-building projects that opened up remote forest areas to colonization — and more oil extraction — spurring an increase in deforestation.

Nonentheless, Wunder feels that the current downturn will “probably be a net positive for conservation”.

“Most threats to biodiversity are related to habitat loss, which is dominated by agricultural expansion,” he told Mongabay. “When agricultural commodities decline, those pressures diminish. I would expect that to be the dominating effect.”

Gold mining in the Peruvian Amazon. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.
Gold mining in the Peruvian Amazon. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.

Full responses from several respondents

Mark Tercek – TNC

Have you heard any discussion in conservation circles about the impact of the recent decline in commodity prices on efforts to protect ecosystems and wildlife?

Yes. There’s been a lot of chatter in recent months about the potential for conservation interests to get more involved given the downturn in commodities and resulting financial distress – especially in the coal, energy, and mining sectors. We’re looking at creative ways to insert ourselves into the bankruptcy/restructuring process to achieve conservation outcomes.

Could the commodity price collapse have positive implications for conservation?

Yes. Lower asset values make the impact investment proposition more attractive. Given the downturn in commodities there will be less growth capital spending flowing into new development projects. Financial distress among commodity producers leaves open the possibility of abandoned reclamation liabilities as companies go bankrupt. One of the risks of the bankruptcy restructuring process is that some firms may try to shed or walk away from reclamation and environmental cleanup obligations – particularly in states where they are ‘self-bonded’ against these liabilities (e.g., Wyoming, West Virginia).
With that said, it’s important to note that commodity prices are cyclical. The threat of habitat conversion returns as soon as the commodity cycle kicks back up absent new regulations. We can’t take our eye off the ball given the long-term nature of these threats.

Could there be negative impacts for conservation?

Yes and no. This concern plays out when companies go bankrupt, are unable to restructure and then go into liquidation. Worst-case scenario is that everyone walks away from the liabilities including reclamation. We could see some of this happen in the coal mining sector, as well as others. There is noticeable belt-tightening due to the downturn in commodities, but we have not seen companies doing anything horrible from an environmental standpoint just to generate cashflow. Forest clear-cutting is not an issue unless a mining company decides to open a new mine (i.e., mountain top removal), which isn’t currently a threat given the historically low prices for both thermal (electricity) and metallurgical (steel) coal. The surface estate and the mineral estate are typically owned by different parties (the former generally by timber REITs or TIMOs).

Coal is the largest contributor to GHG emissions globally. Often coal lies beneath forests that are destroyed in the mining process, and deforestation accounts for another 16% of GHG emissions. Entering this market to remove risk of coal mining and burning, as well as associated deforestation from future mountain top removal, could be a huge opportunity for both climate and land conservation. TNC’s impact investing unit, NatureVest, is actively exploring opportunities to enter transactions with these firms to purchase strategic assets (both mineral and land) to permanently protect places like the Central Appalachians. It remains to be seen if the current financial distress is severe enough to push these firms to sell assets or if they will simply hunker down (restructure through Ch. 11) and restart mines in the next commodity cycle. While coal’s share of U.S. electricity generation has also dropped to historic lows, many analysts believe that it will not fall below 30% for many decades to come. Some analysts (e.g., JPMC) believe that thermal coal in Appalachia is dead and that only metallurgical coal will remain viable in the region.

Extraordinarily low natural gas prices have been a critical factor in the downturn in coal – many power plants are switching to natural gas (even in the heart of Appalachian coal country) because the economics work well. Natural gas emits about half the GHG emissions of coal. Low prices for coal, natural gas and oil also appear to have reduced the financial incentives for renewable energy because solar and wind must compete against lower-cost fossil fuels. So there is a potential that fewer renewables projects will be launched in this environment of low commodity prices.

Stephen D’Esposito – RESOLVE

Have you heard any discussion in conservation circles about the impact of the recent decline in commodity prices on efforts to protect ecosystems and wildlife?

This has been discussed by the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Future of Mining and Metals, which I chair http://www.weforum.org/content/global-agenda-council-future-mining-metals-2014-2016-0. The Council includes leaders from the conservation, development, human rights and business communities. We also work with other Councils, including those that focus on issues like biodiversity. We have raised the issues of commodity prices as a concern, especially as we are launching a new initiative on the benefits of landscape level planning for large-scale development projects. These issues are on the mind of those working on development and conservation in British Colombia, Alaska and other regions.

RESOLVE, the World Economic Forum, the International Seabed Authority and others recently convened a multi-stakeholder dialogue on transparency, fiscal and conservation issues related to seabed mining. Most held the view that lower mineral prices allow for additional time to work on a range of issues related to seabed mining, including biodiversity.

Could the commodity price collapse have positive implications for conservation?

During any period of low minerals prices fewer projects will be developed, particularly larger, capital intensive projects. In areas where projects, such as mines, don’t advance, there may be an opportunity to rethink land use. This could have benefits for developers, conservation and communities. Too often conflict occurs when development projects proceed without fully taking account of competing values. We’ve seen better planning lead to better results, such as in Mongolia, or for some energy development projects on federal lands in the U.S.

The length of the downturn will be a key factor. For example, project funding from development companies for nearby conservation efforts can be maintained if prices are low for a shorter period. These commitments may be harder to maintain if the downturn is longer-lasting.

It is very possible that severe economic pressure could spur innovation on the part of developers, including projects that use new techniques and technology to decrease their development footprint (and perhaps front-end capital expenditures); use less water and dramatically lower their ecological impact; and new development strategies help avoid impact on areas of high biodiversity value.

Any good conservation opportunist should understand business cycles and calibrate their strategies to these cycles; including exploiting opportunities to work in partnership with responsible developers.

Could there be negative impacts for conservation?

Conservation needs good development partners. We should all be concerned that financial pressure will impact the ability of responsible developers to participate in value added programs focused on conservation and biodiversity. I am aware of the intense pressure inside some companies to cut costs. While leading companies are unlikely to renege on global, policy level commitments they are likely to cut back funding that supports community level conservation and biodiversity protection programs.

Budget cuts are one issue but a greater loss may result from constraints on leadership and innovation. In this climate it’s very difficult for leaders within companies to promote new projects or commitments. Many will keep their head down as they watch colleagues lose their jobs. In these circumstances it’s incumbent on conservation leaders to think creatively about win-win solutions to conservation and development opportunities.

It is important to differentiate between projects that are formal and those that are informal, particularly those where commodities are secured and traded illegally. These operations may increase during a down cycle as they up-front costs can be substantially less, as with small-scale, illicit mining for gold. In some regions, such as the Amazon, it’s this type of mining that presents the greatest threat to biodiversity. A dramatic increase in small scale gold mining, coupled with a decrease in large scale mine development would constitute very bad news for those seeking to protect biodiversity in key regions.

John Reid – Conservation Strategy Fund

Have you heard any discussion in conservation circles about the impact of the recent decline in commodity prices on efforts to protect ecosystems and wildlife?

There’s a very clear impact in one place where Conservation Strategy Fund works, Mexico. There government revenues depend on oil so there’s less money to go around and key government functions, such as managing national parks, have been hit hard. There have been huge, across-the-board cuts in Conanp, the Mexican park service.

Could the commodity price collapse have positive implications for conservation?

The decline in commodity prices could have a silver lining in that they provide time for conservation organizations time to get ahead of threats, consolidate protected areas, build the understanding of the link between climate change mitigation and healthy forests, and promote green subsidies like the ones emerging to combat deforestation in many Latin American Countries. These things are cyclical so one can’t count on a permanently lower opportunity cost of conservation, but there is a window of time during which some threats may abate and gains can made in the solidifying environmental gains of the last decade.

Could there be negative impacts for conservation?

The economic slowdown that is hitting the commodity-driven economies in Latin America brings several real perils for nature. First, environmental regulations get blamed for economic decline even though their role is absolutely trivial when compared to the impact of the drop in Chinese demand for commodities. As a result you see efforts to roll back environmental impact assessment requirements. This happened in Peru with the 2014 “paquetazo” that limited the Environment Ministry’s authority. In Brazil this trend is evident in the current proposal to exempt priority projects from normal environmental licensing. Environmental regulation as the handbrake on development is an anti-conservation canard, but it’s a narrative used the world over to stop progress on protecting nature. Another risk is that the collapse of mineral prices leads to bankruptcies and the abandonment of large mines with serious cleanup needs. Further, economic decline could bring a counter-intuitive rise in threats from big infrastructure projects. That’s because there is still a ton of liquidity in Asia, low returns in financial markets, and idle construction capacity. China could embark on a sort of global WPA, paying its own firms to build infrastructure projects in developing countries with cheap credit to tide them over until domestic demand recovers.

Finally, good economic times bring the sort optimism that helps societies take the sort of broadly-supported steps needed to protect their natural heritage.

Carly Vynne – Osprey Insights LLC

Have you heard any discussion in conservation circles about the impact of the recent decline in commodity prices on efforts to protect ecosystems and wildlife?

I recently participated in a training for biodiversity specialists by the folks who do the World Bank lending and assess the biodiversity performance standards against proposed development projects. They are seeing a downturn in the number of proposals/projects in the extractive industries (although notably an uptick in the number of proposals for hydropower projects/dams), so this is something that is being noticed and discussed and it would seem would provide a greater opportunity for conservation projects to be competitive.

Could there be negative impacts for conservation?

With respect to the negative impacts, I have recently been engaged in several integrated research projects in the Alaskan Arctic. Having the major oil and gas companies pull out or downscale operations is having negative implications for ongoing research programs, many of which have been funded by these groups. Loss of the these research programs is likely to affect both local communities (losing staff, monitoring programs) as well as longer-term, large research projects (eg. an integrated Arctic research program that last year received $1M from Shell will certainly not be renewed with their decision not to pursue offshore drilling).

Mongabay.org is a grantee of CLUA, the Ford Foundation, and the Overbrook Foundation.

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