Conservation news

Podcast: What are the tropical forest storylines to watch in 2021?

  • Happy new year to all of our faithful Mongabay Newscast listeners! For our first episode of the year, we take stock of how the world’s rainforests fared in 2020 and look ahead to the major stories to watch in 2021.
  • We’re joined by Mongabay founder and CEO Rhett Butler, who discusses the impacts of the Covid pandemic on tropical forest conservation efforts, the most important issues likely to impact rainforests in 2021, and why he remains hopeful despite setbacks in recent years.
  • We also speak with Joe Eisen, executive director of Rainforest Foundation UK, who helps us dig deeper into the major issues and events that will affect Africa’s rainforests in the coming year.

For our first episode of 2021, we’re taking the opportunity to look at some of the most important trends and issues that will be affecting rainforest conservation over the next 12 months — and reasons to have hope for what’s left of the world’s tropical forests in the coming year.

Listen here:

The COVID pandemic made 2020 a rough year for just about everyone — and the world’s tropical forests certainly experienced their share of trials and tribulations, thanks to the impacts of the pandemic as well as wildfires, ongoing deforestation, and increasing threats to environmental land defenders. But there are good reasons to be optimistic about 2021.

Joining us today is Mongabay founder and CEO Rhett Butler. Every year for the past decade plus, Rhett has written a “rainforest year-in-review” piece, and since 2017 he has also posted a “what to watch in the year ahead” piece (read Rhett’s 2020 review piece here, and the look ahead to 2021 here). Because you can’t understand where rainforests might be headed in 2021 without understanding how they fared in 2020, Rhett is on the show today to discuss his most recent rainforest year-in-review and the major storylines to watch over the coming year.

We’re also joined by Joe Eisen, the executive director of the NGO Rainforest Foundation UK. Eisen gives us his take on the year that was and helps us dive more deeply into the major issues and events likely to impact Africa’s tropical forests over the course of 2021, from growing recognition of the failures of “fortress conservation” in the Congo Basin to the adoption of community rights legislation in many Congo rainforest countries.

Here are some of the other episodes of the Mongabay Newscast mentioned in this episode:

“New Latin American treaty could help protect women conservation leaders — and all environment defenders” (28 October 2020)

“What can we expect from tropical fire season 2020?” (13 May 2020)

“Reporter Katie Baker details Buzzfeed’s explosive investigation of WWF” (29 October 2019)

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Rainforest in Borneo. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

Follow Mike Gaworecki on Twitter: @mikeg2001

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