- Does reforestation help mitigate climate change? And how effective is reforestation? In May, Mongabay delved into these questions through video explainers and on-the-ground reporting.
- In May, we also published a few behind-the-scenes videos for anyone who wants to take a peek behind the curtain and learn more about how Mongabay does its reporting.
- May was also another big month for stories on animals and new discoveries about animal behavior.
- Add these videos to your watchlist along with your favorites from Netflix, Disney+ or Prime.
Planting trees is often described as an important way to restore degraded landscapes and fight climate change. But does it always work? This month, the team at Mongabay brings you a series of videos to add to your watchlist to better understand how complex weighing the costs and benefits of reforestation can be.
As part of our Mongabay Explains series, we took a deep dive into the role reforestation plays in carbon sequestration. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world would need to replant trees over an area larger than the size of China to help limit global warming to under 1.5 degrees Celsius. But what even counts as reforestation? And is it the same as afforestation? We looked at those questions too in another explainer episode on what the term really means.
We also had a few ground reports from Brazil and Vietnam, where reforestation projects are underway. In Brazil, researchers are trying to slow the spread of desertification in the Caatinga biome by planting trees. In Vietnam, the government is planning to plant 1 billion trees by 2025. Mongabay contributor Michael Tatarski took us behind the scenes to better understand how realistic this goal is, and how it’s shaping up on the ground. His report explained that 85% of the reforestation efforts will actually happen in cities. The remaining efforts will be in Vietnam’s upland areas, where landslides are a regular concern. Watch the full video to learn more about the implementation of the 1 billion trees plan.
In India, photographer Aditya Singh bought about 35 acres of land worth over 10 million INR on the border of Rajasthan’s famous Ranthambore Tiger Reserve. The family just removed invasive species from the plot and left it undisturbed. Mongabay-India Contributing Editor, Mayank Aggarwal, visited the area early 2020 and witnessed a lush green forest patch with water holes that is frequented by wild animals, including tigers.
Our series of videos on reforestation are part of a larger report on the state of reforestation initiatives worldwide. This month, Mongabay released two new tools that help users track how transparent reforestation initiatives are about their work. Read more about the tools here.
In May, we also published a behind the scenes video with our Brazil Contributing Editor, Karla Mendes. Mendes spent more than a year investigating the expansion of palm oil in Brazil’s Pará state. While she was on the ground, she recorded selfie videos documenting how waste from palm oil plantations was being dumped into a river, and how the industry impacts Indigenous and local communities.
Sand’s importance as a raw material for the construction industry and manufacturing our smartphones and several other daily-use products, has made it the world’s second most extracted resource after water. In an explainer video, we shed light on how sand mining in India has destroyed rivers and lives.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel to make sure you never miss a video, and in the meantime here are more videos to add to your watchlist:
Does planting trees help with climate change?
Planting trees is a strategy that several countries are pursuing to fight climate change. But how effective is this approach? Experts suggest that there are many factors to take into account when reforesting.
Read more about it here.
What is reforestation?
Reforestation is exactly what it sounds like: replacing forests that have been cut down or restocking forests that have been degraded through human activities like logging or natural means like forest fires. Experts say we have a lot of need for reforestation. Researchers estimate that the world lost as much as 411 million hectares of tree cover, or more than 1 billion acres, between 2000 and 2020, an area larger than India. Much of it fell to make room for agriculture, and deforestation is continuing at an alarming pace.
Read more about it here.
How does sand mining erode lives and the environment? | Just Transitions
Sand, a natural resource that seems abundant and often ignored is the second most extracted one, just after water. Excess extraction of sand from lakes, riverbeds, deltas and shores has destroyed habitats, changed the course of rivers, eroded banks, and swallowed up villages in India and worldwide. While the resource is essential in manufacturing and industrial processes, especially in the booming construction industry, rampant sand mining has also caused severe damage to human lives and the environment.
Vietnam wants to plant 1 billion trees by 2025
Mongabay contributor Michael Tatarski travels through the Thua Thien-Hue region to analyze Vietnam’s 1 billion tree reforestation plan. While the initiative was planed in the wake of natural disasters like typhoons that heavily impacted communities in mountainous areas, especially in central Vietnam, it places most of its efforts elsewhere.
Read the full report here.
Photographer buys land and lets it grow wild, attracts tigers and other animals
Photographer Aditya Singh quit his civil services job within a year of joining, left Delhi and moved to Sawai Madhopur city in Rajasthan just outside Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, to be closer to nature. Over the last 20 years, Singh has bought about 35 acres of land worth over Rs 10 million which shares its boundary with Ranthambore tiger reserve and left it undisturbed. The landholding is now a lush green forest patch with water holes and is frequented by wild animals, including tigers, throughout the year.
Read more about it here.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Reporting on palm oil expansion in the Brazilian Amazon
Go behind the scenes with Karla Mendes, Mongabay’s Contributing Editor in Brazil as she investigates the impact of palm oil expansion in Pará State. Indigenous communities and traditional farmers say the palm oil companies are polluting their water with pesticides. Karla and team go on the ground to track how the industry is changing this Amazonian landscape.
CANDID ANIMAL CAM
How many insects can a Giant Anteater eat in a day?
Giant anteaters are native to Central and South America. They are the biggest of the four species of anteaters in the world reaching 2 meters in length.
Did you know that spix’s night monkeys only weigh around 1 kg?
The Spix’s night monkey is also known as the noisy or owl monkey. It is one of the 11 species of nocturnal monkeys in the world.
NEW DISCOVERIES IN ANIMAL SCIENCE
New discovery: Sea sponges moving in the arctic ocean
Researchers suggest that sea sponges are moving across the Arctic Ocean’s seafloor. This new belief challenges the idea that these animals are sessile. Other studies have shown that sponges can make limited expanding and contracting movements in a laboratory setting. This is the first scientist have observed sea sponge trails, attributed to movement.
Read about it here.
Sharks use electromagnetic fields as GPS, study confirms
Sharks can migrate for thousands of miles, and for years researchers speculated that they were using electromagnetic fields to navigate. Now, a new study from Florida State University is providing evidence that could back up this theory. Researchers studied small bonnetheads and found that when they used a coil method to alter magnetic conditions, the sharks would respond in different ways.
Conservationists could use elephant dung and urine to help protect African elephants
Could dung and urine help protect African savannah elephants? A new study from the University of Exeter found that wild elephants follow trails left by other elephants along familiar pathways. They observed the large mammals sniffing and tracking dung and urine and leaving behind their own trackable trails. The behavior was particularly noticeable in solitary male elephants. This indicates that smell is an important factor for elephants as they travel through their wide ranges.
THE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND FOSSIL FUELS IN INDONESIA
Indonesian community opposes coal power plant expansion financed by Korea
The coastal town of Suralaya in Indonesia’s West Java province has eight coal-fired power generating units in its vicinity, which residents blame for respiratory ailments and declining fish catches. Support for the project is ongoing, despite South Korea’s own domestic transition away from coal power and attempts by some lawmakers to bar public funds from being directed to the coal industry.
Read more about it here.
Seaweed farmers in Indonesia struggle in the face of climate change
Seaweed farmers in Indonesia’s Latonro village are losing business because of climate change. The village in South Sulawesi Province lies near Bone bay, where salt water meets fresh water. The seaweed they cultivate (Gracilaria spp) thrives in brackish water. This cultivation has been the community’s main source of income for 15 years. But increasingly erratic weather patterns are making it harder to grow as much seaweed as before.
Banner image of Spix’s night monkeys by Gary L. Clark via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).