- Mongabay’s videos in July covered stories about local foods known to local communities are becoming more popular across their countries, how farmers are using apps and technologies to cope with climate change, and how scientists are trying restoration projects on rivers and wetlands.
- In Bosnia, scientists are using rapid biological surveys to protect rivers from dams. In India, Delhi has seen the worst floods in four decades due to neglect.
- Watch how a luxury project threatens the Atlantic Forest and traditional communities in Brazil, and the latest in solar power developments in India.
- Get a peek into the various segments of the environment across the globe. Add these videos to your watchlist for the month and watch them for free on YouTube.
Local communities across the world have passed on the traditional knowledge about foods gathered from the wild, and in some places, these foods are getting more popular. In India, the demand for fox nuts grows, but its habitat and ecosystem are threatened. In Brazil, communal Brazil nut harvesting is proving to be a winning opportunity for the future of the Amazon Rainforest.
Boipeba Island in Brazil, a paradise with Atlantic Forest, mangroves, and reefs, is home to various local communities. But things are changing as a luxury tourism project looms. In another part of Brazil, in Brumadinho Valley, a dam that burst in 2019 is still posing problems to Indigenous groups.
In Spain’s Ebro Delta, rising sea levels and stronger storms are sending saltwater far inland, affecting agriculture and livelihoods. Scientists are trying to restore the delta. In India, Tamil Nadu state is trying to revive a highly-polluted, but biodiversity-rich, Thamirabarani river.
As climate change threatens many food systems and agriculture around the world, farmers in Vietnam are adopting new methods and technologies to grow rice with less water. In India, Delhi has seen the worst floods in decades last month — Mongabay-India explains why.
Add these videos to your watchlist for the month and watch them for free on Mongabay’s YouTube channel.
Scientists protect biodiversity against hydropower in Bosnia
Rapid biological surveys are a well-known way to establish the richness of an ecosystem and advocate for its conservation. A group of scientists and conservationists have used such surveys to prove that the rush to build thousands of new hydroelectric dams in southern Europe threatens to drown a rich heritage, with impressive results.
What led to Delhi’s worst flood in four decades?
Delhi faced its worst flood in 4 decades due to heavy rainfall and overflowing of the Yamuna River in July 2023. The catastrophe was exacerbated by the neglect of Delhi’s natural defenses – its wetlands and floodplains, which usually help drain water naturally. Shockingly, none of Delhi’s 1,040 waterbodies are officially notified as wetlands, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation. The city’s outdated drainage system, unchanged since the 1970s, couldn’t cope with rapid urban development and extreme weather events. Experts urgently recommend reviving wetlands, protecting waterbodies, and desilting drains as crucial measures to mitigate future flood disasters.
FOOD, COMMUNITIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Brazil nut harvesting proves a win-win for the Amazon and community livelihood
In the Calha Norte region of Brazil’s Pará state, home to the broadest mosaic of conservation units and Indigenous territories on the planet, communal Brazil nut harvesting is proving to be a winning opportunity for the future of the Amazon Rainforest. Communities of nut gatherers living on the banks of the Paru River have practiced their traditional nut-gathering lifestyle for generations, grounded in the understanding that without an intact forest, there are no Brazil nuts. Some 300,000 people throughout the Brazilian Amazon depend on the Brazil nut production chain for their living. The nut market, however, has not yet recovered from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and a severe drought in 2016.
Makhana, the biodiversity in India’s dying ponds in Bihar
Demand for fox nuts, more popularly known as makhana, is booming. We eat it plain or in numerous flavours like peri-peri and schezwan. It is also used to make traditional kheer, a milk-based pudding, and even curries. Over 85% of India’s makhana comes from the northern state of Bihar and almost a quarter of it is produced in Darbhanga’s wetlands. For the historical region of Darbhanga, makhana is one of its sources of pride. And so are the ponds they grow in. But the waterbodies are losing to pollution, illegal construction, and encroachments.
INDIGENOUS AGROFORESTRY PRACTICES
Vietnamese farmers trying high-tech solutions to grow rice with less water
To address climate change and water scarcity, Vietnamese rice farmers in the Mekong Delta are adopting a new method called the alternate wetting and drying (AWD). Supported by Tra Vinh University, farmers use a smartphone app and sensor network to monitor water levels in their fields, reducing water consumption by up to 20%. With the government’s push for sustainable agriculture, AWD offers hope for farmers to continue rice production while conserving water and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
EXTRACTIVE PROJECTS AFFECT LOCAL POPULATIONS
Luxury project threatens the Atlantic Forest and traditional communities on Boipeba Island, Brazil
The Ponta dos Castelhanos tourism-real estate development will privatize part of Boipeba Island, a paradise with Atlantic Forest, mangroves, and reefs in one of the most preserved areas in the south of Bahia state. Licensed in March by the state government, the project occupies almost 20% of the island and also puts at risk the survival of traditional communities, quilombolas, fishermen and agro-extractivists, who depend on the local biome. Experts claim that the undertaking could further stimulate land speculation and the approval of similar licenses on the coast of Bahia. The company leading the project is Mangaba Cultivo de Coco, whose partners are notable names such as José Roberto Marinho, from Rede Globo, and Armínio Fraga, former president of Brazil’s central bank.
Indigenous villagers still struggle after the 2019 Vale dam burst in Brumadinho, Brazil
In January 2019, a burst tailings dam in Brumadinho Valley, Minas Gerais, Brazil, devastated the territory surrounding the Paraopeba River, including the land inhabited by the Pataxó and Pataxó Hã-hã-hãe Indigenous groups. Part of the community remained in the original village of Naõ Xohã, where today the river remains unfishable and the soil is contaminated by heavy metals. Changes in eating habits have led to an epidemic of diabetes, intoxication and allergies in the community. As Vale did not fund a relocation program, other Indigenous families moved to slums on the outskirts of the city of Belo Horizonte, where they lived in precarious structures and underwent racial discrimination by people in the city.
RESTORATION AND REWILDING PROJECTS
Researchers work to restore the Ebro Delta in Spain
One of Europe’s most important deltas, a vital wildlife sanctuary and economic engine, is facing many threats from climate change and water management. Rising sea levels and stronger storms are washing away the very sediment that constitutes the Ebro Delta and sending saltwater far inland. The government plan to bolster the delta relies heavily on trucking sediment to its exposed outer banks, but it’s a stop-gap measure until researchers can develop a more sustainable long-term solution.
A unique project reviving India’s river, Thamirabarani
Thamirabarani, which flows through Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu, is a lifeline for millions of households and the rich biodiversity of the area. Plagued by pollution, the condition of the river deteriorated over the years. The Nellai Neervalam project which started in 2021, aims to revive the Thamirabarani river and conserve water in the region. Funded by government schemes and CSR funds, the project is a collaboration between government bodies, NGOs, and local communities. Beyond ecological and engineering solutions, the project strives to engage the entire community in river conservation efforts.
RENEWABLE ENERGY IN INDIA
Canal top solar: walking the tightrope of business and environment in India
Canal top photovoltaic technology (CTPV) was introduced in Gujarat, India, with the world’s first installation in Chandrasan village in 2012. CTPV utilizes solar panels installed on canal tops, providing benefits such as reduced transmission costs and increased solar efficiency due to water cooling. Despite its potential, progress in implementing CTPV has been limited due to high mounting structure costs and the availability of barren land. Solar business instead is focused on large solar parks built on “wastelands.” Challenges include the high cost of mounting structures, the availability of cheaper alternatives like floating solar, and the potential impact on pastoralist livelihoods and environment
The slow embrace of solar irrigation in West Bengal, India
Solar-powered irrigation pumps are making a positive impact on farming in West Bengal, India. Farmers who switched from diesel or electricity are seeing increased profits and reduced irrigation costs. However, solar pumps continue to be expensive for small scale farmers despite the subsidies. The high initial investment and lack of government support hinder widespread adoption. Hybrid systems and grid-connected solar pumps hold potential, but their implementation is slow. The state’s PM KUSUM scheme has not taken off, and policy reservations may be a factor.