- In September, Mongabay released videos about the Dutch dairy farmers’ protests and related politics, typhoon-battered villages in the Philippines, and farmers growing rice for wild elephants in India.
- Watch why an Indigenous community in Brazil is pushing ahead with sustainable solutions despite resistance and threat, how bats roosting in south India’s temples are in trouble, and what an Indigenous kingdom in Panama is doing to secure its right to the forest.
- In India, pharmaceutical drugs are adding to water pollution even as a village waits decades for its clean source of water polluted by big industries.
- 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.
When the Dutch government announced plans to buy out farms close to nature reserves and cut the country’s livestock herd by as much as one-third, farmers revolted, staging massive demonstrations and destabilizing politics in the Netherlands. A series of articles and a video break this down.
In Brazil, members of São Paulo’s Jaraguá Guarani Indigenous community have founded a new village on land they claim is ancestrally theirs. In the Philippines, an NGO project aimed at protecting villages from typhoon didn’t go as planned; watch Mongabay’s report about what went wrong.
In Assam, India, where human-elephant conflicts are a serious problem, conservationists are collaborating with farmers to experiment with solutions for coexistence, including growing rice for wild elephants. In Roraima, Brazil, one the most hostile states for Indigenous in the country, sustainable farming, mercury-free fishing and circular trade are among the strategies Indigenous peoples have been developing to survive.
Indigenous communities continue to fight for their rights across countries. In Panama, the Indigenous Naso people recently won rights to their land in the form of a “comarca,” but mapping its borders and executing patrols has proven more difficult than originally thought. In Brazil, Quilombola leader Maria Bernadete Pacífico was recently murdered for speaking out against land grabbers. Her son continues the fight.
In India, researchers have found concerningly high traces of chemical compounds from pharmaceutical drugs in major water bodies, whose impact on humans and ecology is significant. A village in Rajasthan has grappled with water scarcity and contamination for over 35 years due to industrial pollution from surrounding chemical factories, and are still awaiting justice.
Add these videos to your watchlist for the month and watch them for free on Mongabay’s YouTube channel.
The Netherlands weighs up its future amid farmer protests and dying ecosystems
With the highest density of livestock in Europe, the Netherlands has been in the throes of a years-long crisis over nitrogen emissions from manure, which ecologists say are destroying the country’s ecosystems. The country’s “nitrogen crisis” has polarized the country, raising difficult questions over how to reform unsustainable food systems and offering a preview of what’s to come for other countries as well.
A Philippines NGO project aimed to protect villages from typhoons: What went wrong?
In 2015, the U.S.-based nonprofit Conservation International (CI) introduced so-called green-gray infrastructure to enhance the climate resilience of five villages in the Concepcion municipality, including Bagongon, employing a combination of nature-based and engineering solutions. A little more than a year after the project ended, a Mongabay visit to Concepcion found most project components degraded or destroyed, leaving residents with little more protection than they had when a powerful typhoon called Yolanda devastated their communities in 2013. A CI official acknowledged the project’s challenges, expressing an organizational commitment to learn from the experience and attempt to secure new funding to sustain the initiative.
São Paulo Indigenous community pins its territorial hopes on a new village
The Guarani are seeking recognition from the Brazilian government for a total of 532 hectares (1,315 acres) of land in the São Paulo area that’s home to some 800 Indigenous people. But a bill working its way through Congress could nix that claim; if passed, any claims to land occupied after the cutoff date of Oct. 5, 1988, would be rejected. Government officials including the minister of Indigenous Peoples and the head of the Indigenous affairs agency recently visited the Guarani village to offer support, but said no official demarcation will happen this year.
Rice as a peace offering in India’s human-elephant conflict capital
Assam state in northeastern India, where farmers and elephants jostle for space and food, has one of the highest incidences of human-elephant conflict in the country. Conservationists from Hati Bondhu, a nonprofit organization, are working with farmers in Assam’s Golaghat district to pursue a more peaceful human-elephant coexistence. Their first experimental project, which was to grow rice in some fields dedicated to elephants so farmers could harvest separately elsewhere, was a success.
Indigenous communities forge sustainable solutions despite threats in Roraima, Brazil
Territorial and Environmental Management Plans (PGTAs) are one of the Indigenous-led tools for Indigenous communities in Roraima to create strategies to manage natural resources and provide income for families in their territories. For long-term survival, these sustainable initiatives require investments, but previous experience has shown that a top-down approach is often counterproductive. Monoculture agribusiness, illegal mining and land grabbing also threaten their livelihood.
Ever heard of energy-efficient fans?
Ceiling fans in India offer significant energy-saving potential, with the capacity to cut electricity consumption by 10-15%. However, their transition to energy-efficient models faces hurdles in affordability and awareness. Only 3% of fans sold are energy-efficient, despite India’s annual sale of 41 million fans, contributing 20% to residential electricity use. Replacing old fans with efficient ones could achieve the targeted reduction. Challenges include low awareness, high costs, and lengthy fan lifespans. Efforts are underway, led by the Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), but interventions like lower taxes, buyback schemes, and affordable financing are needed. Urgent action is vital due to rising temperatures and the impact on low-income households.
WILDLIFE IN CITIES
How temple renovations in India are affecting bat roosts
In Tamil Nadu, bats face a population decline due to urbanisation, bright lights, temple renovations, and tree removals. The districts of Tirunelveli, Tuticorin, and Tenkasi, along the Thamirabarani River, host unique bat species vital for pest control and pollination. Bats use old temples and trees as roosting sites, but temple renovations and artificial lights are affecting their habitats. Wind turbines pose another threat. Misconceptions about bats, fear of zoonotic diseases, and concerns about their impact on temples exacerbate the issue. Conservation efforts must protect roosting sites, reduce artificial lighting, and raise awareness of bats’ ecological significance.
INDIGENOUS FIGHT FOR RIGHTS
Murdered Quilombo leader in Brazil denounced threats against her
This is a video of Maria Bernadete Pacífico, recently murdered Quilombola leader in Brazil, denouncing the threats she and her community have faced by land grabbers. On August 17, 2023, unidentified gunmen entered her home and killed her.
In Panama, an Indigenous kingdom fights for its right to the forest
Panama’s Indigenous Naso people recently won rights to their land in the form of a “comarca,” but mapping its borders and executing patrols has proven more difficult than originally thought. Cattle ranchers, developers and other Indigenous groups still have interest in the territory and aren’t always willing to work with the Naso on conservation projects. This year, Mongabay accompanied a Naso patrol into the rainforest and documented their confrontation with members of the Indigenous Ngäbe tribe. The heated moment was a harsh reminder of the difficulties that Indigenous people face when trying to carry out community-led conservation without the proper resources.
POLLUTION AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Drugging the environment with pharmaceuticals | Lesser-known pollutants
Pharmaceuticals are helping us lead healthier and longer lives. However, there is growing evidence that pharmaceuticals also make our planet sick in devious ways when not managed properly. Chemical compounds from drugs have entered the environment in various ways. From anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen and diclofenac in the Cauvery River to blood pressure medication like metoprolol in coastal waters near Maharashtra, traces of chemical compounds can be found in water bodies and natural environments across the country and the world. Their impact on humans and ecology is significant and a subject of several emerging studies.
Village in India wins case, but awaits justice and clean water for over three decades
Bichhri village in Rajasthan’s Udaipur district has grappled with water scarcity and contamination for over 35 years due to industrial pollution from chemical factories. The factories, which produced fertilizers and acids, released toxic effluents into the environment, severely impacting drinking water, agriculture, and livestock. The village fought a legal battle and won the case. Despite winning the case in 1996 and a landmark judgement by the Supreme Court ordering the shut down of the factories and mandating the “polluter pays principle,” residents are still awaiting promised compensation and clean water. The contamination has led to a decline in crop yields, migration from the village, and reduced livestock productivity three decades later too. This story underscores the ongoing struggle for justice and environmental restoration.