Newsletter 2018-11-15


Agroforestry saves soil and boosts livelihoods in Tajikistan by Daniyar Serikov [11/13/2018]

– Tajikistan is a dry and mountainous country where agroforestry is increasingly stabilizing soils degraded by decades of overgrazing, while growing food and providing cover for wildlife.
– “Alley cropping” is the main agroforestry technique used in the area of Faizobod, in which crops or grains are grown between rows of fruit or nut trees that shield the tender annuals from incessant wind and sun.
– Farm sizes are generally small, but farmers whom Mongabay visited enjoy multiple harvests annually, including 4 to 5 tons of apples a year in some cases.
– Agroforestry also sequesters carbon from the atmosphere in the woody trunks and limbs of trees and vines: it’s estimated that there are currently 45 gigatons of carbon sequestered by these agricultural systems worldwide.

The last trees of the Amazon by Nelly Luna Amancio (OjoPúblico) [11/12/2018]

– Illegally-sourced timber from Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Colombia are incorporated into the international market with falsified official documents that are almost never verified.
– Timber traffickers are now pursuing new species of trees, but the countries’ governments do very little to protect the species.

Haiti may lose all primary forest by 2035, mass extinction underway by Carinya Sharples & Morgan Erickson-Davis [11/09/2018]

– Analysis of satellite imagery and aerial photographs indicate that all of Haiti’s remaining primary forest will disappear in less than two decades if current deforestation rates continue. Results indicate primary forest cover in Haiti shrank from 4.4 percent in 1988 to just 0.32 percent in 2016, and that 42 of Haiti’s 50 largest mountains have lost all of their primary forest cover.
– These forests are home to endangered animals found nowhere else in the world; researchers say the country is already experiencing a mass extinction event due to habitat loss.
– Deforestation-intensified flooding has also been implicated in thousands of human deaths.
– Researchers say Haiti’s forest loss is driven largely by charcoal production and agriculture.


Palm oil supplier to PepsiCo, Mars, and Hershey resumes deforesting in Indonesia by Loren Bell [11/15/2018]
– A palm oil producer that supplies major companies including Nestlé, Mars, Hershey and Johnson & Johnson has been found to have cleared 4.5 square kilometers (1.7 square miles) of intact forest in Indonesia since May.
– While the clearing by the subsidiary of Jakarta-listed PT Austindo Nusantara Jaya Tbk (ANJ) is likely legal, it violates the well-publicized no-deforestation commitments of many of its customers.
– Satellite monitoring by initiatives like the Word Resources Institute’s Global Forest Watch are making it harder for companies to deny knowledge of forest clearing by suppliers.
– But how aggressively each company responds is ultimately up to them, and is often directly linked to how much pressure they receive. Only Nestlé has confirmed it is actively working to remove ANJ from its supply chain.

Radar helps Kenya map mangroves and other cloud-covered forests by Gatonye Gathura [11/15/2018]
– Using Sentinel-1 radar imagery from the European Space Agency, the Forest2020 project has mapped a part of Kenya’s previously hard-to-assess coastal forests.
– The project’s findings show that 45 percent of the 83.5 square kilometers (32 square miles) of mangrove forest in a pilot county is highly degraded and in need of rehabilitation.
– These initial micro-scale maps of Kenya’s mangrove forests will help local forest officers and communities in areas with receding or recovering mangroves to take necessary coastal protection measures.

Saving the Amazon has come at the cost of Cerrado deforestation: study by Claire Asher [11/15/2018]
– In the early 21st century, Amazon biome deforestation decreased, as native vegetation loss began rising dramatically in the Cerrado savanna biome in Brazil. Now, scientists using a new research methodology known as telecoupling, have found that the Amazon deforestation decline and Cerrado increase are linked.
– The effect, known as spillover, resulted as two zero deforestation conservation agreements – the 2006 Soy Moratorium and 2009 Brazilian Federal Prosecutors’ Terms of Adjustment of Conduct (TACs) – prompted commodities traders and ranchers to stop buying soy and cattle raised on newly deforested Amazon land.
– However, a portion of this agribusiness activity simply relocated to the Cerrado. The research team notes that this deforestation spillover effect – resulting from regionalized conservation initiatives – had been neglected by conservationists in the past because the underlying mechanisms are difficult to identify.
– The researchers suggest that telecoupling can be used in future research to understand the influences of conservation policies and supply chain agreements, whose impacts are displaced between biomes, countries and even continents. Telecoupling as a tool is especially important in a globalized, interconnected world.

For the two Congos, lessons in a peatland partnership with Indonesia by Hans Nicholas Jong [11/15/2018]
– Officials from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of Congo visited Indonesia recently to see firsthand the country’s experience with managing tropical peatlands.
– The three countries have committed to joint efforts to study and conserve peat forests, particularly in the Congo Basin.
– Protecting peat is seen as a crucial move in the fight against climate change, given the huge amounts of greenhouse gases locked in peat soils.

California’s Tropical Forest Standard could be the state’s most important climate action (commentary) by Steve Schwartzman and Christina McCain [11/14/2018]
– This week, the California Air Resources Board will meet to decide if it will adopt a set of comprehensive requirements for large-scale programs to reduce tropical deforestation emissions, known as the Tropical Forest Standard.
– Approving this Standard, with its robust social and environmental safeguards, is the most important thing California can do right now for the climate (including its own climate), for the Amazon and other tropical forests, and for the people who live in them.
– Adopting California’s Tropical Forest Standard, which doubles down on the most rigorous best practices for social and environmental safeguards, would send exactly the message that governments, farmers, and indigenous and local communities now most need to hear.
– This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

‘Not all hope is lost’ as outlook for mountain gorillas brightens by John C. Cannon [11/14/2018]
– The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) changed the status of mountain gorillas from Critically Endangered to Endangered today.
– The new assessment cites the subspecies’ growing numbers, now at around 1,000 individuals, and the conservation efforts on its behalf.
– Scientists say that, while this is an important milestone, mountain gorillas’ survival depends on continued conservation.

Oreo maker linked to destruction of orangutan habitat in Indonesia by Hans Nicholas Jong [11/14/2018]
– Mondelēz International, the company behind Oreo cookies and Ritz crackers, continues to source palm oil linked to deforestation in Indonesia, according to a Greenpeace report.
– The report said the company’s suppliers had cleared an area of rainforest greater than the city of San Francisco from 2015 to 2017, of which more than a third was orangutan habitat.
– Greenpeace says Mondelēz’s supply chain continues to be tainted with palm oil produced on deforested land because it uses the weakest certification model for its supply.
– Mondelēz, which has committed to a zero deforestation goal by 2020, says it hasn’t yet been able to achieve 100 percent sustainable palm oil in its supply chain, and pledged to keep working to that end with its suppliers.

Republic of Congo names new national park, home to gorillas, elephants by Shreya Dasgupta [11/14/2018]
– The new Ogooué-Leketi National Park is the Republic of Congo’s fifth national park.
– It borders Batéké Plateau National Park in neighboring Gabon, and together the two parks form a transboundary protected area covering more than 5,500 square kilometers (2,120 square miles).
– The official designation of Ogooué-Leketi National Park comes after three logging concessions that overlapped with the proposed park area were finally closed down.
– All of the rights-holding communities that live close to the Ogooué-Leketi National Park were involved in the process of creating the protected area, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Congo program.

‘No one is helping us’: Venezuelan conservation crippled by crisis by Nora Ward [11/14/2018]
– Many conservationists have fled Venezuela since an economic crisis began in 2014.
– Those who have chosen to remain behind complain of a lack of funding and resources, and say they feel abandoned by the international community.
– Despite incredible difficulties, some conservationists are still able to take action, including rediscovering a long-lost bird.

Speed trap: Cameras help defuse human-cheetah conflict in Botswana by Calistus Bosaletswe [11/13/2018]
– Increases in human-wildlife conflict could undermine Botswana’s conservation efforts, with farmers in some areas shooting carnivores preventatively to protect their livestock.
– Camera traps have helped researchers in Botswanan farmland to monitor cheetahs and other elusive or low-density predators without habituating them to human presence, a key feature in areas where farmers believe they will kill livestock.
– Communicating with local farmers and sharing camera-trap data on cheetahs’ territorial behavior and long-distance travel can help show farmers there may be far fewer individuals than they realize — “the cheetah seen today on one farm may be the same one seen [earlier] several farms away.”

Audio: A Half-Earth progress report from E.O. Wilson by Mike Gaworecki [11/13/2018]
– On this episode, a progress report on the Half-Earth Project direct from legendary conservation biologist E.O. Wilson.
– When Mongabay contributor Jeremy Hance spoke with Dr. Wilson back in January of 2017, Wilson said he’d found the goal of Half-Earth was energizing for people — and he tells us on this episode of the podcast that this continues to be true, as the conservation community has responded eagerly to the Half-Earth goal.
– Wilson also discusses why he sees Half-Earth as a “moonshot” and how close we currently are to protecting half of Earth’s lands and waters.

PNG to create 7,500 square kilometers of new marine protected areas in Bismarck Sea by [11/13/2018]
– Papua New Guinea has announced its commitment to creating 7,500 square kilometers of marine protected areas in the Bismarck Sea by 2021.
– The new MPA network will encompass 2,500 square kilometers of coastal areas around Tikana and Lavongai islands including key coral reef systems in the Bismarck Sea, as well as 5,000 square kilometers of offshore areas identified as high priorities for marine conservation in New Ireland Province.
– The PNG government has pledged to triple the coverage of its current MPA network, and this new 7,500-square-kilometer (nearly 2,900-square-mile) commitment will achieve that goal. According to WCS president and CEO Cristián Samper, the new MPAs will also help the country meet its Aichi Target goal of protecting 10 percent of its territorial waters and coastline by the year 2025.

Chile: Mining waste continues to be expelled into the sea by Michelle Carrere [11/13/2018]
– A major mining company is dumping its waste into the sea off the Chilean city of Huasco without authorization from environmental authorities.
– The waste suffocates marine life, destroys habitat and contaminates the water column with toxic heavy metals.
– Despite sanctions against the company for violating regulations, it continues to dump mining waste into the sea as it has for 40 years.

Vietnam-EU legal timber agreement signed, but much work remains by Michael Tatarski [11/13/2018]
HO CHI MINH CITY — The European Union has signed an agreement to support Vietnam’s forest governance improvement goals, aimed at ensuring that the timber it imports from the Southeast Asian country is legally sourced. The Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) was signed Oct. 19 in Brussels by […]

China restores ban on rhino and tiger parts, for now by [11/13/2018]
– In an announcement on Oct. 29, the Chinese government said it would permit the controlled use of rhino horn and tiger bone, obtained from farmed rhinos and tigers, for medical purposes.
– China has since walked back the decision, postponing the implementation of the new regulations temporarily.
– Even with the ban restored for now, activists are concerned that the message about the acceptability of animal parts in traditional Chinese medicine lacks clarity, and say they hope the ban will be reinstated permanently.

Honduras aims to save vital wildlife corridor from deforestation by [11/13/2018]
– Honduras has pledged to remove livestock from the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site that’s home to jaguars, tapirs and macaws.
– The reserve is found in the Moskitia region’s rainforests, around 30 percent of which have been cleared in the past 15 years, largely due to cattle and livestock ranching.
– Conservation groups hailed the move as one that would benefit both Honduras and the world because of the region’s biodiversity and carbon stocks.

Bolsonaro merger of Brazil agriculture and environment ministries in limbo by Jenny Gonzales [11/12/2018]
– During his campaign, presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro repeatedly called for the merger of Brazil’s Ministry of Environment (MMA) and Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA). Bolsonaro strongly backs agribusiness, while seeing the work of environmentalists as undermining the Brazilian economy.
– However, the president elect was met in recent days by a firestorm of resistance against the merger from environmentalists, NGOs, scientists, academics, the environmental ministry itself, and from eight former environmental ministries.
– Even the bancada ruralista agribusiness lobby has come out against the proposal, calling it unworkable, noting that the two ministries have different, incompatible missions and agendas that would be compromised by a merger. Others note that a spirited dialogue between the two ministries is politically healthy for the nation.
– Bolsonaro, in response to criticism, said he will reconsider his plan, making a final decision on the merger known after taking office in January. Despite being close during the campaign to extreme right ruralists (mostly cattle ranchers), Bolsonaro has selected Tereza Cristina, a somewhat less radical ruralist, as new agriculture minister.

Indonesia leans on businesses to do more about plastic waste by Basten Gokkon [11/12/2018]
– The Indonesian government will issue a policy this year requiring producers and retailers to take greater responsibility for the waste generated by their products.
– Under the extended producer responsibility (EPR) policy, producers will have to boost the percentage of recyclable content in their products and packaging, as well as provide post-retail recycling solutions.
– The country is the second-biggest contributor, after China, to the plastic trash crisis in the ocean.

Satellite technology unites Kenyans against bush fires by David Njagi [11/09/2018]
– The Eastern and Southern Africa Fire Information System (ESAFIS), an online application developed in Kenya, uses MODIS satellite information to detect bush fires in eastern Africa.
– The freely available app maps and categorizes bush fires in near-real time and shows details of each fire , including the time it was detected, its location with respect to towns and protected areas, and its relative intensity.
– By providing an early fire warning system, the system helps forest management authorities respond to fires in their early stages and prioritize limited resources to fire hotspots.

In other news: Environmental stories from around the web, November 9, 2018 by [11/09/2018]
– There are many important conservation and environmental stories Mongabay isn’t able to cover.
– Here’s a digest of some of the significant developments from the week.
– If you think we’ve missed something, feel free to add it in the comments.

Novel research method reveals small-scale gold mining’s impact on Peruvian Amazon by Mike Gaworecki [11/09/2018]
– According to research released yesterday, small-scale gold mining has led to the destruction of more than 170,000 acres of primary rainforest in the Peruvian Amazon over the past five years.
– Scientists based in Peru’s Madre de Dios region at Wake Forest University’s Center for Amazonian Scientific Innovation (CINCIA) say they’ve developed a new method for detecting artisanal-scale mining that is 20-25 percent more accurate than the tools used in the past.
– The researchers combined the CLASlite forest monitoring technology with Global Forest Change datasets on forest loss, both of which use lightwaves to identify changes in the landscape, to arrive at their estimate of rainforest destruction driven by small gold mining operations in Peru, which they say is 30 percent higher than previous estimates.

End of funding dims hopes for a Sumatran forest targeted by palm oil growers by Elviza Diana and Hans Nicholas Jong [11/09/2018]
– The Harapan lowland rainforest in Sumatra, one of only 36 global biodiversity hotspots, could be lost to oil palm plantations within the next five years.
– The Danish government, which since 2011 has funded efforts to restore the forest and keep out encroaching farmers, will cease its funding at the end of this year. No other sources of funding are in sight to fill the gap.
– The Danish ambassador to Indonesia says local authorities need to take on more of the responsibility of protecting the forest.
– He says relying on donor funding is unsustainable over the long term, and has called for greater emphasis on developing ecotourism and trade in non-timber forest products.

Peru cracks down after environmental defenders’ murders by Matthew Weaver and Rajmonda Rexhi [11/09/2018]
– Peruvian police have arrested 12 members of a gang believed to be involved in the murder of four environmental defenders in the Chaparrí ecological reserve.
– The community-run reserve has in recent years been the target of a sustained campaign of land grabs, deforestation and arson.
– The land grabbers appear to be counting on a planned reservoir in the area to boost the value of the land for agricultural use.
– The Peruvian Congress has established a committee to look into the problems there, as threats and attacks against the community persist.

Latam Eco Review: Hungry manatees and grand theft tortoise by [11/09/2018]
The recent top stories from our Spanish-language service, Mongabay Latam, concerned hungry manatees in Venezuelan zoos; giant tortoises stolen from the Galápagos Islands; and a ban on free, prior and informed consent in Colombian extractive projects. Venezuelan zoos struggle to feed their animals Venezuela’s ongoing economic crisis is affecting the ability of researchers and zoo […]

In West Papua’s Arfak Mountains, local leaders plot ecotourism boom by Christopel Paino [11/09/2018]
– The governors of Indonesia’s Papua and West Papua provinces recently signed a pledge to conserve 70 percent of the land in their jurisdictions, home to some of the best forest left in the country.
– In the newly established district of Pegunungan Arfak, local leaders believe ecoutourism can boost the economy while also protecting the environment.
– They hope to follow the example set by Costa Rica, an ecotourism success story that generates almost $3 billion in annual revenue for that country.


China increasingly involved in Brazil’s ambitious Amazon rail network by Sue Branford and Maurício Torres [11/08/2018]
Timor-Leste: With sacrifice and ceremony, tribe sets eco rules by Bikash Kumar Bhattacharya [11/08/2018]
Evicted for a showpiece project, this PNG community fights for justice by Lucy EJ Woods [11/08/2018]
Cerrado farm community fights for life against dam and eucalyptus growers by Anna Sophie Gross [11/07/2018]