Newsletter 2019-03-07


Can jaguar tourism save Bolivia’s fast dwindling forests? by Rhett A. Butler [03/07/2019]

– Few countries in the tropics has seen trees chopped down as quickly as Bolivia did between 2001 and 2017.
– Within Bolivia, nearly two-thirds of that loss occurred in just a single state—Santa Cruz—as agribusiness activity, namely cattle ranching and soy farming, ramped up.
– This loss has greatly reduced the extent of habitat for some of Bolivia’s beast known species, including the largest land predator in the Americas, the jaguar. On top of habitat loss, jaguars in Santa Cruz are both persecuted by landowners who see them as a danger to livestock and targeted in a lucrative new trade in their parts, including teeth and bones.
– Duston Larsen, the owner of San Miguelito Ranch, is working to reverse that trend by upending the perception that jaguars necessarily need be the enemy of ranchers.

EU sued to stop burning trees for energy; it’s not carbon neutral: plaintiffs by Justin Catanoso [03/06/2019]

– Plaintiffs in five European nations and the U.S. filed suit Monday, 4 March, in the European General Court in Luxembourg against the European Union. At issue is the EU’s rapid conversion of coal-burning powerplants to burn wood pellets and chips, a process known as bioenergy. Activists see the EUs bioenergy policies as reckless and endangering the climate.
– Bioenergy was classified as carbon neutral under the Kyoto Protocol, meaning that nations don’t need to count wood burning for energy among their Paris Agreement carbon emissions. However, studies over the last 20 years have found that bioenergy, while technically carbon neutral, is not neutral within the urgent timeframe in which the world must cut emissions.
– In essence, it takes many decades for new tree growth to re-absorb the amount of carbon released from burning mature trees in a single day. But the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change last October said that the world has just 12 years – not decades – to drastically cut emissions or face likely disastrous temperature rise and climate impacts.
– The activists filing suit face a difficult fight. Only EU member states and EU institutions are generally given standing to challenge legislative acts. To gain standing, they will have to prove that they are being impacted by the EU’s bioenergy policies. The activists say that ending bioenergy coal plant conversions is vital if the world is to avoid catastrophic climate change.

In Nigeria, hunters turn into guardians of the rarest gorilla on Earth by Linus Unah [03/04/2019]

– The Cross River gorilla was thought to be extinct by the 1980s, even though people living and hunting in remote areas along the Nigeria-Cameroon border knew the apes were still present deep in the forest.
– After the ape was formally rediscovered in the late 1980s, conservation groups and the Nigerian government worked to protect its habitat.
– In one part of the Cross River gorilla landscape, the Mbe Mountains, traditional landowners organized themselves into a community conservation association, keeping the forest under their stewardship.
– The association faces ongoing challenges, but with the support of NGOs like the Wildlife Conservation Society, it works to protect gorillas while improving the livelihoods of local people.

Brazil to receive first-ever results-based REDD+ payment, but concerns remain by Sarah Sax [03/01/2019]

– The U.N.’s Green Climate Fund (GCF) has approved the first proposal for REDD+ emissions reductions payments, totaling $96 million for around 19 million tons of emissions reductions.
– However, GFC board members and observer NGOs expressed concern over how the emissions reductions are calculated.
– A study published last month sheds light on the difficulty of accurately calculating changes in forest cover and calls for a more standardized approach.

In the Congo Basin, a road cuts through once-untouched ape wilderness by Eugene N. Nforngwa [03/01/2019]

– The TRIDOM landscape, encompassing forests in Cameroon, Gabon and the Republic of Congo, is home to more than 40,000 great apes as well as Central Africa’s largest elephant population.
– TRIDOM is in the path of a planned road link between Cameroon and Congo. Associated projects include a hydropower dam.
– While the project’s environmental impact assessment estimated only 750 hectares (1,850 acres) of woodland would be cleared for the road, on-the-ground observation of work in progress indicates the impact will be much greater.
– In addition to the direct impact of forest clearing, conservationists fear the road will increase habitat fragmentation, facilitate hunting and mining, and encourage human migration into the area — something that is already happening.

Kenya: Maasai herders work to keep themselves and wildlife roaming free by Michael Parks [02/28/2019]

– Government-run parks cover too little of Kenya’s territory to sustain the country’s wide-ranging wildlife populations, nearly two-thirds of which depend on open rangeland that indigenous herders also use.
– Today, herders and wildlife must navigate pastures that are increasingly crowded, fragmented, and fragile. Livestock numbers have increased dramatically, while wildlife populations have declined precipitously.
– The South Rift Association of Landowners (SORALO), a collective of Maasai-owned group ranches spanning 10,000 square kilometers (3,800 square miles), formed to protect the free movement of both people and wildlife on its terrain.
– While SORALO’s monitoring suggests its efforts are yielding results, South Rift communities face an extraordinarily complex future, and the goal of coexistence between herders and wildlife does not come easily.


New MPA established in Philippines includes community-led monitoring program by Mike Gaworecki [03/07/2019]
– A new marine protected area (MPA) has been founded in the Philippines within what are considered some of the most biologically diverse waters on Earth.
– The new MPA, which has been given the name Pirasan, encompasses more than 54 acres (about 22 hectares) of thriving coral reef habitat. The MPA was designed to protect this pristine reef system and, at the same time, boost an emerging local ecotourism industry.
– In addition to establishing the new protected area, the municipality of Tingloy has committed to a uniquely ambitious two-year program to monitor the reef’s health and empower local residents as stewards of the reef.

Saving the Cerrado: Six commodities traders to disclose supply chain data by Alicia Prager [03/07/2019]
– The Brazilian Cerrado once covered two million square kilometers (772,204 square miles), an area bigger than Great Britain, France and Germany combined, to the east and south of the Amazon. But today, more than half its native vegetation is gone largely due to a boom in soy production – with the valuable beans exported to the EU and other nations.
– The Amazon Soy Moratorium, a voluntary agreement, while reducing soy-caused deforestation In the Amazon biome, resulted in intensified deforestation in the neighboring Cerrado savannah biome. And until recently, transnational commodities firms have resisted a similar deforestation agreement in the Cerrado.
– Now 6 commodities companies and members of the Soft Commodities Forum – Cargill, Bunge, Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC), Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Glencore Agriculture, and COFCO International, a Chinese firm – have announced a new agreement to monitor soy supply chains in 25 Cerrado deforestation “high risk” municipalities.
– This new voluntary industry agreement, while a step forward, is seen as partial by critics. They say that more measures are needed to achieve zero forestation, stop farmworker exploitation, conserve land and water, and reduce over-usage of toxic pesticides.

Reducing human-elephant encounters with calls, texts, and digital signs by Vasudevan Sridharan [03/06/2019]
– The Hassan district of Karnataka, India has been a hotbed of human-elephant encounters for years and a challenge for forest authorities, who have been translocating crop-raiding elephants for decades.
– Researchers have replicated an elephant alert system that combines signs, voice calls, and text messaging used in the elephant corridors of neighboring Tamil Nadu’s Valparai region to reduce negative interactions between people and elephants in Hassan.
– Using familiar technologies, the new system has reduced annual human fatalities in the region from several to nearly zero.

Proximity to towns stretches giraffe home ranges by [03/06/2019]
– A recent study found that female giraffes that live close to towns have larger home ranges than those living further afield.
– The study’s authors believe that large human settlements reduce giraffes’ access to food and water.
– The team cites the importance of understanding the size of the area that giraffe populations need to survive to address the precipitous decline in the animal’s numbers across Africa in the past 30 years.

Philippines customs find more than 1,500 live turtles in suitcases by [03/06/2019]
– Customs officials in the Philippines have seized 1,529 live turtles found wrapped in duct tape inside four suitcases abandoned at the international airport in Manila.
– The confiscated turtles include threatened species like the Indian star tortoise, red-footed tortoise, and the sulcata or African spurred tortoise, as well as red-eared sliders, one of the most commonly traded turtles in the world.
– The officials say the suitcases belonged to a Filipino passenger who had arrived on a flight from Hong Kong. If caught, the passenger could face up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $3,800 for violating the country’s wildlife and customs laws, customs authorities said.
– The seized turtles, estimated to be worth $86,000, have been turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources–Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit.

Record levels of deforestation in Peruvian Amazon as gold mines spread by Yvette Sierra Praeli [03/06/2019]
– Deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon as a result of illegal gold mining hit record numbers in 2017 and 2018, according to an analysis of satellite imagery by the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP).
– During that period, more than 180 square kilometers (70 square miles) of forest was destroyed,

Salt fiends: Search for sodium puts Rwanda’s gorillas in harm’s way by Jim Tan [03/06/2019]
– A recent study has identified a craving for sodium as the likely reason that mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park raid eucalyptus plantations outside the park.
– Eucalyptus bark contains 100 times more sodium than the gorillas’ normal diet and accounts for up to two thirds of their total sodium intake.
– A proposed buffer zone of nutritionally unattractive plants could help deter gorillas from crop raiding, which is the primary cause of human-gorilla conflict in the area.

Without indigenous leadership, zero-deforestation policies will fail (commentary) by Malika Virah-Sawmy and Tiago Reis [03/05/2019]
– Importing countries and companies (such as traders, food processors, and retailers) committing to deforestation-free agriculture often assume that those commitments alone, if successfully realized, will protect forests and indigenous lands against illegal activities.
– But a new science-policy report supported by the Luc Hoffmann Institute argues that, for deforestation-free commitments to be successful at achieving their goal, indigenous groups, farmers, and other relevant stakeholders need to have a greater say throughout the process.
– Only a more inclusive deforestation-free policy can safeguard Brazil’s ecosystems.
– This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

Audio: Scott Wallace on the importance of protecting uncontacted indigenous groups in the Amazon by Mike Gaworecki [03/05/2019]
– On this episode of the Mongabay Newscast, we speak with Scott Wallace, a journalism professor at the University of Connecticut, National Geographic writer, and author of the New York Times best-selling book, The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon’s Last Uncontacted Tribes.
– The Unconquered tells the story of an expedition into remote Amazon rainforests undertaken by the head of Brazil’s Department of Isolated Indians in order to gather information about an uncontacted tribe known as “the Arrow People” and use that information to better protect the indigenous group from the ever-advancing arc of Amazonian deforestation.
– Wallace discusses his travels in the Amazon, the latest developments affecting the Arrow People, his reporting on the threats facing isolated and uncontacted indigenous tribes, and why allowing these uncontacted indigenous groups to go extinct would be a “great stain” on our humanity.

Late timber kingpin who plundered Myanmar’s forests unmasked by Lauren Crothers [03/05/2019]
– A Chinese kingpin managed to stockpile thousands of tons of high-grade Burmese teak after paying millions in bribes to corrupt officials in Myanmar, according to a new report.
– Cheng Pui Chee, who died last year, “worked with the state to defraud the state,” say investigators from the Environmental Investigation Agency.
– Some of this teak ends up in the EU and the U.S., in defiance of regulations meant to ensure imported wood is legally harvested and properly labeled and traded.

You’re gonna need a smaller boat: Media obscures shrinking ‘newsworthy’ fish by John C. Cannon [03/05/2019]
– The sizes of certain species of fish that qualify as “newsworthy” have diminished over time, a new study has found.
– The authors scoured English-language newspapers going back to 1869, searching for terms like “massive” and “giant” in mentions of noteworthy fish landings, and compared the reported lengths with the largest specimens on record for that species.
– They found that for some “charismatic megafish,” such as whale sharks and manta rays, the size that qualified as large has declined over time.
– That shifting baseline could pose a problem for conservation efforts because it gives the impression that “there are still a lot of very large fish in the sea,” marine ecologist Isabelle Côté said.

Activists fighting to save orangutan habitat from dam unfazed by legal setback by James Fair [03/05/2019]
– An Indonesian court has ruled that construction of a hydroelectric dam in North Sumatra can proceed despite concerns it will harm the critically endangered Tapanuli orangutan.
– Conservationists plan to appeal, citing “irregularities” in the decision and saying important issues raised during the hearing were not taken into account.
– The loss of even one or two orangutans per year due to impacts from the hydroelectric project could lead to eventual extinction, experts say.

The hidden costs of hydro: We need to reconsider world’s dam plans by Liz Kimbrough [03/05/2019]
– As thousands of hydroelectric dams are planned worldwide, including 147 in the Amazon, a new study finds that the true socio-environmental and cultural costs of dams are rarely evaluated before construction. Were such factors counted into the lifetime cost of the dams, many would not be built.
– Dam repairs and removal at the end of a project’s life are rarely figured into upfront costs. Nor are impacts on river flow reduction, loss of fisheries, and aquatic habitat connectivity, destruction of productive farmlands drowned by reservoirs, and the displacement of riverine peoples.
– Lack of transparency and corruption between government and dam construction companies is at the heart of the problem preventing change. Researchers recommend that environmental impact assessments (EIAs) and social impact assessments (SIAs) be granted enough weight so that if they turn out negatively it will prevent a bad dam from being built.
– EIAs and SIAs should be done by third parties serving citizens, not the dam company. Better governance surrounding dams needs to be organized and implemented. There needs to be increased transparency about the true financial, social, cultural and environmental costs of dams to the public. Maintaining river flows and fish migrations is also critical.

180 years of herps: Q&A with Luis Ceríaco on Angola’s atlas of life by Shreya Dasgupta [03/05/2019]
– Angola’s new atlas of amphibians and reptiles is a compendium of nearly 400 species recorded from thousands of scattered sources published between 1840 and 2017.
– The atlas includes the history of research into Angola’s herpetofauna as well as detailed distribution and conservation concerns of 117 species of frogs and 278 species of reptiles currently recognized in the country.
– By placing all available data on Angola’s herpetofauna in a single document, the atlas could serve as a tool for those interested in biodiversity conservation in the country, researchers say.
– Mongabay spoke with Luis M.P. Ceríaco, one of the researchers involved in the project, to know more about the atlas.

Business as usual on a reclaimed islet off Jakarta — despite closure order by Hans Nicholas Jong [03/05/2019]
– A food court is up and running and homes are being built on an artificial island that the Jakarta administration had ordered shut last year.
– The islet is one of 17 planned as part of a reclamation project in Jakarta Bay that’s been widely opposed by fishing communities and environmental activists.
– The city now says it will allow the operator of the food court to apply for a permit, despite having shut it down last July.
– The administration also plans to build a bridge, not included in the original reclamation proposal, that a fishing community says will disrupt its access to traditional fishing grounds.

Indigenous group sues Ecuador for earmarking its land for oil drilling by Kimberley Brown [03/05/2019]
– The Waorani lawsuit, co-filed with the Ecuadoran Human Rights Ombudsman, specifically refers to a 2012 consultation, which according to members of the community, was nothing more than a series of presentations by the government about how the oil money would benefit the community, and nothing about the negative repercussions.
– The indigenous community has long been opposed to an oil auction planned for the southeast Amazon. The government has divided the region into 13 blocks; one of them, Block 22, overlaps almost entirely with Waorani territory.
– More than 250 Waorani and other indigenous supporters from across the Amazon marched through the city of Puyo, capital of Pastaza province.

Trouble in Botswana’s elephant paradise as poaching said to rise by Johan Augustin [03/05/2019]
– Botswana is home to 130,000 elephants, a third of Africa’s total elephant population, and has gained a reputation as a sanctuary for the threatened species.
– This is thanks in large part to a hunting ban and strict anti-poaching measures, including the provision of automatic rifles to rangers, championed by the previous government.
– But a report based on an aerial survey carried out last year shows an alarming increase in poaching, notably of male elephants for their typically larger tusks — a finding disputed by the new government.
– The government, which moved to disarm anti-poaching rangers when it took office last year, is also considering ending the hunting ban to allow the trophy shooting and culling of elephants to get their population under control.

Glyphosate’s kidney disease link: More science, less politics (commentary) by Nalaka Gunawardene [03/05/2019]
– The suspension of a top award by a leading science group for two Sri Lankan scientists has reopened a discussion on the need for evidence-based advocacy in science.
– An expert panel appointed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is currently studying the process through which Sarath Gunatilake and Channa Jayasumana were nominated for its 2019 Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award.
– The scientists have long argued there is a link between a controversial weed killer and kidney disease that primarily affects people in Sri Lanka’s main rice-growing areas.
– This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

Guatemala: Proposed new park on indigenous land treads fine ethical line by Max Radwin [03/04/2019]
– Community leaders and environmental groups are working to expand protected areas around a mountain cloaked in rare cloud forest in central Guatemala that is home to several indigenous communities.
– There are many pitfalls to avoid: Conservation efforts have often historically overlooked the needs of local communities, excluding them from project planning and imposing disagreeable regulations on land use that threaten traditional ways of life.
– The NGO leading the effort is taking a two-pronged approach: One entails propping up local communities to reduce their dependence on the forest without altering their customs, and committing to getting their input into the protected area proposal.
– But the other entails buying up land in advance of lobbying congress for a new protected area. Because this part of their plan has all the earmarks of traditional “fortress conservation,” some outside experts are expressing concern.

Our brains can lead us astray when making ‘eco-friendly’ decisions by [03/04/2019]
– Humans rely on a set of cognitive tools, developed to help us sustain interpersonal relationships, to govern our choices that affect the global climate, a pair of psychologists suggests.
– People who purchase food with “eco-friendly” labeling might be apt to buy more of it thinking of it as an offset, when, in reality, all consumption has a climate cost.
– The team suggests that more accurate labeling could help consumers understand which choices are “less bad” rather than “good” for the environment.

Brazil’s New Forest Code puts vast areas of protected Amazon forest at risk by Claire Asher [03/04/2019]
– A still controversial 2012 update to the Brazilian Forest Code that reduced the area required for legal reserves on rural private properties is endangering more than 15 million hectares (57,915 square miles) of Amazon forest, an area roughly the size of the U.S. state of Georgia, according to a recent study.
– Under the 2012 New Forest Code changes, Amazon states that have protected at least 65 percent of their territory as conservation units or indigenous reserves can reduce the percentage of native vegetation required to be conserved on private lands, which could lead to even larger increases in Amazon forest loss in those states.
– The updated 2012 code also pardoned illegal deforestation that occurred prior to 2008, leading to concerns among conservationists that such amnesties give private landowners a greenlight to clear native vegetation on their properties with impunity. Some analysts expect more deforestation pardons in the future.
– Rather than changing Brazil’s laws, say experts, what is needed to curb Amazon deforestation is a sea change in Brazilian culture – ceasing to prioritize industrial agribusiness above conservation and other socioeconomic goals. Such a shift seems unlikely under President Bolsonaro, except via international market forces.

Architects bring bamboo revival to Indonesian village by Eko Rusdianto [03/04/2019]
– Local architects in Tanete, Indonesia, teamed up with the local government to build a new public space made primarily from bamboo.
– Bamboo, long used as a construction material, is abundant in the area.
– “Bamboo roots save a lot of water,” says Walid, who researches bamboo biomass in Indonesia. “This is what makes bamboo a very good conservation plant.”

As extinction looms, can Javan rhinos survive in Ujung Kulon? (Commentary) by Haerudin R. Sadjudin [03/04/2019]
– Indonesia’s Javan rhinos were widely hunted until they were protected by a Colonial-era law in 1910. Even then, enforcement was limited.
– Since 1921, the Ujung Kulon peninsula in western Java has been protected as a reserve for Javan rhinos. It is now the species’ sole remaining habitat.
– Ujung Kulon’s rhino population faces numerous challenges including invasive plants, competition from wild cattle and the risk of natural disasters and disease.
– This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

Sri Lanka to put its biodiversity in the spotlight at global trade summit by Dilrukshi Handunnetti [03/03/2019]
– Sri Lanka hosts the latest CITES conference this May, where member states will consider proposals for protections for a wide range of species.
– The host country has proposed several endemic lizard species for inclusion in CITES Appendix I, including the Knuckles pygmy lizard (Cophotis dumbara), a critically endangered species.
– Organizers also hope to use the conference to highlight wildlife tourism in Sri Lanka, a key contributor to the island’s economy.

Marine protected areas are getting SMART (commentary) by Drew T. Cronin | Katherine Holmes | Dayne Buddo [03/03/2019]
– This year, World Wildlife Day will celebrate life in the world’s oceans. It’s a fitting tribute. Oceans cover more than 70 percent of the world’s surface, harbor hundreds of thousands of species, and provide important resources to coastal communities that house more than 35 percent of the global population.
– Oceans also face significant threats, including overexploitation. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are central to the efforts to protect Earth’s seas and the wildlife that call them home. In recent years, there has been a surge in their creation.
– In order for this strategy to succeed, though, new and existing MPAs must be managed effectively. The Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) was developed by the SMART Partnership, a collaboration of nine global conservation organizations to improve the performance of protected areas, both on land and at sea, and better use limited resources.
– This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

Video: scientists capture giant spider eating an opossum by [03/02/2019]
– For the first time, researchers have documented a giant spider eating an opossum in the Amazon rainforest.
– Writing in the February 28th issue of the journal Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, a team of scientists describe several rarely observed cases of invertebrates eating various vertebrates, including frogs, lizards, snakes, and even a mammal — a mouse opossum.
– The mouse opossum incident occurred in 2016 in the Peruvian Amazon and was captured on film by biology students.
– The sighting was the first of a mygalomorph spider — a group of large spiders that includes tarantulas — preying on an opossum.

Malaysia to ban oil palm expansion? by [03/02/2019]
– Malaysia may ban further expansion of oil palm plantations in an effort to improve the oilseed’s reputation abroad, Minister of Primary Industries Teresa Kok told Bloomberg.
– Kok said the prime minister’s cabinet will weigh a proposal to cap Malaysia’s palm oil estate at 6 million hectares (14.8 million acres). Malaysia currently has 5.85 million hectares, so the cap provides allowances for about 150,000 hectares of expansion already underway.
– Kok said that Malaysia could continue to increase palm oil production despite the cap by improving yields of existing plantations.
– The proposed move comes in response to criticism over palm oil’s link to large-scale deforestation in Southeast Asia.

Taiwan: Extinct leopard subspecies allegedly seen by rangers by Erik Hoffner [03/02/2019]
– Formosan clouded leopards were reportedly spotted by rangers in a remote part of Taiwan.
– Declared extinct in 2013 after a years-long project to capture one on camera failed, community rangers say they saw the creatures twice last year.
– Mongabay asked the IUCN about the reports, but their big cat experts could not comment officially due to the lack of verifiable info on the sightings.
– “I believe this animal still does exist,” National Taitung University’s Department of Life Science professor Liu Chiung-hsi said.

Why did Serengeti’s wild dogs disappear? Study challenges controversial hypothesis by Shreya Dasgupta [03/01/2019]
– When African wild dogs disappeared from the famed Serengeti National Park in 1991, a controversial hypothesis that emerged was that handling by researchers to fit them with radio collars and take blood samples had compromised their immune systems and triggered a latent rabies virus.
– Decades later, a new study challenges that hypothesis, showing that wild dogs exposed to similar stresses and conditions to the east of the park didn’t face the same mortality rate.
– A proponent of the original hypothesis, though, says a more rigorous analysis of the wild dogs’ exposure to disease and levels of stress would have presented a more convincing argument.
– The study’s authors posit that African wild dogs went missing from the Serengeti plains because of increasing competition with lions and hyenas, whose numbers have increased in the park.

Norway divests from plantation companies linked to deforestation by Morgan Erickson-Davis [03/01/2019]
– This week, Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global – the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund – released its 2018 holdings.
– Thirty companies were divested from on the basis that they “impose substantial costs on other companies and society as a whole and so are not long-term sustainable.” These “risk-based divestments” appear to include four plantation companies: Olam International, Halcyon Agri Corp, Sime Darby Plantation and Sipef.
– These companies are involved in the production of commodity crops in tropical areas in Southeast Asia, West Africa, and Oceania and have been criticized for destructive land use practices like deforestation.

Brazil’s Sinop Dam flouts environmental legislation (Commentary) by Philip M. Fearnside [03/01/2019]
– The reservoir of Brazil’s Sinop Dam began filling in January 30, 2019, killing fish in the river below the dam. Oxygen levels in the water were minimal. Only 30 percent of the vegetation had been removed from the reservoir area, rather than the 100 percent required by law – a law that has been widely ignored.
– Permission to fill the reservoir was granted based on a consultant report commissioned by the power company with modeling results predicting good water quality in the portion of the reservoir from which water is released to the river.
– The fish dieoff at Sinop draws attention to the inadequacy of the licensing system, to the responsibility of paid consultants, and to the continuing efforts of Brazil’s judicial system to return the country to legality in the environmental area.
– This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

Latam Eco Review: Mining bust in Peru, mining boom in Chile by [03/01/2019]
A state of emergency against illegal mining in Peru, open season for new mining ports in Chile, drones vs rats in the Galápagos, and jaguar corridors in Colombia are among the top recent stories from our Spanish-language service, Mongabay Latam. Massive raid on illegal mining in Peru’s Madre de Dios Peruvian security forces descended en […]

In other news: Environmental stories from around the web, March 1, 2019 by [03/01/2019]
– 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.
– Mongabay does not vet the news sources below, nor does the inclusion of a story on this list imply an endorsement of its content.

Protests flare as pressure mounts on dam project in orangutan habitat by Hans Nicholas Jong [03/01/2019]
– Activists in Jakarta and cities around the world staged protests outside Bank of China branches and Chinese diplomatic missions on March 1.
– They called on state-owned BOC to end its funding for a hydroelectric project in Sumatra that threatens the only known habitat of the Tapanuli orangutan, the world’s rarest great ape.
– A lawsuit is pending in an Indonesian court, and a verdict due on March 4 could see the developer’s environmental permit rescinded, essentially halting the project.
– The protests come amid a revelation, first reported by Mongabay, that the signature of a scientist involved in the environmental impact analysis was forged to obtain the permit.

Indigenous hunters vital to robust food webs in Australia by [03/01/2019]
– A new study has found that the removal of indigenous hunters from a food web in the Australian desert contributed to the local extinction of mammal species.
– The Martu people had subsisted in the deserts of western Australia for millennia before the government resettled them to make space for a missile test range in the 1950s.
– A team of researchers modeled the effects of this loss, revealing that the hunting fires used by the Martu helped maintain a diverse landscape that supported a variety of mammals and kept invasive species in check.


It pays, but does it stay? Hunting in Namibia’s community conservation system by John Grobler [02/26/2019]
Fears of a dire precedent as Brazil seeks results-based REDD+ payment by Sarah Sax [02/25/2019]
Stunting, loss of earning potential linked to Indonesia’s 1997 wildfires by Lauren Crothers [02/22/2019]