Newsletter 2020-12-24



‘Devastating’ fires engulf Brazilian Pantanal wetlands – again by Ana Ionova [12/23/2020]

– Wildfires erupting in August have ravaged much of Brazil’s Pantanal Matogrossense National Park, which is a part of the Pantanal region, the world’s largest tropical wetland.
– Fires have so far consumed nearly 4.5 million hectares across the Pantanal, totaling about 30% of the biome and nearly 22 times the area lost between 2000 and 2018.
– This year’s intense fires added to damage already done in 2019, when flames engulfed hundreds of thousands of hectares across the Pantanal.
– Sources say most of the fires started from slash-and-burn farming, which is becoming more prevalent due to the weakening of environmental agencies under the Bolsonaro administration.

Traditional and Indigenous peoples ‘denounce’ planned Amazon railway by Thais Borges and Sue Branford [12/23/2020]

– The Ferrovia Paraense (FEPASA) railway if fully completed would run 1,312 kilometers (815 miles) from Santana do Araguaia in southern Pará, along the state’s eastern border, to the port city of Barcarena on the Amazon River. It could carry 80 million tons of mining ores and agribusiness commodities annually.
– In 2019, Pará state signed a memorandum of understanding with the China Communication Construction Company for a R$7 billion (US$1.4 billion) investment to fund the building of 492 kilometers (305 miles) of the railway, from Marabá to Barcarena. Construction is currently expected to start in 2021.
– But that plan could be delayed by resistance from Indigenous and traditional communities who say they’ve yet to be consulted on the project, as required by international law. FEPASA and Ferrogrão (Grainrail) will integrate Pará into Brazil’s vast rail network, greatly aiding export of Amazon commodities to China.
– A letter from the Amazon communities to Pará’s government accused it and its allies of “forcing on us a development model that does not represent us, that is imposing railways,… expelling people from their lands, ending our food security, destroying our people, destroying our cultures,… and killing our forests.”

Pollution, water cuts strengthen calls for environmental law reform in Malaysia by Danielle Keeton-Olsen [12/23/2020]

– Repeated water cut-offs due to the illegal dumping of chemicals in Malaysia’s rivers have led to a groundswell of citizens calling for stronger enforcement against industrial polluters.
– The surge of angry consumers is amplifying a call long made by civil society groups to reform the country’s environmental regulations, particularly the Environmental Quality Act of 1974, the primary federal law aimed at curbing pollution and protecting the environment.
– With recent changes in the national government, and increasingly dynamic competition among political parties, calls for reform appear to be meeting with a positive response from the government, which has convened an interdisciplinary task force to make recommendations.

Soy moratorium averted New Jersey-size loss of Amazon rainforest: Study by John C. Cannon [12/23/2020]

– A new study sought to quantify the impact of the Amazon soy moratorium, signed in 2006 by companies accounting for around 90% of the soy sourced from the Brazilian Amazon.
– The companies agreed that they would not purchase soy grown on plots that were recently deforested.
– The research demonstrates that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon between 2006 and 2016 was 35% lower than it would have been without the moratorium, likely keeping 18,000 square kilometers (6,950 square miles) of the Amazon standing.
– Despite the success, observers question whether the ban on soy from deforested areas of the Amazon will prevent the loss of rainforest over the long term.

Top 10 environmental news stories of 2020 by Rhett A. Butler [12/22/2020]

– 2020 is a year that many people would like to forget. Here’s a look at 10 of the biggest environmental storylines to remember.
– The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic transcended virtually everything in 2020, including the environment, from canceled summits on climate and biodiversity to a temporary dip in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, to greater awareness of the link between human health and planetary health.
– Conservation efforts in tropical countries were especially hard hit by the pandemic.

A Madagascar forest long protected by its remoteness is now threatened by it by Edward Carver [12/21/2020]

– Satellite data show an increase in deforestation in Tsaratanana Reserve and the neighboring COMATSA protected area in northern Madagascar in recent years, and an uptick in the last few months.
– Though many of the island’s forests have been extensively cleared, these northern forests were relatively well protected until recently.
– The loss of these forests to make way for the illegal cultivation of marijuana, vanilla and rice threatens the region’s rich biodiversity and high endemism, conservationists say.
– Some experts argue that the legalization of marijuana would make it less likely that people would grow the crop in the remote forests of Tsaratanana.

Historical analysis: The Amazon’s mineral wealth — curse or blessing? by Thais Borges and Sue Branford [12/21/2020]

– Mining of gold and other precious metals in the Amazon fueled the Spanish and Portuguese colonial empires, while bringing misery and death to unknown hundreds of thousands of Indigenous people and African slaves, forced to work the mines.
– Modern industrial mining came to the Brazilian Amazon in the late 1940s as transnational firms began digging up and processing manganese, iron, bauxite, zinc, and other ores. Like the earlier iterations of mining, transnational firms, investors, and nations profited hugely, while local people saw little benefit.
– Brazil offered massive subsidies and tax incentives to attract transnational mining companies, and built giant public works projects, including mega-dams, transmission lines, and roads to provide energy and other services to the mines. Though the government offered little to disrupted traditional communities.
– All this came with extraordinary socio-environmental costs, as Brazilian Amazon deforestation soared, land and waterways were polluted, and Indigenous and riverine peoples were deprived of their traditional ways of life and lands, and suffered major public health repercussions. This mining trend continues today.

Sighting of super rare Chacoan fairy armadillo in Bolivia ‘a dream come true’ by Thais Borges and Sue Branford [12/21/2020]

– A sighting of one of the rarest mammals in the world, the elusive Chacoan fairy armadillo, was recently documented by a team of Bolivian biologists.
– Seldom seen, the animal–which lives among the Gran Chaco dry forests of Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay–has a population that is considered ‘data deficient’ by the IUCN, and is likely quite small.
– The species uses its huge claws and strong front legs to ‘swim’ into the Chaco’s sandy soils: its armor and tail are similarly adapted to facilitate their subterranean lifestyle.
– “This was a dream come true to see this animal,” one expert told Mongabay, since such sightings top the wishlists of mammal enthusiasts around the world.

Bold sustainability commitments: An interview with Microsoft’s Lucas Joppa by Rhett A. Butler [12/18/2020]

– One of the boldest climate commitments in 2020 came from the tech giant Microsoft, which in January pledged to be carbon negative by 2030 and to address its legacy emissions–all the carbon the company has emitted since its founding in 1975–by 2050.
– Microsoft has also committed to replenish more water than it consumes and produce zero net waste by 2030, while protecting more land than it uses by 2025. Further, the company said it would lend its computing power toward efforts to combat biodiversity loss and use its voice to advocate for public policies that “measure and manage ecosystems.”
– Heading up these ambitious sustainability initiatives is Microsoft’s chief environmental officer Lucas Joppa, a Ph.D. ecologist who also conceived of Microsoft’s AI for Earth platform.
– Joppa spoke with Mongabay Founder Rhett A. Butler in a December 2020 interview.

In an oil spill’s aftermath in Peru, new voices lead an Indigenous fight for justice by Francesco Garcia Delago, Vanessa Romo [12/18/2020]

– The women formed three organizations that have been crucial over the past six years in pushing for improvements to public health, the environment, and economic stability.
– Through the consolidated and strengthened organizations, the women of Cuninico have worked to successfully reclaim crucial community rights.
– Among their victories is a pending court order for the government to remediate the 2014 oil spill and commit to basic community services.



Analysis: How Vietnam came to embrace a new vision of the Mekong Delta’s future by David Brown [24 Dec 2020]
– Vietnam’s investments in the Mekong Delta helped turn the nation into a top rice exporter and, subsequently, a manufacturing powerhouse.
– Today, however, the “rice first” policy has become unsustainable, as climate change threatens the fertile Mekong Delta region in Vietnam’s south.
– In recent years, policymakers have grappled over how to gird the country’s most important agricultural region against the effects of rising seas and upstream dam building.
– This article is the first in a two-part series on the future of Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.

Colombia’s forests lurch between deforestation and the hope for a sustainable future by Dimitri Selibas [24 Dec 2020]
– More than half of Colombia’s territory is covered in forest, and the country is the second most biodiverse in the world, but suffers from widespread deforestation.
– The highest levels of deforestation are in the Amazon, which makes up two-thirds of Colombia’s forests, with 70% of this deforestation related to land grabbing driven by illegal groups linked to illicit activities.
– Rural reform and access to land are key parts of the peace agreement that ended Colombia’s long-running civil war and are also part of the strategy to fight deforestation; yet only 3% of these commitments been completed since the signing of the accord in 2016.
– Experts say the country needs a much more ambitious forest policy, especially given that its embrace of conservation is undermined by its continued support for extractive activities such as mining and oil drilling.

In Madagascar’s hungry south, drought pushes more than 1 million to brink of famine by Malavika Vyawahare [24 Dec 2020]
– In Madagascar’s deep south, 1.35 million people, including 100,000 children, could fall victim to malnutrition this year, as the worst drought in a decade grips the region.
– This remote region has witnessed 16 famines since 1896, eight of which occurred in the past four decades. Most were the direct result of rainfall deficits, but misguided or failed policies have deepened the distress.
– This year, with crop failures, pandemic-related restrictions curbing access to markets, and sharp increases in prices of essentials, food has remained out of reach for thousands.
– Such droughts and the attendant famines are likely to become more frequent due to climate change, producing more hunger and distress in one of the poorest countries in the world.

Podcast: New innovations to clean up the impacts of mining by Mike Gaworecki [23 Dec 2020]
– We bring you two stories that illustrate some of the innovative new ways conservationists are attempting to address the impacts of mining on this episode of the Mongabay Newscast.
– Dr. Manuela Callari, a Mongabay contributing writer who recently wrote about Australia’s tens of thousands of abandoned and shuttered mines, discusses novel solutions to restoring native habitat destroyed by mining, and how the industry is finally beginning to work with local and aboriginal communities in creating mine closure plans.
– And Bjorn Bergman, an analyst with the NGO SkyTruth, discusses Project Inambari, an open mapping platform that utilizes satellite radar imagery to detect the impacts of small-scale, illegal mining in the Amazon rainforest.
– Project Inambari was named one of the winners of the Artisanal Mining Challenge, a global competition that recently awarded $750,000 in prizes for innovative solutions.

Human rights-based conservation is key to protecting biodiversity: Study by Liz Kimbrough [23 Dec 2020]
– To slow the rapid loss of global biodiversity, many countries have made commitments to protect and conserve large areas of land in the coming decades, but the fate of the Indigenous peoples, local communities and Afro-descendants who live on these lands remains unclear.
– Past approaches to creating protected areas have involved relocating people or banning access and traditional use of land from its historical inhabitants. An estimated 136 million people have been displaced in the process of formally protecting land.
– A new study addresses the risks Indigenous peoples, local communities and Afro-descendants face from exclusionary conservation measures and urges decision-makers to adapt rights-based conservation approaches.
– As the new post-2020 Global Biodiversity framework draft is negotiated, the 190 countries involved have the opportunity to, according to the study, “actively redress conservation’s colonial history and begin decolonizing conservation,” by codifying rights-based conservation approaches.

Being realistic about coal mine rehabilitation in Indonesia: An ecological perspective by David Woodbury and Arbainsyah [23 Dec 2020]
– Once covered in vast tropical forests, East Kalimantan, in the Indonesian half of Borneo Island, is today the most intensively mined province in Indonesia.
– Surface mining for coal has left behind vast expanses of barren land across the province.
– Under Indonesian law, mining companies are responsible for rehabilitating their mining concessions.
– In this analysis, based on field work in mining sites in East Kalimantan, restoration ecologists David Woodbury (School of the Environment, The Forest School, Yale University ) and Arbainsyah (Environmental Leadership & Training Initiative, Tropenbos Indonesia) argue the rehabilitation of coal mines is far more difficult, and likely far less effective, than environmentalists, mining companies and policy makers might hope.

Songbird trade in Indonesia threatens wild Sunda laughingthrush by Basten Gokkon [22 Dec 2020]
– The wild population of the Sunda laughingthrush, a once common songbird species, has been battered by the illegal trade in Indonesia, according to a recent study.
– Field surveys over the course of 30 years show a significant decline in the number of laughingthrushes sold at markets across 30 Indonesian cities, with an attendant rise in price.
– The absence of known commercial captive breeding records of the species also indicates that all Sunda laughingthrushes observed in trade were sourced from the wild, the study shows.
– The authors have called on Indonesian and international conservation authorities to reassess the status of the bird’s wild population to reflect the current condition and ban its trade outright.

Ribeirinhos win right to waterside Amazon homeland lost to Belo Monte dam by Sue Branford and Maurício Torres [22 Dec 2020]
– Some 40,000 people — mostly peasant farmers, fisherfolk, traditional families (living from the collection of forest products), Indigenous people, and ribeirinhos — were evicted to make way for the Belo Monte dam, constructed between June 2011 and November 2019.
– The ribeirinhos (traditional riverine people) were not politically well organized at the time, and along with many others, were forced out of their traditional riverside homes and livelihoods. Most moved into urban housing developments away from the Xingu River, where they were forced to pay rent and acclimate themselves to urban life.
– But over the years the ribeirinhos gained political savvy. Negotiating with Norte Energia, the consortium that built and runs Belo Monte, they gained the right to establish a collectively owned Ribeirinho Territory beside the Belo Monte reservoir.
– Under the agreement, 315 families are each to be provided with 14 hectares (34 acres) for individual use. Added to that are areas for collective use and a forest reserve — a combined total of 20,341 hectares (50,263 acres). However, with the deal now seemingly sealed, Norte Energia has backpedaled, wanting to propose a different agreement.

Critical temperature threshold spells shorter lives for tropical trees by Liz Kimbrough [22 Dec 2020]
– Rising temperatures as a result of climate change are making tropical forests hotter, which translates into shorter life spans for tropical tree species, a new study shows.
– Tropical forests host about 50% of Earth’s biodiversity and 50% of its forest carbon stocks; their capacity to capture and store carbon depends on their health and longevity.
– The authors of the study warn that the shorter life span raises concerns about the future potential of forests to offset CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning.
– They also warn that temperatures will keep rising in the near future — “even if we were to take drastic emissions reductions measures.”

Liberia gave villagers control over their forests. Then a mining company showed up by Ashoka Mukpo, James Giahyue [22 Dec 2020]
– After Liberia’s civil war ended, the country overhauled its forestry laws, including passing legislation that gave impoverished rural communities the right to manage large tracts of rainforest.
– The reforms were part of the international community’s postwar reconstruction agenda, and donors have spent millions of dollars helping to implement them.
– Some of the new “community forests” were set up in the remote northern Nimba county, one of the densest biodiversity hotspots in West Africa.
– In 2019, a Swiss-Russian mining company arrived in one of them with a dubious exploration permit, exposing cracks in the reforms and raising questions about their future.

Why do Eurasian badgers live with foxes? Candid Animal Cam spots badgers by [22 Dec 2020]
– Every Tuesday, Mongabay brings you a new episode of Candid Animal Cam, our show featuring animals caught on camera traps around the world and hosted by Romi Castagnino, our writer and conservation scientist.

Poor governance fuels ‘horrible dynamic’ of deforestation in DRC by Victoria Schneider [21 Dec 2020]
– Forests in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been disappearing at increasing speed, with annual deforestation rates exceeding 1 million hectares (2.5 million acres) in the past five years and believed to have surged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
– Poor governance and corruption are considered the biggest obstacles to protecting the country’s forests from the pressures of subsistence agriculture and fuelwood collection, as well as the expansion of legal and illegal industrial operations.
– Progress on improving forest management has been made through the implementation of community forest legislation and a new law concerning Indigenous people’s right to their forests, but their implementation remains far from ideal.

2020’s top ocean news stories (commentary) by Callie Steffen, Emma Critchley and Douglas McCauley [21 Dec 2020]
– Marine scientists from the University of California, Santa Barbara, share their list of the top 10 ocean news stories from 2020.
– Hopeful developments this year included some long-overdue attention to Black and other underrepresented groups in marine science; new technologies to prevent deadly ship-whale collisions and track “dark” vessels at sea remotely; and surprising discoveries in the deep sea.
– At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in more trash than ever being dumped in the sea, and stalled international negotiations aimed at protecting waters off Antarctica and in the high seas. 2020 also brought the first modern-day marine fish extinction.
– This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily Mongabay.

Indonesia’s biofuel bid threatens more deforestation for oil palm plantations by Hans Nicholas Jong [21 Dec 2020]
– The Indonesian government says it will need to establish new oil palm plantations a fifth the size of Borneo in order to supply its ambitious biodiesel program.
– The program, through which Indonesia plans to eventually phase out the use of conventional diesel, will require planting 15 million hectares (37 million acres) of oil palms, according to the energy minister.
– Energy and environmental experts say it’s inevitable that massive swaths of forest will have to be cleared to meet this target, and have called for it to be scaled back.
– They also question the drive to ramp up the biodiesel program, given that Indonesia has expressed its ambitions to be a global production hub for electric vehicles — which don’t run on diesel, whether conventional or bio.

Peruvian court absolves cacao company of illegal Amazon deforestation after “lobbying effort” by [18 Dec 2020]
– A local court in Peru today reversed a ruling against employees of a company charged with illegal deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon, effectively absolving them of crimes associated with converting rainforest into a cacao plantation.
– The move, which comes after the cacao company Tamshi SAC launched a pressure campaign against the prosecutor’s office, undercuts a years-long investigation into the deforestation and “sets a terrible precedent” as Peru struggles to combat rising forest loss in the region, say prosecutors and environmentalists.
– The Ministry of the Environment said via Twitter that it would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
– Tamshi SAC, formerly known as Cacao del Perú Norte SAC, cleared nearly 2,000 hectares of primary rainforest in the Peruvian Amazon since 2013.

Brazilian woman threatened by Amazon loggers wins global human rights award by Thais Borges and Mauricio Torres [18 Dec 2020]
– Rural community leader Osvalinda Alves Pereira is the first Brazilian to receive the Edelstam Prize, a Swedish award given to human rights defenders. She was honored this November for her brave stand against illegal loggers and for her defense of the Amazon agrarian reform community of Areia in Pará state.
– Illegal loggers there have repeatedly threatened Osvalinda and her husband with violence, forcing them out of their community and into urban safe houses. Now the couple has returned to their rural home; threats to Osvalinda and her community have resumed since she received the Edelstam Prize.
– Illegal deforestation, especially the illegal export of rare and valuable Amazon woods, has been strongly aided by the deregulatory policies of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, according to critics, who also say that the president’s incendiary rhetoric is emboldening illegal loggers and others to violence.
– Still threatened by logging militias in Amazonia, Osvalinda received the award just a week after President Bolsonaro in a speech tried to shift responsibility for the policing of Amazon illegal deforestation away from Brazil and onto its foreign trading partners who are importing timber from the South American nation.

Environmentalists seek to block Bahamas oil drilling bid near U.S. coast by Malavika Vyawahare [18 Dec 2020]
– This month, Bahamas Petroleum Company is set to begin exploratory oil drilling in Bahamian waters, about 240 kilometers (150 miles) from the Florida coast.
– Environmental groups have approached the Bahamian Supreme Court, seeking an immediate stay on the company’s drilling operations; they say the government unlawfully granted permits to drill.
– Environmentalists, many of them based in the U.S., oppose the project citing potential impacts on nearby marine protected areas, fish stocks, and the effect of spills in Bahamian and U.S. waters.
– The company says that the island nation’s economy, battered by the effects of Hurricane Dorian in 2019 and COVID-19 this year, could rebound on the back of oil revenues and much-needed jobs from drilling.

Land inequality is worsening and fueling other social ills, report says by Hans Nicholas Jong [18 Dec 2020]
– A new report shows that global land inequality is much more severe than previously estimated, with control of vast swaths of the planet increasingly concentrated in the hands of the wealthy few.
– According to the report, the top 10% of the rural population captures 60% of agricultural land value, while the bottom 50% only control 3% of land value.
– The authors of the report say that tackling land inequality is a fundamental part of dismantling other social and environmental ills, from climate change and democratic decline to global health crises.
– To do this will require pushing back against the economic model of resource commodification and yield maximization, and embracing the culture and rights of women, Indigenous peoples, and small farmers, the report says.

When invaders moved onto their land, Brazil’s Karipuna people pushed back by Maurício Angelo [18 Dec 2020]
– Brazil’s Karipuna Indigenous people joined forces with civil society groups and took their grievances to international forums to fight back against illegal invasions of their territory.
– The international outcry and evidence unearthed led to law enforcement operations that saw deforestation drop by 49% this year inside the Karipuna Indigenous Territory in the state of Rondônia.
– Proponents say the model developed by the Karipuna could be replicated by other Indigenous groups throughout the Brazilian Amazon who continue to face off against illegal loggers, miners, ranchers and land grabbers.
– The Karipuna people were nearly wiped out by disease and conflict following their first contact with outsiders in the 1970s; today the community numbers about 70 people.

Widodo Ramono, the man on a mission to save Sumatran rhinos by Rahmadi Rahmad [17 Dec 2020]
– Indonesian biologist Widodo Ramono has dedicated a lifetime to conserving the country’s Sumatran rhinos from extinction.
– A former government official, Widodo now leads a rhino conservation group that oversees a captive-breeding program at a sanctuary for Sumatran rhinos.
– To save the species, found only in Indonesia, Widodo says protecting its habitats from deforestation and poaching is the most important thing.
– Mongabay Indonesia recently spoke with Widodo about the country’s plans for rhinos and the challenges those plans face.

Report: Illegal Russian lumber flooded Europe despite timber laws by [17 Dec 2020]
– European customers may have unknowingly bought hundreds of millions of dollars worth of timber linked to one of Russia’s biggest illegal logging scandals, a new report by NGO Earthsight has alleged.
– The timber was exported to the E.U. by Russian conglomerate BM Group, led by tycoon Alexander Pudovkin, who was arrested last year along with two officials implicated in fraud and bribery in the case.
– Major timber accreditation body the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) was criticized for “greenwashing” BM Group’s timber export business.

Nazareth Cabrera fights for Colombia’s Indigenous Uitoto with the strength of her words by Carol Sánchez [17 Dec 2020]
– She was instrumental in blocking the entry of mining companies into the community, and also advocates for social causes such as the rights of women and children.
– Those who know this powerhouse 52-year-old woman say she is among the “grains of sand” that contribute to the collective process of caring for the Amazon.

To fund biodiversity conservation, redirect subsidies from these three industries (commentary) by Michelle Chong [17 Dec 2020]
– Funding for conservation has been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic, from sharp dips in ecotourism to decreases in charitable donations.
– Rather than pursuing new sources of biodiversity funding, countries should consider eliminating taxpayer-funded subsidies for agriculture, forestry and fishing, which are the top industries driving species extinctions.
– In 2019, subsidies for these economic activities exceeded the global total spend on biodiversity conservation by a factor of at least two.
– This article is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

As minister and activists trade barbs, Madagascar’s forests burn by Malavika Vyawahare [17 Dec 2020]
– Forest fires are blazing across Madagascar, including in its protected areas, home to some of the world’s rarest species, from critically endangered lemurs to hundreds of endemic snails.
– In Manombo Special Reserve, known for sheltering more than 50 species of snails found nowhere else on Earth, woodland the size of 800 Olympic swimming pools went up in smoke last month.
– In nearby Befotaka-Midongy National Park, one of the largest stretches of evergreen forest in Madagascar, more than 1,000 fires were reported this year.
– A heated debate has erupted online about the fires, with some activists criticizing the environment ministry, while the ministry says the blame is shared by NGOs that manage most of the country’s protected areas.

Indonesia allows use of destructive seine and trawl nets in its waters again by Basten Gokkon [17 Dec 2020]
– The Indonesian government has lifted a ban on the use of seine and trawl nets, which marine conservationists and scientists have blamed for overfishing and damage to coastal reef ecosystems.
– The policy was signed by the fisheries minister, Edhy Prabowo, on Nov. 18, a month before he was arrested for corruption in a separate case.
– Marine observers have lambasted the new policy, saying it will only benefit large-scale fishers and put additional pressure on already overexploited fishing grounds.
– Indonesia’s waters support some of the highest levels of marine biodiversity in the world, and the fisheries industry employs about 12 million Indonesians, making it the second-largest fish producer in the world.

Report finds litany of labor abuses on RSPO-certified oil palm plantations by Hans Nicholas Jong [17 Dec 2020]
– Widespread labor abuses have been documented in five oil palm plantations in Indonesia, ranging from exposure to hazardous chemicals, a reliance on temporary workers, below minimum-wage payments, to the suppression of independent unions.
– These plantations are in theory supposed to be role models for the industry, with RSPO sustainability certification and buyers that include the likes of food giant Nestlé.
– Labor rights activists say these companies and their agribusiness parent groups and buyers must follow up on the findings and take meaningful action to clean up the industry.


France’s tropical forest conservation efforts: an interview with AFD’s Gilles Kleitz by Rhett A. Butler [12/16/2020]
Belo Monte dam’s water demands imperil Amazon communities, environment by Tiffany Higgins [12/16/2020]
Fishing fail: WTO negotiators flunk deadline to end harmful fisheries subsidies by 2020 by Elizabeth Fitt [12/15/2020]
Restaura Cerrado: Saving Brazil’s savanna by reseeding and restoring it by Sarah Sax [12/14/2020]
‘She goes and helps’: Noemí Gualinga, Ecuador’s mother of the jungle by Mayuri Castro [12/13/2020]
Brazilians impacted by mining assert: ‘Genocide legalized by the state’ by Thais Borges and Sue Branfordo [12/10/2020]