Newsletter 2021-10-07



Brazil court upholds ban on missionaries trying to contact isolated Indigenous by Fernanda Wenzel [10/06/2021]

– Brazil’s highest court has upheld a ban on missionaries entering reserves that are home to isolated and recently contacted Indigenous people during the pandemic.
– The decision comes in response to a lawsuit filed by Indigenous organizations against a law passed in July 2020 that allowed missionaries to remain inside these reserves despite the pandemic, in violation of Brazil’s official policy in place since 1987.
– According to Indigenous organizations, it’s crucial to reaffirm the non-contact policy under the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro that has pushed to “integrate” Indigenous people into society, and has been cozy with the evangelical movement.
– Besides the risk of disease spread, the presence of missionaries in these reserves undermines traditional cultures and social cohesion, and compels these nomadic communities to settle down, making the land more vulnerable to invasions by illegal ranchers and loggers, activists say.

‘Antithetical to science’: When deep-sea research meets mining interests by Elham Shabahat [10/04/2021]

– The high cost of studying deep-sea ecosystems means that many scientists have to rely on funding and access provided by companies seeking to exploit resources on the ocean floor.
– More than half of the scientists in the small, highly specialized deep-sea biology community have worked with governments and mining companies to do baseline research, according to one biologist.
– But as with the case of industries like tobacco and pharmaceuticals underwriting scientific research into their own products, the funding of deep-sea research by mining companies poses an ethical hazard.
– Critics say the nascent industry is already far from transparent, with much of the data from baseline research available only to the scientists involved, the companies, and U.N.-affiliated body that approves deep-sea mining applications.

For Brazil’s persecuted Krenak people, justice arrives half a century later by Shanna Hanbury [10/01/2021]

– A federal court has condemned Brazil’s federal government, the Minas Gerais state government and the country’s Indigenous affairs agency, Funai, for human rights violations against the Krenak Indigenous people committed under the military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985.
– Decades of reports, witness statements and evidence show torture, beatings, solitary confinement and forced labor were commonplace in the Krenak Reformatory and Guarani Farm, considered concentration camps by the Federal Public Ministry.
– Speaking Indigenous languages, drinking alcohol, and resisting land invasions by farmers were among the supposed infractions to justify the arbitrary imprisonment of Indigenous individuals deemed rebels by the regime.
– The court has ordered the federal government to organize an official ceremony for a public apology with national coverage, as well as deliver reparations.




Women on storm-hit Philippine island lead Indigenous effort to restore mangroves by Keith Anthony S. Fabro [07 Oct 2021]
– Residents of low-lying coastal areas in archipelagic countries like the Philippines are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including the increase of powerful storms like 2013’s Typhoon Haiyan.
– Mangrove forests can buffer the impact of storm surges and high winds, but many of the Philippines’ mangrove ecosystems are severely degraded and efforts to restore them often fail.
– Busuanga Island, in the western province of Palawan, has a particularly effective mangrove restoration program, one that is spearheaded by Indigenous women who play a key role in planting, monitoring and protecting the forests.

Extreme heat exposure in cities tripled in less than 35 years, study finds by Malavika Vyawahare [06 Oct 2021]
– Exposure to dangerously high temperatures in cities nearly tripled between 1983 and 2016, according to a study that considered both warming and population growth.
– Cities are hotter than their surrounding areas because they are densely populated and tend to generate and trap more heat.
– The decade starting 2011 was the warmest in recorded history, and the proportion of the global population exposed to extreme heat is expected to multiply in the coming decades.
– Excessive warming of urbanized areas and the relentless influx of people points to an urgent need for policies that protect city residents, especially in developing countries.

Brazil leads Amazon in forest loss this year, Indigenous and protected areas hold out by Liz Kimbrough [06 Oct 2021]
– Satellite imagery brings us a first look at this year’s deforestation hotspots, areas where forest cover was lost in high densities across the Amazon, amounting to more than 860,000 hectares (2.1 million acres).
– The majority of deforestation (76%) occurred in Brazil and was clustered around roads, according to a recent report from Amazon Conservation’s Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP); many of the areas deforested this year in Brazil have also burned.
– In Colombia, deforestation hotspots this year were in and around numerous protected areas, including Tinigua and Chiribiquete national parks, as well as Indigenous reserves, particularly Yari-Yaguara II and Nukak Maku; in Peru, rice farming and a new Mennonite colony drove recent deforestation.
– Of primary forests loss across the western Amazon between 2017 and 2020, three-quarters were outside protected areas and Indigenous territories, highlighting the importance of these key land use designations for safeguarding the remaining Amazon rainforest.

Southern patas monkeys face extinction in a decade without intervention by Ed Holt [06 Oct 2021]
– New research into the little-known southern patas monkey indicates that fewer than 200 of these primates remain, all confined to protected areas in northern Tanzania.
– Without intervention, researchers say, the species could die out within a decade, as it faces mounting pressure from habitat loss and fragmentation, hunting and competition for food and water.
– Despite the grim situation, experts say quick, well-targeted conservation actions can still save the species.

Are nature-based solutions the silver bullet for social & environmental crises? by Victoria Schneider [06 Oct 2021]
– In the months leading up to the global climate conference in Glasgow this November, the term “nature-based solutions” has gained global prominence in the climate change mitigation discourse.
– Praise for NBS has mainly come from the U.N., policymakers, international conservation organizations and corporations, while grassroots movements and civil society groups have voiced concerns over the concept.
– Critics warn that NBS can be used as a tool to finance destructive activities by corporations and greenwash ongoing carbon emissions and destruction of nature.

Gorilla baby boom sparks hope in DRC, but threats to great apes persist by Claude Sengenya [06 Oct 2021]
– For three years in a row, Virunga National Park in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been reporting new births in gorilla families.
– According to park officials, the baby boom is thanks to conservation efforts in Virunga that have promoted wildlife development.
– Conservationists warn that armed groups in the park still pose a threat to gorillas, as do moves to reclassify parts of protected areas for mining.

In Half-Earth Project, a full-on bid to get countries to protect biodiversity by Elizabeth Claire Alberts [06 Oct 2021]
– Last year, the Half-Earth Project launched its “national report cards,” which show how much land is currently protected in each country, how many land vertebrate species (including endemics) each country holds, and how much and also which areas of land should be preserved to protect its biodiversity in the future.
– Each country also receives a score based on several indicators, including the National Species Protection Index (SPI), which was generated by the Map of Life and endorsed by the Convention on Biological Diversity.
– The team at the Half-Earth Project say the map and accompanying tools can be valuable resources for decision-makers trying to reach the objective of protecting 30% of land by 2030, although they argue that the ultimate goal should be protecting half of the Earth.
– While supporters of the Half-Earth Project say achieving their goal benefits everyone, critics say a large number of people, particularly those living in poorer countries, could be adversely affected by such large-scale area-based protection.

‘Acts of poaching and other crimes’: Cameroon plans a new road in Lobéké National Park by Mongabay [05 Oct 2021]
– Cameroon has notified UNESCO of plans to build a road in Lobéké National Park, part of the World Heritage listed Sangha Tri-National protected area.
– The country’s Minister for Forestry and Wildlife says the road will help to secure the area against cross-border poachers and others engaged in criminal activities, but conservationists are concerned it could facilitate deforestation.
– A study of Gabon’s Minkébé National Park linked heavy poaching in the north of the park to easy access via a highway just across its border with Cameroon.

Indonesia investigates alleged abuse of Sumatran tigers at city zoo by Ayat S. Karokaro [05 Oct 2021]
– Indonesian conservation authorities have launched an investigation into alleged abuse of Sumatran tigers at a municipal zoo in North Sumatra province.
– The zoo’s tigers appear emaciated, with their bones protruding, raising concerns that they’re being underfed.
– The zoo management has denied the allegation, saying one of its tigers was ill while the others were healthy and properly fed.
– Zoos in Indonesia are notorious for their negligence, mismanagement and corruption, with animals dying of malnutrition or ill treatment, or sold off into the illegal wildlife trade.

Loss of oil palm permits leaves Papuan villages uncertain and fearful by Hans Nicholas Jong [05 Oct 2021]
– Some Indigenous communities in West Papua who agreed to lease their lands to palm oil companies for the promise of infrastructure development and better livelihoods, have been left in limbo by a government decision to revoke the companies’ permits for various violations.
– The communities say all they want is a better life, and that while they don’t necessarily defend palm oil, they point out that the government has done little to build roads or provide electricity for their villages.
– Some of them who received early compensation payments from the companies say they’re now afraid they may have to pay it back.
– The permits were revoked following an audit that found a litany of violations by the companies, at least two of which appear to belong to a notorious alleged illegal logging kingpin.

In Peruvian Andes, ancient crops hold promise for a climate-blighted future by Aurora Solá [05 Oct 2021]
– The government of Peru has declared Marcapata Ccollana a new agrobiodiversity zone in the Andean highlands.
– The reserve is home to an Indigenous community that preserves Incan farming techniques and grows more than 100 varieties of root vegetables in addition to many kinds of beans, maize and grains.
– Agricultural biodiversity is an essential resource for adapting global food supplies to the challenges posed by climate change.

A bridge of trees reunites gibbons separated by a railway line in India by Anuraag Baruah [05 Oct 2021]
– For the hoolock gibbons of India’s Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary, a rail line bisecting the forest has for decades proved an impassable barrier, dividing the animals into two separate areas.
– In 2006, conservationists, the local forest department and communities began planting thousands of trees along the tracks in an effort to create a natural canopy bridge.
– The tree-planting effort finally bore fruit in 2019, when the first gibbons were observed crossing over the tracks.
– This year, an entire family has been observed making use of the bridge.

Mongabay’s What-To-Watch list for October 2021 by [05 Oct 2021]
– In September, Mongabay covered news from India, Brazil, Mongolia, the U.S., and the oceans about agroforestry, climate change, extractive projects, and ghost fishing gear.
– We spoke to farmers about their views on agroforestry and mining in surrounding regions, and with scientists about oil palm monoculture and climate resilience using traditional knowledge.
– Add these videos to your watchlist for the month — you don’t need a Netflix, Prime or Disney+ subscription; watch these for free on YouTube.

On islands that inspired theory of evolution, deforestation cuts uneven path by Carolyn Cowan [05 Oct 2021]
– The Wallacea region spans Indonesia’s central islands where the biota of Asia and Australasia meet, making it one of the world’s most valuable centers of endemism, home to scores of species found nowhere else on Earth.
– With development pressure expected to escalate over the coming decades, identifying which of the region’s tracts of forest are most at risk is key to preserving its unique biodiversity.
– A new study that models future deforestation risk across the region has found that coastal, small and unprotected biodiversity sites are most at risk, with North Maluku and Central Sulawesi projected to lose significant tracts of forest by 2053.
– The researchers say their results can be used to target programs, such as social forestry, to sites where they will have optimal impact for biodiversity and communities.

Oil spills plague Venezuelan coast, but cleanup efforts are lacking: Report by Maxwell Radwin [04 Oct 2021]
– There have been 53 oil spills in Venezuela this year through September, most of them concentrated on the Caribbean coast where massive government oil refineries operate with little environmental oversight.
– The Venezuelan government rarely publishes records of oil spills or other environmental conflicts, making it difficult to track oil spills and coordinate appropriate responses.
– The oil spills are doing incalculable damage to local ecosystems, which include mangroves and the estuary known as Lake Maracaibo.

Look beyond carbon credits to put a price on nature’s services, experts say by Sheryl Lee Tian Tong [04 Oct 2021]
– Valuing nature as a “new asset class” could be the key to getting trillions of dollars in investments to flow to nature-based solutions, experts said at a recent sustainability conference in Singapore.
– Because policymakers and investors haven’t been able to properly value nature, the finance industry has been using carbon markets as a proxy for investing in it.
– Governments should account for the ecosystem benefits of nature beyond carbon capture, the experts said.
– Proper valuation of nature’s benefits requires inputs from not only investors, but also scientists, communities and NGOs.

How can philanthropy be more effective in environmental grant making? (commentary) by Byron Swift [04 Oct 2021]
– Byron Swift serves as Senior Advisor for wildlands at Re:wild; over his career he has headed Nature and Culture International, Rainforest Trust and IUCN-US, and worked as a private foundation officer.
– In this commentary, Swift shares his thoughts on how environmental grantmakers can more effectively support conservation organizations.
– “Many of the ideas expressed in this article are in line with the principles of ‘trust-based philanthropy,’ which advocates less emphasis on process and more on developing a relationship through evaluating the character, expertise and achievements of the donee organization,” he writes.
– The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

For companies eyeing net-zero carbon emissions, ‘no clue how to get there’ by Sheryl Lee Tian Tong [04 Oct 2021]
– Voluntary carbon markets have become the go-to for companies trying to achieve net-zero carbon, but curbing emissions is still most important, executives said at a recent sustainability conference in Singapore.
– Voluntary carbon markets can drive huge amounts of finance into developing countries for conservation, serve as a price indicator for carbon, and help companies offset emissions, but must play a secondary role to decarbonization, they said.
– The business leaders added that companies recognize the need to curb emissions, but are struggling with choosing and implementing effective decarbonization solutions.
– The root of the problem is a lack of robust carbon measurement technology and methods, they said.

Illegal logging threatens rare Cameroonian hardwood with extinction by Ryan Truscott [04 Oct 2021]
– Illegal logging in Cameroon’s Ebo forest threatens the African zebrawood tree with extinction.
– Rising demand for its beautiful wood, lax local law enforcement, and civil strife have accelerated logging while hindering conservation efforts.
– Conservationists want zebrawood to be placed on a CITES list and for the forest — also home to endangered gorillas, chimpanzees and red colobus monkeys — to be declared a national park.

People want to do right by nature. They just need a nudge, study shows by [02 Oct 2021]
– Subtle messaging and cues can encourage tourists to engage in behaviors that protect the marine ecosystem, a new study says.
– The researchers conducted two field experiments, focusing on plastic bag use and snorkeling behavior, on the Indonesian island of Gili Trawangan, a popular destination for beachgoers.
– Many tourists have the knowledge and responsibility to take environmentally conscious actions, but in practice, they often fail due to contextual obstacles.
– The study authors urged stakeholders in the tourism sector to apply these approaches as a simple effort to reduce local impacts on the environment, particularly marine ecosystems.

A gendered approach to the illegal wildlife trade could engender an anti-trafficking revolution (commentary) by Lisa Arlbrandt, Nathalie Simomeau, Rob Parry-Jones, Tamara Leger [01 Oct 2021]
– A newly adopted UN resolution on Tackling Illicit Trafficking in Wildlife (IWT) calling for gender-mainstreaming presents a welcome opportunity for more inclusive and effective responses to IWT.
– Women represent only an estimated 3-11% of the global ranger workforce, despite available evidence strongly suggesting that greater gender equality would bring improved relationships with communities, de-escalate violence, reduce the risks of gender-based violence, and result in better community engagement and nature conservation all round.
– Creating a more enabling environment to steer more gender-responsive IWT projects could be a win-win for gender equality, human rights and conservation.
– The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily Mongabay.

For Adams Cassinga, fighting wildlife trafficking in DRC is a life mission by Soraya Kishtwari [30 Sep 2021]
– Adams Cassinga is the founder of Conserv Congo, an organization in the Democratic Republic of Congo that works to fight wildlife trafficking.
– Prior to becoming an environmentalist, Cassinga was a war refugee, a journalist, and later a mining consultant.
– Mongabay spoke with Cassinga hard on the heels of a successful anti-trafficking sting, carried out with the police, in which they rescued 60 African gray parrots, an endangered species.
– He spoke about the epiphany that took him from mining to conservation, the role of corruption in allowing trafficking to thrive, and the entrenched systemic legacies that make it hard for African nonprofits to get ahead in conservation.

Malawi court sentences Chinese wildlife trafficking kingpin to 14 years in jail by Charles Mpaka [30 Sep 2021]
– A court in Malawi has sentenced a Chinese national to 14 years in jail for masterminding an illegal wildlife trafficking cartel that operated across Southern Africa.
– Yunhua Lin and his accomplices, including his wife, were arrested in 2019 and found in possession of pangolin scales, elephant ivory, hippo teeth and rhino horns.
– Wildlife authorities have hailed the stiff sentence as “a message to all criminals out there that we are no longer functioning in a business-as-usual way.”

Children born in 2020 will see spike in climate disasters, study says by Ashoka Mukpo [30 Sep 2021]
– The study used climate modeling to determine specialized impacts by region, finding that at the current level of carbon reduction pledges, people born in 2020 will experience many more extreme climate events in comparison to those born in 1960.
– On the world’s current course, those children will experience twice as many wildfires overall, three times as many crop failures, and seven times as many heat waves.
– At a geographical scale, children born in low-income countries that are least responsible for the climate crisis will confront significantly higher spikes in extreme events than in wealthier countries.
– If the world takes a more aggressive approach to limiting warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) by 2100, the number of climate disasters experienced by younger generations would drop substantially, with the model predicting 45% fewer heat waves, 39% fewer droughts, and 28% fewer crop failures.

Labor rights violations at Brazil coffee farm linked to Starbucks, Nespresso by Daniel Camargos [30 Sep 2021]
– Workers at Cooxupé, the world’s largest coffee cooperative, had up to 30% of their wages deducted to pay for the use of portable harvesting machines that their employers should have provided for free.
– The violation occurred on the Pedreira farm in Minas Gerais state, which is owned by the family of the Cooxupé president, Carlos Augusto Rodrigues de Melo.
– Cooxupé, which sells coffee to major international brands such as Nespresso and Starbucks, nearly doubled its profit in 2020 to $61 million, on revenue of $1 billion.
– In 2020, 140 workers were rescued from slave-labor-like conditions at coffee plantations in Brazil, all of them in Minas Gerais state, according to labor inspectors.



Labor rights violations at Brazil coffee farm linked to Starbucks, Nespresso by Daniel Camargos [09/30/2021]
For Costa Rica’s Indigenous Bribri women, agroforestry is an act of resistance and resilience by Monica Pelliccia [09/29/2021]
New Zealand developer denies key role in giant palm oil project in Indonesia by Bonnie Sumner, Melanie Reid [09/27/2021]