Newsletter 2021-10-14


Biosurveillance of markets and legal wildlife trade needed to curb pandemic risk: Experts by Gloria Dickie [10/13/2021]

– Almost 90% of the 180 recognized RNA viruses that can harm humans are zoonotic in origin. But disease biosurveillance of the world’s wildlife markets and legal trade is largely absent, putting humanity at significant risk.
– The world needs a decentralized disease biosurveillance system, experts say, that would allow public health professionals and wildlife scientists in remote areas to test for pathogens year-round, at source, with modern mobile technologies in order to help facilitate a rapid response to emerging zoonotic disease outbreaks.
– Though conservation advocates have long argued for an end to the illegal wildlife trade (which does pose zoonotic disease risk), but the legal trade poses a much greater threat to human health, say experts.
– Governments around the world are calling for the World Health Organization to create a pandemic treaty. Wildlife groups are pushing for such an agreement to include greater at-source protections to prevent zoonotic spillover.

‘Kew Declaration’ unites experts on reforestation, aims at policymakers ahead of COP26 by Liz Kimbrough [10/13/2021]

– More than 2,600 experts and concerned citizens from 113 countries signed the Kew Declaration on Reforestation for Biodiversity, Carbon Capture and Livelihoods.
– The declaration expresses the co-signatories’ concern over large-scale tree plantations of single species and/or non-native trees and proposes that forests be planted to reflect the diversity of natural ecosystems.
– The declaration specifically calls upon “policymakers, financiers and practitioners in countries that have made reforestation pledges” to work with Indigenous and local people and respect their land tenure rights. It also calls for funding and positive financial incentives to be targeted toward reforestation.
– Experts have noted that policies surrounding reforestation could be improved by increasing communication and involvement of people at all levels of projects, especially local communities, Indigenous people and landowners.

Conservation will only scale when non-conservationists see its value, says James Deutsch by Rhett A. Butler [10/12/2021]

– Last month, Rainforest Trust committed $500 million to a $5 billion pledge to conserve biodiversity.
– The scale of Rainforest Trust’s commitment was surprising to some in the conservation world: just a decade ago, the Virginia-based group had an annual budget in the low single-digits millions. Now the organization is aiming to raise $50 million a year over the next ten years — an incredible rate of expansion.
– Rainforest Trust is undertaking that ambitious target just 18 months after undergoing a major leadership transition: In April 2020, it appointed James Deutsch as CEO. Deutsch says the pledge will push Rainforest Trust to double down on its mission of creating and expanding protected and conserved areas through partnerships with other organizations. Rainforest Trust rallies the resources; partners lead the work on the ground.
– Deutsch spoke about the pledge and a range of other topics during a recent interview with Mongabay founder Rhett A. Butler.

For some Indigenous, COVID presents possibility of cultural extinction, says Myrna Cunningham by Rhett A. Butler [10/11/2021]

– COVID-19 has devastated communities around the world, but for some Indigenous groups, the pandemic posed an existential threat.
– Few people are better placed to speak to the impact COVID is having on Indigenous communities than Myrna Cunningham, a Miskitu physician from the Wangki river region of Nicaragua who has spent 50 years advocating for the rights of women and Indigenous peoples at local, regional, national, and international levels.
– Cunningham’s many achievements and accolades include: First Miskito doctor in Nicaragua; first woman governor of the Waspam autonomous region; Chairperson of the PAWANKA Fund; President of the Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean (FILAC); Advisor to the President of the UN General Assembly during the World Conference of Indigenous Peoples; member of the Board of Directors of the Global Fund for Women; Deputy of the Autonomous Region of the North Atlantic Coast in Nicaragua’s National Assembly; president of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development; and the first Honoris Causa Doctorate granted by the National Autonomous University of Mexico Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México to an indigenous woman, among others.
– Cunningham spoke about a range of issues in a recent interview with Mongabay founder Rhett A. Butler.

Deep seabed mining is risky. If something goes wrong, who will pay for it? by Ian Morse [10/08/2021]

– Citizens of countries that sponsor deep-sea mining firms have written to several governments and the International Seabed Authority expressing concern that their nations will struggle to control the companies and may be liable for damages to the ocean as a result.
– Liability is a central issue in the embryonic and risky deep-sea mining industry, because the company that will likely be the first to mine the ocean floor — DeepGreen/The Metals Company — depends on sponsorships from small Pacific island states whose collective GDP is a third its valuation.
– Mining will likely cause widespread damage, scientists say, but the legal definition of environmental damage when it comes to deep-sea mining has yet to be determined.

The great Koh Kong land rush: Areas stripped of protection by Cambodian gov’t being bought up by Gerald Flynn [10/07/2021]

– COVID-19 has devastated communities around the world, but for some Indigenous groups, the pandemic posed an existential threat.
– A regulation issued earlier this year in Cambodia’s Koh Kong province purported to take land from protected areas and grant the land titles to families living in the area.
– But developments since then, and interviews with residents and brokers, paint the scheme as a massive land grab orchestrated by the country’s political elite.
– Politicians and companies have been snapping up the newly degazetted land, among them a firm suspected of being a front for pulpwood giant APP.
– Among those said to be profiting from the land grab is Ly Yong Phat, dubbed “The King of Koh Kong,” a politician and businessman with a long history of quashing the rights of those who occupy land he desires.



Deforestation threatens tree kangaroo habitat in Papua New Guinea by John C. Cannon [14 Oct 2021]
– A proposed conservation area in northwestern Papua New Guinea has experienced a substantial surge in deforestation-related alerts, according to satellite data from the University of Maryland.
– The still-unofficial Torricelli Mountain Range Conservation Area is home to critically endangered tree kangaroo species, along with a host of other biodiversity.
– In May 2021, communities voiced concern about road construction that was approaching the boundaries of the proposed conservation area and that the intended target may have been high-value timber species found within the region’s forests.
– Investment in local communities and the protection of the forests that these communities provide have led to an apparent rise in tree kangaroo populations, but logging and other potentially destructive land uses such as conversion to large-scale agriculture remain threats in the Torricellis and throughout Papua New Guinea.

Inland mangroves reveal a tumultuous climatic past — and hint at our future by John C. Cannon [14 Oct 2021]
– A new study concludes that the presence of inland mangroves along a river in southern Mexico was the result of climate change-driven sea level rise during the Pleistocene Epoch, some 115,000 to 130,000 years ago.
– The researchers’ analysis of the genetic history of the mangrove trees suggests that they are closely related to trees found on the coastline, and sediments nearby are similar to those found in ocean environments.
– Publishing their work Oct. 12 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team notes that their research highlights the impacts of global climate change.

Fate of Malaysian forests stripped of protection points to conservation stakes by Sheryl Lee Tian Tong [13 Oct 2021]
– In the seven years since Jemaluang and Tenggaroh were struck from Malaysia’s list of permanent forest reserves, the two forests in Johor state have experienced large-scale deforestation.
– The clearance is reportedly happening on land privately owned by the sultan of Johor, the head of the state, calling into question the effectiveness of the Central Forest Spine (CFS) Master Plan, a nationwide conservation initiative the two reserves had originally been part of.
– The CFS Master Plan is currently being revised, with experts seeing the review as a chance to change what has been a largely toothless program, beset by conflicts of interest between federal and state authorities.
– As the revision nears completion, Jemaluang and Tenggaroh highlight how much has been lost, but also what’s at stake for Malaysia’s forests, wildlife and residents.

Forests falling for cashew monocultures: A ‘repeated mistake’ in Côte d’Ivoire (commentary) by Cathy Watson [13 Oct 2021]
– Savannas and dry forests in vast parts of Côte d’Ivoire are being transformed into orchards of cashew trees, just as large areas of its rainforest have fallen for cocoa.
– Grown in extensive monocultures, cashew has raised incomes but led to deforestation and incursions into protected forests, as major stakeholders overlook the loss of trees and agro-biodiversity.
– Pollination and human diets are suffering, too: nature-based approaches like agroforestry are needed to create a diversified landscape that can make cashew sustainable in the long run.
– The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

Donor agencies should ditch the club and embrace more locals (commentary) by Aida Greenbury [13 Oct 2021]
– Aida Greenbury, the former Managing Director of Sustainability at APP Group and currently a board member and advisor to several organizations including Mongabay, argues that donors need to change their approaches if they want to be more effective.
– Greenbury wants to see more money go to locally-run initiatives and greater inclusivity when it comes to decision-making: Less Davos, more communities in recipient countries.
– “The real sustainable solutions to forest conservation will only be found when we embrace the local communities, treat them as equals, let them lead and own the programs and get their full buy-in,” she writes.
– This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

Human influence on tropics predates Anthropocene, holds clues to current crisis by Elizabeth Claire Alberts [13 Oct 2021]
– A suite of studies recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examine human interactions in the tropical environment from the Late Pleistocene to the Holocene and what’s now known as the Anthropocene.
– According to the editors of the volume, tropical forests are the most threatened terrestrial settings after the polar ice caps.
– Many of the studies found that humans have been living in the tropics and using its resources for millennia, impacting local ecosystems and biodiversity.
– The studies challenge the concept of the Anthropocene as a defining moment in history in which humans became a force that shaped nature.

Wildlife releases have a mixed record, and climate change complicates things by Natasha Gilbert [13 Oct 2021]
– Translocation is a conservation technique that returns lost species to their previous habitats or moves then to new, safer areas in a bid to boost their wild populations.
– But research shows that it only works about half the time, with failures often linked to low numbers of individual animals being released, or the presence of invasive predators.
– Climate change is also a factor, rendering former habitats unsuitable for a species’ return, and necessitating finding a new home for the animals.
– But introducing species into areas where they didn’t historically occur can be dangerous too, as it’s difficult to predict whether they will survive, and whether they pose a threat to the native species already living there.

Environmental defenders in Nicaragua denounce government crackdown as elections loom by Maxwell Radwin [13 Oct 2021]
– Indigenous communities in northeastern Nicaragua continue to suffer from violent attacks by land invaders looking to exploit the area for cattle ranching and gold mining.
– Environmental defenders are increasingly struggling to denounce the violence as President Daniel Ortega targets government critics ahead of elections scheduled for November.
– Many advocates of the Mayangna and Miskito communities have received threats from the government or felt pressure to shut down their organizations.

To spot wild-caught birds in pet trade, researchers zoom into isotopic detail by Jansen Baier [13 Oct 2021]
– The researchers’ forensic tool uses stable isotope analysis to identify the carbon and nitrogen values that reflect the differences in the diets of birds raised in captivity and those from the wild.
– For now, the tool requires more testing before being usable as forensic evidence in court, but the researchers are optimistic about its potential use.
– To date, the researchers have only developed the tool for the yellow-crested cockatoo, but it could theoretically be developed for other animals, given enough samples to establish a baseline.

To predict forest loss in protected areas, look at nearby unprotected forest by Sheryl Lee Tian Tong [13 Oct 2021]
– To predict deforestation risk in a protected area, look at the condition of its surrounding forests, according to a new study.
– The study, which analyzed satellite images of protected forests worldwide, found nearby forest loss to be a consistent early warning signal of future deforestation in protected areas.
– Researchers said national park agencies can use their proposed model to predict how vulnerable protected areas in their countries are to deforestation, and prioritize conservation efforts accordingly.
– But even as these agencies work to protect forests, they should take into account the needs of local communities living in the area, the researchers said.

Advocates call for a new human rights-based approach to conservation by Ashoka Mukpo [12 Oct 2021]
– Delegates to COP15 began meeting this week to discuss a draft framework that will guide the world’s response to a worsening biodiversity crisis.
– Advocates say that a new approach to conservation based in human rights and legal recognition of Indigenous and other community land tenure is needed.
– Some have criticized the most recent draft of the world’s biodiversity plan for going easy on industry and failing to include language that would protect vulnerable people from dispossession and abuse.

‘Pristine wilderness’ without human presence is a flawed construct, study says by Latoya Abulu [12 Oct 2021]
– A new study argues that the concept of a “pristine wilderness” that’s free from human inhabitants is a failing Eurocentric concept that may be used to expand conservation areas, a concern the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights and the environment reiterates in a policy brief about the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
– Researchers say the concept doesn’t reflect the reality of how high-value biodiversity hotspots, such as the Amazon rainforest and tropical highlands of Southeast Asia, have operated and been shaped by human presence for millennia.
– The displacement of Indigenous peoples and local communities from such landscapes for conservation purposes may have adverse impacts on the ecosystem’s integrity and lead to the degradation of biodiversity.

Fire and forest loss ignite concern for Brazilian Amazon’s jaguars by Carolyn Cowan [12 Oct 2021]
– More than 1,400 jaguars died or were displaced in the Brazilian Amazon due to deforestation and fires over a recent three-year period, according to a recent study.
– The authors recommend “real-time satellite monitoring” of the Brazilian Amazon jaguar population to enable experts to monitor jaguar displacement due to habitat loss and help them to better target conservation efforts on the ground and to prioritize areas for enforcement action.
– Spatial monitoring will also enable identification of wildlife corridors to keep jaguar populations connected to ensure their long-term survival.

Indonesian park officials douse wildfire in Javan leopard habitat by A. Asnawi [12 Oct 2021]
– Authorities in Indonesia have put out the second major fire of the current dry season in Indonesia’s Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, an area that’s home to rare leopards and eagles.
– The fire spread from nearby community lands on Oct. 9 and were put out by the next day.
– Burning is an annual problem in the park, with farmers in adjacent communities using fire to clear the land for planting, or tourists inside the park leaving behind lit campfires or discarding cigarette butts.
– The park is home to iconic wildlife like the Javan leopard and Javan hawk-eagle, and endangered plants like the Javan edelweiss.

Follow the butterfly: Rediscovery of ‘extinct’ plants highlights Sri Lanka’s new red list by Malaka Rodrigo [12 Oct 2021]
– The latest edition of Sri Lanka’s red list of native plants shows that nearly half of the assessed species are threatened with extinction, a higher number than in the previous edition from 2012.
– There was some good news, however, with three of the five plants assessed as extinct in 2012 being rediscovered under serendipitous circumstances.
– The number of critically endangered plants considered possibly extinct because they haven’t been seen in a century has gone down to 128 from 170, thanks in large part to sleuthing by amateur botanists and social media.
– Much of the work compiling the red list was done by a group of young field botanists, who are riding a wave of enthusiasm among citizen scientists keen to study plants.

Indonesia urged to improve policies protecting fishing vessel workers by M Ambari, Yoga Eki Saputra [12 Oct 2021]
– Maritime observers are calling on the Indonesian government to strengthen regulations for recruitment, placement, repatriation and legal reparation for crews aboard foreign and domestic fishing vessels.
– Would-be deckhands are often poorly trained, forced to sign disadvantageous contracts, and tied to onerous payment schemes.
– Once on board the vessels, these crews face potentially deadly working conditions, including overwork, physical and mental abuse, and being given substandard food.
– Experts say the Indonesian government is working far too slowly on regulations that could provide better protection for deckhands working on domestic and international vessels.

Brazil farming co-op carves a sustainable path through agribusiness stronghold by Shanna Hanbury [11 Oct 2021]
– Coopcerrado, a farmer’s cooperative of 5,000 families, won the United Nations’ Equator Prize under the category of “New Nature Economies” due to its more than two decades of work in developing a farmer-to-farmer model of mutual support for training, commercializing and setting up organic and regenerative businesses in the Brazilian Cerrado.
– The Cerrado savanna, a biodiversity hotspot holding 5% of the world’s biodiversity is also among one of the most threatened, with almost half of the biome destroyed for agriculture and a process of desertification already underway, scientists say.
– To save the Cerrado, farmers and traditional extractivist communities have developed an expandable model of collective support in knowledge and resource-sharing while restoring the biome and providing an income for thousands of vulnerable families.
– Bureaucratic and logistic hurdles in Brazil traditionally leave small farmers and traditional communities out of mainstream markets and industries, but bridging this gap has been one of the keys to the cooperative’s success.

Mixed signals from Gabon officials to villagers fighting to save a forest by Benjamin Evine-Binet [11 Oct 2021]
– One year on from their request to reclassify part of a logging concession as a protected forest, the rural community of Massaha in northeast Gabon is still awaiting a response.
– Meanwhile, Transport Bois Négoce International (TBNI), which holds the logging concession in question, began logging it in June.
– Conflicting statements from officials in the ministry responsible for reviewing the reclassification have cast doubts on the environmental compliance of the logging operations, as well as on the consistency of national forest policy.

On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, celebrating Earth’s unsung environmental stewards by Latoya Abulu [11 Oct 2021]
– As people across the U.S. prepare to observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Indigenous peoples’ stewardship of natural resources is increasingly being recognized as a critical priority to protect biodiversity.
– As crucial talks to finalize the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework ramp up, some human rights groups fear it will lead to the expansion of protected areas that evict Indigenous peoples and local communities, while impeding conservation efforts.
– To recognize the significant role Indigenous peoples’ play in global conservation efforts, Mongabay rounds up some of this year’s most impactful stories.

In a sea of oil palms, even monitor lizards need islands of natural forest by Carolyn Cowan [11 Oct 2021]
– Forest patches in and around oil palm plantations are crucial for the survival of Asian water monitor lizards, a generalist species that usually thrives in human-impacted landscapes.
– A new study focused on the Kinabatangan floodplain in Malaysian Borneo found significantly more lizards in natural forest near oil palm plantations than in the plantations themselves.
– The researchers suggest lizards are particularly dependent on forest patches for breeding sites and shelter.
– The study adds to a growing body of evidence that demonstrates the vital role of natural forest in and around oil palm plantations and reaffirms the importance of buffer zones and habitat corridors that enable animals to negotiate oil palm-dominated landscapes.

Paper giants’ expansion plans raise fears of greater deforestation in Indonesia by Hans Nicholas Jong [11 Oct 2021]
– Two paper giants, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL), plan to significantly expand their production capacity in Indonesia.
– Activists warn that these plans could lead to increased deforestation of natural forest and peatlands in Indonesia to plant the pulpwood trees needed to meet this capacity, exacerbating the annual fire season.
– They say the projects are benefiting from the Indonesian government’s deregulation initiative that strips away environmental and social protections across a wide swath of industries, including pulp and paper.
– In response to the expansion plans, a coalition of 33 NGOs has sent a letter to APP’s financiers and buyers, asking them to refrain from doing business with the company.

Fires leave trail of dead wildlife, scorched land in Bolivia’s protected areas by Yvette Sierra Praeli [11 Oct 2021]
– Forest fires in Bolivia have torn through several protected areas, including San Matías and Ñembi Guasu, with experts warning of a repeat of the widespread burning of recent years.
– The main cause of the fire is slash-and-burn clearing by farmers ahead of crop planting, which local laws permit, even in forested areas.
– The burning has spread beyond Bolivia’s borders and into Paraguay, where the fires raged for several days in the Pantanal wetlands before being doused by rains.

Brazil reports increase in Amazon logging by [11 Oct 2021]
– Selective forest cutting in the Amazon is on the rise, according to data released on Friday by the Brazilian government.
– INPE reported a 77% increase in the rate of cutting that’s typically associated with logging, from 646 square kilometers in September 2020 to 1,145 square kilometers last month. Selective cutting in the region currently stands at the highest level in at least five years.
– The rise in logging is significant because logged areas in the Amazon are more likely to be eventually deforested. Selectively logged forests also face higher fire risk due to drier conditions relative to intact rainforests.

Facebook to block illegal sales of protected Amazon rainforest lands by [08 Oct 2021]
– On Friday, Facebook announced it would crack down on the illegal sales of protected Amazon rainforest land via its platform, according to a blog post by the company.
– The move comes after a BBC investigation found that the company’s Marketplace product was being used to broker sales of protected lands, including Indigenous territories and national forest reserves.
– Experts raised doubts about the effectiveness of Facebook’s approach since the social media company doesn’t require users to specify the coordinates of the land they are selling.
– “If they don’t make it mandatory for sellers to provide the location of the area on sale, any attempt at blocking them will be flawed,” Brenda Brito, a Brazilian lawyer and scientist told BBC News. “They may have the best database in the world, but if they don’t have some geo-location reference, it won’t work.”

FOREST Act bill would hold global suppliers accountable for illegal deforestation by Maxwell Radwin [08 Oct 2021]
– A new bill in the U.S. congress would create legislation to prohibit agricultural commodities like palm oil, cattle, soybeans, rubber, pulp and cocoa from import if they have contributed to illegal deforestation.
– It also creates financial penalties and “action plans” for countries struggling to improve regulation of problematic, deforestation-causing industries.
– Deforestation in tropical countries – much of it caused by commercial agriculture – produces approximately 4.8 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.
– The legislation, if enacted, would require U.S. trade partner buy-in and cooperation to meet the new environmental standards.

Hidden camera footage exposes bribery for palm oil in Papua New Guinea by [08 Oct 2021]
– Palm oil executives were caught on camera admitting to bribery in Papua New Guinea in an investigation by Global Witness.
– The company’s Malaysian CEO also described a tax evasion scheme involving palm oil exports to India.

Keep polar bears and their extensive range safe from oil drilling (Commentary) by Steve Blackledge and Dyani Chapman [08 Oct 2021]
– In September 2021, a group of conservation groups sued the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to challenge a regulation they allege would allow oil and gas operators to harass, harm and potentially kill polar bears on land and sea in Arctic Alaska.
– In this commentary Steve Blackledge and Dyani Chapman of Environment America argue the battle to save the polar bear can’t be limited to the boundaries of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
– “We hope the courts will examine the facts on the ground and force the government back to the drawing board, leading to a regulation that’s far less threatening and much more protective of the polar bear.”
– The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily Mongabay.

Empowering Indigenous youths with tradition and tech: Q&A with Dawn Martin-Hill by Caitlin Looby [08 Oct 2021]
– Dawn Martin-Hill, a professor at McMaster University, introduced Terrastories, a geo-based storytelling app, to the Haudenosaunee people of the Great Lakes to help them protect their land and water as well as safeguard invaluable knowledge.
– A main goal of her work is to empower and support Indigenous youths, and she has also helped create a virtual reality app and adapt a mental health app for Indigenous youth to connect with their land and articulate trauma.
– Martin-Hill advocates for the integration of Indigenous knowledge into Western science and says anyone who is concerned with the climate crisis should support Indigenous people.

High risk, low pay for DRC rangers entrusted to guard a gorilla sanctuary by David Kalinga Safari [08 Oct 2021]
– Marie Jeanne Bora Ntianabo was drawn to the extraordinary commitment of park rangers while she was still a child.
– Now 29, she loves her job as a ranger despite danger of being ambushed by poachers or armed groups operating in Kahuzi-Biega National Park.
– The work doesn’t pay well, especially due to reduced numbers of tourists that the park depends on for revenue, but Ntianabo says she isn’t tempted by the profits others seek while harming the park’s ecosystems and wildlife.

Experts see no way back for NZ firm blocked from trying to mine the seabed by Elizabeth Claire Alberts [07 Oct 2021]
– The New Zealand Supreme Court recently blocked consent for a seabed mining operation that would annually extract 50 million tons of iron ore from the seabed off the coast of South Taranaki.
– Environmentalists see this decision as a clear victory, but the mining company has stated its intention to reapply for mining permission.
– But experts say it’s unlikely the company, Trans-Tasman Resources Limited (TTR), will be able to regain consent due to fundamental issues with its application, such as the distinct lack of baseline studies on resident marine life and the potential impacts of mining.
– Conservationists say seabed mining in this part of New Zealand would cause irreversible damage to the ecosystem and threaten many rare and endangered species.

Can we save the bees? Absolutely. Let’s start with the native species (commentary) by Krystle Hickman [07 Oct 2021]
– To ‘save the bees’ we must begin with the most important question: which bees need saving?
– Honey bees are not native to North America, and generally prefer to pollinate non-native plants and crops, yet they enjoy mass appeal and major support campaigns via everyone from almond farmers to actress Angelina Jolie.
– North America’s native bees are adapted to the continent’s unique habitats and flowering plants that occur therein, therefore supporting native flora. But when floral resources are scarce, honey bees outcompete the natives for resources even in native ecosystems.
– The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

Timmermans vs. Bolsonaro: Will the EU get deforestation off our dinner plates? (commentary) by Nico Muzi [07 Oct 2021]
– The European Commission is drafting a plan to address deforestation linked with commodity supply chains.
– But Nico Muzi, Europe Director of global environmental group Mighty Earth and member of the EU Commission Expert Group on protecting and restoring the world’s forests, argues the measure has a significant loophole for soy-based animal feed and leather from Brazil.
– “The leaked plan has several major loopholes that would substantially and unnecessarily weaken its impact even as deforestation in Brazil surges,” Muzi writes. “Even while the law would protect parts of the Amazon rainforest, it would still allow big agriculture companies like Cargill to continue to drive large-scale deforestation right next door in Brazil’s Cerrado savanna and Pantanal wetlands and export the products of that destruction to Europe.”
– The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

From Shanghai Knights to gecko life: The Jackie Chan gecko among 12 new Indian species by Liz Kimbrough [07 Oct 2021]
– Researchers have described 12 gecko species from the Western Ghats mountain range in India, ten of which are found nowhere else.
– The geckos were given some creative names, including a quick and nimble species named after martial arts superstar Jackie Chan, a couple named after fictional dragons, and one named after the cosmos.
– The quest to find geckos was part of a larger survey to document the diversity of the frogs, lizards and snakes of the Western Ghats and to search for critically endangered species in the diverse region.
– The Western Ghats have been identified as a biodiversity hotspot and there are many protected areas in the region, but a growing human population is putting pressure on the unprotected habitats through expanding urban areas, logging, dams, and the spread of agriculture.

In Bali, prominent official faces backlash over illegal pet gibbon by Luh De Suriyani [07 Oct 2021]
– A public official in Indonesia has handed over a baby gibbon to conservation authorities following an outcry over his illegal possession of the endangered animal.
– I Nyoman Giri Prasta, the head of Badung district on the island of Bali, said he was giving up the siamang so that it could be rehabilitated and released into the wilds of its native Sumatra.
– Conservation authorities in Bali say they have not yet considered taking legal action; under Indonesian law, the illegal possession of protected species, like siamangs, is punishable by up to five years in prison.
– Giri Prasta is the latest in a long list of public officials known to keep protected species as pets, with enforcement of the crime still weak, conservationists say.

Tracking white-bellied pangolins in Nigeria, the new global trafficking hub by Gianluca Cerullo [07 Oct 2021]
– Nigeria has in recent years become a major transit point for the illegal trade in pangolins, the scaly anteater known for being the most trafficked mammal in the world.
– With the four Asian pangolin species increasingly scarce, traffickers have made Nigeria their hub for collecting scales and meat from the four African species and shipping them to East Asia.
– In Cross River National Park, home to the elusive white-bellied pangolin, researcher Charles Emogor is working to both study the species and work with communities to end the poaching.
– “Until our government faces up to the fact that we’ve become a staging ground for the pangolin trade, I fear we’re only going to see more cross-border smuggling of scales, and more pangolin flesh for sale in wild meat markets,” he says.



Brazil court upholds ban on missionaries trying to contact isolated Indigenous by Fernanda Wenzel [10/06/2021]
‘Antithetical to science’: When deep-sea research meets mining interests by Elham Shabahat [10/04/2021]
For Brazil’s persecuted Krenak people, justice arrives half a century later by Shanna Hanbury [10/01/2021]