Newsletter 2021-10-21



Half-Earth, conservation, and hope: An interview with E.O. Wilson, Paula Ehrlich and Sir Tim Smit by Liz Kimbrough [10/20/2021]

– E.O. Wilson is a scientist, naturalist, and author highly regarded for his theories of island biogeography and sociobiology, and for his writing that unites concepts in science and the humanities, winning him two Pulitzer Prizes in non-fiction, among other top recognitions.
– Wilson champions the goal of protecting half of the Earth, both land and sea, and makes the case that doing so would save more than 80% of all biodiversity. Biodiversity, he says, is “fundamental in continued human existence.”
– On Oct. 22, Wilson will give a plenary speech at the Half-Earth Day virtual event, which brings together thought leaders, decision-makers and influencers such as Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Razan Al Mubarak, and Sir David Attenborough to discuss conservation in the areas of education, science, and technology.
– E.O. Wilson, Paula Ehrlich and Sir Tim Smit spoke with Mongabay staff writer Liz Kimbrough on Oct 14, 2021 to discuss Half-Earth, hope and the need for a shift in consciousness.

Supporting more holistic approaches to conservation: an interview with Kai Carter by Rhett A. Butler [10/20/2021]

– For at least the past 20 years, there has been regular talk about the need to break down silos in conservation. But in practice, the conservation sector as a whole has been slow to bring the necessary voices and expertise into the conversation. That hesitancy, or inertia, can mean missed opportunities to connect conservation with other positive outcomes, from health to livelihoods.
– Kai Carter understands this well: As a program officer at the Packard Foundation’s Agriculture, Livelihoods, and Conservation (ALC) strategy, her work focuses on supporting organizations that work at the intersection of local communities, rights, health, and the environment.
– “Local agriculture, economic development, and conservation are interwoven in people’s lives; they don’t view them as separate,” Carter told Mongabay. “We’ve been exploring how our grantmaking can be more effective by approaching environmental sustainability, livelihoods, community resilience, and health holistically and with the intention of centering the needs and aspirations of smallholder farming communities.”
– Carter spoke about the Packard Foundation’s ALC strategy, equity and inclusion in conservation, and a range of other issues during a recent conversation with Mongabay founder Rhett A. Butler.

In Guinea, an illegal $6b gold ‘bonanza’ threatens endangered chimpanzees by Ashoka Mukpo [10/19/2021]

– Earlier this year, Australia’s Predictive Discovery announced that it had found more than $6 billion in “bonanza”-grade gold deposits in eastern Guinea.
– A Mongabay investigation has found that the company’s exploration is taking place inside the boundaries of Haut Niger National Park, in violation of the law establishing the park.
– The park is home to an estimated 500 western chimpanzees, one of the highest concentrations of the critically endangered primate in West Africa.

Changes to global fisheries subsidies could level the playing field for traditional coastline communities by Gladstone Taylor [10/18/2021]

– Community fishers struggle to hold their own against heavily-subsidized foreign fleets. Fisheries subsidies have long given wealthy nations an edge over Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like Jamaica that are rich in fishing traditions and natural resources.
– In places like the multigenerational fishing village of Manchioneal, Jamaica, artisanal fishers say they simply can’t compete with heavily-subsidized foreign fleets working in depleted waters.
– But decisions made by the WTO this year on subsidies could lead to more sustainable and equitable fisheries around the world, in turn leading to better food security and more fish.
– This story was produced with the support of Internews’ Earth Journalism Network.



Paraguay failed to stop soy farms from poisoning Indigenous land, UN says by Maxwell Radwin [21 Oct 2021]
– The U.N. Human Rights Committee says the Paraguayan government failed to stop the illegal use of pesticides being sprayed on the land of the Ava Guarani Indigenous community.
– For more than a decade, the fumigation from neighboring soybean plantations killed the community’s plants and animals, while creating health issues for many residents.
– As a result, younger generations of Ava Guarani were unable to learn the community’s cultural customs, and many moved away from the community.
– Paraguay has the laws and institutions in place to regulate commercial agriculture but has demonstrated an unwillingness to apply them, according to the committee.

Report: Luxury carmakers still sourcing deforestation-linked leather from Paraguay by Laurel Sutherland [21 Oct 2021]
– The forests of the Gran Chaco in Paraguay, home of one of the world’s last uncontacted Indigenous nations, continue to be the target of illegal deforestation linked to luxury automakers such as BMW and Jaguar Land Rover.
– Two of three Paraguayan leather exporters shown to be buying hides from cattle grazed in illegally deforested parts of the Gran Chaco have increased their sales to Europe since the issue came to light in September 2020.
– Major European automakers are still unable to demonstrate how their supply chains are shielded from illegal deforestation in Paraguay.

Plantation giant Socfin accused of dodging taxes in Africa by Ashoka Mukpo [21 Oct 2021]
– A new report by Bread for all, Alliance Sud, and the German Network for Tax Justice has accused Belgian-French multinational Socfin, which operates rubber and palm oil plantations across West Africa, of shifting profits from Africa to Switzerland.
– According to Socfin’s corporate filings, of 600 million euros in revenues booked in 2020, 100 million euros were said to have been generated in Europe, despite the fact that it does not produce commodities there.
– The use of “transfer pricing” to avoid taxation is common among multinationals operating in Africa, depriving low-income governments of badly needed revenue.

Deforestation notches up along logging roads on PNG’s New Britain Island by John C. Cannon [21 Oct 2021]
– Recent satellite data has shown a marked increase in the loss of tree cover in Papua New Guinea’s East New Britain province.
– Many of the alerts were near new or existing logging roads, indicating that the forest loss may be due to timber harvesting.
– Oil palm production is also growing, altering the face of a province that had more than 98% of its primary forest remaining less than a decade ago.
– The surge in land use changes has affected not only the environment in East New Britain, but also the lives of the members of the communities who depend on it.

‘The images are confronting’: Q&A with animal photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur by Elizabeth Claire Alberts [20 Oct 2021]
– Hidden: Animals in the Anthropocene, published in December 2020, is a photojournalism book that documents the lives and deaths of animals in a human-dominated world.
– The “hidden” animals of the title are those that we humans use for food, fashion, research and cultural purposes.
– The book showcases the work of more than 40 photographers, including co-editor Jo-Anne McArthur, working in the burgeoning field of animal photojournalism.
– Mongabay interviewed McArthur about the creation of the book, the importance of engaging with images of animal suffering, the intersection between animal advocacy and environmentalism, and the growth of animal photojournalism.

With Bachman’s warbler and others added to the ‘extinct’ list, we must support biodiversity agreements (commentary) by Christoph Irmscher [20 Oct 2021]
– The US Fish and Wildlife Service recently proposed removing 23 species like the ivory-billed woodpecker from its list of endangered species ‘due to extinction.’
– Among these is the Bachman’s warbler, a beautiful yellow bird last seen in the late 1980s.
– “Of all the areas of environmental degradation, biodiversity loss cannot be undone. Now is the time to raise our voices in support of global biodiversity agreements,” argues the author of this opinion piece.
– The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

Green groups call for scrapping of $300m loan offer for Borneo road project by Basten Gokkon [20 Oct 2021]
– The Asian Development Bank is considering a $300 million loan proposal from the Indonesian government to fund a road project in Borneo.
– The 280-kilometer (170-mile) project across North and East Kalimantan provinces are designed to boost economic growth and further the integration of the Malaysian and Indonesian palm oil industries.
– Environmental groups around the world have urged the ADB to impose stricter environmental and social requirements for the project to reduce its expected impacts on the environment and the Indigenous communities living in the region.
– Indigenous peoples like the Dayak rely on the forests staying intact, as do critically endangered species such as Bornean orangutans.

In harm’s way: Our actions put people and wildlife at risk of disease by Sharon Guynup [20 Oct 2021]
– While global attention is currently focused on COVID-19 and other zoonotic diseases that jump from animals to humans, diseases that breach the species barrier also pass from people and domestic animals to wild species.
– Human alteration of the planet — the felling of forests, the legal and illegal wildlife trade, climate change, and other disruptions — is driving escalating unnatural interactions between species, allowing diseases to mutate and infect new hosts.
– Infectious disease poses a serious threat to tigers, chimpanzees, Ethiopian wolves, African wild dogs and a host of other threatened species. Viral diseases spread by humans, livestock and other domestic animals could serve as the knockout punch to endangered species already teetering on the edge of extinction.
– There’s growing support for a One Health strategy, which recognizes that human health, animal health and the health of the planet are inextricably linked — that protecting the planet is crucial to the health of all.

Project maps soundscape of human noise in northern Adriatic and impact on marine life by Francesco Martinelli [19 Oct 2021]
– The bottlenose dolphin population of Croatia’s Lošinj archipelago is increasingly faced with problems from noise disturbance produced by boats, particularly in the summer tourist season.
– Noise pollution is known to impact a wide range of marine species, from turtles to tuna to cetaceans, but its long-term effects are still little-understood.
– The SOUNDSCAPE project that started in 2019 in the northern Adriatic Sea, between Italy and Croatia, is trying to better understand the problem at the regional level and identify solutions.

Light exhibits at Indonesian botanic garden spark commercialization concerns by Ahmad Supardi, Rahmadi Rahmad [19 Oct 2021]
– Established by the Dutch colonial government in the late 19th century, Indonesia’s Bogor Botanical Gardens is one of the oldest and largest in the world.
– As one of the nation’s most important scientific institutions, its formal functions are plant conservation, research, education, scientific tourism, and environmental services.
– To attract a wider range of visitors, decorative lighting installations and projections on trees have been installed as part of a new after-dark attraction.
– Several groups have criticized the lighting exhibits, including four former heads of the garden, who say they commercialize the site and detract from its scientific and educational mission in favor of profit and recreation.

Mangrove photo contest winners reveal majesty of these coastal forests by [18 Oct 2021]
– From a forest goddess protecting honey gatherers to a tiger leaping through mangroves, these are some of the winning images in the 7th annual Mangrove Photography Awards.
– The annual contest attracted a record number of submissions from 65 countries, but the judges eventually selected the winners which revealed aspects of mangroves from all corners of the earth.
– Mangroves are marine forests that adorn tropical coasts and are one of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems.
– These forests also play crucial roles in protecting coastlines from erosion and providing communities with resources from food to firewood, and are one of the world’s most effective carbon sinks.

Amazonian ecosystems and peoples on the brink – it is time for a new vision (commentary) by Mercedes Bustamante [18 Oct 2021]
– Mercedes Bustamante — a Professor at the University of Brasilia, member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, and a lead scientist for the Science Panel for the Amazon — says the world needs to announce a “code red” for the Amazon due to increasing threats to the world’s largest rainforest.
– Bustamante cites evidence gathered in a new synthesis of the scientific knowledge on Amazonian socio-ecological systems, which “summarizes how ecosystems and human populations coevolved in this unique region and documents the unprecedented changes the Amazon has witnessed in recent years and their profound impacts on the continental and global environment.”
– “Saving existing forests from continued deforestation and degradation and restoring ecosystems is one of the most urgent tasks of our time to preserve the Amazon and its people and address the global risk and impacts of climate change,” Bustamante writes.
– This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

Beyond tree planting: When to let forests restore themselves by Mike Gaworecki [18 Oct 2021]
– Tree-planting schemes are common these days, and they’re touted as one of the best tools we have to combat climate change, species extinction, and other environmental crises.
– But natural regeneration — allowing forests to reestablish themselves — is increasingly being recognized as a more cost-effective strategy for meeting ambitious forest restoration targets.
– Natural regeneration can occur on its own, just by stepping back and letting trees grow. But sometimes it’s more effective to assist regeneration with measures such as putting up fences, removing weeds, and addressing the pressures that lead to logging and other disturbances.
– Recent research focuses on identifying the conditions necessary for natural regeneration to occur.

Drones are a knife in the gunfight against poaching. But they’re leveling up by Caitlin Looby [18 Oct 2021]
– At the peak of the rhino poaching war in South Africa in 2015 and 2016, poachers slaughtered nearly three rhinos a day.
– Although that rate has declined, the numbers are still disheartening and unsustainable, with poachers killing at least one rhino every day.
– Some conservationists have looked to drones as a potentially powerful tool in anti-poaching efforts, with the technology continuing to evolve.
– But experts say it isn’t at the level yet where it can meet the challenge, and that while it can be helpful, conservation efforts must continue to engage and educate local communities.

Math campus multiplies threats to Rio de Janeiro’s dwindling Atlantic Forest by Sarah Brown [15 Oct 2021]
– A plan to create a new mathematics campus with student accommodation in Rio de Janeiro is being challenged by residents as it calls for the removal of 255 trees in a patch of the already severely diminished Atlantic Forest.
– A study shows the construction site sits on a slope that poses a high geological risk, leaving residents worried about flooding and landslides in an area already affected by intense rainfall.
– Experts say there are irregularities in the licensing granted to the construction, and environmental laws are not being respected.
– The Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IMPA), which is building the new campus, says all its licenses are in order, that it will reforest the area, and that the educational and social benefits will be worth it.

As seizures of poached giant clams rise, links to ivory trade surface by Elizabeth Claire Alberts [15 Oct 2021]
– A new report released by the Wildlife Justice Commission identifies the giant clamshell trade as a “cause for concern.”
– It suggests the trade could have links with organized crime, and that it could also be endangering elephants since clamshells are a viable substitute for elephant ivory.
– China and Japan are noted as potential markets of concern in the giant clamshell trade.
– Very little is known about the giant clamshell trade, which has prompted experts to call for more investigations into the issue.

Guatemala tightens cattle ranching rules, but can they stop deforestation? by Maxwell Radwin [15 Oct 2021]
– Guatemala wants to continue to export cattle to Mexico but needs to regulate the industry to prevent the deforestation of the Mayan Biosphere Reserve and other protected forests.
– The government is constructing new cattle pen facilities on the border that could convince more ranchers to participate in a legal traceability system.
– However, even if the traceability system improves, deforestation caused by drug traffickers and other criminal actors will likely persist.

Forest biomass-burning supply chain is producing major carbon emissions: Studies by Justin Catanoso [15 Oct 2021]
– U.S., U.K., and E.U. policymakers are failing to count the carbon emissions cost of the forest biomass industry, according to two new first-of-their-kind studies. Though biomass burning is legally classified as carbon neutral, the research found that none of the parties involved is counting emissions generated along the supply chain.
– One study estimated that wood pellets made in the U.S. and burned in the U.K. led to 13-16 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2019 alone, equal to the emissions of up to 7 million cars. Should biomass burning be instituted by other nations in the near future, a process already underway, the result could be climatically catastrophic.
– The findings should be carefully considered as representatives of the world’s nations prepare to meet for the COP26 climate summit in Scotland, said experts. “These studies make clear that current energy policy doesn’t match the overwhelming science on the impacts of biomass,” said a member of the U.K.’s House of Lords.
– However, there are presently no official plans to address the forest biomass carbon accounting issue at COP26, though NGOs are investigating inroads to negotiations.

Tanzanian gold miners ten times more likely to die from road injuries, study finds by Malavika Vyawahare [15 Oct 2021]
– Miners were 10 times more likely to die of traffic-related injuries than people who did not work in mining, a study that looked at Tanzania’s two biggest gold mines found.
– Africa has a third of the global stock of metals and minerals and hosts around 700 active large-scale mining sites, with more in the pipeline as the world’s appetite for these resources grows.
– Of the 186 people of working age who died in five wards around the two mines in a year, about half were miners, reflecting the higher risks miners faced, especially men.
– The study authors say that interventions should be designed to prevent road injuries in the wider community, not just at the mine sites, and the definition of safety in mining areas needs to be broader.

30×30 is not a one-size-fits-all biodiversity target (commentary) by Karl Burkart [15 Oct 2021]
– This week, delegates meeting at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) issued the Kunming Declaration to lay the foundation for the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) to reverse the global extinction crisis.
– A coalition of governments and NGOs are pushing for the inclusion of the “30×30” target to protect 30% of Earth by 2030. But Karl Burkart, Deputy Director of One Earth, says that “30×30 is not a one-size-fits-all goal” — some countries will need to go beyond that target to stave off mass extinction.
– Burkart cites the concept of a “Global Safety Net” — articulated in a 2020 paper of which he was a co-author — to make the case for “a ‘common but differentiated’ approach wherein each country sets a national target based on the available inventory of natural lands within its boundaries, with all countries striving collectively to protect a full 50% of the terrestrial surface.”
– This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

Malaysia’s Indigenous Penan block roads to stop logging in Borneo by Rachel Donald [14 Oct 2021]
– In an attempt to block logging operations by timber company Samling, Penan Indigenous tribespeople have erected two separate blockades in Malaysian Borneo’s Baram region.
– Penan activists allege Samling is encroaching on tribal land without their consent, and say they only put up the blockades after authorities failed to respond to their complaints.
– Samling, which has been granted a license to log in both contested areas, says the allegations that it has operated without consent on Penan land are “malicious and without any truth or basis.”
– One blockade, in the Long Ajeng area, has led to tensions between villagers opposed to Samling’s presence and those in favor of it, and has been dismantled and reinstalled multiple times.

Podcast: Who benefits from resource extraction in DRC? by Mike Gaworecki [14 Oct 2021]
– On today’s episode of the Mongabay Newscast, we look at two stories that illustrate how resource extraction is impacting human rights and the environment in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
– Anuradha Mittal, executive director of the Oakland Institute, tells us about the Western investors profiting off of oil palm plantations accused of human rights violations and environmental abuses.
– Christian-Geraud Neema Byamungu, a Congolese researcher who focuses on natural resource governance, tells us about how the growing demand for cobalt to make electric-car batteries has led to increased mining in the DRC, the Chinese companies that dominate the mining sector in the DRC, and why the contracts between those companies and the country are being called into question.



Biosurveillance of markets and legal wildlife trade needed to curb pandemic risk: Experts by Gloria Dickie [10/13/2021]
‘Kew Declaration’ unites experts on reforestation, aims at policymakers ahead of COP26 by Liz Kimbrough [10/13/2021]
Conservation will only scale when non-conservationists see its value, says James Deutsch by Rhett A. Butler [10/12/2021]
For some Indigenous, COVID presents possibility of cultural extinction, says Myrna Cunningham by Rhett A. Butler [10/11/2021]
Deep seabed mining is risky. If something goes wrong, who will pay for it? by Ian Morse [10/08/2021]
The great Koh Kong land rush: Areas stripped of protection by Cambodian gov’t being bought up by Gerald Flynn [10/07/2021]