Newsletter 2022-04-14



From traditional practice to top climate solution, agroecology gets growing attention by Anna Lappé [04/13/2022]

– The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report states in its strongest terms yet the need for action to reduce emissions, and one of the key strategies it outlines for policymakers is agroecology.
– Encompassing a range of techniques from intercropping to agroforestry, agroecology is a solution that can “contribute to both climate mitigation and adaptation,” the IPCC stressed.
– Based on traditional knowledge, agroecology can solve multiple challenges at once, including the biodiversity crisis and food insecurity.
– As part of a special series, top food systems author Anna Lappé discusses the power and promise of agroecology to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

In Gabon, a community’s plea against logging paves the way for a new reserve by Benjamin Evine-Binet [04/12/2022]

– Gabon’s environment minister has announced an immediate end to the logging of the Massaha ancestral forest in the country’s northeast, setting his administration a two-month deadline to finalize technical questions for permanent protection of the site.
– The move follows his visit to Massaha to gain a better understanding of the motives behind the community’s request to declassify the logging concession and grant it protected area status.
– Minister Lee White also ordered the Chinese company that holds the logging concession, Transport Bois Négoce International (TBNI), to “leave quickly” and “preserve the area.”
– This is a precedent-setting case in the country’s management of forests, representing the first time an area will be declared protected at the request of the resident community.

Global biodiversity is in crisis, but how bad is it? It’s complicated by Elizabeth Claire Alberts [04/11/2022]

– Biodiversity has been defined as one of nine planetary boundaries that help regulate the planet’s operating system. But humanity is crossing those boundaries, threatening life on Earth. The big question: Where precisely is the threshold of environmental change that biodiversity can withstand before it is destabilized and collapses planetwide?
– The planetary boundary for biodiversity loss was initially measured by extinction rates, but this, as well as other measurements, have proved to be insufficient in determining a global threshold for biodiversity loss. At present, a worldwide threshold for biodiversity loss — or biosphere integrity, as it is known now — remains undetermined.
– However, thresholds for biodiversity loss can be clearly defined at local or regional levels when an ecosystem goes through a regime shift, abruptly changing from one stable state to another, resulting in drastic changes to biodiversity in the changed ecosystem.
– While the planetary boundary framework provides one way of understanding biodiversity or biosphere integrity loss, there are many other measures of biodiversity loss — and all point toward the fact that we are continuing to dangerously destabilize life on Earth.

Ecuador’s Pastaza province, Indigenous groups collaborate on forest conservation by Dimitri Selibas [04/11/2022]

– Pastaza province, located in Ecuador’s Amazon, has implemented a $52 million sustainable development plan working with Indigenous nations that includes their ancestral practices, knowledge, and life plans.
– The plan relies on curtailing dependence on oil and mining projects for economic development and implementing chakras, an ancestral agroforestry system, and conservation projects to boost food security and value chains.
– So far, the Pastaza government has received $1.35 million in funding to implement its strategies and hopes other Amazonian provinces will follow suit to conserve 5 million hectares (12 million acres) of land and water.
– However, Indigenous communities do not manage any of the REDD+ funds and are wary of agreements that offer inclusive development in exchange for oil and mining concessions, says Indigenous organization CONFENIAE.

‘Nature has priority’: Rewilding map showcases nature-led restoration by John Cannon [04/11/2022]

– The Global Rewilding Alliance and OpenForests have officially launched a map of rewilding projects around the world.
– Organizations have contributed stories, photos and videos for projects in 70 countries covering 1 million square kilometers (386,000 square miles), and the alliance’s leaders say more will be added.
– Rewilding is a type of ecological restoration that aims to restore natural dynamics and processes to ecosystems.
– Proponents of the approach say it has the potential to address both biodiversity loss and climate change.

Amazon deforestation dips slightly in March, but remains high by [04/09/2022]

– Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon amounted to 312 sq km in March, a 15% decline over March 2021.
– Despite the drop however, deforestation for the first quarter of 2022 reached 941 square kilometers, the highest level for a first quarter since 2018.
– Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has been trending higher since 2012.- The Brazilian Amazon accounts for nearly two-thirds of the Amazon rainforest.

‘A huge mistake’: Concerns rise as deep-sea mining negotiations progress by Elizabeth Claire Alberts [04/08/2022]

– The International Seabed Authority (ISA), the U.N.-affiliated organization tasked with managing deep-sea mining activities, recently held a series of meetings to continue negotiating the development of mining regulations.
– Deep-sea mining may start as early as 2023 after Nauru triggered a two-year rule embedded in the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea that could essentially allow its sponsored company to start mining with whatever regulations are currently in place.
– Many states are eager to finalize a set of regulations over the next 15 months that would determine how mining can proceed in the deep sea.
– But other states and delegates have noted the lack of scientific knowledge around deep-sea mining, the absence of a financial compensation plan in the event of environmental damage, and ongoing transparency issues in the ISA — and the unlikelihood of finalizing regulatory measures in a short period of time.



Death of last river dolphin in Laos rings alarm bells for Mekong population By: Carolyn Cowan [14 Apr 2022]
– Earlier this year, the last Irrawaddy river dolphin in a transboundary pool between Cambodia and Laos became entangled in fishing gear and died, signifying the extinction of the species in Laos.
– The transboundary subpopulation had dwindled from 17 individuals in 1993, with experts blaming a range of factors — from the use of gill nets and other illegal fishing practices, to overfishing, genetic isolation, and the effects of upstream dams on river flow and prey availability.
– With the loss, there are now just an estimated 89 Irrawaddy dolphins left in the Mekong River, all within a 180-km (110-mi) stretch in Cambodia, where they face the same range of threats that wiped out the transboundary group.
– Authorities and conservationists say they are now resolved to strengthen protections and improve public awareness of the dolphins’ vulnerability to ensure the species has a future in the Mekong.

Sri Lanka grapples with the problem of its fishers plundering waters abroad By: Malaka Rodrigo [14 Apr 2022]
– Mahalingam Kanapathi set off from his hometown of Beruwala in southwestern Sri Lanka in May 2021.
– Less than a month later, and nearly 3,000 kilometers (1,900 miles) away, the fishing boat he captained was seized by the coast guard of Seychelles. Kanapathi was charged and tried for illegal fishing in Seychelles waters.

Of rats and bats: Hundreds of mammal species still unidentified, study says By: Liz Kimbrough [13 Apr 2022]
– Scientists estimate that only 10% of all the species on the planet have been described. Among our closest kin, mammals, that number jumps to 80%, but even this well-studied group still holds mysteries.
– According to a new predictive model, most of that hidden mammal diversity consists of small-bodied animals such as rodents and bats that live across larger ranges and in wet tropical areas.
– Researchers used machine learning and a supercomputer to analyze a massive global data set of known mammalian species traits, life histories, records of occurrence, and more than 90,000 gene sequences to make their predictions.
– Understanding the differences in species can be important for conservation work, but there is also an intrinsic value to life, experts say, and to recognizing these species before they are lost.

Tiger politics and tiger conservation: Where the stakeholders are going wrong (commentary) By: Chris Slappendel [13 Apr 2022]
– With so many countries, organizations and industries involved, tiger conservation has strayed far from the initial goals and into politics over the decades.
– At the next Global Tiger Summit, scheduled for Sep. 5, the key concerns the participants need to address include past mistakes and lessons learned, besides reviewing new projects, funding, and management plans.
– All Tiger Range Countries and stakeholders need to collaborate with transparency and equal involvement from all parties, with an unbiased organization having full mandate, knowledge, capacity, ambition, network and the means to lead tiger conservation at the forefront.
– This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of Mongabay.

In landslide-prone Colombia, forests can serve as an inexpensive shield By: Gianluca Cerullo [13 Apr 2022]
– Scientists say that climate change and high deforestation rates will worsen the severity of landslides across Colombia.
– Regular landslides in the country already have a huge human and economic toll; a disaster in Dosquebradas municipality in February killed 14 people after a heavy rainstorm hit the coffee-growing region.
– Yet scientists say that targeted forest restoration and protection offers an inexpensive way to mitigate landslides, with one study in the Colombian Andes showing that it would be 16 times cheaper to invest in forests than to pay the high costs of repairing destroyed roads, power lines and pipelines after landslides.
– Scientists say that using forests to fight landslides would also have major biodiversity benefits in Earth’s second-most biodiverse nation.

Climate pledges could limit warming to 2C. What’s needed is action, study says By: Elizabeth Claire Alberts [13 Apr 2022]
– A new study has suggested that global temperatures can be limited to 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels if countries fully meet all of their climate pledges on time.
– However, the researchers say that rapid action is needed within the decade to meet the targets necessary to fulfill this goal.
– This analysis comes shortly after the publication of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest report, which says that greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2025 and nations need to reach net-zero emissions by the 2050s.

Podcast: Who owns the companies destroying rainforests in the heart of New Guinea? By: Mike DiGirolamo [13 Apr 2022]
– New Guinea, home to the world’s third-largest rainforest, also contains the world’s largest planned oil palm plantation.
– Covering 2,800 square kilometers (1,100 square miles) the Tanah Merah project is nearly the size of the U.S. state of Rhode Island.
– However, the true owners of the seven concessions that make up the project remain hidden through a shroud of corporate secrecy.
– We speak with Philip Jacobson, senior editor at Mongabay, and Bonnie Sumner, investigative reporter at the Aotearoa New Zealand organization Newsroom, to discuss the project from inception to present day, the involvement of a New Zealand businessman, and where the project could go next.

Small farmers take a stand for one of Dakar’s last urban woodlands By: Francesco De Augustinis [13 Apr 2022]
– A forested strip that’s one of the last green areas in Dakar could be razed for new developments under an urban expansion plan.
– The strip of filao trees is also home to small-scale farmers who grow organic fruit and vegetables for sale in local markets, and whose presence has protected the trees against sand miners and unlicensed development.
– In June 2021, Senegal’s president authorized a new urban plan that “downgraded” 150 hectares (370 acres) of the filao strip, removing its protected status; 43% of this area will be allocated for new homes, and 21% for new roads.
– The farmers have protested the plan, saying they contribute both to the protection of the filao ecosystem and to the local economy.

Study: Most biodiversity hotspots lack formal protection in Borneo and Sumatra By: Grace Dungey [12 Apr 2022]
– A new study published in Animal Conservation finds that most predicted biodiversity hotspots in Borneo and Sumatra fall outside formally protected areas, with only 9.2% and 18.2% of the modeled species richness located within protection zones on the respective islands.
– The researcher team conducted the largest camera-trap survey ever undertaken in Borneo and Sumatra, and used multiple criteria to determine the relationship of 70 species to the surrounding habitat and how animal communities are assembled.
– The study concluded that carnivorous mammals can be used as an umbrella species to assist in the development of holistic management plans in areas where multiple species coexist.

Sustainable fashion: Biomaterial revolution replacing fur and skins By: Jenny Gonzales [08 Apr 2022]
– Innovators around the globe are achieving inspiring results using natural sources, traditional knowledge, and advanced biotechnology techniques to develop sustainable materials for the fashion industry, replacing fur, leather and skins, and slashing the impacts of one of the world’s most polluting industries.
– Although companies of this type still represent a tiny part of the global textile chain, such firms grew fivefold between 2017 and 2019. Executives of apparel companies recently surveyed say they “aspire to source at least half of their products with such materials by 2025.”
– This shift in production and corporate mentality is due to several factors, including pressure from animal rights activists and environmental organizations, along with consumer demand, comes as the climate and environmental crises deepen.
– “Sustainable materials are pivotal if we are to transform the fashion industry from one of the most polluting industries to one that is transformative, regenerative and more humane, caring both for the environment and the people it touches in its complex supply chain,” says fashion designer Carmen Hijosa.

Big Apple birding is set to take flight: Here’s how to get started this Spring By: Alice Yan [08 Apr 2022]
– New York City is home to some of the most competitive bird watchers in the world, says avid birder Rochelle Thomas.
– Perhaps unrivaled in their intensity, NYC bird watchers have become driven by what we would otherwise perceive to be a leisure activity.
– In an interview with Mongabay, Thomas shares her tips on where and when to get in on the action starting in mid April.

Rangers in DRC gorilla park abused Indigenous villagers, report says By: Laurel Sutherland [07 Apr 2022]
– According to a new investigative report by Minority Rights Group (MRG), 20 Indigenous Batwa were killed, 15 women were raped and 2 children were burnt alive by park guards and soldiers in the DRC’s Kahuzi-Biega National Park (KBNP), home to the critically endangered eastern lowland gorilla.
– The acts were committed between 2019 and 2021 under the knowledge and paramilitary support of U.S and German government agencies and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), say the report’s researchers who obtained evidence through interviews with eyewitnesses and park guards involved in the attacks.
– WCS denies allegations brought against the organization, saying it had no involvement in military operations. The KBNP bulletin denied similar reports of violence during a visit by the government agency that manages the park in February.
– German government agencies and a cabinet secretary are calling for an independent investigation into allegations of abuses, which MRG says is just the “tip of the iceberg”. According to sources, another investigation is underway.

Export of elephants to UAE drags Namibia wildlife policy into the spotlight By: Ryan Truscott [07 Apr 2022]
– Conservation groups have slammed the Namibian government’s decision to capture 22 wild elephants and export them to zoos in the United Arab Emirates.
– They contend the animals were taken from a fragile, desert-adapted population herd, and that splitting up the group this way affects the welfare of both the captured elephants and those left behind.
– The government denies this, and has justified the export as a solution to the human-wildlife conflict that’s the flip side of decades of successful conservation policy.
– One of the recipients of the elephants in the UAE, Al Ain Zoo, is a member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria; the latter has expressed concern over the deal’s “extreme lack of transparency” and said Al Ain Zoo could face unspecified sanctions.

Bonobos torn from the wild make their return, with a helping hand By: Malavika Vyawahare [07 Apr 2022]
– An NGO in the Democratic Republic of Congo has returned 14 bonobos into the wild — only the second time ever a bonobo group has been reintroduced to their natural habitat.
– Friends of Bonobos runs a bonobo sanctuary in the DRC where bonobos orphaned by illegal poaching are tended to and rehabilitated.
– The nonprofit released the first group of bonobos in the Ekolo ya Bonobo Community Reserve in 2009, and after more than a decade of preparation and several delays, the second batch was safely moved into the reserve in March.
– The Ekolo ya Bonobo Community Reserve was officially designated a protected area in 2019, and Friends of Bonobos plans to seek National Park status for the forest. This effort could help ensure the two groups remain safe in the wild.

Indonesians, too reliant on palm oil, should go back to their roots (commentary) By: Taufik Wijaya [07 Apr 2022]
– Scarce supplies and high prices for cooking oil have sparked recent widespread public criticism in Indonesia, the world’s top producer of palm oil.
– Yet before the introduction of the African oil palm into Indonesia, communities across the archipelago were producing the oil they needed from coconuts.
– Mongabay Indonesia’s Taufik Wijaya recalls this practice from his childhood in South Sumatra, when the Western-influenced diet of deep-fried food hadn’t yet taken hold.
– This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily of Mongabay.

After failure, reflection: effective conservation requires regular assessments (commentary) By: David Wilkie, Heidi Kretser, Kara Stevens, Matthew Carr, Richard Margoluis [07 Apr 2022]
– Talking about failed conservation efforts does not happen often enough in ways that promote shared learning within organizations.
– We often learn more from failures than from successes, a fact underscored by the authors of a new report, “Reflection and Learning from Failure in Conservation Organizations.”
– A new op-ed offers examples and argues that if reflection upon failure is used more regularly, it would reduce staff time invested in progress reporting, free up staffers to do what they were hired for, and speed up team learning and adaptive management.
– This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of Mongabay.

Stranded coal barge spills cargo, disrupts fishery in Indonesian waters By: Gafur Abdullah [07 Apr 2022]
– An Indonesian coal barge that ran aground off East Java has reportedly spilled much of its cargo and disrupted the local fishery.
– Local fishers blame the spill for turning the water in the area dark and affecting their fishing activities.
– An environmental group has called for an investigation by fisheries and environmental agencies into the incident.
– Indonesia is one of the world’s biggest producers of coal, but has paid a heavy price for that standing, including the massive deforestation wrought to mine the fossil fuel, as well as the numerous environmental and safety incidents associated with transporting and burning it.

Razing of Indigenous hamlet highlights Nepal’s conservation challenge By: Abhaya Raj Joshi [07 Apr 2022]
– On March 27, Nepali authorities evicted about 100 members of the Indigenous Chepang community living in Chitwan National Park and set fire to their huts.
– They allege the community members are encroaching on national park land, famous for its rhinos and tigers, and building new settlements despite warnings and resettlement plans rolled out by the government.
– However, community members say that only providing shelter, and not land for subsistence farming and their traditional livelihoods, does not solve the community’s problems.
– Stringent policing of parks like Chitwan has been credited with helping Nepal boost its populations of iconic species like rhinos and tigers, but has come at the expense of the Indigenous communities who once occupied those areas.

More than half of activists killed in 2021 were land, environment defenders By: Ashoka Mukpo [07 Apr 2022]
– An analysis by Front Line Defenders and the Human Rights Defenders Memorial recorded at least 358 murders of human rights activists globally in 2021.
– Of that total, nearly 60% were land, environment or Indigenous rights defenders.
– The countries with the highest death tolls were Colombia, Mexico and Brazil.
– Advocates say the figure is likely far higher, as attacks on land and environment defenders in Africa often go unreported.



Shell of a comeback: New app, awareness campaigns bring hope for hawksbill turtles by Carly Nairn [04/06/2022]
The amazing — and unknown — diversity of insects living in the Amazon canopy by Suzana Camargo [04/05/2022]
All coked up: The global environmental impacts of cocaine by Sean Mowbray [04/04/2022]
They outlived the dinosaurs, but Brazil’s araucaria trees might not survive humans by Aldem Bourscheit [04/04/2022]
Reaching the Paris Agreement without protecting Indigenous lands is “impossible”, says report by Dimitri Selibas [04/01/2022]
Climate crisis forecasts a fragile future for wildflowers and pollinators by Spoorthy Raman [04/01/2022]
Traditional knowledge guides protection of planetary health in Finland by Jane Palmer [03/31/2022]
Wild bison, taking over Europe and North America, will once again roam England by Claire Turrell [03/31/2022]