Newsletter 2022-04-21



Canadian miners get high-level lobbying boost for Brazilian Amazon projects by Caio de Freitas Paes/Agência Pública [04/20/2022]

– Canadian bank Forbes & Manhattan appears to be aided in pushing its mining interests in Brazil thanks to lobbying efforts by an old army acquaintance of the country’s vice president.
– F&M has been trying to secure environmental licenses for two of its companies, Belo Sun and Brazil Potash, for more than 10 years; both companies’ projects have been criticized for threatening Indigenous groups and traditional riverside communities in the Amazon.
– But F&M has managed to secure several private meetings with top government officials, which all appear to feature the same individual acting in a consulting or advisory role: Cláudio Barroso Magno Filho, a retired brigadier general in the Brazilian Army.
– Barroso Magno attended the military academy alongside Hamilton Mourão, who in 2019 took office as Brazil’s vice president in the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro.

Funding for women-led conservation remains tiny, but that’s changing fast by Dimitri Selibas [04/20/2022]

– Of all the philanthropic funding to tackle climate change, 90% goes to organizations led by white people, and 80% to organizations led by men; only 0.2% of all foundation funding focuses explicitly on women and the environment.
– Initiatives such as the Wild Elements Foundation, Women’s Earth Alliance, Daughters for Earth and WE Africa are supporting women-led efforts around the world to protect and restore the environment through providing funding and publicity, as well as technical, entrepreneurial, and leadership skills.
– The Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA), which in 2021 received approximately $41 million for five years from the Dutch government, also provides flexible financial support to 24 funds, 30 NGOs and 400 grassroots groups and social movements from around the world.

Road projects threaten integrity of Uganda’s mountain gorilla stronghold by Malavika Vyawahare [04/20/2022]

– Ugandan authorities are considering two road projects through Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, home to half of the world’s population of endangered mountain gorillas.
– The proposed new road will impact connectivity between Bwindi and Sarambwe Nature Reserve in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, says the International Gorilla Conservation Programme.
– Most conservationists don’t dispute the need for improved road infrastructure for nearby communities, but say they’re concerned the government is overlooking less harmful alternatives.

Amid extinctions, forest corridors aim to save rare birds in Brazil’s northeast by Sibélia Zanon [04/18/2022]

– A project in northeastern Brazil is working to connect fragments of the Atlantic Forest in an effort to save endemic bird species from extinction.
– The Atlantic Rainforest of the Northeast Project plans to reforest 70 hectares (173 acres) in the states of Pernambuco and Alagoas by 2023.
– Monitoring in Pernambuco’s Serra do Urubu region has shown an increase in bird diversity, from 105 species recorded in 2005, to 287 in 2021.
– Despite the progress being made, the situation remains fragile, with seven bird species having gone extinct in the Atlantic Forest in recent decades, and a strong tradition of keeping birds in cages still persisting.

Robot revolution: A new real-time accounting system for ocean carbon by Elizabeth Devitt [04/18/2022]

– Oceans are key to understanding climate change, seeing as they take up and store 25% of the carbon that human activities add to Earth’s atmosphere. But there are big gaps in our knowledge regarding ocean carbon storage and release, and how it is evolving as climate change unfolds, a problem scientists are now addressing.
– An international deployment of thousands of robotic floats, fitted with sophisticated biogeochemical sensors, is underway and already providing real-time data that scientists can integrate into ocean carbon budgets and climate models. Many more floats are coming, with the capacity to operate in remote regions.
– One such place is the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, which accounts for almost half of the worldwide oceanic carbon sink. Windier conditions there, caused by climate change, are churning up more carbon-rich waters from the depths, releasing stored carbon and introducing unforeseen variability into ocean carbon emission estimates.
– Robots are starting to monitor these emissions in real time. More accurate ocean carbon budgets will improve accounting of land-based carbon dioxide emissions, help create more accurate assessments of how well global carbon agreements such as the Paris Agreement are meeting goals, and will help assess ocean carbon dioxide removal plans.

Plan to carve up Indonesian Papua rings alarm over fate of people and forests by Hans Nicholas Jong [04/18/2022]

– Activists have warned of a potential surge in deforestation under a plan to remap Indonesia’s Papua region from two provinces into five.
– Past cases of new provinces or districts being created or spun off from existing administrative regions have typically been accompanied by an increase in the issuance of licenses for extractive industries such as mining and palm oil.
– Critics of the plan have also rejected the government’s rationale that it will lead to better development outcomes for Papuans, noting that the past creation of new districts in the region has enriched local elites over the people.
– The plan has been met with widespread protests among Papuans, at least two of whom were reportedly killed by police during demonstrations.



In Burundi, one-time combatants who razed forests now raise seedlings By: Dieudonné Ndanezerewe [21 Apr 2022]
– In 2018, Burundi launched a vast national reforestation program to boost the country’s dwindling forest cover, which will run until 2025.
– Burundi has just 6.6% of its original forests remaining, the legacy of a brutal civil war in which forests weren’t spared the violence inflicted by either side.
– Today, the formerly warring factions are working together on the reforestation project that has been hailed as a fantastic initiative, especially as the planted trees are varied.
– However, key civil society stakeholders in nature conservation are calling for these efforts to be followed by awareness-raising campaigns among local populations and communities, to protect seedlings that have already been planted.

Podcast: Convention on Biological Diversity: progress, hope and hard work ahead By: Mike Gaworecki [20 Apr 2022]
– On today’s episode of the Mongabay Newscast, we discuss the upcoming conference of the parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and what it will take to create a robust post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
– We speak with Elizabeth Mrema, an Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity. She tells us about the outcomes of the recently held Geneva talks, why the world failed to meet the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and how COP15 (to be held in Kunming, China later this year) can provide a roadmap to actually halting biodiversity loss and safeguarding nature.
– We also speak with Jennifer Tauli Corpuz, a member of the Indigenous Caucus at the Convention on Biological Diversity talks. She gives us the Indigenous perspective on what’s currently in the draft biodiversity framework, what changes are needed to better support Indigenous land rights, and the overall importance of Indigenous leadership in preserving Earth’s biodiversity.

Trees and soil at the forest’s edge store more carbon than we thought, studies reveal By: Liz Kimbrough [20 Apr 2022]
– Scientists investigated the differences in carbon storage of trees and soils along forest edges versus the interiors of temperate forests in the northeastern United States.
– They found that trees within 30 meters (100 feet) of the forest edge grow almost twice as fast as trees deeper in the forest interior, meaning the edge trees are pulling carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in their tissues at a faster rate.
– In urban areas, soil released 25% less carbon on the forest edge relative to the interior. Worldwide, more carbon is stored in the soil than in all aboveground plants, animals, and the atmosphere combined, so understanding the soil is an important part of the carbon equation.
– While this spells good news for the potential of forest fragments to combat climate change, the researchers made it clear that this is not an argument in favor of creating more fragments as a way to sequester more carbon, stating that “forest that is lost will always outweigh gains made from growth increases in the new edges.”

New report pieces together toll of environmental damage in Venezuela in 2021 By: Maxwell Radwin [20 Apr 2022]
– A report from the Political Ecology Observatory of Venezuela (OEP) lays out the worst environmental conflicts that the South American country faced in 2021.
– Among them are oil spills, deforestation, mining, and a lack of clean water in areas with degraded watersheds.
– The report notes the continuing difficulty of tracking environmental parameters in Venezuela, due to the lack of transparency by government at all levels.
– Regardless, it notes that last year’s events contributed to numerous public health crises.

Amateur naturalists deserve more support and fewer barriers (commentary) By: Rajith Dissanayake [20 Apr 2022]
– In the age of iNaturalist when tools are reopening the hallowed tradition of the amateur naturalist, it is perhaps time to address the ways institutions can encourage–rather than discourage–this growing movement.
– With the world faced with a decline in trained, salaried naturalists and biodiversity institutes, we desperately need to elevate and champion the amateurs who are willing to interpret and speak up for wildlife, a new op-ed argues.
– This article is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily of Mongabay.

Mine pits expose the holes in Indonesia’s plan to relocate its capital By: Hans Nicholas Jong [20 Apr 2022]
– Critics of the Indonesian government’s plan to build a new capital city in the coal-mining heartland of East Kalimantan province have long warned about the abandoned mining pits dotting the landscape.
– The government has now acknowledged that these will be a problem: it says it has identified 2,415 of these pits at the site of the new city, covering a combined area of 29,000 hectares (71,700 acres).
– It also says it’s been working to rehabilitate these decommissioned mines since 2021 — a revelation that has raised concerns that the public is paying for work that, by law, should be done by the coal companies.
– The government’s solutions for dealing with the rainwater-filled pits have also been panned, such as using them as sources of fresh water for the new city, despite the fact that the water is as acidic as stomach acid.

Tropical trees’ growth and CO2 intake hit by more extreme dry seasons By: Elizabeth Claire Alberts [20 Apr 2022]
– A new study has found that dry seasons that are warmer and drier than usual can stunt the growth of tropical trees, causing them to take in less carbon dioxide.
– While trees tend to grow more during the wet season, the researchers found that the dry season actually had a stronger impact on tree growth than the wet season.
– As climate change continues to raise temperatures, tropical trees could face increased risk of mortality and the possibility of becoming a net source of carbon, rather than a carbon sink.

South Africa declares national emergency as flood toll crosses 440 By: Malavika Vyawahare [19 Apr 2022]
– Flooding and landslides following record-breaking rainfall caused hundreds of deaths and displaced 40,000 people in KwaZulu-Natal province.
– The damage is centered around Durban, South Africa’s third most populous city, which is particularly vulnerable to flash floods.
– In the coming days, 10,0000 military troops will join search and rescue operations and provide aid to the thousands of people impacted by the tragedy.
– President Cyril Ramaphosa said the floods are a reminder of how a changing climate is fueling more extreme weather. However, scientists are still investigating the role of anthropogenic climate change in this disaster.

History on the walls: Graffiti brings Manaus’s Indigenous roots to light By: Ana Ionova [19 Apr 2022]
– Graffiti artists are painting murals recounting the history of Indigenous people and honoring their culture in the capital of Amazonas, the Brazilian state with the largest Indigenous population.
– Indigenous community leaders say they hope the movement will increase the visibility of Indigenous people living in cities, who often face poverty, housing insecurity and stigma that discourages many from maintaining their culture and identity.
– Fearing cultural erasure, Indigenous activists are urging Indigenous people to embrace their ancestry and identify themselves as Indigenous in Brazil’s next census, expected to begin in August 2022.
– As Indigenous people in cities reclaim their identities, occupying public spaces through street art is playing a key role in the fight to make Indigenous people in urban areas more visible.

‘No’ to corporate-driven tourism development in Komodo National Park (commentary) By: Venansius Haryanto [19 Apr 2022]
– Plans to build tourism resorts inside Indonesia’s Komodo National Park, home to the world’s biggest lizard, have for years faced pushback from local communities.
– Opponents of the projects point to the potential for ecological and social disruptions.
– Instead of tourism based on corporate investment, the government should develop a model of community-based tourism, argues Venansius Haryanto, a researcher at Sunspirit for Justice and Peace, an advocacy group based in Labuan Bajo.
– This article is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily of Mongabay.

Indonesian trade official, palm oil execs charged in cooking oil crisis By: Hans Nicholas Jong [19 Apr 2022]
– A trade ministry official and three palm oil executives have been charged by prosecutors in Indonesia in connection with a cooking oil shortage that has rocked the world’s biggest vegetable oil-producing country.
– The suspects are alleged to have conspired to secure export permits to sell crude palm oil at record-high prices internationally instead of complying with a domestic market obligation.
– The cooking oil shortage has prompted widespread outrage in a country that produces more than half of the world’s palm oil, driving up prices and forcing the government to step in with subsidies.
– The companies named in the conspiracy are the Permata Hijau Group, Wilmar Nabati Indonesia, Multimas Nabati Asahan, and Musim Mas.

Sluggish growth of renewables threatens Bangladesh’s clean-energy goals By: Abu Siddique [19 Apr 2022]
– The development of renewable energy in Bangladesh continues to be outpaced by non-renewables such as coal, gas and nuclear.
– This threatens the country’s ability to meet both its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Agreement, and its goal under the U.N. SDGs of ensuring that at least 10% of energy consumption by 2030 comes from renewable sources.
– Renewables today account for just 2% of the power flowing into the grid, or 3.49% of total consumption if off-grid sources are included.
– While the country is embarking on a spate of renewable energy projects, including one solar and four wind farms, these are overshadowed by the seven coal plants, 13 gas plants, and one — possibly two — nuclear plants in the works.

In Brazil’s northeast, family farmers are guardians of creole seeds By: Sucena Shkrada Resk [19 Apr 2022]
– Families in northeastern Brazil’s Alto Jequitinhonha region have held out against industrial farming by preserving dozens of traditional seed varieties through generations of family farming.
– The tradition led to publication in 2019 of the Alto Jequitinhonha Creole Seed Catalog, which lists 132 varieties preserved and grown by 28 families in the region.
– Guaranteeing food security means dealing with several challenges in this region, including increasingly longer dry seasons as a result of climate change, and competition with eucalyptus monocultures for water.

In media coverage of wildlife crime, ‘feedback loops’ entrench biases: Study By: Abhaya Raj Joshi [18 Apr 2022]
– A new study on the reliability of media coverage of the illegal wildlife trade in Nepal has found that, while useful, media reports only cover a small fraction of seizures and focus mostly on large, charismatic species
– The researchers say wildlife reporting practices create ‘feedback loops’ that may reinforce biases and can further entrench official responses to wildlife crime
– To counteract this trend, the researchers propose raising awareness among journalists as to how their reporting can influence public opinion and official responses to wildlife crime

Oceans conference comes up with $16b in pledges to safeguard marine health By: Carolyn Cowan [15 Apr 2022]
– The seventh Our Ocean Conference took place in the Pacific island nation of Palau on April 13 and 14.
– Representatives of governments, the private sector, civil society groups and philanthropic organizations made 410 commitments worth more than $16 billion toward improving the health, productivity and protection of the world’s oceans.
– Discussions focused around the importance of ocean-based climate solutions and the linkage between healthy oceans and healthy communities.
– The setting in a small island developing state lent the event a unique perspective, underscoring the crucial role and leadership of Indigenous peoples and local communities in tacking the climate change and ocean crises.

Forest loss shows stopgap decrees failing to protect Brazil’s isolated Indigenous By: Sarah Brown [15 Apr 2022]
– Decrees issued by the Brazilian government to protect Indigenous territories from outside threats have failed to deter illegal deforestation and may even be encouraging invaders who are betting on them not being renewed, critics say.
– In the first two months of this year, 116 hectares (287 acres) were deforested for cattle pasture and mining in Indigenous lands supposedly protected by these decrees, according to Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), a nonprofit that advocates for the rights of Indigenous and traditional peoples.
– Despite the figure representing an 83% reduction in deforestation from a year ago, Indigenous rights groups say deforestation continues to threaten isolated Indigenous peoples, especially in the absence of government action against the illegal occupation of their lands.
– Ancestral land rights are at the heart of protests currently underway in Brasília, where thousands of Indigenous people have converged for the country’s largest annual Indigenous demonstrations.

Outcry in Malaysia as failure to replant forests sparks ‘cover-up’ accusation By: Rachel Donald [15 Apr 2022]
– Critics of a government plantation scheme have slammed the program following revelations that only a fraction of forest reserves cleared for plantations over the past decade have actually been replanted.
– An investigation by environmental news site Macaranga found that only 5% of the 77,331 hectares (191,089 acres) of forest reserves cleared in Pahang state for plantations between 2012 and 2020 were replanted.
– A Pahang state opposition lawmaker has called the program a “cover-up” for a logging scheme, while an environmental activist has criticized the government for its lack of accountability.

International funding nowhere near enough for Indonesia to cut emissions: Study By: Basten Gokkon [15 Apr 2022]
– Indonesia will have to come up with its own funding schemes to have any chance of achieving its carbon emissions reduction target by 2030, a new study says.
– The government has calculated that it needs $323 billion in funding from the international community to slash emissions by 41%, but received just $6.4 million between 2007 and 2019, the study found.
– It found that Indonesia faced difficulties accessing international climate grants, with donors often prioritizing their own interests or preferring countries with lower incomes than Indonesia.
– A potential source of funding could be the sale of government debt that’s a combination of environmental (green) bonds and Islamic-compliant bonds, known as sukuk, the study says.

Colombian Indigenous community waits in poverty as courts weigh ownership of ancestral land By: Mongabay Latam & Rutas del Conflicto [14 Apr 2022]
– In 2009 the Guahibo Indigenous community of El Trompillo was forced to move from what members say is their ancestral land.
– The official owners of the land are reportedly connected to former senator Alfonso Mattos, and plantation companies affiliated with Mattos have been developed in the territory; sources say they are polluting the land, water and air.
– El Trompillo community members hope the higher courts rule in their favor and return them to their land – but in the meantime they live in cramped, impoverished conditions.
– This story is a collaboration between Mongabay Latam and Rutas del Conflicto in Colombia.

Are conservation trust funds part of the answer for ongoing land protection? (commentary) By: Anne Lambert [14 Apr 2022]
– Conservation trust funds are said by some to take money away from urgent needs now, especially for land acquisitions, where it is often a case of ‘now or never.’ While donors do prefer to support the creation of new protected areas, the under-funding of protection and management results in “paper parks” and under-protected reserves.
– More funds could be allocated for protection on an annual basis, and trust funds are also a valid option.
– Endowments reduce the heavy burden on local conservation organizations who must spend a lot of time fundraising and administering multiple grants each year, a founding director of the International Conservation Fund of Canada writes.
– This article is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily of Mongabay.

Sharing a marine reserve with fishers: Q&A with Belize Fisheries’ Adriel Castañeda By: Maxwell Radwin [14 Apr 2022]
– In Belize, the coral atoll Glover’s Reef is an important conservation site, home to hundreds of species of marine life — and traditionally been a popular spot for local fishermen.
– The marine protected area has a multi-use zone that allows fishermen to work in the area while protecting biodiversity.
– Nevertheless, some shark populations have declined in recent years despite careful management by the Belize fisheries department and NGOs.
– Adriel Castañeda, an officer with the Belize Fisheries Department and coordinator for the ecosystem-based management unit, spoke with Mongabay about the challenges of preserving the reef while upholding the customs of local communities.

Monkeys, porcupines team up to destroy crops, Nepal’s farmers say By: Abhaya Raj Joshi [14 Apr 2022]
– Farmers in Nepal’s middle hills say monkeys are raiding their crops during the day, followed by porcupines at night.
– Nepal has paradoxically seen an increase in reported cases of human-wildlife conflict as its forest cover has grown dramatically.
– A key reason may be because the trees being planted under the community forestry program are non-native species that don’t provide the fruits that monkeys and porcupines typically eat.
– However, there’s debate on just how common crop raiding is, with researchers saying there needs to be more studies and fewer anecdotes to identify the scale of the problem.



From traditional practice to top climate solution, agroecology gets growing attention by Anna Lappé [04/13/2022]
In Gabon, a community’s plea against logging paves the way for a new reserve by Benjamin Evine-Binet [04/12/2022]
Global biodiversity is in crisis, but how bad is it? It’s complicated by Elizabeth Claire Alberts [04/11/2022]
Ecuador’s Pastaza province, Indigenous groups collaborate on forest conservation by Dimitri Selibas [04/11/2022]
‘Nature has priority’: Rewilding map showcases nature-led restoration by John Cannon [04/11/2022]
Amazon deforestation dips slightly in March, but remains high by [04/09/2022]
‘A huge mistake’: Concerns rise as deep-sea mining negotiations progress by Elizabeth Claire Alberts [04/08/2022]