Newsletter 2022-06-30



Parrots of the Caribbean: Birding tourism offers hope for threatened species by Peter Kleinhenz [06/29/2022]

– Four species of parrots endemic to Caribbean islands in the Lesser Antilles — St. Vincent, St. Lucia and Dominica — are clinging to existence amid a volley of hurricanes and volcanic eruptions that have decimated their populations and habitats.
– Efforts by state agencies, NGOs, volunteers and entrepreneurs are trying to ensure that none of them slips into extinction.
– Ecotourism is seen by most people directly involved as being the best route forward for the parrots’ protection and for sustainable community development.

How marine conservation benefits from combining Indigenous knowledge and Western science by Mike Gaworecki [06/28/2022]

– On today’s episode of the Mongabay Newscast, we take a look at two stories that show the effectiveness of combining traditional Indigenous ecological knowledge and Western science for conservation and restoration initiatives.
– Our first guest today is Dr. Gary Paul Nabhan, an ethnobotanist at the University of Arizona. He tells us about eelgrass, an ancestral food of the Comcaac people in the state of Sonora in Mexico. Nabhan tells us why eelgrass is making a big comeback as a sustainable source of food for the Comcaac community and gaining international attention in the process.
– We also speak with Dr. Sara Iverson, a professor of biology at Canada’s Dalhousie University, about a research project called Apoqnmatulti’k that aims to better understand the movements of lobster, eel, and tomcod in two important ecosystems on Canada’s Atlantic coast. Iverson tells us why those study species were chosen by the Mi’kmaq people and why it’s so important that the project combines different ways of knowing, including Western science and traditional Indigenous knowledge.

Mongabay’s new-look makes finding the right tree-planting project easier by [06/28/2022]

– Mongabay has launched an upgrade to, our global directory of tree-planting projects, aimed at improving transparency in the sector.
– is a free online tool for people to support reforestation by providing a means to identify projects that align with their interests and motivations.
– The update features an improved project search functionality, a step-by-step guide for filtering projects, and the ability to update and add new projects.

In Brazil, an Indigenous land defender’s unsolved killing is the deadly norm by Sarah Brown [06/27/2022]

– Two years after the death of Indigenous land defender Ari Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau in Brazil’s Amazonian state of Rondônia, questions about who killed him and why remain unanswered.
– Perpetrators of crimes against environmental activists are rarely brought to justice in the country, with a government report showing zero convictions for the 35 people killed in incidents of rural violence in 2021 — about a third of them in Rondônia.
– Indigenous groups and environmental activists in Rondônia say they fear for their lives as the criminal gangs that covet the Amazon’s rich resources act with impunity in threatening defenders and invading protected lands.
– Activists and experts point to a combination of the government’s anti-Indigenous rhetoric and the undermining of environmental agencies as helping incite the current surge of invasions and violence against land defenders in Rondônia and the wider Brazilian Amazon.

Home away from home: Researchers trial artificial nests for Lilian’s lovebirds by Charles Mpaka [06/27/2022]

– Researchers and conservationists are experimenting with artificial nest boxes to provide a home for a threatened lovebird in Malawi whose preferred nesting sites — mopane trees — are being lost to logging.
– Lilian’s lovebird prefers nesting in the cavities found in mature mopane trees, and a year-long trial shows it hasn’t taken to the nest boxes as alternative breeding and roosting sites.
– Experts say they’ll continue refining their experiment, including setting up camera traps to better understand the bird’s behavior.
– Artificial nest boxes have been used with some degree of success for other bird species facing a similar loss of their natural nesting sites, including hornbills elsewhere in Southern Africa and in Southeast Asia.

We’re winning with climate activism, ‘just not fast enough,’ says Goldman Prize winner Julien Vincent (commentary) by Julien Vincent [06/24/2022]

– 2022 Goldman Environmental Prize winner Julien Vincent shares his thoughts on the power of people to make change, even against the most entrenched of forces like climate change denialism.
– “From my vantage point in such a wealthy and privileged part of the world, I get frustrated by in-activism…But I remind myself that it’s in the interests of our opponents to keep the public in a state of apathy, confusion and disempowerment.”
– “There is one thing I want to impart more than anything: the power people have to create change is mind-blowing, and that power is our greatest asset,” he writes in a new op-ed.
– This article is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily of Mongabay.



A year before deep-sea mining could begin, calls for a moratorium build Elizabeth Claire Alberts — June 30, 2022
– At the U.N. Ocean Conference taking place this week in Lisbon, momentum has been building in support of a moratorium on deep-sea mining, an activity projected to have far-reaching consequences for marine ecosystems, biodiversity, and global fisheries.
– The Pacific island nation of Palau launched an alliance of countries that support a moratorium, which Fiji and Samoa subsequently joined.
– A global network of parliamentarians has also banded together to support a moratorium and to look for a legal way to enforce it.
– As things stand, deep-sea mining could begin a year from now, with the International Seabed Authority, the body tasked with regulating the activity, drawing up the rules that would allow mining to commence.

‘Fitbit for whales’ and other tagging tech help reshape wildlife conservation Abhishyant Kidangoor — June 30, 2022
– Tagging technology has since the 1960s helped conservationists and researchers keep track of a wide range of wildlife species.
– But tags and collars can often be intrusive or invasive, acting as a source of stress to the animal and sometimes even undermining its survival.
– In recent years, researchers have developed new tag designs aimed at minimizing any impact their work might have on animals, while also providing a richer array of data.
– These solutions range from DIY radio collars made with cat collars, to bespoke tags for dolphins and whales that incorporate Apple Watch-like biometric sensors.

Bamboo mamas and bikes help with Indonesian diplomacy Ebed de Rosary, Nuswantoro — June 29, 2022
– Indonesian President Joko Widodo recently gifted visiting Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese a bamboo bicycle during the latter’s first trip abroad since taking office.
– The publicity from the diplomatic gesture has shone a spotlight on bamboo, a versatile material once commonly used throughout Indonesia, but now largely sidelined by plastic and metal.

High tech early warning system could curb next South African locust swarms Anna Majavu — June 29, 2022
– The worst locust swarms in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province in 25 years (occurring in May 2022) is in the past. But the millions of eggs laid by the insects could hatch this September, the beginning of spring in the Southern Hemisphere.
– Grassy farmland in the vast region was only just beginning to recover from a devastating six year drought which struck between 2015 – 2021, when the locust swarms arrived earlier this year.
– Farmers are now pinning their hopes on new software that will track newborn locusts in real time, enabling them to target and exterminate the insect pests before they take to the skies and reproduce.
– The software has been used in seven countries in the Horn of Africa and East Africa and is seen as a vital part of minimizing the size of swarms, which can become an annual disaster if they aren’t targeted immediately after birth. South Africa favors chemical pesticides over non-toxic biopesticides for locust control.

As Jakarta chokes on toxic air, Indonesian government stalls on taking action Hans Nicholas Jong — June 29, 2022
– Jakarta’s air pollution has been worsening recently, with the Indonesian capital routinely ranked top of the list of the world’s most polluted major cities.
– Much of the pollution is generated outside the city, in the industrial estates and coal-fired power plants in neighboring provinces, but there’s been no effort by the national government to coordinate action on this transboundary pollution.
– Activists say the national government hasn’t done much at all to address the problem, instead opting to appeal against a court ruling ordering it to tackle the air pollution.

Room to roam: Biologists and communities create corridors for jaguars in Mexico Marlén Castro and Thelma Gómez Durán — June 29, 2022
– A group of biologists is working with communities to improve habitat for jaguars, pumas, jaguarundis, ocelots and margays in forested areas of Guerrero, in southern Mexico.
– Three communities in Costa Grande de Guerrero joined the project and created corridor for jaguar conservation.
– Now they want to strengthen this conservation area so that the cats can thrive and so that communities can create sustainable development projects.

Indigenous communities in Colombia’s Amazon move closer to self-governance Dimitri Selibas — June 29, 2022
– Indigenous peoples in Colombia’s Amazonian departments of Amazonas, Guainía and Vaupés are a step closer to establishing themselves as Indigenous territorial entities (ITEs), following a Constitutional Court ruling forcing the government to register the applications of 14 such territories.
– With Indigenous peoples considered the best guardians of the forest, the creation of ITEs could be an enormous boost for both conservation and Indigenous culture in these territories that together span more than 10 million hectares (25 million acres) of almost entirely intact native forest.
– The 14 proposed ITEs are made up of some of the most culturally diverse parts of Colombia, representing 43 Indigenous peoples speaking 40 languages.

WTO ban on ‘harmful’ subsidies won’t impact small-scale fishers, Indonesia says Basten Gokkon — June 29, 2022
– Indonesia will continue subsidizing its small-scale fishers in the wake of a recent deal struck by members of the World Trade Organization to end “harmful” subsidies.
– The legally binding agreement prohibits WTO member states from giving subsidies that support the fishing of already-overfished stocks and curbs those that contribute to illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing at sea.
– Indonesian subsidies to fishers — in the form of insurance, fishing gear and fuel subsidies, among others — amount to $92 per fisher annually, much less than in the U.S. ($4,956), Japan ($8,385) or Canada ($31,800).
– Indonesia is the second-biggest marine capture producer, after China, harvesting 84.4 million metric tons of seafood in 2018.

African court rules in favor of Indigenous land titles, reparations from the Kenyan government Laurel Sutherland — June 28, 2022
– The African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights has ruled that the Kenyan government must pay reparations for repeatedly evicting Indigenous Ogiek people from ancestral lands in the Mau Forest in western Kenya, ending a 13-year court battle. The state must also grant collective land titles to the Ogiek.
– The reparation judgment follows a 2017 court finding that the state violated seven articles of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights due to its evictions.
– Daniel Kobei, the executive director of the Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program (OPDP), says the Ogiek community is hoping that the government will comply with the court’s ruling.
– Rights groups such as the Minority Rights Group International (MRG) and a lawyer representing the Ogiek in court remain apprehensive over the Kenyan government’s intention to follow through with the court’s ruling.

Experts fear end of vaquitas after green light for export of captive-bred totoaba fish Michelle Carrere — June 28, 2022
– After a 40-year prohibition, international wildlife trade regulator CITES has authorized the export of captive-bred totoaba fish from Mexico.
– Conservationists say they fear this decision will stimulate the illegal fishing of wild totoabas and that this will intensify the threats facing the critically endangered vaquita porpoise.
– Only around eight individual vaquitas remain alive; they regularly drown in nets set illegally for totoabas in the Upper Gulf of California, where the two species overlap.
– The swim bladders of totoabas are sold in Asian markets at exorbitant prices because of their value as status symbols and their supposed medicinal properties.

As Nepal’s tigers thrive, Indigenous knowledge may be key in preventing attacks Abhaya Raj Joshi — June 28, 2022
– As Nepal looks to be on track to double its tiger population this year from a 2010 baseline, its conservation success has had a high cost on forest-dependent communities.
– Incidents of human-tiger conflict have increased in line with the growing populations of both the big cats and people, as more people venture into national parks and their buffer zones in search of firewood and food.
– Some conservationists make the case that grassland management and other techniques long practiced Indigenous communities to avoid tiger attacks have been lost with the establishment of these parks where human activity is banned.
– They suggest current conservation management makes attacks more likely, and call for conservation officials to share information on tiger movements with local communities to minimize the likelihood of encounters.

Planned coal plants fizzle as Japan ends financing in Indonesia, Bangladesh Hans Nicholas Jong — June 28, 2022
– Two planned coal-fired power plants, one in Indonesia and the other in Bangladesh, have had their funding withdrawn by the Japanese government, as part of Tokyo’s decision to no longer bankroll coal projects in either country.
– Officials in both countries have already confirmed that neither project — a new installation in Bangladesh and an expansion of an existing plant in Indonesia — will be going ahead.
– For Indonesia in particular, the move also means the loss of the top three foreign funders of coal plants in the country, after similar decisions by China and South Korea; the three East Asian countries account for 95% of foreign funding of coal plants in Indonesia since 2013.
– Activists have welcomed Japan’s announcement, including communities living near the existing plant in Indonesia, who have reported health problems and loss of livelihoods as a result of pollution from the plant.

Cameroon’s Nigerian refugees who degraded their camp are now vanguards of reforestation Amindeh Blaise Atabong — June 28, 2022
– Nigerian refugees and Cameroonian villagers are taking part in efforts to reforest the area around the Minawao refugee camp near the border between the two countries.
– The influx of the refugees, driven from their homes by the advance of the Islamist group Boko Haram, led to a surge in logging for fuelwood and timber, and also sparked conflict with the locals.
– A reforestation program supported by the UNHCR, French development NGO ADES and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), and carried out by refugees and locals, has to date planted more than 400,000 trees across 100 hectares (250 acres).
– Initially, government experts chose the trees to be planted based on their ability to grow quickly and survive in arid places, but since 2017, community members have been brought into the decision-making process as the project’s managers realized that a participatory approach could generate better results.

Mennonite colony builds bridge, clears forest in Bolivian protected areas Iván Paredes Tamayo — June 27, 2022
– In 2018, a Mennonite colony purchased 14,400 hectares (35,500 acres) of land in the Bolivian department of Santa Cruz. Colonists have since built a bridge and developed a network of roads, and are in the process of clearing vast swaths of forest.
– The construction of the bridge appears to have been done without authorization from the government, and without an environmental impact assessment.
– Portions of the property lie within two protected areas: Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco National Park and Integrated Management Natural Area, and the Bañados de Izozogy el río Parapetí wetland of international importance.
– Members of a local Indigenous community voiced support for the clearing activities, saying that the new roads and bridge will help connect them to medical facilities. However, scientists and conservationists are concerned about the impact of deforestation on water sources, wildlife and isolated Indigenous groups.

Swiss pledge to stop illegal gold imports from Brazil Indigenous reserves Thais Borges and Sue Branford — June 27, 2022
– Switzerland imported 24.5 tonnes of gold in 2021, at least a fifth of which came from Brazilian Amazon states. Evidence indicates most of it is mined illegally on Indigenous lands. Illicit mining operations have resulted in major Amazon deforestation, widespread mercury poisoning and soaring violence.
– With the Brazilian government of Jair Bolsonaro unresponsive to the escalating crisis, an independent delegation of Indigenous people along with others travelled to Switzerland in May to plead with major gold refiners to end the importation of illicit Brazilian gold.
– This week, the refiners published a statement pledging to remove illegal gold mined within Brazilian Indigenous reserves from their supply chains. If the initiative is fully followed, experts say it could be a game changer that could undermine the, until now, lucrative illegal gold trade.
– Canada, the world’s biggest importer of gold from the Brazilian Amazon, has made no such agreement.

Twenty years since a massive ivory seizure, what lessons were learned? (commentary) Julian Newman — June 27, 2022
– In late June 2002, a container ship docked in Singapore with a massive shipment of ivory, which was seized.
– It was the largest seizure of its kind since an international ban on the ivory trade had come into force in 1989, and the lessons learned from it would change the way the illegal wildlife trade was investigated and tackled.
– But it’s unfortunate that some of the biggest lessons from that event still have not been put into practice, a new op-ed argues.
– This article is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily of Mongabay.



Beyond boundaries: Earth’s water cycle is being bent to breaking point by Petro Kotzé [06/21/2022]
Helping empower the next generation of environmental journalists at Nature’s frontline by Rhett A. Butler [06/21/2022]
Giant stingray caught in Cambodia is world’s largest freshwater fish by Carolyn Cowan [06/21/2022]
First gharial hatchlings spotted in nearly two decades in Nepal’s Karnali River by Abhaya Raj Joshi [06/20/2022]
Indonesia’s Sangihe islanders score legal victory over mining company by Hans Nicholas Jong [06/20/2022]
The war on journalists and environmental defenders in the Amazon continues (commentary) by Karla Mendes [06/16/2022]
Deaths of Phillips and Pereira shine light on a region of the Amazon beset by violence by Sue Branford [06/16/2022]