Sri Lankan environmental policy failures helped fuel people power revolution by Malaka Rodrigo — July 19, 2022
– Mismanagement of environmental concerns contributed to the unpopularity and eventual resignation, in the face of popular protests, of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka’s president.
– While Rajapaksa’s main legacy is the worst economic crisis in the country’s history, he also leaves behind a multitude of failed environmental policies, critics say.
– Uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources, creating opportunities for land grabbing through amendments to the law, and dismissing environmental concerns have all impacted the country, with some of these policies expected to have lasting effects.
– With Sri Lanka’s economic hardship deepening and driving the population of 22 million into “survival mode,” environmental activists are warning of even more intensive exploitation of natural resources.
Between six ferns: New tropical fern species described by science by Liz Kimbrough — July 19, 2022
– Researchers have described six species of ferns new to science from the tropical forests of Panama, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, all in the genus Danaea.
– The ferns range in height from 20 centimeters to two meters (8-79 inches), and some of them are very common locally; two species are assessed as threatened with extinction.
– Most of the preserved specimens used to describe the new Danaea species were collected decades ago, some as far back as the 1800s.
– Scientists unearthed the specimens from herbarium samples while researching patterns of biodiversity in the Amazon.
Wildlife ‘rehabbers’ wage herculean fight for a noble cause by Grace Hansen — July 19, 2022
– Rehabilitators who help injured creatures or abandoned baby animals have a role to play in conserving wildlife across the U.S.
– One estimate of the number of animals hit by vehicles on U.S. roads every year was projected to be about 300,000, but this is almost certainly a low estimate.
– A national network of 1,600 mostly volunteer “rehabbers” are at work every day to recuperate and return wild animals to their natural habitats.
Scientists call for end to violence against Amazon communities, environmental defenders by Sandra Cuffe — July 15, 2022
– The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) demanded urgent action to stop attacks against Indigenous peoples, environmentalists and communities in a July 14 declaration.
– An alignment between illegal resource extraction and drug trafficking in the Amazon places people protecting resources at increasing risk, according to the association.
– Latin America is the most dangerous region in the world for environmental defenders, and Colombia and Brazil are at the top of the list for killings.
Young Māori divers hunt invasive crown-of-thorns starfish to save coral reefs by Monica Evans — July 15, 2022
– The island of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands is experiencing an outbreak of crown-of-thorns-starfish (taramea, Acanthaster planci), which could jeopardize the survival of its surrounding coral reef.
– Local environmental organization Kōrero O Te `Ōrau has been tackling the outbreak since 2020 by training young Māori people in scuba diving and running regular expeditions to remove taramea from the reef and bury them inland.
– The work has contained the outbreak on two sides of the island by collecting over 3,700 crown-of-thorns starfish, ultimately mitigating its impact on reef health. However, ongoing efforts are required.
– The project is also upskilling young Cook Islanders in marine management theory and practice.
In world convulsed by climate-driven conflict, are peace parks an answer? by Saul Elbein — July 14, 2022
– Conflicts over disputed borders, increasingly exacerbated by climate change, are putting some of the world’s key biodiversity hotspots at risk.
– Even in countries that have avoided border wars, a global campaign of fence building — aimed at keeping out human migrants whose numbers are rising in an era of climate change and sociopolitical unrest — is causing widespread damage to vulnerable natural landscapes and migratory animal species.
– In potential conflict zones like the Himalayas, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the South China Sea, this surging human march across national frontiers has already led to violence, and in some cases to open warfare.
– Border-straddling conservation zones known as peace parks offer a more sustainable way of managing border disputes than militarization and fence building. Peace parks on the U.S.-Canada border and in the Himalayas offer successful examples.
Cut off from Sundarbans and denied compensation, Bangladesh communities face arrest by Abu Siddique — July 21, 2022
– The first month of a three-month ban on anyone entering Bangladesh’s Sundarbans mangrove forest has seen 59 people from forest-dependent communities arrested, sparking criticism of the government’s approach.
– Community members and conservation activists have called for an end to the arrests, and have faulted the government for not giving the compensation it promised to the communities to help tide them over during the June-August ban.
– The government, which says the ban is necessary to ease pressure on the Sundarbans’ wildlife during the breeding season, says the compensation still hasn’t been approved by the state treasury.
– Some 600,000 people depend directly or indirectly on the Sundarbans’ resources for their livelihood, which includes fishing and harvesting honey; tourists are also banned from entering the world’s largest mangrove forest during this three-month period.
‘The sea means everything’: Q&A with deep-sea mining opponent Debbie Ngawera-Packer by Elizabeth Claire Alberts — July 21, 2022
– New Zealand parliamentarian and Māori activist Debbie Ngawera-Packer has spent more than two decades serving in leadership roles, using her positions to advance social justice issues and to campaign for the protection of the marine environment.
– A key issue that Ngawera-Packer is currently working on is a push to ban deep-sea mining in the global ocean, a proposed activity that would extract large amounts of minerals from the seabed.
– Ngawera-Packer previously worked with other Māori activists, NGOs and community members to block consent for a deep-sea mining operation in her home district of South Taranaki on New Zealand’s North Island.
– In an interview with Mongabay, Ngawera-Packer talks about why it’s critical to protect the deep sea from mining, what ancestral teachings say about protecting the ocean, and why she feels hopeful about the future.
Restoring Mexico’s ‘Garden of Eden’ is a process of deep regeneration by Ocean Malandra — July 21, 2022
– The region of Los Tuxtlas in the Mexican state of Veracruz is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve — a volcanic mountain range clad in rainforest and home to more than 800 vertebrate species and several different primary forest ecosystems, including lowland jungle.
– In the past several decades, deforestation and contamination have spiked in Los Tuxtlas, and several species once found in the area have gone locally extinct.
– Environmental organizations warn that at the current rate of deforestation, complete loss of the region’s native biodiversity is inevitable.
– To tackle deforestation, private entities like La Otra Opcion and communities like Benito Juarez have established reserves where they implement a variety of agroforestry, reforestation and ecotourism initiatives designed to protect and regenerate the region and boost environmental awareness and sustainable livelihoods among the locals.
Farmers feel the pressure after conservation crackdown around Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake by Danielle Keeton-Olsen and Ly Vouch Long — July 20, 2022
– Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake is surrounded by a conservation area that consists of three zones: Zone 1 and 2, where farming is allowed, and Zone 3, which is closest to the lake and where agriculture and fishing are officially banned.
– The conservation area was enacted in 2011, but farmers and fishers largely had unfettered use of Zone 3 land until 2021, when Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered a crackdown on all clearing and agricultural use of flooded forest land.
– The ban opens an opportunity for the government to restore Tonle Sap’s unique forests, and satellite data already show a drop in deforestation activity in 2022.
– However, farmers living around the lake say they’re hard-pressed to survive without the agriculture they’ve depended on for years.
First-of-its-kind freshwater mangroves discovered in Brazil’s Amazon Delta by Liz Kimbrough — July 20, 2022
– Researchers on an expedition in the Amazon River Delta have found mangroves growing in freshwater — a phenomenon never before documented in deltas or coastal mangroves anywhere else in the world.
– The mangroves, overlooked by previous satellite mapping efforts, increase the known area of mangroves in the region by 20%, or an additional 180 square kilometers (70 square miles).
– Mangroves are a more effective carbon sink than other types of tropical forest, with more than 8% of all carbon stocks worldwide held in Brazil’s mangroves.
– Despite their many ecosystem services, mangroves are not well protected or funded in Brazil.
Ban on use of destructive net fails to make an impact in Indonesia, experts say by Basten Gokkon and Yogi Eka Sahputra — July 20, 2022
– Fisheries observers say a year-old ban on a seine net considered unsustainable and destructive has been largely ineffective.
– Reports show fishers continue to use the square-meshed cantrang net despite the ban, and can even modify the diamond-meshed replacement introduced by the fisheries ministry.
– While in theory the replacement net should allow juvenile fish to escape, in practice it’s used much the same way as the cantrang, threatening already depleted fish stocks around the country.
– Observers blame the continued violations on authorities’ reluctance to crack down on the hugely popular cantrang for fear of angering the millions-strong and politically important demographic of fishing communities.
Worries and whispers in Vietnam’s NGO community after activist’s sentencing by Mongabay.com — July 19, 2022
– On June 17, a Hanoi court sentenced Nguy Thi Khanh, arguably Vietnam’s best-known environmental advocate, to two years in jail for tax evasion.
– Vietnam’s foreign ministry has refuted claims that Khanh’s arrest and sentencing were linked to her anti-coal advocacy, but the move against her has sent a chill through NGOs in the country.
– Activists say Khanh’s imprisonment is a step back for climate change action in Vietnam, and casts doubts on the government’s commitment to reduce emissions and move toward a green development strategy.
In Brazil, an Indigenous group turns a day of grief into a celebration of life by Ana Mendes — July 19, 2022
– Carved of wood and painted with tar, Saint Bilibeu is said to bestow fertility on the land, animals and women, and is worshipped every year in the territory belonging to the Akroá Gamella people in Brazil’s Maranhão state.
– The ritual, which includes Catholic elements, lasts for four days and sees a procession of people dressed as hunting dogs gather food and drink to offer to Saint Bilibeu.
– Once celebrated during Carnaval, today the ritual is held on April 30 in recognition of an attack by ranchers on the Akroá Gamella community during a land dispute in 2017.
White rhino conservation project attempts paradigm shift by including local community by Ryan Truscott — July 19, 2022
– A project to reintroduce white rhinos in western Zimbabwe has been launched for the first time on community-owned land.
– Two rhinos have so far been released in a small sanctuary comprising grazing land voluntarily donated by villages located near the southern boundary of Hwange National Park.
– A key pillar of the rhino protection strategy has been to recruit scouts from the local community and compensate them fairly.
– As it grows, it’s hoped the sanctuary will raise tourism dollars for community development, and also create a buffer zone to protect farmers’ crops and livestock from Hwange’s elephants, lions and hyenas.
‘Unprecedented crisis’ for Nepal’s elephants: Q&A with conservationist Ashok Ram by Abhaya Raj Joshi — July 19, 2022
– Conflict with humans is considered the biggest threat to Asian elephants in Nepal, says veteran conservationist Ashok Ram.
– Encounters between villagers and elephants typically occur when they stray into each other’s areas in search of food.
– Ram says there needs to be a landscape-level management approach to elephant conservation, given that the animals move freely between Nepal and India.
– In an interview with Mongabay, he explains the history of habitat fragmentation, why electric fences aren’t a solution to human-elephant conflict, and why mid-afternoon is the most dangerous time for encounters.
Red-hot demand for ipê wood coincides with deforestation hubs in Brazil by Aldem Bourscheit — July 18, 2022
– Logging to meet demand for the tropical hardwood ipê coincides with hotspots of illegal deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, the source of 96% of the ipê used worldwide, a report shows.
– So far this year, the total area of deforestation alerts in the top 20 ipê-harvesting municipalities cover an area an eighth the size of Rio de Janeiro.
– The logging industry says concessions authorized by the government deliver only 2% of the native wood that reaches the markets; the remainder is potentially tainted with illegality.
– Experts recommend sweeping measures to address the destruction of the Amazon for this coveted hardwood, including cracking down on deforestation and encouraging the use of alternative woods.
Amid rising pressure, Indonesia’s sea-based communities adapt to change by Warief Djajanto Basorie and Mahmud Ichi — July 18, 2022
– A growing population, destruction of coral reefs, and the loss of traditional fishing methods all threaten the way of life of traditional communities in Indonesia whose livelihoods have for generations depended on the sea.
– Among them are the seafaring Bajo people, nomads of the waters between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, who say their resources “are declining day by day.”
– In the Sangihe Islands in the archipelago’s northeast, modern nets and outboard motors have replaced the bamboo gear and sampan boats used by local fishing communities.
Turtle DNA database traces illegal shell trade to poaching hotspots by Carolyn Cowan — July 18, 2022
– Critically endangered hawksbill turtles have been hunted for their patterned shells for centuries to make tortoiseshell jewelry and decorative curios.
– The exploitation and trade pushed the species to the brink of extinction; despite international bans on killing and trading the turtles and their parts, persistent demand continues to stoke illegal trade.
– Experts say they hope the launch of a new global turtle DNA database coupled with DNA-based wildlife forensics techniques can turn the tables on poachers and illegal traders.
– The new resource, called ShellBank, will enable law enforcement authorities to trace confiscated tortoiseshell products to known turtle breeding locations to help them crack down on poaching and the illegal trade.
In a former conflict zone in Sri Lanka, a world rich in corals thrives by Malaka Rodrigo — July 18, 2022
– The Jaffna Peninsula at the northern tip of Sri Lanka, off-limits for decades because of the country’s civil war, is home to one of the richest collections of corals on the island, a study shows.
– Led by Jaffna native Ashani Arulananthan, the survey cataloged 113 species of hard coral, of which 36 have never been found anywhere else in Sri Lanka.
– Along with the high diversity, the researchers also found less damage from bleaching than in coral reefs elsewhere in Sri Lanka; however, they did note signs of degradation from pollution and fishing activity.
– Arulananthan says it’s important to conserve these diverse coral communities, which show a higher resilience to climate change impacts than other reefs around Sri Lanka.
Authorities and Yobin communities clash as deforestation spikes in Indian national park by Spoorthy Raman — July 15, 2022
– Namdapha National Park is India’s third-largest national park and is home to thousands of species, including tigers, clouded leopards and an endemic species of flying squirrel that has only been observed once by scientists.
– Satellite data show deforestation has increased in the park over the last two decades.
– Members of an Indigenous group called the Yobin have been living in portions of the park for generations, but park authorities consider Yobin settlements to be “encroachments” and the main driver of deforestation and poaching in Namdapha National Park
– In the last few months, authorities have destroyed at least eight Yobin settlements inside the park.
Study: Climate impacts to disproportionately hurt tropical fishers, farmers by Basten Gokkon — July 15, 2022
– The majority of 72 coastal communities studied in five countries in the Indo-Pacific region may face significant losses of agricultural and fisheries products — two key food sources — simultaneously under the worst-case climate change projections, a new study shows.
– These potential losses may be coupled with other drivers of change, such as overfishing or soil erosion, which have already caused declining productivity, the study adds.
– But if carbon emissions can be effectively managed to a minimum, the study’s authors say, fewer communities would experience losses in both the agriculture and fisheries sectors, indicating the importance of climate mitigation measures.
– The current global average temperature is 1.1°C (2°F) above pre-industrial times, and climate experts have warned that it could climb to about 3°C (5.4°F) higher by the end of this century if nothing changes.
Plantations threaten Indonesia’s orangutans, but they’re not oil palm by Hans Nicholas Jong — July 15, 2022
– A significant portion of orangutan habitat in Indonesia lies within corporate concessions, but industrial tree companies, like pulp and paper, don’t have strong enough safeguards and commitment to protect the critically endangered apes, a new report says.
– According to the report by Aidenvironment, there are 6.22 million hectares (15.37 million acres) of orangutan habitat within corporate oil palm, logging, and industrial tree concessions.
– Of the three types of concessions, industrial tree companies are the “key stakeholder” as they operate with much less transparency and scrutiny than the palm oil sector, Aidenvironment says.
Overexploitation threatens Amazon fisheries with collapse, study warns by Peter Speetjens and Liz Kimbrough — July 15, 2022
– Fishers in the Amazon Basin are catching smaller species of fish than before, indicating overexploitation of the region’s aquatic biodiversity, a new study says.
– The study looked at fish catch data from six river ports (three each in Peru and Brazil) to conclude that “fisheries are losing their resilience and progressing towards possible collapse.”
– Researchers say freshwater fish stocks in the Amazon have never been a priority for conservation or monitoring, which has allowed this decline to occur over the course of decades.
– The loss of larger fish deprives communities for whom fish is a dietary staple of important nutrients, as well as impoverishes the wider river ecosystem.
With plantation takeover, Brazil’s Indigenous Pataxó move to reclaim their land by Sarah Sax — July 14, 2022
– On June 22, a group of nearly 200 Indigenous Pataxó people occupied a eucalyptus plantation inside their demarcated territory in Brazil’s Bahia state, setting fire to the trees.
– In a video manifesto released on June 26, Pataxó leaders drew attention to the wide range of impacts that this and other plantations have had on their lands and health, from pesticide use to water pollution.
– The occupation comes amid growing resistance to the expansion of eucalyptus in Bahia, and rising frustration among Indigenous peoples over the slow process of gaining full legal rights to their land.
– The Pataxó people have been waiting for seven years for the presidential decree that would fully demarcate their territory; President Jair Bolsonaro has vowed not to demarcate any Indigenous territories, and has so far kept that promise.
$245-million initiative to create and maintain protected areas in Colombia by Maxwell Radwin — July 14, 2022
– Heritage Colombia is a $245-million initiative to support the creation, expansion and improvement of 32 million hectares (nearly 80 million acres) of protected land and marine areas in the country over the next decade.
– It’s a Project Finance for Permanence (PFP) initiative, meaning that conservation funding was secured from the public and private sector for wide-reaching, long-term projects.
– If Heritage Colombia is successful, the country will see 26% of its land territory and 30% of its oceans under protection, meeting some of its 30×30 commitment eight years early.
Community-based seed banks in Nepal help conserve native species by Abhaya Raj Joshi — July 14, 2022
– A grassroots movement to revive native varieties of food crops is gaining support in Nepal with the establishment of seed banks across the country.
– Proponents say they hope to nurture seeds that are more resistant to the impacts that Nepal is already seeing from climate change.
– Nepal imports most of its crop seeds, including hybrid varieties; these include 90% of vegetable seeds, nearly 30% of maize seeds, and 15% of rice seeds.
Small mammals stranded by hydropower dams die out surprisingly fast: Study by Carolyn Cowan — July 14, 2022
– Forest fragmentation has long been known to impact species survival: small, isolated populations with access to limited resources are at greater risk of extinction.
– In 1987, the Chiew Larn reservoir was formed in southern Thailand as part of a hydropower scheme, creating more than 100 forested islands inhabited by newly stranded animals.
– A new study documents the alarmingly quick collapse of the reservoir archipelago’s small mammal communities, resulting in the loss of nearly every species and dominance by one invasive rodent.
– Tropical biologists warn the study reflects the global trend of fragmentation in tropical forests, which is ravaging both species diversity and ecosystem resilience.
Is invasive species management doing more harm than good? (commentary) by Janae Malpas — July 14, 2022
– Conservationists may be thwarting their own efforts, as well as causing harm to wildlife, in their battle against invasive species, a new op-ed argues.
– In numerous cases, non-native species have been shown to benefit wildlife, while their management – from toxic chemicals to culling – may be causing more harm than good.
– This article is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily of Mongabay.
Podcast: ‘Water always wins,’ so why are we fighting it? by Mike DiGirolamo — July 12, 2022
Inside Sierra Leone’s Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary (video) by Ashoka Mukpo — July 11, 2022
Amazon deforestation is off to the fastest start to a year since 2008 by Mongabay.com — July 8, 2022
For women on Bangladesh’s coast, rising seas pose a reproductive health dilemma by Jesmin Papri — July 8, 2022
‘We have advanced, but with much pain’: Q&A with Indigenous leader José Gregorio Díaz Mirabal by Astrid Arellano — July 8, 2022
Return to agroforestry empowers women in Nepal by Abhaya Raj Joshi — July 8, 2022
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