Newsletter 2022-09-08


Wildlife lover and artist records 5 decades of change on iconic U.K. river by Rebecca Branford and Sue Branford — September 7, 2022


– As a youngster in the 1960s, Janet Marsh spent hours beside England’s Itchen River while her father fished, closely observing the teeming life of the small English stream. Her love of wildlife there, and desire to draw what she saw, helped inspire her to become an accomplished artist.
– In 1979, she published her “nature diary,” profiling the life of her beloved river with exquisite watercolor illustrations along with astute observations. She also added her voice and images to a campaign protesting the extension of a motorway over the river. A selection of her Itchen illustrations are featured in this story.
– Decades later, Marsh revisits the river with Mongabay, noting that the motorway itself, though noisy, hasn’t caused widespread damage, with wildlife proving resilient. Far more harmful has been steady human development, with pollution from fish farms, septic tanks and cropland runoff all gradually killing the river.
– The Itchen and other rivers like it have been called England’s coral reefs due to their biodiversity. They are like small watersheds the world over that get little attention, but where the web of life is unraveling due to human-induced change. In such unsung places, local activists often step up to document and preserve nature.

In Indonesia’s West Sumbawa, tide turns on taste for turtle eggs by Fathul Rakhman — September 7, 2022


– Consumption of turtle eggs is widespread in Indonesia’s West Sumbawa district, where they’re served to guests of honor such as local government officials.
– All seven species of sea turtle are listed as threatened worldwide, with egg poaching a key cause of endangerment.
– West Sumbawa officials have pledged to stamp out poaching and consumption of sea turtle eggs.

Podcast: With less than 10 years to save Sumatran elephants, what’s being done? by Mike DiGirolamo — September 6, 2022


– The provinces of North Sumatra and Aceh in Indonesia’s embattled and highly deforested island of Sumatra are some of the last holdouts for the critically endangered Sumatran elephant.
– With the clock running out to save them, and extractive industries like oil palm fragmenting their habitat, pushing them to the brink, villagers are taking measures into their own hands by reducing human-elephant conflict to save the species from further harm.
– Also in North Sumatra lies a controversial planned hydroelectric dam site in the last habitat of the critically endangered Tapanuli orangutan, a project that has also claimed 16 human lives in less than two years.
– On the Mongabay Newscast this week, Leif Cocks, founder of the International Elephant Project and the Orangutan Project, weighs in on the status of the Sumatran elephant and the Tapanuli orangutan.

On the frontlines of drought, communities in Mexico strive to save every drop of water by Monica Pelliccia — September 6, 2022


– Sixteen Indigenous Zapotec communities in Mexico have created over 579 water infrastructure projects, including absorption wells, small dams and water pans, to conserve water in the Oaxaca Valley – a region impacted by recurrent droughts.
– Significant success in harvesting water has been realized, however, farmers still struggle to have enough water due to lack of rain – making water conservation efforts largely fall to dust.
– Last year, the Mexican government recognized their efforts and gave communities a concession to manage water resources locally. Communities are still waiting to know when they will officially receive the concession.
– Just a few women hold leadership positions in these communities, including Josefina, Esperanza and María. They have been involved in water conservation projects since a severe drought hit the region 17 years ago and hope to enhance gender equality in the region.



Is having fewer kids the answer to the climate question? | Problem Solved by Mike DiGirolamo — September 8, 2022
– The human population is expected to reach 8 billion literally any day now, and nearly 10 billion people some time this century.
– With the planet also swiftly approaching 1.5° Celsius (2.7° Fahrenheit) of warming above pre-industrial levels, activists and scientists are urging any solution to keep temperatures from shooting higher into the danger zone.
– Research suggests that the single biggest thing anyone can do to reduce their impact on the environment, and the climate, is to choose to have one less child. But that simple solution is complicated by thorny economic, ethical, social and political issues.
– On this episode of Problem Solved, we unpack the research, and examine this sensitive and controversial question: Is choosing collectively to have fewer children really a viable solution to our climate change and/or resource overuse crises?

Trial of palm oil tycoon Surya Darmadi begins in Jakarta by Mongabay Haze Beat — September 8, 2022
– Surya Darmadi returned to Indonesia on Aug. 15 and was arrested by awaiting officers at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.
– Indonesia’s Attorney General’s Office has estimated total losses amounting to almost $7 billion, including damages incurred by communities.
– Environmental groups have spent decades documenting harmful activities by Surya’s companies.

An Indonesian rock star shines his light on mangroves, urban farming and more by Wahyu Chandra — September 8, 2022
– Andi Fadly Arifuddin is known to millions of Indonesians as Fadly, the vocalist of alt-rock band Padi, which formed in 1996 and relaunched as Padi Reborn in 2018.
– While many musicians sing of the need to protect the environment, Fadly walks the talk through sustainable agriculture education, urban farming and mangrove conservation.
– In his home district of Sinjai in South Sulawesi province, he’s campaigning to create a mangrove hub in collaboration with local youth and government.

The Western Indian Ocean lost 4% of its mangroves in 24 years, report finds by Mark Hillsdon — September 7, 2022
– Analysis presented in a new report finds the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region lost around 4% its mangrove forests between 1996 and 2020.
– The WIO region includes the coastal areas of Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar and Mozambique, which together account for 5% of the world’s mangroves.
– The report finds the majority of WIO mangrove loss was driven by unsustainable wood extraction, land clearance for agriculture and the impacts of storms and flooding.
– Mangroves provide vital ecosystem services to coastal communities and habitats, and sequester large amounts of carbon.

Second oil company exits Arctic amid fierce Indigenous opposition, energy squeeze by Laurel Sutherland — September 7, 2022
– Knik Arm Services is the second oil company to cancel its oil and gas lease for a tract of land in the largest wildlife reserve in America, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, following fierce opposition by the Indigenous Gwich’in committee and environmental groups.
– The Biden administration is intent on continuing Trump-era policies by supporting oil drilling in Alaska’s northern slope amid rising energy costs in the country – despite the president’s campaign promises to ban new oil and gas leases.
– Land in the refuge will still be available for lease to oil and gas companies in 2024, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management told Mongabay
– Drilling and subsequent infrastructure development in the Arctic would have significant impacts on the tundra and would be disruptive to wildlife like caribou and polar bears.

Mapping of Indigenous lands ramps up in Indonesia — without official recognition by Hans Nicholas Jong — September 7, 2022
– An independent initiative has mapped 3 million hectares (7.4 million acres) of Indigenous lands in Indonesia since March, bringing the total since it started in 2010 to 20.7 million hectares (51.2 million acres).
– Only 15% of this mapped Indigenous land has been officially recognized by the government, with critics blaming a slow and costly bureaucracy, a lack of political will from government leaders, and an infrastructure development push that’s often competing for the same land.
– Indigenous rights proponents say legislation on the issue, which has languished in parliament for the past decade, needs to be fast-tracked and passed to address the bottleneck.

Stamping out invasive species has successful track record on islands, study finds by John Cannon — September 7, 2022
– A recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports found that efforts to remove invasive vertebrates from islands were 88% successful between 1872 and 2020.
– Invasive species can be particularly devastating to delicate island ecosystems and the unique native species they harbor.
– The researchers looked at the methods, locations and target species of 1,550 eradication attempts on nearly 1,000 islands around the world.
– The authors say the results of the research provide a guide for conservation groups, scientists and countries to take on eradication projects in an effort to encourage the resurgence of native wildlife and restore ecosystems.

Indonesia pursues agreements to protect its fishers on foreign vessels by Basten Gokkon — September 6, 2022
– The Indonesian government says it hopes to sign agreements with other governments to improve protection of its citizens working in those countries’ fishing industries.
– Indonesia is thought to be the largest source of labor in the global fishing fleet, but Indonesian deckhands are often subject to predatory recruitment processes, labor abuses, and even deadly working conditions.
– In May 2021, the Indonesian government signed one such agreement with the South Korean government, addresses key issues such as recruitment and placement mechanisms, and a dedicated training center for Indonesian fishers.
– The Indonesian foreign ministry is now seeking similar agreements with Taiwan and China, with the latter’s fishing fleet accounting for nearly as much activity in distant waters as the next four top countries combined.

Switzerland set to burn more trees to reach its climate and energy goals (commentary) by Lucie Wuethrich — September 6, 2022
– Switzerland has pledged to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, with forest-derived biomass slated to play a growing role in the country’s energy mix, following a motion submitted to parliament in 2019 to fully “exploit the potential of energy wood.”
– That decision came despite warnings from the Federal Office for the Environment noting: “strategies that only increase the use of wood as biofuel are not efficient from a CO2 balance perspective.”
– Wood chips and pellets burned to make energy are one of the few profitable forestry products in an industry that has been losing money since the 1990s to the tune of 40 million francs ($41 million) annually for the past three years alone. Government subsidies also incentivize biomass logging and the downgrading of timber to “waste” wood.
– The autonomy granted to the 26 Swiss cantons means logging rates and practices vary widely across the nation, as do energy policies promoted and adopted. The canton of Bern, where all photos were taken, produces the lion’s share, around one-fifth of all Swiss wood. This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily of Mongabay.

Greenland’s sustainable halibut fishery may threaten newfound corals, sponges by Amandas Ong — September 6, 2022
– Industrial trawling for halibut in the Davis Strait off western Greenland is currently done in a certified sustainable manner, but new studies suggest it may be doing long-term harm.
– The studies describe assemblages of unique marine life on the seafloor both inside and near the halibut fishing zones that could potentially be considered “vulnerable marine ecosystems.”
– Scientists have called for protection of these potential VMEs, but acknowledge that ending bottom trawling altogether isn’t a viable option when fishing accounts for 93% of Greenland’s exports.
– Fishing industry stakeholders say they’re confident that existing rules designed to help the halibut fishery meet sustainability requirements will be sufficient to spare these potential VMEs, and point to a new management plan for the entire Greenlandic seabed that is in development as a way to strengthen protections.

Southeast Asia’s big cats like their prey rare — as in really elusive by Carolyn Cowan — September 6, 2022
– A new study demonstrates that ungulates like serow are important prey for tigers and clouded leopards living in dense evergreen forests in mainland Southeast Asia.
– Numbers of these big cats are dwindling in the region due to direct killing to supply the illegal wildlife trade and the snaring crisis, which both kills the cats and severely depletes their prey populations.
– The findings go against the popular belief that clouded leopards, which spend a portion of their lives in the tree canopy, prefer to prey on primates, other arboreal species and small deer.
– Carnivore experts say the new insights will help to inform efforts to restore prey populations in the region — a key part of boosting flagging big cat numbers.

Raising awareness one bird post at a time: Q&A with Burungnesia’s Swiss Winasis by Sachi Kondo — September 6, 2022
– Swiss Winasis launched the bird-spotting app Burungnesia in 2016, aiming to engage the wider public in reporting bird sightings and to raise awareness about the importance of bird conservation.
– Indonesia is a hotspot of avian biodiversity, but also a global hub of the illegal bird trade, with many species captured for the lucrative songbird market.
– To date, Burungnesia’s users have recorded some 1,300 species from around 32,000 locations, including the rediscovery of the critically endangered black-browed babbler — a species that hadn’t been seen in 170 years.
– In an interview with Mongabay, Swiss acknowledges the powerful economic incentives driving the bird trade, but says change can start at the individual level by spreading awareness.

Mongabay’s What-To-Watch list for September 2022 by — September 5, 2022
– In August, Mongabay covered a mangrove restoration project in the Philippines and an Indigenous community’s effort to domesticate a rare flower. We also released videos showing the connection between climate change and extinction, and climate change and clean energy.
– Watch how the cocaine industry is impacting the environment, how the Mediterranian countries are dealing with invasive crabs, and why avocado farms aren’t all that palatable in Mexico’s agricultural sector.
– Get a peek into the various segments of the environment across the globe. Add these videos to your watchlist for the month and watch them for free on YouTube.

Report lists Indigenous territories under greatest pressure in the Amazon by Antenor Savoldi Junior — September 5, 2022
– Apyterewa, the territory of the Parakanã people, continues to be the main target of deforestation by land grabbers among the Indigenous territories of the Amazon, a report by Imazon shows.
– The advance of land grabbing in the area known as the “deforestation belt” is used as a form of political pressure for reducing and questioning legally recognized areas.
– Despite increasing pressure, Indigenous territories still have the lowest deforestation rate among protected areas, proving their effectiveness as a preservation policy.
– Indigenous representatives and civil society advocates criticize the federal government for reducing vigilance and putting forward bills to explore Indigenous land.

Chinese companies criticized for mercury pollution in Cameroon by Christophe Nyemeck Beat — September 5, 2022
– Civil society groups have raised the alarm over pollution of rivers in eastern and northern Cameroon by gold mining companies.
– The Centre for Environment and Development says two Chinese companies, Mencheng Mining and Zinquo Mining, are allowing significant amounts of mercury and cyanide to spill into watercourses in the East Region.
– Amalgamation, the process of using mercury to separate gold from the alluvial mud it’s found in here, is commonplace in Cameroon and elsewhere, despite the extreme toxicity of this chemical.
– CED says the run-off from gold-washing is putting the health of miners, including many young children, as well as local residents at risk.

Illegal fishing, worker abuse claims leave a bad taste for Bumble Bee Seafood by Elizabeth Claire Alberts — September 2, 2022
– A new report published by Greenpeace East Asia has found that Bumble Bee Seafoods and its parent company, Fong Chun Formosa Fishery Company (FCF) of Taiwan, are sourcing seafood from vessels involved in human rights abuses as well as illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices.
– It found that 13 vessels supplying seafood to Bumble Bee violated Taiwanese fishery regulations, and were even on the Taiwan Fisheries Agency’s (TFA) list of vessels involved in IUU fishing, and that many supply vessels were involved in issues of forced labor and human trafficking.
– Both Bumble Bee and FCF have sustainability and corporate social responsibility policies in place.

Weak waste management leaves Dhaka communities at risk from landfill sites by S.M. Najmus Sakib — September 2, 2022
– The four major waste landfills in Dhaka have left a serious environmental impact on the soil and groundwater of surrounding areas through leachate pollution, a study shows.
– It found levels of toxic metals in the surface and groundwater and in vegetable and rice crops in the vicinity of the landfill sites that were higher than prescribed safe limits.
– Experts have called on the authorities to improve waste management, including better coordination between municipal and national authorities, as well as better-engineered landfill sites that minimize the chances of leaching hazardous waste.
– Municipal authorities deny the pollution near the landfills is due to the waste leakage alone, and say they plan to expand the city’s largest landfill site, both aboveground and underground.

In Nepal, endangered tiger kills critically endangered gharial. What does it mean? by Abhaya Raj Joshi — September 2, 2022
– A tiger entered the Kasara gharial breeding center in Chitwan National Park and killed three critically endangered gharials.
– The incident raised concerns that as the tiger population in Nepal increases, the animals could turn to the crocodiles for easy food.
– Conservationists, however, say that is unlikely as tigers have other animals to feed upon.

Blazing start to Amazon’s ‘fire season’ as burning hits August record by Jaqueline Sordi — September 1, 2022
– Fires in the Brazilian Amazon surged in August to the highest for the month since 2010, surpassing the blazes in August 2019 that drew global attention.
– On Aug. 22 alone, more than 3,300 fire alerts were reported in 24 hours, the worst single-day tally in the Amazon in 15 years.
– Researchers say it’s still too early to tell how severe this fire season will be, but what happened in August is an early warning.



Seaweed an increasingly fragile lifeline for Philippine farmers by Keith Anthony S. Fabro — September 1, 2022
Crimes against the Amazon reverberate across Brazil, analysis shows by Elizabeth Oliveira — August 31, 2022
Java communities rally as clock ticks on cleanup of ‘world’s dirtiest river’ by Donny Iqbal — August 31, 2022
In Indonesian Papua, a one-time gun trafficker now preaches permaculture by Tantowi Djauhari — August 30, 2022
Biomass cofiring loopholes put coal on open-ended life support in Asia by Annelise Giseburt — August 29, 2022
Healthy mangroves build a resilient community in the Philippines’ Palawan by Keith Anthony S. Fabro — August 29, 2022
Mining the Mekong: Land and livelihoods lost to Cambodia’s thirst for sand by Gerald Flynn and Vutha Srey — August 29, 2022