Podcast: Forest conservation for climate defense & cultural preservation by Mike Gaworecki — November 2, 2022
– “Ecuador had not declared community protected area management by Indigenous peoples until Tiwi Nunka Forest. This area is the first of its kind in Ecuador, and one of the few in the entire Amazon,” says our first guest on this episode, Felipe Serrano.
– Serrano is the Ecuador country director for Nature and Culture International, which helped the Shuar people in their struggle to reclaim this territory and get the forest included in Ecuador’s National System of Protected Areas.
– We also speak with journalist Paul Koberstein about the flawed basis for the U.S. State of Washington’s new and unusual climate solution: cutting down forests.
– The state claims that it’s more effective to store carbon in wood products than it is to keep forests standing, but as Koberstein shares, research shows that only a small percentage of the carbon remains in wood products, and the rest is lost to the atmosphere, so activists are pushing for a change in policy.
Exclusive: Shark finning rampant across Chinese tuna firm’s fleet by Philip Jacobson and Basten Gokkon — November 1, 2022
– Dalian Ocean Fishing used banned gear to deliberately catch and illegally cut the fins off of huge numbers of sharks in international waters, Mongabay has found.
– Just five of the company’s longline boats harvested roughly 5.1 metric tons of dried shark fin in the western Pacific Ocean in 2019. That equates to a larger estimated shark catch that what China reported for the nation’s entire longline fleet in the same time and place.
– The findings are based on dozens of interviews with men who worked throughout the company’s fleet of some 35 longline boats. A previous investigation by Mongabay and its partners uncovered widespread abuse of crew across the same firm’s vessels.
– Campaigners said Dalian Ocean Fishing’s newly uncovered practices were a “disaster” for shark conservation efforts.
American agroforestry accelerates with new funding announcements by Erik Hoffner — October 31, 2022
– “There is a windfall of federal money entering the agroforestry sector. After 30-plus years of work on agroforestry in the United States, the sector’s moment has arrived,” a source tells Mongabay.
– In mid-September, USDA unveiled the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding program, investing up to $2.8 billion in 70 projects, one of which includes $60 million to advance agroforestry.
– Agroforestry is the most climate-conscious form of agriculture, sequestering an estimated 45 gigatons of carbon globally while providing habitat for biodiversity, boosting water tables, and building soil.
– This intentional combination of woody perennials like shrubs and trees with annual crops like grains and vegetables also increases farms’ resilience to drought, heat, and deluges, by providing shade, windbreaks, and deep root systems capable of absorbing excess water.
Is natural gas the solution to Africa’s energy needs? New research says no. by Ashoka Mukpo — November 3, 2022
– Three reports released by the African Climate Foundation analyzed the potential impact of natural gas extraction on the economies of a series of countries in Africa.
– Research for the reports was carried out in partnership with Willis Towers Watson, a British-American insurance risk adviser.
– The groups found that a global transition away from fossil fuels could lead LNG investments in Mozambique, Tanzania and elsewhere to become a drain on public finances in the long term.
– The reports suggested that as the cost of renewable energy declines, LNG-producing governments will also come under pressure to pay expensive, inefficient subsidies for domestic gas consumption.
Small island, big ocean: Niue makes its entire EEZ a marine park by Monica Evans — November 3, 2022
– In April, Niue, a small island nation in the South Pacific Ocean, designated its entire exclusive economic zone — an area about the size of Vietnam — as a multiple-use marine park called Niue Nukutuluea.
– Forty percent of the park is a no-take marine protected area; a smaller slice is managed by local villages. And about 56% of the park is a general-use zone where commercial fishing and other activities, including possibly deep-sea mining, could take place.
– The country has developed an unusual mechanism to fund the park, and is gathering support to confront the perennial challenge of monitoring and compliance in technologically advanced ways.
Bolsonaro loses election but finds big support in Amazon Arc of Deforestation by André Schröder — November 3, 2022
– In a close runoff, incumbent Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was defeated in his reelection bid against former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
– Bolsonaro, however, won in eight of the 10 Brazilian municipalities with the biggest deforestation rates in the Amazon forest last year.
– Bolsonaro won in the majority of the 256 municipalities in the Arc of Deforestation, which accounts for about 75% of the deforestation in the Amazon, as well as in Novo Progresso, in Pará, where ranchers, loggers and land-grabbers orchestrated a significant burning of deforested areas in 2019.
– Historical, economic, social and religious elements explain the preference for Bolsonaro in a swath of Brazilian territory where people have been encouraged to cut the forest down.
‘There are solutions to these abuses’: Q&A with Steve Trent on how China can rein in illegal fishing by Philip Jacobson — November 3, 2022
– Earlier this week, Mongabay published an article uncovering a massive illegal shark finning scheme across the fleet of one of China’s largest tuna companies, Dalian Ocean Fishing.
– China has the world’s biggest fishing fleet, but oversight of the sector is lax, with many countries’ boats routinely found to be engaging in illegal and destructive practices, especially in international waters.
– Mongabay spoke with Steve Trent, the head of the Environmental Justice Foundation, which has also investigated the fishing industry, about DOF’s shark finning scheme and how China can better monitor its vessels.
Honduran forest governance agreement brings cautious hope by Sandra Cuffe — November 3, 2022
– A timber trade agreement that aims to ensure Honduras exports only legally harvested timber products to the European Union is the first of its kind to go into force in the Americas.
– Under the framework, a timber legality assurance system currently under development will be the backbone of licenses for the export of legal timber and timber products.
– Indigenous and agroforestry groups that took part in negotiations leading up to the agreement say they hope the deal will spur action to address illegal logging and land grabs affecting forests and communities.
At the mouth of the Amazon, sustainable açaí leaves a sweet taste for communities by Carolina Pinheiro — November 3, 2022
– Residents of the Bailique Archipelago, which lies at the mouth of the Amazon River, established a community protocol to promote their traditional açaí cultivation and strengthen their cultural identity.
– In 2016, the açaí collected by Amazonbai, the local cooperative composed of more than 2,000 people, became the world’s first and only açaí production chain to gain Forest Stewardship Council certification.
– A key challenge to this sustainable livelihood is the increasing saltwater intrusion into the islands’ water sources, the result of both climatic factors and human interference in the regional landscape.
Meet the Millennium Forest: A unique tropical island reforestation project by Jeremy Hance — November 2, 2022
– A two-decade reforestation project on the tropical island of St. Helena in the southern Atlantic Ocean has not only restored trees found nowhere else in the world, but has also involved nearly every member of the island community in the effort.
– The Millennium Forest, as it’s called, has struggled with invasive species and irregular funding, but has still managed to thrive, adding new plant species — several of them threatened and two thought to have gone extinct. The growing forest is attracting animal species to its habitat, including St. Helena’s only endemic bird.
– Ocean islands pose special challenges for forest restoration, since many plant species evolved in isolation on remote islands, and saw drastic population crashes to the point of extinction, or near-extinction, when people and invasive species arrived.
– As a result, island reforestations typically can’t match original forest composition, but must mix both native and non-native species. The Millennium Forest project has now become a legacy that the current generation is handing down to upcoming ones, according to project founder Rebecca Cairns-Wicks.
Who decides on ‘priorities’ for ecosystem restoration? by John Cannon — November 2, 2022
– A set of maps from research published in 2020 in the journal Nature suggested that restoring ecosystems in “priority areas” offered a cheap and effective way to slow climate change and stem the global loss of species.
– Soon after the study’s release, however, researchers from around the world raised concerns about the areas identified by the study, whether the biodiversity- and climate-related gains would be as substantial as the authors claimed, and how decision-makers might use the maps to guide policy.
– The study aimed to point out optimal spots for restoration based on the biggest boost they could provide to avoid the extinction of species and sequester the most carbon at the lowest costs. But, the authors wrote, the study did not consider “socio-economic issues,” and the maps were not intended to directly inform local implementation.
– The study’s critics say that, in spite of the authors’ intentions, investors and policymakers could use the maps in ways that might not consider the impacts on local communities.
Another winter of discontent as Kathmandu braces for deadly air pollution by Abhaya Raj Joshi — November 2, 2022
– As winter sets in, residents of Kathmandu are bracing for worsening air pollution levels that can exceed by a hundredfold the safe limit prescribed by the WHO.
– The sources of the pollution are both local — vehicle exhaust fumes and burning of garbage — and from further afield, including firecracker residue from festivities in neighboring India.
– A recent study says these combine to give Nepal the highest death rate from chronic lung disease of any country — a problem that experts say the government has repeatedly failed to recognize.
Fish eggs return to Bangladesh’s Halda River following conservation efforts by Abu Siddique — November 2, 2022
– The Halda River, considered the world’s only natural gene bank for several pure Indian carp species, as well as home to dozens of endangered Ganges River dolphins, has made a comeback after fish eggs all but disappeared from the river several years ago.
– Historical records say around 4,000 kilograms (8,818 pounds) of fish eggs could be found in the river in 1941, but that number nearly hit zero in 2016 due to overexploitation and industrial pollution.
– Since 2018, the Bangladesh government has made robust conservation efforts, including steps to declare the river an Ecologically Critical Area and fish heritage site.
– In 2020, about 424 kgs (935 lbs) of fish eggs were found in the river; however, yields have since fallen after an unexpected tropical cyclone, Amphan, triggered salinity intrusion and there was low rainfall during the monsoons.
Avocado farming is threatening Colombia’s natural water factory by Emily Senkosky — November 1, 2022
– To satisfy the world’s ever-increasing appetite for the popular fruit, Colombia is risking the páramo, one of its key ecosystems.
– These rare environments provide fresh water to tens of millions of people — the majority of the Colombian population.
– The country is now second to Mexico as the world’s top avocado producer, with a significant uptick in production in the last year, resulting in socioeconomic and environmental impacts for communities downstream.
As banks fund oil pipeline, campaigners question their environmental pledges by Thomas Lewton — November 1, 2022
– Activists say some banks that have signed up to the Equator Principles are failing to live up to their pledge of properly assessing the environmental and social risks of the projects they finance.
– South Africa’s Standard Bank and Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation are facilitating funding for the East African Crude Oil Pipeline project (EACOP).
– When fully operational, crude oil flowing through pipeline will generate 34 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
– Activists say EACOP, which will run 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) across many ecologically sensitive areas, has also affected 12,000 households who have been inadequately compensated.
East Africa should promote renewable energy, not oil pipelines (commentary) by Dickens Kamugisha — November 1, 2022
– The East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) is a planned 1,443 km pipeline that is expected to be built between oil fields in western Uganda to the port of Tanga in Tanzania.
– Despite likely negative effects on wildlife, forests, rivers, and the climate, EACOP proponents say the project will benefit the regions’ people: do these arguments hold water? A new op-ed says no.
– “Traditionally, and as recognized by President Museveni, Africans have lived in harmony with nature. They should continue to do so by championing renewable energy over risky projects such as the EACOP,” the writer argues.
– This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
There is not enough land to meet many of the world’s climate pledges, says new study by Sandra Cuffe — November 1, 2022
– National climate pledges would collectively require 1.2 billion hectares (about 3 billion acres) of land, researchers have found in a new study, The Land Gap Report.
– More than half of this land is already currently used for something else. This demand for land will put pressure on ecosystems, Indigenous lands, small farmers and food security.
– Protecting existing forests and securing Indigenous and community land rights are more effective than carbon capture plans requiring land-use change, including reforestation.
– Indigenous leaders are calling for updates and transparency at the upcoming U.N. climate conference, COP27, concerning funding pledges at last year’s conference.
Mongabay’s What-To-Watch list for November 2022 by Mongabay.com — November 1, 2022
– Mongabay’s October videos show how the world’s consumption of products have multiple effects on the environment in various regions and on ecosystems, and what consequences road and railway projects have on forests and communities in Brazil and Mexico.
– Watch Afro-Brazilian communities practising their traditional agriculture that bring together production and conservation around Brazil’s Atlantic forests, and how authorities and communities are dealing with human-wildlife conflicts in India and Indonesia in their own ways.
– 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: Leaders’ vow to slow forest loss rings hollow ahead of climate talks by Malavika Vyawahare — November 1, 2022
– Countries are nowhere close to meeting the goal of ending deforestation by 2030 announced in Glasgow in 2021, a new assessment shows.
– Indonesia is the only country that is moving in the right direction, registering declining deforestation rates in each of the past five years, which means tropical Asia as a whole is the only region on track to end forest loss.
– The world added forests the size of Peru between 2000 and 2020, but these gains don’t make up for the erasure of natural primary woodland, the report authors warn.
In new climate deal, Norway will pay Indonesia $56 million for drop in deforestation, emissions by Hans Nicholas Jong — November 1, 2022
– This year, Norway will pay Indonesia $56 million for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
– Both countries struck a new climate deal in September, in which Norway will provide support for Indonesia’s bid to curb deforestation and forest degradation, with the aim that Indonesia’s forests will turn into a carbon sink by 2030.
– Norway was supposed to pay the $56 million in 2020 under its previous climate agreement with Indonesia, but the Nordic country failed to pay, resulting in Indonesia terminating the original agreement.
New Zealand convicts company of illegal trawling in high seas restricted area by Edward Carver — October 31, 2022
– In late August, a court in Aotearoa New Zealand convicted a subsidiary of one of the country’s major seafood companies of illegal trawling in a closed area in the Tasman Sea between New Zealand and Australia.
– The judge fined the company NZ$59,000 (about $33,000) and the skipper NZ$12,000 (about $7,000), and seized the vessel.
– It’s the fourth case in the past five years where courts convicted New Zealand-flagged vessels of illegal trawling.
– The recent conviction comes amid an ongoing debate about trawling in New Zealand, with campaigners calling for a ban on bottom trawling on submarine mountains, and the industry disputing their arguments and resisting aspects of the proposed change.
Who let the dogs out? Feral canines pose a threat to Nepal’s wildlife by Abhaya Raj Joshi — October 31, 2022
– Dogs in Nepal enjoy a special status during the Tihar festival, but for the rest of the year are often overlooked or even abandoned.
– The latter often turn feral and pose a threat to the country’s iconic wildlife — from tigers to snow leopards to dholes — through potential disease transmission and competition for prey.
– Studies show a high prevalence of diseases such as canine distemper and parvovirus among dogs near key protected areas. Conservationists say it’s up to humans to better manage their pets, including vaccinating them routinely, sterilizing them, and not abandoning them.
In temperate Nepal, climate change paves way for tropical dengue fever by Abhaya Raj Joshi — October 31, 2022
– Nepal is experiencing its worst outbreak of dengue fever in recorded history, which health experts attribute in part to a changing climate.
– Wetter monsoons and warmer temperatures have made for ideal breeding conditions for the mosquitoes that carry the virus.
– Poor water and waste management are also factors, allowing for water to stagnate for long periods and giving the mosquitoes a place to lay their larvae.
– Experts say it will take a combination of personal responsibility — to eradicate mosquito-breeding grounds — and government leadership — to coordinate the public health response — if dengue is to be eradicated in Nepal.
Forests & Finance: From logging in Cameroon to cocoa in Côte d’Ivoire by Mongabay.com — October 31, 2022
– Conservationists have flagged logging activity by a company in Cameroon that’s clearing forest near a national park in apparent breach of its permits.
– A campaign since 2017 to convince farmers in Côte d’Ivoire not to clear forests for new cocoa plantations is bearing fruit, with deforestation in the country falling by 47% in 2021.
– In Malawi, a replanting effort aims to revive populations of the endemic and threatened Mulanje cyad, an ancient tree species that grows on the mountain of the same name.
– Forests & Finance is Mongabay’s bi-weekly bulletin of briefs about Africa’s forests.
Shipping lane change could be sea change for Sri Lanka’s blue whales by Malaka Rodrigo — October 30, 2022
– Conservationists have welcomed an announcement by MSC, the world’s biggest container shipping line, that its ships will detour around a key feeding and nursing ground for blue whales off Sri Lanka’s southern coast.
– Ship strikes are a leading cause of death for the large whales that frequent the waters around Sri Lanka, which also include to a lesser extent sperm whales and Bryde’s whales.
– Marine conservationist Asha de Vos says other shipping lines should follow MSC’s lead, and has also called on the Sri Lankan government to propose making the shipping lane change permanent.
– She also says whale deaths from ship strikes may be up to 10 times higher than recorded, given that current and wind conditions are more likely to wash carcasses out to sea than toward shore, making them less likely to be detected.
Deep dive uncovers previously unknown underwater ecosystem in Maldives by Elizabeth Claire Alberts — October 28, 2022
– Scientists recently identified a previously undiscovered marine ecosystem in the waters around the Maldives, known as the “trapping zone,” about 500 meters (about 1,600 feet) below the surface.
– The researchers say the trapping zone refers to a region of subsea vertical cliffs and shelving terraces that “trap” small, migrating mesopelagic organisms, which attract pelagic predators like sharks, tuna and large fish.
– Prior to this mission, very little was known about the Maldivian sea below 30 m (about 100 ft), despite the country’s total area consisting 99% of water.
– The researchers say trapping zones likely exist in the waters around other oceanic islands with similar topography, and that they’re already gathering evidence of such an ecosystem in the waters of the Chagos archipelago, south of the Maldives.
Saving the economically important hilsa fish comes at a cost to Bangladesh fishers by Abu Siddique — October 28, 2022
– Many fishers across Bangladesh say they still haven’t received the compensation promised by the government during a three-week ban on fishing of hilsa, the country’s most important fish.
– The ban ends on Oct. 28, and the government was supposed to hand out 40-kilogram (88-pound) rice packages to eligible fishers at the start of it, but some of the aid may have allegedly been embezzled by local officials.
– Almost half a million fishers are directly involved in the hilsa fishery in Bangladesh, with another 2 million indirectly involved; hilsa accounts for an eighth of total fish production and more than 1% of GDP in Bangladesh.
– In light of the fish’s importance, the government has since the 2000s enforced two bans a year, to allow the fish to breed and to protect the juveniles.
Why fish are disappearing from Amazonian waters by Cícero Pedrosa Neto and Fábio Zuker from Agência Pública — October 27, 2022
– From the coastline to freshwater streams, people living in Amazonia say industrial fishing, deforestation, hydroelectric dams and climate change have reduced fish populations.
– Industrial fishing is one of the main explanations for the low numbers. Fishermen report that large boats are trawling with nets up to 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) in length that do not allow fish to reach the shore.
– Other challenges local fishers are facing have to do with the effects of climate change on rivers and mangroves, including increased temperature and lower pH and oxygen levels in the water, which make it harder for species to survive.
– Hydroelectric dams are a threat to inland Amazonian fish species because they interrupt migratory flow, leading to genetically compromised populations; this phenomenon has been seen in the Xingu River, which, dammed by the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant, is suffering from falling fish reproduction rates.
To save threatened Amazon primates in Brazil, turn them into the main attraction by Sean Mowbray — October 27, 2022
– Primates along the southern portion of Brazil’s Amazon frontier, a region known as the Arc of Deforestation, are being pushed to the brink of extinction as vast swaths of their habitats are cleared.
– A recent assessment places the Vieira’s titi monkey, whose conservation status was previously unknown, now as critically endangered; researchers say other primates face a similarly perilous situation.
– Conservationists say investing in primate-based ecotourism, based on the established model of the bird-watching industry and making use of the existing agroindustry infrastructure, could provide an effective conservation solution.
– Some point to the city of Sinop, in the state of Mato Grosso, as a potential “hotspot” for primate-watching ecotourism.
Wrong trend for right whales amid ‘devastating’ population decline by Mongabay.com — October 25, 2022
Brazil’s biggest elected Indigenous caucus to face tough 2023 Congress by Karla Mendes — October 25, 2022
In the western Amazon, oil blocks eat away at Indigenous lands, protected areas by Yvette Sierra Praeli — October 24, 2022
Element Africa: Mines take their toll on nature and communities by Mongabay.com — October 20, 2022
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- Making waves in public health, the environment and community-led conservation with independent reporting | Mongabay Impacts [October 20, 2022]
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