Newsletter 2022-11-17


Blue jeans: An iconic fashion item that’s costing the planet dearly by Jenny Gonzales — November 17, 2022


– The production of blue jeans, one of the most popular apparel items ever, has for decades left behind a trail of heavy consumption, diminishing Earth’s water and energy resources, causing pollution, and contributing to climate change. The harm done by the fashion industry has intensified, not diminished, in recent years.
– The making of jeans is water intensive, yet much of the world’s cotton crop is grown in semiarid regions requiring irrigation and pesticide use. As climate change intensifies, irrigation-dependent cotton cultivation and ecological catastrophe are on a collision course, with the Aral Sea’s ecological death a prime example and warning.
– While some major fashion companies have made sustainability pledges, and taken some steps to produce greener blue jeans, the industry has yet to make significant strides toward sustainability, with organic cotton, for example, still only 1% of the business.
– A few fashion companies are changing their operations to be more sustainable and investing in technology to reduce the socioenvironmental impacts of jeans production. But much more remains to be done.

In Kenya, a Maasai community burned by ecotourism gives it another shot by Eve Driver — November 16, 2022


– Shompole Lodge in southern Kenya opened at the start of the millennium as a radical model of what community-based ecotourism could be, promising jobs, livelihoods and full ownership for the area’s Maasai community.
– But the partnership between the private investor and the community soured over accusations that the former was depriving the latter of their rightful dividends, with the dispute eventually turning deadly after another investor got involved.
– Eight years later, learning from the lessons of that experience, the Shompole community has signed a 35-year lease with Great Plains Conservation to develop a safari camp in the conservation area where the famed Shompole Lodge once stood.

Podcast: Escape into nature’s soundscapes by Mike Gaworecki — November 16, 2022


– Mongabay’s podcast explores the growing field of bioacoustics often, and an important subset of this discipline is soundscape recording.
– Healthy ecosystems are often noisy places: from reefs to grasslands and forests, these are sonically rich ecosystems, thanks to all the species present.
– Sound recordist George Vlad travels widely and on this special episode he plays soundscape recordings from Brazil’s Javari Valley and a rainforest clearing in the Congo Basin, and describes how they were captured.
– Recording soundscapes of such places is one way to ensure we don’t forget what a full array of birds, bats, bugs, and more sounds like, despite the biodiversity crisis.

Forests & Finance: Certification for deforesters, and repression for an evicted community by — November 15, 2022


– A rule change by the Forest Stewardship Council means companies like Hevéa Sudcam, which cleared nearly 60,000 hectares (148,000 acres) of forest in Cameroon since 2011, are now eligible for the world’s leading sustainability certification.
– Two years after announcing an imminent ban on exports of raw timber, governments in the Congo Basin have again delayed its implementation, this time indefinitely, citing the need for more time to prepare for it.
– The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has called on Uganda to end its repression of the Indigenous Benet people, who are fighting for recognition and access to ancestral lands they were evicted from in 1993 for the establishment of a national park.
– Forests & Finance is Mongabay’s bi-weekly bulletin of briefs about Africa’s forests.

No requiem for sharks just yet as nations push to protect species from trade by Elizabeth Claire Alberts — November 11, 2022


– Nations party to CITES, the global convention on the trade in endangered species, are supporting three proposals to list dozens of sharks and rays from three families onto Appendix II of the convention.
– While a CITES Appendix II listing would not prohibit trade outright, it would regulate it by requiring export permits, which would help mitigate overexploitation.
– A recent study found that more than a third of sharks, rays and chimeras are threatened with extinction, making them the second-most threatened vertebrate group, after amphibians.
– The proposals are up for discussion at CITES’s 19th Conference of the Parties, or CoP19, taking place from Nov. 14-25 in Panama.

Should more wildlife trade be legal and regulated? It’s complicated, say scientists. by James Fair — November 11, 2022


– As the global international trade treaty approaches its half century anniversary, some scientists say it needs an overhaul to make its structures fit for 21st century.
– Allowing for legal, regulated trade could be better than banning it for many species, they argue, referring to successful case studies where local communities were involved in sustainable trade.
– But some conservationists are worried that changing the way CITES operates will be bad news for endangered wildlife and point out it has been a significant factor in the survival of species such as elephants and tigers.



In Chile, drought and human expansion threaten a unique national park by Michelle Carrere — November 17, 2022
– La Campana National Park in Chile is home to threatened species of plants and animals, many found nowhere else.
– The region has been suffering a 12-year drought, and in spite of rains this year, experts say it’s too early to say whether the climate trend has been reversed.
– The park also faces pressure from expanding farmland and urbanization, including the conversion of native vegetation to fruit monocultures, and the encroachment of domestic animals that can spread disease to wildlife.

Following the impacts of palm oil Alliance: Violated regulations and penalty proceedings by Tras las huellas de la palma alliance — November 17, 2022
– The journalistic partnership behind a 2021 database gathering information on the penalties for environmental violations given to palm oil producers in Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Honduras has added two more countries: Costa Rica and Brazil
– In these six Latin American nations, between 2010 and 2021, at least 298 cases were opened against 170 companies and individuals involved in the palm oil industry, according to the details offered by authorities in response to requests from the journalists working on the database.
– The handing over of incomplete documents and lack of information are, once again, a common feature of how authorities across the region respond to journalists’ requests. In 181 cases, it was impossible to understand the stage of the penalty proceedings, while in 42 cases there was no concrete information on whether a sanction or fine had been applied. In 47 instances, the exact nature of the environmental violation committed by the target of the proceedings was not specified.

Sulawesi nickel plant coats nearby homes in toxic dust by Eko Rusdianto — November 17, 2022
– The Bantaeng Industrial Estate is a 3,000-hectare ore processing zone in Indonesia’s South Sulawesi province.
– President Joko Widodo has banned exports of raw mineral ores to compel companies to construct smelters to produce value-added nickel.
– But South Sulawesi communities living alongside the smelters report health impacts from pollution generated on site. Relocation plans have yet to be enacted.

Myanmar communities decry disempowerment as forest guardians since 2021 coup by Carolyn Cowan — November 17, 2022
– Within the shrinking civic space and violent aftermath of Myanmar’s February 2021 military coup, community-level efforts to safeguard Myanmar’s vast tracts of forest from development are buckling under the pressure of rampant resource extraction.
– Representatives of Indigenous peoples and local communities recently highlighted the challenges facing IPLCs in the country, many of whom have been displaced by conflict and estranged from their ancestral lands and forests.
– Environmental defenders and Indigenous rights activists are among those targeted for arrest and detention by military-backed groups.
– Activists are questioning how the world can seriously address global climate change when environmental defenders are actively being prevented from taking action.

Whether humans can survive climate change is the wrong question (commentary) by John Reid — November 17, 2022
– As delegates debate at the annual UN conference on climate change, we should be looking ahead with more interest to next month’s COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the treaty aimed at saving the planet’s wild species.
– The debate over whether humans can physically survive climate change is misguided, a new op-ed argues. Rather, the question we should be asking is how to save the endlessly complex and ailing biosphere.
– “The reward will be a future in which people are still living in and on this splendid planet, rather than than asking, with increasing trepidation, whether we will manage to defend ourselves from it.”
– This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

After 14 years of advocacy, the DRC president finally signs new Indigenous peoples law (commentary) by Patrick Saidi Hemedi — November 16, 2022
– On Wednesday, the president of the DRC, Felix Antoine Tshisekedi, signed and promulgated the new law on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Indigenous Pygmy Peoples.
– For the country’s Indigenous pygmy people, this is the first time that they are legally recognized as a distinct people with rights and access to free, prior and informed consent before the government and industries can exploit their land.
– But not everything will change in the blink of an eye and implementation of the law will take time, says Patrick Saidi, one of the Indigenous coordinators that worked to get the protections enshrined into law.
– This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

Can a luxury chocolate company save a Congolese forest? by Valisoa Rasolofomboahangy — November 16, 2022
– The widespread popularity of chocolate has led to a cocoa boom in the DRC, escalating deforestation in the country’s primary forests by impoverished locals in the war-torn region.
– Luxury food company, Original Beans, seeks to solve deforestation fueled by chocolate farming near Virunga National Park by planting organic cocoa in an agroforestry system that provides a sustainable form of income to women in the war-torn region.
– The company argues that producing luxury chocolate is a solution that generates enough money to bypass mass-production and opaque supply chains, while fairly paying local producers.
– Agroforestry experts say the project relies too heavily on planting invasive tree species and does not follow all sustainability recommendations.

Indonesia seals $20 billion deal with G7 to speed up clean energy transition by Hans Nicholas Jong — November 16, 2022
– Indonesia and the G7 have agreed on a $20 billion financing deal that will help the Southeast Asian nation speed up its transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
– The Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) was announced at the G20 summit being hosted in Indonesia this week, with the funding to come in the form of grants, concessional loans, market-rate loans, guarantees, and private investments.
– The funding will come from both public and private financing, with details of the investment plan to be ironed out in the next six months.
– Under the partnership, Indonesia will aim to cap its emissions from the power sector by 2030, faster than the initial target of 2037, and to generate 34% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

It’s a bird… It’s a plane… It’s a killing field at Brazil’s airports by Dimas Marques/Fauna News — November 16, 2022
– More than 2,000 wildlife strikes with aircraft are reported in Brazil every year, but the numbers are underreported and don’t specify the species affected.
– The vast majority of the animals hit are birds: southern lapwings (Vanellus chilensis), crested caracaras (Caracara plancus) and vultures (family Cathartidae).
– Direct and indirect damages generated by wildlife strikes amounted to more than $76 million between 2011 and 2020.
– A study found that birds living near airports altered their song patterns and had altered stress hormone levels.

‘They paid for it with misery’: Q&A with Chile dam critic Jose Marihuan Ancanao by Maxwell Radwin — November 16, 2022
– Jose Marihuan Ancanao, president of the Ayin Mapu La Peña community, spoke to Mongabay’s Maxwell Radwin about the impact of hydropower plants in parts of the Chilean Andes that are home to Indigenous people with a spiritual connection to rivers and the surrounding mountains.
– Marihuan was relocated in the early 2000s by a different hydropower plant and, although relocation isn’t a threat this time around, is witnessing the construction of another mega dam near his community.
– The 90-megawatt Rucalhue power plant has resulted in the felling of nationally protected trees sacred to the Pehuenche and, once finished, would flood some ancestral land.

Dam construction ignites Indigenous youth movement in southern Chile by Maxwell Radwin — November 16, 2022
– Dam construction on the Bío Bío watershed has plagued Indigenous Mapuche-Pehuenche communities in south-central Chile for decades, with many families having to relocate due to flooding of ancestral lands.
– The 90-megawatt Rucalhue hydropower plant, located near the town of Santa Bárbara, is the latest project causing controversy among local communities, who say they’re sick of battling infrastructure projects that disrespect their culture and traditions.
– Young people have been particularly outspoken against the project, staging sit-ins at the work site, sending petitions to government agencies, and helping organize a local plebiscite.
– Hydropower plants, while less polluting than many other forms of energy generation, still require the clearing of trees and the disrupting of river flows, which can have a significant impact on surrounding ecosystems.

Critics cite threats to communities, mangroves from El Salvador airport plans by Maxwell Radwin — November 15, 2022
– The Airport of the Pacific threatens to destroy mangroves and relocate local farming and fishing communities in a rural part of El Salvador.
– The project is part of President Nayib Bukele’s plan to develop the harder-to-reach eastern regions of the country through infrastructure projects.
– Residents say they feel pressured by government officials, who they accuse of failing to act in good faith to ensure families are fairly compensated for being relocated.
– The mangroves are important for preventing flooding and erosion, and serve as breeding sites for fish and crustaceans.

Breeding success raises hopes for future of endangered African penguin by Ryan Truscott — November 15, 2022
– Two African penguin chicks have hatched at a nature reserve in South Africa where conservationists have been working for years to entice the endangered birds to breed.
– The colony was abandoned more than 10 years ago after a caracal killed a number of penguins.
– The recent hatching comes at a time when survival prospects for Africa’s only resident penguin species look grim, due mainly to declining food stocks.
– But encouraging new colonies at sites close to abundant food sources could help to bring the species back from the brink.

Environmental ‘superministry’ bill raises alarm in Guatemala by Sandra Cuffe — November 15, 2022
– A controversial bill would merge Guatemala’s National Council of Protected Areas and five other institutions into the country’s environmental ministry.
– The bill, lawmakers argue, would address excessive bureaucracy and inefficiencies across Guatemala’s multiple environmental agencies.
– Environmental organizations are concerned the move would set back decades of progress and eliminate civil society involvement.
– Institutions that would be absorbed by the ministry have pointed out major legal gaps within the bill.

Indonesia’s grand EV plans hinge on a ‘green’ industrial park that likely isn’t by Justin Jin Soong Liew and Chun Sheng Goh — November 15, 2022
– Indonesian President Joko Widodo is courting investment for a “green industrial park,” a key component in his ambitions to boost Indonesia’s economy by making the country a global hub for the production of electric vehicles.
– Indonesia holds the world’s largest reserves of nickel, a key component in EV batteries, making the country an attractive destination for EV investors.
– However, experts have raised concerns about the environmental impacts of nickel mining and industrial development, which can negate any environmental benefits of EVs.

Nepal’s wild yaks ‘need more conservation than research’: Q&A with Naresh Kusi by Abhaya Raj Joshi — November 15, 2022
– In July, researchers Naresh Kusi and Geraldine Werhahn spotted three wild yaks in Nepal, where sightings are rare and the animal was once thought to have gone extinct.
– Kusi spoke with Mongabay about the significance of the sightings of this iconic bovine’s distribution in the region and the need for conservation.
– Wild yaks (Bos mutus) are considered the ancestor of the domesticated yak (Bos grunniens) and hold an important place in the region’s culture and history.

Stem cells may make ‘impossible possible’ for near-extinct Sumatran rhino by Basten Gokkon — November 15, 2022
– Wildlife scientists in Germany are developing a method to produce new living cells from a dead Sumatran rhinoceros in an effort to prevent the extinction of the critically endangered species.
– They have used skin samples of the last male rhino in Malaysia, known as Kertam, who died in May 2019, to grow stem cells and mini-brains as reported in the researchers’ recently published paper.
– Fewer than 80 rhinos remain in the world, and they all currently live in Indonesia in the wild, and some in a sanctuary for captive breeding.
– The captive breeding initiative of the Sumatran rhinos began in the 1980s, but over the years, the attempts have yielded both successes and failures.

Brazil’s new environmental future under Lula: Q&A with Marina Silva by Jaqueline Sordi — November 14, 2022
– Considered for Brazil’s Ministry of the Environment, environmentalist Marina Silva says in an interview with Mongabay that the election of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva means a new cycle of prosperity for the country, “when it will be possible to make the transition to a new development model that is capable of fighting inequality with democracy and sustainability.”
– “Part of the agribusiness sector is realizing that this practice by Bolsonaro is bad for business,” the congresswoman-elect said about the possibility of reconciling the environmental agenda and the demands of agribusiness.
– Silva stressed that the current challenges are much greater than those faced when she was a member of Lula’s first administration in 2003: “We are not going to become sustainable in the blink of an eye. It’s a transition.”

Support rangers to protect wildlife & habitats for the future (commentary) by Neddy Mulimo — November 14, 2022
– The average ranger works almost 90 hours a week: over 60% have no access to clean drinking water on patrol or at outpost stations, and over 40% regularly lack overnight shelter when afield.
– Funding can support significant improvements in the working conditions of rangers, enabling them to work more effectively toward reducing the illegal wildlife trade and human-wildlife conflicts.
– The winner of the 2022 Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award shares his thoughts about the situation and how increased support is good for wildlife, people, and habitats in this new op-ed.
– This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

With new EU rules ahead, Indonesia adds sustainability to its timber legality system by Hans Nicholas Jong — November 14, 2022
– The Indonesian government is rebranding its timber legality system to include timber sustainability in anticipation of an upcoming deforestation-free regulation by the European Union.
– Right now, the EU bans only the trading of illegal timbers within Europe under its timber regulation, but it’s in the process of issuing a new regulation that will forbid not only illegal timbers, but also timbers and other commodities that are sourced from deforestation and forest degradation.
– Indonesia’s timber legality system is the only one in the world recognized by the EU, meaning the country’s timbers could enter Europe without due diligence.
– With new no-deforestation requirements to be imposed by the EU, Indonesia is adding sustainability components into its timber legality system.

In final days before Bolsonaro’s defeat, deforestation boomed in Brazil by — November 11, 2022
– According to data published today by Brazil’s national space research agency INPE, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon amounted to 904 square kilometers in October, a 3% increase over last year.
– Year to date, INPE’s deforestation alert system has detected 9,494 square kilometers of forest clearing, 20% more than 2021.
– The figures came less than two weeks after Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva narrowly defeated Jair Bolsonaro in a run off election. Lula, who presided over a sharp drop in Amazon forest deforestation during his terms in office between 2003 and 2010, made saving the Amazon a key part of his bid for the presidency.
– In contrast, Bolsonaro has overseen a steep rise in deforestation, which hit a 15-year high last year.

Mycorrhizal fungi, nature’s ‘wood wide web,’ get a $3m conservation boost by Liz Kimbrough — November 11, 2022
– Mycorrhizal fungi connect the roots of plants to the surrounding soil and facilitate the exchange of water and nutrients for sugars from the sun, playing a vital role in the health of terrestrial ecosystems.
– The Society for the Protection of Underground Networks (SPUN), a scientific initiative focused on mapping and conserving mycorrhizal networks, announced it’s received a $3 million general operating grant from the Schmidt Family Foundation.
– SPUN says it will use this funding to map mycorrhizal biodiversity around the planet in biodiversity hotspots and in places that can survive extreme climate events and that have the potential to store large amounts of carbon.
– Among the first expeditions planned is a month-long visit to the Palmyra Atoll in the center of the Pacific Ocean, the world’s most remote island, where the team will study the connection between birds, trees, underground fungi and underwater coral reefs

Breaking free from photosynthesis: Will high-tech foods save nature? by Sue Branford — November 11, 2022
– Soaring industrial livestock production is dramatically increasing greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation and biodiversity loss. Current meat production methods are unsustainable and fast pushing the natural world and the global food system to the edge of collapse, argues British environmentalist George Monbiot.
– Monbiot says conventional solutions, like a global switch to veganism and/or the large-scale implementation of sustainable agroecology, are advancing too slowly to avert looming disaster. The only solutions, he says, are rapid high-tech fixes.
– The best approach, he contends, is one that would free food production from photosynthesis, using hydrogen drawn from water to feed protein- and fat-rich bacteria. The revolutionary technology can produce meat and cheese from the air that, reportedly, tastes as good as the “real” thing.
– Critical voices fear this not-yet-widely-tested techno fix may be a “magic bullet” that doesn’t work in the real world. Others say the only path to averting climate catastrophe is via mobilization around food sovereignty — the right of everyone to healthy foods produced by ecologically sound and sustainable methods, including innovations by traditional peoples.

Protecting the peatlands and woodlands in Angola’s ‘source of life’ by Ryan Truscott — November 11, 2022
– As negotiations over slowing climate change unfold at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt, a group of scientists and conservationists is pushing for recognition of the Angolan Highlands as a vital carbon sink.
– The network of rivers, lakes and peatlands surrounded by miombo woodland in these highlands together maintain the year-round flow of water into the Okavango River Basin, and ultimately the wildlife-rich Okavango Delta in Botswana.
– Isolated for decades by civil war, in peacetime the Angolan Highlands have increasingly attracted returning populations to log, drain its bogs, and clear forests for agriculture.
– The National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project is pushing for protection of vital parts of the highlands to safeguard their role as a “water tower” for countries in the region — and prevent the peatlands from turning from a carbon sink into a carbon source.

Bolivian protected areas hit hard by forest fires by Iván Paredes Tamayo — November 10, 2022
– Nearly 9,000 square kilometers (3,475 square miles) had been burned across Bolivia by mid-September, according to government figures.
– Tucabaca Valley Municipal Wildlife and Otuquis National Park, both in the semi-arid Chiquitania region of southern Bolivia, have been among the protected areas most affected by fire in 2022.
– Satellite data show fires burned across some 130 square kilometers (50 square miles)—or 5%— of Tucabaca Valley Municipal Wildlife in September, and reignited in early November. In Otuquis, a fire that began Aug. 31 had spread across around 80 kilometers (50 miles), mostly along a road, by Sept. 3.
– In addition to habitat loss for the region’s wildlife, smoke from the fires reportedly has resulted in vision and respiratory problems for residents of nearby communities.

Amid conflict and chaos, a reforestation project surges ahead in Haiti by Jeremy Hance — November 10, 2022
– An important reforestation project is forging ahead in Haiti, despite the nation’s economic and political upheavals.
– Reforesting 50 hectares (124 acres) with native plants this year in Grand Bois National Park, the NGO Haiti National Trust (HNT) is working closely with local communities to ensure the restoration project’s long-term survival.
– On an island buffeted by governance woes, severe deforestation and climate change, reforestation can save lives by mitigating the impacts of extreme rain events, droughts and hurricanes, and even reduce the risk of landslides caused by earthquakes.
– If ongoing funding can be secured, the group hopes to continue replanting efforts into the future with larger restoration goals.




How Mitsubishi vacuumed up tuna from a rogue Chinese fishing fleet by Annelise Giseburt — November 10, 2022
Mercury rising: Why Bolivia remains South America’s hub for the toxic trade by Maxwell Radwin — November 8, 2022
Did climate change really kill billions of snow crabs in Alaska? by Elizabeth Claire Alberts — November 7, 2022