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Environmental science and conservation news

Guatemala: An indigenous community rejects, then accepts, a protected area
By Anna-Catherine Brigida [2018-12-12]
Valentin Suchite patrols the forest searching for signs of deforestation. Image by Anna-Catherine Brigida for Mongabay.RÍO SARSTÚN, Guatemala — Riding in a small motorboat along the Atlantic coast of Guatemala, Francisco Cuz Acal looked over his left shoulder at the lush forest cover whizzing by. To his right lay nothing but open water. Straight ahead, far off in the distance, he could just barely make out the Belizean coastline behind […]






Feed a fishery, starve a seabird
By Mongabay.com [2018-12-12]
Competition for fish stocks with fisheries to feed humans could be forcing seabirds to go hungry, according to new research. The study, published Dec. 6 in the journal Current Biology, reveals that seabirds’ share of fish has dropped by nearly 20 percent over a span of 40 years. Expanding large-scale fisheries, meanwhile, have increased their […]






‘We see its value’: Ugandan communities benefiting from agroforestry
By Deusdedit Ruhangariyo [2018-12-11]
BUTANDA, Uganda — On a forested hill in the highlands of Butanda, in western Uganda, James Rwebishengye and Florence Atwine have created a diverse forest canopy of more than 200 trees and smaller plants. These include trees like dragon’s blood (Dracaena cinnabari), wild banana (Musa balbisiana) and tamarillo, or tree tomato (Solanum betaceum), along with […]






Scientists team up with indigenous, faithful to fight for forests
By Andrew J. Wight [2018-12-11]
An indigenous Colombian takes in deforestation close to the Amacayacu National Park in the Colombian Amazon.MEDELLIN, Colombia — An alliance of scientists, development experts, indigenous peoples and religious leaders met late last month in Colombia to determine how church leaders can help drive environmental public policy in the largely Catholic country. The meeting was under the umbrella of the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative (IRI), a global coalition launched in mid-2017 to […]






Audio: The true story of how 96 critically endangered sea turtle hatchlings survived New York City
By Mike Gaworecki [2018-12-11]
On this episode, the true story of how 96 critically endangered sea turtles survived a New York City beach — with a little help from some dedicated conservationists and scientists. Listen here:   This past summer, beachgoers in New York City spotted a nesting Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle on West Beach, which is on National […]






Brazilian regulators deny French oil giant Total license to drill near Amazon Reef
By Mongabay.com [2018-12-11]
Brazil’s environmental regulatory agency, Ibama, announced last Friday that it was denying French oil company Total license to drill for oil near the Amazon Reef. The reef system, discovered off the coast of Amapá state in northern Brazil in 2016, is known as the Amazon Reef because it lies in the turgid waters of the […]






A monitoring network in the Amazon captures a flood of data
By Elizabeth Oliveira [2018-12-11]
Monitoring technology deployed in a remote rainforest over time subjects it to high heat, humidity, and rainfall, as well as potential damage by insects and other wildlife. When you add an annual 10-meter (33-foot) flood to the mix, you’re taking on nature in a big way. Despite these challenges, an interdisciplinary research effort aims to […]






COP24: Europe looks to fill the leadership void left by the U.S.
By Hans Nicholas Jong [2018-12-11]
KATOWICE, Poland — Three years ago, then-U.S. President Barack Obama was instrumental in rallying the international community behind a landmark climate deal in Paris. He managed to push through grueling negotiation process by brokering a bilateral deal between the United States, the world’s second-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, and China, the biggest, to pave the way […]






COP24: Trumpers tout clean coal; protesters call it ‘climate suicide’
By Justin Catanoso [2018-12-11]
Demonstrators, subnationals, NGOs and COP24 delegates have moved beyond the Trump administration delegation’s public farce advocating coal as a viable climate solution.






New species of giant salamander described after decades of mystery
By Mongabay.com [2018-12-11]
Researchers have described a new species of giant salamander that has remained shrouded in mystery for several decades. Known from swamps in Alabama and Florida in the southern United States, the new salamander grows up to 60 centimeters (2 feet) long and is a type of siren, a group of eel-like salamanders that have only […]






In eastern Indonesia, a bird-trafficking hotspot flies under the radar
By Ian Morse [2018-12-11]
MARAFENFEN/LORANG, Indonesia — Benedictus has to go out just after dark to check his traps. If he goes any earlier, the palm cockatoos will still be awake and hear him coming. The 42-year-old farmer and hunter is inspecting his traps in Marafenfen village, southern Aru, a flat archipelago the size of Puerto Rico at Indonesia’s […]






Seeing Suriname: A visit to the rainforest goes awry (insider)
By Rhett A. Butler [2018-12-10]
Mantis in Suriname's rainforest.Suriname is a country few people have heard of, let alone visited. Located in the northeast corner of South America, Suriname is almost completely covered in rainforest. It has the distinction of having the highest forest cover — 95 percent — of any country. It is also one of a handful of countries where the […]






Belo Monte dam Xingu River Management Plan violates human rights: finding
By Max Nathanson [2018-12-10]
The UN Inter-American Commission on Human Rights upheld a motion filed by civil society organizations condemning Brazil’s continued development of the Belo Monte mega-dam.






‘Light for everyone’: Indigenous youth mount a solar-powered resistance
By Ethan Bien [2018-12-10]
Members of the Tosepan cooperative’s youth solar panel installation team and the ONergia solar cooperative put the finishing touches on a domestic panel installation while community members chip in. Image by Ethan Bien for Mongabay.CUETZALAN, Mexico — Rain clouds thicken overhead as a small crew finishes the installation of a pair of rooftop solar panels. The house stands along a dirt road in a small indigenous community in the Mexican state of Puebla. The sun’s going down, and woodsmoke from a cookstove mingles with the fog. Raindrops begin to […]






Ground-feeding birds in Southeast Asia may be going extinct outside protected areas
By Priyanka Runwal [2018-12-10]
Sumatran partridge (Arborophila sumatrana), endemic to the island of Sumatra, no longer survives outside protected areas, according to researchers. Photo by Roland WirthNature reserves in large parts of Southeast Asia may be the last strongholds for charismatic ground-feeding birds such as quails, partridges and pheasants, together called galliforms, according to a recent study in Conservation Letters. Researchers estimate that five species of galliforms no longer survive outside protected areas in Sundaland, a region comprising the Malay Peninsula […]






COP24: US, Russia, Saudis downplay IPCC report in display of disunity
By Justin Catanoso [2018-12-10]
Vulnerable nations were eager to praise the IPCC report, the US was not. Environmental activist Tom Steyer sees another blue wave as the only route to global climate action.






Pesticides could be painting black howler monkeys yellow in Costa Rica
By Mongabay.com [2018-12-10]
Pesticide use on agricultural plantations may be shifting the color palette of howler monkey fur in Costa Rica, a team of scientists has found. Mantled howler monkeys (Alouatta palliata) are typically pretty understated in terms of color, often carrying a dark coat of fur with a few flecks of orange on their sides. But in […]






COP24: Human rights concerns cast a shadow over U.N. climate summit
By Hans Nicholas Jong [2018-12-10]
KATOWICE, Poland — Concerns about the apparent sidelining of human rights have been aired as the United Nations climate summit in Poland enters its second week. According to the Climate Action Network (CAN), a worldwide coalition of more than 1,300 NGOs, the inclusion of a human rights reference in a set of guidelines for action […]






Graphic video reveals brutality of pangolin poaching in northeast India
By Mongabay.com [2018-12-07]
Hunters in India are helping supply the illegal pangolin trade, and new research that probes their motivations might point to measures that can reduce the poaching and sale of the species known as “the world’s most trafficked mammal.” An undercover video shot during the course of the research could prove to be a deterrent in […]






Secondary forests in Costa Rica are re-cleared within decades
By Rodrigo Pérez Ortega [2018-12-07]
Rainforest on Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula. Photo by Rhett Butler.Secondary forests — those that regrow naturally after being cleared or degraded — constitute more than half of existing tropical forests. When they are old enough, they support a wide range of species and store carbon at a higher rate than old-growth forest because the trees grow more rapidly. But in southern Costa Rica, a […]






Features

Conservation news

Environmental science and conservation news

Guatemala: An indigenous community rejects, then accepts, a protected area
By Anna-Catherine Brigida [2018-12-12]
Valentin Suchite patrols the forest searching for signs of deforestation. Image by Anna-Catherine Brigida for Mongabay.RÍO SARSTÚN, Guatemala — Riding in a small motorboat along the Atlantic coast of Guatemala, Francisco Cuz Acal looked over his left shoulder at the lush forest cover whizzing by. To his right lay nothing but open water. Straight ahead, far off in the distance, he could just barely make out the Belizean coastline behind […]






Feed a fishery, starve a seabird
By Mongabay.com [2018-12-12]
Competition for fish stocks with fisheries to feed humans could be forcing seabirds to go hungry, according to new research. The study, published Dec. 6 in the journal Current Biology, reveals that seabirds’ share of fish has dropped by nearly 20 percent over a span of 40 years. Expanding large-scale fisheries, meanwhile, have increased their […]






‘We see its value’: Ugandan communities benefiting from agroforestry
By Deusdedit Ruhangariyo [2018-12-11]
BUTANDA, Uganda — On a forested hill in the highlands of Butanda, in western Uganda, James Rwebishengye and Florence Atwine have created a diverse forest canopy of more than 200 trees and smaller plants. These include trees like dragon’s blood (Dracaena cinnabari), wild banana (Musa balbisiana) and tamarillo, or tree tomato (Solanum betaceum), along with […]






Scientists team up with indigenous, faithful to fight for forests
By Andrew J. Wight [2018-12-11]
An indigenous Colombian takes in deforestation close to the Amacayacu National Park in the Colombian Amazon.MEDELLIN, Colombia — An alliance of scientists, development experts, indigenous peoples and religious leaders met late last month in Colombia to determine how church leaders can help drive environmental public policy in the largely Catholic country. The meeting was under the umbrella of the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative (IRI), a global coalition launched in mid-2017 to […]






Audio: The true story of how 96 critically endangered sea turtle hatchlings survived New York City
By Mike Gaworecki [2018-12-11]
On this episode, the true story of how 96 critically endangered sea turtles survived a New York City beach — with a little help from some dedicated conservationists and scientists. Listen here:   This past summer, beachgoers in New York City spotted a nesting Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle on West Beach, which is on National […]






Brazilian regulators deny French oil giant Total license to drill near Amazon Reef
By Mongabay.com [2018-12-11]
Brazil’s environmental regulatory agency, Ibama, announced last Friday that it was denying French oil company Total license to drill for oil near the Amazon Reef. The reef system, discovered off the coast of Amapá state in northern Brazil in 2016, is known as the Amazon Reef because it lies in the turgid waters of the […]






A monitoring network in the Amazon captures a flood of data
By Elizabeth Oliveira [2018-12-11]
Monitoring technology deployed in a remote rainforest over time subjects it to high heat, humidity, and rainfall, as well as potential damage by insects and other wildlife. When you add an annual 10-meter (33-foot) flood to the mix, you’re taking on nature in a big way. Despite these challenges, an interdisciplinary research effort aims to […]






COP24: Europe looks to fill the leadership void left by the U.S.
By Hans Nicholas Jong [2018-12-11]
KATOWICE, Poland — Three years ago, then-U.S. President Barack Obama was instrumental in rallying the international community behind a landmark climate deal in Paris. He managed to push through grueling negotiation process by brokering a bilateral deal between the United States, the world’s second-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, and China, the biggest, to pave the way […]






COP24: Trumpers tout clean coal; protesters call it ‘climate suicide’
By Justin Catanoso [2018-12-11]
Demonstrators, subnationals, NGOs and COP24 delegates have moved beyond the Trump administration delegation’s public farce advocating coal as a viable climate solution.






New species of giant salamander described after decades of mystery
By Mongabay.com [2018-12-11]
Researchers have described a new species of giant salamander that has remained shrouded in mystery for several decades. Known from swamps in Alabama and Florida in the southern United States, the new salamander grows up to 60 centimeters (2 feet) long and is a type of siren, a group of eel-like salamanders that have only […]






In eastern Indonesia, a bird-trafficking hotspot flies under the radar
By Ian Morse [2018-12-11]
MARAFENFEN/LORANG, Indonesia — Benedictus has to go out just after dark to check his traps. If he goes any earlier, the palm cockatoos will still be awake and hear him coming. The 42-year-old farmer and hunter is inspecting his traps in Marafenfen village, southern Aru, a flat archipelago the size of Puerto Rico at Indonesia’s […]






Seeing Suriname: A visit to the rainforest goes awry (insider)
By Rhett A. Butler [2018-12-10]
Mantis in Suriname's rainforest.Suriname is a country few people have heard of, let alone visited. Located in the northeast corner of South America, Suriname is almost completely covered in rainforest. It has the distinction of having the highest forest cover — 95 percent — of any country. It is also one of a handful of countries where the […]






Belo Monte dam Xingu River Management Plan violates human rights: finding
By Max Nathanson [2018-12-10]
The UN Inter-American Commission on Human Rights upheld a motion filed by civil society organizations condemning Brazil’s continued development of the Belo Monte mega-dam.






‘Light for everyone’: Indigenous youth mount a solar-powered resistance
By Ethan Bien [2018-12-10]
Members of the Tosepan cooperative’s youth solar panel installation team and the ONergia solar cooperative put the finishing touches on a domestic panel installation while community members chip in. Image by Ethan Bien for Mongabay.CUETZALAN, Mexico — Rain clouds thicken overhead as a small crew finishes the installation of a pair of rooftop solar panels. The house stands along a dirt road in a small indigenous community in the Mexican state of Puebla. The sun’s going down, and woodsmoke from a cookstove mingles with the fog. Raindrops begin to […]






Ground-feeding birds in Southeast Asia may be going extinct outside protected areas
By Priyanka Runwal [2018-12-10]
Sumatran partridge (Arborophila sumatrana), endemic to the island of Sumatra, no longer survives outside protected areas, according to researchers. Photo by Roland WirthNature reserves in large parts of Southeast Asia may be the last strongholds for charismatic ground-feeding birds such as quails, partridges and pheasants, together called galliforms, according to a recent study in Conservation Letters. Researchers estimate that five species of galliforms no longer survive outside protected areas in Sundaland, a region comprising the Malay Peninsula […]






COP24: US, Russia, Saudis downplay IPCC report in display of disunity
By Justin Catanoso [2018-12-10]
Vulnerable nations were eager to praise the IPCC report, the US was not. Environmental activist Tom Steyer sees another blue wave as the only route to global climate action.






Pesticides could be painting black howler monkeys yellow in Costa Rica
By Mongabay.com [2018-12-10]
Pesticide use on agricultural plantations may be shifting the color palette of howler monkey fur in Costa Rica, a team of scientists has found. Mantled howler monkeys (Alouatta palliata) are typically pretty understated in terms of color, often carrying a dark coat of fur with a few flecks of orange on their sides. But in […]






COP24: Human rights concerns cast a shadow over U.N. climate summit
By Hans Nicholas Jong [2018-12-10]
KATOWICE, Poland — Concerns about the apparent sidelining of human rights have been aired as the United Nations climate summit in Poland enters its second week. According to the Climate Action Network (CAN), a worldwide coalition of more than 1,300 NGOs, the inclusion of a human rights reference in a set of guidelines for action […]






Graphic video reveals brutality of pangolin poaching in northeast India
By Mongabay.com [2018-12-07]
Hunters in India are helping supply the illegal pangolin trade, and new research that probes their motivations might point to measures that can reduce the poaching and sale of the species known as “the world’s most trafficked mammal.” An undercover video shot during the course of the research could prove to be a deterrent in […]






Secondary forests in Costa Rica are re-cleared within decades
By Rodrigo Pérez Ortega [2018-12-07]
Rainforest on Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula. Photo by Rhett Butler.Secondary forests — those that regrow naturally after being cleared or degraded — constitute more than half of existing tropical forests. When they are old enough, they support a wide range of species and store carbon at a higher rate than old-growth forest because the trees grow more rapidly. But in southern Costa Rica, a […]






Wildtech news

Wildtech

Technology for Conservation

Experts hack away at portable DNA barcode scanner to fight timber and wildlife trafficking
By Julia John [2016-09-08]
Survey responses to the Wildtech needs assessment—especially from field researchers—put portable DNA analysis near the top of the research and conservation technology wish-list. How could we harness DNA barcode technology in an adaptable, handheld device that frontline officials in developing countries could use to combat timber and wildlife trafficking? The DNA Barcode Scanner Hack that […]






Hot stuff: improving chili fence effectiveness (in protecting crops from elephants)
By Sue Palminteri [2016-09-07]
Some tips from a chili fence expert on how to make the most of a low-tech approach to reducing crop raiding and retaliatory killing of elephants






Solving Global Grand Challenges, One MOOC at a Time
By Taylor Robb-McCord [2016-08-12]
A new online course aims to address the complex challenges facing conservation and development.






Understanding the ghost of the mountain
By Julia John [2016-08-10]
The grayish-white form of the ghost of the mountain slinks through the snowcapped slopes of Central Asia. Its remote, harsh habitat, cryptic coat and elusive nature have impeded investigation and made monitoring the snow leopard (Panthera uncia) arduous, if not impossible. Technological advances, however, are changing that. New population estimates for the big cat, based […]






How to use the Bloomberg Terminal for advocacy work: advanced tools
By Dan Williams [2016-08-08]
An oil-palm plantation with a few remaining rainforest trees in Sarawak, Malaysia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.Other stories in Mongabay’s series on using the Bloomberg Terminal in advocacy work: Part 1: How to use the Bloomberg Terminal for advocacy work: the basics Part 2: Tracking assets for environmental advocacy work with Bloomberg  The previous two articles in this three-part series detailed some of the basic functions of the Bloomberg Terminal — […]






Identifying the drivers of Amazon deforestation through high-tech maps and stories
By Suzanne Palminteri [2016-08-05]
A new logging road stands out against an otherwise intact rainforestThe MAAP project integrates a range of satellite imagery and analysis tools to detect and disclose deforestation across the Peruvian Amazon.






DART-TOFMS: Finding the chemistry in wood
By Taylor Robb-McCord [2016-08-03]
Earlier this summer, members of the Forest Legality Alliance (FLA) gathered in Washington, DC for their Semi-Annual Membership Meeting. As a precursor to the upcoming CITES COP17 meeting in September, the FLA member meeting focused on issues pertaining to illegally traded CITES-listed timber species, proposals to add new timber species to the CITES list and […]






Chew on this new way to detect disease in primates
By Julia John [2016-07-28]
Preoccupied with snipping a saliva-soaked plant part with a scalpel and placing it in a little tube of viral transport media, veterinary epidemiologist Tierra Smiley Evans thought she was alone, backed up against a big bush. But someone was watching close by with beady eyes. Suddenly, a shaggy black arm darted under her armpit and […]






Piloting PALM Risk to detect palm oil-driven deforestation
By Julia John [2016-07-20]
What do lipstick, detergent and instant noodles have in common? They all contain palm oil. Half of every packaged product stocking supermarket shelves can be traced back to a ruthless army of oil palm trees rapidly occupying land that naturally supported rich tropical forests. Palm oil production razes and replaces biologically diverse ecosystems with monospecific […]






Wildlife Law Enforcement in Sub-Saharan African Protected Areas: A Review of Best Practices
By Taylor Robb-McCord [2016-07-15]
“Across Africa, illegal killing and trade in wildlife, especially of iconic species such as elephants and rhinos, has now reached crisis proportions. Illicit wildlife trafficking now comprises the fourth largest illegal trade internationally after arms and drugs trafficking, and trafficking in human beings. In recent years, tens of thousands of elephants have been killed every […]






New map of Malaysia’s limestone hills will help set conservation priorities
By Mike Gaworecki [2016-07-11]
Malaysia’s limestone hills, or karsts, have been described as “arks of biodiversity,” but they’re facing intense pressures from mining and other human activities. Limestone is a vital resource for the construction industry, meaning it is not likely that forest degradation and quarrying in a developing country like Malaysia, where 445 limestone hills have been recorded […]






GDELT: Mining and mapping global wildlife crime news
By Julia John [2016-07-07]
In the eighth grade, at an age most boys spend their time outside school watching sports and playing videogames, Kalev Leetaru was delving into large-scale web mining and founding his first web company. With his continued interest in investigating enormous amounts of data two decades since, he now heads the GDELT Project, a massive open-data platform that analyzes news media […]






Bringing Star Trek tricorder analysis to the 21st century
By Hina Alam [2016-07-04]
Handheld, palm-sized, lightweight DNA preparation and sequencing devices are coming your way soon.






Bridging the Gap between Land and Space
By Taylor Robb-McCord [2016-07-01]
The United Nations/Kenya Conference on Space Technology and Applications for Wildlife Management and Protecting Biodiversity aims to expand the use of space technology in conservation.






5 Tech Projects That Are Protecting Sharks
By Taylor Robb-McCord [2016-06-30]
Annually, approximately 100 million sharks are killed by commercial fisheries. Coupled with climate change and a decrease of food supply from overfishing, some shark populations are teetering on the edge of extinction. Bringing sharks into mainstream media, the brainchild of the Discovery Channel and the longest running cable TV program, Shark Week has aired every […]






A World of Tings
By Taylor Robb-McCord [2016-06-28]
The real-time wildlife sighting app, Latest Sightings, can help to link a global community of wildlife enthusiasts and promote conservation one “ting” at a time.






Combining high-tech and low-tech to turn satellite images into action
By Nathan Hahn [2016-06-24]
Dr. Lilian Pintea, Vice President of conservation science at the Jane Goodall Institute. Photo courtesy of JGI/Jeff Kerby.Since its founding, the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) has been on the forefront of conservation science, and in recent years the group has been applying remote sensing, mobile phone technologies, and cloud-based mapping tools to its forest and […]






Drink beer, help the ocean?
By Julia John [2016-06-14]
Beer may have a bad rep among carb-fearing ab-chiseling fitness fans, but it could now be better for the environment than it was before. Well, at least the new kind packaged using edible six-pack rings from south Florida’s Saltwater Brewery. This Delray Beach microbrewery north of Miami, Florida, just launched the first ever 100% compostable […]






e-Eye of the tiger: Complex surveillance system extends watch over India’s wildlife sanctuaries
By Julia John [2016-06-10]
A new set of eyes is keeping watch over tiger reserves across India. They’re electronic, but they seem to have hawk-like observational faculties. And they may be related to how the country’s tiger population increased from 1,706 in 2010, one year before this digital monitoring system was first implemented, to 2,226 in 2014, the last […]






Tracking assets for environmental advocacy work with Bloomberg
By Dan Williams [2016-06-09]
Oil-palm estate in Sabah, Malaysia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.Other stories in Mongabay’s series on using the Bloomberg Terminal in advocacy work: Part 1: How to use the Bloomberg Terminal for advocacy work: the basics Part 3: How to use the Bloomberg Terminal for advocacy work: advanced tools The Bloomberg Terminal is Windows-based proprietary software that offers users real-time access to global news sources, financial […]