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Environmental science and conservation news

Latam Eco Review: Ports imperil Colombian crocodiles

By Mongabay.com [2018-06-23]
Below are summaries of the most popular stories by our Spanish language service, Mongabay Latam, from the week of June 11 – 17. Among the top articles: Port projects in northern Colombia threaten the mangrove habitats of American crocodiles. In other news, the Waorani people of Ecuador use camera traps to record an astonishing diversity […]

Cool birds don’t sing: Study automates acoustic monitoring of songbird migration

By Sue Palminteri [2018-06-22]
It’s June, and migratory songbirds in the northern hemisphere are at their summer breeding grounds, having traveled thousands of miles from their warm-weather overwintering areas. Birds migrate as far north as the Arctic to take advantage of its large but short-lived surge in insect food and its few predators. The timing of their arrival is […]

Last Glimpses of a Cambodian Paradise? Documenting an area on the eve of its likely destruction (commentary)

By Gregory McCann [2018-06-22]
First came the damning reports from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA): one last year titled “Repeat Offenders,” which described the massive logging operations taking place in Cambodia’s Virachey National Park, O Yadav National Park, and Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary. And then another earlier this year, published as a follow-up piece focusing almost squarely on Virachey National […]

In other news: Environmental stories from around the web, June 22, 2018

By Mongabay.com [2018-06-22]
Here are a few stories published this week by other news outlets. Tropical forests Deforestation in the savannas of Brazil rose in 2017 after falling in 2016 (Reuters). The 2015 El Niño led to a 65 percent spike in Amazon tree loss (Inquisitr). A “lost” rainforest inside a volcano in Mozambique begins to reveal its […]

Coral reef ‘oases’ that thrive amid threats give hope for conservation

By Shreya Dasgupta [2018-06-22]
Amid all the gloomy news about coral reefs from around the world, a glimmer of hope has emerged: scientists have identified coral reef “oases” that are flourishing despite threats. From mass bleaching events caused by a climate change-induced rise in ocean temperatures, to threats from overfishing, pollution and invasions from coral-devouring sea stars, coral reefs […]

New ‘goblin spiders’ from Sri Lanka named after Enid Blyton characters

By Shreya Dasgupta [2018-06-22]
Meet Chippy, Snooky and Tumpy — all “goblins” or “brownies” from Enid Blyton’s children’s books, and now the names of new species of tiny spiders that scientists have found lurking in Sri Lanka’s forests. These new species belong to a spider family called “goblin spiders” (Oonopidae family), a group of extremely small arachnids, typically measuring […]

As Colombia expands its palm oil sector, scientists worry about wildlife

By Taran Volckhausen [2018-06-21]
The large-scale expansion of oil palm has been a major driver of deforestation and biodiversity loss in many areas of the tropics. In Malaysia and Indonesia, where 85 percent of the world’s oil palm is cultivated, rampant industry growth over the past several decades has replaced rainforest with monoculture plantations, devastating wildlife in the process […]

New study provides blueprint to translate satellite data into conservation action

By Sue Palminteri [2018-06-21]
A team of scientists and remote-sensing specialists have combined their years of experience monitoring changes in forest cover into a new publication meant to help fellow conservation practitioners better integrate forest-monitoring technology with policies to reduce illegal deforestation. “The goal of the paper is to highlight the current unprecedented moment for near real-time deforestation monitoring,” […]

Scientists find surprising genetic differences between Brazil’s mangroves

By Morgan Erickson-Davis [2018-06-21]
Hugging tropical coastlines with masses of long, tangled branches and roots that stick up out of the mud at low tide, mangrove forests all have a similar look at first glance. But dig a little deeper into their genes and surprising differences pop up. When researchers from institutions in Brazil did just that, they discovered […]

US/China trade war could boost Brazil soy export, Amazon deforestation

By Zoe Sullivan [2018-06-21]
The unintended consequences of a U.S./China trade war could shift Chinese soy purchases from the U.S. to Brazil, leading to rising Amazon deforestation, and a hazardous climate change tipping point.

Abdon Nababan: ‘North Sumatran land mafia offered me $21m to win election — and then hand over control of government’

By The Gecko Project and Mongabay [2018-06-21]
In July last year, Abdon Nababan, one of Indonesia’s most prominent activists, announced his intention to run for governor in his home province of North Sumatra. During his decade-long tenure as head of AMAN, the country’s main advocacy group for indigenous rights, Abdon led the organization to a series of high-profile wins. These included a […]

Warmer sea surface temperatures imperil the survival of juvenile albatross: Study

By Mongabay.com [2018-06-21]
New research finds that increased sea surface temperatures can affect the survival of juvenile albatross during their first year at sea and lead to reduced population growth rates. Ecologists with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in the US and France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) examined how climate change and functional traits — […]

Indonesia to investigate death of journalist being held for defaming palm oil company

By Hans Nicholas Jong [2018-06-21]
JAKARTA — Indonesia’s national commission on human rights has vowed to investigate the death of a journalist who was being held on charges of defaming a palm oil company owned by a powerful tycoon. From November 2017 to March of this year, Muhammad Yusuf wrote at least 23 articles for the news portals Kemajuan Rakyat and […]

Orangutan forest school in Indonesia takes on its first eight students

By Jim Tan [2018-06-21]
On May 17, 2018, the first eight orange-furred students arrived to begin their studies at a new orangutan forest school in the province of East Kalimantan in Indonesian Borneo. Under the watchful eye of primatologist Signe Preuschoft, the goal is to help these orangutan orphans learn all the skills they’ll need to live independent lives […]

Amber deposits yield oldest evidence of frogs in wet, tropical forests

By Mongabay.com [2018-06-20]
Tropical rainforests are home to the vast majority of the world’s frog species today. Yet frog fossils from these moist environments have been incredibly rare, largely because the small animals have tiny bones, which make preservation difficult, and the wet conditions usually lead to their quick decomposition. This lack of frog fossil records has made […]

Commercial values are a key driver of Zero Deforestation policies (commentary)

By Róisín Mortimer [2018-06-20]
According to a recent report created for the Prince of Wales’ Sustainability Institute, there are now more than 470 companies with commitments to ensure their company is not linked to deforestation. These are commonly known as Zero Deforestation Policies (ZDPs). With increased small-scale deforestation in Amazonia, approximately 4,000 hectares recently cleared in Indonesian Papua for […]

Illegal mining creeps into southern Bahuaja-Sonene National Park

By VANESSA ROMO [2018-06-20]
ALTO INAMBARI, Peru — There are some places that we always remember better than others. That is what David Araníbar says when he thinks about the district of Alto Inambari, seven hours away from the city of Puno in Peru’s Sandia Province. Araníbar, the director of Bahuaja-Sonene National Park, grew up in that area of […]

Puan, the world’s oldest Sumatran orangutan, dies at 62

By Hans Nicholas Jong [2018-06-20]
JAKARTA — Puan, the world’s oldest living Sumatran orangutan, has died at an Australian zoo after a lifetime spent in service to the conservation of the critically endangered species. Officials at Perth Zoo, where Puan had lived for the past 50 years, euthanized her on June 18, citing age-related health complications. She was 62 years […]

Here’s how much Antarctica’s melting ice is already contributing to sea level rise

By Mongabay.com [2018-06-19]
In July of last year, a 5,800-square-kilometer (2,239-square-mile) block of ice broke off of the Larsen Ice Shelf in Antarctica and fell into the Southern Ocean. The newly created iceberg was massive, about the size of the US state of Delaware, but it did not contribute to rising sea levels, as it was already floating […]

Peru’s Bahuaja-Sonene National Park at risk over illegal mining

By VANESSA ROMO [2018-06-19]
KOTSIMBA, Peru — In Peru’s Madre de Dios region, illegal mining is everywhere. From the Interoceanic Highway, which lies just 100 miles from Puerto Maldonado, the region’s capital, one can see that a riverbed has been converted into a long desert-like trail. Those from the area refer to it as the “Dos de Mayo River,” […]