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Future threats to the Amazon rainforest

(07/31/2008) Between June 2000 and June 2008, more than 150,000 square kilometers of rainforest were cleared in the Brazilian Amazon. While deforestation rates have slowed since 2004, forest loss is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. Here mongabay.com takes a look at past, current and potential future drivers of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.   [ Brazil | Amazon | Deforestation | Rainforests]


Rock star or marine biologist? Hans Walters chose both

(07/31/2008) There aren't many who swim with sharks by day and rock out on a stage at night, but Hans Walters does just that! A man with two distinctly different passions, music and marine biology, Walters is a supervisor for the animals at the New York Aquarium, and then after hours, grabs a microphone as lead singer (playing just enough guitar to be dangerous) for the New York-based hard rock band, 61/49.   [ Happy-upbeat environmental | Ex-situ conservation | Wildlife]


The end of migrations: wildlife's greatest spectacle is critically endangered

(07/28/2008) If we could turn back the clock about 200 years, one could watch as millions of whales swam along their migration routes. Around 150 years ago, one could witness bison filling the vast America prairie or a billion passenger pigeons blotting out the sky for days. Only a few decades back and a million saiga antelope could be seen crossing the plains of Asia. Fast-forward to today and migrations are declining worldwide. In an essay in PLoS Biology, scientists David S. Wilcove and Marin Wikelski discuss the ramifications of these losses in abundance and the importance of new conservation attention on the beleaguered migrants.   [ Animal behavior | Wildlife]


An interview with Amasina, a Trio shaman in the Amazon rainforest

(07/28/2008) Deep in the Suriname rainforest, an innovative conservation group is working with indigenous tribes to protect their forest home and culture using traditional knowledge combined with cutting-edge technology. The Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) is partnering with the Trio, an Amerindian group that lives in the remote Suriname-Brazil border area of South America, to develop programs to protect their forest home from illegal gold miners and encroachment, improve village health, and strengthen cultural ties between indigenous youths and elders at a time when such cultures are disappearing even faster than rainforests. In June 2008 mongabay.com visited the community of Kwamalasamutu in Suriname to see ACT's programs in action. During the visit, Amasina, a Trio shaman who works with ACT, answered some questions about his role as a traditional healer in the village.   [ Interviews | Indigenous people | Suriname]


An interview with ornithologist Dr. Cagan Sekercioglu:
Birds face higher risk of extinction than conventionally thought


(07/14/2008) Birds may face higher risk of extinction than conventionally thought, says a bird ecology and conservation expert from Stanford University. Dr. Cagan H. Sekercioglu, a senior research scientist at Stanford and head of the world's largest tropical bird radio tracking project, estimates that 15 percent of world's 10,000 bird species will go extinct or be committed to extinction by 2100 if necessary conservation measures are not taken. While birds are one of the least threatened of any major group of organisms, Sekercioglu believes that worst-case climate change, habitat loss, and other factors could conspire to double this proportion by the end of the century. As dire as this sounds, Sekercioglu says that many threatened birds are rarer than we think and nearly 80 percent of land birds predicted to go extinct from climate change are not currently considered threatened with extinction, suggesting that species loss may be far worse than previously imagined. At particular risk are marine species and specialists in mountain habitats.   [ Birds | Biodiversity | Extinction | Interviews]


Palm oil industry moves into the Amazon rainforest

(07/09/2008) Malaysia's Land Development Authority FELDA has announced plans to immediately establish 100,000 hectares (250,000) of oil palm plantations in the Brazilian Amazon. Wednesday's announcement had been expected. Last month Najib said Malaysia would seek to expand its booming palm oil industry overseas. The country is facing land constraints at home. Accordingly, Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Yusof Noor said the agency had been offered 105,000ha in Papua New Guinea, 45,000ha in Aceh on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and 20,000ha in Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. The establishment of oil palm plantations in the Amazon will be seen by environmentalists as a new threat to the world's largest rainforest. Presently little commercial palm oil is produced in the region due partly to the traditional nature of Brazilian farmers and pest concerns, but the entrance of industry-leading Malaysian producers could serve as a model and quickly increase palm oil's visibility as a viable form of land use.   [ Brazil | Amazon | Palm oil | Rainforests]




Chevron lobbies Bush Administration for bail out on lawsuit by Amazon tribes

(07/31/2008) Lobbyists for big oil are working feverishly to persuade the Bush Administration and Congress to let Chevron off the hook for a potential $16 billion liability in an environmental lawsuit.   [ United States | Environmental politics | Endangered species]


Chevron lobbies Bush Administration for bail out on lawsuit by Amazon tribes

(07/31/2008) Lobbyists for big oil are working feverishly to persuade the Bush Administration and Congress to let Chevron off the hook for a potential $16 billion liability in an environmental lawsuit.   [ Ecuador | Rainforests | Amazon]


U.N. raises thermostats to cut emissions, save money

(07/31/2008) In a bid lead by example on climate change, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon unveiled "Cool UN," an initiative which seeks to limit the use of air conditioning, slash greenhouse gas emissions and save money.   [ Energy efficiency]


Ontario to preserve area of forest the size of Uganda

(07/31/2008) In a bid lead by example on climate change, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon unveiled "Cool UN," an initiative which seeks to limit the use of air conditioning, slash greenhouse gas emissions and save money.   [ Happy-upbeat environmental | Canada | Boreal forests]


Cane toads are killing crocodiles in Australia

(07/30/2008) The cane toad has been a scourge to Australian wildlife for decades. An invasive species, the cane toad competes with local endemic frog species and due to its high toxicity kills any predator who preys on it, including snakes, raptors, lizards, and the carnivorous marsupial, northern quoll. New research has uncovered another victim of the toad. The freshwater crocodile has suffered massive population declines due to consuming the irascible toad.   [ Australia | Invasive species | Wildlife]


Ocean acidification may hurt reproduction in marine life

(07/30/2008) Ocean acidification due to rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere may be putting the reproductive capabilities of some marine species at risk, reports a new study published in Current Biology by Swedish and Australian scientists.   [ Oceans | Ocean acidification]


Conservation groups could augment poverty alleviation in some remote areas

(07/30/2008) Conservation groups are well-positioned to assist in poverty alleviation efforts in some of the world's poorest and most remote places where they have otherwise been neglected by governments and aid organizations, argues a report published in the journal Oryx.   [ Conservation]


Adaptation to climate change will be difficult for Madagascar

(07/30/2008) Madagascar's high levels of endemism coupled with its extensive loss and degradation of ecosystems leave its species particularly vulnerable to climate change. A new paper evaluates these risks and sets forth conservation priorities to best maintain the ecological resilience of the island nation. Although Madagascar has lost about 90 percent of its natural forest cover, more than 90 percent of its plants, mammals, reptiles and amphibians are unique to the island, making it a top global biodiversity hotspot. Nevertheless climate change is projected to have a big impact on the island. Models suggest that Madagascar will lose 17-50 percent of its remaining forest habitat due to climate change if plants are unable to disperse or migrate to suitable areas. The outcome could prove devastating for flora and fauna.   [ Madagascar | Impact of climate change | Wildlife]


Deepest-ever lake dive searches for new energy sources

(07/29/2008) Russian scientists have reached the bottom of Lake Baikal, the world's deepest lake, to take samples of gas hydrate deposits. Russia hopes the methane-rich deposits could someday be exploited as an energy source.   [ Energy]


Heavy-drinking treeshrews don't get drunk

(07/28/2008) The pentailed treeshrew, sporting a mouse-like body and feathery tail, seems an unlikely drinker. Yet, new research shows that this one-and-half ounce creature's main food source, the nectar of the bertam palm, is highly fermented. The nectar can contain a peak alcohol concentration of 3.8 percent. This is a little less than a Bud Light.   [ Animal behavior | Strange | Wildlife]


Climate change will increase the erosion of coral reefs

(07/28/2008) Coral reefs are particularly susceptible to climate change. Warming waters have been shown to bleach coral, killing off symbiotic algae that provide them with sustenance, and often leading to the death of the coral itself. Much attention has been placed on bleaching coral, but now scientists have discovered an additional danger to coral reefs in a warming world: erosion.   [ Coral reefs | Ocean acidification | Oceans]


Newly discovered monkey is critically endangered by logging, poaching

(07/28/2008) A newly discovered species of monkey may already be threatened with extinction, according to a study published in the journal Oryx. A recent survey of the Southern Highlands and Udzungwa Mountains in Tanzania by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) found that the kipunji — a primate discovered just three years ago — is limited to an area of only 6.82 square miles (17.69 sq km) of forest habitat. WCS estimates the population at 1,117 individuals.   [ Tanzania | Endangered species | Species discovery | Monkeys]


Island biogeography theory doesn't explain biodiversity changes in forest fragments

(07/28/2008) Island biogeography theory, the idea that fragmented ecosystems have lower species richness per unit of area compared with contiguous habitats, has served as a useful conceptual model to understand the effects of habitat fragmentation but fails to explain the complexities of change in isolated forest fragments, according to a synthesis published last month in the journal Biological Conservation.   [ Fragmentation | Biodiversity]


Loggers, palm oil producers eye remote rainforests of Papua for development

(07/25/2008) Commodity producers are eyeing one of the world's last relatively untouched tracts of rainforest for development, reports the Wall Street Journal.   [ New Guinea | Rainforests | Indonesia]


Giant manta ray species discovered

(07/25/2008) Researchers have discovered a previously unknown species of manta ray. Previously there was believed to be only a single species of ray but genetic analysis now shows there are at least two, and possibly three, species.   [ Species discovery]


Facing criticism, biofuels industry forms new lobby group to influence lawmakers

(07/25/2008) Under attack by politicians, aid groups, and environmentalists for driving up food prices and fueling destruction of ecologically sensitive habitats, some of the world's largest agroindustrial firms have formed a lobby group to influence consumers and lawmakers to support continued subsidies for biofuel production, reports Reuters.   [ Biofuels]


New plan would pay tropical countries for saving forests, regardless of level of threat

(07/24/2008) Deforestation and forest degradation account for around a fifth of global carbon emissions from human activities, but new policy measures are focusing reducing such emissions as a cost-effective way to fight global warming. While the concept — known as REDD for "Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation" — has found wide support from politicians, scientists, and environmentalists, there are lingering concerns over how to compensate countries that have extensive forest cover and low rates of annual forest loss, since payments are based on historical deforestation rates. A new proposal seeks to get around this issue by factoring in all the terrestrial carbon in a tropical landscape — regardless of level of threat it faces — and packaging it as a tradable commodity.   [ Avoided deforestation | Carbon finance | Rainforests | REDD]


14 countries win REDD funding to protect tropical forests

(07/24/2008) Fourteen countries have been selected by the World Bank to receive funds for conserving their tropical forests under an innovative carbon finance scheme. The initiative, known as the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, was unveiled last year as a way to kick start Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, a proposed mechanism that would reward countries with carbon credits for preserving their forest cover. Globally deforestation accounts for nearly one-fifth of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions — more than the transport sector.   [ Avoided deforestation | Carbon finance | Rainforests | REDD]


Rainforest conservation could offset 500m tons of CO2 emissions at $2/to

(07/24/2008) Industrialized nations could collectively offset 500 million tons carbon of dioxide emissions at roughly $2 per ton by protecting tropical rainforests, according to estimates published in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The calculations, based on three different forestry and land-use models, provide an estimate of what developed nations would need to spend to participate in an "avoided deforestation" program to cut global carbon emissions. Avoided deforestation — also known as "Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation" (REDD) — has been widely lauded for its capacity to simultaneously fight climate change, protect the environment, and deliver economic benefits to poor rural populations.   [ Avoided deforestation | Carbon finance | Rainforests | REDD]


How to replant a mangrove forest: local, low-cost initiatives prove most successful

(07/24/2008) Mangrove replanting and rehabilitation has become a widespread and important environmental initiative worldwide. Mangrove forests play key ecological roles, including sustaining fish populations and other wildlife, preventing erosion along coastlines, and acting as an overall carbon sink. Furthermore, mangroves have received attention lately for their role in providing an effective buffer against typhoons. In light of the many replanting initiatives now occurring, researchers J.H. Primavera and J.M.A. Esteban conducted a study of the overall effectiveness of different mangrove rehabilitation schemes. Their findings show that small, local, and generally cheaper initiatives have a higher success rate over large costly government and international programs.   [ Mangroves | Philippines]


Leaf-cutter ants test theories about the Amazon's biodiversity

(07/23/2008) No one knows for certain how many insect species reside in the Amazon. One oft-quoted estimate is 30 million, but the actual number could be significantly lower or higher than this. Either way, biologists have long wondered why the richness of insect diversity in the Americas' tropical forests is exponentially higher than temperate forests. Three popular hypotheses have emerged—the theory of refugia, the marine incursion hypothesis, and the riverine barrier hypothesis. To test these theories a group of scientists, headed by Dr. Scott Solomon, studied three species of leaf-cutter ant species from the Amazon.   [ Amazon | Biodiversity]


Electric cars, greener fuels can reduce Australia's dependence on foreign oil

(07/23/2008) Australia can reduce its dependence on foreign oil through renewable energy and a shift towards electric cars powered by solar and wind power, argues a report published today by Australia's National Roads and Motorists' Association (NRMA).   [ Australia | Automobiles]


Power plan would devastate Sarawak's rainforest with 12 new hydropower plants

(07/23/2008) Environmentalists have called on the Malaysian government to develop a comprehensive energy policy, following the discovery of secret plans to build a network of power plants across interior Sarawak on the island of Borneo.   [ Malaysia]


Fertilizer prices increase 235% over past year -- 07/29/2008

(07/23/2008) Fertilizer prices continue to surge according to data released by the World Bank.   [ Food]


Brazil to send more police into the Amazon to fight illegal logging

(07/23/2008) Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed two decrees Tuesday to rein in illegal forest clearing in the Amazon, reports the Associated Press (AP).   [ Brazil | Amazon]


Coral susceptibility to bleaching due to small differences in symbiotic relationship

(07/22/2008) Coral reefs are now considered the second most threatened group of animals in the world, with nearly one-third of corals listed as endangered (amphibians retain the dubious honor of being number one). Although corals face many threats, the greatest is bleaching caused by warming oceans due to climate change. However, some coral populations are more susceptible to bleaching than others, even including corals of the same species. New research has uncovered that the reason lies in small differences in the symbiotic relationship between corals and their symbionts, small marine animals and protozoa. Such differences, however minuscule, have a huge impact on the likelihood of a coral's ability to survive warming oceans.   [ Coral reefs | Oceans]


Amazon River enhances carbon sequestration by the Atlantic Ocean

(07/22/2008) The Amazon river plays an important role in providing nutrients to microorganisms that sequester large amounts of carbon and nitrogen in the Atlantic Ocean, reports new research published in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.   [ Amazon river]


Population of critically endangered lemurs discovered in Madagascar

(07/22/2008) Scientists in Madagascar have discovered a population of greater bamboo lemurs (Prolemur simus), a critically endangered species of primate, in an area more than 400 kilometers away from its only known refuge, reports Conservation International. The finding, to be published in "Lemur News," the newsletter of the Primate Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, raises hope that the species can be saved from extinction.   [ Madagascar | Lemurs | Happy-upbeat environmental]


Biofuels can reduce emissions, but not when grown in place of rainforests

(07/22/2008) Biofuels meant to help alleviate greenhouse gas emissions may be in fact contributing to climate change when grown on converted tropical forest lands, warns a comprehensive study published earlier this month in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Analyzing the carbon debt for biofuel crops grown in ecosystems around the world, Holly Gibbs and colleagues report that "while expansion of biofuels into productive tropical ecosystems will always lead to net carbon emissions for decades to centuries... [expansion] into degraded or already cultivated land will provide almost immediate carbon savings." The results suggest that under the right conditions, biofuels could be part of the effort to reduce humanity's carbon footprint.   [ Biofuels | Energy | Forests]


Half of the Philippines' endemic wildlife is with extinction

(07/22/2008) More than half the birds, amphibians and mammals endemic to the Philippines are threatened with extinction, according to a statement released by the country's environment and natural resources department and reported by AFP.   [ Philippines]


600 species of mushrooms discovered in Guyana

(07/21/2008) In six plots of Guyanese rainforest, measuring only a hundred square meters each, scientists have discovered an astounding 1200 species of macrofungi, commonly known as mushrooms. Even more surprising: they believe over 600 of these are new to science — that's equivalent to a new species every square meter.   [ Guyana | Species discovery | Biodiversity]


Mangroves are key to healthy fisheries, finds study

(07/21/2008) Mangroves serve as a critical nursery for young marine life and therefore play an important role in the health of fisheries and the economic well-being of fishermen, report researchers writing in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Analyzing fish landings in 13 regions in the Gulf of California, Mexico, Octavio Aburto-Oropeza of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego and colleagues found that fishing yield was directly proportional to the length of coastline forested with mangroves. The scientists used the findings to estimate the monetary value of mangroves at $37,500 per hectare per year — an amount more than 600 times higher than estimates by the Mexican government.   [ Mangroves | Fishing | Mexico]


Shell Oil funds "open source" geoengineering project to fight global warming

(07/21/2008) Shell Oil is funding a project that seeks to test the potential of adding lime to seawater as a cost-effective way to fight global warming by sequestering large amounts of carbon dioxide in the world's oceans, reports Chemistry & Industry magazine.   [ Geoengineering | Oceans]


Implementing a butterfly farm: Iwokrama reserve's latest sustainable initiative

(07/20/2008) Iwokrama, which lies in the heart of Guyana's rainforest, is known worldwide for its innovative approach to preserving tropical rainforests and creating livelihoods for local communities. Their focus has been to create programs that utilize the forest sustainably, allowing for a mutual benefit between the people and the forest itself. Currently, Iwokrama has a number of initiatives under its umbrella, including eco-tourism, sustainable forestry, on-going research projects, and training programs. Amid these bustling projects, a new one has emerged: butterfly farming.   [ Guyana | Sustainable development]


Destruction of wetlands worsens global warming

(07/20/2008) Destruction of wetland ecosystems will generate massive greenhouse gas emissions in coming years, warn experts convening at an international wetlands conference in Brazil.   [ Wetlands | Peatlands]


Amazon timber industry declares ban on illegal logging

(07/18/2008) The Brazilian state of Pará today announced a ban on the sales of illegally logged timber from the Amazon rainforests.   [ Amazon | Brazil | Logging]


Orangutans persist in islands amid a sea of oil palm plantations

(07/17/2008) Orangutans are surviving in forest islands in a sea of oil palm plantations in Malaysia, reports a new survey by a government- and industry-backed conservation initiative. The finding underscores the need to protect critical forest areas for the endangered primates as forest continues to fall in southeast Asia at a rate that is the highest of any of the world's tropical forest regions.   [ Orangutans | Borneo | Malaysia]


Gore launches second campaign... for Earth

(07/17/2008) In a speech Thursday, Al Gore challenged the U.S. to generate 100 percent of its electricity from zero carbon emission sources within 10 years. Speaking at Washington's Constitution Hall, Gore said America's security, environmental and economic crises are all related, and that measures to rein in greenhouse gas emissions will make the U.S. stronger, safer, and cleaner. "The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk," Gore said. "I don't remember a time in our country when so many things seemed to be going so wrong simultaneously."   [ Energy | United States | Sustainability]


Moving species may be only way to save them from climate change

(07/17/2008) Desperate times call for desperate measures, according to a new paper in Science. Conservation scientists from the US, the UK, and Australia are calling for the consideration of a highly controversial conservation technique: assisted migration. According to the policy piece, species would be relocated to sites "where they do not currently occur or have not been known to occur in recent history".   [ Extinction and climate change | Coral reefs | Oceans | Conservation]


Amazon deforestation forecast for 2008 revised downward

(07/17/2008) Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon fell sharply in the month of May (1,096 square kilometers) compared to May a year-ago (1,222 square kilometers), according to preliminary satellite data announced by the country's environment minister on Tuesday. Brazilian Environment Minister Carlos Minc said a preliminary analysis by the government's National Space Research Institute (INPE) showed 1,096 square kilometers (423 square miles) of rain forest were cut down in May, down from 1,123 square kilometers (434 square miles) in April.   [ Amazon | Brazil | Deforestation | Happy-upbeat environmental]


Beyond high food prices, little to show for $11B/yr in biofuel support, says OECD report

(07/17/2008) Government support of biofuel production in rich countries is squandering vast amounts of amounts of money while exacerbating the global food crisis and failing to meaningfully curb greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy security, alleges a new report from the OECD, the club of industrialized nations.   [ Biofuels | Energy]


Forests cover 1/3 of U.S. but are responsible for 2/3 of its water supply

(07/16/2008) The single most important function of U.S. forests is their role in securing the country's freshwater supply at a time when water demand is surging but climate risks to forests are also increasing, say the authors of a new federal report released by the National Research Council.   [ Forests | Water]


Marine no-take zones are succeeding beyond expectations

(07/16/2008) Two recent reports show that marine no-take zones, where fishing is completely prohibited, are helping to rejuvenate commercial species faster than expected.   [ Marine conservation | Oceans]


Discovery of new leatherback migration route may help save species

(07/15/2008) Scientists have discovered a new migration route for the world's largest turtle, the leatherback. The route takes the 2,000-pound marine turtle from the Playa Grande beaches in Costa Rica to an area deep in the South Pacific. The Leatherback turtle is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN and the Pacific population has proven even more threatened than the Atlantic with a 90 percent population drop in just twenty years. The discovery of this new route has important conservation implications and could provide a lifeline for the Pacific population.   [ Sea turtles | Oceans | Conservation]


First carbon map of America released by NASA

(07/15/2008) For the first time, one can have a whole view of America's carbon output: region by region, city by city. The Vulcan Project has undertaken a holistic inventory—including electricity, heat, transportation, and industry—of local carbon emissions across the nation to create the first carbon map of America. Texas leads the fifty states, and the county of Harris, Texas (encompassing Houston) records the nation's largest emissions by county. Although Texas is second in population after California, its massive industry puts it over the top.   [ Greenhouse gas emissions | Carbon Dioxide | United States]


U.S. dead zones may reach record levels this summer

(07/15/2008) "Dead zones" in the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay will likely expand to record levels this summer due to rising rising agricultural runoff in part triggered by large-scale flooding in the Midwest, according to a forecast by a researcher from the University of Michigan.   [ Dead zone | Pollution]


Using farm waste for ethanol may hurt crop yields in some areas

(07/15/2008) Cellulosic ethanol proponents have pushed the idea of using farm waste as a way to boost biofuel production without impacting food crops, but such conversion may carry a hidden cost in areas with insufficient rainfall or lacking irrigation, warns a soil scientist from Washington State University.   [ Biofuels | Agriculture | Cellulosic ethanol]


Biofuels, food demand may doom tropical forests

(07/14/2008) Rising demand for fuel, food, and wood products will take a heavy toll on tropical forests, warns a new report released by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI).   [ Biofuels | Agriculture | Deforestation]


Tiny lemur species discovered in Madagascar

(07/14/2008) Researchers have discovered a previously unknown species of mouse lemur on the island of Madagascar. The find brings the global number of mouse lemurs to 16   [ Lemurs | Species discovery | Madagascar]


Tasmanian devil reproduction adapts to devastating, contagious cancer

(07/14/2008) Tragic circumstances have led to some astounding behavioral changes in Tasmanian devils. A contagious form of face cancer has engulfed the population, causing the species to be listed as endangered in May. The cancer, which is characterized by large facial tumors, often leads to death by starvation. Casualty rates for infected areas are nearly 90 percent. However, a new study shows that the Tasmanian devils are not taking the disease lying down. The devils, which usually wait until two years for sexual maturity, have begun to breed within their first year of life   [ Australia | Wildlife]


Wal-Mart to ban sales of wood products from threatened rainforests

(07/14/2008) Wal-Mart, America's biggest retailer, has joined an initiative to conserve the world's most valuable and threatened forests. In an announcement Monday, Wal-Mart said if would participate in the World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN), an effort to rein in illegal and unsustainable logging. GFTN promotes "responsible management" of forests in the Amazon, Russia, Borneo, Sumatra, Congo, Mekong (Southeast Asia) and other areas where forests are threatened, according to the environmental group.   [ Logging | Happy-upbeat environmental | Green marketing]


Fruit bats frequent clay-licks in the Amazon rainforest

(07/14/2008) Clay-licks, or collpas as they are called in Peru, are visited by a wide assortment of animals, including parrots, tapirs, peccaries, agoutis, and monkeys. But one visitor to the collpas has long been ignored by researchers: the bat. In the Peruvian Amazon, Adriana Bravo from Louisiana State University made the first comprehensive study of bats at collpas. Bravo found that female fruit bats are frequent visitors to clay-licks.   [ Bats | Animal behavior | Biodiversity | Peru]


The global rich are eating the poor's fish: new report shows tropical fish catch gravely under-estimated

(07/11/2008) After a week of bad news regarding marine life — it was reported that half of U.S. coral reefs are in fair to poor condition and one-third of all coral species are threatened globally — there is still more: a study of twenty tropical islands showed that recreational and subsistence fishing has gone almost completely unreported from 1950 to 2004. In fifteen of twenty cases the fish take was at least doubled when local fish catches were added, and in the most extreme case, American Samoa, the amount of fish collected was 17 times what was previously recorded.   [ Fishing | Oceans]


$4 gas translates to fewer driving deaths

(07/11/2008) Rising gas prices have trigger a drop in traffic deaths as motorists drive less and slow down, reports a researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.   [ Gasoline | Energy]


1/3 of corals face extinction

(07/10/2008) Nearly one-third of reef-building corals are vulnerable to extinction, according to an assessment of 845 species of coral. Rising temperatures, increased incidence of disease, and human disturbance are driving the trend. At greatest risk are corals in the Caribbean and the Coral Triangle of the Western Pacific. "Our results emphasize the widespread plight of coral reefs and the urgent need to enact conservation measures," wrote the authors.   [ Coral reefs | Coral reefs and climate change | Oceans | Ocean acidification]


Breakthrough in solar energy: ten times more effective solar power may be available in three years

(07/10/2008) The breakthrough scientists have been waiting for to make solar power cheaper, more efficient--and therefore a more effective replacement for traditional energy sources--has been made by a group of MIT researchers.   [ Happy-upbeat environmental | Solar energy | Energy | Technology]


Pine beetles attack Canada, boosting GHG emissions

(07/10/2008) The mountain pine beetle, a small tree-devouring insect, has deforested an area of British Columbia the size of Louisiana — over 130,000 square kilometers. The 5 millimeter insect is a perfect tree-destroying machine. The beetles bore through the tree's bark to reach the phloem of the tree, which contains the tree's organic nutrients. The beetles then feed on these nutrients and lay their eggs. The trees defend themselves by secreting extra resin, but the beetles are often able to combat this by releasing a blue fungi. In about two weeks time, the tree turns a tell-tale red and essentially starves to death. The mountain pine beetles move on.   [ Forests | Canada]


Environmentalists protest proposed logging of Malaysian forest reserve

(07/10/2008) Nineteen environmental groups launched a protest against a Malaysian state government plan to log Hulu Muda forest reserve, reports Bernama.   [ Malaysia | Logging]


Oceans hold vast potential for wind power

(07/09/2008) The North Pacific, Tasmania, New Zealand, Tierra del Fuego in South America, and the mid-latitudes of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are potential locations for wind power generation, according to new satellite data from NASA.   [ Wind power]


Volunteering with Leatherback Sea Turtles in Galibi, Suriname

(07/09/2008) The northern coast of Suriname is one of the best places in the world to view the largest turtle, the marine Leatherback. Watching the turtle rise out of the tides onto the beach gives one the sense of meeting something ancient, rare, and more sea-monster than marine turtle. Yet, if I call it a sea-monster, I do not mean that it is frightening or ugly: far from it. But it is mysterious, terrible, and wondrous.   [ Sea turtles | Suriname | Conservation]


Good news for reefs: giant coral structure found off Brazil

(07/08/2008) Amid a series of dire reports on the status of coral reefs, scientists announced the discovery of a reef off the southern coast of Brazil's Bahia state that doubles the size of the Southern Atlantic Ocean's largest and richest reef system, the Abrolhos Bank. The find was reported in a paper presented today by researchers from Conservation International (CI), Federal University of Esp'rito Santo and Federal University of Bahia at the International Coral Reef Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.   [ Brazil | Coral reefs | Happy-upbeat environmental]


Australia's Woolworths greenwashes rainforest destruction in Indonesia, allege activists

(07/08/2008) Despite a year of protesting, Woolworths continues to carry paper sourced from 'the worst fibre manufacturer in the world'. Woolworths Limited is Australia's largest retailer and the world's 25th largest; it is also the only Australian company to make into the top twenty-five. It is the "Wal-mart of Down-Under". And much like Wal-mart, Woolworths has attempted to become more green recently. Though, according to a recent campaign entitled "Wake Up Woolworths", this is merely the worst in greenwashing.   [ Australia | Logging | Indonesia]


Mongabay.com's site for kids launches in Slovak

(07/08/2008) With thanks to Marianna Takacova, the rainforest site for children is now available in Slovak, adding to the more than 20 language offerings: arabic, bengali, brazilian portuguese, chinese, croatian-serbian, danish, farsi, french, german, hindi, indonesian, italian, japanese, javanese, korean, malay, marathi, norwegian, polish, russian, spanish, swahili, and swedish. Mongabay.com offers more extensive sites in Chinese, French, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish. In September, Mongabay-Deutsch (German) will launch. If you have any language expertise and would like to help with translation, please contact me or take a look at translation page.   [ Mongabay.com in Non-English languages]


Whale biomimicry inspires better wind turbines

(07/08/2008) By studying and mimicking the characteristics of the flippers, fins and tails of whales and dolphins, engineers have devised more a efficient way to generate wind power, reports a researcher presenting at the Society for Experimental Biology's Annual Meeting in Marseille, France.   [ Whales | Biomimicry]


Colorful insects help search for anti-cancer drugs

(07/08/2008) Brightly-colored beetles or caterpillars feeding on a tropical plant may signal the presence of chemical compounds active against cancer and parasitic diseases, report researchers writing in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. The discovery could help speed drug discovery.   [ Medicinal plants | Insects | Health]


U.S. coral reefs in trouble

(07/07/2008) Nearly half of U.S. coral reefs are in "poor" or "fair" condition according to a new study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).   [ Coral reefs]


Britain urges 'cautious approach' on biofuels

(07/07/2008) Britain and the E.U. should exercise caution in pushing for wider use of biofuels, warns a new study commissioned by the U.K. government.   [ Biofuels]


20% of Amazon timber illegally harvested from protected areas

(07/07/2008) 20 percent of Amazon timber is illegally harvested from protected areas according to a report published in O'Globo.   [ Amazon | Brazil | Logging]


Some grasslands resilient against climate change, according to 13 year study

(07/07/2008) In Buxton, England--a spa town lying in the county of Derbyshire--scientists have spent 13 years subjecting grasslands to temperature increases and precipitation shifts consistent with climate change predictions. Considered one of the longest studies of climate change on natural ecosystems, the grasslands of Buxton proved surprisingly resilient to most of the effects of climate change.   [ Impact of climate change]


Cuteness determines whether the public will support saving species from extinction

(07/07/2008) How much would you pay to prevent the extinction of the humpback whale? The giant panda? Or how about the red-cockaded woodpecker, the striped shiner, or the water vole? With finite funds and increasing threats to species, should such decision be made on popularity, perceived utility, or ecology? Over the years, numerous studies have surveyed the public to discover just how much they are willing to pay to conserve particular species. Combining 60 such studies in a meta-analysis, Dr. Berta Martin has found that the public places the most importance on species' perceived attractiveness. Second to this is the species' utility for human society (namely for hunting or tourism). These are followed lastly by scientific reasoning.   [ Protected areas | Endangered species | Conservation]


New math shows that threat of extinction is underestimated globally

(07/07/2008) For some species the odds of survival may have changed. According to a new study current extinction models have underestimated the threat of extinction by not factoring in differences among individuals in a population. Such differences include the ratio of males to females, size and health of animals, and individual behavioral patterns. A study conducted by Brett Melbourne of University of Colorado, Boulder and Alan Hastings of the University of California, Davis, shows that the new model speeds the extinction time for some species up to 100 times what was previously thought.   [ Extinction | Endangered species | Conservation]


Orangutan populations drop due to logging, expansion for palm oil

(07/05/2008) Orangutan populations have fallen sharply on the two islands where they still live, reports a new study published in the journal Oryx.   [ Orangutans | Primates]


Parks help people to the detriment of biodiversity, suggests study

(07/03/2008) The establishment of nature reserves in Africa and Latin America has been a boon to human settlement but comes at a cost to biodiversity, suggests a new study published in the journal Science. Analyzing 306 rural protected areas in 45 countries in Africa and Latin America, George Wittemyer and colleagues found that the rate of human population growth along the borders of reserves was nearly twice that of neighboring rural areas.   [ Protected areas | Conservation]


CO2 emissions could doom fishing industry

(07/03/2008) Aside from warming climate, rising carbon dioxide emissions are contributing to ocean acidification, threatening sea live, warn researchers writing in the journal Science. This trend makes it all the more important to reduce emissions, argue the authors.   [ Oceans | Ocean acidification]


U.S. should merge NOAA, USGS to form national Environmental Agency

(07/03/2008) The United States should establish a new agency "to meet the unprecedented environmental and economic challenges facing the nation" argue a group of former senior federal officials in an editorial published in the journal Science.   [ United States | Environmental politics]


Welcome to the Jungle: An Introduction to the End of the Industrial Era

(07/03/2008) An editorial by Ryan King: The existing state of industrial civilization has brought our planet and global populations into a worldwide crisis unprecedented in the history of life on Earth. Human activities have sent many living systems into decline or collapse, brought about the 6th mass extinction of biodiversity, upset our planet's biogeochemical cycles, and rapidly and dangerously altered our climate.   [ Environment]


Planet of the Apes Has Arrived, and It Is Spain

(07/03/2008) Visiting Spain's Barcelona zoo as a child, I was greeted to a memorable sight. In one of the cages sat a gorilla, but not just any primate. I had come face to face with the legendary albino ape "Little Snowflake." Because of Snowflake's white coat, when I looked at him I felt like I was peering into the eyes of a wizened old man. The only difference was that Snowflake's eyes were pink!   [ Environment]


Nepal's tiger population plummets due to poaching

(07/02/2008) Nepal's tiger population have plummeted due to poaching and a booming trade in their parts, according to a government survey released Tuesday.   [ Nepal | Tigers]


Chinese prefer tigers in the wild over tigers on their plates

(07/02/2008) A new survey shows that most Chinese would rather have tigers living in the wild than tiger products on their dinner plates. However the poll also revealed some notable contradictions in attitudes toward the trade in tiger parts.   [ China | Tigers]


Brazil fines 24 ethanol producers for illegal forest clearing

(07/02/2008) Brazil fined two dozen ethanol producers accused of illegal clearing the country's endangered Mata Atlântica or Atlantic rainforest, reports The Associated Press.   [ Atlantic forest | Brazil | Environmental law]


Census of marine life opens with 122,000 species

(07/01/2008) Discovering a new species can be the highlight of a biologist's career. Yet once a species enters the formal literature, complications may develop. The system has been especially problematic because for centuries biologists have lacked the tools to construct a full and flexible list of the world's innumerable species. Using the Internet and hundreds of scientists around the world, the Census of Marine Life is attempting to take on this monumental task.   [ Biodiversity | Oceans | Species discovery]


Clean energy investments rise 60% to $148 billion in 2007

(07/01/2008) New investment in renewables and energy efficiency surpassed $148 billion in 2007, rising 60 percent rise from 2006, according to an analysis issued Tuesday July 1 by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). High oil prices drove the trend. "Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2008" reports that wind energy saw the most investment ($50.2 billion in 2007), but solar power grew most rapidly, attracting some $28.6 billion of new capital and growing at an average annual rate of 254% since 2004.   [ Energy | Renewable energy]





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