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How to Save Snow Leopards:
An interview with Dr. Rodney Jackson of the Snow Leopard Conservancy


(10/28/2008) The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is one of the rarest and most elusive big cat species with a population of 4,500 to 7,500 spread across a range of 1.2 to 1.6 million kilometers in some of the world's harshest and most desolate landscapes. Found in arid environments and at elevations sometimes reaching 18,000 feet (5,500 meters), the species faces great threats despite its extreme habitat. These threats vary across its range, but in all countries where it is found — Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and possibly Myanmar — the species is at risk. In some countries snow leopard are directly hunted for their pelt, in others they are imperiled by depletion of prey, loss of habitat, and killing as a predator of livestock. These threats, combined with the cat's large habitat requirements, means conservation through the establishment of protected areas alone may not be enough save it from extinction in the wild in many of the countries in which it lives. Working to stave off this fate in half a dozen of its range countries is the Snow Leopard Conservancy. Founded by Dr. Rodney Jackson, a biologist who has been studying snow leopard in the wild for 30 years, the Conservancy seeks to conserve the species by "promoting innovative grassroots measures that lead local people to become better stewards of endangered snow leopards, their prey, and habitat."   [Interviews | Big cats | Conservation]


Forest elephants learn to avoid roads, behavior may lead to population decline

(10/27/2008) Forest elephants in the Congo Basin have developed a new behavior: they are avoiding roads at all costs. A study published in PLoS One concludes that the behavior, which includes an unwillingness to cross roads, is further endangering the rare animals which are already threatened by poaching, development, and habitat loss. By avoiding roads, the elephants are increasingly confining themselves to smaller areas lacking enough habitat and resources.   [Elephants | Congo | Roads]


Nature helps with ADHD--may even out-perform medication

(10/21/2008) Children with ADHD are better able to focus after a twenty-minute walk in a natural setting, according to a study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders. The study compared walks in nature to those in urban or residential areas and found that the child’s ADHD improved most after walking in a green space.   [Health | Environment | Happy-upbeat environmental]


Cellulosic biofuels endanger old-growth forests in the southern U.S.

(10/16/2008) Cellulosic biofuel is on its way. This second generation biofuel — so-called because it does not involve food crops — has excited many researchers and policymakers who hope for a sustainable energy source that lowers carbon emissions. However, some believe that cellulosic biofuel may prove less-than-perfect. Just as agricultural biofuels have gone from being considered 'green' to an environmental disaster, some think the new rush to cellulosic biofuel will follow the same course. Scot Quaranda is one of those concerned about cellulosic biofuel’s impact on the environment. Campaign director at Dogwood Alliance, which he describes as "the only organization in the Southern US holding corporations accountable for the impact of their industrial forestry practices on our forests and our communities", Quaranda condemns cellulosic biofuels as dangerous to forests “by its very definition”.   [Cellulosic ethanol | Forests | Biofuels | United States]


Illegal wildlife trade devastating Asia's pangolins

(10/09/2008) Last week the IUCN changed the status of the Malayan and the Chinese pangolins from near-threatened to endangered. These notoriously shy and scaly mammals, resembling anteaters with armored plates, have become the victim of a booming illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia. Malayan pangolin (otherwise known as Sunda pangolin) are caught by smugglers largely in Malaysia and Indonesia then shipped to the black market in China where they are eaten or used for traditional medicine. Chinese pangolins were once the primary target of smugglers, but the smugglers have recently switched to the Malayan pangolin.   [ Endangered species | Poaching | Wildlife trafficking]


Indonesian governors agree to protect Sumatra's endangered forests

(10/09/2008) The ten governors of Sumatra — along with four federal ministers — have signed an agreement to protect forests and other ecosystems on the Indonesian island, according to WWF. The announcement is significant because Sumatra is a biodiversity hotspot — home to rare and endemic wildlife — that is under great threat from logging and expansion oil palm plantations. The island has lost 48 percent of its forest cover since 1985.   [ Sumatra | Indonesia | Rainforests]


Palm oil industry relies on greenwashing to mislead consumers, alleges report

(10/08/2008) The Malaysian palm oil industry is relying on marketing tactics that mislead the public about its environmental performance rather than taking effective steps to become "greener" alleges a new report from the environmental group Friends of the Earth (FOE). "Malaysian Palm Oil: Green Gold or Green Wash?" [PDF] says that the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC), an industry body, is putting considerable effort into advertising Malaysian palm oil as an eco-friendly alternative to fossil fuels and other oilseeds, while glossing over the negative impacts of the crop, including greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, pollution, and social injustices. The report calls upon the Malaysian government — in particular the Sarawak state government — to address false claims by the industry and implement policies that "honor the rights and wishes of Sarawak's indigenous peoples and the need for a better protection of the environment."   [ Palm oil | Malaysia]


An interview with ringtailed lemur expert Alison Jolly

(10/06/2008) Madagascar has more than 100 types of lemurs, but the most famous species is the ringtailed lemur, a primate found widely in the southern part of the Indian Ocean island. The world's leading expert on ringtailed lemurs is Alison Jolly, presently a Visiting Scientist at the University of Sussex in the UK. Since arriving on the Indian Ocean island in 1963, Jolly has documented the behavior and population dynamics of ringtailed lemurs in Berenty, a small private reserve of gallery forest amid a sea of desert-like spiny forest in southern Madagascar.   [Madagascar | Lemurs]


Cheetah population stabilizes in Namibia with support from farmers
(10/2/2008) Viewing the world's fastest land animal as a threat to their livestock, in the 1980s farmers killed half of Namibia's cheetah population. The trend continued into the early 1990s, when the population was diminished again by nearly half, leaving less than 2,500 cheetah in the southern African country. Today cheetah populations have stabilized due, in large part, to the efforts of the Cheetah Conservation Fund, an organization founded by Dr. Laurie Marker.




39 rangers missing in Virunga Park after headquarters overtaken by rebels

(10/30/2008) Five days after rebels occupied Virunga Park’s headquarters, thirty-nine wildlife rangers are still unaccounted in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). During the takeover, which included fighting between the Congolese army and the rebels, many of the rangers fled into the forest.   [Gorillas | Wildlife | Congo]


Researchers catch, then release, world's rarest big cat in Russia

(10/30/2008) The world’s rarest big cat is alive and well. At least one of them, that is, according to researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) who captured and released a female Far Eastern leopard in Russia last week. The capture was made in Primorsky Krai along the Russian-Chinese border by a team of scientists from WCS and the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Biology and Soils (IBS). The team is evaluating the health and potential effects of inbreeding for this tiny population, which experts believe contains no more than 10-15 females.   [Cats | Wildlife | Conservation]


Previously unknown fungus may have triggered mass bat die-offs in the U.S.

(10/30/2008) Researchers have identified the fungus that may have been the culprit in mass die-offs of bats in the northeastern United States during the winter of 2006-2007. The research is published in this week's issue of Science. During the outbreak, which killed 100,000 hibernating bats, many bats were afflicted with "white-nose" syndrome — a white, powdery-looking substance on their muzzles, ears and wings. As many as 97 percent of bats in some caves succumbed to the infection. The cause was a mystery ̵ until now.   [Bats | Wildlife | Disease]


Coca-Cola announces water conservation goal

(10/30/2008) Coca-Cola Company has pledged to a 20 percent improvement in water efficiency over 2004 levels in its worldwide operations by 2012, saving some 50 billion liters of fresh water over projected use that year, reports WWF, which negotiated the agreement.   [Environmental marketing | Water]


Oil palm expansion in Indonesian Borneo increased 400-fold from 1991-2007

(10/30/2008) Annual forest conversion to palm oil plantations increased 400-fold from 1,163 hectares in 1991 to 461,992 hectares in 2007 in Central Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo, reports a new report published by Forest Watch Indonesia, a local NGO.   [Indonesia | Palm oil]


U.S., Mexico, Canada pledge to save the vaquita from extinction

(10/30/2008) The United States, Mexico, and Canada will work together to conserve the vaquita, the world's smallest, and most endangered, species of cetacean.   [Marine mammals | Oceans]


World military leaders meet in Paris to discuss role in fighting climate change

(10/30/2008) Acknowledging the security threats posed by global warming as well as past successes in controlling emissions of ozone-depleting compounds, military leaders from around the world will convene next week in Paris, France for "The Importance of Military Organizations in Protecting the Climate: 2008". The officials will be joined by a panel of climate experts.   [Climate change politics]


One-third of global marine catch used as livestock feed

(10/30/2008) Despite continuous warnings of emptying oceans due to overfishing, a new report finds that one-third of the world’s total marine catch is not feeding humans, but livestock. The fish are ground-up into meal and fed to pigs, poultry, and even farm-raised fish. Appearing in the November issue of the Annual Review of Environment and Resources, the study identifies that a major food for livestock is "forage fish". Examples include anchovies, sardine, and menhaden. In the wild such fish are the primary food source for marine mammals, seabirds (especially gulls and puffins), and several larger fishes.   [Fishing | Oceans]


Climate change is a bigger economic risk than banking crisis

(10/30/2008) Unmitigated climate change will hurt the global economy more than the current banking crisis, said a leading environmental economist.   [Climate change | Environmental economics]


Ozone hole is second-largest on record in 2008

(10/30/2008) The Antarctic ozone hole reached its second-largest size on record in 2008, reports NASA.   [Ozone layer | Antarctica]


EU moves slowly towards a pact on illegal logging

(10/30/2008) The E.U. is slowly moving towards curtailing the illegal timber trade through import restrictions, reports Reuters.   [Europe | Logging]


Elephant ivory auction produces low prices, controversy

(10/30/2008) The first internally-sanctioned auction of elephant ivory since 1999 produced lower-than-expected prices, but plenty of controversy, reports Reuters.   [Elephants | Wildlife]


Mystery cat discovered in Ecuador is likely a pampas cat according to expert

(10/28/2008) Two years ago a mysterious wild cat was spotted in Peru. The cat was photographed recently by Aldo Sornoza of Fundacion Jocotoco (FJ) in Ecuador's Jorupe Reserve, close to the Peruvian border. According to an article from the World Land Trust, researchers in the area are debating whether the cat is new species or the rare Andean cat. Jim Sanderson, one of the world's foremost experts on small cats, believes it is neither.   [Ecuador | Cats]


True cost of China's coal: $250 billion in pollution, environmental damage, and social ills

(10/28/2008) Every year China is spends 250 billion in hidden costs due to its reliance on coal, according to a report compiled over three years by top Chinese economists. These hidden costs are in the form of both environmental degradation and social ills. Commissioned by Greenpeace China, WWF, and the Energy Foundation, the report shows that the hidden cost of coal is present in almost every aspect of Chinese life, including air pollution, water shortages, polluted soil, ecosystem degradation, widespread human illness, and injuries or deaths related to mining accidents. Over half of the coal consumed in China is for public consumption, while the remaining 38 percent goes to industry.   [China | Coal | Greenhouse gas emissions]


Air travel may be powered by biofuels in 3-5 years

(10/27/2008) Boeing says biofuel-powered planes are only three-to-five years away from being a reality, reports The Guardian. Darrin Morgan, Boeing's director of environmental business analysis, said that while future jets will be capable of running on biofuels, supply is not expected to keep pace. Commercial aviation consumes 85 billion gallons of kerosene per year. Meeting that demand with conventional biofuels would require millions of hectares of farmland at a time when the world is grappling with hight grain and oilseed prices.   [Biofuels | Greenhouse gas emissions]


Costa Rica protects green macaw by banning logging of mountain almond tree

(10/27/2008) Costa Rica's high court has prohibited the cutting of a certain species of tree, in part because a highly endangered type of parrot uses the tree almost exclusively for nesting. With one decision, the Sala IV constitutional court protected the mountain almond tree and the great green macaw, specifically in a sprawling area in northern Costa Rica.   [Birds | Costa Rica | Conservation]


Yellowstone amphibians in decline due to climate change

(10/27/2008) Climate change appears to be responsible for a "marked drop" in the population of three of four species of amphibian once common to Yellowstone National Park, report researchers writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.   [United States | Amphibians]


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service program restores bird habitat on farms, ranches

(10/27/2008) Matt Filsinger is driving his white pickup headed northeast from Sterling to look at two of his projects. This self-described introvert speaks enthusiastically about his job. “Ducks, ducks, ducks – that’s what I love!” says Filsinger, grinning broadly. Filsinger is a wildlife biologist with the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He works with private landowners to set aside land and create attractive habitat for imperiled species. Specifically, he designs wetlands to attract waterfowl. Partners for Fish and Wildlife is a successful program that has been around since 1987. Landowners, including farmers and ranchers, form partnerships with the program because they reap a variety of benefits from it. Nonprofit organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, Audubon and the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory are also partners. Collaboration between the federal government and private landowners is essential to preserving habitat and species, as 73 percent of the country’s land is privately owned, and most wildlife lives on that land.   [Geoengineering | Global warming mitigation]


Geoengineering schemes need ranking system to avoid wasting money, destroying the planet

(10/27/2008) Schemes to alter Earth's climate on a planetary scale should be ranked according to their efficacy, cost, risks and rate of mitigation, argues a new editorial published in Nature Geoscience. With so-called geoengineering proposals proliferating as concerns over climate change mount, Philip Boyd of New Zealand's NIWA warns that "no geo-engineering proposal has been tested or even subjected to preliminary trials". He says that despite widespread media attention, scientists have yet to even come up with a way to rank geoegineering schemes for their efficacy, cost, associated risk, and timeframe. Thus is it unclear whether ideas like carbon burial, geochemical carbon capture, atmospheric carbon capture, ocean fertilization, cloud manipulation, "space sunshades", or strategically-placed pollution can be effective on a time-scale relevant to humankind, economical, or even safe.   [Geoengineering | Global warming mitigation]


Gorilla refuge falls into rebel hands in Congo

(10/26/2008) Rebels in Democratic Republic of Congo seized the headquarters of Virunga National Park — a refuge home to 200 of the world's 700 remaining endangered mountain gorillas — according to a statement by park officials. Some 50 rangers fled into the forests and abandoned the park station after intense fighting between the Congolese army and the rebels loyal to dissident General Laurent Nkunda.   [Congo | Gorillas | Conservation]


Wal-mart mulling contribution to Brazil's Amazon rainforest fund

(10/26/2008) Wal-mart may contribute to Brazil's fund for conserving the Amazon rainforest, said Brazilian Environment Minister Carlos Minc. Speaking to the press Friday following the first meeting of the Amazon Fund's Guiding Committee, Minc said that Wal-mart, Petrobras, and American energy company AES have expressed interest in contributing the Brazil's newly established fund for promoting conservation and sustainable development of the Amazon rainforest, according to O Globo.   [Amazon | Brazil | Conservation]


Shell, HSBC put $665,000 toward Borneo rainforest conservation project

(10/26/2008) Brunei Shell Petroleum (Shell Oil) and HSBC have donated 500,000 Brunei dollars ($333,000) each to conserve forests on the island of Borneo, reports the Borneo Bulletin.   [Borneo | Conservation]


Despite financial chaos, donors pledge $100M for rainforest conservation

(10/23/2008) Donors meeting this week in Washington D.C. pledged more than $100 million to the World Bank's new initiative for conserving tropical forests. In addition to the $100 million in donations, the World Bank announced that more than forty developing countries have asked to join the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility — the Bank's foray into the emerging market for forest carbon credits. 25 countries have so far been selected to participate in the initiative, which builds capacity for countries to earn compensation through the carbon markets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by reducing deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). Experts say the mechanism could eventually lead to the transfer of billions of dollars per year to fund conservation and rural development in tropical countries, while at the same time helping fight climate change. Deforestation and land use change presently accounts for around a fifth of anthropogenic emissions.   [REDD | Carbon finance]


Rare bird rediscovered on 'most pristine' island in southeast Asia

(10/23/2008) Scientist have rediscovered the endangered Wetar Ground-dove (Gallicolumba hoedtii), one of the world's least known birds, 100 years after it was last seen on the remote Indonesian island of Wetar, reports Columbidae Conservation, a UK-based conservation group. Surveying the rugged, 3600-square-kilometer island for bird life, scientists working for Columbidae Conservation found Wetar Ground-dove to be locally abundant, recording the largest-ever documented gathering of the species of 30-40 birds at a fig tree. The scientists also found the endangered Timor Imperial Pigeon (Ducula cineracea) to be locally abundant. In all, the expedition reported 39 new bird species for the island.   [Birds | Indonesia | Species discovery]


Solar cells, flat-panel screens are source of potent greenhouse gas

(10/23/2008) Atmospheric concentrations of nitrogen trifluoride — a gas used in the manufacture of liquid crystal flat-panel displays, thin-film photovoltaic cells and microcircuits — are at least four times higher than previously estimated, reports a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.   [Indonesia]


Rainforest biodiversity results from habitat specialization rather than chance

(10/23/2008) The rich diversity of trees in tropical forests may be "the result of subtle strategies that allow each species to occupy its own ecological niche" rather than random dispersal, report researchers writing in the journal Science. Studying the traits of trees in Yasuni forest in Ecuador, Nathan Kraft and colleagues found evidence to support the theory that "niche separation" — subtle habitat specializations among species — drives tree diversity in the rainforest. The results are a strike against the newer "neutral theory" which attributes community composition to chance.   [Indonesia]


U.S. pledges $40M toward coral reef conservation.

The U.S. government has pledged almost $40 million to protect biologically-rich coral reefs in Southeast Asia, according to the U.S. embassy in the Philippines.   [Coral reefs]


7 new species of frog discovered in Ecuador

Seven previously unknown species of frog discovered over the past two years by Ecuadorian researchers are already under threat from habitat loss, reports a newsletter from the IUCN Amphibian Specialist Group.   [Species discovery | Frogs | Ecuador]


Peru's uncontacted Amazon tribes under attack

(10/22/2008) Illegal logging in the Peruvian Amazon is driving uncontacted tribes into Brazil where they are in conflict over food and resources with other uncontacted groups, according to a Reuters interview with a leading expert on indigenous tribes.   [Amazon | Indigenous people | Peru]


Green New Deal will spark global economy, create jobs

(10/22/2008) A "Global Green New Deal" that focuses the world economy "towards investments in clean technologies and 'natural' infrastructure such as forests and soils is the best bet for real growth, combating climate change and triggering an employment boom," according to a new initiative led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).   [Green business | Environment | Sustainability]


Borneo logging road puts rainforest, indigenous communities at risk

(10/22/2008) A 186-mile (300-km) logging road to the top of the Bario highlands in northern Sarawak puts the state's increasingly rare natural forest at risk, warns the Borneo Resources Institute, a grassroots environmental group.   [Borneo | Logging]


Organic farming could break cycle of famine and poverty in Africa

(10/22/2008) Organic farming may offer Africa the best opportunity to break out of the devastating cycle of poverty and malnutrition parts of the continent have faced in recent decades, according to a new report from the United Nations.   [Africa | Organic farming | Agriculture]


Peru gets $25M in debt relief to fund rainforest conservation

(10/22/2008) The U.S. government has agreed to forgive $25 million of Peru's debt in exchange for protecting the country's tropical forests, according to a statement released Monday by the State Department.   [Peru | Rainforests]


Rich countries driving pollution in poor countries

(10/22/2008) Rich countries are driving pollution in poor countries through mining of raw materials and outsourcing of industrial manufacturing, reports a new report from environmental NGOs Blacksmith and Green Cross Switzerland.   [Pollution]


Globalization drives a bubble in Indonesia's seaweed market

(10/21/2008) International demand and rampant speculation drove excess in Indonesia's emergent seaweed market, reports The Wall Street Journal.   [Indonesia]


Nature helps with ADHD--may even out-perform medication

(10/21/2008) Children with ADHD are better able to focus after a twenty-minute walk in a natural setting, according to a study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders. The study compared walks in nature to those in urban or residential areas and found that the child’s ADHD improved most after walking in a green space.   [Health | Environment | Happy-upbeat environmental]


Ebay bans the sale of elephant ivory

(10/21/2008) Ebay — the world's leading online auction house — banned the sale of ivory products to help protect elephants from poaching, the company announced Monday. The move — which goes into effect December and will be enforced starting January 1, 2009 — comes after a campaign by environmental groups, which last year led the company to prohibit international sale of ivory products. Exceptions to the ban include products made before 1900 that contain small amounts of ivory.   [Elephants | Poaching | Happy-upbeat environmental]


Deer enhance biodiversity of reptiles and amphibians in forest areas

(10/21/2008) The presence of deer affects the number of reptiles, amphibians and insects found in forest areas, suggests a new study by researchers at Ohio State University and National Park Service. A higher abundance of deer is associated with greater biodiversity.   [Biodiversity | Herps]


Challenges of starting a green business

(10/20/2008) While green design offers the potential to greatly improve the sustainability of new goods and services without sacrificing performance, developing and bringing such products to market is a challenge, said a panel of innovators from companies using nature as inspiration for new technologies. Speaking at the 2008 Bioneers conference in San Rafael, California, Stephen Dewar of WhalePower, Charles Hamilton of Novomer, and Jay Harman of PAX Scientific told biomimicry expert Jane Benyus that radically new approaches to solving design and engineering problems is often met with skepticism from the existing market.   [Biomimicry | Green business | Happy-upbeat environmental]


Financial crisis could pave way for greener economy inspired by nature

(10/20/2008) Biomimicry — the use of nature to inspire design — could serve as a model for a greener economy that rises out of the ashes of the financial crisis, said experts meeting at a sustainability conference in the San Francisco Bay Area. Speaking at the three-day Bioneers conference in San Rafael, Janine Benyus, a leading voice in the emerging field of biomimicry, said that nature offers lessons that can be applied to build better and more sustainable products and services as well as economic models.   [Biomimicry | Biodiversity | Happy-upbeat environmental]


Mass amphibian die-offs affect ecosystems

(10/19/2008) Large-scale die-offs of amphibians due to the outbreak of a killer fungal disease is impacting the forest ecosystem in which they live, reports a new study published in the journal Ecosystems.   [Amphibian crisis | Frogs]


EU says emissions trading system may fund forest conservation

(10/17/2008) Europe's carbon trading scheme may be used to generate funds to fight deforestation, reports Reuters. Speaking at a news conference on Friday, EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said he hoped the EU's emissions trading scheme could reduce gross tropical deforestation by half by 2020 and eliminate net forest loss by 2030.   [Europe | Avoided deforestation | Deforestation | REDD]


Indonesia to audit all timber operations to cut illegal logging

(10/17/2008) The Indonesian Forestry Ministry has announced a policy that requires timber companies to have their wood stocks audited to ensure the wood is derived from sustainably managed forests, reports The Jakarta Post. The measure is expected to curtail illegal logging in a country where a large proportion of timber is of illicit origin.   [Indonesia | Logging | Forestry]


Extinct since 1963, wild eastern quolls discovered in Australia

(10/17/2008) Two eastern quoll have been found as roadkill on the Australian mainland. Although considered extinct in Australia since 1963, these carnivorous marsupials remain abundant on the island of Tasmania.   [Brazil | Reforestation]


What is the world's longest insect?

(10/17/2008) The Natural History Museum of London has revealed the world's longest insect to be Phobaeticus chani, a stick insect from the rainforest of Sabah, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo.   [Brazil | Reforestation]


Breakthrough may enable reforestation using mahogany

(10/16/2008) Brazilian researchers are closer to developing a way to establish large-scale mahogany plantations, reports the ITTO in its bi-monthly update. Scientists at the Federal Rural University of Amazonia (UFRA) have found that planting a matrix of mahogany with cedar reduces the incidence of the Hypsipyla grandella caterpillar, a chief pest of mahogany that has doomed previous attempts to reforest with the valuable hardwood species.   [Brazil | Reforestation]


Carbon conservation schemes will fail without forest people

(10/16/2008) Mechanisms that use forest conservation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are doomed to fail unless they are "based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and forest communities," warn environmentalists and indigenous rights groups meeting in Oslo this week. Indigenous groups fear they are being excluded from discussions on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), a proposed financial mechanism that would compensate tropical countries for reducing emissions caused by deforestation and land use. Such emissions account for a fifth of the global total, or more than the total emissions from transportation. In particular, indigenous groups and forest communities are concerned they will not see benefits from REDD. Worse, some believe the mechanism could trigger a new wave of land grabs and evictions by parties seeking to capitalize on carbon payments. Indigenous groups and forest communities have long struggled against development interests seeking to exploit their traditional lands and resources. But supporters of so-called "avoided deforestation" schemes say that properly-designed policy offers unprecedented opportunities to create sustainable livelihoods for forest people while safeguarding biodiversity and services provided by healthy forest ecosystems.   [Indigenous people | Avoided deforestation | REDD]


NOAA offers "dramatic evidence" of Arctic warming

(10/16/2008) The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) said it would review its support for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a forest products certification standard, over concerns regarding its certification of destructive logging operations. The announcement comes after a bitter campaign waged against RAN by Ecological Internet, a forest activist group.   [Greenland-Arctic | Sea ice]


Rainforest Action Network to review support for FSC certification

(10/16/2008) The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) said it would review its support for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a forest products certification standard, over concerns regarding its certification of destructive logging operations. The announcement comes after a bitter campaign waged against RAN by Ecological Internet, a forest activist group.   [Environmental activism | Logging]


Colombian community leader assassinated by agroindustry-backed vigilantes

(10/16/2008) A community leader who opposed paramilitary-based seizure and occupation of land for industrial oil palm plantations and cattle ranches in northwest Colombia has been assassinated, reports the Center for International Policy's Colombia Program and the World Rainforest Movement.   [Colombia]


Kangaroos at risk from climate change

(10/16/2008) A 2°C-rise in temperature could trigger significant range contraction for kangaroos in Australia and put one species at high risk of extinction, reports research published in the December issue of Physiological and Biochemical Zoology.   [Australia | Biodiversity]


Continued focus on economic growth will doom the planet say ecologists

(10/16/2008) An economy that focuses on economic growth above all else will lead to "disaster", argues a series of editorials published in this week's issue of New Scientist magazine. Citing the current financial crisis, where governments have signaled their fear of anything that threatens growth by pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into failing banks and financial institutions, a group of economists question the logic of an economic system built on the assumption of growth based on continued exploitation of Earth's finite resources.   [Environmental Economics | Environment]


Trafficking of tiger parts is rife in Myanmar

(10/15/2008) Trafficking of parts from endangered wild cats is rife in Myanmar (Burma) according to a new report from TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network. Surveys conducted by TRAFFIC over the past 15 years have turned up 1,320 wild cat parts from at least 1,158 individual animals, including 107 tigers. The group says the toll in the country is far higher.   [Myanmar | Tigers]


Brazil to have high resolution imagery for 86% of the Amazon by year end

(10/15/2008) Brazil will have high resolution imagery for 86 percent of its Amazon territory by the end of the year, according to Reuters. The images will help the country protect the Amazon rainforest and prosecute alleged environmental crimes, including illegal logging and agricultural expansion.   [Brazil | Rainforests]


Thousands of endangered sea turtles killed as fishing bycatch in Mexico

(10/15/2008) Thousands of endangered loggerhead sea turtles are being killed as bycatch in the Mexican fishing industry, reports a new study published in the journal Endangered Species Research.   [Sea turtles | Oceans]


UK government: rainforests are weapon against global warming

(10/14/2008) Protecting tropical forests will simultaneously reduce carbon emissions, support poverty reduction and help preserve biodiversity and other forest services, says a new report commissioned by the British government. The report — dubbed the "Eliasch Review" after the lead author, Johan Eliasch, a multimillionaire Swede who runs a sports equipment company and owns 162,000 hectares (400,000 acres) of rainforest in the Brazilian Amazon — takes a comprehensive look at the role forests can play in mitigating climate change. It concludes: "Urgent action to tackle the loss of global forests needs to be a central part of any future international deal on climate change"   [Avoided deforestation | Rainforests]


2009 Mongabay Calendars


(10/14/2008) 5 new calendars from mongabay.com, adding to the 9 already available.   [ Calendars]


Yeti 'proof' actually belongs to cliff-dwelling goral

(10/14/2008) In 2003 an Indian forester claimed to have seen a Yeti three days in a row. Dipu Marak, general secretary of the Achik Tourism Society and Yeti enthusiast, followed the man's trail and discovered strands of hair that he believed belonged to the mysterious creature. According to popular tradition, the Yeti is an ape-like animal that lives in the Himalayan forests.   [ Strange]


Côte d'Ivoire's endangered chimp population falls 99% since 1960

(10/14/2008) The population of West African chimpanzees living in Côte d'Ivoire has collapsed due to hunting and forest destruction, report scientists writing in the October 14th issue of Current Biology.   [ Côte d'Ivoire | Hunting | Primates]


Carbon market to break $100 billion in 2008

(10/13/2008) Despite chaos in financial markets, the global carbon market is on pace to reach $116 billion in 2008 according to New Energy Finance in its quarterly Carbon Market Roundup. The research firm reports that the carbon market had reached $87 billion by the end of September, exceeding the entire value for 2007 ($64 billion). Value is expected to increase by almost a third, from 3 billion metric tons in 2007 to 3.9 billion tons this year.   [ Carbon trading]


New Beijing law cuts 800,000 cars from roads per day

(10/13/2008) A new traffic law will cut the number of cars on Beijing roads by 800,000 per day, reports Chinese state media.   [ China]


Exelon signs rainforest conservation deal to help reduce emissions

(10/13/2008) Exelon Corporation, an American energy giant, has agreed to finance Amazon forest conservation in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, reports the Field Museum, its partner in the project.   [ Carbon finance | Conservation]


Mongabay for kids launches in Greek

(10/13/2008) The rainforest site for kids is now available in Greek thanks to Ελληνικά of iyassou.com. Overall the kids site is available in more than two dozen languages, drawing tens of thousands of visitors per month.   [ Mongabay for kids]


Environmental crime worth $10 billion per year

(10/13/2008) Environmental crime is generating $10 billion a year in revenue for gangsters and criminal syndicates reports the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) in a paper released today.   [ Environmental law]


Armageddon for amphibians? Frog-killing disease jumps Panama Canal

(10/12/2008) Chytridiomycosis — a fungal disease that is wiping out amphibians around the world — has jumped across the Panama Canal, report scientists writing in the journal EcoHealth. The news is a worrying development for Panama's rich biodiversity of amphibians east of the canal. Chytridiomycosis is caused by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a fungal pathogen that has been implicated in the extinction of more than 100 species of frogs and toads since the early 1980s. The fungus is highly transmissible and has spread to at least four continents, in some cases probably introduced unintentionally by humans in the treads of their shoes. As it spreads, the disease lays waste to more than 80 percent of amphibians across a wide range of habitats, including those that are undisturbed by humans. Now an international team of researchers report that Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis has been detected in three species east of the Panama Canal at Soberanía National Park, an area that was thought to have been free of the disease.   [ Amphibians | Panama]


Snares set by palm oil workers taking a toll on pygmy elephants of Borneo

(10/12/2008) Wildlife rangers are finding increasing numbers of Borneo Pygmy elephants injured or killed by snares set by poorly paid oil palm plantation workers, reports Malaysia's Sabah Wildlife Department. According to a statement released by the Sabah Wildlife Department, snares are usually set by oil palm plantation workers who are attempting to supplement their income by selling boar and deer meat to restaurants or eating it themselves. Elephants stumble into the traps and are snared. The resulting injury can lead to infection and even death. Young elephants are most at risk.   [ Elephants | Borneo | Poaching | Palm oil]


Paraguay extends zero deforestation law

(10/10/2008) Paraguay announced it will implement a policy to cut net carbon emissions from land use change to zero by 2020, reports WWF.   [ Paraguay | Forests | Happy-upbeat environmental]


'Lost' deer species discovered after 78 years in Sumatra

(10/10/2008) A rare species of deer has been rediscovered in Sumatra 78 years after it was last sighted, reports Fauna & Flora International.   [ Sumatra | Species discovery | Happy-upbeat environmental]


2-degree rise in temperature may doom penguins colonies

(10/10/2008) More than half Antarctica's penguin colonies are at risk by a 2-degree global rise in temperatures, according to a report released by the environmental group WWF.   [ Penguins]


Cost of forest loss estimated at $2 to $5 trillion each year

(10/10/2008) Deforestation and degradation is costing the world economy $2 to $5 trillion per year — an amount greater than Wall Street losses during the current financial crisis — said the lead author of a study that estimated the cost of environmental damage in terms of services provided by healthy ecosystems.   [ Forests | Ecosystem services]


Global food crisis expands - number of hungry increases since 2004

(10/10/2008) While the financial crisis is grabbing headlines and the attention of world leaders, the global food crisis is far from over and poses nutritional security of poor people around the world, warns the director of an agricultural think tank.   [ Poverty]


Ecuador's Choco under siege, but hope remains

(10/09/2008) The Chocó, a region of humid tropical forest in western Colombia and northwestern Ecuador, is one of the world's biodiversity hotspots with high levels of endemic species but large-scale habitat loss. The situation is particularly dire in Ecuador where more than 90 percent of the Chocó has been cleared for agriculture. But hope is not lost. A dedicated team of researchers is working with local communities to ensure that Chocó will be around for future generations.   [ Ecuador | Interviews | Happy-upbeat environmental]


Ecuador's plan to protect rainforest from oil drilling looks doomed

(10/09/2008) Ecuador's proposal to protect one of the world's most biodiverse rainforests from oil development has failed to secure any funding ahead at its December deadline, reports the Guardian Unlimited.   [ Ecuador | Amazon | Oil]


Argentina bans fishing, trawling in eco-rich area

(10/09/2008) The government of Argentina has banned commercial fishing along Burdwood Bank, an 1,800 square kilometer (694 square mile) submerged island off its southern coast, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Burdwood Bank is rich with endemic species and serves as an important feeding ground for sea lions, penguins, albatross and other marine life.   [ Argentina | Oceans | Wildlife]


Rare Amur leopard photographed for the first time with kill

(10/09/2008) With just over thirty individuals left, every photograph of an Amur leopard in the wild is news. But recently released photos are the first to show an Amur leopard at a livestock kill, making them even more important. According to an article from Wildlife Alliance, on September 8th a staff member of the Gamov sika deer farm contacted Eugene Stoma with news about an Amur leopard that had entered the farm and killed three deer. Stoma is the leader of an anti-poaching squad that protects the remaining leopards. After locating the leopard’s kill, Stoma and his team placed camera traps around the kill, hoping the leopard would return. The leopard did return yielding three photos from various angles.   [ Cats | Endangered species | Wildlife]


US government: $28 carbon price would raise gas prices by 25 cents

(10/09/2008) A national carbon price under a cap-and-trade system would have a limited impact on gasoline prices, reports a new study by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The report estimates that a carbon price of $28 per ton — a bit less than current carbon prices in the European market — would boost gas prices by 25 cents per gallon, while a $200 per ton tax would increase prices by less then $2. The findings suggest that the cost of climate change legislation may be lower than claimed by industry, but also indicate that efforts to curb Americans' driving habitats via a carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme may be of limited effectiveness. A $2 increase in the price of gas would still leave U.S. fuel prices well below those in most of the world.   [ Oil | Energy]


Slowing global economy will reduce Amazon deforestation

(10/08/2008) The global financial crisis will likely slow forest clearing in the Amazon rainforest, said Brazil's environment minister. Falling commodity prices combined with tighter credit and increased aversion to risk will undermine the economics of activities — including logging and agricultural expansion — that are key drivers of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. Forest clearing in the region has shown an increasingly tight correlation to beef and soy prices in recent years. Both products are produced on cleared rainforest lands.   [ Amazon | Brazil | Deforestation]


Proposal to make animal logos pay for wildlife programs

(10/08/2008) They are everywhere: images of animals and nature to market large corporations’ products. There is the simply-sketched penguin on every Penguin Book; the leaping silver jaguar from the car company of the same name; the jumping helmet-wearing dolphin of the Miami Dolphins’ football team; and the ubiquitous talking gecko used in Geico auto insurance commercials. Such logos have always been free; however a new campaign, Save Your Logo, will encourage corporations with animal or nature logos to support endangered species and their dwindling habitats.   [ Conservation | Wildlife | Conservation finance]


Chevron loses attempt to reduce payment in suit by Amazon rainforest natives

(10/08/2008) Chevron lost its attempt to force arbitration in a case in which it could be liable for billions of dollars to pay for cleaning up damages to the Amazon rainforest in eastern Ecuador.   [ Oil | Ecuador]


Indigenous people demand greater say in using forests to fight global warming

(10/08/2008) Indigenous leaders renewed their call for greater say in how tropical forests are managed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to AFP. Discussions laying the groundwork for proposed forest conservation financing schemes like REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) have largely excluded indigenous leaders, despite plenty of lip-service paid to their cause by environmental NGOs. As a result, while such mechanisms could ultimately benefit forest-dwellers, many indigenous groups strongly oppose measures to use forests as giant carbon offsets. Their opposition will likely continue until they play a greater part in determining policy.   [ Indigenous people | Avoided deforestation | REDD]


Forest conservation can fight climate change and poverty

(10/08/2008) The Forests Dialogue — a coalition consisting of more than 250 representatives of governments, forestry companies, trade unions, environmental and social groups, international organizations, forest owners, indigenous peoples and forest-community groups — has issued guiding principles for including forests in climate change negotiations.   [ Avoided deforestation | REDD]


52% of amphibians, 35% of birds at risk from climate change

(10/08/2008) 52 percent of the amphibians, 35 percent of birds and 71 percent of reef-building coral are "particularly susceptible" to climate change, warns an IUCN report.   [ Biodiversity | Impact of climate change]


Anti-NGO rhetoric in Brazil a response to environmental criticism says environment minister

(10/08/2008) Accusations against foreign environmental groups operating in the Brazilian Amazon are "exaggerated" to deflect criticism on high deforestation rates in the region said Brazil's environment minister at a summit in Brasilia.   [ Brazil | Amazon]


DR Congo to cancel two-thirds of logging contracts due to corruption

(10/08/2008) Democratic Republic of Congo will cancel more than two-thirds of its logging contracts due to under a World Bank-back initiative to reduce corruption in the forestry sector, according to the Central African country's environment minister.   [ Congo | Logging]


Climate change may trigger spread of disease from animals to people

(10/07/2008) Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) experts have released a report warning of 12 "zoonotic" or animal-linked diseases that are likely to spread due to climate change. Released today at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona the report, entitled "The Deadly Dozen: Wildlife Diseases in the Age of Climate Change", argues for preliminary action and research to keep ahead of spreading disease.   [ Wildlife | Health]


One quarter to one third of mammals threatened with extinction

(10/07/2008) Alta Floresta, a region in the Brazilian Amazon state of Mato Grosso, has experienced one of the highest deforestation rates on the planet since the mid-1980s due to the influx of colonists and ranchers who converted nearly half the region's forest land to pasture and agricultural plots. The change has had significant ecological impacts, including reducing the availability of water, increasing the incidence of forest fires, fragmenting remaining forest cover, and diminishing the quality of habitat for wildlife. Dr. Fernanda Michalski, a biologist with the University of São Paulo and Pró-Carnívoros, a Brazilian wildlife NGO, is studying the impact of this transformation on mammals in Alta Floresta in order to determine how to best maintain the region's remaining biodiversity.   [ Wildlife | Amazon | Interviews | Brazil]


U.S. to ban oil drilling in new Arctic reserves for polar bears

(10/07/2008) The U.S. Department of the Interior will designate two Arctic reserves in areas considered critical habitat for polar bears as part of a legal settlement with environmental groups, reports Reuters. The reserves will be off-limits of oil development and must be established by June 30, 2010.   [ Wildlife | Polar bears | Endangered species]


99% of Alaska's large glaciers are retreating

(10/07/2008) The bulk of glaciers in every mountain range and island group in Alaska are retreating, thinning, or stagnating, according to a new book by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).   [ Impact of climate change | Glaciers]


Zoos: Why a Revolution is Necessary to Justify Them

(10/06/2008) Watching a Siberian tiger kill a grey squirrel for a half-hour proved to be one of my most enlightening experiences at a zoo. It was a weekday; I was alone, not even an employee passed by. The tiger pounced on the squirrel, flipped it into the air like a juggler's ball, pinned it and rolled it. A short reprieve from this unlikely encounter and the bloodied, half-crushed squirrel attempted an escape, dragging itself across the grass; the tiger watched curiously, let it go a few feet then pounced again. My whole self suffered over the squirrel's pain and torture while marveling in the same instance at the tiger's power, the ease with which it knocked the rodent along the ground. Here in an institution where nature is faked was a relatively truthful half-hour: nature's brutality, grace, ugliness, awe, beauty, and tragedy were reveled. I never could conclude whether the Asian terror was just playing or if it simply lacked the knowledge (as has been proven with many captive cats) to finish off the squirrel. Either way, it took a long time for the rodent to die.   [Wildlife | Conservation]


One quarter to one third of mammals threatened with extinction

(10/06/2008) One in four of the world's land mammal species and one in three marine mammal species is threatened with extinction, according to an update of the IUCN Red List, the gold standard for the conservation status of global biodiversity. The five-year assessment by more than 1700 experts in 130 countries compiled detailed information on taxonomy, distribution, habitats, population trends, and conservation status of, as well as threats to, the world's 5,487 mammal species. The results show that 21 to 36 percent of mammals are at risk of extinction, while 76 mammals species are known to have gone extinct since 1500 and another two species have disappeared in the wild. [update]   [ Wildlife | Mammals | Endangered species]


'Children of the Amazon' looks at cultural loss of Amazon tribe confronted by deforestation

(10/05/2008) 'Children of the Amazon', a new documentary by Denise Zmekhol, looks at the cultural transformation of the Surui and Negarote tribes following the development and improvement of a highway that penetrates deep into the Amazon rainforest of western Brazil.   [ Amazon | Indigenous people]


Borneo forest people reject oil palm plantation on their land

(10/05/2008) Indigenous forest dwellers in Sarawak, in the Malaysian part of Borneo, have rejected a proposal to turn 80,000 hectares (250,000 acres) of the land into an oil palm plantation, reports the Malaysian Star.   [ Borneo | Indigenous people]


Eco-friendly shade-grown coffee buffers farmers against climate change

(10/03/2008) Shade-grown coffee plantations will be more resistant to climate change than conventional plantations, report researchers writing in the journal Bioscience. Shade grown coffee is already lauded for its environmental benefits including supporting high levels of biodiversity and requiring less fertilizers and pesticides.   [ Agroforestry | Agriculture]


First captive black rhinos released into the wild in 25 years

(10/03/2008) Fifteen critically-endangered black rhinos have been released at an undisclosed location in Kenya with hopes that this pioneer group will breed naturally, repopulating an area they once roamed abundantly. The release is the first time in 25 years that captive rhinos have been returned to the wild.   [ Rhinos | Wildlife]


Arctic sea ice "likely" hit lowest volume on record in 2008

(10/03/2008) The volume of sea ice in the Arctic has likely hit its lowest level since satellite measurements began in 1979, report researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder's National Snow and Ice Data Center, who confirmed that Arctic sea ice extent was the second-lowest on record this year.   [ Sea ice]


U.S. needs environmental standards for biofuels

(10/02/2008) The U.S. lacks criteria to ensure that cellulosic ethanol production will not harm the environment, warn scientists writing in the journal Science. The researchers say that with proper safeguards, cellulosic ethanol can help the U.S. meet its energy needs sustainably.   [ Cellulosic Ethanol | Ethanol | Biofuels]


Mediterranean bluefin tuna originate in the Gulf of Mexico

(10/02/2008) Researchers have discovered a previously unknown migratory route for the northern bluefin tuna, proving for the first time that the species' Mediterranean and North American subpopulations interact. According to the paper published in Science the two groups meet as juveniles then return to their birthplace to spawn. For a critically-endangered species that is still heavily fished, the new finding has large conservation and management implications.   [ Fish | Oceans]


20 waterbirds added to threatened list

(10/02/2008) The U.N. has added 20 species of migratory waterbird to the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) giving them greater international protection in Africa, Europe, and Asia.   [ Birds | Conservation]


Good news for amphibians: three new species and one "extinct" frog discovered

(10/01/2008) Amphibians have received a lot of bleak news recently. Last week a report from the Zoological Society of London and EDGE stated that 50 percent of Europe's amphibians will go extinct by 2050 unless more is done for their conservation. Meanwhile a report published in August found that one in three amphibians worldwide are threatened with extinction, while 200 species have already been lost since the 1980s. Therefore the discovery of three new frog species and the rediscovery of one thought to be extinct provide a little respite from such bad tidings.   [ Wildlife | Species discovery]


Photos from the Bronx Zoo

(10/01/2008) Some random photos from the Bronx Zoo. The zoo is run by the Wildlife Conservation Society, a group that has some 660 field projects around the world.   [ Zoo photos]


Most popular news articles for Sept 2008

(10/01/2008) Most popular mongabay.com news articles for September 2008   [ Most popular news articles]





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