March 31, 2005
The Global Canopy Programme, a groundbreaking new project dedicated to studying rainforest canopies, is about to enter the implementation stage in five tropical forests across the globe. Headed by Dr. Andrew Mitchell of Oxford University, the project will place giant cranes in Brazil, Ghana, India, Madagascar and Malaysia.
March 30, 2005
With its biodiversity, rich history, beautiful beaches, and stunning reefs, some believe Honduras could be the ecotourism hotspot in Central America. However, between growing gang violence linked to the drug trade in the United States and conflicts between developers and local communities, the country still faces many challenges in becoming the next Costa Rica. Special correspondent Tina Butler takes a look at changing attitudes about the environment in one of Central America's poorest countries.
March 28, 2005
The U.S. Geological Survey has issued a warning that Madagascar may be hit be a tsunami following the 8.7-scale earthquake off Sumatra. During last year's tsunami which left more than 320,000 people dead, Madagascar was spared from destruction by an undersea mountain range which deflected the surge towards Somalia and the African coast.
March 27, 2005
About three-fourths of Madagascar's species are endemic to the island. Here's a look at some of the wildlife of Madagascar: the real animals of Madagascar.
March 26, 2005
Guest writer Christine Cusatis wrote an article on eco-friendly residential development in Florida. With new homes going for $350,000, some people are willing to pay a premium to live in a green community.
March 23, 2005
A group of prominent biologists -- including Jane Goodall, E.O. Wilson, Tom Lovejoy, Stuart Pimm, Peter Raven, Paul Ehrlich, and Gary Meffe -- have signed a letter urging an end to road-building projects in and around Yasuni National Park in Ecuador.
March 22, 2005
Julie Larsen Maher is Staff Photographer for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), a non-profit organization devoted to saving wildlife and wild lands through careful science, international conservation, education, and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, including the Bronx Zoo. Last summer Julie visited Madagascar where she took pictures for a WCS project.
March 21, 2005
Environment and development ministers from G8 nations agreed to a weakened pact on fighting illegal logging of the world's tropical rainforests. The plan -- undermined by the U.S. delegation who opposed logging regulation -- committed the G8 members only to voluntary bilateral actions to end the multi-billion dollar trade in illegal timber. Environmentalists reacted angrily to the news.
March 19, 2005
I have updated the conservation section on WildMadagascar to include some photos from renowned photographer Julie Larsen Maher of the Wildlife Conservation Society. More of Julie's pictures will soon be publicly available on the Madagascar site.
March 18, 2005
Each year churches in North American use an estimated 30 million palm fronds stripped from the rainforests of Mexico and Guatemala. With Palm Sunday approaching, the Rainforest Alliance and the Commission for Environmental Cooperation are working on a project to link chamaedorea palm suppliers in Central America with Canadian and US churches. Their hope to promote rainforest-friendly Palm Sunday celebrations through the sustainable harvest of palm fronds.
March 16, 2005
According to the The Guardian, the US intends to block a British initiative to commit G8 states to combatting illegal logging in the world's threatened rainforests. The "Benn plan" would have required all timber bought by official bodies in wealthy countries to come from properly managed forests but industry lobbyists in the US are opposed to timber certification schemes.
March 15, 2005
March 14, 2005
March 13, 2005
Three environmental activists were arrested after they posted signs critical of J. P. Morgan Chase [reg required] on telephone poles and trees in the neighborhood of the financial company's chief executive officer William B. Harrison Jr. The posters accused J. P. Morgan Chase of "reckless investment in environmentally and socially destructive projects in dozens of countries" and encouraged anyone who spotted Mr. Harrison to "ask him to do the right thing" with regard to its environmental policies. The three were charged disturbing the peace and violating Greenwich's ordinance against posting unauthorized bills on public property
March 10, 2005
According to the Washington Post [reg required], Madagascar is set to be the first recipient of funds under a new U.S. foreign aid program which could revolutionize the way much of the world's aid is distributed. Madagascar would receive nearly $100 million in grants through the Millennium Challenge Account, a program that limits grants to countries that are committed to respecting the rule of law and reducing corruption.
March 9, 2005
Citigroup has pressured Malaysian logging company Rimbunan Hijau to obtain independent, third-party certification of its operations in Papua New Guinea. Rimbunan Hijau, which has long been accused illegal logging and human rights abuses, must comply with the bank's new environmental policies.
March 8, 2005
March 7, 2005
The Center for Environmental Leadership in Business (CELB) aims to engage corporations in reducing their impact on the environment and becoming partners in global conservation efforts. CELB currently with companies in several industries including agriculture and fisheries, forestry, energy and mining, and travel.
March 6, 2005
The Global Amphibian Assessment is an effort by hundreds of scientists to assess the distribution and conservation status of all known amphibian species. So far the project has found that 32% of the world's 5,743 species of amphibians are threatened and 43% of are declining in population. This global decline in amphibians, especially over the past three decades, is of major concern to biologists who see these animals as indicator species -- akin to "canaries in a coal mine" -- that may provide an early warning of environmental degradation.
March 1, 2005
Based on information obtained from U.S. Customs & Border Protection, Greenpeace and the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) have accused BlueLinx -- the largest wood distributor in the United States -- of importing undocumented timber from Indonesia's endangered rainforests. According to a report by the activist groups, "on a January 21, 2005 conference call, Barbara Tinsley, general counsel to BlueLinx, indicated that her client had no intention of changing its Indonesian purchasing policies." The environmental groups are also criticizing JP Morgan Chase for its $165 million in loans to BlueLinx, which is a public company in the U.S (ticker symbol: BXC).
February 28, 2005
The BBC carried an article on sustainable forest management in Cameroon.
February 26, 2005
Brazil condemned a proposal by former European Union Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy to declare the Amazon region and other rain forests as "global public assets" subject to world management. Brazil's Foreign Affairs Ministry released a statement that said "[Mr. Lamy's statements] are evidence of a prejudiced view underestimating the ability of developing nations to manage their natural resources in a sovereign and sustainable manner." Brazil has long feared foreign intervention in its Amazon region.
February 24, 2005
Researchers at UC Irvine and Humboldt University proposed a new theory on why insects stop breathing for minutes at a time in the Feb. 3 issue of Nature. Timothy Bradley of UCI and Stefan Hetz of Humboldt University (Germany) argue that some insects -- including grasshoppers, moths, butterflies -- close off their respiratory systems periodically to reduce tissue damage that can be caused by excess amounts of oxygen.
February 23, 2005
I have been working on a lot of Madagascar stuff lately. Here's a sampling of some pages: Clickable map of Madagascar - try the links above the image, Threats to Madagascar's environment, How to save Madagascar's environment, a Conservation plan for Madagascar, and Funding conservation initiatives in Madagascar. There's more on the site.
February 22, 2005
Under pressure from activists following the murder of American nun Dorothy Stang, Brazil last week announced the creation of two new protected areas covering more than 30,000 square miles in the Amazon. Nearly 10,000 square miles of Amazon rainforest in Brazil are destroyed each year.
February 21, 2005
Telematics is the science of sending, receiving and storing information via telecommunication devices.
February 20, 2005
Last week the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gas emissions came into effect. 141 countries have ratified the pact while 35 industrialized nations have agreed to cut their greenhouse gas pollution below 1990 levels. The United States, the world's largest emitter of such gases, will not ratify the protocol but says it will reduce emissions by 18% before 2012 and spend $5.8 billion this year alone on research. The U.S.'s main objection to the treaty was the exemption of developing nations like China and India from emission quotas.
February 19, 2005
Seasonal agricultural fires used for land clearing are burning across southeast Asia. NASA released satellite images showing fires in Myanmar, China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand.
February 18, 2005
Activist groups, Environmental Investigation Agency (based in Washington) and Telapak (based Indonesia), released a report on illegal logging in Irian Jaya on the island of New Guinea island. The report says rainforest wood is smuggled to China to feed the its growing need for lumber.
February 17, 2005
Sue Wren, a friend, sent along some pictures from her trip to the Amazon last year.
February 16, 2005
Last week's meeting between leaders of Congo basin nations produced a $15 billion treaty that provides for the creation of a new forestry commission, a fund to finance the rainforest conservation, and the restructuring of national laws on logging. The plan will be partially funded through a tax on products exported from the forest.
February 15, 2005
The European Court of Human Rights overturned the ruling in the 'McLibel' case which held that two activists had libeled McDonald's by issuing a pamphlet accusing the fast food chain of starving the Third World, destroying rainforests and selling unhealthy food. According to Reuters, the court "ruled that Helen Steel and David Morris did not receive a fair trial and their freedom of expression was violated by the 1997 judgment ordering them to pay 60,000 sterling ($113,200) in damages." The 'McLibel' trial was the longest in English legal history.
February 14, 2005
Brazilian investigators now suspect at least six people were involved in the killing of Dorothy Stang. Members of the president's cabinet have called a meeting to discuss the murder which some are now comparing to the 1988 killing of Chico Mendes, a workers' rights and environmental activist in the Amazon.
February 13, 2005
Dorothy Stang, an American missionary, was shot to death in the Amazon state of Para, less then a week after she accused loggers and ranchers of threatening to kill rural workers. Stang had lived in Brazil since the early 1960s and was an "outspoken critic of efforts by loggers and large landowners to expropriate lands and clear the Amazon rainforest" (Reuters). Police said she was shot three times in the face and two suspects had been taken into custody. She was 74.
February 12, 2005
FDA Approved Animal Drug Products database now available.
February 11, 2005
I added some journal notes for the first part of my trip to Madagascar: Manambolo I, Manambolo II, Manambolo II, Manambolo IV, Kirindy, Morondava, Isalo I, Isalo II, Fort Dauphin, and Berenty. Notes from the bulk of the trip will be added soon.
February 10, 2005
I have launched beta versions of the animal pictures section in Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, and Japanese. You may need to download Asian character sets for text to display properly. Depending on how things go I may expand the foreign languages available and increase the number of photo sections within each language set.
February 9, 2005
Tomorrow's edition of Nature. features a report on gliding ants in the rainforest of Peru. Lead author and insect ecologist Stephen P. Yanoviak notes that Cephalotes atratus ants use gliding as a means to escape predators and survive falls from the canopy.
February 8, 2005
Regional occupational data for the United States.
February 7, 2005
Leaders from seven Congo basin countries drafted a 10-year conservation plan for the region's rainforests. Congo's rainforests are increasingly threatened by commercial logging and the movement of refugees displaced by ongoing civil strife, while Africa has the highest deforestation rate of any region in the world.
February 6, 2005
February 5, 2005
I will be away for a few days so there will not be any updates. Until then here are some pictures of India taken by Nancy Butler in January.
February 4, 2005
According to the Wall Street Journal, British Petroleum (BP) has built a natural-gas processing plant in the Saraha desert which reinjects carbon dioxide emissions back into the earth. BP plans to inject one million tons of carbon dioxide back underground annually during the next two decades in an effort to meet greenhouse gas emission limits set under the Kyoto Protocol. No one really knows how long the gas will stay in "geologic storage" or even whether burying carbon dioxide is safe (In 1986, more than 1,700 weere killed at Lake Nyos, Camerron when carbon dioxide and other gases were suddenly and spontanesouly emitted from a volcanic lake), but the process is seen as a potentially cheaper way to address rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Some environmental groups support the plan reasoning that it is crucial to cut carbon pollution now rather than waiting for alternative technologies, like those based on solar power and hydrogen fuel cells, to be ready for widespread use.
February 3, 2005
Despite its massive environmental degradation, Madagascar has some of the richest and most diverse ecosystems on the planet. From tropical rainforests to endemic spiny forests, the island supports the second highest number of primate species of any country in the world (Brazil is first).
February 2, 2005
I added some new pictures of Heron Island taken by Nancy Butler in January. Heron island, located on Australia's Great Barrier Reef, is home to around 900 species of fish and large nesting populations of sea turtles.
February 1, 2005
Shifts in climate have significantly affected tropical rainforests in the past and there is growing concern among scientists involved with the Large Scale Biosphere/Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia that climate change, when with combined large-scale deforestation, could turn extensive parts of the Amazon rainforest into savanna.
January 31, 2005
According to new figures released by the UN, global birth rates fell to the lowest level in recorded history with the average woman in the developing world having 2.9 children, down from an average of nearly 6 babies in the 1970s. UN demographers also predict that fertility in most of the developing world will fall below the replacement level (2.1 children per woman) before the end of the 21st century. Factors leading to falling birth rates include increased level education for women and the use of contraceptives.
Mongabay.com aims to raise interest in and appreciation of wildlands and wildlife >>