FEATURED ARTICLES   [Latest news updates]

An interview with Dr. Jay Barlow:
Extinction of the baiji a 'wake-up call' to conserve vaquita and other cetaceans

(08/25/2008) In December of 2006 an expedition spent six weeks surveying the Yangtze River in China for one of the world's rarest cetaceans, the baiji. Also known as 'The Goddess of the Yangtze' the shy river-dolphin had roamed the river for millions of years locating fish with echolocation. The survey came back empty-handed without a spotting a single dolphin. Dr. Jay Barlow, a member of the surveying team, describes the preventable extinction of the baiji as a "wake-up call" for conservation efforts. Currently, Barlow is working closely with scientists and Mexican officials to save another species from the baiji's fate. The smallest cetacean in the world, the little-studied vaquita, is now the most endangered.   [ Cetaceans | Interviews | Conservation | Oceans]

An interview with Dr. Andrew Mitchell of the Global Canopy Program:
Markets could save rainforests

(08/18/2008) Markets may soon value rainforests as living entities rather than for just the commodities produced when they are cut down, said a tropical forest researcher speaking in June at a conservation biology conference in the South American country of Suriname. Andrew Mitchell, founder and director of the London-based Global Canopy Program (GCP), said he is encouraged by signs that investors are beginning to look at the value of services afforded by healthy forests.   [ Rainforests | Interviews | Conservation | Conservation finance | Ecosystem services]

The long-ignored ocean emergency and what can be done to address it

(08/18/2008) This year has been full of bad news regarding marine ecosystems: one-third of coral species threatened with extinction, dead-zones spread to 415 sites, half of U.S. reefs in fair or bad condition, increase in ocean acidification, tuna and shark populations collapsing, and only four percent of ocean considered pristine. Jeremy Jackson, director of the Scripps Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the University of California, San Diego, synthesizes such reports and others into a new paper, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that boldly lays out the scope of the oceanic emergency and what urgently needs to be done.   [ oceans | Overfishing | Marine conservation | Coral reefs]

Often overlooked, small wild cats are important and in trouble:
An interview with small cat specialist Dr. Jim Sanderson

(08/05/2008) While often over-shadowed by their larger and better-known relatives like lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars, small cats are important indicators of the health of an ecosystem, says a leading small cat expert who uses camera traps extensively to document and monitor mammals in the wild. Dr Jim Sanderson, a scientist with the Small Cat Conservation Alliance and Conservation International, is working to save some of the world's rarest cats, including the Andean cat and Guigna of South America and the bay, flat-headed, and marbled cats of Southeast Asia. In the process Sanderson has captured on film some of the planet's least seen animals, including some species that have never before been photographed. He has also found that despite widespread criticism, some corporate entities are effectively protecting remote wilderness areas.   [ Biodiversity | Interviews | Conservation]

Corporations become prime driver of deforestation, providing clear target for environmentalists

(08/05/2008) The major drivers of tropical deforestation have changed in recent decades. According to a forthcoming article (PDF | Spanish | Portuguese | Indonesian | German | Indonesian | French), deforestation has shifted from poverty-driven subsistence farming to major corporations razing forests for large-scale projects in mining, logging, oil and gas development, and agriculture. While this change makes many scientists and conservationists uneasy, it may allow for more effective action against deforestation. The paper, published in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution argues that the shift to deforestation by large corporations gives environmentalists and concerned governments a clear, identifiable target that may prove more responsive to environmental concerns. Also see the news release.   [ Deforestation | Rainforests | Conservation]

Developing programs for mapping endangered species:
An Interview with Steven Phillips of AT&T Labs

(08/04/2008) It was big news in April when a comprehensive map of Madagascar's rich and unique biodiversity was unveiled. The project managed to map ranges of 2, 315 species across an island larger than France. Such detailed mapping could not have happened without the aid of Steven Phillips. A researcher at AT&T, Phillips developed the software that made such detailed and expansive mapping possible.   [ Biodiversity | Madagascar | Conservation]

Sea levels may rise 2-3 times faster than expected

(08/31/2008) Global sea level rise this century from a melting Greenland ice sheet may be two to three times greater than current estimates warn researchers writing in journal Nature Geoscience.   [ Sea levels | Greenland-Arctic]

Amazon deforestation jumps 69% in 2008

(08/31/2008) Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon increased 69 percent in the past 12 months as high commodity prices have driven forest conversion for ranches and cropland, according to preliminary figures released by Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE). The increase comes after three consecutive years of declining deforestation in Brazil.   [ Amazon | Brazil | Deforestation]

Could hurricane Gustav be stopped or diverted?

(08/31/2008) With Gustav threatening to become the second major hurricane to hit New Orleans in three years, the question emerges, is there something that could be done to redirect or at least diminish storms from major population areas? In short, the answer is no, although someday there may be ways to reduce the intensity of these tropical storms. In the meantime, the best option is to avoid new construction in hurricane-prone regions.   [ Hurricanes]

Indian protesters win land rights battle against Peru's President Garcia

(08/31/2008) Peru's Congress rejected two decrees by President Alan García that made it easier for foreign developers to buy Amazon rainforest land. The repeal came just two days after lawmakers struck a deal with indigenous rights groups whose protests over the law had shut down oil and gas operations. The groups were worried that the laws weakened their land rights in favor of loggers, miners, and drillers.   [ Amazon | Peru | Rainforest people | Indigenous people]

Pre-Columbian Amazon tribes lived in sustainable "garden cities"

(08/28/2008) Researchers have uncovered new evidence to support the controversial theory that parts of the Amazon were home to dense "urban" settlements prior to the arrival of Europeans in the 15th century. The study is published this Friday in the journal Science. Conducting archeological excavations and aerial imagery across a number of sites in the Upper Xingu region of the Brazilian Amazon, a team of researchers led by Michael Heckenberger found evidence of a grid-like pattern of 150-acre towns and smaller villages, connected by complex road networks and arranged around large plazas where public rituals would take place. The authors argue that the discoveries indicate parts of the Amazon supported "urban" societies based around agriculture, forest management, and fish farming.   [ Amazon | Brazil | Rainforest people | Indigenous people]

Palm oil producers in Indonesia reject moratorium on forest destruction

(08/28/2008) Palm oil companies operating in Indonesia have rejected a proposed moratorium on clearing forests and peatlands for oil palm plantations, reports the Jakarta Post. The Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (GAPKI) — a group with 250 palm oil producers — said that a ban on converting natural ecosystem for oil palm estates would hurt the economy, increasing unemployment and poverty.   [ Palm oil | Indonesia | Deforestation]

Two large populations of endangered monkeys discovered in Cambodia

(08/28/2008) Conservationists have discovered "surprisingly large populations" of two globally threatened primates in a protected area in Cambodia. Surveys by scientists with the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Cambodian government counted 42,000 black-shanked douc langurs and 2,500 yellow-cheeked crested gibbons in Cambodia's Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area. The estimate represents the largest known populations for both species in the world, according to a report released by the conservation group.   [ Cambodia | Happy-upbeat environmental]

Biofuels 200 times more expensive than forest conservation for global warming mitigation

(08/27/2008) The British government should end subsidies for biofuels and instead use the funds to slow destruction of rainforests and tropical peatlands argues a new report issued by a U.K.-based think tank. The study, titled "The Root of the Matter" and published by Policy Exchange, says that "avoided deforestation" would be a more cost-effective way to address climate change, since land use change generates more emissions than the entire global transport sector and offers ancillary benefits including important ecosystem services.   [ Avoided deforestation | Rainforests | Biofuels]

Sea ice extent falls to second lowest on record

(08/27/2008) Arctic sea ice extent presently stands at it second-lowest level on record and could set a new low in coming weeks, reports the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).   [ Greenland-Arctic | Sea ice]

Scientists condemn Bush plan for endangered species

(08/27/2008) The Ecological Society of America has come down handily against the Bush Administration's proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The changes would eliminate the requirement for independent scientific review of federal projects, such as roads, dams, and mines, instead allowing federal agencies to conduct internal evaluations and then proceed as they see fit.   [ Environmental politics | Endangered species]

China's log imports fall 19% in first half of 2008 due to high prices

(08/27/2008) China's imports of raw logs plunged 18.7 percent by volume for the first half of 2008 due to rising prices and a cooling Chinese economy, reports the International Tropical Timber Organization.   [ Logging]

Saving oceans from acidification requires addressing climate policy

(08/27/2008) Ocean acidification driven by rising carbon dioxide emissions is a great threat to marine ecosystems and needs be addressed through climate policy and conservation measures, said top marine scientists meeting in Hawaii.   [ Oceans | Coral reefs]

40% of Australia is undisturbed wilderness

(08/27/2008) More than 40 percent of Australia—three million square kilometers—is undisturbed wilderness, reports a new study by Pew Environment Group and Nature Conservancy. The extent of Australia's wildlands ranks with the Amazon rainforest, Antarctica, Canada's boreal forest, and the Sahara as the largest on the planet.   [ Australia]

Rainforest site for kids revised

(08/27/2008) The rainforest site for children (kids.mongabay.com) has been revised and a couple new features will be added soon. The kids site has drawn more than 500,000 visitors over the past year, while the non-English language versions (24 languages in total) of the site have seen more than 200,000 visitors over the same period.   [ Rainforest information for kids]

Haze risk returns as fires increase in Indonesia

(08/26/2008) The number of forest fires burning in Indonesia is increasing, raising concerns for the potential return of choking haze to the region. NASA satellite imagery released Tuesday reveals hundreds of "hot spots" burning in Sumatra, Kalimantan (on the island of Borneo), and southern Papua (on the island of New Guinea). The fires are set annually by landowners seeking to clear scrub and forest for the establishment of plantation crops, especially oil palm, which is used for making palm oil. In dry years the fires can burn for months, spreading into pristine rainforest areas and releasing large volumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.   [ Fires | Haze]

Baltic cod are shrinking due to overfishing

(08/26/2008) By comparing Neolithic cod with contemporary cod, researchers have discovered that the species has evolved over a relatively short period due to overexploitation by humans. According to a paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, contemporary cod attain adulthood earlier and are generally smaller than their ancestors.   [ Overfishing | Fish]

Malaysian logging scandal may delay trade negotiations with the E.U.

(08/26/2008) Sarawak's Chief Minister, Taib Mahmud, has been linked to a timber trade scheme involving illegal imports of Indonesian logs and which were then re-exported as Malaysian timber to other countries, including China, Taiwan, and Japan, reports the Indonesian newspaper Tribun Pontianak. An environmental group is using the scandal as the basis for a request for the E.U. to delay timber trade talks with Malaysia.   [ Malaysia | Logging]

Climate change may increase global conflict

(08/25/2008) Facing land scarcity at home and environmental complaints, Malaysian palm oil producers should look overseas to expand operations, a high-ranking Malaysian agricultural minister said Monday. Speaking to reporters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Peter Chin Fah Kui repeated an earlier call for Malaysian palm growers to use their expertise to establish oil palm plantations in Africa and South America.   [ Impact of climate change | Water]

How do wind turbines kill bats?

(08/25/2008) Numerous studies have shown that migratory bats are undergoing large fatalities due to wind turbines. Far more bats die due to wind turbines than birds, though they generally receive less attention. Now, researchers writing in Current Biology believe they know why bats are more susceptible to wind turbine fatalities.   [ Bats | Wind power]

Malaysia targets Africa, the Amazon for palm oil expansion

(08/25/2008) Facing land scarcity at home and environmental complaints, Malaysian palm oil producers should look overseas to expand operations, a high-ranking Malaysian agricultural minister said Monday. Speaking to reporters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Peter Chin Fah Kui repeated an earlier call for Malaysian palm growers to use their expertise to establish oil palm plantations in Africa and South America.   [ Palm oil | Malaysia | Amazon]

Komodo dragon conservation efforts prove dangerous and controversial in Indonesia

(08/25/2008) Efforts to conserve the world's largest lizard — the Komodo dragon — are proving controversial, and potentially dangerous to villagers, reports the Wall Street Journal.   [ Conservation | Indonesia | Reptiles]

New bird species discovered in rainforest of Gabon

(08/23/2008) DNA analysis has revealed a previously unknown species of bird in the Central African country of Gabon.   [ Birds | Gabon | Species discovery]

Malaysia's rainforest logging plan may proceed despite risk to water supplies

(08/22/2008) Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak, Chief Minister of the Malaysian state of Kedah, is pushing ahead with a plan to log Ulu Muda forest reserve despite concerns that logging could hurt water supplies and threaten biodiversity.   [ Logging | Malaysia]

There is enough water for everyone provided it is well-managed and distributed

(08/22/2008) An increasingly-popular view of our future is an exponentially thirsty world where billions lack access to fresh water, leading to widespread famine and wars over water instead of oil. If this sounds like science fiction, the UN has predicted that by 2050 seven billion people will suffer from water scarcity. Putting that number in perspective: today's entire global population is not yet seven billion people.   [ Water]

Brazil may allow mining on indigenous lands in the Amazon

(08/21/2008) Lawmakers in Brazil are debating whether to allow mining companies to partner with indigenous groups to exploit mineral deposits deep in the Amazon rainforest, reports Bloomberg.   [ Amazon | Rainforests | Indigenous people | Mining]

Biofuel production in Brazil may not hurt Amazon, food supply

(08/21/2008) Biofuel production in Brazil will not affect food production or the Amazon rainforest in coming years, claimed a study released Tuesday by an economist in Sao Paulo.   [ Brazil | Biofuels]

In Peru, a showdown between the president and tribes over mining and drilling in the Amazon

(08/21/2008) In Peru indigenous rights groups and congressional leaders are pairing up against President Alan Garcia to revoke a controversial land law passed last week, reports Reuters.   [ Amazon | Peru | Rainforests]

French birds on the move due to climate change—just not fast enough

(08/21/2008) French ornithologists have discovered, year by year, that French birds are moving north due to the affects of climate change. A recent study of such movements in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B concludes that the birds are not moving fast enough, leading to concern among conservationists.   [ Birds | Impact of climate change]

Presidential candidate John McCain's love-hate relationship with bears

(08/21/2008)Senator John McCain has frequently cited an earmark to a bill proving funds for a study of grizzly bears in Montana as an example of the worst pork-and-barrel spending in Washington. The study was included in an ad for McCain entitled "Outrageous" during the primaries. However, according to FactCheck.org, Senator McCain voted for the earmark he now derides.   [ Environmental politics | Endangered species]

Indigenous community in Panama to see carbon payments from forest conservation

(08/21/2008) The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), the Panama-based branch of the Smithsonian Institution, will offset its carbon dioxide emissions by working with an indigenous community to conserve forests and reforest degraded lands with native tree species. The agreement was announced Sunday, August 17, 2008.   [ Panama | Carbon finance]

DNA study reveals new 1,000-pound grouper species

(08/21/2008) DNA analysis has revealed that a 1,000-pound grouper found in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans is actually two different species.   [ Oceans | Species discovery]

Google, Australia give big boost to geothermal power production

(08/20/2008) Geothermal energy got a big boost this week with Google and the Australian government announcing multi-million initiatives that make use of Earth's heat as a clean and renewable source of power.   [ Geothermal energy | Energy]

Brazil to establish oil palm plantations on degraded Amazon rainforest lands

(08/20/2008) Brazil will allow the establishment of oil palm plantations on degraded lands in the Amazon rainforest under a agreement signed between Brazil's ministers of agriculture and the environment, reports Folha de S. Paulo. Environment minister Carlos Minc said the proposed law aims to expand biodiesel production in the Amazon without contributing further to deforestation, but environmentalists argue the plan will effectively cut the amount of forest landowners are required to keep on their property from 80 percent to 50 percent, thereby accelerating forest conversion and breaking an earlier promise by Minc that the government would not change the restriction. The initiative, dubbed "Floresta Zero", allows a landowner count the planting of oil palm and other exotic species towards their "legal forest reserve" requirement. The existing law mandates the use of native species in forest regeneration for the establishment of legal forest reserves.   [ Amazon | Brazil | Palm oil | Rainforests]

Mangrove species flourishes in the United Arab Emirates after a century of local extinction

(08/20/2008) A long-absent mangrove species is flowering again in the United Arab Emirates a hundred years since its disappearance. Seeds of the rhizophora mucronata were brought from Pakistan and planted along the coast. The project was a joint venture between the United Arab Emirate's (UAE) Department of President's Affairs and the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi.   [ Mangroves]

When the magpie looks in a mirror, it sees itself

(08/20/2008) Unlike Narcissus of Greek mythology—who upon seeing his reflection in water jumped in thinking it was another—magpies have proven they can recognize their own reflections. Until now, only a small number of primates (chimpanzees, pygmy chimps, and orangutans) have displayed this ability, making the magpie the first bird shown to recognize itself.   [ Animal behavior | Birds]

Indonesia's Riau bans destruction of rainforests and peatlands for palm oil

(08/15/2008) The Indonesian province of Riau on the island of Sumatra has pledged to stop destruction of its forests and carbon-rich peatlands in an effort to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation by 50 percent by 2009. Riau Governor Wan Abu Bakar announced the temporary ban — which will remain in place until signed into law — at a ceremony in the provincial capital Pekanbaru.   [ Indonesia | Palm oil | Rainforests]

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon won't increase significantly for 2008

(08/15/2008) Brazilian Environment Minister Carlos Minc said Thursday that Amazon deforestation for the 2007-2008 year will likely be comparable to the prior year. The announcement marks an abrupt turn-around for the Brazilian government which in April said that forest destruction was expected to increase for the first time since 2004.   [ Amazon | Brazil | Deforestation]

Smoke from Amazon fires reduces local rainfall

(08/14/2008) Smoke released by fires set to clear the Amazon rainforest inhibit the formation of clouds, thereby reducing rainfall, report researchers writing in the journal Science. The study provides clues on how aerosols from human activity influence cloud cover and ultimately affect climate.   [ Oceans | Dead zone | Hypoxia]

Marine 'dead zones' double every decade

(08/14/2008) The number of marine dead zones have doubled every decade since the 1960s and show no sign of abating, warn scientists writing in the journal Science. Dead zones have expanded across the ocean at alarming rates. Currently 415 sites—usually along coastlines—have shown signs of seasonal to persistent hypoxia—a severe lack of oxygen. In a review, researchers Robert Diaz and Rutger Rosenberg argue that marine dead zones have "become a major worldwide environmental problem", occupying a portion of the ocean equal to that of the United Kingdom. Growth continues to accelerate.   [ Oceans | Dead zone | Hypoxia]

Investors seek profit from conserving rainforest biodiversity

(08/13/2008) An investment firm has launched the first tropical biodiversity credits scheme. New Forests, a Sydney, Australia-based company, has established the Malua Wildlife Habitat Conservation Bank in Malaysia as an attempt to monetize rainforest conservation. The "Malua BioBank" will use an investment from a private equity fund to restore and protect 34,000 hectares (80,000 acres) of formerly logged forest that serves as a buffer between biologically-rich forest reserve and a sea of oil palm plantations. The conservation effort will generate "Biodiversity Conservation Certificates", the sales of which will endow a perpetual conservation trust and produce a return on investment for the Sabah Government and the private equity fund.   [ Conservation | Borneo | Ecosystem services]

Carbon tax will ease transition to sensible climate policy

(08/13/2008) The management of carbon dioxide and the climate represent both an economic development challenge and the ecological problem of the next hundred years. Energy use, economic success and carbon dioxide emissions are, currently, intertwined. A carbon market that represents the true cost of energy and the disposal of our waste products in the environment is a potential long-term policy mechanism for carbon dioxide management. However, the strong interconnection between carbon dioxide emissions and economic success distinguishes the carbon market from other environmental markets used to control pollution. Therefore evolution to that solution is not straightforward; there are a series of necessary steps needed to develop a market.   [ Carbon tax | Environmental economics]

How sustainable is your canned tuna? It depends on the retailer

(08/13/2008) To aid concerned tuna-lovers, Greenpeace has ranked eight of the top canned tuna retailers in order from most sustainable to least. Canned tuna from John West, the biggest retailer of tuna in the UK, proves to be the worst of the lot, whereas Salinburys is the most environmentally-friendly. In a press release Greenpeace said that Salinburys is "the only tinned tuna brand that is fished using sustainable methods".   [ Fishing | Certification | Europe]

No scientists necessary: Bush administration's new plans regarding endangered species

(08/13/2008) I would have thought it difficult after eight years to still be surprised by any presidential administration, but the Bush administration has proven unique. After years of delisting endangered species, refusing to list others, and slowly watering down the landmark Endangered Species Act, the Bush administration has finally come out and said it: scientists are superfluous when it comes to saving endangered species. Despite eight years of belittling scientists, I was still surprised they would insult them so blatantly.   [ Endangered species | Environmental politics | United States]

High mineral prices drive rainforest destruction

(08/13/2008) The surging price of minerals is contributing to degradation and destruction of rainforests worldwide, warns a researcher writing in the current issue of New Scientist. William F. Laurance, a biologist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, says the high price of gold, coal, and other minerals is driving an influx of miners — legal and illegal — into tropical countries, where there are extensive mineral deposits but environmental protections are often a low priority. Pollution, deforestation, overhunting, and invasion of indigenous territories and protected areas can result.   [ Mining | Deforestation | Rainforests]

Oil development could destroy the most biodiverse part of the Amazon

(08/12/2008) 688,000 square kilometers (170 million acres) of the western Amazon is under concession for oil and gas development, according to a new study published in the August 13 edition of the open-access journal PLoS ONE. The results suggest the region, which is considered by scientists to be the most biodiverse on the planet and is home to some of the world's last uncontacted indigenous groups, is at great risk of environmental degradation.   [ Amazon | Deforestation | Energy | Indigenous people | Oil | Peru | Rainforests]

"Turtle carbon" could help protect rainforests and save endangered sea turtles

(08/12/2008) Using carbon credits to promote rainforest conservation could help protect endangered sea turtles in some parts of the world, argues a carbon finance expert. Gabriel Thoumi, director of forestry at MGM International, says that "turtle carbon" could serve as a model for financing wildlife conservation through the emerging "payments for ecosystem services" schemes.   [ Avoided deforestation | Carbon finance | Conservation | Indonesia | Avoided deforestation]

Carl Linnaeus's forgotten apostle rediscovered:
an ecological account of 18th Century Suriname

(08/11/2008) After establishing his ingenious classification system in 1735, Carl Linnaeus, the greatest naturalist of his era, sent young and eager followers to all parts of the world to help him in the goal of collecting and cataloguing the world's species. It was a project unlike any before; Swedish naturalists, often referred to as Linnaeus's apostles, roamed as far as Japan, South America, Australia, and the Arctic with the same goal in mind—describing species according to Linnaeus's system. Of the 18 men sent abroad, 10 returned. Almost all those who didn't succumbed to disease. Those who returned to Europe gained renown, including lucrative and stable positions in academia, yet one of the most promising returned and entered oblivion. It was rumored his expedition had been a failure; he was called a drunk, a coward, even insane. The diary of naturalist Daniel Rolander's trek to Suriname, long ignored by science and history, will be published for the first time this fall. Though the volume has been disregarded due to the persistent rumors regarding its author, the few readers of the Suriname Diary are consistently surprised by Rolander's observatory powers, his ability for apt description, and his relentless commitment to natural history despite continual ill health and trying conditions.   [ Amazon | Suriname]

Seals used for climate change research

(08/11/2008) Animals have aided humanity for millennia. We are used to considering animals like dogs, horses, cows, and lamas as utilitarian in a very direct way, but what about elephant seals? As climate change presents a great threat to humanity and the world's ecosystems, scientists are racing to collect the best information possible to understand the changes wrought by global warming. One area of the world that has been impossible to monitor is the sea-ice of Antarctica's Southern Ocean. The inability of satellites to 'see' through the ice and the difficulty for ships in exploring them has made these regions a blank zone for climate change data. However group of researchers has found a way around these challenges. Ingeniously, they have attached oceanographic sensors to elephant seals that dive deep and feed among the sea ice.   [ Antarctica | Wildlife]

Amphibians face mass extinction

(08/11/2008) Amphibians are in big trouble. At least one third of the world's 6,300 known species are threatened with extinction, while at least 200 species have gone extinct over the past 20 years. Worryingly the outbreak of a deadly fungal disease, chytridiomycosis, is spreading throughout the tropics leaving millions of victims. A new study, published in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, warns that there is "little time to stave off a potential mass extinction" of frogs, salamanders, and caecilians.   [ Amphibians | Extinction]

7 steps to solve the global biodiversity crisis

(08/11/2008) Many biologists believe Earth is entering a sixth mass extinction event, one that has is the direct of human activities, including over-exploitation, habitat destruction and introduction of alien species and pathogens. Climate change — largely driven by anthropogenic forces — is expected to soon increase pressure on Earth's biodiversity. With population and per-capita consumption expected to grow significantly by the mid 21st century, there seems little hope that species loss can be slowed. Nevertheless, writing in the journal PNAS, Stanford biologists Paul R. Ehrlich and Robert M. Pringle suggest seven steps to help improve the outlook for the multitude of species that share our planet.   [ Biodiversity | Extinction]

20% of the Brazilian Amazon's tree species to go extinct

(08/11/2008) A new study estimates the number of trees that will go extinct in the Brazilian Amazon due to habitat loss. The research, published in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), suggests that under optimistic scenarios, 20 percent of tree species will disappear. In a bleaker scenario, 33 percent will go extinct. If this proves true, Amazonian trees may be in as much danger as coral reefs and amphibians, both of which face extinction crises.   [ Amazon | Extinction]

Humans - not climate - drove extinction of giant Tasmanian animals

(08/11/2008) Humans — not climate change — were responsible for the mass extinction of Australia's megafauna, according to a new study published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.   [ Australia | Extinction]

Climate change to hurt Brazil's farm exports by 2020

(08/11/2008) Climate change could have a significant impact on thye value of Brazil's agricultural exports according to a study presented Monday at an agribusiness conference in Sao Paulo, reports the Financial Times.   [ Brazil | Agriculture]

Woolworths drops contract with APP, activist group remains wary

(08/10/2008) Last week Woolworths announced it was dropping its contract with Asian Pulp and Paper (APP). Woolworths had come under considerable fire for carrying APP, which has a notorious record of environmental degradation on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Previously APP has lost contracts with several other large companies including Office Depot, Wal-Mart, and Staples. APP has also fallen foul of several environmental groups like the World Wildlife Fund, the Rainforest Alliance, and the Forest Stewardship Council, which certifies sustainable wood products.   [ Australia | Logging]

Aquarium fish trade linked to cocaine, timber smuggling in Brazil

(08/10/2008) Smugglers are using the ornamental fish trade to traffic cocaine and illegally logged timber according to a report from Sérgio Abranches of O Eco, a leading Brazilian environmental web site.   [ Brazil | Pet trade]

Three American mussel species lost to extinction

(08/10/2008) After a five year review, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has asked to take three mussels species off the Endangered Species List due to the belief that the mussels are extinct. The three species were all native to the Tennessee River and are thought to have gone extinct due to drastic changes in water conditions, including pollution and dams.   [ Dams | Extinction]

Fossils grant new insight into the Antarctica's natural history

(08/07/2008) At one time an alpine lake was inhabited by mosses and diatoms; insects such as beetles and midges crawled among sparse ferns and various crustaceans lived amid the lake's calm waters. This tundra-like landscape was the last stand of life in Antarctica, and it existed up to 14 million years ago before suddenly vanishing.   [ Antarctica | Environment]

Global warming increases "extreme" rain storms

(08/07/2008) Global warming is increasing the incidence of heavy rainfall at a rate greater than predicted by current climate models have predicted, reports a new study published in the journal Science. The findings suggest that storm damage from precipitation could worsen as greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise.   [ Impact of climate change | Environment]

Pope Benedict XVI says environment has been undervalued by Catholics

(08/07/2008) Pope Benedict XVI, who has arguably been the most vocal Pope on environmental concerns, told 400 priests in a closed meeting in Northern Italy that "God entrusted man with the responsibility of creation". Denying that environmental degradation was partially a product of Christian teaching—for example the belief that God gave man dominion over the earth—instead the Pope said that the destruction of the environment was primarily due to materialism: living in a "materialistic world" where "God is denied" has led to the environment's current state.   [ Environmental politics | Environment]

Dell becomes carbon neutral by saving endangered lemurs

(08/06/2008) Dell, the world's largest computer maker, announced it has become the first major technology company to achieve carbon neutrality. The Texas-based firm reached its goal through "an aggressive global energy-efficiency campaign and increasing purchases of green power, verified emission reductions and renewable energy certificates," according to a statement. The company is also making investments in wind power in the U.S., China and India and funding rainforest conservation in Madagascar to avoid emissions that would otherwise result from deforestation.   [ Avoided deforestation | Conservation | Madagascar]

Human-testing for animal medications?

(08/06/2008) Medical advances for humans have largely been dependent on other species: deriving chemical compounds from plants, employing molds for vaccines, or testing drugs on mammals. However, in an intriguing twist the Wildlife Conservation Society has adapted a test used on humans for primates in the Bronx Zoo.   [ Conservation | Strange]

Australia declares its largest tropical rainforest park

(08/06/2008) Autralia will protect its most pristine rainforest a nearly twenty year battle between conservationists and land owners, according to a statement from the government of Queensland.   [ Australia | Conservation | Happy-upbeat environmental]

Australia's forests contain three times the expected carbon

(08/06/2008) Australia's natural eucalypt forests store three times the carbon conventionally believed, reports a new study by scientists at the Australian National University.   [ Australia | Carbon sequestration]

New mapping system shows how detailed climate changes will affect species

(08/06/2008) A new computer simulation from the Nature Conservancy shows greater detail than ever before on how climate change will affect the world's biodiversity, according to an article in New Scientist. In worst case scenarios—using the example of Bengal tigers in Sundarbans mangrove forest—the article's author, Peter Aldhous, writes that some species will be forced into a "condemned cell", literally having no-where to go while their region becomes inhabitable.   [ Conservation | Remote sensing]

Reduced impact logging can save 160 m tons of carbon emissions per year

(08/06/2008) Improving inefficient logging practices could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from forest degradation, argues a new study published in the open-access journal PLoS.   [ Logging | Happy-upbeat environmental]

Brazil may ban new sugar cane cultivation in the Pantanal

(08/06/2008) Brazil would restrict sugar cane cultivation in the world's largest tropical wetland under a proposed plan to protect the Pantanal, reports Reuters.   [ Brazil | Wetlands | Happy-upbeat environmental | Ethanol | Pantanal]

Massive gorilla population discovered in the Congo

(08/05/2008) The world's known population of critically endangered western lowland gorillas has more than doubled following a new census that revealed some 125,000 in the Republic of Congo. The survey, conducted across conducted in an area of 18,000 square miles of rainforests and swamps by the Wildlife Conservation Society and local researchers, offers new hope for one of the world's most charismatic endangered species.   [ Congo | Gorillas | Happy-upbeat environmental | Endangered species | Wildlife]

48% of primates threatened with extinction

(08/05/2008) 48 percent of the world's primate species are at risk of extinction, according to the first comprehensive review of the world's primates since 2003. The results were released as an update to the IUCN Red List at the 22nd International Primatological Society Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland. Of the 634 types of primates known to science, 11 percent were listed as Critically Endangered, 22 percent Endangered, and 15 percent Vulnerable. The results are the worst of any animal group on record, surpassing even the highly-threatened amphibians and corals.   [ Primates | Endangered species | Wildlife]

New Costa Rica guide offers insight on responsible tourism

(08/04/2008) Costa Rica is the world's most popular destination for rainforest tourism thanks to its spectacular biodiversity, relative ease-of-access and safety, and many natural attractions. In 2007 nearly 2 million tourists visited the country, generating almost 2 billion in revenue -- more than the combined income from bananas and coffee. While countless books are available for information this Central American jewel, a newly updated travel guide stands out for its comprehensiveness and ease-of-use.   [ Costa Rica | Ecotourism]

Scientists discover world's smallest snake species

(08/03/2008) If one wanted to overcome their fear of snakes, they may want to start with the newly discovered Leptotyphlops carlae. Measuring less than four inches long, even stretched out this new species of threadsnake can't compete with the average pen or pencil. The species was discovered by Dr. Blair Hedges on the island of Barbados. Hedges has a fondness for miniature species as he and his colleagues also discovered the world's smallest frog Eleutherodactylus iberia from Cuba and the smallest lizard Sphaerodactylus ariasae from a small island off the Dominican Republic.   [ Species discovery | Biodiversity]

Brazil asks rich countries to fund Amazon rainforest conservation

(08/02/2008) Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva officially unveiled plans to raise billions of dollars for protecting the Amazon rainforest. The fund, which was originally announced several months ago and will be administered by the national development bank, aims to raise $21 billion in foreign donations by 2021. Contributors will not be eligible for carbon credits that may be generated by reductions in deforestation, but the money will go towards sustainable development and conservation initiatives in the region. Silva did not say how much of the Amazon would be protected under the plan.   [ Happy-upbeat environmental | Brazil | Amazon]

Most popular mongabay.com news articles for July 2008

(08/01/2008) Carbon map, solar energy breakthrough, and Amazon palm oil are the popular new stories for the month.   [ Popular news articles]

African elephants being poached at record rate

(08/01/2008) African elephants are being killed for their ivory at a record pace, reports a University of Washington conservation biologist   [ Elephants | Poaching]

Critically endangered fruit bat born in New York City

(08/01/2008) A critically endangered fruit bat was born earlier this month at the Bronx Zoo.   [ Bats | Endangered species]