June 23, 2004

SocialFunds.com released an article that explores "How Unsustainable Forestry Practices in Indonesia Impact Sustainable Practice in the US." The article cites International Paper as a forest products company that refuses to procure Indonesian wood because it "found no system in place to guarantee that the wood coming from Indonesia" originates from sustainable forestry.

June 22, 2004

Today the The Wall Street Journal featured an article on the booming beef export market in Brazil. While the article focuses on meat baron whose pasturelands are outside the Amazon rainforest, many blame increasing deforestation on the cattle industry.

According to BirdLife International, Indonesia has changed its forestry regulations (under decree: "Regulation of the Minister of Forestry on Ecosystem Restoration in Production Forest Reserves") so that "production forest" already designated for clearance can be restored and managed for conservation. BirdLife International is working to acquire the logging rights for a 60,000-80,000 hectare block of forest for rehabilitation and protection.

June 18, 2004

The Guardian reports that Lord Ron Oxburgh, chairman of Shell Oil, admitted that the threat of climate change makes him "really very worried for the planet" and said there is an urgent need for carbon sequestration to capture emissions of carbon dioxide and store it underground. These statements mark a significant change in posture since a few years ago when Shell's official position was that carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion could not be linked to climate change.

Yale University Press released a new book on how Chiquita Bananas changed its environmental legacy. From the press release: "Beginning in the 1990s, an astonishing transformation began at Chiquita, a transformation not compelled by any government or policing agency, but driven by an unprecedented voluntary shift in focus and by a desire to protect its brand. In partnership with the nonprofit Rainforest Alliance, Chiquita set out to improve conditions for its workers, to minimize the environmental impact of its farms, and to conserve the rainforest surrounding its plantations."

June 17, 2004

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). The UN issued a press release that included the following: "Since 1990, it is estimated that some six million hectares of productive land have been lost every year due to land degradation. This in turn has caused income losses worldwide of US$ 42 billion per year. Yet, the costs associated with inaction in regards to desertification are estimated at one to three percent of developing countries' GDP. In most cases, investment in combating desertification is one order of magnitude below this amount."

Yesterday The Wall Street Journal featured on article on the relatively low cost of some conservation projects overseas. The article focused on a penguin conservation project in Peru: "You'd be surprised what $25,000 a year can buy in the Third World," says Mike Macek, bird curator for the St. Louis Zoo, which teamed up with Chicago's Brookfield Zoo and the Philadelphia Zoo to fund the penguin sitters. "In some cases you might be able to save an entire species."

June 16, 2004

According to a study by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, establishing a global network of marine parks, critical to restoring the health of the oceans and sustaining fishing industries, would cost the global community some $12-14 billion annually.

June 15, 2004

Mahathir Mohamad, the former prime minister of Malaysia, secretly used government funds to help Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe build a new $10 million mansion outside the capital city of Harare. Specifically, Dr Mahathir donated a shipment of rare Malaysian rainforest timber for Mr Mugabe to use in the construction of his 25 bedroom residence at a time when nearly half of Zimbabwe's population is dependent on international food aid.

June 14, 2004

In today's International Herald Tribune, Eugene Linden, Thomas Lovejoy and J. Daniel Phillips proposed a plan for conserving rainforests. Their plan would "divide the forest into 100 blocks, and then solicit commitments from international environmental groups, development institutions, corporations and other credible donors." The purpose: "to find an entity that would take responsibility for maintaining forest cover and forest health in each block of the entire forest system." The benefit of such a system would be the low cost and relative ease of implementation. Even corporate sponsors could get in on the action.

June 12, 2004

Rio de Janeiro's Botanic Gardens opened a plant DNA bank to preserve the genetic codes of hundreds of endangered plant species. According to a The World Conservation Union 338 plants species are facing extinction in Brazil.

June 11, 2004

A new study using NASA satellite data suggests that large-scale deforestation in the Amazon rainforest is affecting regional climate. Researchers found that during Amazon dry season in August 2003, there was a distinct pattern of higher rainfall and warmer temperatures over deforested regions. One of the lead authors, Andrew Negri, says "In deforested areas, the land heats up faster and reaches a higher temperature, leading to localized upward motions that enhance the formation of clouds and ultimately produce more rainfall." The study appears in a recent American Meteorological Society Journal of Climate.

High gas prices are spurring consumer interest in the Toyota Prius hybrid car -- so much that some dealers are tacking markups of $5,000 or more on top of the car's sticker price.

June 10, 2004

The government-appointed panel assigned to come up with solutions to environmental problems in the Grand Canyon is bogged down by political bickering according to a story by the Associated Press. Since the construction of dams on the Colorado River, four of the canyon's eight native fish species have gone extinct.

June 9, 2004

An article in the Wall Street Journal suggests that some retailers take advantage of consumers' ecological sentiments by charging excessive markups on "fair-trade" and eco-labeled goods while promoting themselves as good corporate citizens.

An editorial in last Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle notes that the World Bank is facing an important decision regarding global climate change: "whether to heed an official recommendation to stop financing oil and coal projects in developing countries."

June 8, 2004

According to the New York Times, 70,000 acres of rainforest are cut each year from the Lacandon region in Mexico, North America's most biologically diverse forest. International environmental organizations blame organized crime for much of the current destruction in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve -- trees are logged by armed vigilantes and forest is cleared for marijuana cultivation.

June 7, 2004

Following widespread criticism after new figures showed increasing deforestation in the Amazon region, Brazil's president announced four new national parks that protect rainforests in the states of Paraiba, Parana, Amapa and Maranhao. In conjunction with the decree, the World Wildlife Fund announced the creation of a permanent, multi-million dollar endowment to fund conservation efforts in the Brazilian Amazon in partnership with the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility and the government of Brazil. WWF and its partners are financing a 10-year, $240 million plan to create a network of protected areas in the Brazilian Amazon one and a half times larger than the entire U.S. National Parks system.

June 6, 2004

Rolling Stone featured a politically-charged article on global warming, specifically targeting the Bush Administration's stance on environmental policies relating to climate change.

June 4, 2004

A new article in Ecology outlines concerns among some scientists over the biological effects of ultraviolet-B radiation on amphibians, a group of animals that have been declining at an alarming rate over the past two decades. Some ecologists fear that the decline in amphibians -- as some of Earth's most sensitive animals -- may be a harbinger of a more widespread extinction crisis brought about by climate change, pollution, and habitat loss.

The Paper Recycling Action Group of Australia calculates that only 11.4 per cent of printing and writing paper was recovered (recycled) in 2003, compared with 73.5 per cent of old newspapers. Evidently everyday citizens are making the effort to recycle, but paper from workplaces is ending up in landfills. Friends of the Earth estimates that 7% of the pulp used by Australia's dominant producer of office paper comes from Indonesian rainforests.

June 3, 2004

Francisco Santos Calderón, vice-president of Colombia, wrote an editorial in the the International Herald Tribune blaming deforestation on Colombia's Pacific Coast on cocaine production by guerrillas. He claims that cocaine workers for the United Self-defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) have "laid to waste an estimated 1.8m hectares (7.92m acres) of pristine rainforest." He continues: "In Colombia, the production of cocaine is not an organic extension of indigenous medicinal culture ... It is an industry run by Farc, ELN and AUC, who pollute rivers and forests with millions of gallons of toxic fertilizers and slash and burn the natural habitats of increasingly endangered species." [full editorial]
[more on drugs & deforestation]

June 2, 2004

Already in 2004, Mongabay.com has had more visitors than in all of 2003 -- 788,100 visits in the last month alone. Thank you for your continued interest.

June 1, 2004

Last week the Brazil government lashed back at recent media reports on deforestation in the Amazon. In a statement entitled, "Ministry contests data about Amazon deforestation," the agriculture ministry reacted to recent articles appearing in The New York Times, The Economist and The Guardian that blamed cattle ranching and soybean farming for increased forest loss. Incidentally, mongabay has experienced a marked increase in hate mail since posting an article on deforestation in the Amazon.

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