A Place Out of Time: Tropical Rainforests - Their Wonders and the Perils They Face. Information on rainforests, biodiversity, and environmental concerns. Tropical Freshwater Fish: Information on tropical freshwater fish including species descriptions, tips on aquarium care, and more. Madagascar: Information on a country rich with culture and biodiversity. Travel Pictures: Pictures of wildlife and landscapes from around the world.
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May 31, 2005

According to recent data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States, the proportion of the population aged 65 years and over is projected to increase from 12.4% in 2000 to 19.6% in 2030. It is this growing segment of the population, through a "GrayCorps" program, that could be key to addressing a number of looming social issues both here in the United States and abroad.

May 30, 2005

A Brazilian Indian tribe armed with bows and arrows and unseen for years has been spotted in a remote Amazon region where clashes with illegal loggers are threatening its existence.

May 29, 2005

Madagascar is a place like no other. Separated from mainland Africa for some 160 millions years, 80% of its native flora and fauna are unique to the island. Here's a look at tourism in Madagascar.

May 28, 2005

The environmental group Greenpeace nominated President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and five others for its first "Golden Chainsaw" prize -- to be awarded to the Brazilian deemed to have contributed most to the Amazon's destruction.

May 27, 2005

Using recordings of reef sounds may increase reef fish stocks depleted by shipping traffic, underwater drilling and overfishing. Scientists have discovered that some species of young coral reef fish are lured back to home reefs by sounds they hear while still developing in the egg.

May 26, 2005

According to a report from Reuters, legislators for Brazil's Green Party have quit the government in protest of its failure to slow deforestation in the Amazon. The party said the recent announcement that Amazon deforestation topped 10,000 square miles (26,000 square kilometers) in 2004 was the final straw after what it called a string of disastrous environmental policies by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

May 25, 2005

This year the United Nations announced a major push to deliver unprecedented amounts of aid to the world's poorest countries. U2's Bono has appealed to fans at rock concerts to support the One Campaign, which aims to persuade the U.S. government to spend an additional one percent of its budget to assist Africa and other struggling regions, while Tony Blair has called for a massive charitable package for Africa. Despite this apparent renewed interest in charity, over the past generation aid to the developing world has met mixed reviews. Some of the largest recipients of aid are still some of the world's poorest countries. What's going on here? Have aid agencies just been throwing money into a hole? Is there a better way to help the planet's poorest people? C.K. Prahalad argues that by regarding the world's masses as potential customers, businesses and the poor will be better off.

May 24, 2005

Later this week Dreamworks releases Madagascar, an animated film depicting a group of zoo escapees who visit the island by the same name off the eastern coast of southern Africa. The real-life Madagascar is a fascinating place to visit. Madagascar's wildlife is among the best in the world in terms of diversity, abundance, and approachability and travel to Madagascar for this purpose is most rewarding. Madagascar also offers spectacular landscapes, an unusual history, and a countryside full of generally friendly and wonderful people.

May 23, 2005

In the Indonesian subdistrict of Lamno on the island of Sumatra, rapid reconstruction from the December tsunami's swath of destruction is taking place by several intrepid private organizations. The Aceh province was hit the hardest out of all the areas affected by the tsunami. At first glance, this efficient and speedy rebuilding of homes, schools, churches and fishing boats seems like nothing but a reassuring progression into recovery. Upon closer inspection however, it is becoming clear that despite the good intention of the relief groups coordinating these efforts, the response to one tragic disaster may only be facilitating another. In this region on the west coast of the island, various aid organizations are using tropical hardwood timber that has been illegally harvested from nearby mountains to build structures for the local people.

May 22, 2005

The world's first commercial wave farm will be installed in Portugal. The power generators will use wave motion to produce electricity by pumping high-pressure fluids to motors, said Norsk Hydro AS, a Norwegian energy company that is the lead backer of the project

May 21, 2005

Eco-friendly wood is all the rage these days. Companies from Ikea to Home Depot require their suppliers of tropical wood to be certified by various organizations like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which aim to ensure wood is harvested in a sustainable and responsible manner. Typically, sustainably managed wood products are more costly for consumers. Why is this wood more expensive?.

May 20, 2005

New figures from the Brazilian government show that 10,088 square miles of rain forest were destroyed in the 12 months ending in August 2004. Deforestation in the Amazon in 2004 was the second worst ever as rain forest was cleared for cattle ranches and soy farms.

May 19, 2005

Africa's first new species of monkey for over 20 years has been discovered in remote mountains in the southern Tanzania. The Highland Mangabey was first discovered by biologists from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in a remote highland forest.

May 18, 2005

Integrated aquaculture offers great potential for sustainable poverty alleviation in the Amazon region. It reduces the need to clear land for subsistence agriculture while generating significant economic and nutritional benefits for poor Amazonian colonists.

May 17, 2005

While Planet Earth is becoming an increasingly smaller and more familiar world as every corner is explored and colonized, there remain millions of species undiscovered and undocumented. A number of significant species have been discovered in recent months, revealing humans' huge gaps in knowledge of the world around them.

May 16, 2005

Genetically modified agriculture and bioengineered food are quite controversial topics among environmentalists. Some argue that such agricultural techniques hold promise by reducing the need to convert more wildlands for agriculture, while others claim that "Frankenfoods" may have unintended and unforeseen negative consequences. Regardless of one's position, there is no doubt that genetically modified agriculture is making serious gains; last week the one billionth acre of genetically enhanced crops was planted.

May 15, 2005

For thousands of years, indigenous groups have extensively used rainforest plants for their health needs -- the peoples of Southeast Asian forests used 6,500 species, while Northwest Amazonian forest dwellers used 1300 species for medicinal purposes. How did rainforest shamans gain their boundless knowledge on medicinal plants? There are over 100,000 plant species in tropical rainforests around the globe, how did indigenous peoples know what plants to use and combine especially when so many are either poisonous or have no effect when ingested. Many treatments combine a wide variety of completely unrelated innocuous plant ingredients to produce a dramatic effect.

May 14, 2005

In the rolling hills of the southeastern highlands of Madagascar there lives a group of people known as the Zafimaniry, or the "the people of the forest." The Zafimaniry are renowned sculptors of wood and traditionally, virtually every member of the community was involved in some aspect of woodworking and cabinetmaking. However, these are not good times for many Zafimaniry. Severe deforestation for slash-and-burn cultivation ("tavy") has left their surroundings nearly completely devoid of trees. Once encircled by vigorous forests, some Zafimaniry villages are more than a day's trek from the nearest natural wood source. As a result, over the past decade, the Zafimaniry have increasingly looked toward tourism as an answer to their the economic plight. The unmoderated flow of tourists into these remote and delicate communities has denigrated their culture and left some Zafimaniry further entrenched in poverty.

May 13, 2005

Two global conservation groups and the U.S. forest products industry have formed a unique partnership to help the tsunami-stricken people of Indonesia rebuild their lives without destroying the already threatened tropical forests of Sumatra.

May 12, 2005

Surging vanilla production in countries from Papua New Guinea to Colombia is causing the price of vanilla beans and extract to plummet in markets around the world. The drop in vanilla prices is expected to hit Madagascar, the world's largest producer of vanilla beans, especially hard. Most affected will be growers in the tropical northeastern part of the island who have relied on the valuable crop for years. Meanwhile, Madagascar's rice output has increased thus reducing the risk of more unrest over the cost of living costs.

May 11, 2005

New mammals continue to be discovered in the world's disappearing forests. Just days after World Wildlife Fund researchers announced the possible discovery of a fox-like mammal in the rainforest of Borneo, Wildlife Conservation Society scientists published an account of a new rodent in Laos. The Lao rodent is so unique it that represents an entire new family of wildlife. Last month the World Wildlife Fund, reported that 361 new species, have been identified and described on the island of Borneo alone over the past decade.

May 10, 2005

Last month the National Geographic Society and IBM announced the launch of the Genographic Project, a controversial genetic research initiative that aims to reveal the intimate details of human migratory history. Data from the project will provide a map of world population patterns, originating from Africa and dating back 150,000 years. The project faces strong opposition from the Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism, a group which fears the data will be used to exploit indigenous populations.

May 9, 2005

Madagascar is home to an assortment of bizarre animals from lemurs to hedgehog-like tenrecs to brightly colored geckos. Due to its geographic isolation, about three-fourths of its species are found nowhere else on the planet and the island lacks many of the animals found elsewhere in the world. Naturally absent from Madagascar are dogs, rabbits, cats, monkeys, squirrels, pangolins, toads, monitor lizards; adders, vipers, cobras, pythons, hornbills, woodpeckers, and a host of other animals you might expect to find due to their prevalence in regions near the island. In their place, vacant ecological niches are filled by unqiuely native Malagasy species. Among these species is the Giant Jumping Rat (Hypogeomys antimena), an animal that can be compared to a rabbit both in terms of its appearance and its role in the ecosystem.

May 8, 2005

Pictures of Yosemite. Yosemite National Park was officially born on October 1, 1890.

May 7, 2005

For a long time, preserving natural spaces was considered to be a favor to the environment without a true, measurable benefit to businesses, industrial production and productivity. In recent years however, scientists are increasingly producing substantial evidence to support the notion that the natural environment supplies a diverse range of renewable economic benefits beyond timber and fish. These benefits are termed “ecological services” and provide such valuable functions as water treatment, pollination and sediment capture, simply by remaining intact.

May 6, 2005

The Bush administration's repeal a Clinton-era federal rule that banned road construction, logging and other development in some 58.5 million acres of roadless public land will likely increase the 'human footprint' on pristine wildlands in the United States.

May 5, 2005

Talks aimed at addressing the deteriorating condition of the world's marine fisheries opened this week in Canada, but in an atmosphere with little reason for optimism. Past efforts to manage fisheries or control overfishing have largely failed to slow the depletion of marine resources. Separately, NOAA scientists announced their attempt to battle ocean 'ghostnets' using remote sensing technology

May 4, 2005

A new study in the American Journal of Human Genetics confirms that the people of Madagascar have origins in both East Africa and also distant Borneo.

May 3, 2005

A group of English scientists are spending a month in the Gobi desert in search of the Mongolian Death Worm, a fabled creature said to lurk in the sands of the hostile region. The three to five feet long long creature is known to the locals as Allghoi khorkhoi, Mongolian for intestine worm because it is reported to look like the intestine of a cow. Mongolian nomads have made extraordinary claims about the animal, reporting that the death worm can spit a corrosive yellow saliva that acts like acid and that they have the ability to generate blasts of electricity powerful enough to kill a full grown camel.

May 2, 2005

According to figures released earlier this year 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, the use of contraceptives, and urbanization..

May 1, 2005

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