Newsletter 2021-11-11



Top Brazil gold exporter leaves a trail of criminal probes and illegal mines by Roberto Cataldo [11/10/2021]

– Brazilian gold exporter BP Trading accounted for 10% of the country’s exports of the precious metal in 2019 and 2020, having purchased it from companies prosecuted for buying illegal gold.
– Most of the illegal mines are concentrated in Indigenous territories, where they deforest the land, pollute the rivers, and inflict violence on Indigenous communities.
– The company saw strong growth in recent years, with revenues of $256 million in 2019, more than double what it made in 2018.
– Illegal mining generates $600,000 to $800,000 a year in Brazil, according to Ministry of Mines and Energy estimates.

Bornean communities locked into 2-million-hectare carbon deal they don’t know about by John C. Cannon [11/09/2021]

– Leaders in Sabah, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo, signed a nature conservation agreement on Oct. 30 with a group of foreign companies — apparently without the meaningful participation of Indigenous communities.
– The agreement, with the consultancy Tierra Australia and a private equity-backed funder from Singapore, calls for the marketing of carbon and other ecosystem services to companies looking, for example, to buy credits to offset their emissions.
– The deal involves more than 2 million hectares (4.9 million acres) of forest, which would be restored and protected from mining, logging and industrial agriculture for the next 100-200 years.
– But land rights experts have raised concerns about the lack of consultation with communities living in and around these forests in the negotiations to this point.

COP26: Surging wood pellet industry threatens climate, say experts by Sharon Guynup [11/09/2021]

– With the U.N. climate summit (COP26) in its second week, Earth is on track to warm by 2.7° Celsius (4.86° Fahrenheit) by 2100, a catastrophic forecast based on projected carbon emissions. However, analysts say that those projections exclude major emissions currently escaping from biomass-burning power plants.
– A carbon accounting loophole in global climate change policy classifies burning woody biomass for energy as “carbon neutral,” and is accepted by the U.N. and many of the world’s nations. But scientists have proven otherwise, even as the forestry industry gets massive subsidies to produce millions of tons of wood pellets annually.
– Those subsidies are fueling rapid growth of the biomass industry, as forests are cut in the U.S., Canada, Eastern Europe, Russia, Vietnam, and Malaysia. The E.U. and U.K. are the largest biomass energy market, but with rapid expansion now occurring in Japan and South Korea, the biomass boom is just beginning.
– Scientists and activists say that to avoid disastrous global warming impacts, forest large biomass subsidies must end, which will make the industry unprofitable and free up funding for real climate solutions. But the topic is not even on the COP26 agenda, and action on the biomass burning issue anytime soon seems unlikely.

Struggle endures for Philippine community pitted against gold miner by Karlston Lapniten [11/09/2021]

– Australian-Canadian mining firm OceanaGold was recently granted a renewal of its permit to mine gold and copper in the northern Philippines.
– The mine has faced years of opposition from area residents, mostly Indigenous people, who say it has scarred their land and threatens the water systems they depend on.
– In 2019, when the company’s previous mining permit expired, protesters mounted barricades to block activity at the mine.
– This year, restrictions put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 have hampered their ability to organize.

In China, agroforestry serves up tea with a spoonful of sustainability by Sheryl Lee Tian Tong [11/08/2021]

– In Yunnan, China, smallholder farmers applying agroecological principles to tea cultivation have seen results in the form of better-tasting tea, lower management costs, and richer biodiversity.
– With ethical consumerism on the rise, integrating agroecology could be an opportunity for tea farms to contribute toward conservation goals, experts say.
– Tea farmers and scientists have observed a shift toward more sustainable farming practices, but highlight a need for government policy that can further boost these bottom-up changes.
– By sequestering carbon and contributing to local food security, agroforests can help humans adapt to and combat the climate crisis.

Indigenous lands under siege as buffalo frenzy grips the Amazon by Ana Ionova [11/05/2021]

– Deforestation is rising in Autazes, a municipality in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, according to satellite data and local sources.
– Indigenous leaders say the clearing is now encroaching on the 18 Indigenous reserves that lie scattered across Autazes, some of which are still awaiting full demarcation.
– Most of the razed lots are being turned into grazing pastures for herds of domestic water buffalos, which thrive in the floodplains that characterize the region.
– Indigenous community members say that in addition to clearing forest for pasture, buffalo farming is polluting their water sources and roaming buffalos are invading communities’ subsistence farms.

Indonesian couple stages ‘ecological wedding’ in hopes of inspiring others by Ebed de Rosary [11/04/2021]

– An increasing number of Indonesian couples are incorporating tree planting into their weddings, either as part of the ceremony or handing out samplings as souvenirs.
– Several towns and villages have adopted local regulations that require marriage applicants to plant a given number of trees as a requirement for getting married.
– The government has an ambitious goal of not just halving the deforestation rate over the next three decades, but also reforesting 10.6 million hectares (26.2 million acres) of land by 2050.


Despite deals, plans and bans, the Mediterranean is awash in plastic by Elizabeth Claire Alberts [11 Nov 2021]
– The Mediterranean is considered to be one of the world’s most polluted bodies of water due to waste disposal problems in many countries bordering the sea, as well as the intensity of marine activity in the region.
– There are several existing policies and treaties in place aimed at regulating plastics and reducing plastic pollution in the Mediterranean, but experts say more international cooperation is needed to tackle the problem.
– Citizen science organization OceanEye has been collecting water samples to measure the amount of microplastics present in the surface waters of the Mediterranean.

One in five hectares of oil palm in Indonesia is illegal, report shows by Hans Nicholas Jong [11 Nov 2021]
– A fifth of oil palm plantations in Indonesia, the world’s biggest producer of palm oil, are operating illegally inside forest areas that are off-limits to commercial agricultural activity, a new report from Greenpeace shows.
– Half of these plantations are operated by corporations, and the other half by smallholders, indicating that nearly a third of registered palm oil companies in Indonesia have illegal plantations.
– These illegal plantations occupy protected areas such as national parks and UNESCO World Heritage Site, and overlap with the habitat of threatened wildlife like orangutans and tigers.
– Many of the companies identified in the report are members of so-called sustainability certification schemes like the RSPO and ISPO, pointing to a failure by these initiatives to address unsustainable practices.

Indigenous agents fight deforestation with drones and AI in Brazilian Amazon by Juliana Ennes and Leandro Chaves [10 Nov 2021]
– The rate of deforestation has increased in recent years in the Brazilian state of Acre, which is now in the top five for deforestation risk, according to a forecast by an artificial intelligence tool developed by Microsoft and Brazilian nonprofit Imazon.
– In a study developed especially for Mongabay, the AI tool shows that Acre has 878 square kilometers (339 square miles) of land that is at high or very high risk of deforestation, including inside, 20 conservation units and 29 Indigenous territories.
– Efforts to combat deforestation include training of Indigenous people to monitor their own territories against agriculture-driven invasions.
– One Indigenous agroforestry agent told Mongabay that he and his peers rely on technology such as drones and GPS to monitor forest fires, guard against poaching, and thwart illegal invasions.

Police bust 2 men selling hornbills on Indonesian Facebook by Ahmad Supardi [10 Nov 2021]
– The online trade in hornbills is on the rise, a monitoring group says.
– The birds are widely hunted for their large casques and also sought as pets.

Podcast: Natural forest regeneration’s critical role in reforestation goals by Mike Gaworecki [10 Nov 2021]
– On today’s episode of the Mongabay Newscast, we discuss the science of forest restoration and how reforestation efforts can be part of the solution to environmental crises like global climate change and biodiversity loss.
– We speak with University of the Sunshine Coast professor and forest restoration consultant Robin Chazdon about the decision-making process that goes into designing a reforestation project, whether or not today’s tree-planting campaigns are likely to be beneficial in the long run, and some examples of both successful and failed forest restoration initiatives.
– University of California, Santa Cruz professor Karen Holl tells us about the conditions that are conducive to natural regeneration of forests and when tree-planting is necessary, what we know about the differences between planted and naturally regenerated forests, and why it’s so important for local communities to be involved in reforestation initiatives.

Starving and injured Sumatran tiger dies in captivity, Indonesian officials report by Lili Rambe [10 Nov 2021]
– A severely injured and emaciated Sumatran tiger has died in captivity after being captured from the wild, Indonesian conservation authorities reported.
– The adult female tiger was caught following a series of deadly tiger attacks on villagers living near Kerinci Seblat National Park.
– Conservation authorities speculate an outbreak of African swine fever that has affected the area’s population of wild boars likely forced the tigers to roam farther from the forests and into human settlements in search of food.
– Fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers remain in the wild, with the big cat’s population plunging in line with widespread destruction of its forest habitat, primarily due to logging and expanding oil palm and pulpwood plantations.

COP26: E.U. is committed to forest biomass burning to cut fossil fuel use by Justin Catanoso [10 Nov 2021]
– At COP26, Frans Timmermans, the European Commission’s executive vice president, made clear that the E.U. is committed to ending its addiction to oil, gas and coal, but only if it can use the bridge of burning forest biomass to get to an eventual goal of fully utilizing truly renewable energy sources, like wind and solar.
– Timmermans maintains that the E.U. is committed to only burning “the right kind of biomass: You can collect dead wood, you can collect those elements of the forests that are no longer alive, fallen down, etc. That constitutes a serious amount of biomass.… As long as your definition is sustainable… we can work with biomass.”
– A forestry industry representative agrees: “The biomass we are currently using in Europe is about 95% based on local resources — that is residues from forestry and wood processing originating from Europe… We are currently harvesting significantly less than is regrowing annually in Europe.”
– But critics say whole trees are being burned to make wood pellets and ask how the E.U. can commit to both biomass burning and protecting carbon-storing forests. “No amount of allegedly nicer forest management can overcome the basic problem of large, immediate emissions from burning tons of biomass daily,” said one activist.

Indigenous leaders share hopes and concerns towards pledges made at COP26 by Justin Catanoso [10 Nov 2021]
– Mongabay interviewed three Indigenous leaders from the tropics to obtain their views regarding the COP26 climate conference’s growing consensus around pledges towards Indigenous land rights, financial support and stewardship, and on conditions in their nations.
– Valeria Paye, of the Kaxuyana Indigenous group in the Brazilian Amazon, raised the alarm over President Jair Bolsanaro’s 2018 electoral promise to not give any more ancestral land back to Indigenous communities, and over his barring of financial resources destined for Amazon IPLC land rights and Indigenous stewardship of the biodiverse hotspot.
– Joseph Itongwa, a national director of an Indigenous rights group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was optimistic about the growing positive consensus at COP regarding Indigenous land rights, which also reflects the increasing momentum within his own country to pass legislation securing Indigenous rights.
– Monica Ndoen, a project manager of AMAN, worries that the Indonesian government’s focus on industrial development and big business to boost the country’s COVID-19 economic recovery will be prioritized over any promises to secure Indigenous land tenure. Indonesia’s leader has already backed away from the Glasgow Forest Declaration.

From the ocean floor, a startup livestreams the rise of coral cities by Claire Turrell [10 Nov 2021]
– A Portuguese company that was forged in Southeast Asia is building an underwater city for coral in Sultan Iskandar Marine Park, Malaysia, made from food waste such as rice husks.
– It is also building a 72 km2 (28 mi2) engineered reef off Comporta, Portugal, which will cost nearly $3 million.
– Each stackable underwater city contains a Bluboxx, a console fitted with sensors to measure the salinity, temperature and acidity of the sea, with the data then livestreamed to scientists and shared with governments.
– If no action is taken to protect coral reefs, it is believed that 90% will be extinct by 2050, according to the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

COP26 cop-out? Indonesia’s clean energy pledge keeps coal front and center by Hans Nicholas Jong [10 Nov 2021]
– In an effort to phase out its coal-fired power plants by the 2040s, as part of a pledge signed at the COP26 climate summit, Indonesia plans to start with decommissioning a quarter of its coal capacity by 2030.
– While some have welcomed the move, others note that Indonesia’s commitment is so riddled with caveats that it makes the effort essentially “useless” — in particular the fact that the country is on track to add more coal capacity by 2030 than it plans to retire.
– The government of President Joko Widodo is also betting big on giving the coal industry a second life through coal gasification, a process that yields a cleaner-burning fuel, but which, in producing it, is even more carbon-intensive than just burning coal.
– Other measures the government is rolling out to keep coal plants burning longer include co-firing, where wood pellets are burned alongside coal, and the use of carbon capture technology criticized as unfeasible at scale.

‘A leap of faith’: Q&A with Robin Radcliffe on airlifting rhinos upside down by Malavika Vyawahare [10 Nov 2021]
– Translocation of animals is not new; what is new is hanging them upside down by their feet under a helicopter, a method pioneered by the African nation of Namibia to transport endangered rhinos.
– A team of researchers recently won an Ig Nobel, a satirical take on the prestigious Nobel prizes that celebrate science at its quirky best, for studying how rhinos fare when transported in this manner.
– Mongabay spoke to Robin Radcliffe, a veterinarian at Cornell University and lead author of a new paper on aerial transportation of rhinos about the importance of doing this work.

After a pandemic reprieve, loggers return to a unique Madagascar forest by Rivonala Razafison [10 Nov 2021]
– Vohibola forest is one of the last primary forests standing in eastern Madagascar, and home to the world’s tiniest frogs and other rare and endangered creatures.
– For a time, in the quiet imposed by COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, Vohibola got a reprieve from some of the difficulties that have long plagued it, including deforestation, fires, and timber and charcoal trafficking.
– Local people banded together to plant thousands of trees, and the forest and its wildlife seemed to be relaxing and recovering.
– Now, however, Vohibola, a community forest under the management of an underresourced group of volunteers, appears to be returning to its old normal, with incidents of illegal logging ticking back up.

New global partnership aims to remove barriers to Indigenous climate finance by Laurel Sutherland [09 Nov 2021]
– At COP26, a new international coalition of organizations and investors, the Peoples Forest Partnership, announced plans to mobilize US $20 billion per year by 2030 directly to Indigenous forest conservation projects.
– The partnership believes this initiative can reduce carbon emissions from deforestation by at least 2 billion tons per year while protecting 500 million hectares of threatened tropical forests and biodiversity.
– While the partnership aims to set a high standard for equitable, accessible and culturally appropriate mechanisms for IPLCs to engage with climate finance, a consultation period is open for interested stakeholders to offer input on criteria and principles.

UNESCO reiterates road project’s dangers to Papua park as Indonesia doubles down by Hans Nicholas Jong [09 Nov 2021]
– UNESCO has renewed its call for Indonesia to close the Trans-Papua road that runs through a national park in the easternmost region of Papua, citing environmental concerns.
– The call comes after the environment minister said UNESCO’s request is not realistic and thus the road can’t be closed since it connects multiple districts in the region.
– The government also says the road construction doesn’t violate any law, but UNESCO says the concern is on the environmental impact of the road, not on whether the project is legal or not.
– Activists in the region say the road is also meant to serve extractive industries in the park, including logging and mining.

Planned copper mine raises fears for biodiversity hotspot in Jordan by Marta Vidal [09 Nov 2021]
– The Jordanian government plans to carve out almost a third of the Dana Biosphere Reserve to allow mining for copper in the biodiverse area.
– With more than 800 different plants and 215 bird species, Dana is home to about a third of Jordan’s flora, almost half of the country’s mammals, and half of all the bird species.
– Local communities and conservationists have expressed alarm over the plan, warning of irreversible environmental destruction, water and air pollution, and loss of habitat for rare wildlife.
– They also say the environmental impact assessment for the project has never been published, and cite the dangers of long-term contamination, pointing to 2,000-year-old copper mines that continue to pose a toxic threat.

For forest communities in Sumatra, loss of nature means loss of culture by Taufik Wijaya [09 Nov 2021]
– Environmental damage in the Ogan Komering Ilir region of South Sumatra is driving social shifts and threatening Indigenous cultural traditions.
– During the Panggung Kecil Festival in Palembang, the capital of South Sumatra, musicians Fikri M.S. and Silo Siswanto showcased new work exploring the cultural impact of environmental destruction.
– The musical tradition of tembangan in Silo’s home region risks being lost, but similar genres continue to flourish among Indigenous communities living in intact rainforests.

What’s stopping some countries from keeping up with tiger conservation promises? (commentary) by Chris Slappendel [09 Nov 2021]
– The last Global Tiger Initiative summit (GTI) was held in 2010, where tiger-range countries discussed the fall in tiger populations and future plans for tiger conservation.
– Since then, while India, Nepal, and Bhutan have made visible efforts to save their tigers, some other countries saw a decline in tiger numbers and acted with a lack of transparency and accountability.
– During the next tiger summit in 2022, all tiger-range countries need to take charge of conservation issues instead of hiding the truth to avoid humiliation. Conservation efforts must entail transparency, accountability, and the creation of a supervising authority.
– The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

New restoration “Playbook” calls for political, economic, and social change by Liz Kimbrough [08 Nov 2021]
– Leading forest and climate experts have come up with a “playbook” for ecosystem restoration that accounts for climate change and forest loss as not just biophysical and environmental problems, but also deeply political, economic and social issues.
– It defines 10 principles for effective, equitable, and transformative landscapes that its authors say could be game-changing if followed.
– The playbook discusses the importance of ending fossil fuel subsidies and shifting those resources toward ecosystem restoration, renewable energy, and supporting the land rights of local and Indigenous communities that are protecting forests.
– The authors invite IUCN members and leaders at COP26 in Glasgow to consider adopting the Playbook to guide biodiversity conservation, and climate change mitigation in forests and, more broadly, call for structural changes from local to international scale.

COP26: As carbon emissions rise unabated, scientists eye a methane removal fix by Justin Catanoso [08 Nov 2021]
– The COP26 climate summit has moved into its second week, with no major climate change breakthroughs in sight. Just as alarming is a new investigation released today by The Washington Post showing that the world’s nations are hugely underreporting carbon emissions, making the race to truly curb carbon emissions even more urgent.
– As a result, COP26 negotiators and scientists are shifting their immediate attention from not only cutting CO2 emissions, but also slashing methane (CH4) emissions from fossil fuel, agricultural, and landfill sources. A hundred nations last week pledged to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030.
– Some scientists think they know the answer, suggesting a variety of engineering solutions to achieve rapid methane removal from the atmosphere — solutions which have been successful in the lab but remain untested in nature. COP26 attendees are said to be showing significant interest in this potential technology fix.
– However, there are numerous concerns, including the possible unforeseen public health and environmental impacts of methane removal technology, the challenge of upscaling and implementing the various proposed methods, and finding funding for the work. Perhaps the biggest hurdle is time, as climate change escalates apace.

Under Bolsonaro, Indigenous Yanomami see surge in child malnutrition deaths by Rafael Oliveira/Agência Pública [08 Nov 2021]
– With 0.013% of the Brazilian population, the Yanomami accounted for 7% of deaths from child malnutrition in 2019-2020.
– More than 50% of Indigenous Yanomami children are underweight and suffering from acute to chronic malnutrition.
– Indigenous health advocates blame the problem in part on lack of government support, including the ending of food provisions for community health units.
– Another factor is the growing presence of illegal miners inside the Yanomami Indigenous territory, bringing with them disease and contamination; areas more affected by mining also suffer more from malnutrition.

Relying on green labels to address our thirst for the products of deforestation would be a disaster (commentary) by Sam Lawson [08 Nov 2021]
– Fresh promises on forests at COP26 will be meaningless unless they are coupled with real action. A key test will come shortly after the conference concludes.
– Deforestation and associated human rights abuses are driven by overseas demand for agri-commodities like palm oil, soy and beef. They won’t be stopped until that demand is stopped. New draft EU legislation – expected to be released next week – could cut off one of the biggest sources of that demand.
– However, while decision-makers debate the finer points of the law, such as the commodities it will cover, none of these will matter if they do not address a wider problem: the flawed ‘independent certification’ schemes it looks likely to end up relying on, whether they are given a formal ‘green lane’ or not.
– This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

Scientists urge Biden to remove logging, fossil fuels, biomass from budget bills by Liz Kimbrough [08 Nov 2021]
– More than 100 scientists have issued an open letter urging U.S. President Joe Biden and members of Congress to remove provisions promoting logging, forest biomass and fossil fuels from the multitrillion-dollar infrastructure and reconciliation (Build Back Better) bills.
– Both bills contain provisions for logging for lumber and for forest biomass energy, with the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 5.
– Although the infrastructure bill promises $570 billion in tax credits and investments to combat climate change, it also includes a mandate for 12 million hectares (30 million acres) of “additional logging on federal public lands over the next 15 years.”
– “The logging and fossil fuel subsidies and policies in the Reconciliation and Infrastructure Bills will only intensify the rate and intensity of our changing climate,” the letter states.

FARC peace deal in Colombia sparked war on forests, report says by Maxwell Radwin [08 Nov 2021
– The Colombian government’s 2016 peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was supposed to correct land ownership inequality and tackle deforestation goal.
– However, dissident guerrilla groups have filled the power gap left by the FARC, making it increasingly difficult to carry out some of the peace deal’s most basic initiatives.
– In a new report, international peacekeeping organization Crisis Group recommends that the Colombian government increase its efforts to dismantle non-state armed groups and find better ways to help internally displaced families.

Indonesia’s leader touts green goals at COP26, but overlooks green stewards at home by Hans Nicholas Jong [08 Nov 2021]
– Indigenous rights advocates have lambasted Indonesian President Joko Widodo for failing to acknowledge Indigenous peoples and their role in protecting forests during his speech to other world leaders at the COP26 climate summit.
– They say this omission is emblematic of the government’s neglect of Indigenous Indonesians, who number an estimated 70 million and continue to lose their ancestral lands to extractive and infrastructure projects throughout the country.
– Advocates note that conflicts over Indigenous lands have increased under Widodo, and look likely to escalate under pro-business legislation championed by the administration.
– They also say this reality on the ground belies Widodo’s public stance at COP26, where he signed on to a pledge to end deforestation by 2030, which includes supporting Indigenous communities in their role as forest stewards.

Green light for mining project raises red flags for Chile penguin reserve by Michelle Carrere [08 Nov 2021]
– A mining and port project that could threaten penguins and other marine species has been approved near Chile’s Humboldt Archipelago.
– The approval has sparked widespread criticism from the scientific community, civil society, government officials and politicians, who say it ignores conservation science and prioritizes business interests.
– Politicians and conservationists from civil society organizations say they will go to court to try to stop the project.

In Peru’s Amazon, deforestation and crime sweep through Indigenous communities by Yvette Sierra Praeli [06 Nov 2021]
– Mongabay Latam investigated the territorial security of Indigenous communities in five regions of the Peruvian Amazon: Loreto, Ucayali, Pasco, Huánuco, and Madre de Dios.
– A geospatial analysis of deforestation, illegal mining, and illicit coca crops in these five regions shows that 1,247 Indigenous communities have been affected.
– The study also revealed that 647 self-identified Indigenous communities in these five regions do not have official recognition from regional authorities to certify their existence and therefore obtain legal title to the land.

What countries are leaders in reducing deforestation? Which are not? by Rhett A. Butler [05 Nov 2021]
– On Tuesday, 127 countries signed the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, pledging to “halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation” by 2030. The declaration was endorsed outside the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process and is therefore legally non-binding.
– The 127 signatories account for about 90% of global tree cover and 85% of the world’s primary tropical forests. The Glasgow Declaration thus represents a much larger constituency than the 39 countries which signed the New York Declaration on Forests in 2014. That latter effort failed badly in its ambition to halve deforestation by 2020 — forest loss rose substantially in signatories’ territories.
– Given the extent to which the New York Declaration missed its near-term numeric target on a national level basis, it’s worth breaking down the aggregate data to look at countries on an individual basis to see where forest loss declined and increased.
– Indonesia experienced the biggest decline in primary tropical forest loss, while Brazil saw its primary forest loss more than double from 4.65 million ha to 9.4 million ha. Canada experienced the biggest decline in the extent of tree cover loss, while Brazil also led the world in terms of increase in tree cover loss.

Study shows ‘encouraging’ results of China’s bid to protect coastal wetlands by Elizabeth Claire Alberts [05 Nov 2021]
– China’s coastal wetlands experienced a significant recovery in recent years after many decades of loss and destruction, a new study suggests.
– Satellite imagery shows that different kinds of coastal wetlands deteriorated between 1984 and 2011, but began to improve from about 2012.
– The degradation of China’s coastal wetlands is largely attributed to land reclamation, construction and other economic activities, the study suggests.
– But the nation has recently recognized the importance of coastal wetlands, and initiated several projects aiming to restore and conserve these ecosystems.

For Bison Day 2021, conservation and reconciliation through buffalo eyes (commentary) by Cristina Mormorunni and Shelly R. Fyant [05 Nov 2021]
– The popular narrative is that bison (also called buffalo) were saved from extinction by Teddy Roosevelt and the American Bison Society, but that’s not the whole story.
– In addition to the few remaining wild bison within Yellowstone National Park, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT), also played a key role in preventing the species’ extinction.
– For National Bison Day in the U.S. on November 6, CSKT Chairwoman Shelly Fyant and Cristina Mormorunni with the Rockies Program of WCS suggest that it’s a day to also recognize and listen to traditional ecological knowledge, to ensure lasting conservation outcomes for the wildlife and wild places we all hold dear.
– This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily Mongabay.

In Mexico City’s urban sprawl, an unexpected illegal logging network thrives by Maxwell Radwin [05 Nov 2021]
– A national park inside Mexico City is an illegal logging hotspot for wood buyers from all over the country.
– The national park, called Cumbres del Ajusco, sits on the southern edge of the city, where cartels oversee the logging operations with local lumberjacks.
– Law enforcement agencies have struggled to root out the illegal logging operations due to a lack of personnel and questionable enforcement strategies

Stretch of Borneo’s Mahakam River eyed for protection to save Irrawaddy dolphins by Basten Gokkon [05 Nov 2021]
– Conservationists in Indonesian Borneo are working to establish a protected area along the Mahakam River to save the remaining population of the nearly extinct Irrawaddy dolphin.
– The proposed conservation area is expected to alleviate the threats to the population of the freshwater dolphins, including river degradation and ship traffic.
– The latest population estimates suggest only around 80 of the endangered dolphins remain in the Mahakam.

Indonesia’s flip-flop on zero-deforestation pledge portends greater forest loss by Hans Nicholas Jong [05 Nov 2021]
– Indonesia says it never actually agreed to end deforestation by 2030 when signing up to a global pledge to halt and reverse forest loss at the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow.
– The country’s forestry minister, Siti Nurbaya Bakar, says the pledge is unfair if it means that the country has to stop clearing its forests, since it still has to develop its economy to improve the welfare of its people.
– She says the government must not stop developing “in the name of carbon emissions, or in the name of deforestation.”
– Environmentalists say this indicates Indonesia has no intention of respecting the pledge; and in light of recent weakening of environmental safeguards, the country might see deforestation continue well into the future.

Outgunned by militants, rangers fear for chimpanzees in southwest Mali by Lucrèce Aminata Kanté [05 Nov 2021]
– Armed Islamist militants have taken over Bafing Faunal Reserve and surrounding areas of southwestern Mali, forcing park rangers and many residents to flee.
– Forestry officials and police say the militants and wildlife traffickers are killing chimpanzees and other wildlife with impunity within the reserve.
– Just 17% of western chimpanzees live in protected areas, and the insecurity in southwestern Mali threatens these endangered animals in one of the few places they should be safe.

Behind grand declarations at COP26, a long track record of failure by Ashoka Mukpo [05 Nov 2021]
– On Nov. 2, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson released the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, with more than 100 countries promising to “halt and reverse forest loss” by 2030.
– The declaration includes signatories like Brazil, Indonesia and China, but advocates warn the near-total failure of 2014’s similar New York Declaration on Forests should throw cold water over premature celebrations.
– Heavyweights of finance and commodity production also pledged to protect forests and move toward net-zero emissions at COP26 this week, but similar pledges made over the past decade have had little impact.

Study shines a light on Indonesia’s murky shark fishery and trade by Carolyn Cowan [05 Nov 2021]
– Indonesia is home to one-fifth of known shark and ray species and to the world’s largest shark and ray fishery, but a recent study reveals gaps in fisheries regulations that facilitate illegal and unregulated trade.
– Earlier this year, scientists reported that shark and ray numbers have declined globally by some 70% over the last half century, lending fresh urgency to improving fisheries regulations and limits on landings.
– The recent study revealed major discrepancies between export and import figures between Indonesia and trading partners. It also documented the complex web of domestic trade in shark and ray products and a surge in live exports.
– Authorities face challenges with verifying the origin of a vast array of processed shark and ray products, from fins and cartilage to meat and oils; new techniques that enable authorities to use DNA barcoding to identify protected species have the potential to close regulatory loopholes and protect threatened species.

Peruvian court dismisses defamation case against Mongabay journalist by [04 Nov 2021]
– A court in Peru has formally dismissed a defamation case filed by an agribusiness company against Yvette Sierra Praeli, a reporter for Mongabay Latam, Mongabay’s Spanish-language bureau that primarily serves Latin America.
– On Monday, the Fourth Criminal Chamber of Lima ruled by majority to dismiss the aggravated defamation claim presented by Tamshi SAC, a plantation company the Peruvian government has prosecuted for “crimes against the environment” in the Amazon.
– The decision brings to an end a case that began nearly a year ago when Tamshi SAC sued Sierra over a story she published on Mongabay Latam about an investigation led by Alberto Yusen Caraza, a member of the Loreto Specialized Environmental Prosecutor’s Office, that resulted in a July 2019 conviction against three Tamshi officials for environmental crimes.
– The decision may have broader implications for environmental journalism in Peru, says Sierra’s attorney.

COP26: “Work with nature in forest restoration,” says respected journalist by Sue Branford [04 Nov 2021]
– Some large top-down reforestation projects are failing because governments aren’t taking their cue from nature, says renowned environmental science journalist and author Fred Pearce.
– In his new book, “A Trillion Trees,” Pearce argues that it is better to hand over control over forest restoration efforts to local communities who have been working in tune with nature for centuries.
– Pearce’s book offers numerous proofs that despite humanity’s missteps, nature is quietly rebounding in many places, with forests regrowing in parts of the world, and with much maligned alien species at times helping in the process. These are reasons for hope, he says.
– In this exclusive interview, Pearce tells Mongabay that COP-26 climate negotiators in Glasgow, Scotland, need to listen to and empower Indigenous and traditional community leaders, and not “degenerate into an orgy of tree planting” which may well be counterproductive.



Achieving a ‘nature positive future’: an interview with Cristián Samper by Rhett A. Butler [11/03/2021]
As fossil fuel use surges, will COP26 protect forests to slow climate change? by Justin Catanoso [11/01/2021]
Deforestation soars in Nigeria’s gorilla habitat: ‘We are running out of time’ by Orji Sunday [10/29/2021]
Indonesian farmers resisting an iron mine run up against a sultan by Arif Koes Hernawan, Cahyo Purnomo Edi, Lusia Arumingtyas, Mariyana Ricky PD, and Soetana Monang Hasibuan [10/28/2021]