Conservation news feed

  • In the Amazon, Bolsonaro’s far right may retain power even if Lula wins
    on September 26, 2022

    - While polls show former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva ahead in the upcoming elections, far-right ideology persists in the Amazon region.- Bolsonaro’s allies lead the polls for governor in five of the nine Amazon states: Acre, Mato Grosso, Rondônia, Roraima and Amazonas.- In all Amazonian states, polls indicate that the two presidential candidates are tied, in contrast to national polls.- Experts say that even if most states choose right-wing governors, the federal government will determine the future of the Amazon rainforest.

  • Reducing beef’s carbon footprint is key to achieving net-zero in Latin America and the Caribbean, new paper shows
    on September 26, 2022

    - Almost a dozen countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have pledged to reach net-zero emissions by around 2050.- Agriculture and related land-use changes are responsible for almost half of greenhouse gas emissions in the region, and ambitious changes to the food system are necessary to achieve these net-zero goals.- A new report by the Inter-American Development Bank shows that meeting the 2050 target depends heavily on reducing the carbon footprint of beef, on both the supply and the demand sides, especially from high beef-consuming countries in the region.

  • Bangladeshi industries explore renewables as power crisis looms
    on September 26, 2022

    - Although Bangladesh achieved 100% access to electricity for all people in March 2022, dwindling gas reserves, alongside a jump in global prices of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), have forced the Bangladesh government to resort to power load-shedding.- Since July 2021, the production of natural gases has drastically fallen. Against a demand of 2,252 million cubic feet of gas for power generation, only 1,035 million cubic feet of gas has been supplied to the power plants in recent months.- Ready-made garment factories (RMGs) are not convinced the government will be able to ensure uninterrupted power supply to their establishments if the crisis prolongs.- Some factories are trying to set up their own solar plants to avoid dependence on fossil fuel-based power. Solar installations require both heavy investment and space and thus only large factories can afford to do it at present.

  • Java fishers struggle with seine net ban amid rising costs, falling profits
    on September 26, 2022

    - Fishers on the north coast of Java are struggling to adapt to a ban on the seine net, with many boats confined to port after the government ceased issuing new permits to seine net fishers.- Java fishers report declining catch volumes from the alternative net.- Some boat captains fear bankruptcy as cash flow pressures mount.

  • Indigenous leader’s court win halts one of Australia’s ‘dirtiest gas projects’
    on September 23, 2022

    - Indigenous community members from the Tiwi Islands off the northern coast of Australia took Santos Limited to court, arguing that the company did not adequately consult traditional owners in its plans to drill in the Barossa offshore gas field.- A federal court threw out the approval granted by Australia’s offshore energy regulator, noting that all relevant stakeholders were not consulted.- The drilling to develop the $3.6 billion Barossa gas project could threaten the Tiwi peoples’ food sources, culture and way of life, opponents say.- If the Barossa project goes ahead, it could become one of Australia’s dirtiest gas projects emitting around 5.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide yearly, estimates from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis show.

  • Guatemalans strongly reject mining project in local referendum
    on September 23, 2022

    - Nearly 88% of participating residents voted against metallic mining in a municipal referendum in Asunción Mita, in southeastern Guatemala.- Locals fear the Cerro Blanco gold mining project would pollute soil and water sources, affecting the health of residents and crops.- There is also strong opposition in nearby El Salvador to the mine as it is located near a tributary of the Lempa River that provides water for millions of Salvadorans.- Cerro Blanco owner Bluestone Resources, the Guatemalan Ministry of Energy and Mines and a local pro-mining group contest the legality of the referendum.

  • 2022: Another consequential year for the melting Arctic
    on September 23, 2022

    - Arctic sea ice extent shrank to its summertime minimum this week — tied with 2017 and 2018 for the 10th lowest ever recorded. However, the last 16 consecutive years have seen the least ice extent since the satellite record began. Polar sea ice extent, thickness and volume all continue trending steeply downward.- Arctic air temperatures were high this summer, with parts of the region seeing unprecedented heating. Greenland saw air temperatures up to 36° F. above normal in September. Canada’s Northwest Territories saw record highs, hitting the 90s in July. Sea temperatures also remained very high in many parts of the Arctic Ocean.- Scientists continue to be concerned as climate change warms the far North nearly four times faster than the rest of the planet, sparking concern over how polar warming may be impacting the atmospheric jet stream, intensifying disastrous extreme weather events worldwide, including heat waves, droughts and storms.- While a mostly ice-free Arctic could occur as early as 2040, scientists emphasize that it needn’t happen. If humanity chooses to act now to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, downward sea ice extent and volume trends could potentially be reversed.

  • The mystery of narwhal behavior, solved by chaos theory
    on September 23, 2022

    - Researchers have used mathematical models based on chaos theory to analyze the movements of a pod of satellite-tagged narwhals.- Around solar noon, narwhals rest nearer the surface and take deep dives. At night, their dives are shallower but with more rapid and intense movement, likely to hunt for squid. Narwhal behavior also changed according to how much sea ice was present.- The narwhal life cycle is closely linked to ice. Researchers say this new method may be useful for understanding the challenges narwhals and other Arctic animals face due to the loss of sea ice from climate change.- Narwhals are among the most highly threatened animals in the Arctic due to hunting, predation, climate change, and the ships and noise pollution associated with oil and gas mining and exploration.

  • Palm oil firms not acting fast enough on no-deforestation vows: Report
    on September 23, 2022

    - Only 22% of companies sourcing or producing palm oil in Indonesia have public and comprehensive no-deforestation policies, a new report by London-based nonprofit CDP says.- The report also finds that only 28% of companies have robust public no-deforestation commitments that cover 100% of production and include a cutoff date before 2020.- In light of the report, experts are calling for more companies to adopt robust no-deforestation policies that incorporate social elements including remediation, restoration, compensation of past harms, and/or commitment to protect rights and livelihoods of local communities.

  • Examining cooperation in nature: Q&A with author Kristin Ohlson
    on September 23, 2022

    - In her new book, “Sweet in Tooth and Claw: Stories of Generosity and Cooperation in the Natural World,” author Kristin Ohlson explores the science behind collaboration in nature.- Her work examines research revealing that cooperation between species, and not just competition, contributes to the development and diversification of life.- Mongabay spoke with Ohlson prior to the book’s publication.

  • Debunking the colonial myth of the ‘African Eden’: Q&A with author Guillaume Blanc
    on September 23, 2022

    - In debunking persistent myths like that of an “African Eden,” Guillaume Blanc, author of “The Invention of Green Colonialism,” lays bare contradictions in the European project to secure and simultaneously exploit Africa’s land during direct colonial rule and after.- “The more the destruction was happening in Northern [Hemisphere] countries, the more we wanted to save it in Africa,” he told Mongabay in an interview, describing how the campaign to preserve pristine wilderness in Africa has led to the casting of its inhabitants as destructive invaders.- Blanc argues that the organizations that evolved out of colonial arrangements for colonial aims must acknowledge and apologize for the harm inflicted, dig deeper when seeking change, and cast a wider net for more meaningful solutions that treat citizens of African countries as collaborators not encroachers on their own lands.- Organizations with a global presence must work with residents of places where they operate and focus on localized research and solutions to remain relevant, Blanc said.

  • Nepal’s mugger crocs face ‘senseless’ turf war over dwindling fish resources
    on September 23, 2022

    - The decline in fish stocks in Nepal’s Koshi River threatens the mugger crocodile, a species already under pressure from historical poaching and habitat loss.- A new study shows the crocodiles are increasingly encroaching into community-run fish farms in the buffer zone of the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve in search of food, raising the risk of conflict with humans.- At the same time, they face competition from gharials, a predominantly pescatarian crocodile that’s being introduced back into the Koshi as part of a government-run conservation program.- “Making a vulnerable species compete with its critically endangered cousin doesn’t make sense,” says one of the authors of the study.

  • Faced with grouper, snapper decline, Indonesia adopts harvest strategy
    on September 23, 2022

    - Indonesia is adopting a harvest strategy for grouper and snapper in the east of the country, where catch volume and average fish landed are down.- The areas targeted are a major global supplier of the fish, given that Indonesia is responsible for 45% of global snapper and grouper sales.- The new regulations on gear and total boats targets restoration of fish stocks for seven species.

  • Humans are dosing Earth’s waterways with medicines. It isn’t healthy.
    on September 22, 2022

    - Medicines, chemical formulations that alleviate much human suffering, can also be significant pollutants, with active ingredients often excreted from the human body and entering waterways. However, the intensity of this contamination and of its impacts has not been well researched.- A study published in June analyzed samples from 1,000 sites along waterways in more than 100 nations, looking for 61 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). Their results suggest that concentrations of at least one API breached safe levels for aquatic life at nearly 40% of sites tested globally.- Some pharmaceuticals are endocrine disruptors (EDCs), which mimic hormones and interfere harmfully with the endocrine system in various organisms, while other drugs are linked to antimicrobial resistance (AMR), considered one of the biggest threats to human health and well-being today.- Despite growing awareness among scientists, there is no systematic reporting of waterway pollution by medicines, or impacts on ecological health. Currently, many human-excreted pharmaceuticals enter directly into waterways, or pass through existing wastewater treatment facilities. Fixing the problem will be very expensive.

  • A millennial advocate pushes for a youth-led digital future for Indonesian fisheries
    on September 22, 2022

    - Siti Aisyah Amini is a final-year law student who attended the World Food and Agriculture Organization’s Committee on Fisheries summit in Rome in early September.- She served as an international representative of the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty’s Youth Working Group and a national representative of the Indonesian Traditional Fishers Union, or KNTI.- The 24-year-old spoke to Mongabay Indonesia about the concerns of Indonesian fishers, and how youth and digital technology need to be involved in the industry and national fishery policies.

  • Pandemic dip was just a blip as global emissions rebound, report shows
    on September 22, 2022

    - A recent report published by the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR), a scientific group associated with the European Commission, found that while global CO2 emissions dropped in 2020, they returned to nearly pre-pandemic levels in 2021.- The report found that China, the United States, the 27 countries that make up the European Union, India, Russia and Japan continue to be the world’s largest emitters, contributing about 70% of global CO2 emissions. Some of these countries’ emissions continued to rise, but others fell from 2019 levels.- While experts say the EDGAR report provides a comprehensive view of global emissions, they point to limitations in the data, such as the fact that it only accounts for CO2 but not other greenhouse gas emissions.- It’s estimated that the world has already warmed about 1.2°C (2.2°F) above pre-industrial levels, but some experts say we can still meet the target of the Paris Agreement targets if nations have the political will to instigate change.

  • Mongabay founder wins prestigious 2022 Heinz Award for the Environment
    on September 22, 2022

    - The Heinz Awards are presented annually to honor excellence and achievement in the arts, environment, and economics. Previous winners in the environment category include Paul and Anne Ehrlich, Amory Lovins, Jane Lubchenco, and James Hansen, among many others.- This year’s winner of the prestigious prize’s environment award is Mongabay founder and CEO Rhett A. Butler, for his work creating a popular and impactful media outlet that publishes news from nature’s frontline in multiple languages for a large global audience.- “The pace of environmental degradation, deforestation and habitat loss due to human activity is devastating, but Rhett has responded with courage and dedication, creating a platform that equips the world with critical news information gathered with the highest journalistic and scientific integrity,” says Teresa Heinz, chair of the Heinz Family Foundation and founder of the Heinz Awards.- “The rise of Mongabay as one of the most widely read environmental news sources is a powerful testament to what’s possible when even one person has the interest in and passion for the natural world that Butler has,” says Mongabay board member Jeannie Sedgwick.

  • Road network spreads ‘arteries of destruction’ across 41% of Brazilian Amazon
    on September 22, 2022

    - A groundbreaking study using satellite data and an artificial intelligence algorithm shows how the spread of unofficial roads throughout the Amazon is driving widespread deforestation.- One such road is on the verge of cutting across the Xingu Socioenvironmental Corridor, posing a serious risk of helping push the Amazon beyond a crucial tipping point.- Unprotected public lands account for 25% of the total illegal road network, with experts saying the creation of more protected areas could stem the spread and slow both deforestation and land grabs.- Officially sanctioned roads, such as the Trans-Amazonian Highway, also need better planning to minimize their impact and prevent the growth of illegal offshoots, experts say.

  • Emissions and deforestation set to spike under Indonesia’s biomass transition
    on September 21, 2022

    - Indonesia’s cofiring program — reducing the amount of coal used in power generation by cutting it with wood pellets — will result in massive deforestation and a net emissions surge, an energy policy think tank warns.- Under the government’s 10% biomass cofiring plan, up to 1.05 million hectares (2.59 million acres) of forest could be cleared for acacia and eucalyptus plantations to provide wood pellets.- This would result in up to 489 million metric tons of emissions — a vastly greater amount than the 1 million tons in reduced emissions that cofiring is expected to achieve.- The analysis, by Trend Asia, also shows that, if anything, Indonesia’s coal consumption has only increased with higher biomass cofiring, and that this trend is expected to continue through 2030 as more new coal plants are built.

  • Agulhas Current enigma: An oceanic gap in our climate understanding
    on September 21, 2022

    - Comprehending the workings of western boundary ocean currents, like those of the Agulhas Current off the South African coast, may hold a key to Earth’s climate system. But understanding this particular current is hampered by a major lack of in-situ data. This gap leaves us in the dark about local, regional and global climate impacts.- The Agulhas Current, located in the Indian Ocean, is one of the most energetic ocean current systems in the world. Changes to it can impact local weather in South Africa and elsewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, and perhaps influence large-scale climatic changes in the Northern Hemisphere and globally as well.- However, it is not clear how and what these impacts may be, or when they may occur. With climate change escalating rapidly due to unabated human carbon emissions, it is now more important than ever that we understand the impacts of Southern Hemisphere ocean currents, and integrate their actions into climate models.- But attempts at long-term monitoring of the Agulhas Current System have not been fully successful. Accomplishments and failures to date have underscored significant local research capacity challenges, and differences in the approach to, and financing of, ocean science in the Global North as compared to the Global South.