Canadian miner looms large as Nauru expedites key deep-sea mining rules
on July 27, 2021 at 11:38 am
- Nauru, which sponsors a company to mine the seabed for minerals in ungoverned waters, has triggered a rule with the International Seabed Authority that requires it to allow seabed mining in two years, regardless of whether regulations have been written.- Advocates have expressed concerns that the main beneficiary of the move is a Canadian company that is in the process of publicly listing its stock in the US, which is not governed by ISA regulations.- Seabed mining has never been attempted before, and scientists worry that a shortened deadline to design regulations may sideline environmental protection in the world’s largest inhabited zone.- Among the outstanding questions over regulations is the issue of royalties: how will sponsoring states and other countries benefit from the “common heritage of mankind”?
Global restoration now has an online meeting point
on July 23, 2021 at 6:35 pm
- Restor is a map-based, open-source platform created so that people can better plan, manage and monitor restoration projects. The locations of more than 50,000 restoration and conservation initiatives are now registered on the platform.- On the platform, Restor users can view high-resolution satellite imagery of places around the globe to learn about their potential for restoration or conservation. It also allows users to see what tree species are native to a particular location.- Currently, Restor is collecting data from restoration projects around the world. Anyone with a project can apply for access to the site where they are able to enter data about their project and ecosystem.- Restor CEO Clara Rowe says they hope to “enable and accelerate ecological restoration … around the globe by making it easy for anyone, anywhere to engage.”
Betting big on bioacoustics: Q&A with philanthropist Lisa Yang
on July 22, 2021 at 4:14 pm
- Lisa Yang is an investor and philanthropist who donated $24 million last month to establish the K. Lisa Yang Center for Conservation Bioacoustics at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.- Yang told Mongabay that she focused on bioacoustics due to the great potential for scaling the effectiveness of conservation efforts: “The technology can provide an effective way of assessing conservation practices.”- Yang’s philanthropic interests extend to translational neuroscience and fostering opportunities and respect for people who’ve been historically marginalized by society, including the “neurodiverse and individuals with disabilities.”- Yang spoke about opportunities to scale impact in conservation during a conversation with Mongabay founder Rhett A. Butler.
As soy frenzy grips Brazil, deforestation closes in on Indigenous lands
on July 21, 2021 at 10:38 pm
- A large swath of rainforest has been cleared and was burned on the edge of the Wawi Indigenous Territory in the Brazilian Amazon.- The fire is one of many being set to clear land for soy cultivation, much of it legally mandated, as demand for the crop sees growers push deeper into the rainforest and even into Indigenous and protected areas.- Enforcement against forest destruction has been undermined at the federal level, thanks to budget cuts and loosened restrictions by the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro.- The burning threatens to compound health problems in Indigenous communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic, while the use of agrochemicals on the soy plantations poses longer-term hazards.
Turning Kenya’s problematic invasive plants into useful bioenergy
on July 21, 2021 at 11:41 am
- The shores of Lake Victoria are clogged with water hyacinth, a South American invasive plant that is hurting Kenya’s freshwater fishery, economy and people’s health. While manual removal is effective, it is labor intensive and can’t keep up with the spreading plant.- Kenyans are innovating to find ways to reduce water hyacinth by finding practical uses for the invader. In 2018, a program was launched to turn the exotic species into biogas which is then offered to economically vulnerable households to use as a biofuel for cooking.- One proposal being considered: a scaled up industrial biogas plant that would use water hyacinth as a primary source of raw material. Efforts are also underway to convert another invasive plant, prickly pear into biogas used for cooking. A biocontrol insect is also proving effective, though slow, in dealing with prickly pear.- These economically viable and sustainable homegrown solutions are chipping away at Kenya’s invasive species problem, though to be truly effective, these various projects would need to be upscaled.
Brazil government faces heat over plan that could underreport forest fires
on July 19, 2021 at 10:48 pm
- The Brazilian government faces a new controversy over how it monitors, and ultimately responds to, forest fires, after rolling out a new centralized information system.- The National Meteorology System (SNM) will collate date from the Brazilian National Institute of Space Research (INPE), the National Institute of Meteorology (INMET) and the Managing and Operational Center of the System to Protect the Amazon (Censipam).- But the government has sent out mixed messages about how the system will work, raising concerns among scientists and environmentalists that the comprehensive and reliable data sets from INPE will be quashed in favor of underreported deforestation and fire information from INMET.- The government has sought to allay those fears, saying INPE’s data stream will be maintained, but critics say this isn’t the first time the Bolsonaro administration has tried to undermine INPE for exposing the rising trend in deforestation and fires under the administration.
Brazil’s Amazon is now a carbon source, unprecedented study reveals
on July 14, 2021 at 10:07 pm
- According to a study published July 14 in Nature, the Brazilian Amazon is emitting more carbon than it captures.- This study is the first to use direct atmospheric measurements, across a wide geographic region, collected over nearly a decade that account for background concentrations of atmospheric gases.- Eastern Amazonia is emitting more carbon than western Amazonia, and southern Amazonia is a net carbon source; Southeastern Amazonia, in particular, switched from being a carbon sink to a carbon source during the study period. The reason: a disruption in the balance of growth and decay and emissions from fires.- These results have important implications for policy initiatives such as REDD+ that rely on forests to offset carbon emissions: Because different regions of the Amazon differ in their ability to absorb carbon, schemes that use one value for the carbon-capturing ability of the whole Amazon need to be reexamined, scientists say.
Podcast: Reforestation done right, from Haiti to Honduras and Ho Chi Minh City
on July 14, 2021 at 3:34 pm
- Local communities around the world are replanting their forests, and on today’s episode of the Mongabay Newscast we take a look at why that’s so important to combating climate change and building a sustainable future for life on Earth.- Our first guest is Erin Axelrod, project director for Trees For Climate Health, who tells us about the nearly 40 community-based reforestation initiatives the program has funded based on its “right tree, right place, right community” approach.- We also speak with freelance journalist and Mongabay contributor Mike Tatarski, who tells us about Vietnam’s plans to plant a billion trees by 2025 and the NGOs in the country that are working to make tree-planting more community-centered and sustainable both economically and environmentally.
How to make conservation more effective: Q&A with Nick Salafsky
on July 14, 2021 at 10:15 am
- The multifaceted nature of most conservation projects means that many factors need to be monitored and evaluated using a range of metrics to determine whether a real impact has been achieved and can be sustained into the future.- One of the organizations at the forefront of efforts to measure impact in conservation over the past twenty years has been Foundations of Success, which developed its roots in the 1990s out of a need to develop ways to gauge the success of U.S. government-funded conservation projects.- From his position as the co-founder and Executive Director of Foundations of Success, Nick Salafsky has seen firsthand how organizations and institutions are responding to the growing preponderance of data and the emergence of new technologies and tools in the conservation space. He says that an organization’s receptiveness to change when more effective pathways are identified is important to achieving conservation success.- “Perhaps the most important predictor of success is the attitude of the people in an organization – whether they are ultimately interested in merely perpetuating their programs and their jobs versus being open and willing to critically examine and learn from their work,“ he told Mongabay’s founder Rhett A. Butler in a recent interview.
Indigenous communities in Brazil reinvent grief in the time of COVID
on July 12, 2021 at 11:16 am
- Indigenous communities across Brazil have had to abandon long-held aspects of their funerary traditions when dealing with the deaths of family members from COVID-19, due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.- Traditional rituals important to Indigenous experience and belief systems, especially those involved with death and grieving, have been affected.- The imposition of health protocols without accounting for Indigenous traditions is harmful to indigenous peoples’ autonomy and ancestry, leaders say, and compounds the government’s failure protect these vulnerable communities from COVID-19.- In this special report, Mongabay spoke with leaders of the Yawalapiti in the Xingu; the Xavante in Mato Grosso; the Yanomami in Roraima; the Tupinambá in Bahia; the Guarani Mbya in São Paulo; and theTukano in Amazonas, to learn how they are adapting to the new normal.