Estonia’s trees: Valued resource or squandered second chance?

first_imgSoviet rule in the early 20th century led to the regrowth of many of the country’s forests. Today, Estonia is Europe’s fourth-most forested country.As private land ownership and industry expand in the country, however, so are the pressures to log.Estonia’s Ministry of Environment claims that Estonia’s forests are currently expanding in size, but conservation scientists say the opposite is true. Satellite data indicate the country gained 90,000 hectares of tree cover while losing 285,000.Local conservation organizations are pressing the government to adopt more sustainable practices, including a ban on logging during part of the year and the cessation of a new logging amendment that would lower the felling age of spruce trees. When the last of the Russian troops pulled out of Estonia in 1994, for many their departure was bittersweet. While most Estonians were eager to join the Western world and reestablish cultural ties with Finland and other Nordic countries, the country’s transition from communism to capitalism was hindered by poverty, cultural barriers, and dilapidated infrastructure. Today, however, Estonia appears to be coming into its own. The country has joined the EU, ranks 30th in the world on the Human Development Index, and has one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe.Estonia now has the autonomy to decide how it is going to allocate its resources, and how it wants to shape its identity on the international stage. Central to this decision is one notable parting gift left by the country’s Soviet occupiers: trees.A protected old-growth forest in Estonia. According to Global Forest Watch, 3 percent of the country’s forests are primary forests like this one. Photo by Asko Lõhmus.Trees are “one of the few positive things inherited from the age of Soviet domination,” said Linda-Mari Väli, founder of Helping Estonia’s Forests, a conservation-oriented citizens’ initiative. While Estonia is historically a tree-dense country, by the early 20th century much of its forestland had been converted to farms. Under Soviet rule, however, private landownership, and private farms, were abandoned for large collectives. By the time Estonia gained independence, the forest had reclaimed much of its former territory.The country now has over 50 percent tree cover, according to satellite data from the University of Maryland analyzed through Global Forest Watch. Of its forests, assessments by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) pegs 90 percent as “naturally regenerated” and 3 percent old-growth. It is the fourth most forested country in Europe, and ranks eighth on the 2016 Environmental Performance Index.Satellite data from the University of Maryland indicate Estonia lost around 285,000 hectares of tree cover between 2001 and 2015. 2011 saw the most loss of any year during that period, with 2015 close behind.As private land ownership and industry expand in the country, however, so do the pressures to log. Estonia’s choices now appear poised affect the future of the country’s forests. Can a country that reforested largely through neglect now use this accidental opportunity to build a purposeful, forward-looking sustainable forest management model? Or will it follow in the footsteps of other post-Soviet countries currently systematically destroying their forests for short-term economic gain?Mongabay spoke to local scientists and representatives from local organizations and government agencies, finding a country still battling some communist cultural hangovers but eager to look forward and embrace the concept of sustainability. While everyone with an interest in Estonia’s forests appears to embrace the word, opinions differ as to what it means, and what goals Estonia should ultimately be striving for.Environmental activism has played an important role in Estonia’s political history. The Estonian Green Movement, established in 1988 to protest Soviet phosphorite mining, was one of the strongest opposition forces against the country’s occupiers. Its ultimate, highly ambitious goal went far beyond that single environmental issue – the Movement called for independence from the Soviet Union and establishment of the Green Republic of Estonia, a non-hierarchal country that promoted environmentally sound technology and lifestyles, preservation of wild places, and reasonable resource usage.This vision was lost once Estonia did gain independence, as the country struggled through the hardship of reintegrating with the Western world. Protest of any kind, in fact, disappeared during the 90s and early 2000s. In a 2002 survey, over half of Estonians said they would not take part in a collective protest, and over 40 percent said they had no interest in volunteering. Fear of the government—a holdover from the communist era—lingered, and advocacy waned.Last year, Linda-Mari Väli founded Helping Estonia’s Forests. Since then, the little initiative has made a name for itself as one of the more successful activist group since the country’s independence. Helping Estonia’s Forests hopes to bring the idea of a country built on sustainable values back into the public consciousness.Although a young initiative in a country where any form of public protest is unusual, its efforts have been met with growing support. While one protest—against a military building expanding its border into a future conservation area—was carried out by a grand total of four people, there are signs that the idea of public protest is gaining momentum. In the middle of a harsh Estonian winter last December, hundreds turned out with Helping Estonia’s Forests to protest a logging amendment that would lower the felling age of spruce trees.Martin Luiga, a member of Helping Estonia’s Forests, said that their success is built on reclaiming the idea of public protest. “The whole concept of civil disobedience is rather new to Estonia,” he said in an email. Protest, and picketing, is still considered a “Western-style tactic.”Thus far, the movement’s primary achievement has been momentum, but some concrete actions have come out of its protests. They helped pressure the government to sign a flying squirrel defense program, and won full protection for an additional 1 percent of state forests. Their primary objective now is a decline in national deforestation rates and the establishment of green corridors to link protected areas. According to founder Väli, the ultimate goal of the initiative is to achieve representation for uses of the country’s forests in addition to logging (such as tourism, berry-picking, and wildlife conservation) “without discrimination.”A protest held on December 16, 2016 against an amendment lowering the legal felling age of spruce trees. Photo by Lea Tammik.Rural residents protested, concerned about clear-cutting occurring near their homes. Photo by Lea Tammik. Asko Lõhmus, lead research fellow of conservation biology at the University of Tartu, explained that Estonia is in many ways managing its forests better than other nearby countries. According to Lõhmus, Estonia allows more natural regeneration after clear cutting, leaves more dead wood, and has a good network of protected forest. However, he said that because of the chance it was given upon gaining independence, the country has—or had—the opportunity to do much more.“I think there was an excellent opportunity in the 1990s for Estonia to become a global innovator of sustainable forest management. Despite many people having worked toward it, I am afraid we are losing this hope now … recent trends are drifting us away from the sustainable and multi-purpose forestry course,” Lõhmus said.Satellite data from the University of Maryland backs up this statement: Estonia lost more trees in 2015 than it had in the previous 15 years, with the exception of 2011. In total, the country lost around 285,000 hectares of tree cover cover between 2001 and 2015 while gaining 90,000 hectares.Estonia’s Ministry of Environment and Private Landowner’s Association, however, both appear to think that current forest policy is fully in line with the idea of sustainable management.“The main objective of our National Forest Programme 2020 is to ensure the viability and productivity as well as diverse and efficient use of forests,” said Marku Lamp, Deputy Secretary General for Wildlife in Estonia’s Ministry of Environment. He described current forest usage as “well balanced,” with 12 percent of Estonia’s forests under strict protection and about 75 percent managed for commercial purposes. Lamp and Lõhmus both cited retention trees (mature trees required by law to be left in clear-cut areas to facilitate healthy re-growth) as an example of a good management practice in Estonia.However, while the Ministry of Environment claims that Estonia’s forests are currently expanding in size, Lõhmus said his research indicates that Estonia is losing forest—a conclusion more in line with Global Forest Watch satellite data.An example of a clear-cut forest with “retention trees.” The largest trees are kept standing to facilitate regeneration. All clear-cut areas are required by law to be replanted within two years. Photo by Asko Lõhmus.  Trees are an integral part of the country’s economic and cultural exchange with its northern neighbors. Both Luiga and Lõhmus believe that Estonia would benefit from better, more transparent data on the state of its forests.“The competitiveness of the timber industry is extremely important for the Estonian economy,” Lamp said. He then, however, went on to highlight how Estonia abides by the “Nordic principle of free access to nature,” allowing berry-picking and the gathering of mushrooms and medicinal plants. Access to, and exploitation of, Estonia’s forests are both part of its modern ethos, but one requires the careful monitoring of the other. But only half of Estonia’s forests are under government control; the other half are privately owned.To this end, Mikk Link, the chairman of the board for the Estonian Private Forest Union, said that his organization’s primary objective is “to ensure our members [a] good environment for sustainable forest management.” Link cited “not exceeding the annual growth of the forests with the logging” and “avoiding forestland being transformed to other types of land use” as criteria for good sustainable management.Luiga from Helping Estonia’s Forests also noted that the Estonian Private Forest Union recently pressured the government not to pass a seasonal ban on logging, designed to protect nesting birds. While scientists, activists, private landowners, and the government all use similar language to describe their goals, the actions of the latter two indicate short-term monetary gain ultimately takes priority—at least right now.The fate of Estonia’s forests, then, appears to rest on its willingness to taking the long view. But for a newly capitalist country, the short-term benefits of intensive logging could prove too alluring to resist.“For almost a year, there has been an unprecedented societal discussion on the state and future of forests in Estonia,” Lõhmus said. “It is unclear how that will end.”Correction (11/09/2017): A previous version of this article incorrectly paraphrased a quote from Mikk Link. We have removed the errant sentence.Citations:Raudsepp, Maaris, Mati Heidmets, and Juri Kruusvall. “Environmental justice and sustainability in post-Soviet Estonia.” Environmental Justice and Sustainability in the Former Soviet Union. MIT Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts (2009): 215-237.Rausing, Sigrid. Everything is Wonderful: Memories of a Collective Farm in Estonia. Grove Press: New York, New York (2014). FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by Morgan Erickson-Daviscenter_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Agriculture, Deforestation, Environment, Environmental Law, Environmental Policy, Forests, Law, Logging, Old Growth Forests, Primary Forests, Protected Areas, Secondary Forests, Timber Laws, Trees last_img read more

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Indonesian court cancels dam project in last stronghold of tigers, rhinos

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by Basten Gokkon Alternative Energy, Animals, Conservation, Dams, Energy, Environment, Forestry, Forests, Hydroelectric Power, Hydropower, Infrastructure, Protected Areas, Rainforest Animals, Rainforest Deforestation, Rainforest Destruction, Rainforests, Renewable Energy, Threats To Rainforests, Tropical Forests, Wildlife center_img A court in Indonesia’s Aceh province has ordered an end to a planned hydroelectric project in Sumatra’s unique Leuser Ecosystem.Environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the Aceh government and the dam’s developer earlier this year over potential environmental destruction and violation of zoning laws.The area is the last place on Earth that’s home to wild tigers, rhinos, orangutans and elephants — all critically endangered species whose habitat would be flooded and fragmented by the dam and its roads and power lines.Villagers in the region were also widely opposed to the project, which they say would have dammed up the river on which they depend and forced them to relocate to make way for the reservoir. BANDA ACEH, Indonesia — A court in Indonesia has annulled a permit allowing the development of a $3 billion hydropower plant in a forest that’s home to critically endangered tigers, rhinos and orangutans.The court in Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province on the northern tip of Sumatra, issued the ruling Aug. 28, in a lawsuit filed in March by the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), the country’s biggest green NGO. The respondents in the suit are the Aceh provincial government, which issued the permit, and PT Kamirzu, the Indonesian subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Prosperity International Holding, the recipient of the permit.Lesten village in Gayo Lues district, part of the planned site of the Tampur dam. Image by Junaidi Hanafiah/Mongabay Indonesia.The ruling orders the developer and the provincial government to stop the project to build a 443-megawatt plant on 4,407 hectares (10,890 acres) straddling the three districts of Gayo Lues, Aceh Tamiang and East Aceh. The Aceh government violated prevailing regulations, the court found, by permitting the development of forest land greater than 5 hectares (12 acres). Earlier during the hearings, the judges visited the site of the planned Tampur hydropower plant.Walhi welcomed the court’s decision.“This means that, besides being objective in assessing and making the decision, the presiding judge has given a new legal lesson for the people of Indonesia,” said Muhammad Reza Maulana, the legal counsel for Walhi’s Aceh chapter.Residents of Aceh Tamiang and East Aceh who would have been affected by the dam also welcomed the ruling. Damming the upstream section of the Tamiang River would have adversely affected the livelihoods of several communities that rely on the river downstream. It would also have forced the relocation of villages in areas set to be flooded by the dam’s reservoir.The project was widely opposed by residents on these grounds, while environmentalists have criticized the lack of nature protection and conservation. They note that the required environmental impact assessment carried out by the developer failed to evaluate natural risks, such as earthquakes and flash floods.The latter is already a serious problem here, where the annual rainfall exceeds 2,300 millimeters (91 inches) — double the amount of precipitation that falls in Portland, Oregon. In 2006, heavy downpours triggered a flash flood in Aceh Tamiang district, killing 28 people and displacing more than 200,000 from their homes. Damming the river could make similar flooding events upstream even more destructive, activists say.One of the villages in the Leuser Ecosystem at risk from the development of Tampur hydropower plant. Image by Junaidi Hanafiah/Mongabay Indonesia.Hornbills flock in the Leuser Ecosystem where the dam was to have been built. Image by Junaidi Hanafiah/Mongabay Indonesia.Critics also highlighted the lack of wildlife protections in the environmental impact analysis — a key oversight, given the dam’s location in the Leuser Ecosystem. The heavily forested region is highly biodiverse, and is the last place on Earth where Sumatran tigers, rhinos, orangutans and elephants — all critically endangered species on the brink of extinction — still coexist. Another criticism of PT Kamirzu’s permit is that it remains unclear whether the developer has finished mapping the forest areas that would be affected by the project.Maksum, a resident of Aceh Tamiang, said he was opposed to the dam because the developer had failed to engage with the community. He also said he was concerned the dam would exacerbate environmental disasters in the region.“We don’t want it, especially with the dam’s location being very close to people’s settlements,” he said at a discussion with the environmental NGO Forest, Nature and Environment of Aceh (HaKA) in Banda Aceh in late 2017.Officials from the Aceh provincial government visited a village in Gayo Lues on Aug. 19 this year that was expected to be affected by the dam development. During the visit, the officials expressed their support for the project as long as it used the most advanced technology and didn’t damage the environment.“What we must monitor is the methods which [the developer] apply to the project,” said Nova Iriansyah, the interim Aceh governor. “There will be an agency to monitor it. The hydropower plant has more benefits than disadvantages.”Nova said the current electricity supply in Aceh was sufficient to meet demand, but that would increase in the future. “This hydropower plant is important, and the biggest in Sumatra,” Nova said.But the statement met with disappointment from residents of East Aceh district.“The development will damage the environment,” said Mahmud, a resident, adding that he didn’t know of any hydropower project that didn’t harm the environment. “They’re going to build a dam and flood more than 4,000 hectares of forest. That is the problem.”Residents of the region rely on the river for their livelihoods. They say they fear the damming of the river will affect them adversely. Image by Junaidi Hanafiah/Mongabay Indonesia.A hearing in the lawsuit takes place at the site of the planned hydropower plant. Image by Junaidi Hanafiah/Mongabay Indonesia.This story was first reported by Mongabay’s Indonesia team and published here on our Indonesian site on Aug. 29, 2019.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.last_img read more

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CITES appeals to countries to watch out for trafficked Malagasy rosewood

first_imgBiodiversity, Conservation, Deforestation, Endangered Species, Environment, Environmental Politics, Illegal Timber Trade, Protected Areas, Rainforests, Rosewood, Timber, timber trade, Wildlife, Wildlife Trade, Wildlife Trafficking International wildlife trade regulator CITES has issued an advisory warning that $50 million in Madagascar rosewood logs being held in Singapore could find its way back into the black market.The timber was seized in 2014 in Singapore, but a local court earlier this year acquitted the trader responsible for it on charges of trafficking, and ordered the release of the 30,000 logs.Trade in rosewood from Madagascar has been banned by CITES since 2013 and under Malagasy law since 2010, but enforcing the embargo has proved difficult.The Singapore case highlights the pitfalls in implementing the ban, with observers faulting the Malagasy government’s flip-flop during court proceedings as to whether the seized precious wood was legal. International wildlife trade regulators have issued an advisory drawing attention to $50 million worth of Malagasy rosewood logs seized in 2014 in Singapore that could potentially end up in the black market again. A Singapore court ordered the precious wood to be released from custody this April after it acquitted the trader who shipped it into the country.The advisory from the secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), issued Sept. 26, calls on signatories to the treaty, which includes almost all nations, to be on the alert and take action if the contraband finds its way to their shores.The call came in the wake of discussions about the status of illegal rosewood originating from Madagascar at the convention’s 18th Conference of Parties in Geneva this past August. In 2013 CITES banned the export of Malagasy rosewood (genus Dalbergia) and ebony (genus Diospyros), but the ban has been difficult to enforce.Madagascar entered a period of political instability following a coup in 2009, when the state of law-and-order deteriorated dramatically. Illegal logging of rosewood was widespread, including inside national parks, and timber barons stockpiled the precious wood. In 2010, the country banned the export of rosewood, which is highly prized in countries like China, where it is used to manufacture high-end furniture. However, old and freshly cut logs alike continue to enter the illegal market. Coordination among countries through which the rosewood is channeled to its final destination is weak.In March 2014, the CITES Management Authority of Singapore seized about 30,000 rosewood logs from a businessman named Wong Wee Keong and his Singapore-based company, Kong Hoo, one of the largest rosewood confiscations on record. The subsequent attempt to bring the traders to justice ended with Wong’s acquittal in April, illustrating the shortcomings in the implementation of the trade embargo.A court initially found Wong and Kong Hoo not guilty in 2015, citing evidence that the rosewood was in transit in Singapore and that the country was not the final destination. This ruling was reversed in 2017 when the court sentenced Wong to three months in jail and slapped him and his company with the maximum fine of $500,000 each. On appeal, Singapore’s highest court found the defendants not guilty earlier this year and directed the authorities to release the precious wood to Kong Hoo.The case hinged on proving that the wood was exported from Madagascar illegally and that Singapore was the final destination rather than a transit point. The Malagasy government flip-flopped as to the legality of the seized timber. After initially presenting documents to the court that appeared to show the logs were legally procured in Madagascar, it later withdrew them, claiming they were false.“Singapore has failed to prosecute the defendants successfully twice due to the Malagasy government’s interference or failure to cooperate,” said Mark W. Roberts, a Massachusetts-based environmental lawyer and consultant who has supported efforts to hold Kong Hoo responsible for rosewood trafficking.Securing the cooperation of other countries, even those like Singapore, a signatory to CITES, may not be straightforward. The Singapore court’s acquittal of Wong could stem from the risk that convicting him would pose to Singapore’s own interests as the world’s biggest transhipment hub, an intermediate stop for cargo heading to other destinations. “If the verdict had stood, it potentially would subject trans-shipped goods to Singapore’s internal laws, which would potentially impact trade and Singapore’s economy,” Roberts said.The costs for storing the cargo for the last five years at a private port storage facility, which could run into millions of dollars, will be borne by the Singapore government.However, the ruling also places Wong in a bind. To move the wood out of Singapore legally would require producing CITES documents from Madagascar. Without them, almost every country in the world will treat the wood as contraband.At the CITES CoP in Geneva, Malagasy officials categorically stated that the logs had been illegally exported from the island. This could potentially strengthen the hand of countries that might prosecute parties attempting to import the wood. Lala Ranaivomanana, secretary-general of Madagascar’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, told delegates that the Singapore case was a priority for the Malagasy government, adding that Madagascar had sought the Chinese government’s help to intercept boats shipping the illegal timber.“Potential destination countries of shipments of illegal specimens of Dalbergia spp. and Diospyros spp. from Madagascar should take appropriate measures to ensure that such timber is not illegally transported or traded, including prohibiting entry, seizing such specimens upon arrival,” the CITES advisory said.However, there is concern that it might be too little too late, and that the wood will be transshipped, moved from one vessel to another on the open seas to circumvent border controls and never be heard of again.For more on Madagascar’s rosewood:Banner Image: Illegal rosewood stockpiles in Antalaha in north Madagascar. Image courtesy: Wikimedia CommonsMalavika Vyawahare is the Madagascar staff writer for Mongabay. Find her on Twitter: @MalavikaVyFEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by malavikavyawaharecenter_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

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Indonesia’s new cabinet a ‘marriage of oligarchs,’ environmentalists say

first_imgConservation, Deforestation, Environment, Environmental Politics, Forests, Governance, Mining, Oil Palm, Palm Oil, Politics, Rainforests Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by Basten Gokkoncenter_img Environmental activists have expressed disappointment with the new cabinet unveiled by President Joko Widodo for his second and final term in office.Among those staying on are the environment minister, widely criticized for failing to crack down on companies violating environmental laws, and the coordinating minister for maritime affairs, who has extensive business interests in the mining industry.The popular and effective fisheries minister, Susi Pudjiastuti, was replaced in favor of an aide to Widodo’s election rival, while the new energy minister has a record of championing fossil fuel and palm biodiesel projects.Activists warn that the new cabinet consolidates power in the hands of oligarchs, political elites, and military and police generals, making it likely that environmental protections will be unraveled and violations more common in the name of investment and growth. JAKARTA — Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has announced his new cabinet for his second and final term in office, naming controversial figures with strong ties to the extractive industries.Introducing the new ministers as part of his “Indonesia Advance” cabinet in Jakarta on Oct. 23, Widodo said his focus would be on boosting investments, developing human resources and creating jobs. He also reminded the ministers not to engage in corruption. Two ministers from his first term were arrested and charged in separate corruption cases, while two others have been implicated in other cases. (None of them were retained in the new cabinet.)“Everybody must be serious in their work. Otherwise, be careful, I might fire you midway,” Widodo said.President Joko Widodo, front row center, poses for a group photo with his new cabinet at the State Palace in Jakarta on Oct. 23. Image courtesy of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.Cabinet posts pertaining to the environment saw a mix of old and new faces. Popular fisheries minister Susi Pudjiastuti wasn’t retained, spawning the trending hashtag #WeWantSusi on social media. Instead, Widodo introduced the following lineup:Coordinating minister for maritime affairs and investment: Luhut Binsar PandjaitanLuhut retains the portfolio he has held over the past five years, which oversees the management of natural resources onshore and offshore, including mines and palm oil. This time he has an additional mandate of “dealing with investment barriers, and realizing huge investment commitments,” Widodo said.A former military general and close confidante and business partner to the president, Luhut also has significant business holdings active in the natural resources, power generation, and agriculture sectors, through his Toba Sejahtra Group. The NGO Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam) earlier this year published a report showing that Luhut’s coal-mining companies expropriated land from farmers in Borneo, leaving behind dozens of mining pits that they were legally obliged to rehabilitate.For the next five years Luhut will run point for the administration’s push to expand domestic consumption of palm oil biofuel under the B20 program (a blend of 20 percent biofuel and 80 percent diesel).“The president gave me a directive to resolve investment problems for petrochemical, B20, and to reduce gas imports,” Luhut told reporters in Jakarta on Oct. 22.Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan. Image courtesy of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.Minister of Environment and Forestry: Siti Nurbaya BakarSiti is one of several ministers to retain her post, though her brief this time around seems to be less about enforcing environmental regulations than about loosening them to allow for ease of investment in extractive sectors. She said the president wanted her to ensure the implementation of a bulk deregulation package of 74 laws covering three key areas: investment, location and land, and environmental issues.“The environment ministry must improve on two of those — helping and supporting investment without abandoning natural preservation,” she told reporters in Jakarta on Oct. 22.Widodo said Siti would also be responsible for matters related to green industries, social forestry, carbon trading, and forest fires. Siti also said the president had asked her to guarantee environmental protection in the new planned capital city, which will be built in Borneo’s East Kalimantan province, Indonesia’s coal and oil heartland.Environmentalists, however, are unimpressed by Siti’s performance over the past five years, particularly in stopping forest fires and restoring burned land and peat forests.Siti Nurbaya Bakar. Image courtesy of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.Minister of Land and Spatial Planning: Sofyan DjalilSofyan also retains his post in the new cabinet, where he’s responsible for ongoing land certification and redistribution — a hallmark pledge from Widodo’s first term. Under the program, the government is supposed to grant title deeds to more than 90,000 square kilometers (34,750 square miles) of land, with indigenous and forest communities among the targeted recipients, but it’s only achieved a fraction of that figure to date.Under Sofyan’s leadership, the ministry also continues to stonewall on releasing information about right-to-cultivate permits for plantation and farming businesses, known as HGU permits, even after the Supreme Court ordered it to comply with a freedom-of-information ruling. The HGU documents are vital because withholding them enables land-grabbing, with companies often laying claim to community lands without showing their concession maps.Sofyan has also held top positions in coal companies, such as PT Berau Coal and PT Berau Coal Energy.Sofyan Djalil. Image courtesy of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources: Arifin TasrifArifin is a new face in the cabinet, replacing Ignasius Jonan. And while he told reporters his job would be to ensure the implementation of renewable energy and reduce oil and gas imports, his track record suggests otherwise. He most recently served as Indonesia’s ambassador to Japan, where he was instrumental in securing a deal between the two countries to develop the Arafuru Sea gas field, known as the Masela block. The agreement was 18 years in the making. Arifin was also a key part of former minister Jonan’s efforts to secure Japanese cooperation for Indonesia’s palm biofuel program.The $20 billion Masela project will be carried out by Japan’s Inpex Corporation and Royal Dutch Shell. In April, Luhut said he would meet a top Shell executive to discuss the development of the gas field, estimated to hold 18.47 trillion cubic feet of proved and probable gas reserves, or 3.2 trillion barrels of oil equivalent. Indonesia’s current gas production stands at about 1.2 million barrels of oil equivalent per day.Before his 2017 appointment as ambassador, Arifin was chief executive at a slate of state-owned fertilizer companies, including PT Petrokimia Gresik and PT Pupuk Indonesia.Arifin Tasrif. Image courtesy of Embassy of Indonesia in Tokyo, Japan.Minister of Agriculture: Syahrul Yasin LimpoSyahrul is another newcomer to the cabinet, replacing Amran Sulaiman, the cousin of tycoon Andi Syamsudin Arsyad, popularly known as Haji Isam. The president said the minister would deal with food supplies, “incorporate farmers [into a collective],” and increase agriculture productivity.Syahrul was the first elected governor of South Sulawesi province, and served two terms, from 2009 to 2019. He’s a scion of the Yasin Limpo clan that has controlled top posts throughout the province, including as district heads and local legislative leaders. His sister, Dewie, was arrested on corruption charges by the anti-graft agency, the KPK, in the development of a micro-hydro power plant project.As governor, Syahrul pushed the Centre Point project in Makassar, the provincial capital, which was hailed at the time as “the first building complex in eastern Indonesia.” The project called for massive land-reclamation activities to create five artificial islands off the coast of Makassar. Local fishing communities have rejected — and attempted to physically blockade — dredging activities for the project, which they say will destroy their livelihoods. In January 2016, Syahrul was sued by the NGO Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) for issuing a permit in 2013 allowing the reclamation to commence despite the developers allegedly having failed to follow the correct procedures.Syahrul Yasin Limpo. Image courtesy of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries: Edhy PrabowoFormer minister Susi Pudjiastuti was widely hailed at home and abroad for her tough, no-nonsense approach to tackle illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Indonesian waters, including banning (and blowing up) foreign fishing vessels and unsustainable fishing gear. But for his second term, Widodo has chosen to go with Edhy Prabowo, the longtime right-hand man to Prabowo Subianto — Widodo’s rival in the last two elections. (Prabowo himself scored a cabinet post as minister of defense, in a move that has flustered Widodo’s supporters but that the president says is part of efforts to rebuild political unity after a divisive campaign.)At the time he met Prabowo, Edhy had been dismissed from the military academy for disciplinary reasons. He later served on the board of Prabowo’s paper company, PT Kiani Lestari Jakarta. From 2014 to 2019, he served in parliament as a member of Prabowo’s Gerindra Party, chairing the committee overseeing agriculture and fisheries affairs.Edhy Prabowo, left, and Prabowo Subianto. Image courtesy of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.Environmental activists in Indonesia have previously called for more stringent environmental laws amid the push for big investments under Widodo’s final term. But the makeup of his new cabinet, particularly the posts that pertain to the environment, has prompted concerns of further environmental destruction for the sake of economic growth.“It seems that there won’t be any new approach in making policies for tougher environmental protection,” Nur Hidayati, executive director of Walhi, told Mongabay by phone after the official cabinet announcement.She called on the environment minister to enforce tougher punishment against corporations found to be burning their concessions to clear land for planting — some of which are repeat offenders that have faced no serious consequences.Instead of pushing for investments in environmentally damaging extractive and plantation industries, Nur said there was a huge opportunity for investment in ecosystem restoration (such as burned peatlands or disused mining pits) and climate change mitigation projects that would benefit small and medium enterprises, as targeted by the president.“It’s the work of the ministers and everyone to influence the president to stop pushing for economic growth through business as usual,” Nur said, adding that the focus on big capital and monoculture had failed to boost growth in recent years, particularly for people in rural villages.The new cabinet has also raised red flags among environmental activists because of the mix of business and political oligarchs coupled with former military and police generals, said Merah Johansyah, the executive director of Jatam.He noted that other ministerial posts had been given to people involved in the energy industry, including Johnny G. Plate, who is now the minister of information and technology, and Airlangga Hartanto, the coordinating minister for economic affairs.Johnny is a close confidante of Riza Chalid, who was named part of Indonesia’s oil and gas “mafia”  and with whom Johnny founded an oil and gas company. Airlangga, meanwhile, has been implicated in a corruption case centered on the development of a coal-fired power plant in Sumatra’s Riau province. Airlangga also reportedly wrote a letter to the president in support of lobby groups that wanted an exemption from a peatland-development moratorium because they had already received a permit to plant on peat that was already drained.Merah also highlighted the appointment of Erick Thohir, a businessman and Widodo’s campaign chairman, as the minister of state-owned enterprises. Erick is the brother of Garibaldi Thohir, who founded Jakarta-listed PT Adaro Energy, which mines coal and indirectly owns a coal-fired power plant in Central Java’s Batang district.“The country will be open to any kinds of investment, particularly investment in the extractive industries,” Merah told Mongabay on the phone.He also questioned the appointment of former national police chief Tito Karnavian as the home affairs minister, saying there was a real danger of further repression of those critical or opposed to dirty and destructive investments.“A key element in attracting investment is security,” Merah said. “There will be a lot of criminalization of the people who resist investment. Tito could justify it by labeling someone as a radical.“The new cabinet is a marriage between oligarchs in politics, mining, military, and now the police,” Merah added.A protest banner on the Welcome Monument in Central Jakarta reads “Good People Choose Good Energy.” Image courtesy of Greenpeace Indonesia.The expansion of Luhut’s brief to include attracting foreign investment is a sign that Widodo is no longer focused on achieving his key pledge from his first term to make Indonesia a global maritime power, said Ahmad Marthin Hadiwinata, who heads the legal department at the Indonesian Traditional Fishermen’s Union.Marthin added that the appointment of Edhy, a political appointee, to replace Susi, an entrepreneur with a proven track record in the fisheries industry, indicated that fisheries policies in the future would serve more political interests.“The livelihoods of traditional fishermen, which make up 80 percent of Indonesia’s fisheries, must be made the top priority,” he said.On the morning before Widodo revealed his new cabinet, commuters passing by two Jakarta landmarks were treated to the unusual sight of giant banners put up by activists from Greenpeace Indonesia. The posters read, in Indonesian, “Fight Against Forest Destroyers” and “Good People Choose Good Energy.”Arie Rompas, forest campaigner at Greenpeace, said the protest was a call for Widodo’s new cabinet to reform Indonesia’s forest and coal sectors. Arie said he was disappointed by the reappointment of Siti, who he said had failed at stopping deforestation and forest fires, and of Sofyan, who has consistently refused to publish palm plantation maps.“It will be very challenging to save the forests in Indonesia, which continue to be threatened,” Arie told Mongabay. “Land-based investment continues to be the agenda in the country for the next five years, and as the oligarchs are now consolidated, it will be very smooth to profit from destroying forests in Indonesia.”Walhi’s Nur praised the protest led by Greenpeace, even as the activists were arrested by police. She said it was a great reminder for the people that the nation faces threats to its democracy and environment from oligarchs and elites.“The only answer is the people’s movement,” she said.A protest sign on the Dirgantara Monument in South Jakarta reads “Fight Against Forest Destroyers.” Image courtesy of Greenpeace Indonesia.Image banner of an intact rainforest in Indonesian Borneo by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.last_img read more

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Indonesia’s fires burned mostly abandoned and degraded land, not forests

first_imgFEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Carbon Emissions, Climate, Climate Change, Deforestation, Environment, Fires, Forest Fires, Forestry, Forests, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Palm Oil, Peatlands, Plantations, Rainforest Conservation, Rainforest Deforestation, Rainforest Destruction, Rainforests, Threats To Rainforests, Tropical Forests, wildfires More than three-quarters of the area burned during this year’s fire season in Indonesia were idle or abandoned lands, and not rainforest, a new analysis shows.Only 3 to 3.6 percent of the total burned area constituted forested landscapes, according to the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).The findings highlight the importance of protecting these areas and restoring them to prevent future recurrences of fires, CIFOR says.Much of these areas used to be peatlands, which according to a new report by Greenpeace continue to be burned by oil palm and pulpwood companies supplying some of the biggest household brands in the world. JAKARTA — It was large swaths of degraded and idle land, and not forested land, that accounted for much of the burned area during this year’s fire season in Indonesia, according to new findings.The preliminary analysis by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) contradicts the prevailing narrative that rainforests accounted for the landscape hardest hit by the fires in Indonesia.“There was no hard evidence to support that notion,” said CIFOR landscape ecologist David Gaveau.Instead, the fires took the biggest toll on abandoned lands, highlighting the importance of immediate protection for these areas to prevent a recurrence of intense and wide-scale burning in the future.Using high-resolution satellite images from Jan. 1 to Oct. 31 over seven provinces, CIFOR found that 76 percent of the burning occurred on idle lands, and only 3 to 3.6 percent in forested landscapes. That chimes with earlier statements by the governors of the Sumatran provinces of Riau and South Sumatra, the two regions that were among the most affected by this year’s fires. They said that abandoned lands, including areas for which concessions had been granted but which had been neglected by the concession holders, accounted for much of the fires in those jurisdictions.“There are still lands whose status is unclear and they’re not managed, making them prone to fires,” South Sumatra Governor Herman Deru said recently in Jakarta. “Most of the fires burn these abandoned lands. So there aren’t many fires in [plantation] companies’ [active] concessions. They’re mostly on abandoned lands.”Gaveau said these were areas that used to be forests several years ago, but had been cleared and experienced cycles of burning and recovery, turning them into scrublands peppered with low trees and bushes.“Though locally present for centuries, forest fires have become a large-scale cause of forest loss since the El Niño drought of 1983,” Gaveau told Mongabay. “Once the forest has burned, the increased risk of subsequent fires leads many forests to cycles of repeated burns.”And once these closed-canopy evergreen forests turn into scrublands, they become much more prone to fires.“Such cycles have replaced millions of hectares of forest with invasive species of easily flammable scrubs, ferns and grasses, the source of today’s fires,” Gaveau said. “Villagers living on peatlands will tell you that abandoned land is prone to fires.”As a result, fires that start from industrial plantations, including oil palm and pulpwood, can easily spread beyond the intended area of burning because of the large surrounding areas of flammable idle and degraded lands.CIFOR’s analysis shows only 3 percent of the total burned lands were inside oil palm plantations, and 0.4 percent in acacia or rubber plantations or rice paddy fields.The Ministry of Environment and Forestry has disputed the figure for total burned area derived in CIFOR’s analysis, but not the proportion of affected forest versus abandoned/idle land. CIFOR has acknowledged the need for further peer review on the matter of the total burned area, which its initial analysis put at 16,000 square kilometers (6,200 square miles) across seven provinces — almost triple the official figure released by the ministry of just under 6,500 km2 (2,500 mi2).On Dec. 6 CIFOR took down a blog post on its website, citing the need for peer review.Fires in peat land in South Sumatra’s Ogan Komering Ilir district. Image by Nopri Isim/Mongabay-Indonesia.Peat restorationThe findings present a strong case for mass restoration of degraded idle peatlands back into fire-resistant ecosystems, according to CIFOR.In 2016, President Joko Widodo launched an ambitious program to restore 26,700 square kilometers (10,300 square miles) of degraded peatlands across the country to prevent a recurrence of the particularly devastating fires in 2015. Ideally, this would mean phasing out large swaths of existing oil palm and acacia plantations on drained deep peatlands.However, the industry has pushed back against this notion, arguing that what’s important is to maintain the water table in peatlands by blocking off drainage canals — something that can be done without changing the current dominant land use of oil palm and acacia cultivation.At the same time, the government and some companies have explored “peat-friendly” cultivation alternatives that don’t require intensive draining, including sago and pineapple, as well as agroforestry. But these have been largely written off as far less profitable than palm oil or pulpwood.CIFOR said there’s a need to create an “economy of restoration” to jump-start efforts to restore degraded peatlands.“We need a paradigm shift,” the organization said. “Massive investments in restoration, massive investments from banks to create an economy of restoration. Only by considering nature as part of a vital green infrastructure that must be rebuilt and maintained with adequate investment in tandem with other infrastructures, can we begin to see significant changes.”Anggalia Putri Permatasari, a researcher at the NGO Madani Foundation for Sustainability, said one solution to restoring idle degraded peatlands while also developing the local economy is through the government’s social forestry program, which aims to give local communities greater control over lands.The Ministry of Environment and Forestry recently issued a regulation that allows local communities to cultivate peatlands through the social forestry program. There are 2,590 km2 (1,000 mi2) of peat areas that can be distributed to local communities under this scheme.“The social forestry program can be a way to solve the problem of open access to land,” Anggalia said. “Because even if the lands are clearly concessions that are the responsibility of companies, the problem of open access remains. There are even concessions that are in conflict with local people.”Burning in Jambi’s protected peat forest Lorendang where restoration efforts by WWF-Indonesia and the Peat Restoration Agency take place. Image by Elviza Diana/Mongabay Indonesia.Emissions from burningThe fires in Indonesia this year pumped out at least 708 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, according to data from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) — nearly double the 366 million tons generated from the burning in the Brazilian Amazon.A major factor is the burning of carbon-rich peatlands, and in particular the burning of peatlands within the concessions of oil palm and pulpwood companies.A new report by Greenpeace shows that Indonesia’s plantation industries — principally palm oil and pulpwood — were responsible for 41.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of peatlands in the country from 2015 to 2018.Their share of emissions amounted to 427 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent during this four-year period — the same as the average annual emissions from 110 coal-fired power plants or 91 million cars, and more than half the annual emissions of the whole of Germany.And these plantations supply palm oil and paper products to some of the world’s best-known brands, including Unilever, Nestlé, Mondelēz and Procter & Gamble, according to the report.For instance, between 2015 and 2018, Unilever’s suppliers were responsible for accumulated greenhouse gas emissions as a result of peatland fires on their Indonesian concessions that amounted to a quarter of the total emissions produced by the Netherlands in a year, the report says.Similarly, Nestlé’s suppliers during this period were responsible for more emissions than Switzerland produces in a year; for Mondelēz, it was an amount greater than the annual emissions of New Zealand; and for P&G it was double the emissions produced by Norway.Greenpeace Indonesia senior forest campaigner Annisa Rahmawati said the findings were a reminder of the toll that many of the consumer products people use daily can take on the climate.“On Forest Day at the Madrid Climate talks, people around the world will be horrified to learn of the damage the makers of Kit-Kats, Oreos, Head & Shoulders shampoo, Dove soap and Paseo tissue are doing to our climate,” she said.Annisa called on the brands mentioned in the report to stop sourcing from plantations linked to fires.“Companies parading as ‘climate champions,’ such as Unilever, are linked to massive greenhouse gas emissions from peatland fires,” she said. “These brands need to cut ties with all traders and supplier groups whose fires continue to trade our future for cheap commodities like palm oil.” Article published by Hans Nicholas Jongcenter_img Banner image: Fires raze Jambi’s protected peat forest Londerang. Image by Elviza Diana/Mongabay Indonesia. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

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Indonesian palm oil firm hit with $1.8m fine for 2015 fires

first_imgDeforestation, Dry Forests, Environment, Environmental Crime, Fires, forest degradation, Forest Destruction, Forest Fires, Forests, Law, Law Enforcement, Oil Palm, Palm Oil, Peatlands, Plantations, Rainforest Deforestation, Rainforest Destruction, Rainforests FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by Hans Nicholas Jong Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img Banner image: Fires raze Jambi’s protected peat forest Londerang. Image by Elviza Diana/Mongabay Indonesia. Indonesia’s environment ministry has won a long-awaited court judgment and $1.8 million fine from a palm oil company that experienced fires on its concession in 2015.The company, PT Kaswari Unggul, had challenged the initial administrative sanctions issued in the wake of the burning, and continued to stonewall against the ministry’s efforts to hold it responsible for the burning.Ironically, the company’s resistance to the sanctions, which would have compelled it to introduce fire-prevention measures on its land, may have contributed to fires flaring up on the same concession again this year.The ministry has welcomed the recent judgment, but has yet to collect on any of the combined $224 million it’s been awarded in similar cases, thanks to legal stonewalling and a Byzantine court bureaucracy. JAKARTA — An Indonesian court has fined an palm oil company $1.8 million for fires that occurred on its concession in 2015, capping a four-year ordeal by the government to bring the firm to justice.The South Jakarta District Court ruled on Dec. 10 that PT Kaswari Unggul, a subsidiary of Jakarta-listed Bakrie Sumatera Plantations, was responsible for the fires that burned 129 hectares (319 acres) of its land in Sumatra’s Jambi province in 2015, and ordered it to pay a fine of 25.5 billion rupiah.“We see the verdict as evidence that land and forest fires constitute an extraordinary crime,” said Rasio Ridho Sani, the head of law enforcement at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, which brought the case against the company.The ruling and fine mark the latest chapter in a long-running battle between the ministry and Kaswari. Shortly after the 2015 fires, the ministry imposed administrative sanctions on the company and several others. But Kaswari challenged the sanctions by reporting the ministry to various government agencies, including the national ombudsman and the office of the president, according to Jasmin Ragil Utomo, the ministry’s director of civil litigation.“Kaswari is a company that’s naughty,” Jasmin said. “Instead of carrying out the administrative sanction, they reported [us] everywhere.”The company’s resistance culminated with a complaint filed at the State Administrative Court in May 2017, seeking to nullify the administrative sanctions. Kaswari argued that it was the victim of the 2015 fires, which it said had started in an unlicensed forest area more than a mile from its plantation and had spread out of control.“There’s no reason whatsoever for PT Kaswari Unggul to burn its oil palm plantation that’s still very productive,” the company said in a statement in 2016. “In fact, PT Kaswari Unggul suffered a lot because of the fires that destroyed oil palm trees that were still very productive. There’s no economic benefit at all, such as insurance claim, because [the plantation] wasn’t insured.”The administrative court rejected the company’s complaint in October 2017.For flouting the administrative sanctions, the environment ministry proceeded to bring a civil lawsuit against the company, as well as a criminal complaint. The criminal case is currently being heard at court.“If they had just complied with the administrative sanctions [in 2015], they wouldn’t be facing these heavier [fines],” Jasmin said.Burning in Jambi’s protected peat forest Lorendang where restoration efforts by WWF-Indonesia and the Peat Restoration Agency take place. Image by Elviza Diana/Mongabay Indonesia.Burning againThose initial sanctions, which called for, among other things, rehabilitation of the burned area and introduction of fire-prevention measures, could also have prevented a repeat of the disaster.Instead, the same concession experienced fires across 11.6 ha (29 acres) this year, prompting the environment ministry to seal off parts of the concession and put Kaswari on a list of repeat offenders.As it did with the earlier fires, Kaswari blamed this year’s burning on fires that spread from outside its concession. Sugeng Rahayu, the company’s head of agronomy, said the fires originated from the nearby Londerang protected peat forest, where WWF and the government’s Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) have been working to restore degraded peat areas.The Londerang peat forest is surrounded by five oil palm plantations and two logging concessions.Rasio said all concession holders in Indonesia, including Kaswari, are liable for fires in their concessions, regardless of where the burning started. That same concept was adopted by the Jakarta court in its recent ruling against Kaswari.Rasio said the environment ministry would continue going after companies with fires on their land, regardless of how long ago the burning occurred.“We can trace trails and evidence of previous fires with the support of experts and technology,” he said. “Land and forest fires are a serious crime because they directly affect the public health, economy, ecosystem degradation over a long period of time.”The ministry has to date taken 17 companies to court over fires, winning judgments against nine of them with combined fines of 3.15 trillion rupiah ($224 million), Jasmin said. He added more lawsuits were planned in 2020 over this year’s fires, which were the worst since 2015.However, the government has yet to collect any of the fines, thanks to a combination of legal stonewalling by the companies and a Byzantine court bureaucracy that renders rulings practically unenforceable.last_img read more

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2019’s top 10 ocean news stories (commentary)

first_imgMarine scientists from the University of California, Santa Barbara, share their list of the top 10 ocean news stories from 2019.Hopeful developments included progress toward an international treaty to protect biodiversity on the high seas and a rebound in the western South Atlantic humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) to nearly its pre-whaling population size.Meanwhile, research documenting rapidly unfurling effects of climate change in the ocean painted a dire picture of the present and future ocean. These include accelerating sea level rise, more severe marine heatwaves and more frequent coral bleaching events.This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily Mongabay. 1. Climate change and oceansClimate change impacts on land made almost daily headlines this year: fires, floods, more extreme storms. Equally intense effects are being realized in our seas. This year, more than 100 scientists from 30 countries brought these impacts on the ocean into sharp focus with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on the ocean and cryosphere. The findings were bleak: Sea level rise is accelerating, marine heatwaves are more extensive and intense and coral bleaching events are occurring with increasing frequency. The report’s predictions up the ante on action. Even if we meet the Paris Agreement mandate to keep warming to below a 2-degree Celsius rise over pre-industrial levels, the report suggests that by 2100 sea levels will rise by 0.3 to 0.6 meters (1 to 2 feet), there will be 20 times more marine heatwaves and the ocean will be 40% more acidic. The urgency for ocean/climate action was happily mirrored at the close of this year with an all-time bump in importance for oceans at the recent U.N. climate negotiations (COP 25) in Madrid, with the event even being billed by some as the “Blue COP.”Roads washed away due to sea-level rise and storm surge from Hurricane Sandy at Assateague Island off the coast of Maryland and Virginia in 2012. Image by NPS Climate Change Response via Wikimedia Commons (Public domain).2. A year for youth leadershipWhile detailed scientific reports and formal international negotiations are making slow progress, 2019 was the year that youth climate activists stood up to demand a much more rapid response. This included youth from the Pacific islands who are already dealing with the impacts of sea-level rise. Greta Thunberg inspired millions of students to participate in school strikes, and Fridays for Future marches became a common occurrence in towns and cities across the globe. More than 4 million people in over 163 countries are estimated to have participated in the global climate strike in September. 2019 could be called the year when youth undeniably spoke their mind about climate change, but it remains to be seen how well the world listened.Protesters at a global climate march in Melbourne, Australia, in March 2019. Image by John Englart via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0).3. Treaty governing the high seas within reach2019 was a big year for progress on protecting biodiversity on the high seas, the two-thirds of the ocean that lie outside of national waters. The U.N. hosted two rounds of negotiations on a possible new global treaty to better manage and protect biodiversity on the high seas — life that too often has slipped through international regulatory cracks. This protection is critical for pelagic populations that have already suffered huge losses due to overfishing or bycatch. Marine scientists from around the world presented results to the U.N. this year as to which parts and how much of the high seas should be protected. Considerations include hotspots for migratory marine top predators such as seabirds and sharks, important fish spawning and feeding grounds and areas that may provide a buffer to climate change impacts. A draft treaty text was released in November. With only one more planned negotiating session left this spring in New York, all eyes in 2020 will be on whether the treaty indeed becomes something that matters for ocean life on the high seas.Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Image by Noah Kahn/USFWS via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).4. Sprint to the finish line on parks in the seaMore than 3 billion people globally rely on healthy marine ecosystems for their livelihoods. However, fish stocks are overexploited, marine pollution is rife and ocean acidification is on the rise. A key target of U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 14 is to protect 10% of marine areas by 2020, a goal also encapsulated in Aichi Target 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). With several large new protected areas announced in recent years and current ocean protection at around 7.5%, we are now close to reaching the 10% target, but it remains to be seen if this can be achieved before the next CBD Conference of the Parties in October 2020. Even so, meeting the target does not ensure conservation success. Hard work remains to be done to ensure that all marine protected areas are effective. This year also saw increasing calls from scientists, conservationists and governments to raise global ambitions and aim to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030, part of which would include high seas waters.Grey reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) in the waters of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Image by Kydd Pollock/USFWS – Pacific Region via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).5. Unsolved oil spillAn oil spill detected off the coast of Brazil in late August of this year is estimated at over 7,000 tons of crude oil, covering a 2,700-kilometer (1,680-mile) stretch of coastline. The spill has contaminated hundreds of beaches, estuaries, reefs and mangroves and is threatening important biodiversity hotspots and at least 48 marine protected areas. One of these is Abrolhos Bank, the largest coral reef area in the South Atlantic Ocean. The source of the spill has yet to be identified, but it seems likely to have come from a “dark ship” that had switched off its location transponder. Analysis of satellite data has helped to identify ships that were in the area at the time of the spill, and the Brazilian authorities are currently reviewing the information. Brazil’s National Contingency Plan was activated late, and citizens whose livelihoods depend on coastal resources were those most impacted by the spill. An improved response requires a crisis emergency fund and trained personnel to help citizens respond safely to environmental disasters. Further investment is also needed to improve both the science of spills and the technology that will enable a modern satellite monitoring system of ship activity.Oil tanker at sea. Image by Timo Adam via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).6. Our plastic seaEvery year it seems we learn more and more about the severity of the plastic pollution crisis. Actions to address the crisis kicked off at the start of the year when the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, a group of household-name companies (think Procter & Gamble, Shell and Dow), committed $1 billion to reduce plastic waste and improve recycling. Other recent commitments include the Sea the Future initiative from the Minderoo Foundation, which hinges on businesses pledging a voluntary contribution that will make fossil fuel-based plastics more expensive to produce and more valuable to collect. At the country level, Vietnam released its National Action Plan on Ocean Plastic Waste Management, Panama became the first Central American nation to ban plastic bags, and Kenya committed to banning single-use plastics in 2020. Awareness has also increased about the role that rivers play in the flow of plastic into the ocean, and innovative solutions are being developed to tackle the problem, such as Baltimore Harbor’s Mr. Trash Wheel and The Ocean Cleanup’s Interceptor.An 11.5-m (38-ft) tall whale made from 4,500 kilograms (10,000 pounds) of plastic was installed in a canal in Bruges, Belgium. Image by Richard Harris via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).7. Ocean miningThe world moved closer this year to answering a landmark question for oceans: Should we legalize mining of the seafloor? The International Seabed Authority hopes to finalize the answer to that question next year by completing international regulations on commercial ocean mining in the high seas, but it faces significant political opposition. In 2019 a host of countries, including Fiji, formally called for bans on ocean mining, citing concerns about the possible negative impacts that mining may have on fisheries, carbon storage in the oceans and fragile deep-ocean ecosystems. Paralleling the race to mine the seafloor is the race to reduce our dependence on these marine minerals, through both the transformation of battery chemistry away from the reliance on rare metals — for example, with potential breakthrough moments in next-generation battery research from labs at MIT and Berkeley — and the improvement of methods to recycle metals from existing products.A garden of coral on the Sibelius Seamount at a depth of 2,465 m (8,087 ft). Image by NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research via Wikimedia Commons (Public domain).8. End of the line for fisheries subsidiesHarmful fisheries subsidies are contributing to the depletion of marine life globally, with one-third of the world’s fish stocks now harvested at unsustainable levels compared to just 10% some 40 years ago. Subsidies are payouts provided to fishers by governments to offset costs, such as fuel and fishing gear, and they can often encourage illegal catch or fishing beyond biologically sustainable limits. Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have been in negotiations to end harmful fisheries subsidies since 2001, and with talks picking up momentum in 2019, it was hoped an agreement would finally be reached by the end of the year. Unfortunately, that opportunity has now passed, but in early December members agreed on an intensive program of negotiations for early 2020 aiming to reach agreement by the next WTO ministerial meeting in June. The appointment of a new chair of the negotiations has injected fresh energy and hope into the talks process, and many voices of influence have joined the call for a swift conclusion to the negotiations, including the WTO’s director-general, Roberto Azevêdo, and famed British naturalist Sir David Attenborough.Snapper fish for sale at Scarborough Fish Market, Queensland, Australia. Image by Kgbo via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).9. Ups and Downs for the world’s whalesIt’s been a rollercoaster year for whale populations. In 2018 it looked like the Canadian government might have tackled the causes of a spate of untimely deaths of North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis), mainly caused by collisions with ships. However, nine strandings of whale carcasses this year in Canada and one in the U.S. have shown that vessel strikes are still a worrying threat for this critically endangered marine mammal. There may be a glimmer of hope, though, for the world’s smallest cetacean, the vaquita (Phocoena sinus), as three pairs of mothers and calves have been spotted in the northern Gulf of California, Mexico. The species is verging on extinction due to entanglement in fishing gear, with perhaps two dozen animals remaining. In even better news, new research estimates that the western South Atlantic population of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) has now reached around 93% of its pre-whaling size. This is a huge bounceback from the lowest numbers of just 450 individuals in the mid-1950s. (Incidentally, that’s about the size of the current North Atlantic right whale population.) More whales in the ocean is not only good for biodiversity and ecosystems; new analyses out this year suggest it might also help to tackle climate change.North Atlantic right whale mother and calf (Eubalaena glacialis). Image by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, NOAA Research Permit # 665-1652, via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).10. Ocean weirdnessIt’s often quoted that we know more about the moon’s surface than the ocean floor, and even in 2019 the ocean still continues to surprise us. Though we’ve known about biofluorescence in the marine world for a while, the mechanism for why some shark species emit a green glow was only worked out this year. Researchers have now discovered a small family of molecules that produce the green glow, which is only visible to other sharks, and the compounds may even offer protection from microbial infection. It can be a challenge to keep up with the changes happening in the ocean, many of which are driven by climate change. The appearance of a go-kart-size hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) washed up on Coal Oil Point Reserve in Santa Barbara, California, caused confusion for locals and scientists alike. This species, which was only discovered in 2014, is usually more at home in the waters of the Southern Hemisphere. And finally, the so-called “Blob,” a patch of unusually warm ocean water that formed in the Gulf of Alaska in 2013 and spread along the entire North American west coast, continues to leave its mark. While waters cooled in mid-2016, the previous warmer temperatures have been tied to a crash in cod stocks in the Gulf of Alaska, and this month fisheries managers made the unprecedented decision to close the Pacific cod fishery. Worryingly, NOAA reported in September on the beginning of another marine heatwave covering the same region and extent as the blob with the potential to further impact marine and coastal ecosystems.Fluorescent and white light images of a female swell shark (Cephaloscyllium ventriosum). Image courtesy of Scientific Reports (CC BY 4.0).Emma Critchley is a project scientist at the Benioff Ocean Initiative at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she works on projects that are developing science- and technology-based solutions to ocean problems. Her background is in marine spatial ecology, particularly the overlap of marine top predators and human activities. Douglas McCauley began his career as a fisherman but later transitioned to marine science. He now serves as an associate professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and director of the Benioff Ocean Initiative. McCauley studies how marine ecosystems function and what management practices best support ocean health. FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by Rebecca Kessler Animals, Biodiversity, Climate Activism, Climate Change And Conservation, Climate Change And Coral Reefs, Climate Change Policy, Commentary, Conservation, Coral Bleaching, Critically Endangered Species, Deep Sea, Deep Sea Mining, Emission Reduction, Endangered Species, Environment, Environmental Policy, Fishing, Marine Animals, Marine Biodiversity, Marine Conservation, Marine Ecosystems, Marine Mammals, Marine Protected Areas, Mining, Ocean Acidification, Oceans, Oceans And Climate Change, Oil Spills, Overfishing, Plastic, Pollution, Protected Areas, Sea Ice, Water Pollution, Whales, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

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Alarm over mass vulture poisoning in South Africa

first_imgFifteen white-backed vultures (Gyps africanus) and a young lappet-faced vulture (Torgos tracheliotos) have died after feeding on a poison-laced impala carcass in northern Zululand on 23 Dec — the fourth such incident in the province in 2019.The heads and feet had been removed from 13 of the dead birds, their bodies concealed in thick bush: experts warn that deliberate poisoning of vultures for belief-based use is on the increase in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province.More than 1,200 vultures were deliberately poisoned across Southern and Eastern Africa this year, according to the Endangered Wildlife Trust. DURBAN, South Africa — Another mass vulture poisoning incident has ended the year on a sour note for Wildlife ACT rangers in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal.Soon after releasing two rehabilitated vultures, rescued from a different poisoning scene earlier this year, WildLife ACT was alerted to another incident on 23 Dec, on Rolling Valley Ranch, located between Pongola and Mkuze in the far north of the province.“Arriving at a scene like this with everything so fresh, but too late to assist in saving any poisoned birds is heartbreaking. Losing one vulture is always a tragedy. Losing at least 16 birds at one feeding is a crisis,” said PJ Roberts, manager of Wildlife ACT’s Emergency Response Team.Wildlife ACT works closely with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, local farmers and communities, and other conservation groups to protect three endangered vulture species in KwaZulu-Natal.The first bird found, a white-backed vulture (Gyps africanus), hinted at Roberts’s worst fears: “It had a full crop (still containing undigested food), contorted feet and many dead flies were scattered around its remains — all clear signs of fast-acting poison.”The team swept the area, but it took an aerial search to locate more victims. “We landed to find the devastating remains of multiple birds hidden at the base of the tree. Included in this discovery was the removed, yellow, wing tags of H065; a young lappet-faced vulture (Torgos tracheliotos) tagged in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in October 2017 as a fledgling,” said Roberts.“No more than 30m away, the morbid discovery of 13 processed and harvested white-backed vultures, with their heads and feet removed, were found very purposefully hidden in a thick bush,” added Roberts.Wildlife ACT response team with the bodies of 13 white-backed vultures, poisoned for the traditional medicine trade. Image courtesy Wildlife ACT.Nearby was the body of an impala — snared, killed, and laced with poison. The rangers burned all the contaminated carcasses to ash to remove the poison from the ecosystem.It is the fourth vulture poisoning incident in northern Zululand this year, bringing the total recorded number of vultures harvested for body parts in this region alone to 53. The actual number of birds killed is believed to be much higher as many incidents are never detected.The Endangered WildLife Trust’s (EWT) Vultures for Africa Programme manager, Andre Botha, said it was difficult to quantify how many vultures are deliberately poisoned for body parts.According to records kept by EWT, more than 1,200 vultures have been deliberately poisoned in Southern and Eastern Africa this year. Culprits include poachers who poison the carcasses of elephant and other game in an apparent effort to conceal illegal activities from rangers. These poisonings are referred to as “sentinel poisonings”, as vultures circling over poached animals alert rangers to the killings.Africa’s vulture populations have already declined by an average 62 percent over the past three decades — with seven species crashing by 80 percent. Experts recently warned that the continent’s vulture populations face the prospect of collapsing, in much the same way as vulture species did in Asia thirty years ago.In the early 1990s, millions of Asian vultures died after eating the remains of cows in carcass dumps; India has 500 million cows raised for milk, but not eaten by the majority Hindu population. Scientists identified the culprit: diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory used by vets. Vultures feeding on carcasses containing the drug died swiftly of kidney failure.The reasons for the African vulture crisis are vastly different. They include habitat loss, ingestion of lead ammunition, collisions with power lines, accidental drownings in farm water reservoirs, and the use of poisoned bait by livestock owners to kill predators like jackals. Vultures feeding off the carcasses subsequently die, often in significant numbers.But many more are poisoned deliberately to harvest body parts for belief-based use.“The vultures are killed for their heads and feet and other parts,” said Chris Kelly, a species director at Wildlife ACT. “This is definitely the single biggest threat to diminishing vulture populations in this province,” said Kelly.In many parts of Africa, vultures are believed to have psychic powers, including an ability to see into the future.According to a fact sheet from EWT, the brains of the bird are dried, rolled and smoked as joints or simply burnt and the fumes inhaled. Users believe this improves their odds when they gamble on the lottery or place bets on sport. Students take it when preparing for exams. Other reported uses of vultures include consuming their eyes to improve eyesight, their beaks for protection, or their feet to heal fractured bones or make a person run faster.In 2014, EWT estimated that 130,000 traders, hunters and traditional healers were operating in South Africa. This figure is believed to have increased, sparking calls from conservationists, environmental scientists and wildlife experts at this year’s Conservation Symposium for an awareness-building campaign to reduce this consumption and demand for vulture parts.“Vultures provide critically important ecosystem services by cleaning up carcasses thus reducing the spread of dangerous diseases such as anthrax and rabies and resulting in highly significant economic and human health benefits,” said Brent Coverdale, an animal scientist for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife at the symposium.  “We really can’t afford to lose them.”As vultures are protected by law, it is illegal to possess or kill any of the six vulture species found in South Africa. Nevertheless, deliberate killings continue.Roberts said the latest poisoning incident had been reported to local police.“We are hoping this leads to an arrest,” said Roberts.  “If the illegal harvest of these birds is not halted, then extinction may be just around the corner and the services that they provide within the ecosystem will be lost forever.”As part of a bid to save vulture populations, managers of conservation areas and private game reserves in South Africa are collaborating to create safe havens for existing vulture populations.— additional reporting, Mlu Mdletshe, Roving Reporters.Poisoned vulture: more than 1,200 vultures have been deliberately poisoned in Southern and Eastern Africa in 2019. Image courtesy Wildlife ACT.CitationOgada, D., Shaw, P., Beyers, R. L., Buij, R., Murn, C., Thiollay, J. M., … Sinclair, A. R. E. (2015). Another continental vulture crisis: Africa’s vultures collapsing toward extinction. Conservation Letters, 9(2), 89-97. doi:10.1111/conl.12182 Animals, Birds, Critically Endangered Species, Endangered Species, Environment, Poaching, Poisoning, Raptors, Scavengers, Wildlife, Wildlife Trade, Wildlife Trafficking Fred Kockott is the founding director of Roving Reporters, a journalism training agency that focuses on environmental, social and justice issues.Banner image: Burning a poisoned white-backed vulture carcass. Image courtesy Wildlife ACT.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by terna gyuse Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

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Pangolins top the charts while climate stories lag: Insights on our 2019 reporting (insider)

first_imgArticle published by Rhett Butler Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Environment, Insider center_img Mongabay’s traffic hit a new record in 2019, with pageviews increasing 34% to 102 million and monthly active users climbing 50% to 4.3 million. But the high level numbers don’t reveal much, so here are some more interesting insights on how various topics performed and how our articles fared across geographies.Given Mongabay’s bureaus in Indonesia and India, it’s not surprising that those countries represent two of our three biggest markets. The Philippines, where we hired a staff writer in 2019, ranks fourth. Mongabay has especially high readership on a per capita basis in certain Latin American and Asian countries, led by Bolivia, Indonesia, and Paraguay.Wildlife-related stories attracted the most readers in 2019, while climate science stories were the least read.This post is insider content, which is available to paying subscribers. Mongabay’s traffic hit a new record in 2019, with pageviews increasing 34% to 102 million and monthly active users climbing 50% to 4.3 million. But the high level numbers don’t reveal much, so here are some more interesting insights on how various topics performed and how our articles fared across geographies. In summary: wildlife stories… This content is for Monthly, Annual and Lifetime members only.Membership offers a way for readers to directly support Mongabay’s non-profit conservation news reporting, while getting a first-hand, behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to produce these stories. Every few weeks, we’ll publish a new member article that tells the story behind the reporting: the trials and tribulations of field reporting, personal travel accounts, photo essays, and more.You can sign up for membership Here If you’re already a member: Log InMembers getExclusive, behind-the-scenes articles.Access to our members-only newsletter.Access to periodic conversations with Mongabay journalists.last_img read more

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Black-market anchovies: Report details Peru’s illegal fish meal industry

first_imgConservation, Environment, Fish, Fishing, Marine Biodiversity, Marine Conservation, Oceans, Overfishing Peru is the world’s leading producer of fish meal, made from anchovetas (Engraulis ringens) and used primarily as feed for aquaculture and livestock.It’s unclear precisely how much of the substance it makes because a sizeable portion appears to be off the books.Some 22,000 tons of fish meal are produced annually by illegal factories located in the Pisco province of southern Peru, according to a report by the NGO Oceana.The report identified three illegal mechanisms currently operating in Peru to produce fish meal for export and domestic use. Peru is the world’s leading producer of fish meal, but it’s unclear precisely how much of the substance it makes, given that a sizeable portion appears to be off the books. The industry is based on the anchoveta (Engraulis ringens), a silvery little member of the anchovy family that teems in massive schools in Peruvian waters. The fish, subject to natural boom-and-bust population cycles compounded by overfishing, support on their tiny backs the world’s largest single-species fishery, Peru’s $1.5 billion fish meal industry and tens of thousands of jobs.Official figures showing that Peru exports more fish meal than it produces hint at the fishy production. The country exported 867,000 tons but produced just 800,000 tons, on average, each year between 2012 and 2016, according to 2016’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Statistical Yearbook, put out by the Ministry of Production (PRODUCE).The scale of this illegal trade is substantial: Recently, producers in Peru have each year churned out around 90,000 tons of fish meal worth $130 million, according to a report by Apoyo Consultoría, a Lima-based consulting firm, for the country’s National Bank and Insurance Inspectorate.“Since much of the harvest used in this way is not declared, even though the volume in relation to the anchoveta population isn’t very big, it does represent an important distortion to the monitoring and biological management of this species,” Juan Carlos Sueiro, director of fisheries for the Peruvian branch of the international marine conservation NGO Oceana, told Mongabay via email.Sueiro co-authored an investigation for Oceana released in February 2019 that identified three illegal mechanisms currently operating in Peru to produce fish meal for export and domestic use. These are factories operating without installation permits or appropriate operating licenses; businesses that claim to produce food for human consumption but instead systematically divert anchovetas to fish meal factories; and drying fields, where anchoveta remains are dried in the sun in a labor-intensive, unsanitary and highly illegal way.The global market for aquaculture and livestock feed is driving increased production of fish meal and fish oil in places like Peru, West Africa, and India. But critics say the sector encourages the indiscriminate harvest of marine life without regard for ecological impact and takes seafood out of domestic food supplies, often in very poor and food-insecure countries. The use of fish meal in aquaculture has drawn particular fire as an inefficient use of marine resources. The cultivation of salmon or shrimp, for instance, requires more than six times as much wild fish, pound per pound, according to a recent report by the Netherlands-based Changing Markets Foundation.The aquaculture industry counters that there is little demand for wild forage fish like Peruvian anchoveta, so it makes sense to feed them to more marketable fish like salmon. Numerous efforts are afoot to develop alternative feeds and markets for species, such as tilapia, that require less fish in their diets. For the moment, however, global demand for fish meal is only rising.Mechanism one: Illegal fish meal factoriesThe Oceana investigation identified 10 illegal fish meal factories in the coastal province of Pisco in southern Peru. With no installation permits or operating licenses, these unmarked factories are located in agricultural areas and are difficult to access. They each process between 10 and 90 tons of mainly fresh anchovetas every day, or other species if necessary. Illegal fish meal factories in Pisco, according to the marine conservation NGO Oceana. Image courtesy of Oceana.The fish are brought directly from the artisanal fishing docks in the district of San Andrés and La Puntilla Fishing Complex 11 kilometers (7 miles) to the south, passing through around 10 different intermediaries along the way. “That’s where we lose track of them,” said Renato Gozzer, a fisheries engineer with the Peruvian NGO REDES and a co-author of the investigation. “The intermediaries’ world is pretty closed and dangerous. They are very territorial, dividing up the ports and acting like the Mafia,” he said.Since 2000, industrial fish meal factories have modernized their equipment in line with new environmental norms. The owners sold off the old machinery as scrap. “This equipment hasn’t been destroyed; it has been recycled and that’s what these illegal factories are using,” Gozzer said. Even with out-of-date machinery, the illegal factories can process up to 15 tons of feedstock per hour, three times more than a legal residual fish meal factory (one that processes otherwise unusable fish or fish parts) is authorized to process.The illegal factories use machinery discarded by the legal factories. Image courtesy of Oceana.Oceana estimates that each year these plants produce 22,000 tons of high-protein fish meal and 5,000 tons of fish oil with a total value of $32 million. And this is just a portion of Peru’s black-market fish meal industry.Mechanism two: Diverting anchoviesWhen an anchoveta is caught in Peruvian waters, its destination depends on the type of boat that catches it. If an artisanal fishing vessel catches it, it goes to a factory that handles fish categorized for “direct human consumption” to be processed and preserved by freezing or canning. The head, tail and intestines are removed and only part of its body will end up on the dinner table.The leftovers, which can legally comprise up to three-quarters of an anchoveta’s body, go to the so-called residual fish meal factories. This fish meal is of much lower quality than conventional fish meal made by factories that process whole anchovetas caught by industrial vessels.Anchoveta-fishing vessels along the Peruvian coast. Image by Andre Baertschi/Oceana.Oceana’s investigation found that whole anchovetas destined for the direct human consumption plants are systematically diverted to the residual fish meal plants. “[A] truck simply enters [an unmarked garage], holds the anchovetas for a while until they are no longer fit for human consumption and must be sent to the fish meal factories,” Sueiro said. A direct human consumption factory suspected of diverting whole anchovetas to residual fish meal plants, which are only supposed to process fish heads, intestines, and other discarded parts. Image courtesy of Oceana.Oceana compared the official export and production volumes of cured anchovetas, known as curados. Exports were marginal, so most of the production, some 5,200 tons annually, should be available for consumption within Peru. The strange thing, according to Sueiro, is that “in Peru, we don’t eat anchovetas; we export them.”Despite the lack of a domestic market to consume the curados that are allegedly available, the number of factories that produce curados has increased recently, from 61 in 2011 to 73 today. Moreover, together only five of them produced nearly half of the country’s curado exports over the last five years. For Sueiro, this doesn’t make sense, especially given that they did so while possessing less than 6 percent of the total curado-processing capacity. One possible explanation, according to the Oceana report, is that some of the other 68 curado factories “systematically divert fresh anchovetas to factories that make illegal fish meal.”A comparison of catches (orange), production (gray) and exports (yellow) of cured anchovetas known as curados for the Peruvian department of Ancash. Exports of curados are marginal and there is no domestic market that justifies such high production rates. Image by Mongabay Latam based on official data from PRODUCE.Mongabay Latam asked PRODUCE and the Ancash regional government why they continue to award operating permits to curado factories if there is no market that justifies their production. However, neither organization responded by the time of this story’s original publication last February. According to the report, the residual fish meal factories, when processing complete anchovetas and not the leftovers, produce high-quality fish meal that is mainly sold internationally. The report identified two pathways for these sales: Conventional fish meal plants, the ones that process the catch from the industrial fishing fleet, purchase the fish meal and sell it as their own product. Or the residual fish meal plants, which export it directly through brokers who specialize in taking this fish meal abroad. A representative of the National Fishing Society (SNP by its Spanish acronym) told Mongabay Latam that it has “ensured that all factories that are associated [with it] comply with the IFFO RS certification so the customer has a guarantee for the traceability and origin of their products.” The SNP recommends that buyers only purchase fish meal from factories that hold that certification, one of the most common standards, which was set up by the Marine Ingredients Organisation, a London-based trade group for the fish meal and fish oil industry.But in Peru, the official records of the quantity of primary material received and the quantity produced from it are based on legal declarations that the factories send to the Ministry for Production. According to the Oceana investigators, that means there is no real-time system of traceability that would allow the correlation between the amount of fish received and the quantity of fish meal produced to be checked against concrete evidence. Fishing boats. Image by Andre Baertschi/Oceana.“[T]his weakness in controlling fish production statistics leaves a loophole for the directors of the factories for Direct Human Consumption that are engaged in the illicit diversion of anchovetas to illegal fish meal production to declare fictitious production quantities so the records show they are making the products they are authorized to produce,” the report states. The SNP representative confirmed that the group is aware of the problem and is implementing the Anchoveta Fishing Improvement Project “through which we aim to encourage scientific investigation and the management of this fishery,” including improving the traceability of anchoveta fishing by artisanal and small-scale fishers.Mechanism three: The drying plainsSince the residual fish meal plants are not processing the leftovers from the direct human consumption factories, drying plains have proliferated to fulfill this demand. Here anchoveta leftovers are spread out on the ground to dry in the sun; then they are ground by hand in a process that is both illegal and unsanitary.The drying plains also receive waste from the local markets and the fishing boats, as well as fish from the artisanal boats that is not accepted by the factories due to its advanced state of decomposition. When there is an excess anchoveta catch they also take fish that the factories lack the capacity to accept. Oceana identified more than 25 drying plains in the departments of Ica, Ancash and Piura.Fish leftovers drying in the sun on the drying plains. Image courtesy of Oceana.The product is often sold to residual or illegal factories, which use it to top up their stocks and lower costs. “The quality of the production on the fields is too low to be sold on its own, but if two tons of this fish meal is mixed with 20 tons of a better-quality fish meal, it’s fine,” Sueiro said.In Peru, the production of fish, poultry and livestock species that require a balanced diet is growing, and “fish meal is the main ingredient and one of the most important sources of protein in making these foods,” according to the Oceana report. However, the legally produced fish meal and the fish oils are almost entirely exported, leaving the growing domestic demand for fish meal unmet and incentivizing illegal production, the report says.Sueiro outlined to Mongabay several ways the illegal production of fish meal complicates sound management of the Peruvian anchoveta fishery and raises economic and nutritional issues for the country: it prevents managers from knowing the true volume of anchovetas removed from the sea; the illegal businesses pay no taxes and provide only precarious employment; illegal fish meal has no sanitary control, presenting a health risk to the animals that eat it; the sector also inhibits innovation in efforts to encourage people to eat anchoveta directly. The latter, Sueiro said, is something that groups like Oceana are keen to do to improve nutrition and develop more ecologically efficient uses for the fish. “[N]either the State, nor PRODUCE, nor the NGOs, nor the fisherman know where this is heading,” Sueiro said. “[W]hat we have done is shed light on the problem so we can understand how it works. Now the competent bodies need to do their work.”Mongabay Latam sought responses to questions from PRODUCE, but the agency did not respond. This story was first published in Spanish on Mongabay Latam on Feb. 12, 2019. Additional reporting by Rebecca Kessler. Article published by Maria Salazarcenter_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

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