Heart of Ecuador’s Yasuni, home to uncontacted tribes, opens for oil drilling

first_imgEcuador’s environment ministry has approved the environmental assessment plans to drill for oil in Ishpingo, the last field of the controversial ITT (Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini) project in Yasuni National Park.Saving Yasuni from oil extraction has long been a priority for conservationists, since former president Rafael Correa launched the ITT initiative in 2007, asking for international donations in return for keeping oil in the ground. The initiative failed in 2013.Ishpingo is the most controversial of the three ITT fields as it overlaps with the Intangible Zone, home to two uncontacted indigenous communities, the Tagaeri and Taromenane; the government claims it will not expand into this area.The Ecuadoran government also signed a new decree that now allows oil platforms to be constructed within the Intangible Zone’s buffer area, which was previously forbidden. QUITO, Ecuador — Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park sits in a unique position on the equator, between the Andes mountain range and the Amazon rainforest, which has allowed a rich and distinct biodiversity to flourish. The region is surrounded by towering ceibo and mahogany trees, emblematic of the area, as well as hundreds of endemic birds, mammals and amphibians. Traveling down the Yasuni River at the far east of the park, it’s hard to really fathom this diversity that surrounds you, as lush green jungle extends for miles on either side.Yet conservationists are worried. Earlier this year, the Ecuadoran government approved two new controversial plans to drill for oil farther into Yasuni National Park, which will also encroach on the Intangible Zone (known by its Spanish acronym ZITT), a special area within the park created to protect the two uncontacted indigenous nations that live there, the Tagaeri and Taromenane.In April, the Ministry of Environment approved plans to open two platforms of the Ishpingo oil field, the third phase of the controversial Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) project. Ishpingo is the most contentious field in the ITT project as it is the largest and overlaps with the ZITT and its buffer zone, an area 10 kilometers (6 miles) wide that surrounds the ZITT.Then in May, President Lenín Moreno signed a new decree that allows oil platforms to be constructed within the Intangible Zone’s buffer area, which was previously forbidden.Yasuni National Park has long been controversial for being an area rich in biodiversity that also has some of Ecuador’s largest oil reserves, in a country that is highly dependent on oil revenue. Activists say these recent decisions will have major environmental repercussions in a region that was once a beacon of hope for global conservation, and on the two indigenous nations that live in voluntary isolation there.last_img read more

Indigenous communities, wildlife under threat as farms invade Nicaraguan reserve

first_imgNicaragua’s Bosawás Biosphere Reserve straddles the country’s border with Honduras and was declared a UNESCO site in 1997. It comprises one of the largest contiguous rainforest regions in Latin America north of the Amazon Basin and includes 21 ecosystems and six types of forest that are home to a multitude of species, several of which are threatened with extinction.According to a report by the Nicaraguan environmental agency MARENA, a little more than 15 percent of the Bosawás reserve had been cleared and converted for agricultural use in 2000. But today, that number stands at nearly 31 percent. Satellite data show deforestation reached the heart of the reserve’s core zone earlier this year.Deforestation in Bosawás stems mainly from migration, as people in other parts of the country move to the region looking for fertile land and space to raise cattle and grow crops.Indigenous communities are allowed to own land within Bosawás. But sources say land traffickers are selling plots of land to non-indigenous farmers and ranchers, creating conflicts that have caused death on both sides. Torrential rain creates a deafening roar as it strikes the metal roof of community leader Ubence Zelaya’s two-bedroom home on the southern border of the Mayagna indigenous territory. Zelaya lives in the community of Wisoh alongside the Bocay River within the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve in northern Nicaragua. Outside his open door, a mountainous green landscape disappears behind a solid wall of water.“I was born and created on this river,” Zelaya told Mongabay as the rains die down. “My mother, my father, my grandfather, my grandmother, here they were born and here they died. [The Mayagna] are the owners of everything you see here, of this we are created, and we are the owners.”Zelaya’s eyes fill with tears as he explained the dire situation facing his community and his people. “The Mayagna have a tradition of protecting the reserve, the forests and the animals. Today, the mestizos have come bringing different traditions. They negotiate the land, the reserve, and they cut down the forests to make pastures and raise cattle.”Mestizo is a Spanish term for people who form the ethnic majority population of Nicaragua and other Latin American countries, who speak Spanish, and do not ascribe to a particular Indigenous culture or tribe. In Bosawás Biosphere Reserve, the non-indigenous mestizo settlers are expanding into the Bosawás reserve’s core zone, settling ancestral lands that the Nicaraguan government has recognized as collective territory titled to the Mayagna and Miskito people.The rainforest in Bosawás Biosphere Reserve is particularly biodiverse. Photo by Taran Volckhausen for Mongabay.Nicaragua’s Bosawás Biosphere Reserve sits within the Mosquitia region that straddles the border of Honduras with Nicaragua, comprising one of the largest contiguous rainforest regions in Latin America north of the Amazon Basin. Bosawás, covering some 2.2 million hectares (4.4 million acres), is part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor that ensures the free movement of wildlife between Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and Mexico.Nicaragua holds about one-quarter of Central America’s remaining forest cover. Since the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve covers around 14 percent of Nicaragua’s land area, it holds a large amount of valuable habitat for the region’s widlife. Comprising 21 ecosystems and six types of forest, the reserve is home to 370 plant, 215 bird, 85 mammal, 15 snake, 11 fish, and 200,000 insect species. Several of these species are already threatened with extinction, such as Baird’s tapir (Tapirus bairdii) and Geoffroy’s spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi), which are listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.‘They’re coming after me next’The reserve, declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1997, is made up of two parts: a buffer and core zone. The buffer zone is intended to act as a containment area where regulated human activities could occur in an effort to limit impacts on the core zone, and for decades has been settled by small-scale farmers and cattle ranchers who have converted the forests to grow annual food staples such as corn, rice and beans, as well as raise livestock.According to a report by the Nicaraguan environmental agency MARENA, a little more than 15 percent of the Bosawás reserve had been cleared and converted for agricultural use in 2000. But today, that number stands at nearly 31 percent.Satellite data show incursions cut deep into the heart of the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve between June and September, 2019. The reserve’s core zone surrounds one of Nicaragua’s last remaining intact forest landscapes, which are areas of old growth forest that are undisturbed and connected enough to retain their original biodiversity levels. Source: GLAD/UMD, accessed through Global Forest WatchDeforestation in Bosawás stems mainly from migration, as people in other parts of the country move to the region looking for fertile land and space to raise cattle and grow crops. And this pressure is no longer relegated to the buffer zone. Zelaya told Mongabay that in 2018, colonists have started to extend roads and buy up land within the reserve’s core zone where the Mayagna indigenous people have lived for thousands of years. One of these new developments is an informal road that follows the Bocay River from the town of Ayapal into the reserve’s core.The forest isn’t the only victim of this expansion. Zelaya claims that 11 indigenous people have been murdered at the hands of the colonists since 2011. Last month, he said the colonists killed one of his townspeople, and that the colonists “are celebrating the month anniversary, saying that the killing was a triumph for them.”“The threats continue, I can no longer live here because I’ve been told that they’re coming after me next,” he said. “These people know the military has authority here. If they were to tell them to leave, they would go.”Zelaya said that the Mayagna have not been able to speak directly with the government about the problems that have arisen due to the colonists penetrating the reserve. “Why doesn’t [the government] talk to us? Is it because they don’t see us as human beings? I don’t know.”An informal road that residents say is promoting non-indigenous settlement. Photo by Taran Volckhausen for Mongabay.Jesus Demasio is on the governing board of the Bosawás Territorial Indigenous Government comprised of both Mayagna and Miskito ethnic groups. Even though the Mayagna’s collective lands cannot legally be sold by any single person, even a member of an indigenous group to whom the land is titled, Demasio explained that land traffickers still sold plots of land to non-indigenous farmers and ranchers, creating conflicts that have caused death on both sides.“The land conflicts have created personal conflicts with threats and killings of indigenous and non-indigenous people within the reserve,” Demasio said. “A man from the indigenous community began selling lands to the colonists, but now the colonists don’t want to leave unless their money is returned.”Demasio suggested that the government should determine how many colonists have illegally settled in Mayagna ancestral territory, and then persuade them to leave peacefully by offering compensation for the money they spent for the land.Vanishing resourcesMayagna community member Rioberto Delgado lives further north along the Bocay River in the Samaska community near the border with Honduras.“The communal living system of the indigenous communities is disappearing. The animals we used to hunt, the fish we used to take from the river, they’re all going away, they’re disappearing,” Delgado said. “With the colonists, another system is replacing ours and the indigenous are suffering. Our system requires lots of land, fish, animals, the ability to work calmly without [agricultural] chemicals.”The Mayagna people were officially recognized by Nicaragua’s state constitution in the late 1980s. Delgado said that even though the government officially granted land titles to indigenous communities in Bosawás, the laws protecting those titles have not been effectively implemented or enforced.Delgado said that municipal and regional governments are interfering with indigenous laws, and promoting road construction, colonization and development that is pushing the agricultural frontier further into the reserve. This, he said, is increasing deforestation and land conflicts between the indigenous communities and the colonists.Zelaya said the Mayagna lack access to the authorities, who have allegedly done little to stop the colonists from illegally settling on indigenous lands. “The government, who has the police, the army, the authorities behind them, needs to put a hand on their chests and make a concerted decision to stop the invasions.”With every passing year, deforestation within the core zone is increasing. Delgado said that a 2016 survey counted 21 non-indigenous families situated within the Mayagna territory, but that the problem has become more acute since then.“There could be 100 families or there could 500, I don’t know. Our reserve is in agony, we are not free, many lives are threatened,” Delgado said. “Some of the lands were taken over without anyone’s permission and others were sold, illegally.”last_img read more

The Arctic and climate change (1979 – 2019): What the ice record tells us

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 Climate, Climate Change, Climate Change And Extreme Weather, Climate Science, Earth Science, Global Warming, Impact Of Climate Change, Monitoring, Oceans And Climate Change, Research, satellite data, Satellite Imagery, Science, Sea Ice Article published by Glenn Scherercenter_img This story has been updated: 2019’s Arctic ice melt season started out with record heat and rapid ice loss. Though cooler weather prevailed in August, stalling the fall, by mid-September ice extent was dropping dramatically once again. Then this week, 2019 raced from fourth to second place — now behind only 2012, the record minimum.With 2019 providing no reversal over past years, scientists continue to document and view the Arctic Death Spiral with increasing alarm. This story reviews the 40-year satellite record, along with some of the recent findings as to how Arctic ice declines are impacting the global climate.Researchers are increasingly certain that melting ice and a warming Arctic are prime factors altering the northern jet stream, a river of air that circles the Arctic. A more erratic jet stream — with increased waviness and prone to stalling — is now thought to be driving the increasingly dire, extreme global weather seen in recent years.The 40-year satellite record of rapidly vanishing Arctic ice — as seen in a new NASA video embedded within this article — is one of the most visible indicators of the intensifying climate crisis, and a loud warning to world leaders meeting at the UN in New York next week, of the urgent need to drastically cut carbon emissions. Arctic sea ice in eastern Greenland. What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. Scientists theorize that large-scale ice loss up north may be altering, and stalling, the northern jet stream, which can result in drought or storms hovering over one locale for long time periods. Image by mariusz kluzniak, Flickr.Arctic melt season watchers had a wild ride this year, with sea ice extent plummeting, and tracking with all previous record lows for time-of-year from March through mid-August, as 2019 appeared on course to challenge 2012 — the lowest minimum in the 1979-2019 forty-year satellite record.Then, once again proving the Arctic’s unpredictability, 2019’s melt slowed dramatically in late August and early September, only to take off again in a race to the bottom. As recently as Monday, extent appeared to be heading toward a fourth place finish behind 2016 and 2007, but overnight 2019 surpassed both, placing second only to 2012. And final results still aren’t in.“This year what we’re seeing is a good example of the natural variability of the system,” says Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). In the spring, it looked like we were heading for a new record low, but then, in August, the loss rate suddenly slowed.2019 now ranks among the lowest ice minimums in the 40-year satellite record. More importantly, during the four-decade time frame, the world has witnessed monumental declines in ice extent and volume in the Arctic. “In all months, sea ice extent is going down,” reports Serreze, with the biggest changes seen at the end of the summer melt season. Compared to when the satellite record began in 1979, sea ice extent is down about 40 percent in September. “It’s a big loss,” he says.By the numbers, the 1979 extent minimum, according to NSIDC, came in at 6.895 million square kilometers (2.662 million square miles), whereas by 2012 the September ice locked in at just 3.340 million square kilometers (1.289 million square miles). This year, as of September 17, sea ice extent sank to 4.100 million square kilometers (1.583 million square miles), shifting its ranking overnight from fourth to second place, surpassing 2007 at 4.147 square kilometers (1,601 square miles) and 2016 at 4.145 square kilometers (1.600 square miles).In recent years, we’re starting to see more significant losses in other seasons, too, says Julienne Stroeve, a senior research scientist with NSIDC. “The changes in summer have been dramatic, but it’s starting to manifest in other seasons as well, with later freeze-up and earlier melt. We’re lengthening the [progressively] ice-free season.”And sea ice isn’t only covering far less extent, it’s also getting thinner causing the volume of Arctic ice to drop precipitously, making the sea ice far more vulnerable to warming Arctic waters and atmosphere. With less thick, multiyear ice hanging around much of the sea ice in the Arctic is forming and melting away every year.In 1979, the daily minimum for sea ice volume was 17,065 cubic kilometers (4,094 cubic miles). While 2019 has likely not yet reached its lowest point, at the end of August, volume had fallen to just 4,170 cubic kilometers (1,000 cubic miles), putting it in close second place behind 2012, and already 75 percent lower than the 1979 minimum.Such dramatic changes in the ice are being driven by warmer air and water temperatures which eat away at the ice from all sides. Summers are longer than they used to be, and winters are warmer. “You put that together and you have a pretty strong formula for getting rid of ice,” says Serreze.Still, that doesn’t mean ice loss has followed a clear downward trajectory with every year lower than the one that came before. Rather, based on the natural variability of the climate and summer weather patterns, the trend of sea ice extent creates a kind of “sawtooth pattern,” where year-to-year extent and volume vary, but the long-term trend is ever downward, in what has been dramatically dubbed “the Arctic Death Spiral.”Thus far, 2012 has experienced the lowest September sea ice cover in the satellite record. “It sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb,” says Serreze. But low years are increasingly more frequent and recent, with the top ten all occurring after 2007. And if global temperatures continue to rise — as expected in a world where nearly no nations are currently expected to meet their Paris Climate Agreement goals — that melting trend is bound to spiral downward.How ice loss affects us all With so few long-term climate data sets, the importance of the sea ice record is hard to overstate. Sea ice is an extremely sensitive indicator of changes in the global climate, and it’s also very visual — unlike, say, changes in the global average air temperature. “You look at satellite data and you can very well see what’s happening,” says Serreze. And then there are those stunning pictures of beleaguered polar bears whose feeding habits are impacted by sea ice loss — with other polar species seriously affected too.However, climate change is now becoming increasingly visual beyond the Arctic, with impacts ranging from devastating hurricanes to long-term droughts and raging wildfires. One metaphor says that the polar regions act as the Earth’s air conditioners, while also helping to set up many of the basic weather patterns that we have come to expect around the globe in the past. But as the Arctic grows out of sync, so goes the rest of the planet,“A strongly warming Arctic could influence weather patterns in the mid-latitudes,” says Serreze. As the saying goes: what starts in the Arctic, doesn’t stay in the Arctic.Researchers are increasingly certain that the strong temperature differentials between the Arctic and the temperate zone are one of the primary factors that create and propel the northern jet stream — a fast-moving river of air in the Northern Hemisphere that circles the Arctic. As sea ice vanishes and Arctic temperatures increase, the temperature variant between these regions is getting smaller. That means there’s less force driving the winds in the jet stream from west to east, and the weakened jet stream starts to swing wildly, deviating from its typical polar path into lower latitudes (even as far south as the Gulf of Mexico) which can also cause temperate weather patterns to stall in place — bringing punishing bouts of extreme weather.This spring saw one of the waviest jet streams in recent history, and in turn, severe weather slammed into much of the mid-latitudes. Bomb cyclones, severe thunderstorms, heavy rain and catastrophic flooding in the Mississippi River basin were all possibly born out of this year’s deeply askew jet stream. One possible impact could be the stalling of major storms, such as Hurricane Harvey over Houston, Texas; that storm’s stuck-in-place rainfall totals topped 60 inches in some locales.The unprecedented melting of sea ice has other serious ramifications. Less ice means the Arctic is now open for business. The world’s superpowers are paying increasingly more attention to northern economic opportunities, and the region is now considered to be of significant geopolitical importance. US President Donald Trump’s sudden interest in Greenland is just one example. That country made headlines this summer for another reason, seeing a huge amount of glacial melt into the North Atlantic. Scientists now estimate that ice loss in Greenland this year alone was enough to raise the average global sea level by more than a millimeter — glacial melt that is only expected to escalate, unless the world’s nations and corporations act aggressively to limit greenhouse gas emissions.The Arctic has large deposits of natural gas, oil and rare earth minerals, as well as methane hydrates, that if mined, would likely be game over for reestablishing a stable global climate. Moreover, the loss of ice has opened up shipping routes, such as the Northern Sea Route over Russia, and the Northwest Passage in Canada. “Right now, both [routes] are open. It’s pretty much clean sailing,” says Serreze. “I’ve been studying the Arctic years, but now I’ve unavoidably been drawn into issues of climate change and geopolitics.”PIOMAS Arctic Sea Ice Volume Death Spiral 1979-2019. Image © Andy Lee Robinson @ahaveland.Future of forecastingDespite the 40-year record, it’s still difficult for ice scientists to know how the melt season will shake out each year. Ice predictions are constrained by limited forecasting abilities for the natural variations in weather.Scientists like Stroeve are working on ways to improve measurements of sea ice thickness, which helps to inform ice forecasts. Currently, researchers aren’t able to directly map sea ice thickness in summer (relying on modeling for their statistical analysis), and are limited by how much snow lies atop the ice in other months. “That’s something we don’t observe well from satellites. Our understanding is pretty rudimentary. We have to make assumptions based on snow depths,” she says.The other big barrier in predicting sea ice outcomes is the accuracy of long-term weather forecasts. Right now, scientists can’t predict how natural variations in weather will impact the ice in the long run. Stroeve calls this the “spring predictability barrier,” which means that any ice forecast made before May isn’t very accurate. “Once you get to June, things get better.”In a sense, long range forecasts are easier. Without governmental and corporate action to curb carbon emissions, the global trend in Arctic sea ice will almost certainly be downward — with impacts both seen and as yet unforeseen, for us all.Note: This story was updated on September 19 to reflect further loss of Arctic sea ice in 2019, with new data showing that this year moved from fourth to second place in just 24 hours.Banner image caption: Pack ice after sunset in East Greenland near Kulusuk. Image by Markus Trienke, FlickrThis story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 300 news outlets worldwide to strengthen coverage of the climate story.  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

The climate crisis and the pain of losing what we love (commentary)

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 Animals, Biodiversity, Biodiversity Crisis, Birds, Climate, Climate Change, Climate Change And Biodiversity, Climate Change And Conservation, Climate Change And Extreme Weather, Climate Change And Forests, Climate Change Politics, Conservation, Deforestation, Ecology, Ecosystems, Endangered Species, Environment, Extinction, Extinction And Climate Change, Extreme Weather, Forgotten Species, Green, Habitat, Habitat Destruction, Habitat Loss, Invasive Species, Mammals, Mass Extinction, Research, Sixth Mass Extinction, Tropical Deforestation, Weather, Wildlife World leaders came to the UN last week to decisively tackle climate change again. “This is not a negotiation summit because we don’t negotiate with nature. This is a Climate Action Summit!” declared the UN Secretary-General. But again, global leaders failed and committed to carbon cuts that fall far short of curbing catastrophe.In doing so, our leaders committed us to an escalating global environmental crisis that is already unleashing vast changes across Earth’s ecosystems — with many sweeping alterations charted by our scientists, but many other local shifts and absences only noted by those who observe and cherish wild things.The loss of familiar weather patterns, plants and animals (from monarchs to native bees) and an invasion of opportunistic living things (Japanese knotweed to Asian longhorned ticks) can foster feelings of vertigo — of being a stranger in a strange land — emotions, so personal and rubbing so raw, they can be hard to describe.So I’ve tried to express my own feelings for one place, Vermont, my home, that is today seeing rapid change. At the end of this piece, Mongabay invites you to tally your own natural losses. We’ll share your responses in a later story. This post is a commentary. Views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay. A moose in Nulhegan basin, Vermont. Once common in Vermont, moose numbers have fallen. The reason: climate change bringing mild temperatures and a deadly parasite, the winter tick (Dermacentor albipictus) that overwhelms the large animals, especially their calves; 50,000 ticks can overwinter on a single moose. Image courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region.No place stays the same forever, and few of us want to live somewhere that is frozen in amber.… We seek the new, and the novel, and welcome improvements… with open arms. But we also need places to anchor us. Novelty is wonderful, but only when balanced with the familiar. And when those familiar [things go], for whatever reason, our reaction also occurs on a human scale. A sigh of resignation. A flood of memories. And sometimes, if you truly loved the place, a sadness so genuine it can trigger tears. — author David SaxThe paragraph quoted above comes from a poignant August 2019 New York Times article by author David Sax and is about losing a local neighborhood record store, “saying goodbye to a beloved brick and mortar business.”But, what is true for music loving urbanites, is becoming even more true for suburbanites and rural dwellers who look out windows not at neighborhoods of changing proprietors and altered store fronts, grieving the loss of book stores and Jewish delis, but rather at a version of Nature — species of trees, birds, butterflies, wildflowers, whole habitats — we knew intimately since youth which are either fading or no more.In this sense I feel deep empathy with Sax. We do need the familiar, places to anchor us. But in the Vermont countryside where I live, those anchors are being ripped away year-by-year by a deepening, ravaging climate crisis — ever escalating as more heat energy is fed by the world’s crazed coal stokers into the fossil fuel furnaces driving the global economy and planetary climate system.And so, the birds arrive in spring to find the insects and blooming plants — needed to nourish their weary feathered bodies after long migrations up coasts and across wide watery bays — either missing or utterly out of sync. Shifting seasonal patterns play havoc, as warm weather comes weeks too early, and autumnal cold comes late. Migraters fail to thrive in the asynchrony, and other native creatures, mostly too small to notice, struggle and sink.Monarch butterfly. Photo: © Derek Ramsey / derekramsey.com.The insects never do appear in numbers anymore. Where uncountable native bees, butterflies and beetles once buzzed, fluttered and hovered among the clovers and foxtails, nothing stirs or nearly nothing. One or two Monarchs a season does not make a migration — but the presence of a few makes me lament the ghosts of the many. Fields of breeze-blown grass wave empty.Likewise I’m missing bloodroot, Dutchman’s breeches and woodland sunflowers that grew in abundant exuberance along the White River. In a mere two decades, they’ve been displaced by an invading army of Japanese knotweed — a once small infestation was aided in its spread tens-of-miles downstream by the raging waters of Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011, and by other deluges since, now common as extreme whiplash weather intensifies.Sure, I know intellectually the Queen Anne’s lace that gives me solace and some sense of permanence was brought to New England in European seed bags centuries ago. But I grew up with those lacy summer crowns, not with the recently introduced poison giant hogweed or waste-place chervil whose white caps crest in monotonous waves along Vermont byways each summer, unwelcomed by those who love black-eyed Susans or New England asters.Sure, in the face of melting glaciers and rising seas, such losses sound like bourgeoise whining. But truly, what to do and how to feel when snarling opossums and aggressive English sparrows move in and the mourning doves, warblers, moose and little brown bats thin, flicker and go?This is our fate now and tomorrow — not just here but across the world, as an unmoored Nature changes character with each year’s surging temperatures and widening extremes of drought and downpour. Change that will only escalate, as greenhouse gases build up in the blue sky and as exotic species travel the globe stowed away on container ships awaiting opportunity. Adding to the insult and atmospheric carbon load are the overladen logging trucks that race past our 1840s farmhouse daily, rattling it to the foundation — rumbling reminders of planetary deforestation.Old Yankee farmers who once complained of my region’s weather vagaries, today would likely feel as if trapped aboard a runaway wagon. The horses taken mad flight across the seasons. Suddenly it seems not farfetched to imagine a year without winter, a time when umbrella magnolias overtake forest oaks, then maples, until all we knew dissembles and shifts north or upslope, as individuals and species flee, out of tune and time.Brook trout swimming in cool water. Climate change is warming mountain streams increasingly putting native trout in peril. Photo credit: USFWS/Southeast on Visualhunt.com / CC BY.Today, when I go out into the North Woods, I grieve most the loss of the familiar, a thing that can “not be made right again,” and am uneasy with the alien — the once cold cobbled streams and brook trout breeding grounds, now without fish, smothered in silt brought by the torrential rains and drenched in invasive rock snot — unwelcome changes that have turned the ancient natural reveries of Henry David Thoreau and John Burroughs into starkly contrasting pictures of the gone world.Here, I feel (maybe wrongly), there is nothing to love.Though perhaps, in some far-off future time, a fondness for what today is alien will come, when the new green exotica grows typical and celebrated by tomorrow’s as yet unborn sons — boys and girls walking barefoot along the oozing beds of muddy brooks amid tropical New England splendor, maybe harking to colorful parrots and howler monkeys, finding comfort in beings adapted to an eternal summer that, even in this moment, begins to unfold — unleashing a sadness in me so genuine it triggers tears.Mongabay invites you to contact us below with your home territory observations — tell us what has changed, gone missing from your backyard, park or stream, and let us know how you feel about it.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.Banner image caption: Moose (Alces alces). Photo credit: Thomas Haeusler on Visual hunt/ CC BY-NC-ND.This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 300 outlets worldwide to strengthen coverage of the climate story.Black-eyed Susans. Native flowers across the US and around the world are increasingly driven out by invasives taking advantage of niches opened up by climate change and other human disruptions. Photo credit: vwcampin on VisualHunt.com / CC BY.center_img Article published by Glenn Schererlast_img read more

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

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

Fighting to save an endangered ape, Indonesian activists fear for their lives

first_imgActivism, Animals, Apes, Conservation, Dams, Deforestation, Endangered Environmentalists, Energy, Environment, Environmental Activism, Featured, Forests, Great Apes, Greenwashing, Hydroelectric Power, Hydropower, Orangutans, Primates, Rainforests, Renewable Energy, Tropical Forests, Wildlife 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 Hans Nicholas Jong Activists and academics have attempted to stop the construction of the Batang Toru hydropower plant in North Sumatra, which is currently being built in the sole known habitat of the Tapanuli Orangutan.Critics of the dam have faced defamation charges, visits from intelligence officers, abrupt termination from conservation jobs and warnings that they could lose the right to work in Indonesia. One prominent opponent of the dam died in suspicious circumstances in October.Activists in North Sumatra say they feel constantly under threat. Dam developer PT NSHE denies any efforts to silence or intimidate critics, saying the company is “always open to inputs and to collaborate with various stakeholders.” JAKARTA — Indonesia’s North Sumatra province, the only known habitat of the Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis), has proven to be a precarious place for the ape. Just 800 individuals survive in a rapidly shrinking habitat, and the orangutans, which were only described as a new species in 2017, are already listed as a critically endangered by the IUCN.In recent months, the people involved in efforts to protect these orangutans have also been feeling endangered. Activists fighting a hydropower dam planned for the orangutan’s habitat describe an atmosphere of fear and threats, both subtle and direct.Indonesia is a dangerous place for activists, and North Sumatra is no exception. In October 2019, the office of a human rights NGO and a coffee shop popular with activists were firebombed in the provincial capital, Medan. Early November saw the grisly murder of two activists-cum-journalists on an oil palm plantation in the province, allegedly by hitmen hired by the plantation owner.“The tension is high,” says Dana Tarigan, the head of the North Sumatra chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi). “In the past, we were only threatened verbally or intimidated, but now the threats are becoming real. And that makes us more cautious.”Most chilling for activists campaigning against the hydropower dam is the recent death of Golfrid Siregar, a 34-year-old environmental activist and legal aide. Formerly a Walhi staffer, Golfrid resigned shortly before his death to focus on a lawsuit aimed at forcing the North Sumatra government to revoke the environmental permit for the dam being built in the orangutans’ habitat. The lawsuit alleges that a crucial signature was forged during the permit process for the project, known as the Batang Toru hydropower project. In August, Golfrid had also reported three local police officers to the national police for allegedly stopping a related investigation into licensing irregularities.On Oct. 3, Golfrid was found critically injured on a traffic overpass in Medan. He died three days later in the hospital. Officials ruled the death to be the result of a drunken motorcycle accident. But his friends and family are unconvinced by the explanation: They say he wasn’t a drinker and that his injuries were not consistent with a motorcycle crash. Moreover, they point to death threats made against Golfrid over his activism, which included campaigns against oil palm plantations and sand mines in addition to his work to stop the Batang Toru dam.While there’s no hard evidence linking Golfrid’s death to his work on the dam, it still sent a chilling message to other activists in the region, says Ronald M. Siahaan, the national head of Walhi’s legal department. Ronald says Golfrid’s death, and the fear it has instilled, has also dealt a blow to the lawsuit against the dam: Another lawyer working on the case has since backed out in fear.“That’s how scared we are in Sumatra right now,” says Ronald. “These threats have turned out not to be just empty words.”Golfrid Siregar, center, and his team submit a lawsuit against the North Sumatra government over alleged irregularities in the permitting process for the Batang Toru hydropower project. Image courtesy of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi).A controversial projectThe dam developer, PT North Sumatra Hydro Energy (NSHE), has denied any involvement in the death threats against Golfrid.“We’re actually supporting the police to shine light on [Golfrid’s] death so that the dam project won’t be tied to the incident,” says PT NSHE spokesperson Firman Taufick.The dam, currently under construction and scheduled to start operating in 2022, has been under scrutiny because environmentalists fear it will bring about the extinction of the Tapanuli orangutan by destroying the only forest where it lives.According to a 2018 study published in the journal Current Biology, the dam would alter at least 8 percent (96 square kilometers or 37 square miles) of the orangutan’s habitat by 2022, further fragmenting an already disjointed population into smaller groups. Scientists say this will increase the chances of problems like inbreeding and accelerate the species’ demise.PT NSHE, however, says it only holds a permit to work within a 70 km2 (27 mi2) area, and the company will clear less than 6 km2 (2.3 mi2) of forest. The company also argues that a river and a provincial road have already splintered the orangutan habitat.Despite global concern and ongoing campaigns against the dam’s construction, the project enjoys the government’s full-throated endorsement. It is listed as part of the government’s official electricity procurement plan and has also been given prominent billing as part of the country’s emissions reduction strategy. PT NSHE was even a sponsor for Indonesia’s pavilion at both the 2018 and 2019 U.N. climate talks.An investigation by leading Indonesian newsmagazine Tempo into the Dharmawangsa Group, PT NSHE’s majority stakeholder, found that the group has connections in high places. Subroto, the group’s founder, is a former minister of energy and mineral resources. During a graft case unrelated to the dam, another former energy minister, Jero Wacik testified in court that he enjoyed free services from the group’s Dharmawangsa Hotel.Tempo also tracked connections between PT NSHE and the government of South Tapanuli District, where the dam project is located. The district head, who in 2011 issued a location permit for PT NSHE, is Syahrul Martua Pasaribu. His brother, Panusunan Pasaribu, served as a PT NSHE commissioner from 2012 to 2016. Another brother, Gus Irawan Pasaribu, was the head of the parliamentary commission overseeing energy and environment from 2016 to 2019.The Batang Toru hydropower project also gained an endorsement from Emmy Hafild, the former head of Walhi who has now become a politician and a member of the National Democratic political party, a part of the President’s ruling coalition. Emmy now serves as an advisor to PT NHSE’s chairman.The project is also backed by a substantial public relations campaign led by Intermatrix, a firm owned by Wimar Witoelar, the well-connected spokesman of former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid.But multiple activists and conservationists have told Mongabay that the efforts made by the proponents of the dam go much further than just a PR campaign.center_img 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. A Tapanuli orangutan in the Batang Toru forest, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Image by Matt Senior.Defamation casesAccording to Walhi’s Ronald Siahaan, journalists, activists and academics speaking against the dam have been systematically targeted.Ronald notes that police reports filed by companies affiliated with the project have resulted in at least two defamation cases, one against a local news outlet and one against an academic.On June 14, 2019, PT NHSE filed a report against trubus.id, an online environmental publication based in the city of Depok, alleging that trubus.id had defamed the company in two articles published in August 2018 that criticized the project. Rudi H. Paeru, the director of the publication, was summoned by the police in early November.Onrizal Onrizal, a forestry researcher at North Sumatra University, also faces criminal defamation charges. In 2013, the dam’s developers hired Onrizal to catalog the biodiversity of the Batang Toru ecosystem as part of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process. Several years later, Onrizal told reporters he discovered that his findings were omitted from the EIA. He also found his signature appended to the final document, even though, he says, he never signed or even reviewed it. This allegation launched the lawsuit led by Golfrid Siregar before his death.Onrizal was separately reported to the police for defamation in July by A+ Digital PR agency, one of the PR companies hired by PT NSHE. The alleged defamation came in a statementoriginally published in August 2018 on the website of conservation advocacy group ALERT.The statement contained a quote from Onrizal, which has since been removed, accusing the PR firm of misleading the public. In July 2019, Onrizal posted a screenshot of the statement to Instagram, prompting the A+ Digital’s director, Myrna Irawaty, to file the police report.In an interview with Mongabay, Myrna confirmed that she had personally reported Onrizal for defamation, saying the scientist had “caused both material and immaterial damage to our company.”She added that her report was the extent of the company’s involvement in the matter. “We respect the ongoing legal process and completely entrust this case to the authorities.”The dam was subject to local protests even before the description of the Tapanuli Orangutan as a new species. In this 2017 image, a scuffle breaks out during protests led by indigenous peoples protesting the establishment of the hyrdopower project on land they hold sacred. Image by Ayat S. Karokaro/Mongabay-Indonesia.Scrutiny from intelligenceIn addition to facing threats of violence and legal action, some conservationists report being monitored by Indonesia’s State Intelligence Agency (BIN)According to Ronald, BIN officers visited an orangutan rehabilitation center in North Sumatra, which is run by the NGO Foundation for Sustainable Ecosystems, known by the acronym YEL in Indonesian. During the visit, Ronald says, BIN showed YEL staff email exchanges between other YEL employees and Walhi activists. The emails revealed that YEL had provided data that Walhi has used in its campaign against the dam.“The intelligence members knew about the communication between YEL and Walhi, and they were asking for clarification about the email exchanges,” Ronald said. “So everyone was scared and broke into a cold sweat.”YEL spokesperson Delfi Saragih declined to comment on the matter, saying she wasn’t aware of any visit by the intelligence agency.And it’s not just local organizations feeling pressured. PanEco, a Swiss-based NGO that partners with YEL to manage the orangutan rehabilitation center and also does research on orangutans in the Batang Toru area, also got a visit from BIN earlier this year.In early 2019, international activists began staging protests against the dam, including a series of small demonstrations in London. According to PanEco president Regina Frey, the protests rattled officials. Though Frey says PanEco had no involvement with the London activists, the organization came under scrutiny because the protests were an international event and PanEco is an international organization.In April 2019, BIN visited the foundation’s environmental education center in Bukit Lawang, North Sumatra. During the visit, Frey says her passport and visa were inspected. “I guess it was primarily to check my document,” Frey says. “There was no consequence. When you do such things [campaigning against the dam project], of course the intelligence is on your back. We are guests in your country.”A group of protesters urging the Indonesian government to save the Tapanuli orangutan in front of the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in London. Image courtesy of Protests for Orangutans Facebook page.Pressure on international groupsWhile local activists worry about violence, international organizations like PanEco face lesser-but-still-serious vulnerabilities. This reality came into focus in August 2019 after PanEco, which had initially described the dam as “the greatest threat to the long-term future of the Tapanuli orangutan,” announced it had formed a partnership with PT NSHE.Foreign organizations like PanEco operate only with permission from the Indonesian government, via memoranda of understanding with bodies like the Environment and Forestry Ministry.These memoranda can be abruptly terminated — as the international conservation NGO WWF recently discovered. On Oct. 5, the environment ministry terminated a two-decade-long partnership with the conservation group, following an internal evaluation concluding that WWF had been overstepping its authority in Indonesia.PanEco was put on notice that the group could face a similar outcome during a May 6 meeting with eco-activist turned-PT NHSE advocate Emmy Haflid. Frey and Emmy have known each other since the early 1980s, when Emmy worked for an environmental group run by Frey.The meeting, which took place at a street side durian stall in Medan, was also attended by representatives of PT NSHE and several officials from the environment ministry.In an interview with Mongabay, Emmy said that during the meeting she reminded Frey that PanEco’s work in Indonesia, and the memorandum dictating the terms of its partnership with the government, could be terminated if the organization and its staff members continued to criticize the dam.According to Frey, two specific PanEco staffers were mentioned by name: researchers Graham Usher and Gabriella Fredriksson, co-authors of a commentary on the dam published April 2019 in the journal Conservation Science and Practice that named the hydropower project as one of the threats to the survival of the Tapanuli orangutan.Emmy said speaking out against the dam amounted to campaigning, while PanEco’s memorandum with the environment ministry only allowed the organization to engage in research, conservation, ecotourism and fundraising.“People said I threatened [Regina]. I didn’t threaten her,” Emmy told Mongabay. “I just reminded her as a friend that this [campaigning] was already outside the activities permitted.”PT NSHE also denied pressuring PanEco.“NSHE is always open to inputs and to collaborate with various stakeholders in order to give as much positive impact as possible to the public,” the company told Mongabay. “There’s never pressure given to any parties because we really respect the freedom of speech of every stakeholders.”The Batang Toru River, the proposed power source for the hydroelectric project. Image by Ayat S. Karokaro/Mongabay-Indonesia.Police reportsPanEco staffers Usher and Fredriksson, and their colleague Ian Singleton, were also reported to the police by local community members for campaigning against the dam project.“They were accused of causing civil unrest, which is a very severe thing to do in Indonesia and probably other countries as well,” Frey told Mongabay. “So that was just like a bomb. This was very threatening. So I was just thinking, How we can appease the situation?”In addition to the police report, locals also staged a series of protests in front of PanEco office, demanding the deportation of the organization’s foreign staff members. A person familiar with the situation described the protests as “scary,” causing everybody in PanEco to be “constantly worried about what’s going to happen.”PanEco researchers, including Usher, Fredriksson and Singleton, had worked in Batang Toru for over a decade without previous problems with local residents. Their work figured prominently in the description of the Tapanuli orangutan. However, in May, Frey fired Usher and Fredriksson, communicating the decision by WhatsApp message.Three months later, PanEco signed a deal with PT NSHE to work together to protect the Tapanuli orangutan and minimize the dam’s impact on the apes. Frey says that teaming up with the developer was the best way to move forward, given the inevitability of the dam and the existence of other pressing threats to the species.“What’s more detrimental to the ecosystem is the gold mine, which is never mentioned,” she says, referring to the nearby Martabe gold mine operated by PT Agincourt Resources. “It’s a very huge company. There are also palm oil plantations and illegal encroachment.”She added, “NSHE has given us a lot of indications that this is what they want, to protect the whole place and help us convince the other stakeholders to do something.”Frey said she knew the deal would be controversial but that she’s willing to risk condemnation from other activists and the loss of donor funding because she believes working with PT NSHE is the best way to help the orangutan. “I don’t care about me being blamed,” she says. “You can’t make decisions based on self-consideration. We want to protect the Batang Toru ecosystem.”An ad for the Batang Toru hydropower project, describing it as “a socially and environmentally responsible developlment,” displayed at the Indonesian pavilion during the 24th U.N. climate talks in Katowice, Poland. Image by Hans Nicholas Jong/Mongabay.Greenwashing concernsPrimatologist Serge Wich of Liverpool John Moores University describes PanEco’s decision to team up with PT NSHE as “disturbing.” Wich, who has carried out a spatial analysis showing forest loss due to the development of the dam and the power plant, believes the dam is the biggest threat to the Batang Toru ecosystem. And he dismisses the idea that the orangutan is more likely to survive if groups like PanEco agree to work with the developer.“That’s absurd,” he says.Wich also said he fears the memorandum with PanEco might play an important role in PT NSHE’s bid to secure funding for the project.The project is estimated to cost $1.68 billion, and it will be financed by equity and loans. Before the discovery of a new orangutan species was announced, PT NHSE was working to put in place the policies and documentation necessary to apply for loans from funders like World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).In response to the groundswell of global concern over the future of the Tapanuli orangutan, the IFC and ADB distanced themselves from the project. And in March 2019, the Bank of China, which is also involved in financing the project, said it had “noted the concerns expressed by some environmental organizations” and would carefully review the project. It has not issued any further public updates, leaving the funding for the project uncertain.In a recent interview with Mongabay, Hafild confirmed that the project’s funding was in doubt as a result of campaigns against the dam. “With the bad reputation we’ve received, I’m afraid banks are wary,” she said.The Batang Toru River, the proposed power source the dam, winds through the forest in North Sumatra province. Image by Ayat S. Karokaro/Mongabay-Indonesia.While PT NHSE works to burnish its image and secure funding for the dam, activists in North Sumatra face a difficult choice.Golfrid’s death, coupled with the legal threats connected to the dam project, has deterred some people from the fight against the dam. But others vow to continue campaigning.“We understand the risks that come with being human rights and environmental activists,” Dana, chapter head of Walhi North Sumatra, says. “We are cautious for sure because the threats are real, but truths still have to be revealed. So we won’t stop.”Banner Image: Tapanuli Orangutans found near YEL’s orangutan study camp in the Batang Toru forest, by Aditya Sumitra/Mighty Earth.last_img read more

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

Colombia’s ‘Heart of the World’: Mining, megaprojects overrun indigenous land

first_imgThe Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is an isolated group of mountains situated along Colombia’s northern coast, which has the unique distinction of harboring more threatened endemic species than anywhere else in the world.Agricultural expansion has come at the expense of vital habitat over the past several decades. Now, resource exploitation and infrastructure projects planned for the region are further threatening the mountains’ ecosystems, according to scientists and local activists.Four indigenous groups inhabit the region: the Kogui, Arhuaco, Wiwa, and Kankuamo. Since 1973, the Colombian government has recognized a ring of sacred sites extending around the base of the mountain range. Collectively known as the “Black Line,” indigenous communities claim them as their ancestral territory.Three years ago, the indigenous councils filed a legal action with the Constitutional Court, arguing that their constitutional rights were violated by legal and illegal mining taking place inside the Black Line. In addition to the mining, the councils denounced large-scale infrastructure projects such as the development of a coal-shipping port, hydroelectric dam, and hotel that had been carried out inside the Black Line without indigenous consent. The court has yet to issue a ruling. Jaime Luis Arias grew up on the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. An isolated coastal pyramid-shaped massif in northern Colombia, the Sierra Nevada is one of the highest coastal mountains on the planet, with the snow-capped peaks rising from the Caribbean Sea to a mystifying 5,800 meters (19,000 feet).The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta’s dramatic changes in elevation have created a vibrant reflection of Colombia’s many ecosystems — rainforests, savannas, tropical dry forests, tropical alpine tundra, glaciers, deserts and coral reefs — with more threatened endemic species than anywhere else in the world.“I grew up of the Kankuamo people, in the mid-highlands of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta,” Arias said. “For us, growing up there is a great privilege, this is why we call it ‘the heart of the world.’”Glaciers gather like clouds around the peaks of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Image courtesy of Fundacion Antelopus.Four indigenous groups inhabit the region: the Kogui, Arhuaco, Wiwa, and Kankuamo. In their spiritual beliefs, the Sierra Nevada is considered to be the heart of the world, where every element, object and organism, from the soaring peak to the gentle stream, forms an indispensable part of an interconnected body.“For us, there is life in all the elements. The peaks, rivers, animals, plants, stones and planets are all in constant interaction to achieve harmony and balance in nature and with ourselves,” Arias said. “What affects one, affects the entire ecosystem.”The Sierra Nevada covers some 17,000 square kilometers (6,560 square miles). The remote highlands and midlands are protected by a national park along with three indigenous reserves that overlap and exceed the land covered by the park. The indigenous communities that inhabit the remote mountain region, however, consider themselves defenders of a far more extensive territory than what is officially protected.The Black LineSince 1973, the Colombian government has recognized a ring of sacred sites extending around the base of the mountain range. Collectively known as the “Black Line,” indigenous communities claim them as their ancestral territory.The Territorial Indigenous Council of Governors of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (CTC) describes the Black Line as “a grand system of interconnected land, sea and air nodes. Considered sacred as a whole, it is the space from which the culture of the four indigenous peoples of the Sierra Nevada arises, and where it is recreated.”But with valuable resources underfoot, such as oil and gold, there are competing visions for the future of the Black Line. Arias said pressure from mining interests inside the Black Line escalated 15 years ago under the administration of former President Álvaro Uribe, whose government undertook a series of large-scale infrastructure projects in the region.“There has always been pressure on the Sierra Nevada, but it was under Uribe when the number of mining applications and concessions exploded,” Arias said. “Now, legislative negligence presents us with 132 mining titles and 260 mining applications to exploit minerals and carbon.”The Black Line encircles the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, which has lost nearly all of its lowland primary forest due to agriculture. Satellite data indicate the region’s deforestation rate increased in 2019. Source: GLAD/UMD, accessed through Global Forest Watch.Colombia’s 1991 Constitution guarantees ethnic minorities the right to prior consultation on projects that have an environmental or social impact on collective territories. In 2014, the country’s Constitutional Court ordered the suspension of a mining title inside the Black Line because it had failed to undergo a prior consultation with indigenous communities.Following the court order, the government of former President Juan Manuel Santos cited the indigenous communities with nearly 400 consultation procedures for largely small-scale mining projects. The indigenous communities pushed back, saying the exercise was “exhausting and counterproductive” until clear rules were set to order the process.Three years ago, the indigenous councils filed a legal action known as a tutela with the Constitutional Court, arguing that their constitutional rights were violated by legal and illegal mining taking place inside the Black Line. In addition to the mining, the councils denounced large-scale infrastructure projects such as the coal-shipping port Puerto Brisa, the hydroelectric dam Ranchería, and the hotel Los Ciruelos that had been carried out inside the Black Line without indigenous consent. The court has yet to issue a ruling.After years of waiting for a ruling from the courts, indigenous authorities, known as mamos, descended from high up in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, traveling more than 800 km (500 mi) to the county’s capital, Bogotá, to send a message to the Colombian public and put pressure on the government, calling on the Constitutional Court to protect the Black Line boundary.“The Heart of the World is at risk of physical and cultural extermination,” the CTC said in a press statement. “The extractionist model of development, particularly mining and megaprojects, threatens the survival of the four indigenous peoples, and the unique ecosystem of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.”The indigenous leaders called on the central government to respect and protect the ancestral territory of the Sierra Nevada, and suspend the mining and megaproject concessions granted inside the Black Line.Private property owners and trade groups have spoken out against the court’s recognition of indigenous ancestral claims to the Black Line. In conversations with local media, the trade groups have said they fear the indigenous groups will create legal obstacles for private property owners, urban expansion, and put the future of infrastructure and development projects in “limbo.”Arias rejected the argument that the indigenous communities pose “an obstacle” to economic development, saying that he envisions a path for regional development in harmony with nature. He said indigenous residents of the area “want to have coexistence with other social sectors, but without losing the fundamental, which is the territory.”Violence past and presentThe Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta has been plagued by hundreds of years of political violence and colonization, presenting an existential threat to indigenous inhabitants’ cultural survival and the region’s fragile ecosystems. The Kogui, Arhauco, Wiwa and Kankuamo are believed to be descendants of the Tairona people who escaped Spanish colonization by moving their settlements to the remote high mountains.By the turn of the 20th century, much of the western side of the Sierra Nevada had been converted for banana plantations by U.S.-based United Fruit Company, which built railways and residential villages, administrative areas, service areas and workers’ camps following American models. Campesinos, farmers who came from Colombia’s interior regions, settled in the mid-highlands to grow commercial crops, especially coffee and cocoa, on rich agricultural lands.last_img read more

Success of Microsoft’s ‘moonshot’ climate pledge hinges on forest conservation

first_imgArticle published by Glenn Scherer One mechanism by which the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement incentivizes greenhouse gas reductions is via carbon offsets, payments that compensate nations, states and private landowners who agree to keep forests intact in order to preserve carbon storage capacity and biodiversity.But problems exist with forest carbon offset initiatives: corrupt landowners, lack of carbon accounting transparency, and low carbon pricing have caused wariness among investors, and failed to spur forest preservation.Now, in a landmark move, Microsoft has pledged to go “carbon negative” by 2030, and erase all the company’s greenhouse gas emissions back to its founding in 1975 by 2050. A big part of achieving that goal will come via the carbon storage provided by verified global forest conservation and reforestation projects around the globe.To achieve its goal, Microsoft has teamed with Pachama, a Silicon Valley startup, that seeks to accurately track forest carbon stocks in projects in the Brazilian and Peruvian Amazon, the U.S. and elsewhere using groundbreaking advanced remote-sensing technology including LiDAR, artificial intelligence and satellite imaging. Diego Saez-Gil, a native Argentinian with a graduate degree from Stanford, is a serial Silicon Valley entrepreneur. Pachama is his third company. He got the idea while touring the Peruvian Amazon with his two brothers and witnessing massive deforestation from illegal gold mining. “We all wanted to do something about it,” he said. Image courtesy of Pachama.Microsoft made global headlines in January when it announced that it will become “carbon negative” by 2030, erasing all the company’s greenhouse gas emissions since its founding in 1975 — a move, the tech firm deemed “a bold bet and moonshot” for climate mitigation that in part requires the conservation and restoration of vast swaths of carbon-storing forests.Behind those headlines is a little-known Silicon Valley startup that will be tracking forest carbon stocks in projects around the globe on behalf of Microsoft, using a pioneering array of advanced remote-sensing technology including LiDAR, artificial intelligence and satellite imaging.Pachama, with $4.1 million in early investor backing, will closely monitor verified carbon offset projects to ensure Microsoft’s investment in the global carbon market is actually achieving forest preservation and emission reductions critical to slowing the rate of climate change.“Our goal is to put this technology to the service of making faster, cheaper, and the more reliable issuance of carbon credits involving forests,” said Argentina native Diego Saez-Gil, 37, a serial entrepreneur, environmentalist and Pachama’s founding CEO. “Companies such as Microsoft and many others have been buying other carbon credits. But they stay away from forests because of questions around [project] permanence,” whether actual forest is being preserved, “and lack of trust regarding projects over time.”Saez-Gil, in an exclusive interview with Mongabay, said Microsoft will soon announce its partnership with Pachama. In the meantime, he said the startup is lining up certified forest projects in North and South America that will go toward Microsoft’s initial goal of absorbing part of the 16 million metric tons of carbon it says it will emit in 2020 across its 12-country footprint.“There are a lot of things we’re going to do together with Microsoft,” Saez-Gil said, including monitoring 60,000 hectares (148,263 acres) of intact rainforest in the Brazilian Amazon state of Pará, and an additional 20,000 hectares (49,421 acres) in approved U.S. forest projects across Vermont, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Tennessee and California.“Right now, the bigger ambition with Microsoft is that we can bring them more [forest] projects,” Saez-Gil added. “They have a big volume of carbon offsets that they want to purchase, but there aren’t that many projects, right? So hopefully, we can monitor and onboard new projects. We are a small company, but we have big ambitions to help this large corporation meet its goals and see that the money goes to the right conservation projects.”New England forests in-total, and a small area seen close up. Pachama will be focusing its work for Microsoft at first in the forests of New England, Brazil and Peru. Image courtesy of Pachama.Paris and carbon offsetsA primary mechanism for achieving carbon reduction pledges under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement is the use of carbon offsets to compensate nations, states and private landowners who agree to keep forests intact in order to preserve their biodiversity and carbon storage capacity. But problems with corrupt landowners, lack of transparency in carbon accounting and meager carbon pricing have kept carbon offsetting — and its broad potential to incentivize forest preservation — from taking off with would-be investors.But the Paris accord recognizes that energy and transportation sector emission reductions will be insufficient for holding global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above a 1900 baseline; the earth has already warmed 1o C (1.8o F). So, to meet Paris commitments, climate action will also require “negative emissions” from landscape-based solutions including carbon sequestration via forest preservation and restoration, to agroforestry, a highly climate- and biodiversity-positive form of agriculture that is estimated to currently sequester 45 gigatons of carbon from the atmosphere, a figure which grows by .75 a year while feeding communities.Pachama works closely with four organizations that certify legitimate forest-based carbon offset projects: the American Carbon Registry, Climate Action Reserve, Verified Carbon Standard, and Gold Standard. A key Pachama goal: enable smaller, private landowners to participate in carbon offsetting to preserve their forests rather than selling off their trees as timber and wood pellets, or allowing forestlands to be used for farming or mineral extraction.Saez-Gil asserts that Pachama’s comprehensive monitoring will be both monthly and rigorous, a standard critical to Microsoft, as the high tech firm has pledged regular reporting and transparency in its carbon offset investments.Pachama will use high tech innovations to meticulously ground-truth forest carbon and monitor verification goals. Drone-mounted LiDAR technology will scan forests in 3-D, from the canopy to the ground, to precisely estimate carbon density per tree. NASA satellite imagery will reveal any major deforestation and other drastic landscape changes. Artificial intelligence and machine learning will be used to analyze satellite images to further estimate carbon storage.If fire, logging or other deforestation reduces the carbon capacity of a particular project, Pachama will report the change immediately to protect Microsoft’s investment and to make sure emission shifts are accurately counted.The company will also work actively to connect verified carbon sequestration projects with corporate carbon investors, and help assure a good carbon price.Microsoft, for example, will pay forest protection projects at the rate of $15 per ton of carbon stored — better than the current global average of about $10 a ton, but a price that will need to rise for greater participation, observers say. Pachama will collect payments from Microsoft and other investors, pay the forest project holder and retain a commission.LiDAR, an aerial forest monitoring technology that uses lasers reflecting on targets, can measure tree height and size, capturing the canopy in incredible detail and converting it to data that can be analyzed for carbon storage. Image courtesy of Pachama.Independent experts cautiously optimisticExperts in carbon accounting and remote sensing voiced cautious optimism about this new private-sector model in which one company makes carbon reduction commitments, then contracts with a second company to assure accurate carbon reporting. Ideally, this results in the slowing of devastating deforestation, especially in critically important tropical and boreal forests.Bill Moomaw, professor emeritus at Tufts University and a global expert in carbon accounting and sustainable development, is especially impressed with Pachama’s use of LiDAR: “It is the eye in the sky that can actually determine not just the actual canopy cover, but also the density of the wood beneath the canopy. This can all be translated into tons of carbon.”While applauding Microsoft’s plan, Moomaw worries that $15 per ton for carbon may not be sufficient as an incentive, except perhaps in poorer regions, like rural Brazil. He also stressed that project selection is key, conserving forests truly threatened with commercial deforestation.“I don’t want to get carried away with [applauding] what this company [Pachama] is trying to do,” Moomaw said. “But the news on climate is so bad every day, and this sounds like a really astounding thing.”Sassan Saatchi, a senior scientist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is an expert on satellite imaging of global tree cover and carbon stocks. He warned that transparency and verification in reporting will be crucial for Pachama.If it achieves that, Saatchi concluded, the benefits could be worthwhile: “The private sector… can be fast in making observations more accessible to other companies that want to reduce their carbon footprints and mitigate climate impacts. This is Pachama’s role to play and they can play it well.”Banner image caption: A small section of New England forest analyzed using photogrammetry, the science of making reliable measurements via the use of photographs and especially aerial photographs. Image courtesy of Pachama.Justin Catanoso, a regular contributor to Mongabay, is a professor of journalism at Wake Forest University. Follow him on Twitter @jcatanosoFEEDBACK: 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. 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 Agroforestry, Amazon Conservation, Amazon Rainforest, Artificial Intelligence, carbon, Carbon Conservation, Carbon Credits, Carbon Emissions, Carbon Finance, Carbon Footprint, Carbon Market, Carbon Offsets, Carbon Sequestration, Climate, Climate Change, Climate Change And Conservation, Climate Change And Forests, climate finance, Climate Science, data collection, Deforestation, Environment, Forest Carbon, Green, Happy-upbeat Environmental, Land Use Change, LiDAR, Rainforest Deforestation, Rainforests, satellite data, Satellite Imagery, Saving Rainforests, Saving The Amazon, Temperate Forests, Tropical Deforestation, Tropical Forests last_img read more