What happens to an ecotourism town when the wildlife doesn’t show?

first_imgArticle published by Rebecca Kessler Animals, Biodiversity, Community-based Conservation, Conservation, Ecotourism, Endangered Species, Environment, Fish, Fishing, Marine Animals, Marine Biodiversity, Marine Conservation, Migration, Oceans, Sharks, Sharks And Rays, Tagging, Tourism, Whale Sharks, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation Since the mid-1990s, the town of Donsol in the Philippines has based its economy around tourists viewing whale sharks.Whale sharks are migratory fish. And while they showed up in reliable numbers during the first decade of Donsol’s venture into shark tourism, their numbers have become highly unpredictable in the past decade for reasons still unknown.Tourism has declined as well, with 2018 registering the fewest visitor arrivals since whale shark tourism started. The local economy, which it had buoyed, is now flagging, although 2019 seems off to a strong start for both whale sharks and tourists.Wildlife tourism, by nature, is susceptible to biodiversity loss and changes in animal behavior; it places host communities on a thin line between profit and loss. DONSOL, Philippines — Omar Nepomuceno is looking for the whale sharks, as he has for over 20 years. Ask him what the odds are of finding one, and he’ll answer with “Swertehan”: a Filipino word for “a game of luck.”On the boat, it doesn’t present as luck, but as labor. He uses one forearm to protect his eyes from the sun, the other to level his vision. He peers through the sliver of space in between like binoculars. The whites of his eyes have darkened over the years, likely from sun damage.As a butanding (whale shark) interaction officer with the local government, Nepomuceno’s job is to guide tourists and protect the sharks, so that they can swim together in Donsol, a coastal town on Luzon, the Philippines’ main island.Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) are only observed here during certain months of the year. But “swertehan” is always Nepomuceno’s answer, even when the sightings in his hometown take steep falls, affecting his — and the entire community’s — income. According to records from the Philippine office of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines), sightings in Donsol fell from 1,790 in 2017 to 589 in 2018, a 68 percent drop. Whale sharks are highly mobile, so sightings tend to be erratic, but the discrepancies year on year (sometimes even month on month) have gotten increasingly unpredictable for Donsol, a town that in 1998 had more shark sightings than they could care to count.Omar Nepomuceno, a butanding (whale shark) interaction officer employed by the Donsol government. Image by Nina Unlay.The sharks can be seen by eye in silhouette when they are within 3 meters (10 feet) of the water’s surface. At tourist sites with more developed infrastructure, like Australia’s Ningaloo Reef, technology alleviates the hard labor of searching for them: scouts in planes spot sharks from above. Here, though, the roof of the boat is the highest viewing point, where a second spotter has fashioned a T-shirt into a mask protecting his head from the heat and wind. Only his eyes remain uncovered.On this day, luck isn’t present. A single shark comes and goes within the span of 10 minutes. Nine other boats, all carrying tourists, come swarming from all directions. The shark dives deeper than the eye can see.Wildlife tourism can be a lucrative industry, when it works as expected. Whale sharks make up around one-third of the $300 million global shark-viewing industry, which is growing globally. Even so, luck remains its mistress. There are fewer than 10,000 whale sharks in the world, with a declining population trend, and entire communities like Donsol depend on them to show up.Unpredictable whale sharksWWF-Philippines reports that at least 653 known individual whale sharks have been documented off Donsol since 2007, the largest concentration of the endangered animal in Southeast Asia.The town’s decline in sightings from 2017 was steep, but not a unique occurrence. Whereas whale sharks showed up in reliable numbers during the first decade of Donsol’s venture into shark tourism, which started in the mid-1990s, numbers have proven highly unpredictable in the past decade.In 2013, there were only 53 sightings the entire year, an anomaly that has yet to be explained. That started a steep decline in tourist arrivals, impacting the community’s then-steady stream of revenue: an estimated $300,000 annually from whale shark interactions alone, at its peak.A spotter looks out for whale sharks aboard a tourist boat in Donsol, the Philippines. Image by Nina Unlay.As a coastal town, fishing is a primary source of income in Donsol. But a fisherman’s daily wage ranges anywhere from a few dollars to nothing at all. An interaction officer can make $10 on a single three-hour boat trip, plus tips.“We had the highest number of tourists in 2012,” Desiree Abetria, the town’s tourism officer, told Mongabay. “But that was also when the decline in sightings started. So, the following year, the tourist arrivals declined as well. 2018 was our lowest record for arrivals.”The impact is felt throughout the town.“So many things changed because of tourism. It uplifted this town. Before the tourists, we had no roads. We rode boats to get to the city center. Now, even the wives of the fishermen have jobs,” said Imelda Montaño, who has lived in Donsol all her life. She works as a cook in a backpacker’s hostel. “Things have changed again,” she added, referring to the town’s economy.Those who previously shifted to tourism as a sole source of income have started going back to old jobs; they take on part-time work as fishermen, construction workers or drivers.Fishing boats at rest on a Donsol beach. Image by Nina Unlay.The whale shark capital of the Philippines“I don’t need to be a scientist to know that things are not right,” Nepomuceno said, referring to more than the day at hand. He claimed the water is much colder now than it was when they started two decades ago; the tide, not right for sharks.There isn’t a lot of scientific data to prove or disprove his observations. Back in 1998, when Donsol’s tourism industry was just starting, the whale sharks’ status on the IUCN Red List was “data deficient.” No one had reason to keep tabs on the sharks; only the fishermen, who considered the big fish pests for breaking their nets and ramming into their boats.WWF-Philippines, the sole NGO that has an official partnership with the local government, only began monitoring sightings in 2007.But the counting had begun, unofficially, in 1998. Carina Escudero, a marine cinematographer based in the Philippines, was pursuing a book project about Philippine marine life and received the tip about the large population of whale sharks in Donsol. She started calling the office of the local government every day to ask for the number of sightings, and kept a log of what she heard. According to Escudero, the numbers back then could go up to 23 sightings in a single day.“During that point in history, a whale shark was a really rare thing,” she said. “No one [in Donsol] believed me at the time, but I knew what I was seeing was earth-shattering. To them, it was just normal.”Escudero is credited with pushing the development of the tourism industry in Donsol; many interaction officers still refer to her as their “mother.” “It’s a miracle that the sharks even survived,” she said. “People were offering 600,000 Philippine pesos [$11,700 at current rates] for three dead sharks in a place where people are earning less than 100 pesos [$2] a day.”A mural in Donsol, the Philippines, shows some of the benefits of whale shark tourism. Photo taken in 2012. Image by 533338 via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).In 1998, a national ban on whale shark hunting took effect almost simultaneously with the burst of tourism in Donsol. Unlike the sudden ban, the transition on the ground was slow.“No one was interested in tourism,” Nepomuceno said. “They didn’t understand what it was.”But in time, through a partnership with WWF-Philippines and with support from other organizations, the local government trained the community to believe whale sharks were worth more to them alive than dead. Rules and guidelines, such as how close tourist boats could get to whale sharks or how many tourists could swim near them, were established to ensure the influx of visitors didn’t harm the sharks, and the interaction officers were charged with upholding them.Luck, gambles and guaranteesThe recent scarcity of whale shark sightings has had a profound, almost existential, effect on the community, one with a learned pride in its sharks. Most of those who work in tourism (vendors, tour officers, boatmen, and the like) gather in the mornings to send tourists off, promising to keep their fingers crossed for sharks or, in some instances, keep them in their prayers.But, like Nepomuceno with his principle of answering with “swertehan,” they make no guarantees. It’s a well-integrated standard, as dictated by the ethics of responsible wildlife tourism.“We can’t give an advisory that declares sharks are present in our waters, until such time that there have been sightings for three days straight,” said Abetria, the tourism officer. “That’s when we inform the Department of Tourism that they can start ‘advertising’ that our season is open. We don’t want to give a ‘false’ tourism, we don’t guarantee. It’s a wild animal.”Tourism dominates Donsol’s economy. Image by Nina Unlay.It’s when times are hard that the principles become blurry: “The interaction officers feel a sense of ownership over the sharks because they are the ones in the water with them every day,” said Alessandro Ponzo, executive director of the Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines (LAMAVE). “It’s good, but it also means they regulate one another. And right now, the interaction officers are the ones pulling the tourists closer to see the shark.”Rules are broken more often when the sightings are scarce and the money thin. And not just by the interaction officers and boatmen; Sali Salahudin, 61, migrated with his son from a southern island to sell pearls to tourists. On average, he said, he makes roughly $14 a week, usually selling only one or two items. Salahudin said it’s not enough.He has started making guarantees, adapting to a system that no longer works for him, selling his intuition along with his wares. “Just make sure you go out the time I tell you to,” he said, “then there will be one.”Sali Salahudin, a migrant to Donsol, earns about $14 a week selling pearls to tourists. Image by Nina Unlay.These changes happened, not at once, but over time, in the face of a decline in income from tourism. But wildlife tourism, by nature, is susceptible to biodiversity loss and changes in animal behavior; it places host communities on a thin line between profit and loss. Though they make no guarantees, making apologies to tourists for these losses has become a part of their job.Donsol’s new normalNo one has figured out why the number of whale sharks in Donsol has been fluctuating so greatly of late. Researchers only have theories: the plankton they feed on may have been affected by changes in the water, luring them outside the designated interaction areas; they might also be lurking deeper underwater for some reason.The lapses in information are many, including where the sharks go when they’re not in Donsol. WWF uses a global archive of photos, Wildbook.org, to give the community some idea of where its sharks have been. Every time a shark is discovered or re-encountered, it’s registered. But the record is far from complete, because not all tourism sites participate. A shark can “disappear” for years if it migrates to an area where people aren’t looking; worse, to an area that still practices hunting.A whale shark in Mexico. Image by MarAlliance2018 via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).“You can’t just protect whale sharks from your backyard,” Escudero said. “You have to protect the whole world.”In Donsol, at least, they continue to be looked for, beloved, even prayed for. There’s too much at stake.“This should be a good year because sightings started early, but we never know for certain,” Abetria said. She’s working on a plan to entice tourists to stay even if there are no sharks. At the moment, the only other attraction is firefly watching and diving in waters much farther out.Tourist arrivals have begun to increase: this year’s number has already surpassed last year’s.It is impossible to say for certain if this will last. For better or worse, though, Nepomuceno refuses to leave Donsol, despite the offers he receives for better-paying jobs abroad. “I am happy here. In the beginning, people thought we were crazy for believing in tourism. But now, I make good money. I make people happy,” he said.He remains hopeful, as always, for the next year. In 2019, already 104 new sharks have been registered in the archive. It’s a strong start, but still a gamble, a game of luck.Formerly the features editor for travel magazine GRID in the Philippines, Nina Unlay is currently based in London as a business reporter for IntraFish Media. She tweets at @ninabiscuit.Banner image: A tourist boat in Donsol joins several others in search of whale sharks. Image by Nina Unlay. A tour boat crew member, left, on the look out for whale sharks. Image by Nina Unlay.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

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Chance rescue turns out to be first record of elusive tortoise species in India

first_imgTwo tortoises that a range officer in Arunachal Pradesh in northeast India rescued from a group of boys turned out to be the impressed tortoise (Manouria impressa), an elusive species that has never been recorded in India before.Researchers who have studied the reptile in Myanmar say the high-elevation habitat in Arunachal Pradesh where the tortoises were found is quite similar to that in Myanmar.Very little is known about impressed tortoises, and researchers and the range officer hope that a long-term survey will be launched to find more individuals of the species in India.For now, the two rescued individuals have been sent to a zoo in the state’s capital. It was a chance encounter. But it turned Bunty Tao’s life around.In mid-June, a group of boys were heading back from a fishing trip to a forest near the town of Yazali in Arunachal Pradesh state in northeast India, when Tao, a range officer with the state forest department, noticed that they had two tortoises with them.“I don’t know why they had taken the tortoises from the forest, whether out of curiosity or something else, but I told them they couldn’t keep the animals,” Tao told Mongabay.Tao took the tortoises away and put them in a small forested plot near his house until the authorities could take a decision on the reptiles. The tortoises had golden-hued shells ⁠— a color Tao had not seen on tortoises from the area before. So he sent photographs of the individuals to an anti-hunting WhatsApp group he’s a member of, hoping someone would help identify the species. The group members forwarded the photos to other experts, and in a few days, Jayaditya Purkayastha, a herpetologist based in the neighboring state of Assam, came back with an answer. The rescued tortoises, he said, looked like the impressed tortoise (Manouria impressa), an elusive species that had never been recorded in India before.Bunty Tao with the rescued tortoises. Image courtesy of Bunty Tao.Purkayastha and other experts, including Shailendra Singh and Arpita Dutta of the nonprofit Turtle Survival Alliance, rushed to Arunachal Pradesh, examined the tortoises in question, and confirmed that the reptiles were indeed impressed tortoises.Until recently, the impressed tortoise has been known from the high-elevation mountainous forests of Myanmar, southern China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia. There, the reptile prefers the moist forest floor with lots of leaf litter, Singh told Mongabay. “They eat things like mushrooms on the forest floor. They also bury into the leaves and tend to camouflage with the forest floor.”Singh, who has studied the impressed tortoise in Myanmar, said the habitat in Arunachal Pradesh where the tortoises were found is quite similar to that in Myanmar. “So it shouldn’t be a surprise to find more such animals along the Indo-Myanmar border,” he said. “What is surprising is that the tortoises weren’t found before because so many people would have visited the forest in the past.”Tao, however, said the tortoise may have always been in the area, “but before this nobody probably took the initiative to identify it,” he said. “It is like an apple falling from a tree. I’m a range officer, I’m passionate about wildlife, and I was curious to find out what it was, so I posted it for identification. ”The high-elevation habitat in Arunachal Pradesh where the impressed tortoises were collected from is similar to that in Myanmar where the species is also found. Image courtesy of Shailendra Singh.With very little known about impressed tortoises, Singh said he hopes that a long-term survey will be launched to find more individuals of the species in India.“Finding two individuals and identifying them is fine, but the critical thing to do is to go look and see if there is a ecologically viable population residing in that area,” he said. “If that population is there, then we have to collect scientific data on it and try and protect it.”As for the two individuals themselves, they have been sent to a zoo in Itanagar, the state capital. Singh said the species doesn’t do very well in captivity, though. “They need moist environment, a special diet and they are very delicate. They also don’t like too much handling,” he said.Researchers examining the rescued impressed tortoises. Image by Jhonson Tao.Tao, on his way to visit the tortoises at the Itanagar biological park, said that with the identification part of the story now over, research was needed. “But it is for the forest department to decide,” he said.“The IUCN tortoise and freshwater turtle specialist group recently sent us a letter of appreciation, lauding the efforts of the forest department for finding the species,” Tao said. “They even offered their technical support if the department wanted to initiate a conservation effort for the species.”Tao said he hopes the discovery of the tortoise in June and the attention it’s bringing will translate to conservation efforts on the ground.“I feel incredibly happy to be part of this history,” Tao said. “I’m a tribal boy and I feel that we tribal people should be involved in research because we can use our traditional knowledge for conservation. I think we can convert this opportunity to create bigger conservation projects, such as a sustainable ecotourism project that can help protect wildlife and help us earn a livelihood.”The rescued impressed tortoises. Image courtesy of Shailendra Singh.Banner image of impressed tortoise courtesy of Shailendra Singh. 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 Shreya Dasguptacenter_img Animals, Biodiversity, Conservation, Environment, Forests, Green, Happy-upbeat Environmental, Herps, Reptiles, Species Discovery, Tropical Forests, Turtles And Tortoises, Wildlife last_img read more

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Indonesia’s president signals a transition away from coal power

first_imgAir Pollution, carbon, Carbon Emissions, Climate, Climate Change, Climate Change And Extreme Weather, Coal, Emission Reduction, Energy, Environment, Fossil Fuels, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Impact Of Climate Change, Pollution Indonesia’s president has reportedly signaled a major shift in energy policy, saying he wants to “start reducing the use of coal.”Such a policy would run counter to the administration’s previously stated long-term plans of fueling the country’s growing energy demand with coal, with 39 coal-fired plants under construction and 68 more announced.Indonesia is one of the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, and while the main culprit is deforestation and land-use change, the energy sector is poised to overtake it.Energy policy analysts have welcomed the reported change in stance from the government, noting that Indonesia has long lagged other countries in developing clean power, despite having an abundance of renewable energy sources. JAKARTA — President Joko Widodo has reportedly expressed his intention to wean Indonesia off coal, in a move that runs counter to his own administration’s stated policy of increasing the country’s reliance on the fossil fuel.The president made the announcement at a July 8 cabinet meeting, according to Siti Nurbaya Bakar, the minister of environment and forestry.“[T]he president emphasized that we must develop the energy sector with a focus on renewable energy,” Siti said at a recent event in Jakarta. “Therefore, the president has explicitly asked to ‘start reducing the use of coal.’”The reported comment comes amid a period of particularly dire air quality in the capital, Jakarta, that’s prompted a citizen lawsuit holding top officials, including the president, liable for the pollution, blamed in part on coal-fired power plants operating near the city. (The lawsuit was filed July 4, four days before the president made his remark; it’s not clear whether the latter was prompted by the former.)If the administration follows through on the statement with concrete policies to phase out coal use, this could signal the beginning of a transition to renewable energy for Indonesia, the largest energy consumer in South East Asia and one of the biggest consumers of coal in the world, analysts say.“When I heard about it, I was ecstatic, surprised and filled with hope,” Alin Halimatussadiah, head of the Institute for Economic and Social Research at the state-run University of Indonesia, told Mongabay.Adhityani Putri, executive director of Yayasan Indonesia Cerah, a local policy and communications nonprofit that advocates for clean energy transition, also welcomed the news.“This statement represents a significant step forward and one that will put Indonesia in step with the major economies of the world,” she told Mongabay.Both Alin and Adhityani said a policy shift on coal was long overdue, given that the fossil fuel has for years been falling out of favor by other major economies in favor of increasingly cost-competitive renewable energy.“We’re left behind as many other countries have committed to phase out coal, while we haven’t said anything about that,” Alin said. “This is the first step, and with the president saying that, that’s a good thing.”But any meaningful change will have to start with an overhaul of the electricity procurement plan, or RUPTL, by the state-owned utility, PLN. At present, the RUPTL calls for increasing the absolute figure for renewable power generation over the long term, but shrinking its share of the overall energy mix in favor of more coal-fired electricity.“In the RUPTL document, coal is still dominant, so we haven’t seen [any plan to phase out coal] in any planning document,” Alin said.Adhityani said the government would need “a comprehensive and just coal phase-out plan that ensures a just transition for all and accelerated deployment of renewables” in the next mid-term national development plan.The ideal plan would have to offer both fiscal and non-fiscal incentives that would lower the price of renewable power to make it competitive with coal, said Elrika Hamdi, an analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).“What’s also important is that the policies taken should be consistent and in effect for a long time in order to give assurance to investors and funders,” she added.Indonesian President Joko Widodo speaks to the press accompanied by Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar on his left in April. Photo courtesy of the Indonesian government.Emissions reduction goalWith President Widodo recently winning an election that keeps him in office through 2024, an easing of Indonesia’s reliance on coal will help with the country’s carbon dioxide emissions reduction goals, said Siti, the environment minister.“I welcome that statement with joy because this truly empowers our work,” she said.Indonesia is currently one of the world’s biggest CO2 emitters, most of it from deforestation and land-use change. However, emissions from the energy sector are poised to dominate in the near future as Indonesia’s demand for electricity continues to rise.The country’s energy consumption growth is among the fastest in the world, with coal accounting for nearly 60 percent of the energy mix in 2018. Its energy policy therefore has important implications not just for the country’s climate future, but also for global efforts to achieve cuts under the Paris Agreement.Under current plans, the committed emissions from coal-fired power plants would peak only around 2035, with an eventual phase-out only by 2069; to have a shot at meeting the Paris goals, meanwhile, the Southeast Asian region will need to phase out coal by 2040, analysts agree.Falling short of the Paris Agreement commitments would be especially disastrous for tropical countries like Indonesia. A new study by the research group Crowther Lab finds that cities in the tropics are likely to see the strongest impacts from climate change, even as they experience smaller changes in average temperature.The study, looking at 520 major cities worldwide, finds that Jakarta will be among those facing “unprecedented” climate shifts by 2050, including changes in rainfall patterns that will lead to more severe flooding and droughts. It also predicts a mean annual temperature rise by then of 1.7 degrees Celsius (3.1 degrees Fahrenheit), with a rise in maximum temperatures of 3.1 degrees Celsius (5.6 degrees Fahrenheit).Switching more of Indonesia’s power generation from coal to renewable energy sources could be key to achieving the country’s emissions reduction goals, said Ruandha Agung Sugardiman, the environment ministry’s climate change chief.Indonesia has set itself the target of cutting its emissions by 29 percent from the business-as-usual scenario by 2030, or 41 percent with international assistance.Ruandha said there was more room for emissions cuts in the energy sector than in the land-use and forestry sectors. Under the current target, emissions in the latter sectors needs to go down by 70 percent, including through scaling back deforestation rate and boosting reforestation; the energy sector, meanwhile, only needs to achieve a 19 percent emissions reduction.“It’s very clear that the energy sector could be much more ambitious [in reducing emissions],” Ruandha said. “That’s in line with what the president is saying that we need to phase out coal. And this is supported by the energy and mineral resources minister, who will change our energy pattern.”Ruandha has been tasked by Siti with studying the possibility of Indonesia setting an even more ambitious emissions cut goal of 45 percent to help rein in global heating.“In recent events, including the G20 meeting, actually there’s a hope for each countries to set a target up to 45 percent,” the minister said. “I’ve asked the director-general [of climate change] to do some calculations, even though for us to meet the 41 percent target is already tough.”Siti added that she’d begun discussions with the energy minister, Ignasius Jonan, on steps to cut back on coal use and advance renewable energy during last month’s G20 summit in Japan.A coal barge in the Samarinda River estuary. The coal produced in the region is used in power plants or sold for export. Photo by Tommy Apriando/Mongabay-Indonesia.More coal-fired plantsThat a transition away from coal is even being discussed at the highest levels of government marks a major change in tone from longstanding energy policies that have relied on an abundance of cheap and available coal. In fact, Indonesia’s coal reserves have made it one of the world’s biggest exporters of the commodity over the course of the last 15 years.Policies by successive governments have helped; coal-fired power plants receive hefty subsidies, and there are no carbon disincentives to encourage investment in renewable energy. The reliance on coal hasn’t shown any sign of easing in recent years. Thirty-nine coal-fired power plants are under construction, and 68 have been announced, which will maintain coal’s dominance of the energy mix at nearly 55 percent by 2025. Three of the six new plants expected to go online this year will be fired by coal; the other three are small-capacity facilities powered by gas, hydro and solar, respectively.Over the 40 to 50 years that each plant will be in operation, it will have a devastating impact on local populations and ecosystems, activists say, polluting the air and water, and churning huge volumes of CO2 into the atmosphere.“Promising to burn massive quantities of low quality Indonesian coal may have kept some voters warm, but Indonesians will be paying a very high price for their love affair with coal,” says a report by the IEEFA. “And the younger generation will be stuck with limited options to fix a rigid system.”This heavy reliance on coal comes at the cost of growing Indonesia’s renewable energy sector, with its adoption trailing far behind most countries and short of the country’s true potential, according to a new report by the management consulting firm A.T. Kearney.The government expects to generate 23 percent of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2025. To date, however, renewables account for just 12 percent of the total energy mix. That proportion isn’t expected to increase by 2025.“While many countries are taking rapid strides to adopt renewable energy for power generation, the progress in Indonesia has been rather slow,” said Alessandro Gazzini, a partner at A.T. Kearney and co-author of the report. “However, the country has significant potential in renewables, including in solar and wind, and hence the stage is set for the country to leapfrog over the next few years if the policy is given a hard look.”Locals who are affected by coal power plants around Indonesia gather during a protest in front of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources office in Jakarta, Indonesia. They’re demanding the government to switch from coal to renewable energy. Image by Hans Nicholas Jong/Mongabay.Growing public awarenessPublic awareness has been growing recently about the negative impacts of the coal industry, especially during the presidential election campaign that ended in April. At various points in the campaign, Widodo and his rival, Prabowo Subianto, came under scrutiny for their lack of commitment to new, greener energy technologies. The business ties between the candidates, their political allies and the coal industry were also highlighted in a documentary called “Sexy Killers.”The documentary, viewed more than 24 million times on YouTube since it was uploaded days before the April 17 election, also highlighted the devastating impact of coal mines and power plants to local communities, including lush forests being razed in the search for more coal, and coral reefs being wrecked by coal barges.Residents living near the massive power plants in Java and Bali also pay a price. The film shows many of them being evicted to make room for the plants, while those who refuse to leave have to deal with the constant pollution.The film drew the ire of local officials, who scrambled to shut down public screenings and even accused the filmmakers of spreading “hate speech” against both candidates.Alin said it was possible Widodo had had a change of heart after the recent intense public spotlight on the coal industry, as well as the shifting global trend to renewables.“We may never know what’s inside the head of the government, but if we see recent events where the public responded to various information circulating [about the impact of the coal industry] through social media, it’s possible that the government is reacting to that,” she said. “Or the government might also be reacting to global pressure.” 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 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: A group of locals affected by coal-fired power plants around Indonesia stages a protest in front of the headquarters of President Joko Widodo’s campaign team in Jakarta. Image by Hans Nicholas Jong/Mongabay.last_img read more

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Salvadoran fishermen ditch blast fishing for artificial reefs

first_imgBlast fishing has taken a toll on both the fishermen and marine life of El Salvador’s Jiquilisco Bay Biosphere Reserve.Some residents have lost limbs or eyes or suffered bad burns. And populations of mangroves, fish, and critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles have declined.Over the last decade, officials have made rooting out the practice a top priority, placing their bets on a creative alternative that a local fisherman suggested in 2009: the creation of artificial reefs to replenish marine life.Today blast fishing has declined by 90 percent and the communities are trying to market their seafood as “clean fish” at a premium price. To read an interview with the man who sparked the artificial reefs of Jiquilisco Bay, see the companion piece to this article:Bringing back the fish: Q&A with a repentant blast fishermanJIQUILISCO BAY, El Salvador — With no police patrol in sight, a young fisherman named Jose Salvador Soriano kneeled into his long, narrow boat and began preparing an explosive with the power to bring in nearly an entire day’s catch. The explosive contained sulfur, benzoate, chlorate and sugar, packed into a tube of newspaper with a wick made from a bicycle-brake hose.The best spot to throw an explosive was under the long, spider-like roots of the mangroves lining both sides of the estuary, as fish gather there in large numbers to lay their eggs. But this time, Soriano miscalculated. Before he could toss the explosive — the wick quickly burning down — it went off in his hand, leaving him amputated up to the high wrist.Soriano, now 47, got away easy compared to many other residents of the 35 fishing communities along El Salvador’s Jiquilisco Bay Biosphere Reserve, a 241-kilometer (150-mile) wetland that contributes approximately 2 tons of fish to the country’s seafood markets every day. Some residents have been badly burned, lost an eye or — because explosives are normally packed with the tube held between the thighs — their legs and genitals.But blast fishing has also taken a toll on Jiquilisco Bay’s marine life. Populations of yellowfin snook (Centropomus robalito), hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and Pacific red snapper (Lutjanus peru), as well as six kinds of mangrove trees, have shown noticeable declines since nearby communities began using explosives in the 1980s.Over the last decade, officials have made rooting out the illegal practice a top priority, placing their bets on a creative alternative that a local fisherman suggested in 2009: What if an artificial reef could be dropped into the bay where they normally fish? Done correctly, it might allow for both an easy catch and a sustainable way of bolstering biodiversity.Fisher Juan Jose Amalla said on a good day he brings in about 30 fish from the artificial reef he fishes in Jiquilisco Bay. Image by Max Radwin for Mongabay.“It may not have been as good as blast fishing,” said José Maria Argueta, program director for the local NGO the Mangrove Association, “but we argued that it was also sustainable and not dangerous. You could relax and catch fish and not worry about running from the police.”It is now the 10th anniversary of the artificial reef project’s inception, and a dozen local cooperatives have installed more than 20 artificial reefs — collections of logs and hollow concrete structures — for line-and-pole fishing. But officials say blast fishing continues in some areas, and managing the reefs has become its own challenge.“It’s a sustainable way to catch fish,” Argueta said. “It also allows people to fish without damaging the environment or themselves. But we need a plan to manage the artificial reefs.”Blast fishing: ‘It’s just not a good idea’The transition from blast fishing to artificial reefs has been, and continues to be, a slow one. Even after Soriano lost his hand in 1997 — before the reefs were even an idea — he kept using explosives for another five years, resisting officials’ attempts to persuade him to switch to traditional fishing methods.Like most fishermen in the area, Soriano was looking for the most efficient way to bring in the largest possible catch. Given the cost of gas, bait, boat rental and fees to his local fishing cooperative, line fishing before the era of artificial reefs didn’t make much sense. It only brought in about 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) of fish on a typical outing, sold for between $1 and $2 per pound. Explosives, meanwhile, with a radius as large as 80 feet (24 meters), sometimes brought in upwards of 40 pounds (18 kilograms) — and in a fraction of the time.Luis Gonzalez Benitez lost an arm while blast fishing and now splits his time between using nets and line fishing on the reef. Image by Max Radwin for Mongabay.For other fishermen, explosives were all they knew. Their fathers never taught them how to line-fish. Or the nets they’d used in childhood were abandoned in the wake of the country’s civil war.Politically motivated violence throughout the 1970s saw tens of thousands die at the hands of right-wing death squads, igniting a left-wing guerrilla movement and drawing in the U.S. through to the war’s end in 1992.Many residents around Jiquilisco Bay joined the People’s Revolutionary Army and the Farabundo Martí Liberation People’s Force guerrilla groups. In the 1980s, they had decided to fight a war of attrition, carrying out sniper attacks, ambushes and land mine bombings. One hour from the shores of Jiquilisco Bay, the 400-meter (1,300-foot) Golden Bridge was destroyed by guerrilla-made dynamite.Still other residents fled to other parts of Central America, such as Panama. Upon returning later in the war, they allegedly encountered two military officers who showed them how to make explosives. Today, no one knows the names of those two officers, but they are still talked about in various fishing communities, even mentioned vaguely in government reports, almost as myth: the bringers of explosives to Jiquilisco.By the 1990s, the bay was showing a noticeable drop in marine life. Though there was little data taken in that time period, fishermen recall returning from trips with smaller and smaller catches.“At first it was a good way to fish, but after a while not so much because we killed everything,” said fisherman Luis Gonzalez, 47, of Puerto El Flor. “More than anything else, this was business. It starts to get expensive when you’re coming back without fish.”Other marine life suffered, as well. Critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles occupy approximately 37 kilometers (23 miles) of nesting habitat in and around Jiquilisco Bay. But between 2004 and 2008, the Zoological Foundation of El Salvador reported 18 fatalities caused by blast fishing — the hawksbills’ leading cause death during that period.Due to the bay’s thousands of acres of mangrove trees, it was declared a Ramsar site— an international recognition for wetlands — in 2005. Mangroves are not only important breeding grounds for marine life; they’re also a key player in preventing coastal soil erosion. Officials suspect that human activity, including blast fishing, has contributed to a 10 percent loss in the bay’s mangrove cover.“When it comes to blast fishing,” Gonzalez added, “it’s just not a good idea. It means putting an end to all the fish.”last_img read more

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Conservation tech prize with invasive species focus announces finalists

first_imgAcoustic, Agriculture, algae, Artificial Intelligence, cameras, Conservation Technology, Drones, early warning, Frogs, Insects, Invasive Species, Monitoring, Oceans, Sensors, surveys, Technology, Turtles And Tortoises, Wildtech The Con X Tech Prize announced its second round will fund 20 finalists, selected from 150 applications, each with $3,500 to create their first prototypes of designs that use technology to address a conservation challenge.Seven of the 20 teams focused their designs on reducing impacts from invasive species, while the others addressed a range of conservation issues, from wildlife trafficking to acoustic monitoring to capturing freshwater plastic waste in locally-built bamboo traps.Conservation X Labs (CXL), which offers the prize, says the process provides winners with very early-stage funding, a rare commodity, and recognition of external approval, each of which has potential to motivate finalists and translate into further funding.Finalists can also compete for a grand prize of $20,000 and product support from CXL. The Con X Tech Prize just announced its second round will be funding 20 finalists each with $3,500 to create their first prototypes. Some 150 teams submitted ideas that use technology to address a conservation challenge. The 20 winners of this first stage of the competition will also compete for a grand prize of $20,000, plus support from CXL on product development and attracting investment.The prize accepts ideas for any conservation problem, with a particular focus on addressing threats from a specific theme. This second round of the prize focused on reducing impacts from invasive species to native species and ecosystems. The first round, sponsored in 2018, focused on ocean conservation.Biotech Steve Orwig removes an invasive Mexican weeping pine (Pinus patula) from the crater of Hawai’i’s Haleakalā National Park. Pines like these grow rapidly, are spread by wind from nearby forest plantings, and disrupt native ecosystems by shading out native shrubs and taking up water and nutrients. Image courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.“We have a range of hardware and software solutions we are funding, including tools in aquatic invasive species, camera traps, ag-tech, human-wildlife conflict, marine acoustics, and many more,” said Tom Quigley, who manages the digital makerspace community at Conservation X Labs, which offers the prize. “It’s a really exciting cohort.”Seven of the 20 finalists focused specifically on designs to address invasive species, while the remaining 13 teams sought to address a range of conservation issues, from wildlife trafficking to acoustic monitoring to capturing freshwater plastic waste in locally-built bamboo traps.The projects specifically addressing invasive species proposed a wide range of ideas to address an equally wide range of associated problems. They include:1. Pig-finding drone-based thermal cameras to conserve critically endangered giant tortoises on Santa Cruz island in the Galápagos by finding feral pigs that dig up tortoise nests and eat their eggs, which has prevented hatching of new generations of tortoises. The camera, equipped with machine learning algorithms, would also detect tortoise nests to help Galápagos National Park rangers find and protect them on the ground.Santa Cruz giant tortoise (Chelonoidis porteri) in Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos National Park, Ecuador. Invasive pigs and dogs destroy nests of giant tortoises, hindering recovery of tortoise populations from prior hunting and habitat loss. Image by Bernard Gagnon via Wikimedia Commons, CC 4.0.2. A mobile machine unit to remove invasive plants that have taken over grasslands in India’s protected areas, facilitated by local wood harvest, leaving elephants in parks without food and thus more likely to approach adjacent human crop fields, causing conflict. The repurposed commercially available charcoal producer would pick invasive plants, crush them into sawdust, and form usable charcoal briquettes from the dust to reduce the demand for fuelwood.3. Helping reduce the lionfish population off the Florida coast by connecting divers with fish processors through an online platform to facilitate processing of the small volumes of this highly invasive predatory fish caught by divers. Demand for the fish beyond Florida exceeds production, so the platform would also encourage more local processors.4. Remote amphibian refuges in Guatemala to attract frogs, using call playbacks, to a small tube-shaped container with a tiny pool and an Arduino computing unit inside. The unit has sensors that notify nearby researchers they’ve caught a frog, so they can identify it and determine if it carries invasive chytrid fungus.A Guatemalan spikethumb frog (Plectrohyla guatemalensis). Finding frogs at night when they are active is difficult, so researchers are seeking to attract them to tiny refuges where they can be identified and checked for invasive chytrid fungus. Image by Josiah H. Townsend, http://calphotos.berkeley.edu, CC 3.0.5. Find that plant, a machine-learning algorithm to detect individual invasive plants from drone-based images and produce geographic coordinates of the locations of plants identified as invasives to inform management decisions.6. Early insect pest detection system integrates low-cost sensors that record images, sounds, and environmental conditions, pheromone and light lures, and species identification algorithms to monitor invasive insect pests of agriculture and forests.7. Floating robots detect invasive marine algae species using image classification algorithms that identify the species and record its location while navigating. The automated identification from images would facilitate monitoring and help researchers detect and eradicate invasive plants before they become well-established.Why focus on invasive species?Humans transport non-native plants and animals from their homes on one continent to new places that often lack the predators or other mechanisms keeping populations of the species under control. Some of these non-native species become invasive, meaning they spread and outcompete or harm native plants and animals or destroy native habitat.The caterpillar of the fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda), which has invaded Africa and Asia from the Americas, destroying maize, sorghum, millet, rice, and other crops. Image by Frank Peairs, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org, CC 3.0.The accelerated spread of invasive species over the past few decades has led to severe reductions, and even extinctions, of some native species, especially on islands.“Over 30 percent of the IUCN Red List species extinctions were caused or impacted by invasives,” Quigley said. “As the world’s population grows and globalization increases, the risk of invasive species introductions increases dramatically. Innovation and new technology solutions are needed to prevent the spread of invasive species and novel emerging pathogens.”Role of tech prizes in conservationQuigley told Mongabay that the early funding and recognition that they have received a prize have been “transformative” for some first-round finalists.“The process provides winners with very early-stage funding, a rare commodity, and recognition of external approval,” Quigley said, “each of which has potential to motivate finalists and translate into further funding.”He added that the opportunity to compete for the prize with a submission deadline can motivate groups who’ve perhaps been considering an idea or design to address a conservation problem to actually develop it into a prototype.A common lionfish (Pterois miles) from the Red Sea. These carnivorous fish native to the western Indo-Pacific region and the related P. volitans invaded the western Atlantic in the 1980s. There, their populations have exploded as they reproduce rapidly, consume more than 50 native fish species, and have no predators in their new home. Image by Magnus Kjaergaard via Wikimedia Commons, CC 3.0.Quigley identified three features that he thought help teams advance their prototype development most effectively:  keeping a strong focus on a discrete problem; partnering with a group that actually faces the problem; and including team members from different disciplines, such as an oceanographer partnering with a camera tech expert and a fundraiser or an engineer with a web developer and a project manager.The Con X Prize strives to bring people from a variety of disciplines to apply their skills to solving conservation challenges and broadening the conservation community.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by Sue Palmintericenter_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

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July 2019 was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth

first_imgUN secretary general António Guterres announced that July 2019 was the hottest month on record in a press conference yesterday.In his remarks to the press, Guterres noted that the record-breaking July temperatures follow the hottest June ever recorded, adding: “This is even more significant because the previous hottest month, July 2016, occurred during one of the strongest El Niño’s ever. That is not the case this year. All of this means we are on track for the period from 2015 to 2019 to be the five hottest years on record.”The impacts of global climate change are being felt around the globe, perhaps nowhere more dramatically than in the Arctic, where high temperatures have caused sea ice levels to collapse. June 2019 saw near-record lows in Arctic sea ice extent. In a press conference yesterday, UN secretary general António Guterres announced that July 2019 was the hottest month on record.Data for the month is still being collected, but July 2019 temperatures already appear to have been as high as if not slightly higher than the previous record for the hottest month in history, set in July 2016. According to preliminary data from the World Meteorological Organization, average global temperatures in July 2019 were at least 2.16 degrees Fahrenheit or 1.2 degrees Celsius higher than the pre-industrial average.“We have always lived through hot summers. But this is not the summer of our youth. This is not your grandfather’s summer,” Guterres said.Jean-Noël Thépaut, head of Europe’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, which produced the temperature data cited by Guterres, sounded a similar theme: “As a citizen I am as concerned as anyone else with what is happening,” Thépaut told Rolling Stone magazine. “My children are experiencing extreme weather situations which did not exist when I was their age.” He called the climatic trends on display in July 2019 “very disturbing.”In his remarks to the press, Guterres noted that the record-breaking July temperatures follow the hottest June ever recorded, adding: “This is even more significant because the previous hottest month, July 2016, occurred during one of the strongest El Niño’s ever. That is not the case this year. All of this means we are on track for the period from 2015 to 2019 to be the five hottest years on record.”The impacts of global climate change are being felt around the globe, perhaps nowhere more dramatically than in the Arctic, where high temperatures have caused sea ice levels to collapse. June 2019 saw near-record lows in Arctic sea ice extent.Citing data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the climate impact tracking platform Climate Signals pointed out that there were 132 all-time-high temperatures recorded around the globe in July 2019, versus just two all-time-lows. “In a stable climate, record high and low temps are about even,” Climate Signals noted. “Human-caused warming is driving this imbalance.”In adopting the Paris Climate Agreement, world leaders pledged to limit global warming to no more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 2 degrees Celsius, while an additional, aspirational goal included in the agreement would limit warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius. Climate scientists have repeatedly warned that anything more than 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming could threaten the stability of life on Earth as we know it. But an analysis by the group Climate Action Tracker shows that, under current climate policies, the world is on track for 3.3 degrees Celsius of warming or more by 2100.“This year alone we have seen temperature records shatter from New Delhi to Anchorage — from Paris to Santiago — from Adelaide to the Arctic Circle,” Guterres said. “If we do not take action on climate change now, these extreme weather events are just the tip of the iceberg. And that iceberg is also rapidly melting.”Arctic sea ice is in retreat as the climate crisis deepens. Photo via Pixabay.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 Mike Gaworecki 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 Big Data, Climate Change, data collection, Environment, Global Warming, Impact Of Climate Change, Sea Ice, Temperatures last_img read more

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Amazon indigenous groups feel deserted by Brazil’s public health service

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 Amazon Conservation, Amazon Destruction, Amazon People, Controversial, Environment, Environmental Politics, Featured, Forests, Green, Health, Indigenous Culture, Indigenous Cultures, Indigenous Groups, Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Rights, Public Health, Rainforest Destruction, Rainforests, Rivers, Saving The Amazon, Social Justice, Threats To The Amazon Article published by Glenn Scherercenter_img Until recently, hundreds of Cuban doctors staffed many remote indigenous health facilities in the Brazilian Amazon and around the nation, an initiative funded by the More Doctors program set up by President Dilma Rousseff in 2013.But far-right President Jair Bolsonaro radically restructured the program, and Cuba — calling Bolsonaro’s demands unreasonable — pulled its doctors out.That withdrawal heavily impacted indigenous groups. Of the 372 doctors working within indigenous communities, 301 were Cuban. The Ministry of Health says 354 vacancies have since been filled by Brazilian doctors, but indigenous communities say many new doctors are unwilling to stay long in the remote posts.Bolsonaro has hindered rural health care in other ways: 13,000 indigenous health workers have remained unpaid since February or April, depending on the region, after the Brazilian Minister of Health stopped providing resources to the 8 NGOs contracted to provide health services to 34 Special Sanitary Indigenous Districts. A deadly Amazon bushmaster (Lachesis muta) showing its fangs. Poisonous snakes present one of the greatest health hazards in the Brazilian Amazon, and yet some remote indigenous health centers lack the doctors and antivenom needed to treat snakebite. Image by Dick Culbert licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.Last February, a Mongabay reporting team travelled to the Brazilian Amazon, spending time with the remote Sateré-Mawé, documenting their culture and long-time conflict with mining companies and land grabbers. This series looks at new threats imposed on the Sateré and indigenous groups across Brazil as they’re threatened by the ruralist-friendly policies of President Jair Bolsonaro. The trip was funded by the Rainforest Journalism Fund in association with the Pulitzer Center and Mongabay. It was 10 o’clock in the morning when he felt the bite. Now, 20 minutes later, Raimundo, a Sateré indigenous man, lies ill at the foot of a copaiba tree and realizes the great danger he is in. Incapacitated within the vastness of the Amazon rainforest, medical help is many miles and hours away.“He saw [the snake] out of the corner of his eye, not long enough to see it properly, but thought it was a pit viper,” a deadly venomous snake, says his father-in-law.Raimundo lives in the indigenous village of Kuruatuba, within the Andirá-Marau indigenous reserve, on the banks of the Andirá River bordering Pará and Amazonas states. Most days Raimundo is up early, awaiting the first rays of sunlight before immersing himself in the forest, carrying on his back a jamanxim, a woven straw basket.He only returns home after filling the containers in his pack-basket with amapá milk and copaiba oil — fluids tapped from trees native to the Amazon basin, Copaifera and Brosimum, respectively. Copaiba oil is used by the perfume industry as a fixative, and in alternative medicine due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Amapá milk is widely utilized regionally to treat gastritis and respiratory problems.But now Raimundo is in trouble, and could soon be dead.A boat used by an Amazon health care team. Image by Matheus Manfredini.Disappearing indigenous rural healthcareThe snakebite incident occurs deep in the forest, just as Raimundo is about to start work. The poison spreads rapidly throughout his body, making it difficult to walk. He realizes that, all alone in the forest, he may die. But, staggering down the path toward home, he is found by a relative. Together they get to the village by late afternoon.Kuruatuba is one of five villages possessing health centers along the upper reaches of the Andirá River. Cuban doctors used to staff these facilities, funded by the More Doctors program set up by the Dilma Rousseff government in 2013.But the program was radically restructured by President Jair Bolsonaro, who took office in January, and Cuba pulled its doctors out.Now the only facility staff are nurses and nursing assistants. The center is also short of drugs and doesn’t have snake antivenoms, as these have to be kept refrigerated, and the energy supplied by a diesel generator is intermittent. This is the reality, despite the fact that snakebite is one of the great risks of living in the remote Amazon.The nurses treat Raimundo as best they can. Then he sets off at dark with his father-in-law, a nursing assistant, and a pilot in a fast, motorized canoe on a 10-hour trip downriver to the nearest hospital at the port of Parintins on the Amazon River.He knows he could die on the way.Passengers aboard the ambulancha transporting Raimundo downriver were forced into the water to help move the boat past a fallen tree. Image by Matheus Manfredini.A dangerous journeyThe trip doesn’t go as planned. It’s dangerous to travel at night along Amazon rivers, something only done in emergencies.The boat hits a submerged obstacle, capsizes and sinks. The men struggle ashore. While the pilot and nursing assistant set out for help in Vila Nova, the nearest village, Raimundo and his father-in-law wait in the dark on the riverbank. They’re cold, bitten by mosquitoes and fearful of further encounters with poisonous snakes.“At this time of year, when the river is in flood, snakes generally stay on river banks at night,” explains the father-in-law. Raimundo feels his odds of survival sinking.Meanwhile, the pilot and nursing assistant make slow progress. There’s no path by the river, so they tread through the shallows, and swim when the water gets too deep. They spot another pit viper, this one in the water, but luckily escape without accident.They reach Vila Nova at 6am, then rush upstream by motorized canoe to rescue Raimundo. He’s still alive. They take him to another health center, where he’s transferred to a faster boat, an ambulancha, for transport to Parintins. But even then, the journey isn’t easy; passengers must at one point jump in the water and push the boat over a fallen tree.Finally, the ambulancha arrives at the hospital. It is mid-afternoon, almost 30 hours since Raimundo was bitten.Raimundo arrived at the hospital after a harrowing journey by boat through the Brazilian Amazon. It remains to be seen if the long delay before treatment will leave him permanently disabled. Image by Matheus Manfredini.Lack of healthcare can lead to disability — and self-sufficiencyRaimundo survives, but his chances of making a full recovery are remote. “In these cases, even when patients don’t die, they usually have to have a limb amputated or lose the use of a limb,” explains Daniel dos Santos, the pilot of the motorized canoe that took Raimundo on the first leg of his journey from Vila Nova to Parintins.This is what happened to Sônia Miquiles, who lives in Campo Branco, a small village on the banks of the Mariaquã River outside the boundaries of the Andirá-Marau indigenous reserve. While working away from her village at a subsistence farm plot, Sonia was bitten by a bushmaster, one of the Amazon’s deadliest snakes. She spent two months in hospital in Parintins. Against the odds, she survived, but her right hand was permanently paralysed.In the face of her daunting disability, Sonia taught herself ingenious methods for carrying out daily activities with one hand.Midwife Sonia Miquiles shows her hand, which was paralyzed due to a bushmaster snakebite. Image by Matheus Manfredini.It was with this hand that she personally birthed Christopher, the youngest of her children. As she worked the village’s plot early one morning, the infant’s time to be born arrived. When her contractions intensified, Sonia crouched down, and pulled the baby out of her own womb, cut the umbilical cord, then walked back to the village — her sixth child in her arms.Sonia’s mother had helped her when her first child was born, and she taught Sonia indigenous tricks for facilitating childbirth. Employing this ancient knowledge, Sonia was able to deliver her other children on her own.Her fame as a midwife grew and over the years she helped many other babies — the children of nieces, neighbors, daughters-in-law and others — to enter the world. Sonia explains a few techniques: sometimes she needs to invert the baby in the womb so that its head faces down, ready to arrive. She uses warm water to gently massage a pregnant woman’s belly, then it’s just a matter of waiting, she says. “Doctors don’t know any more how to turn a baby in the womb and they don’t like waiting.” This is why so many women must have C-sections, she maintains.Sonia doesn’t need doctors for childbirth, but she fears her children will die in a health emergency.“There is no health post here, no transport.… If someone gets seriously ill or has an accident, all that can save them is good luck,” she laments.Erasmo Batista de Oliveira, president of an indigenous health association active in the upper Andirá River basin. Image by Matheus Manfredini.Bolsonaro policies impacting indigenous medical careAccording to Erasmo Batista de Oliveira, president of an indigenous health association active in the upper Andirá River, the dire healthcare situation in rural areas isn’t much different in the five villages that possess heath centers. “With the withdrawal of the Cuban doctors, it’s become very difficult to help patients,” he says.The Cubans left the More Doctors program in November of last year when president-elect Bolsonaro proposed changes to the healthcare program that Cuba refused to accept. The ending of the program was widely expected, because Bolosnaro had frequently declared during his presidential campaign that he would “expel” the doctors, whom he denounced as “communist propaganda agents.” The Cuban health ministry says that, once in office, Bolsonaro questioned the qualifications of their doctors, demanding that they all acquire Brazilian diplomas and then be contracted individually — conditions that he must have known would be unacceptable to Havana.Indigenous villages felt the impact immediately. Of the 372 doctors working within indigenous communities, 301 were Cuban. According to the Ministry of Health, 354 vacancies have now been filled by Brazilians. But the Sateré-Mawé of the upper Andirá River say this isn’t their experience, as no doctors have filled their vacant health posts.Even when Brazilian doctors take up the jobs, they find it hard to adapt to the tough Amazonian way of life. As a result, many indigenous people say that the availability of care has declined. “The Brazilian doctors who replace the Cubans won’t stay here,” says Batista de Oliveira.“The Cubans came and spent 15 to 20 days here, without leaving,” explains Daniel dos Santos, who has provided transport for patients and health professionals for eight years. The Cubans “would go out of their way, at any time of day or night, to help a sick person. The Brazilian doctors who came to replace them spend two or three days here and became desperate to leave.”Daniel is one of 13,000 indigenous health workers who have remained unpaid since February or April, depending on the region, after the Brazilian Minister of Health, Luiz Henrique Mendetta, stopped providing resources to the eight civil society organizations contracted to provide health services to 34 Special Sanitary Indigenous Districts (DSEIs). For a few health workers, the budget freeze occurred back in October 2018.According to the health workers, along with their inability to pay their employees’ wages, some DSEIs don’t have the money for medication, fuel, medical tests, vaccinations and patient transport.The minister justified the drastic step of freezing resources by making vague unsubstantiated references to “corruption,” claiming that a great deal of money was spent on indigenous health, compared with the outlay on the rest of the Brazilian population, and that the system had to be restructured.As a result, it is alleged that at least three children died in the space of 11 days in April due to a lack of adequate care inside the Xingu Indigenous Park, located in Mato Grosso state, according to Repórter Brasil. In a press release, the Catholic Church’s Indigenous Council (CIMI) blamed Bolsonaro directly for the deaths, saying that it was unacceptable, in the name of policy reformulation, to allow more indigenous people to die — this being the minority group who, throughout the country’s history, had suffered most from the Brazilian state’s genocidal policies.On 1 August, the health ministry finally launched a new program to replace More Doctors; the ministry says it will be contracting 18,000 doctors,13,000 of whom will be sent to inaccessible municipal districts.Some analysts say the loss of the Cuban doctors and freezing of funds are part of a government plan to dismantle existing federal indigenous healthcare programs, and point to several pieces of evidence:Since taking office, minister Mandetta has pressed for the decentralization of indigenous healthcare. As part of that process, he initially planned to shut down SESAI (The Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health), forcing municipalities to take on the responsibility for indigenous healthcare in their areas.However, he withdrew this plan after more than 30 indigenous protests erupted in different parts of the country. But, to date, Mandetta has only partly fulfilled his promise to keep SESAI alive. Decree 9,795, issued by Bolsonaro in May, restructured the body, abolishing its democratic and participatory nature.Mandetta critics note that he is a ruralist, part of the lobbying group that has historically pushed for rural elites to take over indigenous lands in order to profit from expanded agribusiness and mining. Those critics point out that the loss of healthcare services weakens indigenous communities, potentially forcing them to rely on favors from companies and landowners for services that they should have as a right.“What we are seeing is a return to the policies of assimilation of the 1960s and 1970s, when the policy was to dismantle services, leaving these people in an extremely vulnerable situation, to make it easier to open up indigenous territory to mining,” says Roberto Liebgott, CIMI’s Southern Region coordinator.Dézio Barros operates a commercial boat service running between the town of Parintins and the Sateré-Mawé reserve. Image by Matheus Manfredini.Reshuffling healthcare agencies and prioritiesCurrently, Bolsonaro adiminstration officials are touting the “integration” of SESAI with the SUS, Brazil’s national health system. As part of this integration, the responsibilities of the federal indigenous health service would potentially be handed over to municipal governments, which, according to many analysts, would cause indigenous needs to be deprioritized over other populations.The Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (Apib), one of Brazil’s leading indigenous rights organizations, believes that placing SESAI under SUS, is a government strategy for forcing municipalization of healthcare.As policy attacks by the president and minister against the indigenous health service continue, the quality of already precarious medical assistance provided to indigenous people appears to be worsening.Dézio Barros, who runs a commercial boat service from Parintins to the Sateré-Mawé reserve, is in daily contact with indigenous people. He says he has witnessed desperate situations in recent months: “Imagine what it means to remove doctors from areas like this one, where a patient has to travel in a tiny riverboat, sitting in the sun and rain for 15 hours, until he or she reaches us and then has to face a journey of at least another 15 hours to get to a city.”So it is that Raimundo’s ordeal — requiring nearly 30 hours to reach a hospital for critical care — is by no means exceptional. Instead it appears to be emblematic of unfolding Bolsonaro government policies.Health center in Vila Nova village. Remote medical facilities that serve indigenous communities were once staffed by Cuban doctors, but the far-right Bolsonaro administration was suspicious of their “Communist” influence and revamped the system causing Cuba to withdraw its physicians. Image by Matheus Manfredini.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.last_img read more

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New orchid species from Japan lives on dark forest floor, never blooms

first_imgResearcher Kenji Suetsugu of Kobe University has found flowering plants of a new species of orchid on Japan’s Amami-Oshima and Tokunoshima islands, now named Gastrodia amamiana.G. amamiana belongs to a group of mycoheterotrophic orchids that live on dark forest floors, do not use photosynthesis to get their nutrients, and steal nutrition from fungi instead. G. amamiana’s flowers likely never open up or bloom.Researchers have already found evidence of tree thinning close to where G. amamiana was discovered, and they worry that logging could dry the soil and consequently the fungi that the orchid depends on. From Japan’s Amami-Oshima and Tokunoshima islands, researchers have described a new-to-science species of orchid that produces dark brown flowers that likely never bloom.Kenji Suetsugu of the Kobe University Graduate School of Science, together with independent scientists Hidekazu Morita, Yohei Tashiro, Chiyoko Hara and Kazuki Yamamuro, came across the flower during a flora survey of the islands’ evergreen forests. When they looked at the orchid closely, they found that it belonged to the genus Gastrodia, a group of mycoheterotrophic orchids that don’t use photosynthesis to get their nutrients, instead stealing nutrition from fungi.Suetsugu, who has been documenting Japan’s mycoheterotrophs and has described new species of such orchids in the past, has named the orchid from Amami-Oshima and Tokunoshima islands Gastrodia amamiana. He described the plant in a new study published in Phytotaxa.Like many mycoheterotrophs, G. amamiana can be found lurking in the dark understory of forests where sunlight hardly penetrates. Without light, the orchid has evolved to find food without photosynthesis by relying on the network of fungi underneath the forest floor.It has another peculiar trait: it bears fruit despite flowers that likely never open. Suetsugu posits that the plant probably self-pollinates because it lives on dark forest floors where insect pollinators like bees and butterflies seldom visit.The act of opening up a flower uses critical resources, and without insect pollinators to open it for, the orchid may have evolved to never bloom, Suetsugu writes.To date, G. amamiana is known from only two locations, one each on Amami-Oshima and Tokunoshima. In both locations, the researchers found some 20 flowering individuals within a dense forest dominated by the evergreen Itajii Chinkapin tree (Castanopsis sieboldii).The Amami-Oshima forest where the species was found, however, could soon become logged, Suetsugu writes. The researchers have already seen evidence of tree thinning close to where G. amamiana was discovered, and the dry soil that results from this could dry out the fungi that the orchid depends on, he writes.“These field surveys rely on cooperation from independent scientists, and our resources are limited, meaning that some species may reach extinction without ever being discovered by humans,” Suetsugu said in a statement. “The discovery of G. amamiana highlights the importance of the forests of Amami-Oshima. We hope that revealing these new species will draw more attention to the environmental threat faced by these regions.”Gastrodia amamiana, a new species that bears fruit without opening its flowers. Image courtesy of Kobe University.Citation:Suetsugu, K. (2019). Gastrodia amamiana (Orchidaceae; Epidendroideae; Gastrodieae), a new completely cleistogamous species from Japan. Phytotaxa, 413(3), 225-230. doi:10.11646/phytotaxa.413.3.3 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 Shreya Dasguptacenter_img Conservation, Deforestation, Environment, Forests, Green, New Species, Orchids, Plants, Research, Species Discovery, Wildlife last_img read more

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In other news: Environmental stories from around the web, August 9, 2019

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by John Cannon There are many important conservation and environmental stories Mongabay isn’t able to cover.Here’s a digest of some of the significant developments from the week.If you think we’ve missed something, feel free to add it in the comments.Mongabay does not vet the news sources below, nor does the inclusion of a story on this list imply an endorsement of its content. Tropical forestsAn anthropologist tried to fight off poachers’ dogs going after chimpanzees in Uganda (The Atlantic).Agri-giant Chiquita says it will take steps to protect biodiversity (Produce News).Lawmakers in California are considering a rule that would penalize companies for not standing in the way of forest destruction (ProPublica).Forest communities and conservation efforts stand to lose if India’s Forest Rights Act isn’t passed, says wildlife biologist Ravi Chellam (The Hindu).Rainforests can only hold so much carbon dioxide, new research shows (UPI).Mozambique’s Gorongosa has African wild dogs once again (The New York Times).Other newsA water shortage is devastating herders in western India (Al Jazeera).The combination of fire and destructive elephants may not be as harmful to savanna trees as once thought, scientists have found (The Economist).Sixteen black rhinos were successfully moved to Swaziland in July from South Africa (The Maravi Post).Canada has two new ocean sanctuaries aimed at protecting sea ice and wildlife in the Arctic (Mother Nature Network).The new report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns about the dangers of climate change to water and food security (The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Economist, The Atlantic, The Guardian).More young conservatives in the U.S. see climate change as a priority (The New York Times).Climate change could cause a global financial meltdown (The Atlantic).Fires in Siberia were set by illegal loggers, authorities say (The Irish Times, Reuters, The Moscow Times).Mercury concentrations in fish are rising, despite decades of emissions reductions through regulation (The Atlantic).Banner image of a chimpanzee in Uganda 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.center_img Conservation, Environment, Weekly environmental news update last_img read more

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The end of the road: The future of the Pan Borneo Highway

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 The construction of more than 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) of road for the Pan Borneo Highway across Malaysian Borneo holds the promise of spurring local economies for its proponents.But from the outset, conservationists and scientists voiced concerns that the road would displace people, harm sensitive environments, and threaten Borneo’s splendid diversity of wildlife.As construction moves forward, these groups are working with planners to find a way for the highway’s construction to avoid the worst environmental damage. This is the sixth article in our six-part series “Traveling the Pan Borneo Highway.” Read Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four and Part Five.KOTA BELUD, Malaysia — Road building is a messy process. In late July, a friend drove me to see the construction of the Pan Borneo Highway along the narrow road strip of tarmac that currently snakes its way along what’s being billed as the “Gold Coast” of northwestern Borneo. We passed once-forested hillsides that abut the azure waters of the South China Sea, now being vertically scrapped away truckload by truckload to build up the foundation of the highway. Down below, bulldozers packed the tan earth into wide platforms where the road will eventually sit, filling in spots where mangroves once stood. Around one corner, dust rose from the beach below where, apparently, the highway will soon pass within meters of the water’s edge.Driving north of the Malaysian state of Sabah’s capital, Kota Kinabalu, was the culmination of the nearly three weeks I spent traveling along the highway’s path. The project will stretch across more than 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) in Sabah and the state of Sarawak. In the villages and towns I visited along the way, local officials and many residents eagerly awaited the completion of the roadway to ease travel, speed the flow of goods to and from markets, and bring in tourists, all of which they hoped would invigorate local economies.A section of the Pan Borneo Highway along the northwestern coast of Sabah. Image by John C. Cannon/Mongabay.But from the outset, conservationists and scientists voiced concerns that the road would force people from their homes, harm sensitive environments, and threaten Borneo’s splendid diversity of wildlife. From what I saw in my travels, those concerns weren’t unfounded.Researchers from the Sabah-based NGO Forever Sabah figure that the construction — whether widening existing roadways, “realigning” them on similar but separate paths, or cutting entirely new stretches through the island’s mangroves and rainforests — will displace at least 12,000 households in the state. Spray-painted numbers tag the buildings earmarked for eventual demolition next to the route.Along that span north of Kota Kinabalu, crushed mangrove trees sat piled in the pooling water on either side of the new highway. Narrow culverts run under the highway, but conservation groups worry that they won’t facilitate enough water flow to replace the heaving of the tide that brings a vital influx of nutrients. Scientists also worry that clearing the path for the highway would further carve up the habitat of proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus), which are a major tourist draw.Mangroves cleared for construction of the highway in northwestern Sabah. Image by John C. Cannon/Mongabay.But I also questioned whether it was fair of me to judge such a massive project at this nascent stage, literally before the dust has settled. After all, the society I come from in the United States has benefited wildly, economically and otherwise, from the connectivity that an intricate road network can provide, and that’s no doubt come with huge costs to the environment.It’s difficult to fault a country for pursuing a path toward development or making it easier for people to get from point to point. The 19-hour-long bus ride I took that connects Sarawak’s two largest cities, Kuching and Miri, is exhausting, and my fellow passengers were eager for construction on the Pan Borneo Highway there to be finished, likely slashing the travel time by half. I noticed the stark contrast — especially in my own comfort — between the ruddy, under-construction road currently serving as Sarawak’s major artery, and the smooth-surfaced, recently completed stretch from outside Kuching to Tanjung Datu National Park at Borneo’s westernmost point.But there’s also research demonstrating that the economic potential of infrastructure development often remains unrealized, or at least unequally distributed. Studies have shown that the benefits of roads are often concentrated in the hands of big companies, whether focused on timber, minerals or agriculture, leaving the average citizen behind and sometimes leading to unrest and conflict.An oriental pied hornbill takes flight over the Kinabatangan River. Image by John C. Cannon/Mongabay.With new roads, poachers too face fewer obstacles to reach their quarry (though one conservation-focused local leader I met in Sarawak also suggested that the roads would help wildlife rangers in policing a primate-rich wildlife sanctuary and national park). Borneo has its own species of critically endangered orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) and a variant of the endangered Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), considered by some scientists to be a distinct subspecies. The elephants’ tusks have become a target for poachers, and wildlife traffickers go after the babies of orangutans and other primates for the exotic, high-value pet trade.What’s more, ecologists like William Laurance from James Cook University in Australia have cataloged the proliferation of deforestation for human settlement, agriculture and industry that follows road construction. That can mean a cascade of the same problems, including increased hunting and a loss of habitat, that ripple through nearby forest ecosystems.Despite these potential drawbacks, some of the highway’s most prominent backers insist it’s possible to build a road that will fulfill its promises for development while minimizing environmental damage. Seated in his Kuala Lumpur office, Baru Bian, Malaysia’s minister of works, seemed to see no contradiction in his desire for both development and environmental protection. Baru describes himself as an environmentalist, and before he became a politician worked as a lawyer fighting for the rights of his own people, the Lun Bawang, and others facing the prospect of losing control of their land to outside interests. Now, his earnestness is focused on creating a booming economy for the people of Sabah and Sarawak, and he sees the Pan Borneo Highway as the way to do it.A hillside cleared of trees next to the Pan Borneo Highway. Image by John C. Cannon/Mongabay.Baru might be overlooking the hazards that come with such a massive infrastructure project — at a cost of around $6.4 billion with a completion date in the mid-2020s — while focusing just on the potential benefits. But he has also shown a willingness to listen. In the days before our interview, he met with scientists to learn more about the threats to the environment that the highway’s construction could pose. And other leaders are following a similar path, if their public comments are any indication: In March, the chief minister of Sabah called for as little destruction as possible during the construction.Alongside these leaders’ apparent openness to outside input, a movement among conservation-focused NGOs and research organizations led by Coalition 3H (Humans, Habitats, Highways) in Sabah has arisen to work with, instead of in opposition to, highway planners. Nearly all I spoke with who were concerned about the impacts of the road insisted that they weren’t “anti-development,” and this collaborative spirit could be seen as a reflection of that sentiment. In that convergence could be what one policy analyst called “win-wins” that would avoid the worst environmental destruction while bringing the benefits that roads can offer.Like the unfinished highway, the fruits of this cooperation remain uncertain. Still, federal budget constraints mean that the second and third phases of the highway, which include controversial sections through central Sabah, likely won’t be budgeted for until 2021 or later under what’s known as the 12th Malaysia plan. That means that groups like Coalition 3H still have time to weigh in on still-unconstructed sections of the road, Baru said.Houses slated for destruction along the path of the highway have been marked with spray-painted numbers. Image by John C. Cannon/Mongabay.In some cases, petitioning the government has gained traction. In early 2019, the coalition discovered that the contractor working on the road heading up Sabah’s Gold Coast was doing so without having its environmental impact assessment approved. In April, the state’s Environmental Protection Department stopped work on part of the road, though it resumed a few weeks later once the department said the issue was corrected. It’s evidence, members of the coalition say, that change is possible — but also shows how difficult it can be to change the course of these projects once they’re underway.The tide of infrastructure development currently rolling across Southeast Asia right now could be terribly destructive, Laurance said during a recent talk at the International Conference of Conservation Biologists. But he also offered a rare, if small, dose of optimism about projects like the Pan Borneo Highway, suggesting that it’s possible to change the outcomes.“I don’t see this as a helpless situation,” Laurance said. “I see this as a dire situation absolutely, but I don’t see it as one in which we can’t have an impact. I absolutely think that we can.”Banner image of a buffalo on a stretch of the highway under construction near Kota Kinabalu by John C. Cannon/Mongabay.John Cannon is a staff writer at Mongabay. Find him on Twitter: @johnccannonEditor’s note: William Laurance is a member of Mongabay’s advisory board.Citations:Ancrenaz, M., Gumal, M., Marshall, A.J., Meijaard, E., Wich , S.A. & Husson, S. (2016). Pongo pygmaeus (errata version published in 2018). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T17975A123809220. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T17975A17966347.enChoudhury, A., Lahiri Choudhury, D.K., Desai, A., Duckworth, J.W., Easa, P.S., Johnsingh, A.J.T., Fernando, P., Hedges, S., Gunawardena, M., Kurt, F., Karanth, U., Lister, A., Menon, V., Riddle, H., Rübel, A. & Wikramanayake, E. (IUCN SSC Asian Elephant Specialist Group) (2008). Elephas maximus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T7140A12828813. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T7140A12828813.enFEEDBACK: 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 John Cannoncenter_img Animals, Biodiversity, Community Development, Conservation, Conservation And Poverty, Deforestation, Endangered Species, Environment, Forest People, Forestry, Forests, Green, Illegal Logging, Infrastructure, Logging, Poaching, Poverty, Poverty Alleviation, Rainforests, Roads, Saving Rainforests, Sustainable Development, Threats To Rainforests, Timber, Tropical Forests, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation, Wildlife Trade, Wildlife Trafficking last_img read more

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