Nearly half of Mount Oku frogs are in danger of croaking, study finds

first_imgArticle published by Maria Salazar Amphibians, Animals, Biodiversity, Conservation, Extinction, Frogs, Herps, Interns, Wildlife Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img Survey work discovers at least 50 amphibian species living on Mount Oku, a dormant volcano in Cameroon.Mount Oku’s puddle frogs are vanishing – and no one knows why. Some species may already be extinct.Researchers say survey work is often overlooked for ‘sexier’ science, but this could hamper saving species. Amphibians around the world are in a state of crisis. Over 40 percent are threatened with extinction. Chytrid fungus, a disease fatal to most amphibians, is decimating populations already threatened by human impacts like climate change, pesticides, and deforestation. Before conservationists can develop action plans to protect amphibians, however, they need to know which species are where. That’s where species surveys come in.Last month, a pair of researchers, Thomas Doherty-Bone and Václav Gvoždík, published an updated list of amphibian species found on Mount Oku in Cameroon. The new list is a result of over a decade of work, and provides vital information about one of the most unique mountains in Cameroon: Mount Oku, a dormant volcano boasting high numbers of rare and endemic species.Doherty-Bone and Gvoždík doubled the size of Mount Oku’s old amphibian inventory, adding 25 new species. In addition, they discovered one species of puddle frog potentially new to science. If confirmed, it would mean 51 amphibians inhabit the mountain.Troublingly, the scientists also found that nearly half of the species on the mountain are likely threatened with extinction. The researchers consider forest degradation to be the main culprit, but puddle frogs (the genus Phrynobatrachus), are currently declining at especially alarming rates.David Blackburn, a University of Florida herpetologist with a long research history in Cameroon, has seen this first-hand.“These were species that were literally… everywhere,” he said of puddle frogs. “You could stand at the edge of Lake Oku during the day and see [puddle frogs] just jumping off the leaves… now we could have six to eight of us looking at the same time, and even despite that, we still can’t find them.”Unfortunately, the survey work needed to track these declines is often overlooked. There is “a lack of incentive for researchers to publish their lists as this is not ‘sexy’ science,” said coauthor Thomas Doherty-Bone with the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. “The bread and butter of a scientist is to publish a high quality paper testing a hypothesis, and species inventories (the baseline of ecology) are unfortunately not going to get anyone a promotion.”Sexy or not, up-to-date species inventories can mean life or death for amphibian populations. When asked what the biggest challenge of surveying amphibians is, Doherty-Bone replied, “seeing them before they disappear.”The story of Mount Oku illustrates why the often thankless work of surveying amphibian populations is critically important – now more than ever.Mount Oku: a volcano turned biodiversity hotspotAt over 3,000 meters, Mount Oku is the second-tallest mountain in what is known as the Cameroon line, a chain of volcanoes that begins as a string of islands in the Gulf of Guinea and continues inland along the border of Cameroon and Nigeria.Oku itself is situated in the Western High Plateau, an inland region of the chain that is of particular interest to researchers. This is because many of the dormant volcanoes host unique species, which are kept separated from their relatives in pockets of high-elevation rainforest. Within the past 15 years, however, Mount Oku has begun to receive special attention even within this volcanic group.“Early on, this was driven by Birdlife International trying to conserve forest birds that are found only on Mount Oku,” said Blackburn. “But as we’ve had more work by amphibian biologists on Mount Oku, there’s been new species discovered and described… including quite a number of frogs that are found only on Mount Oku or very near to only on Mount Oku.”In fact, of the 50 amphibian species currently thought to inhabit Mount Oku, five – six if the newly described Phrynobatrachus is indeed a new species – amphibians are endemic, and seven are endemic to the Western Highland Plateau.Mount Oku is unique, in part, because it has something that many other mountains do not: a crater lake. One frog species, the Lake Oku clawed frog (Xenopus longipes) is found only in that crater lake, and another, the Lake Oku puddle frog (Phrynobatrachus njiomock) is found only in the forest around the lake. Add to this the rainforest, the high summit, and grasslands at the peak, and Mount Oku emerges as a “really unique site even within Cameroon” with a large host of endemic species, explained Blackburn.The Lake Oku clawed frog (X. longipes) is endemic to Mount Oku. Photo credit: Václav GvoždíkFiguring out just how many species are truly endemic can be trickier than one might expect, however. Researchers believe that in colder times, mountains in the region were more closely ecologically linked than they are today. This raises a number of questions about species relatedness and diversity in Mount Oku and surrounding mountains. The answer to these questions is necessary in order to build conservation plans that protect not just species, but the environmental processes that enable them to thrive.However, the time to build these plans is running out.Lake Oku, Mount Oku’s crater lake, hosts the Lake Oku puddle frog, found nowhere else in the world. It hasn’t been seen since 2010. Photo: Public Domain via Wikimedia CommonsExpensive, thankless work: the challenges of conducting surveysWithout scientists like Doherty-Burn and Gvoždík publishing up-to-date inventories, phenomena like Mount Oku’s rapidly disappearing puddle frogs could go unnoticed until it is too late. For endemic species like the Mount Oku puddle frog, that means extinction.“As conservationists work to identify key biodiversity areas, good surveys are essential in helping us understand where best to allocate limited conservation resources,” said Anne Baker, executive director of the amphibian conservation organization Amphibian Ark.The lack of incentive to publish such surveys is damaging, as survey work comes with many challenges. Scientists need funding to buy equipment and support to spend time working in the field. The updated inventory of Mount Oku is the result of ten years of visual samples, acoustic surveys, pitfall traps, dip-netting, and funnel traps. It also depends on a great deal of local help, both from the communities and from individuals who have been trained to conduct field work.Mount Oku’s high altitude and diverse habitats, including rainforest, grassland, and agriculture, make it a challenge to survey exhaustively. However, it is actually one of the easier mountains in the region to survey due to highly developed roads and a local economy dependent on ecotourism and white honey. In addition, the local leader, known here as the Fon, has helped facilitate biodiversity research on the mountain, and is so committed to ecotourism that the tourist office is located in his palace.From knowledge to action: racing the clockThrough cumulative efforts, Doherty-Bone and Gvoždík have added 25 names to the list on Mount Oku. Some of these, such as hairy frogs (Trichobatrachus robustus), were unsurprising. Doherty-Bone described others as more unexpected, like the rocket frog (Ptychadena taeniocelis) and the egg frog (Leptodactylon axillaris), both of whose ranges were thought to stop farther south.Egg frogs (Leptodactylodon axillaris) are currently classified as Critically Endangered, and were thought to only exist on a single mountain, Mount Bamboutos. Their presence on Mount Oku could mean they are not as close to extinction as feared. Photo credit: Thomas Doherty-Bone.Another, the Schiotz’s puddle frog (Phrynobatrachus schioetzi), had never before been recorded in Cameroon. Given the dire situation for puddle frogs on Mount Oku, its addition to the list is bittersweet. A species disappearing even as it is added onto an inventory is disheartening, but not an uncommon story for amphibians worldwide.“What [concerns me] is how many species we will lose without ever knowing that they even existed,” Baker said.Now that the researchers have named names, it is up to conservationists to try to find solutions to the threats facing nearly half of Mount Oku’s amphibians.“It might already be too late for some species, such as the puddle frogs, but conservation of the natural habitats on Mount Oku needs to continue and to improve,” says Doherty-Bone.The amphibians on the mountain are threatened by a cocktail of dangers, including deforestation, climate change, pesticide use, and over-exploitation. There has also been an increase in chytrid fungus on the mountain in recent years, but “that pathogen has been in Cameroon since 1934,” said Doherty-Bone.The next step is to try to gain a better genetic understanding of frogs in the area, and to expand the inventory by adding museum specimens collected on the mountain to the list. Researchers also need to uncover why puddle frogs are declining while other amphibian populations remain stable.For those most at-risk, says Doherty-Bone, captivity should be considered as an option. A step that has already created an insurance policy for the Lake Oku clawed frog.Conducting surveys might not be “sexy science,” but with amphibians disappearing faster than they can be discovered and documented, it is essential, often unsung, work. Let’s hope the Mount Oku survey has been published in time to save its critically endangered species.Citation:Doherty-Bone, T. M., & Gvoždík, V. (2017). The Amphibians of Mount Oku, Cameroon: an updated species inventory and conservation review. ZooKeys. 643: 19-139NOTE (10 March 2017): A previous version of this article miscaptioned the third picture as a hairy frog. The frog in the image is an egg frog. We regret the error, which has now been corrected.last_img read more

In Liberia, a battered palm oil industry adjusts to new rules

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 Palm oil companies signed a series of large contracts between 2008-2012 to develop plantations in Liberia.Disputes over land ownership by rural communities and the imposition of new environmental rules have forced investors to adjust their projections.The ‘High Carbon Stock’ approach, endorsed by environmental advocates, will restrict expansion in some cases. MONROVIA, Liberia – When Liberia signed a series of contracts with international palm oil producers in the years after its protracted civil war, the news was greeted by some as a welcome sign of national renewal. Despite criticism voiced by local and international advocacy groups that the massive deals amounted to “land grabs,” the prospect of tens of thousands of jobs, tax revenues for a cash-starved government, and repaired roads and ports was too much for Liberian officials to pass on.But with nearly a decade having passed since the first of those contracts was signed with the Malaysian conglomerate Sime Darby in 2009, the industry has struggled to find stable footing in the small country, which contains almost half of the intact Upper Guinea forest, one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. Rather than the smooth, profitable green pastures that the industry hoped to find in Liberia, company representatives and environmental advocates say they’ve instead run into a buzzsaw of human rights and environmental campaigning, forcing adjustments to their business practices and expectations for the future.According to its concession agreement, Sime Darby initially set an ambitious goal for turning 75 percent of its “gross concession area” — 165,000 hectares, or nearly 650 square miles — into oil palm plantations within its first 15 years of operation in Liberia. After nearly eight years, the company has only managed to plant around 10,000 hectares, a tiny fraction of that figure, according to a recent study by Chain Reaction Research. Golden Veroleum, whose primary investor is the Indonesian multinational Golden-Agri Resources through its New York-based Verdant Fund LP, planned to have planted 30,000 hectares by now when it signed its contract in 2011, but according to company representatives only about half that amount has been planted so far.“I think it’s clear that the traditional concession model isn’t going to be nearly as effective in Liberia as it’s been elsewhere,” admits Andrew Kluth, a spokesperson for Golden Veroleum.At the heart of the palm oil industry’s woes in Liberia are clauses in their contracts in which the Liberian government promised the land they were being given was free from “encumbrances” — an industry term that meant they would not have to worry about land rights claims by locals. But producers quickly realized how disconnected those clauses were from the reality on the ground. Anger in rural communities over being left out of negotiations fed high-profile campaigns by Liberian activists and their allies in organizations like Friends of the Earth and Global Witness.Map of Guinean Moist Forests. Wikimedia Commons/Mario1952.In response to the stream of negative publicity and a series of complaints submitted by communities to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, both Sime Darby and Golden Veroleum brought in The Tropical Forest Trust, an environmental consultancy firm, to review their operating procedures.Kluth admits that “mistakes” were made at first, but says that Golden Veroleum now respects community land ownership claims and engages in Free, Prior, and Informed Consent negotiations with local populations before developing any land. (Free, Prior, and Informed Consent – or FPIC – is the process by which investors and governments solicit consent for extractive projects from those who will be affected by it, and is a requisite for certification by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil).New challengesBut community rights advocates say the companies still haven’t gone far enough. Tom Lomax, a lawyer who works for the UK-based Forest Peoples Programme, says Golden Veroleum’s practices have gone from “terrible to very bad.”“These companies do the minimum improvement they need to get through the public relations crisis they’re facing at that moment,” he said. “But then generally — in fact almost exclusively — their practices fall below the [new policy] anyway.”Increasingly, however, experts say that challenges in acquiring land from communities in Liberia are being compounded by new environmental standards that the palm oil industry has adopted. In response to pressure by environmental advocates that threatened to close off access to the European market, companies like Sime Darby and Golden Agri-Resources have publicly committed themselves to a “zero deforestation” approach.But the question remains: who gets to say when a forest is a forest?The most popular emerging tool to define what constitutes deforestation, designed collaboratively between organizations like Greenpeace and companies like Golden Agri-Resources, is called the “High Carbon Stock,” or “HCS” approach. Under the HCS approach, satellite data is used to determine the quantity of carbon in a patch of forest. If the carbon stock of that forest is larger than what would exist in a plantation full of palm trees and is over 100 hectares in size, it would be off-limits to oil palm producers.Liam Walsh, a representative from Conservation International, explains that the HCS approach emerged partially as a result of disputes in Liberia.“Greenpeace saw what [Golden Veroleum] was doing and came down hard on them,” he said. “[They] came together to spearhead the development of the HCS approach, and now it’s snowballed.”While the HCS approach emphasizes carbon as the key unit of measurement in classifying a forest, producers say that they’ll still weigh factors like biodiversity when expanding into new areas, even when the carbon stock is below the HCS threshold. But the highly technical tools used to make those determinations can be bewildering, particularly to communities on the ground where older ways of defining a forest still apply.“If your idea of deforestation is cutting down trees, then you’re not going to be doing much of anything in Liberia because there are trees everywhere,” Walsh said, adding that some Liberian forests hold carbon stocks that are higher than the Amazon.Kluth claims that adopting the new rules didn’t significantly change Golden Veroleum’s expansion plans, noting that the company took care to select a concession area comprised mostly of degraded land anyway.But Sime Darby wasn’t as lucky. According to a study by international consultancy firm Chain Reaction Research, at least 45 percent of the company’s concession area in Liberia would be off limits under the HCS approach.Liberian tropical forest. Image via USAIDThe report recommends a series of options for Sime Darby to maintain the profitability of its Liberian operation. On the one hand, the report notes, the company could completely disregard its environmental and social obligations – a risky strategy that it is almost certain not to pursue. On the other hand, the report suggests Sime Darby could move toward contract farming, in which the company would act as a buyer for palm fruit farmed by communities on their own land.It warned that Sime Darby’s share price could decline once its investors realize how unlikely it is that the company will be able to clear and develop its entire concession area.“When we were signing our concession agreement, even with the government of Liberia this issue of deforestation wasn’t a topic of discussion at the time,” said Toushi Itoka, a spokesperson for Sime Darby. “They were just looking for opportunities for development.”For the moment, Sime Darby has implemented a global moratorium on new plantation expansions, including in Liberia, as it considers what the new environmental rules mean for its operations.Forest Peoples Programme lawyer Lomax says that the challenges faced by Sime Darby in Liberia killed enthusiasm in the company for operations in other African countries.“Liberia was their first step, but it wasn’t going to be their last,” Lomax explained. “We had good information about new plantation plans in Cameroon and I’m told by people high up in Sime Darby that they put that on hold because they were clearly bruised by seeing how badly they’d got things wrong in Liberia.”Government positionInside the Liberian government, there are rumblings in some corners about the glacial pace of development by foreign oil palm producers. The Liberian economy was hit hard during the 2014-2015 Ebola crisis, and a downturn in the global commodity market has damaged the value of crucial iron ore exports. Still, last November Liberia became a signatory to the COP22 Marrakesh Declaration on palm oil, committing the country in principle to adopting the HCS approach.Saah David, the REDD+ Project Coordinator for Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority (FDA), admits that there are sometimes “competing interests in government,” but says that there’s been progress towards getting everyone on the same page. According to David, the FDA supports the HCS approach. But he adds a caveat.“By virtue of the size of land and forests we have, concessions will be given in places where you have forests,” David said.Palm oil nuts in Liberia. Photo via Wikimedia Commongs/AntoshananarivoAdoption of the HCS approach by the palm oil industry would be viewed by many environmental activists as a major victory, one accomplished by years of tenacious advocacy. But some community rights advocates are critical of the approach, saying that by excluding communities from its design it replicates mistakes that were made when the contracts were signed in the first place. Lomax, from the Forest Peoples Programme, says the HCS approach will marginalize their ability to make decisions about how nearby resources will be used.“When you take [the HCS] approach to the entire concession area, there’s something implied in it that that suggests the company has a legitimate right to orchestrate a zoning exercise over that area,” he said. “The fact of the matter is that the company doesn’t have that right. The environmental NGO doesn’t have that right. The community holds the cards.”The approach was designed at the international level as a compromise between environmentalists and the palm oil industry, so it’s likely to cause frustration in communities that hope to rent land to companies but are prevented from doing so due to the new rules that will place some forests off-limits.“Given that expectations have already been raised for some communities, what do you do for the ones that reside in areas that are highly forested and realistically aren’t going to see palm oil development under international rules,” Conservation International’s Walsh asks. “What alternatives do you provide to them?”Still, despite the obstacles they’ve encountered on both the social and environmental fronts in Liberia, palm oil producers say they’re in for the long haul. Plans are being drawn up by both Sime Darby and Golden Veroleum that would increase their focus on “outgrower” contract farming programs, placing more control and responsibility in community hands, and Kluth says Golden Veroleum still believes it can develop a “significant portion” of the 350,000 hectares it was granted in its contract.“I don’t think that what we’ve done and what we are doing has really been appreciated,” Kluth said.Lomax acknowledges that campaigning by advocacy groups has had an impact on the industry in Liberia, even if there are still problems and efforts by companies to bend their own rules.“Obviously there are already improvements,” he said. “If the palm oil sector had carried on as it started, it would really have been a scorched earth palm oil model, with forests chopped down and communities impoverished. As it is you’re likely to get more of a patchy land development for palm in Liberia, and I think there is now the scope for more creative models of community palm, mixed with other cash crops and food.”Banner image: Processed palm oil in Liberia. Photo by Antoshananarivo via Wikimedia Commons.Ashoka Mukpo is a freelance journalist with extensive experience reporting in Liberia. You can find him on Twitter at @unkyoka.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 Genevieve Belmakercenter_img Forestry, Forests, FPIC, Land Conflict, Land Grabbing, Land Rights, Land Use Change, Palm Oil, Palm Oil And Biodiversity, Plantations, Rainforests, Zero Deforestation Commitments last_img read more

Working with communities to fight fires in Way Kambas National Park

first_imgAnimals, Biodiversity, Conservation, Deforestation, Endangered Species, Environment, Fires, Forest Fires, Forestry, Forests, Mammals, Protected Areas, Rainforest Animals, Rainforests, Rhinos, Sumatran Rhino, Wildlife Article published by Isabel Esterman Way Kambas National Park in southern Sumatra supports populations of Critically Endangered Sumatran rhinos, tigers and elephants, along with hundreds of other species.In 1997, forest fires hit 70 percent of the park, killing many animals and hampering regeneration in previously logged areas.Local authorities and conservation groups are now working with residents to prevent and fight fires, with notable success. Conservationists in Indonesia’s Sumatra Island are working with local residents to combat forest fires, aiming to transform communities near Way Kambas National Park into forest protectors, rather than threats to the ecosystem.Way Kambas National Park — 1,300 square kilometers (500 square miles) of swamp and lowland forest near Sumatra’s southern tip — is home to one of the last remaining populations of Sumatran Rhinos, one of the world’s rarest and most endangered mammal species. The park also supports populations of Critically Endangered Sumatran elephants (Elephas maximus sumatranus) and tigers (Panthera tigris sumatrae), Endangered false gharial crocodiles (Tomistoma schlegelii) and hundreds of varieties of birds.This extraordinary ecosystem was extensively logged in the 1950s and 1960s. Although it was designated a national park in 1989 and became part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, Way Kambas is still threatened by habitat degradation — particularly due to fire.“Forest fires kill wildlife and hamper forest regeneration,” said Marcellus Adi, director of the Alliance of Integrated Forest Conservation (ALeRT). “For example, in 1997 almost 70 percent of Way Kambas National Park burned.”Sunset over a swamp forest in Way Kambas National Park. Photo by Rhett Butler/Mongabay.Fighting firesDuring the 1980s — in the interim period between Way Kambas being zoned as a timber concession and its formal designation as a national park — human settlements were established on around 125 hectares (0.5 square miles) of forest land. People also entered the forest for timber and hunting and cleared land for planting coffee or chocolate.“Many burned the forest to find prey. Almost 50 percent of the area is alang-alang grass (imperata). It becomes fuel for fire during the dry season,” said Adi.Now, conservationists work with the community to keep fires from reaching the park.Initially, local people accompanied ALeRT to map locations of frequent burning. From the resulting map, the team identified four key areas of vulnerability: Mataram Bungur, Bambangan, Sandat and Susukan Baru. Reforestation camps were set up to maintain these areas, relying on community members to provide around-the-clock protection.“They want to take shifts guarding the camp, because they are farmers who most visit their fields every day. They are willing to stay in the camp for up to three days, in shifts. Of course there is an incentive (payment), that’s natural,” explained Adi.In addition to staffing the camp, local people are also involved in planting “pioneer plants” (hardy species well adapted to colonizing damaged eco-systems) and fire-resistant plants, as well as fodder for elephants and rhinos.Sumatran elephants, pictured here in nearby Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park. Photo by Rhett Butler/Mongabay.“When plants grow, animals like birds and civets will come and help with pollination,” said Adi. “Feed crops are selected because the population of large mammals is greater in Way Kambas than in other national parks.”Fire-resistant and pioneer crops are planted in a checkerboard pattern, in hopes that doing so will create a living firebreak that protects uncultivated areas. The idea is that these squares of fire-resistant plantings will keep a fire contained if one does break out.Planting is followed by maintenance and efforts to reduce the growth of highly flammable alang-alang grass. Community members can also train to work as guards or fire control officers.The efforts of the ALeRT team, surrounding communities and park authorities have so far proved successful in controlling fires.In the Mataram Bungur area, for example, 100 hectares were reforested in 2010. A fire hit in 2012, but the plantings successfully limited the damage and vegetation was able to regrow quickly, Adi said. By 2015, thanks to the maintenance of firebreaks and intensive firefighting efforts, threatened fires were quickly extinguished.In the Bambangan and Sandat reforestation areas, each of which saw 50 hectares replanted in 2010, fires have not been spotted since — even in 2015, which was Indonesia’s worst fire season on record. Efforts at Susukan Baru, where illegal encroachment continues, have been less successful, with small fires reported each year.A baby Sumatran rhino at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, located within Way Kambas National Park. Photo by Rhett Butler/Mongabay.Future plansIn addition to planting, the teams have also constructed reservoirs to serve as water sources during the dry season and in case of forest fires. “Ideally, we would have wells with solar powered pumps. We need sponsors. These could also be a place for animals to drink,” Adi said.Samedi, program director of the Indonesian Biodiversity Foundation (Yayasan Kehati), said reforestation efforts should be paired with other activities to promote sustainability. He proposes ecotourism as one way to ensure the long-term future of the reforestation program, since donor funds are not always available.Yuyun Kurniawan, program coordinator for WWF’s Ujung Kulon project said other options to explore include leveraging the potential of carbon sales as a result of reforestation of national parks.This story was reported by Mongabay’s Indonesia team and was first published on our Indonesian site on July 17, 2017.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 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

Two new ‘birdcatcher’ trees described from Puerto Rico

first_imgAnimals, Biodiversity, Birds, Conservation, Deforestation, Environment, Forests, Happy-upbeat Environmental, Islands, New Species, Plants, Research, Species Discovery, Trees, Wildlife Article published by Shreya Dasgupta The two newly described trees have been named Pisonia horneae and Pisonia roqueae after two women who spent several decades trying to document plants of Puerto Rico.The trees belong to the genus Pisonia, a group of “birdcatcher trees” known to produce sticky seeds that can entangle (and sometimes kill) birds.However, whether Pisonia horneae and Pisonia roqueae use birds to disperse their fruits is currently unknown, the researchers say. From the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, scientists have described two new species of Pisonia trees — a group of notorious “birdcatcher trees” known to produce sticky seeds that can entangle (and sometimes even kill) birds.The two newly described trees have been named Pisonia horneae and Pisonia roqueae after Frances W. Horne and Ana Roqué de Duprey respectively, two women who spent several decades trying to document plants of Puerto Rico, researchers report in a new study published in PhytoKeys.“Just like the two large trees remained unrecognised by science until now, the enormous efforts of these two women, who dedicated part of their lives to botanical work, remained largely unrecognised by the community,” Jorge C. Trejo-Torres, researcher at The Institute for Regional Conservation in Florida, U.S., said in a statement.Flowers of Pisonia horneae. Image taken from Caraballo-Ortiz MA, Trejo-Torres JC (2017).Both trees, locally known as corcho, are currently known only from Puerto Rico. So far, the researchers have recorded only isolated individuals or small groups of these trees on ravine banks, cliffs, or rocky areas.“These observations might suggest that either trees tend to colonize these particular habitats due to physiological requirements, or that they represent relicts of a former, more continuous population that was severely fragmented during the intense deforestation period experienced in the island for the past centuries,” the authors write in the paper.Many species of Pisonia are known to disperse their sticky fruits or seeds via birds. However, whether the newly described species use birds to disperse their fruits too, is currently unknown, the researchers say.“So far, we do not know of cases where birds have been trapped by the sticky fruits of the new species, but future studies will explore this possibility,” said the study’s lead author, Marcos A. Caraballo-Ortiz of the Pennsylvania State University.With the formal addition of Pisonia horneae and Pisonia roqueae, Puerto Rico is now home to six species of Pisonia, according to the study.Fully ripe, the infructescences of Pisonia roqueae probably stick to animals as a dispersal strategy. Photo by Jorge C. Trejo-Torres.Citation:Caraballo-Ortiz MA, Trejo-Torres JC (2017) Two new endemic tree species from Puerto Rico: Pisonia horneae and Pisonia roqueae (Nyctaginaceae). PhytoKeys 86: 97-115. DOI: 10.3897/phytokeys.86.11249center_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

Brazil 2017: environmental and indigenous rollbacks, rising violence

first_imgAgriculture, Amazon Agriculture, Amazon Biodiversity, Amazon Conservation, Amazon Dams, Amazon Destruction, Amazon Logging, Amazon Mining, Amazon People, Amazon Soy, Biodiversity, Biodiversity Crisis, Biodiversity Hotspots, Cattle, Cattle Pasture, Cattle Ranching, China And Energy, China’s Demand For Resources, Climate Change And Forests, Controversial, Corporate Environmental Transgressors, Corruption, Dams, Deforestation, Drivers Of Deforestation, electricity, Energy, Energy Politics, Environment, Environmental Crime, environmental justice, Environmental Politics, Ethnocide, Featured, forest degradation, Forest Destruction, Forest Loss, Forests, Green, Hydroelectric Power, Hydropower, Illegal Logging, Indigenous Culture, Indigenous Cultures, Indigenous Groups, Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Rights, Industrial Agriculture, Infrastructure, Land Conflict, Land Grabbing, Land Rights, Land Use Change, Meat, Mining, Pasture, Protests, Rainforest Deforestation, Rainforest Destruction, Rainforest Logging, Rainforest Mining, Rainforests, Ranching, Rivers, Saving The Amazon, Social Conflict, Social Justice, Soy, Threats To The Amazon, Traditional People, Tropical Deforestation The bancada ruralista, or ruralist lobby, in Brazil’s congress flexed its muscles in 2017, making numerous demands on President Michel Temer to make presidential decrees weakening environmental protections and revoking land rights to indigenous and traditional communities in Brazil – decisions especially impacting the Amazon.Emboldened ruralists – including agribusiness, cattle ranchers, land thieves and loggers – stepped up violent attacks in 2017, making Brazil the most dangerous country in the world for social or environmental activists. There were 63 assassinations by the end of October.Budgets to FUNAI, the indigenous agency; IBAMA, the environmental agency; and other institutions, were reduced so severely this year that these government regulatory agencies were largely unable to do their enforcement and protection work.In 2017, Temer led attempts to dismember Jimanxim National Forest and National Park, and to open the vast RENCA preserve in the Amazon to mining – efforts that have failed to date, but are still being pursued. Resistance has remained fierce, especially among indigenous groups, with Temer sometimes forced to backtrack on his initiatives. Brazil’s Michel Temer meets with his ministers, many of whom like agriculture minister Blairo Maggi, hail from, or have close ties to, Brazil’s elite ruralists. Since this 2016 photo was taken, several ministers have been forced to resign due to corruption charges; both Maggi and Temer are currently under investigation for corruption. Photo by José Cruz / Agência Brasil2017 proved challenging for conservation in the Brazilian Amazon. The year was marked by a deluge of initiatives by Michel Temer, a weak president, who, facing accusations of corruption, embarked on a survival strategy that put his administration at the disposal of the rural caucus, the bancada ruralista, which holds a controlling bloc of votes in Congress.These politicians and their backers – agribusiness, cattle ranchers, land thieves and loggers – have long expressed resentment at what they see as the excessive amount of Brazilian land occupied by conservation units, indigenous reserves, traditional communities, and quilombos (communities set up by Afro-Brazilians, many of them runaway slaves).Early in 2016 – before agreeing to support Temer in his rise to power via the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff – the bancada ruralista drew up a list of political demands. The document entitled “Pauta Positiva – Biênio 2016-2017,” obliged a rollback of many environmental and social advances achieved since the country emerged from military dictatorship in 1985.Once Temer took office, the caucus gained even greater power and influence over the president as congress was called on three times to vote to prevent the chief executive from being investigated by the Supreme Court for corruption.With each new vote the ruralists pressed Temer to enact more of their demands.Still, the rural lobby hasn’t had it all its own way. The president’s 2017 initiatives often provoked a furious reaction from indigenous and popular movements, NGOs, the independent litigators of the Federal Public Ministry (MPF), lawyers and members of civil society, and sometimes the international community. The opposition succeeded in delaying, or getting suspended, a surprisingly large number of measures, though few have been fully withdrawn.Indigenous leaders tear-gassed by police in front of Brazil’s National Congress in April 2017. Indigenous and traditional communities have seen a surge in violence against them and a loss of land rights since Temer took power in 2016, a trend which escalated significantly in 2017. Photo by Wilson Dias courtesy of Agencia BrasilA rising tide of violenceResistance stayed strong through 2017, even though it became increasingly dangerous to voice dissent in Brazil, with growing criminalization of social movements. Conflict centered this year around the denial of land rights to indigenous and traditional communities, peasant farmers and quilombolas.Violence has now escalated to the point that Brazil is rated the most dangerous country in the world for social or environmental activists. By the end of October, 63 assassinations had been recorded in the countryside, higher than the 61 killed during all of 2016. According to the Catholic Church’s Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), more murders have already occurred in 2017 than any year since 2003, when 73 people were killed.Ruralists, likely emboldened by Temer’s sympathetic policies, have escalated their aggression, with this year seeing a series of violent massacres, decapitations, hands lopped off with machetes, torture and death.The following are some of the massacres that occurred this year (defined by the CPT as the assassination of two or more people at the same time): 20 April – Nine peasant farmers killed in Colniza, Mato Grosso state by four gunmen hired by a logger; 29 April – 22 Gamela Indians wounded in a violent attack in Viana, Maranhão state; 24 May – Ten rural workers assassinated in the Pau d’Arco municipal district in a joint action undertaken by Pará state military and civil police, who, as official investigations are showing, were acting under the order of rural landowners.Meanwhile, the government systematically undermined regulatory and law enforcement institutions. The Temer administration began the year by slashing the budget for INCRA, the National Institution for Colonization and Agrarian Reform; for FUNAI, the indigenous agency; and for IBAMA, the environmental agency. Coming on the heels of past reductions, this year’s draconian cuts left the agencies hard pressed to provide even basic protections.Guarani Kaiowa living in Mato Grosso do Sul state. Temer’s executive decrees this year have repeatedly targeted indigenous land rights guaranteed under Brazil’s 1988 constitution. Photo credit: percursodacultura via Visual hunt / CC BY-SAAttacks on indigenous land rightsWith the agencies weakened, the government began targeting indigenous land rights. In July 2017, Temer approved an Attorney General’s office recommendation, establishing new restrictive criteria for determining indigenous territory boundaries. Most controversial was the adoption of the “marco temporal,” an arbitrary date on which indigenous groups had to physically occupy a traditional territory in order to lay legal claim to it. That arbitrary date was set at 5 October 1988, when the newest federal Constitution was approved – a date, historians point out, by which many Indian groups had already been forced from their lands.The measure’s legality has been challenged and the Supreme Court may eventually annul it. But in the meantime, the Presidency has instructed the Justice Ministry to implement the initiative. In response, it immediately stopped marking out new indigenous lands and began “reviewing” 19 indigenous territories which had almost completed the long arduous land title process. At stake is a total area of almost 800,000 hectares (3,089 square miles), most in the Amazon basin. If the Justice Ministry decides this land doesn’t belong to the Indians – the country’s best land stewards – major deforestation could be in the offing.Through another measure, Portaria 68, the government sought to shift the technical task of demarcating indigenous land, until now carried out by FUNAI employees expert in such matters, to a new body, in which other actors, including landowners, will be represented. In the face of a fierce reaction from indigenous leaders, lawyers, the MPF and even the United Nations, the government revoked the most controversial measures, while still moving to create the new body.Other anti-indigenous initiatives in the pipeline include a presidential decree making it legal for agribusiness to rent land within indigenous reserves on a permanent basis. Márcio Santilli, one of the founders of the NGO Socioenvironmental Institute (ISA), said that the initiative, though issued by the nation’s Justice Minister, is clearly unconstitutional.The future of these Quilombola children, and others like them across Brazil, may depend on the outcome of a legal battle launched by ruralists who are challenging quilombo land claims – a fight which went all the way to the Supreme Court in 2017. Photo by Carol Gayao under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licenseAttacks on quilombolas and traditional communitiesIn 2017, a major offensive against the quilombolas’ land rights gained momentum. In 2003 the Lula government – more sympathetic to social rights – published a decree, Decreto 4.887, that abolished an old requirement that quilombola communities needed to prove they had lived continuously on the land since 1888, before being given land rights – an unfeasible expectation for communities that had deliberately maintained a low legal profile, having been established by runaway slaves fearful of recapture.The DEM, a right-wing political party, has now gone to court to annul Lula’s decree. In the face of widespread protest, the Supreme Court has not yet ruled, postponing judgement several times. But even if the court goes against the DEM, quilombolas won’t benefit, as the budget for marking out lands is now so diminished that demarcation is now at a standstill.Non-indigenous rural communities – including agrarian reform settlements and traditional communities of rubber-tappers, Brazil nut collectors and fishermen – have also suffered major land claim setbacks.Under Temer, the agrarian reform program has ended. The budget to create extractive reserves (RESEX) – where rural communities can legally harvest forest products provided they preserve the surrounding forest – is now exhausted, leaving a long queue of waiting communities. Likewise, programs by which municipal councils bought food for school lunches from small farmers have also ground to a halt.Through another presidential decree, MP 759 (now converted into Law 13,456), land that should belong to small farmers is being handed over to outsiders and wealthy elites, who are allowed to register it in their own names. These relaxed land registration rules resulted in land thieves, loggers and cattle ranchers violently evicting peasant families, and moving in on land the farm families had legally claimed. Meanwhile, the rural caucus is providing political cover for private militias sent to seize the land. Local courts, influenced by wealthy elites, have left evicted families with almost no source of appeal.The vast rainforests of Brazil’s Amazon basin were put at risk in 2017 by the anti-environmental, pro-ruralist policies of President Temer. Photo © Fábio Nascimento / GreenpeaceConserved lands threatenedLand thieves are also eying the country’s large conservation units, which operate as a buffer zone protecting the Amazon interior from deforestation.A fierce political battle is now raging over the dismemberment of Jamanxim National Park and Jamanxim National Forest, both created to protect the Amazon rainforest from incursions arising from the paving of the BR-163 highway linking Brasilia to Santarém in Pará state. At the instigation of the rural caucus, the president issued two decrees ­– MP 756 and MP 758 – to seriously weaken the conservation status of these units.Faced with protest at home and abroad, Temer reversed his position, fully vetoing MP 756 and partially vetoing MP 758. But the story didn’t end there: though the administration has, for the moment accepted that it cannot touch Jamanxim National Forest, it has sent a bill to Congress that would allow outsiders and especially land thieves to claim lands within Jamanxim National Park, achieving via a legislative route much of what the original presidential decree intended. This bill is currently being fast-tracked through Congress.Another huge environmental battle this year arose over the National Copper and Associated Reserve (RENCA), a gigantic national reserve of 4.6 million hectares (17,800 square miles) that straddles the states of Pará and Amapá in the Amazon.Known for its rich mineral resources, RENCA was created in 1984 by the military dictatorship, to prevent the area from being taken over by foreign mining companies. The Temer government has no such concerns and the abolition of RENCA, announced in August, was carried out at the behest of Canadian mining companies.RENCA, however, contains nine conservation and indigenous areas, and plays a key role in Amazon conservation, though this wasn’t the original military government’s intent. Temer’s decree was met with dissent at home and abroad, and he has revoked the edict – for now.The threat that the opening of RENCA poses to the environment became especially clear in light of new research in 2017, finding that mining activity has caused nearly 10 percent of Amazon deforestation.If climate change continues to worsen unchecked, and forest degradation continues unabated, then unstoppable Amazon mega-fires could be seen in this century; such fires would greatly increase the release of carbon into the atmosphere worsening climate change. Photo courtesy of IBAMAA game of chessThe clash between the rural caucus and its opponents has been likened to a political chess match, in which hundreds of thousands of Brazilians are pawns. The rural caucus has launched gambit after gambit, only to see many of its moves partially blocked by resolute resistance from social movements, NGOs and environmentalists.But the caucus, made up of skilled political operatives, has time and again regrouped and devised new tactics for achieving its goals. While this match plays out, government agencies remain at a regulatory and enforcement standstill throughout the Amazon basin.One casualty of this cat-and-mouse game may be Brazil’s pledge under the Paris Agreement to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 37 percent by 2025 as compared to 2005 levels – a promise that relies on drastically reduced deforestation, along with significant reforestation.As Temer presses forward with ruralist land usurpation objectives, the possibility of achieving the nation’s Paris goal is receding. Brazil increased its carbon emissions by 8.9 percent in 2016 over 2015 and another increase seems likely in 2017.Importantly, Brazil’s biggest carbon emitters weren’t urban or industrial states, but Pará and Mato Grosso, where the Amazon rainforest, with its immense carbon storage capacity, is being aggressively assaulted by cattle ranchers and soy producers.One reason for the big increase in carbon releases this year: human-set wildfires in the Amazon intended to clear land for agribusiness. Scientists warn: forest degradation is turning the Amazon from carbon sink to carbon source in some dry years, which is bad news for a world in need of drastic greenhouse gas reductions.An indigenous mother and child enjoy a river in the Amazon. The establishment of the Indigenous Territory of Turubaxi-Téa, covering 1.2 million hectares along the Middle Negro River in Amazonas state, was a major victory for indigenous groups in Brazil in 2017, at a time when many government decisions have gone against indigenous ancestral land rights. Brazil’s plans to build mega-dams in the Amazon were also back-burnered this year. Photo credit: Zanini H. via Visual Hunt / CC BYOne big Amazon environmental threat, the construction of mega-dams which loomed during the Rousseff administration, has faded for now. Brazil’s construction companies – once so powerful they could make or break presidents, and who long lobbied for lucrative dam contracts – have been laid low by the Car Wash (Lava Jato) scandal, a massive corruption investigation.Marcelo Odebrecht, CEO of the Odebrecht construction firm, left prison this month after serving more than two years in prison for running one of the most extensive political corruption networks in the nation’s history. Since his conviction, the company’s prestige has crumbled, new orders fell away and some 100,000 workers were sacked. Chinese state companies have stepped into the void, with China offering Brazil a $20 billion infrastructure credit line in 2017 that could see Amazon mega-dam projects come roaring back soon.As bad as the news has been for the environment and the Amazon in 2017, indigenous communities and social movements have now clearly recognized the risk posed by agribusiness, and by its need for new roads, railways and industrial waterways to carry commodities downstream for export to Europe, the U.S. and Asia. They’ve also developed new strategies to protect their land and culture against increasingly strident government attacks.In April, for example, 3,000 indigenous leaders met in Brasilia, setting up what they called the Acampamento Livre Terra (Free Land Camp) – the biggest indigenous mobilization in Brazil’s history. In May, social movements carried out a large anti-Temer demonstration. Then in December, 90 Munduruku Indians prevented a public hearing in itaituba for the new Ferroagrão (Grainrail) railway, saying they hadn’t been properly consulted regarding the project. Amidst the gloom felt among environmental and social activists, some see a bright flicker of renewed resistance and hope – especially as elections loom in October 2018.The Temer administration largely failed to respond to Mongabay’s repeated requests for comment throughout 2017.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.An indigenous demonstration against the “marco temporal” in Brasilia in 2017. Resistance against the Temer government is especially strong within indigenous groups, who have repeatedly reached out to the international community for support. Photo courtesy of Guilherme Cavalli / Cimi Article published by Glenn Scherercenter_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

New satellite data reveals forest loss far greater than expected in Brazil Amazon

first_imgThe Brazilian Amazon lost 184 km2 of forest in December 2017, 20 times more than was recorded in December 2016 (9 km2).The massive increase reflects Brazil’s use of a more accurate satellite monitoring system that incorporates radar, which can see land cover at night and through clouds, and suggests prior deforestation rates were likely underestimates.As the cost of radar and other satellite data decreases, continuous monitoring will enable officials and civil society to more accurately monitor and quantify forest loss over a broad range of spatial scales. The Brazilian Amazon lost 184 km2 of forest in December 2017, according to the country’s Institute of Man and the Environment of the Amazon (Imazon). The data, obtained exclusively by the Brazilian news network GLOBO, show a significant increase in deforestation over that of December 2016, when just 9 km2 of deforestation was recorded.More than a new surge in deforestation, this massive increase actually reflects an improvement in Brazil’s capacity to measure rainforest extent. Imazon, an environmental NGO that monitors the Amazon region, now incorporates radar imagery from the European Space Agency (ESA)’s new Sentinel-1 satellite. Launched into space in 2014, the Sentinel-1 is used to monitor everything from the Arctic thaw to earthquakes, oil spills, and volcanoes.“Since August, we have been implementing the use of new sensors in [our] monitoring. We started with a higher-resolution sensor, which detects small-scale deforestation, and this month we implemented a satellite with radar images,” says Imazon’s Antônio Victor Fonseca, part of the team responsible for the monitoring system. “Now we can monitor the forest even when there is cloud presence. It is an advantage that did not exist in the Amazon until today.”An Amazon basin river with intact forest canopy on both sides. Photo credit: Rhett A. ButlerBrazil’s highly advanced forest monitoring system has always faced the challenge of detecting land cover during cloudy periods. Its standard optical satellite imagery works much like the human eye observing the planet from above. Clouds form a visual barrier, preventing the satellite from seeing the Earth below.Radar can monitor land cover even through clouds, a big advantage during the Amazon’s rainy season.Unlike standard satellite images, which indicate the reflectance of light off objects on the Earth’s surface and thus require the sun’s radiation, radar emits its own radiation, which hits the Earth and bounces back to its sensor, even at night or in cloudy conditions.Detecting the deforestation that takes place during dark or rainy periods affords this new assessment greater accuracy than previous analyses. Using data from the new satellite, Imazon produced a more accurate satellite-based map of deforestation in regions with heavy cloud cover last month. The data indicate that the area around the Transamazon highway in the state of Pará experienced the country’s most extensive deforestation, with 83% of the alerts detected in the month. The remaining forest loss alerts occurred in the states of Rondônia (9%), Mato Grosso (6%), Amazonas and Roraima (1% each).Clear-cutting in the Amazon rainforest as viewed from above by airplane. Satellite data from radar can also detect clearings at night or through cloud cover. Photo credit: Rhett A. ButlerMore than half of the forest clearing (55%) was done on private lands. Another 35% was provoked by agrarian reform settlements in Amazonia. Nearly 10% of the deforestation detected was in official protected areas, including sustainable use areas and indigenous lands.Technology advances have substantially lowered the cost of satellite data, which can expand its use to a broader audience.“Radar is not exactly new technology, but until recently it was very expensive,” said Rômulo Batista, coordinator of Greenpeace’s Amazon program. “Now that it is available, it is of fundamental importance to use this tool to monitor the Amazon in the rainy season.”Amazon forest clearings are often near rivers. Illegal logging may leave a forest strip to avoid detection from the ground. Photo credit: Rhett A. ButlerBatista believes that satellite monitoring played a key role in reducing deforestation between 2004 and  2012. However, illegal loggers have learned to evade satellite detection by cutting trees at night or during rainy season or by clearing narrow roads that cannot be easily detected from above.“With the new satellite, continuous monitoring will prevent this from happening. It will also be possible to detect small clearings before they become scorched earth,” said Batista.Gilberto Câmara, a researcher at Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research (INPE), said that official deforestation monitoring, which is done using INPE’s system, meets the country’s needs.“It is important to generate new information,” he said, “but the problem of deforestation in the Amazon is not the quality of the information provided. It is the government’s lack of interest in combating deforestation.”According to Imazon’s Fonseca, scientists still need to analyze the data to understand what is causing deforestation in these regions, including the impact of new roads.“We need field information,” he added. “But we are seeing some areas of illegal logging, considerable deforestation in settlements, and [human] pressure in some protected areas of Rondônia.”A logging road through Amazon rainforest. If thin enough, these roads may go undetected by low-resolution satellite imagery. Photo credit: George PowellFEEDBACK: 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.Banner image of western Amazon forest at the river’s edge. Photo credit: Sue Palminteri Article published by Sue Palminteri data, Deforestation, Forests, Logging, Mapping, Protected Areas, Rainforests, Remote Sensing, satellite data, Satellite Imagery, Technology, Tropical Forests, Wildtech 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

No more elephants? Poaching crisis takes its toll in the Central African Republic

first_imgAnimals, Biodiversity, Elephants, Endangered Species, Environment, Giraffes, Interns, Mammals, Poaching, Protected Areas, Wildlife, Wildlife Trafficking Article published by Maria Salazar An aerial survey last year found that elephants might be locally extinct in northern Central African Republic.The survey also showed that the poaching crisis had taken a considerable toll on many other large mammals, including giraffe, African buffalo and the giant eland.A park in eastern CAR shows that threats to wildlife can be tackled, but security is required first and foremost. Years of civil war and poaching have virtually wiped out elephants from one of their historical strongholds in Central Africa, an aerial survey conducted last year by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) indicates.The survey, in northern Central African Republic, found surviving but small populations of giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), giant eland (Taurotragus derbianus), buffalo (Syncerus caffer) and roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus) — but not a single bush elephant (Loxodonta africana). “We weren’t anticipating to find many elephants, but we were hoping to find some,” said Paul Elkan, the WCS’s Sudano-Sahel regional director, who led the investigation. “It doesn’t mean that there are none; it means that, if there are, there are very small numbers.”The destruction of the CAR’s once abundant wildlife is due to poaching and illegal trafficking rooted both inside the country and in neighboring nations. This is part of a historical phenomenon that has been exacerbated by the country’s civil war, ongoing since 2013.But experts in wildlife protection say there is still hope for the nation’s wildlife. If the CAR can preserve its rich habitats by scaling up and strengthening conservation efforts that are currently undermined by conflict, it could not only potentially bring back wildlife, but also greater security for its citizens.Two teams from the WCS, ECOFAUNE+ (a European Union-supported conservation project) and staff from the CAR’s Ministry of Environment performed the survey in March and April 2017. Their planes covered 63,657 square kilometers (24,578 square miles) across several national parks and their outskirts: Bamingui-Bangoran, Manovo-Gounda St. Floris, Vassako-Bolo Nature Reserve, Gribingui-Bamingui Faunal Reserve, Aouk Aoukale Wildlife Reserve, Yata Ngaya Faunal Reserve and Presidential Park Awakaba.Conservationists had earlier conducted similar surveys across 21 African countries, but the armed conflict in the CAR delayed them here.The survey identified a small number of highly endangered Kordofan giraffes in northern CAR. Photo: Paul Elkan/WCS.They discovered, once the survey was carried out, that elephants were missing from large areas of their historical range. In 2005, conservationists found 929 elephants in the region, but five years later there were just 68. Those last elephants may now be gone.This absence points toward a gradual decimation of their populations that started at the end of the 1970s and gained momentum again after 2000. The teams found small numbers of highly endangered Kordofan giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis antiquorum), giant elands and buffalos. Warthogs appeared to have declined in some areas in the survey, while roan antelope and bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus) populations remained stable, with frequent sightings of Grimm’s duikers (Sylvicapra grimmia) and red-flanked duikers (Cephalophus rufilatus). Poaching unfolding – past and presentWildlife poaching is not new to the CAR. The ivory poaching crisis of the 1970s and 1980s saw Sudanese poachers on horseback ravaging elephant populations. Automatic weapons replaced traditional spears, and elephant numbers dropped from around 35,000 in the 1970s to 4,000 by the mid-1980s across the country.“We focused on the area because historically, in northern CAR, Bamingui-Bangoran [National Park] was a real stronghold for elephants,” Elkan said.Active poaching camp in Manovo-Gounda-St. Floris National Park, northern CAR. Photo: Paul Elkan/WCSSurveys done in 1985 and 2005 showed a plummeting trend that Elkan said could be attributed to ivory poachers from Sudan and Chad. But in the last seven years, local poachers and armed groups have become heavily involved in the bushmeat trade.“This is what led from an elephant poaching focus to a broader, all-wildlife one,” Elkan said.But the story is not confined to the north of the CAR. David Simpson, manager of the Chinko National Park, describes a similar history for the southeastern part of the country.“What we’ve had in the last 30 to 40 years is a huge invasion of militarized poachers that have come into the east of CAR and far down as Congo and they exterminated the elephants,” he said. “In Chinko we’ve lost about 60,000 elephants in 30 years — population is down to 150 elephants.” Today, Chinko is run by African Parks, a South Africa-based organization focused on national park rehabilitation and long-term management in partnership with governments and local communities. They hope to revitalize the park through strong security.According to Simpson, now that the elephants are largely gone, poachers are targeting other animals. Moreover, cattle herders from Chad and Sudan have overrun parts of the park. The cattle started showing up in 2012, and today the park estimates cattle numbers at 200,000 head or more in eastern CAR.The herders, usually working for wealthy individuals, are doing much of the poaching, he says.“They dry the meat, then sell it in villages or back in Sudan. It’s like a bonus that the boss doesn’t know about. And it often can fuel the conflict, as meat goes directly to feed the rebel groups,” Simpson said.Reports from local anonymous sources suggest that armed groups are allowing access to commercial hunting as compensation for military service.The meat also goes to Bangui, the CAR’s capital, which over recent years has become a hub for the illegal trade, according to Elkan.Though numbers are difficult to pin down, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has labeled the bushmeat trade across Central Africa “the single greatest threat to wildlife” there. The agency estimates that the region as a whole consumes about a million metric tons of bushmeat annually.Cattle herd northern sector, Manovo-Gounda-St. Floris National Park CAR 2017. Photo © P. Elkan WCSSecurity that brings back wildlifeThe civil war that erupted in 2013 not surprisingly severely undermined conservation efforts. Rangers were forced out of Manovo-Gounda St. Floris National Park, Elkan says, though some remain in Bamingui-Bangoran.“It’s an area that needs to be saved, to be invested in from a security perspective, as well as from a conservation justification,” he said. As poaching threatens to spill over into northern Cameroon and Chad, securing the region would provide a buffer for these countries as well, he added.But the CAR government currently controls just 10 percent of the country, with the rest divided between 23 different armed groups. Such instability leaves little space for regulating cattle or providing any security for people and wildlife.What’s happening in Chinko may prove an example of how to turn the tide. In the last three years that African Parks has had full control over the park’s management, it has succeeded in controlling both poaching and herders, according to Simpson.“We’ve been very effective through establishing a unit of 60 rangers to cover the 20,000 square kilometers [7,722 square miles] of the park and we reduced illegal human presence by 90 percent,” he said. “We confiscated the weapons, we made arrests.”At the same time, 300 people displaced by the war have found refuge in the park.“Chinko is the one safe place in the entire region,” Simpson said, “and our rangers are the only stabilizing force here.”The WCS is now hoping to turn things around for the surveyed parks in the north. It is discussing long-term park management with the government for these once-wild landscapes.“This will lead to stabilizing the country, securing wildlife and protecting people,” Elkan said. Banner image: Group of hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus) roaming through the northern Central African Republic. Photo: Paul Elkan/WCS 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

Analysis: U.S. call to drill off all coasts, economic and ecological folly?

first_imgArticle published by Glenn Scherer Climate, Climate Change, Climate Change Denial, Climate Change Politics, climate policy, Climate Politics, Energy, Energy Politics, Environment, Environmental Law, Environmental Policy, Environmental Politics, Featured, Fisheries, Fishing, Fossil Fuels, Gas, Global Environmental Crisis, Global Warming, Global Warming Mitigation, Green, Habitat Degradation, Health, Impact Of Climate Change, Law, Natural Gas, Oceans, Oil, Oil Drilling, Oil Spills, Pollution, Public Health, Saltwater Fish, Trade, Water Crisis, Water Pollution 90 billion barrels of recoverable oil, plus 327 trillion cubic feet of natural gas lie untapped offshore on the U.S. continental shelf. In January, the Trump administration ordered that the entire coast, in the Pacific, Atlantic, Gulf, and Arctic, be opened to drilling.Environmentalists and the coastal states fear oil spills that could devastate tourism. They also are concerned about the massive infrastructure (pipelines, terminals, refineries, pumping stations and more) that would be needed to support the industry.The executive branch has moved forward with efficiency to create a surge in U.S. oil and gas production: the Interior and Energy departments, and the Environmental Protection Agency have all worked to slash regulations and open additional lands and seas to oil and gas exploration, with the plan of achieving U.S. “energy dominance” around the globe.Most coastal states are resisting the federal oil and gas offshore drilling plan; Florida has already been exempted, while other states are likely to fight back with lawsuits. The irony is that a flood of new U.S. oil could glut the market and drive prices down, resulting in an economic disaster for the industry. A 1926 picture of oil drilling at Huntington Beach California, makes clear what can happen when fossil fuel production goes completely unregulated. California has substantial oil reserves offshore, as do many U.S. coastal states. Photo courtesy of Orange County ArchivesFor generations the U.S. oil and gas industry has dreamed of the forbidden deep. For hundreds of miles along all four American coasts – the Atlantic, Gulf, Arctic, and Pacific – the continental shelf slopes gradually downward until it falls away abruptly, into the abyssal depths. Beneath that shelf’s sediments lie riches.According to estimates by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Management there are 90 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil plus 327 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas down there – a potential fortune in petro profits, and a climatologist’s worst nightmare.But for generations, that oil and gas has been off limits. Drilling has been banned off the Atlantic Coast since the early 1980s, and off the west coast of Florida since 1988. It is also banned off the Pacific Coast, where the 1969 Santa Barbara spill helped start the environmental movement. That leaves only part of the Gulf – off Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama – open to drilling.However, the restrictions on American offshore oil and gas production has always been precarious; the executive branch has complete authority to decide what happens in the federal waters of the outer continental shelf, from 3 to 200 miles out to sea.The Sabine Pass LNG export terminal. The so-called “shale revolution” led to such a flood of oil and gas – eventually the country was producing 10 million barrels a day – that the Obama Administration reversed a forty year ban on gas exports. Photo by Roy LuckThen came TrumpPresident Obama briefly considered reopening the southeast Atlantic Coast to drilling in 2010, but local outcry and the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon spill quashed that plan.The Trump Administration is thinking bigger: much bigger. As part of its goal for achieving “energy dominance,” it is moving full-steam ahead to open up the entire U.S. coastline to drilling. In January, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke submitted his new federal lease 5-year plan, which would open up the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic coasts to drilling.Where Obama restricted drilling to about 6 percent of U.S. waters, Zinke would open it to more than 90 percent.And while the details of the new leasing plan are being developed, the administration is moving fast to sell already sanctioned offshore resources: on Wednesday, March 21, the Interior Department will host what it is marketing as the largest ever federal lease sale in American history, an all-you-can-buy event in which 77 million acres of the Gulf Coast – an offshore area the size of New Mexico – will be up for sale to oil and gas companies wanting to drill.As chaotic as the Trump administration has been on some issues, the Executive branch has moved forward with efficiency to create a surge in U.S. oil and gas production: Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, and Energy Department Secretary Rick Perry have all worked in unison to slash regulations and open additional lands and seas to unleash a flood of oil and gas exploration and production in the hopes of achieving U.S. “energy dominance” around the globe.The phrase, “energy dominance,” seems to have originated in a speech made by candidate Trump in North Dakota – an epicenter for U.S. oil and gas hydraulic fracking, and the site of the Standing Rock anti-pipeline camps. Though the so-called oil shale revolution has produced so much U.S. crude that Obama ended the country’s forty-plus year ban on oil exports, Trump wants more. “American energy dominance,” he told the crowd in Bismarck, “will be declared a strategic, economic and foreign policy goal of the United States. It’s about time!”Donald Trump’s Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke has worked to slash environmental regulations and open up public lands and coastal waters for drilling in accordance with the administration goal of achieving “energy dominance” Photo courtesy US Department of the InteriorIn a Washington Times op-ed pegged to Trump’s June 2017 “Energy Week” observance, cabinet members Zinke, Pruitt and Perry defined the concept further: “An energy-dominant America means a self-reliant and secure nation, free from the geopolitical turmoil of other nations that seek to use energy as an economic weapon… an energy-dominant America will export to markets around the world, increasing our global leadership and influence.”Back in March 2017, Trump signed an executive order reviewing “All Agency Actions that Potentially Burden the Safe, Efficient Development of Domestic Energy Resources.” Under this authority, Zinke, Pruitt and Perry launched a dizzying array of rollbacks to Obama era environmental policies, slashed regulations and opened federal lands and waters to drilling.In the deregulation category, EPA sought to kill a rule requiring oil and gas companies to report methane emissions; also on the chopping block were rules to limit CO2 from new or modified power plants (a component of the Obama Clean Power Plan); rules to regulate coal ash; and a rule that applies Clean Water Act protections to small streams.The Interior Department moved fast to make federal lands and waters more attractive to industry. It cut royalties on new offshore rigs by a third, to their lowest allowable rate; it reopened federal land to new coal leases, and then, in coordination with the coal industry, worked to reopen a tax loophole that Obama had closed for valuing coal mined on federal lands. It also opened more federal land to drilling – recommending that the administration shrink the Bears Ears and Staircase Escalante National Monuments, and holding lease auctions on vast swaths of Western lands.A mobile offshore drilling unit (foreground) attempts to drill a relief well to relieve pressure at the site of the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Kelley / US Coast GuardOffshore lease saleStill, the biggest shift came on the coasts. The Trump Interior Department revised the Obama-era five year offshore drilling plan meant to guide policy from 2017-2022, and will now allow new drilling in the Gulf, which Obama had largely restricted after the BP Deepwater Horizon accident.The first Trump offshore lease auction, in August 2017 raised $121 million. Meanwhile, the administration continues extolling next week’s 77 million acre New Orleans offshore lease auction in Trumpian marketing terms: as the biggest ever.However, Athan Manuel, director of the Sierra Club’s Lands Protection Program, downplays the March sale’s significance. He told the Washington Post back in October that the sale wasn’t really news – just what Obama had proposed, plus a few percent.The gulf, Manuel explained, has long been “a sacrifice zone for the oil and gas industry.” Virtually all of America’s offshore oil and gas rigs (providing about 17 percent of U.S. production) are along the Gulf Coast, as is almost half of the country’s refinery capacity; a fact that the country was unhappily reminded of when it was all shut down during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Fully three-quarters of America’s fuel is refined on the Gulf Coast, and susceptible to climate change intensified storms and sea level rise – an issue unaddressed by the current Interior Department plan.Northstar Island, a 5-acre artificial island used for drilling oil in the Beaufort Sea, six miles off the Alaska Coast. Northstar was built in 1999 by Royal Dutch Shell; the company had to build an island because Arctic Ocean pack ice made it impossible to utilize Gulf of Mexico-style drilling rigs. After an Obama moratorium, the Trump Administration announced its intention to reopen drilling in the Beaufort Sea. Photo courtesy of the US Joint Pipeline OfficeDrilling every coastal stateIn January 2018, Interior’s Zinke went much further: for Trump’s 2019-2024 energy plan, he proposed opening drilling on the entire outer continental shelf, on all four coasts.“By proposing to open up nearly the entire OCS [Outer Continental Shelf] for potential oil and gas exploration, the United States can advance the goal of moving from aspiring for energy independence to attaining energy dominance,” explained Vincent DeVito, the Interior Department’s Counselor for Energy Policy.Almost all coastal state governors, whether Republican or Democrat, responded with staunch opposition. Some like Republican Governor Larry Horgan of Maryland, threatened legal action, with good reason. Most of the economies and tax bases of these shore states rely on tourism, along with commercial and recreational fishing. Florida brings in about $50 billion annually from tourists; the Jersey Shore earns nearly $44 billion. A March 7 study by Oceana International found that 2.6 million jobs and nearly $180 billion in GDP in coastal states are “ocean-dependent.”The governors logically fear the potential impacts of a BP Deepwater Horizon–style spill, which gutted the Gulf tourism industry, a business which rivals the offshore oil industry in revenue. The states are also concerned over the dirty development oil and gas drilling and refining would bring onshore.“In order to accommodate offshore drilling, a whole host of infrastructure is required to pump, move and process that oil,” explained Diane Hoskins, the anti-offshore drilling campaign director at Oceana. “And that’s not something coastal communities want – [they] don’t want to turn beach towns into oil towns.” Since Zinke’s announcement, she reports, 200 coastal municipalities have passed resolutions against offshore drilling.Another fear, specific to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, is the ever more powerful hurricanes, super-rain events, and storm surges brought by a warming world. During Hurricane Harvey, the unprecedented rains – with multi-day downpours totaling 5 feet in some areas – submerged tank farms and Superfund sites, causing 22,000 barrels of oil and refined chemicals to leak, as well as 365 tons of toxic gas releases, including toxic benzene. Rising sea levels also put coastal oil and gas infrastructure increasingly at risk.A spill in the Arctic could be even worse. Rear Admiral Jonathan White, former Navy chief oceanographer, and head of its climate change task force, told Scientific American: “The East Coast, West Coast, anywhere in the world except the Arctic, you can get [cleanup] booms, you can get platforms, you can get people and material there,” he said. “In the Arctic, it’s almost like trying to get it to the moon in some cases.” White noted that there is no known or approved procedure for getting oil off ice.The Trump administration seems willing to take these environmental risks for what amounts to very little energy dominance: Oceana estimates the oil reserves off the Atlantic, Pacific, and Florida Gulf coasts are only enough to last the country 2 years; the natural gas offshore reserve would be gone in just a year.Fireboat crews work to extinguish the burning wreckage of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil platform. The disaster – one of the worst ecological catastrophes in U.S. history ¬¬– cost billions to local tourism and spread fears of the dangers of offshore drilling. Photo Courtesy of the US Coast GuardA half-cooked energy plan?The Trump administration has a problem: while the federal government wields unchallenged authority in federal waters, it will still need the full backing of coastal state governments for its leasing plans: oil drillers will need to get state infrastructure permits to build oil and gas terminals, pipelines, pumping stations and refineries to support offshore drilling.In recognition of that reality, Secretary Zinke said he was willing to negotiate the opening of 94 percent of U.S. waters to drilling: “The states, local communities, and congressional delegations will all have a say,” he stated. After Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott tweeted that he and Zinke were going to have to meet, its coast was exempted from the coming statewide lease sale.For everyone else, the public comment period for the 2019-2024 plan closed on March 9. Those federal comment sessions, Oceana’s Hoskins noted, tended to be held inland, far from affected coastal communities. While Zinke has promised to listen to all stakeholders, he is sticking to the Trump fossil fuel talking points: “We want to grow our nation’s offshore energy industry, instead of slowly surrendering it to foreign shores.”What many analysts find perplexing about Trump’s “energy dominance” policy is that while it appears to benefit big oil and gas, it could well threaten the industry. That’s because the industry’s most recent crisis came not from lack of drilling, but from over production. A January article in Forbes titled “Trump’s American Energy Dominance Agenda Becoming Reality” unintentionally highlighted this paradox, opening with a note that the outlook for American oil is strong, precisely because “the U.S. rig count remains remarkably stable.” That is, because the country’s producers aren’t exploring for more oil or drilling new wells.Here’s what precipitated the recent crisis: Starting in mid 2014, the country’s thousands of independent oil and gas producers, hoping to take advantage of oil prices above $100 per barrel, began aggressively fracking the West, releasing a flood of domestic American oil. That drilling frenzy – combined with the Saudis’ decision to open their taps – created an oil glut that brought world oil prices down to an early-2016 nadir of $26 a barrel, far below the price that could justify renewed exploration and development, particularly in the expensive and hazardous offshore domain.It took a year for oil prices to rally back to $50 a barrel. And then oil and gas companies once again crashed prices in what Forbes called a “self-destructive rush to increase drilling.” It took a combined multilateral deal between Russia and OPEC, and a lot of meetings in American energy company boardrooms, to limit supply.The industry calls this need for careful control, “capital discipline,” a business strategy of restricting supply sufficiently to push prices into the $60-70 range, where they are today. But the Trump administration’s energy policy threatens to rapidly ramp up production on-land and offshore, shattering all attempts at capital discipline, putting the industry economically at risk.A US Coast Guard cutter moves through sea ice in Alaska’s Beaufort Sea. Senior Coast Guard officials have warned that they do not have the capacity to clean up an oil spill in the harsh environment of the Arctic Ocean. Photo courtesy of the Coast GuardWill big oil and gas buy in?According to Lorne Stockman of Oil Change International, a think-tank focused on the post-carbon economy, it isn’t clear how popular the new offshore leases will be with fossil fuel companies, particularly outside those areas of the Gulf already crowded with rigs and infrastructure.Developing new offshore areas, as Zinke’s plan proposes, will require a huge investment by the firms to establish new offshore and onshore infrastructure – new drilling platforms, underwater and underground pipelines, terminals, and refineries would all need to be built.The Gulf already has this infrastructure, and even with that, according to a recent Oil Change International (OCI) study, profits are slim; 76 percent of new Gulf offshore leases, and 45 percent nationwide, are only breaking even, and that’s with the help of federal subsidies. “If you’re in the already crowded parts of the Gulf,” Stockman explains, “the break-even price could be $50 to $70 a barrel; if you’re breaking into completely new areas, it’ll be $70, $80, upwards.”On the Arctic frontier, the costs are even more prohibitive: the last serious attempt to drill offshore in the Arctic was when Royal Dutch Shell tried to drill in the remote Beaufort Sea in 2015, which ended with the company spending $7 billion on a dry hole. On land, fracking is barely a break-even enterprise: 60 percent of the oil in the Bakken shale, in North Dakota, is subsidy dependent, according to OCI.Stockman questions the economic prudence of any company undertaking offshore development in states where no production is presently occurring: “Drilling an [onshore] shale well takes $20 million. Flip a switch and drill it tomorrow, or hold till next month when prices are better,” he said. However, “An investment offshore is a multibillion multi-year enterprise.“A FEMA flyover of a damaged refinery after 2005’s Hurricane Rita. The growing intensity of hurricanes in the Gulf threatens to overwhelm America’s refinery infrastructure, almost half of which is on the Gulf. During Hurricane Harvey, tens of thousands of barrels of oil spilled from flooded refineries. Photo by Leif SkoogforsInvestment in energy dominance, or a political scam?Given these financials, it seems logical to ask why the industry wants a massive offshore expansion. “Well, that’s the question,” Stockman laughs. “Is it even something they do want?”The push to open all U.S. waters to drilling, he explains, has been an industry dream for decades, but as such, it is also a relic of the wildcatting past – a desire that recurs from time-to-time, as it did in the 1970s and early 2000s, when it was believed American oil and gas were in long term decline, with its only way forward the production of ever more remote and expensive fields.The boom in shale gas and oil flipped this paradigm on its head, as has the little publicized, but real, slow downtick in demand for oil, with greater declines forecast if advances in electric and automated vehicles come to fruition. (Vehicles currently account for about 60 percent of oil consumption.)The oil industry and finance press has already begun to speculate that the world may be past, or fast approaching “peak oil demand.” And looming over all this economic talk – as markets and insurers are beginning to realize – is the fact that the world’s store of technically recoverable oil and gas resources cannot be burned without catastrophically destabilizing the planet’s climate.With all that in mind, the industry has shown little inclination to develop new fields – exploration is at a 70 year low. “I’m not saying expanded offshore development isn’t potentially gonna happen one day,” Stockman says, “but in a typical Trump administration move, they’ve ruled on the industry’s agenda without much insight of whether it’s something of particular importance at this moment.”One irony concerning American oil and gas is that, while its proponents say they love \ the free market, much of the industry is heavily reliant on federal subsidies, as this Oil Change International map makes clear. Image courtesy of Oil Change InternationalSo it is, that America awaits the results of the biggest federal oil and gas lease sale ever. But whatever bids are made next Wednesday, and in upcoming lease sales, that doesn’t mean we’ll see drilling tomorrow. Purchased leases need to be seen for what they are: long term planning. Leases approved in 2017, for example, won’t start making money until 2027 at the earliest, and there is no telling what the world energy landscape will look like then.Still, Stockman adds, the expansion into America’s oceans makes sense in terms of speculation. It’s a way for oil and gas companies to lock down acreage they may or may not ever develop, just in case oil prices spike again. And, as New York financiers investing in barely solvent fracking companies have learned to their displeasure, drilling is, for the companies, to some extent an end in itself.“The industry is eternally optimistic about its future,” Stockman concludes. “They completely dismiss the prospect of climate policy becoming a challenge, and they completely dismiss hard economic data that more efficient vehicles and EVs will take their market share away. So it’s completely in their framework to say, ‘Sure, we want to start expanding into new areas that might require $100 [per barrel] oil in the mid-2020s, because that’s how we see the future.’ And given the current administration you can’t blame them.”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 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

Hope for the rarest hornbill in the world (commentary)

first_imgArticle published by Mike Gaworecki There are three Critically Endangered hornbill species in the world. The rarest, the Sulu hornbill in the Philippines, is little studied, does not occur in any protected areas, and is in imminent danger of extinction.In January 2018, a team of conservationists from the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore visited the only known habitat of this bird to assess its status and make recommendations regarding its survival.Five individuals were located, as well as a potential nesting site. Work will continue this year to train local rangers in hornbill study techniques; the patches of forest where the Sulu hornbill clings on should be granted legal protection from logging, hunting, and human encroachment.This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay. Of the 32 hornbill species found in Asia, three are currently considered Critically Endangered with global extinction, according to IUCN criteria.One of those, the helmeted hornbill (Rhinoplax vigil), is currently the focus of a conservation project by a recently formed Helmeted Hornbill Working Group. Another, the rufous-headed hornbill (Rhabdotorrhinus waldeni), is being studied under a project supported by BirdLife International.Meanwhile, the Sulu hornbill (Anthracoceros montani) has the smallest population of any of the Critically Endangered hornbill species and must in fact be considered the rarest and most endangered hornbill in the world. Its distribution range has shrunk, its population has collapsed, and the species is in imminent danger of disappearing altogether — yet it has received no conservation attention.The Sulu hornbill — “tawsi” in the local language — is endemic to the Philippines, occurring only on islands in the Sulu Archipelago between Mindanao and Borneo. It is the sole member of the Bucerotidae family within its area and was described as widespread and abundant at the time of its discovery in 1880. Since then, the population has crashed.Today, the only viable breeding population of the Sulu hornbill known to exist is found on the small island of Tawi-Tawi, where a mere 100 square kilometers (close to 25,000 acres) of suitable forest remains, according to the IUCN. The total global population is estimated to be about 40 individuals.Parts of a hill where the Sulu hornbill has been found has been illegally logged by villagers who moved into the area in recent years. Photo by Bee Choo Strange.Complicating survey work, the Tawi-Tawi island and the Sulu area in general are not safe: there are active insurgents operating in this region. Two European birdwatchers were abducted on Tawi-Tawi in February 2012 while looking to photograph the hornbill. One of them escaped in 2014, but a Dutch national is still believed to be held captive, although he has most likely been moved to another island, possibly Jolo.To facilitate the study and conservation of the Sulu hornbill, Dr. Pilai Poonswad and I visited Tawi-Tawi in January 2018. Dr. Poonswad is Emeritus Professor of Faculty of Science at Mahidol University in Bangkok; she has studied hornbills in Thailand since 1978 and founded the Thailand Hornbill Project. She also founded the Hornbill Research Foundation in 1993 to branch out and share the team’s experience with governments and NGOs in the rest of Asia. Recently, she has agreed to be one of the advisers in the newly re-established Hornbill Specialist Group under the auspices of the IUCN Species Survival Commission.Before our site visit, biodiversity surveys on Tawi-Tawi were conducted by staff of the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation from September 30 to October 2, 2017. Some two or three Sulu hornbills were seen together in various patches of forest on the island, usually a pair together. The maximum sighting this century was 10 birds seen in one area in 2014 (Paguntalan et al. 2017), all mature individuals. No immature birds have been reported within the last 20 years. In May 2015, a local villager reported seeing the nesting cavity of a Sulu hornbill, with a chick inside, in a large fallen dipterocarp tree. Other than that, there are no nesting records for this species, and little is known about its habitat requirements, breeding habits, or ecology in general. It feeds on fruits and some animal prey such as insects and small lizards. It seems to depend on large forest trees for nesting, but will fly up to one kilometer into nearby plantations and agricultural land to feed.As mentioned, traveling in the Sulu archipelago is not safe. To visit the Sulu hornbill habitat on Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi Province, we needed the co-operation of Mayor Rejie Sahali, Colonel Romulo “Bim” Quemado, and the marine soldiers of the Philippines Marine Corps. Our main target was the secondary forest at Upper Malum. Traveling was difficult and even our military escort vehicle got stuck in the mud several times while traveling the 12 kilometers to the site. We reached an elevation of some 250 meters, although the hill further inland goes to about 500 meters above sea level.During our visit, we managed to locate a total of five Sulu hornbills. Perhaps most importantly, coming back from the hill one of the rangers spotted a hornbill emerging from a hole in a tree. Pilai established that this was a hole produced by a large woodpecker, most likely a White-bellied Woodpecker (Dryocopus javensis). Although this doesn’t constitute a confirmed nesting record, we decided to watch the potential nesting tree the following day in the hope that the male or female would check out the nest hole again.A possible nest hole of a Sulu hornbill. Dr. Pilai Poonswad indicated that the hole is made by a large woodpecker, likely the white-bellied woodpecker. Photo by Bee Choo Strange.Most Asian hornbills start their breeding at the onset of the cool-dry season, when the forest trees flower and ripe fruits are abundant in time for chick rearing. Females of all hornbills in the Bucerotidae family will enter a nesting cavity in a large, living tree after copulation. She will then seal the nest hole with her feces, regurgitated food, and mud until it is an elongated vertical slit, large enough for the male to deliver food to the female and later the chick or chicks. She will stay there until her young fledge. Unfortunately, no hornbills returned to the hole we had observed, as there was disturbance by the locals — on-going logging at the site using chainsaws.The forest patch where the Sulu hornbill occurs now is only about 10 square kilometers in area (a little under 2,500 acres). It is currently not protected in any way; in fact, there are no nature reserves or national parks in the Tawi-Tawi Province at all. Of utmost priority is to gazette the remaining quality forest on the island as protected area, safe from logging operations, mining, hunting, and intrusion from settlers.Mayor Rejie and Colonel Bim are working with Philippines authorities to gazette the site as a wildlife sanctuary. The municipality has employed six Tawsi rangers from the village near the forest to survey and safeguard the local hornbill population. Pilai also recommended a survey to identify figs and other food and nest trees of the hornbills, as well as installation of artificial nest boxes at the site with the aim of providing nest holes, as there may not be sufficient trees for the birds to nest. There are plans for a program to be put in place to engage with the villagers to plant fig trees and other hornbill food trees and also trees that provide nest holes for the species.Once the security situation in the area is normalized, this beautiful terrain could ideally be opened up as an eco-tourism site for everyone to visit and enjoy. Apart from the hornbills, there are some six species and 23 subspecies of birds endemic to the Sulu region, i.e. found nowhere else in the world (Paguntalan et al. 2017).In the meantime, more studies are needed to improve our understanding of the Sulu hornbill’s requirements. Towards the end of our visit, it was decided to bring some of the rangers and other local conservationists for training with the Hornbill Research Foundation at their facilities in the Khao Yai National Park in Thailand. There they will learn plant phenology, tree climbing techniques, and other skills essential for hornbill studies.Locally in the Philippines, there is an increased awareness of the importance of biodiversity studies and conservation. It is encouraging that, with co-operation from national officials and decision makers, we are now starting an international support program that is bringing hope to the last remaining population of the Sulu hornbill.A pair of Sulu hornbills, male on the left and female on the right. Picture taken at site. Photo by Nicky Icarangal.CITATIONS• Paguntalan, L.J., Jakosalem, P.G., Quemado, R., Sahali-Generale, R., Fernandez, G., de la Cruz, M., & Sali, E.D. (2017). Tawi-Tawi Biodiversity Conservation Project: Philippines Hornbills Conservation Programme. Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc.• Poonswad, P., Kemp, A. & Strange, M. (2013). Hornbills of the World: A Photographic Guide. Draco Publishing and Hornbill Research Foundation.Bee Choo Strange is a Singaporean nature conservationist. She is the international coordinator of the Hornbill Research Foundation, based in Thailand. She was project director of Hornbills of the World (Poonswad et al., 2013). Animals, Birds, Commentary, Conservation, Editorials, Endangered Species, Environment, Researcher Perspective Series, Saving Species From Extinction, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

You don’t need a bigger boat: AI buoys safeguard swimmers and sharks

first_imgArtificial Intelligence, early warning, Human-wildlife Conflict, Marine, Mobile, Oceans, Sharks, Software, Surveillance, Technology, Wildtech Article published by Sue Palminteri 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 A new tech-driven device may help reduce harmful interactions with sharks and improve people’s tolerance of one of the ocean’s top predators.The system, called Clever Buoy, combines sonar to detect a large object in the water, artificial intelligence to determine that the object is a shark close enough to threaten beachgoers, and automated SMS alerts to lifeguards that enable them to take action.Local governments have deployed the system at popular beaches and surfing sites to test its capacity to protect swimmers and surfers without harming marine wildlife. Sharks are in trouble worldwide, with one study estimating that people kill up to 100 million of them each year through illegal fishing, shark finning, and bycatch.The negative public view of sharks as aggressive killers limits empathy for the ocean’s largest fish, even though only 33 of over 500 species have been known to bite people, and 63 percent of reported attacks have been by three species: tiger, bull, and great white sharks.A sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus) swimming. These sharks inhabit coastal areas but dine on fish, crabs, and rays and are considered not dangerous to people. However, commercial fisheries targeted these sharks for their relatively large dorsal fins, and the species is now listed as vulnerable. Photo credit: Brian Gratwicke CC 2.0Shark-human interactions have increased as people spend more time in the ocean and as more attacks are actually reported. Of the 88 unprovoked shark attacks reported in 2017, five were fatal; to put that into perspective, more people die of lightning strikes than shark attacks.Limitations of existing shark attack prevention strategiesPrevious efforts in Australia to protect surfers and swimmers have relied on nets—which trap not just sharks but also rays, dolphins, and turtles—or drum lines, lengths of baited hooks attached to the seabed that aim to catch and drown passing sharks, as well as direct culling of sharks.These methods have not proved successful in eliminating shark attacks, and killing the ocean’s top predators, while harming other species in the process, negatively affects marine ecosystems.More recent non-invasive efforts to detect sharks have included trained shark-spotting teams, electromagnetic devices that attach to surfboards, and expensive seabed-to-surface barriers. Some areas in Australia and Brazil have set out non-lethal “smart” nets and drum lines to capture and tag passing sharks that are then monitored by beacons that receive the “ping” of the animal’s tracking tag.Each of these methods has had limited success. High-energy surfing zones along Australia’s coast present challenges to maintaining nets and other physical barriers, while tagged sharks may represent a fraction of a total population.The floating Clever Buoy tested at Bondi Beach near Sydney, Australia. The buoy is connected to sonar units installed on the sea floor that create a ‘virtual’ net, rather than a physical barrier that can harm not just sharks but other marine animals. Photo courtesy of Smart Marine SystemsSince 2016, the government of New South Wales, Australia, has been testing a series of new technologies to address the increased number of shark sightings. One of these, a tethered buoy integrating sonar, artificial intelligence, and cellular phone technologies, has shown promise as a non-lethal, non-invasive means of detecting and identifying sharks and alerting officials of their presence near beaches.Shark-finding technologyDetection: The 35-kilogram (77-pound) solar-powered Clever Buoys, developed by Smart Marine Systems (SMS), float on the ocean surface, communicate with devices on shore, and attach to sonar transducers mounted onto a pier or the ocean floor. Each system’s sonar sends out acoustic signals that bounce off objects in the water. It then measures the strength of the returning signal and the time it takes to return to determine the size, distance, and direction of the object.Installing the Clever Buoy’s seabed frame with the sonar transducer on the ocean floor. Photo courtesy of Smart Marine SystemsThe sonar reaches objects in the water column up to 120 meters (394 feet) away, so multiple units can be positioned to create a virtual shark net that “sees” underwater, which lifeguards and aerial surveillance cannot.  It uses a frequency that is substantially higher than the hearing range of known marine animals, to avoid adverse impacts on wildlife.The units are set up in an array that is configured according to the form of the beach, SMS founder and executive director Craig Anderson told Mongabay-Wildtech. “Generally it is sitting 400-500 meters [1,310-1,640 feet] from the sand, and then it’s looking out to sea to basically create a virtual barrier or virtual net, and anything that comes within that zone gets identified and analyzed,” he said.The virtual net created by two Clever Buoys each connected to three sonar transducers at City Beach, near Perth, Australia. Photo courtesy of Smart Marine SystemsIdentification: Sharks swim in patterns that differ from those of dolphins, turtles, or rays. The Clever Buoy system runs software called SharkTec that uses AI to identify sharks over 2 meters (6 feet) long based on their movements and distinctive acoustic signature.“It’s a pattern recognition algorithm of the distinct swimming patterns of various marine life,” Anderson said.Engineers at SMS and sonar maker Tritech developed SharkTec by adapting software used to detect marine life around oil rigs and tidal turbines with data on shark movements collected over several years.They “trained” the software by incorporating the shark movement data into the AI algorithms to automate the recognition of sharks through these signature movement patterns; the resulting software distinguishes sharks from other animals by their size, speed, and swim pattern.Alert: When the system determines that a nearby object is likely a shark, it signals lifeguards, who can respond by closing the beach or other action. The system transmits the alert within a few seconds via text message and special mobile phone app with the shark’s location and likelihood that it is a threat. It can also integrate the alert into local emergency services messaging to the public.SMS is still adapting the system to distinguish among different shark species. Most species mainly avoid people, so the developers and collaborators have also installed the system inside Sydney’s Sea Life Aquarium to test its ability to differentiate among shark species and prevent harmless species from triggering an alarm. A major objective of the NSW Shark Management Strategy is to reduce interactions between beachgoers and sharks while minimizing harm to the area’s marine wildlife.A SharkTec sonar capture of a tiger shark moving from right to left, based on its size and swim movement pattern. Tiger sharks are one of three species responsible for most attacks on humans. Image courtesy of Smart Marine SystemsTesting and retestingThe Clever Buoy developers, together with the NSW government and researchers from the University of Technology Sydney, tested the system, in combination with aerial surveillance, drone surveillance, shark tagging and mobile apps, as part of a larger shark management program to reduce the incidence of shark bites along the NSW coast.SMS has since tested the buoys at beaches near Sydney and Perth in Australia, as well as at a World Surf League competition in South Africa.Early tests consisted of placing the Clever Buoy system about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) offshore, beyond the surf zone, in about 10 meters (33 feet) of water, at well-used beaches. The testing team positioned an underwater video camera nearby to record for up to five hours each day and compared the captured images to the information received from the Clever Buoy to visually verify sharks that the sonar system detected.In this video from University of Technology Sydney, a curious great white shark investigates the Clever Buoy’s underwater sonar setup during a test off the central coast of New South Wales, Australia. The testing team used the video imagery to verify shark detections made by the Clever Buoy system.The Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguard Association said in a statement that a three-month trial of the system in 2016 at Bondi Beach near Sydney was a success, “with Clever Buoy logging and alerting numerous shark detections, many of which were able to be positively validated through visual identification by the Bondi professional ocean lifeguards.”The system also successfully identified great white sharks on the NSW central coast, with video footage confirming the detection of the sharks during the trial.Tests around Perth had mixed results. Local newspaper The West Australian reported that two buoy units detected 38 “possible” sharks, which led to 19 beach closures, but that “the system was unable to distinguish between different types of marine animals, let alone species of sharks.”Anderson said the AI software was a developing technology. “The more time we spend in the water, the more the algorithm develops, the more accurate the system gets,” he said. “It’s a continuum of development, it never stops. Like any pattern recognition development, it’s all about having that library, that catalog of imagery to teach the system and for the system to continually learn.”Tiger sharks, such as this one with remoras, have stripes on their sides that fade with age. Second only to white sharks in terms of the number of attacks on humans, tiger sharks actually feed on a wide range of prey, including fish, birds, seals, turtles, crustaceans, sea snakes, and smaller sharks. Photo credit: Albert Kok, CC 3.0The company is now deploying a set of Clever Buoy units at beaches in Southern California. It will lease the system to the city of Newport Beach for between $10,000 and $15,000 per month for six transponders.The platform has been shown to operate continually in open ocean conditions, autonomously monitoring marine life and alerting authorities when large swimming objects appear to be sharks that may threaten beach users. The Clever Buoy is beginning to carry additional sensors that record environmental indicators, including wave height and swell, water temperature, and levels of certain pollutants and acidity.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.last_img read more