Wilmar, the world's largest palm oil company, has unveiled a tool it says will help eliminate deforestation from its global supply chain. The tool is an online dashboard that maps the company's supply chain, including the names of locations of its refineries and supplier mills.
The forest behind Indudur village clings to the steep hillside. The topography itself is enough to protect it from most common threats of development. However, the area is under attack by a more pernicious force: a lack of interest by the younger generation in earning their living here. The difficulty of life compels many to migrate out, leaving the village dominated by older people.
The study, published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change, used a unique long-term outdoor experiment to examine the effects of climate change on trees in the boreal forest along the U.S.-Canadian border. Some species in the boreal forest are at the far northern range of their growing area, while others are at the far southern edge of their range. Species like spruce and fir that thrive in cooler areas to the north in Canada suffered poorer growth and survival when warmed by a few degrees, while trees like oaks and maples that prefer a more temperate climate performed better when warmed. Other species like aspen, birch, and pine, had a more neutral response. While all of these species may continue to co-exist, at least for a time, in a warmer climate, the study found that the balance of power, competitively speaking, shifted from the boreal species to the oaks and maples. In addition to being directly affected by warming, spruce and fir might also struggle to compete for sunlight and water with neighboring trees and plants as climate changes.
Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), an organization that provides paper, fiber, and lumber certification, is misleading consumers with its ‘green’ wood-based products in Canada, according to ForestEthics.ForestEthics released a report on Friday comparing the thoroughness of forest audits conducted in Canada.
New research shows that the most significant current threat to western dry forests is from insect outbreaks and droughts, not wildfires; and historically abundant small trees offer the greatest hope for forest survival and recovery after these events. Dry forests are low-elevation western forests with tall pines. The study used government records of insect and wildfire damage to compare current threats to dry forests and used records from land surveys conducted in the late-1800s to understand how dry forests persisted for thousands of years in spite of insect outbreaks, droughts, and fires. These forests persisted, this study suggests, by having both young and old trees that together provided bet-hedging.
"Save the rainforest” is an environmental slogan as old as time — but Tasso Azevedo catches us up on how the fight is actually going these days. Spurred by the jaw-dropping losses of the 1990s, new laws (and transparent data) are helping slow the rate of deforestation in Brazil. Is it enough? Not yet. He has five ideas about what we should do next. And he asks if the lessons learned in Brazil could be applied to an even bigger problem: global climate change.
Biologists have found that evolution can downgrade or entirely remove adaptations a species has previously acquired, giving the species new survival advantages. The researchers focused their attention on geckos, specifically the adhesive system that allows geckos to cling to surfaces. They found that gecko species in which the adhesive system was either lost or simplified saw elevated rates of evolution related to morphology and locomotion.
An interview with Laurel Neme about her new children's book, Orangutan Houdini. When no one is looking, a gangly orangutan named Fu Manchu reaches into his mouth and pulls out a wire. Carefully, Fu, housed at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Nebraska, begins to pick the lock to his enclosure's door, and escapes! He and his orangutan cohort have the run of the zoo, until his keeper Jerry brings them all back home.
California congresswoman, Toni G. Atkins, introduced a bill yesterday (AB 96) that would close a major loophole allowing ivory to be sold all over the state. Thousands of miles away, across Africa, poachers are decimating elephants for their ivory tusks. A recent study estimated that one fifth of the continent's elephants have been slaughtered in just three years.
Surprisingly, the diversity of birds in suburban areas can be greater than in forested areas, according to John Marzluff's new book 'Welcome to Subirdia: Sharing Our Neighborhoods with Wrens, Robins, Woodpeckers, and Other Wildlife' (Yale University Press, 303 pp., $30).
A cacao grower with roots in Southeast Asia’s palm oil industry has set up shop in the Peruvian Amazon. The CEO of United Cacao has told the international press that he wants to change the industry for the better, but a cadre of scientists and conservation groups charge that United Cacao has quietly cut down more than 2,000 hectares of rainforest.
Indigenous communities claim—and scientific evidence increasingly shows—that indigenous forested territories are as well protected as, or better protected than, government-designated parks. In areas under pressure from roads or development projects, deforestation rates are sometimes even lower in indigenous territories than in official protected areas.
Mining can have huge impacts in certain areas. Alvarez-Berríos and Aide found that mining was especially severe in four general regions of South America: the Guianas, the Southwest Amazon, the Tapajós–Xingú area of the western Amazon, and the Magdalena Valley in the Colombian Andes. This shocking video shows just how badly miners are decimating the Southwest Amazon in Peru following construction of the Inter-oceanic Highway there.
Around 17O,OOO hectares of forest was destroyed outright in these four regions, but even worse was the broader-scale impacts on aquatic ecosystems and water quality.
Gold miners cause enormous siltation of streams and rivers as well as water pollution by toxic mercury, which they use to separate gold from river sediments.
Gold miners also often have conflicts with local indigenous groups and poach wildlife. For instance, armed miners in French Guiana murdered two park guards there, who were attempting to defend the park.
The scourge of illegal gold mining is by no means limited to Latin America. It is escalating rapidly across vast expanses of Africa, Asia, and many other regions of the tropics.
The bulk of life in the rainforest is found the leafy layers of the canopy. But little was known about this world until relatively recently, when hobbyists, naturalists, and researchers began devising ways to access the upper levels of the forest. These efforts accelerated in the 1970s when scientists started to use mountaineering techniques and ropes to climb towering rainforest trees for long-term study and observation.
Outside the tropics, the scale of invasion by alien plant species has become unprecedented over the last few decades in terms of areas affected, species involved and the extent of economic, ecological and health impacts.
Humans are “eating away at our own life support systems” at a rate unseen in the past 10,000 years by degrading land and freshwater systems, emitting greenhouse gases and releasing vast amounts of agricultural chemicals into the environment, new research has found. Two major new studies by an international team of researchers have pinpointed the key factors that ensure a livable planet for humans, with stark results. Of nine worldwide processes that underpin life on Earth, four have exceeded “safe” levels – human-driven climate change, loss of biosphere integrity, land system change and the high level of phosphorus and nitrogen flowing into the oceans due to fertiliser use.
"The greatest and most endangered species in the Amazon rainforest is not the jaguar or the harpy eagle," says Mark Plotkin, "It's the isolated and uncontacted tribes." In an energetic and sobering talk, the ethnobotanist brings us into the world of the forest's indigenous tribes and the incredible medicinal plants that their shamans use to heal. He outlines the challenges and perils that are endangering them — and their wisdom — and urges us to protect this irreplaceable repository of knowledge.
Scientists are discovering, the bat immune system is astonishingly tolerant of most pathogens — a trait that could pose risks to people, but that also offers clues to preventing human diseases of aging, including cancer.
Evidence is mounting that bats can serve as reservoirs of many of the world’s deadliest viruses, including the pathogens behind Ebola, Marburg and related hemorrhagic fevers; acute respiratory syndromes like SARS and MERS; and even familiar villains like measles and mumps.
Yet bats appear largely immune to the many viruses they carry and rarely show signs of the diseases that will rapidly overwhelm any human, monkey, horse, pig or other mammalian host the microbes manage to infiltrate.
Scientists have also learned that bats live a seriously long time for creatures of their small size. The insectivorous Brandt’s bat of Eurasia, for example, weighs an average of just six grams, compared with 20 grams for a mouse. But while a mouse is lucky to live for a year, the Brandt’s bat can survive well into its 40s — a disparity between life span and body mass that a report in Nature Communications called “the most extreme” of all mammals.
The flutter of a single butterfly’s wings may or may not be capable of causing tsunamis, but the loss of millions of butterflies is definitely being felt here in North America. Populations of the iconic and beloved monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus plexippus) have dropped an astonishing 96.5 percent over the past few decades, from an estimated 1 billion in the mid-1990s to just 35 million in early 2014. Conservation groups have been worrying about this decline for several years, and last week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) finally took notice. According to the agency, monarch butterflies may deserve protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The small village of Tumbang Bahanei is inhabited by 139 indigenous families that tend to 2,859 hectares of customary forest, 132 hectares of rice fields, 5,841 hectares of rubber forest, and 43 hectares of forest designated for indigenous tourism. In total, this amounts to just over 8,880 hectares. The residents know these numbers precisely, because they have been diligently mapping every corner of their territory in a desperate attempt to prevent it from being snatched up by timber companies.
A new NASA-led study shows that tropical forests may be absorbing far more carbon dioxide than many scientists thought, in response to rising atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas. The study estimates that tropical forests absorb 1.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide out of a total global absorption of 2.5 billion -- more than is absorbed by forests in Canada, Siberia and other northern regions, called boreal forests. Forests and other land vegetation currently remove up to 30 percent of human carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere during photosynthesis. If the rate of absorption were to slow down, the rate of global warming would speed up in return.