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The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert | forests | Scoop.it
Elizabeth Kolbert is a staff writer at The New Yorker. She is the author of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History and Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change
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Surging Chinese demand for rosewood is ruining forests across southern Asia

Surging Chinese demand for rosewood is ruining forests across southern Asia | forests | Scoop.it
We are inclined to think that trees are a renewable natural resource. Yet precious hardwood trees have already been almost completely logged out from many countries across the tropics. Myanmar is the latest…

Via Andrew Heald
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Andrew Heald's curator insight, August 19, 12:46 AM

Rosewood, also known as bois de rose, is an umbrella term for a whole group of tropical timber species, mostly from the genus Dalbergia, Pterocarpus, Diospyros, and Milletia, which all have a dark red hue and high quality timber in common. The vast majority of rosewood is imported to China where it’s fashioned into luxurious, highly-priced ornamental furniture in the Ming and Quing dynasty style.

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Next big idea in forest conservation? DNA fingerprinting trees to stem illegal logging

Next big idea in forest conservation? DNA fingerprinting trees to stem illegal logging | forests | Scoop.it

As a professor at Texas Tech, Dr. Chuck Cannon has been, among other things, working to create a system of DNA fingerprinting for tropical trees to undercut the global illegal logging trade.


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Andrew Heald's curator insight, August 21, 9:52 PM
Excellent article on what works and what doesn't in tropical forest conservation - particularly the limited potential application of DNA Finger printing
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Tourism becomes Uganda’s main export

Tourism becomes Uganda’s main export | forests | Scoop.it

Uganda has a new top export earner. Tourism has for the first time become Uganda’s biggest export earner after it fetched $1.4bn in financial year 2013/2014, up from $1.1bn the year before, according to the central bank’s monetary policy statement for August.

 

Workers’ remittances, long the dominant sector when it came to calculating export receipts, has been knocked down to the second position, with coffee in third. Remittances, which is the amount of money Ugandans living abroad send home, was roughly $800m during financial year 2013/2014. Although the African Development Bank expects this figure to reach $1bn this financial year

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Deforestation: Brazil is a success story for conservation

Deforestation: Brazil is a success story for conservation | forests | Scoop.it
In key regions, private firms and governments are taking action.
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Running to reforest: communities, NGOs work to save Ugandan reserve in the midst of massive deforestation

Running to reforest: communities, NGOs work to save Ugandan reserve in the midst of massive deforestation | forests | Scoop.it
Stung by massive loss of forest cover in Bugoma central forest reserve, part of a vast chimpanzee habitat in the western part of Uganda, seven private local and international organizations in the east African country have joined hands to raise...
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Conservation priorities for Malaysia--a megadiversity nation in peril

Conservation priorities for Malaysia--a megadiversity nation in peril | forests | Scoop.it
Last week the Asian Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology held its third annual conference in Melaka, Malaysia. A critical time for Malaysian nature...
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How hummingbirds evolved to detect sweetness

How hummingbirds evolved to detect sweetness | forests | Scoop.it

The birds' preference for sweetness is plain, but only now can scientists explain the complex biology behind their taste for sugar. Their discovery required an international team of scientists, fieldwork in the California mountains and at Harvard University's Concord Field Station, plus collaborations from Harvard labs on both sides of the Charles River.

 

Now, in a paper published in Science, the scientists show how hummingbirds' ability to detect sweetness evolved from an ancestral savory taste receptor that is mostly tuned to flavors in amino acids. Feasting on nectar and the occasional insect, the tiny birds expanded throughout North and South America, numbering more than 300 species over the 40 to 72 million years since they branched off from their closest relative, the swift.

 

"It's a really nice example of how a species evolved at a molecular level to adopt a very complex phenotype," said Stephen Liberles, HMS associate professor of cell biology. "A change in a single receptor can actually drive a change in behavior and, we propose, can contribute to species diversification."

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Edible insects a boon to Thailand's farmers

Edible insects a boon to Thailand's farmers | forests | Scoop.it
Depending solely on the rains to either yield a good rice crop or leave their fields dry and barren, farmers in this village in northeastern Thailand, the country's poorest region, led a precarious and back-breaking existence. Then they discovered bugs.
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Monarch butterflies plummet 90 percent, need protection

Monarch butterflies plummet 90 percent, need protection | forests | Scoop.it
Monarch butterflies are dying off fast, with 90 percent gone in the last 20 years, and they urgently need endangered species protection, a coalition of environmental and health groups said Tuesday.
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Is there a deforestation limit we can aim for?

Is there a deforestation limit we can aim for? | forests | Scoop.it

Deforestation is bad, according to just about everybody in the world who isn’t actively engaged in cutting down a tree right now. It isn’t a controversial position to say that we should save our rain forests and other major wooded areas, but it also isn’t a particularly useful one. A more interesting question to answer is exactly how much is too much when it comes to deforestation: Just as the world has coalesced around doing our best to hold global warming under two degrees C from preindustrial levels, is there some amount of forest that we really must keep in order to keep the ecosystems at least somewhat intact?

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ALERT launches campaign to save imperiled Thai forest

ALERT launches campaign to save imperiled Thai forest | forests | Scoop.it

Photo Credit: WWF-Malaysia/Lau Ching Fong

ALERT is helping to spearhead an international campaign to oppose the Thailand government’s plan to dramatically enlarge a roadway through one of its most important natural areas.  A press release from ALERT is being distributed today to over 800 media outlets worldwide.

 

A two-lane road, called Highway 304, cuts through the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai (DPKY) Forest Complex, a World Heritage Site in central Thailand renowned for its outstanding biodiversity.  Now the Thai government wants to enlarge it into a much larger, four-lane highway.

From an environmental perspective, this project is truly dangerous.

The DPKY area is a hotspot for nature — the largest tract of surviving forest in central Thailand and a globally famous tourist destination.  It sustains a wealth of wildlife including Asian elephants, Gaur, Dhole, Leopards, several species of hornbills and gibbons, and over 2,500 plant species.

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Conserv-Action's curator insight, August 26, 11:36 PM

Photo Credit: WWF-Malaysia/Lau Ching Fong

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A Life Reserve for Sustainable Development in Chile’s Patagonia

A Life Reserve for Sustainable Development in Chile’s Patagonia | forests | Scoop.it

The people of Patagonia in southern Chile are working to make the Aysén region a “life reserve”. Neighbouring Argentina, across the border, is a historic ally in this remote wilderness area which is struggling to achieve sustainable development and boost growth by making use of its natural assets.

 

“The Aysén Life Reserve mega citizen initiative emerged as a theoretical proposal to have a special region with a special development model, one based on inclusive sustainable development, with and for the people of the region,” activist Peter Hartmann, the creator of the concept and of the coalition that is pushing the project forward, told IPS.

 

“Many people say we want to chain off the region, but our aim is to use its good qualities, versus the megaprojects of the globalised world, which want to destroy them,” he said.

 

The southern region of Aysén is one of the least populated – and least densely populated – areas in Chile, with 105,000 inhabitants. This chilly wilderness area of vast biodiversity, swift-flowing rivers, lakes and glaciers also offers fertile land and marine resources that are exploited by large fishing companies.

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In Saving a Forest, Kenyans Find a Better Quality of Life

In Saving a Forest, Kenyans Find a Better Quality of Life | forests | Scoop.it

When Mercy Ngaruiya first settled in Kasigau in south eastern Kenya a decade ago, she found a depleted forest that was the result of years of tree felling and bush clearing.“This region was literally burning. There were no trees on my farm when I moved here, the area was so dry and people were cutting down trees and burning bushes for their livelihood,” Ngaruiya, a community leader in Kasigau, told IPS. Back then, she says, poverty and unemployment levels were high, there was limited supply of fresh water, and education and health services were poor.

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Tasmania prepares to tear up forestry peace deal

Environmentalists say the move by the state government would open up 1.5m hectares of largely pristine forest to logging


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Andrew Heald's curator insight, August 23, 11:13 PM
Worrying news from Tasmania -
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Last chance to save the world's primary forests

Last chance to save the world's primary forests | forests | Scoop.it
ALERT member James Watson tells us about important new research on the
world's last surviving primary forests.

The Congo’s primary forests as seen from Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda
(Photo © Liana Joseph)

Primary forests -- those largely free from industrial-scale land uses, and
where natural processes still dominate -- provide maximum ecosystem
benefits to humans and nature. 

Primary forests are essential for biodiversity conservation, and in the
face of a rapidly changing climate they will provide critical refugia for
many vulnerable species and sustain the maximum natural adaptive capacity.

However, new research by my colleagues and I -- which you can download free
here -- has shown how threatened the world's primary forests are.  Just
one-quarter of all primary forests still survive on Earth, with a mere 5
percent of these found in protected areas.

Despite increasing global awareness, annual rates of primary-forest loss
remain as high as 2 percent in some countries.

Importantly, our study found that half of the world's primary forests occur
in five developed nations -- the USA, Canada, Russia, Australia, and New
Zealand -- and the time is ripe for these nations to show leadership and
promote the conservation of remaining primary forests as an urgent matter
of global concern.

This is critically important in international negotiations -- such as the
Convention on Biological Diversity, and United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change -- as all fail to distinguish primary forests from
industrial production forests, degraded forests, or even plantations.

Now is the time to underscore the vital importance of vanishing primary
forests and their crucial benefits for nature and human welfare.

 
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Wade Davis on why anthropology matters

Wade Davis has joined UBC as a professor of Anthropology to inspire the next generation of scholars while continuing his life’s work of exploring new culture...
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Where on Earth should roads go and not go?

Where on Earth should roads go and not go? | forests | Scoop.it

Photo Credit: Rhett Butler

"The best thing you could do for the Amazon is to blow up all the roads." Road to ruin?

 

Those might sound like the words of an eco-terrorist, but it's actually a direct quote from Eneas Salati, a forest climatologist and one of Brazil's most eminent scientists. Salati was saying it straight: far too often, roads open up a Pandora's Box of environmental problems -- allowing illegal loggers, miners, hunters, or land speculators to invade forests and other native ecosystems.  The results are often disastrous for nature. But societies need roads -- for economic growth, to access land and natural resources, and for scores of other reasons.  Where on Earth should roads go and not go?

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Can it be stopped? Ghana's forests 'could completely disappear in less than 25 years'

Can it be stopped? Ghana's forests 'could completely disappear in less than 25 years' | forests | Scoop.it

Ghana contains forests that are biologically unique and important both for the wildlife they contain and the human communities that depend on them. However, the country is experiencing one of the greatest rates of deforestation in West Africa.


Rampant deforestation has cleared seven percent of Ghana's tree cover in just over a decade. Between 1990 and 2005, Ghana lost over a quarter of its total national forest cover (about 1,931,000 hectares of forest),” Boafo writes in the study. “At the current rate of deforestation, the country’s forests could completely disappear in less than 25 years.


According to data from Global Forest Watch, the forested portion of Ghana with major tree cover comprises approximately 6.9 million hectares. Of that, more than 500,000 hectares were cleared from 2001 to 2013. In other words, in just over a decade, the country lost more than seven percent of its forests.

 

An analysis published in Africa Initiative in January 2013 links deforestation to economic activities such as legal and illicit logging, clearing trees to increase arable land, fuel wood extraction and mining.

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Worker bees 'know' when to invest in their reproductive future

Worker bees 'know' when to invest in their reproductive future | forests | Scoop.it

Photo Credit: Brad Smith

When a colony of honeybees grows to about 4,000 members, it triggers an important first stage in its reproductive cycle: the building of a special type of comb used for rearing male reproductive, called drones. A team of experts from the Department of Neurobiology and Behaviour at Cornell University, ...

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Zombie ant fungi 'know' brains of their hosts

Zombie ant fungi 'know' brains of their hosts | forests | Scoop.it
(Phys.org) —A parasitic fungus that reproduces by manipulating the behavior of ants emits a cocktail of behavior-controlling chemicals when encountering the brain of its natural target host, but not when infecting other ant species, a new study shows.
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90 percent of Earth's species are overlooked in conservation

90 percent of Earth's species are overlooked in conservation | forests | Scoop.it
One of the biggest problems for conservation today is that it ignores 95% of all known species on Earth. Could a company ignored that proportion of its clients or a government so many of its voters? So why does this problem exist in conservation?
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Spider personality study shows evidence of 'social niche specialization'

Spider personality study shows evidence of 'social niche specialization' | forests | Scoop.it

Photo Credit: A. P. Modlmeier

 A team of researchers with the University of Pittsburgh (and one from the Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Müggelseedamm, Germany) has found evidence of "social niche specialization" in a species of social spiders. In their paper published in the journal Biology Letters, the team describes how they experimented with 84 artificially created colonies of the spiders and what they learned about their behavior as a result.

 

Social niche specialization is a theory of animal behavior that describes individual behavior within a social group—the idea is that the more social individual members are, the more individual differences emerge, leading to niche personalities for individual members. Groups with member niches are thought to be stronger and more organized.

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Will Iconic Sequoias Fall to Climate Change?

Will Iconic Sequoias Fall to Climate Change? | forests | Scoop.it

Photo Credit: Rene Jakobson

California's iconic trees, the giant sequoias, may sail through the state's current extreme drought. The huge trees survived even drier conditions during their long lives, studies show. The oldest sequoias live for more than 3,000 years.

But will giant sequoias still be around as California's climate shifts under the influence of global warming? It's hard to know — there are still too many unsolved mysteries about these massive trees, many scientists say. Even during California's last serious drought, in the 1970s, giant sequoias started growing faster, though no one is sure what is driving the gains. But climate models forecast even warmer and drier conditions by 2100 for California, which could make the sequoias' mountain soil too parched for the world's biggest trees. To better understand how to protect and preserve giant sequoias, scientists are looking at how sequoias live today, and where they lived in the past.

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Judit Urquijo's curator insight, August 26, 1:29 PM

Interesante artículo que pone de relieve la importancia de la investigación científica al objeto de conocer las consecuencias que puede tener el cambio climático sobre los seres vivos.

Entender para comprender.

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Food Security and Climate Change in Africa: A Question of Political Will

Food Security and Climate Change in Africa: A Question of Political Will | forests | Scoop.it

The solution to improving food security and resilience in Africa is no secret: all sectors need to work together to scale up climate-smart agriculture. What's needed now is political will to make that happen.

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U.S., Brazil Nearing Approval of Genetically Engineered Trees

U.S., Brazil Nearing Approval of Genetically Engineered Trees | forests | Scoop.it

The U.S. and Brazilian governments are moving into the final stages of weighing approval for the commercialisation of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees, moves that would mark the first such permits anywhere in the world.

 

The Brazilian government is slated to start taking public comments on such a proposal during the first week of September. Similarly, U.S. regulators have been working on an environmental impact assessment since early last year, a highly anticipated draft of which is expected to be released any day.


Despite industry claims to the contrary, critics warn that the use of genetically engineered (GE) trees would increase deforestation. The approvals could also spark off a new era of such products, which wouldn’t be confined solely to these countries.

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