By Rhett A. Butler Last updated Aug 14, 2020
A Place Out of Time: Tropical Rainforests and the Perils They Face - information on tropical forests, deforestation, and biodiversity
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE RAINFOREST
Rainforests are forest ecosystems characterized by high levels of rainfall, an enclosed canopy and high species diversity. While tropical rainforests are the best-known type of rainforest and the focus of this section of the web site, rainforests are actually found widely around the world, including temperate regions in Canada, the United States, and the former Soviet Union.
Tropical rainforests typically occur in the equatorial zone between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, latitudes that have warm temperatures and relatively constant year-round sunlight. Tropical rainforests merge into other types of forest depending on the altitude, latitude, and various soil, flooding, and climate conditions. These forest types form a mosaic of vegetation types which contribute to the incredible diversity of the tropics.
The bulk of the world's tropical rainforest occurs in the Amazon Basin in South America. The Congo Basin and Southeast Asia, respectively, have the second and third largest areas of tropical rainforest. Rainforests also exist on some the Caribbean islands, in Central America, in India, on scattered islands in the South Pacific, in Madagascar, in West and East Africa outside the Congo Basin, in Central America and Mexico, and in parts of South America outside the Amazon. Brazil has the largest extent of rainforest of any country on Earth.
Rainforests provide important ecological services, including storing hundreds of billions of tons of carbon, buffering against flood and drought, stabilizing soils, influencing rainfall patterns, and providing a home to wildlife and Indigenous people. Rainforests are also the source of many useful products upon which local communities depend.
While rainforests are critically important to humanity, they are rapidly being destroyed by human activities. The biggest cause of deforestation is conversion of forest land for agriculture. In the past subsistence agriculture was the primary driver of rainforest conversion, but today industrial agriculture — especially monoculture and livestock production — is the dominant driver of rainforest loss worldwide. Logging is the biggest cause of forest degradation and usually proceeds deforestation for agriculture.
Organization of this site
The rainforest section of Mongabay is divided into ten "chapters" (the original text for the site was a book, but has since been adapted for the web), with add-on content in the form of special focal sections (e.g. The Amazon, the Congo, REDD, New Guinea, Sulawesi, Forests in Brazil, etc), appendices, and other resources.
There is also a version of the site geared toward younger readers at kids.mongabay.com.
ABOUT THE RAINFOREST (SUMMARY)Chapter 1:
RAINFOREST DISTRIBUTION AND CHARACTERISTICS
Each rainforest is unique, but there are certain features common to all tropical rainforests.
- Location: rainforests lie in the tropics.
- Rainfall: rainforests receive at least 80 inches (200 cm) of rain per year.
- Canopy: rainforests have a canopy, which is the layer of branches and leaves formed by closely spaced rainforest trees some 30 meters (100 feet) off the ground. A large proportion of the plants and animals in the rainforest live in the canopy.
- Biodiversity: rainforests have extraordinarily highs level of biological diversity or “biodiversity”. Scientists estimate that about half of Earth's terrestrial species live in rainforests.
- Ecosystem services: rainforests provide a critical ecosystem services at local, regional, and global scales, including producing oxygen (tropical forests are responsible for 25-30 percent of the world's oxygen turnover) and storing carbon (tropical forests store an estimated 229-247 billion tons of carbon) through photosynthesis; influencing precipitation patterns and weather; moderating flood and drought cycles; and facilitating nutrient cycling; among others.
The global distribution of tropical rainforests can be broken up into four biogeographical realms based roughly on four forested continental regions: the Afrotropical, the Australiasian, the Indomalayan/Asian, and the Neotropical. Just over half the world's rainforests lie in the Neotropical realm, roughly a quarter are in Africa, and a fifth in Asia.
These realms can be further divided into major tropical forest regions based on biodiversity hotspots, including:
- Amazon: Includes parts of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela
- Congo: Includes parts of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of Congo
- Australiasia: Includes parts of Australia, Indonesian half of New Guinea, Papua New Guinea
- Sundaland: Includes parts of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore
- Indo-Burma: Includes parts of Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam
- Mesoamerica: Includes parts of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama
- Wallacea: Sulawesi and the Maluku islands in Indonesia
- West Africa: Includes parts of Benin, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo
- Atlantic forest: Includes parts of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay
- Choco: Includes parts of Colombia, Ecuador, Panama
Dozens of countries have tropical forests. The countries with the largest areas of tropical forest are:
Other countries that have large areas of rainforest include Bolivia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Ecuador, Gabon, Guyana, India, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Congo, Suriname, and Venezuela.
Cover and loss by rainforest region
|Primary forest extent||Tree cover extent|
|Primary forest loss||Tree cover change|
|Rainforest region||M ha (%)||M ha (%)||M ha (%)||M ha (%)|
|Amazon||-13.18 (-2.4%)||-17.28 (-3.2%)||-14.7 (-2.2%)||-29.8 (-4.5%)|
|Congo||-1.46 (-0.8%)||-4.68 (-2.7%)||-0.8 (-0.3%)||-12.7 (-4.2%)|
|Australiasia||-0.29 (-0.5%)||-0.86 (-1.3%)||0.2 (0.2%)||-1.4 (-1.5%)|
|Sundaland||-2.22 (-5.5%)||-3.67 (-6.4%)||-1.5 (-2.3%)||-9.5 (-7.8%)|
|Indo-Burma||-1.62 (-10.5%)||-2.14 (-5.0%)||-0.6 (-1.6%)||-6.4 (-4.2%)|
|Mesoamerica||-1.10 (-2.5%)||-2.51 (-14.4%)||-7.3 (-4.6%)||-13.9 (-25.6%)|
|Wallacea||-0.66 (-3.6%)||-1.36 (-8.9%)||-1.9 (-3.3%)||-4.6 (-17.5%)|
|West Africa||-0.30 (-3.1%)||-0.50 (-4.6%)||-0.1 (-0.8%)||-1.2 (-2.4%)|
|Atlantic forest||-0.24 (-2.1%)||-0.62 (-6.4%)||-0.7 (-1.5%)||-6.8 (-7.0%)|
|Choco||-0.33 (-3.3%)||-0.35 (-4.1%)||-3.5 (-3.5%)||-7.3 (-46.0%)|
|PAN-TROPICS||-23.11 (-2.2%)||-37.34 (-3.7%)||-68.9 (-3.4%)||-120.3 (-6.1%)|
Tropical forest cover and loss by country
|Units: million hectares||Primary forest extent||Tree cover extent|
|Central African Republic||7.4||7.3||7.2||46.9||47.1||46.6|
|Papua New Guinea||32.6||32.4||31.9||42.9||42.9||41.9|
|Republic of Congo||21.2||21.1||20.8||26.4||26.6||26.0|
|Rest of the tropics||59.6||58.0||53.9||210.1||203.5||183.3|
|Primary forest loss||Tree cover change|
|Country||M ha (%)||M ha (%)||M ha (%)||M ha (%)|
|Brazil||-11.37 (-3.3%)||-13.15 (-4.0%)||-18.25 (-3.5%)||-29.93 (-6.0%)|
|DR Congo||-1.16 (-1.1%)||-3.67 (-3.5%)||-0.37 (-0.2%)||-10.50 (-5.3%)|
|Indonesia||-3.63 (-3.9%)||-5.85 (-6.5%)||-2.09 (-1.3%)||-15.98 (-10.1%)|
|Colombia||-0.54 (-1.0%)||-0.96 (-1.8%)||0.17 (0.2%)||-2.43 (-3.0%)|
|Peru||-0.60 (-0.9%)||-1.37 (-2.0%)||0.68 (0.9%)||-2.10 (-2.7%)|
|Bolivia||-0.90 (-2.2%)||-1.84 (-4.6%)||-1.67 (-2.6%)||-3.75 (-6.0%)|
|Venezuela||-0.15 (-0.4%)||-0.33 (-0.9%)||0.86 (1.5%)||-1.14 (-2.0%)|
|Angola||-0.03 (-1.2%)||-0.09 (-3.8%)||-1.37 (-2.8%)||-1.51 (-3.1%)|
|Central African Republic||-0.05 (-0.6%)||-0.11 (-1.5%)||0.15 (0.3%)||-0.49 (-1.0%)|
|Papua New Guinea||-0.19 (-0.6%)||-0.55 (-1.7%)||0.04 (0.1%)||-1.05 (-2.4%)|
|Mexico||-0.20 (-2.1%)||-0.40 (-4.4%)||-0.81 (-1.9%)||-2.22 (-5.2%)|
|China||-0.03 (-1.9%)||-0.04 (-2.4%)||-1.67 (-3.9%)||-2.66 (-6.5%)|
|Myanmar||-0.19 (-1.4%)||-0.38 (-2.8%)||-1.90 (-4.4%)||-2.70 (-6.6%)|
|India||-0.13 (-1.2%)||-0.20 (-2.0%)||-3.67 (-10.5%)||-1.18 (-3.8%)|
|Cameroon||-0.11 (-0.6%)||-0.50 (-2.6%)||-0.96 (-3.1%)||-1.02 (-3.4%)|
|Republic of Congo||-0.07 (-0.3%)||-0.25 (-1.2%)||0.28 (1.0%)||-0.60 (-2.2%)|
|Argentina||-0.19 (-4.4%)||-0.21 (-5.0%)||-3.31 (-10.7%)||-2.69 (-9.8%)|
|Gabon||-0.08 (-0.3%)||-0.16 (-0.7%)||0.02 (0.1%)||-0.29 (-1.2%)|
|Malaysia||-0.98 (-6.2%)||-1.65 (-11.0%)||-0.47 (-1.6%)||-4.84 (-16.9%)|
|Mozambique||0.00 (-1.6%)||-0.01 (-7.5%)||-1.60 (-6.0%)||-1.95 (-7.8%)|
|Tanzania||-0.01 (-0.9%)||-0.02 (-2.8%)||-1.21 (-5.5%)||-1.31 (-6.3%)|
|Guyana||-0.03 (-0.2%)||-0.09 (-0.5%)||0.07 (0.3%)||-0.14 (-0.8%)|
|Ecuador||-0.05 (-0.5%)||-0.12 (-1.2%)||0.20 (1.1%)||-0.43 (-2.3%)|
|Thailand||-0.07 (-1.2%)||-0.05 (-0.9%)||-0.75 (-3.8%)||-1.31 (-6.9%)|
|Philippines||-0.05 (-1.1%)||-0.09 (-2.1%)||-0.18 (-1.0%)||-0.80 (-4.4%)|
|Paraguay||-0.46 (-13.3%)||-0.53 (-17.7%)||-3.69 (-15.4%)||-3.60 (-17.8%)|
|Zambia||0.00 (-1.0%)||-0.02 (-6.5%)||-1.07 (-5.8%)||-0.77 (-4.4%)|
|Laos||-0.23 (-2.7%)||-0.55 (-6.8%)||-1.15 (-6.0%)||-2.58 (-14.4%)|
|Suriname||-0.02 (-0.2%)||-0.10 (-0.8%)||0.05 (0.4%)||-0.14 (-1.0%)|
|Rest of the tropics||-1.59 (-2.7%)||-4.04 (-7.0%)||-6.59 (-3.1%)||-20.17 (-9.9%)|
|Grand Total||-23.11 (-2.2%)||-37.34 (-3.7%)||-50.27 (-2.5%)||-120.27 (-6.1%)|
Rainforests are characterized by a unique vegetative structure consisting of several vertical layers including the overstory, canopy, understory, shrub layer, and ground level. The canopy refers to the dense ceiling of leaves and tree branches formed by closely spaced forest trees. The upper canopy is 100-130 feet above the forest floor, penetrated by scattered emergent trees, 130 feet or higher, that make up the level known as the overstory. Below the canopy ceiling are multiple leaf and branch levels known collectively as the understory. The lowest part of the understory, 5-20 feet (1.5-6 meters) above the floor, is known as the shrub layer, made up of shrubby plants and tree saplings.
Tropical rainforests support the greatest diversity of living organisms on Earth. Although they cover less than 2 percent of Earth’s surface, rainforests house more than 50 percent of the plants and animals on the planet.
THE RAINFOREST CANOPY
In the rainforest most plant and animal life is not found on the forest floor, but in the leafy world known as the canopy. The canopy, which may be over 100 feet (30 m) above the ground, is made up of the overlapping branches and leaves of rainforest trees. Scientists estimate that more than half of life in the rainforest is found in the trees, making this the richest habitat for plant and animal life.
The conditions of the canopy are markedly different from the conditions of the forest floor. During the day, the canopy is drier and hotter than other parts of the forest, and the plants and animals that live there have adapted accordingly. For example, because the amount of leaves in the canopy can make it difficult to see more than a few feet, many canopy animals rely on loud calls or lyrical songs for communication. Gaps between trees mean that some canopy animals fly, glide, or jump to move about in the treetops. Meanwhile plants have evolved water-retention mechanisms like waxy leaves.
Scientists have long been interested in studying the canopy, but the height of trees made research difficult until recently. Today the canopy is commonly accessed using climbing gear, rope bridges, ladders, and towers. Researchers are even using model airplanes and quadcopters outfitted with special sensors — conservation drones — to study the canopy.
The rainforest floor
The rainforest floor is often dark and humid due to constant shade from the leaves of canopy trees. The canopy not only blocks out sunlight, but dampens wind and rain, and limits shrub growth.
Despite its constant shade, the ground floor of the rainforest is the site for important interactions and complex relationships. The forest floor is one of the principal sites of decomposition, a process paramount for the continuance of the forest as a whole. It provides support for trees responsible for the formation of the canopy and is also home to some of the rainforest's best-known species, including gorillas, tigers, tapirs, and elephants, among others.
Tropical rainforests support some of the largest rivers in the world, like the Amazon, Mekong, Negro, Orinoco, and Congo. These mega-rivers are fed by countless smaller tributaries, streams, and creeks. For example, the Amazon alone has some 1,100 tributaries, 17 of which are over 1,000 miles long. Although large tropical rivers are fairly uniform in appearance and water composition, their tributaries vary greatly.
Rainforest waters are home to a wealth of wildlife that is nearly as diverse as the biota on land. For example, more than 5,600 species of fish have been identified in the Amazon Basin alone.
But like rainforests, tropical ecosystems are also threatened. Dams, deforestation, channelization and dredging, pollution, mining, and overfishing are chief dangers.
Tropical rainforests have long been home to tribal peoples who rely on their surroundings for food, shelter, and medicines. Today very few forest people live in traditional ways; most have been displaced by outside settlers, have been forced to give up their lifestyles by governments, or have chosen to adopt outside customs.
Of the remaining forest people, the Amazon supports the largest number of Indigenous people living in traditional ways, although these people, too, have been impacted by the modern world. Nonetheless, Indigenous peoples' knowledge of medicinal plants remains unmatched and they have a great understanding of the ecology of the Amazon rainforest.
In Africa there are native forest dwellers sometimes known as pygmies. The tallest of these people, also called the Mbuti, rarely exceed 5 feet in height. Their small size enables them to move about the forest more efficiently than taller people.
There are few forest peoples in Asia living in fully traditional ways. The last nomadic people in Borneo are thought to have settled in the late 2000's. New Guinea and the Andaman Islands are generally viewed as the last frontiers for forest people in Asia and the Pacific.
Every year an area of rainforest the size of New Jersey is cut down and destroyed, mostly the result of human activities. We are cutting down rainforests for many reasons, including:
In recent decades there has been an important shift in deforestation trends. Today export-driven industries are driving a bigger share of deforestation than ever before, marking a shift from previous decades, when most tropical deforestation was the product of poor farmers trying to put food on the table for their families. There are important implications from this change. While companies have a greater capacity to chop down forests than small farmers, they are more sensitive to pressure from environmentalists. Thus in recent years, it has become easier—and more ethical—for green groups to go after corporations than after poor farmers.
Rainforests are also threatened by climate change, which is contributing to droughts in parts of the Amazon and Southeast Asia. Drought causes die-offs of trees and dries out leaf litter, increasing the risk of forest fires, which are often set by land developers, ranchers, plantation owners, and loggers.
While rainforests may seem like a distant concern, they are critically important for our well-being. Rainforests are often called the lungs of the planet for their role in absorbing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and producing oxygen, upon which all animals depend for survival. Rainforests also stabilize climate, house incredible amounts of plants and wildlife, and produce nourishing rainfall all around the planet.
- Help stabilize the world’s climate: Rainforests help stabilize the world’s climate by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Scientists have shown that excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from human activities is contributing to climate change. Therefore, living rainforests have an important role in mitigating climate change, but when rainforests are chopped down and burned, the carbon stored in their wood and leaves is released into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.
- Provide a home to many plants and animals: Rainforests are home to a large number of the world’s plant and animals species, including many endangered species. As forests are cut down, many species are doomed to extinction.
- Help maintain the water cycle: The role of rainforests in the water cycle is to add water to the atmosphere through the process of transpiration (in which plants release water from their leaves during photosynthesis). This moisture contributes to the formation of rain clouds, which release the water back onto the rainforest. In the Amazon, 50-80 percent of moisture remains in the ecosystem’s water cycle. When forests are cut down, less moisture goes into the atmosphere and rainfall declines, sometimes leading to drought. Rainforests also have a role in global weather patterns. For example researchers have shown that forests in South America affect rainfall in the United States, while forests in Southeast Asia influence rain patterns in southeastern Europe and China. Distant rainforests are therefore important to farmers everywhere.
- Protect against flood, drought, and erosion: Rainforests have been compared to natural sponges, moderating flood and drought cycles by slowing run-off and contributing moisture to the local atmosphere. Rainforests are also important in reducing soil erosion by anchoring the ground with their roots. When trees are cut down there is no longer anything to protect the ground, and soils are quickly washed away with rain. On steep hillsides, loss of forest can trigger landslides.
- Are a source for medicines and foods and support forest-dependent people: People have long used forests as a source of food, wood, medicine, and recreation. When forests are lost, they can no longer provide these resources. Instead people must find other places to get these goods and services. They also must find ways to pay for the things they once got for free from the forest.
Rainforests are disappearing very quickly. The good news is there are a lot of people who want to save rainforests. The bad news is that saving rainforests will be a challenge as it means humanity will need to shift away from business-as-usual practices by developing new policies and economic measures to creative incentives for preserving forests as healthy and productive ecosystems.
Over the past decade there has been considerable progress on several conservation fronts. Policymakers and companies are increasingly valuing rainforests for the services they afford, setting aside large blocks of forests in protected areas and setting up new financial mechanisms that compensate communities, state and local governments, and countries for conserving forests. Meanwhile, forest-dependent people are gaining more management control over the forests they have long stewarded. Large international companies are finally establishing policies that exclude materials sourced via deforestation. People are abandoning rural areas, leading to forest recovery in some planes.
But the battle is far from over. Growing population and consumption means that rainforests will continue to face intense pressures. At the same time, climate change threatens to dramatically alter temperatures and precipitation patterns, potentially pushing some forests toward critical tipping points.
Thus the future of the world's rainforests in very much in our hands. The actions we take in the next 20 years will determine whether rainforests, as we currently know them, are around to sustain and nourish future generations of people and wildlife.
The Latest News on Rainforests
‘They will die’: Fears for the last Piripkura as Amazon invasion ramps up (03 Dec 2021 20:48:42 +0000)
- Overflight images show that outsiders have not just invaded the Piripkura Indigenous Territory in the Brazilian Amazon, but are also expanding their illegal cattle ranches in what’s supposed to be the protected land of one of the world’s most vulnerable uncontacted Indigenous groups.
- Deforestation inside the territory surged nearly a hundredfold in the 12 months since August 2020, which Indigenous rights activists attribute to anticipation among would-be invaders that a restriction ordinance banning outsiders won’t be renewed as it has every two years since 2008.
- The invaders are closing in on the parts of the territory inhabited by Pakyî and Tamandua, the last two known Piripkura individuals living in the territory; there may be another 13 there who have chosen to remain uncontacted.
- The Piripkura suffered from at least two massacres since their first contact with outsiders in the 1980s, and now face the risk of extermination again, activists warn.
Indigenous groups unveil plan to protect 80% of the Amazon in Peru and Ecuador (03 Dec 2021 18:12:14 +0000)
- A new plan called the Amazon Sacred Headwaters initiative proposes the protection of 80% of the Amazon in Peru and Ecuador by 2025, consisting of 35 million hectares (86 million acres) of rainforest.
- The Amazonian Indigenous organizations leading the plan aim to center Indigenous-led forest management and land tenure to protect endemic species and prevent approximately 2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.
- The proposal has received positive responses from Ecuadoran and Peruvian government officials, but faces a stumbling block in the fact that both countries rely heavily on extractive industries operating within the Amazon to help pay off foreign debt.
$1.5 billion Congo Basin pledge a good start but not enough, experts say (03 Dec 2021 11:30:18 +0000)
- At last month’s COP26 climate summit, a group of 12 international donors pledged at least $1.5 billion over the next four years to support protection and sustainable management of the Congo Basin forests.
- The pledge is part of a broader $12 billion commitment to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation worldwide by 2030.
- The 200 million hectares (500 million acres) of forests in the Congo Basin may be the last significant land-based tropical carbon sink in the world, making the forests vitally important in the global fight against climate change.
- So far, detail of the pledge remain limited, and reaction from regional experts has been mixed; but all agree that $1.5 billion is far from enough to resolve the region’s issues.
Amid a furniture boom, timber certification is just a start, say experts (02 Dec 2021 13:16:48 +0000)
- For furniture consumers and manufacturers alike, ensuring timber is both legal and sustainable is tricky in Southeast Asia, where supply chains are blighted by illegal logging, poor forest management and scant law enforcement.
- In an effort to improve timber sustainability in the region’s furniture supply chains, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and the ASEAN Furniture Industries Council (AFIC) recent launched a four-year collaboration to promote timber certification.
- While the collaboration is a positive step, experts say even more needs to be done to prevent illegally sourced timber from entering the region’s domestic supply chains and local markets that largely operate informally and under less scrutiny than export markets.
- Experts also point out that timber certification is not a guarantee of deforestation-free products, and call on companies to publicly commit to deforestation-free supply chains and transparent reporting.
The ‘idea’: Uncovering the peatlands of the Congo Basin (02 Dec 2021 12:15:31 +0000)
- In 2017, a team of scientists from the U.K. and the Republic of Congo announced the discovery of a massive peatland the size of England in the Congo Basin.
- Sometimes called the Cuvette Centrale, this peatland covers 145,529 square kilometers (56,189 square miles) in the northern Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and holds about 20 times as much carbon as the U.S. releases from burning fossil fuels in a year.
- Today, the Congo Basin peatlands are relatively intact while supporting nearby human communities and a variety of wildlife species, but threats in the form of agriculture, oil and gas exploration and logging loom on the horizon.
- That has led scientists, conservationists and governments to look for ways to protect and better understand the peatlands for the benefit of the people and animals they support and the future of the global climate.
Is colonial history repeating itself with Sabah forest carbon deal? (commentary) (01 Dec 2021 00:01:02 +0000)
- To the surprise of Indigenous and local communities, a huge forest carbon conservation agreement was recently signed in the Malaysian state of Sabah on the island of Borneo.
- Granting rights to foreign entities on more than two million hectares of the state’s tropical forests for the next 100-200 years, civil society groups have called for more transparency.
- “Is history repeating itself? Are we not yet free or healed from our colonial and wartime histories?” wonders a Sabahan civil society leader who authored this opinion piece calling for more information, more time, and a say.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily of Mongabay.
Meet Magali, the conservation warrior rescuing Peru’s rainforest animals: Video (26 Nov 2021 22:20:43 +0000)
- A new, award-winning short film by Nick Werber follows wildlife rehabilitator and founder of Amazon Shelter, Magali Salinas, as she discusses her work in the Madre de Dios region of the Peruvian Amazon.
- Magali has dedicated the past 16 years of her life to rescuing animals in a region rife with illegal logging, mining, and wildlife trade. Her center cares for up to 80 animals at once (including sloths, tortoises, parrots, monkeys and more) and releases dozens back into the wild each year.
- Amazon shelter specializes in howler monkeys and Magali releases troops of rehabilitated howlers into protected reserves away from other howler troops’ territories. Finding these places can take days to weeks of searching.
- The film builds to the release of 14 howler monkeys into the wild. “It just goes to show the difference that one person can make,” Werber said. “That was what inspired me to make the film.”
Papua clan takes first step toward official recognition of land rights (26 Nov 2021 10:20:30 +0000)
- A district head in Indonesia’s West Papua province has issued a decree that recognizes the rights of an Indigenous clan to its ancestral lands and forests.
- The decree, the first in the district, serves as the first step toward the Gelek Malak Kalawilis Pasa clan getting official recognition of its customary rights from the central government in Jakarta.
- Activists have welcomed the decree, saying it gives the clan better protection against the advancement of the palm oil industry, which has long coveted the clan’s lands and forests for conversion into plantations.
In Brazil, an agribusiness haven’s green pivot leaves many skeptical (25 Nov 2021 12:57:47 +0000)
- The Amacro project was conceived in early 2020 as an agribusiness hub in a heavily deforested part of the Brazilian Amazon, but a year later is being touted as a hub for sustainable business.
- Now renamed the Abunã-Madeira Sustainable Development Area (ZDS), it stretches across 32 municipalities in the states of Amazonas, Acre and Rondônia, which last year accounted for nearly a quarter of the total deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.
- The ZDS project aims to attract investments into a wide range of sectors, from agroforestry and fish farming, to tourism and logistics, as well as the agribusiness, while promising to avoid deforestation through technology to help boost agricultural productivity.
- Despite these green claims, prosecutors and nonprofit researchers say the prospect of new investment is already boosting land grabbing and deforestation in the area, and argue the best way to halt deforestation is to create protected areas — something that’s not included in the ZDS project.
Forests for sale: How land traffickers profit by slicing up Bolivia’s protected areas (25 Nov 2021 02:49:11 +0000)
- Shortly after Bolivia’s Bajo Paraguá Municipal Protected Area was established in February 2021, authorities began receiving reports of invasions and deforestation in and around the new protected area.
- Local sources say land traffickers are illegally buying up plots of protected land to resell, often repeatedly, to third parties.
- Mongabay spoke with one of these third parties, a man who said he purchased access to land in Bajo Paraguá from land traffickers before being evicted by the same traffickers so that they could sell the land to someone else.
- The man said traffickers have resorted to threats of violence to intimidate local communities from reporting incursions.
Details emerge around closed-door carbon deal in Malaysian Borneo (24 Nov 2021 11:23:40 +0000)
- Leaders in Sabah have begun to reveal information about a nature conservation agreement signed in the Malaysian state of Sabah on the island of Borneo for the rights to carbon and other natural capital.
- The deal allegedly covers rights to more than 2 million hectares (4.9 million acres) of the state’s tropical forests for the next 100-200 years.
- Indigenous and civil society groups have called for more transparency.
- In response to the public reaction to news of the agreement, its primary proponent, Deputy Chief Minister Jeffrey Kitingan, held a public meeting but has declined to make the agreement public yet.
Venezuelans hit by cooking gas shortages look to forests for firewood (24 Nov 2021 10:30:44 +0000)
- National propane shortages have forced Venezuelans to search for firewood and charcoal to cook with.
- Conservationists have expressed concern that a national shift to firewood could result in deforestation, especially in protected areas with dense rainforest.
- Because there is a lack of scientific research in Venezuela, it’s almost impossible to know how serious the ecological impact has been. Conservationists have so far relied on empirical data for their investigations.
How to ensure the Glasgow forest declaration is a success (commentary) (22 Nov 2021 15:53:00 +0000)
- COP26 featured several major announcements on forests, including the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, signed by 133 world leaders, who committed to work to halt forest loss and land degradation.
- Alison Hoare, Senior Research Fellow of the Environment and Society Programme at Chatham House, says “History would suggest that such commitments are very easy to make, but much harder to achieve.”
- Hoare lays out some critical steps that leaders need to take to ensure that the Glasgow Declaration doesn’t end up as another empty promise.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of Mongabay.
With La Niña conditions back, is it good news for tropical forests? (22 Nov 2021 15:05:19 +0000)
- La Niña conditions have developed across the Pacific Ocean for the second year in a row, according to forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
- A phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation ocean-atmosphere cycle, La Niña heralds broadly cooler and wetter conditions across the tropics, with above-average rainfall predicted for important tropical rainforests in Southeast Asia and South America.
- Although the current conditions emerge toward the end of the fire season in the Amazon and Indonesia, experts say these biomes will benefit from wet conditions conducive to forest and peatland growth and recovery.
- Studies indicate that climate change will increase the frequency and severity of La Niña and El Niño events, which will occur against the backdrop of a warmer world, with inevitable implications for natural ecosystems and livelihoods.
DRC environment minister panned for allegedly facilitating illegal concessions (19 Nov 2021 16:52:25 +0000)
- The Democratic Republic of Congo’s environment minister, Ève Bazaiba, has come under scrutiny over her alleged involvement in a series of illegal forest concessions.
- Bazaiba in September reportedly deployed a team from her ministry to effectively obtain local community consent for a concession that had been illegally granted by her predecessor.
- The country’s president has ordered an audit of the concessions and the suspension of all “questionable contracts,” but observers say the government hasn’t taken any action yet.
- The DRC is mulling a controversial plan to end a 19-year moratorium on industrial logging, which critics say would imperil 70 million hectares (173 million acres) of forest, an area larger than France.