WORLD RAINFOREST

By Rhett A. Butler  Last updated Aug 14, 2020

The Tropical Rainforest - information on tropical forests, deforestation, and biodiversity

 

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The Latest News on Rainforests

To reverse deforestation and protect biodiversity, build a bioeconomy in the Amazon (commentary) (Feb 23 2024)
- Slowing and reversing deforestation and land degradation in the Amazon requires not only conservation efforts but also increasing the economic value of standing primary forests through a bioeconomy approach, argues Robert Muggah, co-founder of Instituto Igarapé.
- A bioeconomy involves regenerative agriculture, sustainable energy, and other activities that leverage the forest’s natural assets while ensuring economic benefits for local communities. However, the expansion of the bioeconomy faces challenges, including resistance from extractive sectors, investment risks, and the need for infrastructure, research, and support for local enterprises.
- Despite these hurdles, advancing the bioeconomy is essential for sustainable development and decarbonization in the Amazon and crucial for the world, says Muggah.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily Mongabay.

Low implementation of land use maps in Andean countries affects conservation outcomes and agricultural productivity (Feb 22 2024)
- Mongabay is publishing a new edition of the book, “A Perfect Storm in the Amazon,” in short installments and in three languages: Spanish, English and Portuguese.
- Land-zoning in Peru and Bolivia has had positive and adverse outcomes, with land speculation and focus on agriculture often precluding sustainable development and promoting deforestation.
- The 2013 Sembrando Bolivia programme, central to the government’s goal of expanding the agricultural footprint, sped up land tenure regularization on properties deforested between 1996 and 2013 and issued new forest-clearing permits for 154,000 hectares. Originally intended to foster forest conservation, the programme was used to promote deforestation in favor of agricultural production in the Bolivian Amazon.

Land use planning helps advance conservation in Brazil (Feb 21 2024)
- Mongabay is publishing a new edition of the book, “A Perfect Storm in the Amazon,” in short installments and in three languages: Spanish, English and Portuguese.
- In addition to regulating land tenure, land-use zoning and planning have been used across the Amazon Basin, as countries have aimed to protect forests and prevent the encroachment of agricultural frontiers.
- In Brazil,the Zonificación Ecológica Económica (ZEE) coincided with a parallel effort to protect large swathes of the Amazon and provided technical criteria and legal support for the creation of dozens of conservation units and Indigenous territories.

Tech to recover rainforest: Interview with Osa Conservation’s Carolina Pinto & Paulina Rodriguez (Feb 21 2024)
- Osa Conservation is a nonprofit organization working to monitor and protect biodiversity in the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica.
- The peninsula is home to plants and animals seen nowhere else on the planet, and is estimated to harbor 2.5% of the global terrestrial biodiversity.
- The organization uses a wide array of tech tools — from camera traps to acoustic recorders and GPS tags — to study, monitor and protect animals such as sea turtles, jaguars and spider monkeys.
- However, the harsh terrain, weak internet connectivity and the remote nature of the ecosystem are proving to be hurdles to quicker and more efficient deployment of tech tools.

Indonesia to offer tax perks to companies investing in reforestation of its new capital city (Feb 21 2024)
- The Indonesian government is appealing to the private sector for investors to help transform 82,891 hectares (204,800 acres) of barren lands around the new capital of Nusantara into tropical rainforests.
- Mining companies that are required to rehabilitate their concessions after their permits have expired will be able to count reforestation in the capital region toward their quota.
- In addition, the government is offering significant tax deductions to companies that invest in rehabilitating degraded lands.
- East Kalimantan, once covered in tropical forests and home to charismatic species and vast regions of biodiversity, is the country’s most intensely mined province with 7 million hectares (17.3 million acres) of coal mining concessions.

Road project promising access to Indigenous Waorani is ushering in deforestation (Feb 19 2024)
- A new road in Ecuador’s Pastaza province is under construction to improve access to the interior of the country’s Amazonian region.
- The 42-kilometer (26-mile) project will connect Indigenous Waorani communities to urban centers and aims to reduce food transportation costs.
- Construction of the road, however, hasn’t been managed well by the environment ministry, critics say, and has attracted deforestation along its route, according to a newly published report by the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP).
- The project has been met with mixed reactions from communities, according to the president of the Waorani Nation, and an Indigenous guard group has been deployed to ensure environmental standards are being met.

Brazil’s BR-319 highway: The danger reaches a critical moment (commentary) (Feb 17 2024)
- A project to rebuild Brazil’s notorious BR-319 highway is quickly moving closer to becoming a fait accompli. Together with planned side roads, BR-319 would open vast areas of Amazon rainforest to the entry of deforesters. A working group convened by the Ministry of Transportation will soon release a report intended to justify approval of the project’s environmental license. Congressional approval of legislation to force granting the license is also looming.
- Despite a constant political discourse claiming that governance will contain deforestation and tourists will admire the forest from their cars as they drive on a “park road,” the reality on an Amazon frontier is very different. Most of what happens once access is provided by road is outside of the government’s control.
- The consequences of unleashing deforestation in the last great block of Amazon forest would be catastrophic for Brazil, threatening the water carried to São Paulo by the winds known as “flying rivers” and pushing global warming past a tipping point.
- An earlier version of this text was published in Portuguese by Amazônia Real. It is a commentary and does not necessarily reflect the views of Mongabay.

In Brazil’s soy belt, community seed banks offer hope for the Amazon (Feb 15 2024)
- In Brazil’s state of Mato Grosso, monoculture has replaced large swathes of the Amazon rainforest and ushered in changes in climate patterns, including severe droughts and scarce rains, according to climate experts.
- Traditional and Indigenous peoples are looking to counter the impacts of large-scale soy plantations in the region by setting up community seed banks and reforesting degraded lands with species native to the Amazon.
- Experts say seed initiatives could play a key role in restoration efforts as Brazil scrambles to rehabilitate 60,000 square kilometers (23,160 square miles) of deforested land by 2030 and agribusiness faces global demands to reverse the damage it has inflicted on the Amazon.
- Seed banks could also help restore the biodiversity being lost in the Amazon, preserve species central to Indigenous cultures, and mitigate climate change, locally and globally.

Mini rainforest project aims to serve as Kalimantan reforestation blueprint (Feb 15 2024)
- The government, researchers and companies are combining forces to build a miniature tropical rainforest in Kalimantan, hoping it will serve as a blueprint for the reforestation of barren lands in the region of Indonesia’s planned new capital, Nusantara.
- Tree species of different heights – tall, low and understory – will create layers of vegetation in a reforestation method that hasn’t been used in Indonesia before; the program is the first of its kind to reintroduce tropical rainforest into a degraded ecosystem in Indonesia.
- The project, involving Mulawarman University and three companies — Danone, PT Indo Tambangraya Megah (ITM) and PT Multi Harapan Utama (MHU) — will cover 96 hectares (237 acres) some 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) away from the government’s core area of the new capital.

The creation of settlements in the Ecuadorian Amazon | Chapter 4 of “A Perfect Storm in the Amazon” (Feb 13 2024)
- Mongabay is publishing a new edition of the book, “A Perfect Storm in the Amazon,” in short installments and in three languages: Spanish, English and Portuguese.
- Author Timothy J. Killeen is an academic and expert who, since the 1980s, has studied the rainforests of Brazil and Bolivia, where he lived for more than 35 years.
- Chronicling the efforts of nine Amazonian countries to curb deforestation, this edition provides an overview of the topics most relevant to the conservation of the region’s biodiversity, ecosystem services and Indigenous cultures, as well as a description of the conventional and sustainable development models that are vying for space within the regional economy.
- Click the “A Perfect Storm in the Amazon” link atop this page to see chapters 1-13 as they are published during 2023 and 2024.

Reforestation of Indonesia’s new capital city stumped by haphazard planting (Feb 13 2024)
- Less than a tenth of the reforestation target for Indonesia’s new capital city, Nusantara, has been achieved to date, planners say.
- The main obstacles that experts have identified include a preference for nonnative tree species, poor planting practices and monitoring, and a general misapplication of reforestation principles.
- Officials have acknowledged that progress is off-target, but note that the government is joined by the private sector and NGOs in carrying out tree-planting efforts.
- They also say a master plan is in the works to better guide these efforts, as Indonesia prepares to inaugurate its “green forest city” later this year.

Palm oil deforestation makes comeback in Indonesia after decade-long slump (Feb 13 2024)
- Deforestation for oil palm plantations has increased for the second year in a row in Indonesia, the world’s biggest producer of palm oil, bucking a decade-long decline in forest loss.
- A third of the 2023 deforestation occurred on carbon-rich peatlands, raising the potential for massive greenhouse gas emissions as these areas are cleared and drained in preparation for planting.
- Historically, deforestation for plantations in Indonesia was concentrated on the island of Sumatra, but the surge in the past two years has been mostly on the islands of Indonesian Borneo and Papua.

Ecuador government weighs delaying closure of controversial ITT oil block (Feb 12 2024)
- The government in Ecuador is considering ways to avoid closing the 43-ITT oil block, located inside Yasuní National Park in the eastern Amazon, despite the results of a national referendum last year to halt drilling.
- Since opening in 2016, the operation has led to numerous oil spills and the construction of a road through the 82,000-hectare (202,626 acre) reserve, threatening biodiversity as well as Indigenous groups, many of them living in voluntary isolation.
- But some officials have said closing the oil block needs to be delayed by at least one year to allow the national economy to respond to what could amount to billions of dollars in losses.

A particular agrarian reform process in Peru | Chapter 4 of “A Perfect Storm in the Amazon” (Feb 8 2024)
- Mongabay is publishing a new edition of the book, “A Perfect Storm in the Amazon,” in short installments and in three languages: Spanish, English and Portuguese.
- Author Timothy J. Killeen is an academic and expert who, since the 1980s, has studied the rainforests of Brazil and Bolivia, where he lived for more than 35 years.
- Chronicling the efforts of nine Amazonian countries to curb deforestation, this edition provides an overview of the topics most relevant to the conservation of the region’s biodiversity, ecosystem services and Indigenous cultures, as well as a description of the conventional and sustainable development models that are vying for space within the regional economy.
- Click the “A Perfect Storm in the Amazon” link atop this page to see chapters 1-13 as they are published during 2023 and 2024.

Study: Indonesia’s new capital city threatens stable proboscis monkey population (Feb 8 2024)
- A recent study warns that the ongoing construction of Indonesia’s new capital city on the island of Borneo could destabilize the population of endangered proboscis monkeys currently thriving in the area.
- President Joko Widodo has characterized the development as green and with a minimal environmental impact, but concerns have arisen over the potential threat to the nearby Balikpapan Bay mangrove ecosystem that’s home to proboscis monkeys and other threatened wildlife.
- Scientists have advocated for sustainable development practices and emphasized the importance of respecting local biodiversity while constructing the new city, Nusantara.
- Their recommendations include legal protection for affected areas, habitat restoration, and collaboration with local stakeholders to mitigate the environmental impact.

African Parks vows to investigate allegations of abuse at Congolese park (Feb 7 2024)
- In late January, the Daily Mail published allegations that rangers working with African Parks at Odzala-Kokoua park in the Republic of Congo had beaten and raped Baka community members.
- In a statement, African Parks said it had hired the U.K.-based law firm Omnia Strategy to investigate the allegations, which were raised in a letter sent to a board member by the advocacy group Survival International last year.
- African Parks said it became aware of the allegations through that letter, but in 2022, a local civil society group in the Republic of Congo released a statement accusing rangers of committing “acts of torture.”

How to achieve the regularization of rural land in private properties in Peru? | Chapter 4 of “A Perfect Storm in the Amazon” (Feb 6 2024)
- Mongabay is publishing a new edition of the book, “A Perfect Storm in the Amazon,” in short installments and in three languages: Spanish, English and Portuguese.
- Author Timothy J. Killeen is an academic and expert who, since the 1980s, has studied the rainforests of Brazil and Bolivia, where he lived for more than 35 years.
- Chronicling the efforts of nine Amazonian countries to curb deforestation, this edition provides an overview of the topics most relevant to the conservation of the region’s biodiversity, ecosystem services and Indigenous cultures, as well as a description of the conventional and sustainable development models that are vying for space within the regional economy.
- Click the “A Perfect Storm in the Amazon” link atop this page to see chapters 1-13 as they are published during 2023 and 2024.

‘Healthy humans without a healthy planet is a logical fallacy’: Interview with Dr. Sakib Burza (Feb 6 2024)
- Brought up watching nature’s grandeur in Indian Kashmir, Dr. Sakib Burza’s early inspiration in medicine began at home before he went on to work with Indigenous and local communities in tropical forest regions.
- Having worked in communities responding to the impacts of droughts and climate shocks, he says improved planetary health is crucial for better human health, and that health problems are often the symptoms of climate change or environmental problems.
- At Health In Harmony, he leads medical projects with rainforest communities through the concept of radical listening and supporting their medical needs and livelihoods.
- In an interview with Mongabay, Dr. Burza lays out his argument for how and why the health of people and the planet are connected, and actions that can improve the state of both.

Harmful mining continues in Nicaragua despite U.S. sanctions, new investigation shows (Feb 5 2024)
- The U.S. imposed sanctions against Nicaragua in 2022 but numerous mines are still operating like normal or even expanding, according to a new report from the Oakland Institute, a think tank dealing with social and environmental issues.
- Despite the sanctions, the U.S. was Nicaragua’s largest gold importer last year, bringing in around $465 million.
- Expanding mining concessions has resulted in pollution and human rights violations against Indigenous communities.

Brazil’s 2024-2027 “Transversal Environmental Agenda”: The elephants in the room (commentary) (Feb 4 2024)
- Brazil’s current 4-year development plan is accompanied by a “Transversal Environmental Agenda,” released last week, to coordinate environmental measures across the different federal agencies.
- While the agenda lists many worthwhile items in the portfolios of the various ministries, it fails in the most basic role such an agenda should play: ensuring that government actions do not cause environmental catastrophes.
- Missing subjects include foregoing building roads that open Amazon forest to deforestation, legalizing illegal land claims that stimulates an unending cycle of land grabbing and invasion, plans for hydroelectric dams in Amazonia, expanding oil and gas drilling and the burning of fossil fuels that must end without delay if global warming is to be controlled.
- An earlier version of this text was published in Portuguese by Amazônia Real. It is a commentary and does not necessarily reflect the views of Mongabay.

Sarawak government’s hydropower plans worry Indigenous communities (Feb 2 2024)
- Indigenous residents begin submitting petitions as Sarawak officials announce three new cascading hydropower dams throughout the state.
- While Sarawak’s chief minister appears all-in for the dam in comments, other officials say plans hang on the results of upcoming feasibility studies.
- After some villages were devastated by older dams, Indigenous residents ask officials to consult them fully or simply drop the plans.

Bid to mitigate gold mine’s impact on orangutans hit by stonewalling, data secrecy (Feb 2 2024)
- An international conservation task force says a gold mine operator in Indonesia resisted its efforts to carry out an independent review of the project’s impact on Tapanuli orangutans, the world’s most threatened great ape species.
- The ARRC Task Force, which had been engaged by the Martabe gold mine in early 2022 to advise on minimizing its impacts on the critically endangered species, said the task force was expected to carry out a mere “tick box exercise.”
- U.K. conglomerate Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd., which ultimately owns the mine, said the reason the engagement fell through was Indonesian legal restrictions on data sharing, which meant the ARRC couldn’t access the government-held data it needed.
- Part of the Martabe concession overlaps onto the Batang Toru Forest, the only home of the Tapanuli orangutan; advocacy group Mighty Earth says most of the deforestation detected recently in the concession occurred in orangutan habitat and carbon-rich landscapes.

A coalition created by a demand for land is splintered by a competition for territory | Chapter 4 of “A Perfect Storm in the Amazon” (Feb 1 2024)
- The political movement that brought Evo Morales to power incorporated a latent conflict between highland and lowland Indigenous communities.
- Attempt to build highways revealed that Evo Morales would not honour his campaign promises to lowland Indigenous groups when it conflicted with the interests of the more numerous and politically assertive interculturales.
- INRA has done a fairly competent job of processing the huge backlog of land claims, but there is no indication that any government will end the distribution of public land.
- Click the “A Perfect Storm in the Amazon” link atop this page to see chapters 1-13 as they are published during 2023 and 2024.

Freeing trees of their liana load can boost carbon sequestration in tropical forests (Feb 1 2024)
- Lianas are woody, vining plants, many of which thrive in areas where forest has been disturbed — often to the detriment of the trees they use to climb towards the sun.
- New research shows that liana cutting is a low-cost natural climate solution that can boost the amount of carbon absorbed by a tree.
- The study’s results indicate that freeing just five trees per hectare of their liana load could remove 800 million tons of C02 from the atmosphere over a 30 year period if applied across 250 million hectares of managed forest.
- Liana cutting is also seen as a way for foresters and conservationists to work together, improving both the forest’s power to sequester carbon and the quality of the timber that is being logged, as well as a way to generate income for local communities.

Three new species of frogs found nestled in Madagascar’s pandan trees (Feb 1 2024)
- Scientists have described three new frog species that dwell exclusively in the spiky leaves of pandan trees in Madagascar’s eastern rainforests.
- While the frogs are new to science, locals have observed them for generations, and they’ve been given names in Malagasy.
- The frogs have a unique life cycle completely restricted to the trees, meaning they entirely depend entirely on intact pandan trees.
- Pandan trees, from the genus Pandanus, are threatened by deforestation driven by mining, agriculture and development, while slashing, burning and deforestation threaten Madagascar’s extraordinary biodiversity in general.