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

Major meatpacker JBS misled the public about sustainability efforts, NY lawsuit claims (Mar 1 2024)
- New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against JBS USA Food Company and JBS USA Food Company Holdings for misrepresenting plans to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.
- The lawsuit cites numerous instances in which the company’s claims to the public didn’t align with what was happening behind closed doors. Its website and advertisements have boasted claims about reaching net-zero carbon emissions while company executives were making plans to grow.
- The New York attorney general said JBS Group’s greenhouse gas emissions calculations don’t include deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest, making its environmental goals “not feasible given the current scope of [its] business operations.”

In the Amazon, what happens to undesignated public lands? (Feb 29 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.
- Indigenous communities compete with other stakeholders with economic, demographic and political power. Among them, the livestock, agricultural and logging sectors stand out. This competition for land includes the interests of mining companies and the oil and gas industry.
- Broadly speaking, there are still important areas of public lands waiting to be assigned as protected areas, Indigenous reserves or open to some type of sustainable development.
- Therefore, it is important to understand that insecure and uncertain land is directly related to the deforestation crisis. Hoarders and settlers appropriate public lands due to the incomplete nature of land records.

Major meatpackers are unlawfully deforesting Brazil’s Cerrado, report says (Feb 29 2024)
- In the state of Mato Grosso, some of the country’s largest meatpackers are clearing parts of the Cerrado at an even faster rate than the Amazon Rainforest, a new report from U.K.-based NGO Global Witness says.
- Meatpackers JBS, Marfrig and Minerva have cut down nearly five times more of the state’s Cerrado than they have its Amazon. One in three cows that the companies purchased from the Cerrado had grazed on illegally deforested land.
- A major EU law regulating deforestation in supply chains is scheduled for review this year, and the Global Witness report said its language should be expanded to include “other wooded land” that would protect the Cerrado.

Ecuador, Colombia and the Guiana Shield join the planning of sustainable land use (Feb 28 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.
- This section shows how land use planning in Ecuador loses value if it is not accompanied by programs that motivate landowners to reform their business models and reward forest communities.
- Likewise, in countries like Colombia the challenge is not access to information or technical capacity, but rather the weak presence of the State in various areas of the country that live without law. Finally, although Suriname, Guyana and Venezuela were late in planning the development of their forested areas, the deforestation factors linked to agriculture and infrastructure are quite low.
- Despite this, the threats facing these countries include new offshore oil and gas reserves, as well as small and medium-scale gold mining.

New giant anaconda species found on Waorani Indigenous land in Ecuador (Feb 28 2024)
- A new species of giant anaconda has been found in the Bameno region of Baihuaeri Waorani Territory in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
- The largest snake the team found in Waorani territory was a female anaconda that measured 6.3 meters (20.7 feet) long from head to tail, but there are Indigenous reports of larger individuals.
- As apex predators, anacondas play a vital ecological role in regulating prey populations like fish, rodents, deer and caimans.
- Anacondas face a number of threats across their range, including habitat loss from deforestation, hunting by humans and pollution from oil spills.

Rewilding Ireland: ‘Undoing the damage’ from a history of deforestation (Feb 27 2024)
- Eoghan Daltun has spent the past 14 years successfully rewilding 29 hectares (73 acres) of farmland on the Beara Peninsula in southwestern Ireland.
- Ireland is one of the most ecologically denuded countries in the world, only possessing about 11% forest cover but on this episode of the Mongabay Newscast, co-host Rachel Donald speaks with Daltun about how he came to accomplish his rewilding feat simply by letting nature take its course and erecting a good fence, which has rapidly led to the regeneration of native forest, wildflowers and fauna.
- They also discuss the historical drivers of ecological devastation that have led to the classic, tree-less Irish landscape, from ancient times to imperial colonization and the advent of modern farming, and what the potential of rewilding is to change that and boost biodiversity.

We’re losing species faster than we can find them, study shows (Feb 27 2024)
- Researchers compiled a database showing the number of lost species is increasing faster than rediscovered species: since 1800, more than 800 amphibian, bird, mammal and reptile species have not seen by scientists in at least a decade.
- Reptiles as well as small, nocturnal or underground species tend to stay lost longer than larger, more widespread mammals and birds.
- Once found, many lost species remain threatened with extinction as their populations are often small and fragmented due to habitat loss.
- New technologies like camera traps and environmental DNA are aiding rediscovery efforts, but the involvement of local communities is also key to finding lost species.

‘Shocking’ mortality of infant macaques points to dangers of oil palm plantations (Feb 27 2024)
- As oil palm plantations encroach on rainforests, wild primates increasingly enter them to forage, where they face the threat of being eaten by feral dogs, killed for raiding crops, or caught by traffickers for the pet trade.
- A new study from Peninsular Malaysia finds that exposure to oil plantations also significantly increases the risk of death among infant southern pig-tailed macaques.
- In addition to known threats, researchers speculate common pesticides used in oil palm plantations might play a role in the increased death risks for infant macaques, but their study stops short of providing direct evidence implicating any specific toxic chemical in these deaths.
- Conservationists call for using environmentally safe and wildlife-friendly agricultural practices in oil plantations to minimize risks and establishing wildlife corridors and tree islands so that endangered primates, like southern pig-tailed macaques, can move freely without being exposed to threats.

Skywalker gibbons confirmed in Myanmar for the first time (Feb 26 2024)
- Skywalker hoolock gibbons have been confirmed for the first time in the forests of northeastern Myanmar, with researchers using acoustic monitoring and DNA analysis to identify 44 groups of the imperiled primates.
- The discovery officially extends the range of the endangered species, first described as recently as 2017, beyond the borders of China; the population found in Myanmar is the largest known population of the species on the planet.
- The researchers also conducted a threat analysis, identifying habitat loss from logging and mining and hunting for the illegal wildlife trade as major pressures.
- Given the prevailing political conflict and paucity of well-managed protected areas in Myanmar, local communities and experts recommend scaling up grassroots and Indigenous-led conservation efforts to protect the threatened primates and their forest home.

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.”