The eagle owl

November 11th, 2010

Eagle owl

The newest resident of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Central Park Zoo in New York City is Flaco, an eagle owl (Bulbo bulbo). Native to Europe and Asia, eagle owls are one of the world’s biggest owl species with a wingspan up to 79 inches. The species is considered Least Concern by the IUCN Red List. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher.

Certified palm oil is good for Indonesia

November 10th, 2010

Editorial: Sustainability is the basic issue
The Jakarta Post | Wed, 11/10/2010 9:51 AM | Editorial

It would be misguided for Indonesian companies to boycott or quit the Kuala Lumpur-based Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), as demanded by several executives of the palm oil producers association (Gapkindo) and the government-sponsored Palm Oil Board.

Such a move against RSPO, which opened its eighth annual conference and exhibition here Tuesday, would not resolve the international attacks on several major Indonesian palm oil companies for allegedly damaging natural forests through plantation expansion. The core issue is that big buyers in Europe such as Unilever and Nestle have been pressured by environmental campaigners such as Greenpeace and consumer organizations to stop buying palm oil from Indonesian producers that have not gained green certification under the RSPO principles and criteria.

Allegations that European palm oil buyers have used this pressure from NGOs as a bargaining weapon to get lower prices from Indonesian suppliers, given the country’s position as the world’s largest producer, seem groundless.

The suspicion that the green campaign is a subterfuge by the producers of vegetable oil such as soybean, sunflower, rapeseed and corn oil in rich countries in coping with the fierce competition from palm oil is misplaced.

First of all, the principles and criteria assessed for RSPO green certification are precisely the best practices of agricultural development we have ourselves been promoting: legal and regulatory compliance, the best production practices, environmental responsibility and commitments to employees and local community development.

Continued: Editorial: Sustainability is the basic issue

From space: Nile at night

November 10th, 2010

Nile River Delta at Night

The Nile River Delta as seen from space at night. Photo courtesy of NASA.

Just how big is a giant earthworm?

November 9th, 2010

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Giant earthworm with bottlecap for size comparison

A bottlecap allows one to see the true size, er length, of this giant earthworm photographed in Suriname. We haven’t been able to identify the species in this image. If you have ideas, please contact us. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler .

Click to see more photos from Suriname.

New lizard species discovered in Vietnamese restaurant – conservation links for Nov 9, 2010

November 9th, 2010

New Self-Cloning Lizard Found in Vietnam Restaurant National Geographic
You could call it the surprise du jour: A popular food on Vietnamese menus has turned out to be a lizard previously unknown to science, scientists say. What’s more, the newfound Leiolepis ngovantrii is no run-of-the-mill reptile—the all-female species reproduces via cloning, without the need for male lizards.

Natural History Museum expedition could be “disaster” for indigenous people The Telegraph
The Natural History Museum has been warned that a forthcoming trip to find hundreds of new species in the remote forests of Paraguay could risk the lives of indigenous people.

Before Cancún, business sets the pace The Guardian
In board rooms across the world, companies are making decisions ahead of the politicians.

Few companies meet carbon reporting norms The Independent
Most British businesses fail to comply with government guidance on reporting their carbon footprints, a Deloitte survey of 100 listed firms reveals.

REDD+ progress in RI ‘could spark new deal in Cancun’ Jakarta Post
The example set by Norway and Indonesia in tackling climate change through REDD+ could help encourage significant progress at the Cancun in Mexico, climate talks this year, the visiting Norwegian foreign minister says.

Biofuel worse for climate than fossil fuel: study Scientific American
European plans to promote biofuels will drive farmers to convert 69,000 square km of wild land into fields and plantations, depriving the poor of food and accelerating climate change, a report warned on Monday.

Whale mass strandings linked to hearing loss New Scientist
In “one of the biggest mass deaths of cetaceans in Irish history” at least 33 whales have beached themselves on the north-west coast of County Donegal.

Camel and government-built yurts

November 8th, 2010

Camel standing in front of concrete yurts built bt the Chinese government

A camel stands in front of government-built yurts near Lake Karakul in the Xinjiang Province of north-western China. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler .

Click to see more photos from Lake Karakul.

Rehabilitating a kinkajou

November 7th, 2010

Honey bear or kinkajou (Potos flavus) in the process of being rehabilitated

A kinkajou (Potos flavus)–also known as a honey bear or cat monkey–being rehabilitated in Costa Rica. Despite it’s many creative monikers, the kinkajou is most closely related to raccoons and coatis in the eclectic and omnivorous Procyonidae family. The kinkajou is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List, although it is thought the population, which spreads from Central to South America, is in decline. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler .

Click to see more photos of Costa Rica.

Bloomberg: most people don’t care about climate change – conservation links for Nov 5, 2010

November 5th, 2010

Bloomberg on Climate Change: “Most People Unfortunately Don’t Care” Time
New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was the belle of the ball this morning at a international climate change conference here in Hong Kong. He was here as the new chair of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a group of 40 cities worldwide committed to tackling climate change.

Climate finance report will reveal those willing to scupper Cancun summit Business Green
One of the many challenges faced by the long-running UN climate change negotiations is the difficulty of working out precisely where countries stand.

‘Sustainable wood’ may still cause damage The Guardian
Lisa Kellman of the Environmental Sciences Research Center at St. Francis Xavier University, Canada, and her team have been investigating the impact that forest harvesting has on the underlying soil. It seems that the damage goes deeper than previously thought and lasts for much longer than traditionally assumed.

Biodiversity should be a top priority for businesses The Guardian
Business can be a significant driver of biodiversity conservation but it must have a seat at the table and be allowed to have a constructive role in designing and implementing sustainable policy solutions with governments.

Vulnerable atoll nation plans seawall to block rising seas Independent
The low-lying Marshall Islands, a Pacific atoll chain that rises barely a meter above sea level, has announced plans for a wall to hold back rising sea levels.

Need to boost harvests? Slow down wildlife extinction Telegraph
Disappearing wildlife is threatening the world’s food supplies. At first blush that does not sound right.

The Real Threat to Science in the New Political Climate DotEarth – NY Times
This election almost guarantees an end to the brief stimulus-driven period of increased investment in advancing energy technologies that could supplant finite fossil fuels

Masked frog croaking

November 3rd, 2010

Masked frog (Smilisca phaeota) croaking in a pool

Masked frog (Smilisca phaeota) croaking in a pool in Costa Rica. This species is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List. Photo by: Rhett Butler .

Did biodiversity deal actually happen in Nagoya? – conservation links for Nov 2, 2010

November 2nd, 2010

World Bank to account for nature BBC News
The World Bank announces a programme to help nations properly account for the destruction of nature that their activities cause.

Sustainable growth formula eludes many China cities Reuters
BEIJING (Reuters) – Some Chinese cities are failing to meet the challenge of sustainable development, posing a risk to Beijing’s strategy of relying on mass urbanization to drive economic growth, according to a study released on Sunday.

We’ve been conned. The deal to save the natural world never happened The Guardian
The so-called summit in Japan won’t stop anyone trashing the planet. Only economic risks seem to make governments act.