Banana plantation threatens rainforest valley (video)

June 21st, 2011

Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains were recently spared a titanium mine, however now the region faces a new peril: bananas. The Australian firm Indochina Gateway Capital Limited has proposed a banana plantation in the Southern Cardamom Mountains. The plantation would likely destroy an elephant corridor for one of Cambodia’s last wild elephant populations. In addition, pesticides used in the plantation could pollute local waters, threatening nearly-extinct species, such as the royal turtle, and local people.

According to Wildlife Alliance: [we] recently proposed an alternate plantation location to Indochina Gateway as a win-win solution: Move the proposed location of the plantation to the nearby province of Kampot, where the same beneficial conditions exist (i.e. excellent water supply and good soil). Beyond that our proposed plantation area is actually closer to a harbor and labor sources, and it is located in truly degraded forest inside a low priority ecosystem.

For more information: Learn About the Threat to Key Tropical Forest Corridor Presented by Banana Plantation

For more on the conservation organization Wildlife Alliance:

Cambodia’s wildlife pioneer: saving species and places in Southeast Asia’s last forest

(05/11/2011) Suwanna Gauntlett has dedicated her life to protecting rainforests and wildlife in some of the world’s most hostile and rugged environments and has set the trend of a new generation of direct action conservationists. She has designed, implemented, and supported bold, front-line conservation programs to save endangered wildlife populations from the brink of extinction, including saving the Amur Tiger (also known as the Siberian Tiger) from extinction in the 1990s in the Russian Far East, when only about 80 individuals remained and reversing the drastic decline of Olive Ridley sea turtles along the coast of Orissa, India in the 1990s, when annual nestings had declined from 600,000 to a mere 8,130. When she first arrived in Cambodia in the late 1990s, its forests were silent. ‘You couldn’t hear any birds, you couldn’t hear any wildlife and you could hardly see any signs of wildlife because of the destruction,’ Gauntlett said. Wildlife was being sold everywhere, in restaurants, on the street, and even her local beauty parlor had a bear.

Last chance for the Xingu River and its people? (video)

June 7th, 2011

Brazil recently announced it was going ahead with building the hugely controversial Belo Monte dam, although the construction is set to flood rainforest, change the character of the Xingu River, and displace at least 16,000 people, although transforming the lives of many tens-of-thousands more. Indigenous people along the Xingu have been fighting the dam for decades.

Mongabay.com has been following the Belo Monte dam closely:

Brazil’s shame

(06/03/2011) As an American I know a lot about shame — the U.S. government and American companies have wrought appalling amounts of damage the world over. But as an admirer of Brazil’s recent progress toward an economy that recognizes the contributions of culture and the environment, this week’s decision to move forward on the Belo Monte dam came as a shock. Belo Monte undermines Brazil’s standing as a global leader on the environment. Recent gains in demarcating indigenous lands, reducing deforestation, developing Earth monitoring technologies, and enforcing environmental laws look more tenuous with a project that runs over indigenous rights and the environment.

Amazon mega-dam gets final approval

(06/01/2011) Brazilian authorities gave final approval to the controversial Belo Monte dam, reports AFP.

Controversial Brazilian mega-dam receives investment of $1.4 billion

(05/02/2011) Brazil’s most controversial mega-dam, Belo Monte, which is moving full steam ahead against massive opposition, has received an extra infusion of cash from Vale, a Brazilian-run mining company.

Bill Clinton takes on Brazil’s megadams, James Cameron backs tribal groups

(03/28/2011) Former US President, Bill Clinton, spoke out against Brazil’s megadams at the 2nd World Sustainability Forum, which was also attended by former California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and film director, James Cameron, who has been an outspoken critic of the most famous of the controversial dams, the Belo Monte on the Xingu River.

World’s most controversial dam, Brazil’s Belo Monte, back on

(03/06/2011) A recent injunction against controversial dam, Belo Monte, in Brazil has been overturned, allowing the first phase of construction to go ahead. The ruling by a higher court argued that not all environmental conditions must be met on the dam in order for construction to start.

Indigenous leaders take fight over Amazon dams to Europe

(03/02/2011) Three indigenous Amazonian leaders spent this week touring Europe to raise awareness about the threat that a number of proposed monster dams pose to their people and the Amazon forest. Culminating in a press conference and protests in London, the international trip hopes to build pressure to stop three current hydroelectric projects, one in Peru, including six dams, and two in Brazil, the Madeira basin industrial complex and the massive Belo Monte dam. The indigenous leaders made the trip with the NGO Rainforest Foundation UK, including support from Amazon Watch, International Rivers, and Rainforest Concern.

Judge suspends Brazil’s monster dam: contractor ‘imposing’ its interests

(02/27/2011) Construction on Brazil’s planned mega-dam, the Belo Monte, has been ordered suspended by a federal judge, citing unmet environmental and social conditions. Just last month, the hugely controversial dam, was handed a partial license from Brazil’s Environmental Agency (IBAMA). However, the judge, Ronaldo Destêrro, found that the partial license, the first of its kind in Brazil, was granted under pressure from the dam’s contractor, Norte Energia or NESA.

Activism: save Southeast Asia’s last major primary lowland rainforest

June 2nd, 2011

Note: as a news organization, mongabay.com does not endorse the action below, but believes its readers may be interested in taking action or discussing the issue further.


Villagers from Prey Lang forest area rally in Cambodia’s capital against continuing destruction of their forest. Protestors dressed as ‘avatars’ to gain more attention to their plight. Photo courtesy of: Prey Lang Network.

Cambodia’s Prey Lang forest is one of Southeast Asia’s most important rainforests. Much of the forest has never been logged even though as as a lowland rainforest it should have been one of the first to see the axe. It sustains startling biodiversity including popular animals such as tigers and elephants, and provides vital resources to the surrounding communities. Yet, the Prey Lang forest remains unprotected and the forest is being handed over to corporations for clearcutting piece-by-piece. Locals are working to stop the destruction, but they face an uphill battle, including threats to arrest and intimidation for protesting. For Prey Lang to be protected, pressure may need to come from abroad as well as locally.

According to the petition: “Prey Lang is the last large primary forest of its kind on the Indochinese peninsula. Inclusive of seven distinct ecosystems including unique primordial forest, Prey Lang’s biodiversity is exceptionally high, including almost 40 endangered plant and animal species. As a primary watershed, regulating water and sediment flow to the Tonle Sap Basin, and as an important spawning area for fish, Prey Lang is vital for Cambodia’s long-term environmental sustainability and people’s food and water security. With among the highest carbon sequestration values in the region, it is a powerhouse for fighting global warming. About 200,000 people, mostly indigenous Kuy, live around the forest and our dependent on it for their livelihoods and culture.”

Prey Lang Forest petition: Help Save Cambodia’s Prey Lang Forest.

For more information on Prey Lang:

Photos: Cambodians rally as ‘Avatars’ to save one of the region’s last great rainforests

(05/31/2011) Two hundred Cambodians rallied in Phnom Penh last week to protest the widespread destruction of one of Southeast Asia’s last intact lowland rainforests, known as Prey Lang. In an effort to gain wider media attention, protestors donned dress and make-up inspired by the James Cameron film, Avatar, which depicts the destruction of a forest and its inhabitants on an alien world. The idea worked as the rally received international attention from Reuters, CNN (i-report), MSNBC, and NPR, among other media outlets.

Cambodians prevented from protesting destruction of their forest

(03/10/2011) Cambodian villagers fighting to save their forest from rubber companies have been rebuked by the local government. Two days in a row local authorities prevented some 400 Cambodian villagers from protesting at the offices of the Vietnam-based CRCK Company, which the villagers contend are destroying their livelihoods by bulldozing large swaths of primary forests. Authorities said they feared the villagers would have grown violent while protesting.

Activism: ban Atrazine in the US for the frogs (and yourself)

April 27th, 2011

Note: mongabay.com does not endorse the action below, but believes its readers may be interested in taking action or discussing the issue in comments.

For the third annual Save the Frogs Day (Friday, April 29th), amphibian-lovers are taking the fight to Washington DC to rally at the Environmental Protection Agency for a ban on the herbicide Atrazine. Banned in the EU since 2004, Atrazine has been shown to chemically-castrate frogs at incredibly small quantities. In addition, the herbicide has been shown to cause cancer in mammals.

Save the Frogs! petition: Atrazine – Let’s Get It Banned.

According to the organization Save the Frogs! : “Atrazine is an endocrine disruptor that turns male frogs into females at concentrations as low as 2.5 parts per billion. This horrible chemical causes cancer in laboratory mammals and developmental problems in fish. Atrazine is one of the most commonly detected pesticides in rainwater, groundwater and tapwater in the USA: atrazine spray gets lifted into the clouds, travels hundreds of miles and then falls down from the sky in rainwater — half a million pounds of it each year. Atrazine is one of the world’s most common pesticides: over 80 million pounds of it were used on American crops last year, and it has been in use for 50 years. Frogs and humans share half our DNA, so Atrazine can’t be good for humans either. That’s likely why the European Union banned the harmful pesticide in 2004. Now we need your help to get it banned in the United States.”

For more information on Save the Frogs! and the global Save the Frogs Day:

Save the Frogs Day focuses on banning Atrazine in US

(04/26/2011) This year’s Save the Frogs Day (Friday, April 29th) is focusing on a campaign to ban the herbicide Atrazine in the US with a rally at the steps of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Kerry Kriger, executive director of frog-focused NGO Save the Frogs! and creator of Save the Frogs Day, says that Atrazine is an important target in the attempt to save amphibians worldwide, which are currently facing extinction rates that are estimated at 200 times the average. “Atrazine weakens amphibians’ immune systems, and can cause hermaphroditism and complete sex reversal in male frogs at concentrations as low as 2.5 parts per billion,” Kriger told mongabay.com.

Celebrating ten years of the Great Bear Rainforest (video)

April 6th, 2011

Video by Greenpeace chronicling the fight to save the Great Bear Rainforest.

According to the description, the fight to save the Great Bear Rainforest should inspire work to save forests around the world: “The Great Bear Rainforest campaign demonstrates that out of conflict and peaceful resistance, it is possible to work towards solutions. It inspires our work in the Amazon, the Congo and Indonesia today.”

Activism: nominate an Ocean Hero!

April 5th, 2011


Green anemone at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Ocean conservation organization, Oceana, is asking for nominations for its 3rd Annual Ocean Heroes Contest.

According to their blog:

“Think of the person you know doing the most for the oceans — and maybe it’s yourself! [...] Past nominees have included educators, scientists, fundraisers, activists, and that’s just a start. And like last year, we have two categories: Adult and Junior (18 years old or younger).”

There’s no question that the ocean needs heroes. The world’s oceans, and its wildlife, face significant pressure from a wide variety of human-caused problems: overfishing, climate change, pollution, acidification among others. From coral reefs to sharks to sea turtles, many species are vanishing at unparalleled rates due to these and other issues.

To nominate an Ocean Hero: Oceana Nomination Form.

For more information: Oceana Blog.

Activism: dams on the Mekong River

March 17th, 2011

Note: mongabay.com does not endorse the action below, but believes its readers may be interested in taking action or discussing the issue in comments.


Fishing on the Mekong. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

A coalition of NGOs, lacademics, journalists, artists and local people have started a petition against a series of dams planned by Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. According to the organization, the massive dams will upend the river’s biodiversity and undercut the livelihoods of local people.

According to the organization: “The Mekong River is under threat. The governments of Cambodia, Laos and Thailand are considering plans to build 11 big hydropower dams on the river’s mainstream. If built, these dams would block major fish migrations and dramatically change the Mekong forever, placing at risk the food security and income of millions of people.”

Save the Mekong ‘s petition: Save the Mekong: Our River Feeds Millions.

Video: coral reefs at risk

February 23rd, 2011

An updated comprehensive analysis by the World Resources Institute (WRI) along with twenty-five partners finds that 75% of the world’s coral reefs are threatened by local and global impacts, including climate change.

To read more about the report: Coral crisis: 75% of the world’s coral reefs in danger.

Biodiversity matters

October 18th, 2010

Today marks the opening of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Japan. Ten years ago member states pledged to stem the tide of biodiversity loss. By all accounts they have failed. Now, they are back at the drawing board, attempting to find ways to save the diversity of life on Earth. The US is one of three nations that is not a member of the CBD.

Biodiversity provides a number long-overlooked advantages to humanity, including food production, pollination, medicine, carbon sequestration, and clean water among other benefits. A recent study by The Economics of Ecosytems and Biodiversity (TEEB) found the cost of biodiversity loss to be $2-5 trillion per year, a cost that is mostly felt in developing and poorer countries.

 Lizard seen from the underside of a leaf

Silhouette of a lizard in Costa Rica. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2008.

Spotted tiger beetle (Cicindela aurulenta) Picture Title: Spotted tiger beetle (Cicindela aurulenta)

Spotted tiger beetle (Cicindela aurulenta) in Malaysian Borneo. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2008.

Baobabs (Morondava)

Baobabs in Madagascar. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Large Orangutan in Central Kalimantan

Orangutan in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2009.

White, yellow, and green anemone

Anemone. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler, 2009.