Malaysia pushes for coal plant in paradise – conservation links of the day for Nov 28, 2010

November 28th, 2010,8599,2031862,00.html>Malaysia: A Coal Plant in Paradise
There are worse places to be than in the eco-paradise of Sabah, a state on the northeast tip of Malaysian Borneo. To one side is the Coral Triangle, home to the world’s richest ocean diversity; to the other is the Heart of Borneo, a 22-million-hectare rain forest. In the middle is a vast swath of 1,100 palm plantations. Every year hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Sabah to explore its marvels of biodiversity, hiking elephant paths, spotting shy orangutans and scuba diving with hammerhead sharks.

Oil palm and agricultural policy: Boom or ruin for Indonesian farmers? East Asia Forum
Palm oil is now the world’s most widely traded vegetable oil. As Indonesia is the centre of global production, palm oil is a priority for Indonesia’s economic planners. With millions of hectares either under oil palm or planned for development, a highly polarized debate surrounds the question of oil palm development in Indonesia. The underlying question here is: can a boom in agricultural commodities such as oil palm provide a pathway out of poverty? Or does it amount to an instrument of mass immiseration?

Another extreme drought hits the Amazon, raising climate change concerns Climate Progress
We know from simple on-the-ground knowledge that the 2010 drought was extreme, leading to record lows on some major rivers in the Amazon region and an upsurge in the number of forest fires. Preliminary analyses suggest that the 2010 drought was more widespread and severe than the 2005 event. The 2005 drought was identified as a 1-in-100 year type event.

UK drops rule to protect rainforests – conservation links for Nov 14, 2010

November 14th, 2010

Guest column: Forest code must be fixed Financial Times
The incoming government in 2011 will be very aware of the 20 per cent of the vote that Marina Silva of the Green Party won in the first round of the presidential election.

EU rain forest rules may hit German rapeseed Reuters
German oil mills fear supplies of rapeseed for biodiesel production may be disrupted by new European Union rules requiring feedstocks come from certified sustainable farming, an oilseeds industry leader said on Friday.

Legislation to outlaw illegal timber is axed despite coalition pledge The Guardian
The government has backed away from legislation that would outlaw the possession of illegally logged timber from the world’s rainforests. A previous commitment to make it against the law to own, as well as to import, illegal wood, has been quietly dropped, say campaigners, including Green MP Caroline Lucas, who has clashed with the environment secretary, Caroline Spelman, over the issue.

Drought in the Amazon, Up Close and Personal The New York Times
You can learn a lot muddling around a forest in the middle of nowhere, but you also learn a lot once you’re back in the city catching up on your e-mail. In the field we worried about why it was raining so little. Back in Iquitos, Peru, we discovered that our field work had coincided with the worst drought ever recorded in the Amazon basin. Reading the previous two-and-a-half weeks of e-mail, it was possible to track the drought’s progress through the newsletters I receive every few days from a Brazilian research institute.

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.

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

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.

The middle road to address deforestation in Indonesia – conservation links for Oct 28, 2010

October 28th, 2010

A Middle Way The Jakarta Globe
As much as big business is a threat to forests, it is also a likely source of lasting solutions. Governments generally have been ineffective in reducing deforestation, even inside many protected areas. Non-governmental organizations are largely powerless to act at the scales necessary, although they can influence public opinion. Small businesses such as local farmers are numerous, but lack power and coordination. Vast areas of tropical forest are legally under the control of large companies. Improving ways these companies manage forest landscapes could have a significant impact on deforestation.

Madagascar Villager to Put $10K Prize to Saving Forest OneWorld US
A self-educated naturalist from Madagascar has been awarded a prestigious international prize after spending almost all the money he’s ever earned to purchase and protect endangered tropical forest.

Lessons from the palm oil showdown The Guardian
Study on Greenpeace’s campaign against Sinar Mas highlights importance of social media and engagement with parties on both sides of the fence.

Brazil elections: Campaigners criticise weak environment pledges of presidential candidates The Guardian
None of the candidates has concrete proposals to tackle Amazon deforestation and carbon emissions.

Biodiversity loss seen as greater financial risk than terrorism, says UN The Guardian
Loss of ecosystems perceived by banks and insurance companies to be a greater economic risk than terrorism, finds UN report.

British Columbia Sees Largest Salmon Run In A Century, 34 Million Strong Environmental News Network
Sockeye salmon are making their run up the Fraser River in numbers not seen since 1913. More than 34 million salmon are reportedly in the British Columbia river system, befuddling scientists who last year tallied less than 2 million fish.

World Bank launches scheme to green government accounts Reuters
The World Bank on Thursday launched a program to help nations put a value on nature just like GDP in a bid to stop the destruction of forests, wetlands and reefs that underpin businesses and economies.

Energizer Plans More Talks in China on Vanadium Mine Bloomberg
Energizer Resources Inc., the Canadian mineral-exploration company, will hold a second round of talks with a Chinese company about becoming a strategic partner in a vanadium project in Madagascar. Energizer expects to announce “in coming weeks” that its Green Giant project in the south of the Indian Ocean island has estimated resources of as much as 60 million metric tons of vanadium pentoxide, Brent Nykoliation, vice president of business development at the Toronto-based company, said in a phone interview on Oct. 26.

Little progress at biodiversity talks – conservation links for Oct 26, 2010

October 26th, 2010

Leading scientists accuse thinktanks of being logging lobbyists
Open letter accuses two ‘independent’ groups of distorting facts and having close associations with multinational logging corporations.

Industrial farming puts ecosystems at risk of collapse, warns Prince Charles The Guardian (UK)
Farming methods must be low-impact, organic and low-carbon to protect natural resources for the long term.

Nagoya summit shows parallels with Copenhagen The Guardian
Nagoya is another ill-tempered bout between the global haves and wanna-haves in which the fiercest blows are landing on the natural world.

Air of defeat at Japan’s biodiversity summit New Scientist
Could this be a failure to rival last year’s Copenhagen climate summit? In its final days, a conference aimed at giving teeth to the 18-year-old international Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is stuck. The talk in the corridors at the biodiversity summit in Nagoya, Japan, is that it could be going the way of the climate change talks in Denmark in December 2009.

Crisis forecast as prices reach record highs The Guardian
Cost of meat, sugar, rice, wheat and maize soars as World Bank predicts five years of price volatility.

Costa Rica recognised for biodiversity protection The Guardian
Central American nation wins 2010 Future Policy award for pioneering legal protection of natural wealth.

GDP is poor indicator of well-being – conservation links for Oct 25, 2010

October 25th, 2010

Disingenuity: The Worst of all Greenwashing Print Leadership
In a presentation at Graph Expo 2010, I spoke about how greenwashing tends to fall into three categories: intentional, accidental, and just plain asinine. Fully aware that it may be a subset of both the first and third of these categories, I’d like to posit one more– “disingenuous.” Of the four, this is the most insidious, the most reckless, and the most dangerous.

Wolves in sheep’s clothing: industrial lobbyists and the destruction of tropical forests Conservation Bytes
As of this morning, a group of distinguished scientists (which I have had the honour of being invited to join) has released an Open Letter to be published in various media outlets worldwide. The letter addresses some of our major concerns over the misinterpretation of facts, and openly misleading statements, by proponents of deforestation in the Asian tropical region. Professor Bill Laurance, an old favourite on, has led the charge and organised a most impressive and shocking list of assertions. I produce the letter below – I encourage all my readers to distribute it as far and wide as possible in the social media-verse.

Green Column: Calculating Commitment to the Climate New York Times
The amounts being pledged to help poor countries adapt to climate change are much lower than many experts say is necessary.

Biodiversity, dollars and social sense Guardian
GDP is too narrow a measure of national wealth. Environmental and social progress should be included too

Butterflies and moths mimic snakes and foxes to fool predators, claims researcher CBC
Butterflies and moths mascarade as snakes, toads and even mammals such as foxes to avoid being eaten by predators, according to research by a leading entomologist.

Elephant damage ‘good for frogs’ BBC News
Areas heavily damaged by elephants are home to more species of amphibians and reptiles than areas when the beasts are excluded, a study suggests.

Environmental crime costs billions – conservation links for Oct. 24, 2010

October 24th, 2010

Borneo’s majestic rainforest is being killed by the timber mafia The Guardian
Felling trees to meet British demand for garden furniture is devastating villages, livelihoods and food supplies, and threatening endangered species

Solid Ground Needed for UN Forest Fix to Take Root The Jakarta Post
Experts are at odds over whether Indonesia is prepared to implement United Nations-mandated forest protection projects to reduce carbon emissions.

Green crime cost is billions, report says Sydney Morning Herald
POLLUTION, illegal logging and wildlife smuggling are now parts of a multibillion-dollar international crime problem almost as lucrative as the drugs and illegal arms trades, a report says.

Len’s statements on logjam said to be misleading The Borneo Post
The local people reacted angrily when they read the article ‘Massive debris not due to logging activities – Len’ on page five of The Borneo Post yesterday. Since the arrival of the newspapers around 9am, many concerned civil servants, community leaders, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and even ordinary citizens called The Borneo Post insisting that the article was misleading the public. They all had one common request – the incorrect must be corrected.

Papuan man in ceremonial dress in New Guinea

October 24th, 2010

Dani man in traditional ceremonial dress in the Baliem Valley of Papua, Indonesian New Guinea. Photo by Rhett A. Butler in July 2010.

More pictures from Papua