In Forests News last week:
Losing farmland and forest to a national park
From Burkina Faso, Forests News brings you part 2 of its 6-part video series: What the World Can Learn from West Africa’s Unheard. Watch here.
Collective land rights don’t equal women’s rights
When it comes to women’s land tenure rights, even laws that recognise communal and collective land tenure systems may not be enough if they are not also gender sensitive. Read more here.
In the news:
Species extinction still top of the news agenda
Following on from last week’s new summary on the IPBES report on biodiversity, New Yorker magazine warns that, as 75 percent of food crops rely on pollination by animals, ‘we would, it seems, be well advised to shift course, if only for our own, species-centric reasons’.
Meanwhile, a recent paper published in Ecology and Evolution found that second generation oil palm plantations support 20 percent less diversity of invertebrates and 59 percent fewer animals than the first. Oil palm plantations have a profitable lifespan of only 25 years and the paper’s authors conclude that ‘long-term production of palm oil comes at a higher cost than previously thought’.
Cambridge scientists seek radical solutions to climate change
The BBC reports on the new Centre for Climate Repair at Cambridge University, UK. No possible solutions to climate change are off the table, and the centre will investigate the feasibility of science-fiction-sounding geoengineering projects such as refreezing the poles, ocean greening and recycling CO2. Professor Wadhams, a professor of ocean physics at Cambridge University, told the BBC: ‘If we reduce our emissions all we are doing is making the global climate warmer a bit more slowly. That is no good.’
White-throated rail re-evolved itself into existence
Researchers have found evidence for the ‘iterative evolution’ of the white-throated rail on the Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean. This CNN report describes how this ‘previously extinct species’ first colonised the island and, with no predators, evolved to become flightless, before being wiped out when rising sea levels swallowed the island around 136,000 years ago. When sea levels dropped and the island re-emerged, the atoll was re-colonised by a flying ancestor of the white-throated rail, whereupon the flightless species re-evolved itself into existence.
French Foreign Legion defend Amazon rainforest from illegal gold mining
The economic crash of 2008 had serious consequences for the Amazon rainforest, where illegal gold miners seek to extract the precious metal from deposits only 15m below the forest floor. The situation has reached such a crisis point in French Guiana that the armed forces of the French Foreign Legion have been called in to protect the forest. Gold mining is particularly damaging because of the mercury used as part of the extraction process. Dominick Plouvier, conservation expert and director of Amazon Conservation Team, told the BBC: ‘It [mercury] pollutes the rivers, which then poisons the fish, which then in turn poisons the people who eat the fish’.
Couple replant 2,000,000 tree rainforest in Brazil
The Metro share this story of a couple from Minas Gerais, Brazil who have taken very direct action on climate change by planting 2 million trees. 20 years ago, the land around their ranch had just 0.5 percent tree coverage. Now the 710-hectare plot is once again lush rainforest. Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado said: ‘We need to replant the forest. All the insects and birds and fish returned, and, thanks to this increase of the trees, I too, was reborn.’
Indonesia number one for man-made climate change denial
A 23-country survey published by the Guardian puts Indonesia top of countries most doubtful of man-made climate change. 18 percent of respondents in Indonesia agreed with the statement that human activity is not responsible at all for the changing climate. Indonesia was trailed in the survey results by Saudi Arabia (16 percent) and the United States of America (13 percent). In the US, however, a CNN poll found that ‘taking aggressive action to slow the effects of climate change’ was the most important issue at stake for Democratic party voters.
Myanmar mangrove forests at risk from shrimps
Asia Times reports that the last of Myanmar’s mangrove forests are under threat from illegal logging and aquaculture development. Mangrove forests are an important ally in the fight against climate change, storing up to four times as much carbon as rainforests. Scientists and locals are campaigning to create a 300,000 hectare biosphere reserve, which would prohibit aquaculture development projects that might ease overfishing in the sea, but also involve the wholesale clearance of vital mangroves.
Ban on rosewood logging set to expire in Guinea-Bissau
A five-year ban on logging in the rosewood forests of Guinea-Bissau is due to expire next year, and Reuters report that farmers and activists fear the return of Chinese loggers who exported 255,000 trees in just one year. The Environmental Investigation Agency suspect that illegal logging of the now endangered rosewood continued despite the ban, and local farmers claim that the loss of the trees has resulted in lower rainfall, drier soil, and lower crop yields.
New tech better at cleaning the air than trees
British start-up Arborea and Imperial College London are testing roof-top panels that use microscopic plant life to not only purify the air, but also grow nutritious food. According to Arborea, biosolar leaves grown in the same area as a single tree cleans the air at the same rate as 100 trees and could offset the environmental impact of new construction.
Climate protests continue to spread
Forests News has been keeping you up to date on the different climate protests spreading all over the world. In London, the BBC report on the Mothers Rise Up protest, held in support of youth climate strikes nationwide. Meanwhile, just across the Channel, Extinction Rebellion protestors spilled fake blood on the steps of the famous Trocadero, observed a few minutes’ silence, before cleaning up the landmark. If only cleaning up the planet was so easy!