The Ecologist


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Longleaf Pine Regeneration in South Carolina. Photo: Justin Meissen via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

UK biomass power industry is a vital part of the renewable energy mix

Nina Skorupska / Renewable Energy Association

27th October 2016

Contrary to arguments advanced in a recent Ecologist article, the biomass industry supplying the Drax power station in North Yorkshire is a model of sustainability, writes Nina Skorupska, and delivers genuine, substantial emissions reductions compared to coal. more...
Almir Narayamoga Surui, Chief of the Paiter Surui meeting Prince Charles in 2010 after being awarded a major prize for his humanitarian and ecological work

This is my cry of alarm, please listen to me!

17th October, 2016

Almir Narayamoga Surui, Chief of the Paiter Surui indigenous people

Today, the Chief of the Paiter Surui indigenous people in the state of Rondônia, Brazil has issued the following plea for help to stop illegal logging and mining on their lands. The letter is unedited. more...
No place for oil drilling: lonely Mountain in the Sierra del Divisor national park, Peru. Photo: Diego Pérez / El Taller / Ministerio del Ambiente via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Peru: national park 'Master Plan' opens uncontacted tribe's land to oil drilling

Lewis Evans & Sarina Kidd

7th October 2016

Full credit to Peru for creating the Sierra del Divisor national park in one of the most precious areas of the Amazon, write Lewis Evans & Sarina Kidd. But not for leaving it open to oil drilling, risking the future of uncontacted indigenous tribes that depend on their pristine rainforest environment to survive. more...
The Drax coal and biomass fired power station in North Yorkshire, one the UK's biggest point source emitters of greenhouse gases. Photo: Andrew Davidson via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

#AxeDrax: campaigners unite for climate justice against coal and biofueled deforestation

Almuth Ernsting

18th October 2016

The Drax power station in North Yorkshire is among Britain's greatest greenhouse gas emitters, writes Almuth Ernsting. Not only is it burning some 6 million tonnes of coal every year, it is also burning its way through forests in the USA and other countries as it converts to biomass-fired units, rewarded by £1.3 million a day in subsidies. Join the #AxeDrax protest this weekend! more...
Yanomami children in their forest home - which, with notorious 'Soy King' Bairo Maggi as agriculture minister, is now looking decidedly less secure. Photo: Dung Nguyen via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Brazil’s new government to sacrifice the Amazon for 'growth'

Ed Atkins, University of Bristol

19th September 2016

It's not that Dilma Rousseff, Brazil's ousted President, was wonderful for the environment, writes Ed Atkins. It's that Michel Temer's new regime is certain to be far worse. Plans are afoot to weaken environmental assessments for large projects like mines, roads and dams. And the new Minister of Agriculture is a notorious campaigner for hugely increased deforestation. more...
Wilderness in Alaska, USA. Photo: Travis Wise via Flickr (CC BY).

Wilderness needs immediate protection for climate - and much more

James Watson, Bill Laurance, Brendan Mackey & James Allan

16th September 2016

The destruction of the world's wilderness is accelerating with a new clutch of mega projects from dams, roads and mines to large scale agriculture, write James Watson, Bill Laurance, Brendan Mackey & James Allan. It's cost-effective to put a stop to it right now for the carbon value of wilderness alone - never mind the biodiversity and indigenous peoples it safeguards. more...

Yale University Launches Online Specialization Classes Open to the Public

Yales School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

9th September, 2016

If you've got the 'Back to School' bug this week then check out these brand new online courses from the prestigious Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental studies - the courses are based on the award-winning Journey of the Universe film and book more...

Yale University Launches New Online Classes Open to the Public

Yales School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

9th September, 2016

If you've got the 'Back to School' bug this week then check out these brand new online courses from the prestigious Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental studies - the courses are based on the award-winning Journey of the Universe film and book more...

SBP certification scheme: debunking the myths

Carsten Huljus, SBP Chief Executive Officer

7th September, 2016

In a second response to a recent article published in the Ecologist, "Are the UK 'biomass sustainability standards' legitimising forest destruction?", SBP Chief Executive Officer Carstem Huljus debunks the myths in a right of reply more...
How to green your photocopier? Easy - just change the default from single to double-sided copies, and most people will go along with it. Result? Save thousands of trees. Photo: Bruce Bortin via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Green by default - how a nudge and wink can save the planet

Cass R. Sunstein

27th September 2016

There's a simple way to induce us to make good environmental choices, writes Cass R. Sunstein: make them the default setting. Whether it's selecting double sided photocopies or renewable electricity tariffs, defining easily-overridden 'green defaults' is by far the most efficacious means to influence consumer choices for the environment and the planet. more...
Brazil's Zo'é tribe are starting to recover from epidemics in the 1980s and '90s now that their land is protected. Photo: Survival International.

Brazil's Olympic triumph - don't mention the genocide!

Lewis Evans

25th August 2016

In the thick of the Olympic frenzy, one voice that was systematically excluded from mainstream narratives is that of Brazil's Indigenous Peoples, writes Lewis Evans, who have fought to survive through centuries of dehumanisation, theft and genocide. And now they face a fresh attack as a proposed constitutional change, PEC 215, threatens a new round of indigenous land theft. more...
Before and after: natural wetland forest dominated by Swamp cypress, and an industrial plantation of Lolbolly pine. Both photos via Wikimedia Commons (see details on individual photos); amalgamation by The Ecologist (no rights claimed).

Are the UK 'biomass sustainability standards' legitimising forest destruction?

Almuth Ernsting / Biofuelwatch

18th August 2016

This month wood pellet mills in the southern US that supply the UK's Drax power station were awarded 'sustainability' certificates under a voluntary scheme governed entirely by energy companies. The certificates provide no credible guarantee that the fuel does not come from ecologically valuable natural forests and wetlands, clear-cut and replaced by industrial plantations. more...

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Why we need to better protect Britain's ancient woodlands

Laura Briggs

1st August 2016

Calls for better protection of the UK's ancient woodlands are being made by environmental groups due to a loophole in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), last revised in 2012. LAURA BRIGGS reports more...
Munduruku indigenous people set up a sign to demarcate their land. Photo: Greenpeace.

Brazil's indigenous peoples fight Amazon dams threat

Helle Abelvik-Lawson

1st August 2016

Brazil's new neoliberal government is intent on building a massive new dam deep in the Amazon rainforest on the on the Tapajós river, writes Helle Abelvik-Lawson, obliterating the indigenous territory of the Munduruku people in defiance of their constitutional rights. more...
Quarry in Brescia, Lombardy, Italy. Photo: Thomas Nemeskeri via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Plunder of Earth's natural resources up 200% in 40 years

Alex Kirby

26th July 2016

A new UN report warns of a threefold increase in extraction of the Earth's primary materials between 1970 and 2010, writes Alex Kirby. The boom in the production of minerals, ores, fossil fuels, timber and biomass and will be to intensify climate change, increase air pollution and reduce biodiversity. more...
A bottomland hardwood clearcut that Dogwood Alliance have linked to Enviva, the company that runs the Ahoskie pellet mill, which supplies the UK's Drax power station. Photo: Matt Adam Williams.

Dirtier than coal: burning forests for 'green' energy

Matt Williams

19th July 2016

The UK imports millions of tons of American wood pellets every year to be burned in power stations for 'climate friendly' electricity, writes Matt Williams. But his recent visit to the southern US showed him that this practice is devastating beautiful, natural forests rich in wildlife - while the UK government's own research shows that it's worse for the climate than the coal it replaces. more...

Europe's Rotten Wood

Horatio Morpurgo

15 July 2016

Illegal logging accounts for between 30 and 50 percent of wood harvested in Romania. Horatio Morpurgo reports on the destruction of Romanian forests, post communism, and looks at what we can learn. more...
Drone footage documents a primary drainage canal cutting through an identified 'No Go' area of buffer forest in an IOI oil palm concession in Ketapang, West Kalimantan. Photo: Bjorn Vaugn / Greenpeace.

Palm oil giant IOI, rainforest destroyer, must make good its damage!

Annisa Rahmawati / Greenpeace

10th June 2016

Over 300 major food companies used to buy palm oil from IOI, writes Annisa Rahmawati. But after the company was found to be destroying vast areas of Indonesia's rainforest and draining peatlands to make new palm oil plantations, it has been deserted by its customers. Now IOI must go beyond just sticking to the rules, and start actively repairing the damage it has caused. more...
Greenpeace activists and Munduruku Indians protest on a sandy beach on the banks of the Tapajos river, near Itaituba, Pará, where the government plans to build the first of a series of five dams. Photo: Greenpeace Brazil via Flickr (CC BY).

Brazil: rules protecting Amazon under threat

Helle Abelvik-Lawson

27th May 2016

A constitutional amendment that would allow 'strategic' public works including dams, roads, mines and other mega-projects to go ahead following the mere completion of an environmental impact assessment is being considered by a Committee of the Brazilian Senate, writes Helle Abelvik-Lawson. more...
Once a mangrove forest full of life, now a sterile shrimp farm. The hard labour of destroying mangrove forests and building and operating shrimp farms is often performed by slaves. Photo: Tracy Hunter via Flickr (CC BY).

World must end slavery - for the environment as well as human rights

Kevin Bales, University of Hull

18th May 2016

Slavery is a terrible thing for the world's estimated 36 million slaves, writes Kevin Bales. But it's also an environmental disaster. Many slaves are forced to work in destructive activities like clearing forests for mines, farms and plantations - making slave labour the world's third biggest 'country' in terms of CO2 emissions. It really is time to end slavery! more...
Sumatran orangutans have lost huge areas of forest habitat to logging, burning and palm oil plantations. Photo: Richard Whitcombe.

Good news for the only place on Earth where tigers, rhinos, orangutans and elephants live together

Bill Laurance, James Cook University

10th May 2016

The remarkable Leuser ecosystem in Aceh, Sumatra, has faced massive destruction over recent years with rice farms, palm oil, roads and mines, writes Bill Laurance. But that's all set to end with a moratorium on forest clearance that's supported at the highest levels of government, both state and national. This is definitely news to celebrate! But we must also maintain our vigilance. more...
With the rains failing, desperate farmers head to the Spiny Forest to make charcoal. Photo: Louise Jasper (

Climate-afflicted farmers are turning Madagascar's Spiny Forest into charcoal

Charlie Gardner, University of Kent

3rd May 2016

Madagascar's unique Spiny Forest, a stronghold for the island's lemurs, is fast being felled for charcoal, writes Charlie Gardner - and it's a knock-on impact of the increasingly unpredictable climate and sparse rains that are forcing farmers from the land. To create a 'safety net' for the forest, first safety nets must be put in place to protect displaced farmers, fishers and pastoralists. more...
Emerald ash borer is a saproxylic beetle native to Asia which feeds on Ash. Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr (CC BY)

The fungus and the beetle: ash trees face wipeout from disease double whammy

Steve Woodward & Eric Boa

29th April 2016

Britain's ash woods are under threat from a fast-spreading 'dieback' disease, write Steve Woodward and Eric Boa. With 3% of ash trees resistant to the fungus, the species should just be able to survive. But now scientists fear the arrival of the Emerald ash borer beetle, already infesting forests in the US and mainland Europe. Could the two combine to push our ash trees into extinction? more...
91% of all deforestation in the Amazon occurs to make way for cattle ranches like the one shown here. Photo: Jai Mansson via Flickr (CC BY-SA)

Eat less meat to reforest the Earth!

Laura Kehoe

27th April 2016

How do you solve a problem like deforestation? By a change of diet, writes Laura Kehoe. Scientists have discovered that we can feed the world and stop destroying forests by eating less meat. If we all went vegetarian that would reduce deforestation by 94%. And if we went the whole way to veganism enough land would be freed up for a new forest the size of the Amazon, and allow a widespread shift to organic farming systems. more...
Cambodian army soldiers attack Chut Wutty, November 2011. Photo: Vanessa de Smet Last Line Productions / N1M.

Banned: premiere of film probing Cambodian ecodefender's murder

Rod Harbinson

21st April 2016

A film investigating the 2012 murder of a forest defender has been banned by the Cambodian Government, writes Rod Harbinson. Chut Wutty's campaign to protect the forest on which his community depends clashed with powerful business and military interests. A first attack by soldiers was held off by campaigners, but... more...


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