The Ecologist


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Never again! Texaco-Chevron's toxic oil legacy at Lago Agrio in Ecuador's Amazon rainforest. Photo: Julien Gomba via Flickr (CC BY).

Ecuador's next Amazon oil battle: Indigenous Peoples on the front line

Kevin Koenig / Amazon Watch

4th April 2016

The rights of nature and of indigenous communities are enshrined in Ecuador's constitution, writes Kevin Koenig. But down in the Amazon the government is going full speed ahead with oil extraction on indigenous territories whose owners are committed to keeping their forests and waters pollution-free. A mighty battle is brewing that looks certain to come to a head this year. more...
The Royal Oak of Teremiski, Bialowieza Forest. Photo: justyna via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

No 'salvage' logging in Poland's ancient forest!

Lucinda Kirkpatrick

4th April 2016

Poland is intent on a huge increase in logging in Europe's greatest ancient forest, writes Lucinda Kirkpatrick. The government says it's needed to control spruce bark beetles. But the insect is a key part of the ecosystem, creating woodpecker nest sites and habitat for other endangered species. In truth it's just a big timber grab that must be strongly resisted. more...
Wild coffee grows in these forests of the Ethiopian highlands - and nowhere else. Photo: Indrias Getachew.

Ethiopia's vulnerable tropical forests are key to securing the future of coffee

Fiona Hesselden, University of Huddersfield

24th March 2016

Coffee may be grown all around the tropics, writes Fiona Hesselden, but it originates in just one place: the 'coffee rainforests' of the Ethiopian highlands. We depend on the wild plants for new genes and varieties, yet the forests are falling fast to the advance of farmers. To preserve the forests and all their biodiversity, the original people of the forest must receive their just rewards. more...
An illegal clear-cut on steep-sided hills in Harghita County, just a small part of a much larger illegal clear-cut. Photo: Ecostorm.

Illegal loggers levelling Romania's Carpathian mountain forests

Katy Jenkyns

30th March 2016

Austrian timber giant Schweighofer claims to be working hard to ensure that the huge volumes of timber it buys from Romania's mountain forests are strictly legal, writes Katy Jenkyns. But an Ecostorm investigation has uncovered its purchase of illegally cut wood, its acceptance of fraudulent paperwork from suppliers, and the deep shadow of fear it casts over local communities. more...
Jaguar at Pilpintuwasi, near Iquitos in the Peruvian Amazon. Photo: worldsurfr via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

The Shaman's cure: a Gaian awakening

Peter Bunyard

2nd March 2016

An encounter with a Colombian shaman led Peter Bunyard on a spiritual journey into and beyond the living, breathing, transpiring Amazon rainforest, providing key insights into the essential role of the great tropical forests in the workings of Gaia. He emerged re-energised from his visions - and inspired to redouble his efforts to save our wondrous planet. more...
Monarch butterfly on Milkweed. Photo: bark via Flickr (CC BY).

Monarch butterfly decline: the overwhelming case for banning glyphosate

Eva Sirinathsinghji / ISIS

2nd March 2016

Monarch butterfly numbers are dwindling despite protection of their wintering forests in Mexico, and voluntary schemes to restore their food plant, milkweed, in US field margins, writes Eva Sirinathsinghji. These measures alone are insufficient: no less than an end to the mass spraying of glyphosate on crops, predicated by 'Roundup-ready' GM corn and soy, will do. more...
Koala bears, like this one at Arcadia Bay, Queensland, Australia, are among the many species suffering from the state's large-scale land clearance. Photo: Richard Gifford via Flickr (CC BY).

Queensland's land clearance is costing Australia and its wildlife dear

Martine Maron, Bill Laurance & colleagues

22nd February 2016

Australia's rainforest state, Queensland, is destroying well over 100,000 hectares of native vegetation a year, and rising, write Martine Maron, Bill Laurance & colleagues, including 'at risk' habitats and Koala bear forests. This is more than reversing the entire nation's eco-restoration programs and pushing endangered species ever closer to extinction. more...
A fallen tree in the Bialowieza National Park, Poland. The orange mushroom (Laetiporus sulphureus) in front is edible and known as 'chicken of the woods'. Photo: Frank Vassen via Flickr (CC BY).

Timber! Poland's bid to increase logging 8-fold in primeval Bialowieza Forest

Zachary Davies Boren / Greenpeace Energydesk

18th February 2016

Poland's environment ministry has a plan for a huge increase in logging in Europe's last great primeval forest, writes Zachary Davies Boren. Officials claim it's to control bark beetles. But ecologists say the insects are regulated naturally within the forest ecosystem, while logging threatens huge damage to irreplaceable biodiversity. more...

Cancún's mangroves are destroyed. But hope grows again!

Miguel Rivas / Greenpeace Mexico

17th February 2016

Mexico's tourist resort of Cancún has just lost one of its greatest natural riches, writes Miguel Rivas: 57 hectares of species rich mangrove forest, bulldozed in a massive overnight attack by property developers in league with local officials. But people power can still win the battle and see the Tajamar mangroves restored. more...
Contemporary illustration of Alexander von Humboldt - used in the cover of 'The Invention of Nature'.

The Invention of Nature: adventures of Alexander Humboldt, lost hero of science

Matt Mellen

3rd March 2016

Andrea Wulf's book about the remarkable 19th century explorer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt is welcome, opportune and a pleasure to read, writes Matt Mellen, packed as it is with high adventure and amazing discoveries. We have much to learn from him today in tackling the world's environmental crises; reading this book is an excellent - and enjoyable - way to begin. more...
In a 'Wild West' town like Burns, Oregon, federal officials can't afford to clash with local ranchers and politicians - no matter what the law says. Photo: Wolf / Nick Perla via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

After Malheur: Americans are losing control of our public lands

George Wuerthner

12th February 2016

The public interest is already derelicted by federal officials on the US's public lands routinely intimidated by aggressive local economic and political interests, writes George Wuerthner. And now it's only going to get worse, with media coverage of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge debacle uncritically promulgating the false narrative of over-zealous enforcement of regulations. more...
Logging road in East Kalimantan: logged forest on the left, primary forest on the right. Photo: Wakx via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

REDD is dead. So now, how are we going to save the world's forests?

Chris Lang

11th February 2016

For years the 'market mantra' has been to save forests by selling the carbon they embody, writes Chris Lang, harnessing the profit motive for the benefit of trees and climate. But it never worked, and now even former fans are admitting that REDD is just another failed conservation fad. So what next? How about asking local communities to manage their forests as commons? more...

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Still from video footage taken by a Brazilian government task force during a chance encounter with a Kawahiva tribe member in his rainforest home. Photo: FUNAI.

Brazil must save Amazon's Kawahiva tribe from genocide

Lewis Evans

8th February 2016

The Kawahiva, an uncontacted tribe in the Amazon rainforest, face extinction unless Brazil's government acts to secure their legal rights to land, security and to remain undisturbed by outsiders, writes Lewis Evans. The decree that would achieve this vital goal has been sitting on the Minister of Justice's desk since 2013. Let's make sure he signs it soon, before it's too late. more...
Construction of the São Manoel Dam in the Brazilian Amazon. Photo: International Rivers via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Saying 'No!' A last chance for the world's forests

Bill Laurance, James Cook University

5th February 2016

Roads, mines, dams, power lines, pipelines and other infrastructure projects are fast eating into the world's 'core forests', writes Bill Laurance. These rare and precious places where wildlife and ecological processes can flourish undisturbed must come before the evanescent gains of 'development'. To save what's left, governments and funders must learn the word 'No!' more...
An Amazonian Grey woolly spider monkey feeding in the treetops. As a important seed disperser, it is essential to the forest ecology - and its capacity to store carbon. Photo: UEA.

Hunting in the Amazon threatens rainforest carbon

The Ecologist

27th January 2016

The over-hunting of wildlife in the Amazon has an unexpected knock-on effect: the reduced seed dispersal reduces the forest's capacity to store carbon in its biomass, increasing emissions from apparently 'intact' rainforest areas. more...
A child in one of the 'unrecognised' Bedouin villages of the Negev desert, Israel: an Israeli citizen, but one less equal than others. Photo: Physicians for Human Rights - Israel via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Don't build Jew-only towns on the rubble of Bedouin villages

Jewish Coalition for the Bedouin of Um al-Hiran and Atir

26th January 2016

Israel's government is now free to expel 1,200 of its Bedouin citizens from their 'unrecognised' villages in the Negev desert, following a Supreme Court decision not to hear their appeal. Now only one thing can save the Bedouin, their communities and their way of life: an international outcry. more...
Devastating fire last year in the cerrado savanna region, one of Brazil’s most threatened biomes. Photo: José Cruz/ABr via Wikimedia (CC-BY).

Brazil: as forest fires rage, new laws will open gates of hell

Jan Rocha

14th January 2016

Never mind Brazil's COP21 promises to cut its carbon emissions, writes Jan Rocha. New laws passing through Congress will encourage deforestation by removing safeguards and opening up indigenous territories to mega-projects. Serious drought is already contributing to a big increase in forest fires. more...
An Eastern Mountain Gorilla forages on a hillside just outside of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. A large deforested buffer zone of inedible tea plants has been constructed in order to keep the gorillas from leaving the park and disrupting loca

Uganda: Save Kafuga Forest and gorillas from tea plantations

Richard Sadler

27th January 2016

Mountain gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest are at risk from tea plantations that would obliterate the adjacent Kafuga Forest, a vital buffer zone for local people, writes Richard Sadler. Deprived of foods, herbs, medicines and clean water from the forest, human pressure on the gorillas would inevitably increase, and expose them to potentially lethal diseases. more...
A tribal elder from the Tagbanua tribe in Quezon municipality, central Palawan. Photo: Rod Harbinson.

Philippines islanders unite to resist 'land grab' palm oil companies

Rod Harbinson

7th January 2016

Farmers on Palawan are being tricked into giving land away to palm oil companies with local government support, writes Rod Harbinson. Under the palm oil company 'leases' the farmers lose all rights to their land, never receive any money, and are saddled with 25 years of debt. Those who resist the land grabs are now in fear for their lives following the murder of a prominent campaigner. more...
Choices choices.. Photo by Sabotrax (CC-BY)

The great bathroom debate: paper towel or hand dryer?

Simon Lockrey

6th January 2016

Which of hand dryers or paper towels have the greatest impact on the environment? asks Simon Lockrey. Are your paper towels recycled or tree-pulped, your dryers power-hungry and long-blowing or short-blast and power-saving. Only full Life-Cycle Analysis can reveal the true punches these seemingly harmless items can deliver to our environment. more...
Road pushing deep into the Gabon rainforest near Junkville Ayem Lope, 20th December 2013. Photo: jbdodane via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Massive road and rail projects threaten thousands of Africa’s wildlife reserves

Bill Laurance, James Cook University

4th January 2015

Africa is facing an unprecedented surge in road and railway building with 33 huge 'development corridors' planned that threaten 2,400 of the continent's protected wildlife areas, writes Bill Laurance. We must block the most destructive plans and limit avoidable impacts on natural areas - before it's too late. more...
In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Green Leaves, Dead Leaves, Red Mushroom. Photo: John Britt via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

A Wild Liberty

Grant A. Mincy

18th January 2016

The world we inhabit is a miracle of billions of years of evolution as life has unfolded in its full beauty and diversity, writes Grant A. Mincy. But human activities - deforestation, mining, urbanisation, pollution, climate change - are tearing away at the functioning fabric of the living biosphere. A mass extinction is under way, and it must be halted, and reversed. But how? more...
Forest-based offsets are intended to save carbon-rich forests like these. But sadly, they can equally reward people for destroying them to create palm oil plantations. Photo: Shannan Mortimer via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Carbon trading in Paris Agreement has set us up for failure

Steffen Böhm, University of Essex

15th December 2015

Hidden away in the pages of UN-speak that make up the Paris Agreement are the makings of global carbon market in which a host of exotic emissions derivatives can be freely traded, writes Steffen Böhm. And it's all going to be a huge and expensive distraction from the real and urgent task of cutting emissions. more...
A pair of beaver dams in Bamff, Perthshire. Photo: Paul Ramsay.

Carlisle floods: bring back the trees, and the beavers!

Oliver Tickell

7th December 2015

The key to reducing the risk of more floods like those in Carlisle is to realise that conventional 'flood defence' can never provide security against the ever more extreme weather events that global warming will bring. We must embrace natural solutions to holding back flood waters: more trees; and bring back the beavers! more...
Drax power station in Yorskshire, England, was to host the UK's examplar of BECCS in its White Rose project, with a planned CCS add-on. In a rare moment of santity, the UK government has pulled the funding. Photo: Ian Britton via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

COP21's climate technofix: spinning carbon into gold and the myth of 'negative emissions'

Rachel Smolker

3rd December 2015

Paris has been awash with hype about 'CO2 recycling' and 'carbon neutral' or even 'carbon negative' technologies based on burning millions of trees, writes Rachel Smolker. But the alchemical notion that waste carbon can be spun into corporate gold is hitting serious reality checks. It's time to ditch the fantasies and progress the real solutions: like caring for land, soils, forests and grasslands. more...


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