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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 (louisejasper.zenfolio.com).

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...
With damming of the Tapajos river, a whole world of biodiversity, beauty and indigenous cultures will be destroyed forever. Photo: Canoe on the Tapajos by Clairex (CC BY-NC-SA).

European companies line up to bid for Amazon megadam

Zachary Davies Boren / Greenpeace Energydesk

13th April 2016

Disregarding revelations of systemic political corruption in Brazil's hydropower sector, President Dilma Rousseff is ploughing ahead with a cascade of giant dams on the mighty Tapajos river. Among the companies touting to win huge construction contracts are France's EDF and Engie, and Germany's Voith and Siemens - in a consortium led by Brazil's Electrobras, which stands accused of high-level corruption over four other dam projects. more...
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...

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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...
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...

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