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A new study from scientists at the University of Geneva concludes different features are necessary for forests to better capture carbon — an important process continually studied due to climate change — including location, size and climate.
Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.
Charlotte's Web<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDcwMjk3NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzQ0NjM4N30.SaQ85SK10-MWjN3PwHo2RqpiUBdjhD0IRnHKTqKaU7Q/img.jpg?width=980" id="84700" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a2174067dcc0c4094be25b3472ce08c8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="charlottes web cbd oil" /><p>Perhaps one of the most well-known brands in the CBD landscape, Charlotte's Web has been growing sustainable hemp plants for several years. The company is currently in the process of achieving official USDA Organic Certification, but it already practices organic and sustainable cultivation techniques to enhance the overall health of the soil and the hemp plants themselves, which creates some of the highest quality CBD extracts. Charlotte's Web offers CBD oils in a range of different concentration options, and some even come in a few flavor options such as chocolate mint, orange blossom, and lemon twist.</p>
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Along the Atlantic coast, ghost forests provide haunting signs of sea-level rise. These stands of bleached and broken tree trunks are all that remain after salty water inundates a forest.
Matt Kirwan is with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. He says ghost forests are not a new phenomenon, but they're moving inland faster as seas rise.
"Eventually they'll fall apart and become stumps surrounded by marshland," he says. "And so when you see a ghost forest now, you're seeing where the marsh will be in the future."
Marshes are valuable ecosystems, so in some ways, that's positive.
"Ghost forests are a surprising indicator of ecological resilience in coastal systems," Kirwan says. "They mark how marshes naturally migrate in response to sea-level rise."
But that migration comes at a cost.
"Places that people have lived for hundreds of years are becoming too wet and too salty to grow crops on, in some cases," Kirwan says. "And of course, the forest resources are being lost. And in some cases, people are forced to move from their homes as the land becomes too flooded."
So ghost forests have become eerie symbols of rapid change.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
The Trump administration formalized its intention to open up Alaska's pristine Tongass National Forest, an intact temperate rainforest, to logging and development, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
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America's largest national forest, Tongass National Forest in Alaska, will be opened up to logging and road construction after the Trump administration finalizes its plans to open up the forest on Friday, according to The New York Times.
Aerial view of the Tongass National Forest. Alan Wu / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
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By Tara Lohan
Earlier this month a series of lightning strikes touched off dozens of fires across California, burning 1.5 million acres, choking cities with smoke and claiming at least six lives. Outside California, large wildfires are burning in Colorado and Oregon, too.
A black-backed Woodpecker attending a nest in a tree cavity in a recently burned forest in the Deschutes National Forest, Oregon. Skip Russell, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Salvage logging three years following California's Rim Fire. Tara Lohan
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By Rosamaria Loures and Sarah Sax
On an early December morning last year in the state of Maranhão, Brazil, half a dozen members of the Indigenous Guajajara people packed their bags with food, maps and drone equipment to get ready for a patrol. They said goodbye to their children, uncertain when, or whether, they would see them again. Then, they hoisted their bags over their shoulders and set out to patrol a section of the 173,000 hectares (428,000 acres) of the primary rainforest they call home.
Women warrior Rosilene Guajajara sits in her home village. Sarah Shenker / Survival<p>"Why did we take the initiative? Because we are mothers. If we don't act, there would be no forest standing," said Paula Guajajara, one of the "women warriors of the forest," in a public event last year.</p><p>Called <em>guerreiras da floresta</em> in Portuguese, this is the name these women have given themselves. They are in many ways an embodiment of what policymakers, politicians and scholars around the world say is a necessary shift toward gender equality in environmental movements. And they are contributing not just womanpower to the patrols — they are also helping to diversify the tactics and forge new partnerships.</p><p>In Brazil in particular, where protecting intact forests is one of the cheapest, easiest and most effective solutions for<a href="https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rstb.2019.0126" target="_blank"> combating climate change</a>, the work they are doing is literally saving the world.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="244a0eac1110c46f755b64bd798f35ac"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/QqKrthJmcN0?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Creating a Space and Finding Their Voice<p>Actively patrolling their land for invaders is nothing new to the Guajajara; Indigenous people have more than 500 years of experience in this. Today, they use satellite technology and coordinate efforts with outside law enforcement to achieve their goals. This approach is relatively new, but its use has been on the rise in recent years.</p><p>"Across the country more of these groups are forming because of government inaction — or worse, because the government is actively trying to exploit their lands," Sarah Shenker, campaign coordinator for Survival International's <a href="https://www.survivalinternational.org/uncontactedtribes" target="_blank">Uncontacted Tribes team</a>, said in an interview. These groups are primarily men, although women are sometimes included in the patrols. But according to Shenker, as well as other experts interviewed for this article, to have "forest guardian" groups made up solely of women is unique.</p><p>The women warriors were formed six years ago, an offshoot of a program developed by Indigenous organizations and the Brazilian government and implemented by the Ministry of the Environment to enhance the territorial and cultural protection of Indigenous people, called Projeto Demonstrativo de Povos Indígenas (PDPI) in Portuguese. At the time, the predominantly male forest guardians were attempting to end illegal logging and the sale of wood from their territory — a task that was proving extremely difficult. Seeing this, the women stepped in and formed their own group consisting originally of 32 women.</p><p>"In order not to let the project end, we, the Guajajara women, entered and took over the project," Cícera Guajajara da Silva, one of the women warriors, said in an interview.</p><p>But the path to being taken seriously and treated as equals has been long.</p><p>"To seek partnership, we walked, talked, slept on the floor — all in order to seek improvement for our community," Paula Guajajara said, recalling the initial difficulty in being heard and taken seriously inside and outside of the communities. Their patience has paid off, and the women are quick to point out the support and close collaboration of the male forest guardians that has allowed them to combat the greater goal of stopping illegal logging. "Today we have the women warriors who work together with the forest guardians," Paula Guajajara said. "We've already evicted a lot of loggers. If we hadn't acted, there would be no forest standing."</p><p>Many of the married women had already been acting independently, accompanying their husbands in some activities, according to Gilderlan Rodrigues da Silva, the Maranhão coordinator of the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI), a Catholic Church-affiliated organization, who has worked with the women warriors. "But, from the moment they created the women's group, they gained strength and visibility," he said in an interview. "Once they were formed, there was this very strong change. Both in the context of decreasing the invasions and waking up to the collective awareness to protect the territory."</p>
Why Women Are Key to Forest Conservation<p>In Brazil, and around the world, <a href="https://catarinas.info/43-mulheres-indigenas-do-brasil-e-da-america-latina-para-se-inspirar/" target="_blank">Indigenous women</a> are increasingly at the forefront of environmental movements.</p><p>"The struggle of Indigenous women happens in different ways, day by day. If I am here today, I am the fruit of the women who came in front of me," Taynara Caragiu Guajajara, a member of the Indigenous women's collective AMIMA, said during a live online event in April. "In the context of the world we live in today, we have been conquering space inside and outside the community. We Indigenous women have not always had that voice … but today the struggle is driven by Indigenous women, we are the ones who are in charge of the struggle."</p>
Maisa Guajajara, march of indigenous women, Brasilia, 2019. Marquinho Mota / FAOR<p>Women are increasingly leading the struggle on issues like climate change, but <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/02/gender-bias-persists-international-reporting-atlantic/582235/" target="_blank">their voices are heard much less often then men's </a>— to the detriment of everyone. This is partially a byproduct of <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/02/gender-bias-persists-international-reporting-atlantic/582235/" target="_blank">gender bias</a> in <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90401548/theres-a-gender-crisis-in-media-and-its-threatening-our-democracy" target="_blank">journalism itself</a>.</p><p>In 2015, of every four people interviewed, mentioned or seen in the news worldwide, only one was a woman, according to a report by the <a href="http://whomakesthenews.org/gmmp" target="_blank">Global Media Monitoring Project</a>, which releases its findings every five years. A closer look at the data shows that even when women are interviewed, it is for personal quotes, rather than for their expertise. It's a figure that <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/02/gender-bias-persists-international-reporting-atlantic/582235/" target="_blank">seems to have barely budged</a> over the past few years, although some newsrooms are starting to actively change that.</p><p>Studies show that, in general, women receive <a href="https://niemanreports.org/articles/where-are-the-women/" target="_blank">greater exposure in newspaper</a> sections led by female editors, as well as in newspapers whose editorial boards have higher female representation. But men are <a href="https://www.poynter.org/business-work/2017/women-dominate-journalism-schools-but-newsrooms-are-still-a-different-story/" target="_blank">disproportionately represented</a> from editors through to reporters, meaning that critical issues for women often go unreported. One of these areas is precisely the connection between conservation solutions and gender equality.</p><p>Women are disproportionately affected by climate change and <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/30/asia/environment-gender-violence-study-intl-hnk/index.html" target="_blank">environmental degradation</a>. <a href="https://www.unenvironment.org/resources/report/global-gender-and-environment-outlook-ggeo" target="_blank">Mounting evidence </a>shows that gender gaps and inequalities, such as inequitable land tenure and women's reduced access to energy, water and sanitation facilities, negatively impact human and environmental well-being. The climate crisis will only make <a href="https://www.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2020/03/womens-rights-in-review" target="_blank">gender disparities worse</a>.</p><p><a href="https://justassociates.org/sites/justassociates.org/files/jass_mch6._rethinking_protection_power_movements_4.pdf" target="_blank">Gender-based violence</a> against women environmental human rights defenders in particular is <a href="http://im-defensoras.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/283951300-Informe-2012-2014-de-Agresiones-contra-Defensoras-de-DDHH-en-Mesoamerica.pdf" target="_blank">on the</a> <a href="https://defenddefenders.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/FINAL-REPORT_pdf-3-1.pdf" target="_blank">rise</a>, and increasingly <a href="https://justassociates.org/sites/justassociates.org/files/jass_mch6._rethinking_protection_power_movements_4.pdf" target="_blank">normalized</a> in both public and private spheres, making it more difficult for women to get justice. As Indigenous communities are often on the front lines of defending their territories, resources and rights from extractive projects and corporate interests, Indigenous women in particular face a two-headed beast of gender-based violence and racism.</p><p>"We fought to defend our territory against invasions and we sought this autonomy to fight for rights," Taynara Caragiu Guajajara said in an interview. "Being a woman is difficult within the macho society, but being an Indigenous or black woman becomes even more difficult, because the prejudice is so great."</p><p>Having more women involved in everything from environmental decision-making to climate politics benefits society at large. <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-019-0438-4" target="_blank">Higher female </a>participation in policymaking increases the equality and effectiveness of climate policy interventions;<a href="https://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/reports/271/hdr_2011_en_complete.pdf" target="_blank"> evidence</a> shows that high gender inequality is correlated with higher rates of deforestation, air pollution and other measures of environmental degradation.</p><p>Yet <a href="https://www.greengrants.org/what-we-do/womens-environmental-action/" target="_blank">less than 1% </a>of international philanthropy goes to women's environmental initiatives, and women are continuously<a href="https://genderandenvironment.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/CI-REPORT.pdf" target="_blank"> left out </a>of decisions about land and <a href="https://www.wri.org/publication/making-womens-voices-count" target="_blank">environmental resources</a>.</p><p>"The global community cannot afford to treat nature conservation and the fight for women's equality as separate issues — they must be addressed together," <a href="https://www.iucn.org/news/secretariat/202003/iucn-acting-director-generals-statement-international-womens-day-2020" target="_blank">said</a> Grethel Aguilar, the acting director-general of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), on international women's day this year.</p>
Map of Maranhão state in northeastern Brazil.
Why the Fight for Indigenous Territorial Rights in Brazil Matters to Conservation<p>Tracking tree cover loss in Maranhão over the past two decades shows the crucial importance of Indigenous territories in protecting intact forest. Viewed from space, as the forest cover rapidly disappears, the outlines of Indigenous territories become more and more distinct.</p><p>"These Indigenous territories are islands of green in a sea of deforestation in one of the worst deforested places in Brazil," Shenker said.</p><p>The Caru Indigenous Territory, for example, has seen 4% forest loss in comparison to the state of Maranhão, which has lost almost a quarter of its tree cover since 2000, according to Global Forest Watch data. Alongside the various other benefits that come with forest preservation, the forests in the Caru Indigenous Territory are also home to some of the last uncontacted Awá people; video of of two Awá men taken in the neighboring Araribóia Indigenous Territory <a href="https://www.survivalinternational.org/news/12171" target="_blank">made international headlines last year</a>.</p><p>These patches of intact, tropical forests are also the crux of "natural climate solutions" protection. These solutions essentially entail stopping deforestation, improving management of forests, and restoring ecosystems, and could provide more than one-third of the cost-effective climate mitigation needed between now and 2030 to stabilize warming to below 2° Celsius (3.6° Fahrenheit).</p><p>According to one of the seminal <a href="https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rstb.2019.0126" target="_blank">papers on natural climate solutions,</a> the single most effective approach in the tropics has proven to be actively protecting intact forests. Protecting intact forests offers twice as much of the cost-effective climate mitigation potential as the second best pathway, reforestation. The Amazon as a whole plays a vital role in mitigating climate change by absorbing and storing carbon dioxide in its forests. When cut down, burned, or degraded through logging, the forest not only ceases to fulfill this function, but can become a source of carbon emissions.</p><p>"Protecting and or conserving intact ecosystems is the number-one priority," said <a href="https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/individuals/dr-kate-dooley" target="_blank">Kate Dooley,</a> a research fellow at the Australian-German Climate & Energy College at the University of Melbourne, who has <a href="https://www.iatp.org/documents/missing-pathways-15degc" target="_blank">authored several papers</a> on the potential of forests as a natural climate solution. "Way-way-way down the line is planting trees. And even then, it needs to be the right kind of trees."</p><p>Of all the countries in the world with some kind of tropical rainforest, Brazil holds more mitigation potential than 71 of the 79 countries combined, <a href="https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rstb.2019.0126" target="_blank">according to a recent paper on this topic</a>. It isn't too hyperbolic, then, to say that groups like the women warriors are protecting humanity's last best hope for a livable future.</p><p>"Plenty of research showing that forests are more intact in collectively held lands," Dooley said. "With or without secure land tenure those lands are more intact and less degraded." According <a href="https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rstb.2019.0126" target="_blank">to a report in 2018 by the Rights and Resources Initiative</a>, almost 300 <em>billion metric tons of carbon</em> are stored in collectively managed lands across all forest biomes, and <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2016/10/protecting-indigenous-land-rights-makes-good-economic-sense" target="_blank">numerous</a> <a href="https://rightsandresources.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Toward-a-Global-Baseline-of-Carbon-Storage-in-Collective-Lands-November-2016-RRI-WHRC-WRI-report.pd" target="_blank">studies</a> have found that the best way to protect forests is to empower the people who live in them, granting them land rights and legal standing.</p><p>This is <a href="https://blog.globalforestwatch.org/people/geospatial-data-indigenous-community-land-forest-management?utm_campaign=BLOG:+LandMark+Data&utm_medium=bitly&utm_source=MonthlyRecap" target="_blank">especially true for Indigenous-held lands in places like Brazil</a>. Between 2000 and 2015, legally designated Indigenous territories in Brazil <a href="http://www.edf.org/sites/default/files/indigenous-territories-barrier-to-deforestation.pdf" target="_blank">saw a tenth </a>the amount of forest loss than non-Indigenous territories. Brazil is home to approximately 900,000 Indigenous citizens from 305 peoples, most of who live in Indigenous territories. Even so, more than half of the locations claimed by Indigenous groups have not yet received formal government recognition.</p><p>"Surveillance and inspection by Indigenous peoples is extremely important, as they are the ones who know the territory and the region best," Rodrigues da Silva said. "On the other hand, unfortunately they are left alone, the Indigenous body responsible for inspection ends up not fulfilling the role and leaving only the Indigenous people."</p>
Prevailing Amid Growing Threats<p>Despite an increasingly hostile government, the women warriors say they are committed to continuing their monitoring, surveillance and educational activities, and are hoping to inspire other groups to do the same.</p><p>"Today women act 100% in defense of the territory," Paula Guajajara said. "Today we are serving as an example."</p><p>But the work is daunting.</p><p>Brazil has the rights of Indigenous people written into its constitution of 1988, and is a signatory to the International Labour Organization's (ILO) <u>Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention.</u> Yet, the current administration of President Jair Bolsonaro has made it clear that Indigenous peoples won't be allowed to<a href="https://news.mongabay.com/2019/01/bolsonaro-government-reveals-plan-to-develop-the-unproductive-amazon/" target="_blank"> comment</a> on infrastructure projects<a href="https://news.mongabay.com/2019/03/brazil-to-build-long-resisted-amazon-transmission-line-on-indigenous-land/" target="_blank"> affecting</a> Indigenous territories in the Amazon. Bolsonaro's administration has also <a href="https://news.mongabay.com/2020/02/bolsonaro-sends-congress-bill-to-open-indigenous-lands-to-mining-fossil-fuels/" target="_blank">proposed opening up</a> Indigenous territories to extractive activities — something the constitution specifically prohibits.</p><p>Hundreds of people have been killed during the past decade in the context of conflicts over the use of land and resources in the Amazon — many by people involved in illegal logging — according to the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), a Catholic Church-affiliated nonprofit that follows land conflicts.</p><p>But perpetrators of violence in the Brazilian Amazon are rarely brought to justice.</p><p>Of the more than <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/11/15/brazils-amazon-and-its-defenders-are-under-attack-illegal-loggers" target="_blank">300 killings that the CPT</a> has registered since 2009, only 14 ultimately went to trial. Maranhão, where the Guajajara live, is among the most dangerous states for Indigenous people in Brazil: more <a href="https://www.cptnacional.org.br/" target="_blank">attacks on Indigenous groups</a> were reported here than anywhere else in 2016, according to data from the CPT.</p><p>The <a href="https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/feature/2020/05/11/coronavirus-Latin-America-Amazon-indigenous-communities" target="_blank">coronavirus poses an additional threat</a> to Indigenous peoples throughout the Amazon and especially in Brazil, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/23/world/coronavirus-indigenous-death-apib-intl/index.html" target="_blank">where the death rate from COVID-19</a> is much higher than the national rate.</p><p>"The surveillance expeditions are stopped by the pandemic, we are not doing surveillance, to care for everyone in the village," Cícera Guajajara da Silva said. "Especially in order to protect our health, because nobody knows who the types of people [invaders] are inside the forest, they may even be infected with the virus, the invader himself can bring the virus to our territory, and that's why we stopped [the expeditions], we are now only sheltering in the village."</p><p>But despite the mounting difficulties, the women warriors are committed to continuing their work.</p><p>"We have the courage to defend our territory," Maisa Guajajara said. "I am a woman and I will fight against all the threats that are in our territory."</p>
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The massive redwood trees that dot the landscape of Northern California have survived through countless earthquakes and natural disasters. Some of them are over 1,800 years old, hundreds of feet tall, and more than 90 feet in circumference. Yet, the climate crisis may threaten their livelihood as the latest California wildfires have encroached upon the ancient trees, as NPR reported.
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By Melissa Gaskill
During a trip to Cuba's Gardens of the Queen a few years ago, I found myself around small mangrove islands in an area called Boca Grande. Floating on clear, calm water, my travel group and I kicked over tall seagrass beds and rays camouflaged in the sandy flats. Fish of all kinds and sizes hung out among the tree roots, including huge cubera snappers. An hour stretched into two, this enormous saltwater aquarium proving as fascinating as the nearby, healthy coral reefs.
A pelican enjoys a perch in a mangrove stand in the Galapagos. Hans Johnson / CC BY 2.0<p>These ecosystems also protect the shore. Laura Geselbracht, a marine scientist and coastal restoration expert with The Nature Conservancy Florida, reports that mangroves prevented an additional $1.5 billion in direct damages in that state from 2017's Hurricane Irma. An analysis by The Nature Conservancy, University of California Santa Cruz and Risk Management Solutions found that just 100 yards of mangrove trees can reduce wave height by 66%.</p><p>And mangrove forests also help mitigate climate change, pulling massive amounts of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and storing them in their soils — up to <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110404173247.htm" target="_blank">four times</a> as much carbon as other tropical forests. A 2018 study calculated that the world's mangrove forests suck up more than <a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aabe1c/pdf" target="_blank">6 billion tons</a> of carbon a year.</p><p>That's the good news. The bad news: Mangroves face numerous threats — 35% were lost between 1980 and 2000, and since the turn of the 21st century almost 1 in 50 of the remaining mangrove forests has been cut down.</p><p>Today, one of the direst threats to their continued existence comes from rising sea levels caused by climate change.</p><p>A <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/368/6495/1118" target="_blank">paper</a> published in <em>Science</em> in June looked at data on thousands of years of sea-level rise and mangrove accretion. (Accretion is the opposite of coastal erosion: Instead of wearing away, soil builds up around the roots and lifts trees vertically, keeping them above water.) While a mangrove's lower trunk and roots live underwater, its upper trunk and leaves live above the waterline. And when the water gets too high, and the accretion process fails to support mangroves, the trees effectively drown.</p>
Mangroves underwater, near Queensland, Australia. Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble / CC BY 2.0<p>The authors determined that accretion will not keep up beyond sea-level rise of 0.27 inches per year. Rutgers University climate data scientist Erica Ashe, one of the authors, says the current global rate is 0.134 inches, with some areas experiencing much higher rates. In Louisiana, for example, the effect of rising water is compounded by land sinking due to water removal and sediment compaction.</p><p>Based on projected rates, mangrove trees could lose their race against rising water within the next 30 years.</p><p>"The rate of sea-level rise keeps going up," says Geselbracht, who was not affiliated with the study. "Every time a study looks at it, the rate is faster than we expected."</p><p>Mangroves could, in theory, adjust to rising seas by migrating landward, but that's not possible in much of the world because of human development. The trees cannot grow on roads or buildings.</p><p>"We need to modify infrastructure, change permitting rules, and come up with other innovative solutions to accommodate that movement," Geselbracht says.</p><p>Recent research supports this. A study on Mexico's <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S096456912030106X" target="_blank">Yucatan Peninsula</a>, published this past April, showed that the mangrove areas most affected by human activity there were also the ones least able to adapt to sea-level rise. In other words, just leaving mangroves alone could help.</p><p>But the world isn't leaving mangroves alone: We continue to actively destroy their forests at an increasing rate, clearing them for development and aquaculture, timber and fuel.</p><p>Colombia, which has approximately 1,467 square miles of mangrove forests on its coasts, is experiencing the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4441/12/4/1113/htm" target="_blank">highest annual rate</a> of loss in South America — roughly 154 square miles in the past three decades. Primary blame goes to human activities, including logging and development, primarily for tourism.</p>
Mangroves in Colombia. F Delventhal / CC BY 2.0<p>One of the most striking developing threats is in the Sundarbans region of Bangladesh and India, where the biggest mangrove forest on Earth — covering an area of more than 3,860 square miles — houses at least 505 species of wildlife, including 355 species of birds, 49 mammals and 291 fish. It provides critical habitat for Bengal tigers.</p><p>Sharif A. Mukul, a research fellow at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, warned in a recent <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/368/6496/1198.1" target="_blank">letter</a> to <em>Science</em> that construction of a 3.8-mile-long bridge, the largest development project in Bangladesh, could destroy the Sundarbans.</p><p>"People anticipate much more tourism and industry activity with the bridge," he says. "The second to largest seaport [in Bangladesh] is close to Sundarbans. After completion of the bridge, the port likely will be used more frequently, with more factories and that sort of thing."</p>
A birding safari in the Sunderbans. Ankur Panchbudhe / CC BY 2.0<p>The Sundarbans are particularly important for protection from cyclones, Mukul adds, which have increased in number and intensity in the past few years. Fifteen percent of tropical cyclones form in this region. The country's annual monsoon season has also worsened, including <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-13/bangladesh-floods-sees-a-third-of-nation-underwater-coronavirus/12555448" target="_blank">catastrophic floods</a> this summer.</p><p>In addition, Bangladesh already has seen significant loss of mangrove forests to <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/226697717_A_unified_framework_for_the_restoration_of_Southeast_Asian_mangroves-Bridging_ecology_society_and_economics" target="_blank">shrimp farming</a>.</p><p>The bridge will bring economic benefits to the region and Mukul does not argue against its construction, but rather for doing it in a way that protects local ecosystems and their services. "The government is definitely focusing only on development and not the environment," he says. "They should do the project in a more environmentally friendly way."</p><p>The country has company in that regard. The UNESCO <a href="http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/environment/ecological-sciences/biosphere-reserves/asia-and-the-pacific/vietnam/can-gio-mangrove" target="_blank">Mangrove Biosphere Reserve</a> near Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam contains one of the world's largest rehabilitated mangrove forests. That country recently <a href="https://asia.nikkei.com/Economy/Vietnam-speeds-up-big-projects-to-heal-economy-from-pandemic" target="_blank">approved</a> a $9.3 billion tourist development to be built largely on filled-in coastal land within the reserve's buffer zone. This project also includes a <a href="https://e.vnexpress.net/news/news/work-on-bridge-to-hcmc-coastal-district-to-begin-in-2022-4119621.html" target="_blank">massive bridge</a>.</p>
Big Cypress National Preserve (uncredited) (Public domain)<p>And in the United States, Geselbracht says, Florida continues to lose swaths of mangroves to physical removal.</p><p>"People on the coast don't want mangroves blocking their view," she says. The state now has laws regulating removal of mangroves, which has slowed their loss. But certain types of removals remain legal, Geselbracht says, including some for storm-retention ponds. "It astounds me that no one does a cost-benefit analysis to show that removing them increases rather than decreases pollution and damages."</p><p>In a particularly vicious twist, taking out mangroves not only eliminates their potential for storing carbon, it releases significant amounts — increasing the threats of climate change and sea-level rise and putting even more mangroves, and the communities and habitats around them, at risk. Between 2000 and 2015 mangrove destruction released up to <a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aabe1c/pdf" target="_blank">122 million tons of carbon</a> — more than two and a half times the amount emitted by <a href="https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/news/2016/8/22/back-to-school-burn-the-science-of-wildfires" target="_blank">California wildfires</a> between 2001 and 2010. Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar accounted for more than two-thirds of the released amount.</p>
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By Gregory Moore
With massive fronds creating a luxuriously green canopy in the understory of Australian forests, tree ferns are a familiar sight on many long drives or bushwalks. But how much do you really know about them?
Ferns are often the first plants to grow back after bushfires. Greg Moore, Author provided
Ancient Family Ties<p>Tree ferns are generally slow growing, at rates of just 25-50 millimeters height increase per year. This means the tall individuals you might spot in a mature forest may be <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5426625/#:%7E:text=The%20tree%20fern%20species%20in,grow%20to%2020m%20%5B16%5D." target="_blank">several centuries old</a>.</p><p>However, in the right environment they can grow faster, so guessing their real age can be tricky, especially if they're growing outside their usual forest environment.</p><p>As a plant group, tree ferns are ancient, dating back <a href="https://www.nzgeo.com/stories/ferns-the-glory-of-the-forest/" target="_blank">hundreds of millions of years</a> and pre-dating dinosaurs.</p><p>They existed on earth long before the flowering or cone-bearing plants evolved, and were a significant element of the earth's flora during the <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/prehistoric-world/carboniferous/" target="_blank">Carboniferous</a> period 300-360 million years ago, when conditions for plant growth were near ideal. This explains why ferns don't reproduce by flowers, fruits or cones, but by more primitive spores.</p><p>In fact, fossilized tree ferns and their relatives called the fern allies laid down during the carboniferous then have provided much of the earth's fossil fuels dating from that period. And tree ferns were a great <a href="https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/9452631" target="_blank">food source</a>, with Indigenous people once <a href="https://museumsvictoria.com.au/bunjilaka/about-us/the-plants-of-milarri-garden/" target="_blank">eating the pulp</a> that occurs in the center of the tree fern stem either raw or roasted as a starch.</p><p>Until recent times, ferns were quiet achievers among plant groups with an expanding number of species and greater numbers. Today, human activities are limiting <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/28b03b9a-2b02-4a50-82d0-54697736ab6e/files/threatened-tasmanian-ferns.pdf" target="_blank">their success</a> by the clearing of forests and agricultural practices. Climate change is also a more recent threat to many fern species.</p>
Species You’ve Probably Seen<p>Two of the more common tree fern species of south eastern Australia are <em><a href="https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/interns-2003/cyathea-spp.html" target="_blank">Cyathea australis</a></em> and <a href="https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/interns-2003/dicksonia-antarctica.html" target="_blank"><em>Dicksonia antarctica</em></a>. Both species have a wide distribution, extending from Queensland down the Australian coast and into Tasmania.</p><p>They're often found growing near each other along rivers and creeks. They look superficially alike and many people would be unaware that they are entirely different species at first glance. That is, until you look closely at the detail of their fronds and run your fingers down the stalks.</p><p><em>C. australis</em> has a rough almost prickly frond, hence its common name of rough tree fern, and can grow to be 25 meters tall. While <em>D. antarctica</em>, as the soft tree fern, has a smooth and sometimes furry frond and rarely grows above 15 meters.</p><p>Both contribute to the lush green appearance of the understory of wet forests dominated by eucalypts, such as mountain ash (<em>Eucalyptus regnans</em>).</p>
Stems That Host a Tiny Ecosystem<p>The way tree ferns grow is quite complex. That's because growth, even of the roots, originates from part of the apex of the stem. If this crown is damaged, then the fern can die.</p><p>At the right time of the year, the new fronds unfurl in the crown from a coil called a fiddlehead. The stem of the tree fern is made up of all of the retained leaf bases of the fronds from previous years.</p><p>The stems are very fibrous and quite strong, which means they tend to retain moisture. And this is one of the reasons why the stems of tree ferns don't easily burn in bushfires — even when they're dry or dead.</p><p>In some dense wet forest communities, the stems of tree ferns are a miniature ecosystem, with epiphytic plants — such as mosses, translucent filmy ferns, perhaps lichens and the seedlings of other plant species — growing on them.</p><p>These epiphytes are not bad for the tree ferns, they're just looking for a place to live, and the fibrous, nutrient-rich, moist tree fern stems prove brilliantly suitable.</p>
Engulfed by Trees<p>Similarly, the spreading canopies of tree ferns, such as <em>D. antarctica</em>, provide an excellent place for trees and other species to germinate.</p><p>That's because many plants need good light for their seedlings to establish and this may not be available on the forest floor. Seeds, such as those of the native (or myrtle) beech, <em>Nothofagus cunninghamii</em>, may germinate in the crowns of tree ferns, and its roots can grow down the tree fern trunks and into the soil.</p><p>As time passes, the tree species may completely grow over the tree fern, engulfing the tree fern stem into its trunk. Decades, or even centuries later, it's sometimes still possible to see the old tree fern stem embedded inside.</p><p><span></span>Still, tree ferns are wonderfully resilient and give a sense of permanence to our ever-changing fire-affected landscapes.</p>
By Sean Fleming
The Borneo rainforest is a treasure trove of biodiversity. It is home to 221 species of land-living mammals and 420 species of birds, not to mention 15,000 species of flowering plants and 3,000 species of trees.
Estimated deforestation by type of forest and time period, pre-1700-2000. FAO/Our World in Data
The Sound of Progress<p>Sarab Sethi, a PhD student from Imperial College, was involved in the design of the audio recorders. "If we can get a fingerprint of each audio stream, we can compare how the soundscapes are different between different sites and begin to quantify the changes as land-use changes, for example when forests are logged," he said.</p><p>The SAFE team has also created a website that <a href="http://acoustics.safeproject.net/12:00/10/51442" target="_blank">streams some of the rainforest recordings</a>.</p><p>A similar project from the Rainforest Connection is also using audio to tackle illegal logging. With schemes in South America, Africa and Asia, the organization <a href="https://rfcx.org/home" target="_blank">uses a system based on old mobile phones to record ambient noise in rainforests</a>. It uses a cloud-based AI engine to spot the sound of chainsaws in those recordings. If any are detected, it sends a real-time alert to the relevant authorities.</p><p>About <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank">17% of the Amazon rainforest has been lost in the past 50 years</a>, according to the WWF. It describes the loss of forested areas near population centers as "rampant" and says that cattle ranching is the main cause of the deforestation.</p>
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By Douglas Broom
"Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people," said former U.S. president, Franklin Roosevelt.
So the FAO is using Twitter to remind the world of these five hidden benefits of forests.