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Animals
Palm oil survivors. Wildlife Photographer of the Year / Aaron Gekoski

The Palm Oil Industry Promises Reform, But There’s Still No Sign of Change

It was 10 years ago that Greenpeace first published an investigation into Indonesia's palm oil industry.

We showed that the world's biggest brands got their palm oil from companies destroying Indonesia's rainforests—threatening local people as well as tigers and orangutans.

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Parque Nacional da Serra do Pardo.WWF-Brasil / Adriano Gambarini

Conservation Goal for the Amazon Exceeded: More Than 60 Million Hectares Protected

The World Wildlife Fund announced Friday that the Program for Protected Areas of the Amazon (ARPA), a joint venture with the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment, has reached the goal of protecting a network of conservation units of at least 60 million hectares in the Amazon. This effort represents the conservation of 15 percent of the biome's territory in Brazil.

The largest strategy on the planet for conservation and sustainable use of tropical forests, the ARPA program is now present in 117 conservation units, including the categories of national park, state park, ecological station, biological reserve, extractive reserve and sustainable development reserve in the states of Amapá, Amazonas, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima and Tocantins.

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Energy
Harvesting sugarcane in Brazil. Jonathan Wilkins / CC BY-SA

Jet Fuel From Sugarcane? It’s No Flight of Fancy

By Deepak Kumar, Stephen P. Long and Vijay Singh

The aviation industry produces two percent of global human-induced carbon dioxide emissions. This share may seem relatively small—for perspective, electricity generation and home heating account for more than 40 percent—but aviation is one of the world's fastest-growing greenhouse gas sources. Demand for air travel is projected to double in the next 20 years.

Airlines are under pressure to reduce their carbon emissions, and are highly vulnerable to global oil price fluctuations. These challenges have spurred strong interest in biomass-derived jet fuels. Bio-jet fuel can be produced from various plant materials, including oil crops, sugar crops, starchy plants and lignocellulosic biomass, through various chemical and biological routes. However, the technologies to convert oil to jet fuel are at a more advanced stage of development and yield higher energy efficiency than other sources.

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Animals
Sumatran elephant. Paul Hilton / Wildlife Conservation Society

Palm Oil Producer Destroying Critical Elephant Habitat With Impunity

Between Aug. 21 and Sept. 5, conflict palm oil grower PT. Tualang Raya cleared another 18 hectares of critical lowland rainforests inside the Leuser Ecosystem. This rogue actor has continued razing forests with impunity despite Rainforest Action Network exposing its ongoing destruction since September 2015.

PT. Tualang Raya is clearing in disregard of a government moratorium on forest clearing for palm oil development. According to satellite imagery analysis, PT. Tualang Raya has cleared a total of 205 hectares of forest since June 2016 when a government circular letter demanded that palm oil companies halt forest clearance.

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Food
Rainforest in ruin. Mighty Earth

Chocolate Barons Devastate National Parks in West Africa

By Davis Harper

For several years, chocolate barons have devastated forests to make room to plant cocoa, a crop that naturally grows in shade. Now, a report from Mighty Earth—a nonprofit that works to conserve threatened landscapes—shows new evidence that illegal deforestation is occurring in protected areas; specifically, in the national parks of West Africa.

The Ivory Coast and Ghana produce a combined 2.6 million tons of chocolate—60 percent of the world's supply. It's no wonder so many of these nations' protected lands are at risk. According to Mighty Earth's report, 10 percent of Ghana's tree cover has been replaced by cocoa monocultures. The Ivory Coast, once heavily forested and extremely biodiverse, has lost seven of its 23 protected areas to cocoa. Due to habitat loss, its chimpanzees are now endangered, and its elephants are nearly extinct. This means that companies like Mars, Nestlé, Hersey's and Godiva are on the hot seat for making products using cocoa grown by uncertified sources.

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Rice drying in Nepal. foto_morgana / Flickr

World Can Meet Growing Food Demands and Limit Warming to 1.5°C, Study Says

By Daisy Dunne

Agriculture and food production is responsible for around 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Slashing the sector's emissions is considered to be key to limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, which is the aspirational target of the Paris agreement.

However, adopting negative emissions strategies, such as soil carbon management, will be essential to help the farming industry reduce its carbon footprint without threatening the global food supply, the lead author told Carbon Brief.

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Earthjustice attorney Ted Zukoski (left) stands in Colorado's Sunset Roadless Area. Wild Earth Guardians / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Battle to Protect 50 Million Forest Acres May Finally Be Won After 16 Years

By Jessica A. Knoblauch

A decades-long fight over a landmark rule protecting wild forests nationwide took another successful–and possibly final–turn last week after a U.S. district court threw out a last-ditch attack by the state of Alaska against the Roadless Rule.

Adopted in the closing days of the Clinton administration, the Roadless Rule prohibits most logging and road construction in roadless areas of national forests. These lands, today equaling about 50 million acres or about the size of Nebraska, are some of the wildest places left in America.

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A stretch of the Jari River inside the Renca Reserve in Amapá state. Daniel Beltrá / Greenpeace

Brazil Backs Off Controversial Plan to Open Amazon Forest to Mining

The Brazilian government announced Monday that it has reversed President Michel Temer's decree last month to open up a protected Amazon reserve to mining.

Temer's controversial proposal had allowed mining in the National Reserve of Copper and Associates (Renca), a 17,800-square-mile nature reserve the size of Switzerland that's known to be an essential carbon sink. The area is believed to be rich in gold, manganese, iron and copper.

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Amazon pink river dolphin. Shutterstock

381 New Species Discovered in the Amazon

A new WWF and Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development report, released Aug. 30, reveals that a new animal or plant species is discovered in the Amazon every two days, the fastest rate to be observed this century. The findings come as huge parts of the forest are increasingly under threat, sparking further concern over the irreversible—and potentially catastrophic—consequences unsustainable policy and decision-making could have.

New Species of Vertebrates and Plants in the Amazon 2014-2015 details 381 new species that were discovered over 24 months, including 216 plants, 93 fish, 32 amphibians, 20 mammals (2 of which are fossils), 19 reptiles and 1 bird.

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