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Environment, Carbon and Forests

Illegal global trade of pangolins

GFIS - Sat, 17/02/2018 - 17:39
Animal traffickers are taking advantage of remote ivory trade routes to smuggle pangolins – one of the world’s most endangered animals – out of Central Africa, a new study has found.

CRISPR: The latest word in genetics

GFIS - Fri, 16/02/2018 - 22:28

“Scientists saw that and thought, What the hell is this?” said Steve Strauss, a forest biotechnology professor at Oregon State University. As it turned out, bacteria that survive a viral invasion use CRISPR to store the viral gene sequences within their own DNA to “remember” and destroy the...(more)

Additional Information: Full StorySteven Strauss

For tropical forest birds, old neighborhoods matter

GFIS - Fri, 16/02/2018 - 18:43

To reach their conclusions, a team led by Urs Kormann, a post-doctoral scientist in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, surveyed bird communities in 49 forest fragments near the Las Cruces Biological Station in Costa Rica.(more)

Additional Information: Full StoryForest Landscape Ecology Lab

Future of wood: Stronger than ever

GFIS - Fri, 16/02/2018 - 18:40

Oregon State University is putting CLT and other timber products to the test in its newest rendition of Peavy Hall, center of the university’s College of Forestry, which is under construction now. The building, due to open this fall, will showcase some of the latest uses of engineered wood,...(more)

Additional Information: Full StoryLive webcam of Peavy Hall

PARTNER POST: Indigenous people of Maranhão seek to break with the rest of society

GFIS - Fri, 16/02/2018 - 15:00
By Piero Locatelli, from Alto Turiaçu Indigenous Land Disponible en portugués aquí. In one of the poorest regions of the country, the Ka’apor tired of waiting for help and decided to break with the society of Karaís, as non-Indians call it. For years they have driven loggers out of their land. They do this with their own hands and […]

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GFIS - Fri, 16/02/2018 - 11:29

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Author:  Queen Noor Al Hussein

Her Majesty Queen Noor Al Hussein is an international public servant and advocate for global peace-building and conflict recovery. Queen Noor has made environmental priorities an essential component of her work to promote human security and conflict resolution. She is Founding and Emeritus President of BirdLife International and Trustee Emeritus of Conservation International, both IUCN Members, and member of the Ocean Elders. She has received the UN Environment Programme Global 500 Award for her activism, among other honours. Queen Noor is an IUCN Patron of Nature. 

Nearly 6,000 pangolins in illegal wildlife trade in India since 2009

GFIS - Fri, 16/02/2018 - 11:26
16 February 2018, New Delhi, India—On the eve of World Pangolin Day 2018, a TRAFFIC study has revealed that at least 5,772 pangolins were found in illegal wildlife trade in India during the period 2009–2017; close to 650 pangolins every year since 2009. However, this is a conservative estimate and as only a fraction of illegal wildlife trade is detected, the actual number is likely to be far higher.

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GFIS - Fri, 16/02/2018 - 11:23

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FR Indigenous peoples and local communities key in combatting illegal wildlife trade

GFIS - Fri, 16/02/2018 - 09:55

FR Involving and supporting Indigenous peoples and local communities in the fight against wildlife trafficking is essential, yet often overlooked, writes Rosie Cooney, Chair of IUCN’s Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group, following a meeting held in Cameroon to address the issue.

On 19 January, the IUCN Oceania Regional Office gathered in Pacific Harbour, Suva, for its annual staff retreat.  After two days of reflection and renewal, a small get-together was organised for staff and families. Not only was it a time to remind staff on the importance of maintaining focus on quality and efficiency in our work practise, but also the importance of IUCN’s role in the Oceania region was reiterated. The region needs IUCN’s diverse and powerful Union, now more than ever. 

Photo: Sereana Narayan

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White rhinos near Lake Nakuru, Kenya - Globally, poaching and associated illegal wildlife trade is devastating populations of iconic wildlife species such as rhinos and elephants, as well as a host of lesser-known ones. Across West and Central Africa, wildlife crime is impacting elephants, timber, great apes, pangolins, birds, reptiles and medicinal plants.

However, despite high-level recognition of the problem, the emphasis in solutions to date has been largely on strengthening law enforcement efforts and reducing consumer demand for illicitly sourced wildlife commodities. Considerably less emphasis has been placed on the role of the Indigenous peoples and local communities who live with wildlife.

Yet illegal wildlife trade has an enormous impact on such people, who are affected by insecurity and the depletion of important livelihood and economic assets, while often being excluded from the benefits of conservation. They can also be impacted by heavy-handed, militarised responses to wildlife crime that frequently make little distinction between the illegal activities driven by large-scale profits – crimes of greed – versus those driven by poverty – crimes of need.

Topic: Human-wildlife conflictFood securityWater

FR How citizen science can help science and monitor data cold spots 2

GFIS - Fri, 16/02/2018 - 09:53

FR Effective conservation of the oceans relies largely on long-term monitoring of key species and habitats over wide geographical areas. This is notoriously difficult due to the high cost of such programs. As a consequence, we find ourselves with data ‘cold-spots’, areas for which we have little or no information. Citizen science, aka the involvement of volunteers or non-specialised people in science, is an increasingly popular way of conducting monitoring of species and ecosystems over a large geographical scale and time periods, therefore reducing the number of cold-spots.

Photo: Participants are discussing at the consultation workshop © IUCN Myanmar

Photo: The status and distribution of freshwater fish endemic to the Mediterranean basin (2006)

FR In the Red Sea, citizen science is helping scientists collect information on endangered marine turtles.

This approach is particularly useful in countries and areas for which limited human and economic resources are available for conservation.

Aware of the potential of citizen science, over the last few years several institutions in the Mediterranean launched projects such as MedMISInfoMedusaPERSEUS Marine LitterWatchMEDOBS-SUBProject Thalassa or the Alboran Geoportal, to name but a few. These projects aim to collect important information on invasive species, jellyfish blooms, endangered species, human impact and marine spatial planning, relying on the collaboration and support of a network of concerned citizens.

Some on-going marine citizen science projects around the world. © freepik from Faticon

While the value and potential of citizen participation in data collection is well understood, it is also important to consider some of the challenges that collaborative science projects present, including how to keep people interested and informed about project progress, how to assess data quality, or how to best collect data.

Using the above mentioned projects as starting point for discussion, the IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation (IUCN-Med) in cooperation with the Spanish IUCN National Committee and some experts from the Species Survival Commission will host an event during the upcoming World Conservation Congress to talk about the potential of citizen science to obtain high-quality data from understudied regions and to improve our knowledge of marine species and ecosystems.

For more information on this event, please see our event page.

Do you know of more citizen science projects? Please let us know by filing in our online survey available here.

Contact Lourdes Lazaro from the IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation or Agnese Mancini from IUCN’s Species Survival Commission Marine Turtle Specialist Group for further information.

Topic: BiodiversityOceans

Drinking water protected through utility rate program

GFIS - Fri, 16/02/2018 - 06:35

When an entire city relies on drinking water from one reservoir, that resource should be actively protected.

State of America’s Forests adds interactive content to website

GFIS - Fri, 16/02/2018 - 06:22

Building on the successful launch of State of America’s Forests in December of 2017, the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities released three new packets of content on the interactive website, www.usaforests.org.

The War on the West, Part II

GFIS - Fri, 16/02/2018 - 04:21

The bottom line here is that the War on the West will continue in the halls of Congress for as long as we allow it - and for as long as we allow it to fester, the West’s publicly treasured National Forests will continue to die and burn to the ground.

ForestGEO welcomes a new postdoc at SCBI!

GFIS - Thu, 15/02/2018 - 22:28

We are pleased to welcome a new postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Norbert (Nobby) Kunert, who will be working on a new ForestGEO project at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI)!
Dr. Norbert Kunert
Nobby’s project will focus on plant-water relations and tropical forest function measuring leaf hydraulic and functional traits in species-rich tropical forests. Specifically, he will be conducting fieldwork in the forest dynamics sites at Barro Colorado (BCI) in Panama and at the Lambir/Pasohsites in Malaysia. The aim is to identify key hydraulic, physiological, anatomical, and functional traits and to parameterize these traits for the use of tree growth models in response to climate change. Nobby will combine the collected data with forest plot census data to test the extent that trait variation is driving tree growth as well as how these traits can predict drought responses in growth and mortality. The specific research questions that he will be addressing are:
  • Can hydraulic, physiological, anatomical and functional traits be combined to predict growth and mortality?
  • Can this relationship be used to predict climate sensitivity, drought vulnerability, and habitat filtering?
  • How does tree size affect hydraulically traits? 
Nobby will be based at SCBI in the Forest Ecosystems and Climate Lab with staff scientist Kristina Anderson-Teixeira. Nobby comes to ForestGEO after his time as associate lecturer of tropical forest ecology at the University of Freiburg in Germany. He has previously worked as a post-doc in Brazil and Panama and received his PhD in Forest Science and Wood Ecology at the University of Göttingen. Please join us in welcoming Nobby to ForestGEO!  Publications by Dr. Norbert KunertGoogle Scholar - ResearchGate - Publons

In 16 years, Borneo lost more than 100,000 orangutans

GFIS - Thu, 15/02/2018 - 18:50
Over a 16-year period, about half of the orangutans living on the island of Borneo were lost as a result of changes in land cover. That's according to estimates showing that more than 100,000 of the island's orangutans disappeared between 1999 and 2015.

Hunting is changing forests, but not as expected

GFIS - Thu, 15/02/2018 - 18:50
In many tropical forests, over-hunting is diminishing the populations of animals who are vital for dispersing the seeds of woody plants. Those same plants are vital for carbon storage and previous theoretical modeling studies predicted dire consequences to defaunation, this research suggests otherwise. Instead the data shows the effects on the ecosystem are less straightforward and less immediately devastating.

UN Women Presents Actionable Recommendations to Achieve SDGs

GFIS - Thu, 15/02/2018 - 18:42
UN Women released its flagship report, which examines progress and challenges in implementing the SDGs from a gender perspective. Recommendations focus on prioritizing gender-responsive investments, and policies and programmes to deliver on the 2030 Agenda.

CDP Report: Companies Saved US$14 Billion with Emissions Cuts in 2017

GFIS - Thu, 15/02/2018 - 18:18
Over 75% of suppliers identified some climate change risks to their business and more than 50% have integrated climate change into their business strategies. The number of companies taking the lead on addressing emissions in their supply chains doubled within a year, with emission reductions totaling 551 million metric tonnes of CO2. Reducing emissions can lead to significant cost savings for both purchasing organizations and their suppliers.

Nearly 150,000 Orangutans Vanished Over 16 Years

GFIS - Thu, 15/02/2018 - 18:00
Deforestation on Borneo has harmed the primates, but a study found they also disappeared from more intact forests, suggesting people may be killing them.


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by Dr. Radut