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Environmental science and conservation news

Brazil’s Congress moves ahead to end nation’s environmental safeguards
(May 5, 2016, 1:59 pm)

Constitutional amendment would abolish current federal requirements for environmental assessments of public works projects, such as Amazon dams.

New group of Caribbean plants named after James Bond
(May 5, 2016, 7:01 am)

The new sub-genus “Jamesbondia” honors leading American ornithologist James Bond, who inspired Ian Fleming to use the ornithologist’s name for his popular fictional spy series.

Exceptional beauty, exceptional risk: New study reveals extinction dangers for parrots
(May 5, 2016, 1:59 am)

These unique birds are valued for their beauty, companionship and intellectual abilities, making them a popular choice for household pets. However, their popularity comes with a great price.

Indigenous and forest community leaders tour the EU to call for conflict-free palm oil
(May 4, 2016, 7:27 pm)

An international delegation of leaders from indigenous and forest communities in Colombia, Indonesia, Liberia, and Peru are in London today to call for action on human rights violations and land grabbing linked to the global trade in palm oil.

Ethics, sustainability, and Amazon hydropower: mission impossible?
(May 4, 2016, 3:54 pm)

Scientists analysed the Inambari dam’s Environmental Impact Assessment to see if company ethics were driven by sustainability or profit — the answer could have profound implications for the Amazon’s future.

How effective will Indonesia’s palm oil permit freeze really be?
(May 4, 2016, 2:53 am)

Observers question the extent to which the newly declared moratorium, which also applies to mining licenses, can actually be enforced.

Leonardo DiCaprio invests in company, donates shares to Amazon indigenous organization
(May 3, 2016, 9:50 pm)

Leonardo DiCaprio has made an investment in RUNA, a beverage company that makes its products out of guayusa, a tea leaf from the Ecuadorian Amazon, and the actor donated a portion of his investment to a key Indigenous rights group.

Malaysian assets in US allegedly tied to corrupt logging operations
(May 3, 2016, 6:32 pm)

Environmentalists are calling for US and Malaysian officials to investigate allegations that real estate investments in the United States worth billions of dollars may have been funded by proceeds from corrupt logging operations in Sarawak, a Malaysian state on the northwest coast of the island of Borneo.

How big donors and corporations shape conservation goals
(May 3, 2016, 5:54 pm)

ANALYSIS: Is big money from foundations, governments, and corporations making conservation groups more timid and less effective defenders of wildlife? Part 2 of Conservation, Divided: Mongabay’s four-part series investigating how the field of conservation has changed over the last 30 years.

Lake Maracaibo: an oil development sacrifice zone dying from neglect
(May 3, 2016, 4:06 pm)

An ongoing death spiral of oil spills is killing a once vibrant Venezuelan fishery where the state owned oil company admits to 15 “minor” oil spills every day into an already horribly polluted estuary.

Booming soy industry could threaten Brazil’s climate commitments, researchers warn
(May 3, 2016, 3:40 pm)

Amidst a political crisis, a deep recession, and the Zika virus epidemic, the lone bright spot in Brazil’s economy these days is the agricultural sector. In particular, soy production is booming — but researchers are warning that the soy industry’s rise could be the downfall of Brazil’s climate commitments.

Taiwanese chemical spill thought to cause mass fish die-off in Vietnam
(May 3, 2016, 6:42 am)

The incident is shaping up as a classic conflict between industrialization and the environment, a catastrophe for tens of thousands of fishermen and their families, and a test of the management skills and political acumen of Vietnam’s new leaders.

In the Crosshairs of Development
(May 2, 2016, 6:51 pm)

Peter Bosshard, the Interim Executive Director of International Rivers, writes that indigenous lands are being plundered and indigenous activists are being targeted when they stand up for their rights. This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author alone.

New lizard discovered in Paraguay lives only on private reserve that is up for sale
(May 2, 2016, 6:15 pm)

Tropidurus is a ubiquitous genus of lizard endemic to South America, and now there are three new species amongst its ranks — but one of those newly described species is already facing an uncertain future as the private reserve that encompasses its entire range is up for sale.

Cambodia declares protected area in hotly contested Prey Lang forest
(May 2, 2016, 4:47 pm)

Conservationists hope the new status will provide a bulwark against illegal logging, even as they wish more of Prey Lang were included in the decree.

The bison will soon become the US National Mammal
(May 2, 2016, 6:56 am)

Last week, the U.S. House and Senate passed the ‘National Bison Legacy Act’ that designates the bison as the official national mammal of the United States. The bill now has to be signed by President Obama.

Mexican conservation success threatened by wave of mining concessions
(April 29, 2016, 8:16 pm)

Starting in 2014, Mexico’s government has been quick to hand out mining permits, prompting concern from conservation organizations and local communities.

Palm oil in Cameroon – ‘a blessing or a curse’ to small-scale farmers?
(April 29, 2016, 4:55 pm)

As palm oil expands in Africa, researchers say more smallholders should be brought into the fold.

Building roads for agricultural expansion in Brazil is aiding the spread of insects that harm crops
(April 29, 2016, 4:37 pm)

Scientists have discovered what they’re calling an “unintended and ironic” consequence of building roads to aid agricultural expansion in Brazil: those same roads are providing the perfect habitat for insects that can do serious harm to crops.

Kenya to burn more than 105 metric tons of ivory
(April 29, 2016, 11:58 am)

On Saturday, 30 April 2016, Kenya will set fire to more than 105 metric tons of elephant tusks, representing several thousand dead elephants. This ivory burn is believed to be the largest-ever destruction of ivory stockpile in Africa’s history.