Mongabay’s news on nature-based climate solutions (NCS) is filling an information gap and generating awareness of both NCS as an approach to help address climate change as well as the social and environmental drawbacks of some NCS methods.
The series spans the globe and varies from in-depth stories on innovative research, government actions, and project case studies to Q&As with stakeholders and practitioners.
What are nature-based solutions?
NCS aim to protect, manage, and restore natural or modified ecosystems to address societal challenges, such as climate change, while simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits. They are grounded in the principle that nature can aid climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.
Mongabay’s news coverage on NCS has spurred a range of real-world impacts from increased support of community-led conservation to government action.
Support for reforestation
A Mongabay story inspired on-the-ground action at the Macatumbalen Community-Based Forest and Coastal Management Association in the Philippine province of Palawan. Community foresters have replanted and managed 1,850 hectares of local forests since 2002. Their efforts to restore the forests degraded by commercial logging were so successful that the forests became the main livelihood with agroforestry and harvesting forest products like honey and rattan.
However, after Typhoon Rai struck Palawan in December 2021, the community’s forest was devastated. Months following, the community organization was largely left alone as it attempted to resume restoration and replanting. The situation underscores the lack of outside support Indigenous people and local communities have despite their critical role play in effective conservation. However, Mongabay reportage is growing awareness around this issue and illuminating where there is an impactful need. Contributor Keith Anthony Fabro received a call from Nida Collado of the Macatumbalen CBFM Association informing him that after the story was published, an international NGO expressed interest in funding the forest restoration efforts in her typhoon-hit area.
Exposing a carbon credit controversy
Around the world, carbon credit schemes are under more scrutiny, given instances like what happened in Malaysia’s state of Sabah. In late 2021, Mongabay exposed how leaders signed onto a large carbon credit deal without significant consultation with landowners. The state’s attorney general investigated the scheme only after extensive international media coverage.
Mongabay has continued its watchdog journalism with reports like Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) environment minister’s choice to impose a moratorium on new voluntary carbon credit schemes. The moratorium intends to give the government time to create a regulatory framework for future and existing voluntary credit scheme arrangements negotiated directly between developers and resource owners.
In July 2022, Mongabay reported that PNG authorities issued a public notice canceling a carbon offset project run by Australian mining and energy firm Mayur Resources because of breaches of the country’s forestry laws. Mayur now threatens to sue the PNG government for canceling the carbon scheme.
Increased transparency and accountability for decision-makers
Mongabay is aware that decision-makers use our reporting on the biomass energy industry to improve business practices and advance accountability for profiteering from false NCS. In early December 2022, Mongabay published an exclusive whistleblower’s account exposing false claims by Enviva, the world’s largest maker of wood pellets burned for energy. The company has touted its green credentials since its inception, but Mongabay’s reporting showed Enviva’s practices didn’t match its rhetoric. The written report and accompanying video sparked government action when the Netherlands decided to stop paying subsidies to any biomass company found untruthful in its wood pellet production methods. The motion approved by the Dutch parliament to halt subsidies cited Mongabay’s article. We also learned that representatives pursuing a class action shareholder lawsuit against Enviva contacted the whistleblower after reading Mongabay’s reporting.
Another significant impact occurred during a joint investigation with El País, one of Spain’s leading news outlets. “Revealed: Timber giant quietly converts Congo logging sites to carbon schemes” exposed irregularities and allegations that 15 concessions covering millions of hectares were illegally reassigned in 2020 and converted to carbon credit projects without public oversight. The Portuguese-owned titles overlap with a protected area and Indigenous lands. An EU-funded legal review of forestry titles used the report’s findings.
Improved capacity for journalists
Mongabay also is working to improve the ability of journalists to report on the complexities of various NCS. To date, this has been achieved via paid opportunities for an international network of over 125 journalists and online training events.
These journalists received one-on-one guidance and direction from Mongabay’s team of editors. In late 2021, Mongabay launched a free webinar series for journalists. Two webinars centered around NCS approaches, specifically reforestation and carbon offsets. More than 160 people from 35 countries attended these events.
Inspiring reporting beyond Mongabay
Furthermore, our consistent reportage leads the way for more news exposure on NCS. For example, renowned environmental author and activist Bill McKibben wrote an article analyzing Mongabay’s forest biomass coverage. In the Netherlands, Danish journalist Andreas Abildlund interviewed Justin Catanoso, the Mongabay contributor behind the coverage, for an article in Danwatch about the biggest Danish energy company, Orsted, that imports a significant portion of its biomass from Enviva.
Other Mongabay NCS articles have been cited or republished by The New York Times, Gizmodo, EL País, The Christian Science Monitor, Circle of Blue, Civil Eats, EastMojo, Scroll.in, Al Jazeera, Eurasia Review, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Land Portal Foundation, the Native American Fish and Wildlife Association, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Future nature-based climate solutions coverage
Mongabay’s comprehensive coverage of NCS has had a marked influence globally, fostering improved understanding, awareness, and action in this crucial area. With independent, nonprofit reporting, Mongabay has become a leading information source on the topic, even influencing policy and decision-making, as well as increasing transparency and accountability.
Moving forward, Mongabay will continue to build on its body of work on NCS, with a strong focus on revealing the truth and telling stories that help a variety of stakeholders make more informed decisions concerning the environment.
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Mongabay is a nonprofit environmental science and conservation news platform focused on providing cutting-edge independent journalism from Nature’s frontline. We pride ourselves on producing reporting that has substantial, tangible impacts around the world.