How will the needs and desires of Africa’s people be met while protecting and restoring biodiversity and the ecology on which everything ultimately depends? There are complex choices ahead for people and policymakers in Africa and beyond.
The African continent is undergoing accelerating changes. Urban and rural populations alike are growing rapidly, paced by rising demand for things like food and fuel. The continent has also been a site for the extraction of resources propping up the wealthy North for centuries – palm oil, rubber and slaves then, timber and coltan and crude oil now – with often devastating impacts on the environment.
Looming over all of this is global warming, with its growing impacts on harvests, habitat, forests and farmland, rivers and coastlines. Central Africa is experiencing the highest acceleration in deforestation of any region on Earth. The forests of the Congo Basin face a myriad of threats: increased interest from industrial agriculture, proliferating road networks, new oil and gas exploration, and a regional drying trend.
This reporting project will try to strengthen our understanding of wildlife and ecosystems, considering both fruitful and harmful connections between conservation and development, and contributing to better protection of the natural world.
Suggested story topics and guidelines
We welcome proposals from experienced journalists for conventional news stories, in-depth features, investigative reports, profiles, and case studies. We will also consider proposals for fully edited and produced videos of up to 10 minutes in length. Mongabay is particularly interested in stories that are relevant to one of the following subjects, themes, or approaches:
- development pressures: new roads, new industry, new mouths and appetites to feed; adapting agriculture to new conditions; the actions of natural resource industries. For more details, please review the land rights and extractive industries
- environmental change: the unexpected deaths of centuries-old baobabs and days-old wild dog puppies; the unwelcome flourishing of new species; forests – with an emphasis on recent deforestation and degradation – as well as nature-based solutions for curbing deforestation and climate change; the mutually reinforcing effects of global warming and bad environmental practice. For more details, please review the tropical forests project.
- tracing supply chains: efforts to create and maintain profitable and environmentally-sound businesses, understanding the impacts of the production of food, fuel, soap and cement; the effects of globalized trade (both legal and otherwise); the costs of poverty and commercialized culture. For more details, please review palm oil project.
- sustainability: successful efforts to revive rivers and forests, understanding where and how efforts to certify sustainability can fall short. For more details, please review the reforestation and agroecology projects.
- conservation: we’re especially interested in community conservation and locally-based organizations coming up with new approaches to managing protected areas; efforts to save endangered ape species. For more details, please review the apes and conservation solutions projects.
Each story will be between 800 and 2,000 words in length and will include quotes from at least three original interviews. Authors will be expected to provide five to 10 publishable photos free for Mongabay’s use to accompany their articles, along with captions and photo credits.
Mongabay will negotiate all fees and contracts on a per-story basis. Completed stories will be paid on a per word or fixed fee basis, with rates depending primarily on the journalist’s experience. Mongabay.com publishes under an open Creative Commons license that allows for sharing, translation, and re-posting. More information on Mongabay’s editorial standards and practice can be found here.
How to submit your story pitch
To send Mongabay a pitch, please be prepared to also share your resume/portfolio along with three samples of your work. The story pitch should be roughly 500 words in length and include a title for the project. Viable pitches will clearly explain the specific subject you would like to write about in detail and your approach to covering it, and describe a few potential sources. Pitches for video-led stories should also include a shot list and a list of expected interviews.
Support for travel expenses may also be provided by Mongabay. Please include a preliminary travel plan and budget estimate (using this template) if support for travel expenses will be required to carry out reporting. Do not include payments for your work in this budget estimate. Please also describe COVID-19-related precautions you intend to take and any travel restrictions that may impact your plans.
- Pitch your story to the Africa team in English or French.