Science community rallies support to save Madagascar’s natural riches

first_imgMadagascar is set to host the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation’s 56th annual meeting in July.The organizers have launched a petition to garner support for urgent actions that must be taken to preserve the island nation’s unique biodiversity.The petition will be presented to the country’s president, who has been invited to sign it and recognize it as the Declaration of Ivato, after the site where the meeting will take place.The document, available in four languages, can be accessed online until Aug. 2. As Madagascar prepares to host a major conservation summit next month, the organizer has launched a petition to call attention to the threats faced by the island nation’s unique biodiversity and its people.Delegates from more than 50 countries are expected to attend the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation’s (ATBC) 56th annual meeting that runs from July 31 to Aug. 3 at the Ivato International Convention Centre in the capital, Antananarivo. Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina has been invited to sign the petition at the closing of the conference so that it can be instituted as the Declaration of Ivato.The petition is an attempt by the scientific community to shine a light on concerns that were laid out in a commentary published in Nature Sustainability in May and recommend actions for the government and key stakeholders. It highlights the unique place that Madagascar occupies as the oldest island in the world and home to unique species that are weird and wonderful — but also severely threatened.A Madagascar kingfisher (Alcedo vintsioides). Credit: Rhett A. ButlerMadagascar’s astonishing variety of plant and animal species, an estimated 90 percent of which are found nowhere else on Earth, is a result of its isolation for tens of millions of years. This allowed evolutionary forces to shape the biota unfettered. The country hosts more than a hundred species of enigmatic lemurs and lesser-known but equally remarkable reptile and amphibian species.Most of these species are endangered by unbridled forest loss, habitat degradation, fragmentation, and wildlife trafficking. In 2018, Madagascar lost 2 percent of its primary rainforests, the largest proportion of any country in the world. The remaining forests are severely fragmented, about half of them now located less than 100 meters (330 feet) from a forest boundary.The installation of a new government under Rajoelina this year raised hopes that a degree of political stability could help stem the environmental destruction. During Rajoelina’s previous stint as president, from 2009 to 2014, when he came to power on the back of a coup d’état, the country experienced a period of unchecked natural resource exploitation.The ATBC, in its petition, acknowledges the reality of conservation in a country that’s one of the poorest in Africa, with 75% people living below the poverty line in 2018, and suffers high rates of child malnutrition. “Conservation of biodiversity must therefore contribute to, not detract from, efforts of the country to develop economically,” it says.It emphasizes the need to safeguard Madagascar’s natural heritage and make it the basis for its economic recovery, a key challenge for the current president. “This will be a crucial opportunity to underline to the nation’s political and economic leaders the views of the national and international scientific and conservation communities, specifically the importance of the island’s natural patrimony at a global level and the need for new decisive actions,” the petition says.Kids from the Vezo community in Madagascar dancing atop a sand dune. Credit: Rhett A. ButlerIt lists five urgent actions to save the forests and biodiversity and secure the people’s future: tackling environmental crime, investing in Madagascar’s protected areas, ensuring that major infrastructure developments limit impacts on biodiversity, strengthening tenure rights for local people over natural resources, and addressing Madagascar’s growing fuelwood crisis.According to the World Bank, only about 20% of Malagasy households have access to electricity, and the percentage is even lower in rural areas forcing people to turn to forests for their energy needs. A majority of households rely on firewood or charcoal for cooking. As the population swells, between 2007 and 2017 the country’s population grew by over 6 million people, the pressure on forests will only intensify.The ATBC targets 2500 signatures* for the petition; as of June 24 more than 800 people had already signed it. The hope is to garner even more signatures and support from across the world to lean on the Malagasy government to act. The petition is available in English, French, Spanish and Malagasy, and will be live until Aug. 2.Banner Image: A female black lemur in Nosy Komba island in Madagascar, 2012. Credit: Rhett A. Butler[*Editor’s Note: The article has been updated to reflect a change in the target number of signatures for the petition.]Malavika Vyawahare is the Madagascar staff writer for Mongabay. Find her on Twitter: @MalavikaVyFEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Biodiversity, Conservation, Deforestation, Endangered Species, Energy, Environment, Forests, Protected Areas, Rainforests, Tropical Forests, Wildlife, Wildlife Trade Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img Article published by malavikavyawaharelast_img read more

COP25: EU officials say biomass burning policy to come under critical review

first_imgAt a COP25 climate summit press conference on Thursday, December 12, Frans Timmermans, executive vice president of the EU and a Dutch politician answered a Mongabay question concerning the UN biomass carbon accounting loophole.When asked if the EU would close the loophole, he said: “The issue of biofuels needs to be looked at very carefully. We have to make sure that what we do with biofuels is sustainable and does not do more harm than that it does good.” A second EU official expressed a similar view. The issue won’t likely be reviewed until after 2020.This is perhaps the first acknowledgement by a top developed world official that the biomass loophole is a potential problem. The loophole encourages power plants that burn coal (whose carbon emissions are counted) to be converted to biomass — the burning of wood pellets (whose carbon emissions are counted as carbon neutral).Recent science shows that burning wood pellets is worse than burning coal, since more pellets must be burned to produce equivalent energy levels to coal. Also replacing plantation forests to achieve carbon neutrality takes many decades, time not available to a world that needs to quickly cut emissions over the next 20 years. Frans Timmersmans, executive vice president of the EU (center), and Bas Eickhout, a member of the European Parliament (right). More than 100 international journalists covered the press conference near the end of the United Nations climate summit in Madrid. Image by Justin Catanoso.MADRID, Spain – Two high-level members of the European Union delegation announced that the carbon neutrality designation given to biomass energy — replacing coal with wood pellets — will come under critical review by the EU as a result of current science showing that biomass burning produces significant amounts of carbon emissions.The unexpected announcement came during a press conference Thursday, December 12, at the 25th United Nations climate summit (COP25).“The issue of biofuels needs to be looked at very carefully,” said Frans Timmermans, executive vice president of the EU and a Dutch politician, in response to a question from Mongabay. “We have to make sure that what we do with biofuels is sustainable and does not do more harm than that it does good.”Timmermans’ view is significant because the conversion of coal-fired power plants to the burning of wood pellets is one of the fastest-growing energy sources in the United Kingdom and EU. Because trees can be replanted, wood pellets have been classified as renewable energy on par with carbon-zero wind and solar energy by the UN for more than twenty years.Thus, countries making the coal-to-biomass transition can zero out their emissions on paper, even as a decades’ worth of research demonstrates that biomass generates more emissions at the smokestack than burning coal. Meanwhile, acres of carbon-absorbing trees are being cut down to be pelletized, devastating biodiversity in the U.S. Southeast and a growing number of forest nations, in what has become a multibillion-dollar global industry.Timmermans added: “I know the science has evolved on this issue [of carbon neutrality] hugely in the last couple of years. We have to make sure that we use the latest scientific evidence in order to do the right thing.”Thousands of trees stacked and ready to be turned into wood pellets for overseas shipment, mostly to the UK and EU, at one of three pellet-making plants in North Carolina. Photo courtesy of the Dogwood Alliance.Bas Eickhout, a member of the European Union Parliament from the Netherlands, said during the press conference: “The previous time we did a review of our Renewable Energy Directive (RED) a few years ago, we had a long, extensive discussion about the sustainability criteria on the use of biomass for renewables. Speaking only for myself, I would have loved to see a stronger criteria in place.”Critics of biomass-for-energy say the EU’s 2018-approved Renewable Energy Directive — which obligates member nations to generate at least 32 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2030 — has generated a surge in demand for wood pellets, with nations capitalizing on the UN biomass carbon neutrality loophole, and shifting investment that could have gone to wind and solar.Proponents of biomass for energy contend that well managed forests (the forestry industry term for tree farms or tree plantations) promote healthier forests, with newly planted trees absorbing more carbon as they grow compared to mature forests. That view was common among policymakers and forestry experts 20 years ago and at first went largely unchallenged. That’s no longer the case.Images like this one, young hands holding wood pellets, are vigorously promoted by a wood products industry that wants the public to perceive it as green. But recent studies show definitively that biomass carbon neutrality claims are false. Still, the UN did nothing to address the issue or alter its official position at COP25. Photo credit: #ODF on Visual hunt / CC BY.EU scientists speak outSignificantly, the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC) released a series of reports before and near the end of the COP25 climate summit that intensified its criticism of biomass-for-energy and the carbon neutrality loophole.“The concept of the carbon neutrality of forest biomass may have had some validity in 2009 when the urgency of tackling global warming was less widely recognized and the idea was simply that growing biomass removes as much CO2 from the atmosphere as is emitted from its combustion,” said Michael Norton, EASAC’s program director in a statement.“But the focus today is on limiting global warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius,” he added. “This requires urgent actions, not waiting for new trees to grow while pumping additional carbon into the atmosphere by burning trees for energy.”Altering the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive — if it does indeed come about — could reverse the demand for wood pellets across Europe and the United Kingdom, said Gry Bossen, a policy coordinator with Forests of the World in Copenhagen, an NGO.Denmark now gets about 30 percent of its energy from wood pellets, but, utilizing the loophole, reports none of the resulting carbon emissions. The UK and Belgium are also heavy users of wood pellets for energy.“I’m actually surprised to hear what the EU representatives had to say,” Bossen said. “This is new information for us, and really encouraging that the EU wants to look at the science.”The review is not going to come right away, Eikhout said. First, the EU needs to determine its increased carbon-reduction ambition under the Paris Agreement, a process that will take much of next year. A review of RED could come in 2021 or 2022, he said.A forest industry pine plantation in the U.S. Southeast. Not only is biomass for energy not carbon neutral, it also transforms biodiversity-rich native forests into tree farms, which are close to being biodiversity deserts. Photo courtesy of the Dogwood Alliance.Considering the long-standing UN biomass carbon neutrality policy, along with the lucrative fast growing wood pellet industry, the EU’s altering of the designation is certain to face fierce opposition. The forestry industry, which has seen an increase in logging as a result of international wood pellet demand, will very likely oppose changes to RED.But Kelsey Perlman, a forest and climate campaigner with Fern, an environmental advocacy group based in Brussels, noted that the new European Green Deal released by the EU during COP25 contains a “green oath, in which policies that didn’t work in the past will be rectified in the future.”“It’s good to have politicians saying publicly that they are going to address this issue of carbon neutrality and biomass,” Perlman said. “It’s long overdue.”Justin Catanoso, a professor of journalism at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, covers climate change and climate policy for Mongabay; this is his sixth UN climate summit. Follow him on Twitter @jcatanosoBanner image caption: A managed U.S. red pine plantation. Image by Nicholas Tonelli under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by Glenn Scherer Adaptation To Climate Change, Alternative Energy, carbon, Carbon Conservation, Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Emissions, Carbon Negative Bioenergy, Carbon Sequestration, Clean Energy, Climate, Climate Change, Climate Change Politics, climate policy, Climate Politics, Climate Science, Controversial, Emission Reduction, Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Politics, Environment, Environmental Ethics, Environmental Law, Environmental Policy, Environmental Politics, Forest Carbon, Forestry, Forests, Global Environmental Crisis, Global Warming, Global Warming Mitigation, Globalization, Green, Green Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Impact Of Climate Change, International Trade, Law, Monitoring, Plantations, Pollution, Renewable Energy, Research, Subsidies, Sustainability, Trade, Trees center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more