Amazon REDD+ scheme side-steps land rights to reward small forest producers

first_imgArticle published by hayat To safeguard the almost 90 percent of its land still covered with forest, the small Brazilian state of Acre implemented a carbon credit scheme that assigns monetary value to stored carbon in the standing trees and rewards local “ecosystem service providers” for their role protecting it.Acre’s System of Incentives for Environmental Services (SISA) rewards sustainable harvesting of rubber, nuts and other commodities from the forests. Crucially, it doesn’t make land tenure a prerequisite to qualify for incentives such as subsidies and agricultural supplies.But a new study criticizes the program for giving state officials the power to determine what counts as “green labor.” The program already promotes intensive agricultural practices and artificial fishponds, and experts warn more damaging practices may be permitted under the control of new state officials.There’s also no definitive evidence that the program works to conserve forests, with the rate of deforestation in Acre holding relatively steady since SISA came into effect. A state-run carbon credit scheme that aims to reduce deforestation also generates financial and social benefits for some poor rural communities by side-stepping the red tape of land tenure rights often required by such schemes, according a recent anthropological study published in The Journal of Peasant Studies.Despite widespread deforestation in the Amazon, the small state of Acre in western Brazil is still close to 90 percent forested. To protect the remaining 164,000 square kilometers (63,300 square miles) of standing forest, the state’s System of Incentives for Environmental Services (SISA) offers rewards to local communities to pursue livelihoods that don’t degrade the forest, financed by monetizing the carbon stored within it.Maron Greenleaf, an anthropologist at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, interviewed residents, government officials and local stakeholders such as the Indigenous Missionary Council Missionary Council (CIMI), the Federal University of Acre, and the agroforestry group PESACRE, to find out how SISA is working on the ground. She describes how poorer rural people are not excluded from the carbon credit scheme because of their lack of formal land rights, but warns there are also risks to the approach, which gives state officials power to define what activities are incentivized.Evidence of mechanized logging in Feijó, Acre. Image by Maron Greenleaf.Monetizing carbon captureFirst approved by state legislature in 2010, SISA is part of REDD+, a voluntary program negotiated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) that aims to generate market incentives for protecting carbon-rich forests in developing nations while having a positive socioeconomic effect on surrounding communities.Often, “the only way that people can earn money from the forest is by felling it for timber and/or clearing it to create space for agriculture, cattle, or other land uses,” Greenleaf said. REDD+ programs attempt to redress this imbalance, by “seek[ing] to give monetary value to forests’ carbon sequestering ‘service,’ so that the standing forest too has value that reflects — to some extent and in monetary terms — its climatic value,” she said.The German development bank KFW has purchased 25 million euros ($28 million) of carbon credits, valuing Acre’s forests by their absorbed carbon dioxide, in exchange for a 16.5 percent reduction in the state’s forestry-related greenhouse gas emissions between 2011 and 2015.SISA differs from more traditional carbon-offsetting models, where land ownership forms the basis for distributing the financial benefits of forest protection. Instead, it rewards those individuals who have directly worked on the land in a way that is classed as beneficial. SISA describes rural producers of sustainable crops and forest products (such as legumes, Brazil nuts or rubber), and who avoid harmful activities like controlled burning, as “ecosystem service providers” and offers incentives such as free services, agricultural supplies, and subsidies for their continued labor. The program promotes activities such as sustainable cattle ranching and fish farming on previously cleared land.Cattle gathered outside a school in Feijó, Acre. Cattle ranching is the primary driver of deforestation in the state and across Brazil. Image by Maron Greenleaf.A similar state-run REDD+ scheme in neighboring Amazonas state, called Bolsa Floresta (PBF), has been running since 2007. However, SISA was the first scheme to be applied at the state level, rather than to a limited number of specified conservation units. PBF offers a small payment to residents who produce sustainable forest commodities such as cacao, açaí berries and arapaima fish, or practice agroforestry or lake management, in exchange for a commitment to zero deforestation and participation in environmental educational programs.Greenleaf credits what she calls SISA’s “green labor” approach for side-stepping complex land rights issues that are common in rural Brazil and other countries with carbon-rich forests, and sharing some of the value of tropical forests’ stored carbon with some of the rural people who live in and around them, rather than wealthy landowners and foreign investors.By giving market value to the carbon sequestered by standing forests, carbon-offsetting schemes run the risk of promoting violent land grabbing over forested land, sustaining inequality, and rewarding only the wealthiest. For instance, a 2018 study found that REDD+ schemes in Brazil have tended to increase residents’ insecurity over land tenure. But implemented in the right way, offsetting schemes can also act as a form of state welfare, redistributing wealth based on environmental goals, Greenleaf says.Among her interviewees were 30 rural acreanos — small-scale farmers, ranchers, hunters, and forest collectors of mixed heritage. This is a group that has historically often been unable to obtain formal land rights, but many of them said they have been able to benefit from the SISA scheme through their contribution of green labor.A Brazil nut tree left standing in an otherwise mostly deforested field in Feijó, Acre. Image by Maron Greenleaf.Land rights complexities“REDD+ and related carbon-trading based schemes have the potential to be major game-changers with regards to halting global deforestation,” said Tom Martin, a terrestrial biodiversity and carbon specialist at the international conservation research organization Operation Wallacea. And yet globally, “REDD+ schemes … haven’t taken off nearly as quickly as people hoped,” he said, citing disorganized governments, unstable carbon markets, and complex land tenure systems.In many heavily forested tropical countries, where carbon-offsetting schemes have the most potential benefit, land rights in rural areas are unclear, overlapping or fiercely contested, interwoven with complex indigenous rights issues. Such complexities can create uncertainty over how a proposed REDD+ project might be successfully implemented, making potential investors nervous and stalling carbon-credit schemes before they even get started, Martin said.Bypassing land tenure as a means to allocate the rewards of carbon credit schemes has clear benefits, but it has also been criticized because it avoids the difficult process of securing land rights for rural and indigenous people who would benefit from land tenure in other ways. However, efforts to formalize rural land tenure have historically tended to favor the wealthy elites. For example, Terra Legal a national program to grant land titles to smallholder families in Amazonas state has issued fewer titles than planned and tended to favor existing landowners and agribusiness. Any attempt to redistribute land in a more equitable way would be a long and uphill battle. Instead, initiatives like SISA could act as a stepping stone, Greenleaf suggests: “SISA benefits might be enlisted in that struggle as evidence of government recognition of rural people’s rights to land.”While the scheme is having clear benefits for local communities, the effect of SISA’s incentives on deforestation is more difficult to make out. The rate of deforestation in Acre remained relatively constant from 2010 to 2015 — the period during which SISA’s credit scheme came into effect — at between 220 and 310 square kilometers (85 and 120 square miles) per year, according to data from the Brazilian National Institute of Space Research’s (INPE) PRODES monitoring program. However Maron points out that many of the policies financed by SISA predated the program, making its true impact on deforestation hard to discern.SISA has also been criticized for giving state officials greater power in determining what counts as green labor, leaving rural communities at the mercy of political whims. SISA has already made a few controversial decisions, such as categorizing intensive agricultural practices and artificial fishponds as ecosystem services. Martin said this is a common problem. “While REDD+ schemes are inherently supposed to yield social and biodiversity benefits as well as carbon sequestration,” he said, the primary focus on carbon stocks means that “the benefits to biodiversity can sometimes lag behind in project managers’ hierarchies of concern.”The sun sets over a forest in Feijó, Acre. Image by Maron Greenleaf.Greenleaf warns that the shifting political mood in Brazil is already affecting people’s behavior. The estimated rate of deforestation in the Amazon increased by 50 percent between August and October last year as the presidential elections approached and victory for pro-agribusiness candidate Jair Bolsonaro became more likely. Since Bolsonaro’s win, deforestation across the Amazon has begun to rise alarmingly, and Acre has been no exception. The state saw an increase in the rate of tree loss in 2018.New state officials were brought in with the new government at the start of this year, which could spell change for the administration of the SISA program. For example, SISA already supports agricultural intensification as a means to spare the remaining forest, which could be stretched to include industrialized agribusiness.As a state-run program, the importance of SISA payments to rural communities is likely to increase. “These schemes are … poised to become more important with state protection in Brazil likely to be heavily withdrawn due to the new right-wing Bolsonaro administration,” Martin said.Just as other environmental initiatives are under threat of funding cuts, SISA may be on course to receive a huge boost to funding. If California state administrators vote in favor of admitting REDD+ carbon credits, a 2010 memorandum of understanding, combined with high international regard for the program, puts Acre in line as the most likely supplier of those credits.With inclusion criteria that could change at the whim of state officials, SISA may not offer the security to rural producers that it promises. However, “SISA … could also show Bolsonaro and other like-minded officials that it is not just cleared forest that has monetary value,” Greenleaf said.Banner image of Planet satellite imagery showing a mosaic of deforestation and rainforest in São Judas Tadeu, Xapuri, in the state of Acre, Brazil, in August 2018, courtesy of Planet.Citations:Greenleaf, M. (2019). The value of the untenured forest: Land rights, green labor, and forest carbon in the Brazilian Amazon. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 1-20. doi:10.1080/03066150.2019.1579197Sunderlin, W. D., Sassi, C. D., Sills, E. O., Duchelle, A. E., Larson, A. M., Resosudarmo, I. A., . . . Huynh, T. B. (2018). Creating an appropriate tenure foundation for REDD+: The record to date and prospects for the future. World Development, 106, 376-392. doi:10.1016/j.worlddev.2018.01.010 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 Amazon Conservation, Amazon Destruction, Amazon People, Amazon Rainforest, Carbon Conservation, Carbon Sequestration, Climate Change And Conservation, Community-based Conservation, Conservation Finance, Conservation Solutions, Controversial, Deforestation, Drivers Of Deforestation, Environment, Environmental Politics, Featured, Forest Carbon, Forests, Green, Happy-upbeat Environmental, Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Rights, Innovation In Tropical Forest Conservation, Land Grabbing, Land Rights, Land Use Change, Rainforest Conservation, Rainforest Deforestation, Rainforest Destruction, Rainforests, Redd, Redd And Communities, Saving The Amazon, Social Justice, Threats To The Amazon, Traditional People, Tropical Deforestation last_img read more

Madagascar: What’s good for the forest is good for the native silk industry

first_imgLandibe: Madagascar’s landibe silkworms (Borocera cajani) often form cocoons under leaves or branches, top left, or down in the grass. The female is three times the size of the male, bottom left. The cocoons look different from the pure white cocoons of the more commonly known mulberry silkworms, both types at bottom right. (Click to enlarge.) Images by Edward Carver. Article published by Rebecca Kessler People in the highlands of central Madagascar have long buried their loved ones in shrouds of thick wild silk, typically from the endemic silkworm known as landibe (Borocera cajani).With support from NGOs, traditional silk workers have widened their offerings to include scarves made of wild silk for sale to tourists and the country’s elites.In recent years, the price of raw materials has shot up as the forests the landibe grows in succumb to fire and other threats, making it difficult for silk workers to continue their craft.However, where there are forest-management challenges, there is also opportunity: the silk business provides an incentive for local people to protect their trees. Some well-organized and well-supported community groups are cashing in on conservation, in spite of the broader silkworm recession. AMORON’I MANIA REGION, Madagascar — People in the highlands of central Madagascar have long buried their loved ones in shrouds of thick wild silk. After several years, they exhume the dead in a turning-of-the-bones ceremony and wrap them in an additional layer. Older people often have a shroud ready when they die, but these days not everyone can afford one. The price of raw materials has shot up as the forests they come from succumb to fire and other threats, making it difficult for weavers and other silk workers to continue their craft.“I’m still eager to work, but the cocoons are too expensive,” Ramaly Razafidrasoa, a 70-year-old weaver in the village of Anjoma, told Mongabay. She now works a roadside stand selling peanuts and other food.Since the early 2000s, her silk work has involved more than just making shrouds. Like many weavers across the highlands, she received technical and business training from a nonprofit group and began selling silk scarves to urban and overseas markets. But in the last few years, the supply of silk has declined, partly because the tapia woodlands where the silkworm moths grow keep getting ravaged by fires.Ramaly Razafidrasoa, a silk weaver in the village of Anjoma, shown spinning silk in 2011, left. She’s currently not doing any silk work because the raw materials have become too expensive due to a shortage of silkworm moth cocoons. She now sells peanuts and other foods at a roadside stand. Images by Edward Carver.“The problem is the doro tanety in Ambatofinandrahana,” Razafidrasoa said, referring to bandits who burn the woodlands in one of the districts where tapia trees and silkworms are most common.However, where there are forest-management challenges, there is also opportunity: the silk business provides an incentive for local people to protect their trees. Some well-organized and well-supported community groups are cashing in on conservation, in spite of the broader silkworm recession.A landibe silkworm (Borocera cajani) in the larval or caterpillar stage. Image by Tsiresy Razafimanantsoa.Malagasy silk vs. Asian silkMadagascar has several endemic silkworm species, most notably landibe (Borocera cajani). The species produces much thicker silk than that from Asia; U.S. customs officials have been known to misidentify landibe silk as cotton. In the West, it has a small following, and landibe scarves are a hip accessory among Madagascar’s urban elites.Ny Tanintsika, a local group affiliated with the U.K.-based nonprofit Feedback Madagascar, helped to commercialize Madagascar’s silk in the 2000s. In an effort to connect business and conservation outcomes, Ny Tanintsika (“our land” in Malagasy) helped start silk workers’ cooperatives and forest management groups. Some villages specialize in one or the other, as silk-making and weaving skills don’t necessarily occur in the same place as tapia trees (Uapaca bojeri).A young tapia tree (Uapaca bojeri) resprouts after burning. The leaves of the tree are the preferred food of Madagascar’s native silkworm moth, landibe (Borocera cajani). Image by Chris Birkinshaw/Missouri Botanical Garden.The village of Ambohimanjaka, surrounded by tapia-covered hills, is key to the local silk business even though it isn’t home to many weavers. Weaving, after all, is only the final stage in the long process of transforming an insect cocoon into a shroud or scarf. People in Ambohimanjaka collect cocoons from the local tapia woodlands and often do the initial work of turning it into thread, using spindles and basic wooden tools. Their forest management group has several hundred members and protects about 1,200 hectares (about 3,000 acres) of land.Healthy woodlands are the foundation of the silk business, said André Razafimahatratra, Ny Tanintsika’s technician in Ambohimanjaka. “Tapia is what the silkworms really want,” he told Mongabay. “They can eat other leaves but it’s not the same. It’s like the Malagasy people with rice. We can eat cassava or corn, but it’s not what we really want.”André Razafimahatratra, a silkworm technician with the nonprofit group Ny Tanintsika (“Our Land”), in front of a sign in his village of Ambohimanjaka. Miaro tapia means to “protect the tapia.” Image by Edward Carver for Mongabay.When the silkworms eat tapia instead of other leaves, their reproductive cycle quickens and their cocoons grow bigger, said Tsiresy Razafimanantsoa, an animal biologist at the Superior Institute of Technology of Ambositra, who did her doctoral research on Madagascar’s silkworm moths. This ultimately helps strengthen the shrouds and scarves, which last for decades notwithstanding their delicate appearance.Despite its good qualities, landibe silk has competition in Madagascar. Domesticated mulberry silkworm moths (Bombyx mori), a species native to China that Malagasy silk workers raise in their homes, produce the thin, lustrous silk that most international consumers are familiar with. Some people in Madagascar consider it to be of a higher quality than their own native silk.If Madagascar’s native silkworms were domesticated, they would lose much of their power as an incentive to conserve the tapia woodlands. So it’s perhaps fortunate, from a conservation standpoint, that landibe worms are difficult to raise indoors. They require too much food and space for easy domestication. With great effort, it’s possible to raise them in boxes, but landibe do best in the woodlands, Razafimanantsoa said.Richard Randrianjatovo, the president of a silk-weaving cooperative in a village near Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital. He made the white scarf from mulberry silkworm moths (Bombyx mori), which are common in Asia. In the past, mulberry silkworm cocoons cost more than cocoons from Madagascar’s endemic silkworm, landibe (Borocera cajani), but due to the increasing difficulty of sourcing landibe, the two types are now about the same price, Randrianjatovo said. This particular scarf would sell for about 80,000 ariary (roughly $20) in Antananarivo. Image by Edward Carver for Mongabay.Conserving worm and treeLocal people say wild silkworms have become harder to find, and the limited scientific research that’s been done on the subject supports this conclusion. Landibe does not yet have a listing on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, but Razafimanantsoa and researchers at the University of Antananarivo in Madagascar called it “critically endangered” in a 2012 study in the journal Biotechnology, Agronomy, Society, and Environment.The decline in silkworm numbers has become more pronounced in recent years, but it may have started decades ago. Madagascar’s total silk cocoon harvest was estimated at more than 100 tons in 1902, but dropped to about 43 tons in 2009, according to information cited in Razafimanantsoa’s study. About 10,000 families worked in the industry as of 2009, but that number has likely dropped in the past decade, with obvious implications for local economies.An approximation of the location of tapia forests and woodlands in Madagascar, from Rakotondrasoa et al, 2012. (Click to enlarge.) Image courtesy of Olivia Lovanirina Rakotondrasoa.Nevertheless, silk still provides significant income not just in tapia-rich areas like Ambohimanjaka but also in villages with relatively strong silk-working cooperatives, such as Soatanana and Sandradahy, both near the town of Ambositra in the central highlands. A Sandradahy cooperative exhibited its silk at the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in July. (The International Folk Art Alliance, which runs the market, previously made a documentary about the Sandradahy silk workers.) Another silk group from northeast Madagascar also participated in the Sante Fe event, selling non-traditional wares made from Malagasy silkworms other than landibe.The reasons for the decline in wild silkworm populations are complex. Habitat destruction is often cited, but scientists disagree as to whether tapia forests are receding or not. They do agree that bush fires have played a role in directly killing silkworms, but it’s not clear whether the fires have reduced tapia forest coverage.Tapia has a thick protective bark that confers fire resistance, which is how it has endured in Madagascar’s highlands for so long. “With the colonization of the highlands by people, the frequency of fire increased, so the vegetation we see now is dominated by species such as tapia that are resistant to fire,” Chris Birkinshaw, a technical adviser at Missouri Botanical Garden, a research and conservation group that has a large presence in Madagascar, told Mongabay.Irina Biason, a member of a local forest management group in the village of Ambohimanjaka, standing in front of the tapia woodlands he helps to protect. A local forest management group has hundreds of members and protects about 1,200 hectares (about 3,000 acres) of land. Image by Edward Carver for Mongabay.However, the fires do kill off tapia seedlings and saplings (less than 8 or 9 years old). They also kill off many of the other trees and surrounding brush, reducing the biodiversity of the woodlands.Lack of security is a major part of the problem: many of the fires are caused by bandits called dahalo or doro tanety. They raid villages to steal cattle or other high-value items and then retreat, burning the forest behind them to cover their tracks. Some also burn the forest before or after a raid in order to distract villagers. There are no fire departments in rural areas, so villagers are compelled to stop defending their possessions from bandits and instead focus on preventing the fire from reaching their houses.However, the alteration of tapia habitats and silkworm populations is not due to fires alone. People also simply cut trees down for firewood or charcoal. The Ambohimanjaka group has prosecuted several offenders, but needs more help from the local branch of the environment ministry in order to fight deforestation, said Eugenie Raharisoa, Ny Tanintsika’s national coordinator. The ministry did not respond to a request for comment for this article.Eugenie Raharisoa, Ny Tanintsika’s national coordinator, at the group’s office in Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital. The landibe items behind her include scarves and cushion covers from various highland villages.Moreover, in some woodlands, invasive pine and eucalyptus trees have begun outcompeting tapia for resources and caused changes in soil composition. Conservation groups have made efforts to stop the march of such invasive species. Missouri Botanical Garden has, for example, helped cut down some 2,000 pine trees in the tapia woodlands near Ibity, a village in the central highlands.The silkworms also face diseases and predators — not least human beings. The worms have likely been overharvested due to demand for silk and food. In their chrysalis stage, the worms are considered a delicacy and have value at food markets. People fry them up as a snack or mix them with chicken and rice at mealtime.Viviane Rasoarimanana, a member of a local forest management group in the village of Ambohimanjaka, learned the early stages of the silk-making process at trainings by the nonprofit group Ny Tanintsika. “I’m very happy to have these skills and contribute to the group,” she said. “Hopefully by the time I’m old, the group will be rich.” Image by Edward Carver for Mongabay.A safer, silkier futureVillage groups with well-established markets for their cocoons or silk products continue to earn money from the silk business. But in other villages, such as Anjoma (often called Anjoman’Ankona, the name of the entire county), the scarcity and high price of landibe cocoons has caused most silk workers to close up shop. The prices vary depending on whether the silk is purchased as raw cocoons or at some intermediate thread stage, but many people in the business told Mongabay that they have tripled or quadrupled in the past five years.There is, however, some cause for optimism. Earlier this year, Madagascar’s government placed more army personnel in Ambatofinandrahana, the district that’s home to an abundance of tapia, where Anjoma’s silk workers usually get their cocoons. If security and forest management improves there, silk workers in Anjoma and across Madagascar’s highlands might have reason to celebrate.Ramaly Razafidrasoa would like this to happen while she’s still young enough to weave. She raised 14 children, 11 of whom are still alive, and has 98 total descendants. Many of them, thanks to her teaching, were once part of the silk trade. “I hope there will be enough silk left for us all to be buried in it,” she said.Photos: Landibe weaving, from silkworm to silk scarfTapia: Landibe silkworms eat the leaves of tapia (Uapaca bojeri), a tree found only in the highlands of Madagascar. Sometimes newly planted tapia is kept in cages to deter predators, including humans, from eating the silkworms. Like the worms themselves, the tapia fruit, bottom right, is a popular local food. (Click to enlarge.) Images by Edward Carver. Dyeing: Silk workers wash the silk thoroughly before and after the dyeing process. To obtain bright colors, they often use chemical dyes, but they still practice traditional dyeing as well. The dyeing process often involves cooking the silk for several hours. Mushrooms from a nearby forest, top middle, on the left, turn he silk a rich brown color. The bark of the local nonto tree, top middle, in the center, produces a crimson red; saffron, top middle, on the right, produces a yellow; eucalyptus leaves produce a light, yellowish green; and mud from the rice fields produces black. (Click to enlarge.) Images by Edward Carver. Second steps: The silk workers spin the fabric around a spindle into a single thin, uniform thread, top middle. If the thin string breaks the weavers carefully tie it back together with an imperceptible knot. After dyeing and a couple of other steps, they wrap the spool of silk thread into a figure 8 around two poles, creating the crisscross pattern needed to place the string on the loom for weaving, bottom right. (Click to enlarge.) Images by Edward Carver. First steps: Making landibe silk involves a lot of work before weaving can even begin. Silk workers start by turning several cocoons inside out atop a small wooden rod, sticking five or six together in a clump, top middle. The clumped cocoons are then boiled overnight in a pot of soapy water to bind them together and soften them. The silk workers then bury the softened cocoons in a pile of manure, bottom left, for one week to “ripen” the fibers so they will be easier to spin into a uniform thread. To rid the cocoons of the odor and dirt and ensure the silk will keep a pure color when dyed, they wash them against rocks in a creek. Thick piles of softened cocoons are set out to dry in the sun for about three days, bottom right. (Click to enlarge.) Images by Edward Carver. 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 overSponsored Mulberry silkworms: Mulberry silkworm moths (Bombyx mori), originally from China, produce the fine silk familiar to most international consumers. Madagascar’s silk workers raise them in small spaces, feeding them mulberry leaves. The worms form a protective cocoon by emitting strands of silk — a process the silk workers effectively reverse by turning the cocoons back into thread. The chrysalises, bottom right, are commonly sold at food markets in Madagascar. Like landibe and other endemic Malagasy silkworms, the mulberry silkworms are popular to fry up as a snack or eat as part of a meal with chicken and rice. (Click to enlarge.) Images by Edward Carver. Banner image: Niry, a weaver in Soatanana, a village well known for its silk production, at work on a traditional loom. Image courtesy of Feedback Madagascar.Citations:Razafimanantsoa, T. M., Rajoelison, G., Ramamonjisoa, B., Raminosoa, N., Poncelet, M., Bogaert, J., … & Verheggen, F. J. (2012). Silk moths in Madagascar: A review of the biology, uses, and challenges related to Borocera cajani (Vinson, 1863)(Lepidoptera: Lasiocampidae). Biotechnol. Agron. Soc. Environ, 16(2), 269-276.Rakotondrasoa, O. L., Malaisse, F., Rajoelison, G. L., Razafimanantsoa, T. M., Rabearisoa, M. R., Ramamonjisoa, B. S., … & Bogaert, J. (2012). La forêt de tapia, écosystème endémique de Madagascar: écologie, fonctions, causes de dégradation et de transformation (synthèse bibliographique). Biotechnol. Agron. Soc. Environ, 16(4), 541-552.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Weaving: After weeks of preparation, the weaving can begin. It’s a painstaking process that some weavers do by candlelight. (Click to enlarge.) Images by Edward Carver. Animals, Conservation, Conservation And Poverty, Development, Ecology, Environment, Farming, Featured, Forests, Governance, Insects, Poverty, Sustainable Development, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation last_img read more

Mysterious plants that thrive in darkness, steal food: Q&A with botanist Kenji Suetsugu

first_imgEnvironment, Forests, Green, Interviews, Orchids, Parasites, Plants, Research On Japan’s forest floors, there are plants that stay hidden and have given up on photosynthesis. These mycoheterotrophic plants are instead parasitic, drawing nutrition from the network of fungi running under the forest floor.For the past 10 years, Kenji Suetsugu, a botanist and associate professor at Japan’s Kobe University, has been on a mission to identify and document mycoheterotrophic plants across the country’s. His surveys have uncovered 10 previously undescribed species of these elusive plants.In a brief chat, Mongabay spoke with Suetsugu about the strange world of mycoheterotrophic plants, why it fascinates him, and why it’s an important indicator of ecosystem health. When Kenji Suetsugu is out looking for plants in Japan’s forests, he’s not looking for the usual green ones. Instead, on dark forest floors, where little light penetrates, Suetsugu painstakingly searches for tiny flowering plants that have more or less given up on photosynthesis and lack chlorophyll, the characteristic green pigment that helps plants make their own food from sunlight.He’s drawn in particular to plants that are mycoheterotrophic: parasitic plants that take their quota of nutrition from networks of fungi under the forest floor, without giving anything back to the fungi.The problem, however, is that these plants are incredibly hard to find. They tend to stay hidden underground and show up above ground only to flower or fruit, barely peeking through the leaf litter. This means that pinpointing them requires top-notch plant identification skills, special forest-floor sleuthing abilities, the support of past experiences, and some chance encounters.For the past 10 years, Suetsugu, a botanist and associate professor at Japan’s Kobe University, has been on a mission to identify and document mycoheterotrophic plants across Japan’s forests. In his surveys he’s uncovered 10 previously undescribed species of these elusive plants. A few of these species are especially unique, Suetsugu says, such as the orchids that never bloom.Gastrodia amamiana is one such orchid species that Mongabay wrote about recently. The plant, known from the islands of Amami-Oshima and Tokunoshima, not only relies completely on fungi for nutrition, it produces flowers that never seem to open up. Flowers typically need to bloom for a plant to be pollinated by wind or insects and other animals. Yet despite this apparent lack of pollination by other agents, this orchid species still produces fruits.Gastrodia amamiana, a recently described mycoheterotrophic plant from Japan that bears fruit without opening its flowers. Image courtesy of Kenji Suetsugu.Suetsugu says that while mycoheterotrophic plants tend to stay hidden, their presence is a strong indicator of a forest’s health. These plants need fungi to survive, and the fungi in turn are nourished and supported by the network of trees in the forest that they’re in a symbiotic relationship with. Disturbances to forests can upset these networks, causing the mycoheterotrophic plants to disappear. In fact, many species are now rare and threatened with extinction, Suetsugu says.In one of the forests where G. amamiana was discovered, for example, Suetsugu has seen evidence of tree thinning. The dry soil resulting from this disturbance could dry out the fungi that the orchid depends on, he said recently in a statement.In a brief chat, Mongabay spoke with Suetsugu about the strange world of mycoheterotrophic plants, and why it fascinates him.Mongabay: What got you interested in plants?Kenji Suetsugu: I was born in Nara City, Nara Prefecture and grew up near Nara Park, which has a rich and unique biota. My early childhood experiences of this habitat stimulated my interest in biological interactions and the natural history of intriguing organisms in terrestrial ecosystems.Kenji Suetsugu is a botanist and associate professor at Japan’s Kobe University. Image courtesy of Kenji Suetsugu.When and why did you start studying mycoheterotrophic plants? What fascinates you the most about them?The color green is a defining feature of the plant kingdom, and plants are generally assumed to have an autotrophic lifestyle [capable of making their own food]. However, several lineages of land plants have evolved dependence on other organisms for their nutrition and can consequently be categorized as heterotrophs. Their bizarre morphology and ecology fascinates me.In fact, most terrestrial plants, from bryophytes to angiosperms, form mutualistic relationships with fungi, whereby the plant provides carbon source [or sugars that they make] in exchange for essential mineral nutrients. Mutualisms, including mycorrhizal mutualisms, are often characterized as a balanced, reciprocal arrangement for the exchange of resources between two distantly related organisms. Such relationships also provide a window for exploitation by parasitic species that can acquire a resource without providing anything in return. Mycoheterotrophs are dependent on their fungal hosts for the essential supply of carbon resources in which the normal polarity of sugar movement from plant to fungus is reversed.Therefore, mycoheterotrophs are an interesting example of cheaters. Unraveling the ecological and evolutionary processes that govern the transition of autotrophic plants to heterotrophic plants will provide the deeper understanding of the dynamics of the mutualism and parasitism. I have wanted to elucidate how and why plants have lost their photosynthetic capacity and have been studying them for more than 10 years.Could you tell us about your project to document mycoheterotrophs in Japan?The distribution and diversity of mycohetrotrophs remains underestimated because plants are easily overlooked in the field due to their short flowering seasons and small size. Therefore, we are investigating mycoheterotrophic flora to enable us to study further.Monotropastrum humile, a mycoheterophic plant, lacks chlorophyll and steals nutrition from fungi. Image courtesy of Kenji Suetsugu.How do you find a mycoheterotrophic plant?Since mycoheterotrophic plants are very difficult to find unless they are flowering when botanical surveys are conducted; trained skills are required to identify the species characters. Actually, discovery of these taxa requires rich experiences and knowledge. It’s difficult to convey this in a detailed way. No special tools [are needed to study them], but a species-rich and old forest can be an indicator of mycoheterotrophic plants.How many new species of mycoheterotophic plants have you described from Japan so far?10 species.Some of these species you’ve described have flowers that never open. Could you tell us about how these plants survive without sunlight and pollination by other agents?Actually, some species such as Gastrodia amamiana were particularly special discoveries because it is both completely mycoheterophic, deriving its nutrition not from photosynthesis but from host fungi, and completely cleistogamous, producing flowers that never bloom. Cleistogamy, literally meaning ‘a closed marriage,’ refers to plants that produce flowers in which self-fertilization occurs within closed buds. However, this is a somewhat risky strategy as the selfing progeny are also less able to adapt to changes in spatially and temporally heterogeneous habitats. The evolution of complete cleistogamy is somewhat of a mystery, since outcrossing should overcome the negative effects such as the accumulation of deleterious mutations and a slowdown in the rate of adaptation. The discovery of species with flowers that never open provides a useful opportunity to further investigate the ecological significance, evolutionary history, and genetic mechanisms underlying the mysterious evolution.What’s your favorite mycoheretrophic plant from Japan, and why?Gastrodia takeshimensis. This is the first species I discovered and described.The description of a new flowering plant species in Japan is itself a very rare event as the flora of this region have been thoroughly investigated. Gastrodia takeshimensis was a particularly special discovery because it is both completely mycoheterotrophic and completely cleistogamous. It was really a happy moment.What are some challenges of studying this group of plants?The rarity and ephemeral status of the plants are challenging.What do you think about the conservation status of the mycoheterophic plants you’re documenting? Are some of them rare and in need of protection?Given that mycoheterotrophic plants are highly dependent on the activities of both the fungi and the trees that sustain them, they are particularly sensitive to environmental destruction. Therefore, many of them are endangered and in need of protection The genus Oxygyne, which includes species like O. yamashitae, for example, has one of the rarest plants in the world.In fact, it has been suggested that the species richness of these mycoheterotrophs provides a useful indicator of the overall floral diversity of forest habitats. A detailed record of the distribution of these vulnerable plants thus provides crucial data for the conservation of forests.Suetsugu described Sciaphila sugimotoi from Ishigaki Island in a study in 2017. Image courtesy of Kenji Suetsugu.Banner image of Thismia abei by Kenji Suetsugu. Article published by Shreya Dasguptacenter_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

The Ocean Cleanup successfully collects ocean plastic, aims to scale design

first_imgArticle published by Sue Palminteri 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 overSponsored The Ocean Cleanup announced that it has created a device that successfully captures plastic waste in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.The device has undergone many design iterations, each stage facing criticism from oceanographers, environmentalists, and plastic pollution specialists for its feasibility, durability, safety, and allocation of funding.The group now plans to increase the size and quantity of their devices with the goal of one day ridding the ocean of most of its plastic debris. On October 2nd, the Dutch non-profit The Ocean Cleanup announced that it has successfully developed a device that can capture and collect ocean plastic, moving the organization closer to its goal of eventually cleaning up some 90% of plastic waste that pollutes the ocean.Amidst a sea of praise and abundant criticism from the scientific community, the Ocean Cleanup will now begin work on System 002, the 600-meter (1,969-foot) “scaled-up” version of the current 160-meter (525-foot) System 001/B test design. The group plans to deploy around 60 devices into the open ocean once testing is complete.Plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch successfully accumulated in test System 001/B with The Ocean Cleanup vessel waiting in the distance. Image courtesy of The Ocean Cleanup.The problem of plasticsPlastic has crept into almost every item we use today, from cars to clothes to medical devices. In 2017, the world produced almost 350 million tons of plastic, and, since plastic doesn’t biodegrade until a thousand years after it is discarded, we now have over 6.3 billion tons of plastic waste sitting in landfills and polluting natural land and marine environments across the globe.“We are putting a dumpster-load full of plastic trash in the ocean every minute,” said Bonnie Monteleone, ​Executive Director of the Plastic Ocean Project.According to Monteleone, plastics have turned up virtually everywhere, transported by air, rain, and snow. In the ocean, plastic can look like food to marine life. Not only is it dangerous and potentially deadly for animals to munch on synthetic materials rather than food, it also increases the amount of toxins in marine life and humans who eat seafood.The ocean’s five gyres easily and abundantly trap debris in their circulating currents.The largest accumulation of ocean plastics is in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP), located in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre between Hawaii and Northern California. An estimated 79,000 tons of ocean plastic pollutes the 1.6 million square kilometer (617,763 square mile) area, a size roughly equivalent to Alaska. The GPGP is not, as often believed, one large floating island of circulating plastic. Instead, large ropes and tiny fragments of bottle caps alike are suspended at all layers of the water column. For this reason, the exact amount of trash in the GPGP has been difficult to quantify and has attracted researchers to the area since its discovery in 1997 by oceanographer and boat captain Charles J. Moore.Cleanup design iterationsBefore founding The Ocean Cleanup in 2013, Boyan Slat suggested his idea, consisting of 24 large devices anchored to the sea floor, would allow the GPGP to “clean itself” in just five years.Slat’s initial concept design was anchored to the sea floor and had arms that extended many miles into the open ocean. The design has since undergone many changes. Screenshot taken from Slat’s 2012 presentation at TEDxDelft.Slat’s idea caught the eye of donors and environmental activists. Just two years later, he had raised over $2 million and put together a team of volunteers to assist with research and design. In June 2014, Slat presented The Ocean Cleanup’s first feasibility study and an altered cleanup design consisting of over 50 kilometers (31 miles) of a floating barrier. This design, like the original, would be anchored to the bottom of the ocean and allow the gyre’s rotating current to push the plastic into the barrier.This design immediately generated criticism about the system’s feasibility. According to Charles Moore, a passive device with long extended arms was never a viable design. “His fantasy was that [the gyre] has a radius…” Moore said, “so [he would] create an arm equal to the radius of the circular current system… and collect all the trash. And of course, he found out he couldn’t do that.”According to oceanographer Clark Richards, the project was poorly researched from the start. In January, Richards posted a blog about The Ocean Cleanup’s idea, explaining that gyres’ currents are considered rotary because of their general movements over long periods of time. On any given day, though, the currents can flow at various speeds and directions.“What TOC [is] trying to do is to harness a very chaotic and unpredictable environment (the ocean and the atmosphere) to do something predictable and consistent. In my view, this is bound to fail,” Richards told Mongabay. “Even if the physics works in their favour most of the time, all it will take is one storm, with wind and waves and current not aligned the way they have designed, and the system will ‘lose’ all the debris that it has accumulated up to that point,” he said.In August 2016, The Ocean Cleanup removed one of its battered prototypes from the North Sea after just two months of testing, but the group continued its efforts.“You research, you test, you sometimes fail, and then you learn and you repeat until you make it work,” said Slat in May 2017 during an event to announce a complete re-design of the system.Hype and hope: Founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup Boyan Slat speaks during The Next Phase Event in May, 2017. Many in the scientific community take issue with claims that frame The Ocean Cleanup as a solution to plastic pollution and redirect money and time away from proven endeavors. Image courtesy of The Ocean Cleanup.The new design Slat announced that night was now free-floating, with no collection platform or sea-floor anchor. The idea behind this design was for the device to move with the currents, but at a slower rate than the plastic, allowing debris to bump into the device’s C-shaped arms and accumulate until a vessel arrived to take the plastic back to shore. Due to the smaller nature of this device, a fleet of devices would be deployed in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Slat claimed they could manufacture the systems quickly and individually, slowly scaling up to the full fleet of devices he hoped would populate the ocean.By August 2017, The Ocean Cleanup had locked in its design and began procuring materials, and in May 2018, construction on System 001—dubbed “Wilson”—had begun. It wasn’t until July 2018, two months before the scheduled launch date, that The Ocean Cleanup disclosed the design of the device being built in San Francisco had again changed. This version would speed up to corral the plastic instead of slowing down to let the ocean “clean itself.”Conceptual explanation of The Ocean Cleanup’s approach to collecting, retaining, and removing plastic trash from an ocean gyre. The system has met technological challenges, prompting the group to redesign it through multiple iterations. Video by The Ocean Cleanup.In September 2018, five years after its founding, The Ocean Cleanup launched the world’s first ocean cleanup system into the open water. Wilson reached the Great Pacific Garbage Patch on October 3. Seven weeks later, The Ocean Cleanup released a blog that stated they were having trouble retaining plastic in the device’s arms, and in December an 18-meter (59-foot) end section of the device broke off into the water. Wilson was towed back to shore.“Although we would have liked to end the year on a more positive note, we believe these teething troubles are solvable, and the cleanup of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch will be operational in 2019,” Slat wrote in The Ocean Cleanup’s December 31st blog.Richards and other scientists were not as surprised. “There is a saying in oceanographic fieldwork: if you get your gear back, it was a successful program. If it recorded data – that’s icing on the cake,” he wrote in a January blog post.A new designAfter towing Wilson back to shore, The Ocean Cleanup moved quickly to solve issues with its design. In June 2019, it launched a new test into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, called System 001/B, to experiment with different collection options.  After two months of testing, The Ocean Cleanup concluded that using a parachute as an anchor to slow down the device allowed the system to successfully retain plastic until a vessel arrived to carry the debris back to land. However, some plastic was being caught between the device and the screen that hangs in the water to collect the debris.On October 2nd during a press conference, Slat announced that The Ocean Cleanup had developed a solution to this issue and their device was, for the first time, successfully catching and retaining plastic. According to Slat, their next steps would be to commence the scale-up process, in which they increase the size of their device to the intended 600 meters (1,969 feet), and focus on improving long-term durability of the device as well as its ability to retain plastic for longer periods of time. The scale-up process also involves eventually upgrading to a fleet of around 60 devices.The successful System 001/B design includes an underwater parachute to ensure the device drifts at a slower speed than plastic debris, and a screen suspended between the floaters that captures plastic pushed into it by the wind. The issue of plastic being caught in the “Twilight Zone” was resolved by increasing the height of the cork line. Image courtesy of The Ocean Cleanup.“…our vision is attainable and … the beginning of our mission to rid the ocean of plastic garbage, which has accumulated for decades, is within our sights,” said Slat.Controversy over claimsMany scientists and activists take issue with claims such as this that frame The Ocean Cleanup as a solution to plastic pollution and redirect money and time away from proven endeavors. Monteleone, who initially supported Slat, said she could not back an organization that inflated expectations to the impossible.“Number one, you have no idea how much plastic is out there for you to even make such a claim,” said Monteleone. “Number two, it’s not just at the surface, it’s all through the water column, so there’s no way that you can clean it all up. And number three, it continues to come into the ocean, so there’s this constant influx of more debris. Unfortunately, I think he understood that if he told people some hyperbole, that they would then throw more money at it.”After years of such criticism from the scientific community, The Ocean Cleanup recently updated its website last week to re-frame their goals, stating that it “aim[s] to cleanup 90% of ocean plastic pollution.”From its own research, The Ocean Cleanup had estimated that 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic float in the garbage patch, and the majority is on the surface. Still, Moore, who advised Slat on the 2015 “Mega Expedition” conducted with the Transpac sailing race, pointed out that this and other tests like it are only snapshot surveys of a vast issue, many years in the making. He agreed that there are better ways to use resources.“It’s evil because it’s robbed funding from every serious effort to stem the tide of plastic pollution,” Moore told Mongabay. “People go out looking for funding and [hear] ‘Oh, no, we’re supporting Boyan because he’s got the real solution.’”The Ocean Cleanup team doesn’t think that the cleanup device should be the only effort to solve plastic pollution, but rather motivation to work towards other solutions in conjunction with removing the current debris.“It is, of course, essential to prevent more plastic from reaching the oceans, but that is not a solution for the plastics already trapped in the currents of the gyres,” the team said. “It is not a decision of either cleanup or prevention, we need to work on both cleanup AND prevention…”Monteleone also worries about the consequences of adding devices, which are themselves made of plastic, to the ocean. “My fear is, you put 60 of these things out there, and they really have a high probability of becoming marine debris,” she said.Plastic prevention and other optionsThe need for plastic prevention is echoed by many throughout the environmental community.“People like a [cleanup] ‘solution’ because it takes the focus on the problem away from the real cause (over-production and consumption of plastic and poor global waste management), which requires major and systemic changes in how society functions,” said Richards.Dianna Cohen, CEO of the Plastic Pollution Coalition (of which The Ocean Cleanup is a member organization), remembered her own desire to clean up plastic ocean debris earlier in her career, and how she re-centered her efforts on keeping it out of the ocean and reducing its use as much as possible.Cohen also emphasized the need for systematic change. “I’d like to see extended producer responsibility and policy and legislation that hold these companies and corporations accountable to take back all of their packaging… And I’d like to see a shift to thinking reusable instead of disposable.”Moore agreed. “All the end-of-the-pipe solutions are just window dressing, and the actual solutions are going to come from radical changes in our economic and political system that can stem the production and distribution of impossible to recover materials,” he said.Without fully abandoning the “clean up” concept, Monteleone suggested another use for their technology: moving the devices to the mouth of rivers.Moore agreed this idea offered the device’s greatest potential. “The only thing that it could possibly be good for is trapping stuff with the mouths of urban rivers,” he added. The Ocean Cleanup has just, in fact, added this approach to their website, suggesting the group is responding to ideas from the scientific community.Research has shown that rivers are the largest source of ocean plastics, carrying 67 percent of the total amount of plastic that enters the ocean. Most of the top 20 polluting rivers are located in Asia, where many developed countries send their trash and recyclables.Monteleone stated that the technology applied to rivers would be an opportunity to teach the communities about plastic waste as well as stopping it before it enters the open ocean.“We need to help these countries with their waste management, that’s mostly our [waste] anyway,” she said.center_img Environment, Marine, Marine Ecosystems, Oceans, Plastic, Pollution, Technology, Waste, Wildtech last_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

Crabs prepare for team’s first road trip

first_imgAfter wining their second straight series over the weekend, the Humboldt Crabs will take to the road this week for a two-game midweek series.The Crabs, who are off to an impressive start, will play the Colt 45’s in Redding on Wednesday and Thursday.A quick turnaround will see the Crabs return home for a weekend series against the Seattle Studs at the Arcata Ball Park, beginning Friday night.The Crabs have displayed plenty of offense so far this season, scoring 41 runs in a four-game spell …last_img read more

Campaign calls on people to clean up their neighbourhoods

first_imgThis year marks the 30th Anniversary of the International Coastal Cleanup. (Image: Ocean Conservancy)Brand South Africa has partnered with Plastics SA on this year’s Clean-Up & Recycle campaign. It runs in conjunction with Clean-up South Africa Week, which takes place from 14 to 19 September. Tied into the campaign are Recycling Day South Africa on 18 September and International Coastal Clean-up Day on 19 September.Recycling Day aims to raise awareness by educating people about the social, environmental and economic benefits of recycling. During the coastal clean-up, volunteers remove debris from all bodies of water. The clean-up allows officials to collect valuable information about the rubbish that is dumped; it also heightens public awareness of the causes of litter and debris.The first coastal clean-up took place along the coast of Texas, in the US, in 1986, with 2 800 volunteers. Today, the campaign includes all bodies of water, such as inland lakes, rivers, streams and underwater sites, and approximately half-a-million people in more than 100 countries volunteer for the cause.Help Ocean Conservancy to keep our beaches and waterways cleanBrand South Africa will run a competition to find 10 of the best volunteers during the campaign. To enter, users need to add #CleanUpSA in their posts on social media.The top five users on Twitter as well as the top five Facebook users will each receive a Play Your Part hamper. These include memory banks and sticks, scarves, books, peak caps and pens.The hamper will consist of the following items.Other organisations participating in the events include: National Recycling Forum, Tuffy, Glass Recycling Company, Petco, Collect a Can, Southern African Vinyls Association, TetraPak, Polystyrene Packaging Council, Department of Environmental Affairs, Ocean Conservancy, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Trust, and Astrapak Group.last_img read more