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

‘Radically changing’ a rare Mauritian plant’s story: Q&A with ecologist Prishnee Bissessur

first_imgArticle published by Shreya Dasgupta 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 Biodiversity, Conservation, Endangered Species, Environment, Forests, Green, Interviews, Interviews With Young Scientists, Plants, Tropical Forests, Wildlife center_img Roussea simplex, a unique plant that grows only on the mountains of Mauritius, is the only species in its genus, with just 250-odd individuals remaining in the wild.Prishnee Bissessur, a graduate student at the University of Mauritius who has been studying the plant since 2015, has “radically changed what was known of the plant’s ecology so far,” according to one ecologist.Mongabay spoke with Bissessur to learn about her work on Roussea simplex, what makes the plant so fascinating, and the challenges of studying it. The plant Roussea simplex, usually referred to by its scientific name, is one of a kind. It grows only in the mountains of the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius; it’s the only species in the genus Roussea; and the only species in the entire subfamily Rousseoideae. It’s also down to just 250-odd individuals in the wild, which means that most people will likely never encounter it in their lifetime. For Prishnee Bissessur, it was love at first sight.Before 2014, though, Bissessur had never climbed a Mauritian mountain and never seen the plant. But prodded by her professor at the University of Mauritius, who was hoping she would study the rare plant, she hiked up the thumb-shaped Le Pouce mountain in the northwest of the tiny island to see what the fuss was all about. Close to the summit, R. simplex, a plant with woody vines that scramble atop other trees, was in bloom, displaying its pendulous yellow flowers in full glory. “They were so beautiful that anyone who would see them would fall in love,” Bissessur told Mongabay.Falling in love was one thing, but when Bissessur went back and started digging into the scientific literature on the species, she quickly realized that the plant was more complicated than she’d anticipated. “It’s called Roussea simplex, but it’s more like Roussea complex,” she said.Now a graduate student at the University of Mauritius, Bissessur has been slowly unraveling R. simplex’s mysteries. Her research has even overturned some of the more well-known aspects of the species, named after the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. For instance, for a long time the plant was thought to have just one specialized pollinator and seed disperser: the blue-tailed day gecko (Phelsuma cepediana), a lizard found nowhere else on Earth. But by placing camera traps around the plants, Bissessur’s research showed that the gecko has company, including the Mauritius bulbul (Hypsipetes olivaceus), a bird known only from the island.Her work has also shown that invasive alien ants, previously believed to be a major threat to the plants because they disrupt pollination by the geckos, aren’t as big a menace.“The many findings made with the PhD studies of Prishnee has radically changed what was known of the plant’s ecology so far,” Vincent Florens, an associate professor of ecology at the University of Mauritius, told Mongabay. “It has also equipped us with a much better understanding of the drivers of the species’ decline, which is already informing more impactful conservation.”Blue-tailed day gecko. Image by Jjargoud via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).Both Florens and Bissessur see R. simplex, locally known as Liane Rousseau, as more than a single species in peril. They say that it will serve as a model species to understand other island plants and the threats that plague them.“I am confident that the story of Roussea can serve more widely as a good example of the fascinating and important discoveries that can be made about a species’ natural history through painstaking yet relatively simple field observation and experimental approaches,” Florens said.However, plants, especially those without any known medicinal value, are challenging to study. There’s very little funding, Bissessur said, and few people want to help during the field work.Mongabay recently spoke with Bissessur to learn about her work on R. simplex, what makes the plant so fascinating, and the challenges of studying it. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.Mongabay: Could you tell us a bit about the plant itself?Prishnee Bissessur: Roussea simplex is a really slow-growing plant that’s epiphytic [grows on the surface of other plants for physical support, not food] and it scrambles, growing into dense canopy. It is protandrous, which means that its flowers transition from male to female. It has sticky pollen and it produces quite a lot of nectar. It flowers all year round, but there are two flowering peaks, one during July to December and then April to June.So if one were to see them in a forest would they be easily identifiable?Yes, very much so. They are shrubs and don’t look like trees. And there are not many similar-looking plants in Mauritius. If it’s flowering, you can definitely not miss it.Prishnee Bissessur with a Roussea simplex plant. Image by Vincent Florens.People are usually interested in animals. What is it about Roussea that fascinated you the most?When you think of it, in terms of the food web, it’s mostly the plants that are at the base, and then you narrow it up to the top predators. For me, studying plants was always interesting because animals depend on plants. And it was not just the plant itself but all the interactions that come with it that was interesting. Roussea is unique in the sense that it was discovered that it’s pollinated by the endemic gecko, and it was also one of the first plants to be discovered with double mutualism; that is, it was considered to be pollinated by the gecko and seed dispersed by the gecko as well. Also, we’re using Roussea as a model island plant. The idea is to use Roussea to identify threats that are causing it to decline and show how by systematically studying the lifestyle stages of a plant you can actually pinpoint where the problem lies, and address them. Because other island plants are also facing similar threats, the results from Roussea are applicable to them as well.Where can one find Roussea simplex?Both the genus Roussea and the family Rousseacea to which Roussea simplex belongs are endemic to Mauritius, so you can’t find them anywhere else on Earth. In Mauritius, Roussea is currently found in only nine locations, mostly concentrated in the southwest and northwest of the island.Finding where it’s now located was the first part of my study. I did a thorough literature review to look for mentions of sightings and locations of Roussea. I also spent a lot of time looking at herbarium specimens and collated information on Roussea’s distribution from those. In the end, we retrieved 18 locations. We did field work to check if the populations were still there, but we were able to retrace only nine of them. So there’s been almost a 50 percent decline in the distribution over the last 250 years. And for the last 20 years, there has been drastic decrease in their population size.In 2004, Dennis Hansen [of the Institute of Environmental Sciences at the University of Zurich in Switzerland] reported that there were only 85 to 90 individuals left, but we did a more comprehensive study. For now, we estimate there are around 250 individuals on the whole island. But the population trend is still constantly declining. If we were to Red List it according to IUCN, it would be considered as endangered.Where are the nine locations where Roussea simplex can still be found?About 95 percent of the plants occur in protected areas, that is, nature reserves, national parks, and mountain reserves at high elevations. But only one of the sites, a conservation management area, is currently being actively managed. So the managers do active weed control, and the area is fenced.What are some unusual tools you’ve used to study Roussea?So the most interesting one, I think, is the Bushnell trail camera. I wanted to look at animals that visit Roussea flowers because the only reported ones were the grey white-eye [Zosterops mauritianus] and the Phelsuma geckos. But the Bushnell cameras revealed interactions that had not been observed earlier, and which we would have missed. For example, black rats are a big problem for Roussea. They are eating a lot of these flowers. They usually make holes at the base of the flower to get to the nectar and even chop whole flowers. That’s one of the interactions that I’m going to study next. But they are nocturnal and we wouldn’t have seen them in action if there were no camera there. We also caught monkeys [long-tailed macaques, Macaca fascicularis] on the cameras.If you sit and observe the plants, it can probably change the behavior of animals. The cameras helped us to do it in a way such that the animal was not aware that it was being observed. For my next study, I’m going to use rat traps to see if controlling rats has an impact on flower production.Black rats often make holes at the base of Roussea flowers, damaging them. Image by Vincent Florens.A monkey caught on camera trap feeding on a Roussea plant. Image courtesy of Prishnee Bissessur.You found that the blue-tailed day gecko is not the only pollinator of Roussea as previously thought. Could you tell us about some of your findings?[Using camera traps, Bissessur and team found that Roussea flowers were visited by three endemic birds — the Mauritius bulbul, the grey white-eye, and the olive white-eye, Zosterops chloronothos — as well as two endemic reptiles: the blue-tailed day gecko and the ornate day gecko, Phelsuma ornata. Three species not native to the island, the long-tailed macaque, red-whiskered bulbul and the black rat, visited the flowers too.]We found that the Mauritius bulbul visits the flowers quite frequently and on camera footage we could see that the bulbul could carry pollen, which is quite sticky, on its beak. What we did was to see whether it could be a more efficient pollinator than the gecko because it’s a bird, so it can fly to longer distances and do cross-pollination of the plant. We carried out a series of experiments including pollinator exclusion experiments. For the latter, we used three treatments: we placed metallic cages around some flowers to exclude the birds, giving only geckos access to the flowers; we bagged some flowers with nylon bags, so neither gecko nor the bird could have access to the flowers; and some of flowers were left completely open for both pollinators to access. Then we looked at the seed set of fruits that developed post these three different treatments.In the end, we found that the bulbul was a more efficient pollinator than the gecko.Interestingly, Hansen and Müller showed that when the great white-eye, which is a smaller bird and has a short beak, goes into a flower for nectar, the pollen sticks to the bird’s feathers on its head. When it then goes from flower to flower, it is not able to transfer the pollen. But the Mauritius bulbul has a longer beak, so the pollen is deposited on the beak instead of the feathers, and when it goes from flower to flower, it can actually deliver the pollen successfully.A Mauritius bulbul feeding on the nectar from a Roussea flower. Image by Jean Michel Probst.You have also been looking at threats to Roussea from invasive alien ants. Could you talk about that?Hansen and Müller showed that these ants infest the flowers for nectar, and they make these ant galleries around the flower in the corolla. So when the ants are present, the geckos don’t visit the flowers. And due to lower frequency of visits by the geckos, there’s lower pollination, and then lower seed sets. What I was interested to see is whether this disruption is something that occurs all year round, or it varies through time, and across sites.I looked at around 1,468 flowers over two consecutive years, and I found that a very low number of flowers were actually infested by ants — only 6 percent of the flowers. And most of the infested flowers were found below one-meter [3 feet] height. So what we find is that when there are invasive plants like strawberry guava (Psidium cattleyanum) and Clidemia hirta [commonly called soapbush], Roussea collapses to the ground, and this makes it more accessible to the ant.Why does the presence of invasive plants cause Roussea to move closer to the ground?Roussea is epiphytic, so when the host tree has to compete with other invasive plants, and it dies, Roussea just collapses to the ground as well.So far, it had been shown that ants are a big problem for Roussea. But it seems like their effect is quite negligible. Instead, when you look at the bigger picture, it’s actually invasion by alien plants that is having a bigger impact. I’m now looking at the competition between Roussea and invasive plants.Roussea simplex. Image by Vincent Florens.What are some of the biggest challenges in studying Roussea? And is it hard to get funding?I presume that’s one of the problems of every researcher, but I think for those working on plants, it’s even more challenging because we are not working with charismatic animals like big cats, or cute mammals. My research is partly funded by Mauritius Research Council, but it covers only tuition fees. The rest is all self-funded. I even tried crowdfunding for the rat control study because I had to buy camera traps and rat traps, but so far it’s been funded 12 percent.One of the challenges I face when talking about my plant is that the very first question I get is, “Does it have any medicinal properties?” Or, “Does it cure cancer?” So people are always looking at what the plant can give.It’s also challenging to do field work because it’s quite hard to find assistants or people who can go with me. So, I end up having to rely mostly on family and some friends who can spare some time to accompany me because it’s quite dangerous to go alone.In terms of Roussea, because I have nine locations to work with, I’m quite restricted in terms of where I can set up experiments and my sample sizes, but you can always explain that because there are very few individuals left. So you make do with what you have.How do you think your research can help in the conservation of Roussea?At the end of the study, we will come up with conservation measures to propose to conservation managers. Some of those are very basic in terms of control of invasive plants, or translocation of pollinators like the bulbul to habitats where they are locally extinct. But what I would suggest is to not do micromanagement, because in the case of rare species, while micromanagement can be useful in the short term, it is very unsustainable in the long run. For our case, management would be addressing the invasion of alien plants, and rat control. But you’ll also need to do constant monitoring to see if the conservation measures that have been put in place are still working, or if they need some revision.At the end, we will pose some solutions to conservation managers, but it’s not only going to benefit Roussea itself, it’s going to benefit all the surrounding native plants equally.Roussea flowers damaged by black rats. Image by Vincent Florens.last_img read more

Beach clean-ups, community visits, and compensation to fishers build environmental awareness in Nigeria

first_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 overSponsored 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. Ogunye said she and her team of staff and volunteers were troubled to always find far more bottle caps than anything else — not even seashells — on the shoreline during beach clean-ups.This spurred them to launch an awareness-raising campaign known as “Kids4Clean Seas” to visit schools and coastal communities to promote proper waste management.The project staff and volunteers take turns to explain waste sorting and recycling using demonstrations. Local companies collaborating with the project often hire and pay dancers and actors to use dance and drama presentations to explain recycling and plastic pollution to the audience. Parents and community leaders also try to support this campaign, which uses a mix of the local Yoruba language as well as pidgin, which is widely spoken across West Africa.The project works with local companies to inject drama and dance during awareness campaigns. Image by Linus Unah for Mongabay.“I was very excited to listen to them when they visited our school because we didn’t know about these things before,” said Adegbuyi Emmanuel, a 17-year-old secondary school student on the outskirts of Lagos.Most residents of these communities are fishermen, and most women there sell fish. In the past, the fishermen and their families buried their waste or simply threw it into the ocean. As part of the Kids4Clean Seas project, residents in some coastal communities received trash bins and disposable bags and are taught how to separate waste. The project staff and volunteers often collect recyclables during awareness rounds, while the Lagos waste agency is now working in some of these communities to pick up bagged trash.So far, the “Kids4Clean Seas” has reached 80 public and private schools across Lagos, including 20 schools and five coastal communities in the city this year.Sea turtle protectionOgunye and her team are also protecting, conserving and rehabilitating sea turtles, which are highly susceptible during their nesting season.A green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) rests on the sea floor near sea grass. Image by Alexander Vasenin via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0.Of the five species of sea turtle commonly found in Nigeria’s waters, loggerhead, olive ridley and leatherback are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Vulnerable, the green turtle as Endangered, and the hawksbill as Critically Endangered.Nigeria is signatory to several international treaties protecting these turtles and offers them additional protection under the Sea Fisheries Decree (No 17) of 1992.However, poachers collect eggs and kill the turtles for their meat, skin, and scutes to sell for food or medicine. Destruction of nesting beaches for development and accidental capture largely by artisanal fishermen, complemented by poor awareness about their conservation status and weak law enforcement, also threaten the turtles’ survival.Ogunye tells communities and students how the turtles might be entangled by marine debris or might mistake plastic waste for food, leading to harm or death. The litter and shrubs along the coastline could prevent hatchlings from reaching the ocean, she emphasizes to the students and community members.She and her team explain how killing sea turtles could result in a spike in jellyfish populations and how this could affect the fishing industry their communities rely on. Leatherback turtles, in particular, primarily feed on jellies, so their presence helps prevent a jellyfish boom that could lead jellies consuming larvae of more commercial fish.The goal is to make the message simple yet compelling enough to spur action.“Sometimes I tell a story of a pregnant woman that is about to deliver and then she gets kidnapped on her way and gets killed,” Ogunye told Mongabay. “When I tell that story, a lot of people are like ‘Oh! that’s really disheartening’ and I say ‘that’s exactly what you do to sea turtles because they come ashore to lay their eggs.’”Doyinsola Ogunye, founder of MEDIC, has been working to raise awareness about plastic pollution and recycling since 2009. Here, she tells students about plastic pollution and how to recycle plastics. Image by Linus Unah for Mongabay.The Kids’ Beach Garden usually buys new fishing nets for fishermen who report bycatch and agree to cut their net to let an accidentally captured turtle back into the sea. The project has rescued hatchlings and more than a dozen sea turtles about to be sold across Lagos.Working on landTo further improve beach conditions, Ogunye and her team of over 50 volunteers and twelve staff run a tree-planting project to restore coconut trees that have been removed due to development pressures and population expansion.Under its “Tree Adoption Sustainability Plan,” parents, businesses, schools, and even the kids can adopt and name a tree by funding its maintenance. Fees range from $42 to $196 (15,000 to 70,000 naira). Funds raised from this model have helped the team to hire four gardeners and build a borehole that now supplies water to nearby communities. Dozens of Lagosians and businesses have signed up for this project.Today, about 400 trees dot the shoreline. More than 30 trees have grown well above the colorful tires that surround and protect them from wind and livestock grazing around the area.Some of the coconut trees planted by project staff and volunteers have grown above the tires. Image by Linus Unah for Mongabay.Positive impactsGrowing awareness about recycling, plastic pollution and their threat to sea turtles has resulted in “huge behavioural change,” Ogunye said, adding that they receive phone calls from local communities and residents asking them to come and rescue sea turtles.In September, Lagos state authorities started a recycling and waste sorting initiative – the Blue Box Programme — and has worked with Kids’ Beach Garden to raise environmental awareness and distribute disposable bags for waste separation.Nigeria lacks both marine reserves and a nationwide sea turtle recovery plan, which makes Ogunye’s work an uphill task.Nonetheless, Ogunye says they are happy to work with children to spearhead the “revolution.”“I have learned a lot about our environment and aquatic animals like sea turtles,” said 14-year-old Joseph Nwachukwu, a member of Kids’ Beach Garden. “I am happy to be coming here always.”Schools in Lagos and from neighboring states often visit to learn about the group’s work. Ogunye also organizes paid summer camp programs for teenagers who want to spend some nights by the sea, while taking lessons from the volunteers.“It’s important to catch them young, to let them understand these things in their formative years when behavior is formed, changed or corrected,” Ogunye said.“It’s easy to be inspired by a child,” she added. “If you see a child recycling and championing environmental causes, you will be moved to act.” Article published by Sue Palminteri Community-based Conservation, Conservation Solutions, Endangered Species, Environment, Environmental Education, Fishing, Marine Animals, Oceans, Sea Turtles, Waste Trash collected by the Kids’ Beach Garden project, such as the plastic bottles on left and flip-flops on right, gets sorted before removal. Images by Linus Unah for Mongabay. Children visit the Kids’ Beach Garden in Lagos, Nigeria, every week to learn about aquatic creatures, oceans, plastic pollution, recycling, and the environment while they help clean the beach.The project staff and volunteers bring families to join the beach clean-ups; they also visit schools and communities and introduce these themes using demonstrations, activities, and dance and drama presentations.In addition, the team works with fishers to reduce sea turtle hunting and bycatch and build awareness of the importance of turtles to fish lifecycles and the local ecosystem. Around 400 people spread out across the coastline of a beach in the Lekki neighborhood of Nigeria’s commercial city, Lagos. Hands in gloves and some faces partly covered by disposable nose masks, they burrow garden rakes into the sandy shores of the beach, unearthing plastic bottle caps, PET bottles, flip-flops, syringes, styrofoam containers, toys, lollipop sticks, earbuds, toothbrushes, discarded nets, and beer bottles.The roar of waves eclipses the chattering among the crowd of students, environmentalists, residents, government officials, and staff of local companies. The din of the crowd rises again once the wave dissolves into a cloud of tiny bubbles.In addition to weekly kid-focused beach cleanups, the Kids’ Beach Garden project organizes cleanup exercises for adults and families every last week of the month. Image by Linus Unah for Mongabay.It was the International Coastal Cleanup Day (September 21), and the crowd gathered at the behest of the Kids’ Beach Garden, an initiative of the Lagos-based Mental and Environmental Development Initiative for Children (MEDIC). MEDIC aims to rid Lagos beaches of marine debris, build a generation of young activists, and save vulnerable sea turtles.“Waste pollution is a very serious issue in Lagos,” said Millicent Adeyoju, communications manager for Green Hub Africa, an environmental sustainability and advocacy platform.  “It’s up to us to minimize the waste they generate.”But it is not only on special occasions that this sort of crowd comes to clean the beach.Doyinsola Ogunye, founder of MEDIC, has been working to raise awareness about plastic pollution and recycling since 2009. Her passion for the environment started after her family moved to Ajah neighborhood in 2002. She was astounded to find people living amid litter and cluttered waterways.“Nobody was paying attention; it was just like a norm in that area,” recalled Ogunye, who studied to become a lawyer.Building kids’ involvementThe desire to make a difference prompted her to start Kids’ Clean Club in November 2009 to build an impassioned group of children who would push for change by visiting churches, mosques, schools, and coastal communities to talk about waste management and how improper disposal harms marine life.The children and project staff and volunteers pose for a photo after one of their weekly cleanup exercises. Image by Linus Unah for Mongabay.At the same time, Ogunye, who often spends time around the coastline, felt they needed to gravitate towards littered beaches.She noticed that a portion of the shoreline in the Elegushi Beach, on the Atlantic Ocean, was abandoned. Garbage sprawled across the beach surface. Shrubs covered nearly the entire bank.She and her team of about a dozen volunteers sprang into action and began to clean the beach occasionally. But they realized that maintaining a clean, healthy shoreline required a broader solution.In 2015, Ogunye leased and named that strip of this sandy beach, an area that spans over 7.2 hectares on the seashore, the Kids’ Beach Garden. Here, some 30 children visit every week to learn about aquatic creatures, oceans, plastic pollution, recycling, and the environment.The Kids Beach Garden, surrounded by coconut tree saplings peeking out from the colorful tires. Image by Linus Unah for Mongabay.The project injects a lot of games and fun into its activities to keep the children animated as they learn and clean the beach. Sometimes they sing, jog and clap, make kites, or build sand castles. Often the children engage in the ‘Ultimate Plastic Search,’ a game in which they divide into small teams to scour for bottle caps. The team with the most bottle caps wins.Every last week of the month, the Kids’ Beach Garden invites Lagosians to join the children in cleaning the beach. Hundreds of residents often show up. On these days, the cleanup exercise is combined with other activities, such as aerobic exercise, volleyball, beachside photography, family sandcastle building, and picnics.At the end of the day, project staff and volunteers collect the waste and move it to the garden’s recycling and sorting hub for separation, counting, and weighing before it is collected by recycling firms who pay for the recyclables. They usually collect at least 40 bags of trash per cleanup exercise. The project also pays residents who bring recyclables to the hub.last_img read more