Planet Of The Apes Vanishing

Apes Can’t Survive Without Habitat

The accelerated and unsustainable exploitation of the earth’s primary natural resources has become a major threat to apes in Africa and Asia, a major United Nations environment conference heard Wednesday. Speaking on the sidelines of the UN Environment Assembly, conservationists said infrastructure development and extraction of natural resources — including timber, minerals, oil and gas — have devastated the prime habitat of apes and pushed chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, orangutans and gibbons closer to extinction.

palm oil kills orangutans

“There’s absolutely no doubt that extractive industries are severely impacting on apes and their habitats,” said Helga Rainer, conservation director of the Great Apes program at the Arcus Foundation, the world’s largest private funder of ape conservation.

“Only five out of 27 ape ( habitats) do not have a mining project within their range… and there is also an indirect impact associated with infrastructure development such as roads and railways,” she added.

But while the cost to apes of economic development has been acknowledged for decades, researchers say more needs to be done to integrate their preservation into broader social, economic and environmental policies. “We need to develop safeguards and environmental policies that can address these issues effectively,” said Jef Dupain, director of the African Apes Initiative at the Nairobi-based African Wildlife Foundation. Experts predict that at the current rate, human development will have impacted 90 percent of the apes’ habitat in Africa and 99 percent in Asia by 2030, according to a new report titled “State of the Apes: Extractive Industries and Ape Conservation”. All species of apes are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), some critically so. There are about 880 mountain gorillas across Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo, while Cross River gorillas in Cameroon and Nigeria are thought not to exceed 250.

Mountain gorilla photography award

“There’s a lot of pressure from mining activities, so you can see the pressure being exerted,” said Andrew Seguya, executive director of the Ugandan Wildlife Authority. In Asia, Sumatran orangutans are believed to have declined by 50 percent since 1992, and the entire population of Hainan black-crested gibbons in China amounts to just 21 individuals. “A key message of ‘State of the Apes’ report is that the global systems of production, consumption and demography are interconnected, and that rapid globalization will continue to exert intense pressure on natural resources and ape habitats,” officials said in a joint statement. Read more at: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2000126008/planet-of-the-dying-apes-experts-alarmed-over-shrinking-habitats/

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, carbon capture, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems.

Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

Woodlands Will Help Some Wildlife Survive Climate Change

Forest Conservation, Reforestation Critical

Guest blog from Simon Duffield, Natural England’s Senior Specialist for Climate Change Adaptation

Climate change is already changing the distribution of many species. In general species are moving further north, and higher up as a warming climate means they can exploit previously inhospitable environments. This can be positive in that some species will increase their ranges, however for as many species that will benefit, others, those primarily adapted to colder climates may suffer. But it’s not all about gradual warming. Climate change is also projected to bring an increased incidence of extreme weather, whether it be cold winters, drought or heat waves, and these can have severe impacts on populations.

reforestation and carbon capture

So the question is how can we help species adapt to these climate driven changes?  One action often suggested is to reduce the fragmentation of habitats to enable species to move more easily through the landscape. Another frequent suggestion is that we should focus on ensuring that existing patches are of optimum quality and maximum size. Both these approaches are based on sound ecological theory, but in practice until recently there was little evidence to support their role in adaptation.

However a recent paper published by a group from BTO, CEH and Natural England presents some evidence to support the role of both reducing isolation and increasing patch size in increasing the resilience of some woodland bird species to climate change.

The group found that populations of woodland ‘generalist’ birds were most sensitive to extreme weather, in this case colder winters, if they were located within fragmented landscapes with large distances between patches.

reforestation and forest conservation

 

Along with this, woodland ‘specialist’ birds recovered more rapidly following cold winters on large woodland sites. These findings suggest that both the size and amount of woodland in the landscape can affect the resilience of woodland bird species to climate change. So we need to find ways to have bigger patches of good quality woodland, closer together in the countryside.  A strategic, partnership approach – who’s interested?

Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/ourwork/b/climatechange/archive/2014/05/01/bigger-more-connected-woodlands-help-wildlife-cope-with-climate-extremes.aspx

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, carbon capture, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems.

Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

Climate Change Adding Momentum To Extinction Crisis

Biodiversity Collapsing In Many Ecosystems

One day around 66 million years ago — it was in June or July if the evidence from fossilised pollen traces has been interpreted correctly — an asteroid somewhat larger than Manhattan ploughed into the Earth near what is now Chicxulub in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico at 45,000mph. As it hit with a force equivalent to more than 100 million megatons of TNT, or about 1,500 times the total content of the world’s present nuclear arsenals, the asteroid sent a vast cloud of scalding vapour thousands of miles in all directions, and blasted more than 50 times its own mass of pulverised rock high into the sky where, as tiny particles, it incandesced and heated the entire atmosphere to several hundred degrees centigrade, killing almost everything unprotected by soil, rock or deep water.

deforestation and climate change

Many scientists believe that about three quarters of animals, including the pterosaurs, themosasaurs and, as every child now knows, the non-avian dinosaurs were wiped out as a result. It took millions of years for life to recover and surpass its previous diversity, this time with a new ensemble of species that included our distant ancestors. This event, known as the Cretaceous-Paleogene (and formerly as the Cretaceous-Tertiary) extinction, is counted as one of five mass extinctions over the past 500 million years or so, where a mass extinction is defined as an event in which a significant proportion of life is eliminated in a geologically insignificant amount of time.

At first glance, the footprint of industrialized humanity on the biosphere may look small compared with that of the Chicxulub asteroid. The additional input of heat into the world’s oceans resulting from greenhouse gases put there by the combustion of fossil fuels, for example, is equivalent to only about four atomic bomb detonations, or well under a tenth of a megaton per second. But first glances are sometimes misleading. Humans are affecting the Earth system in many ways, and have been doing so every moment for decades and indeed centuries. It may seem like a diffuse, drawn-out affair to us as individuals but compared with many natural processes (for which animals and plants are, in Jacob Bronowski’s phrase, equipped with “exact and beautiful adaptations”), it is virtually instantaneous. Perhaps the present transformation will turn out to be more like the end-Permian 252 million years ago, the third of the “big five” extinctions, which is thought to have been kicked off by massive pulses of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, each of which lasted only a few decades, but which together resulted in the death of up to 95 percent of all life.

deforestation Tanzania and Kenya

Or not. A lot is uncertain. What is beyond reasonable doubt is that something big is under way. The best estimates are that the Earth is losing species at many times the background rate (the natural churn in which a few species go extinct every year while new ones evolve), and that 30 per cent to 50 per cent will be functionally extinct by 2050.

The plight of the non-human world has inspired many works of popular science over the past 20 years or so. A 1995 book by Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin, presciently titled “The Sixth Extinction,” David Quammen’s “The Song of the Dodo,” in 1996, and numerous essays by E.O. Wilson are among those that speak with clarity and urgency. Books about the death of single species, from Sam Turvey’s “Witness to Extinction” (2008) about the Yangtze River dolphin to Joel Greenberg’s “A Feathered River Across the Sky” (2014) about the passenger pigeon sometimes reach substantial audiences. John Platt’s “Extinction Countdown” is one of many useful blogs on the web. The calamity has inspired artists too. Maya Lin continues to develop a remarkable project titled “What is Missing?”. Extinctathon, a computer game imagined by Margaret Atwood in her “Oryx and Crake” trilogy (2003-13), now exists in the real — virtual — world. In “The Road” (2006), Cormac McCarthy disgorges a nightmare of a world that humans have killed.

But with extinctions and new discoveries piling up,there is a need for still more studies. And in “The Sixth Extinction,” Elizabeth Kolbert, a staff writer for the New Yorker, offers well-composed snapshots of history, theory and observation that will fascinate, enlighten and appal many readers.

reforestation and carbon capture

Kolbert begins with a visit to a research station in Costa Rica, where researchers are documenting the disappearance of the golden frog, “Atelopus zeteki”. Amphibians, the class that includes frogs, are the most endangered group of animals in the world, with an extinction rate as much as 45,000 times the background rate. In addition to factors such as habitat loss, a kind of chytrid fungus, inadvertently spread by humans and lethal to many amphibians, is thought to be to blame.

The book then turns to the development of extinction as an idea and how it has changed our view of life. In this account the phenomenon was discovered in the early 19th century by the anatomist Georges Cuvier, who recognised that enormous teeth and bones recovered from sites in what is now Ohio belonged not to elephants but to hitherto unknown beasts. The mastodons, and other strange giants whose remains came across his dissecting table, had lived in “a world previous to ours”, which, Cuvier suggested, had perished in a great catastrophe.

Charles Darwin accepted Cuvier’s view that the deep past had been filled with extinctions, but rejected catastrophe as a principal cause in favour of a gradual, or uniformitarian view of extinction championed by the geologist Charles Lyell. Only in the 1980s was the hypothesis, proposed by Luis and Walter Alvarez, that a massive asteroid had caused mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period generally accepted. Palaeontologists came to agree that life was characterized by long periods of stability occasionally interrupted by panic.

palm oil and orangutans

Kolbert’s history tour concludes with a look at the far future. Jan Zalasiewicz, a palaeobiologist at the University of Leicester, argues that although our age (for which he champions the term Anthropocene) will leave a record in the geological strata no thicker than a cigarette paper, its impact will nevertheless be great.

One of the strengths of “Field Notes from a Catastrophe,” Kolbert’s 2006 book on global warming, was vivid reportage from exotic locations. “The Sixth Extinction” shares this characteristic. There are useful, indeed exemplary, discussions of ocean acidification starting from readily observable natural effects off the Italian coast, of the fate of coral from the Great Barrier Reef, of the extent to which tropical forests in Peru can adapt to rapid change, of habitat fragmentation in the Amazon basin and beyond, and of the consequences of the mass global transference of species from one place to another. It is all pretty grim.

Towards the end, Kolbert writes: “We are deciding, without quite meaning to, which evolutionary pathways remain open and which don’t.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t recall being involved in that decision. Indeed, it seems that some of the most important decisions are being taken by those individuals who are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to keep people in the dark about climate change and who are blocking moves to a green economy. We need to decide otherwise.

The extinction crisis is so vast and complex that it is almost repels thought. It is what the cultural critic Timothy Morton calls a hyperobject. We need a lot more imaginative thinking about the choices we can make and what comes next, whether it be the “Rambunctious Garden” of environment writer Emma Marris, the feral landscape of George Monbiot or a world utterly transformed by synthetic biology as envisaged by Craig Venter. We need new big stories. Is it too much to ask that we should alter Earth with compassion for the other creatures with whom we share it, and in celebration of their endless forms?

Source: http://gulfnews.com/arts-entertainment/books/extinctions-fuelled-by-global-warming-1.1306464

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, carbon capture, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems.

Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

Google Reveals Global Deforestation

Forest Boundaries Tougher To Cross Now

By Rhett A. Butler, Monga Bay

Researchers today released a long-awaited tool that reveals the extent of forest cover loss and gain on a global scale. Powered by Google’s massive computing cloud, the interactive forest map establishes a new baseline for measuring deforestation and forest recovery across all of the world’s countries, biomes, and forest types.

The map has far-reaching implications for efforts to slow deforestation, which accounts for roughly ten percent of greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activities, according to the authors of the paper that describes the tool and details its first findings.

deforestation and climate change

“People will use these data in ways we can’t even imagine today,” said Matthew Hansen, a University of Maryland geographer who is the lead author of the study, which will be published in tomorrow’s issue of the journal Science. “Brazil had used Landsat data to document its deforestation trends and to inform policy and they also shared their data publicly. But such data has not been widely available for other parts of the world. Our global mapping of forest cover lifts the veil—revealing what’s happening on the ground in places people could only conjecture about before.”

The study finds that some 2.3 million square kilometers (888,000 square miles) of forest was lost between 2000 and 2012. But that area was partly offset by 800,000 sq km of forests that regrew. Forest loss was highest in the tropics, which was the only region in the world where deforestation is increasing.

But the power of the map lies in its granularity which comes from its 30 meter resolution and consistency in defining forest cover. For example, while Brazil’s sharp fall in forest loss since 2004 is widely known, the drop has been outpaced by surging deforestation in Indonesia, Malaysia, Paraguay, Bolivia, Zambia, and Angola. Counterintuitively, Indonesia experienced a jump in deforestation after it established a moratorium on granting new concessions in primary forest areas and peatlands.

palm oil plantation deforestation

Outside the tropics, Russia is losing upwards of 3.6 million hectares of forest per year, an area that is only partially offset by forest recovery. Even the United States experienced significant forest clearing between 2000 and 2012, amounting to a net less of 12.6 million hectares. Disturbance rates in the southeastern United States were more than four times greater than those of South American rainforests.

At the ecozone level, tropical rainforests (601,071 sq km), boreal coniferous forest (350,135 sq km), and tropical moist deciduous forest (300,149) experienced the largest area of forest loss. But it was less well-known forests were most heavily decimated during the study period.

“The tropical dry forests of South America had the highest rate of tropical forest loss, due to deforestation dynamics in the Chaco woodlands of Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia,” the researchers write. “Eurasian rainforests and dense tropical dry forests of Africa and Eurasia also had high rates of loss.”

Unlike most previous forest assessments — like the industry standard Forest Resource Assessments (FRA) from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) — the new data go beyond mapping simple net change in forest cover, which can mask subtle but important ecological transformation like the shift from biodiversity-rich and carbon-dense old-growth forests to scrubbier degraded and secondary forests. “Net deforestation targets are mostly ambiguous with respect to carbon emissions, biodiversity, and hydrological services because, according to the FAO-FRA methodology, low or even negative net deforestation may be reported even when there are large losses of native forests, if those losses are offset by increases in young secondary forests or tree plantations with inferior carbon, biodiversity, and hydrological service values,” write Sandra Brown and Daniel Zarin in a commentary accompanying the Science paper. “For this reason, and to safeguard the customary rights to native forests of indigenous and other local people, UNFCCC negotiators agreed to prohibit counting any carbon accumulation in plantations that substitute for native forests within countries’ voluntary commitments to REDD+.”

palm oil and orangutans

The new tool therefore represents a significant advancement toward understanding ecological changes that accompany changes in forest cover.

“This is the first map of forest change that is globally consistent and locally relevant,” said Hansen. “Losses or gains in forest cover shape many important aspects of an ecosystem including, climate regulation, carbon storage, biodiversity and water supplies, but until now there has not been a way to get detailed, accurate, satellite-based and readily available data on forest cover change from local to global scales.”

The map wouldn’t have been possible without long-term collaboration between several institutions, including the University of Maryland, Google Inc, NASA, USGS, South Dakota State University, and the Woods Hole Research Center, among others. First touted publicly in 2008, the project has been in development nearly five years with significant financial support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Foundation.

endangered species conservation and forest conservation

The project leverages the massive computing power of Google Earth Engine, which processed some 650,000 NASA Landsat images to map forest loss and gain. According to Google, a process that “would have taken a single computer 15 years to perform was completed in a matter of days.”

“By combining the extensive Landsat database with the computing power of Google Earth Engine, Dr. Hansen saw an opportunity to do something that had never been done before,” said Rebecca Moore, head of Google Earth Engine and Earth Outreach at Google. “To date, this is the largest-scale scientific application of Earth Engine technology to measurement and mapping of earth’s natural resources.”

Google Earth Engine is also being used by other forest scientists, at places like the Carnegie Institution and Brazil-based Imazon, for other forest monitoring and mapping applications. Improved understanding of the state of forests through tools like these should boost the ability of decision makers — from lawmakers to business leaders — to establish policies that better protect forests.

“Brazil used Landsat data to document its deforestation trends, then used this information in its policy formulation and implementation,” said Hansen. “Now, with our global mapping of forest changes every nation has access to this kind of information, for their own country and the rest of the world.”

Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2013/1114-global-forest-map.html?fbfnpg#Cr4KIuwOUyHUbqry.99

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, carbon capture, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems.

Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com