• Malaysian dam project will set precedent on how to treat indigenous people

    The controversial Murum dam in Malaysia is the first big overseas project for the China Three Gorges Project Company (CTGC) which is building hydro- and coal-fired power stations in 23 countries. So how it resolves its current conflict with the protesting Penan tribe will set an important precedent as to how other Indigenous people are treated. Sarawak is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo and is covered in ancient rainforest. This pristine oasis is home to many rare species, including the Slow loris, Clouded leopard, eight species of Hornbill as well as the iconic Orang-utang. Logging practices in the Sarawak region have decimated the habitat of these, and thousands of other unique species, and caused irreparable damage to valuable peat lands. >> Read the Full Article
  • Hope for Shark Finning Bans Continues

    Last month in Cambridge, volunteers from the community group Fin Free Cambridge delivered a petition with over three and a half thousand signatures to the Guildhall. The group, and all the signatories, are hoping to make Cambridge the first UK city to ban the use of shark fins. Currently four businesses in Cambridge use shark fins and the UK is ranked 19th in the world for shark fin exports. Shark finning is a cruel and wasteful activity, with around 73 million sharks being killed each year for their fins alone. The number of threatened shark species in the world has grown to more than 180 from a total of just 15 in 1996. >> Read the Full Article
  • Nearly Curtains for the Mexican Wolf

    In North America, the gray wolf has been nearly driven to extinction. Only thanks to recent conservation efforts in places like Yellowstone and other areas of North America have gray wolf populations bounced back. Unfortunately, this is not the case for a subspecies of gray wolf living in the US Southwest and Mexico, the Mexican wolf. There are few other land animals on the continent that have come closer to extinction. They were ruthlessly hunted and trapped by ranchers and the federal government since the 1800s. The Mexican wolf has been reduced to captive breeding in order to keep their species going. But this conservation effort appears to be failing, as it is plagued with mismanagement and conflicting rules. >> Read the Full Article
  • Bringing Rain Gardens to Urban Areas

    Water management is a major issue in large urban areas, where after heavy rainfall, rooftops, streets and pavements act as funnels. This sends huge volumes of water very quickly into drainage systems, putting pressure on rivers and increasing the risk of flooding. In contrast, undeveloped land absorbs and utilises water, thus slowing its progress to rivers. It is this natural bioretention that our towns and cities must learn to mimic. Rain gardens do just that. In its most basic form a rain garden is a planted depression in the ground, providing porous and absorbent materials into which water can soak, with plants that can withstand occasional temporary flooding. >> Read the Full Article
  • Obama Administration Proposes to Greatly Reduce the Protected Habitat of Threatened Seabird

    Twenty-one conservation groups sent a letter to the Obama administration today, asking it to withdraw from a recent agreement with the timber industry that, if approved by a federal court, would eliminate protection from 3,887,800 acres of critical habitat for the marbled murrelet until 2018. The federally threatened murrelet — a shy, robin-sized seabird that nests on the wide branches of old-growth trees — has severely declined in the face of logging of Pacific Northwest forests, a trend that continues today due to ongoing logging, according to recent studies. "Murrelets urgently need more, not less, habitat protection," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "A backroom deal with the timber industry that strips protections for an endangered species is a clear throwback to the Bush days — it's shocking the Obama administration would stoop to this. I'm deeply disappointed." >> Read the Full Article
  • Puerto Rican Manatees Suffering from Lack of Genetic Diversity

    There are multiple manatee populations in the Caribbean, but new evidence shows that they are isolated with no cross-breeding going on. The endangered marine mammal, known as the sea cow, is a species protected by law and is listed by the World Conservation Union as vulnerable to extinction. A new study conducted by the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the Puerto Rico Manatee Conservation Center (PRMCC) focusing on the West Indian manatees came to the conclusion that manatee preservation is being hampered by their lack of genetic diversity. Their findings will hopefully aid resource managers to make more informed decisions on how to protect the manatees. >> Read the Full Article
  • Pesticides Threaten Bumblebee Colonies

    Pesticides used in farming are killing bumblebees and affecting their ability to forage, putting colonies at risk of failure, according to a new study. An estimated one-third of all plant-based foods eaten by humans rely on bees for pollination, and bees and other pollinators have been estimated to be worth around $200 billion a year to the global economy. However, bee numbers have been plummeting in recent years, particularly in North America and Europe. >> Read the Full Article
  • Extent of Range is a Key Factor in Extinction Risk for Ocean Animals

    What makes some ocean animals more prone to extinction than others? A new study of marine fossils provides a clue. An analysis of roughly 500 million years of fossil data for marine invertebrates reveals that ocean animals with small geographic ranges have been consistently hard hit -- even when populations are large, the authors report. The oceans represent more than 70% of Earth's surface. But because monitoring data are harder to collect at sea than on land, we know surprisingly little about the conservation status of most marine animals. By using the fossil record to study how ocean extinctions occurred in the past, we may be better able to predict species' vulnerability in the future. >> Read the Full Article