Last week’s most popular posts on Forests News:
Is our global food system broken?
Forests News interviewed Oxford University professor, Dr. John Ingram, on the new EAT-Lancet report, a global rise in diabetes, and what a food system overhaul would look like. If you missed it, then you can read and watch the interview, and tune into a webinar where John will be the keynote speaker on 12 February: Enhancing food system resilience.
Insects could vanish within a century
The first worldwide scientific review of insects has been published in the journal Biological Conservation, The Guardian exclusively reports. The results are sobering, more than 40% are declining with around a third endangered. The impacts of the extinction of insects, which at the current trajectory could happen within a century, would be “catastrophic to say the least” say the researchers.
Insects hold up all other ecosystems, either as pollinators, food for prey or recyclers of nutrients. Agricultural intensification is called out as the leading driver of the decline, with the heavy use of pesticides being the mainstay for blame. The last two decades has seen insect numbers dwindle at an “alarming proportion” the researchers say, since the introduction of a new class of insecticides that include neonicotinoids and fibronil. Urbanisation and climate change are also driving forces, with the latter being the leading driver in tropical countries where industrial-scale agricultural intensification hasn’t yet been adopted.
Japan’s millennia old trees can warn of history repeating
Scientists at Japan’s Research Institute for Humanity and Nature have developed a way to tell weather patterns dating as far back as 2600 years, by measuring the isotope print of its millennia old trees. On wet days, the leaves have a lower oxygen isotope ratio than on dryer ones, signalling relative humidity in the atmosphere and the environmental conditions in which it grew, the BBC reports.
This new method was developed over the last decade by a diverse 68 strong team. It uses samples of the hinoki tree (cypress) that grows in Central Japan – whether that be in the form of living tree, old log, wooden temple or coffin.
When teamed with historical and archaeological research, the impacts of severe weather conditions on social structures and events was revealed. For example, in times of severe flooding in the 13th Century, crime rocketed and local wars broke out. The scientists hope that the revelation of historical events linked to extreme weather conditions can help prepare the world for climate change.
Tropical island forest on Guam to be dug up for military firing range
Bulldozers on Pacific island and US territory, Guam, will clear 89 acres of native limestone forest and 110 of disturbed limestone forest, to accommodate a new US military firing range.
The Independent, who picked up the story from local press, reports that plans have been delayed because of disputes over moving Guam’s native fadang tree, which has been declared endangered by The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as well as other environmental concerns.
A public consultation saw locals voice their worries over the use of lead bullets, amid fears that they feared could contaminate the drinking water supply of the entire island.
The US Department of Defense holds about 30 percent of Guam’s land. Previously the non-native brown snake arrived on military planes, devastating the island’s bird population, which in turn slowed forest growth.
Why what ‘wilderness’ is matters
An opinion piece by CIFOR’s very own scientists was picked up in Mongabay last week. What wilderness is matters, first published in Forests News, disputes a research paper printed in Nature and picked up by The Guardian, that claims the last wild areas are in five countries, and that global policy needs to protect them. Though the scientists on both sides of the debate agree that ecosystems are disappearing and need to be protected, defining what and where this wilderness is divides them. CIFOR’s associates and scientists call for an approach that identifies what local communities need from the land too. Taking an old-hat colonial approach to conservation will end in failure, Douglas Sheil, CIFOR research associate claims.
Inequality equals deforestation, says study
A study conducted in 10 Latin American countries over a 20 year period has shown that the best way to tackle deforestation is to tackle inequality, Mongabay reports. As well as finding a direct link between deforestation for agriculture and high rates of inequality, the study estimates that the issuing of indigenous land rights in Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia could save 60 million tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere per year. Recommendations to tackle inequality extend to land value taxes, better inheritance laws and land reforms.
Durian causing deforestation in Malaysia, India Times
Durian: Love it or hate it, the ‘world’s smelliest fruit’ hardly stirs indifference. Grown in SE Asia, its popularity is now soaring in China, and risking the Malaysian forest, the India Times reports.
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