This time, the forest product for sale is 100 percent sustainable and guaranteed to return on the investment. The product is carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that healthy forests can store in vast reserves and prevent from being released into the atmosphere. Put simply, protecting an intact forest keeps its store of carbon from heating the planet.
In a landmark agreement, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the government of Madagascar announced the sale of more than nine million tons of carbon offsets to help safeguard this African nation's wildlife-rich Makira Forest. Proceeds from sales will also contribute to the economic wellbeing of people living around Makira and help fight global climate change.
The carbon offsets will be marketed and sold by the Madagascar government in private transactions with the aid of the Makira Carbon Company (MCC) established by WCS. MCC will work in collaboration with Madagascar's Ministry of Environment, Water, Forests, and Tourism. Sales will target principals, brokers, dealers, and other intermediaries in the U.S. and abroad who wish to purchase high-quality emissions reductions delivering multiple benefits to both the environment and economy.
What's the best way to save a species? Should we target conservation at individual sites, or perhaps use a much broader approach - taking action at the landscape or seascape scale? For 99% of Globally Threatened Birds, safeguarding Important Bird Areas (IBAs) is a key part of the solution.
Questions of scale for conservation programmes are the subject of a paper by scientists from BirdLife International and Conservation International published in the inaugural issue of Conservation Letters. The study identified the most appropriate spatial scale of conservation efforts for 4,239 species of birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles on the IUCN Red List.
Experts classified each species into one of four conservation strategies. The results were stark. "For 79% of threatened bird species, the highest priority conservation action in the immediate future is to provide effective safeguarding of individual IBAs or networks of IBAs" said Dr Stuart Butchart, BirdLife's Global Research Coordinator and a co-author on the paper.
The Wildlife Conservation Society's Gabon Ecotourism Project has been chosen as a finalist in National Geographic and Ashoka's Changemakers Geotourism Challenge Competition. The Geotourism Challenge is a global search for innovations in tourism that sustain, enhance, and preserve local culture and place. A prestigious panel of judges selected WCS and 14 others among the 323 entries from 84 countries as finalists.
As global energy demand soars, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) took an important step recently to protect the heart of western Alaska's Arctic coastal plain from commercial exploration. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) applauds the decision to grant permanent protection to the Teshekpuk region, a key nesting site for migratory birds and other wildlife in the Arctic.
Teshekpuk Lake is part of National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A). Encompassing 23 million acres, it is considered the largest single piece of undisturbed public land in the United States.
"This represents a significant conservation victory for Arctic wildlife and demonstrates that there is room for both protection of key areas and for responsible energy development in the Arctic coastal plain rich in natural resources," said Dr. Steven E. Sanderson, WCS President and CEO.
A recent study of Australia's wetlands has revealed that 81% of resident wading birds have disappeared in just quarter of a century throughout the mostly inland habitats of eastern Australia. The paper, published in Biological Conservation, reported that agricultural extraction and inadequate water allocation may have caused the steep declines.
Scientists from the University of New South Wales undertook aerial surveys of wetlands in eastern Australia between 1983 and 2006. During the monitoring period all resident wading birds declined.
The steepest drop was observed in Banded Lapwing Vanellus tricolor whose population plummeted by 98%. Further significant falls were detected in Red-necked Avocet Recurvirostra novaehollandiae (-85%), Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus (-80%), and Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles (-69%). Because resident birds don't leave the country - unlike their migratory counter-parts - the researchers concluded that the declines were causes by changes within Australia.
Wetlands in arid Australia do not hold water every year. With many bird species relying upon wetland habitats for their food, the frequency of flooding is crucially important for their survival. Deluges of flood water - the life blood for breeding shorebirds - have been tamed by dams, levee banks and agricultural extraction. The researchers reported that wetland area declined at 40% of the most important sites. Floods are becoming increasingly rare.
Dr. Tim Davenport of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Africa program has been named the recipient of the prestigious 2008 Parker/Gentry Award for Conservation Biology by the Field Museum in Chicago.
The Field Museum is recognizing Dr. Davenport for his "outstanding achievements in conserving the unique biota of the southern highlands of Tanzania and other endangered habitats of eastern Africa." Davenport collaborated with Tanzanian biologists and local community members to protect threatened wildlife and plants in Mt. Rungwe and surrounding montane forests. His work has been instrumental in the establishment of Kitulo National Park in Tanzania. In 2005, Davenport and his colleagues discovered the Kipunji, the first new genus of monkey found in more than 80 years.
BirdLife International has welcomed the launch of a report that highlights the increasing international recognition that while growth in bioenergy offers new opportunities for sustainable development, it also carries significant environmental risks.
The launch took place at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) conference on World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy in Rome, Italy. Entitled Bioenergy, food security and sustainability, the report cautions that with the use of current technologies and set policies, the growth in liquid biofuels is contributing to negative impacts on the environment and food security and is leading to an increase in world food prices.
While governments, the private sector and civil society can take important measures to promote sustainable production of bioenergy, many challenges are global in nature and cannot be tackled without a concerted international response. The report suggests that "an international approach is needed to address the full spectrum of bioenergy applications including, most urgently, liquid biofuels for transport".