Top ecologist: New park only solution to Victoria forest 'disaster'

Renowned Australian ecologist David Lindenmayer is among those leading calls for a Great Forest National Park in Victoria, following what is widely considered a disastrous legacy of forest mismanagement by the Victorian State Government.

Last refuge for really really big trees... (photo by Angela Wylie)

Last refuge for really really big trees... (photo by Angela Wylie)

In a new video, Lindenmayer decries a government forest plan that has seen old-growth Mountain Ash forests--which harbor the world's tallest flowering plants--shrink to just 1.2% of their original range. 

Over-logging and forest fires have been the main culprits.  Lindenmayer estimates that timber supplies from Mountain Ash forests, used mostly for paper pulp, will be exhausted in 12 years or less.

The Mountain Ash forests are also home to the Leadbeater's Possum, an endemic marsupial that relies on old-growth forests and is critically endangered.  The possum is the official faunal symbol of Victoria.

The plan for the new park is being endorsed by the Royal Society of Victoria, the state's pre-eminent scientific organisation.  Park advocates say the proposal has strong public support and would be a major attraction for tourism.

The blight of illegal gold mining

If you want a shock, take 30 seconds to watch this video--filmed from a airplane flying over the Peruvian Amazon.  The narration is in Spanish but it won't matter...

Gouging the earth for gold... illegal miner in Suriname (photo by William Laurance)

Gouging the earth for gold... illegal miner in Suriname (photo by William Laurance)

if this were just happening in Peru it'd be one thing, but 'blood gold' has turned into a global crisis.  Especially in developing nations, the combination of high gold prices and too many poor people is creating almost unstoppable pressures for miners to invade parks, wildernesses, and anywhere else that alluvial gold occurs.

Mining moonscape... illegal gold mining in Sumatra, Indonesia (photo by William Laurance)

Mining moonscape... illegal gold mining in Sumatra, Indonesia (photo by William Laurance)

Completely unregulated, the environmental impacts of illegal mining are many--destruction of riparian habitats, massive increases in river sediment loads, and toxic mercury pollution among them. 

And that's not to mention the human toll that the miners take on indigenous groups and rural communities trying to survive in areas ravaged by mining, when the fish are gone and the only source of drinking water is now tainted.

The take-home lesson: Too much of the gold we buy comes with a big, hidden price tag...

 

ALERT's efforts to protect rhino reserve gaining traction

ALERT is helping to lead international efforts to protect Chitwan National Park in Nepal from large-scale railroad and roading projects (see 'Heart of the Jungle' blog below).  Chitwan is a global wonder--a World Heritage site that harbors over 700 wildlife species, including a fifth of the world's one-horned rhinoceros.

Chitwan--where the rhinos roam (photo by Grzegorz Mikusinski)

Chitwan--where the rhinos roam (photo by Grzegorz Mikusinski)

We are happy to report our efforts are beginning to gain some momentum:

-ALERT's recent press release on Chitwan was circulated to hundreds of media outlets globally, a number of which published the release or wrote brief stories about it.

- The Ecologist has just published an excellent article on this issue, using information we helped to provide.

- Members of the European Commission we briefed are showing strong interest in the issue, and are considering contacting the Nepalese delegation about it. 

- An online petition to protect Chitwan has just been started at Avaaz.  Please sign the petition and ask your friends and colleagues to do likewise!

This is still very early days and your help is needed.  Please circulate the Avaaz petition and the link for The Ecologist story widely.

European Commission seeks input on illegal wildlife trade

In many parts of the world, the illegal trade in wildlife is having a devastating impact on natural ecosystems and vulnerable species. 

Loris-captive-Vietnam.jpg

The European Commission is now seeking guidance from experts, NGOs, governments, and others interested in the illegal wildlife trade.  The EC wants to devise strategies for better combating illegal trade and the organized syndicates that support it.

The comment period runs from Feb. 7 to April 10.  See this weblink for details.