A web-based tool that superimposes maps of valuable above ground carbon stocks with great ape distribution in Africa and Asia – thereby making the strongest possible argument for protecting both – was launched this week in Monrovia, Liberia, by the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) and the United Nations Collaborative Programme for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD Programme).
Indonesia is one of the most richly biodiverse places on the planet, with countless species and others that have yet to be discovered. But fires that were set in June to clear land for agricultural development – which were whipped far beyond control by the El Nino meteorological conditions – turned an annual environmental concern into a global crisis. Nearly 120,000 fires have been counted so far, and the resulting haze spread across Southeast Asia. An estimated one-third of the remaining wild orangutans on Borneo were threatened by the fires, which destroyed 2 million hectares of forest land.
The Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) welcomed the bold commitment to halt deforestation and support orangutan conservation in the Malaysian state of Sarawak that was announced at the recent GRASP Regional Meeting – Southeast Asia.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Haji Adenan Bin Satem announced a series of actions to protect Sarawak’s estimated 2,500 orangutans, which are endangered by clearing of forests for new oil palm plantations, illegal logging and other threats. Describing himself as an “amateur naturalist,” Adenan pledged “make decisions that are in the favour of nature.”
UNEP Study Confirms DR Congo Biodiversity Under Threat
Kinshasa – A major Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment of the Democratic Republic of Congo by the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) confirms the country’s wealth of natural resources, but warns that 190 species – including critically endangered Mountain gorillas – are in peril, that the illegal bushmeat trade has devastated biodiversity, and that tropical rainforests are an untapped source of ecosystem revenue worth $900 million annually.
DR Congo possesses half of Africa’s forests and water resources and trillion dollar mineral reserves, and could become a powerhouse of African development provided multiple pressures on its natural resources are urgently addressed.
But the study, Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment of the Democratic Republic of Congo: Synthesis Report for Policy Makers, warns of alarming trends including increased deforestation, species depletion, heavy metal pollution and land degradation from mining, as well as an acute drinking water crisis that has left an estimated 51 million Congolese without access to potable water.
Download the report: [English] [French] (PDF, 5mb)
UN Report Provides Grim Update on State of Gorillas
The future for gorillas in Africa is getting bleaker, according to a UNEP-Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) report that assessed the econimic and environmental pressures threatening the species’ survival. Last Stand of the Gorilla, which was funded by France, UNEP/UNESCO and GRASP as a Contribution to the UNEP/CMS Year of the Gorilla campaign, suggests that accelerating impacts from poaching to illegal logging are hitting great ape populations and habitats faster than previously supposed. UNEP and INTERPOL call for more support for border and customs controls.
Read Last Stand of the Gorilla Interactive e-Book.