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Mongabay Features

Lessons from 10 years of running a nonprofit environmental news organization

10 years ago this month, I founded Mongabay.org with a mission to deliver news and inspiration from Nature’s frontline. The non-profit would build on the foundation established by Mongabay.com, the website I created in 1999. When I started Mongabay.org, I had no prior experience running a non-profit, no fundraising know-how, and few connections to foundations […]

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Photos

An overhead view of California redwoods

This week I got away from my desk for an hour and captured some overhead shots from a nearby redwood forest. Below are the individual photos from the gallery

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Mongabay Features

Glasgow Declaration: Where is forest loss declining?

On Tuesday, November 2, 2021, 127 countries signed the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, pledging to “halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation” by 2030. The declaration, which was accompanied by some $19.2 billion in related funding commitments, was endorsed outside the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process and […]

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Mongabay Features

Are forest declarations effective?

On November 2, 2021 at the 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference (#COP26), 127 countries signed the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use which commits them to eliminate forest loss by 2030 as part of their collective efforts to combat climate change. The declaration, which was accompanied by some $19.2 billion in related funding commitments, came seven years […]

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Mongabay Features

Interview with Cristián Samper

Between the global pandemic, the accelerating impacts of climate change and environmental degradation, and the conservation sector’s reckoning with its colonial past, 2020 and 2021 have been a tumultuous time for efforts to conserve the planet. As an organization that has extensive field operations in about 60 countries and runs a network of zoos and […]

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Media appearances

Jane Goodall’s Hopecast Podcast

A few weeks ago Jane Goodall interviewed me for her Hopecast podcast. The episode came out today: RHETT BUTLER – HOPE IS SHARING KNOWLEDGE TO EMPOWER (JANE GOODALL HOPECAST EPISODE #19). Here is the episode description: For this episode of the Hopecast, Dr. Jane Goodall meets with longtime collaborator and fellow storyteller, Rhett Butler! Rhett is the founder and […]

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Mongabay Features

Interview with Kai Carter

For at least the past 20 years, there has been regular talk about the need to break down silos in conservation. The argument is straightforward: to be successful, the field must be interdisciplinary and inclusive to address the myriad issues that impact a range of stakeholders. For example, protecting an area is rarely as simple […]

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Mongabay Features

Interview with James Deutsch

Last month, nine organizations collectively announced a $5 billion pledge toward biodiversity conservation efforts worldwide. Most of the participants are philanthropic foundations, but one signatory is Rainforest Trust, a conservation group that committed $500 million. The scale of Rainforest Trust’s commitment was surprising to some in the conservation world: just a decade ago, the Virginia-based group had […]

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Mongabay Features

Interview with Myrna Cunningham

COVID-19 has devastated communities around the world, but for some Indigenous groups, the pandemic posed an existential threat. Few people are better placed to speak to the impact COVID is having on Indigenous communities than Myrna Cunningham, a Miskitu physician from the Wangki river region of Nicaragua who has spent 50 years advocating for the […]

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Mongabay Features

Interview with John Kamanga

Efforts to protect wildlife and landscapes have generally been shifting away from “fortress conservation” — where local people are excluded from the lands they’ve traditionally managed — toward more inclusive approaches. Among these latter approaches are community conservancies, which have been expanding around the world, but have especially gained traction in East Africa. According to […]

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Mongabay Features

Interview with Jonathan Ayers

Most people are familiar with the world’s “big cats”: Lions, tigers, leopards, jaguar, puma, and cheetah. But far fewer people know about the much larger number of small cat species, which range from the ancestors of domesticated house cats to the flat-headed cat to the ocelot. Yet, like big cats, these small cats play important […]

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Mongabay Features

Interview with Jane Alexander

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic shut theatres across North America and beyond. What’s the receipt of two Primetime Emmy Awards, a Tony Award, and nominations for four Academy Awards, and three Golden Globe Awards to do? For Jane Alexander, an acclaimed film and stage actress who is up for her eighth Tony Award nomination […]

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Mongabay Features

Interview with Glenn Hurowitz

Over the past five years, Mighty Earth has emerged as one of the most influential advocacy groups when it comes pushing companies to clean up their supply chains. The group, which had its origins as the Forest Heroes campaign before evolving into a standalone non-profit organization, has targeted companies that produce, trade, and source deforestation-risk […]

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Mongabay Features

Interview with Bridgespan’s Sonali Patel

Environmental causes have traditionally attracted only a small share of philanthropic support in the United States: Between 1-3% of annual giving, depending on how the issue area is defined. But that may be changing as the impacts of climate change worsen and awareness of the links between a healthy planet and healthy society rises. Sonali […]

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Mongabay Features

Interview with Li Shuo

China and the United States account for nearly half the world’s carbon dioxide emissions from energy, while the two countries’ resource consumption is among the biggest threats to global biodiversity. These issues make China and the U.S. major targets for environmental activists like Greenpeace, one of the world’s most prominent advocacy organizations. Despite the difference […]

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Mongabay Features

Interview with Brian O’Donnell

In 2018, philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss put $1 billion toward initiatives to help a range of stakeholders conserve 30% of the planet in its natural state by 2030 via protected areas, other effective conservation measures (OECMs), and Indigenous- and community-led conservation. One of the products of that commitment is the Campaign for Nature, an advocacy, communications, and […]

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Mongabay Features

Interview with Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak

Few people likely associate the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven mostly oil-rich emirates on the Western shores of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, with biodiversity conservation. But the next president of one of the world’s most prominent conservation groups, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), could be from […]

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Mongabay Features

Interview with Laly Lichtenfeld

The past 18 months have been a time of upheaval around the world, prompting a wide range of companies, institutions, and organizations to re-evaluate how they operate. The conservation sector has been no exception: Worldwide concern about injustice and inequity, the impacts of the pandemic, and the worsening effects of global environmental degradation has accelerated […]

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Mongabay Features

Interview with philanthropist Lisa Yang

Last month, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology announced the receipt of a $24 million donation to catalyze the field of conservation bioacoustics, which uses sound data to to understand and monitor species, habitats, ecological processes, and environmental health. The benefactor is Lisa Yang, an investor and philanthropist, who serves on several boards and has degrees from Columbia University and Cornell […]

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Mongabay Features

Interview with Nick Salafsky of Foundations of Success

Determining the success of a conservation project is rarely as simple as measuring how well forest cover has been maintained or the headcount of an endangered species. The multifaceted nature of most conservation projects means that many factors need to be monitored and evaluated using a range of metrics to determine whether a real impact […]

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Mongabay Features

Interview with with Dominique Bikaba

Kahuzi-Biega National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is renowned for its biodiversity, including Grauer’s gorilla — an endemic subspecies — and around 350 bird species. The area is also home to the Batwa people, who are highly dependent on its forests for their livelihoods and cultural traditions. But forests in this region […]

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Mongabay Features

Interview with Aileen Lee

Since the early 2000s, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has invested more than half a billion dollars into efforts to protect the Amazon, making it the largest private donor of conservation efforts for Earth’s largest rainforest. The foundation has supported a range of interventions, including establishing protected areas and Indigenous territories, using technology to […]

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Mongabay Features

Interview with Colleen Begg

In the wake of George Floyd’s killing last year, long-running concerns about discrimination, colonial legacy, privilege, and power dynamics in conservation have gained prominence, forcing many organizations in the sector to reckon with their origins and how they operate. Current and historic injustices against Indigenous Peoples and local communities in the name of establishing protected […]

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Mongabay Features

Amazon rainforest destruction is accelerating, shows government data

Destruction of Earth’s largest rainforest is accelerating ahead of the region’s peak fire and deforestation season, reveals data released today by Brazil’s national space research institute INPE. According to INPE’s satellite-based deforestation tracking system, DETER, forest clearing in the Brazilian part of the Amazon amounted to 1,391 square kilometers, an area 24 times the size […]

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Mongabay Features

Interview with Peter Kallang, a Kenyah leader who organized resistance to mega-dams in Sarawak

The Malaysian state of Sarawak was until recently home to some of the last truly nomadic peoples of Borneo, who roamed its wild and rich rainforests as they had done since time immemorial. Starting in the early 1980s, industrial logging companies moved deep into Sarawak’s hinterland, tearing down forests, forcing forest peoples from their traditional […]