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Mongabay Features

Drone images from Hawaii’s Big Island

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Mongabay Features

Tropical forests’ lost decade: the 2010s

The 2010s were a tumultuous time for tropical forests. The decade opened with hope and optimism built on solid momentum around recognizing the value of forests and their inhabitants, technological advances that increased transparency, empowered activists and communities, a new breed of corporate conservation commitment, and unprecedented progress in reducing deforestation in Earth’s largest rainforest. […]

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Mongabay Features

Obituary: Conservation biologist and wildtech journalist Sue Palminteri

Whether it was radio-collaring elephants across the savannas of South Africa, competing internationally alongside the Israeli national team in tennis, tracking saki monkeys through the rainforest in the sweltering mid-day heat of the Peruvian Amazon, or evaluating the practicalities of implementing technological solutions to conservation challenges, Sue Palminteri fully embraced all she pursued with rare […]

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Mongabay Features

Michael Shellenberger’s sloppy Forbes diatribe deceives on Amazon fires

I understand the desire to correct misinformation that proliferates in the aftermath of breaking news events. And I understand the frustration of sensationalist headlines that mislead readers. But columnist Michael Shellenberger’s attempt in Forbes to correct the record on fires burning in the Brazilian Amazon was sloppy at best, and deceiving at worst. Shellenberger is right on several […]

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Mongabay Features

A healthy and productive Amazon is the foundation of Brazil’s sovereignty

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro likes to assert that foreigners deserve no say over the fate of the Amazon because it is a national sovereignty issue. His logic: Brazilian Amazon is Brazil’s sovereign territory and therefore it has the right to do what it wants with it, whether that be clearing it for cattle pasture and […]

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Mongabay Features

Photo essay: Madagascar’s disappearing dry forests

The dry forest of western Madagascar is famous for its wildlife and baobab trees, including the tourist destinations of Baobab Alley, Tsingy de Bemaraha, and Kirindy Forest. Among the species that call these forests home are the rabbit-sized giant jumping rat (Hypogeomys antimena); the puma-like fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox), Madagascar’s largest predator, which feasts on lemurs; […]

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Mongabay Features

Ground-truthing satellite data in Borneo

Borneo has been special to me since my earliest years. As a kid, I would voraciously read books about the wilds of Borneo, with its dense rainforests inhabited by traditional indigenous peoples and wondrous animals like orangutans, clouded leopards, and pygmy elephants. As I grew older, I became aware of the environmental devastation in Borneo. […]

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Mongabay Features

Rainforests: storylines to watch in 2019

2018 wasn’t a great year for tropical rainforests, with major conservation setbacks in Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, and the United States coming on top of back-to-back years of high forest cover loss. Here are ten storylines we’re watching in the world of rainforests as we begin 2019.

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Mongabay Features

Mongabay’s origin story

One of the few benefits of having a father who had to fly each week from San Francisco to meet clients in Hawaii and Alaska during my formative years was the airline miles — my father had a ton. So many, in fact, that our family didn’t have to spend a lot of money on […]

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Mongabay Features

Alan Rabinowitz: A Legacy of Conservation

On August 5th, the conservation world mourned the death of Alan Rabinowitz, an American zoologist celebrated as the ‘Indiana Jones of wildlife protection’ by Time magazine. He passed away at 64 after a battle with cancer. Rabinowitz’s legacy testifies to a life spent in unwavering commitment to safeguarding the planet’s most majestic and vulnerable species, […]

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Media appearances

The Almanac profiles Mongabay

The story, “How a curious kid from Atherton started and grew a global environmental news site” was published by Barbara Wood in The Almanac on Nov 8, 2017. The way Rhett Butler tells the story, he was inspired to become a champion of the natural environment by a childhood full of family travel to out-of-the-way […]

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Mongabay Features

10 reasons to be optimistic for forests

It’s easy to be pessimistic about the state of the world’s forests. Rates of forest loss remain persistently high, especially in the tropics and boreal regions. Drought, fragmentation, degradation via logging, and climate change are conspiring to make forests more vulnerable to fire: vast areas of forest went up in smoke across Canada, Russia, the […]

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Mongabay Features

What’s ahead for rainforests in 2016? 10 things to watch

Between Indonesia’s massive forest fires, the official approval of REDD+ at climate talks in Paris, and the establishment of several major national parks, there was plenty to get excited about in the world of rainforests during 2015. What’s in store for 2016? MORE

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Mongabay Features

The year in rainforests: 2015

Between the landmark climate agreement signed in Paris in December 2015, Indonesia’s fire and haze crisis of the late summer and early fall, and continuing adoption of zero deforestation policies by some of the world’s largest companies, tropical forests grabbed the spotlight more than usual in 2015. Here’s a look at some of the biggest […]

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Mongabay Features

How does the global commodity collapse impact forest conservation?

Since early 2014, prices for most commodities produced in the tropics have plunged. Palm oil is down by 40 percent, logs from Malaysia and Cameroon are off by roughly a fifth, while soybeans have fallen by a third and beef a tenth. The price drop for industrial commodities like metals, minerals, oil and gas has […]

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Mongabay Features

Indonesia’s massive haze problem is Jokowi’s big opportunity

This week data from Guido van der Werf of the Global Fire Emissions Database showed that carbon emissions from fires raging across Indonesia’s peatlands have surpassed 1.4 billion tons of CO2-equivalent, or more than the annual emissions of Japan. More conspicuously, the fires have triggered a spasm of air pollution that has mushroomed into a domestic health […]

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Mongabay Features

Plantation companies in Indonesia struggle to combat fires

With political pressure mounting on plantation companies, including threats of fines and legal action by the Indonesian and Singaporean governments and boycotts in consumer countries, palm oil and timber giants in Indonesia are embracing an array of tactics to battle haze-spewing blazes burning across the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, according to Mongabay.com’s informal survey […]

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Mongabay Features

Up to 15 billion trees are cut every year, finds study

When it comes to the world’s forests, two of the commonly asked questions are “How many trees are are on Earth?” and “How many trees are cut down each year?” A new study proposes answers: three trillion and 15.3 billion. The research, published today in the journal Nature, is based on a combination of satellite imagery, […]

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Mongabay Features

Conservation biology loses a leader: Navjot Sodhi, 1962-2011

Over the weekend I received very sad and unexpected news: my friend Navjot Sodhi, a scientist whose mentorship and research made him a leader in the field of conservation biology, died after a short battle with an aggressive blood cancer. He was 49. Navjot leaves behind his wife Charanjit, children Ada and Darwin, and bevy […]

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Mongabay Features

Does chopping down rainforests for pulp and paper help alleviate poverty in Indonesia?

Over the past several years, Asia Pulp & Paper has engaged in a marketing campaign to represent its operations in Sumatra as socially and environmentally sustainable. APP and its agents maintain that industrial pulp and paper production — as practiced in Sumatra — does not result in deforestation, is carbon neutral, helps protect wildlife, and […]

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Media appearances

Interview with WBEZ Chicago on biofuels

On January 24th, I did an interview with Chicago Public Radio’s Jerome McDonnell, host of Worldview, on the impact of U.S. biofuels policy on deforestation in the Amazon [minutes 22:15-38:00 on the podcast]: https://www.wbez.org/stories/the-dark-side-of-biofuels/56779a3c-1dac-4233-a0f0-dee2a41548ac

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Media appearances

WSJ mention – January 15, 2008

A piece in The Wall Street Journal by Kelly Spors included a quote about my work at Mongabay: Some bloggers already are seeing results. Rhett Butler, founder of Mongabay.com, a site with articles on rainforest conservation and other environmental issues, makes $15,000 to $18,000 a month from AdSense, using various types of ads. Mr. Butler says his […]

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Mongabay Features

Climate change claims a snail

Goodbye to a snail. The Aldabra banded snail (Rachistia aldabrae), a rare and poorly known species found only on Aldabra atoll in the Indian Ocean, has apparently gone extinct due to declining rainfall in its niche habitat. While some may question lamenting the loss of a lowly algae-feeding gastropod on some unheard of chain of […]

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Mongabay Features

Interview with Amazon rainforest rancher John Cain Carter

Since the early 1970s, environmental groups have spent billions of dollars on conservation efforts in the Amazon, but have failed to slow the destruction of its rainforests – the Brazilian Amazon has lost more than 700,000 square kilometers (270,000 square miles) of forest in that time. As donor dollars poured into the region, deforestation rates […]

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Mongabay Features

A farewell to the Yangtze’s ghost, the Baiji

In the quiet flow of the Yangtze, a silent departure occurred. The Baiji, China’s exclusive river dolphin, known scientifically for its distinction and affectionately for its grace, has succumbed to the inevitable, declared “functionally extinct.” This term, clinical yet profound, marks the end of a lineage that navigated the waters of the Yangtze for over […]