News Article | May 9, 2017
For 30 years, the Rainforest Alliance has been a global leader in the conservation of forests and natural resources while advancing sustainable livelihoods. Such success can only be accomplished through strategic partnerships with players along every link in the supply chain, from producers to large multinational companies. The Rainforest Alliance is pleased to recognize businesses and individuals committed to protecting the environment, implementing climate solutions, and supporting communities across the globe. Awards will be presented to honorees on May 10th in New York City, at the Rainforest Alliance’s 30th Anniversary Gala Celebration at the American Museum of Natural History. “To come as far as the Rainforest Alliance has in 30 years, we needed the strength of partnership,” said Nigel Sizer, President of the Rainforest Alliance. “Today, we recognize individuals and companies who are addressing some of the most significant challenges humanity has ever faced. These champions are working with us to protect forests and support farmers and communities across the world, affecting real change.” During the day on May 10, honorees and co-chairs will join CEOs, business and thought leaders, and Rainforest Alliance experts at the annual Leadership Summit to discuss strategies for implementing global sustainability and climate goals. Following the summit, participants will gather in the evening for an awards dinner, entertainment, and a silent auction. The gala is co-chaired by long-term Rainforest Alliance friends and supporters Maggie Lear, Tessie Nedelman, Laura Ross, and Cathy Taub, and sponsored by Domtar. Gala proceeds benefit the Rainforest Alliance’s international work in sustainable agriculture, forestry, tourism, human rights, and climate change. The Rainforest Alliance recognizes Felisa Navas Pérez, a three-term president of Asociación Forestal Integral Cruce a La Colorada (AFICC), a forestry concession in the Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR) in the Petén region of Guatemala. Navas assumed her leadership role shortly after the concession’s board president was murdered, presumably by drug traffickers who want to control local lands so they may clear forest for livestock operations (which in turn serve to launder money). While nearby concessions have collapsed, AFICC has remained solvent and certified under Navas’s leadership. Corporate Sustainability Champions award recognizes companies who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to sustainability, improving livelihoods, and conserving forests all around the world. Allegro Coffee Company AMResorts Barry Callebaut AG Beef Passion Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate Blommer Chocolate Company Caribou Coffee C.F. Martin & Co., Inc. Chiquita Clearwater Paper Company Clif Bar CMPC Columbia Forest Products Domtar ECOM / Atlantic (USA) Fibria Kenya Tea Development Agency Lavazza Mars, Incorporated Nestlé Nespresso SA Olam International Ltd. Suzano Pulp and Paper Tesco Unilever People and Planet Champions award recognizes the visionary individuals, foundations, partner organizations, and government entities who have helped the Rainforest Alliance advance its mission to build strong forests and healthy communities. Kim Bendheim John Caulkins Citi Foundation Daniel Cohen (In Memoriam) The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation Comisión Nacional Forestal de México Henry Davison The Ford Foundation Forest Stewardship Council Dr. Karl Fossum (In Memoriam) Global Environment Facility Inter-American Development Bank Elysabeth Kleinhans Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy Millennium Challenge Corporation The Milton and Tamar Maltz Family Foundation Mitsubishi Corporation Foundation for the Americas Jeffrey & Tessie Nedelman Ellen Petersen Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales Secretaría de Turismo de México Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Alan Wilzig Ann Ziff The Sustainable Development Champions award recognizes the extraordinary achievements of a group of individuals and institutions working alongside local and indigenous communities in Guatemala’s Petén region to promote the economic, environmental, and social health of the Maya Biosphere Reserve and its communities. Asociación de Comunidades Forestales de Petén Continental Floral Greens Defensores de la Naturaleza General Wood Craft Guatemala Ministry of Environment Guatemalan Association of Exporters (AGEXPORT) National Council of Protected Areas North American Wood Products United States Agency for International Development (USAID) University of Minnesota Maggie Lear, Tessie Nedelman, Laura Ross, and Cathy Taub are enormous fans of the Rainforest Alliance and proud Co-Chairs of tonight’s Gala. While traveling to Peru, Ecuador, and Mexico with Rainforest Alliance Executive Vice President Ana Paula Tavares, they witnessed the important work of the Rainforest Alliance firsthand. These visits provided them with opportunities to meet the knowledgeable farmers, foresters, eco-tourism professionals and Rainforest Alliance’s field experts, who are helping to conserve our planet for their children and future generations.
News Article | May 26, 2017
KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo (May 26, 2017) - A new study by WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) has revealed how mining for valuable minerals in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a major driving factor in the illegal hunting of great apes and other wildlife for food. The majority of individuals surveyed at mining camps during the 3-month study period said they hunted mostly out of necessity in the absence of any alternative protein, and would much prefer to eat beef, chicken, and fish instead of chimpanzee or gorilla if it were available. The new study titled "The socio-economics of artisanal mining and bushmeat hunting around protected areas: Kahuzi-Biega National Park and Itombwe Nature Reserve, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo" appears in the online version of the journal Oryx. The authors are: Charlotte Spira, Andrew Kirkby, Deo Kujirakwinja, and Andrew Plumptre of WCS. Eastern DRC is known for its exceptional biodiversity and its assemblage of large charismatic species, including threatened great ape species such as the endangered eastern chimpanzee and the critically endangered Grauer's gorilla. The region also contains globally significant deposits of valuable minerals such as gold, cassiterite (used to make tin), and coltan, a mineral in high demand for use in cell phones and other technology. Artisanal and small-scale mining represents a significant source of livelihoods in the DRC, where an estimated 8-10 million people (14-16 percent of the country's population in 2008) take part in the industry. In the eastern part of the country, mining operations have had devastating impacts on wildlife, even within the confines of protected areas such as Kahuzi-Biega National Park and the Itombwe Nature Reserve. Grauer's gorilla numbers have declined by 77 percent over the past 20 years due to hunting, which the presence of mining sites continues to fuel. Wildlife rangers trying to protect these natural resources face extreme danger as armed militias and insurgent groups inside national parks occupy vast swaths of wildlife habitat in order to illegally control and exploit access to minerals. Many sites visited during the survey were controlled by armed groups and indeed more than 20 percent of tin and coltan mines in the region are thought to be controlled by armed groups. The presence of armed groups results in a proliferation of arms that facilitates both the hunting of great apes and a general breakdown in rule of law for local communities. "Our analysis shows that although mining attracts people due to the opportunity to get quick cash, most miners were in favor of leaving the sector for better and safer economic opportunities," said WCS researcher Charlotte Spira, the lead author of the study. "We also found that most miners who participated in the survey hunt wildlife out of necessity, and many would stop hunting if they had a secure income, if domestic sources of meat were made available, and if hunting laws were strongly enforced." The authors of the study suggest that a better regulated mining sector in forests outside of protected areas would improve local governance, social wellbeing and economic opportunities whilst reducing negative environmental impacts. International measures, such as the US government's Dodd-Frank Conflict Minerals Rule that require transparency by companies and businesses in sourcing conflict minerals -- which is currently being contested by the US Securities and Exchange Commission -- are important and should be encouraged. "Mining in the region can be greatly improved through the demilitarization of mining sites along with law enforcement to prevent bushmeat hunting, and more access to domestic sources of protein that would reduce the need for bushmeat," said Richard Tshombe, Director for WCS's Democratic Republic of Congo Program. "Developing sustainable business opportunities that can compete with the economic benefits of mining could support miners to pursue other avenues of employment and at the same time help ease the burden of mining in DRC's most biodiverse landscapes." WCS is urging members of the public to demand an end to conflict minerals by taking action at https:/ . This work was supported by the Arcus Foundation, the Jane Goodall Institute, and the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is a joint initiative of l'Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation. MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in nearly 60 nations and in all the world's oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: newsroom.wcs.org Follow: @WCSNewsroom. For more information: 347-840-1242.
News Article | May 4, 2017
Global Environment Facility (GEF) CEO Naoko Ishii today approved a project coordinated by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to improve the health and sustainability of tuna fisheries worldwide by reducing illegal catch and supporting related marine ecosystems and species.
News Article | May 4, 2017
Lao PDR is rich in biodiversity, and Lao people make use of agro-biodiversity resources for food, medicine and income on a daily basis. Yet, this resource is under threat from changing agricultural and land use practices, including overexploitation. An agro-biodiversity project is currently underway to ensure that agro-biodiversity is incorporated in national policies and that Lao farmers continue to benefit from the biodiversity present in their farming systems. Technically supported by FAO and funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the project has guided policy formulation since 2011. As part of this larger initiative, training has been provided to farmers in Phonxay district in the cultivation of oyster mushrooms. The project started in October 2014 when a mushroom cultivation group was formed and has been receiving technical input from FAO as well as the local technical service centre. Connecting farmers to high-value markets Ms. Vieng, 32, can now proudly say that she is a mushroom farmer. She smiles while showing an oyster mushroom from a bag she learned to prepare after participating in a training on mushroom cultivation together with her group in Huayman, her native village in Phonexay District, Lao PDR. Along with three other village groups, she and seven other villagers from Huayman joined the cultivation group in October 2014. From the onset, they learned how to prepare raw material with guidance from the technical service centre located in the neighbouring village of Nambor. Farmers in the area have a long tradition of collecting wild mushrooms for consumption, but they knew little about how to cultivate them. The newly formed mushroom groups went on a study trip to learn from two other successful mushroom farmers in Luang Prabang. They quickly realized that oyster mushrooms are easily sold in the Luang Prabang markets at a price of 20-25 000 Kip per kg (US$ 2.5 - 3). So when the technical service centre facilitators, in partnership with an expert from the Department of Agriculture of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Vientiane, suggested offering training to villagers to cultivate oyster mushrooms, they saw an opportunity. One year has passed since Ms. Vieng joined the group. “As a result of the training our group has produced 1.5 tons of oyster mushrooms and now I spend less time in the surrounding forests looking for food,” she says. The group has sold mushrooms totalling 20 million kip (USD 2 500) of which 60% is deposited in a local bank. Many villagers, like Ms. Vieng, now have an extra income to better support their livelihoods and their children. Although the oyster mushroom is an easy species to cultivate much attention needs to be paid to avoid contamination at every step of the process, from sterilization of bagged raw material and inoculation, to keeping the houses clean. “Huayman village is performing wonderfully because the villagers understood the simple sanitary rules they need to follow like how to maintain optimal humidity through regular watering in the growing house. This has been the key to their success,” says, Ms. Viengkham, expert from the Department of Agriculture. The oyster mushroom cultivation groups in Phonexay District have sparked the interest and motivation of other villagers in the area. Mr. Hounpheng is a farmer who lives in Panma village, around 18 kilometres from the Nambor Technical Service Center. “When I learned about the groups, I asked the organizers to let me join and attend one training session and now I know how to properly cultivate mushrooms,” he says. The mushroom cultivation groups will see their third harvest in 2016 and thereafter they are expected to produce without the need of additional technical assistance. Policies for food security and agricultural development A strong partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has positioned FAO as a trusted partner to support the development of key policies in the country. At the beginning of 2015, FAO collaborated with the World Bank in the formulation of the Government’s strategic action and investment plan to implement the new national rice policy. This intervention included advice on sustainable approaches to food security through increased production and trade and export development.
News Article | May 4, 2017
Angola has a total land area of about 1 247 million km² of which 43 percent is under permanent meadows and pastures. Indigenous groups such as the Herero, the Khoisan and the Muimba, who rely on their traditions for the management of their pastoral and agro-pastoral systems, live in Angola’s southern provinces (Namibe, Cunene and some municipalities of Huila). Continuous drought occurring in the past years, overgrazing and other elements are forcing them to adapt to the new reality. Improved pasture management is currently ever more crucial in order to provide enough feed for the animals, which are the socio-cultural capital and economic reserve of indigenous communities. Thanks to financial support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), participation of indigenous communities and their ancestral knowledge, FAO has helped strengthen the capacity of agro-pastoralists in south western Angola to reduce the impact of land degradation and to increase the rehabilitation of degraded lands. FAO's top three priorities in improving livelihoods in Angola are strengthening smallholder production and productivity to improve food security and nutrition, strengthening sustainable management of natural resources and increasing resilience of rural livelihoods to climatic shock and climate change. Angola has a total land area of about 1 247 million km² of which 43 percent is under permanent meadows and pastures. Indigenous groups such as the Herero, the Khoisan and the Muimba, who rely on their traditions for the management of their pastoral and agro-pastoral systems, live in Angola’s southern provinces. Continuous drought occurring in the past years, overgrazing and other elements are forcing them to adapt to the new reality. Rehabilitating lands and improving livelihoods To address the major issue of land degradation and promote sustainable food and agricultural systems in Angola, FAO has been promoting a “Land Programme” for the past ten years. One current intervention, targeting the southwestern provinces of Angola, aims to mitigate the impact of degradation processes and rehabilitate lands affected by mainstreaming locally adapted Sustainable Land Management (SLM) technologies into agro-pastoral and agricultural development activities. Activities are designed to support 2 800 families of smallholder agro-pastoralists via Farmer Field Schools. In addition to creating a more enabling environment that supports sustained flow of agro-ecosystem services, the project is helping to strengthen and diversify both livestock and non-livestock value chains. The shrinking of fertile land accompanied by a growing population is a main cause for disputes in the area, particularly between peasant and commercial farmers, traditional herders, commercial cattle rangers and returning refugees reclaiming their land-use rights. Techniques such as the rehabilitation of pastoral areas with leguminous trees and shrubs increase and maintain soil fertility, allowing communities to diversify their livelihoods. Mainstreaming local best practices For centuries, Angola’s pastoral system has demonstrated to be the most adapted for the arid and semiarid ecosystems in the area, with a high level of resilience and adaptability to ever-changing contexts. Hence, FAO's work is based on the participation of indigenous communities, their ancestral knowledge and on mainstreaming local best practices to reverse land degradation processes. The two main tools used are Agro-pastoral Farmer Field School (APFS) and the Participatory and Negotiated Territorial Development (PNTD). Currently, FAO is developing a strong network of APFS in the project area which promote knowledge sharing among the beneficiaries with an endogenous approach, i.e. local communities define where and how they want to be supported. So far, a core group of 40 APFS master trainers belonging to governmental institutions, NGOs and CSOs have been accredited and are now instructing more than 80 APFS facilitators who are either agro-pastoralists or pastoralists. Their role is to mobilize pastoralist communities and facilitate the development of practical comparative experiences based on the learning curricula developed by the APFS members. “When there is no rain, people face big problems. They become very poor and start asking other people for help,” says a beneficiary from the Mucubal tribe, a subgroup of the Herero Peoples in the state of Namibia. “Now we understand that we have to share our knowledge and help each other so nobody is poor.” The PNTD approach, on the other hand, is a facilitative process that strives for development through dialogue and negotiation. It aims to facilitate the creation of negotiation tables where different stakeholders (often with opposite interests) can sit together trying to find a common agreement on the development of their territory. By 2018, the prospective end date of the intervention, the project aims to achieve two main objectives: to directly benefit 2 800 people, ensuring at least 30 percent of them are women and to indirectly benefit more than 20 000 people. Global Environment Facility (GEF) FAO is an implementing agency of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), an international co-financing mechanism that provides grants to countries to invest in global environmental projects addressing the critical nexus between agriculture and the environment. This includes climate change, biodiversity, land degradation, international waters and chemicals. With the global population set to exceed 9 billion by 2050, the challenge is to sustainably intensify food production by 60 percent over the same time period, while maintaining the natural resource base for future generations.
News Article | April 18, 2017
« Volkswagen unveils MEB-based I.D. CROZZ electric crossover concept in Shanghai; production in 2020 | Main | Volvo Cars and Autoliv autonomous driving JV Zenuity starts operations » Toyota Motor Corporation will send two Mirai fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) to China in October 2017 to conduct demonstration tests in the country. Coinciding with the start of these tests, Toyota will also establish a hydrogen station at TMEC (Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing China), its Chinese research and development base. Toyota is participating in the Accelerating the Development and Commercialization of Fuel Cell Vehicles in China project, and will carry out demonstration tests on the Mirai FCV for three years between 2017 and 2020. The projects is funded by the United Nations Development Project and the Global Environment Facility in order to provide support to developing countries. Started in 2003, the project has initiated FC bus services in China, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, and India. The third phase is scheduled to expand the scope of the project to include passenger vehicles. Toyota will conduct research into vehicle performance within the environment in China, research into the quality of China’s hydrogen, as well as a variety of quality and durability evaluations. Toyota will also engage in promotional activities and attempt to gauge how receptive Chinese consumers are to the vehicle, such as by exhibiting the Mirai at domestic events in China, and to also undertake activities which are aimed at improving public understanding of FCVs. There are presently five hydrogen stations in China which are centered in the metropolitan regions of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The hydrogen station which Toyota plans to construct at TMEC will be the first of its kind in Changshu.
News Article | May 4, 2017
Samoa, Fiji, Niue, and Vanuatu account for about 25 percent of the land area and 28 percent of the threatened plant and animal species of the south-western edge of the Polynesia-Micronesia Biodiversity Hotspot. In recent years, FAO has been helping protect ecosystems here through the Forestry and Protected Area Management (FPAM) project, which operates under the Global Environment Facility Pacific Alliance for Sustainability (GEF-PAS). The FPAM project is designed to strengthen biodiversity conservation, reduce forest and land degradation, and enhance the sustainable livelihoods of local communities. As part of the project, three Community Conservation Areas were established in 2016 on the Samoan island of Savai’i aiming to protect unique highland cloud forests. Already, the investment is paying off for the environment and local farmers on Savai’i. FAO is working with the Government of Samoa in supporting three Community Conservation Areas across eight villages on the island of Savai’i. The conservation areas aim to preserve biodiversity and maintain the ecosystem services of intact forest protected areas, mainly in the highlands. These highland forests – often referred to as cloud forests – are 600 metres or more above sea level. Under the slogan “Healthy ecosystems, Healthy food, Healthy people”, FAO and its partners have set up demonstration farms to show famers how to increase productivity, promote sustainable agriculture in lowland forest ecosystems, and improve people’s diets, health and incomes. The demonstration farms in the villages of Taga, Gataivai and Matautu use tunnel houses and a variety of different types of farm equipment and organic agricultural techniques. FAO is working in cooperation with the Samoa Farmers Association and Women in Business Development Incorporated in training farmers in sustainable land management techniques. So far, more than 120 farmers have participated in training. Activities have included the application of agroforestry systems, compost preparation, green manure and crop rotation, organic pest management, contour planting and other measures to avoid soil erosion. Women’s committee takes charge In Taga, the demonstration farm is managed by the village women’s committee. Fruit and vegetable varieties on the farm include Chinese cabbage, eggplant, chilies, okra, lettuce, water spinach, papaya, water melon, green pepper, tomatoes and bananas. In addition, root crops such as taro varieties and yams have been distributed to the community, while fruit trees such as Tahitian lime and rambutan have also been planted. The women’s group actively works on the demonstration farm, benefitting directly from the newly-learned techniques. Many of the participants apply the same knowledge on their own farms by using seedlings from the demonstration farm to produce a large variety of fruits and vegetables. New methods and alternative crops that benefit families Local Taga farmer Notoa Sione used to trek routinely to the highlands to plant taro. “Planting taro this way is time consuming and very hard work,” he says. He now has a farm made of several large plots close to the family home where he grows a variety of green vegetables, tomatoes, eggplant, chillies and cabbage, in addition to taro. He also supplies to vendors in the area. Sione notes that, compared to taro, Chinese cabbage grows fast and has a high yield, resulting in higher income for him and his family. Grateful for the project and the knowledge and techniques he has learned, he has now established his own nurseries to grow seedlings for transplanting to his farm. Lemalu Sami Lemalu, FAO’s FPAM Samoa Project Coordinator, explains that farmers plant taro in the highlands by clear-cutting the virgin forests, which grow on fertile soils. This farming method destroys both the forests and their capacity to retain and filter water. With the protective forest cover removed, soil erosion and flash floods disrupt the local water supply and lead to sedimentation of the protective reefs and negative impacts on fisheries. The FPAM project has instead shown farmers ways of producing a variety of vegetables and fruits closer to home in the lowlands. These new ways not only contribute to farmers’ health and nutrition but also generate additional income. Importantly, they do so without destroying the highland forests that are vital for the island’s ecological balance. Seeing positive growth and results Since the start of the project in January 2016, farmers on Savai’i have already produced crops with an estimated value of US$115 000. Though the farmers consume much of the produce themselves, they have still managed to sell crops worth an impressive US$67 000. Ultimately, they are both able to grow nutritious food in a sustainable manner and make a profit. Establishing conservation areas in the Pacific The FAO/GEF FPAM Project covers Samoa, Fiji, Niue, and Vanuatu. Its global environmental objective is to strengthen biodiversity conservation and reduce forest land degradation in these countries.
News Article | December 19, 2016
Today Rare’s Sustainable Markets Group announced a US$1 million-dollar investment in Philippines-based seafood company, Meliomar Inc. This marks the first investment by the Meloy Fund for Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in Southeast Asia, the first impact fund focused solely on near-shore fishing-related enterprises in the developing tropics. Based in Manila, Meliomar is a fish aggregator, processor, importer and exporter, founded in 2013. This five-year investment will help Meliomar increase its processing capacity and logistics, as well as strengthen its internal systems, supporting growth in volume as well as the development of additional product lines to complement its current offering. As part of the agreement, Meliomar will partner with Rare’s flagship coastal fisheries program, Fish Forever, to source at least ten tons of sustainable seafood annually from local Filipino communities as part of jointly developed fishery improvement projects (FIPs). Christian Schmidradner, CEO of Meliomar, said, “We are looking forward to the collaboration with the Meloy Fund, which will finance our increased investment and working capital needs for our growing sustainable seafood business in the Philippines. It was key to have a financing partner that understands the complexities and underlying challenges of working with local small-scale fisheries towards improvement and management reform.” In addition to financial returns, the investment aims to deliver environmental and social impacts, projected to include more than $2.5 million in additional annual income to 16,000 local fishers and at least 12,000 hectares of critically important marine ecosystems under improved management by 2021. Launching in 2017, the Meloy Fund is a first-of-its-kind impact investment fund focused on coastal fisheries in Indonesia and the Philippines. Investors include the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust, and has been further supported by partners including Bloomberg Philanthropies and JPMorgan Chase & Co., among others. Matt Arnold, Global Head of Sustainable Finance for JPMorgan Chase said, “Rare has moved quickly to build a compelling approach for investment in conservation and JPMorgan Chase is proud to support its innovative efforts.” Ramsay Ravenel, Executive Director of the Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust said, “The Grantham Environmental Trust is excited to support Rare's first investment from the Meloy Fund. This transaction perfectly exemplifies the fund's strategy to make pioneering private investments that benefit local fishing communities while protecting critical ocean habitat.” The Meloy Fund, an initiative of Rare's Sustainable Markets Group, is part of a larger push by Rare to create financial incentives and innovative public-private collaborations in order to scale conservation solutions across its work areas. This includes Rare's participation in the Vibrant Oceans Initiative (VOI), funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies. Among its many critical impacts, the VOI has played a fundamental role in creating the foundation for the Meloy Fund to succeed. Ranked in the top 25 NGOs in the world by NGO ADVISORS, Rare is an innovative conservation organization that implements proven conservation solutions and trains local leaders in communities worldwide. Through its signature social marketing campaigns (called Pride campaigns), Rare inspires people to take pride in the species and habitats that make their community unique, while also introducing practical alternatives to environmentally destructive practices. Employees of local governments or non-profit organizations receive extensive training on fisheries management, campaign planning and social marketing to communities. They are equipped to deliver community-based solutions based on natural and social science, while leveraging policy and market forces to accelerate positive environmental change through programs in clean water, sustainable agriculture, and coastal fisheries. To learn more about Rare, please visit http://www.rare.org.
News Article | September 18, 2016
The shrimp in your salad or tuna on your plate may have been caught illegally in areas threatened by overfishing. But tracing suspect seafood is a tricky task, given that many boats operate in unseen swaths of the ocean. Global Fishing Watch, a new project from Oceana, SkyTruth and Google, aims to crack down on illegal fishing by training the watchful eye of surveillance satellites on the world's approximately 35,000 commercial fishing vessels. SEE ALSO: Marine conservation efforts just took a major step forward The online technology platform collects more than 22 million data points per day from hundreds of thousands of ships. The free tool, still in its beta phase, lets anybody monitor and track activities of large commercial fishing vessels in near real time. Leonardo DiCaprio, the actor/activist, unveiled Global Fishing Watch last week at the third annual Our Ocean Conference in Washington, D.C. "This platform will empower citizens across the globe to become powerful advocates for our oceans," he said on Sept. 15 at the two-day summit. More than 85 percent of the world's fisheries are reaching their biological limits due to overfishing, the World Wildlife Fund has estimated. Several popular commercial fish species, like the Atlantic bluefin tuna, have declined so much that their survival is threatened. "Warming waters, acidification, plastic pollution, methane release, drilling, overfishing, and the destruction of marine ecosystems like coral reefs are pushing our oceans to the very brink," DiCaprio said. "The only way we can avert this disaster is by ... scaling up innovative actions and solutions to these problems as quickly as possible," he said. Global Fishing Watch gathers data from vessels' Automatic Identification System (AIS), which boat captains use to broadcast their position, course and speed to nearby ships, base stations and satellites. The surveillance platform uses cloud computing and machine learning to process satellite AIS data and identify which vessels are fishing boats. It then logs when and where those vessels are fishing. The tracker is regularly updated to show vessel tracks and fishing activity from Jan. 1, 2012 through the present, although it operates on a three-day delay. "It will allow governments to track suspicious vessels, enforce rules and reduce seafood fraud," Jacqueline Savitz, vice president for U.S. and Global Fishing Watch at Oceana, a global ocean advocacy group, said in a statement. "Journalists and everyday citizens will be able to identify behavior that may be related to illegal fishing or overfishing," she added. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosted the Our Oceans Conference, which joined diplomats, scientists and conservation groups from around the world to discuss steps to protect oceans from threats such as human-caused climate change, pollution and overfishing. During the summit, countries announced plans to create more than 40 significant new or expanded Marine Protected Areas — including the first U.S. marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean President Barack Obama last week designated over 4,900 square miles off the coast of New England as the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. The action comes just weeks after Obama quadrupled the size of the Papahānaumokuākea marine monument near Hawaii. The area now encompasses nearly 583,000 square miles — twice the size of Texas. "Our conservation efforts and our obligations to combat climate change in fact go hand in hand, because marine areas already have enough to worry about, with overfishing and ship traffic and pollution," Obama said Sept. 15 in a special address at the summit. "A healthier ocean and a healthier planet are about more than just our environment," the president added. "They are also vital to our foreign policy and to our national security." Conservationists say Marine Protected Areas are needed to spare the oceans from further destruction and keep ecosystems healthy enough to adapt to warming and acidifying waters caused by climate change. The movement took a significant step forward earlier this month when governments and global organizations adopted a measure to protect 30 percent of the world's oceans by 2030. As of now, only about 4 percent of oceans are protected, even including the latest additions announced in Washington. The view from Air Force One, with U.S. President Barack Obama aboard, as the airplane approaches Midway Atoll in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, Sept. 1, 2016. Global foundations and conservation groups last week pledged a combined $5.3 billion to help protect marine ecosystems, prevent pollution and combat climate change. The Wildlife Conservation Society, Waitt Foundation, blue moon fund and Global Environment Facility together committed $48 million specifically for expanding and managing Marine Protected Areas. "The oceans are our future, and this new fund represents a commitment to safeguarding this invaluable resource," Cristián Samper, president and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society, said in a statement.
News Article | February 16, 2017
ITHACA, N.Y. - Seagrass meadows - bountiful underwater gardens that nestle close to shore and are the most common coastal ecosystem on Earth - can reduce bacterial exposure for corals, other sea creatures and humans, according to new research published in Science Feb. 16. "The seagrass appear to combat bacteria, and this is the first research to assess whether that coastal ecosystem can alleviate disease associated with marine organisms," said lead author Joleah Lamb of Cornell University's Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, where she is a Nature Conservancy NatureNet fellow. Senior author Drew Harvell, Cornell University professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and an Atkinson Center Fellow, had been running an international workshop and examining the health of underwater corals with colleagues near small islands at Spermonde Archipelago, Indonesia. But after a few days, the entire research team fell ill with dysentery, and one scientist contracted typhoid. "I experienced firsthand how threats to both human health and coral health were linked," Harvell said. Lamb returned with an international team armed to test the waters. On these small islands freshwater is sparse, surface soil is thin and just off shore the marine environment teems with solid waste, sewage and wastewater pollution. Generally, the islands - though filled with people - do not have septic systems. The group used Enterococcus assays, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standard of health risk levels for wastewater pollution in recreational waters, to see whether seagrass meadows influenced bacterial levels. Water samples taken near the beaches exceeded exposure levels by a factor of 10. But, Lamb's team found threefold lower levels of Enterococcus in seawater collected from within seagrass meadows. "The genetic sequencing work pinpointed the kinds of bacteria - all in difficult, arduous conditions," said Harvell. "It showed exactly what was in the water. The beautiful oceanside water looked blue-green, but truly it was filled with dangerous pollution - some really bad stuff in the water close to shore." While research is beginning to reveal the mechanisms driving bacterial-load reductions in these ecosystems, it is evident that an intact seagrass ecosystem - home to filter-feeders like bivalves, sponges, tunicates (marine invertebrates) - removes more bacteria from water. As seagrass meadows and coral reefs are usually linked habitats, Lamb's team examined more than 8,000 reef-building corals for disease. The researchers found lower levels - by twofold - of disease on reefs with adjacent seagrass beds than on reefs without nearby grasses. "Millions of people rely on healthy coral reefs for food, income and cultural value," said Lamb. Harvell, Lamb and their colleagues agree that these findings are key to conserving seagrass ecosystems. "Global loss of seagrass meadows is about 7 percent each year since 1990," said Lamb. "Hopefully this research will provide a clear message about the benefits of seagrasses for human and marine health that will resonate globally." Regions around the world promote aquaculture to help feed populations, as diseases for many ocean-dwelling plants and animals increase, Harvell said, "Our goal is to stop measuring things dying and find solutions. Ecosystem services like seagrass meadow habitats are a solution to improve the health of people and the environment. Biodiversity is good for our health." Co-authors are Jeroen van de Water, Scientifique Centre de Monaco; David Bourne, Australian Institute of Marine Science; Craig Altier, Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine; Margaux Hein, James Cook University, Australia; Evan Fiorenza; and Nur Abu and Jamaluddin Jompa, Hasanuddin University, Indonesia. The work, "Seagrass Ecosystems Reduce Exposure to Bacterial Pathogens of Humans, Fishes and Invertebrates," was supported by The Nature Conservancy NatureNet Fellowship through Cornell's Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future at Cornell, and the Capturing Coral Reef and Ecosystem Related Services Project funded by the Global Environment Facility and the World Bank. Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.