Forest Impact on Climate Change | The Guardian

The solution for the melting polar ice caps may be hiding in the rainforest by Dr. Paul Salaman | The Guardian

The solution for the melting polar ice caps may be hiding in the rainforest by Dr. Paul Salaman | The Guardian

Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO, Rainforest Trust

Reducing carbon emissions is truly important to mitigating climate change. But in the meantime, it’s faster and cheaper to save and regrow tropical trees.

“Reducing carbon emissions, as the nations of the world promised to do in Paris last month, is essential, but simultaneously pulling carbon out of the atmosphere (which is what rainforests do) would immediately and significantly reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) at a surprisingly low cost, providing a crucial bridge to a post-fossil fuel era.

The potential of rainforest conservation to address global warming should be enough to galvanize massive worldwide rainforest conservation efforts. The natural regrowth and subsequent protection of hundreds of millions of acres of degraded rainforest would result in massive absorption of carbon as the trees grow. While it is crucial that we transition away from the use of fossil fuels, the reality is that rainforest protection can happen much more quickly.”

Read the rest of the article at The Guardian, here.

Notes From the Field: India

umeshDr. Umesh Srinivasan, a Post-Doctoral Research Scientist at Princeton University, discusses conservation efforts in the eastern Himalaya with the Bugun tribe and their efforts to protect the Bugun Liochichla – one of the rarest birds in the world.

How did you first come to learn about the area and its rare and endemic species?

“A colleague, Prof. Ramana Athreya, visited the Eaglenest area and saw a spectacular new bird -he later described as the Bugun Liocichla. Although birdwatchers in the area knew about the bird, it was not properly described until he did so in 2006. A community-based conservation program was subsequently set up to enable a wide international audience to visit and experience the special bird species at Eaglenest including the Bugun Liochichla, Ward’s Trogan and many others.”

“Though I had been working in a different part of northeast India for my master’s research, Eaglenest had been on my radar for a long time. After I finished my program I came to Eaglenest to work.”

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Camera traps are helping revolutionize conservation research today. What are you learning from remote camera traps at Eaglenest?

“Camera traps are proving very useful. For example, there is no distinction between different species of small cat in the local tribal languages even though golden, marbled and others were thought to live in the area. With a research group and camera traps, we showed four different species of small cat. Another group also found the Himalayan Goral – a small wild goat that had never been seen by researchers in the area.”

The Bugun tribe is Animist and Buddhist. Their religious beliefs prevent hunting certain animals that are considered sacred. Can you comment more on the application of these beliefs to conservation?

“Yes, a colleague of mine, Dr. Nandini Velho, did a study of five tribe’s beliefs and hunting practices across northeast India, including those of the Buguns. They have taboos against hunting animals like tigers, elephants, gaur, wild cats and hornbills. Other more predominantly animist tribes are different. They tend to hunt more frequently and a wider variety, so their forests are generally quite empty. The Bugun’s beliefs generally leave their forests richer in wildlife.”

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Do you think the work you have been doing with the Bugun tribe could be applied to conservation initiatives with other tribes in India?

“People are realizing that biodiversity is unique. That wildlife is worth more alive than dead. And that wildlife is declining. They don’t need someone like me as an outsider to tell them this; they are seeing it happen with their own eyes in their own lifetimes. The Nyishi tribe used to use hornbill casques as headgear and their feathers for caps. The forest department convinced them to use fiberglass hornbill feathers and casques instead. Now, hunters who would otherwise hunt hornbills are protecting them.”

How is ecotourism being used as an innovative way forward for conservation at Eaglenest?

“Since 2004, the economy near Eaglenest has been completely transformed. Since ecotourism has become popular, nearly every family in the area has at least one family member working in the industry as cooks, drivers, guides and more. Ecotourism is also bolstering shopkeepers with products for tourists. All of this is adding income to families in villages and providing jobs in the community that are much less risky than something like agriculture.”

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What are some other ways conservation awareness is being spread in the greater community?

“Every year for the last four years we’ve done community outreach and education with local kids and schools along with the Shergaon Forest Division of the Arunachal Pradesh Forest Department and the Bugun Welfare Society. Time will tell if this is sensitizing kids to conservation. For example, many people may know nothing else about the Bugun tribe, but they know about this special bird on Bugun lands. Through field trips, outreach with the Bugun community and forest department we’re able to influence the next generation.”

What makes you excited about your partnership with Rainforest Trust?

“It’s really, really exciting. Rainforest Trust’s support has really come at the right time. Funding for conservation of the Bugun tribal lands provides key habitat for a wide variety of species. The tribe already believes in conservation; these are the kind of people that value the flora and fauna, want to see protection happen and can commit to making sure it stays that way. But that requires funding agencies, communication with administration, coordinating with government – and all of that has been lacking. Rainforest Trust’s commitment to this area is absolutely crucial.”

Learn more about Rainforest Trust’s partnership with the Bugun Tribe to protect habitat for wildlife in the Eastern Himalayas of India.

Rainforest Ambassadors: Q & A with Thomas Broom

To highlight the Rainforest Ambassadors program, we spoke with Thomas Broom, a passionate 14-year-old birder, blogger and rainforest defender.

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You recently traveled to the rainforests of Borneo. What stood out to you?

“I don’t think I had prepared myself for just how much life there was in the rainforest! The constant sound of insects, birds and primates was incredible, and the excitement of what could be seen each day was fantastic.”

What were some of your trip’s highlights?

“It is fair to say I have never been anywhere so packed full of wildlife! The great thing was that everything I was seeing was new to me. Seeing a wild Orangutan was a very powerful experience. But at the same time it made me think about the impact we’re having on rainforests and habitats, and why we’re threatening such a beautiful species, and one that is so closely related to us. The morning chorus of Gibbons was also a real highlight. To wake up to such a wonderful sound every morning was an absolute treat!”

The rainforests of Borneo are under threat from logging and oil palm plantations. Did you witness any areas that had been degraded by human activity?

“Unfortunately, yes. Whilst flying over northern Borneo, I saw large areas where the rainforest has been replaced by huge palm oil plantations. We also drove for hours through solely palm oil on the way to the Kinabatangan River. They were a complete contrast to the lively forests, and it was quite upsetting to see such extensive areas of plantations.”

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How do you think students can help save the rainforest?

“There are many ways in which students can save the rainforest. Organizing fundraisers, raising awareness and getting involved in conservation are just some of these ways. The real problem is getting students interested in conservation, and passionate about saving rainforests.”

You are an avid wildlife blogger. What inspired you to start documenting nature?

“I have been interested in the natural world for as long as I can remember. Sir David Attenborough’s documentaries certainly had a big impact on me, and properly kick started my interests. Starting to document nature was a way for me to not only document my experiences, but also express my fascination and learn more about the natural world.”

Any future plans involving wildlife?

“In the future, I am looking at being a zoologist, and studying wildlife in various places across the world such as rainforests. I would also like to work towards conservation efforts and continue writing about wildlife and nature in the form of my blog and articles.”

Learn more about Rainforest Ambassadors.