Species Lost at a Faster Rate Than Rediscovery

Species Lost at a Faster Rate Than Rediscovery

Editor’s note: We all know the word mammal, but not many people may have heard about tetrapod species. This group of wild animals includes amphibians, birds and reptiles in addition to mammals. Most people love jaguars and monkeys, but an ecosystem is thriving with all kinds of particular species, also with the ones that are green and greasy or look like little dinosaurs.

Because of their importance researchers want to find out how many tetrapod species have gone extinct in comparison to how many can be rediscovered; just because nobody saw them in between a few years, doesn’t mean that they’re gone. With this “lost and found” method scientists can prove how bad the extinction rate really is, and, in a case of rediscovery, get funding for protection measures.

In our so called civilization there’s no real protection for other than humans, wildlife has to make way when human needs appear. In a natural world where nonhumans needs were also considered we wouldn’t need to count for lost and found species. We would give them their own space and let them be. Yet it seems nowadays the only way to get funding for nature conservancy projects is by research, a method that only speaks to the mind.

But the mind is limited, human brains cannot grasp wholeness, beauty and true meaning of a healthy environment with only thoughts. Often it hinders us to connect to the special beings surrounding us. So in addition to science we as a society need a culture of connection and heartfelt unity to not lose more.


Species Lost at a Faster Rate Than Rediscovery

By Thomas Evans/The Conversation

Lost species are those that have not been observed in the wild for over ten years, despite searches to find them. Lost tetrapod species (four-limbed vertebrate animals including amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles) are a global phenomenon – there are more than 800 of them, and they are broadly distributed worldwide.

Our research, published today in the journal Global Change Biology, attempts to pin down why certain tetrapod species are rediscovered but others not. It also reveals that the number of lost tetrapod species is increasing decade-on-decade. This means that despite many searches, we are losing tetrapod species at a faster rate than we are rediscovering them. In particular, rates of rediscovery for lost amphibian, bird and mammal species have slowed in recent years, while rates of loss for reptile species have increased.

This is not good news. Species are often lost because their populations have shrunk to a very small size due to human threats like hunting and pollution. Consequently, many lost species are in danger of becoming extinct (in fact, some probably are extinct). However, it is difficult to protect lost species from extinction because we don’t know where they are.

Rediscoveries lead to conservation action

In 2018, researchers in Colombia successfully searched for the Antioquia brush-finch (Atlapetes blancae), a bird species unrecorded since 1971. This rediscovery led to the establishment of a reserve to protect the remaining population of the brush-finch, which is tiny and threatened by habitat loss caused by agricultural expansion and climate change.

The Antioquia brush-finch, which was rediscovered in Colombia in 2018, and protected through the establishment of a new reserve. Victor Manuel Arboleda/iNaturalist

The Victorian grassland earless dragon (Tympanocryptis pinguicolla) was rediscovered in Australia last year. It hadn’t been recorded for 54 years, and was presumed to be extinct, due to the loss of its grassland habitat and predation by invasive alien species including feral cats. Its rediscovery resulted in government funding to trial new survey techniques to find further populations of the species, a breeding program, and the preparation of a species recovery plan.

rediscovery
The Victorian grassland earless dragon was rediscovered in Australia last year. CSIRO/Wikimedia

Thus, rediscoveries are important: they provide evidence of the continued existence of highly threatened species, prompting funding for conservation action. The results of our study may help to prioritise searches for lost species. In the image below, we mapped their global distribution, identifying regions with many lost and few rediscovered species.

The global distribution of lost and rediscovered tetrapod species. Grey shading and text = the number of species within a region (a country or an island) that are currently lost (globally). Orange text: the number of rediscovered species with a range incorporating this region. White regions without orange numbers: no data on lost or rediscovered species. White regions with orange numbers: regions where lost species have been rediscovered and no (known) lost species remain. Thomas Evans, Global Change Biology, 2024

What factors influence rediscovery?

Sadly, many quests to find lost species are unsuccessful. In 1993, searches in Ghana and the Ivory Coast over seven years failed to rediscover a lost primate, Miss Waldron’s red colobus (Piliocolobus waldronae). The research team concluded that this noisy and conspicuous monkey, unrecorded since 1978, may well be extinct. Its demise has been caused by hunting and the destruction of its forest habitat. Further searches in 2005, 2006 and 2019 were also unsuccessful, although calls that were possibly by this species were heard in 2008.

In 2010, searches for the Mesopotamia beaked toad (Rhinella rostrata), unrecorded in Colombia since 1914, were unsuccessful (but did lead to the discovery of three new amphibian species). Last year’s search for the Sinú parakeet (Pyrrhura subandina), unrecorded in Colombia since 1949, was also unsuccessful. Nevertheless, the project team did identify the presence of ten other parrot species in the survey area and large tracts of suitable habitat, giving hope for the continued existence of the Sinú parakeet.

Searches for the Sinú parakeet in the Upper Sinú Valley recorded the presence of ten other parrot species including the great green macaw (Ara ambiguus) (pictured) which is critically endangered. Grigory Heaton/iNaturalist

So why is it that some species are rediscovered while others remain lost? Are there specific factors that influence rediscovery? We aimed to answer these questions in our study, in order to improve our ability to distinguish between the types of lost species we can rediscover, from those that we cannot, because they are extinct.

Our project team comprised members of the organisation Re:wild, which has been leading efforts to search for lost species since 2017, along with species experts from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC).

We compiled a database of 856 lost and 424 rediscovered tetrapod species (amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles). We then proposed three broad hypotheses about factors that might influence rediscovery: characteristics of (i) tetrapod species, and (ii) the environment influence rediscovery, and (iii) human activities influence rediscovery.

For example, body mass (a species characteristic) may positively influence rediscovery, as larger lost species should be easier to find. Lost species occupying dense forests (a characteristic of the environment) may not be rediscovered as searching for them is difficult. Lost species affected by threats associated with human activities (e.g., invasive alien species, which are being spread to new locations by global trade) may not be rediscovered, as they may be extinct.

Based on these hypotheses, we collected data on a series of variables associated with each lost and rediscovered species (for example, their body mass), which we then analysed for their influence on rediscovery.

Hard to find + neglected = rediscovered

On the upside, our results suggest that while many lost species are difficult to find, with some effort and the use of new techniques, they are likely to be rediscovered. These species include those that are very small (including many lost reptile species), those that live underground, those that are nocturnal, and those living in areas that are difficult to survey.

In fact, since the completion of our study, De Winton’s Golden Mole (Cryptochloris wintoni) has been rediscovered in South Africa. This species hadn’t been recorded in the wild since 1937. It lives underground much of the time, so searches were conducted using techniques including environmental DNA and thermal imaging.

Our results also suggest some species are neglected by conservation scientists, particularly those that are not considered to be charismatic, such as reptiles, small species and rodents. Searches for these species may also be rewarded with success. Voeltzkow’s chameleon (Furcifer voeltzkowi), a small reptile species, was rediscovered in Madagascar in 2018.

The Bramble Cay melomys – once considered to be a lost species, but now declared extinct. State of Queensland/Wikimedia

Lost or extinct?

Unfortunately, our results also suggest that some lost species are unlikely to be found no matter how hard we look, because they are extinct. For example, remaining lost mammal species are, on average, three times larger than rediscovered mammal species. Some of these large, charismatic, conspicuous species should have been rediscovered by now.

Furthermore, one third of remaining lost mammal species are endemic to islands, where tetrapod species are particularly vulnerable to extinction. The Bramble Cay melomys (Melomys rubicola), which was once considered to be a lost species, has recently been declared extinct by the Australian Government. It occupied a small island that has been extensively surveyed – if it still existed it should have been rediscovered by now.

Lost bird species have, on average, been missing for longer than those that have been rediscovered (28% have been missing for more than 100 years), and many have been searched for on several occasions – perhaps some of these species should also have been rediscovered by now.

Nevertheless, unexpected rediscoveries of long-lost species like the Cebu flowerpecker (Dicaeum quadricolor) do occur, so we shouldn’t lose hope, and we should definitely keep searching. However, some searches are being carried out for long-lost species that are considered to be extinct, such as the thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus). Perhaps the limited resources available for biodiversity conservation would be better used to search for lost species likely to still exist.


Thomas Evans is a Research scientist at Freie Universität Berlin and Université Paris-Saclay

Photo by Hasmik Ghazaryan Olson on Unsplash

Ecuador Court Orders Stolen Land Returned to Siekopai People

Ecuador Court Orders Stolen Land Returned to Siekopai People

Editor’s Note: Last November, an Ecuadorean appeals court ruled to return the land back to the ownership of Siekopai People. Since the early 20th century, the Siekopai have suffered due to rubber plantation, drawing of an international border through their land, oil exploration, deforestation for pastures and monocultures, Christian missionaries, among many others. A return of their land is a landmark judgment, and came after years of organizing. The following is a brief story that came out soon after the return of their land.

For a more historical background on the issue, check this story.


Land Returned to Siekopai People

By Brett Wilkins/Common Dreams

Amazon defenders [last November] cheered what one group called “an invaluable precedent for all Indigenous peoples fighting to recover their lands” after an Ecuadorean appeals court ruled in favor of the Siekopai Nation’s ownership claim over its ancestral homeland.

The November 24 decision by a three-judge panel of the Sucumbios Provincial Court of Justice gives Ecuador’s Ministry of the Environment 45 days to hand over title to more than 104,000 acres of land along the country’s border with Peru.

“Today is a great day for our nation,” Siokepai Nation President Elias Piyahuaje said following the ruling. “Until the end of time, this land will be ours.”

The Siekopai—who call their homeland Pë’këya—were forcibly displaced from the region, one of the most biodiverse on the planet, in 1941 during the first of three border wars between Peru and Ecuador. They were then prevented from returning home as the Ecuadorean government unilaterally claimed ownership of Pë’këya.

The ruling marks the first time that an Ecuadorean court has ordered the return of land stolen from Indigenous people.

Amazon Frontlines—a San Francisco-based advocacy group that helped the Siekopai with their case—explained:

With a population of barely 800 in Ecuador and 1,200 in Peru, the Siekopai are on the brink of cultural and physical extinction. On both sides of the border, the Siekopai are currently waging legal battles to recover more than a half-million acres of land that were stolen from their ancestors. The Siekopai’s court victory recognizing Pë’këyamarks a major stepping stone in this binational struggle for the reunification of their ancestral territory. After centuries of violence, racism, and conquest by colonizing missions, rubber corporations, and governments, the court’s recognition of the Siekopai as the owners of Pë’këya is an indispensable step towards restoring justice and guaranteeing their collective survival and the continuity of their culture.

“For over 80 years, we have been fighting to get our land back,” Piyahuaje said. “Despite all the evidence regarding our land title claim—even historians testified that our ancestors dwelled in the area since the time of conquest—the Ecuadorian government failed to uphold our land rights time and time again.”

“We are fighting for the preservation of our culture on this planet. Without this territory, we cannot exist as Siekopai people,” he added.

Amazon Frontlines attorney Maria Espinosa said that “this victory has been decades in the making, it has been a very long struggle against the government.”

“Now, finally, the Siekopai’s dream of recovering their ancestral territory has been achieved,” Espinosa added. “This groundbreaking precedent paves the way for other Indigenous communities who dream of recovering their territories within protected areas.”

Grizzly Delisting: First as Tragedy, Now as Farce

Grizzly Delisting: First as Tragedy, Now as Farce

Editor’s note: Grizzly bears weigh around 700, the female up to 800 pounds according to the National Wildlife Federation. In contrast to what one might think they are omnivores and eat insects, grass, berries, roots and other plants in addition to animals like salmon, moose or deer.

“Grizzly bears are large and range in color from very light tan (almost white) to dark brown. They have a dished face, short, rounded ears, and a large shoulder hump.” The hump “gives the bear additional strength for digging” after food or their dens.

Their Latin name reveals what humans have thought about them for a long time – Ursus arctos horriblis. They are perceived as horrible, like a monster. But humans should actually carry that name: homo horribilis, if you think about what chronic harm they do to beautiful wild creatures.

And the bear should be called sapiens (wise) in order to honor them for their wisdom on how to contribute to thriving ecosystems.


Say NO to blood money for the state

By Steve Kelly/Counterpunch

Human intolerance, malevolence and habitat destruction spanning two centuries has caused the extermination of grizzly bears over 99% of its historical range.

Grizzly bears were finally listed as a threatened species in 1975 under the protection of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Dark and deadly forces have gathered political momentum and vow to delist grizzly bears, turning management over to the states. By removing ESA protection, states could sell hunting licenses to trophy hunters. Ranchers could shoot without fear of serious legal repercussions.

Large, relatively secure core landscapes like national parks, designated Wilderness areas and de facto wilderness (“roadless areas” on federal, public land) provide grizzlies the greatest chance at long-term viability.

For decades state and federal bureaucrats, extractive industry lobbyists, and anti-environmental politicians who dominate the Washington gerontocracy have fiercely resisted grizzly bear recovery efforts.

The purpose of the ESA as it applies to grizzlies is to protect the imperiled remnant population and fully recover and maintain healthy, self-sustaining populations in the coterminous 48 states.

Much more action is needed to protect, restore, and reconnect the fragmented ecosystems upon which grizzlies depend so they can re-occupy a significant portion of their original range. Of course, this is far from the real, on-the-ground situation grizzly bears find themselves in today.

Delisting is premature, by a long shot. States lust for blood-money (license fees).


Sign the Change.org petition to stop delisting the bears!

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Become an endangered species advocate by emailing your legislators, signing petitions, and more. https://civicshout.com/p/tell-the-biden-admin-to-keep-grizzly-bears-protected

 


It’s hard to imagine a more ludicrous conceit than delisting grizzly bears, who hang onto life by a thread on 1% of their original range. Colonization of the Northern Rockies is a continuation of the same empire-expanding activities of the 19th Century. We have not yet entered America’s post-colonial era.

Grizzly bears will never genuflect to the absurd quasi-Christian cognitive theories of Old-Testament dominion and chosen-people doctrine. The millennia-old institutionalized religious discrimination that inflames our world today also drives the infantile theatrics of indiscriminate harm to wildlife. “Wasting,” or “smoking” wildlife is adult psychopathy growing in popularity.

Grizzlies meaningful for themselves and ecosystems

Popularity and ‘success,’ which fuels modern moral relativism and situational ethics has turned our world upside-down. Even so, what moral imperative or social norm can one cite to justify killing a grizzly bear and selling its parts?

Radical, ‘literalist’ religious doctrine has abandoned the search for truth and moral tradition in exchange for financial favors from the ruling elite. The age-old ideology of rationalization is used to justify personal and societal indulgence in certain kinds of pleasure – in this case the commercialization, torment, and slaughter of God’s divine creation

Video on efforts to recover grizzly bears

Tearing up wildlife habitat and domesticating Mother Nature’s gifts traces back to the vulgarization and distortion of ideas advanced by the great philosophies of Hagel, Nietzsche and Marx that encouraged reactionary pre-WWII European forms of nihilism and fascism.

From whence will the promise of wisdom emerge to fight the foolishness of ‘white’ onslaught bent on engulfing and uprooting the grizzly’s ancestral birthright?

One bill in Congress, the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (S-1531), would significantly improve the level of habitat protection needed to maintain grizzly viability throughout a significant portion of its range.

S-1531 is a science-based bill that would designate 23 million acres of roadless, ecologically important public lands in the Northern Rockies bioregion. It designates much needed biological linkage corridors, reconnecting core habitat areas.

Americans are overwhelmingly supportive of the ESA. It’s time for family, friends, local conservation groups and your Senator to STOP grizzly bear delisting, and support S-1531.

Steve Kelly is an artist and environmental activist. He lives in Bozeman, Montana.

Photo of grizzly bear mom and baby by jdaypix from Pixabay


More on the impressive bears and their story here:

Debunking the delisting of grizzlies

90-day finding on grizzly-bear delisting petitions

 

Prince Harry Charity Linked to Horrific Abuses in Africa

Prince Harry Charity Linked to Horrific Abuses in Africa

Editor’s note: As a director of conservation organisation African Parks, Prince Harry is an elite philantropist whose “good” intentions turn evil. The charity is complicit in beating to death, raping and torturing indigenous people who went into their forests to gather medicine and hunt for food.

An armed militia abused the Baka people, formerly known as the Pygmies, over years and chased them out of their ancestral home, the Congolese rainforest in Makouagonda.

But Prince Harry shouldn’t be our focus – he is just one of many who is involved in the conservation efforts which are deeply broken. According to Survival International, indigenous people are pushed out of nature “while mining, oil, and logging companies, and trophy hunters, are considered ‘partners’ of conservation and allowed to carry on with business as usual.”

Prince Harry’s charity is funded by the European Union, US and other philanthropists. Our focus should be on supporting grassroots movements, through donations or active participation, which collaborate with peasants, farmers and other groups defending their land.

The rich build a wall of militias around nature, so that only they themselves are able to enjoy it, because they don’t care about how they are harming people.

They also harm nature, while portraying themselves as “into the wild” with flowery words and photos in annual reports to convince the masses that they care.

Nature is more intricate than humans can even imagine. It is only nature, not humans, who can “manage” the forests. Many indigenous people know this. They are the ones who have learned to live in harmony with nature. Corporate-funded conservation groups across the world have been promoting nature management in the guise of conservation. Unfortunately there are some indigenous people who have bought onto this as well. The following story is a press release about African Parks, a noncharity that is currently being investigated about abuses against indigenous people. DGR strongly condemns the alleged torture and rapes. This Congo rainforest is a protected area – not a battlefield. Any extractive human activity (industrial or indigenous) should be prohibited in it.


By Survival International

A charity with strong ties to Prince Harry has been funding rangers responsible for horrific abuses against Indigenous people in the Congo, including torture and rape, according to a major investigation published in the UK’s Mail on Sunday.

The abuses have taken place in Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo, which is managed by African Parks – Prince Harry is a member of their Board of Directors, a position to which he was “elevated” in 2023, after having served as their President for six years.

The investigation has uncovered evidence of countless atrocities committed by African Parks’  “armed militia” against local Baka people. The organization has known for years that the abuses were taking place, but they have continued unabated.

One Baka man told the Mail on Sunday’s Ian Birrell: “African Parks are killing us slowly. We’re suffering so much that we might as well be dead.”

Another said: “The past was far better for us – and the reason is all down to African Parks.”

A Baka man, Moyambi Fulbert, quoted in the report, had this message for Prince Harry: “I’d tell him to stop supporting African Parks. He is a powerful man. He eats well and lives well – but we don’t have anything now and it’s all because of African Parks.”

The Baka and other hunter-gatherers who have lived in and cared for the Congo Rainforest since time immemorial have seen much of their land stolen and turned into National Parks and other Protected Areas.

portrait of man

Baka man from Republic of Congo. A relative of his was attacked by rangers and later died.
© Survival

They have been pushed out, and now live in dire conditions, landless and dependent on others, or turned into ‘tourist attractions.’

They are banned from entering the rainforest they once called home, while mining, oil, and logging companies, and trophy hunters, are considered “partners” of conservation and allowed to carry on with business as usual.

Survival International Director Caroline Pearce said today: “African Parks, along with other big conservation organizations like WWF, takes Indigenous land to turn it into militarized parks or reserves – and then their guards attack people like the Baka just for trying to live their lives. Prince Harry can help stop this.”

“We’re calling on him to step down as a director of African Parks. He needs to distance himself from an organization that is complicit in evictions and the heinous abuse of Indigenous people.

The organization’s funders must withdraw their funding until the Baka are allowed to return to the park and their land ownership rights are recognized.

The abuses that the Mail on Sunday has uncovered are being repeated across Africa and Asia – this is not a one-off. The entire conservation model as practiced by the big conservation organizations is built on the theft of Indigenous land, and the dispossession of the people who are its rightful owners – just as in the colonial era. It’s time to decolonize conservation.”


Title photo by © Survival: The Baka community of Makouagonda, whose ancestral land was taken for Odzala-Kokoua National Park. They now live by the side of the road.

 

Anti-dam Movement Strategies in the Philippines

Anti-dam Movement Strategies in the Philippines

Editor’s note: We wrote this article to give you a historical and current background of how people of the Philippines work relentlessly against dam constructions. It is a summary of the book Mapping Anti-Dam Movements: The Politics of Water Reservoir Construction and Hydropower Development Projects in the Philippines by Fernan Talamayan of the National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University.

The Filipinos, of which some of them are DGR allies, bravely try to protect water and land, even though the military persecutes and sometimes kills them for doing this.

A few years ago two DGR members went to the Philippines to exchange training and struggle methods. Since then the connection has developped into an ongoing solidarity, where we are able through donations by readers like you to support the allies’ activism and work together in grassroot projects. DGR Asia Pacific Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/dgrasiapacific/


By Mary Ann Jasper and Benja Weller

The people of the Philippines Archipelago are known as one of the world’s “most vibrant and advanced” multicultural society. They know how to organize in different affinity groups such as youth groups, workers alliances, and indigenous women’s groups, and how to build a culture of community and resistance to engage in important issues that the government fails to address.

There’s been more research done on the anti-mining movement in the Philippines, and less research on the anti-dam movement. But dam building is as relevant, and impacts as many local people, as mining projects do. National organisations such as the Haribon Foundation, Infrawatch PH and the Philippine Movement for Climate Change are also involved in helping the anti-dam movement. 

Development means less indigenous land

Most regions affected by dam building are indigenous ancestral lands around the Manila metro area, because the country’s capital suffers chronic water shortages.

The indigenous peoples in the Philippines are the most marginalized people regarding health care, education, and income. This dates back to the late 19th century where the Spanish colonialists, on the basis of a new law, took away the land of indigenous peoples.

The existing Philippine law should protect indigenous peoples with it’s “Freedom, Prior and Informed Consent” policy and “The indigenous peoples rights act of 1997”. Instead research of Fernan Talamayan shows that these rights are being violated across the country. The Philippine government supports hydro power dam projects under the declaration of “development” and “clean energy” in order to purportedly create more jobs and solve the energy crisis.

“Red-tagging” as a method to silence people

In announcing the construction of the New Centennial Water Source Kaliwa Dam 2019, President Duterte pointed out that his government will push infrastructure projects at the cost of indigenous and environmental concerns:

“Let me be very clear to the citizens. You have every right to protest [infrastructure development] if it places your life in jeopardy, but if the safeguards are there between your concerns and the crisis that you’re trying to avoid, I will use the extraordinary powers of presidency.”

In other words, he sees no alternative for the water crisis other than dam building, whereas the indigenous peoples aim for restoring the true source of fresh water: healthy forests and watersheds.

The government uses a method called “red-tagging”, where it willfully accuses the most influential members in the anti-dam movement of being supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA), an armed wing of the Philippine Communist Party. That gives the military a mandate to surveille, harass and even kill these innocent local people.

These extrajudicial killings and other forms of state violence can weaken or strengthen anti-dam movements. While they can intensify the popular call for justice, they are also used to directly intimidate indigenous communities and force them to sell their lands to the government.

Stopping the Laiban dam

The Philippine state, meanwhile, employs divide and conquer tactics to manipulate local people into voting for the dam building by using shady voting methods which can cause division between the community members.

But if the protests stay strong, then the government’s dam-building plans can be stopped, as we see in the case of the Laiban dam project: The pressure of mobilization of the opposition consisting of religious groups, farmers, local environmental justice organizations, fisherfolk, local scientists and professionals stopped the construction of this dam in 2019.

A Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) commented on the halt of the project, saying that “Laiban is out, insofar as this administration is concerned, because of the social engineering nightmare that we’ll encounter in resettling 4800 families”.

Nonetheless the success of the opposing groups was overshadowed by several extrajudicial killings of engaged activists and indigenous peoples who the Philippine military harrassed prior to their murders.

No livelihood nor income when resettling

The same story of state-sponsored violence continues in other anti-dam construction projects.
A local group called Peasant Movement to Free the Agno (TIMMAWA), against the construction of the San Roque Dam, which several national and international environmental justice organizations supported, had a leader called Jose Doton or Apo Jose. He received death threats and was surveilled and “red-tagged” by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as a “communist sympathizer and a terrorist” before he was killed on May 16th 2006 near his home in San Nicholas, Pangasinan in northern Luzon.

Even when such extreme methods aren’t being used, indigenous peoples are paid to leave their ancestral land – but these resettlements under the Philippine law to other locations don’t turn out as successful as promised by the government.

One member of the Ibaloi people, who had to leave their land to make way for the San Roque Multipurpose Project, says in an Interview by Imhof:

“Before we moved, we were far better off. We had smaller houses but we had sources of livelihood. We could eat, grow vegetables, do gold panning. Here we need money to survive, but we have no source of income.”

The consequences of the Kaliwa Dam in 2019, where indigenous peoples lost their sacred burial sites and fishing and hunting grounds, led to the destruction of their culture and source of livelihoods in such a way that future generations may not be able to survive.

Communities mobilize against San Roque dam

The dam in the Pangasinan Province in northern Luzon stopped the natural overflow by the Agno River which was a traditional method used by farmers of San Nicolas to irrigate their fields. When the region is struck by strong typhoons, as happens frequently in the Philippines, the dam needs to release excess water which causes major flooding. In 2009 the release of excess water killed 57 people and destroyed crops and infrastructure worth billions of dollars.

It is no surprise therefore that local communities accompanied the building of the San Roque dam on the same river by huge protests: They filed lawsuits, engaged in judicial activism and media-based activism, sent letters and petitions to government officials, and mobilized public campaigns and street protests.

Philippine’s wildlife needs rivers

The survival of endemic wildlife is also in danger, as the planners want to build the dam within the National Wildlife Sanctuary (NPWS) and would directly impact 96 endemic species. Among those are the endangered Raflessia Manillana corpse flower, the Philippine mahogany and the endangered Philippine eagle. When dams are being constructed, entire ecosystems of rivers collapse and rainforests are destroyed, causing the loss of countless individual animals and species.

Despite all the threats and repression that local people have to endure, their opposition against dam building stays strong. When the solution of the government to energy crises in the Philippines is “development”, environmentalists and indigenous peoples ask, “development for whom?” and do everything in their power to keep protecting the livelihoods and rich ecosystems all of the Philippines depends upon.

The population in the Philippines is among the fastest growing in the world and consequently the Philippine government faces an enormous challenge as to whether it can provide for its human population without obliterating the environment that provides the basis of life.


Here you can find the above mentioned book, it’s worthwhile to read:

Mapping Anti-Dam Movements: The Politics of Water Reservoir Construction and Hydropower Development Projects in the Philippines by Fernan Talamayan

Photo by DGR Philippines, organizing against a hydro-power storage dam

Norway Votes To Allow Deep-Sea Mining In Arctic Waters

Norway Votes To Allow Deep-Sea Mining In Arctic Waters

Editor’s note: There is no way mining can be done in a “sustainable way and with acceptable consequences,” whether it is on land or in the sea. It is not a question of if we don’t, we will have to continue to use open pit mines and mountaintop removal. These forms of mining will continue regardless. Deep sea mining will only add to it. Norway likes to be perceived as a net-zero hero but the reality is that behind all of those electric cars and heat pumps, Norway is a major exporter of fossil fuels, and uses the income to pay for the new technologies. And now Norway wants to be a leader in deep-sea mining, too. This demonstrates that Norway is a country that cares little for the natural world if it means giving up its extractive economy for the conviences of a modern lifestyle. If mining is involved, there will be no green transition.


Elizabeth Claire Alberts/Mongabay

Norway’s parliament has voted to allow deep-sea mining to commence in the Norwegian Sea, a move that has garnered criticism from scientists and environmentalists: While the Norwegian government insists that it can conduct deep-sea mining in a sustainable way, critics say these activities will put marine ecosystems and biodiversity at risk.

The Skandinavian country will open a 281,000-square-kilometer (108,500-square-mile) area of the ocean for deep-sea mining, which mostly falls along its continental shelf.

This result was already anticipated in December 2023 after Norway’s minority government negotiated a deal with opposition parties to open up the ocean off Norway’s coast to deep-sea mining.

Companies will now bid for exploration licences

The government previously proposed opening a 329,000-square-kilometer (127,000-square-mile) portion of the Norwegian Sea to deep-sea mining. However, this was later reduced to 281,000 km2 (108,500 mi2), an area nearly the size of Italy. Most of this region falls across Norway’s extended continental shelf, which is technically in international waters, but over which Norway has jurisdiction. Another portion falls within the territorial waters of the Svalbard archipelago, which Norway claims as its own exclusive economic zone, although this is contested by nations such as Russia, Iceland, the U.K. and several EU countries.

Experts say they believe the next step could be the Norwegian Offshore Directorate, the government agency responsible for regulating petroleum resources, inviting companies to bid for exploration licenses, which could happen as early as this year. However, there’s currently no public timeline of forthcoming events.

Norway intends to mine for minerals such as magnesium, cobalt, copper, nickel and rare-earth metals found in manganese crusts on seamounts and sulfide deposits on active, inactive or extinct hydrothermal vents. The government says seabed mining is necessary to ensure that Norway is able to succeed in a “green transition.”

“We need to cut 55% of our emissions by 2030, and we also need to cut the rest of our emissions after 2030,” Astrid Bergmål, Norway’s state secretary for the energy minister, told Mongabay. “So, the reason for us to look into seabed minerals is the large amount of critical minerals that will be needed for many years.”

Critics, however, say that minerals for renewable energy technologies could be obtained from land-based sources and recycling processes.

Doubts about “clean” deep-sea mining

Bergmål said deep-sea mining will be done in a “step-by-step approach” and that it will only be permitted to go forward if the Norwegian government can ensure it will be done in a “sustainable way and with acceptable consequences.”

“If there is one country that can do this in a stepwise manner … that is Norway,” Bergmål said, “because when we say that we are going to put the world’s highest standards with respect to environmental concerns, we do it in practice.”

Norway isn’t the only country with ambitions to mine the deep sea. Other nations, including the Cook Islands, China and Japan, are working on similar plans within their own jurisdictions.

Deep-sea mining explained in 5 minute video

The high seas, which are areas beyond national jurisdiction, have also been earmarked for seabed mining, particularly in a region of the Pacific Ocean known as the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, where there are vast expanses dotted with potato-shaped polymetallic nodules containing minerals like manganese, nickel, cobalt and copper. The International Seabed Authority (ISA), a U.N.-mandated mining regulator, has been overseeing negotiations to approve a set of rules that would govern this activity so it could potentially start in the near future.

Protesters ready to stop seabed mining industry

Peter Haugan, a scientist who serves as policy director of Norway’s Institute of Marine Research and director of the Geophysical Institute at the University of Bergen, said Norway’s plans go against scientific advice and could endanger marine biodiversity.

“Destroying very sensitive and vulnerable areas and eliminating biodiversity … is a real risk,” Haugan told Mongabay. “It’s really a sad day for Norway.”

Haugan said Norway’s decision could also be a “violation of the law” due to a lack of scientific evidence needed to assess the environmental impacts of future mining activities, which is legally needed for such decisions to be made.

Haldis Tjeldflaat Helle, a campaigner at Greenpeace Norway against deep-sea mining, who participated in a protest outside the Norwegian parliament on Jan. 9, said she’s still hopeful that environmentalists will be able to stop the industry before it goes ahead.

“We will use the tools we have available,” Helle told Mongabay. “We will continue to do activism against this disruptive industry and try to influence Norwegian politicians to stop deep-sea mining.”

Elizabeth Claire Alberts is a senior staff writer for Mongabay. Follow her on Twitter@ECAlberts.

Photo by Lightscape on Unsplash