Monodominant tropical forests, especially those not associated with flooded environments, are rare and still poorly understood. In the transition between Cerrado and the Amazon rainforest biomes in Brazil, lies patches of monodominant forests of “Pau-Brasil” or Bloodwood cacique (Brosimum rubescens, Figure 1). The structure of these forests have trees of different sizes and represents about 80% of above-ground biomass (Marimon et al., 2001).
Loud, gigantic, and scary! This was my first impression of a skidder – a heavy vehicle used in cutting trees. Multiple trees are crushed to access one large Amazonian log. This was the logging operations that occurred in the Jamari National Forest in the Rondônia State of Brazil. Logging tropical trees is simultaneously an art and a damaging activity, given that these trees play a crucial role in regulating Earth’s climate. Despite this importance, only a few operations follow certified sustainable forest management plans (SFMPs).
Travel through the rainforest in Guyana, in northern South America, and you’ll often hear the indigenous adage: “a forest has no end and no beginning” to explain their natural cycle of disturbance and recovery. For the people who live in these forests, their experiences are based on decades of slash and burn cultivation, from which forests are generally able to recover well. But does the adage hold true for forests abandoned after more intense land uses?
Since March 11 2020, our world has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the existing and persistent inequalities of our systems are being painfully exposed. These inequalities also brought to the forefront the issue of systemic racism of people of colour and the power imbalances between Western societies and the Global South. As Amruta Byatnal, an Associate Editor at Devex mentions in her article on health and COVID-19, “Who controls the levers of development? It’s really people in the so-called global north. While global domination and structural inequality is inbuilt as constituted by economic power, it is reinforced and justified by racial power”
The Maya solar of Yucatán, in southeast Mexico, has historically supported an intricate indigenous system of land, livelihoods and identities. It remains the basic habitat unit in the region as a vital space for the continuous development of everyday activities (social, economic, cultural, and environmental). These everyday activities contribute towards the cohesion of the family unit and the community through preservation, enrichment and diffusion of knowledge shaping individual and social identities, allowing for the survival of their way of life. Moreover, it is in this place where people organise their self-provision in a series of spaces (e.g. kitchen, barn, and henhouse) connecting their livelihoods to the surrounding land. The solar has been produced and shaped in relation to the region’s specific environmental conditions.
This article was researched and written in early 2019. A shorter version was published in September 2019 in Mongabay, who originally commissioned the piece.
“Cherry, mango, star apple, pam, cashew, pomegranate,” Carol Dabie, 37, rattles off a list of trees that once filled her family’s yard. She recalls climbing them as a child, impatiently waiting for the small, round, sweet pam fruits with their shiny black skin to drop.
As in many backyards across Georgetown – Guyana’s expanding coastal capital – Dabie’s childhood trees were eventually cut down and the fertile earth entombed beneath concrete. It’s a shift reflected in the city’s architecture too, with breezy wooden structures slowly being replaced by low-maintenance concrete blocks.
Within the last few decades, forest loss in the Amazon forests has been monitored using satellites such as Landsat (30m resolution) and MODIS Terra and Aqua (250-1000m resolution). Detecting deforestation is relatively easy due to the abrupt changes in the landscape, from vegetation/forest to exposed soil or pasture. This shift causes large changes in the spectral signal (different types of surfaces reflect radiation differently, like its own fingerprint, and is a function of wavelength) measured by the satellite sensors, especially in the near infrared wavelength. The difficulty stands on reliably and systematically assessing the whole Amazon forests (>5.5 million km²) every year in order to guide public policies and action. In this sense, Brazil is a reference for deforestation monitoring through the PRODES program of INPE – the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (Figure 1). PRODES, allied with another system that produces real-time deforestation alerts (DETER), are the core of the Brazilian efforts on reducing deforestation, with great success during the past decade.
Continue reading “Monitoring the loss of trees in the Amazon forests: How satellites, lasers, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence are helping in the fight against deforestation and degradation”
A Long-standing Commitment to Responsible Travel
South America’s best kept secret is not much of a secret anymore. From its Low Carbon Development Strategy to the more recent Green State Development Strategy (GSDS), Guyana has had a long-standing commitment to a sustainability agenda. This coupled with nine Indigenous Nations who have been stewards of their ancestral lands for a millennia illustrates that sustainability is a core value and a way of life for many Guyanese.
Tourism based on marine wildlife interaction is booming worldwide. In the Philippines, it has been gaining popularity for the past six years, particularly swimming with whale sharks. Anyone who has ‘swimming with whale sharks’ on their bucket list is certain to have the Philippines on there too. And recently, that means going to the town of Oslob in Cebu.