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    Mongabay, a leading resource for news and perspectives on environmental and conservation issues related to the tropics, has launched Tropical Conservation Science - a new, open access academic e-journal. It will cover a wide variety of scientific and social studies on tropical ecosystems, their biodiversity and the threats posed to them. Tropical Conservation Science - March 8, 2008.

    At the 148th Meeting of the OPEC Conference, the oil exporting cartel decided to leave its production level unchanged, sending crude prices spiralling to new records (above $104). OPEC "observed that the market is well-supplied, with current commercial oil stocks standing above their five-year average. The Conference further noted, with concern, that the current price environment does not reflect market fundamentals, as crude oil prices are being strongly influenced by the weakness in the US dollar, rising inflation and significant flow of funds into the commodities market." OPEC - March 5, 2008.

    Kyushu University (Japan) is establishing what it says will be the world’s first graduate program in hydrogen energy technologies. The new master’s program for hydrogen engineering is to be offered at the university’s new Ito campus in Fukuoka Prefecture. Lectures will cover such topics as hydrogen energy and developing the fuel cells needed to convert hydrogen into heat or electricity. Of all the renewable pathways to produce hydrogen, bio-hydrogen based on the gasification of biomass is by far both the most efficient, cost-effective and cleanest. Fuel Cell Works - March 3, 2008.

    An entrepreneur in Ivory Coast has developed a project to establish a network of Miscanthus giganteus farms aimed at producing biomass for use in power generation. In a first phase, the goal is to grow the crop on 200 hectares, after which expansion will start. The project is in an advanced stage, but the entrepreneur still seeks partners and investors. The plantation is to be located in an agro-ecological zone qualified as highly suitable for the grass species. Contact us - March 3, 2008.

    A 7.1MW biomass power plant to be built on the Haiwaiian island of Kaua‘i has received approval from the local Planning Commission. The plant, owned and operated by Green Energy Hawaii, will use albizia trees, a hardy species that grows in poor soil on rainfall alone. The renewable power plant will meet 10 percent of the island's energy needs. Kauai World - February 27, 2008.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Virunga's Gorilla Park headquarters under attack by rebels

Rebels in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo have attacked and are now occupying the headquarters of Virunga National Park's gorilla sanctuary. News is coming in that the forces of renegade general Laurent Nkunda are vandalizing the area, and are keeping the rangers trapped. Virunga National Park is a world heritage site and is home to the last 700 remaining mountain gorillas. In 2007, rebels killed 10 gorillas.

The park rangers, the Congolese and international staff of the Gorilla Park are asking for your help. Find out how you can support them by visiting their website: http://gorilla.cd/blog/

This saddening news is a stark reminder of the fact that violence and war are key drivers of biodiversity destruction (previous post on conflict & the environment). The two recent Congo wars not only killed more than 4.5 million people, they have also had a devastating effect on the country's rich natural diversity, in particular its forests. Vice-versa, researchers have found that a lack of farming opportunities correlates with the emergence of civil conflict and war in the developing world, with Central Africa being the prototypical example (previous post).

Congo thus faces a terrible catch-22: as long as its vast rural population cannot farm (and tap the country's "huge" biofuels potential) in peace, the risk of political instability and conflict increases; and as long as there is war, agriculture and conservation are under threat.

The situation in the East of Congo is deteriorating rapidly again, and hundreds of thousands are fleeing the violence once more. We hope this new wave of violence does not remain underreported, like the last two wars. Please help in making the Congo crisis known to more people.
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Blogger Jason Aramburu said...

Unfortunately I believe the violence in Virunga is also linked to the illegal charcoal trade. It would be interesting to see how pyrolysis used legally and ethically might be able to eliminate some of the economic drivers of this awful situation.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The root cause of this conflict is the mineral wealth of Congo. Unless there's some kind of international oversight on the exploitation of these resources, and unless the Congolese government's capacity is strengthened, there will be no peace.

Let's also not forget that European and American companies had a stake in the Congo Wars, and helped fuel them.

Finally, General Nkunda is still backed openly by Rwanda and Uganda - two countries who have been plundering Congo and who see permanent disorder and instability as an opportunity. The international community should intervene much more and tap Uganda and Rwanda on the fingers.

7:32 PM  

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