Saving the mangroves to save the clams — and a way of life

Women from Santa Bárbara de Iscuandé, pictured above, dig for clams in the mangroves. (© Asociación Calidris)

Editor’s note: On Colombia’s Pacific coast, women, many of them single mothers, collect clams called “piangua” by hand in the mangroves.

In order to join their mothers on harvests, children must learn how to swim — a rite of passage captured in “Dulce,” a film produced by Jungles in Paris in partnership with Conservation International that premieres today at the 2018 Palm Springs International Shortfest.

In this piece, Cassandra Kane of Conservation International’s Conservation Finance Division writes about an initiative that has helped Dulce’s community ensure their mangroves and pianguas are around well into the future.

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Climate, labor issues roil coffee sector: report

Coffee berries on a branch, pictured above, in Chiapas, Mexico. (© Cristina Mittermeier)

Climate change, poor labor conditions and the uneven distribution of value within the coffee sector are brewing a triple shot of trouble for coffee, a new report finds.

These and other issues are jeopardizing the future of coffee production, according to the Coffee Barometer, a report published every four years highlighting emerging sustainability trends in the coffee sector. The report is being officially presented today at World of Coffee in Amsterdam, a large annual coffee industry meeting.

Researched and written by international organizations Hivos, Solidaridad, Oxfam, COSA, SAFE Platform and Conservation International, the 2018 Coffee Barometer paints a disconcerting picture for one of the world’s most widely traded agricultural commodities.

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In Indonesia, villagers find innovative ways to adapt to climate change

Local farmer, pictured above, in Java Island, Indonesia. (© Jessica Scranton)

Climate change is already affecting people around the world — so adapting is crucial.

In some places, at least, people are finding innovative ways to adapt, according to new research. A new study shows that using nature to adapt to intense storms and drought can be affective for thriving in a changing climate.

In some Indonesian villages on Borneo Island and Java, people cut down trees along the banks of rivers to sell or use for fuel. Without the trees there as a buffer, the soil erodes into the streams, swallowing up the water or turning it murky brown. At the same time, these islands are experiencing more instances of intense rain and drought, making it more difficult to grow food.

Giacomo Fedele, climate change adaptation fellow at Conservation International’s Moore Center for Science, traveled to two villages in Borneo and two villages in Java to learn how different communities responded to flood and drought caused by climate change. In a recent interview, Human Nature spoke with him about his research.

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In case you missed it: 3 big stories from our world

Baobab trees, pictured above, in Madagascar. (© Cristina Mittermeier)

Editor’s note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Human Nature shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.

  1. Africa’s most famous trees are dying, and scientists suspect a changing climate

The story: Researchers found that a significant number of ancient baobab trees are beginning to collapse and die, Chris Mooney of The Washington Post reported on June 11. The baobab tree can live to be thousands of years old and is an instantly recognizable symbol of Africa. Although further research is necessary, the scientists believe the changing climate is a key driver of the baobab die-off.

The big picture: The loss of the baobab tree is significant considering the history and culture attached to these trees — which are also a key food source for people. The largest trees are dying off first. “The largest trees, they need more water and nutrients than the smaller trees and they are most affected by temperature increase and drought,” said Adrian Patrut, a researcher from Babes-Bolyai University in Romania and one of the authors of the study.

Read more here.

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5 Father’s Day cards for our favorite animal dads

The male golden lion tamarin, pictured above, in Brazil, carries its young on its back for 5 weeks after it’s born. (© Jeff Gale)

Last year on Father’s Day, Human Nature highlighted animal dads that go above and beyond.

From enduring freezing temperatures for months to traveling more than 100 miles to find water — even carrying newborns in their mouths to protect them from harm — these dads at least deserve a card.

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What makes a good nature photo? An expert explains

A farmer in Gedepahala, West Java, Indonesia. (© Jessica Scranton)

Many of us will never visit eastern Kenya, West Java or any number of the far-flung places where conservationists are racing to protect nature.

But a skilled photographer can take you there, to tell a story about these places and to offer a glimpse into the lives of those who depend on nature.

How, then, to pick the right photo to tell the right story?

In honor of Nature Photography Day, Human Nature sat down with Louisa Barnes, Conservation International’s photography manager, to talk about three of her favorite photos of the organization’s work, and how she selects the most compelling images.

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Coffee giant changing the sustainability game, report shows

Coffee beans, pictured above, in Chiapas, Mexico. (© Conservation International/photo by Miguel Ángel de la Cueva)

A Starbucks ethical sourcing program is brewing larger-than-expected changes across the coffee sector, according to a recent report from Conservation International.

The Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices program, developed 20 years ago in partnership with Conservation International, targets improvements in social, environmental and economic outcomes for coffee farms — and smallholder farmers — that participate.

The program has continued to expand, according to the report, drawing in more suppliers and increasing the amount of area of verifiably sustainably grown coffee by more than 197 percent since 2008.

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A rarity: Whale shark researchers tag female of the species

“Susi” the whale shark, pictured above, swimming in the Pacific after being tagged. (© Abraham Sianipar)

Editor’s note: In March, a team of scientists from Conservation International Indonesia tagged a female whale shark — the first ever tagged in West Papua.

The shark, named “Susi” after Indonesia’s Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF), Susi Pudjiastuti, will give scientists new insight into how the diving and movement behaviors of female whale sharks differ from those of male whale sharks.

In this report, Erfa Canisthya, a project officer at Conservation International Indonesia, describes how the scientists tagged the female whale shark and what information they hope to learn.

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In case you missed it: 3 big stories from our world

Camera trap photo of a cougar, pictured above, in Ecuador. (© Courtesy of The Smithsonian and TEAM Network)

Editor’s note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Human Nature shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.

  1. High seas fishing isn’t just destructive — it’s unprofitable

The story: A study published Wednesday found that as much as 54 percent of high seas fishing would be unprofitable were it not for governments covering some of the industry’s costs, Sarah Gibbens reported for National Geographic. The researchers also found that exploited labor and underreported catch may explain how large vessels afford to fish in international waters.

The big picture: In 2016, just over 3,600 vessels actively fished on the high seas — the open ocean outside any country’s jurisdiction. Both profitable and unprofitable companies were given subsidies by their governments. “The study confirmed that much of the high seas fishing does not make sense,” said Enric Sala, study author and National Geographic explorer-in-residence. “If it’s ecologically destructive and economically unprofitable, why don’t we end all high seas fishing?”

Read more here.

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Reports: Trump to skip G7 meeting on climate

Peyto Lake, pictured above, in Canada. (© Sergi Akulich)

U.S. President Donald Trump will leave the G7 summit early — missing the meeting on climate change.

Trump plans to leave the Group of Seven summit in Quebec on Saturday morning, before the leaders’ meetings are completed, and an aide will attend the climate meeting in Trump’s place, the White House told CNN. Leading up to this announcement, Trump criticized French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Twitter, who will both attend the G7 summit today. Trump questioned why he would attend a G7 meeting where he’s outnumbered on key issues like trade and climate change.

Climate experts criticized the president’s decision.

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