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Katherine Markham
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On March 15, New Zealand made history by recognizing a river as a legal person. Te Awa Tupua, or the Whanganui river, now has the same legal rights as a person after a long fight by the Whanganui iwi. The Whanganui iwi recognize Te Awa Tupua as an indivisible, living system that includes the river, the riverbed, the mountains, the people and so forth. I think it's wonderful to see such progress and thought members in this community might agree!
A New Zealand river revered by Maori has been recognized by parliament as a "legal person", in a move believed to be a world first.


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A New Zealand river revered by Maori has been recognized by parliament as a "legal person", in a move believed to be a world first.


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Large-scale forest management, including REDD+ and the Bonn Challenge, will require accurate maps of land cover. In many tropical landscapes, shifting agriculture has led to a mosaic of land in different successional stages, from intense cultivation to young fallow to secondary forest. Differences between these stages have great ecological importance, yet can be subtle in satellite imagery used to produce land cover maps. A new paper by Gerardo Vergara-Asenjo, a PhD candidate at McGill University, describes a novel solution to the long-standing problem of classifying secondary forest in tropical landscapes: ask the people that live there.

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A fundamental choice for tropical reforestation projects is whether to plant trees or rely on natural regeneration to restore tree cover and other ecological properties. Both methods have costs; natural regeneration can be slow and unpredictable, while tree planting can be considerably more expensive and labor-intensive. As the demand for large-scale tropical forest restoration increases, understanding the tradeoffs of these restoration methods is a critical research need. 

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A new project to design restoration strategies in riparian forests is being led by Brazilian researchers in collaboration with local communities. The researchers, from the Maranhão State University (UEMA) and Federal University of Maranhão (UFMA), have combined interviews with biodiversity surveys to develop a holistic plan to restore the degraded forest in the headwaters of the Pepital River.

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African dry tropical forests are critical for biogeochemical cycles, water conservation and provide natural resources for over 100 million people who directly depend on these forests for their livelihoods. The region is a hotspot for land use change, with one of the highest global deforestation rates, yet remains understudied. Remote sensing offers promise for studying drivers and impacts of forest change in the African dry tropics.

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Improving sustainable cattle production in the Brazilian Amazon

Why slowing deforestation is only the first step in the transition from a zero-deforestation model to one of territorial sustainability

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New bill aims to cut protection of 1M hectares of Brazilian rainforest

Five protected areas stand to lose part or all of their protected status, together amounting to an area of mostly intact rainforest the size of Delaware.

State legislators presented the proposal early last month to President Michel Temer’s Chief of Staff, which included changes to five protected areas in the southern state of Amazonas.
When presenting the proposal, the legislators argued that the “protected” classification undermines the legal security of rural producers and economic investments that have already been made in the region.
Conservation groups worry that, if approved, the bid would put more than a million hectares of rainforest at risk to deforestation.
When surveying documents filed with Brazil’s National Department of Mineral Production, WWF reportedly uncovered a link between the proposed bill and applications for prospecting and mining in southern Amazonas.
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