Recently in Forests Category

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Seacology is funding the construction of a new community center in Banjar Anyar, a small village on Indonesia's island of Bali. Part of the agreement is that the good pepole of Banjar Anyar continue to serve as the guardians of the surrounding Batukahu Forest.

So what kinds of creatures are being protected? Here's a quick tour of some of Batukahu Forest's residents:

The forest cat has big eyes and is very ferocious, while the long-tailed macaque looks a little sad, but their babies are adorable.

Meanwhile, the pangolin looks a lot like an armadillo, and the flying fox (AKA the kalong) is not a fox at all, but instead a rather large bat.

International Year of Forests

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A belated Happy 2011 from Seacology! We can't think of a better way to welcome the New Year than by joining the United Nations in celebrating 2011 as the International Year of Forests. Forests provide habitat for up to two-thirds of plant and animal species on earth, but tragically are being lost at fatal rates, with deforestation causing as many as 100 species extinctions per day. While forests are found in all of the planet's regions, tropical rainforests found around the globe's center contain the most biodiversity. And with many of the world's islands found in these tropical regions, Seacology projects often project some of these highly endangered forests. Below are a sampling of Seacology's recent forest preservation projects. To learn more about forests around the world, visit http://rainforests.mongabay.com/


Lai River, Papua New Guinea - In the mountainous forest of the Baiyer, Jimi, and Lai Valleys in Papua New Guinea, inhabitants have been reliant on a footbridge built of cane, which needed to be rebuilt every three months. Seacology funded the construction of a permanent bridge. The community recently celebrated the construction of their new bridge with vibrant festivities, as seen in the photo below.

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Onongoch, Fefen Island, Chuuk - Seacology is supporting the Onongoch community with a new village meeting hall, as well as needed water tanks and toilets. In exchange, the community is protecting 15 acres of the Chunuf forest, part of the West Fefen Area of Biodiversity Significance, and home to several endangered birds and many endemic flora and fauna. Below, the beautiful Chunuf forest near Onongoch.

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Flores Island, Indonesia - Seacology now has two projects on Indonesia's Flores Island. Working with the communities of Cunca Lolos and Benteng Dewa, we have protected over 27,000 acres of the 63,738-acre Mbeliling rainforest, which both villages border (see photo, below). Our projects have funded a community health clinic and new fresh water system, helping these islanders and their environment. To learn more about Seacology's projects on Flores Island, read our recent blog post on Karen's trip to Indonesia

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I've been at Seacology for nine years now (I was the first paid employee, beating Executive Director Duane Silverstein by around a week). Each time a board meeting comes and passes, I'm astounded at both how time flies, as well as how we have grown as an organization. At their June 9 meeting, Seacology's board of directors approved seven new projects, bringing our total number of projects to 176. Moreover, a really cool milestone has been reached - Seacology now has projects on 100 islands in 44 countries throughout the world.

Wow.

wasini_kids.jpgFollowing are short descriptions of the projects passed by Seacology's board of directors at their June 9 meeting. You can find full descriptions on our website.

AMERICAN SAMOA, Pago Pago Village, Tutuila Island - Phase 3: Eradicate the dense stands of the destructive Falcataria moluccana tree adjacent to the National Park areas of American Samoa (NPSA). *

Left: Children on the mangrove walkway, Wasini Island, Kenya.

An integral final step to many of Seacology's projects is for the island villages to erect a sign.  This is a lovely acknowledgment of Seacology's partnership with island communities, but it also is a symbol of one of Seacology's most important philosophies.  I cannot possibly articulate it as well as Dr. John McCosker, senior scientist for the California Academy of Sciences:

"Dollar for dollar, pound for pound, Seacology gets more output than any conservation group that I've seen. They're not giving money away, they're not making grants, they're making deals."

These signs act as an important reminder to the communities that the needed infrastructure we provide is not a handout; it is part of a trade-off in recognition of a commitment to conservation of their precious natural resources.

I thought I'd post photos of some of these signs.

madagascar_mangoro_sign.jpgThe sign at left is on one of 11 schools in Madagascar's Mangoro region that received Seacology-funded repairs in exchange for community agreements to protect the last remaining habitat of the Mangoro Flying Fox.  Due to hunting for bushmeat, uncontrolled fires and logging, just a few pockets of forest remain as roosts for these large bats. 

Seacology is also funding repairs to local municipal offices, and an educational component, with a conservation art competition scheduled to begin in early 2008.  The winning artists will be awarded by members of the Seacology 2008 expedition to Madagascar and South Africa.  Information on this trip can be found here.  Click here for more information regarding the Mangoro project.

Bali Travel

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Map_Bali.gifIn my first three entries about a recent Seacology expedition to Indonesia I spoke about the fantastic diving we experienced in Raja Ampat. Now it is time to give the landlubbers equal time as I conclude this series by focusing on the end of our trip in Bali. Bali is one of the world's special places. This Indonesian island is unique in that unlike the rest of Indonesia the majority of the residents are Hindu. Their religion is closely related to, but is also distinct from, the Hindu religion practiced in India. As is the case with most islands the Balinese people are extraordinarily friendly. Per their religious custom they are often celebrating the anniversary of a temple or school, or some other landmark in the life of a building or person. It seems that every Balinese celebration is not complete without a line of women balancing a very large offering of fruit on their heads. They make the old film star, Carmen Miranda, look like pikers in this regard. You would also be hard pressed to find a celebration without a gamalon band playing the beautiful local music. Our wonderful guide, Dewa Adiwisma, took us to one such celebration in a local Hindu temple where the local people welcomed us with open arms. It was a very moving experience.

Today, islands are home to the greatest number of endangered species on the planet. More, in fact, than all of the great continents combined. As a matter of fact, in the past 500 years, 62 percent of all mammal and 88 percent of all bird extinctions have been island species. Further, The National Academy of Sciences published the results of an independent study of extinction hotspots around the world in 2006, and every one of the top ten sites is on an island.

VIETNAM_cat_ba_langur[1].jpgDue to the self-contained nature of island environments, their ecosystems are so vulnerable to damage caused by introduced species, inappropriate development, pollution and global warming. Island coral reefs, mangroves and rainforests, which hold an astounding array of marine and terrestrial life, are among the world's most threatened ecosystems. Yet because individual islands are often small and remote, little philanthropic and non-profit resources have been devoted to preserving island biodiversity.

To combat this global crisis, Seacology was formed as an international nonprofit organization with staff in 1999. Since then, we have launched an incredible 160 island-based projects, saving 1,780,486 acres of marine ecosystems and 101,446 acres of incredibly precious terrestrial habitat on 90 islands in 41 countries worldwide. Seacology's mission is to preserve island habitats along with island cultures around the world. With this goal, we endeavor to reverse the trend of island wildlife, plant life, and marine life extinctions globally, fostering biodiversity worldwide while supporting historic island cultures.

Mr. Kokichi Kariya
Mr. Kokichi Kariya

On Wednesday, October 3, Seacology will be celebrating the accomplishments of the 2007 Seacology Prize recipient, Kokichi Kariya of Fuzawa, Japan. The Seacology Prize is awarded annually to an indigenous islander for exceptional achievement in preserving the environment and culture of any of the world's 100,000-plus islands.

To honor this heroic gentleman, Seacology is hosting a special awards ceremony at the St. Francis Yacht Club on San Francisco Bay. Mr. Kariya has spent 42 years in a tireless struggle to save one of the few remaining ancient forests on Honshu Island, Japan. At great personal sacrifice he has challenged aggressive logging companies as well as local, regional and national governments to protect the virgin beech trees of Fuzawa, Japan.