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Earth Mother Wangari Maathai Dead at 71

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President Obama, and other world leaders today paid tribute to Professor Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and one of Africa’s foremost environmental campaigners, who died on Sunday. She was 71.

From Early Geographic “Lady Writer,” D.C. Cherry Blossoms and Tsunami

Cherry trees are a cherished landmark of Washington, D.C. Admired by thousands of visitors at this time of year, when they are in flower, the trees represent an enduring bond between the U.S. and Japan. But few people know of the woman behind Japan’s gift of the trees to America–a pioneering National Geographic editor who famously reported for the magazine on the earthquake wave that devastated Japan in 1896, and introduced the word tsunami to the English language. Meet Eliza Scidmore.

Festival of Flowers Paints Epcot in Vivid Colors

Thirty million flowers, half a million plants, dozens of character topiaries and 1,000 butterflies add up to the 18th annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, now blooming at Walt Disney World Resort, Florida.

An Amazon Forest Adventure: Carbon in Cowboy Country

This entry by Rane Cortez, a forest carbon development adviser at The Nature Conservancy, highlights Rane’s recent 10-day trip into São Félix do Xingu, a large municipality in the heart of the Amazon in northern Brazil. She is working with local communities and experts on potential strategies that reduce carbon emissions from these forests while…

Canada Sets Example for International Year of Forests

By Jeff Wells From pulp mill workers in Manitoba to indigenous hunters in the Amazon, hundreds of millions of people around the world rely directly on the forested expanses of our planet. All the rest of us depend on the ecological services forests provide. This year, 2011, has been officially declared the International Year of…

Australia’s Catastrophic Rains Herald Future Bounty

The ongoing deluge has wreaked severe damage and hardship in Australia. (Photos: Unprecedented, “Biblical” Floods Inundate Australia.) But when the waters subside, writes Deborah Tabart, the Chief Executive Officer of the Brisbane-based Australian Koala Foundation, the thirsty continent’s water table will be replenished, the trees will have had their fill, and Australia will be beautiful…

Loggers, Environmentalists Co-Manage Canadian Boreal Forest

The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement was signed a few months ago by 21 forest companies and 9 leading environmental organizations. Components of the three-year agreement include the suspension of logging on parts of Boreal Forest equal to the size of Nevada and representing almost all Boreal caribou habitat within company tenures, to allow for intensive caribou protection planning…

Seedlings yield honey and hope for devastated Armenian families

For Armenians who lost their homes in political upheaval an innovative tree-planting scheme to restore orchards and forests is a way to earn some money while helping their country create a more comfortable environment, reports a volunteer for the Armenia Tree Project. Nat Geo News Watch profiled the project last year: How trees are restoring hope to…

Oil reserves put Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest under the lens

Asian oil interests wanting access to western Canada’s tar sands, the second largest known oil reserves in the world, have prompted a focus on the Great Bear Rainforest by the world’s most celebrated and talented nature photographers, the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) said this week. Home to white spirit bears, ancient forests, and…

Undercover investigation links Indonesian timber traders to trafficking

Investigators pretending to be customers have covertly filmed Indonesian timber traders allegedly talking about how they exported a protected hardwood to China, where environmentalists say it is turned into furniture and building products for use worldwide, including Europe and the U.S. The names and video have been made public. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Telapak today…

Russia protects tree species critical to tiger habitat

It’s a case of the protection of one species being good for the protection of another. The Russian government has introduced measures to protect the Korean pine, a key species found in Amur tiger (Siberian tiger) habitat in the Russian Far East, WWF and TRAFFIC said today. “Rising global demand for Korean pine has led…

Canopy map may help find Earth’s ‘missing’ carbon

Scientists have produced the first map that details the height of the world’s forests, NASA said today. “Although there are other local- and regional-scale forest canopy maps, the new map is the first that spans the entire globe based on one uniform method,” the space agency said in a news statement accompanying the release of…

U.S. timber demand threatens uncontacted Peruvian tribe

Illegal mahogany loggers are plundering uncontacted Indians’ land in the depths of the Peruvian Amazon, according to a new report by the Upper Amazon Conservancy (UAC). UAC is a non-profit organization that works to protect the biological and cultural diversity of the headwaters of the Amazon River in Southern Peru. Recently-contacted Murunahua man, south-east Peru.…

Hard-won battles against illegal logging are paying off

By Mason Inman If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a noise? We could ask the same about trees cut down illegally around the world. If governments, watchdog groups, and journalists aren’t there to hear it–that is, to track what’s happening–then it seems it…

Taking stock of mangroves, thin frontlines of diversity

Mark Spalding, a marine scientist with The Nature Conservancy, has spent decades researching mangroves, the rare and critically important forests that grow at the intersection of land and sea. He is also lead author of the World Atlas of Mangroves, the first in-depth look in over a decade of mangroves. (‘Atlas of Mangroves’ highlights global…