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Endangered Species Act Protection Finalized for Miami Blue Butterfly

PRESS RELEASE For Immediate Release, April 5, 2012

Contact:  Tierra Curry, (928) 522-3681

Endangered Species Act Protection Finalized for Miami Blue Butterfly

MIAMIThe U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a final rule today protecting the Miami blue butterfly under the Endangered Species Act. The tiny, bright-colored butterfly once occurred across coastal South Florida but has disappeared from 99 percent of its range and is now facing extinction. Today’s rule finalizes protections for the rare Florida butterfly and is in accordance with a landmark settlement agreement reached between the Center for Biological Diversity and the Fish and Wildlife Service speeding up protection decisions for 757 species.

“The Miami blue butterfly is on the very brink of extinction, and this finalized protection gives it a real shot at survival and recovery,” said Tierra Curry, a biologist at the Center. “The Endangered Species Act is 99 percent effective at preventing the extinction of the species it covers, so we do have a hope, under the safety net of the Act, of stopping the loss of this beautiful butterfly.”

The world’s total surviving population of Miami blues is estimated by the Service at only a few hundred individuals. During surveys in 2010, fewer than 50 adults were observed; 2011 surveys yielded similar numbers. The Service is funding a study to search remote areas for additional populations, but none have been detected to date. Attempts to reintroduce the butterfly have been unsuccessful.

The Miami blue, whose adults live for just a few days, was believed extinct after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, but in 1999 an amateur lepidopterist discovered a population in Bahia Honda State Park. In 2010 this population was found to have disappeared; the species survives only as scattered individuals in another population in the Marquesas Keys in Key West National Wildlife Refuge. The butterfly has declined severely due to urban sprawl, fire suppression, mosquito-control pesticides, loss of host plants due to iguana herbivory, severe weather events and rising sea levels from climate change. The Miami blue is about one inch long, and females are drab compared to males.

The Miami blue was first made a candidate for protection in 1984; the North American Butterfly Association sought emergency protection for the butterfly in 1999; then the Center filed a notice of intent to sue the Service in 2005 for failing to protect the butterfly followed by another petition seeking emergency protection for the Miami blue in January 2011. In August 2011 the Service enacted emergency protections for the butterfly.

The Service today also finalized Endangered Species Act protection for the cassius blue, ceraunus blue and nickerbean blue butterflies, three species found in the same habitat as the Miami blue, because of their similarity in appearance to the Miami blue.


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Study rings alarm bells for Amazonian wildlife


The Amazon is currently experiencing the highest absolute rate of forest loss globally. Yet the proportion of Amazonian species assessed as ‘threatened’ with extinction on the IUCN Red List is below the global average. This list is used to set conservation priorities, and contributes to assessments of the state of the planet’s biodiversity. A new study is changing this picture.

A group of authors from the BirdLife International Partnership used an existing model that predicts where in the Amazon deforestation is projected to take place in the coming years under different scenarios to reassess the Red List status of all 814 forest-dependent Amazonian bird species. Their findings have been published today in the journal Diversity and Distributions.

Using this model, the number of species qualifying as threatened rises substantially from just 24 (3% of species assessed) to 64–92 (8–11%), depending on different forest loss scenarios. The number of species ‘of conservation concern’ (threatened plus Near Threatened species) increases from 60 to 117–172 species. Of particular concern are the species that appear to qualify for uplisting (i.e. at greater risk of extinction than thought) to Critically Endangered or Endangered, such as Hoary-throated Spinetail Synallaxis kollari and Varzea Piculet Picumnus varzeae, as these are the species projected to decline fastest because they will lose suitable habitat most rapidly.

Incorporating projected deforestation into assessments provides a more accurate reflection of the extinction risk facing species in the region. The revised estimates of extinction risk to Amazonian birds brings them closer in line with the global average of 12% of birds considered threatened.

By overlaying distribution maps for these apparently threatened species, the authors identified ‘crisis areas’ (areas of forest that are projected to be lost, but which support the highest numbers of threatened species) and ‘refugia’ (areas projected to retain forest, but which support the highest numbers of threatened species). Over half of the most important areas for threatened species are currently legally protected, including two thirds of refugia. But the unprotected areas should be priorities for new protected areas, particularly the ’crisis’ areas where important forest will be lost imminently, such as those in the Brazilian states of Rondonia, Mato Grosso and Para.

“It is clear that until now we have underestimated the risk of extinction that many of the Amazon’s species are facing”, said lead author Jeremy Bird of BirdLife International. “Now we have a better understanding, not only of the species that are threatened with extinction, but also the most irreplaceable and imperilled pockets of the Amazon’s remaining forest that we must protect in order to conserve its wildlife.“

“As far as we are aware, no Amazonian bird species has been driven to extinction by human activities yet”, he added. “To ensure that none are, and that other groups of wildlife survive too, further investment is needed to protect effectively the priority areas of remaining habitat.”

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Major brands implicated in Amazon destruction


Brazil — Just as protecting the world’s forests is rapidly becoming a recognized necessity for fighting climate change, we have discovered that major fashion, food and sports brand names are unwittingly driving the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.

Our  three-year investigation into Brazil’s booming cattle industry – the largest source of deforestation in the world and Brazil’s main source of CO2 emissions – has found that some of the brands that we all know and love could be implicated in the widespread deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. The investigation also uncovers how the Brazilian government is bankrolling the destruction and is undermining its own efforts to tackle the global climate crisis.

Dirty Farms

The new Greenpeace report Slaughtering the Amazon tracks beef, leather and other cattle products from ranches involved in illegal deforestation, invasion of indigenous lands and slavery in Brazil back to the supply chains of top brands such as Adidas/Reebok, Timberland, Geox, Carrefour, Eurostar, Honda, Gucci, IKEA, Kraft, Clarks, Nike, Tesco and Wal-Mart.

Greenpeace investigators found that the Brazilian government has a vested interest in the further expansion of the cattle industry; it part-owns three of the country’s cattle giants – Bertin, JBS and Marfrig – which are responsible for fuelling the destruction of huge tracts of the Amazon. That’s right; the Amazon rainforest is being wiped out to make room for the beef in your TV dinner and the leather on your sneakers.  Humans rights abuses, deforestation and climate change seem to us like a pretty big price to pay for the trainers we put on before our morning run.

Lula’s loopholes

Brazilian President Lula’s government forecasts that the country’s share of the global beef market will double by 2018. 2018 seems to be a big year for the Brazilian government as it also claims this is the year by which it will have cut deforestation by 72 percent. The expansion of the cattle sector threatens to undermine the government’s ability to fulfill its pledge. Brazil is the fourth largest climate polluter in the world, with the majority of its climate emissions coming from the clearance and burning of the Amazon rainforest.

“By bankrolling the destruction of the Amazon for cattle, President Lula’s government is undermining its own climate commitments as well as the global effort to tackle the climate crisis,” said Andre Muggiati, Greenpeace Brazil, Amazon campaigner. “If it wants to be part of the climate solution, Lula’s government must get out of bed with cattle industry, and instead commit to ending Amazon deforestation. Otherwise it will be culpable in the global climate catastrophe that will ensue,” he added.

Greenpeace is calling for developed world governments to provide USD 140 billion a year to tackle the climate crisis, to fund both mitigation and adaptation measures in developing countries. Approximately USD 40 billion a year of this should be designated to forest protection. The funds would be provided in return for a commitment to stop deforestation by 2015 in the Amazon and globally by 2020.

World leaders must take personal responsibility to agree strong global deal at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen in December 2009 in order to avert catastrophic climate change. Tropical deforestation accounts for approximately 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the world’s entire transport sector, so any deal must effectively tackle deforestation.

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Seven Years To Stop Amazon Deforestation

Sietchblog – The Naib

The IPCC says we have 8 years to stop global warming, and now Greenpeace and nine non-governmental organizations, say we have 7 years to stop deforestation in the Amazon. These groups have launched a proposal for a national agreement to end Amazon deforestation at an event attended by the Brazilian Minister of Environment and State Governors. The proposal aims to achieve a broad commitment from sectors of the Brazilian government and civil society for measures to ensure urgent protection for the Amazon rainforest.

“As we launch this initiative, the forests in the Amazon are being slashed and burned. This has to end. We show that it can end if political will, financing and conservation efforts work in a co-ordinated manner” said Greenpeace Amazon Campaign Co-ordinator Paulo Adario.

“Protecting the world’s remaining forests will significantly reduce climate change, maintain the livelihood of millions of people who depend on the forest and protect a huge amount of the world’s biodiversity” he said.

The proposal, entitled the ’Agreement on Acknowledging the Value of the Forest and Ending Amazon Deforestation’ shows that adopting a system of reduction targets could end deforestation in the Amazon by 2015.

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