Newsdesk – February 03

Fatima Todde and her brother Pietro in the goat stable. Image by Monica Pelliccia for Mongabay.

Young farmers apply ancient agroforestry practices in the heart of Sardinia. Some are finding a new way to stay here and succeed, by using silvopasture, an ancient agricultural method to create better-quality products like goat cheese, by grazing their flocks under trees. Like agroforestry, silvopasture effectively sequesters large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere while keeping forested landscapes intact and providing habitat for a variety of creatures. Silvopasture has a long history in Sardinia, and the variety of forage and abundant shade create cheeses with unique flavors. Fatima Todde, 31, is one of the few casara, or female cheesemakers, in all of Sardinia. She lives in Desulo, in the middle of the island of Sardinia. A town of 2,000 inhabitants.  It’s where her parents started the farm producing different types of cheese, including pecorino, casu agedu, casu e murgia, caprino, and ricotta. The growing of beneficial trees and woody plants in combination with annual crops and herbs — silvopasture combines trees with forage plants and grazing livestock in an integrated system where the trees benefit from free fertilizer and pruning. The goats eat fallen chestnuts, cherries and acorns, depending on the season, plus herbs, grasses, legumes, and shrubs. The understory canvas melts into a brown-and-green color palette that the goats keep clean, fattening up while lessening the chance of forest fires. Alfalfa grows well among the trees’ shade in their silvopasture system and is a favorite forage for the goat kids. Pietro, the younger brother of Fatima, aims to put his agronomy studies into practice by expanding their hay production with clover in nearby fields, to provide hay for the entire flock and supplement the forage they find in the trees. The goats play an important role in the forest’s maintenance and safety from wildfire, he continues: “Thanks to the goats we don’t need maintenance for the forest or herbicides and fertilizer, they are a natural ‘weed whacker.’ A lot of farmers ask me to bring my flocks to their fields” – Mongabay

  • Almonds are out. Dairy is a disaster. So what milk should we drink? –The Guardian
  • San Francisco Joins the Move to Ban Cars From a Major Street – Wired
  • Climate change: Worst emissions scenario ‘exceedingly unlikely’ – BBC
  • ‘Like I wasn’t there’: climate activist Vanessa Nakate on being erased from a movement – The Guardian
  • Climate change is contributing to exploitation of women, new report details – Mic
  • KFC’s Beyond Meat chicken is a damn miracle – Fast Company
  • Landmark French law will stop unsold goods being thrown away – The Guardian 
Fishermen pulling in their catch on the Mbaéré River, a tributary of the Lobaye River.Credit…Jack Losh

A Battle to Protect Forests Unfolds in Central Africa. Indigenous people, environmentalists, and industries compete for control over lands that can offer economic benefits or climate protection, but not always both. For the outsider, the rain forests of the Central African Republic are an intimidating confusion of vines and towering trunks. For Mr. Maka, whose fellow Bayaka “pygmies” have lived here in the Congo Basin for millenniums by hunting and gathering, this lush wilderness is as convenient as a downtown deli. “The forest has always provided everything we need,” says Mr. Maka, who is in his early 30s although unsure of his exact age. Deforestation in Southeast Asia is driven primarily by palm oil production and in South America, by beef and soy. The Congo Basin, home to the world’s second-largest rain forest, is being degraded mainly by industrial logging, small-scale agriculture, and demand for wood fuel. Last week, a world away from these hot spots, hundreds of global leaders and business executives convened in the Swiss ski resort of Davos for the World Economic Forum’s annual conference. How to protect forests like Mr. Maka’s was on its environmental agenda. The forum backs a group called the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, which brings together household names like Mars, Nestlé and Walmart alongside more than 100 other corporations, nonprofits and governments. It was founded to help an industry trade group, the Consumer Goods Forum, meet a commitment its members made 10 years ago to stop using ingredients that contribute to deforestation by 2020 – The New York Times

Tyler Varsell

One Thing You Can Do: Make Smart Donations.  Last summer, there was a discussion in “The Guardian” on how to make your climate change donations count. The reporting suggested that one of the most effective strategies is donating to political campaigns. But what if you are not into politics and would rather help out a nonprofit organization? It was stated that a good place to start would be Founders Pledge. This is a group inspired by effective altruism, a broad social movement that relies on evidence and analysis to determine where donations will do the most good. Other affiliations of the effective altruism movement have backed BURN, a social enterprise that lets donors finance fuel-efficient stoves in Kenya, and The Clean Energy Innovation Program. John Halstead, the group’s head of applied research, spent nine months writing a 152-page report aimed at climate change philanthropists. He ultimately recommended the Coalition for Rainforest Nations and the Clean Air Task Force as the most cost-effective organizations. If you’d rather plant trees, ImpactMatters, a charity evaluator that says it shares “some methodological commonalities” with effective altruism researchers, pointed out that Eden Reforestation Projects id the most cost-effective tree-planting nonprofit.  On the policy side, Vicki Arroyo, a law professor and executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center, recommended the Environmental Protection Network, which defends against budget cuts and regulatory rollbacks that could harm public health and the environment. Once you’ve found organizations,  you can assess their backgrounds using tools like Charity Navigator and GuideStar The New York Times