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Madagascar shuts down illegal gold mine
ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar, 21 October 2020 (Mongabay) - Earlier this month, Madagascar’s government suspended a controversial gold-mining operation in Vohilava commune in the country’s southeast. Many local people welcomed the news, which comes after years of tension over the project’s environmental and economic impact and a recent demonstration against it.

First coronavirus cases reported on Lanai
HONOLULU, Hawaii, 20 October 2020 (HNN) - The state Health Department is reporting four COVID-19 cases on Lanai, the first confirmed infections diagnosed on the island since the pandemic began.

Greenland is a security black hole
COPENHAGEN, Denmark, 20 October 2020 (Reuters) - Interest in Greenland is growing, but Danish defense authorities are often in the dark about who's visiting the island's waters.

US plans to confront China in Pacific with island-hopping missile force
LONDON, UK, 21 October 2020 (Times) - The US Marines have tested a new strategy for fighting China in a future naval war that would involve missile-armed units island-hopping across the Pacific.

Last-ditch ideas to save the Arctic ice
LONDON, UK, 20 October 2020 (Guardian) - Time is running out for the Arctic. The region continues to warm at two or three times the global rate and scientists now predict that we could see Arctic summer ice disappear as early as 2042.

Hopes and fears for children as fast internet reaches Pacific
LONDON, UK, 19 October 2020 (Guardian) - New fibre-optic cables to Pacific islands have been cautiously welcomed amid warnings over harassment and violence linked to online platforms.

Philippines president takes responsibility for drug killings
LONDON, UK, 20 October 2020 (Guardian) - Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has said he has no problem with being held responsible for the thousands of killings under his government's war on drugs, adding that he was ready to face charges that could land him in jail, though not charges of crimes against humanity.

All-female scientific coalition calls for protection of Antarctic Peninsula
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, 19 October 2020 (Reuters) - Climate change and human activity are harming Antarctica and threatening wildlife from humpback whales to microscopic algae, more than 280 scientists and conservation experts say in urging protections for the icy region.

Groups push to protect vast swaths of Antarctic seas
SAN FRANCISCO, US, 19 October 2020 (Mongabay) - A coalition of conservation groups is advocating for the establishment of three new marine protected areas (MPAs) in East Antarctica, the Antarctic Peninsula and the Weddell Sea, which would encompass 4 million square kilometers (1.5 million square miles) of the Southern Ocean, or 1% of the global ocean.

Northern Cyprus: Right-wing nationalist Ersin Tatar elected president
LONDON, UK, 19 October 2020 (BBC) - Mr Tatar, who is pro-Turkey and wants the divided Mediterranean island to be two separate states, received nearly 52% of the vote in a surprise victory. His opponent and incumbent leader, Mustafa Akinci, sought reunification with the Greek part of the island.

Australia to set up Pacific Islands security centre in Vanuatu
SYDNEY, Australia, 19 October 2020 (Reuters) - A centre focusing on the security concerns of Pacific island nations will start work in Vanuatu next year, Australia said on Monday, hosting analysts and sharing information on issues from maritime risks to human trafficking and disinformation.

Chagos Islands dispute: Mauritius calls US and UK 'hypocrites'
LONDON, UK, 19 October 2020 (BBC) - Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has labelled the British and Americans "hypocrites" and "champions of double talk" for the way they have behaved over the Chagos Islands.

Madagascar experiments with drones for massive reforestation effort
ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar, 19 October 2020 (Mongabay) - To achieve its ambitious large-scale reforestation goals, Madagascar is turning to the sky. The country will use drones to plant trees in isolated areas. The plan is to drop up to 400,000 tree seeds per day.

Philippine court upholds open-pit mining ban in Mindanao
SOUTH COTABATO, Philippines, 19 October 2020 (Mongabay) - A court in the Philippines has dealt another setback to the company looking to mine Southeast Asia’s largest untapped deposits of copper and gold, ruling to uphold a ban on the type of destructive mining being proposed.

Deforestation threatens to wipe out a primate melting pot
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 19 October 2020 (Mongabay) - Unique primate habitats on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi are under threat from rising deforestation, according to a new study.

Scottish islands in plea to be exempt from lockdown
GLASGOW, UK, 18 October 2020 (Herald) - Scotland's island communities could be given special treatment from the mainland to allow isolated communities return to some form of normality – with locals pointing to testing on arrival as a potential solution.

Why the US election could decide battle against climate change
LONDON, UK, 18 October 2020 (BBC) - In addition to withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, President Trump's team has worked hard to remove what they see as obstacles to efficient energy production. Over the past three years, researchers at Columbia University in New York have tracked more than 160 significant rollbacks of environmental regulations. These cover everything from car fuel standards, to methane emissions, to light bulbs.

Chinese fishing fleets and COVID-19 threaten a natural wonder
GALAPAGOS, Ecuador, 18 October 2020 (LA Times) - As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism has plummeted - tour boats have been moored in Santa Cruz Island’s Academy Bay for months, while shops and restaurants are shuttered along Puerto Ayora’s main drag, Avenida Charles Darwin.

The girl from Bougainville who grew up to take on a mining giant
LONDON, UK, 16 October 2020 (Guardian) - Panguna mine is often cast as the economic key to Bougainville’s potential independence, but young MP Theonila Matbob says her people, and their land, must come first.

Why there is hope that the world's coral reefs can be saved
LONDON, UK, 17 October 2020 (Observer) - With the future of the world’s ecological and human systems now so deeply interconnected, a new movement in reef conservation is putting social systems at its heart and explicitly building resilience into human and ecological systems in tandem. In other words, protecting nature means protecting people.

Seafarers stranded on remote Gough Island after vessel sinks
FORT LAUDERDALE, US, 17 October 2020 (Maritime Execuitive) - A dramatic rescue effort is underway to save 62 seafarers from a remote South Atlantic island after their vessel struck rocks and sunk on October 15. The South African Maritime Authority is confirming the sinking of what they are calling a fishing research vessel, the Geo Searcher, which was lost off Gough Island.

The rats evicted from paradise
LONDON, UK, 17 October 2020 (BBC) - During World War Two, the US military stationed thousands of sailors on the Palmyra Atoll, a ring of pristine, coral-fringed islets in the Central Pacific Ocean. But the ships also brought a host of stowaways to the islands: black rats.

From Green to Blue Economy: A voyage that began in Africa
VICTORIA, Seychelles, 17 October 2020 (Nation) - First, it was the ‘Green Economy’, and now we have the Blue. The ‘Blue Economy’ has become a buzz phrase denoting far-reaching socio-economic and structural transformation ideals, aimed at uplifting livelihoods and bolstering economies.

Island states like mine are banking on an international lifeline
MAJURO, Marshall Islands, 16 October 2020 (Reuters) - The COVID-19 crisis has compounded challenges like climate change, leaving many island nations facing crippling debt, with the future of aid financing unclear.

From rural housewives to Mother Guards of the forest
CAMBRIDGE, UK, 15 October 2020 (BirdLife) - Meet the “Mama-Mama Penjaga Mbeliling” – a group of Indonesian women who believe their duty of care extends far beyond just their children. Taking the future of the forest under their wing, they are unafraid to challenge destructive practices.

New book on Pacific climate change to be launched
APIA, Samoa, 16 October 2020 (SPREP) - A new book, which will provide a rich exchange of diverse ideas on how to tackle climate and its multifaceted impacts, will be launched in person and online during the Third Pacific Ocean Pacific Climate Change Conference on the theme "Blue Pacific, Climate Action for Climate Resilience", held online later this month.

Partnerships, the foundation of nature conservation in the Pacific
APIA, Samoa, 16 October 2020 (SPREP) - “We must admit, after over a year of planning for the 10th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas that was scheduled to take place in New Caledonia from 19 – 24 April 2020, the pandemic COVID-19 hit home on so many fronts.  

Samoa secures a sustainable future with new ocean strategy
APIA, Samoa, 16 October 2020 (CI) - The Samoa Government have launched the Samoa Ocean Strategy, a strategic plan to fully manage their entire ocean area and protect 30 percent.

Move to set sea borders helps Cook Islands fight illegal fishing
WELLINGTON, New Zealand, 15 October 2020 (RNZ) - The Cook Islands is expecting a formal declaration of its sea borders to help in the battle against illegal fishing. The far-flung island nation, which includes 2,000,000 square kilometres of ocean, has been working for several years to establish its maritime boundaries and that work was finally completed this month.

The world's earliest 'babies' were fish from Orkney
LONDON, UK, 15 October 2020 (BBC) - The earliest "babies" known to science have been uncovered in the remains of a primitive fish found in Orkney. Researchers say the unborn embryos discovered in a fossil from the island of South Ronaldsay date from 385 million years ago.

UK brands act to cut catch of 'near-threatened' yellowfin tuna
LONDON, UK, 15 October 2020 (Guardian) - British supermarkets and brands, including Tesco, the Co-op and Princes, are stepping up action to cut yellowfin tuna catches in the Indian Ocean, amid warnings the stock is in a “critical” state.

Rewild to mitigate the climate crisis, urge leading scientists
LONDON, UK, 14 October 2020 (Guardian) - Restoring natural landscapes damaged by human exploitation can be one of the most effective and cheapest ways to combat the climate crisis while also boosting dwindling wildlife populations, a scientific study finds.

Arctic inhabitants overwhelmed by new form of climate grief
LONDON, UK, 15 October 2020 (Guardian) - Across Baffin Island, Inuit are harvesting before autumn begins to transition into winter. Later in the year, when the snows arrive in force and the fjords and harbours become thick with ice, the boats will be replaced by snowmobiles and the area will once again teem with human life.

On Brazil's tropical island of cats, virus led to starvation
MANGARATIBA, Brazil, 14 October 2020 (AP) - All the locals knew the island just west of Rio de Janeiro was teeming with cats. They left food and even brought tourists. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and human support dried up, resulting in a gruesome scene witnessed by fishermen: a group of cats devouring others’ corpses.

Providencia: An island with a 'sea of seven colours'
LONDON, UK, 15 October 2020 (BBC) - Remote, unspoilt and little-visited, the vividly coloured patchwork surrounding the tiny Colombian island is produced by the third-longest barrier reef system on Earth.

Hawaii: What the heck Is going on with neighbor island travel rules?
LIHUE, Hawaii, 12 October 2020 (Civil Beat) - With less than 72 hours to go before tourists start arriving under Hawaii’s new COVID-19 test protocol, the state’s process of figuring out how to proceed seemed more like a demolition derby than an organized policy review.

Why we need trees to end to poverty - Landmark Report
NEW YORK, US, 15 October 2020 (IPS) - Twenty-one scientists and over 40 contributing authors spent the last two years studying the role of forests and trees in poverty alleviation and ultimately, eradication. For two small islands in the Eastern Caribbean, the report’s findings complement ongoing sustainable forestry for poverty alleviation programs.

Bridge of hope for world's rarest primate
LONDON, UK, 15 October 2020 (BBC) - A small number of primates, including the orangutan, have been seen to use artificial rope bridges. But this is the first time the Hainan Gibbon, which lives only in the forests of China's Hainan island, has learnt the ropes.

Indonesia's new deregulation law to hurt small fishers
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 14 October 2020 (Mongabay) - A recently passed deregulation law in Indonesia is poised to hurt the country’s small fishing and coastal communities to benefit large-scale fisheries and tourism developers.

Mystery sea turtle deaths in Sri Lanka
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, 14 October 2020 (Mongabay) - Ten olive ridley sea turtles washed ashore on the beaches of Colombo, Sri Lanka, over a two-day period in early October, leaving experts puzzled about the cause of death.

Great Barrier Reef has lost half of its corals since 1995
LONDON, UK, 14 October 2020 (BBC) - Australia's Great Barrier Reef has lost more than half of its corals since 1995 due to warmer seas driven by climate change, a study has found. The steepest falls came after mass bleaching events in 2016 and 2017. More mass bleaching occurred this year.

Confusion over environmental fallout of Indonesia deregulation law
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 13 October 2020 (Mongabay) - Multiple versions of a sweeping deregulation law passed in Indonesia last week contain substantial differences affecting the nation’s plantation sector, despite assurances from lawmakers that any changes to the text made in recent days were merely cosmetic in nature.

German ship completes historic Arctic expedition
LONDON, UK, 12 October 2020 (BBC) - The German Research Vessel Polarstern has sailed back into its home port after completing a remarkable expedition to the Arctic Ocean. The ship spent a year in the polar north, much of it with its engines turned off so it could simply drift in the sea-ice. And expedition leader, Prof Markus Rex, returned with a warning. "The sea-ice is dying," he said.

PNG to fit ankle monitors to arrivals in Covid quarantine
LONDON, UK, 13 October 2020 (Guardian) - Papua New Guinea will fit all foreign workers coming into the country with an electronic ankle monitor for the duration of their Covid-19 quarantine, the government’s pandemic controller has said.

How Java's slow lorises are creeping back
LONDON, UK, 13 October 2020 (Guardian) - Largely solitary, nocturnal, venomous and pint-sized, slow lorises are strong contenders for the primates that least resemble humans. Which may be why they are among the least studied, least protected and most poorly understood primates.

Pakistan politicians fear losing strategic islands to China
QUETTA, Pakistan, 13 October 2020 (Nikkei) - Pakistan's federal government has triggered a political uproar after taking direct control of two islands previously under the regional government of Sindh province.

Balancing C-19 survival demands on Pacific coastal fisheries
CANBERRA, Australia, 13 October 2020 (IPS) -  Coastal fisheries in the Pacific Islands have become a food and livelihood lifeline to many people who have lost jobs, especially in urban centres and tourism, following COVID-19 lockdowns and border closures. Now governments and development organisations are trying to meet the crisis-driven survival needs of here and now, while also considering the long-term consequences on near shore marine resources and habitats.

Billionaire helps arrange 1M mask donation to Hawaii island
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii, 12 October 2020 (AP) - A billionaire tech entrepreneur with a home on Hawaii island has coordinated a donation of 1 million face masks to slow the spread of the coronavirus there.

Cook Islands makes appointments to SMAC
AUCKLAND, New Zealand, 13 October 2020 (RNZ) - The Cook Islands government has created Seabed Minerals Advisory Committee (SMAC) to provide community perspectives on the controversial issue of seabed mining. However environmentalists have warned the government to listen to the experts on the merits of seabed mining and think about the impact on the water and marine life.

Making SIDS more climate resilient
COPENHAGEN, Denmark, 12 October 2020 (UNOPS) - UNOPS is helping countries like Saint Lucia to protect its people and infrastructure from the threat of climate change and build resilience to its impact.

The race against catastrophe
VICTORIA, Canada, 13 October 2020 (Hakai) - In the last few days of 2018, as the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, Norway, lay cloaked in the long darkness of polar night, a shrimp trawler called the Northguider ran aground off the coast of one of the islands.

New research reveals Aldabra's coral reef resilience and recovery
VICTORIA, Seychelles, 13 October 2020 (Nation) - As the world’s oceans warm due to a changing climate, research on how coral reef ecosystems recover from coral bleaching events is critical to identifying solutions for their conservation.

Responding to COVID-19: time to refocus on Pacific governance
SUVA, Fiji, 13 October 2020 (PACNEWS) - There have been many proposals made to deal with the fallout of COVID-19 on the Pacific Islands, and for how ‘big brothers’ Australia and New Zealand could assist in the recovery.

Scotland to trial world's first hydrogen-powered ferry in Orkney
GLASGOW, UK, 13 October 2020 (Herald) - The Orkney-based European Marine Energy Centre is finalising regulatory approval before testing the Shapinsay ferry in a move that could lead to renewably powered ferries on regular routes around the country’s island and coastal communities.

Greenpeace protest on factory trawler fishing off Orkney
LONDON, UK, 13 October 2020 (BBC) - The environmental group said the Helen Mary was fishing in the Central Fladen marine protected area east of Orkney. Last year, the same vessel was detained at sea by Marine Scotland on suspected fishery offences.

Fifth of countries at risk of ecosystem collapse, analysis finds
LONDON, UK, 12 October 2020 (Guardian) - One-fifth of the world’s countries are at risk of their ecosystems collapsing because of the destruction of wildlife and their habitats, according to an analysis by the insurance firm Swiss Re.

The caretakers of Britain's small islands
NEW YORK, US, 12 October 2020 (NYT) - The waters surrounding Britain are speckled with thousands of small islands, only a small fraction of which are inhabited, some by as few as one or two people.

Okinawa unlocked the secret to long life
OKINAWA, Japan, 12 October 2020 (Nat.Geog) - In the village of Ogimi, located in the rural north of Okinawa’s main island, there’s a small stone marker with a few sentences written in Japanese. Roughly translated, they read: “At 80, you are merely a youth. At 90, if your ancestors invite you into heaven, ask them to wait until you are 100—then, you might consider it.”

High voltage reaches the Cyclades Islands
LYON, France, 12 October 2020 (Euronews) - The Cyclades islands have dropped diesel electricity generators in favour of a direct connection to the cleaner and safer electricity grid of mainland Greece. It’s a multi-million dollar project that will benefit the tourism business and the environment - and it’s supported by the European cohesion policy.

Krakatoa is still active and has no advanced early warning system
LONDON, UK, 9 October 2020 (The Conversation) - The August 1883 eruption of Krakatoa was one of the deadliest volcanic explosions in modern history. The volcano, found in the middle of the Sunda Strait in between two of Indonesia’s largest islands, was on a small island which disappeared almost overnight.

In Bali, the pandemic unravels a hard-won campaign
DENPASAR, Indonesia, 12 October 2020 (Mongabay) - In late August, officials in Bali ratified a new zoning plan, which critics say was passed without sufficient public review or participation. The new regulation allows for sand mining, expansion of Benoa Harbor, and development of Ngurah Rai International Airport.

C-19 has put Asia's Indigenous communities under serious pressure
BRUSSELS, Belgium, 9 October 2020 (Equal Times) - Many communities have been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, but for some, such as the Chao Lay, the global slowdown in travel and tourism has also given them some breathing space. The positive side effects of the pandemic for such communities are, however, few and far between.

How Pacific environmental defenders are coping with covid pandemic
AUCKLAND, New Zealand, 12 October 2020 (PMC) - In this new covid-19 world, environmental and climate crisis defenders are developing new ways to cope and operate under the pandemic constraints.

Saving rare breed Eriskay ponies on a tiny Scottish island
EDINBURGH, UK, 11 October 2020 (Scotsman) - For generations they worked hard on the island, stout and sturdy with baskets of seaweed and peat on their backs. Now a campaign to raise awareness of the Eriskay Pony – one of three native breeds left in the UK – is underway, with fresh hopes to build an island centre that both celebrates the heritage of the ponies as well as protect their diminishing numbers for the future.

Canary Islands see new influx of African migrants
LONDON, UK, 10 October 2020 (BBC) - More than 1,000 migrants from Africa have arrived in the Spanish Canary Islands over the last 48 hours, the Red Cross says. These are figures that have not been seen for more than a decade.

Unexploded 45kg bomb found off Australia's Lord Howe Island
LONDON, UK, 11 October 2020 (Guardian) - An unexploded 45kg bomb has been towed into deep waters five months after being found off the New South Wales coast. The weapon was found in late April by a fisherman on Lord Howe Island’s Elizabeth Reef.

Madagascar court criticizes government handling of mining project
SAN FRANCISCO, US, 9 October 2020 (Mongabay) - Australian firm Base Resources has been trying to develop a large mineral sands mining project in southwest Madagascar.

'Real and imminent' extinction risk to whales
LONDON, UK, 10 October 2020 (BBC) - More than 350 scientists and conservationists from 40 countries have signed a letter calling for global action to protect whales, dolphins and porpoises from extinction.

Cook Islands prime minister gives himself 17 portfolios
LONDON, UK, 10 October 2020 (Guardian) - Mark Brown’s multiple ministries prompt opposition to suggest PM lacks confidence in his cabinet.

Scotland's whisky islands are dealing with a major Covid hangover
ATLANTA, US, 10 October 2020 (CNN) - Off the southwest coast of Scotland lies a collection of small islands that make some of the most distinctive whiskies in the world. Just as the champagne industry cannot be allowed to fail in France's Champagne region, so Scotland protected its whisky industry as best it could during the Covid lockdown.

New Indonesian law may make it harder to punish firms for fires
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 9 October 2020 (Mongabay) - A wide-ranging deregulation bill passed in Indonesia this week downgrades a key legal provision used by authorities to sue plantation firms for the fires that spread across the nation’s peatlands almost every year, blanketing Indonesia and its neighbors in a choking haze.

Singapore on a million-tree planting spree to protect its future
SINGAPORE, 9 October 2020 (Mongabay) - In August 2020, the Singapore government announced the launch of the new Sungei Buloh Park Network, a 400-hectare (990-acre) park in the northern portion of the island that is a refueling site for migratory birds and is home to oriental hornbills, otters, saltwater crocodiles, and many other species. The initiative is part of a larger effort to plant 1 million trees across the city-state by 2030.

Aldabra to be part of study to protect World Heritage Sites
VICTORIA, Seychelles, 10 October 2020 (SNA) - Seychelles' remote Aldabra Atoll is being used as a case study in a new reporting framework devised by international scientists to help protect World Heritage Sites from almost 300 different invasive alien species.

La Nina officially declared in the Pacific
APIA, Samoa, 9 October 2020 (SPREP) - La Niña is a Spanish term which means "a girl", and is the name given to the phenomenon where the trade winds become stronger, enhancing the warm pool in the western Pacific  and causing the sea surface temperatures in the Central and eastern Pacific become cooler.

New book details US military contamination of islands and ocean
LONDON, UK, 10 October 2020 (Guardian) - A new book, Poisoning the Pacific, to be released Monday, chronicles the US military’s decades-long contamination of indigenous lands across the Pacific as well as the ocean itself, endangering lives and ecosystems across the vast Pacific Ocean.

97% of UK offshore marine parks subject to destructive fishing
LONDON, UK, 9 October 2020 (Guardian) - More than 97% of British marine protected areas, created to safeguard ocean habitats, are being dredged and bottom trawled, according to data shared with the Guardian.

Anger as Varosha beach in Cyprus opening after 46 years
LONDON, UK, 9 October 2020 (Guardian) - For the first time in 46 years the public have been permitted to access the beach of Varosha in the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north of Cyprus, in a contentious move unveiled by its internationally unrecognised premier who is running in an election on Sunday.

ROBINSON project launched to decarbonise islands
TRURO, UK, 9 October 2020 (H2 View) - The Horizon 2020 project ROBINSON has been launched to help the decarbonisation of islands in a variety of ways, such as through the use of hydrogen-related technologies. The system will be demonstrated on the island of Eigerøy (Norway) and lab-scale level replication studies will be conducted for the island of Crete and the Western Isles (Scotland).

Phuket hunkers down in tourist-free Thailand
PHUKET, Thailand, 9 October 2020 (AFP) - Phuket's go-go dancers sit playing on their phones in empty bars lining deserted streets as the Thai tourist island reels from the ravages of the pandemic with little sign of any recovery soon.

Research links industrial pig farming and virus outbreaks
SAN FRANCISCO, US, 8 October 2020 (Mongabay) - Researchers have found a surprising correlation in Brazil, the U.S. and Germany: areas with more pigs also have higher COVID-19 infection rates.

The first human settlers on islands caused extinctions
RIVERSIDE, US, 6 October 2020 (ScienceDaily) - Though some believe prehistoric humans lived in harmony with nature, a new analysis of fossils shows human arrival in the Bahamas caused some birds to be lost from the islands and other species to be completely wiped out.

Sumatran bridge project in elephant habitat
OGAN KOMERING ILIR, Indonesia, 7 October 2020 (Mongabay) - Officials in Sumatra plan to build a billion-dollar bridge to the Bangka-Belitung archipelago off the island’s east coast, but conservationists warn it threatens a key habitat of the critically endangered Sumatran elephant.

Indonesia's food estate program eyes new plantations
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 6 October 2020 (Mongabay) - The Indonesian government is doubling down on a plan to establish large-scale agricultural plantations across the country, in a move that threatens widespread deforestation and the disenfranchisement of smallholder farmers.

Maldives pulls out all the stops as COVID-19 devastates tourism
MALE, Maldives, 7 October 2020 (Al Jazeera) - Famed for their pristine beaches and turquoise waters, the Maldives’ 1,192 coral islands are scattered in ring-like chains across the equator, while the country’s 156 upmarket resorts, which make up the backbone of the tourism sector, are located on private islands.

The Thousand Islands archipelago on the US-Canada border
LONDON, UK, 6 October 2020 (Daily Mail) - The Thousand Islands chain on the Saint Lawrence River, which straddles Ontario and New York State on the US-Canada border, consists of a staggering 1,864 islets and among them, you'll find Gothic castles, historic lighthouses, shipwrecks and stately mansions.

The island that humans can't conquer
VICTORIA, Canada, 6 October 2020 (Hakai) - St. Matthew Island is said to be the most remote place in Alaska. Marooned in the Bering Sea halfway to Siberia, it is well over 300 kilometers and a 24-hour ship ride from the nearest human settlements.

Indonesia mass strikes loom over cuts to environmental safeguards
LONDON, UK, 6 October 2020 (Guardian) - Indonesia has passed a wide-ranging bill that will weaken environmental protections and workers’ rights in an attempt to boost investment, a move condemned as a “tragic miscalculation” that could lead to “uncontrolled deforestation”.

Italian islands become 'sex pilgrimage' sites
ROME, Italy, 6 October 2020 (CNN) - Stromboli and Filicudi, two beautiful islands in Sicily's Aeolian archipelago, are believed by some to have magical, aphrodisiac powers ideal for those seeking - or desperately trying to recover - the ecstasy of passionate nights. Which is why they're often known as the "fertility atolls."

Boat connecting Maine's islands to telemedicine will return after refit
BELFAST, US, 5 October 2020 (BDN) - For a quarter century, Maine Seacoast Mission’s ship Sunbeam V has brought telemedicine, meals, fellowship, care and cups of coffee to the people who live in Maine’s year-round island communities.

Fiji to ban polystyrene in 2021
APIA, Samoa, 5 October 2020 (SPREP) - Fiji is one of many Pacific island countries who have shown tremendous leadership in the fight to eradicate single-use plastics, polystyrene and plastic packaging, passing legislation to ban the use and importation of single-use plastics and polystyrene into their countries in order to address the growing global issue of marine plastic pollution. 

A tricky balancing act between development and water
BANTAYAN ISLAND, Philippines, 5 October 2020 (Mongabay) - When rain falls on Bantayan Island, the supply of fresh water rises. If the rains fail, it becomes scarcer. The more than 120,000 residents of Bantayan and 22 nearby islets in Cebu province, in the central Philippines, get all their fresh water from an aquifer that’s replenished by rainfall.

Lord Howe Island reopens after six months in COVID-19 isolation
SYDNEY, Australia, 4 October 2020 (ABC) - Lord Howe Island, 600 kilometres off the east coast of Australia, has been closed to tourists since March 21 to keep coronavirus out and its 350 residents have been taking advantage of having the pristine waters and sub-tropical forest hiking trails all to themselves.

Greenland reimposes traveler quarantines in a bid to remain C-19 free
COPENHAGEN, Denmark, 2 October 2020 (Arctic Today) - In Greenland, the tourism season - for what it was this year - is essentially over. That made this week’s decision to re-implement a mandatory quarantine for people entering the country abroad less painful than it otherwise would have been.

New Caledonia rejects independence from France for second time
NOUMEA, New Caledonia, 4 October 2020 (Guardian) - Voters in the French territory of New Caledonia in the south Pacific have narrowly rejected – for a second time – a proposal to break away from Paris, choosing to remain loyal to the French republic in a nationwide referendum. But campaigners for secession say the struggle for independence will go on.

Climate change and COVID threaten to sink small island nations
NEW YORK, US, 2 October 2020 (SA) - Small island nations are in a bind. Under assault from climate change, they need to spend big to protect their communities from rising seas and dangerous storms. But a major source of income - international tourism - has dried up due to the coronavirus pandemic. So now they’re pleading with world leaders for help and relief.

40,000 years of adapting to sea-level change on Alor Island
CANBERRA, Australia, 2 October 2020 (Phys.org) - Shells, fish bones and fishhooks found on the Indonesian island of Alor show how people lived and adapted to the environment more than 40,000 years ago.

Indian embassy in Madagascar becomes first to go fully solar
ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar, 2 October 2020 (Mongabay) - The Indian embassy in Madagascar went solar to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2, becoming the first Indian embassy to embrace renewable energy.

When roads cross wilderness areas, plant pathogens can hitch a ride
SAN FRANCISCO, US, 2 October 2020 (Mongabay) - On the Åland Islands, a small, sparsely populated archipelago in southern Finland, a team of ecologists spend two weeks each autumn surveying the habitat of a particular butterfly species. The data set has become a one-of-a-kind information-gathering effort and one of the most important models in population biology.

A Philippine tribe's plant-based medical tradition gets its moment
MINDANAO, Philippines, 2 October 2020 (Mongabay) - A newly published study highlights the importance of medicinal plants that thrive on the ancestral lands of the Manobo Indigenous group in the southern Philippines.

Solomon Islands has first case of Covid-19
WELLINGTON, New Zealand, 3 October 2020 (RNZ) - This first case of C-19 was a student who had been repatriated from the Philippines earlier in the week. He tested positive upon arrival, despite passing three earlier tests before departure while awaiting his flight.

Whales seize chance to sing in Alaska's cruise-free Covid summer
LONDON, UK, 2 October 2020 (Guardian) - For Alaskans, summertime means cruise ships. Lots of cruise ships. The 2020 season was expected to commence with a record-breaking deluge of 1.4 million international tourists and glacier gazers that would effectively triple the state’s scant population of 730,000. Once the pandemic hit, that number effectively dropped to zero.

After Hong Kong: China sets sights on solving 'the Taiwan problem'
LONDON, UK, 2 October 2020 (Guardian) - Soon after China imposed the new national security law that effectively ended Hong Kong’s limited autonomy, a hawkish legal academic in Beijing spelt out a warning to Taiwan.

Land grab, logging, mining threaten biodiversity of Woodlark Island
SAN FRANCISCO, US, 1 October 2020 (Mongabay) - A unique rainforest island lying 270 kilometers off Papua New Guinea is once again at the center of a tug-of-war between multiple extractive industries vying for its rich natural resources. Woodlark Island is home to dozens of species found nowhere else on Earth, but faces numerous overlapping threats from gold mining expansion and looming potential agricultural and logging projects.

Visiting workers who broke island virus laws jailed
LONDON, UK, 1 October 2020 (BBC) - Five welders visiting the Isle of Man from England for work have been jailed after breaking the island's coronavirus quarantine rules.

Oil tanker fire in Sri Lanka's waters highlights need for preparedness
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, 1 October 2020 (Mongabay) - Sri Lanka is seeking $2.4 million from the owners of an oil tanker that caught fire off the country’s eastern coast in early September. A joint team from Sri Lanka and India managed to put out the fire, contain a leak of fuel oil, and secure the cargo of 270,000 tonnes of crude oil, averting a potentially catastrophic disaster.

Forest edge communities must be at the center of conservation efforts
NORTH SUMATRA, Indonesia, 30 September 2020 (Mongabay) - With the failure of ecotourism in the wake of COVID-19, safeguarding community well-being requires more focus on diversification of sustainable livelihoods, and a sound strategy for the prevention of human-wildlife conflict.

The group that wants to ban cruise ships from the Florida Keys
LONDON, UK, 1 October 2020 (Guardian) - This stretch of paradise is called the Florida Keys national marine sanctuary, and for six months not a single cruise ship has plowed its shallow and heavily used channel, leaving locals in relative peace and with clear waters many say they have not seen in decades. Now, a group of Key West residents would like to keep it this way.

New Caledonia set for fresh vote on independence from France
LONDON, UK, 30 September 2020 (Guardian) - Sunday’s vote could lay the foundations for the birth of a new nation in the Pacific after surprising support emerged in 2018 referendum.

BVI commits to public register of beneficial owners
LONDON, UK, 1 October 2020 (Guardian) - The government of the British Virgin Islands has finally committed to introducing public registers of beneficial ownership for companies incorporated in the tax haven.

UK Home Secretary considered Ascension for asylum centre location
LONDON, UK, 30 September 2020 (BBC) - The UK government has considered building an asylum processing centre on Ascension Island in the Atlantic Ocean. Labour's shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: "This ludicrous idea is inhumane, completely impractical and wildly expensive - so it seems entirely plausible this Tory government came up with it."

Bougainville residents raise Rio Tinto human rights claims
SYDNEY, Australia, 29 September 2020 (SMH) - More than 150 Bougainville residents are petitioning the Australian government to investigate Rio Tinto over claims its failure to clean up millions of tonnes of waste from its former copper mine on the island has caused severe environmental damage and human rights violations.

African island states launch joint medicines procurement initiative
BRAZZAVILLE, Congo, 29 September 2020 (|WHO) - Ministers of Health from seven small African island states today signed an agreement to jointly procure drugs and vaccines in a bid to improve quality and access to medicines and other health products.

The Greek island luring climate scientists
LONDON, UK, 30 September 2020 (BBC) - Located where three seas converge, Antikythera is a “meteorological melting pot” where you can find dust from the Sahara, tephra from Mount Etna and cinder from Canadian wildfires.

New intelligence hub wields data in the war on illegal fishing
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 29 September 2020 (Mongabay) - The Indonesian Maritime Information Center (IMIC), launched in July, aims to tackle illegal fishing and other maritime violations in the country’s waters by drawing on data and analysis from various ministries and agencies.

Luke's Lobster partners with Island Institute
CAMDEN, US, 30 September 2020 (PBP) - The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged Maine’s fishermen in an unprecedented way. The Island Institute and Luke’s Lobster have formed a strategic partnership and are leveraging more than $2.5 million in funding and shared financial resources to build new markets for Maine’s seafood that will drive economic activity in coastal communities.

Global Covid-19 death toll passes one million
LONDON, UK, 29 September 2020 (BBC) - The number of people worldwide who have died with Covid-19 has passed one million, researchers say, with many regions still reporting surging numbers of new infections. The tally by Johns Hopkins University shows that deaths in the US, Brazil and India make up nearly half that total.

Island economy 'scarred' by Covid-19 restrictions
LONDON, UK, 29 September 2020 (BBC) - A new study has highlighted a third of Arran's economy is reliant on the tourism and hospitality sector. The loss of visitors and reduced ferry capacity to Arran during the Covid pandemic could have "long-term scarring effects" on the island's labour market.

The Micronesia Challenge reaches 2020 milestone year
APIA, Samoa, 29 September 2020 (SPREP) - Fourteen years ago, five Pacific island leaders united for a better Pacific islands region, committing to the Micronesia Challenge, an agreement to effectively conserve at least 30% of the near-shore marine resources and 20% of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020.

A Philippine stingless bee helps boost coconut yields
ALBAY, Philippines, 29 September 2020 (Mongabay) - Josefina Dayta is among the fortunate Filipinos who haven’t had to experience job insecurity amid one of the harshest lockdowns imposed by any government during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the community quarantine, as it’s known here, began on March 15, maintenance work on bee colonies has continued at the Balay Buhay sa Uma Bee (BBu) farm in the Bicol region, southwest of Manila.

Orkney island of Westray claims to have UK's longest golf hole
LONDON, UK, 28 September 2020 (BBC) - A golf course on a small Scottish island claims to be the home of the longest hole in the UK. Until now however it has more or less gone under the radar with no extensive attempts to publicise it. There are plans to change that after the coronavirus pandemic with the message from the club to come to Westray and "take the world's shortest flight and play the UK's longest hole".

Boris Johnson promises to protect 30% of UK's land by 2030
LONDON, UK, 28 September 2020 (BBC) - An extra 400,000 hectares of English countryside will be protected to support the recovery of nature under plans to be announced by Boris Johnson. The prime minister will make the commitment at a virtual United Nations event later. He is joining a global pledge from 65 leaders to reverse losses in the natural world by the same date.

Crew on first post-lockdown Greek cruise contract coronavirus
ATHENS, Greece, 28 September 2020 (AFP) - A dozen crew members on the first cruise ship to dock in Greece after the coronavirus lockdown have tested positive for the virus. The Maltese-flagged Mein Schiff 6, operated by the travel company Tui, is moored off the Aegean island of Milos with 922 passengers onboard, according to the Greek coastguard.

Sri Lanka returns illegal waste to Britain
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, 27 September 2020 (AFP) - Sri Lanka has shipped back to Britain container-loads of waste that the Colombo government said were brought into the island in violation of international laws governing the shipping of hazardous material.

New deep sea MPA to be established off the West of Scotland
EDINBURGH, UK, 25 September 2020 (Scot.gov) - Europe’s largest Marine Protected Area (MPA) has been announced by Natural Environment Minister Mairi Gougeon. The new MPA will give additional protections to some of the deepest parts of Scotland’s seas, protecting Scotland’s unique deep sea marine ecosystems.

New Covid-19 cases confirmed in Western isles
LONDON, UK, 25 September 2020 (BBC) - Three new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the Western Isles, the first positive test results since June. The islands have the lowest cumulative total of cases in Scotland, currently 10 once three false positive results are removed from the figures.

Pacific small islands at UN Assembly make the case for climate action
NEW YORK, US, 25 September 2020 (UN News) - Facing constant threats from climate change and wary of the possible spread of COVID-19 to their shores, Pacific Island leaders on Friday touted their own environmental action plans and called for more aggressive climate action from other nations, including rapid shifts toward clean energy. 

The friends who conquered Skye's formidable Black Cuillin
LONDON, UK, 26 September 2020 (BBC) - More than 130 years ago two men began a years' long adventure to discover, climb and map Skye's famous Black Cuillin. The range of mountains forms one of the world's best-known landscapes.

In this Philippine community, women guard a marine protected area
SIQUIJOR, Philippines, 25 September 2020 (Mongabay) - Women in the central Philippines have banded together to protect their marine sanctuaries from poachers and illegal fishers. Armed with only paddles and kayaks, these women willingly risk their lives to manage their marine protected area.

Why are there unexploded bombs in the Pacific islands?
SYDNEY, Australia, 24 September 2020 (SMH) - The death of two bomb-disposal experts in the Solomon Islands has put the spotlight on a decades-old problem in the Pacific. Why are the islands dotted with bombs? And why is the danger increasing?

Emerging cold war haunts battle-worn Taiwanese islands
GREAT KINMEN ISLAND, Taiwan, 20 September 2020 (WP) - From here, China feels palpably close. So does the memory of war. Anti-landing barricades and rusting tanks on the beach stare down a Chinese metropolis hovering on the horizon. Soldiers from the Taiwanese garrison thunder down the road, still on guard for another attack.

COVID-19 and small island nations
OTAGO, New Zealand, 23 September 2020 (The Conversation) - Despite being at opposite ends of the Earth, Iceland and New Zealand have many similarities. Both are small island nations, heavily reliant on tourism and currently led by young female prime ministers.

Niue considers travelling forward in time to catch up with NZ
LONDON, UK, 24 September 2020 (Guardian) - Some on Niue want to travel through time. The lone Pacific island, one of the smallest nations on Earth, is considering jumping west across the international dateline, to come forward in time, almost a full day.

Few countries living up to Covid 'green recovery' pledges
LONDON, UK, 24 September 2020 (Guardian) - Few countries are living up to their promises of a "green recovery" from the coronavirus crisis, with hundreds of billions of dollars likely to be spent on economic rescue packages that increase greenhouse gas emissions, research has found.

Plans revealed for climate research complex on Governors Island
NEW YORK, US, 24 September 2020 (YIMBY) - The Trust for Governors Island recently unveiled plans to develop a 33-acre climate solutions education and research center near the southern tip of Governors Island in the heart of New York harbour.

Futuristic tower proposed for Roosevelt Island
NEW YORK, US, 23 September 2020 (6sqft) - In response to the idea of the “city of tomorrow,” one that will become carbon neutral by 2050, French architecture firm Rescubika created a proposal for a 2,418-foot tower on narrow Roosevelt Island in New York City's East River, within the borough of Manhattan.

This Greek island wants an end to Greece and Turkey's feud
KASTELLORIZO, Greece, 23 September 2020 (NPR) - The pastel-painted taverns, cafes and hotels that line the small port in the remote Greek island of Kastellorizo this time of year are usually bustling with tourists, including hundreds of day-trippers from Turkey - which is just a 10-minute speedboat ride away.

Scottish island councils want local approach to Covid restrictions
LERWICK, UK, 24 September 2020 (Shetland Times) - The Shetland, Orkney and Western Isles councils have teamed up to seek talks with the Scottish Government over the possibility of a more localised approach to coronavirus restrictions for the islands.

Pandemic panners: Indonesians hunt for gold in desperate times
TIMIKA, Indonesia, 23 September 2020 (AFP) - With the coronavirus devastating jobs across the country, desperate Indonesians are flocking to illegal gold mines as the soaring price of the precious metal overrides the risk to their lives and the environment.

Philippine community goes to court to stop coal plant
MANILA, Philippines, 24 September 2020 (Mongabay) - Community members and civil society groups have filed a petition against a planned coal-fired power plant in the Philippine province of Palawan, a biodiversity haven that’s one of the last strongholds of the country’s most critically endangered species.

Why these islands in the Amazon Delta are falling into pieces
SAN FRANCISCO, US, 24 September 2020 (Mongabay) - Erosion on the shores of the Bailique Archipelago, at the mouth of the Amazon River, has destroyed homes, schools and electricity infrastructure. Without power, this community of fishers and certified sustainable açaí harvesters cannot keep their products refrigerated.

Flip-flops, fishing gear pile up at Aldabra
SAN FRANCISCO, US, 23 September 2020 (Mongabay) - More than 370,000 flip-flops from all over the world are piling up on the Aldabra coral atoll In Seychelles, one of the remotest corners of the planet and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, according to a new study.

Past illegal activity dogs Chinese fleet that fished squid near Galapagos
SANTIAGO, Chile, 23 September 2020 (Mongabay) - In early June, a fleet of around 260 boats from China reached the limits of Ecuador’s exclusive economic zone around the Galápagos Islands to fish for Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas). For months, the fleet skirted this area, drawing outrage among Ecuadorans as well as scientists and conservationists around the world.

A controversial Greenland mine passes a key regulatory hurdle
COPENHAGEN, Denmark, 24 September 2020 (Arctic Today) - One of Greenland’s most controversial mining projects, a proposed uranium and rare earths mine, has reached what its owners describe as a “major” milestone in its approval process, after authorities said a revised version of the environmental impact assessment met all the requirements for it to be accepted for public review.

Bougainville: A new captain at the helm
SYDNEY, Australia, 24 September 2020 (Interpreter) - Following weeks of anticipation, the people of Bougainville woke on Wednesday to news of a new president-elect. Former Bougainville Revolutionary Army Commander Ishmael Toroama, from Central Bougainville, will take up the mantle of president from John Momis.

Almost 400 pilot whales die in Australia's worst stranding
LONDON, UK, 23 September 2020 (BBC) - Since Monday, hundreds of long-finned pilot whales have been found beached on Tasmania's west coast in what is suspected to be Australia's largest stranding on record, officials say.

Climate change: China aims for carbon neutrality by 2060
LONDON, UK, 23 September 2020 (BBC) - China will aim to hit peak emissions before 2030 and for carbon neutrality by 2060, President Xi Jinping has announced when speaking via videolink to the UN General Assembly in New York. Observers believe that in making this statement at this time, the Chinese leader is taking advantage of US reluctance to address the climate question.

156 countries agree to Covid vaccine allocation deal
LONDON, UK, 21 September 2020 (Guardian) - A coalition of 156 countries has agreed a “landmark” deal to enable the rapid and equitable global distribution of any new coronavirus vaccines to 3% of participating countries’ populations, to protect vulnerable healthcare systems, frontline health workers and those in social care settings.

Rathlin Island: The UK island with no coronavirus cases
LONDON, UK, 22 September 2020 (BBC) - No shopping trips, no nightclubs, no cinema visits. National lockdown felt pretty different for most of us. But on Rathlin Island, a small L-shaped bit of land off the coast of Northern Ireland, they're used to it. Although it hasn't had any cases of Coronavirus, Rathlin went in to lockdown in March.

Arctic sea-ice shrinks to near record low extent
LONDON, UK, 21 September 2020 (BBC) - This summer's Arctic sea-ice shrank to its second lowest ever extent in the era of satellite observation. The floes withdrew to just under 3.74 million sq km (1.44 million sq miles) last week, preliminary data indicates.

Rohingya refugees allege sexual assault on Bangladeshi island
LONDON, UK, 22 September 2020 (Guardian) - Rohingya refugees allege they are being held against their will in jail-like conditions and subjected to rape and sexual assault on a Bangladeshi island in the Bay of the Bengal. 

Only 12 countries are free of COVID - 10 of them in the Pacific
SYDNEY, Australia, 22 September 2020 (SMH) - Just a dozen countries have recorded no cases of COVID-19. Ten of them are Pacific island nations, directly to Australia's east. How did they do it? One strategy has been central to their virus-free status: each country's government quickly closed borders to international travel at the start of the pandemic.

40% of O'ahu, Hawai'i beaches could be lost by mid-century
MANOA, Hawaii. 21 September 2020 (ScienceDaily) - The reactive and piecemeal approach historically used to manage beaches in Hawai'i has failed to protect them. If policies are not changed, as much as 40% of all beaches on O'ahu, Hawai'i could be lost before mid-century, according to a new study.

Coronavirus: WHO sets rules for testing African herbal remedies
LONDON, UK, 20 September 2020 (BBC) - The World Health Organization (WHO) has agreed rules for the testing of African herbal remedies to fight Covid-19. Madagascar's leader has been promoting an untested product he says can cure the disease despite the WHO warning against using untested remedies.

No more mass tourism in Bali
STOCKPORT, UK, 21 September 2020 (TR News) - Well known Kuta Beach is hardly recognizable. Even the famous sunsets over the Indian Ocean take place without a large audience because of the coronavirus. Bali has become a deserted destination.

Study of Orkney economy sheds light on island prosperity
LONDON, UK, 20 September 2020 (BBC) - As northern isles rattle the independence cage, a study of Orkney's economy sheds light on the distinctive nature of island prosperity, and points to some of the challenges small island groups might face.

How coral transplants could rescue Turkey's threatened reefs
LONDON, UK, 21 September 2020 (Guardian) - Transplanting coral is difficult work. A small group of volunteers have taken on the huge task of saving the corals around the Princes’ Islands (Adalar), a picturesque archipelago in the Marmara Sea about a 40-minute boat ride from Istanbul.

The climate crisis will sweep away my country
LONDON, UK, 20 September 2020 (Guardian) - My country joined the United Nations nearly 30 years ago, in September 1991, writes David Kabua, President of the Marshall Islands. But unless my fellow member states take action, we may also be forced from it: the first country to see our land swept away by climate change.

When the otters vanished, everything else started to crumble
NEW YORK, US, 10 September 2020 (NYT) - Against the backdrop of climate change, the delicate underwater ecology of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands is hurting from declines in otters.

Hawaiian reefs lost almost half their fish to pollution and fishing
SAN FRANCISCO, US, 21 September 2020 (Mongabay) - A new study has found a 45% decline in the biomass of important fish species in West Hawai‘i’s reefs across a 10-year period. According to the research, sewage pollution was the biggest contributor to declining fish biomass; spearfishing, collection for the aquarium trade, and fishing using lay nets followed closely behind.