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A sea of rubbish: ocean floor landfills
BARCELONA, Spain, 20 January 2021 (SPX) - The Messina Strait, a submarine bridge separating the island of Sicily from the Italian Peninsula, is the area with the largest marine litter density worldwide - more than a million objects per square kilometre in some parts.

Pet trade relies on 'disposable' wild chameleons from Madagascar
DIANA REGION, Madagascar, 20 January 2021 (Mongabay) - Despite being difficult to keep alive and healthy, chameleons are among the most popular reptiles in the exotic pet trade. Each year hundreds of thousands of these slow-moving reptiles are taken from the wild, both legally and illegally, many of them from threatened species living in the forests of Madagascar.

Australian lawyer arrested in PNG over alleged $100m fraud
PORT MORESBY, PNG, 21 January 2021 (Guardian) - An Australian lawyer, Greg Sheppard, has been arrested in Port Moresby over an alleged 268m kina (A$96m) fraud involving trust funds from the controversial Ok Tedi mine in Papua New Guinea.

Giant worm's undersea lair discovered by fossil hunters in Taiwan
LONDON, UK, 21 January 2021 (Guardian) - The undersea lair of a giant worm that ambushed passing marine creatures 20m years ago has been uncovered by fossil hunters in Taiwan.

German and Danish TSOs form Bornholm Energy Island Pact
SCHIEDAM, The Netherlands, 21 January 2021 (Offshore WIND) - German transmission system operator (TSO) 50Hertz and Danish TSO Energinet have signed a Letter of Intent to collaborate on the Bornholm Energy Island project in the Baltic Sea. The Bornholm Energy Island would connect Germany and Denmark to an offshore hub with around 2,000 MW of wind power capacity that is planned on the island of Bornholm.

Implications of the Biden presidency for the Pacific Island region
CANBERRA, Australia, 21 January 2021 (APPS) - The big takeaway for the Pacific is that Biden will seek to reinvigorate multilateralism. This is generating considerable optimism as Pacific countries are adept at using global forums to advocate for their shared interests – particularly climate change. Trump’s dismissal and undermining of multilateral fora was a point of some frustration for Pacific Island states. 

Jamaica failing to cope with plastic waste
KINGSTON, Jamaica, 20 January 2021 (IPS) - For decades, every time it rains heavily in Jamaica, a daunting deluge of plastic bottles and bags, styrofoam and other garbage trundles its way down a network of countless gullies and streams. If they don’t get snagged somewhere, they end up in the Kingston Harbour or close to the beaches ringing the tourist-heavy North coast.

Low-carbon aircraft to be trialled in Orkney
LONDON, UK, 20 January 2021 (BBC) - Different types of low-carbon emission aircraft are to be tested on routes between islands in Orkney. The 18-month project forms part of long-term plans to reduce harmful emissions in the Highlands and Islands. The trial will include electric and hydrogen-powered planes, as well as drone deliveries. The aim is to eventually create the "world's first zero emission aviation region" in the Highlands and Islands.

Outer Hebrides islands put into lockdown as Covid takes hold
LONDON, UK, 20 January 2021 (Guardian) - About 1,000 islanders on Barra in the Outer Hebrides are taking a “robust and responsible” approach to being placed in full lockdown from midnight on Tuesday, as a coronavirus outbreak spreads to affect about 16% of the population. Having kept the virus off the 11-mile-long island since the pandemic began, there are now 45 positive tests with a further 140 individuals self-isolating.

Palm oil plantations, coal mines linked to deadly Indonesia flood
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 20 January 2021 (Mongabay) - Recent floods that inundated large areas of the southern part of Indonesian Borneo might have been exacerbated by massive deforestation for oil palm plantations and coal mines, activists say.

Public hearings on a controversial Greenland mine delayed
COPENHAGEN, Denmark, 19 January 2021 (Arctic Today) - Public hearings on a controversial and long-discussed rare earths and uranium mine in Greenland have been pushed back two weeks, but opponents of the mine say that’s not enough to ensure a robust public process, and called for a halt in the process until coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

Palau's new president vows to stand up to 'bully' China
KOROR, Palau, 18 January 2021 (Guardian) - Palau’s president-elect has vowed to stand up to Chinese “bullying” in the Pacific, and said the small archipelago nation will stand by its alliances with “true friends”, the United States and Taiwan.

Dominican Republic activists fear total abortion ban
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, 18 January 2021 (Guardian) - As Argentina becomes the first major Latin America country to fully legalize abortion, activists in the Dominican Republic fear their own government is banishing its women to the dark ages by upholding a total ban.

BVI governor launches inquiry into alleged corruption
LONDON, UK, 18 January 2021 (Guardian) - Allegations of widespread political corruption, misuse of taxpayer’s money and a climate of fear in the British Virgin Islands have led its governor to take the extraordinary step of establishing an independent judge-led inquiry into the claims.

How little birds in the Galapagos evolved to drink blood
CAMBRIDGE, UK, 15 January 2021 (The Conversation) - At some point in the last half million years – recent in evolutionary terms – finches arrived on Wolf and Darwin and began to co-exist with large seabirds which nest on the islands, such as red-footed and Nazca boobies. Over time, it seems the finches likely evolved to eat parasites found in the feathers and on the skin of the boobies.  

Scottish island covid outbreak serious and escalating
LONDON, UK, 16 January 2021 (BBC) - Health officials have described a Covid outbreak on Barra in the Western Isles as "serious, and escalating" after 17 further cases were identified. There are now more than 110 people in isolation after 27 positive cases, with islanders being urged to stay at home. The number in isolation represents about a 10th of the island's total population.

US military sonar linked to whale beachings in Pacific
LONDON, UK, 15 January 2021 (Guardian) - In the midst of the western Pacific, flanked by the world's deepest ocean trench, the waters off the Mariana Islands are home and habitat to whales, dolphins, and countless other marine mammals as they breed and feed. It’s also where they encounter the might of the US military.

Penguins compete with commercial fishing fleets for krill
LONDON, UK, 15 January 2021 (Pew) - The South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands population of gentoo penguins could be under threat. Recent research has found that over certain periods of the year, the penguins forage for food, such as krill, in the same areas where an industrial krill fishery operates. This overlap could carry negative consequences for the birds.

Seagrass 'Neptune balls' sieve millions of plastic particles from water
LONDON, UK, 15 January 2021 (Guardian) - Underwater seagrass in coastal areas appear to trap plastic pollution in natural bundles of fibre known as “Neptune balls”, researchers have found. With no help from humans, the swaying plants – anchored to shallow seabeds – may collect nearly 900m plastic items in the Mediterranean alone every year.

Archaeologists find world's oldest animal cave painting in Indonesia
LONDON, UK, 14 January 2021 (BBC) - Archaeologists have discovered the world's oldest known animal cave painting in Indonesia - a wild pig - believed to be drawn 45,500 years ago. Painted using dark red ochre pigment, the life-sized picture of the Sulawesi warty pig appears to be part of a narrative scene.

Bali's thieving monkeys can spot high-value items to ransom
LONDON, UK, 14 January 2021 (Guardian) - At the Uluwatu temple in Bali, monkeys mean business. The long-tailed macaques who roam the ancient site are infamous for brazenly robbing unsuspecting tourists and clinging on to their possessions until food is offered as ransom payment.

SIDS highlight toll of climate disasters in submissions to UN
LONDON, UK, 13 January 2021 (CHN) - Poor and island states have called on rich nations to provide more funding to help them recover from disasters such as storms, flooding and drought, in updated climate plans submitted to the UN. 

Sea lion's death from tuberculosis on Kangaroo Island
ADELAIDE, Australia, 14 January 2021 (ABC) - An animal scientist wants more Australian sea lions tested for tuberculosis, after one of the creatures was found to have died from the disease on Kangaroo Island.

A third of Taiwan's reefs are dying
TAIPEI, Taiwan, 13 January 2021 (AFP) - An investigation conducted last year in 62 locations around the island by the Taiwan Coral Bleaching Observation Network (TCBON) showed bleaching had reached its worst recorded levels. Half of Taiwan's reefs have been hit by bleaching with 31 percent so badly impacted that they are dying and probably beyond saving.

Scientists discover the secret of Galapagos rich ecosystem
SOUTHAMPTON, UK, 14 January 2021 (Phys.org) - New research has unlocked the mystery of how the Galápagos Islands, a rocky, volcanic outcrop, with only modest rainfall and vegetation, is able to sustain its unique wildlife habitats.

Deforestation by road project creeps closer to Sumatra national park
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 14 January 2021 (Mongabay) - An upgrade to a road that cuts through one of Southeast Asia’s last great swaths of intact rainforest is driving deeper encroachment by humans into blocks of forest that may spread into a national park.

Top scientists warn of biodiversity loss and climate crisis
LONDON, UK, 13 January 2021 (Guardian) - The planet is facing a “ghastly future of mass extinction, declining health and climate-disruption upheavals” that threaten human survival because of ignorance and inaction, according to an international group of scientists, who warn people still haven’t grasped the urgency of the biodiversity and climate crises.

The ecotourism challenge facing Australia's favourite islands
ADELAIDE, Australia, 13 January 2021 (The Conversation) - Kangaroo Island (Australia’s third-largest after Tasmania and Melville Island) is one of 16 designated National Landscapes and arguably South Australia’s greatest tourism treasure. Its protected areas (notably Flinders Chase National Park) are home to rare and endangered marsupials and birds.

Philippines Duterte stops mining on 'devastated' southern island
MANILA, Philippines, 12 January 2021 (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a halt to all mining on an island in a southern province that is home to some of the country’s nickel projects,

Puerto Rico's deposed governor describes flight from the island
NEW YORK, US, 13 January 2021 (NYT) - In his first newspaper interview since a public uprising forced him to step down last year, Ricardo A. Rosselló laments “the complete devastation of my reputation.”

UN seeks $35 million in emergency aid for Madagascar
ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar, 12 January 2021 (AFP) - The UN's World Food Programme  appealed on Tuesday for emergency aid of $35 million to fight hunger in southern Madagascar, hit by the coronavirus pandemic and a third consecutive year of drought.

Deregulation law 'raises corruption risk' in Indonesia's forestry sector
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 13 January 2021 (Mongabay) - A controversial new law that makes sweeping cuts to environmental regulations may also pave the way for greater corruption in Indonesia’s forestry sector, academics have warned.

Fisheries need to make gender inclusion a norm
SAN FRANCISCO, US, 12 January 2021 (Mongabay) - A study into gender-inclusion approaches on Fiji, Vanatu and Solomon Islands finds most focus on women while overlooking the role of men and gender relations.

Paper giant APP failing its own sustainability goals
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 11 January 2021 (Mongabay) - Activists have called on financiers and clients of Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), one of the world’s biggest paper producers, to stop doing business with the company, citing alleged violations of its own sustainability commitments.

Cuba placed back on US terrorism sponsor list
LONDON, UK, 11 January 2021 (BBC) - The US has placed Cuba back on a list of state sponsors of terrorism, citing the communist country's backing of Venezuela. President Donald Trump's administration made the announcement just days before he leaves the White House.

Renewed calls for Channel Island tunnel after Faroe Islands success
LONDON, UK, 12 January 2021 (ITV) - Backers of plans for a tunnel between Guernsey and Jersey claim a similar scheme just completed in the Faroe Islands demonstrates it would be feasible here.

UK climate finance to be spent on supporting nature
LONDON, UK, 11 January 2021 (BBC) - The UK will spend at least £3bn of international climate finance on nature and biodiversity over five years, the Prime Minister has said. Boris Johnson made the announcement in a virtual address to the One Planet Summit for biodiversity in Paris where Prince Charles also asked companies to join what he is calling "Terra Carta" - or Earth charter, which aims to raise £7.3bn to invest in the natural world.

Commitment to protect 30% of Earth's land and oceans
LONDON, UK, 11 January 2021 (Guardian) - The High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People, which includes the UK and countries from six continents, made the pledge to protect at least 30% of the planet’s land and oceans before the One Planet summit in Paris on Monday, hosted by the French president, Emmanuel Macron.

Non-native species are the primary seed-dispersers on Oahu
WASHINGTON, US, 11 January 2021 (UPI) - On Oahu, the third largest of the Hawaiian islands, not only have non-native bird species taken over seed dispersal networks, researchers found, but they're also mostly dispersing the seeds of non-native plants.

Kangaroo Island: a place of empty beaches and hidden history
LONDON, UK, 9 January 2021 (Guardian) - Kangaroo Island’s devastating fires of 2019-20 destroyed buildings and scorched souls. The island will take a long time to revive physically and psychologically. So much tourist infrastructure was destroyed that the island’s economy received a massive hit. Recovery will be slow and painful.

US to lift restrictions on contacts with Taiwan
LONDON, UK, 10 January 2021 (BBC) - The US is lifting long-standing restrictions on contacts between American and Taiwanese officials, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says. The "self-imposed restrictions" were introduced decades ago to "appease" the mainland Chinese government, which lays claim to the island, the US state department said in a statement. These rules are now "null and void".

Pender Island couple only eating what they can grow and catch
VICTORIA, Canada, 10 January 2021 (Times Colonist) - The pandemic to most of us has meant sequestered days at home and weekly trips to the grocery store but for a Pender Island couple, stores are out of the question. They are five months into their year-long quest to only eat what they catch, grow, harvest and raise.

Threat of FADs on Seychelles fragile marine ecosystems
VICTORIA, Seychelles, 9 January 2021 (Nation) - The widespread use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) in tuna fisheries is still considered as an important global management concern. Currently in Seychelles, tuna purse seiners or tuna fishing vessels are deploying these man-made floating objects in large numbers.

Funding boost for Scottish green island projects
EDINBURGH, UK, 8 January 2021 (IS) - Seaweed farming, environmentally friendly washing for B&Bs, and local food production are just some of the first projects to benefit from the £2m Islands Green Recovery Programme.

A good year for the Philippine eagle in 2020
MINDANAO, Philippines, 8 January 2021 (Mongabay) - The country’s pandemic lockdown, among the longest and strictest in the world, curtailed field expeditions in the southern Mindanao region, impacting the conservation of the critically endangered Philippine eagles.

Poor pregnant Marshall Islands women lured to the US
MAJURO, Marshall Islands, 8 January 2021 (Guardian) - Dozens of women from the Pacific island victims of brazen trafficking ring that operated for years. The scheme involved pregnant Marshallese women being lured to the United States and enticed, with offers of $10,000 and the promise of a new life in America, to give up their babies, which were then adopted out to US couples willing to pay four times that amount for a child.

Hundreds of Pacific Islands are getting bigger despite global warming
SYDNEY, Australia, 8 January 2021 (ABC) - Scientists at the University of Auckland found atolls in the Pacific nations of Marshall Islands and Kiribati, as well as the Maldives archipelago in the Indian Ocean, have grown up to 8 per cent in size over the past six decades despite sea level rise.

Solar-plus-pumped hydro project for Hawaiian island of Kaua'i
LONDON, UK, 8 January 2021 (PV-Tech) - A large-scale solar PV system paired with pumped hydro energy storage could cover as much as 25% of the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i’s energy demand, pushing the island’s total share of renewables in its energy mix past 80%.

Two new incinerators aim to ease Greenland's trash problem
COPENHAGEN, Denmark, 7 January 2021 (ArcticToday) - Two new trash-to-energy systems are expected to provide residents of Greenland’s two largest cities with heat and hot water while at the same time helping the country address a lack of waste management facilities.

The hit Indian island radio station leading climate conversations
LONDON, UK, 7 January 2021 (Guardian) - Selvarani Mari is a fisher and seaweed collector who lives on Pamban Island of Tamil Nadu, on the southernmost tip of India. Every day she helps her husband cast the fishing nets, maintains rafts for cultivating seaweed, and dives into the ocean to gather sargassum. But she always makes time to listen to the radio.

For heavily indebted SIDS, resilience-building is the best antidote
GENEVA, Switzerland, 7 January 2021 (UNCTAD) - Small island nations are taking on water in the form of a vicious debt trap which damages their productivity and ability to recover from disasters and other structural constraints. UNCTAD warns the situation is unsustainable and requires urgent global attention.

Film festival invites fans to watch movies alone on a Swedish island
NEW YORK, US, 7 January 2021 (CNN) - Taking social distancing to a whole new level, Sweden's Goteborg Film Festival is inviting one cinema fan to spend seven days on an isolated lighthouse island, with only movies and the North Sea for company.

Martha's Vineyard companies lead the way in sustainable home energy
TISBURY, US, 6 January 2021 (MV Times) - Locally owned design and engineering firms are offering sustainable alternatives for home energy, and are working to educate the Island community about the financial and environmental benefits of reducing their carbon footprint.

Canary Islands beaches deserted as C-19 decimates Spanish tourism
GRAN CANARIA, Spain, 5 January 2021 (Reuters) - International tourist arrivals in Spain fell 90% year-on-year in November, official data showed on Tuesday, after authorities imposed new travel restrictions to curb an increase in coronavirus infections.

Islanders help rescue orca stranded on Orkney beach
LONDON, UK, 6 January 2021 (BBC) - A young orca has been rescued after becoming stranded on a beach in Orkney. The 3.4m (11ft) long animal, thought to be a male, was spotted at Bay of Newark on Sanday on Monday.

Irish boat blocked from fishing off Rockall
LONDON, UK, 5 January 2021 (BBC) - An Irish fishing vessel has been blocked from entering waters around Rockall in the North Atlantic. Its captain Adrian McClenaghan was told he can no longer fish within 12 nautical miles of the eroded volcano as a result of Brexit.

The nations that have sidestepped the pandemic so far
LONDON, UK, 6 January 2021 (Guardian) - A handful of countries – most of them islands, most of them remote – remain coronavirus-free, but life has not remained wholly unchanged.

Study tracks changes to fishing, culture on island in Bahamas
RALEIGH, US, 6 January 2021 (NCSU) - Interviews with fishermen and women on Andros, the largest island in the Bahamas, reveal how tourism and modern development helped change the island’s culture and environment. The island, which contains undeveloped natural areas with high biodiversity and important ecological features, has a history of artisanal fishing.

Virus free Palau could soon vaccinate almost all its people
WASHINGTON, US, 5 January 2021 (WP) - The tiny island nation of Palau could be one of the first countries to vaccinate nearly its entire population against the coronavirus. If it succeeds, it will have Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. vaccine development and distribution plan, to thank.

Christmas Island detainees riot and set fire to buildings
LONDON, UK, 6 January 2021 (Guardian) - Detainees at the Christmas Island detention centre have set buildings on fire and rioted as part of a protest over conditions at the centre.

Indonesia's plantation program on collision course with wildlife
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 6 January 2021 (Mongabay) - The survival of critically endangered wildlife like Sumatran orangutans and tigers and the livelihoods of Indigenous communities might be in jeopardy as the Indonesian government plans to establish large-scale agricultural plantations overlapping with their forests, activists warn.

A hi-tech eye in the sky lays bare Hawaii living coral reefs
SAN FRANCISCO, US, 5 January 2021 (Mongabay) - A team of researchers used an airborne mapping technique to survey living coral distribution across the main Hawaiian archipelago.

Indonesia renews peat restoration bid to include mangroves
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 5 January 2021 (Mongabay) - An Indonesian government initiative that fell short of its goal to rehabilitate degraded peat forests will get another chance to do so - plus the added task of rehabilitating mangrove habitats.

Agribusiness giants ADM, Bunge trading in 'conflict' palm oil
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 4 January 2021 (Mongabay) - U.S. agribusiness giants Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Bunge are buying palm oil from mills in Indonesia that have been publicly linked to land and human rights violations and environmental destruction, a new report alleges.

In Iceland, a disagreement over how best to protect a natural treasure
COPENHAGEN, Denmark, 4 January 2021 (Arctic Today) - Repeated polls have shown there is widespread support for establishment of Hálendið, which would encompass about a third of the country’s entire area and be Europe’s largest national park.

Keeping watch over seabirds at the world's edge
VICTORIA, Canada, 5 January 2021 (Hakai) - In Alaska, one of the longest-running and most comprehensive seabird monitoring projects is equal parts tedium, adventure, truth, and beauty as scientists circumnavigate St. Matthew Island and its two neighbors, Hall Island and Pinnacle Island.

Seychelles records first Covid-19 death
VICTORIA, Seychelles, 5 January 2021 (Nation) - The country has sadly recorded its first Covid-19 related death as it experiences its biggest surge of Covid-19 cases since the pandemic started.

Bali's beaches buried in tide of plastic rubbish
LONDON, UK, 3 January 2021 (Guardian) - Bali’s famous beaches are being strewn by plastic rubbish in what experts say is becoming an annual event thanks to monsoon weather, poor waste management and a global marine pollution crisis.

Australia's influence in Pacific Islands grows as China's wanes
NEW YORK, US, 3 January 2021 (Bloomberg) - Scott Morrison’s government has promised to supply its neighbors with Covid-19 vaccines in 2021 as part of a A$500 million package aimed at achieving “full immunization coverage” in the region. It also recently signed a “landmark” deal with Fiji, one of the region’s most populous nations, to allow military deployments and exercises in each other’s jurisdiction.

Rio Tinto face environmental, human rights complaint in PNG
CANBERRA, Australia, 4 January 2021 (IPS) - Local communities in the vicinity of the abandoned Panguna copper mine, have taken decisive action to hold the global mining multinational, Rio Tinto, accountable for alleged environmental and human rights violations during the mine’s operations between 1972 and 1989.

How Taiwan plans to stay (mostly) Covid-free
TAIPEI, Taiwan, 2 January 2021 (NYT) - Consider for a moment, in this time of anguish and loss and death, of mass unemployment and flattened national economies, the Twilight Zone alternate reality that is Taiwan.

Online drone display lights up skies for Hogmanay
LONDON, UK, 31 December 2020 (BBC) - The final part of a huge drone display, forming images across Scotland's skies, has gone online in place of outdoor Hogmanay celebrations.

Why 2021 could be turning point for tackling climate change
LONDON, UK, 1 January 2021 (BBC) - Countries only have only a limited time in which to act if the world is to stave off the worst effects of climate change. Here are five reasons why 2021 could be a crucial year in the fight against global warming. Firstly, in November 2021, world leaders will be gathering in Glasgow for the successor to the landmark Paris meeting of 2015.

Pakistan's Arabian Sea islands risk environmental disaster
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, 1 January 2021 (DW) - Pakistan's federal government is planning to build modern cities on the Bundal and Dingi islands, which could ease pressure on Karachi, the country's financial hub. Experts say it would be an ecological catastrophe.

Indonesian fisher finds drone submarine on possible covert mission
TAIPEI, Taiwan, 31 December 2020 (Guardian) - An Indonesian fisher has found what experts say is likely to be a Chinese submarine drone in waters on a strategic maritime route from the South China Sea to Australia.

New Zealand's audacious effort to save its unique wildlife
COAL ISLAND, New Zealand, 31 December 2020 (WP) - If you wanted to design the perfect predator, the stoat would be hard to beat. Ali King calls it the shark of the New Zealand bush, and it’s a fitting description. Stoats were introduced here in the late 1800s to help control the imported rabbits that were overrunning sheep pastures. Instead, they quickly became indiscriminate serial killers.

Why the Marshall Islands can't save itself from climate change
HONOLULU, Hawaii, 31 December 2020 (Civil Beat) - King tides are nothing new for the Marshall Islands, a nation made up of 29 low-lying coral atolls that stretch across more than a million square miles of Pacific Ocean northeast of Australia. By 2035, the U.S. Geological Survey projects that some of the Marshall Islands will be submerged.

Iceland's innovations to reach net-zero
LONDON, UK, 30 December 2020 (Guardian) - Isolated and challenged by a harsh climate and battered by the financial crisis of 2008, Iceland has successfully moved away from fossil fuels and shifted to 100% electricity production from renewable sources. The island nation has developed high-tech greenhouses to grow organic vegetables and embraced sustainable fish farming, ecotourism, breakthrough processes for carbon capture and disposal, and efforts to restore the forests that were lost in earlier centuries.

Fractures to Antarctic iceberg reduce risk to South Georgia wildlife
LONDON, UK, 29 December 2020 (Guardian) - A giant iceberg, heading for the island of South Georgia, is continuing to fracture into smaller pieces, meaning it poses less of a threat to the island’s wildlife and ecosystem.

Preserving the indigenous languages of Vanuatu
HAMILTON, New Zealand, 29 December 2020 (The Conversation) - Vanuatu has been described as the world’s "densest linguistic landscape", with as many as 145 languages spoken by a population of fewer than 300,000 people. Malekula, the second-largest island in the archipelago, has a linguistic connection to Aotearoa. All of its many languages are distantly related to te reo Māori and the island is the site of a long-term project to document them.

Stewart Island proving a hit with domestic travellers
AUCKLAND, New Zealand, 30 December 2020 (NZ Herald) - A tourism operator believes Stewart Island is having its best summer in 30 years. Rakiura Adventure owner Manfred Herzhoff has been overwhelmed with the number of visitors to the island and said it was one of few businesses benefiting from border closures.

Marshalls first independent Pacific nation to launch Covid vaccines
WELLINGTON, New Zealand, 30 December 2020 (RNZ) - The US Centers for Disease Control delivered to Majuro an initial batch of 1,200 Moderna brand vaccine Tuesday morning and the Ministry of Health wasted little time, rolling out the vaccine launch the same afternoon.

Chagos Islanders pin their hopes on Biden
LONDON, UK, 29 December 2020 (Guardian) - Decades after the US took over the territory for a military base, families separated and forced to leave their homes are still waiting for compensation.

Bangladesh moves more Rohingyas to remote island
BANGKOK, Thailand, 28 December 2020 (Guardian) - Bangladesh has begun moving the second group of Rohingya refugees from crammed camps in Cox’s Bazar to a remote island in the Bay of Bengal, in defiance of safety and security concerns from international rights advocates.

Indonesia looking to boost domestic demand for coal
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 28 December 2020 (Mongabay) - With international demand slowing, the government of Indonesia, a major coal producer and exporter, is looking to boost domestic demand for the fossil fuel in part through a new technology: coal gasification, turning solid coal into the liquid fuels methanol and dimethyl ether that can replace imported liquefied petroleum gas.

Top Indonesian palm oil developments in 2020
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 28 December 2020 (Mongabay) - A persistent pandemic, falling palm oil prices and escalating conflicts failed to slow the environmental and social fallouts from the growth of the palm oil industry in Indonesia, the world’s biggest producer of the commodity.

Amid pandemic, Pacific islands work to offset food shortages
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 28 December 2020 (AP) - Coronavirus infections have barely touched many of the remote islands of the Pacific, but the pandemic’s fallout has been enormous, disrupting the supply chain that brings crucial food imports and sending prices soaring as tourism wanes.

Nantucket got pummeled by COVID. Then the warring started
HYANNIS, US, 28 December 2020 (Daily Beast) - As the freezing water sloshed up against the sides of the boat and the first winter Nor’easter formed off the shores of Cape Cod, a team of men hoisted a small white box onto a ferry.

Nova Scotia missionaries left a lasting legacy on Trinidad
HALIFAX, Canada, 28 December 2020 (CBC) - In 1864, a Presbyterian minister from Nova Scotia arrived in Trinidad and changed the face of education on the island forever. But historians say his legacy isn't entirely positive. 

Closing the circle on waste
WASHINGTON, US, 27 December 2020 (NatGeog) - In 2010, structural engineer and architect Arthur Huang, and his Taiwan-based building materials solutions company made headlines with EcoArk, a nine-storey, earthquake and fire resistant exhibition building in Taipei constructed of bricks made from 1.5 million recycled plastic bottles.

Western Isles councillors reject official RSHP curriculum
LONDON, UK, 28 December 2020 (Guardian) - The Western Isles has been hit by a fresh row over the influence of churches on public policy after councillors voted to endorse a Catholic manual on teaching sex education and relationships in schools.

2020 trends on islands worldwide
KINGSTON, Jamaica, 27 December 2020 (The Gleaner) - As the year comes to a close, it is time to reflect on some of the positive initiatives that have been deployed by island communities around the world. Island economies have been some of the worst affected globally by the pandemic, with key industries such as tourism being particularly hard hit. However, many islands have also used their geography to their advantage, eradicating the COVID virus and even preventing it entering at all.

The giving season
EASTSOUND, US, 27 December 2020 (Islands Sounder) - Masking up, social distancing, sticking to your pod, Zoom weddings, virtual Thanksgiving feasts – who would have foreseen our new normal back in March when the CDC declared COVID-19 a pandemic?

Japan island eyes tourism boom
TOKYO, Japan, 27 December 2020 (Kyodo News) - A remote island in Japan, some 180 kilometers south of the capital Tokyo, is hoping that recent recognition by a U.S.-based nonprofit organization of its efforts to preserve its starry night skies will be a boon for local tourism.

This Scottish island celebrates Christmas 12 days late
LYON, France, 23 December 2020 (Euronews) - A distant view of Foula calls to mind a colossal iceberg, its swooping cliffs as smooth and blueish as wind-sculpted ice.

Sri Lanka forcibly cremates Muslim baby sparking anger
LONDON, UK, 26 December 2020 (BBC) - The forced cremation of a 20-day-old Muslim baby in Sri Lanka has highlighted the government's controversial order to burn the bodies of all those who died of Covid. Critics say the decision is not based in science and only intended to target the minority community.

The tiny island where Santa's Christmas journey begins
LONDON, UK, 24 December 2020 (BBC) - It may be little known that Santa Claus's epic Christmas journey begins on a remote Irish island. About 35 children live on Tory, which lies 14.5 km off the County Donegal coast. From early evening on Christmas Eve, Father Christmas calls to each of their island homes.

Fiji set to lose top job on UN rights body in global power struggle
SUVA, Fiji, 23 December 2020 (Guardian) - For a small country in the South Pacific that joined the UN’s powerful human rights council for the first time in 2019, Fiji has made giant strides within the organisation: right to the very top ... almost.

Madagascar drought pushes more than 1 million to brink of famine
SAN FRANCISCO, US, 24 December 2020 (Mongabay) - In Madagascar’s deep south, 1.35 million people, including 100,000 children, could fall victim to malnutrition this year, as the worst drought in a decade grips the region.

Being realistic about coal mine rehabilitation in Indonesia
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 23 December 2020 (Mongabay) - Once covered in vast tropical forests, East Kalimantan, in the Indonesian half of Borneo Island, is today the most intensively mined province in Indonesia. Surface mining for coal has left behind vast expanses of barren land across the province. Under Indonesian law, mining companies are responsible for rehabilitating their mining concessions.

Climate troubles loom for South Korea's 'Christmas Tree Island'
WASHINGTON, US, 24 December 2020 (NatGeog) - Abies koreana occurs only in South Korea, growing mostly in the southern part of the country. The largest population is on Jeju Island, approximately 60 miles offshore in the Korea Strait. The fir is distinctive in a variety of ways: It’s petite, as firs go, only reaching 30 to 60 feet - compared to over 300 feet for other fir species.