An aerial view shows a deforested area during an operation to combat deforestation at the Cachoeira Seca indigenous reserve, in Uruara, Para State, Brazil January 19, 2023. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
What counts as good news now in one part of the world is simply a reversal of absurd destruction trends of recent years. Without minimizing its importance we can acknowledge that a positive reversal is a low bar for what needs to be accomplished:
SAO PAULO, May 12 (Reuters) – Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest fell 68% in April from the previous year, preliminary government data showed on Friday, a positive reading for President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as it represents the first major drop under his watch. Continue reading →
Figueroa Mountain. April, 2023.
We had a quick look at this phenomenon recently, but Dana Goodyear is just the person to give it this depth of follow up that is worth a read and luxuriant gazing:
Freshly harvested logs from the Menominee Forest in Keshena, Wis., marked with color to indicate each log’s grade.
Sustainable forestry is a long-running topic in these pages over the years. The previous times we have linked to Cara Buckley stories we have been enriched by the humanity in environmental stories, so here we combine her unique talent to the topic of forestry:
The Giving Forest
The Menominee tribe has sustainably logged its forest in Wisconsin for 160 years. But that careful balance faces a crisis: too many trees and too few loggers.
A tree marked for cutting. The Menominee harvest only trees that are sick and dying or those that have fallen naturally
MENOMINEE COUNTY, Wis. — Amid the sprawling farmlands of northeast Wisconsin, the Menominee forest feels like an elixir, and a marvel. Its trees press in, towering and close, softening the air, a dense emerald wilderness that’s home to wolves, bears, otters, warblers and hawks, and that shows little hint of human hands.
Yet over the last 160 years, much of this forest has been chopped down and regrown nearly three times. The Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin, its stewards, have pulled nearly two hundred million cubic feet of timber from this land since 1854 — white pine cut into museum displays and hard maple made into basketball courts for the Olympics. Continue reading →
People view fields of flowers at Carrizo Plain National Monument, California’s largest remaining grassland.
When lemons are plentiful, make the best of it:
A benefit of California’s wet winter is what is known as a superbloom. Flowers including purple phacelia, yellow goldfields, hillside daisies and tidy tips grow at Carrizo Plain National Monument. Claire Harbage/NPR
CARRIZO PLAIN NATIONAL MONUMENT, Calif. — The roads are still rutted where rainwater carved them and farms are still flooded down the valley, but here in California’s largest remaining grassland, the benefits of the state’s destructively wet winter are on full display.
And they’re spectacular.
Wildflowers — yellow, purple, blue and orange — are splattered across the landscape in sweeps and pools like a clumsy airbrush painting.
Flowers are splattered across the landscape at Carrizo Plain. Claire Harbage/NPR
A superbloom. Continue reading →
A dried-up reservoir behind a dam in North Karnataka, India. LAKSHMIPRASAD S. / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
A couple of our earliest posts was about life around a dam in India, so the photo heading this article rings a bell of sorts:
As Projects Decline, the Era of Building Big Dams Draws to a Close
Escalating construction costs, the rise of solar and wind power, and mounting public opposition have led to a precipitous decrease in massive new hydropower projects. Experts say the world has hit “peak dams,” which conservationists hail as good news for riverine ecosystems.
The end of the big dam era is approaching. Continue reading →
The team secure a darted rhino with nylon rope, then take its temperature and use a pulsemeter to monitor its heart rate and blood oxygenation
We have previous links to articles on tagging animals, but few land animals this big:
How to tag a rhino? Use tech, tact … and plenty of caution – a photo essay
Fewer than 2,000 rhino remain in Kenya, and the country’s wildlife service needs to keep tabs on them to make sure they thrive. It’s a major undertaking, involving a helicopter, 4x4s and a lot of rangers
Here comes a chopper … a helicopter is used to dart the highly aggressive black rhino
Kenya has the world’s third largest rhinoceros population: a total of 1,890 including 966 black rhinos, 922 southern white and two northern white. But how to keep track of them and ensure the species are thriving? Every two or three years, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) carries out an ear-notching exercise in all rhino sanctuaries in the country to ensure that at least 60% of the animals are uniquely identifiable. Continue reading →
The Ediacaran Period, which ended some 540 million years ago, is marked by a gold spike in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia. JAMES ST. JOHN
We do not love the word Anthropocene, but we appreciate the marker it represents. And until now we did not know there would be a physical counterpart, a marker that will be placed in a representative location:
Before the Anthropocene can be officially proclaimed, a scientific working group must select a single site that permanently captures the new human-influenced epoch. Nine candidate sites — from California to China to Antarctica — are under consideration, with a decision expected soon.
The peatland below Poland’s Mount Śnieżka contains contaminants from burning fossil fuels, nuclear testing, and other human activities. MYSTICWALKER / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
At first glance, these nine sites scattered across the globe seem unremarkable. Continue reading →
Map by Anna Yantek / Ideastream Public Media, with satellite imagery via the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park
We do not mind the sport, per se, but its footprint is quite problematic. This story by Abigail Bottar with photos and video by Ryan Loew is worth a few minutes of your time, either reading or listening, if you want to see what is possible to mitigate the footprint:
Stacey Rusher, director of park projects at the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, holds maps of the former Brandywine Country Club golf course property.
Back to nature
At the former Brandywine golf course in Peninsula, a national park acquisition is allowing Mother Nature to retake her land.
On a warm winter day, Stacey Rusher serves as a guide through what used to be the par three golf course at the former Brandywine Country Club. Through fields of dry brush, up leaf-covered hills and past resting geese, she arrives at the banks of the Cuyahoga River. Continue reading →
Photographs and video were taken by Bobby Altman at the Francis Marion National Forest, S.C., with assistance from Amphibian and Reptile Conservancy, a national nonprofit.
Every now and then we link to a gem by Margaret Renkl, and these often calm the environmentally-rattled nerves, as is the case today:
NASHVILLE — I wish you could hear what it sounds like to sleep near an ephemeral pond in early springtime on the Cumberland Plateau, especially on a rainy night. As darkness begins to fall, the small frogs called spring peepers begin to sing. At first their song is the sonic equivalent of the way popcorn pops: each peep a single sound, each sound buffered on either side by silence. Continue reading →
The large marble butterfly is now locally extinct in some places. Rick and Nora Bowers/Alamy
Insects matter, and our thanks to Catrin Einhorn for making it more clear why:
Are Butterflies Wildlife? Depends Where You Live.
A legal quirk leaves officials in at least a dozen states with little or no authority to protect insects. That’s a growing problem for humans.
It’s tough being an insect. They get swatted, stomped and sprayed without a thought. Their mere presence can provoke irrational panic. Even everyday language disparages them: “Stop bugging me,” we say. Continue reading →
Recent view of Kaiteur Falls from a small plane
Yesterday’s link to the story about Greenland‘s approach to carefully harnessing the economic power of tourism made me think today about a recent visit to Guyana that Amie and I made. What I knew of Greenland before reading that article was limited, but it included the newsworthy commitment they made, which I acknowledge having found inspirational. But I am a layperson on what such commitments actually mean. Continue reading →
We believe the challenge of climate instability is the biggest opportunity for global mobilization we have ever seen. It is an opportunity to learn how to use technology to rebalance our ecosystems rather than further alienate us from them. We work with the inherent power of plants, informed by generations of scientific research, to restore ecosystems, improve biodiversity, and enhance the ability of photosynthetic organisms to draw down and store carbon from the atmosphere.
A mission we are curious about, click the image above to learn more.
A fire set to clear land for farming in Pará state in the Brazilian Amazon. DANIEL BELTRÁ / GREENPEACE
We were very happy with the alternative resulting in a radical change of government in Brazil, but never expected an easy solution:
Amazon Under Fire: The Long Struggle Against Brazil’s Land Barons
Journalist Heriberto Araujo spent four years reporting on the destruction of the Brazilian Amazon. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talks about his new book, which explores the complex web of issues underpinning the deforestation of the world’s largest rainforest.
Heriberto Araujo. HERIBERTO ARAUJO
Last October, when former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva defeated the far-right incumbent, Jair Bolsonaro, in Brazil’s national election, environmentalists around the world breathed a sigh of relief. Under Bolsonaro, who had weakened environmental protections and pushed to open Indigenous lands to commercial exploitation, deforestation in the Amazon had exploded. Lula has pledged to safeguard his country’s rainforests, but, as Spanish journalist Heriberto Araujo says in an interview with Yale Environment 360, the job won’t be easy.
For his new book, Masters of the Lost Land, Araujo spent four years traveling from his home in Rio de Janeiro to Rondon do Pará, a town in the eastern Brazilian Amazon, to understand how, in less than 60 years, the largest rainforest on the planet has been transformed into an engine of economic growth. Tracing the story of land rights activist José Dutra da Costa, or “Dezinho,” who, before his assassination in 2000, led a revolution among landless peasants, Araujo comes to see how a handful of ranchers managed to grab huge swaths of pristine rainforest and why deforestation, violence, and lawlessness remain pervasive in the region. Continue reading →
Scott Heidebrink, the director of bison restoration for the American Prairie Reserve in northeast Montana, checks on a herd. “There are ways that bison were impacting the landscape that we haven’t even thought about,” he said.
Bison restoration has been on our radar, primarily stories from the western USA, but also from the European context, where there has been considerable progress in recent years. Here is a good look at a conservation organization focused on habitat restoration, and the multi-species benefits:
Bison once numbered in the tens of millions in the United States. Now, a nonprofit is working to restore the shortgrass prairie, where the American icons and their ecosystem can thrive again.
MALTA, Mont. — Around 200 chocolate-brown bison raise their heads, following the low growl of a pickup truck slowly motoring across the sagebrush-studded prairie. Continue reading →
When Pradip Krishen began creating Jaipur’s Kishan Bagh Desert Park, it was a wasteland of dunes and bald hillocks, strewn with trash. Looking at the landscape, he said, “Now, this is something I’d love to work on. ”Photographs by Bharat Sikka for The New Yorker
If I had to bet, based on our period living in India from 2010 to 2017, I would bet on the prime minister winning. That implies the country making less progress on conservation, if any, and more on development. As Dorothy Wickenden‘s article implies, it may be a zero sum game:
Sunrise at the Hempstead Plains on Long Island, New York. STEVE PFOST / NEWSDAY RM VIA GETTY IMAGES
Thanks to Yale e360’s Janet Martinelli:
Amid the Sprawl, a Long Island Prairie Makes a Quiet Comeback
Tucked into quintessential suburbia, the Hempstead Plains Preserve is a small sliver of the grassland that once covered a vast area of Long Island. New research shows that thoughtfully planted yards and gardens can bolster the biodiversity in such urban wildland fragments.
Volunteers remove invasive Chinese bushclover from the Hempstead Plains Preserve at Nassau Community College. FRIENDS OF HEMPSTEAD PLAINS
The Hempstead Plains Preserve is a place where you can imagine the presence of creatures past. Birdfoot violets, now gone, once colored the landscape with a wash of purple in spring. The heath hen, a large grouse that went extinct 90 years ago, performed its elaborate courtship dances on the Plains.
On a late afternoon in October, the slanting autumn sun lit up in a blaze of gold the grasses and wildflowers on this narrow, 19-acre sliver of land — almost all that is left of the tallgrass prairie that once covered more than 50 square miles at the heart of Long Island, New York, a fish-shaped island that stretches east into the Atlantic Ocean. Continue reading →
In Calakmul and elsewhere, the fierce jaguar was worshiped as a deity. Ancient rulers and warriors adorned themselves with the animal’s skulls, skins, fangs and claws. Adrian Wilson for The New York Times
Several months ago when we confirmed our plans to attend a wedding in Merida, Mexico on November 5, Calakmul came to mind. We had already explored many famous Maya sites in Central America, most recently in Belize, not to mention Mexico, over the last three decades; and we have also been fortunate with big cat sightings.
We decided against extending our stay, choosing to spend a few days in Mexico City instead (I have been obsessed with Barragán in recent years, so seeing his former home and workshop there was a must). Charly Wilder‘s article in the New York Times, which I am only seeing now, makes me wonder when we will return to see what we neglected in the Yucatan:
The number of jaguars is growing in Mexico, especially in areas of the Yucatán Peninsula. Patryk Kosmider/Getty Images
The Return of the Jaguar
Thanks to Mexican conservation efforts, the jaguar is making a comeback in the Yucatán Peninsula. A traveler ventures into its habitat in the tropical jungles surrounding an ancient Maya city.
From the top of the great pyramid of the ancient Maya city of Calakmul in the southern Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, you can see all the way to Guatemala. The jungle stretches out infinitely in every direction, an ocean of green punctuated only by the stepped pyramid peaks of two other Maya temples. Continue reading →
The Philadelphia skyline and Benjamin Franklin Bridge reflected in the Delaware River. PAUL BRADY / ALAMY
Monday mornings often have had their own theme in these pages. Fresh perspective to start the new work week on a new track. So here is my Monday morning contribution. For a brief history to immerse you in the bleak dark, I could send you here; but not today.
Following is an article that does something different, and more difficult to find recently. A look at five decades’ accomplishment on one environmental issue in one country, and a takeaway worthy of the photo above: complex, but inspiring. Our thanks as always after a decade relying on Yale e360 for environmental stories, and advocacy; in this case also for introducing us to Andrew S. Lewis, who will now be on our radar:
Sparked by the 1970s environmental movement, the Clean Water Act — which marks its 50th anniversary this month — transformed America’s polluted rivers. The Delaware, once an industrial cesspool, is one of the success stories, but its urban stretches remain a work in progress.
Steve Meserve (second from right) is a fourth-generation shad fisherman who operates the Lewis Fishery, the last commercial shad operation on the Delaware. ANDREW S. LEWIS
When Steve Meserve’s great-grandfather, Bill Lewis, started the Lewis Fishery in 1888, it was one of dozens of commercial outfits scattered up and down the Delaware River that seined for American shad during the spring spawn. At the time, the Delaware’s shad fishery hauled 3 to 4 million of the hard-fighting fish from the river and its tributaries every year. But, soon enough, Lewis discovered that he had gotten into the business just as the river — along with the species it supported — was entering a period of catastrophic decline. Continue reading →
Human activity has impacted the amount of temperate rainforest in the UK but it still exists in a few places, such as the Brecon Beacons in Wales. Photograph: Henk Meijer/Alamy
We already knew that rainforests are not only tropical ecosystems. But when you live in the tropics, you can forget. Our thanks as always to Patrick Greenfield, and to the Guardian, for this reminder:
Exclusive: campaigners call for protection and careful tree-planting to help restore the temperate rainforests that once covered swathes of the country
Rainforest, which has been decimated over thousands of years, has the potential to be restored across a fifth of Great Britain, a new map reveals. Continue reading →