The Futarasan Shrine in Nikkō, Japan. Ancient forests surrounding Japan’s Shinto temples cover more than a quarter-million acres. NORTOPHOTO / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
We are agnostic when it comes to how conservation of nature is motivated, and how it is accomplished. Thanks as always to Fred Pearce:
Sacred Groves: How the Spiritual Connection Helps Protect Nature
From Ethiopia’s highlands to Siberia to the Australian rainforest, there are thousands of sacred forests that have survived thanks to traditional religious and spiritual beliefs. Experts say these places, many now under threat, have ecological importance and must be saved.
Governments from across the world made grand promises last month at the biodiversity conference in Montreal to save nature by protecting 30 percent of the planet’s land and oceans by 2030. Continue reading →
‘In the woods, there will be much more fungi and even more colour: scarlet elf cup (above), orange witches’ butter, yellow stagshorn, green elf cup, blue roundheads.’ Photograph: fotoco-istock/Getty Images/iStockphoto
This recommendation from Lucy Jones is as good as any we might otherwise recommend:
‘Wet weather makes for particularly juicy moss.’ Water droplets on moss on a wall. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA
The winter world may seem gloomy – but look closely, and you’ll see nature casting a spell
For less than a tenner, do as I do: buy a hand lens, head outside and discover fungi and moulds lighting up the darkness
‘You won’t believe how exquisite slime moulds are.’ Photograph: Alastair Hotchkiss/Woodland Trust/PA
The profound therapeutic benefits of connecting with nature and spending time outside are well known. But in winter? When it’s cold, gloomy and everything looks dead? In fact, especially in the winter, when we are susceptible to fatigue, illness and seasonal low mood. And actually there is plenty of life, beauty and wonder right outside our doors, if we look closely.
Come and take a short walk with me in my nearest wild patch – an urban cemetery, a common environment across the British Isles. 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 →
The trees, according to the ecologist Constance Millar, give you a “sense of infinity.” Photo by Adam Perez
We know that getting to a trillion trees is a stretch, but we might be able to sense infinity from a certain species of tree, according to Soumya Karlamangla in the New York Times article we link to here. Photos by Adam Perez help alot.
Bristlecone pines can live and reproduce even with only one branch of needles. Photo by Adam Perez
Historically I have worked to find my personal sense of infinity deep within tropical forests, but reading this and seeing the photos of these trees in a totally different type of ecysystem I can be convinced that it is elsewhere also:
In a harsh alpine desert, the Great Basin bristlecone pines abide amid climate change. Among them is the oldest tree on Earth (if you can find it).
Great Basin bristlecone pine trees endure in harsh conditions that other vegetation cannot withstand. Photo by Adam Perez
BISHOP, Calif. — Before the Egyptians built the Pyramids, before Jesus Christ was born, before the Roman Empire formed or collapsed, the trees were here.
Ten thousand feet up in the White Mountains of central California, in a harsh alpine desert where little else survives, groves of gnarled, majestic Great Basin bristlecone pines endure, some for nearly 5,000 years. Their multicolor trunks bend at gravity-defying angles, and their bare branches jut toward the sky, as if plucked from the imaginations of Tim Burton or J.K. Rowling.
These ancient organisms, generally considered the oldest trees on Earth, seem to have escaped the stringent laws of nature. Continue reading →
Ants in Escazu
The earthworm in the photo above had been in a bag of soil where a coffee seedling started germinating earlier this year. I was moving the seedling from its small “starter” bag to a larger one, and the earthworm jumped out, wriggling under the nearby supplies I was working with. I did not see it again until it was too late. Since earthworms are good for soil, and we are in the early stages of a soil regeneration project, I was sorry to see the worm lose its life. This particular species of ant is currently everywhere on the property where we are re-planting coffee. I have not seen so many of this type of ant at any point in the last 22 years on this property, and their shocking abundance made me think of that new ant study. Normally we do not repeat sharing of news stories here, unless new information has come to light. It has only been a couple days, but I must share more on the study because my planting work is keeping the subject in front of me, and the photos in this article are that good.
Leaf cutter ants in Costa Rica. The researchers sampled 1,300 locations around the world, estimating ant abundance in different environments in areas such as forests and steppes. Bence Mate/Nature Picture Library, via Alamy
Rebecca Dzombak, who authored this article for the New York Times, will be on our radar from now on:
Weaver ants engaged in teamwork. Sunthorn Viriyapan/Alamy
There are 20 quadrillion ants worldwide, according to a new census, or 2.5 million for every living human. There are probably even more than that.
Male leaf cutter ants on the move over the Sonoran Desert in search of females and to make more ants. Norma Jean Gargasz/Alamy
Right now, ants are scurrying around every continent except Antarctica, doing the hard work of engineering ecosystems. They spread seeds, churn up soil and speed up decomposition. They forage and hunt and get eaten. You may not know how much you rely on them. Continue reading →
The Treefest walks are part of a £14.5m research quest investigating how to secure public benefits from forested landscapes. Photograph: Fabio De Paola/The Guardian
When is a walk in the woods more than just a walk? One answer might be biophilia, for starters. Our thanks to Miles Richardson for his work and to Patrick Barkham, as per his usual breadth of attention, for bringing another important story to our attention:
Research project aims to discover how age, size and shape of woodlands affect people’s happiness and wellbeing
Miles Richardson is gathering data from the Treefest research walks to examine how biodiverse spaces benefit wellbeing. Photograph: Fabio De Paola/The Guardian
How happy do you feel right now? The question is asked by an app on my phone, and I drag the slider to the space between “not much” and “somewhat”. I’m about to start a walk in the woods that is part of a nationwide research project to investigate how better to design the forests of the future.
Volunteers are being sought to record their feelings before and after eight walks on a free app, Go Jauntly, which could reveal what kind of treescapes most benefit our wellbeing and mental health. Continue reading →
I See You. Wild Portraits winner. When a huge lion looks you right in the eyes, you immediately forget that you are sitting safely in a car. Instinctively, you cower and slowly retreat deeper inside the car so as not to provoke a predator. Fortunately, he and his brothers were busy consuming a young buffalo that had been hunted several minutes earlier. # © Tomasz Szpila / Nature TTL
Alan Taylor and others offer relief through nature photography contests each year, and we thank them all for that; and to Atlantic this year for sharing these from the Nature TTL contest:
Sunset Ray. Underwater winner. A pink whipray splits a school of bannerfish, photographed against the setting sun on a late afternoon at the famous “Tuna Factory” dive site located close to Malé, the capital of the Maldives. # © Andy Schmid / Nature TTL
This year’s photography competition attracted more than 8,000 entries in eight different categories celebrating the natural world: Animal Behavior, Camera Traps, Landscapes, Small World, The Night Sky, Underwater, Urban Wildlife, and Wild Portraits. Contest organizers at Nature TTL were kind enough to share some of the winners and runners-up below. The captions were written by the photographers and lightly edited for style.
Pretty in Pollen. Small World runner-up. A micro-moth (Micropterix calthella) is covered in golden balls of pollen from a creeping buttercup flower found in Mutter’s Moor near Sidmouth, Devon, United Kingdom. # © Tim Crabb / Nature TTL
See all of them here.
Aerial view of deforestation in the Western Amazon region of Brazil. Photograph: Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images
To state the obvious, yes:
Focus on market has led to climate crises, with spiritual, cultural and emotional benefits of nature ignored
Taking into account all the benefits nature provides to humans and redefining what it means to have a “good quality of life” is key to living sustainably on Earth, a four-year assessment by 82 leading scientists has found. Continue reading →
LUISA RIVERA / YALE E360
Thanks to Carl Safina for this opinion:
The campaign to preserve half the Earth’s surface is being criticized for failing to take account of global inequality and human needs. But such protection is essential not just for nature, but also for creating a world that can improve the lives of the poor and disadvantaged.
Must nature and civilization be opposing interests? Is nature conservation anti-people? What must be preserved to preserve what needs preserving? Is there a single path that can reverse the three crises of apocalypse: the extinction crisis, the toxics crisis, and the climate crisis? Sixteen ecologists, including me, think the answer to that last question is yes. Continue reading →
Library of American Landscape History has published this book, which came to our attention thanks to this excellent article (again) by Margaret Roach:
Three large islands at Storm King Art Center are planted with a mix of prairie grasses, including little bluestem, big bluestem, Indiangrass and switchgrass. Jerry L. Thompson
Darrel Morrison, the elder statesman of the ecological landscaping movement, offers some advice for gardening in a changing world.
Mr. Morrison’s mesic prairie design for the University of Wisconsin Arboretum Native Plant Garden, with the larger Curtis Prairie restoration in the distance. Robert Jaeger
Some gardeners react to any mention of ecological landscaping — the merging of environmental science and art — as if it were a compromise or concession meant to limit their creativity. Darrel Morrison, a landscape architect who has been practicing and teaching this philosophy for some five decades, begs to differ.
“There is the implication that you are suggesting a vegan diet,” said Mr. Morrison, the creator of influential designs at Storm King Art Center, in Orange County, N.Y., the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas. “A lot of people, when they hear a phrase like ‘ecologically sound landscaping,’ they think they are giving up something. But they are not — it only enhances the experience.” Continue reading →
Click the image above if this is your kind of coffee table book. It is of course available elsewhere but please, support the publisher instead of the elsewhere option. We feature stories related to the national parks of the USA about as frequently as any other topic; here is a unique way to support the idea and the actions that flow from the idea.
Thanks to the Guardian’s feature on the book for bringing it to our attention:
The art director JP Boneyard ’s favourite park is Montana’s Glacier national park. “It’s breathtaking, I’m smiling just thinking about it ,” he says. For his screen-print project Fifty-Nine Parks, now collected in a book, he asked modern artists to reinterpret America’s classic national park posters, commissioned by the government in the 1900s.
“I hope they inspire people to visit the parks and connect with nature, but, heck, it’d be awesome if the book inspired folks to pick up a squeegee and start printing too,” he says.
The National Parks Conservation Association has been mentioned in our pages a couple times before, but only in passing. Finding out more about this book led me to their website for the first time, and I already see a post on that topic is needed, but on another day.
Michelle Nijhuis is one of several science writers who have made our pages better in the 10 years since we started this platform. This essay is in good company:
As climate change intensifies and human activity impacts every corner of the planet, repairing our world increasingly means realizing that our fate is intertwined with that of other animal and plant species — not separate from theirs — and that we must think and act accordingly. Continue reading →
With forest making up around 33% of Germany’s land area, woodlands have become a central part of German culture (Credit: Westend61/Getty Images)
Thanks to the BBC for this article about the Germanic tradition of waldeinsamkeit:
Waldeinsamkeit is an archaic German term for the feeling of “forest loneliness” (Credit: Marco Bottigelli/Getty Images)
Everybody is at it in Germany. They’re doing it in the trees in the Black Forest. Out in the magical Harz Mountains. In the national parks of Bavaria when silhouetted in the moonlight. And in the city centre woodlands of Berlin and Munich. Continue reading →
Hats off to the UK for commissioning the study, and to Professor Dasgupta for completing it. Sometimes a profession, like economics, takes time to catch up with the real world. Better late than never, like the guide to investing in nature, we are happy to see academia putting rigor into the analysis of how valuable nature is. Seemed obvious, even without these new studies, but this is what it takes to counter the disinformation promoted by extraction-intensive industries and their investors:
The Dasgupta Review is an independent, global review on the Economics of Biodiversity led by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta (Frank Ramsey Professor Emeritus, University of Cambridge). The Review was commissioned in 2019 by HM Treasury and has been supported by an Advisory Panel drawn from public policy, science, economics, finance and business. Continue reading →
A pdf version of The Little Book of Investing in Nature is available and the case for why this might be of value to you is in the book’s forward section:
How does this book help? As the impacts of human activity on the natural world have become increasingly clear in recent years, alongside human dependences on a healthy environment, the conversation has shifted from “Should we save nature?” to “How do we pay for it?”. Few in government or business today doubt the inherent value of nature or the importance of managing it sustainably. The interest in halting the loss of biodiversity is enormous and is coming from unexpected quarters. Continue reading →
You had us at hello. By the time we saw welcome, we were already in:
If you’re a fan of national parks, you’ve come to the right place. Heck, if you’ve got even a fleeting curiosity about national parks, you’ve come to the right place. It doesn’t matter if you’re an ardent backpacker, a casual day-tripper, a glamper, or a full-time RVer, national parks are for everyone, and Hello Ranger is here to celebrate you all. Continue reading →
The Tuppers Lake area in western Montana. STEVEN GNAM
Even as we may feel overdosed on news about forest fires, understanding what to do next is important. Thanks to Fred Pearce and Yale e360 for sharing relevant science:
Nations around the world are pledging to plant billions of trees to grow new forests. But a new study shows that the potential for natural forest regrowth to absorb carbon from the atmosphere and fight climate change is far greater than has previously been estimated.
When Susan Cook-Patton was doing a post-doc in forest restoration at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Maryland seven years ago, she says she helped plant 20,000 trees along Chesapeake Bay. It was a salutary lesson. “The ones that grew best were mostly ones we didn’t plant,” she remembers. “They just grew naturally on the ground we had set aside for planting. Lots popped up all around. It was a good reminder that nature knows what it is doing.” Continue reading →
A juvenile kingfisher, with its distinctive black bill.Credit…Miguel David De Leon/Robert S. Kennedy Bird Conservancy
My first love of birds took shape in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica in the late 1990s. Toucans first, on the Drakes Bay side of the peninsula in 1997 when we had a family getaway at a lodge run by a bird-loving eco-couple. Then starting in 1999 when our company started managing lodges, on the other side of the Osa I had extended exposure to scarlet macaws, almost invariably in pairs. The love was real, and meaningful but not yet as serious as it would become. It was not until moving to India in 2010 that I seriously understood the power of birds to shape our appreciation of nature.
I can pinpoint the day, because it was at the intersection of when Milo took this photo of an owl, and when we started the bird of the day feature, which has been a daily contribution of this platform ever since. That is about the same time that my appreciation of nature, which I had thought to be quite strong already, became as strong as it is today. And this article below reminds me of that day, not least because of the number of medical doctors who are contributors to our daily feature. My profound thanks to Cara Giaimo (again) and especially to the doctor of whose story she shares:
A juvenile kingfisher, with its distinctive black bill.Credit…Miguel David De Leon/Robert S. Kennedy Bird Conservancy
The elusive South Philippine dwarf kingfisher is difficult to photograph, and there were no known photographs of its fledglings.
On March 11, Dr. Miguel David De Leon — a vitreoretinal surgeon in Mindanao, the southern island of the Philippines — worked a full morning at the medical center.When he got home, “I was exhausted,” he said.But he pulled it together, lugged his camera an hour uphill and clambered into his bird hide. Continue reading →