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 →
Grace J. Kim
We link to one person more than anyone else, for good reason:
Yes in Our Backyards
It’s time progressives like me learned to love the green building boom.
The United States is on the brink of its most consequential transformation since the New Deal. Read more about what it takes to decarbonize the economy, and what stands in the way, here.
I’m an environmentalist, which means I’ve got some practice in saying no. It’s what we do: John Muir saying no to the destruction of Yosemite helped kick off environmentalism; Rachel Carson said no to DDT; the Sierra Club said no to the damming of the Grand Canyon. 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 →
Cape Buffalo in Kenya. MARTIN HARVEY / ALAMY
Biodiversity valuation is a topic we link to from time to time, so we thank Zach St. George for this article’s contribution to our understanding:
Backed by the UN, an alliance of conservationists and policymakers is devising new ways to finance the preservation of biodiversity by placing economic values on ecosystems. Some analysts say such schemes have the potential to boost conservation, but others are skeptical.
In 2009, as global financial markets shuddered, David Dorr became interested in the possibility of putting a price on nature. Dorr is a Cayman Islands-based global macro trader, attuned to what he calls the “butterfly effect” of geopolitics and other international forces on financial markets. 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 →
On the road from Novo Progresso to Baú Village.
We are always thankful to Jon Lee Anderson for his illuminations on complicated places, such as Brazil:
Dulce Sousa, a resident of Novo Progresso, agrees with the former President Jair Bolsonaro that local residents should be free to profit from the forest’s resources.
The Brazilian Amazon is riven by two long highways, in the shape of a cross: the BR-163, which extends more than four thousand miles from north to south, and the Trans-Amazonian, which runs twenty-four hundred miles from east to west. The roads were carved from the jungle in the nineteen-seventies, to open the wilderness to settlers and development. The effects have been calamitous. As colonists flooded in, the human population in Brazil’s Amazon has quadrupled, to nearly thirty million. Continue reading →
The Three Brothers, taken just east of El Capitan, by Carleton Watkins, ca. 1865. “A sharp earthquake shock at 7:30 a.m.,” Muir wrote in his journal on January 5, 1873. “Rotary motion tremored the river. . . . A boulder from the second of the Three Brothers fell today.” (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)
This book review in the LA Times will be of interest to those who find the history of conservation innovations entertaining:
The odd couple that saved Yosemite
John Muir and Robert Underwood Johnson were unlikely allies in the war to preserve Yosemite. Muir, son of a Scripture-quoting Scottish immigrant father, was raised poor on a Wisconsin farm, but he wrote and spoke with the fervor of a prophet, and his craggy visage, tough constitution and unshakable devotion to the natural world drew admirers like a magnet. The urbane and cultured Johnson was an insider with a vast network of contacts in publishing and politics. The editor of one of the country’s preeminent magazines, Johnson hosted New York literary salons, mingled with America’s elite and eventually became the U.S. ambassador to Italy.
John Muir in California nature, 1902, left, and Robert Underwood Johnson, associate editor of the Century Magazine, at his office on Union Square in New York City. Their complementary skills helped carve out Yosemite National Park.(Courtesy of the Library of Congress; Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
It was improbable that they even met — Muir was on the West Coast, Johnson on the East. But on one memorable journey into the California kingdom now known as Yosemite National Park, the two agreed to pull together to wage the nation’s “first great environmental war,” battling through the administrations of seven presidents to save Yosemite. It’s fair to say that the valley’s matchless terrain and fragile ecosystem would have been logged, plowed and plundered without their relentless efforts. Veteran nonfiction writer Dean King tells their story in “Guardians of the Valley: John Muir and the Friendship that Saved Yosemite.” Continue reading →
The Nairi Awari Indigenous community in Limón, Costa Rica. EZEQUIEL BECERRA / AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
We are proud of the country we call home, and where our work us based. But even as I celebrate it from time to time, I never mistake it for perfect. There is always more work to be done. Thanks to Fred Pearce, as always, for the details we need to know:
Indigenous park ranger Osvaldo Martinez tours the Nairi Awari indigenous community in Limon, Costa Rica on November 9, 2021. – The indigenous people of this community are payed for caring for the environment, as part of a program awarded by the British royalty. (Photo by Ezequiel BECERRA / AFP) (Photo by EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP via Getty Images)
Costa Rica has won international acclaim for its initiatives to restore its forests. But those successes are now jeopardized by conflicts over the government’s failure to return traditional lands to the Indigenous people who are regarded as the best forest stewards.
Costa Rica has a green halo. In recent decades, the small Central American nation has transformed itself from a notorious hotspot for deforestation into a beacon of reforestation that is the envy of the world. Many of its more than 12,000 species of plants, 1,200 butterflies, 800 birds, and 650 mammals, reptiles, and amphibians have gone from bust to boom, and eco-tourists are savoring the spectacle. Continue reading →
PHOTOGRAPH: JUSTIN SULLIVAN/CAKE
We have always had a soft spot for creative approaches to reducing, if not ending, poaching. And now this, thanks to Andy Jones at Wired:
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 →
Note: Green areas show land that is mostly covered by trees, based on an analysis of satellite imagery. Source: Jefferson Fox, Jamon Van Den Hoek, Kaspar Hurni, Alexander Smith and Sumeet Saksena.By Pablo Robles
We have shared plenty of stories about Nepal, but until now no story about Nepal involving trees or forests. We welcome this one:
The community forests in Khairahani, Nepal, stretching over several tree-capped hills in March. Karan Deep Singh/The New York Times
How Nepal Grew Back Its Forests
An effort decades in the making is showing results in Nepal, a rare success story in a world of cascading climate disasters and despair
KANKALI COMMUNITY FOREST, Nepal — The old man moved gingerly, hill after hill, cutting dry shrubs until he was surrounded by trees that had grown from seedlings he had planted two decades ago. He pointed to a row of low peaks above the Kathmandu valley that were covered with dense foliage. Continue reading →
Old State Route 105 ends abruptly at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, after coastal erosion took out the road near the Shoalwater Bay Reservation in Tokeland, Wash.
We have often thought consulting those who have been on the land longest is a good idea, so this story is heartening:
Here’s Where the U.S. Is Testing a New Response to Rising Seas
Native American tribes are competing for the first federal grants designed to help move communities away from high water and other dangers posed by climate change.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is building a dune to protect the Shoalwater Bay Reservation.
SHOALWATER BAY INDIAN RESERVATION, Wash. — The van carrying tribal officials veered off the coastal highway, away from the Pacific and onto a dirt path hidden by cedar and spruce trees. After climbing an old logging road, it emerged into a clearing high above the Shoalwater Bay Indian Reservation, half a square mile of oceanfront that’s disappearing fast.
The tribal leaders want to relocate to the remote hilltop where they were standing, despite its uneven terrain. “If you can believe it, this is the most suitable land we have for building,” said Quintin Swanson, treasurer of the 471-member tribe. Moving up the mountain could cost half a billion dollars, he said.
As climate change gets worse, tribes like Shoalwater Bay are being squeezed between existential threats and brutal financial arithmetic. Consigned to marginal land more than a century ago by the United States government, some tribes are now trying to relocate to areas better protected from extreme weather yet lack the money to pay for that move. 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 →
The Lake District national park. Councils can apply for zones in national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, sites of special scientific interest and green belt land. Photograph: Ashley Cooper/Getty Images
National parks, one of those rare great ideas, were never as safe as we might have hoped, anywhere. They need protection from liberalization, not indulgence in the very things we protected those spaces from in the first place:
Documents show zones with ‘liberalised’ planning laws could get go-ahead even in the most environmentally protected areas
Investment zones with “liberalised” planning laws to accelerate development could be designated within national parks and in the most environmentally protected areas of the UK, government documents reveal. Continue reading →
Note: Data for 2020 is from June 2020 through May 2021; for 2021, it is from June 2021 through May 2022.
Overfishing and potential solutions have received lots of attention in our pages over the years. It is not a new problem. And yet, we now have better metrics for how serious the problem is and who is responsible, currently, for making the problem worse. The screenshot to the left does not capture the full value of the dynamic illustration accompanying this article. Click the image to go to the source:
A Chinese ship fishing for squid off the west coast of South America in July 2021. Isaac Haslam/Sea Shepherd via Associated Press
How China Targets the Global Fish Supply
With its own coastal waters depleted, China has built a global fishing operation unmatched by any other country.
Rich and ecologically diverse, the waters around the Galápagos Islands have attracted local fishermen for centuries. Now, these waters face a much larger, more rapacious hunter: China. Continue reading →
A Bengal tiger in India’s Kanha National Park. CHARLES JAMES SHARP VIA WIKIPEDIA
Tigers were an important part of our lives when this platform started, and for the following few years of our time in Kerala. We have retained an interest, so this news is welcome all these years later:
The number of endangered tigers around the world is 40 percent higher than previously thought, according to new data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Continue reading →
Dom Phillips (center), seen here taking notes as he talks with Indigenous people, reported regularly for the Guardian. Photograph by Joao Laet / AFP / Getty
Only one article by Dom Phillips in our pages, and not a single mention of Bruno Pereira seems wrong, to say the least. As a rule obituaries are not our thing in these pages, but we have made exceptions. So this note by Jon Lee Anderson (author of the Leaky tribute), whose coverage of Brazil includes the early part of Bolsonaro’s destructive rule, seems fitting to share in support of the call for justice:
Bruno Pereira was among the many senior officials and veteran experts at FUNAI who had gained a reputation for a robust defense of the agency’s guidelines in the Javari. Photograph by Daniel Marenco
From the moment that Dom Phillips and Bruno Araújo Pereira vanished, on June 5th, in the Brazilian Amazon, there were suspicions of foul play. Phillips was a British freelance journalist dedicated to environmental issues, and Pereira, his friend and guide, was a prominent Brazilian Indigenous-affairs expert.
Photograph by Nelson Almeida / AFP / Getty
He was assisting Phillips with research for a book, tentatively titled “How to Save the Amazon.” Continue reading →
Muley Point in Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Mark Holm for The New York Times
After plenty of contention, a move in the right direction, at last:
In a Return to the Land, Tribes Will Jointly Manage a National Monument
Five Native American tribes will work with the Bureau of Land Management to plan and conserve Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, officials said.
Bears Ears National Monument, whose red-rock landscape sprawls across more than 1.3 million acres in southeastern Utah, will be managed jointly by the federal government and Native American tribes in what administration officials said represents a “one-of-a-kind” model of cooperation. Continue reading →
Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff. A white ibis flies over the Everglades, where many bird species nest each year. Restoration efforts in Florida’s “river of grass” have begun to show signs of progress.
The CS Monitor was the newspaper delivered to our home when I was growing up. Lucky me. These days it still offers good journalism, but is no longer a paper. They made the switch to digital-only in 2008. In earlier years of my monitoring dozens of news sources for this platform it was the source of numerous stories of environmental interest in our pages. But in the last few years, for no particular reason, I failed to monitor their website for stories. And then today, this:
Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff. Birds look like white flecks from the air.
By Richard Mertens Special contributor
Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff. Three eggs sit in a nest in the Everglades.
Eight hundred feet up, the helicopter banks hard to the left. The horizon disappears. Mark Cook, an avian biologist, peers out his side window at a small irregular patch of water below. It’s hardly distinguishable from innumerable other patches that lie in every direction, dark and shining amid a ragged expanse of brown marsh grass and green tree islands. Continue reading →
The world’s largest living thing is a stealthy parasite that lives mostly underground and beneath the bark of infected trees in a pale, stringy fungal network. COURTESY MIKE MCWILLIAMS
Thanks to Milo‘s interest in fungi, which we found infectious, we learned years ago what the world’s largest living thing is. We used to feature more stories from Atlas Obscura, but this is the first in a few years:
The Humongous Fungus is most visible when it produces the edible and tasty honey mushroom, but the season is brief and doesn’t happen every year. PETER PEARSALL, USFWS/PUBLIC DOMAIN
In Oregon, the Humongous Fungus plays a complex role in an ecosystem reshaped by humans.
UNDER THE BLUE MOUNTAINS OF Oregon lurks something massive and prehistoric. Yet the largest recorded organism on Earth, weighing more than 200 blue whales and dwarfing even Pando, Utah’s famous grove of quaking aspens, is nearly invisible to the untrained eye. It’s a single, genetically identifiable specimen of honey mushroom, or Armillaria ostoyae, that has been growing for thousands of years. Continue reading →