Saving cities up to $505 million a year, trees are the underdog we tend to dismiss too often. After planting a record-breaking 66 million trees in 12 hours, Indian volunteers have inspired even greater reforestation attempts. Conservation International is going big, attempting to restore 70,000 acres of the Amazon forest.
“If the world is to hit the 1.2°C or 2°C [degrees of warming] target that we all agreed to in Paris, then protecting tropical forests in particular has to be a big part of that,” [says] M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International.
Stopping the seemingly trivial issue of deforestation can cut up to 37% of carbon emissions. To rehabilitate the Amazon, the group is using the muvuca strategy. This tactic combines over 200 native forest species that have a 90% chance of successful germination.
“With muvuca, the initial outcome is 2,500 species per hectare. And after 10 years, you can reach 5,000 trees per hectare. It’s much more diverse, much more dense, and less expensive than traditional techniques.”
Even better, Conservation International is employing indigenous communities and family farmers. A few million trees have already been planted, and it seems an appetite for change is growing along with them.
Since carbon emissions and the resource greed epidemic caused the downfall of nature, many have scrambled for a quick solution. While Peru is keeping its unscathed plantations guarded, China is restoring millions of woodland hectares. Not too far behind is the City of Love, aiming to reforest 5.2 square miles of land. The anticipated lush of trees will be 5 times larger than Central Park.
For around a century, Pierrelaye-Bessancourt has been a literal wasteland. From 1896 to the 1990s, the city of Paris sprayed sewage residue across 865 acres of the fields to fertilize them.
The unofficial landfill will take 30 to 50 years to mature into a succulent plantation. In the meantime, it’ll host a swell of hiking trails, equestrian center, and conservation areas. However, the ambitious plan will inevitably face some setbacks.
As many as 1,500 trailers are squatting on the land, and getting full approval will require a lengthy series of community meetings.
Still, a great portion of the planet has seen urban transformations over the centuries. I’m sure some parts won’t mind kicking it old school.
The year is 2018 and urban jungles are taking over natural landscapes. As slabs of concrete take over grassy, scenic footpaths, a select few are taking action against mining and oil exploration. While some species are recovering all on their own, others are in need of a little backup. One such creature is the gopher tortoise, working hand-in-hand with Georgia businesses in the hopes of making an epic comeback.
Georgia businesses… [are] working with wildlife agencies, private foundations, environmental groups – and even the Department of Defense – on a project to save the gopher tortoise. They hope to protect enough animals that federal regulation won’t be necessary.
Among the tortoise freedom fighters is electrical company Georgia Power, whose plants house a number of burrowing critters. The group remains sensitive to gopher tortoise habitats during construction season, keeping power lines at bay. The group is also raising money to fund reforestation efforts.
“I actually am very optimistic that they are a species you can recover,” [said research scientist Tracey Tuberville]. “Everybody has the same goal. Even if it’s just to make sure they’re not listed, in the end that means effective conservation for tortoises.”
The gopher tortoise may be slow — but quick enough to show Georgia giants they mean business.
To prevent passersby having to rescue beached whales, activists are looking for ways to better protect marine life. Some are turning to lab-grown meat to combat overfishing, while others are dealing with poachers up front. Determined to keep their own Revillagigedo Islands afloat, Mexico is placing 57,000 square miles under protection.
“It’s an important place biologically for megafauna, kind of superhighway, if you will, for sharks, manta rays, whales and turtles,” [said] Matt Rand, director of the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project… “It’s a pretty biologically spectacular location.”
Altogether, the islands are home to 366 species of fish, as well as a vast number of plants and birds. Though fishing villages have expressed concern, conservationists have assured that the reserve will help catch populations to quickly rise.
“We have a long way to go,” [Rand] says. “But there’s been incredible growth in the concept of large-scale marine protected areas. It’s almost becoming a race. Hopefully it’s starting to snowball.”
To conserve ecosystems, at least 30% of the ocean must remain untouched. I’d say 57,000 square miles is a pretty good start.
In the grand scheme of trying to make the world a better place, we sometimes forget about protecting our wildlife. Every now and then, a war veteran will fight for elephant rights, or a president will adopt a dog. Now, Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio, along with the Wildlife Conservation Network, is working to save lions from extinction through the Lion Recovery Fund.
“100% of every dollar raised will go directly to the partners in the field with zero administrative fees or overhead.”
“We’re losing our planet’s wildlife – even such iconic species as the African Lion – at a dangerously rapid pace. An astonishingly small amount of philanthropic dollars go towards protecting wildlife‚ but together we can turn that around.”
Lion conservation is not just about hard work — it demands collaboration. This means wildlife organizations, governments, and donor communities all need to play an active role, and fast. Current lion populations are a tenth of what they used to be just a century ago.
“More than 26 countries have already lost their lion populations and without action‚ lions may disappear from many of their remaining strongholds‚”
We are losing the species to habitat loss via agriculture and deforestation, poaching, and invasion of wild lands. While I wish it didn’t take celebrity endorsements to encourage action, it may be the drive we need at the moment.
If there’s one industry proving itself to be an environmental hero, it’s the food industry. Restaurants have been teaming up to donate food to the needy as well as come up with more sustainable recipes. Now, restaurants in the Gulf Coast are giving back to nature by returning empty oyster shells.
While it’s common practice among seafood restaurants to send their empty shells to landfill with the rest of their waste, a handful of regions are beginning to put the shells to more productive use by returning them to the ocean, where they become the building blocks of restored oyster beds.
But if the discarded shells are empty, how are they helping to repair reefs? Not to worry. Young oysters will cling to unoccupied shells. The Nature Conservancy has since called for a $150 million investment in the hopes of repairing 100 miles of reefs.
the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the program has collected over 2.8 million oyster shells–enough to cover 5.5 acres in the Gulf. Each oyster shell returned to the ocean, Berte says, can become the habitat for 10 baby oysters. Additionally, adult oysters can filter around 15 gallons of water a day–significant for a region plagued with water-quality issues.
The reef restoration program has continued to prove the success of sustainable businesses. If more shell donations mean more oyster servings, I know I’m definitely off to a seafood joint tonight.
Some war veterans choose to retire comfortably, whether in the city or the countryside. However, this is not the case for one special air force officer. Lt. Col. Faye Cuevas, who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa has returned to her latter post to assist in the conservation of African elephants.
The number of Africa’s savannah elephants had dropped to about 350,000 by 2014 because of poaching, according to a recent study.
“At the current rate of elephant decline, my 6-year-old daughter won’t have an opportunity to see an elephant in the wild before she’s old enough to vote,”
“Which just is unacceptable to me, because if that is the case then we have nothing to blame that on but human apathy and greed.”
Elephant ivory, which has virtually no medicinal value, is popularly sold in China as a means of alternative healing.
Together with the U.S.-based International Fund for Animal Welfare, Cuevas introduced a smartphone-based software app (tenBoma) that allows rangers and field investigators to enter and share information immediately.
tenBoma has revolutionized wildlife security, among other conservation strategies. Poaching is a worldwide battle that has not yet been won–but with the help of people like Cuevas, victory is closer than ever.