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Brown-headed Nut­hatch

Rewilding in the Media #2

Editors’ note:  Fortunately, rewilding projects and ideas are in the news more and more frequently.  Unfortunately, this is largely because the extinction and climate crises have worsened to the point that truly bold and visionary conservation and restoration work are essential to saving life on Earth.  In this new occasional summary, we list some of the notable stories in the media pertaining to protecting and restoring wild Nature. These are some highlights from May 2021. We urge sharing links to the ones you find most inspiring.

1. The Revelator, “30×30: How Important Are Private Lands in Meeting Conservation Goals?
Experts say expanding public lands won’t be enough to achieve science-based calls for more protected areas.

2. Times Union, “Cats can rebuild nation” by Will Stolzenburg and Tom Butler (both are frequent Rewilding Earth contributors and Tom is a member of TRI Leadership Council)
“…what lions could do for this country goes beyond curbing the deer plague, mending tattered forests and mitigating climate chaos. In a time of billion-dollar walls and widening societal rifts, choosing to live with lions would be a defiant show of unity, a noble show of humanity — a way to begin rewilding ourselves on the way to rewilding the Earth.”

3. Science Daily, “Mapping the path to rewilding: The importance of landscape
New research suggests efforts to rewild a landscape must take geography and geology into account — an approach that could be applied globally to help conservation biologists save wild ecosystems.

4. NOAA Fisheries Designates Habitat Areas in Pacific for Humpbacks
National Marine Fisheries Service, Designating Critical Habitat for the Central America, Mexico, and Western North Pacific Distinct Population Segments of Humpback Whales, Federal Register, Vol. 8, No. 75, April 21, 2021, pages 21082-21157. (Maps are located at pages 21155-21157)

Summary: We, the NMFS, issue this final rule to designate critical habitat for the endangered Western North Pacific distinct population segment (DPS), the endangered Central America DPS, and the threatened Mexico DPS of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) pursuant to section 4 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Specific areas designated as critical habitat for the Western North Pacific DPS of humpback whales contain approximately 59,411 square nautical miles (nmi2) of marine habitat in the North Pacific Ocean, including areas within the eastern Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. Specific areas designated as critical habitat for the Central America DPS of humpback whales contain approximately 48,521 nmi2 of marine habitat in the North Pacific Ocean within the portions of the California Current Ecosystem off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California. Specific areas designated as critical habitat for the Mexico DPS of humpback whales contain approximately 116,098 nmi2 of marine habitat in the North Pacific Ocean, including areas within portions of the eastern Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska, and California Current Ecosystem.

5. The Boston Globe, “Bringing Boston into the wild
Cities are restoring overdeveloped, human-engineered land to a more natural state.

6. The Tyee, Memo from a Climate Crisis Realist: The Choice Before Us
“If we don’t take these 11 key steps, we’re kidding ourselves.”

The author, Bill Rees, was also recently a guest on EarthX’s program Overcoming Overshoot to discuss these two articles with host Gary Wockner.

7. ScienceDaily,Socially just population policies can mitigate climate change and advance global equity
Socially just policies aimed at limiting the Earth’s human population hold tremendous potential for advancing equity while simultaneously helping to mitigate the effects of climate change, researchers say.

8. MongaBay, “We need more rewilding and connections to nature, says Enrique Ortiz
Enrique Ortiz is a Peruvian biologist who has been working in conservation in Latin America since the 1970s. Today he works at the Andes Amazon Fund, a philanthropic initiative that has helped establish 79 protected areas and get 18 Indigenous territories titled. Ortiz says the pandemic has been “terrible and tragic” for both people and the environment, with a rise in poverty, violence against environmental defenders, and environmental crime and degradation. But he also notes surprising resilience where communities and local governments have continued protecting wilderness despite COVID-19.

9. Counterpunch, “Millions of Tiny Cows to Regenerate the Soil
“Changing how we do agriculture is not only about halting the damage we are doing but also reversing course and undoing the damage. We can use agriculture as a tool to restore our soils and the biodiversity they support. This should happen both through the implementation of restorative practices on the lands we cultivate as well as the freeing up of much of the land currently used for agriculture and other industries.”

10. The New York Times, “Mozambique Mints a New National Park — and Surveys Its Riches
In the wake of wars, natural disasters and insurgencies, Mozambique is experiencing an environmental renaissance. One of the results is a new and stunningly beautiful national park.

“Very good news from Mozambique.  There should be quite the complex of protected areas where Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe come together.  Stunning photos in this article.” ‑Dave Foreman, TRI founder

11. AllAboutBirds, “Brown-headed Nuthatches Return to Missouri’s Ozark Mountains After 100 Years
“…in putting Brown-headed Nut­hatches back into southern Missouri’s Ozarks, scientists are achieving both restoration and adaptation—rebuilding the past, while positioning the species for the future.”

12. ScienceDaily, “The African wild dog: An ambassador for the world’s largest terrestrial conservation area
The world’s largest terrestrial conservation area is located in southern Africa and covers 520,000 square kilometers spanning five countries. A study now shows that the endangered African wild dog mostly remains within the boundaries of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) when dispersing, thus highlighting the relevance of such a large-scale conservation initiative for maintaining key wildlife corridors of threatened species.

13. “Biden Administration’s ‘America the Beautiful’ Plan Opens Door for Arizonans to Protect Lands, Waters
A preliminary report to the National Climate Task Force recommending a ten-year, locally led campaign to conserve and restore the lands and waters upon which we all depend, and that bind us together as Americans.

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Commerce, and Council on Environmental Quality. Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful—2021.

14. The Hill, “Three questions about Biden’s conservation goals
The Biden administration’s report on its goal of conserving 30 percent of lands and waters leaves several unanswered questions, including how conservation will be defined and how it specifically plans to make sure such conservation is carried out.

15. A newly published study, “The case for reintroduction: The jaguar (Panthera onca) in the United States as a model” by Sanderson et al

Abstract: Reintroduction—defined here as the return of a species to a part of its range where it has been extirpated—is a critical pathway to conservation in the 21st century. As late as the 1960s, jaguars (Panthera onca) inhabited an expansive region in the central mountain ranges of Arizona and New Mexico in the United States, a habitat unique in all of jaguar range. Here, we make the case for reintroduction, building a rhetorical bridge between conservation science and practice. First, we present a rationale rooted in the philosophy of wildlife conservation. Second, we show that the species once occupied this territory and was extirpated by human actions that should no longer pose a threat. Third, we demonstrate that the proposed recovery area provides suitable ecological conditions. Fourth, we discuss how return of the species could be a net benefit to people, explicitly recognizing a diversity of values and concerns. Fifth, we show that reintroduction is practical and feasible over a realistic time horizon. Returning the jaguar to this area will enhance the recovery of an endangered species in the United States, further its range-wide conservation, and restore an essential part of North America’s cultural and natural heritage.

16. Wolf Conservation Center, “Rare Red Wolf from the Wolf Conservation Center Released to the Wild
History was made on April 30 and May 1, 2021, when four red wolves from the Wolf Conservation Center, Endangered Wolf Center, and Wolf Haven International were released in North Carolina by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Quite excitingly, red wolf Deven (M2236), born to parents Jack and Charlotte at the WCC in 2018, was chosen to be among the released wolves!

17. Los Angeles Times,On the heels of one rare gray wolf’s epic journey into California, another arrives
A young male gray wolf crossed into far Northern California early this month (May) — joining another wolf that trekked into the state in late January and made an epic journey south.

18. “Older Eastern White Pine Trees and Stands Accumulate Carbon for Many Decades and Maximize Cumulative Carbon,” a newly published study, co-authored by Robert T. Leverett, Dr. William R. Moomaw, and Dr. Susan A. Masino.

Summary: The work provides a look at the above-ground live tree carbon accumulated in stands of Mohawk Trail State Forest’s (in western MA) exemplary white pines at ages 50 and 150 years. From our direct measurements, we could draw better conclusions on the rates of carbon sequestration than were attainable alone through the volume-biomass statistical models. […] a major implication of this work is that maintaining and accumulating carbon in some existing forests—proforestation—is a powerful regional climate solution. Furthermore, older and old-growth trees and forests are rare, complex, highly dynamic, and biodiverse: dedication of some forests to proforestation will produce large carbon-dense trees and also protect ecosystem integrity, special habitats, and native biodiversity long-term. In sum, strategic policies to grow and protect suitable existing forests in New England will optimize a proven, low-cost, natural climate solution that also protects and restores biodiversity across the landscape.

19. YahooNews, “New, extreme hunting laws show why states like Idaho can’t manage wolves
Politics have too often interfered with the recovery of wolves. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Idaho and Montana, where a decade after the iconic species was stripped of federal protections, recently enacted laws will greenlight the slaughter of more than 2,000 wolves under the false pretense of predator “management.”

20. The Spokesman Review,For the first time in 50 years, wild fishers are born in the North Cascades
A trail camera in the North Cascades snagged a photo of four fisher kits being moved by their mom, April 18. The photos are the first proof that the house-cat sized member of the weasel family is naturally reproducing in Washington after being killed off by the mid-1900s. They were listed as a state-endangered species in 1998.

21. The New York Times, “How Do Animals Safely Cross a Highway? Take a Look.
Wildlife crossings in action.

Featured Image: Brown-headed Nut­hatch (Source: Pixabay)

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