Rewilding in the Media #6

Biohabitats Leaf Litter (fall 2021 issue)

See more information for this news on item #19.

Curated by Katie Shepard, Rewilding Earth Managing Editor

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 periodic summary, we list some of the notable stories in the media pertaining to protecting and restoring wild Nature.  These are some highlights from Sept. & Oct. 2021. We urge sharing links to the ones you find most inspiring.

1. Conserving at least 30% of the Planet by 2030 – What should count?
“This report from the IUCN & partners on what should count for 30×30 is worth checking out.” –Rob Harding, TRI board member

2. New York Times, Komodo Dragons Are Now Endangered and ‘Moving Toward Extinction’
“The International Union for Conservation of Nature warns that suitable Komodo dragon habitat is expected to shrink by at least 30 percent in the next 45 years. Factors driving this habitat loss include the rising temperatures and sea levels associated with climate change. But outside of the dragons’ park safe haven, urbanization and agricultural clearing are also factors. On Flores, residents compete with the dragons for deer and boars as well, and consider the carnivorous lizards a threat to cattle, goats and other livestock. […]

About 25 years ago, somewhere from 5,000 to 8,000 Komodo dragons roamed the Earth. Today, the I.U.C.N. estimates that there are just 1,380 adult Komodo dragons and another 2,000 juveniles left in the wild.”

3. ScienceDaily, Conservation commitments should focus on the best places to protect rare species [September 7, 2021] “The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has pledged to protect 30% of land to support the recovery of nature, but a new study finds that much of the new land that has been allocated to meet this aspiration is not in the highest priority areas for biodiversity conservation.”

“This is my greatest fear for 30/30.” –Dave Forman, TRI Founder

“There is a 2018 paper in Science Advances from Stuart Pimm et al. on this topic. The paper is titled: ‘How to protect half of Earth to ensure it protects sufficient biodiversity.’

Along with the paper, Stuart sent me this comment: ‘Not only do we share Dave’s fear, we have published a prominent paper on this that explicitly discusses it!’ (Stuart is a Rewilding Leadership Council member.)” – Rob Harding, TRI board member

4. The Wildlife News, Point Reyes National Seashore Capitulates to Ranchers
“The final Record of Decision (ROD) on livestock operations management at Point Reyes National Seashore was released this week. Unfortunately, and as feared, it not only maintains the ongoing degradation of this national park unit by privately owned domestic livestock, but it expands the opportunities for a handful of ranchers to do even more damage to the public’s landscape with additional lands opened for grazing, as well as the planting of row crops.”

5. Native News Online, Tribal Leaders Urge Interior Sec. Deb Haaland for Tribal Consultations to Protect Gray Wolves
“Tribal leaders from throughout Indian Country are putting pressure on Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) to restore gray wolves to the federal government’s Endangered Species List. More than 200 tribal leaders representing tribes and advocacy organizations sent a letter to Haaland on Tuesday demanding emergency relisting of gray wolves.”

6. The Guardian, Anti-logging protest becomes Canada’s biggest ever act of civil disobedience
“A string of protests against old-growth logging in western Canada have become the biggest act of civil disobedience in the country’s history, with the arrest of least 866 people since April.

The bitter fight over the future of Vancouver Island’s diminishing ancient forests – in which activists used guerrilla methods of resistance such as locking their bodies to the logging road and police responded by beating, dragging and pepper-spraying demonstrators – has surpassed the previous record of arrests set in the 1990s at the anti-logging protests dubbed the “War in the Woods”. For months, hundreds of activists with the Rainforest Flying Squad have camped out in the remote Fairy Creek watershed in a desperate attempt to shift the course of logging in the region.”

7. Washington Post, EPA to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay, blocking major gold mine
“The Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday (9/9/21) that it would restore protections for Alaska’s Bristol Bay, blocking the construction of a massive and controversial gold mine near the world’s largest sockeye salmon run. The policy shift, indicated in a court filing Thursday in response to a lawsuit filed by the mine’s opponents, deals a serious blow to a project that has been in the works for more than a decade and would have transformed southwest Alaska’s landscape.” Read an article in Rewilding Earth on this topic.

8. The Register-Guard, Guest View: A wolf for a cow doesn’t add up
“Wolf-caused losses on an annual basis amount to 0.001%. Yet the livestock industry, which raises the beef and lamb that winds up on our dinner plates, is unwilling to tolerate even those minuscule losses to wolves. These operators demand an eye for an eye, and Oregon’s wildlife agency carries out the sentence — even when that means killing wolf pups so young they’re just losing their milk teeth and are capable of hunting only grasshoppers and meadow mice. […] True coexistence means acknowledging the growing body of published science showing that using nonlethal measures to protect livestock and keep predators at bay is more effective, and less expensive, over the long haul than repeatedly killing those predators.”

9. Science, The MPA Guide: A framework to achieve global goals for the ocean
“Marine protected areas (MPAs) are now well established globally as tools for conservation, for enhancing marine biodiversity, and for promoting sustainable fisheries. That said, which regions are labeled as MPAs varies substantially, from those that fully protect marine species and prohibit human extraction to those that permit everything from intensive fishing to mining. This inconsistency can in some cases inhibit both conservation and quantifying the proportion of the marine environment that is truly protected. Grorud-Colvert et al. review the consistency of MPAs and propose a framework by which levels of protection can be evaluated and improved.”

10. The Wildlife Professional, Learning from Wolverines
“For the July/August issue of The Wildlife Professional, Robert Long and Paula MacKay co-authored an article about their wolverine research in Washington, emphasizing the need for creative collaborations and innovative survey methods given possible threats to the wolverine population in the future.”

11. National Parks Traveler, The Nation’s Parks Are At A Crossroads
“The United States Senate will soon consider the nominee to be director of the National Park Service. America’s Best Idea – the National Park System – is at a crossroads. Return The National Parks To The Tribes demanded an article in Atlantic Magazine on April 12, 2021. The curious title presumes that tribes once had national parks. ‘Returning the parks’ would end the National Park System. Here are three reasons why.”

12. New York Times, Richard Powers Speaks For the Trees
“His Pulitzer-winning novel, The Overstory, left him so drained that he didn’t know whether he would write again. His new book, Bewilderment, came to him when he imagined a child talking to him in a forest. […] ‘I was deep into the story before I realized that I was writing a book that was trying to re-engage the questions that were left hanging at the end of The Overstory,’ Powers said. ‘Namely, how did we lose our sense of living here on Earth? How did we become so alienated and estranged from everything else alive? How did we get convinced that we’re the only interesting game in town, and the only species worthy of extending a sense of the sacred to?’”

13. New York Times, A Stunning Look at the Hidden Mysteries of Glacier Caves
“A group of scientists and adventure athletes are venturing into icy labyrinths to study their relationships with glacial melting and climate change.”

14. The IUCN passed Motion 101: Setting area-based conservation targets based on evidence of what nature and people need to thrive
“In the final session of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress, an overwhelming majority of delegates approved a call to formally recognize that humanity must protect at least half of Earth’s lands and seas and protect a minimum of 30% by 2030 by voting in favor of Motion 101.”

15. Santa Fe-New Mexican, US tribes demand emergency protection for wolves
“Dozens of American Indian tribes asked the Biden administration Tuesday (9/14/21) to immediately enact emergency protections for gray wolves, saying states have become too aggressive in hunting the animal.”

16. Washington Post, Maryland Zoo is one of 70 U.S. facilities vaccinating wild animals against the coronavirus
“The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore said Tuesday that it plans to vaccinate some of its animals this fall against the coronavirus. The vaccine shots will be administered to more than 30 animals, including chimpanzees, North American river otters, an Amur leopard, cheetahs, lions, bobcats, lemurs and one American badger named Makoda with razor-sharp claws. […] The Maryland Zoo is one of 70 zoos, sanctuaries and conservatories in the United States getting the coronavirus vaccine donated from Zoetis, a publicly traded drug company headquartered in Parsippany, N.J. Zoetis makes medicines and vaccines for livestock and pets.”

17. In Defense of Animals, Deadly Decision for Tule Elk Finalized by National Park Service
“Despite growing public opposition to a deadly and destructive plan proposed for the future of Point Reyes National Seashore and the wild animals who call it home, the National Park Service has officially finalized it — and it’s worse than the old plan. Mass animal cruelty, toxic pollution, and shooting Tule elk to death is now official policy.”

18. New York Times, Bezos Puts $1 Billion of $10 Billion Climate Pledge Into Conservation
“Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder and one of the world’s richest men, announced plans on Monday for $1 billion in conservation spending in places like the Congo Basin, the Andes and tropical parts of the Pacific Ocean. […] The money will be used ‘to create, expand, manage and monitor protected and conserved areas,’ according to a news release from the fund, which also introduced a website on Monday.”

19. Biohabitats’ autumn 2021 issue Leaf Litter has been released focusing on dam removal. Two articles from Rewilding Earth are featured in the issue. Read it here.

20. The Conversation, Monks Wood Wilderness: 60 years ago, scientists let a farm field rewild – here’s what happened
“The Monks Wood Wilderness experiment, which is now 60 years old–A rewilding study before the term existed, it shows how allowing land to naturally regenerate can expand native woodland and help tackle climate change and biodiversity loss.”

Here is some discussion TRI board members had about this story:

“The easy way to rewild.  Could take more time in the arid West.” – David Parsons

“Isn’t that a great story?  Just think of what we could do with active rewilding, creating jobs along the way.” –Jason Kahn

 “I found one of the linked articles particularly rich in data, insights, and further links for reading in the references: In many parts of North America, the existence of an ‘ancient and intact forest biome’ adjacent or at least somewhat nearby a candidate area should factor into the candidate area’s suitability for rewilding.”–Bob Howard

21. Greenwire, When it comes to ’30×30,’ everything counts until it doesn’t
“In recent months, the Interior Department and its agencies have touted its ‘America the Beautiful’ initiative — the Biden version of what is commonly known as ‘30×30’, the goal of conserving 30 percent of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030 — in connection to synthetic turf at a city park, 10,000 acres of new wilderness lands and even a fee-free day for public lands.

But despite the long list of endeavors Interior has tied to the conservation program, which of those efforts will actually count toward the end goal remains an enigma.”

22. Los Angeles Times, Six tribes sue Wisconsin to try to stop wolf hunt
“Six Native American tribes sued Wisconsin on Tuesday to try to stop its planned gray wolf hunt in November, asserting that the hunt violates their treaty rights and endangers an animal they consider sacred. […] The tribal lawsuit comes three weeks after a coalition of wildlife advocacy groups sued to stop Wisconsin’s wolf hunt this fall and void a state law mandating annual hunts, arguing that the statutes don’t give wildlife managers any leeway to consider population estimates.”

23. Earth Island Journal, Gazing in the Broken Mirror In Review: Full Ecology: Repairing Our Relationship with the Natural World, by Mary M. Clare and Gary Ferguson by Paula MacKay
“Most of us hold images of ourselves in the outdoors in the dusty corners of our minds, and they can help guide us back to a time when we didn’t separate the nature within us from what the authors refer to as the landscape of our being.”

24. New York Times, Protected Too Late: U.S. Officials Report More Than 20 Extinctions
“The animals and one plant had been listed as endangered species. Their stories hold lessons about a growing global biodiversity crisis.”

25. The Guardian, Vast area of Scottish Highlands to be rewilded in ambitious 30-year project
“The Affric Highlands initiative aims to increase connected habitats and species diversity over an area of 200,000 hectares (500,000 acres), incorporating Kintail mountain range, and glens Cannich, Moriston, and Shiel. Plans include planting trees, enhancing river corridors, restoring peat bogs, and creating nature-friendly farming practices.”

26. Yale Environment, On the Klamath, Dam Removal May Come Too Late to Save the Salmon
“The planned demolition of dams on the Klamath River was expected to help restore the beleaguered salmon on which Indigenous tribes depend. But after a record drought and wildfire this summer, many are worried the salmon could be all but gone before the dams come down.”

27. Vox, The controversial plan to bring jaguars back to the US
“The proposal calls for transplanting jaguars from existing populations in northern Mexico or Argentina to land owned by Native American tribes and the US federal government. Proponents say restoring these apex predators to evergreen forests and scrubland where it’s thought they once thrived — and where they hold a singular place in the region’s natural heritage to this day — has an element of historical justice. […] But other experts say we should focus on fostering the existing jaguar population in northern Mexico in the hope that more of the cats might naturally migrate into the US, rather than launch a potentially costly and politically fraught reintroduction effort. […] an expanded jaguar campaign will require a strong dose of social science and storytelling in order to gain a foothold.”

28. Business for Nature, Letter from CEOs to Heads of State
“Global businesses call for governments to deliver a meaningful and actionable Global Biodiversity Framework.”

29. New York Times, The Most Important Global Meeting You’ve Probably Never Heard Of Is Now
“Countries are gathering in an effort to stop a biodiversity collapse that scientists say could equal climate change as an existential crisis.”

30. NM Political Report, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ordered to address poaching in Mexican wolf recovery plan
“Conservation advocates say they won a partial victory in a lawsuit regarding the Mexican gray wolf recovery plan. A federal district court judge ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday to produce a draft recovery plan. This plan must be released for public comment within six months and must include site-specific management actions to reduce the number of wolves illegally killed. The plan must be finalized no later than six months after the draft is released.

Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Endangered Wolf Center, Wolf Conservation Center, and David Parsons, a former Fish and Wildlife Service wolf recovery coordinator [and TRI’s carnivore conservation biologist] sued the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2018.”

31. New York Times, Biden Administration Plans Wind Farms Along Nearly the Entire U.S. Coastline
“Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced that her agency will formally begin the process of identifying federal waters to lease to wind developers by 2025.”

32. AP News, Feds agree to keep cattle out of northern Arizona rivers
“Federal land-management agencies have agreed to do more to keep cattle from grazing in sensitive habitat for threatened and endangered species in the Verde River watershed, settling a lawsuit filed by environmental groups.”

33. National Wildlife, Pulse of the Heartland
“Grasslands store carbon, cycle nutrients, and sustain songbirds and other wildlife—yet less than half of all grasslands remain, and we plow up millions more acres each year.”

34. Buffalo Field Campaign’s 2021-2022 newsletter is out.

35. Bay Journal, Pennsylvania creates 35 secret sanctuaries to protect rare plants
“To guard against poaching, the agency isn’t revealing the locations, except to say they are all in state forests, in patches ranging from five to 700 acres. The preserves contain many of the state’s rarest and most threatened plants. […] Approximately 30 more sanctuaries will come under state protection by early next year. The agency also worked with landowners to create nearly two dozen preserves on private property where vulnerable plants have been found.”

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