December 29, 2021 | By:
Carroll Inlet, Tongass NF, (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Rewilding in the Media #7

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 that the TRI board and staff discover and discuss.  These are some highlights from late Oct.-Nov. 2021. We urge sharing links to the ones you find most inspiring. This list was curated by Katie Shepard, Rewilding Earth Managing Editor.

1. New York Times, Keeping Cattle on the Move and Carbon in the Soil [Oct. 31, 2021]

“Ranchers and conservationists, once unlikely allies, are teaming up to preserve grasslands, which act as a carbon dioxide sink that could support climate goals.”

2. The Wildlife News, A Response to NYT Keeping Cattle On The Move and Carbon In The Soil by George Wuerthner [Nov. 2, 2021]

“Concentration of cattle and moving them frequently has been proposed as a means of storing carbon in soils. Like other claims that seem to be too good to be true, such assertions fail to do a full accounting of the carbon cycle.”

3. Mother Pelican, World Scientists’ Warnings into Action, Local to Global by Phoebe Barnard, William Moomaw, et al [Nov. 11, 2021]

Abstract: “We, in our capacities as scientists, economists, governance and policy specialists, are shifting from warnings to guidance for action before there is no more ‘road.’ The science is clear and irrefutable; humanity is in advanced ecological overshoot. Our overexploitation of resources exceeds ecosystems’ capacity to provide them or to absorb our waste. Society has failed to meet clearly stated goals of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Civilization faces an epochal crossroads, but with potentially much better, wiser outcomes if we act now.

What are the concrete and transformative actions by which we can turn away from the abyss? In this paper we forcefully recommend priority actions and resource allocation to avert the worst of the climate and nature emergencies, two of the most pressing symptoms of overshoot, and lead society into a future of greater wellbeing and wisdom. Humanity has begun the social, economic, political and technological initiatives needed for this transformation. Now, massive upscaling and acceleration of these actions and collaborations are essential before irreversible tipping points are crossed in the coming decade. We still can overcome significant societal, political and economic barriers of our own making.

Previously, we identified six core areas for urgent global action – energy, pollutants, nature, food systems, population stabilization and economic goals. Here we identify an indicative, systemic and time-limited framework for priority actions for policy, planning and management at multiple scales from household to global. We broadly follow the ‘Reduce-Remove-Repair’ approach to rapid action. To guide decision makers, planners, managers, and budgeters, we cite some of the many experiments, mechanisms and resources in order to facilitate rapid global adoption of effective solutions.

Our biggest challenges are not technical, but social, economic, political and behavioral. To have hope of success, we must accelerate collaborative actions across scales, in different cultures and governance systems, while maintaining adequate social, economic and political stability. Effective and timely actions are still achievable on many, though not all fronts. Such change will mean the difference for billions of children and adults, hundreds of thousands of species, health of many ecosystems, and will determine our common future.”

(The full paper on which this summary is based is in press at the SAGE journal, Science Progress, October 2021.)

“A good and thorough article.” -Dave Foreman

4. Reuters, Over 100 global leaders pledge to end deforestation by 2030 [Nov. 3, 2021]

“More than 100 global leaders late on Monday pledged to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by the end of the decade, underpinned by $19 billion in public and private funds to invest in protecting and restoring forests.”

5. Largest Gorilla Found in Congo! | Brave Mission [Oct. 27, 2021]

Watch the documentary and you can help the rangers of Virunga National Park.

6. The Ecological Citizen, Criticizing Muir and misunderstanding the foundation of American nature conservation by Bruce A Byers [Oct. 22, 2021]

“Abstract: The recent controversy within the Sierra Club about whether their founder, John Muir, held racist views provides a useful opportunity to examine a much more important issue: the anthropocentric worldview that is the root cause of the global environmental crisis. The claims against Muir are easily refuted by a thorough and fair reading of his work; they are based on out-of-context quotes and revisionist interpretations of his early writings. But those claims give rise to a harmful misinterpretation of the history and philosophy of American nature conservation. The founders of American conservation had all been influenced by the life and work of Alexander von Humboldt. Muir, Thoreau, and all of Humboldt’s other acolytes were slowly constructing a new ecological worldview that combined science, philosophy, aesthetics and spirituality. They were revolutionaries, far ahead of their times in arguing against human domination of nature or other humans. The real unfinished business of the environmental conservation movement is the need to overthrow the dominant paradigm of human supremacy and adopt an ecocentric worldview that can heal the human–nature relationship and create a society in which justice and reconciliation within the whole biotic community can occur, including within the human species.”

7. Wildlands Network, For the first time in United States history, wildlife crossings will have dedicated federal funding. [Nov. 8, 2021]

Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. “Wildlands Network is proud to announce that, due to our leadership, the Act contains $350 million in federal funding for a ‘Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program’ to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions. From North Carolina to New Hampshire and New Mexico to California, all 50 states will finally have access to desperately needed federal funds to build wildlife road crossings. This is a significant step toward addressing the biodiversity crisis at the national level.”

8. AP News, ‘Faulty’ science used by Trump appointees to cut owl habitat [Nov. 9, 2021]

Spotted owl habitat gets back protection! “Political appointees in the Trump administration relied on faulty science to justify stripping habitat protections for the imperiled northern spotted owl, U.S. wildlife officials said Tuesday as they struck down a rule that would have opened millions of acres of West Coast forest to potential logging.”

Here’s the Rewilding Earth post that spoke out on this issue in January 2021.

9. The first episode of season two of EarthxTV’s program The Population Factor hosted by Phil Cafaro has been released. The 23-minute episode can be viewed here with guest Amy Lewis from Wild. Episode description: “Wildlife populations are dwindling across much of the world, and the number one cause is habitat loss. A bold new proposal to stop this decline is presented.”

10. New York Times, What Climate Change Looks Like From Space [Nov. 11, 2021]

Take a look at these maps of shifting landscapes seen from space!

11. New York Times, New Zealand’s Sea Lions Are Back, and Crashing Golf Courses and Soccer Matches [Nov. 9, 2021]

“In recent decades the animals — which are one of the world’s rarest sea lion species — began, slowly and unexpectedly, to return to New Zealand’s mainland. It is a conservation story of hope and possibility. But with many of the sea lions’ former breeding grounds now populated by humans, scientists say that this time, New Zealanders will have to learn to share. A study published Sunday in Methods in Ecology and Evolution suggests a new way to do that — combining algorithmic modeling that predicts where species will settle with on-the-ground information from those who regularly encounter the wildlife.”

12. High Country News, ‘A ticking time bomb for a mass die-off’ [Nov. 4, 2021]

“Recent grazing decisions continue to risk Southwest Colorado’s bighorns.”

“When I could still backpack, Nancy and I were appalled by the huge herds of sheep in the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Areas in Colorado and New Mexico.  One tough problem with getting the woollies out of the Wilderness is that in many cases the herds have been in the same families for generations from Spanish villages in the area (beginning after the Utes and Navajos were herded off to rezzes where they could no long raid the Spanish and Pueblos).  Most of this family herding began before the National Forests were established.  Today it’s more cultural and family heritage than economic.  See my friend Jon Nichols’ novel The Milagro Beanfield War for a taste of the culture.

Nonetheless, the woollies do awful damage to the tundra and are the biggest threat to bighorns.”- Dave Foreman

13. Vox, Animals need infrastructure, too [Nov. 12, 2021]

“$350 million of Biden’s INVEST in America Act isn’t for people. It’s for wildlife that needs help crossing the road.”

14. Journal of Applied Ecology, Exploring a natural baseline for large-herbivore biomass in ecological restoration [Nov. 2, 2021]

“This is an extremely important study showing that large herbivores are essential ecosystem engineers.”-Dave Foreman

15. ScienceDaily, Mapping climate corridors [July 11, 2018]

“Summary: The corridors of land vital for many wildlife species in the face of climate change often are unprotected. Now, a recent study has tracked these shifting North American habitats.”

16. Payson Roundup, Forest Service regroups and scales back 4FRI plans [Nov. 16, 2021]

“The report estimates that the Forest Service will have to log or treat about half of the 2.5 million acres in the 4FRI project area, which stretches from the Grand Canyon to the border of New Mexico — including most of Rim Country and the White Mountains.”  These National Forests are key parts of the proposed Mogollon Wildlife Corridor, as outlined by Kim Crumbo here.

17., Federal agency withdraws plan that would all but end protection for red wolves in NC [Nov. 15, 2021]

“Days after announcing that it will withdraw a 2018 proposal that would have shrunk the northeastern North Carolina area where red wolves are protected by some 90%, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now says it plans to release nine wolves from captivity this winter.”

18. The Guardian, The moral case for destroying fossil fuel infrastructure by Andreas Malm [Nov. 18, 2021]

“If someone has planted a time bomb in your home, you are entitled to dismantle it. The same applies to our planet.”

19. Frontiers in Conservation Science, Protecting Half the Planet and Transforming Human Systems Are Complementary Goals (Rewilding Leadership Council members Eileen Crist and Reed Noss and TRI Executive Director John Davis are among the co-writers of this paper.) [Nov. 18, 2021]

“Abstract: The unfolding crises of mass extinction and climate change call for urgent action in response. To limit biodiversity losses and avert the worst effects of climate disruption, we must greatly expand nature protection while simultaneously downsizing and transforming human systems. The conservation initiative Nature Needs Half (or Half Earth), calling for the conservation of half the Earth’s land and seas, is commensurate with the enormous challenges we face. Critics have objected to this initiative as harboring hardship for people near protected areas and for failing to confront the growth economy as the main engine of global ecological destruction. In response to the first criticism, we affirm that conservation policies must be designed and implemented in collaboration with Indigenous and local communities. In response to the second criticism, we argue that protecting half the Earth needs to be complemented by downscaling and reforming economic life, humanely and gradually reducing the global population, and changing food production and consumption. By protecting nature generously, and simultaneously contracting and transforming the human enterprise, we can create the conditions for achieving justice and well-being for both people and other species. If we fail to do so, we instead accept a chaotic and impoverished world that will be dangerous for us all.”

20. New York Times, Amazon Deforestation Soars to 15-Year High [Nov. 19, 2021]

“Brazil committed this month to end illegal deforestation in eight years, but a government report raises questions about its intent and ability to meet that target.”

21. The Fresno Bee, Severe fire can be good for giant sequoias. The ‘hopeful’ new research – and a giant debate [Nov. 19, 2021]

“Ecologist Chad Hanson felt hopeful as he stood within a large burn scar in Sierra National Forest on a recent fall day. This landscape, charred four years earlier in the Railroad Fire, might look to most like more than 1,000 acres of destruction – dead tree trunks rising from brush. But there’s far more than just bushes growing here. There are thousands of young giant sequoias, hundreds per acre, sprouting like weeds in every direction.”

22. KRBD, Biden administration begins Roadless Rule do-over for Tongass [Nov. 19, 2021]

The Biden administration announced the start date of its formal process to reinstate the Roadless Rule which protects about 9 million acres of Tongass National Forest.

“I just heard that Pres. Biden, yesterday, reinstated the Roadless Rule for the Tongass Nat. Forest.  This undoes Trump’s attempt to reinstate GW Bush’s attempt to undo the Roadless Rule Clinton put into effect.  Anyway, good news and yet another insult gets crossed off on our Healing Nature’s Wounds campaign.”-TRI Vice President Jason Kahn

More here in this Washington Post article.

23. Washington Post, Brazil’s Amazon hit by worst deforestation since 2006 [Nov. 19, 2021]

“Satellite data revealed that deforestation rose by nearly 22 percent from the last period to reach its highest level in 15 years, the National Institute for Space Research found, in a country that is home to most of the world’s largest rainforest.”

24. MongaBay, Jaguars in Mexico are growing in number, a promising sign that national conservation strategies are working by Guananí Gómez-Van Cortright [Nov. 19, 2021]

“The jaguar population in Mexico increased by about 800 animals from 2010 to 2018, according to the first two censuses of the elusive carnivores ever conducted in the country. The news confirms that Mexico’s national strategy to protect jaguars is working, researchers reported recently in the journal PLOS One.”

“Dang good news for the US borderlands.  See the map.”- Dave Foreman

25. National Parks Traveler Episode 146| Rick Ridgeway’s Life Lived Wild [Nov. 28, 2021]

Summary: “Today we’re talking adventures, friendships, and the environment. And to drive that conversation, we’re joined by Rick Ridgeway, who has traveled the world seeking adventure and, along the way, debated and discussed environmental consciousness with his friends, colleagues and peers. Rick, a climber, kayaker, explorer, filmmaker, and thoughtful writer, has a new book out, Life Lived Wild, that chronicles many of the adventures he’s embarked upon the past five decades or so.”

“We just watched this and loved it.” – Susan Morgan, TRI President

Read TRI book reviewer John Miles review of Ridgeway’s Life Lived Wild here.

26. San Francisco Chronicle, Researchers encountered a 1,419-pound leatherback sea turtle off California coast. Turns out, they’ve met him before [Nov. 12, 2021]

“Capturing and tagging a 1,419-pound leatherback sea turtle, it turns out, is a delicate operation. In mid-October, after an airplane crew first spotted the green-black form in a patch of sea nettles 5 miles off Half Moon Bay, the chartered research vessel Sheila B. approached the giant marine reptile slowly from behind. Standing at the bow was veteran sea turtle tagger Scott Benson, holding a large hoop with an equally large net attached to it.”

27. Accuweather, Newspaper’s map change shines spotlight on Great Salt Lake’s ‘death spiral’ [Nov. 23, 2021]

“One of the American West’s oldest newspapers is making a monumental change meant to depict the dire state of an iconic body of water – and to show that there’s still time to turn the crisis around.”

28. Wildlands Network, Now is the Time to Think about Reintroducing Jaguars into the U.S. [May 11, 2021]

“A group of scientists say now is the time to talk about reintroducing jaguars (Panthera onca) into the U.S. In a study published today in the journal Conservation Science and Practice, the authors provide a prospective framework for this effort and describe “righting a wrong” done to “America’s Great Cat” in the Southwest more than 50 years ago. The big cats lived for hundreds of years in the central mountains of Arizona and New Mexico but were driven to local extinction by the mid-20th century, in part because of killing by government hunters.”

The proposed Jaguar recovery area largely coincides with our proposed Mogollon Wildlife Corridor, which is also where we hope Mexican Wolves can expand their range northwestward.

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