Past Presentation | Moving Mountains tackles the destructive effects of large-scale mining on the lives, culture and environment of communities in the Cordilleras. After playing host to these big mining companies, they remain poor, their resources depleted and their communities destroyed. The film also presents the inspiring story of an indigenous tribe in Kalinga province that has kept large mining companies away from the area and has allowed the community to determine how to manage its mineral resources.
Past Presentation | Banff and the Rocky Mountains: sparkling glaciers, thundering waterfalls, deep gorges and unbelievably blue lakes reflecting the endless fir forests and high craggy mountain peaks. Postcard photo motifs are everywhere. Banff National Park stretches over three vegetation zones to offer a great variety of scenic splendour. The park lies in the middle of the mightiest mountain range in North America, the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Although the days of pioneers and prospectors have long gone, the adventurous spirit from the past has been preserved in the founding history of Canada’s oldest National Park
Past Presentation | Vermont herbalists Jeff and Melanie Carpenter sold their natural products business to buy raw land and start an organic farm to grow medicinal herbs, rather than source them from half-way around the world.
Extreme rainfall is increasing in the Northern Hemisphere’s mountain ranges as global temperatures rise, raising the dangers of floods and landslides
From Mexico through to Canada, mountain plants are moving upslope to cooler elevations. In some mountain ranges, the upward climb is as fast as 112 metres per decade
According to research, climate change will have a severe effect on mountain landscapes and human activities, increasing the likelihood of avalanches, river floods, landslides, debris...
A 10,000-acre logging project threatens endangered species, recreation and nearby communities. The post Protect This Place: Jellico Mountains, Home of Magical Waterways and Unique Species appeared first on The Revelator.
The proposal would increase the monument by roughly a third and extend its boundaries to the back door of Sylmar, Santa Clarita and Pacoima.
By Trina Moyles Photography by Darrel ComeauGrande Cache locals were surprised to hear Mine 14 — exempt from Alberta's pause on coal mining in the Rockies — is poised to start digging
The iconic singer has a long history of taking seemingly "political" positions that say less about her convictions than about our own.
Coming Soon | High in the mountains of Austria, a simple mountain farmer turned his family farm into an ecological miracle. By working with nature, Sepp was able to turn his patch of degraded mountain land into one of Europe's greatest Regenerative Farms. By working with water, animals, and the soil, Sepp Holzer was able to turn his land int a true paradise, and his methods carry profound wisdom for restoring ecosystems anywhere on Earth.
Past Presentation | Mountain Man is a social issue documentary that chronicles, in verite style, Joel's struggle to find a balance between an obligatory fast paced Orange County lifestyle and the natural beauty in Orange County and the greater Southern California area that goes seemingly unnoticed. This short documentary follows the ebbs and flows of Joel's work in Naturalist for You. He struggles to attract participants but also experiences the triumphs of fostering inspiration. He struggles to support his family, while also maintaining a constant dedication to his organization.
Now Playing | As a wildlife filmmaker, there are times when I want to tell a deeper story, one that is more accurately classified as natural history. This is my interpretation of the area where I live through the eyes of the mountains that surround my home, the San Juan Mountains, and in particular, Pagosa Peak.
Marine governance in New Zealand is fragmented, with several agencies operating under various statutes. But a more collaborative, ecosystem-based approach to better protect the ocean is emerging.
Plastic coverings, gravity snow guns and painted rocks could slow ice melt in high mountains
The loss of the once-sprawling ice fields in the Rwenzori Mountains has profound implications for local communities, uniquely adapted species, and scientists studying the climate record.
Now Playing | Alegria - A Humanitarian Expedition tells the story of an epic solo expedition across the Himalaya that changed the life of thousands of people in need. Supporting leprosy patients and mentally destitute women in India, Christoph von Toggenburg cycled 3200km on the world’s highest tracks pulling a 40kg trailer packed with survival gear. With little air to breathe and facing temperatures between -15°C to +45°C he crossed mountain passes higher than 5500m mastering a total of 50’000m, Christoph fell altitude sick and was hit by rock fall. Crossing Nepal during the Maoist unrests, conflict stricken Kashmir, Christoph encountered wonderful hospitality, found new friends, and saw some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes. He became film-maker, actor, fund-and awareness-raiser in one person capturing this epic adventure entirely by himself.
Past Presentation | Ancash is a province in Peru known for its emblematic landscapes of the Andes: Snow capped mountains, turquoise lagoons and lush valleys. But did you know all of this natural beauty could disappear at the end of this century? This part of the Andes is known as the Cordillera Blanca and it contains 60% of the glaciers in Peru. Over the last 50 years they have lost more than 40% of their mass due to Climate Change. The water that comes from these giant blocks of ice during the summer months play a vital role in the ecosystems, the towns and cities of the region. Without the glaciers there is no year-round water source and without water there is no life. In Chasing Glaciers, our protagonist, the artist Cake, starts an adventure to see how Climate Change is impacting the people of Ancash. He finds a web of conflicts, economic interests, imminent risks, and a strange phenomenon where the local environment is contaminating itself.
A swing from drought to heavy snow and rain has been a mixed blessing for the West’s plants and animals. The post Wildlife Winners and Losers From the West’s Snowy Winter appeared first on The Revelator.
A muddy trek reveals the last remnants of the Rwenzori Mountains’ once-sprawling ice fields, a loss for scientists studying the climate record.
I held her as she wept into my shirt while my lab mate ran across the coffee field to get tissues. We were standing on a coffee farm 7,500 feet above sea level in the middle of the Jamaican Blue Mountains. Before she broke down, the woman was telling us about her life as a farmer. Weeping was commonplace throughout my interviews in Jamaica. Farmers told me how fertilizer prices skyrocketed because Russia is the world’s top fertilizer exporter and the Russian invasion of Ukraine made it nearly impossible for them to afford the increased costs. I also heard stories of how unattended rural roads make it impossible to maintain vehicles. However, during this interview this woman was one of a few who told us about a more local economic issue: farmers have no control over the value of their crops because local corporations control the market. She explained how for farmers to produce enough to make a living, they need fertilizer and pesticides, which are expensive. Agrochemical companies spend billions of dollars to ensure that industrial farms can maintain a crop year-round —so that Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee beans get from a farmer’s bush in Portland Parish of Jamaica and into your hands at your local grocery store, even in the middle of February. But the labor of small-scale farmers is not calculated into these companies’ profit margins, leaving the people who grow those coffee beans crying on the shoulder of anyone who would listen. The global food system is broken. We have seen the latest examples wreak havoc across the world this past year: wheat production in Russia declined with the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine; Hawai’i’s governor wants to grow more food on-island because recent studies have shown that if they were to be hit by a natural disaster, they would only have three days’ worth of food as they rely on imports for survival. Meanwhile, industrial agriculture emits one-third of the world’s climate-warming gases. But the biggest example of how broken the system is: small-scale farmers, which produce more than 70% of the food we eat, are often the populations with the most malnourished individuals living in absolute poverty.This essay is also available in SpanishIf humans want to withstand upcoming and ongoing climate disasters, our food system needs to change. It is time to shift away from industrial agriculture. We need to produce our food in ways that give back power to those who produce, distribute and consume food so they can change and design the mechanisms and policies that govern food production and distribution. You have the power to change what happens to your food before it's on your plate or in your cup by integrating a relationship with farmers and the land around you into your daily lifestyle.How has agriculture changed throughout history? The Jamaican woman I interviewed at the Blue Mountains reminded me of my history with agriculture. My grandparents were sharecroppers in the deep South during the Jim Crow era. Throughout my life, they explained they were forced to produce crops that white landowners wanted to sell in markets, and, as a result, my family had little to no control over what they ate or how much money they made. Millions of African-Americans were cogs in the machine of what we in academia know as the industrial agriculture food regime. A food regime is, in simple terms, how food is produced in a certain society during a specific period. For example, between 1870-1914, tropical fruits, vegetables and crops like sugar were shipped from colonies to Europe, where a new industrial class was growing. That era was called the colonial food regime. But as we approached 1945, industrialized countries, also known as the Global North, pushed former colonies (the Global South) toward industrialization, injecting into their fields with crops like wheat, corn, or soy –and the pesticides needed to help them grow to industrialized standards – and the use of agricultural technology, such as tractors. This led us to today’s food regime: agriculture is characterized by the overuse of fertilizers, large extensions of single crops known as monocultures, and, most importantly, pesticides. It’s the era of the corporate food regime. Jamaica is a prime example. The third-largest island of the Greater Antilles, there are 14 parishes in Jamaica, of which 13 produce coffee. The high mountains crossing the landscape of the Caribbean archipelago nation infuse a uniquely earthy and herbaceous flavor to Jamaican coffee beans. Due to this limited production and high demand, this coffee is also significantly more costly and sold internationally by large-scale companies. In Jamaica and elsewhere, this food regime is taking an enormous toll on the environment, from polluting waterways to endangering public health through disease outbreaks and pesticide exposure, to exacerbating climate change. Industrial crops require fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, and other intensive materials to kill all other organisms that might touch our food. Cattle production requires clearing large swaths of land, and all plant life that would have been sucking CO2 from the surrounding atmosphere is gone and replaced with livestock. As a result, one-third of the world’s carbon emissions come from agriculture.What do the farmers think about industrial agriculture? After the weeping subsided, the woman I interviewed had a lot to say about the Jamaican food system. She wasn’t the only one. When I sat down with farmers of all ages across the Jamaican Blue Mountains to understand the choices they had made and where they saw themselves in the grand scheme of the global food system, I realized many of them had family ties to agriculture that reached back generations. They told me how they prefer small, local business owners to buy their crops because they treat them better than larger corporations. Mr. Brown, a coffee farmer with 40 years of experience, said of the small business owner he works with?, “He’s a small farmer like us, and he knows the benefit of it, so he pays us more than the other people that come in to buy would buy for, you know?”Agents of Change in Environmental Justice · Alexa White on supporting small-scale farmers Walking with them through their farms, I saw that the crops growing alongside the coffee were not foods that they would take home to eat but rather foods that they needed to sell for export. Yet that diversity did not bring in enough additional money. Most of the companies, mostly led by non-Jamaican men, that buy their crops are only interested in coffee production. Even when these companies would buy other crops, they would pay them a minuscule amount compared to what they would make from the coffee on the international market. If you compare the prices of the fertilizers, manure, and other inputs needed to produce enough coffee to satisfy these companies with their rising costs, they would probably not be able to last until next year, farmers told me. Mrs. Crew, a third-generation farmer, explained, “It’s giving us a hard time, so I say maybe that is what is going to push small farmers out of the business.” Small-scale farmers are stuck in limbo, as they need to produce enough food to sell to the companies that control the market, which forces them to use expensive inputs that make it possible to get the crop yields the buying companies require. Profit margins are small –and farmers struggle to put enough food on their table. As a result of this unjust arrangement, half of the world’s undernourished population (about 407 million people), 75% of Africa’s malnourished children, and most people living in absolute poverty live on small farms. That means that those living on the nearly 500 million small farms on this planet do not seem to benefit from their contributions to the world’s food security.What can be done to help small farmers and tackle hunger?For years now, sustainable development circles have debated changing the agricultural system as an urgent task if humanity is to have a livable future. A lot of attention has been given to pushing small-scale farms to increase production to “feed the world’s growing population.” And yet, small-scale farms already produce enough food to feed the world. Therefore, international initiatives to address world hunger should include small-scale farmers’ perspectives and participation.But that won’t be enough. To drive ourselves away from industrial agriculture we have to embrace the ideals of the food sovereignty movement –a movement that advocates for a food system in which the people who produce, distribute and consume food also control the mechanisms and policies of food production and distribution. It stands in contrast to the present corporate food regime, in which corporations and market institutions control the global food system. Food sovereignty requires us to rethink our relationship with food. It invites us to recognize, for example, how unnatural it is to expect to drink a cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee on a cold February morning. A good way to start developing a more intimate relationship with food can be by consuming food from nearby food cooperatives or Community Supported Agriculture systems, which you can find using websites like Local Harvest or the Co-op Directory. Buying your food from Black, Indigenous, or POC-owned farms helps to re-distribute wealth to small-scale farmers.Food is an environmental issue that we encounter every single day, yet as an international society, we chose to ignore the people who help to get food to our table and do nothing to end the oppressive systems impoverishing them. There must be a major shift in how our food systems operate. This can begin with you. This essay was produced through the Agents of Change in Environmental Justice fellowship. Agents of Change empowers emerging leaders from historically excluded backgrounds in science and academia to reimagine solutions for a just and healthy planet.
The proposed development in the Santa Monica Mountains is supported by a powerful labor union. Katy Yaroslavsky, the wealthy neighborhood's City Council representative, opposes it.
Costa Rica is known for being an eco-friendly destination, a place to be one with nature and enjoy the ‘Pura Vida’ life. The country is powered by renewable energy and has a vast number of national parks, wildlife reserves, and conservation areas. Many hotels and businesses have consciously decided to immerse into this lifestyle and […] The post 3 Sustainable Hotels in Costa Rica that Put the Planet First appeared first on The Tico Times | Costa Rica News | Travel | Real Estate.
Customers of Bungee America have leapt off the Bridge to Nowhere in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. A lawsuit threatens to close down the operation.
Past Presentation | On Coal River takes viewers to the Coal River Valley of West Virginia — a community surrounded by lush mountains and a looming toxic threat. The film follows four longtime residents as they confront their local school board, the state government, and a notorious coal company — Massey Energy — for putting their families and community’s health at risk.
With Clarence Thomas under scrutiny, a report states that Gorsuch sold a home to a major litigator whose firm is frequently before the Supreme Court.
President Joe Biden, who has vowed to conserve more public lands and waters, will create national monuments in Texas and Nevada. But at the Castner Range National Monument outside El Paso, in particular, a lot of work remains to make the former Army artillery range accessible to the public.
Past Presentation | We follow a race against litter– Keep Clean and Run –that journeys across Southern Italy, from Mount Vesuvius to Etna, through parks and towns, mountains and beaches: 350 kilometres of stunning views. Roberto Cavallo’s race to protest littering entailed great fatigue and even encounters with those who fight the mafia, as he and others who joined him clean up as they run and explain their mission to others.
The so-called “watermelon snow” comes from algae that swims to the surface and changes colors to protect itself from ultraviolet rays.
Now Playing | Part two, filmed in 2019, follows the couple to their new location near Fuzhou. Their community has finally become a reality. While the first installment reflects the dreamy idealism of youth, part two is a song of experience. Can such a community thrive in modern China?
Past Presentation | Unforgettable Khusargang follows the story of Absar Khan who attempts to scale the peak of Khusargang. Along the way, Absar promoted community empowerment, conducted environmental awareness workshops, installed trash bins in the village, organized lavish iftari meals, highlighted the many issues posed by the lack of organized structured tourism and attempted to climb as high as he could, one base camp at a time. The Giligit-Baltistan side of Pakistan holds fragile natural beauty and poverty stricken locals.
On the Pigeon River, one town celebrates a paper mill's closure as another mourns — and both face an uncertain future.
In the forest-covered mountains of Mexico City a brigade of farmers and forest rangers plant inches-high pine saplings in a recently cut stand of trees, even as the sound of chainsaws rings out nearby
Under the proposal, approximately three to seven grizzly bears from British Columbia or the Rocky Mountains would be released into the North Cascades each year over roughly five to 10 years.
Past Presentation | This story is told in the Ainu language, which has been deemed a critically endangered language by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Higashiyama, the home of the foxes, has become an illegal dumping ground. This has resulted in the decline of small animals, which the mother fox relied on as prey to feed her children. The fox comes down for the mountains in search of food to feed her children, and comes upon a human village.
Far off the Texas coast there is a beautiful surprise in the Gulf of Mexico that draws divers from around the world: a stunning amount of coral coverage on undersea mountains
Past Presentation | In Peru, the headwaters of the Amazon River cut through the Andes Mountains and help sustain resident communities as well as the most diverse ecosystem on Earth. As the energy demands of Peru increase, the currently free flowing Marañón River faces over 20 proposed dam projects, two of which have already been approved. Our international team of scientists and river experts spent 28 days rafting the Marañón while documenting the natural and cultural resources that would be eminently impacted by proposed dam projects.
Now Playing | San Francisco-based photojournalist Jason Henry (New York Times, Vice, Wall Street Journal) treks to Guatemala’s most infamous landfill, Teculután. Against the backdrop of the Sierra de las Minas mountains, Henry tries to maintain his composure as he shoots children digging through the garbage in search of shreds of sustenance in a monstrous heap of human and animal waste and burning ash. Surrounded by swarming flies and accompanied by writer Erik Maza (Baltimore Sun, Town & Country), Henry observes, “This is their playground.”
Past Presentation | “We Still Here / Nos Tenemos” introduces the incredible youth of Comerío, Puerto Rico navigating the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, a disaster that brought an unprecedented level of devastation to an island already in economic and political crisis. In the lush mountains in the center of Puerto Rico, 24-year-old Mariangelie Ortiz leads a group of young residents who never thought they would become the leaders of their community, nonetheless find themselves traveling to Washington D.C. to protest in the halls of Congress. Follow them in this coming of age story to find their power and begin creating a sustainable future for themselves and their community.
Now Playing | A searing expose uncovering the ugly truth behind the global plastic pollution crisis. Striking footage shot over three continents illustrates the ongoing catastrophe: fields full of garbage, veritable mountains of trash; rivers and seas clogged with waste; and skies choked with poisons from plastic production and recycling processes with no end in sight. Original animations, interviews with experts and activists, and never-before-filmed scenes reveal the disastrous consequences of the plastic flood around the world – and the global movement rising up in response.
The Diné helped dig the raw materials to build the US’s nuclear arsenal, but were never told of the dangerAllen Tsosie was just 14 when he went to work in the uranium mines in the Lukachukai mountains near Cove, Arizona.Tsosie was one of thousands of Navajos who took jobs in the mines, starting in the 1940s. They worked without masks or ventilation to disperse the lethal radon gas, and they were never told the rocks they were handling – leetso in the Diné language, or yellow dirt – were deadly. Continue reading...
Indigenous groups say huge project in northern Nevada threatens environmental, cultural and historical destructionThe rugged and beautiful Thacker Pass in the desert mountains of northern Nevada has long been a sacred site for Native American tribes in the region.It has witnessed bloody and terrible history. On 12 September 1865, US federal soldiers in the 1st Nevada cavalry committed a massacre of Native Americans, the Numu, across Thacker Pass, named Peehee Mu’huh – Rotten Moon, in the Numu language. Thirty to 50 Native Americans are believed to have been killed, including women and children. Continue reading...
The discovery of the endangered Italian alpine newt in a disused mine has shone a light on the biodiversity hiding in the Carrara marble quarries of TuscanyThe heart of the Apuan Alps in Tuscany, Italy, is home to one of the biggest marble mines in the world, with about 160 active quarries in the Massa Carrara and Lucca areas. Since Roman times, creamy-white Carrara marble has been dug out of these mountains. It is the most sought-after marble in the world, and has inspired artists and architects everywhere.But the Apuan Alps also host an ecosystem that is home to the Italian alpine newt (Ichthyosaura alpestris apuana). In November, Manuel Micheli, a photographer working with the Apuane Libere organisation, stumbled across the newt in Crespina 2, a decommissioned quarry. Continue reading...
Now Playing | As the Little Conemaugh River winds through the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania, it forms the backbone of a region with a legacy of industrial might. And like a scribe, the river carries the weight of that history - mile after mile devoid of life, poisoned by toxic pollution from countless abandoned coal mines. Generations of residents and neighbors have turned their back on the river, believing the damage to be irreversible and scolding their children for playing in its orange waters. But a decade-long effort from a coalition of local groups has begun to reveal a different future for the Little Conemaugh and for other rivers in Pennsylvania and beyond that were written off as a casualty of the coal industry. A River Reborn tells the story of the rebirth of the Little Conemaugh, and what it says about our ability to fix what might have been lost forever.
A project with outdoor gear company Patagonia and NGOs will protect the Vjosa, one of the continent’s last free-flowing waterwaysOne of the last wild rivers in Europe, home to more than 1,000 animal and plant species, has been declared a national park by the Albanian government, making the Vjosa the first of its kind on the continent.The Vjosa River flows 168 miles (270kms) from the Pindus mountains in Greece through narrow canyons, plains and forests in Albania to the Adriatic coast. Free from dams or other artificial barriers, it is rich in aquatic species and supports myriad wildlife, including otters, the endangered Egyptian vulture and the critically endangered Balkan lynx, of which only 15 are estimated to remain in Albania. Continue reading...
Now Playing | “Wings of Hope,” is a film chronicling the re-discovery of a population of wild Harpy Eagles in the Maya Mountains of southern Belize. It details the history of the Belize Foundation and Research and Environmental Education (BFREE) and UNC Wilmington initiative born from this discovery – the Integrated Community-based Harpy Eagle and Avian Conservation Program. Created by Emmy-award winning filmmakers, Richard and Carol Foster of Wildlife Film Productions, this 20-minute documentary is rich with breath-taking footage of adult and juvenile Harpy eagles and other wildlife and vistas found in the pristine tropical forests of the Bladen Nature Reserve. Over the seven year duration of the project, the Fosters followed local people involved as they transition from trainees to conservationists and as their lives are changed through their efforts to save this rare bird and its diminishing habitat.
The introduction of livestock to the arid environment in the late 1800s and early 1900s, along with legislated prioritization of grazing rights, altered or usurped many natural water sources for the area’s native species. At the same time, the image of the West as an agrarian Eden, with plenty of land and sunshine, brought agricultural […] The post As Climate Changes Makes Desert Water Scarce, the Debate over Livestock vs. Wildlife Heats Up appeared first on Civil Eats.
The United States is Earth's punching bag for nasty weather. Blame geography for the U.S. getting hit by stronger, costlier, more varied and frequent extreme weather than anywhere on the planet, several experts said. Two oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, the Rocky Mountains, jutting peninsulas like Florida, clashing storm fronts and the jet stream combine...
The Drakensberg is a naturally scenic part of South Africa with its spectacular mountain scenery. The area is a firm favourite among many South Africans who often view it as a convenient local option for mountain scenery and activities. READ MORE: Nelson Mandela Bridge temporarily closed for maintenance DRAKENSBERG MOUNTAINS The Drakensberg region is equivalent […] The post Drakensberg cable car set to boost tourism appeared first on SAPeople - Worldwide South African News.
Exclusive: Campaigners call for Scottish-style rights to reach nature, as figures show ‘hugely unequal’ distribution of accessPeople have no right to roam at all in 92 constituencies across England, new data shows, as campaigners call for an outdoor access code to link people to nature.Next week, MPs will debate the “right to roam”, namely the ability to legally and responsibly walk through the countryside, leaving no trace behind. Currently, just 8% of England has this designation, which covers coastal paths, mountains and moorland.Penrith and the Border (111,370) MP: Neil Hudson, ConservativeHexham (97,495) MP: Guy Opperman, ConservativeSkipton and Ripon (76,028) MP: Julian Smith, ConservativeRichmond (Yorks) (62,4935) MP: Rishi Sunak, ConservativeCopeland (54,787) MP: Trudy Harrison, ConservativeWestmorland and Lonsdale (48,4135) MP: Tim Farron, Liberal DemocratBerwick-upon-Tweed (43,663) MP: Anne-Marie Trevelyan, ConservativeBishop Auckland (34,918) MP: Dehenna Davison, ConservativeTorridge and West Devon (30,295) MP: Geoffrey Cox, ConservativeNorth West Durham (26,599) MP: Richard Holden, Conservative Continue reading...
In the coastal, rainy city of Kanazawa, Japan, landscape architect and researcher Juan Pastor-Ivars discovered something surprising: gardens in the center of this city of 460,000 contain species of animals, plants, and insects that no longer live in the surrounding mountains and protected wildlife areas outside the city. Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, scientists discovered that an astounding 2 percent of the world’s species can be found within the borders of Mexico City, a metropolis of nearly 9 million people. These recent findings emphasize that humans don’t always need to be destructive forces on the environment—in fact, they can be positive influences on biodiversity and life. And one particularly counterintuitive implication is that a rich, biodiverse ecosystem doesn’t have to be at odds with dense city-building. In Kanazawa, preserving these enclosed, urban gardens, located in the center of the city’s commercial and residential districts is a serious challenge in the face of depopulation and changing values. But it’s one essential initiative in a new global trend of cities seeing themselves as tools of ecological conservation and climate change mitigation. As one of several initiatives to preserve these hubs of urban biodiversity, Ivars works with the United Nations University’s Sustainable Urban Nature project to increase the awareness of owners, showing them just how much their gardens contribute to offsetting carbon, preventing biodiversity loss, or alleviating the impacts of climate change. As is true in many gardens the world over, these plots weren’t necessarily cultivated with biodiversity or carbon in mind; this project involves shifting the social meaning of these private gardens. “Traditional Japanese gardens originated from spiritual beliefs and turned into aesthetic objects over time,” says Ivars. “But because of a loss of these cultural values, it’s been hard to maintain and preserve them. So our project finds a new value in these gardens: environmental value.” Rather than locking up pristine wilderness untouched by human hands, the future of conservation will see nature preserved and encouraged to grow alongside urban life.Over the past few decades, many cities have embraced “going green.” But the slogan typically means reducing emissions: improving insulation and constructing LEED-certified buildings, investing in public transit, and using electricity generated from renewable resources. In recent years, some cities are starting to expand beyond that. At the City Biodiversity Network convention in 2010 and 2015, UN member states adopted plans of action for local and subnational governments to address biodiversity. Now, cities, scientists, and communities from Kanazawa to Rio de Janeiro and Helsinki are working to engage locals to create sustainable urban nature in the hearts of cities. Rather than locking up pristine wilderness untouched by human hands, the future of conservation will see nature preserved and encouraged to grow alongside urban life.The planet’s current biodiversity crisis is every bit as dire as the related climate crisis. A 2022 World Wildlife Foundation study found that wildlife populations have declined by an average of 69 percent in the past 50 years and have estimated that half of all species could be extinct by 2050, thanks to deforestation, invasive species, pollution, overfishing, and climate change, among other factors. This kind of cascading species collapse threatens agriculture, medicine, tourism, and even public health on a massive scale.Investing in biodiversity could benefit urban centers directly, too. Countless studies have shown that engaging in nature improves the wellbeing and mood of urban residents—not to mention assisting with more practical concerns. Thomas Elmqvist, professor in natural resource management at Stockholm University, goes so far as to describe biodiversity as a way of investing in a city’s adaptability to climate change. “Cities depend on ecosystems for water purification, for food production—cities are not isolated islands,” Elmqvist told me. “Functioning ecosystems in urban areas improve human health, reduce the effects of heat waves and drastic precipitation, and so on.”Nowhere can both the difficulties and the rewards of preserving urban biodiversity be better seen than the most biodiverse city in the world: Cape Town. Cape Town’s jurisdiction includes the major coastal natural reserves and expansive parkland that overlaps with human settlements. From zebras to ostriches to penguins and whales, Cape Town contains 3,000 species of plants, 361 species of birds, and 83 mammal species, an incredible 50 percent of all mammal species in South Africa.But according to Tony Rebelo, a scientist at the South African National Biodiversity Institute, Cape Town also has the most threatened species in the world. 318 types of plants, 22 types of birds and 24 types of animals are all under threat of extinction. A lot of this remarkable biodiversity comes from Cape Town’s unique Fynbos shrubland ecosystem, which require fires to thrive. Decreasing incidence of fires, illegal dumping and bark stripping, sewage overflow, and increased city and residential fencing and walling have all contributed to biodiversity loss in the world’s ultimate urban biodiversity hotspot.Some conservation and restoration initiatives—for example cutting down non-native trees to protect the city’s water supply in a time of urgent drought—are easier sells than others. Some conservation and restoration initiatives—for example cutting down non-native trees to protect the city’s water supply in a time of urgent drought—are easier sells than others. Many of the current successful efforts, Rebelo says, focus on manmade urban areas like parks rather than the natural wildlife areas in the city’s coastal, mountainous, and agricultural regions—areas that are also vital to Cape Town’s recreation, tourism, and wine and culinary culture.“[Due to the need for fires,] conflicting management needs mean that urban and conservation areas need to be separate, with clear distinct boundaries,” says Rebelo. “So long as the boundaries are adequately demarcated, and the authorities managing the areas are aware of the urban park versus indigenous reserve management requirements, there should be no issue with them co-existing in the urban environment.”Rio de Janeiro is another city that encompasses thriving ecosystems—woods, mountains, mangrove forests, shoals, lagoons, and beaches—within the same urban borders that contain sprawling favelas and a bustling city center. Guilherme Cruz de Mendonca, professor of Environmental Law at the Federal Institute of Rio de Janeiro, says that Rio is a powerful example of how cultural diversity and biological diversity rely on each other to thrive.“Rio is a very unequal society,” says Mendonca. “There’s the favelas, the very poor, and the very rich. But places like beaches, parks, and forests are places where biological and geological diversity are a platform for social groups to coexist in the city.” UNESCO even designated the cultural landscape of Rio as a world heritage site, specifically the way the culture of the city revolves around the mountains, forests, and beaches that make up its natural landscape.The most urgent struggles in Rio revolve around conflicts over access to biodiversity. This can be seen when slums try to expand into natural areas, or the rich advocate to change bus routes to hinder access to the beaches from certain neighborhoods. “We have policies, instruments to deal with biodiversity and biocultural diversity, at least on paper,” says Mendonca. “They’re not necessarily well implemented.”These kinds of complicating factors when it comes to preserving urban biodiversity can be seen in much richer countries, as well. Helsinki, for example, features a relatively number high of species and has implemented a robust biodiversity policy for the last twenty years. That includes regulation that establishes new protected areas in the city administrative region as to increase the total amount of protected areas.With a rapidly growing city, however, Helsinki faces the challenging decision of whether to build densely to lower the urban carbon footprint, or incorporate more green space to promote biodiversity. “We have been developing new tools that bring in or maintain the existing nature at a certain level in newly built housing,” says Kati Vierikko, a senior researcher at the Finnish Environment Institute. “But it’s tricky because if the only concern is climate, then the denser the city, the lower the carbon footprint, which is in conflict with maintaining green in densely built areas.”Kanazawa has the opposite problem: population decline has led to an increase in abandoned plots without people to manage them. Ivars has worked on projects to evaluate abandoned land and work with owners to turn the land into cheap vegetable farms and flower gardens for use by neighbors and locals and promote biodiversity in the process. With the bullet train coming to the city in 2015, Kanazawa also saw a huge increase in foreign tourism, which brings money, but has also threatened locals, urban infrastructures, and even ecosystems in cities like Venice, Barcelona, and Kyoto. Ivars says Kanazawa’s new approach is to build a sustainable tourism around the city’s green infrastructure.“This means owners opening up their gardens once or twice a month to visitors, running open garden and ecotourism activities to help maintain these gardens,” says Ivars. “I see big potential for Kanazawa using this traditional green infrastructure as the city’s tourist image.”One throughline in all these examples, from Japan to South Africa, Brazil to Finland, is that citizen and community engagement are paramount to improve biodiversity in cities. “Unlike the climate discussion, biodiversity is mostly a local issue, so the solutions are also local,” explains Elmqvist. “That’s why it makes sense to have local communities and governments deeply involved in implementation and finding these local solutions. You need to constantly raise awareness among citizens.”“Unlike the climate discussion, biodiversity is mostly a local issue, so the solutions are also local.” Furthermore, each city struggles with different competing and intersecting priorities. Not only will urban conservation differ from the wilderness conservation approaches of prior decades, but urban conservation strategies will necessarily vary from city to city. That could mean mean strict preservation measures in Cape Town that balance water management goals, enhancing access to nature in Rio, decentralized forest-building in Helsinki, and doubling down on private gardens as biodiversity banks by managing them publicly and opening them up to tourism in Kanazawa.The benefits of biodiversity—from improving human health and wellbeing to managing future climate uncertainty—should make it a top priority for urban governments and local organizers. Beyond just crafting a new vision of “going green” that includes biodiversity, cities and governments need to reimagine conservation writ-large, bringing it into our cities, and finding a way to pursue it equitably.
Experts say a tangled web of factors is driving global spikes in dengue, but one culprit stands out: climate change.
Residents feel trapped and choked by dust, while experts warn environmental damage is ‘solving one problem by creating others’Deep in the Mojave desert, about halfway between Los Angeles and Phoenix, a sparkling blue sea shimmers on the horizon. Visible from the I-10 highway, amid the parched plains and sun-baked mountains, it is an improbable sight: a deep blue slick stretching for miles across the Chuckwalla Valley, forming an endless glistening mirror.But something’s not quite right. Closer up, the water’s edge appears blocky and pixelated, with the look of a low-res computer rendering, while its surface is sculpted in orderly geometric ridges, like frozen waves.“We had a guy pull in the other day towing a big boat,” says Don Sneddon, a local resident. “He asked us how to get to the launch ramp to the lake. I don’t think he realised he was looking at a lake of solar panels.”Over the last few years, this swathe of desert has been steadily carpeted with one of the world’s largest concentrations of solar power plants, forming a sprawling photovoltaic sea. On the ground, the scale is almost incomprehensible. The Riverside East Solar Energy Zone – the ground zero of California’s solar energy boom – stretches for 150,000 acres, making it 10 times the size of Manhattan. Continue reading...
A successfully re-routed Southwestern transmission line shows its possible to overcome green energy obstacles.
Ensuring a swimming site is safe is key to getting people using it. That means giving people timely information about water quality.
Invertebrates underpin Earth’s ecosystems – so if their numbers decline, the ecological damage will be felt far and wide.
Now Playing | In the mountains of northern Kenya, a Samburu community is doing something that has never been done before. They’ve built a sanctuary for orphaned elephants to try to rehabilitate them back to the wild. The project is not just changing local attitudes about elephants, it's changing attitudes about women too because the secret to Reteti’s success is all because of the special bond between a group of local women keepers and one special elephant named Shaba. Reteti Elephant Sanctuary is the first-ever indigenous community-owned and run sanctuary in all of Africa, where rescued orphaned elephants are looked after by local keepers from the Samburu community. They are rehabilitated and raised and then reintroduced back into the wild. The sanctuary is empowering young Samburu women to be the first-ever indigenous women elephant keepers in all of Africa. At first, the community didn’t think there was a place for women in the workplace. Now, the success of these women elephant keepers is unlocking new possibilities and setting a powerful example for young girls, hoping to pursue their dreams. What’s happening there, without fanfare, is nothing less than the beginnings of a transformation in the way the Samburu people relate to wild animals. This oasis where orphans grow up, learning to be wild so that one day they can rejoin their herds, is as much about people as it is about elephants. This is a personal story about a group of women and an elephant named Shaba who changed each other's lives. This film is a powerful reminder that we are a part of a complex world created over millions of years, and the survival of all species is intertwined with our own. Reteti began in partnership with Conservation International who provided critical operational support and work to scale the Reteti community-centered model to create lasting impacts worldwide.