The earth has music, for those who will listen


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5th July 2024

Pacific bluefin tuna rebounds a decade ahead of schedule
The species has exceeded international targets—reversing decades of overfishing—thanks to significant international cooperation between fisheries and scientists. Efforts to rebuild the stock started in 2011, after the population hit near-historic lows, but it has rebounded much faster than expected. 'This is an amazingly resilient fish, and the new assessment is showing us that.' NOAA Fisheries

More protected land in the Amazon than officially recorded
A new study revealed that over 40% of land across nine Amazonian countries is under some form of conservation management, significantly higher than the 28% officially recorded. In the Amazon rainforest itself, 62.4% of land is under some sort of conservation—with Indigenous territories accounting for 16%, achieving notable gains in areas where they have been granted robust land rights. Mongabay

World’s first Indigenous-led ‘blue park’
The Gitdisdzu Lugyeks Marine Protected Area on the coast of British Columbia has been designated a ‘blue park’ for its excellence in marine protection. The Kitasoo Xai’xais Nation established the protected area under its own jurisdiction, proving that a 'little community' was able to create this protected area and is on the path to regenerating the area. The Narwhal

Gitdisdzu Lugyeks (Kitasu Bay) supports wildlife like seals and anemones, herring, groundfish, seabirds, eelgrass, and whales. Credit: Moonfish Media/Kitasoo Xai’xais Stewardship Authority

Nigeria to ban single-use plastics
A nationwide ban on single-use plastics—including straws, cutlery, plastic bottles, and small water sachets—will begin January 2025. The country, which generates over 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, is also drafting a new policy to phase out plastics, with producers expected to shift to alternatives within five years. Reuters

New funding to save America’s most at-risk species
The funds will support conservation projects in 19 states and Guam to conserve 23,000 acres of habitat for 80 listed and at-risk species, including the Indiana bat, wood stork, gopher tortoise, Oregon silverspot butterfly, and Everglade snail kite. The $48 million in grants will be matched by more than $27 million in partner funds. US Fish & Wildlife Service

Colombia has a new national park
Spanning 68,180 hectares—an area nearly four times the size of Washington, D.C.—the National Natural Park Serranía de Manacacías safeguards a vital wildlife corridor that connects the Orinoquía, the second-largest tropical savanna in the continent, to the Amazon. The park includes six unique ecosystems and is home to a quarter of all the bird species known to live in Colombia. The Nature Conservancy 

The acquisition of approximately 3,700 acres of land adjacent to the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument will secure vital wildlife habitats, increase public access, and stop development around the park’s boundaries. The expansion is part of a two-decade commitment to preserve New Mexico’s natural and cultural heritage. Trust for Public Land

Conservation and economic development go hand-in-hand
A global analysis of more than 10,000 protected areas has revealed that simultaneous progress in conservation and economic development has occurred in about half of all sites. "Conservation does not happen in a silo. We must consider local development alongside biodiversity conservation to know where and how to protect areas to benefit both the environment and humans." Anthropocene

DRC’s 1 billion trees program achieves 90% of target
From 2019 through 2023, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) planted almost 895 million trees, covering just under 700,000 hectares across 22 provinces, as part of a government programme known as ‘School Garden: 1 billion trees by 2023.’ The programme aimed to strengthen climate resilience and alleviate poverty in a country that loses 500,000 hectares of forest cover each year. Mongabay

Planting acacias near Yanonge, DRC. Credit: Fiston Wasanga/CIFOR

More music for those who will listen
Peru has protected 6,449 hectares of an endemic fog oasis that hosts hundreds of rare and threatened species. The largest salt marsh restoration in the northeast United States is underway in Massachusetts to bring back the Cape Cod river herring. In Maine, rehabilitation will begin on the Penobscot River after a decades-long legal battle. White-tailed eagles are nesting in Belgium for the first time in 500 years. Rewilding in Scotland has created a >400% increase in jobs at rewilding sites. A coalition of organisations is working to restore mangroves in the Greater Florianópolis area on Brazil’s southern Atlantic coast. Atlantic salmon are spawning in the upper waters of the River Derwent for the first time in a century. The incredible ‘second life’ of shipwrecks creating habitats for diverse communities of underwater life. How the Netherlands is leading the shift to a circular economy, with 27.5% of the country’s material resources now coming from recycled waste. European multinationals pull out of an enormous Indonesian nickel mining project amidst concerns it would impact one of the world’s last Indigenous tribes living in voluntary isolation. Developers of the new Babanango Game Reserve in South Africa seem to have made a good start.

The reserve provides sanctuary to endangered species such as the black rhino. Credit: Angus Burns/WWF

28th June 2024

Marine conservation zones in South China Sea
Over a million hectares of conservation areas called refugia have been established to protect the the biodiversity of the South China Sea, which supports nearly four million people in the surrounding region. "Six countries are now integrating the refugia approach into their national policies. And coastal communities around the region have become protectors of the species they depend on.” UN Biodiversity

This is the world’s first Key Biodiversity Area
Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of the Congo—a critical nature site that has been largely unaffected by human activities—has become the first site in the world to be given this status, due to its high ecological integrity. Covering 4,000 km2 of lowland rainforest, the park has never been logged, contains no roads, and boasts wildlife that has had little to no contact with humans. WCS

Western lowland gorilla, Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park. Source: Thomas Nicolon

Amur leopard protection in Siberia
North Korea and Russia are rekindling an old flame: science cooperation. In an initial step, the two countries are banding together to conserve the rare Amur leopard. Last month, Russia and China made a pact establishing the Land of Big Cats, a 1.75-million-hectare transboundary reserve for Amur leopards and Siberian tigers. MNR

First cohort of the American Climate Corps sworn in
A modern-day twist on the Civilian Conservation Corps, 9,000 people will be deployed in the coming weeks to restore landscapes, erect solar panels, and work on environmental projects across America to create a greener future. It's expected that more than 20,000 young people will join during the programme’s first year. Grist

Forests in Ukraine are thriving in the wake of disaster
After the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant dam disaster last year, experts predicted the bottom of the reservoir would turn into a desert. The opposite happened. Young willow forests sprouted, growing to 4.7 m tall in less than a year! About 40% of the land is now covered with forests of willow and poplar thickets that were native to the area before the reservoir was created. Transitions

In less than a year, the former reservoir was transformed into a lush forest, seen here in April 2024. Source: Ivan Moisienko via Rubryka

Utah scientists achieve breakthrough in waterbody restoration
The team at BlueGreen Water Technologies has developed a process, now being tested at the Mantua Reservoir in Utah, which oxidizes the algal blooms, knocking out the algae, which settles to the bottom. Testing at Mantua Reservoir safely sequestered 13,000 tonnes of algae, largely restoring the reservoir. KSLTV

Colorado bans 'forever chemicals'
New legislation will ban the sale of products containing PFAS. Starting in 2026, the sale of cleaning products, cookware, dental floss, menstruation products, and ski waxes that contain the chemicals will be banned, and companies will be required to put disclosure labels on PFAS clothing. Colorado is one of 28 states that have adopted policies on PFAS. CBS

Another big Indigenous conservation victory in Canada
The Inuvialuit have signed a new agreement to safeguard almost 850,000 hectares of the Yukon’s northeast coast. The Aullaviat/Anguniarvik Traditional Conservation Area will protect wildlife like the Porcupine caribou herd, polar bears, and migratory birds while preserving Inuvialuit traditional activities. APTN

Rare seabird returns to Chilean island
After decades of absence, the Peruvian diving petrel has returned to Pajaros Uno Island following a dedicated effort to eliminate invasive rats. Conservationists played audio recordings of bird calls, which enticed breeding pairs back to their former nesting grounds. The island is also a critical breeding ground for Peruvian boobies, kelp gulls, and the vulnerable Humboldt penguin.

Recovery of fish populations in European waters
The latest assessment points to the best sustainability results so far. Fish stocks in the Northeast Atlantic, on average, are within healthy ranges, while fishing mortality rates in the Mediterranean and Black Seas have hit their lowest levels. There’s still work to be done in the Baltic Sea, but measurements are in place to ensure four out of ten stocks are no longer targeted. European Commission

Indigenous fire stewardship gains ground in Canada and California
Forestry companies and governments across Canada are starting to incorporate controlled burns, also known as 'good fire,' which have been used by Indigenous communities to maintain healthy forests and prevent the spread of wildfires. Other jurisdictions, like fire-prone California, have passed laws that remove liability for Native American tribes conducting controlled burns. Vancouver Sun

'Good Fire.' Source: Maddy Rifka

More music for those who will listen
The Iron Law of Environmental Improvement: why didn't they do this sooner? British Columbia has designated 10 new conservation areas in Clayoquot Sound, protecting over 76,000 hectares of old-growth forest, and will also ban open-net pen salmon farming within five years. New Zealand has enforced ‘stringent’ regulations for surface longline fishing after onboard cameras revealed 3.5 times more albatrosses were being caught than expected. California will help return tribal lands as part of the Klamath River restoration. The octopus fisherman protecting Portugal’s largest reef. A volunteer group in Guernsey has removed about 25 tonnes of an invasive plant from the coastline. Vermont has passed some impressive legislation to protect its natural heritage from bee- and bird-killing pesticides. The reinvention of Buenos Aires Zoo into an eco-park that treats injured animals and houses the largest biobank in South America. How the local community of Mnemba Island saved their Indian Ocean coral reef. Thanks to decades-long work, flamingos are returning to Everglades National Park in Florida. In the Brazilian Amazon, the Waimiri-Atroari Indigenous people have built almost 30 ‘canopy bridges’ across roads to save wildlife.

Waimiri-Atroari Indigenous people weaving one of the bridges that will connect the forest canopy over the highway. Source:Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute
A biologist and a Waimiri-Atroari man check one of the 30 bridges installed by the Reconecta Project over the BR-174 road. Source:Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

21st June 2024

EU passes landmark nature restoration law
The hero of this story is rogue Austrian minister Leonore Gewessler, whose last-minute vote saved the proposal. It's a dramatic victory for conservationists, ending a months-long deadlock among member states. The new legislation sets a target to restore at least 20% of the EU’s land and sea by the end of the decade. The Guardian

Today’s decision is a victory for nature. My conscience tells me unmistakably [that] when the healthy and happy life of future generations is at stake, courageous decisions are needed.
Leonore Gewessler

New nature reserve in South Africa’s Drakensberg mountains
The new Northern Drakensberg Nature Reserve will protect 6,500 hectares of vital wetlands, grasslands, and water sources for millions of people and open an important wildlife migration corridor. The new park, which is also home to some of the best prehistoric rock art in the world, was declared in record time thanks to a consensus among local landowners. The Conversation 

Animal conservation in the Caribbean is paying off
The Caribbean islands have suffered some of the highest extinction rates in modern history. But over the past three decades, conservationists have worked tirelessly to restore 30 islands and have saved 12 species, including the Antiguan racer, one of the world’s rarest snakes, the White Cay iguana, and the Sombrero ground lizard. BBC

$700 million for the Colorado River
The funding will support projects across the Lower Colorado River Basin, including water distribution structures, desalination, and farm efficiency improvements. The basin provides water for over 40 million people and is a crucial resource for thirty Tribal Nations, two states in Mexico, and agricultural communities across the American West.

Deforestation in the Amazon continues to plummet in 2024
Despite a rise in fires, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has dropped to its lowest level since March 2018. For the year to date, 1,182 square kilometres of forest have been cleared, marking a 40% decrease from the 1,986 square kilometres recorded at this point in 2023. Mongabay

Ecuador is cleaning up its rivers with conveyor belts
A local startup is using conveyor belts to remove plastic from rivers, with the capacity to collect around 80 tonnes of plastic per day. The Azure system stretches across the river to stop objects floating on the surface and extends down 60 cm into the water to allow fish to move freely. It’s a welcome development for a country which has one of the worst plastic waste problems in the region. BBC

The global rise of women-led forest rangers
Much like the team preventing rhino poaching in South Africa, a women-led group of rangers in Indonesia is leading patrols to combat deforestation. They carry no weapons, apart from large blades they use to cut through the forest, and their low-key tactics have been so effective in getting people to change their habits, they’re now sharing their strategies with other women-led groups around the world. AP

Tiger conservation success in Nepal
In the last 15 years, Nepal has tripled its tiger population to 355 thanks to a zero-poaching policy and conservation measures that have doubled forest cover by 45%. The success is benefitting local communities, with Chitwan National Park, home to the largest tiger population in Nepal, now generating 4,000 full-time tourism jobs. World Bank 

Endangered caribou habitat is getting protected in Canada
Nearly 200,000 hectares of habitat in northeast British Columbia has been permanently protected in the newly expanded Klin-se-Za/Twin Sisters Park, making it the largest provincial park created in the province in a decade. The Narwhal

One of the most powerful conservation stories of the year
A group of Indigenous women in Peru have won a historic ruling recognising the legal rights of the Marañón River, the main source of the great Amazon. What makes this story ‘nearly transcendent’ is that after decades of patriarchy, it was a female judge of Indigenous descent who listened to the testimony of the women and ruled in favour of the river’s inherent right to life. Common Dreams 

Members of the Huaynakana Kamatahuara Kana Federation, headed by Kukama women from the district of Parinari, Loreto. Photo: IDL

More music for those who will listen
How the small Pacific island nation of Vanuatu drastically cut plastic pollution. California's bees and birds will receive increased protections from toxic neonicotinoid insecticides across more than a million acres of fish and wildlife habitat. Brewing giant Heineken just celebrated its first regenerative harvest. The ambitious national plan to rewild Saudi Arabia. How Comoros is leading the way with community-led fisheries. Indonesia’s Social Forestry Program is reducing poverty with forest permits. State-level laws are creating a strong protection framework for domestic animals in the United States. The bee-whisperers in South America saving native bees. A cloud forest in Northern Ecuador is thriving after being granted personhood. The incredible comeback of the Californian condor. Agricultural drones are transforming rice farming in the Mekong River delta, cutting down on the amount of pesticides and fertilizers. The US federal government is dedicating $130 million for abandoned mine reclamation in six states. Can we revive our planet in 20 years? Biologist Sean B. Carroll says we can.

13th June 2024

Major milestone for ozone layer recovery
Levels of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), the last ozone-damaging chemicals to be phased out, have been falling since 2021—the first decline since scientists started taking measurements in the late 1970s. 'This marks a major milestone in the recovery of Earth’s ozone layer – and offers a rare success story in humanity’s efforts to tackle climate-warming gases too.' The Conversation

China’s Green Great Wall against desertification
Since 1978, China’s ambitious Three-North Shelterbelt Forest Program has reforested 32 million hectares of desert-prone lands in the north of the country. The program has flourished thanks to scientific plant distribution methods and the rise of agrivoltaics, which combines new energy power generation with agricultural production, expanding greenery in fragile sandy areas. China Today

Top: workers building sand barriers with straw in the Horqin sandy land in Tongliao City, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, March 2024. Middle: Road winding through the sandy land in Ongniud Banner in Chifeng City, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, March 2024. Bottom: tree seedlings planted at an afforestation area in the Horqin sandy land in Tongliao City, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Source: Xinhua/Lian Zhen

Brazil boosts protections of mangroves in the Amazon
After 13 years of advocacy, the state of Pará has created two new conservation areas along the Amazonian coastline, protecting an additional 74,700 hectares of the most continuous belt of mangroves on the planet. The Filhos do Mangue and the Viriandeua extractive reserves will preserve the area’s rich diversity and guarantee food security for local communities. Mongabay

Wild horses return to Kazakhstan 
After a 200-year absence, a group of seven Przewalski’s horses—known as the world’s last wild horses—have returned to central Kazakhstan. The horses are descended from two groups that survived in Munich and Prague zoos, and a total of 40 horses will be relocated over the next five years. The Guardian

Biden administration’s environmental track record
During Biden’s term, around 41 million acres—an area slightly larger than Florida—has been placed under some form of new protection, making him 'one of the nation’s strongest conservation presidents.' Protections range from glacial lakes in Minnesota to tribal lands in New Mexico, huge expanses of the Arctic, and archaeological sites in Texas. The Guardian

Cleanup of Washington’s ‘forgotten’ river
Twenty-five years ago, the Anacostia River, a 14-kilometer urban waterway that flows through Washington, D.C., was one of the most polluted rivers in America. Today the water quality is steadily improving, after a series of tunnels that reduced outflows of sewage and wastewater by 91% were drilled under the city. AP

New national park in Australia will be home to 12 threatened species
The 37,422-ha Comeroo Station in NSW provides habitat for at least 158 native species, including the threatened eastern fat-tailed gecko, the south-eastern hooded robin, and the Hall's babbler. The property boasts alluvial floodplains, wetlands, grasslands, woodlands, and Yantabulla Swamp, an internationally-recognised area that hosts up to 50,000 waterbirds at any one time. Mirage News

California is building the world’s largest wildlife bridge
Construction has begun on the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, a $100 million structure that will give threatened mountain lions and other animals such as bobcats, coyotes, and mule deer a safe path over a 10-lane freeway. The bridge will span roughly the size of a football field, reconnecting the Santa Monica Mountains with the Simi Hills; it is expected to open in early 2026. Washington Post

Renders of the proposed bridge. Bottom right: an aerial view of actual construction at the Agoura Hills site.

More music for those who will listen
Rewilding efforts are throwing a lifeline to Brazil’s most-trafficked endangered bird, farmers in Bolivia are improving their livelihoods by protecting the endangered red-fronted macaw, and birding tourism is thriving in Ecuador. Sweden is about to become the second EU country, after Greece, to ban bottom fishing in MPAs. Exciting news for vulture populations in Bulgaria. A historic rewilding project has seen 120 southern white rhinos translocated to Kruger National Park. In Bangladesh, olive ridley turtles break a four-year record with a 53% increase in eggs. Mangrove restoration is underway in the Niger Delta. A conservation victory for California’s Mendocino forests is good news for the endangered coho salmon, steelhead trout, and northern spotted owl. This innovative Australian organisation uses marine trash to track ghost nets in the ocean. How Indigenous aquaculture is healing ecosystems and communities in Hawaii. The number of nature-based policy announcements from governments around the world has doubled in the past year. And finally, a reminder: it's actually just one big ocean.

Credit: Natalie Renier/Woods Hole Oceanograpic Instition

6th June 2024

A new $300 million plan to clean up industrial sites in the US
The EPA has announced new funding to redevelop 200 industrial sites across the country, and an additional $14 million will be invested into a brownfields job training program. The redevelopments will improve air, water, and soil quality and add tens of millions of dollars in local tax revenues. The Guardian

China ramps up clean water efforts
For the first time, China has issued national-level regulations on water conservation to help manage shortages across nearly two-thirds of its cities. A total of 145 national water-saving cities have been established, focusing on wastewater reuse and 'sponge city' construction—which emphasises flood management through green infrastructure rather than relying on drainage systems. China Daily 

New protected area in Bolivia
The Puerta Amazónica municipal conservation area in Guanay will protect 426 km2 of tropical Yungas forests, which are home to several vulnerable species, including the harpy eagle, the giant anteater, and the giant armadillo. The designation will protect the area from gold mining and support water security for the 26 communities located within the reserve. Andes Amazon Fund

Map of the protected area, with nearby protected areas shown in tan and yellow. Credit: Natura Bolivia

$400 million project for resilient forests in Türkiye
The Türkiye Climate Resilient Forests Project will strengthen wildfire management for the 14 provinces that are most at risk of wildfires. In 2021, Türkiye’s southern and western regions experienced their worst wildfires ever recorded. The selected provinces are home to about 20 million people, many of whom depend on the forest for their livelihoods.

The restoration of Bear River kicks off
The restoration of Wuda Ogwa, the site of the 1893 Bear River Massacre, has begun. In 2018 the Northwestern Band of Shoshone acquired land around the massacre site to restore the land, improve water quality, and send an additional 13,000 acre-feet of water to the Great Salt Lake every year. 'Cultural healing is the reason we started… to heal that land there.' Great Salt Lake Collaborative

The incredible comeback of barn owls in Britain
Collaborative efforts of conservationists and communities have drastically increased barn owl populations across the British Isles from 4,000 breeding pairs in 1980 to around 12,000 breeding pairs today. One of the key strategies has been the installation of nest boxes, which provide safe nesting sites in areas where natural sites are scarce. Restore Our Planet

'The story is an inspiring case of how small groups of dedicated conservationists and communities, with a little ingenuity and effort, can have extraordinarily positive effects on one species.'
Barn owl in flight in 2018. Photo Credit: Peter Burian

Marine protected areas shown to conserve sharks
Drowning in a sea of bad news? A global survey of 66 MPAs across 36 countries found that there were twice as many reef sharks in protected areas compared with fished areas—and the conservation benefits of MPAs double when combined with fisheries management. Nature

Good news for a small Australian native fish
Over the past eight years the population of the red-finned blue-eye, once Australia’s rarest freshwater fish, has grown from 1,000 to 5,000 on a special wildlife reserve in Queensland. The former cattle station is home to 26 fish species that are found nowhere else in the world, which 'helps us understand how life functions, how diversity is created, how our world has changed.' The Guardian

Vietnamese ‘farmfluencers’ are making rice fields more sustainable
In Vietnam, 1,645 rice farmers have adopted more sustainable methods thanks to a 'train-the-trainer' programme that has helped 20 influential farmers encourage communities to reduce burning and pesticide use and improve water management. To date, 90% of farmers involved in the project have reduced crop burning, with 57% ceasing the burning of rice straw and stubble altogether. RTBC

Paris has reduced air pollution by 40% thanks to urban renewal
Paris has closed more than 100 streets to motor vehicles, tripled parking fees for SUVs, removed roughly 50,000 parking spots, and constructed more than 1,700 km of bike lanes since Mayor Anne Hidalgo took office in 2014. 'How did we achieve this? By assuming a major and radical rupture: the end of car-dependence.' NBC

Minister Delegate for Industry and Energy Roland Lescure, left, and Minister Delegate for Transport Patrice Vergriete in the Paris suburb of Gennevilliers on the 22nd of April. Credit: Nicolas Messyasz/AP

More music for those who will listen
The Eastern Kuku Yalanji people are collaborating with conservationists to create a wildlife corridor between the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. Sustainable projects are offering new hope for the Mekong River. The population of a tiny desert fish hit a 25-year population high in the Mojave Desert. A decade after its pest eradication programme, Macquarie Island is ‘flourishing.’ Fish stocks in the Yangtze River are up 25.6% following the introduction of a 10-year fishing ban in 2021. A forest restoration project is bringing birdlife back to Angola’s highest mountain. A record 27 Mexican wolf pups have been fostered into wild dens. Seoul has banned a popular pesticide in order to protect honeybees. Atlantic rainforest restoration in Scotland surpassed its 2023-2024 target by 40%. Environmental education is thriving across Latin America. Across California and Oregon, 1.2 million acres of critical habitat for the Pacific marten have been protected. The US has invested $240 million in new fish passage projects to support conservation efforts. Colombia has banned bullfighting across the country from 2027. Meet the First Nations guardians protecting Canada’s shoreline.

Drone footage of Bella Coola, British Columbia.

30th May 2024

European cities are embracing nature-based solutions
A new report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) has found that European cities are increasingly turning to nature-based solutions like urban forests, water management, and greening buildings to help combat climate change. Germany is leading the way, with green roofs and facades to enhance rainwater absorption, cool buildings, and improvements to air quality. WEF

Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are reforesting a dried-out sea
Both countries are working with locals to plant drought-resistant plants in the dry lakebed of the Aral Sea to prevent sandstorms and mitigate the health impacts of toxic dust. Over the past five years, a forest covering 1.7 million hectares has taken root on the Uzbekistan side of the border, with an additional 200,000 hectares planned for this year. Mongabay

Wolverines to return to Colorado’s high country
Colorado lawmakers have approved a bill to restore North American wolverines to the Rocky Mountains for the first time since they were exterminated in 1919. Colorado holds about 20% of the wolverine habitat in the western United States and is key to ensuring the animal's survival. KSUT 

Decrease in cancer-causing pollution from refineries in the US
Oil refineries across America have reduced their emissions of benzene—a toxic chemical that can cause leukaemia and other blood cancers—thanks to EPA regulations and monitoring. The number of refineries exceeding action level for benzene in 2023 halved from 2020, ensuring greater protection for hundreds of communities positioned nearby. Washington Post

Mangrove conservation in Rio de Janeiro
Over the past four years, the Green Guanabara Project in Rio de Janeiro has restored a huge area of mangroves, planting 30,000 trees in Guanabara Bay. The initiative will help safeguard one million residents in the nearby city of São Gonçalo from flood while preserving marine biodiversity and reducing river pollution. PBS

Succulent restoration in South Africa
An initiative in South Africa will restore a native carbon-absorbing succulent, called spekboom, over 100,000 ha of degraded land across the Eastern and Western Cape provinces. In addition to removing an estimated 30 million tonnes of carbon, the project will also create 1,000 jobs for local communities. Straits Times 

The Recovering America's Wildlife Act is a bipartisan unicorn
The RAWA is poised for another vote on the US Senate floor. If successful, it will secure an annual $1.3 billion for wildlife agencies and $97.5 million for conservation work by tribal nations, reaching thousands more species in need of conservation and potentially restoring some populations before they become endangered. High Country News

US conservationists take on mining interests
A gold mining project in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains has been struck down to protect the habitats of unique species including bighorn sheep, golden trout, and the elusive slender salamander and Mount Lyell salamander. In Arizona, tribal nations have joined forces with the federal government to protect the Baaj Nwaavjo I'tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument from uranium mining.

Restoration of the Elwha reveals long-term benefits of dam removal
Scientists in Washington State studying the Elwha River delta over the decade since the dam came down have revealed the positive impact the dam removal has had on coastal ecosystems. Despite an initial die-off of kelp due to suspended sediment, the river’s mouth has now been completely transformed, with a series of lagoons and new ecosystems providing 'a beautiful deltaic habitat.' Hakai Magazine

Bathymetry (A–C), elevation change (D–F), and mean surface sediment grain size (G–I) of the Elwha River delta in 2012 (left column), 2016 (middle column), and 2022 (right column). Source: Rubin et al. (2023)

More music for those who will listen
Scientists have created a butterfly forest in the Italian Alps to help boost the global butterfly population. The 'mountain jewel' plant, which was believed to be extinct in the UK, has been re-introduced in a top-secret location. A flightless bird and a gliding mammal thought to be extinct have been discovered in the wild. How the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida plan to stop oil drilling in the Everglades. Water quality levels on the Klamath River are improving amid dam removal work. A rare songbird's epic journey from the edge of extinction. Measures to protect India’s Ganges river dolphin are working, with population numbers increasing to 4,000. Increased protections for the world’s largest urban national park in Brazil. The 'remarkable' return of an endangered frog species in California. Meet the ‘River Champions’ who are fighting to preserve Europe’s last free-flowing rivers. A timely reminder from Brenna Quinlin.

23rd May 2024

The Iberian Lynx is almost free from the risk of extinction
The lynx population in Spain and Portugal has reached 2,000, a milestone that decreases the big cat’s risk of extinction. Twenty years ago, there were less than 100 in the wild, but thanks to targeted efforts by conservationists and communities, the population has steadily increased since 2015. Olive Press

Papua New Guinea passes new laws to protect biodiversity
Papua New Guinea recently passed a Protected Areas Bill, signalling a new era for biodiversity conservation. Fourteen years in the making, with support from the Australian government, the bill paves the way for traditional owners to have greater control and benefit from conservation. DCCEEW

Rewilding in Romania
Rewilding efforts have scaled up in the Southern Carpathians with Retezat and Domogled-Valea Cernei National Parks pledging more than 105,000 hectares of additional land. With free-roaming bison now thriving in the area, Rewilding Romania is working to identify natural corridors between the national parks and planning to reintroduce griffon vultures in 2025. Rewilding Europe

Following the translocation of nearly 100 European bison to Romania’s Southern Carpathians between 2014 and 2023, the local team are now expanding their efforts beyond bison.Credit: Vlad Cvasa/Rewilding Europe

Locals save the Yosemite of South America
In a landmark agreement, a Chilean businessman has agreed to sell his 325,000-acre property to the environmentalists who fought against his development plans. The $63 million sale will preserve some of the most ecologically significant territory in South America, including forests of ancient Alerce trees and the Cochamó Valley, a cathedral of towering granite walls. NYT

The US is ramping up endangered species protection
Protections have been finalised for ten endangered species, including the alligator snapping turtle, the Suwanee snapping turtle, Washington’s Mount Rainier white-tailed ptarmigan, the Peñasco least chipmunk, and six species of Texas mussels. Critical habitats of the Humboldt marten, the Barrens topminnow, the Pearl River map turtle, and a Tennessee fish will also be protected by the end of the year. FWS

Southern white rhinos return to South African wilderness
In a new initiative spearheaded by the NGO African Parks, dozens of southern white rhinos have been reintroduced to the wild across South Africa. This marks the first phase of a larger plan to release 2,000 rhinos into conservancies across the continent. African Parks

Rhino being released into bomas as part of habituation in Munywana Conservancy. Credit: Marcus Westberg/African Parks

India’s forest cover has increased significantly
Over the past 15 years, India has made 'significant advancements in forest conservation' and now ranks third globally in net gain in average annual forest area. The country has also celebrated 50 years of Project Tiger and 30 years of Project Elephant to protect critical habitats; additionally, India has introduced the 'Green Credit Programme' to incentivise tree plantations and the restoration of degraded forest lands.

The secret behind Mexico’s forest success
Over half of Mexico’s forests are managed by Indigenous communities, resulting in greater biodiversity, fewer wildfires, and improved livelihoods. Of the 21,000 communities, 1,600 engage in sustainable logging, which has been 'instrumental in helping people to get out of poverty.' Sophisticated community governance and state policies have also played a role. The Guardian 

Historic agreement for Colorado River Indian Tribes in Arizona
This agreement, 40 years in the making, allows the tribe to lease their allocation of Colorado River water to users who are off tribal land, freeing them from federal restrictions. The financial gain will help tribal members build essential infrastructure and update agricultural systems while contributing to water conservation efforts across Arizona. Inside Climate

Good news for Australian wildlife
The Australasian bittern has been detected in Tasmania's central highlands for the first time in 40 years after damage from dams was reversed; in Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens, an endangered mouse has returned for the first time in half a century; and scientists are attempting to modify the endangered northern quoll’s genes to resist cane toad toxin in order to save it from extinction.

A special breeding program is returning the endangered pookila mouse to a Melbourne botanic garden. Photo credit: Zoos Victoria

More music for those who will listen

Don't look now, but April was arguably one of the best months for conservation in US history, with massive wins for Alaska’s caribou, conservation of public lands and waterways, and protection of national parks from future oil and gas drilling. In a landmark victory for animal welfare, the UK has banned live animal exports. Oman’s ancient oasis agriculture could hold the key for sustainable land use in a warmer future. A national programme to replant and regenerate mangroves in Sri Lanka is restoring balance and breathing new life into some coastal villages. Another win for Rewilding Europe, as bearded vultures make a comeback in the French Alps. For the first time in a century, majestic sei whales have reappeared in Argentine waters. The US is buzzing with almost a million new bee colonies. Scientists have discovered what could be the first known smooth hammerhead shark nursery in the Galápagos. Some good news for Canada’s narwhal population, helped along by Indigenous conservation. A former industrial site in Bangkok has been transformed into a green urban oasis with 400 different species of trees.

Trees and wetlands thrive in the newly expanded Benjakitti Park in central Bangkok, where a factory complex once churned out cigarettes. Credit: Lauren DeCicca/NYT

16th May 2024

Conservation measures are slowing global biodiversity loss
A major international study has shown that conservation efforts to reduce biodiversity loss are working, with two out of every three measures making a positive impact. Researchers spent 10 years reviewing 665 trials of conservation initiatives in different countries and oceans and across species types, with some dating back as far as 1890. Oxford

This study provides the strongest evidence to date that not only does conservation improve the state of biodiversity and slow its decline, but when it works, it really works.
Dr Penny Langhammer, Global Wildlife Conservation

Overfishing of commercial fish stocks has declined in the USA
The number of fish on the US overfishing list reached an all-time low last year, with 94% of fish stocks no longer subject to overfishing. Several important species were removed from the list, including cubera snapper, Atlantic Coast bluefish, and Atlantic mackerel, showing that regulation, when enforced, really works. AP 

‘Remarkable recovery’ for Atlantic hake
The hake population in the waters of northwestern Europe has surged over the past two decades, thanks to strict catch limits, selective fishing gear, and large protected areas. The success of the rebound is attributed to a gradual increase in catch quotas, allowing the hake to be fished sustainably while protecting the livelihoods of coastal communities. Euronews 

Alaskan reserve protected from new oil and gas leases
Thirteen million acres of a federal petroleum reserve in Alaska will be protected from new oil and gas leasing in order to help protect wildlife like caribou and polar bears. The area has been at the centre of a longstanding debate between environmentalists and developers since the 1970s; it was set aside as an emergency oil source for the U.S. Navy almost a century ago. Fast Company 

Four national wildlife refuges in the US will be expanded
The expansion of two existing wildlife refuges in Texas—plus one in New Mexico and another in North Carolina—will allow for the voluntary conservation of up to 1.13 million acres of wildlife habitat. The initiative will protect critical habitats for at-risk species like the Atlantic sturgeon, endangered whooping crane, and lesser sandhill crane. DOI

Biden Administration announces expansion of San Gabriel Monument
The San Gabriel Mountains National Monument outside Los Angeles has been expanded by 13,696 acres, to total roughly 346,000 acres. The expansion will make the area more accessible to nearly 90% more people, especially thousands of low-income families, who will benefit from easy access to green space.

The expansion of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument means that about 757,000 more Los Angeles residents—most of them people of colour—will live within 5 miles of a national monument. Photo Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Good news for three whale populations
Scientists have confirmed the comeback of fin whales, with over 50,000 recorded in the Scotia Sea alone, more than triple the number previously estimated for the entire Southern Ocean. In the Seychelles, blue whales have been spotted for the first time in decades, and after 20 years of listening to the songs of Antarctic blue whales, researchers believe their numbers may be increasing.

Tromelin Island’s impressive comeback
Twenty years after the last member of the invasive rat population was eradicated, Tromelin Island, a small teardrop of scrubby sand near Madagascar, is a thriving seabird paradise once again. The island is home to thousands of breeding pairs from seven different bird species, including white terns and brown noddies, which hadn't been documented breeding on the island since 1856. Hakai Magazine 

Peru safeguards a marine paradise
The Mar Tropical de Grau National Reserve will protect 1,157 km2 between two large marine ecosystems, the cold waters of the Humboldt Current and the warm waters of the Southern Equatorial Current. The area is home to the rare Humboldt penguin, the Pacific seahorse, the endangered hammerhead shark, and humpback whales, which travel to the area to give birth. Nature and Culture

The Mar Tropical de Grau National Reserve is split into four sections: Isla Foca, Cabo Blanco-El Ñuro, Arrecifes de Punta Sal, and Banco de Máncora, located along the coasts of the Piura and Tumbes regions of northern Peru. Map created by SPDA

More music for those who will listen
The man who took on the coal industry to save a forest—and won! Los Angeles has captured 96.3 billion gallons of stormwater, enough to supply about 2.4 million people. In Guatemala, The Ocean Cleanup's Interceptor has prevented 1.4 million kg of trash from flowing into the Caribbean Sea during the first heavy rains of 2024. Broken glass is helping coastal restoration efforts in New Orleans. The UK has banned wet wipes containing plastic. Australia’s live sheep export trade will end in 2028. California has announced its first new state park in a decade. The EPA has banned another forever chemical, methylene chloride, used for stripping paint, cleaning metal, and decaffeinating coffee. One in three Americans has reduced their use of plastic products. Conservation efforts are working in Bangladesh, with a 53% increase in olive ridley sea turtle eggs. Grizzly bears will return to the North Cascades in Washington. The beavers that were reintroduced to West London last year are thriving. The total area of the world’s coral reefs is almost 25% larger than we thought. How scientists are becoming coral midwives. Meet the 2024 Goldman Environmental prize winners

Clockwise from top left: Marcel Gomes, Murrawah Maroochy Johnson, Alok Shukla, Teresa Vicente, Sinegugu Zukulu and Nonhle Mbuthuma, Andrea Vidaurre.

28th April 2024

Historic Indigenous conservation victory in British Columbia
Nearly half a million hectares of Crown land, including more than 200 islands of the Haida Gwaii archipelago, has been returned to the Haida Nation. It's the first time in Canadian history that the government has recognised Indigenous title across an entire terrestrial territory inclusive of land area as well as surrounding airspace, seabed, and marine waters. Hakai Magazine

Haida Gwaii features 10,000 square kilometres of forested islands that the Haida Nation has been stewarding for at least 13,000 years. Map by Mark Garrison

Big conservation news in Mongolia
The Eternal Mongolia initiative will invest $198 million over 15 years to help local communities safeguard 14.4 million hectares of Mongolia’s lands and waters, including intact grasslands, forests, deserts, wetlands, and rivers. The funding will also strengthen management of the country's 47 million hectares of already-protected areas. The Nature Conservancy

Huge land win in Australia
A Queensland cattle station the size of Yosemite National Park has been acquired for conservation after an anonymous donation of A$21 million. The 352,000 hectare property contains 34 ecosystems and is home to the endangered night parrot and vulnerable yellow-footed rock-wallaby. The Guardian

Ocean Conference raises $11.3 billion for marine conservation
Delegates at the Our Ocean Conference in Athens made 469 new commitments, with the host country making some of the biggest pledges to protect its oceans. Greece will establish two new MPAs in the Aegean and Ionian seas, ban bottom trawling in MPAs by 2026, and increase ocean monitoring and surveillance. Mongabay

Aquaculture in Thailand
Farming fish and shrimp together is one of the most common practices in polyculture farming in Thailand and is key to the future of its fishing industry. Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) involves multiple organisms from different trophic levels being farmed together in a way complements one another, reducing waste and improving growth efficiency. Reasons to be cheerful

Somporn Kaikaew (right) has been practising polyculture on his fish farm for 30 years. Photo Credit: Tommy Walker

Peru's watershed moment for the 'right to a healthy environment'
After a 20-year legal battle, residents of La Oroya have won a landmark victory after an international court ruled that Peru was responsible for the 'physical and mental harm that a metallurgical facility’s pollution inflicted on 80 people.' The victims will be provided free medical care and over $30,000 compensation each. Inside Climate News

New EPA rules to slash pollution from power plants
The suite of new regulations includes rules that plants must control 90% of their carbon pollution, coal-fired plants have new emissions standards for toxic metals that are tightened by 67%, and pollutants discharged through wastewater must be reduced by more than 660 million pounds per year, ensuring cleaner water for affected communities. EPA

Brazil boosts mangrove protection
The state of Pará has established two new conservation reserves, adding 74,700 hectares to the world's largest and most-conserved belt of mangrove ecosystems. The progress is thanks to 13 years of advocacy by environmentalists and local communities. Mongabay

Good news for global tiger conservation
The Tiger Conservation Coalition will invest $1 billion to conserve tigers and tiger landscapes over the next ten years. In addition to securing and increasing the global tiger population, these funds will help expand tiger range, increasing overall biodiversity for the benefit of the local communities that share space with the species. WSC

More music for those who will listen
Recordings of healthy fish are being transmitted to attract heat-tolerant larvae back to degraded reefs in the Maldives. Bangladesh is using satellite transmitters for saltwater crocodile conservation. The white-tailed eagle has bred in Belgium for the first time in 500 years. Scientists have finally pinpointed a fungal virus harming frogs and toads. Zambia has banned charcoal permits in three districts. Wet wipes containing plastic will be banned in the UK. Wellington’s biodiversity boom is bringing back the birds. Have you heard about the 'Green Islam' movement that is helping turn the tide on climate change?

Solar panels helped cut Istiqlal Mosque’s power bills by 25%. Photo Credit: Ulet Ifansasti

12th April 2024

The largest-ever restoration initiative in the Mediterranean
Since 2017, the Restoring Mediterranean Forests initiative has regenerated around 20,000 km2 of degraded forests, an area 500 times the size of Athens. The project plans to restore a total of 80,000 km2 by 2030, including wildfire-affected areas. UN

Biden restores protection measures to Endangered Species Act
The Biden Administration has restored several protections for US species that were weakened under Trump. Thanks to the amendments, species classified as ‘threatened’ will have the same blanket protections as ‘endangered’ listings, and economic impacts will not be considered when deciding if animals and plants need protection. Inside Climate News

Guatemala to clean up one of its most polluted rivers
Over 50 companies have joined forces to clean up Guatemala's Motagua River within the next decade. The river is one of the largest landfills in Latin America and is responsible for 2% of the plastic waste that enters the ocean. Efforts will span education, public policy, infrastructure, waste management, and clean-up task forces. Fair Planet

The Alliance is not just an initiative; it is a socio-economic and environmental movement. One of the main differences between this and previous initiatives is that we are aware that this is a problem that requires everybody's contribution.
Chloé Dubois, co-founder of Ocean Legacy

A new protected area in the Bolivian Amazon
The Dowara Kanda Tech Uyapï municipal conservation area in Bolivia will protect 254 km2 of critical landscape, including Yungas cloud forests. The region acts as an important water collector and is home to the critically-endangered Emmel’s ground snake, as well as vulnerable species such as the military macaw and giant anteater. Andes Amazon Fund

Philanthropists to create ‘European Yellowstone’ in Romania
A foundation has bought 270 km2 of Romanian wilderness as part of its plan to create a gigantic protected area spanning 2,000 km2. The area is one of the most important wildlife ecosystems in Europe and is home to wolves, brown bears, lynxes, beavers, and bison. El País

Virgin forest in the Carpathian Mountains in Romania. Credit: Sandra Bartocha

Family farm to become the biggest natural grassland in England
The Pertwood Plain project will rewild a 2,800-acre family farm in Wiltshire to bring back endangered species like cuckoos, grasshopper warblers, and turtle doves. Pigs and cattle will roam the property in low densities to recreate flower-rich chalk grassland, allowing the owners to cut costs on fertiliser and machinery. The Guardian 

Massive Indigenous conversation win on the horizon in Canada
Canada is close to finalising a historic Indigenous-led conservation agreement that will secure funding for protections 'unprecedented in scope and scale' across the Northwest Territories (NWT). The NWT Project Finance for Permanence (PFP) initiative will protect at least 30 million hectares of freshwater habitats and wildlife. The Pew Charitable Trusts

Landmark agreements from Conference on Migratory Species
The 14th Convention on Migratory Species has adopted stronger protections for migratory animals. The measures include multi-country initiatives to foster collaboration between range states, a mandate to address the impacts of deep-seabed mineral exploitation, and targeted action plans for Atlantic humpback dolphins, hawksbill turtles, angel sharks, and African elephants.

A victory for the largest marine national park in the US
After decades of overuse and public debate, a no-fishing marine reserve area will be established within Biscayne National Park. The measures will help restore the coral reefs and populations of marine life such as black groupers and hogfish. NPCA

Three positive news stories for Aussie conservation!
The Australian Wildlife Conservancy has reported that the populations of numbats appear to be increasing after reintroduction efforts, there’s a bilby boom of more than 3,300 individuals thanks to a protected network of predator-free fenced areas, and the largest coordinated threatened species monitoring program for the great desert skink has kicked off.

A numbat spotted during a recent survey at Yookamurra Wildlife Sanctuary in South Australia. Credit: Belinda Howe/AWC
More music for those who will listen

Want to feel better about the state of the world? Check out Bloomberg's new series 'An Optimist’s Guide to the Planet'. Spain is banning domestic flights under 2 hours as part of its carbon reduction plan. A rewilding initiative has returned giant anteaters to Brazil for the first time in a century. The pretty purple North Park phacelia plant in Colorado is about be delisted. Ten international organisations, led by the World Shipping Council, have come together to develop guidelines to prevent illegal wildlife trafficking. Senegal’s new president is a bit of an eco-warrior. Polynesian Indigenous groups have initiated a historic treaty to give whales personhood. Vietnam is planting millions of trees as part of a post-Lunar New Year festival. The Arunachal tribe in India has donated 1,470 hectares of land to save a critically-endangered songbird. In West Virginia, 2,000 acres of Big Cove is now protected as part of Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Check out the new Everglades to Gulf Conservation Area in Florida—it's really big!

5th April 2024

The US just prioritised conservation on a tenth of its land
The Department of the Interior has introduced a rule prioritizing conservation, recreation, and renewable energy over traditional resource extraction on public lands, representing a seismic shift in the management of roughly 245 million acres of public property, one-tenth of the nation's land mass. WaPo

Suspension of Chinook salmon fishing in Yukon River
Canada and Alaska have agreed to a seven-year moratorium on fishing Chinook salmon in the Yukon River. Last year only 15,000 fish reached Canadian spawning waters; the new agreement has a target of 71,000 Canadian-origin fish reaching their spawning grounds each year for the next seven years. CBC

Deforestation in Brazil keeps declining, despite fires
Over the past year, forest loss in the Brazilian Amazon hit its lowest level since May 2019, totalling 5,010 square kilometres. The decline continues even as fires and hotspots increase due to severe drought, particularly in Roraima. One of the biggest drivers of the change? Community peace buildingMongabay

Paris is officially a cycle city
A recent survey has found that cyclists now outnumber motorists for trips from the outskirts of Paris to the city centre, a huge change from just five years ago. The revolution is thanks to an increase in cycleways and numerous anti-motoring measures, including the closure of some major roads to motorists. Forbes

New EPA regulation to limit pollution from chemical plants
A new EPA rule will force over 200 chemical plants across the US to reduce toxic air pollutants to decrease cancer risks for nearby residents. It’s the first regulation in nearly two decades to target ethylene oxide and chloroprene, which are used to sterilise medical equipment and make rubber for shoes. The new measures will reduce an estimated 6,200 tons of toxic pollutants each year. NYT

EPA sets limit for ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water
The EPA has set new drinking water standards to reduce exposure to PFAS, a group of human-made chemicals that can increase the risk of cancer and other health conditions. It’s the first time a drinking water standard has been set for a new contaminant since 1996 and is expected to reduce PFAS exposure in drinking water for about 100 million people. Washington Post

Peru announces largest conservation concession
The new Cotuhé Conservation concession in Peru will protect 198,743 hectares of Amazon rainforest, securing a bio-cultural corridor that benefits local communities. The concession also safeguards the buffer zone of Yaguas National Park, home to the largest number of normal and black jaguars in the country and some of the last populations of Amazonian manatees. Andes Amazon Fund

Vulnerable Amazonian manatees (Trichechus inunguis). Credit: AMPA

South Africa bans captive breeding of lions and rhinos
The controversial practice of breeding lions and rhinos in captivity has finally been banned in South Africa, following more than a decade of advocacy. The move will also end the commercial exploitation of lions, including ‘canned’ hunts, which release tame big cats into small enclosures for hunting. Bloomberg

NY is suing the world’s biggest meat company
New York is suing JBS, the world's largest meat company, for misleading customers on its climate commitments. The company’s lack of concrete emission reduction steps and misleading claims make it a fraud case with high chances of success. It’s part of a wave of lawsuits against big businesses for greenwashing sustainability claims. The Guardian

A 50-year project to restore the wetlands of the California coastline
The South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project will restore over 15,000 acres of tidal wetlands after 150 years of commercial salt production. Since 2003 the project has recovered over 3,000 acres of shoreline, while keeping some of the man-made salt ponds to support the ducks and shorebirds that rely on them. Reasons to be Cheerful

Levees separating salt ponds. Credit: Cris Benton

More music for those who will listen
Certified forests in the Congo Basin have increased populations of gorillas and forest elephants. France and Brazil announce a $1.1 billion green investment plan for the Amazon rainforest. Brazil’s Cerrado grasslands, a megadiverse savanna biome, is the main beneficiary of a COP26 initiative to end deforestation. Norway and Canada create new emission control areas in their Arctic waters to reduce harmful pollutants from shipping vessels. Former gold miners are helping restore parts of the Peruvian Amazon destroyed by illegal mining. How an English castle became Britain’s first stork breeding ground in 600 years. A UK rewilding network is restoring 155,248 hectares of land and 506 square kilometres of seabed. A 20-year tree-planting project in central Victoria has transformed degraded farmland into a lush paradise. The Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming is buying up privatised land as a home for wild bison.

Eastern Shoshone Tribe Buffalo Manager Jason Baldes checks the herd at the Wind River Tribal Buffalo Initiative. Credit: Sofia Jaramillo

28th March 2024

Deforestation in the Amazon plummets in February
Lula is keeping his promise. New satellite data from February show that deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest fell 30% from a year earlier. 'The trend is still the same we had been seeing in 2023: a drop in Amazon deforestation, an increase in Cerrado deforestation.' Reuters

Endangered seabirds flourishing on restored Chilean island
A lot can happen in 30 years. Here are a few of the islands around the world that have been restored over the last three decades—and it looks like another one has just been added to the list, after Peruvian diving petrels have been observed flourishing on Chañaral Island after it was cleared of invasive rabbits.

Toxic chemical releases decline by a fifth in the United States
The EPA just released a new report showing that environmental releases of toxic chemicals from sectors such as manufacturing, mining, hazardous waste management, and electric utilities were 21% lower in 2022 compared to 2013. This includes a 26% decrease in chemicals being released into the air. Cleantechnica

US provides funding for projects to restore habitat connectivity
The Department of the Interior and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation just announced funding for ten projects to protect migratory species such as elk, mule deer, and pronghorn and their habitats in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Wyoming. DOI

Comeback on the cards for Asian antelope in Bangladesh
The largest antelope species in Asia, the nilgai, is making a comeback in northwestern Bangladesh after being hunted to extinction in the 1930s. Recent forays back into their historical habitats indicate that Bangladesh is once again hosting nilgais within its borders. Mongabay

The loss of habitat, coupled with unchecked hunting, drove the nilgais locally extinct in Bangladesh. Image by Dr. Raju Kasambe via Wikimedia Commons

Aruba on track to be the second country to recognise rights of nature
The government of the small Caribbean nation is moving to change its constitution to recognize that nature has inherent rights and also to affirm a human right to a 'clean, healthy and sustainable environment.' If successful, it would join Ecuador, which enshrined the rights of nature in 2008. Inside Climate News

New area protects freshwater for Bolivia’s largest city
Bolivia has created the new Fuente de Vida ('Source of Life') protected area, a 77 km2 water corridor which safeguards freshwater sources for over 2.4 million people in the city of Santa Cruz. The area also adds to a conservation corridor that includes the Carrasco and Amboró National Parks. Andes Amazon Fund

The world's largest trees are thriving in the United Kingdom
More than a century ago, the Victorians were so impressed by redwoods that they brought them home and planted them. It's estimated there are now half a million redwoods in the UK, compared to around 80,000 mature giants in California, and people have finally started noticing them sticking up above the other trees. BBC

Paris has become one of the most bicycle-friendly cities on Earth
Within a year of building 52 km of bike-friendly 'corona tracks,' 60% of users were new to cycling, while the proportion of women increased by 14%. Cyclists in the French capital now have more than 1,000 km of bike paths and marked routes, up from 200 km in 2001, and a further 130 km will be added by 2026. Cities Today

The US is fixing a century-old problem for fish
Ben Goldfarb explores the impact of culverts on migratory fish populations, highlighting new efforts to address this issue. With the replacement of outdated culverts, sea-run fish like salmon can navigate waterways more freely. 'It was one of those problems that I never thought I would see fixed in my lifetime.' Hakai

Illustration by Maggie Chiang

More music for those who will listen
What is rewilding, and why is it our best hope? California's Yurok Tribe will become the first Native people to manage land with the National Park Service. Scotland bans snares and other brutal wildlife traps. Many coral reefs are dying. This one is exploding with life. Custodianship of California redwood forest returns to ten Native American tribal nations. Volunteer-led rewilding projects are helping restore degraded habitats in Australian cities. The federal government takes the first steps to start cleaning up abandoned uranium mines in the Navajo Nation’s Lukachukai Mountains. Wolves are thriving again across western Europe. Sea lion populations in New Zealand cities 'turn a corner.' Things are looking up for gray whales, with populations expected to rebound. The Dutch city of Utrecht celebrates the restoration of its 900-year-old moat, 40 years after it was cemented over to accommodate a 12-lane highway.

21st March 2024

The UK expands marine protection in the Southern Ocean
The government just announced full protection for an additional 166,000 kmsurrounding South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, home to one of the largest and most varied aggregations of wildlife on the planet. Full protections within the MPA now encompass approximately 450,000 km2Mongabay

China protects its largest saltwater lake
Qinghai Lake, on the northeastern Tibetan Plateau, is the country's largest inland saltwater lake and a key stopover site for migratory birds. It's about to become a new national park, protecting endangered species such as the Przewalski's gazelle, key migratory channels for fish, and areas critical for bird migration. China Daily

US moves closer to creating two huge new marine sanctuaries
The proposed 19,200 kmChumash Heritage national marine sanctuary in California has been recognised as a Mission Blue Hope Spot, and NOAA just released a draft proposal to designate marine portions of Hawaii's 1.5 million kmPapahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument as a national marine sanctuary. 

Tree planting project in Africa restores thousands of hectares
Since it was founded in 2015, the Trees for the Future programme has planted tens of millions of trees each year in nine countries, ranging from Senegal and Mali to Tanzania and Kenya. It has reportedly restored a combined area of more than 410 km2, replacing barren monocultures with biodiverse forest gardens. Guardian

Conservationists make headway as rewilding arrives in Japan
Monoculture plantations make up 44% of the country's forests, but now a new movement is trying to change that. Piece by piece, year by year, expanses of protected areas in Japan are becoming wild again with the aid of environmentally-conscious volunteers who help nature recover. Inside Climate News

A family plants a todomatsu (Maries' fir) tree, a species native to Hokkaido, to help rewild former agricultural land within the Shiretoko National Park in Hokkaido, Japan. Credit: James Whitlow Delano

Air pollution levels improve in Europe
A new study looked at pollution over the last 20 years in 1,400 regions in 35 European countries and found that overall suspended particulate matter levels (PM2.5 and PM10) have decreased on average by 2.72% and 2.45% every year, and that nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels have decreased by an average of 1.72% annually. Guardian

The UK and Sweden launch new conservation projects
Twenty new nature projects across the UK will receive funding to create and restore critical habitat areas equivalent in total to the size of York; in Sweden, new funding has been secured for a four-year project to protect ten endangered species. 'It's a massive undertaking to be able to protect this many species.'

Fisheries monitoring system in South Africa pays off
Nine years ago, South Africa put in place an innovative information management system designed to monitor and protect its seas. A new study has shown that it has brought significant benefits—mitigating environmental risks, reducing overfishing, and allowing for better coordination with other countries on ocean governance. Science Direct

NGO takes on Bali's plastic problem
Three years after its creation, Sungai Watch has installed 268 rubbish barriers on rivers, initiated more than 1,000 weekly cleanups with the help of volunteers, and collected a total of more than 1.7 million kilograms of waste. It's still a drop in the ocean, but it's starting to inspire greater government action. Guardian

Oregon outback named world’s biggest dark sky sanctuary
Long regarded as a stargazers’ paradise, the region is the new home of the world’s 19th, and largest, dark sky sanctuary, offering pristine views of the night sky across over 10,000 km2. The certification involved a years-long effort by federal, state, and local officials, community members, and several legal jurisdictions. Guardian

Summer Lake Hot Springs in Paisley, Oregon. Photograph: Joey Hamilton/Travel Oregon

More music for those who will listen
Inside the successful, decades-long effort to protect the Humboldt Archipelago in Chile. After three decades, the US EPA has finally fully banned asbestos, a material that still causes about 40,000 deaths each year. Conservationists in the Galapagos have begun restoring 13 species to Floreana Island. Apple and its partners are spending $280 million on forest restoration projects in Latin America. Have you heard of the Amazon of the Seas? More than 2% of Scotland’s land is now rewilding. France’s lower house of parliament has voted to limit the excesses of fast fashion. New York is about to get its first Miyawaki forest. The Biden administration wants to limit oil and gas drilling, mining, and livestock grazing across the American West to save a bird. As dams come down on the Skutik River in Maine, the once-demonised alewife gets a second chance. A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Colorado want to bring back wolverines in an unprecedented rewilding effort. Spain recently protected a whole lot of its ocean, and we sent someone an email asking for the maps. Here they are:

'The newly declared areas together account for a surface of more than 9.3 million hectares and represent an increase of 8.7% of the Spanish marine protected area.'

14th March 2024

China's National Greening Commission just announced that it increased its greening efforts last year with 39,998 kmof forest planted, 43,790 kmof degraded grassland restored, and 19,050 kmof sandy and stony land treated. The country is notoriously unreliable with big data like this, but even if the numbers are half of that, it's incredibly good news. Xinhua

The US Department of the Interior just announced the establishment of a new 16,187 kmconservation area in the Everglades in southwest Florida. The area will provide crucial protected wildlife corridors, enhance outdoor recreation access to the public, and bolster climate resilience in southwest Florida. FWS

South Africa is set to transform the Loskop Dam Nature Reserve into a massive 1,000 kmprotected area. The project, a collaboration between the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency and The Aspinall Foundation, is not only expected to become a sanctuary for over 30 endangered wildlife species, including the black rhino, but also to offer economic upliftment to surrounding communities. Discover

In 2014, Australian conservationists completed one of the largest publicly-funded conservation investments in history, successfully clearing Macquarie Island of non-native cats, rats, rabbits, and other animals. Now their work is paying off—a new study has shown that populations of petrels, a group of highly specialised seabirds, are recovering. Conversation

A researcher identifies a soft-plumaged petrel (Pterodroma mollis) in their spotlight while surveying at night. Credit: Jeremy Bird

For nine years, the Gomeroi people of New South Wales have been campaigning to put a stop to Santos' A$3.6 billion fossil gas project on their traditional lands. Last Thursday, they won an appeal to halt work, with a federal court ruling that climate change impacts had not been adequately considered. 'To say that I was excited is an understatement. It was an overwhelming feeling of happiness and pride.' ABC

A conservation milestone for India in Gujurat, home to the only population of Asiatic lions in the world. The IUCN just recategorized the species from endangered to vulnerable, and there may be even more good news coming, with the state forest department proposing a new 30,000 kmsanctuary for the apex predator. Times of India

India’s cheetah reintroduction programme just celebrated the birth of five cubs in Kuno National Park. 'This takes the tally of Indian born cubs to 13. This is the fourth cheetah litter on Indian soil' since the beginning of the programme, and the first litter by a South African cheetah in India. This is a really big milestone, especially after the programme's difficult start. Times of India

The EU has agreed on a provisional deal to create a new law to cut packaging waste and ban single-use plastics used for supermarket fruit and vegetables. Negotiators agreed on targets to reduce overall packaging by 5% by 2030 and 15% by 2040, and that all packaging should be recyclable by 2030.

According to the latest statistics from the US Department of Agriculture, more than 40% of hens used for eggs in the United States are now cage-free, and 11 states have banned the practice of caging hens. Just 15 years ago, that number was only 3%. While free-range is still the only genuinely humane way to farm chickens, this does represent progress towards that goal. Humane Society

Following the success of the High Line and years of community advocacy, New York is poised for a unprecedented year of urban greening, with the opening of around 60 km of citywide 'greenways.' 'I don’t think there’s been a year like this, from a standpoint of greenways, and so much kind of focus and effort going into greenway planning.' Inside Climate News

The largest tuna fishery in the world, created by the Nauru Agreement (PNA) in 1982, is also the world's most sustainable. 'By imposing a limit, all of a sudden the onus is on the harvesters. They have to manage themselves within the quota that we've imposed. That raises the revenue, it supplements building roads, hospitals, schools, job creation and economic development for the islands.' Euronews

Top: the Parties to the Nauru Agreement. Bottom: the newly-established Vessel Monitoring System operations centre in the Marshall Islands. Credit: Euronews

Bald eagles have returned to Toronto, suggesting the city's regreening efforts are working. 'A very special day,' as Darwin's finches are reintroduced to one of the Galapagos Islands. Mexican wolf populations in Arizona and New Mexico increase for the eighth year in a row. In Italy, efforts to build a viable population of Marsican brown bears are underway.The Wyoming toad leaps towards recovery. Nearly 12,140 kmof grassland ranches in the United States have now been certified by the Audubon Society as bird-friendly. Restoring peatland is easily the cheapest form of carbon sequestration, and Scotland has already restored over 100 km2. Canada just banned strychnine for poisoning, hailed as a major victory by animal protection and environmental groups. Hundreds of baby sea turtles were recently released by conservationists off the coast of Nicaragua.

Quite literally a green shoots story, and probably the best one you'll hear this year.

Chris Trimmer, the man who runs the secret high-security greenhouse in Devon and was responsible for grafting the Sycamore Gap tree.

7th March 2024

Europe's new nature restoration law is a big deal. By 2030 it will legally require the restoration of 20% of land and sea and overall protection of 30%, aim for 30% of EU species and habitats to reach 'a favourable conservation status,' and restore at least 25,000 kilometres of free-flowing rivers. Carbon Brief

The Saksfjed Wilderness is one of the largest and most aspirational rewilding initiatives in Denmark. Since January 2023, a foundation has been working to actively rewild the area into open grassland, with scattered vegetation, open forests, and wetlands, grazed by bovines and wild horses, and now it's been added to the European Rewilding Network.

For the last 15 years, environmentalists and the Penobscot Indian Nation have been restoring the Penobscot River in Maine. As a result, thousands of kilometres of habitat along the river and its tributaries has been re-opened, fish populations have skyrocketed, and alewives could soon be returning to Maine’s Mattamiscontis Lake. Nature Conservancy

When these fish get into the smaller streams and there are hundreds of thousands of them, you can’t miss seeing them. When I first saw them in these numbers, it was a mind-blowing, guttural emotional response.
Dan McCaw, Fisheries Biologist, Penobscot Nation
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Dan McCaw searches for salmon within the Penobscot River watershed. Through the removal of dams and other barriers, salmon are making a recovery and accessing high-quality habitat in the Penobscot River. Credit: TNC

Thailand just achieved a significant environmental milestone with the first sighting of Siamese crocodile babies in Beung Boraphet, the country's largest freshwater swamp and lake. The return of crocodiles to the area suggests that decades of conservation and restoration efforts are starting to pay off. Pattay Mail

The Australian saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) was driven to the edge of extinction in the mid-20th century, with an estimated 3,000 individuals left by the 1970s. Now, after decades of protection, they have achieved 'full recovery,' with an estimated 100,000 individual crocodiles in Australia today. Science Direct

Sarah and Mark Tompkins founded the Samara Karoo Reserve in South Africa in 1997. Since then, they have successfully restored 271 km2 of land, reintroduced the area's first cheetah, black rhino, elephant, and lion in over a century—and kicked off a campaign to create South Africa’s third largest protected area, covering 12,140 km2. Geographical

When the Florida golden aster (Chyrsopsis floridana) was listed as endangered in 1986, only nine clusters of the yellow daisy-like perennial herb could be found growing in Hillsborough County, Florida. Now, 37 years later, 30 populations have spread across five counties in West Central Florida, and it's just been taken off the endangered list by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

How's this for progressive taxation? The US Fish and Wildlife Service just announced over $1.3 billion of new conservation funding, supported by excise taxes paid in the United States last year on ammunition, firearms, archery and angling equipment, and a fuel and small engine tax. FWS

In the last decade, anti-poaching measures have been put in place in almost 100 global biodiversity sites, and poaching is now falling in 20 of them, affecting species from the desert-adapted elephants of Mali to Sumatran tigers and rhinoceros in Indonesia. In Ethiopia, 90% of illegal wildlife trade cases now end in convictions, and demand for ivory and tiger amulets in Thailand has fallen by 30%. World Bank

Bucking the global trend, Pakistan's mangrove forests saw a three-fold expansion between 1986 and 2020, from 483 km2 to 1,439 km2, according to an analysis of satellite data in 2022. Experts attribute this success to massive mangrove planting and conservation programs, as well as concerted community engagement. Mongabay

The Butterfly Redemption:

Recognizing the need for urgent action, the Oregon Zoo began a captive breeding program for the species in 2003. In 2011, the zoo helped establish the breeding program at Mission Creek as part of The Evergreen State College and Washington State’s Sustainability in Prisons Project. Since then, the work undertaken by these incarcerated women has become one of the last best hopes for the species’ survival. Hakai
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After a feeding, a captive-bred Taylor’s checkerspot takes a ride on a cotton swab. Credit: Sustainability in Prisons Project

Medellín's Green Corridors is arguably the best urban restoration project in the world right now. Since 2016, 2.5 million plants and 880,000 trees have been planted in 30 'corridors,' reducing pollution and bringing temperatures down by 2°C in a city of 2.5 million people. Other cities are following suit, including Bogotá, Barranquilla, and São Paulo, the largest city in South America. RTBC

The Biden Administration has announced $195 million in funding to spend on climate projects in US national parks. It will support more than 40 projects, from restoring coastal marsh systems in the Northeastern corner of the United States to promoting native fire management in the Pacific Northwest and developing conservation plans for bison in a dozen parks. National Parks Traveler

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault just received deposits from 23 seedbanks—with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, and Zambia depositing for the first time. Reuters

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Representatives from multiple countries arriving at Svalbard's global seed vault in Longyearbyen, Norway, 25th February 2020. Credit: NTB Scanpix/Lise Aserud/Reuters

In the space of a few weeks, judges in Idaho, Nevada, and Montana just altered the landscape for conserving water in the western United States. The successful rehabilitation of Harpy Eagles in Bolivia is a ray of hope for a species that's lost vast stretches of its historical habitat. Taiwan's FDA just banned animal testing for iron supplements. The US FDA is banning forever chemicals in food packaging like fast-food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, and takeout pizza boxes. How recycled oyster shells are restoring the Alabama coast. Ireland has launched an ambitious new national waste management plan. Efforts are now underway to restore populations of the American marten to forest areas across Pennsylvania. What if all the best jobs in 2030 were ones that regenerated the world? It's not naive. Many inspiring people are already doing it—soil doctors, river guardians, seaweed farmers, river restoration engineers, and food waste hackers, among others.

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Credit: Thomas Liera & Rob Hopkins

29th February 2024

The European Parliament has adopted a law to restore 20% of EU’s land and sea. Under the law, countries must restore at least 30% of habitats in poor condition by 2030, 60% by 2040, and 90% by 2050. Member states will also have to restore at least 25,000 km of rivers to be free-flowing rivers and ensure there is no net loss in the total national area of urban green space and of urban tree canopy cover.

The Terai Arc Landscape initiative, Nepal’s pioneering landscape-level ecosystem restoration project, has led the restoration of 668 km2 of forest and nearly tripled the population of the endangered Bengal tiger. It's just been honoured as a UN World Restoration Flagship, one of the seven best examples of ecosystem restoration around the world.

The Biden administration, governors of Oregon and Washington, and the leaders of four Columbia River Basin tribes have formally launched a $1 billion plan to help recover depleted salmon populations in what was once the world’s greatest salmon-producing river system. AP

This signing ceremony is a historic moment, not just for the tribes, but also for the US government and all Americans in the Pacific Northwest. My heart is big today.
Corinne Sams, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
Washington Governor Jay Inslee stands with Chair Gerry Lewis of the Yakama Nation as they and others pose for a photo following a ceremonial signing ceremony in Washington on Friday, 23rd Feb. No Republicans attended the ceremony. Credit: AP/Susan Walsh

Twenty years ago, officials closed around 12,000 km2 of ocean waters off Southern California due to overfishing. Since then, nearly all species have achieved full recovery, and the area has been reopened to non-commercial fishing, with some crucial areas still conserved. 'If you leave Mother Nature alone, things can come back and can be more resilient than even we expect.' Santa Barbara Independent

In 2015, McDonald’s—one of the world’s largest and most iconic fast food chains—agreed to switch 100% of the eggs that it purchases to cage-free in the United States by 2025. The Humane Society just revealed that they reached that goal early, at the end of 2023. This is a big deal—McDonald’s purchases nearly 2 billion eggs each year for its US locations. 

French company Carbios says it has commissioned an engineering firm to construct the world’s first biological recycling plant for PET plastic in eastern France. The company’s technology is among the first to offer full circularity for PET, and it claims it will be able to extend its enzymatic approach to many different types of plastic. Recycling Today

During the United State's early colonial history, huge areas of woodland were razed for agriculture and housing, but this trend began to reverse around a century ago. Such large expanses have since been reforested in the eastern United States—enough trees sprouting back to cover an area larger than England—that it has helped stall the effect of global heating. Guardian

Source: Barnes et al., 2024/The Guardian

The EU has upgraded its laws to combat environmental crime more effectively. The new legislation enables criminal prosecution for environmentally-damaging conduct, standardizes penalties—increasing prison sentences for individuals and setting fixed fines for companies—and expands the list of environmental offences. Member states have two years to adopt it into their national laws. Greens

The EU has agreed to set stricter limits on the toxic particles and dangerous gases that dirty its air. The new rules slash the yearly limits for fine particulates known as PM2.5 from 25 µg/m³ to 10 µg/m³, and for nitrogen dioxide, a gas that hurts the lungs, from 40 µg/m³ to 20 µg/m³. 'This is a major step forward for people’s health. It is a once-in-a-generation chance to improve air quality.' Guardian

England has an ambitious new biodiversity credit scheme that will force new road and housebuilding projects to benefit nature rather than damage it. Developers will need to deliver a Biodiversity Net Gain of 10%, meaning if a woodland is destroyed by a road, another needs to be recreated either on site or elsewhere. Guardian

Flooded fields on Iford Estate farm in East Sussex, one of five farms selected as a pilot project for the biodiversity net gain scheme. Photograph: Jill Mead/The Guardian

Belgium becomes the first country in Europe to recognise ecocide as a crime. Environmentalists celebrate the surrender of the last offshore oil permits in British Columbia, a victory decades in the making. Crocodiles are thriving once again in the rivers and wetlands of Costa Rica. Fin whales return to the waters off New York and New Jersey. Earlier this month, as relentless rains pounded Los Angeles, the city’s sponge infrastructure helped gather 8.6 billion gallons of water. Hats off to the people behind Kenya's largest-ever rhino relocation. California just conserved a 27,000-acre parcel of land on its Central Coast, and the Nature Conservancy just bought an 8,000-acre tract at the confluence of the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers. The EPA will award $4.6 billion to states and cities this year to implement local climate action plans. Say hello to green roads. Utah is about to become the biggest no-kill state in the United States. The population of common cranes, the UK’s tallest bird, is the highest since their reintroduction in 1979. For the first time in a century, the Pilliga Forest, the largest native forest west of the Great Dividing Range in Australia, is crawling with native animals.

A bridled nailtail wallaby in the Pilliga forest, where native species are thriving following the removal of feral invaders. Photograph: Wayne Lawler/AWC

15th February 2024

Over the past decade, the Dominican Republic has regreened one fifth of the country thanks to the Yaque River basin restoration project. The project, which uses the simple strategy of convincing landowners that reforesting their farms is beneficial for them, has reduced soil degradation by 18%. El País

For the first time in a decade, the EPA has tightened regulations on air pollution, lowering the allowable limit for annual PM2.5 levels from 12 micrograms per cubic meter to 9. The reduction is predicted to reap $46 billion in net health benefits by 2032, including prevention of up to 800,000 asthma attacks and 4,500 premature deaths. NPR

Bhutan has expanded its protected area network with a new biological corridor connecting Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary and Bumdelling Wildlife Sanctuary in the country’s east. The region is home to hundreds of unique flora and fauna species, including the snow leopard, red panda, and Ludlow's Bhutan glory. WWF

As the site of what's been called the 'greatest river recovery in Europe,' the Mersey River is continuing to thrive with sightings of dolphins, harbour porpoises, jellyfish, and five species of sharks. Last year, 45 different kinds of fish were found in the river, triple the amount recorded in 2002. Not bad for a river declared biologically dead 40 years ago. Liverpool World

Chile has formally created the new Valle Cochamó Nature Sanctuary. It is one of the country’s largest protected areas, spanning 14 km2 of forest, glaciers, and million-year-old rocks. The region is home to 12 forest types, 50 animal species, and one of the most important water reserves in the world. Patagon Journal

Photo: Puelo Patagonia

Manglares de Puerto Morelos, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, will protect 12 km2 of mangroves that contain 23% of the state’s biodiversity. The site is part of a larger wetland complex that includes critical habitats for the monarch butterfly, Yucatán mushroomtongue salamander, snail-eating thirst snake, and collared toucan. El Economista

The US Bureau of Land Management will invest $41 million for ecosystem restoration by supporting 74 projects in 16 states, including restoring abandoned mine lands, protecting wildlife, improving water quality, and strengthening local economies. BLM

Columbia has protected the Las Siete Sabias-Esperanza de Vida in Chocó, 303 km2 of tropical rainforest along the Pacific coast, boosting connectivity within an important biodiversity hotspot. The rainforests are home to threatened species like the Choco broad-nosed bat and the saffron-headed parrot, as well as the Cabí River, a vital water source for approximately 108,000 people. AAF

A $15 million land purchase in Alabama will protect 32 km2 of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, dubbed ‘America’s Amazon’ for its remarkable biodiversity and wildlife. The deal, which is called Land Between the Rivers, is a collaboration between The Nature Conservancy, a private donor, and outdoor clothing company Patagonia. AL

This is one of the most important conservation victories that we’ve ever been a part of. It’s protected a vitally important complex of land, almost 8,000 acres, critically important to the health of the Mobile Delta and then, by extension, Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
Mitch Reid, The Nature Conservancy

After years of dwindling numbers for Florida manatees, wildlife officials say numbers are bouncing back thanks to continued efforts by the state. In Tasmania, over 80 critically-endangered orange-bellied parrots have returned to their breeding ground, the highest number in 15 years; and for the first time in 600 years, giant tortoises are roaming Madagascar, thanks to a six-year relocation project.

The Aldabra giant, photographed in the Anjajavy Reserve on 26 August 2022. Credit: Chainsawpunk/Wikimedia Commons

It’s been a busy month for global advocacy group Oceana: new MPAs have been created in Mexico, Chile, the Canary Islands, the Ibiza Channel, and the Strait of Gibraltar. Over the past century, European bison have made an amazing comeback to 7,000 wild animals across the continent. Arizona now uses 3% less water than it did in 1957, despite its population mushrooming more than 555%. The restoration of Yundang Lake in China is a testament to the power of regenerative approaches. A new project is aiming to protect South America's Chaco-Pantanal Wildlands, spanning 1.2 million km2 across Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay. Since 2007, Project Hariyali has planted over 20 million trees in India. A new conservation strategy in Africa is reversing the trend of illegal wildlife trafficking by transforming reformed poachers into wildlife advocates. The US military is taking on forever chemicals. Northwestern University chemists have developed a new catalyst that completely breaks down the plastic used by fishing nets in minutes. New research has found 8,481 potential transboundary conservation areas in Africa, covering an area of nearly 2 million km2—half the size of the EU.

8th February 2024

Over the past 25 years, small towns across Bolivia have protected over 100,000 km2 of the Amazon, creating a 'conservation mosaic' almost the size of Iceland. Recently, the community of Sena has added another piece to the puzzle with the Gran Manupare Integrated Management Natural Area, 4526 km2 of lowland rainforest that is home to the endangered giant otter. Conservation International

Piece by piece, we are knitting together the fabric of conservation in the Amazon. Local communities have kept their eyes on the prize. They are having a big impact on the Amazon, for the benefit of us all.
Eduardo Forno, Vice President, Conservation International - Bolivia

Spain has designated seven new marine protected areas across the country’s three marine regions: the Mediterranean, Macaronesia, and the Atlantic. The designation will increase Spain’s area of ocean protection from 12% to 21%, safeguarding the habitat for threatened species, including deep seamounts and a large migratory corridor for birds. Oceana

Canada will provide federal funding to 42 Indigenous-led conservation projects across Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, and Saskatchewan, adding to the $202 million already allocated to Indigenous communities. In Bangladesh, Indigenous communities have reversed the decline of the endangered putitor mahseer fish by protecting the headwater forests that support breeding and population growth. 

A great example of how saving one species can have a domino effect on the restoration of a whole ecosystem. In California’s Monterey Bay, efforts to bolster sea otter populations are saving local salt marshes because the otters feast on the burrowing crabs that cause erosion. The sea otters have consumed enough of the crabs to slow the erosion almost to a halt. ABC

A Southern Sea Otter floats on its back in Elkhorn Slough near Monterey, California. Credit: Getty Images

The first-ever snow leopard survey in India has confirmed the country is home to 718 big cats, roughly 10-15% of the global population. The survey reported that understanding the precise population is important because as the apex predator, the leopard indicates the health of—and challenges facing—the entire Himalayan ecosystem. BBC

Ecosia, the German-based search engine that uses advertising revenue to fight climate change, has reached an impressive milestone of 200 million trees planted. The organisation has also invested in climate tech solutions, set up an incubator for regenerative agriculture, and has created enough solar plants since 2020 to power all Ecosia searches twice over.

California’s landmark plastic reduction law, SB 54, will dramatically alter how plastic and packaging waste is managed. All single-use packaging and plastic food service-ware will have to be recyclable or compostable by 2032, with a 65% recycling rate for these materials. Companies that don’t comply will face steep fines up to $50,000 per day for each violation—and it's already working. EHN

In 2022, Yvon Chouinard, the founder of outdoor apparel brand Patagonia, declared that all future profits of the company would be used to protect the environment. Since that date, $71 million of earnings have funded the protection of 658 km2, and there are plans to protect another 13,000 km2, much of it in Australia and Indonesia. NYT

Plan A: Raise taxes on hedge fund billionaires to fund climate action. Plan B: Sell vests to hedge fund bros and use the profits to fund climate action.

Chile and Palau have become the first two of 80 countries required to ratify the UN’s landmark High Seas Treaty. New Zealand will be the first country to ban the use of forever chemicals in cosmetics from 2026. After a 30-year absence, the endangered Guam Kingfisher will soon return to the wild. The Pench Tiger Reserve has become India’s first Dark Sky Reserve (the lack of light pollution makes it ideal for astronomy enthusiasts). Against all odds, it looks like jaguars are making a return to the United States. Turtle nests have been found off the coast of Cambodia, sparking hopes for endangered hawksbill and green turtles. The UK is delivering on measures to protect its oceans with a permanent closure of the sandeel fisheries and a targeted ban on bottom trawling in an additional 13 MPAs. An enzyme used in laundry detergent has been found to break down single-use plastics within 24 hours, 84 times faster than the 12-week-long industrial composting process. Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of the Congo just marked its first year without any elephant poaching.

1st February 2024

Mexico has announced 20 new protected areas, which will cover roughly 23,000 km2, stretching across 12 states and both the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of California. The areas will preserve critical land and marine habitats for species including whale sharks, Mexican prairie dogs, and jaguars. Mongabay

Ireland has designated more than 3,000 km2 of ocean off the coast of Wexford as a Special Protection Area. The area adjoins eight existing SPAs and will boost protections for over 20 species of rare and threatened birds, including the Common Scoter, Red-throated Diver, and Black-backed Gull. Irish Independent

China’s efforts to protect panda habitats are paying off, with the wild population of giant pandas increasing from 1,100 in the 1980s to 1,900 today. The Giant Panda National Park, established in 2021, is home to around 72% of the wild giant panda population, securing a status change for the species from 'endangered' to 'vulnerable.' Straits Times

The world’s forests are doing better than we think. England now has more forest than it did during the Black Death, covering 13,000 km2 of the country; China’s forest area has increased by about 607,000 km2 since 1992, and the combined tree-planting efforts of India and the United States would cover Bangladesh in an unbroken canopy of leaves. Bloomberg 🎁

'We should celebrate our success in slowing a pattern of human deforestation that’s been going on for nearly 100,000 years. Nothing about the damage we do to our planet is inevitable. With effort, it may even be reversible.'
Credit: Nat Bullard

The first-ever platypus translocation program has introduced ten furry trailblazers into Sydney’s Royal National Park after a 50-year absence, with hopes they will breed in the area. Over the past three decades, the areas where platypuses live in Australia have shrunk by 22%, but early reports from the program say the animals are adapting well. Concrete Playground

Composting is now mandatory in France, with households and businesses required to sort out bio-waste such as food scraps and garden waste, and in California, consumers and businesses have cut food waste by 10% since 2016. Tighter restrictions are aiming to cut organic waste by 75% by 2025, in addition to recovering 20% of edible food waste in order to address food insecurity.

The EU is tackling greenwashing, with new legislation banning misleading marketing claims like 'environmentally friendly' and 'biodegradable' on product packaging unless there is concrete evidence for the claims. It is also continuing its crackdown on microplastics by forcing beauty companies to cover the extra costs needed to get rid of the pollutants in urban wastewater.

Colombia has created a new national park by turning local ranchers into rangers. After a decade of negotiations, Parque Nacional Natural Serranía de Manacacías now spans 680 km2 of tropical savanna that provides a crucial link to the Amazon. 'The hope is that by protecting this small puzzle piece of savanna, a whole lot more can be saved.' NYT

Clockwise from top left: a giant anteater, a caiman, egrets, and the Manacacías River. Credit: Federico Rios

After two years of negotiations, Belgium has banned the import of hunting trophies from endangered species. Heralded as a 'momentous' triumph for wildlife conservation, the legislation will protect vulnerable animals such as hippopotamuses, cheetahs, and polar bears. World Animal News

Over the past several years, American cities and states have passed over 500 policies restricting single-use plastic bags, and a new report says these laws have prevented billions of bags from being used. 'The bottom line is that plastic bag bans work.' Grist

Lagos State, in Nigeria, has announced an immediate ban on single-use plastics and styrofoam to deal with escalating pollution. It follows the lead of African countries like Tanzania, Botswana, Uganda, and South Africa that have either banned single-use plastics or placed a high tax on them. Ecowatch

Brazil’s footwear industry is aiming to become more sustainable by switching to vegan materials. In Scotland, a fierce competition ensues between glens, lochs, and isles to become the country’s next national park; in Devon, an ancient rainforest will be restored with 100,000 new trees across 50 hectares; in Wisconsin, the largest land conservation purchase in the state's history will protect 70,000 acres of the Pelican River Forest. Could 2024 be the turning point for unregulated fishing? Communities in northeastern Brazil have rallied to protect 100,000 acres of Caatinga dry forest, and volunteer efforts to remove purple urchins are saving California’s kelp forests. Have you ever wondered how cities like London and Paris make car-free zones popular? It has something to do with the Goodwin Curve. 'When I first set foot in the Klamath watershed as a scientist back in 2008, dam removal seemed little more than a dream. Fast forward 15 years and I’m on the edge of my seat as three dams on the Klamath River see their final days, with a fourth already removed.'

24th January 2024

After last year's record fall in the rate of deforestation, Lula has kicked off 2024 vowing to keep up the pressure on environmental criminals devastating Indigenous lands in the Amazon. 'We cannot lose a war to illegal miners, we cannot lose a war to illegal loggers and we cannot lose a war to people who are breaking the law.' Guardian

Plastic bags are the number one contaminant found in Colorado’s rivers and streams—but last year, thanks to the imposition of statewide fees, between 1.5 billion and 1.8 billion fewer plastic bags were used, and an even greater reduction is expected this year, as businesses phase out their use too. ABC Denver

Last month marked the 50th anniversary of the US Endangered Species Act. For decades it has protected nature with bipartisan support, rescued hundreds of species of animals and plants from annihilation, transformed the US Fish and Wildlife Service from a wildlife killing service to a wildlife recovery service, and helped birth the global science of restoration ecology. Time

Youth activists in Norway have won a major legal victory, after a court in Oslo found the approvals of three new oil and gas fields invalid and issued an injunction forbidding the state from granting any new permits necessary for construction and production there. 'This is an important victory for current and future generations and the environment.' Greenpeace

One of the most underrated ecological phenomena of our time is the regeneration of abandoned farmlands, thanks to the more efficient land use of modern agriculture. Since the 1990s, the EU has reforested an area the size of Portugal, the United States uses 40% less cropland than in 1960, and globally, an area of farmland half the size of Australia is abandoned every year. Legendes Carto

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French forests: 18th century (13%) vs 2020 (31%).

China reforested or restored 83,300 km2 of land in 2023, thanks to hundreds of ecological restoration, land afforestation, rare tree cultivation, and wetland protection and restoration projects. It's also setting up a national ecological monitoring network across 44 key regions, covering forests, wetlands, grasslands, deserts, oceans, cities, and farmlands. 

It's reforestation week! Sri Lanka's cabinet just approved a plan to increase forest cover to 32% by 2032, the Dominican Republic is roping in the military to help with its reforestation plans, in Brazil drones are reforesting the hills around Rio, and the Philippines just passed laws requiring parents to plant two trees for every child—and requiring students to plant two trees when they graduate.

An international effort to protect endangered river dolphins is gathering steam. Known as the "Global Declaration for River Dolphins," it commits 14 of the animals’ range countries to implement specific actions and strengthen regional and national initiatives. So far, nine countries have signed the declaration. China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Peru, and Pakistan are pending. Mongabay

In the UK, the Cornish chough, once extinct in Cornwall, has been re-wilded and has started to move inland in what wildlife experts say is a sign of its 'flourishing' recovery. In the United States, the Eastern monarch butterfly, long thought to be in peril, is not in decline after all, and well-meaning efforts by the public may actually be doing more harm than good.

In an unexpected display of rationality, the French government has listened to the advice of scientists instead of the fishing industry and temporarily banned all fishing in the Bay of Biscay. From Finistere in the extreme west of Brittany to the Spanish border, fishing will cease almost entirely until the 20th of February. France24

According to a new study, humpback whale numbers in Cumberland Bay of the island of South Georgia have nearly recovered to pre-whaling levels, last seen in 1904. The rewilding of South Georgia amounts to 'the single most uplifting environmental story in the world.' Hakai

Ringed by dramatic mountains, Cumberland Bay, on the coast of South Georgia, is home to whales, seabirds, penguins, and elephant seals. The island draws scores of sightseeing cruises each summer. Photo by David Tipling Photo Library/Alamy Stock Photo

Canadian beef farmers say they're on track to meet their goal of cutting emissions by a third before 2030. Did you know that the US Department of the Interior directed over $2 billion of investments to restore the nation’s lands and waters last year? Yeah, us neither (it's almost like news organisations didn't bother reporting it). Make America Rake Again. The state of Maryland has planted half a million trees in the last two years, getting it 10% of the way to its 5 million target by 2031. New York is getting in on the tree-planting action, too. What if we told you 2023 was actually a pretty great year for conservation in Texas? ‘The wildlife that has come is phenomenal’—British farmers are holding off floods by planting trees, creating floodplains, and rewilding rivers. The Pacific Coast’s real native oyster is making a comeback, with a little help from some friends. A revolutionary way to feed the world that's actually very old.

18th January 2024

The most comprehensive analysis of Africa’s elephant population to date has found numbers have increased annually by 0.16% over the past 25 years, with the current population estimated to be 415,000. The most stable populations were mostly found in large, protected lands that were connected to buffer areas rather than isolated 'fortress' parks. Guardian

For decades, news from southern Africa was dominated by waves of poaching and other threats. But there’s been a lot of good work done that has basically turned the tide and that story has never really been told.
Dr Robert Guldemond, University of Pretoria

The new Island Lake Wilderness Area in Nova Scotia will protect 3,937 hectares of land, wetlands, and water in the St. Margarets Bay area, which is critical habitat for the endangered mainland moose. The area is one of 23 new designations for the Canadian province, tallying an additional 14,000 hectares of protected wilderness (and counting).

In Spain, a landmark €1.4bn deal will safeguard the Doñana in western Andalucía, one of Europe’s most important wetlands. The agreement will diversify the local economy and stop farmers using aquifers to irrigate fruit crops. 'There’s more of a future than strawberries and raspberries and anyway, if you don’t look after the water, there will be no more strawberries or raspberries.' Guardian

Pink flamingos fly over a lake at Doñana National Park in Huelva Province, Andalucía. Photograph: Mara Brandl/Getty Images/Image Broker RF

A historic win for Indigenous land rights in Ecuador, with Siekopai communities regaining ownership of 42,360 hectares of their ancestral Amazonian homeland, 80 years after they were displaced. It’s the first time an Indigenous community has received title to land within a nationally protected area. Mongabay

Poland’s new climate minister, Paulina Hennig-Kloska, has taken the first step to stemming biodiversity loss, with a six-month moratorium on logging in 10 of the country’s most ancient forests. She also announced plans to create a constitution for Białowieża National Park, a UNESCO heritage site on the border of Poland and Belarus. Guardian

The United States finished 2023 on a high note for environmental protection, with a 70% increase in criminal investigations of polluting industrial sites and a renewed push to limit logging and conserve old growth forests. This will include the first nationwide amendment to US Forest Service management plans in the agency’s 118-year history. Euro News

China’s stricter regulations on chemical particulates that can be easily inhaled and passed into the human bloodstream have shown remarkable success in clearing up its skies. Concentrations of PM2.5, a major cause of heart and respiratory diseases, has fallen across most major cities, especially Beijing. Bloomberg

Annual average levels of PM2.5 in Beijing are now not far below the exceptional readings recorded during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when swaths of industry were temporarily shut down to disguise the scale of pollution in the city.

The Sucúa Municipal Conservation and Sustainable Use Area in Ecuador will protect 17,741 hectares of threatened Amazonian ecosystems in Morona Santiago, preserving water sources for over 30,000 people and critical habitat for the endangered Humboldt’s Woolly Monkey. Andes Amazon Fund

Good news for animal rights. A new law in South Korea will make the sale of dog meat illegal from 2027, ending centuries of the practice, and after a multi-year campaign by animal rights organisations, Chile has banned cosmetic testing on animals, including the manufacturing, import, and marketing of cosmetics tested on animals elsewhere in the world.

The ulūlu, also known as Hawaii’s millerbird, is no longer critically endangered thanks to efforts by conservationists to reintroduce the bird to its restored island of Laysan; and in Chad, an ambitious recovery project has reversed the fate of the mythical-looking scimitar-horned oryx after it was declared extinct in the wild in 2000.  

There are now 600 scimitar-horned oryx living in the wild.

Conservationists in British Columbia have bought the hunting rights in the Great Bear Rainforest to protect wildlife. The United States is bringing back nature's best firefighters: beavers. In 2023, deforestation in Brazil's Amazon fell by nearly 50%, resulting in the lowest deforestation rate in the last five years. An international court has ruled in favour of the Indigenous Q’eqchi’ people in Guatemala, to stop mining on their lands. How a conservation group in Ecuador protects 10% of the world's bird species. The first-ever US Ocean Justice Strategy will advance environmental justice for communities that rely on the ocean and the Great Lakes. How one of Uganda’s smallest national parks became a powerful model for the future of sustainable conservation. New York has become the tenth US state to ban wildlife killing contests, and its Birds and Bees Protection Act just came into effect, prohibiting neonicotinoid pesticides. The 12 tribes of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville in Washington State are restoring the lands of their ancestors. Why 2023 was a year of real progress in environmental protection and scientific cooperation. 

'I don’t work in a vacuum, only looking at lynx and lynx habitat, but recognizing that all of the animals are important, and part of the picture and part of that balance that we’re trying to restore.' -Rose Piccinini, Sanpoil District, Confederated Tribes of the Colville

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