Cycling Silk: What is Wasteland, What is Wilderness

Cycling Silk: What is Wasteland, What is Wilderness

New update on Kate and Mel’s journey as of June 20th: Getting sanction to cycle the Silk Road through Central Asia is the modern equivalent of the Great Game, a kind of diplomatic chess where enigmatic rules change on a dictator’s whim, where checkmate is risked with every move to a new country, especially a new ‘Stan. With Cycling Silk we couldn’t apply for visas ahead of time, since at our pace, on a trip this long, they’d expire before we arrived. So we’ve had to snag them along the way, which at times has meant intense frustration and desperate tactics to get where we’ve wanted to go. We got off the train in Beyneu, Kazakhstan, and hit the ground rolling toward the westernmost border of Uzbekistan, determined to enter the country the very day our hardwon tourist visa began expiring. It granted us only 30 days to bike nearly two thousand kilometers on rough roads the long way across the country; interview conservationists in the capital city of Tashkent; boot it to the Tajikistan border; and along the way, explore the complexities and challenges of conservation on the Ustyurt Plateau, a transboundary desert straddling westernmost Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, tucked between the Caspian and Aral Seas, and our second case study of the expedition. So began our evasive maneuvers against the clock – and the heat. Uzbekistan boasts various blades and poisons, from thorns to scorpions to nightmare-spawning serpents. But for us the heat itself was a kind of venom, effecting paralysis throughout the nerveless high noon of day. And here, high noon lasted all day long, with high...

Seychelles makes major contribution to Aichi Biodiversity Targets

Montreal, 27 June 2011— The Seychelles Government announced it will declare new protected areas in the archipelago, resulting in half (50.59%) of all Seychelles land becoming protected under the law. The Cabinet approved the designation of protected areas, which amounts to 15.72 km2 of land representing 3.53% of Seychelles land territory and totals 45,500 hectares (excluding reclaimed areas). Last year, the Silhouette National Park and the Recif Island Reserve were created, thus raising the total area of protected land to 47.06%. The latest decision follows Seychelles President James Michel’s announcement in 2010 that Seychelles will protect 50% of its land territory, as a contribution to fulfilling its obligations under Article 8 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), to ensure conservation of the archipelago’s biodiversity for the well-being of present and future Seychellois generations and visitors to the islands. “We will become the first country in the world that has half of its territory protected as national parks and nature reserves. This will ensure that our most beautiful islands remain in the hands of all Seychellois, for many generations to come. We will show the world how important it is to preserve this precious natural heritage, both for sustainable development of a small island nation, for tourism development, as well as the protection of our planet for our children,” said President Michel. “The announcement by the President of Seychelles to declare 50% of the country’s land territory as protected areas is an outstanding contribution to the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and a major contribution to the implementation of the decision by the Heads of State of the...

Manitoba Protects Boreal Forest and Wetlands

Just announced from the Province of Manitoba, Canada….(re-posted government press release) Province Permanently Designates Largest Area of Protected Land in more than a Decade – Asatiwisipe Aki Management Plan Approved: Blaikie The Manitoba government has legally designated 807,650 hectares of boreal forest and wetlands on the east side of Lake Winnipeg as protected traditional territory, Conservation Minister Bill Blaikie announced today. This new designation will increase Manitoba’s protected areas network to over 6.5 million hectares or 10 per cent. “We have committed to protecting this area for future generations and bringing into law the management plan the Poplar River First Nation has developed,” said Blaikie. “We will continue to work with them to implement the plan for the Asatiwisipe Aki area and look forward to including it as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site bid.” The Poplar River First Nation is located approximately 400 kilometres north of Winnipeg on the east side of Lake Winnipeg. It is the first community in Manitoba to proceed with land-use planning and submit a management plan for approval under the East Side Traditional Lands Planning and Special Protected Areas Act, Blaikie said. The province has legally designated the planning area and approved the community’s plan, ensuring the Poplar River First Nation assumes a significant role in developing and implementing strategies for the use, management and sustainable development of the First Nation’s traditional area, said Blaikie. “The Asatiwisipe Aki Management Plan protects the traditional land from industrial developments, sustaining natural ecological processes for present and future generations,” said Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson. “I am proud to be a part of a government that works...
Futi Corridor Protected!

Futi Corridor Protected!

Connections are everything, both in the human and natural worlds. A superb new wild connection was announced this week by Peace Parks Foundation (PPF) and the Government of Mozambique. The Futi Corridor is a historic wildlife migration route between South Africa and Mozambique, for which The WILD Foundation and many others working in the region have advocated for many years. The dream is now a reality. In a joint announcement of this most recent conservation accomplishment within the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area (“peace park”), PPF and Mozambique announced full protection of the Futi Corridor, connecting Ndumo and Tembe Game Reserves in South Africa with the Maputo Special Elephant Reserve 33 miles (50km) to the north. This critical initiative adds 24,000 ha (60,000 acres) to Mozambique’s protected areas, restoring landscape connectivity for the first time in over 50 years so that elephants and other wildlife can resume their historic migrations. Such a move not only benefits wildlife, but it assists the local communities by ensuring better ecological services (that support and enhance all life) from this important and extensive seasonal wetland, and creates an unusual new draw for tourism. This area on the Edge of the Indian Ocean will be the end point of In the Tracks of Giants , an expedition (and a Nature Needs Half initiative) crossing Southern Africa in...
Proposed marine protected areas a diverse collection of 12 sites

Proposed marine protected areas a diverse collection of 12 sites

What is a marine protected area? According to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans of Canada, it is a specific geographical space managed to achieve the long-term conservation of nature. Some of the MPA’s are fully marine, while others have terrestrial components. The DFO says that there are more than 700 MPA’s in Canada that cover about 56,000 square kilometers of the country’s oceans and Great Lakes.  According to Sabine Jessen, CPAWS oceans protection manager, only about 1% of Canada’s oceans are protected. 14 Canadian scientists are saying at least 30% should be fully protected with no fishing in them— they have a long way to go. But CPAWS says the definition of a marine protected area is too loose; MPA’s should be off limits to fishing, shipping and any other commercial and industrial activity. Because of this, CPAWS is urging the federal government to create 12 new MPA’s by the end of next year to ensure the survival of species such as leatherback turtles, right whales and narwhal.  These 12 sites are a diverse collection of areas; they range from the Laurentian Channel that has the largest concentration of black dogfish in Canada, to Lancaster Sound where seabirds number in the millions, to the Scott Islands that are home to one of the largest Steller sea lion rookeries in the world. The overall goal of establishing these 12 MPA’s is to protect endangered species. Jessen says, “While you might have an initial impact in the fishing industry, in the long term we are actually ensuring much healthier ocean ecosystems, not just in the marine protected areas.” Taking any...

Sonoran family voluntary protects land in Mexico as haven for wildlife

Conservation of natural lands couldn’t happen without the support and passion of individuals.  From government decision makers to grassroots advocates, passionate individuals fuel global conservation.  Private conservation easements are one way in which individuals or families who own land can contribute to the Nature Needs Half vision.  In basic terms, a conservation easement legally designates an area for conservation through partnership with government (municipal, county, state or federal) or a private entity to restrict future development or industrial uses. A family in Sonora, located just 30 miles south of the US-Mexico border, recently did just that by voluntarily setting aside their ranch for wildlife conservation. In March 2011 the Mexican National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) announced the designation of “Rancho El Aribabi” as a Natural Protected Area, under the category of Voluntary Land Conservation. The designation protects 10,000 acres of private property located in Municipality of Imuris, Sonora for ecosystem and biodiversity conservation, environmental education and ecotourism. The ongoing management of “Rancho El Aribabi” will be done in partnership between CONANP and the family.  And, while there is no financial incentive for their conservation commitment, it is clear that there are many benefit for the family: “Our family is proud to provide a preserve for the region’s plants and animals in perpetuity,” says Carlos Robles Elias, owner of Rancho El Aribabi. “For my family it means sharing our lives with all the wildlife that surrounds us. It is very satisfactory and it teaches us, and society in general, to share the world. Whether we realize it or not, we all have a commitment to protect the natural...
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