We Can Put an End to the Extinction Crisis

What needs to be done, who is doing it, and how it is getting done The Nature Needs Half Network sees two main goals: Protecting half the Earth one ecoregion at a time to preserve maximum biodiversity Defend human well-being by protecting the environment on which they depend for breathable air, potable water, fertile soils, and a stable climate. This effort is rapidly evolving, but at the highest level the Network will organize to: Promote the two goals; Build-out a three-pronged approach—science, policy, and social engagement; Work towards the two goals through a variety of activities across all sectors of society; Stay abreast of the actions and advice of others, encouraging them to take up work to implement the strategy; and Report back to the funders and the world on progress made. The elements of our approach are to: Support the CBD to design and promote a Global Deal for Nature (GDN), similar to the Paris Climate Deal and interacting with it—to address the second great environmental crisis of our era, the species extinction crisis and to guarantee the survival of a living vibrant biosphere. Embedded in the GDN is the need to achieve NNH in the terrestrial and marine realms within 30 years. We will work towards heads-of-state agreeing to such an accord and mobilizing an order of magnitude more funding per year for conservation to achieve it. For the subsequent 70 years there will be a need to keep fostering and refine restoration efforts in damaged ecoregions. Engage in bottom-up efforts to energize an international grass-roots networks, based on successful existing models, to achieve NNH. A major...

Nature Needs Half: A Necessary and Hopeful New Agenda for Protected Areas (US version)

By: Harvey Locke, originally published through The George Wright Society © 2014 Americans celebrated a milestone in global conservation this year: the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. For many, wilderness designated under it has become the gold standard of nature protection in the US. While few protected areas in the world can match designated wilderness in a US national park for ensuring nature’s well-being, it is well to remember important cousins in the protected areas family. National and state parks, state wilderness areas, designated roadless areas in national forests, the national monuments in the Bureau of Land Management’s national landscape conservation system, US Fish and Wildlife Service’s national wildlife refuge system, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) marine protected areas, tribal wilderness, and private lands set aside explicitly for nature conservation are all part of the nature protection clan. While more wilderness is devoutly to be wished in this celebratory year, wilderness alone will not be sufficient to save nature in all its glorious expressions. It is therefore timely to consider how much of all kinds of protected areas we need to ensure that nature and natural processes continue into the future. In a world where humans are just one species interacting among many, we would not need protected areas. This was the case for most of human history. Now we need them, for it is well- settled scientifically that humanity’s relationship with the natural world is in trouble. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2007) stated bluntly: “The resilience of many ecosystems is likely to be exceeded this century by an unprecedented combination of climate...

John Muir’s Last Stand

By: Tom Butler, Eileen Crist, originally published by Resilience.org  | DEC 24, 2014 JOHN MUIR, a man whose love for nature seemed almost to transcend Earthly limits, was not immortal. One hundred years ago, on Christmas eve 1914, Muir’s spirit set off into the pathless wild. The great naturalist’s obituary in the New York Times was effusive, listing professional accomplishments after recounting his emigration from Scotland (“the youth who was destined to become one of the greatest thinkers of America came to this country when he was 11 years old”) and hardscrabble boyhood on a Wisconsin farm hewed from the wilderness. John Muir image, Francis M. Fritz [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons. Later, as a champion for national parks and founder of the Sierra Club, Muir would become, and remains, the personification of conservation focused on preserving parks and wilderness areas. The early American conservation movement was profoundly influenced by Muir’s philosophy and charisma. Literary lions and politicians from the East—Ralph Waldo Emerson and Teddy Roosevelt among them—sought him out, wanting to be introduced to the great temple of Yosemite by its leading acolyte. Muir was a self-taught naturalist in a day when amateurs could make significant advancements in science—which he did, in botany, geology, glaciology, and other fields. Whereas Henry David Thoreau was little known in his day, Muir became a public figure engaged in political battles for land preservation. Through much of his early adulthood Muir supported himself by writing about wild places and wild life in such prominent outlets as Century Magazine and The Atlantic. His articles and books enjoyed wide popularity, and many of us still revel in Muir’s stories—the adventure with that...

Can the World Really Set Aside Half of the Planet for Wildlife?

Originally published in the Smithsonian Magazine by Tony Hiss, September 2014 The eminent evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson has an audacious vision for saving Earth from a cataclysmic extinction event “Battles are where the fun is,” said E.O. Wilson, the great evolutionary biologist, “and where the most rapid advances are made.” We were sitting in oversized rocking chairs in a northwest Florida guest cottage with two deep porches and half-gallons of butter-pecan ice cream in the freezer, a Wilson favorite. He’d invited me here to look at what he considers a new approach to conservation, a new ecological Grail that, naturally, won’t happen without a fight. Wilson, 85, is the author of more than 25 books, many of which have changed scientific understanding of human nature and of how the living part of the planet is put together. Known as the father of sociobiology, he is also hailed as the pre-eminent champion of biodiversity: Wilson coined the word “biophilia” to suggest that people have an innate affinity for other species, and his now widely accepted “theory of island biogeography” explains why national parks and all confined landscapes inevitably lose species. He grew up in and around Mobile, Alabama, and has been at Harvard for over 60 years but still calls himself “a Southern boy who came north to earn a living.” He is courtly, twinkly, soft-spoken, has a shock of unruly white hair, and is slightly stooped from bending over to look at small things all his life—he’s the world’s leading authority on ants. Wilson has earned more than a hundred scientific awards and other honors, including two Pulitzer Prizes. And...

Nature Needs Half: A Necessary and Hopeful New Agenda for Protected Areas

Originally published in the Nature New South Wales Journal Article by: Harvey Locke, Founder of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, writer and photographer Conservation targets should be based on what is necessary to protect nature in all its expressions. When, in 1988, the Brundtland report called for tripling the world’s protected area estate (which was then at 3 to 4 per cent of the land area) there was a strong belief that sustainable development would ensure the proper care for nature on the rest of the unprotected earth. This has proven wrong. We therefore must materially shift our protected areas target to protect at least half of the world, land and water, in an interconnected way to conform with what conservation biologists have learned about the needs of nature. Instead we have set goals that are politically determined, with arbitrary percentages that rest on an unarticulated hope that such non-scientific goals are a good first step towards some undefined better future outcome. This has been a destructive form of self-censorship. It is time for conservationists to reset the debate based on scientific findings and assert nature’s needs fearlessly.  Boreal forest wilderness. McQuesten River valley, central Yukon Territory, Canada It is well settled scientifically that humanity’s relationship with the natural world is in trouble. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Parry et al, 2007) stated bluntly: “The resilience of many ecosystems is likely to be exceeded this century by an unprecedented combination of climate change, associated disturbances (e.g., flooding, drought, wildfire, insects, ocean acidification), and other global change drivers (e.g., land use change, pollution, overexploitation of resources)”. The human species has become so dominant that some argue we have entered a new geological age dominated not by the chemical and physical workings of the earth as they...

Nature Needs Half in the Earth Island Journal

Originally published in the Earth Island Journal by William H. Funk Conservation group promoting an ambitious new proposal for wilderness protection During the last half century conservationists around the world have won some impressive victories to protect wild places. Here in the US, the Wilderness Act preserves some 110 million acres of public land. Private holdings by groups like The Nature Conservancy safeguard tens of millions of additional acres. The idea of protecting ecosystems from industrial development has spread around the world. There’s the Mavuradonha Wilderness in Zimbabwe, the El Carmen ecosystem in northern Mexico, Kissama National Park in Angola, and the Tasmanian Wilderness in Australia, to name just a few stunning parks and preserves; UNESCO’s world heritage list includes 197 sites of special beauty and/or biodiversity. Photo by Trey Ratcliff Nature Needs Half has set out an unbelievable challenge: to formally, legally set aside one half of Earth’s land and water as interconnected natural areas. But conservation biologists now recognize that these sanctuaries are limited in what they can accomplish precisely because they are special — which is to say, rare. Parks and preserves are all too often islands of biological integrity in a sea of human development. To really protect natural systems, healthy biomes need to be the rule, not the exception. To achieve that vision, The WILD Foundation, a multinational NGO based in Boulder, Colorado, is pushing a bold concept called “Nature Needs Half.” In a world in which even the wealthiest governments routinely abdicate their responsibilities toward future generations and the environment, Nature Needs Half has set out an unbelievable challenge: to formally, legally set aside one half of Earth’s land...
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