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...

Go WILD…For a Change

Article originally published in Sanctuary Asia magazine, February 2013, by Vance G. Martin, president of The WILD Foundation “Our climate is on steroids” is the catchy metaphor used by Dr. Gerald Meehl of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in my hometown of Boulder, Colorado. One of those rare scientists with a flair for communication, Dr. Meehl makes a good comparison when he likens greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to steroids in the body of a champion athlete. Steroids alone do not create the champion competitor – rather, they create an enhanced environment in which other factors such as training, diet, and attitude are better able to combine to cause the effect. Similarly, while greenhouse gases in the atmosphere do lead to a rise in temperature, they also, more importantly, create an enhanced situation in which other existing phenomena such as weather patterns like La Nina/El Nino, jet stream fluctuations, etc., can interact in varied and more extreme ways to create what is called climate change.   While this metaphor is apt, it only describes the condition we face, not the cause of it. In response, you might say that the cause of climate change is the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. That is the physical cause, yes, but of course there is something deeper that we need to address, i.e., the human activities that fuel the release of these greenhouse gases, which in turn hasten climate change. Actions such as political awareness, legislation and policy are important, but they still only address the symptoms. If we want to cure the condition, we need to address its cause. To get to the root of this situation (and subsequently create a more effective solution), let’s shift our metaphor to one of illness and cure. The human race is addicted to growth, greed, and...
Boreal Birds Need Half: Maintaining North America’s Bird Nursery and Why It Matters

Boreal Birds Need Half: Maintaining North America’s Bird Nursery and Why It Matters

  The North American Boreal Forest has been dubbed “North America’s Bird Nursery” due to its impressive role in supporting migratory birds. The statistics are astonishing:   –  Between 1-3 billion birds representing more than 300 species flock to the boreal each spring to find summer nesting habitat. –  Once the young have hatched, 3-5 billion birds migrate back south toward their winter habitat—many as close as the U.S. and some as far south as the Tierra del Fuego. –  More than 1 billion of these birds become common wintering birds that can be found throughout the U.S. This new scientific report takes a closer look at this amazing relationship and what we can do to preserve the hundreds of species that intimately rely on this vast, mostly-intact forest. To provide birds the best fighting chance of surviving the duel threats of habitat loss and climate change, at least half of the boreal forest should be protected from industrial development. This continues the ever-growing research concluding that larger, interconnected protected areas are necessary in order to maintain our planet’s amazing collection of biodiversity.   Please visit the Boreal Songbird Initiative website for photos, maps, other supporting graphics, and more information. >> And you can read the full report here: Report: Boreal Birds Need Half: Maintaining North America’s Bird Nursery and Why It Matters    Featured cover image: © Morgan...

Two Yukon First Nations and Two Yukon Environmental Organizations launch Legal Action against Yukon Government to protect Peel River Watershed

  Press Release: Two Yukon First Nations and Two Yukon Environmental Organizations launch Legal Action against Yukon Government to protect Peel River Watershed  January 27, 2014 Introduction:  Vancouver, BC – Today in Vancouver Thomas R. Berger, O.C., Q.C. announced that a lawsuit is being filed against the Yukon Government on behalf of two Yukon First Nations and two Yukon environmental organizations. Berger and his clients, the First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Yukon Chapter (CPAWS Yukon) and the Yukon Conservation Society are launching a legal action to force the Yukon Government to implement a Land Use Plan that would protect 54,000 square kilometres of wilderness in northern Yukon’s Peel River Watershed, against mining and other industrial development. >> Read the full press release: Peel Watershed Media Release Jan 27 2014        ...

Should we set aside half for nature?

  Should we set aside half for nature? Written by: Ian Brown Published by: The Globe and Mail, Oct. 14 2013   Introduction: No one can say Alberta’s oil sands have been an easy child. The bitumen pits fuel a third of Canada’s economy. They also produce some of the world’s most emission-intensive oil, and are responsible for more climate change and environmental stress than conventional oil. That standoff – is today’s revenue worth future ecological disaster? – has been bitter and lasting. The Keystone XL pipeline may be cancelled by environmental protest; ditto Northern Gateway. Conservationists demonize the oil industry, and vice versa. Meanwhile Canada begs the U.S. to buy our dilbit. And over the entire fracas hang the tatters of Canada’s reputation. We’ve devolved from the world’s most visible patch of wilderness to its dirtiest Harry. Into this thicket an Alberta conservationist has thrown a ground-clearing idea. Harvey Locke is a fourth-generation Albertan, a mainstay of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, and the Liberal who almost won Calgary Centre in the last federal election. Mr. Locke was a keynote speaker last week at the 10th World Wilderness Congress in Salamanca, Spain, where he declared that Canada should permanently freeze development on half the Mackenzie River Basin. He also proposed we pay for it with a 1-per-cent levy on every barrel coming out of the oil sands. >> Read the full article:       ...
Social HALF: The Nature Strategy for Sustainability

Social HALF: The Nature Strategy for Sustainability

          Social HALF: The Nature Strategy for Sustainability  Written by: Vance G. Martin and Julie Anton Randall Published in: International Journal of Wilderness, Volume 19, Number 2, August 2013 Introduction:  Social HALF is a concept that bridges the often disparate fields of nature conservation and human development. It is the human dimension complement Nature Needs Half of (NNH) – an aspirational and practical vision of sustainability (Martin 2011; Sylven 2011) based on the scientific information that keeping at least half of wild nature intact and interconnected is vital to ensuring continued life-supporting services to all species. The “half” in nature can be composed of interconnected large land- and seascapes or a connected mosaic of wild nature found in parks, forests, refuges, working lands, and waters managed with conservation as a primary value. NNH is also a cost- efficient and effective means of mitigating climate change by keeping atmosphere-altering chemicals such as carbon, methane, and others safely locked up (WILD 2009). Social HALF is the application of NNH to conceptualize a holistic, inclusive, and rational approach to sustainable development whereby the social and economic needs of human communities are addressed by protecting a specific quantity (at least half) and quality (high-functioning ecosystems and intact biodiversity) of nature. This WILD Foundation working paper, entitled the “Nature Strategy for Sustainability” (NSS), is formulated by a network of nature conservationists and human development practitioners that prioritizes the protection of nature for its fundamental role in alleviating human suffering, enhancing human security, and promoting economic prosperity. When NSS is fully established it will support international guidelines, replicable models, and practical...
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