An underwater forest of sculptures attracts marine life in the Mediterranean Sea

August 18, 2021 by  
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Environmental activist and artist Jason deCaires Taylor specializes in site-specific sculptural artwork that’s installed permanently underwater and reflects modern themes of  conservation . The artist’s latest project brings him to Ayia Napa, a Mediterranean town on the southeast coast of Cyprus. Titled “Musan,” the art installation is an underwater forest located 8 to 10 meters below the Mediterranean Sea, just 200 meters off the coast of Ayia Napa. Completed in 2021, the underwater forest consists of 93 sculptural art pieces depicting nature and  trees  meant to be consumed and colonized by marine biomass. Related: Explore eerie wonders at the Museum of Underwater Art Perhaps most importantly, the pieces are designed to attract marine life on a large scale; the sculptures themselves are meant to develop organically and interact with their surroundings indefinitely. As time goes on, the pieces will provide food and shelter for a variety of marine creatures, all while serving as a reminder of the connection between humans, the natural world and  art . Additionally, the project references the depletion of marine life in the Mediterranean Sea, as the underwater forest area will replace a previously barren stretch of sand within a marine protected area. Eventually, the site will be accessible to divers and snorkelers. To create variety among the  sculptures , they are placed at different depths ranging from 8 to 10 meters below the water’s surface, laid out to resemble a path through a forest. Differing in height and shape, the “trees” will provide a complex environment for the marine life in the area, while the sculpture materials are pH neutral to attract a more diverse variety of marine flora and fauna. Images of children playing complement the trees, a reference to our need to be included in the wild places that once existed. + Jason deCaires Taylor Images © MUSAN / @JasondeCairesTaylor / Costas Constantinou

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An underwater forest of sculptures attracts marine life in the Mediterranean Sea

Upper Los Angeles River Plan wins award for inclusive, sustainable design

August 4, 2021 by  
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The influential Upper Los Angeles River and Tributaries Revitalization Plan (ULART) has earned the prestigious global 2021 AZ Award from Azure Magazine for its plan to “recalibrate natural urban waterways by deploying nature-based solutions to create new community space and help rectify decades of neglect.” In an international competition commissioned by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA), the ULART plan by Studio-MLA stood out for its comprehensive vision for 300-plus project site opportunities for the Upper Los Angeles River and its tributaries, taking the win in the Urban Design Visions category of the competition. The competition received over 1,200 project entries from 57 countries in the 10 designated categories. Related: Jiangyin urban development by BAU honors humans, history and the planet The design addresses the needs of underprivileged populations up and down the L.A. waterways and aims to reverse trends of paving natural spaces, instead planning for green beltways. “This integrated response to climate change via new green infrastructure , as well as the social infrastructure for renewed equity in cities, is urgently needed,” said AZ Award juror Marc Ryan of Toronto-based design firm Public Work. The ULART Plan is led by Los Angeles Councilmember Monica Rodriguez, Sarah Rascon of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority on behalf of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, and Mía Lehrer from landscape architecture firm Studio-MLA. This combination of interests and skills culminated into a plan that supports local communities and the environment. “It was a privilege to lead this effort that begins to address environmental justice issues in communities that have historically suffered from underinvestment. The plan identifies over 300 opportunity sites for open-space amenities accessible to over 625,000 residents who live within a half mile of the river tributaries,” said Councilmember Rodriguez, the ULART Chair.  Rascon, environmental equity officer for MRCA, said the team relied on input from a variety of local representatives of municipalities, community leaders, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and elected officials from throughout the Upper Los Angeles River watershed area. Delegates represented six cities throughout Los Angeles County, as well as dozens of Los Angeles city neighborhoods in the Upper Los Angeles River watershed . In addition to the contributions for human recreation, the plan works in conjunction with natural systems to address the historic droughts in the area. It includes the potential capture of 8,695 acre-feet of stormwater per year. Jan Dyer, principal and director of the Infrastructure Division at Studio-MLA said, “The ULART plan also provides over 1,000 miles of shaded green streets and trails, while preserving and enhancing over 6,000 acres of urban wildlife ecology.” + Studio-MLA Images by Studio-MLA and MRCA via v2com

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Upper Los Angeles River Plan wins award for inclusive, sustainable design

Sierra Nevada red fox to be listed as an endangered species

August 4, 2021 by  
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The Sierra Nevada red fox is to be listed as an endangered species following a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday. The slender, bushy-tailed fox is one of the rarest mammals in the U.S., and its population has been threatened since the 1970s. According to the federal wildlife officials, the population of the red foxes has dropped to just 40 in an area stretching from Lake Tahoe to the south of Yosemite National Park in California. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a ruling that the foxes in the part of the Sierra Nevada south of Tahoe are “in danger of extinction throughout all of its range”. While the agency has admitted not having a clear number of the remaining animals , it is estimated that just about 40 are left within their range in California. Related: Critically endangered bird found alive in Hawaii “While the exact number remains unknown and is also subject to change with new births and deaths , it is well below population levels that would provide resiliency, redundancy and representation to the population,” the agency said in a statement. Several threats have been identified as the main causes of declining numbers for the red foxes. Among them are wildfires, drought and competition in coyotes. They are also threatened due to increased breeding with non-native foxes. Another factor that has affected their population is climate change . About 20 years ago, some scientists declared the red fox extinct in the Sierra Nevada region; this changed when a small pack resurfaced in 2010. California banned the trapping of red foxes in 1974, a situation that has remained to date. There have been several attempts to get the Sierra Nevada red foxes recognized as endangered species in the past without success. The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the federal government to protect the animals in 2011 and filed a lawsuit in 2013 and 2019. In 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to have the foxes listed as endangered. The Sierra Nevada red fox is among the 10 North American subspecies of the red fox. With a small dog-like body, this red fox measures just 3.5 feet long and has long, pointed ears and a large tail. Via The Guardian Lead image via USFWS Pacific Southwest Region

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China removes giant pandas from endangered species list

July 12, 2021 by  
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Giant pandas are no longer endangered, according to an announcement made by the Chinese government. The number of pandas in the wild in China has reached 1,800; this doesn’t include those in captivity or protected shelters. Consequently, the animals are no longer endangered, but are still vulnerable. In 2016, the International Union for Nature Conservation removed giant pandas from the endangered species list, classifying them as vulnerable. China has now followed suit, due to an increase in giant panda numbers in the country. Related: Panda conservation efforts lead to unexpected losses In a statement, Cui Shuhong, head of the Department of Nature and Ecology Conservation in the Ministry of Environment, said the reclassification is due to improved living conditions. He also pointed out that these results come from China’s efforts to restore giant panda habitats. Earlier, experts opposed declaring giant pandas no longer endangered , arguing that such a move would spur complacence. As a result, China maintained the “vulnerable” status for its pandas even after being delisted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Besides giant pandas, the Chinese government has also reported significant improvement in Siberian Tiger , Amur leopard, Asian elephant, and crested ibis numbers. The government says that all these improvements are due to conservation efforts. The news has been celebrated on social media . One post read, “It shows all the efforts have been paid off. Well done,” while another noted, “It’s a good start indeed, but there are still threats to these species. Do not relax.” Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, “the concept that lush mountains and clear water are worth their weight in gold and silver has taken root among the public in China. We stand ready to work with all sides to strengthen international cooperation in ecological preservation and environmental management to jointly.” Despite these improvements, the pandas still face long-term threats. According to the IUCN, climate change could destroy about 35% of their bamboo habitats in 80 years. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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World’s longest wildlife bridge could become reality across the Mississippi River

July 2, 2021 by  
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A proposal to repurpose the bridge connecting Iowa and Illinois across the Mississippi River into a national park and wildlife crossing has gained traction. Headed by the Bison Bridge Foundation, the proposal seeks to turn the commuter bridge into a wildlife-crossing pathway, allowing the animals to roam freely between Iowa and Illinois. The proposal, which was officially unveiled to the public on March 18, 2021, has already attracted over 27,000 signatures out of the 50,000 signatures needed. Supporters are lobbying locals to back the project in a bid to stop the demolition of the bridge , instead repurposing it into the longest human-made wildlife bridge in the world. Related: $87M wildlife bridge in California will be a haven for mountain lions The Fred Schwengel Memorial Bridge on I-80 has served the residents of the Quad Cities for over 55 years now. It currently serves thousands of vehicles each day, connecting five cities adjacent to the river. Quad Cities is a 380,000-person metropolitan area that spans over the states of Iowa and Illinois on either side of the Mississippi River . The five cities that make up the area include Bettendorf, Davenport, Moline, East Moline and Rock Island. Besides saving the state of Illinois millions of dollars in demolition costs, repurposing it could draw tourists to the region. The resulting national park would be the first in both states. The Bison Bridge, as the proposal is known, was first suggested by a local conservationist and the president and founder of Living Lands & Waters, Chad Pregracke. Pregracke is recognized for his efforts in conserving the Mississippi River. He spends months every year living on barges and cleaning up the river . Pregracke first proposed the idea four years ago, and it was immediately loved by the locals and is now being considered by the Illinois government. “It’s a fantastic idea, a heck of a vision,” said Kevin Marchek, who worked for over 39 years at the Illinois Department of Transportation. “We’ve just got to keep pushing this until it comes to fruition.” According to the proposal, the bridge would be turned into a multipurpose crossing way, serving pedestrians, cyclists and motorists while at the same time providing a safe pathway for wildlife . An enclosed bison paddock would allow herds of large wildlife to roam across the park between Iowa and Illinois. Jason Baldes, member of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and Tribal Partnerships – Tribal Bison Coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation, said that the project would help restore forgotten American history. “The bison was known as the life commissary for my grandmas and grandpas,” Baldes said. “It was food, clothing, shelter, and was also central to our cultural and spiritual belief systems. … It’s not only important to Native American tribes, but it’s important to the American people to at least have an opportunity to learn about this history.” + Bison Bridge Foundation Via Good News Network Image via Bison Bridge Foundation

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World’s longest wildlife bridge could become reality across the Mississippi River

Drones eradicate rat invaders from Galapagos

July 2, 2021 by  
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Visitors to the  Galapagos  Islands learn about the island’s fragile ecosystem and the need to protect the lives of its endemic animals. But not every animal life is sacrosanct on these islands just 600 miles off Ecuador’s west coast. Certain rodents that start with pointy snouts and end with skinny, sparsely-haired tails are not welcome. Now, thanks to drone technology, rats have been eradicated from the Galapagos. Rats first hitched a ride to the Galapagos on ships visiting in the 19th and 20th centuries. Winding up in a place where they faced no natural predators was like winning the rat lottery. The rodents quickly got busy eating eggs and nestlings and gnawing on and eating the seeds of rare plants. According to  Island Conservation , rats contributed to the  extinction  of 86% of the Galapagos’ wildlife. Related: As temperatures increase, so do rat populations The recent drone activity isn’t the first time people have tried to wipe rats off the face of the islands. But this is the first time it seems to have worked. Starting in 2019, the Galapagos National Park began dropping rat bait made by Bell Laboratories from  drones  equipped with dispersal buckets. Now, Seymour Norte Island and Mosquera Islet are rat-free. More bait was left in stations along the coastline, in case a rat army rallies and attempts to recapture the island. “After two years of waiting, we can declare these islands are free of rodents,” Danny Rueda, director of the Galapagos National Park, said in a statement. “This project has given the expected results, according to the planning and according to the highest protocols for these cases. Galapagos, once again, is a benchmark in terms of the protection of this globally important  ecosystem .” While inventors started fooling around with the great-great-grandmothers of drones in the early 1900s, modern drones careened into public awareness in the 1990s. Now, drones are used to monitor ecosystems and  wildlife  in many ways, including detecting illegal deforestation in the Amazon rainforest and checking on dolphin health by collecting spray from their blowholes. “Almost every  conservation  organization I work with is using drones now, in one way or another,” said biologist and drone expert Serge Wich, as reported by  Nature . Via EcoWatch , Island Conservation Images via Island Conservation, credit Andrew Wright

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Drones eradicate rat invaders from Galapagos

Drones eradicate rat invaders from Galapagos

July 2, 2021 by  
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Visitors to the  Galapagos  Islands learn about the island’s fragile ecosystem and the need to protect the lives of its endemic animals. But not every animal life is sacrosanct on these islands just 600 miles off Ecuador’s west coast. Certain rodents that start with pointy snouts and end with skinny, sparsely-haired tails are not welcome. Now, thanks to drone technology, rats have been eradicated from the Galapagos. Rats first hitched a ride to the Galapagos on ships visiting in the 19th and 20th centuries. Winding up in a place where they faced no natural predators was like winning the rat lottery. The rodents quickly got busy eating eggs and nestlings and gnawing on and eating the seeds of rare plants. According to  Island Conservation , rats contributed to the  extinction  of 86% of the Galapagos’ wildlife. Related: As temperatures increase, so do rat populations The recent drone activity isn’t the first time people have tried to wipe rats off the face of the islands. But this is the first time it seems to have worked. Starting in 2019, the Galapagos National Park began dropping rat bait made by Bell Laboratories from  drones  equipped with dispersal buckets. Now, Seymour Norte Island and Mosquera Islet are rat-free. More bait was left in stations along the coastline, in case a rat army rallies and attempts to recapture the island. “After two years of waiting, we can declare these islands are free of rodents,” Danny Rueda, director of the Galapagos National Park, said in a statement. “This project has given the expected results, according to the planning and according to the highest protocols for these cases. Galapagos, once again, is a benchmark in terms of the protection of this globally important  ecosystem .” While inventors started fooling around with the great-great-grandmothers of drones in the early 1900s, modern drones careened into public awareness in the 1990s. Now, drones are used to monitor ecosystems and  wildlife  in many ways, including detecting illegal deforestation in the Amazon rainforest and checking on dolphin health by collecting spray from their blowholes. “Almost every  conservation  organization I work with is using drones now, in one way or another,” said biologist and drone expert Serge Wich, as reported by  Nature . Via EcoWatch , Island Conservation Images via Island Conservation, credit Andrew Wright

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This luxury yacht runs on 100% renewable energy

July 2, 2021 by  
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For those who enjoy yachting, there’s nothing better than long stretches of propulsion across the water while you take in the sea and scenery. Except perhaps if you get to experience the newest Sunreef 80 Eco, an electric luxury ride that’s silent and sustainable. Sunreef Yachts developed a thin, highly efficient solar cell system that mounts completely flush to all surfaces of the boat, including masts, hull sides and bimini tops. The expected capacity of the system is 34 kWp energy, which is stored in ultralight lithium batteries until needed. Related: Isaac Burrough unveils solar-powered luxury yacht concept “We reinvented solar panels for yachts . Our team has challenged the status quo in marine photovoltaic technology, making solar panels an integral part of the Sunreef Yachts Eco design. This is something unique in the whole yachting world,” said Francis Lapp, founder and president of Sunreef Yachts. In addition to the solar panels, the yacht also produces energy through wind turbines , which seems like a natural addition as wind is a natural byproduct of moving through the water. Below the surface, the boat creates additional energy through hydropower from propeller rotations capable of generating over 15 kWh at about seven knots. All of these systems work together to provide quiet sailing with no range limitations because the energy to run both the propulsion and appliances of the Sunreef 80 Eco is renewable during travel. The processes also produce enough energy to power the water toys and the tender. Systems such as air conditioning, water makers and kitchen appliances that require power are designed to be energy-efficient .   The Sunreef 80 Eco is equipped with two electric motors that produce no pollution , fumes or vibrations, regardless of the trip distance. In addition to providing an environmentally guilt-free ride as one of the most energy-efficient luxury yachts on the planet, the boat is completely customizable with endless interior and feature options. Sunreef Yachts takes its commitment to the planet seriously with interior furnishings and hard finishes that meet stringent sustainability standards. The company expects a full release of Sunreef 80 Eco this summer.  + Sunreef Yachts Via Yanko Design Images via Sunreef Yachts

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Eco Method Interiors marries environmental science and design

July 2, 2021 by  
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Traditional construction, home improvement and interior design are fraught with  waste , chemicals and carbon release. But they don’t have to be. Erica Reiner, an eco-friendly interior designer in Los Angeles and founder of Eco Method Interiors, has built her business around creating beautiful, welcoming spaces that are healthy for people and the planet. Reiner brings an interesting background to the profession, with educational and practical experience in interior decorating as well as a degree in environmental science and a Master’s of Marine Science and Management. At first, Reiner says she kept the two practices separate until she found a focus on the  environment  and the indoors could go hand in hand. Related: WELL-designed home eliminates toxins from interior textiles Reiner told Inhabitat, “I studied, worked, and lectured all in the environmental field prior to this business. I did a decorating certificate for fun between environmental degrees before realizing I could start a business. At first, I offered sustainability consulting and design separately while building my portfolio, before realizing how dirty the industry was, and realizing that I could marry the two pieces of my identity and passions together in one business.” Now well established in L.A. and across the country, Reiner provides virtual consulting, event decorating and full-service  interior design  with a specialty in removing toxic cleaning supplies and finding sustainable, eco-friendly furniture and textile options. She also hosts a popular podcast called “Green By Design,” which focuses on ways clients and design professionals can create sustainable design.  Although Reiner has worked in the business for several years, she shared her excitement over the increasing awareness of and interest in environmentally-friendly products. “In [the past] 5-7 years there’s been a huge increase in overall awareness, self-education and concern. For reference, in 2006 when I finished my prerequisites and chose my major in environmental studies for undergrad, most of the population I came across didn’t even understand what that meant,” she said. For Reiner, projects naturally come together after seeing the space and talking with the clients. She vets vendors for greenwashing saying, “We do everything from reading their website, emailing them for clarity, asking for their certification documentation or anything I feel we need for clarity. I don’t have a simple process for detecting greenwashing. It’s often just a little alarm that goes off in the way the product or material is described. Often legit companies who are proud of their efforts go into detail and have clear information accessible. Some companies, even if they don’t promote their practices, once asked can provide clear information. Companies that greenwash often use language to try to sound good, but with my background in ES academia I know it doesn’t make sense.” Reiner’s current project is a complete 9,000-square-foot house in Brentwood for a Hollywood family concerned about toxicities in the home. With this in mind, Reiner and the owners have relied on green manufacturing to custom-build sofas, beds, rugs and even wallpaper.  Her portfolio is varied, with large and small projects, residential and commercial spaces, and geographically dispersed locations. A few are highlighted below. Office and clubhouse in San Antonio, TX This project incorporated  recycled  paper countertops, furniture and art pieces made from reclaimed wood, non-toxic wallpaper, recycled PET area rugs and pre-loved books and accessories. Master bedroom and entryway in West Los Angeles, CA  To make the space cozy and environmentally friendly, Reiner included striking tables made from recycled  wood  beams. She also created a statement wall with FSC wallpaper free of toxins and made using low-impact dye. The rooms are accented with artwork, rugs, bedding and baskets made from natural fibers and organic materials. It also features vegetable-tanned leather chairs, recycled glass vases and  energy-efficient  lighting. Nursery in Manhattan Beach, CA This small, 168-square-foot nursery creates a big visual impact but a small environmental footprint with the use of organic bedding and a GOTS-certified area rug. The client chose to forgo the chemical-laden fire retardant in the nursing chairs and had a crib custom built to ensure it was made with FSC wood and low-toxin adhesives and finishes. Playroom, Los Angeles, CA Kids need space to play. While these clients wanted to look out for the health of children in the space, they also wanted to pay attention to the health of the planet by avoiding waste and upcycling where possible. To this end, they selected non-toxic throw pillow inserts, an upcycled cotton scrap area rug and a pre-owned, vintage coffee table. The space is also adorned with VOC-free paint and 100% linen curtains. Apartment, Austin, TX Recycled materials, especially those from the local area, give this apartment high ratings for low impact. To accomplish this, Reiner included pre-loved furniture and pieces with GreenGuard Certification. The space also features pillows and a rug made from recycled plastic and a wall specifically for locally sourced art. While Eco Method Interiors can help you sustainably makeover your space, Reiner mentions that there are fewer barriers than ever in creating a space you love without hurting the environment. She recommends researching online, reading books on sustainable interior design , of course listening to her podcast, and perhaps setting up an online e-design session to see how she can help. + Eco Method Interiors Images via Eco Method Interiors

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Eco Method Interiors marries environmental science and design

Verdi creates home dcor from natural fibers and metal

July 1, 2021 by  
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Interior design is a culmination of many things, not the least of which is culture. Mix in the desire for sustainable, fair-trade textiles and other decorations that are made from non-toxic materials and you’ll find a Colombian company called Verdi, rich in history yet innovative in design. Verdi began in 1995 when Carlos Vera Dieppa began exploring techniques to make unique rugs and later developed his own looms. Following his death, his son and daughter took the torch and launched Verdi in his name (VERa DIeppa). The company now specializes in fique and metal rugs, organic silk cushions, plantain-fiber and copper-thread curtains, textiles, tableware and silver-plated handbags among other handwoven items. Related: Cariloha luxury textiles use organic, sustainable bamboo The newest release is called AES, which is Latin for rough bronze, and once again highlights the company’s passion for interweaving natural fibers with lineal metal. This rug collection is made up of ethically sourced alpaca fleece, plantain fibers and solid bronze plates. The resulting designs are not only original and handmade but also represent sustainable manufacturing. To avoid toxic dyes that pose a danger to workers and the environment, Verdi developed its own eco-friendly options. The company is dedicated to harvesting fibers in a sustainable way by only removing external leaves of the plants during the collection of fique fiber. Fiber and textile waste are looped back into the system as part of new pieces, as samples or as decorations in the office. Verdi also eliminates pattern waste by reusing acrylic patterns. The company is built on three pillars of home, fashion and art, yet all products are made with the environment in mind. Verdi relies on natural materials at the core of each design and acts sustainably in its fair-trade manufacturing with 30 skilled artisans that represent generations of inherited craftsmanship. In addition, the company sources its main fibers close to home, supporting at least 19 farming families in the process. Verdi is involved in at least a half-dozen social and environmental initiatives. + Verdi Images via Verdi

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