Panda conservation efforts lead to unexpected losses

August 5, 2020 by  
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Roughly three decades ago, the International Union for Conservation of Nature classified giant pandas as an endangered species. In 2016, giant pandas moved from endangered species to “vulnerable” on the official extinction list. Many conservationists cite successful panda conservation efforts to show that protection measures work. That said, protecting pandas may come at a higher price than expected.  According to a  new study  published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, panda protection efforts may have put other animals at risk, some of which face possible extinction. Created ecosystems that cater to pandas do not provide room for other animals such as leopards, snow leopards, wolves and Asian wild dogs. Consequently, most of these animals have nearly disappeared from protected areas. The lack of predators negatively affects the ecosystem by allowing prey animals to proliferate and damage habitats. The study attributes the animal disappearances to ecosystem shifts influenced by humans’ attempts to create proper homes for pandas. Panda conservation efforts focused on designating areas where pandas and other animals could thrive. Although many species benefited from the initiative, some lost out. The new study proposes enacting measures to ensure a more inclusive ecosystem. Dr. Sheng Li of Peking University, co-author of the study, calls for a holistic approach to wildlife protection. Such efforts will help protect all animals, not just a few species. Li explains that this is “critically needed to better increase the resilience and sustainability of the ecosystems not only for giant pandas but also for other wild species.” The study states that leopards have disappeared from 81% of panda reserves since the panda habitats were established. Meanwhile, snow leopards have disappeared from 38%, wild dogs from 95% and wolves from 77% of the protected areas. Reintroducing these animals is key to keeping the ecosystem balanced. Otherwise, some species may go extinct during attempts to protect others. + Nature Ecology & Evolution Via BBC Image via Pixabay

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Panda conservation efforts lead to unexpected losses

Over 500 new dams planned for protected areas worldwide

August 5, 2020 by  
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A new study published in the journal Conservation Letters has revealed that over 500 new dams are currently being constructed or are planned to be constructed within protected areas. More than 1,200 dams already exist in such areas. In the first global report on dam construction areas, it has been revealed that most governments are bypassing or rolling back laws in order to construct dams in these protected areas. The main concern being raised by the authors of the study is that the people who are mandated with protecting riparian areas are also the ones responsible for invading them. In the EU alone, about 33% of all the proposed dams lie within protected areas. For example, two hydropower projects in Romania pose a danger to Natura 2000 sites. If such constructions are not stopped, the reserved areas, rivers and natural resources around them are at risk. Michele Thieme, lead author of the study and freshwater scientist at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), said, “Rivers are the lifeblood of ecosystems. Any policy that aims to conserve nature must prioritize the free flow of rivers.” Related: Hydropower demand is damaging Indigenous lands The study has established that many governments are redefining boundaries of protected lands to create room for construction . The study points out that if legislation continues being loosened in this manner, it will not be long before the delicate ecosystems in these areas are irreversibly damaged. “The sheer number of dams that are planned within protected areas is alarming,” Thieme warned. “Government and industry policies must prevent the development of dams planned within these areas. The dams that already exist within protected areas should be prioritized for possible removal and the surrounding river systems should be restored.” This study follows another paper that highlighted the impact of dams on ecosystems. A 2019 paper published in Nature revealed that over 65% of long rivers across the world are impeded with dams and other structures. Worse yet, the report established that the construction of dams across major rivers is to blame for a 76% reduction in freshwater migratory fish populations since 1970. Because dams impede the movement of fish upstream for breeding, they have led to a decline in freshwater fish populations significantly. The report is now calling on governments and other stakeholders to stop bypassing and changing laws for short-term gains. Those in authority must protect these areas at all costs to avoid further harm to ecosystems. + Conservation Letters + WWF Image via Hans Linde

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Over 500 new dams planned for protected areas worldwide

One-quarter of UK mammals face threat of extinction

July 31, 2020 by  
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While tigers and elephants regally pose for endangered animal posters, many smaller creatures are fading away unnoticed. Now scientists are bringing attention to the dire outlook for less glamorous native U.K. mammals, claiming that one-quarter of them are at imminent risk of extinction. The scientists put 11 mammals on the U.K.’s first official Red List of endangered species . This list categorizes species according to their conservation status, using internationally agreed upon criteria. Related: Right Whales now ranked as critically endangered species “When we draw all the evidence together — about population size and how isolated and fragmented those populations are — we come up with this list of 11 of our 47 native species being threatened imminently,” Fiona Mathews of the Mammal Society told BBC News. “And there are more species that are categorized as ‘near threatened’.” The study concluded that the Scottish wildcat and the greater mouse-eared bat are the U.K.’s most critically endangered mammals. Beaver, red squirrel, water vole and grey long-eared bats ranked as endangered. The vulnerable category included the hedgehog, hazel dormouse, Orkney vole, Serotine bat and Barbastelle bat . “The three categories of threat — critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable — tell you about the probability of the animal becoming extinct within this imminent timeframe,” Mathews said. The U.K. Red List was produced for official nature agencies of England, Wales and Scotland and has been approved by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature ( IUCN ). The biggest reason for plummeting populations is habitat loss. A 2019 report on U.K. wildlife called the country among the most nature-depleted in the world. Many animal species in the U.K. have decreased by an average of 60% since 1970. Invasive species are another factor. Disease-ridden grey squirrels moved in and killed off endangered red squirrels, who lost more than 60% of their range just in the last 13 years. American mink that escaped from fur farms — and who can blame them — ate many native water voles. Scientists lacked enough information to assess the status of some mammals, including the wild boar and whiskered bat. They assigned five animals into the “near threatened” category, meaning they’re slightly too populous to make the Red List: the mountain hare, harvest mouse, lesser white-toothed shrew, Leisler’s bat and Nathusius’ pipistrelle. Via The Guardian and BBC Image via Peter Trimming

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Verizon, NRG, Oliver Wyman share tips on TCFD scenario planning and reporting

July 21, 2020 by  
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Verizon, NRG, Oliver Wyman share tips on TCFD scenario planning and reporting Aaron Mok Tue, 07/21/2020 – 00:30 More than 1,000 global leaders have implemented recommendations from the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure as part of their climate action plans. But many organizations are still grappling with how, exactly, to do this. TCFD reporting offers a standardized framework for companies to disclose information on climate-related financial risk to their investors and stakeholders who seek greater corporate transparency. The core elements of the TCFD framework include: governance; strategy; risk management; metrics; and targets.  During last week’s GreenBiz webcast “How Businesses Can Overcome Barriers to Achieving Climate Goals,” three corporate sustainability leaders offered insights for how businesses can best adopt TCFD recommendations into their carbon reduction strategies.  In particular, TCFD reporting expands the scope of climate-related financial transparency, considering issues related to both corporate social responsibility and risk management, noted Edwin Anderson, partner with management consulting firm Oliver Wyman. Businesses are exposed to two types of climate risks: physical and transition. Physical risk refers to climate-related events such as natural disasters, while transition risk encompasses the financial costs associated with institutional changes required to decarbonize, Anderson said. In the TCFD framework, these risks are assessed through a climate-scenario analysis, a methodology companies use to set science-based targets in line with their climate goals and to provide insight into climate change’s potential opportunities and risks. Most senior executives are sympathetic to the problems that the world faces, and you have to face the roles and metrics they rely on. Greg Kandankulam, senior manager of sustainability at NRG Energy highlighted the importance of engaging a third-party expert to aid scenario-planning. “Don’t be afraid to get external on your scenario process,” he said during the webcast. “Sometimes, institutional thinking doesn’t provide everything you need.”  Using the TCFD framework, NRG developed its own scenario, then received recommendations from the International Energy Agency and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Kandankulam said. He also emphasized collaboration with individuals on the governance team to increase the likelihood of buy-in.  “Direction from the board and CEO helps,” Kandankulam said. “As the TCFD conversation evolved between 2017-2018, we approached leadership with a body of work and engaged with institutional investors to discuss how important it is, what decision-making is useful, and what stakeholders will be looking for in credibility and disclosure. A collaborative process engenders a greater level of buy-in on a management and executive level.” Emily Bosland, director of ESG reporting and engagement at Verizon, stressed the value gained from speaking to investors during the reporting process.  “We found having very honest, transparent conversations with our investors and governance to be exceptionally helpful,” she said. “Feedback from investors and governance on the report has been entirely positive.” After conducting a scenario analysis with IEA’s assistance, Verizon drew on the TCFD recommendations to include this disclosure in its recent sustainability reporting: “Even with growth in electricity usage, carbon prices and electricity prices, Verizon is resilient in a carbon policy environment that is aligned to 1.5-2 degrees Celsius.” (The company aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035.) Verizon plans to reach its carbon goal by reducing its carbon footprint across all its operations, using tactics such as adopting newer, energy-efficient technologies and optimizing the temperature control of its data centers, Bosland said. At the end of the webcast, speakers shared their closing thoughts on best practices for businesses to adopt the TCFD disclosure recommendations. Bosland reiterated Kandankulam’s advice that receiving outside help is useful if feasible. Likewise, Kandankulam expanded on his previous point about prioritizing internal collaboration, advising listeners, “Start canvassing your companies and start finding those champions — risk, strategy, investor relations, get them to understand why this is important and necessary.” Finally, Anderson underscored the effectiveness of explaining the value of TCFD disclosure to executives through monetary terms. “Pull it back to dollars and cents. Not because it matters most, but because that’s the lever they require to pull,” he said. “Most senior executives are sympathetic to the problems that the world faces, and you have to face the roles and metrics they rely on.” Pull Quote Most senior executives are sympathetic to the problems that the world faces, and you have to face the roles and metrics they rely on. Topics Reporting Climate Change ESG TCFD Climate Strategy Risk Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Where to find eco-friendly engagement and wedding rings

July 16, 2020 by  
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Your engagement and wedding rings are a symbol of your eternal love and commitment to your spouse. If you’re eco-minded, they should also be a testament to your love for and commitment to the planet. So when selecting your metal and gem rings, do so with extra attention to the material origin and manufacturing process. We’ve made it easier with a roundup of some of the best sustainable jewelers. Jewelry-making, at its core, uses natural or eco-friendly materials and sustainable methods, but mass-production has led to pollution , over-harvesting and poor working conditions for thousands of people in the industry. The main issue is the mining process as well as the conflicts common to the areas around mines. As these environmental and humanitarian issues have come to light, a variety of companies have stepped in to do some of the foundational ethical research for you, ensuring you’re making the best wedding ring choice for yourself, your partner and the planet.  Related: How to have a more sustainable wedding Melissa Joy Manning With a Green-certified shop in Berkeley, California and a similar studio in New York City, Melissa Joy Manning is an honorable choice for your wedding rings. Not only is the manufacturing process sustainable, but all products are handmade using recycled precious metals . Packaging is made from recycled materials as well. Plus, carbon offsetting counterbalances any shipping emissions. Ken and Dana Design With each piece handcrafted in NYC, Ken and Dana Design avoids overseas manufacturing and ensures a generous living wage to the workers along the supply chain. All jewelry uses recycled metals to curb the impact caused by sourcing virgin materials. Diamonds are sourced from all Kimberley Process-compliant suppliers, which is a certification system that prohibits the trading of diamonds from conflict regions. Ken and Dana Design also offers Canadian-origin and lab-grown diamonds. A portion of each sale is donated to Earthworks and Cool Effect, organizations aimed at protecting the environment. Couple If diamonds are your dream, Couple.co is a great option for sourcing a ring you know has been thoughtfully made. Each diamond must first be certified by the International Gemological Institute, then only the best are personally selected by the in-house gemologist. For an eco-friendly and 100% ethically sourced and produced option, you can also select lab-grown diamonds. Aurate New York For a combination of minimalist design and high diamond traceability practices, Aurate New York is a solid choice. The gold is 100% recycled, and the company employs a process to ensure each piece is sustainably handmade, casted, polished and perfected in NYC by seventh-generation craftsmen. Plus, for each purchase, the company donates a book to improve literacy efforts across the country. Noémie Another U.S.-based jeweler focused on ethical production, Noémie uses recycled 18K gold and conflict-free certified diamonds. Plus it provides free overnight shipping and returns and a lifetime warranty, and it boasts IGI Diamond Certification. Do Amore Diamond-sourcing is a hot button issue due to the violence in some of these areas. While the Kimberley Process is a great start in avoiding diamonds from conflict areas, it’s not a foolproof indicator. Do Amore recognizes this and takes the process further to ensure safe worker conditions by purchasing all diamonds directly from Diamond Sightholders, who are held to strict sourcing and employee treatment standards. In addition, all rings are made from recycled precious metals, handmade in the U.S. and packaged sans plastic in wood boxes made from sustainable Jarrah trees. MiaDonna All MiaDonna rings are made in the U.S. using lab-developed diamonds and recycled metals. One tree is planted through the Nature Conservatory to carbon-offset each shipment, and the company is dedicated to the protection and reconstruction of areas damaged by the mining process. The company has also been awarded the Green America Seal of Approval, which is best expressed by MiaDonna itself with the statement, “We believe in transparency. As an advocate for diamond mining communities, global societies and the Earth, we are putting a modern twist on an outdated industry.” Erica Weiner If vintage describes your dream ring, check out the unique and expansive collection from Erica Weiner . In addition to offering the flair you desire, going vintage means eliminating the need for virgin materials, making it one of the most sustainable options for eco-friendly wedding jewelry . Catering to all preferences, the company also has handmade options made from recycled materials in contemporary designs. Aide-mémoire Jewelry If your desire to be earth-conscious is combined with a goal to support the LBGTQ+ community, Aide-mémoire Jewelry may be the option you’re looking for. As an “all-inclusive, queer woman-owned small business in Seattle, Washington,” the company designs its jewelry with recycled precious metals and lab-grown, conflict-free diamonds, then places each order in recyclable and compostable packaging. The company also contributes to Lambda Legal, an organization that supports the LBGTQ+ community, and Higher Heights, which supports Black female politicians. Bario Neal Designers Anna Bario and Page Neal set out to share more than beautiful jewelry. “Disillusioned by industry standards that turned a blind eye to metal and gemstone mining’s environmental and human tolls,” the duo creates rings with a commitment to social justice and environmental sustainability. Bario Neal supports LGBTQ+ rights and worldwide marriage equality, and all items are handmade in the Bario Neal Philadelphia studio. Both diamonds and colorful stones are fully traceable, and according to the company, “Fairmined metals are extracted by empowered and responsible small-scale and artisanal miners.” Images via Ken and Dana Design, MiaDonna, Bario Neal and Noémie

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Where to find eco-friendly engagement and wedding rings

Earth Day 2020 goes digital

March 19, 2020 by  
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Earth Day will take a surprising turn this year by relocating to the internet. Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, events for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 will be digital. “At Earth Day Network, the health and safety of volunteers and participants in Earth Day events is our top concern,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network. “Amid the recent outbreak, we encourage people to rise up but to do so safely and responsibly — in many cases, that means using our voices to drive action online rather than in person.” Related: How Earth Day began and how it helps the planet To keep track of the global Earth Day conversation across several digital platforms, participants will use the hashtags #EarthDay2020 and #EarthRise. Interested people can follow Earth Day Network’s social media accounts (@earthdaynetwork) for live coverage. Individuals and groups may also participate in environment-related online teach-ins, virtual protests and social media campaigns. Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day in 1970 after a devastating oil spill off the Santa Barbara coast. He wanted to capture the energy of the student antiwar movement to shift public awareness and policy around the environment . His coalition originally chose April 22 because it fell between spring break and final exams. At the first Earth Day, 20 million Americans, or 10% of the country’s population at that time, participated in events related to environmental science. “Our current pandemic demonstrates that governments must embrace science early,” Rogers said. “As we see now, many governments were slow to respond or even indifferent about the science of the coronavirus pandemic. But the last few weeks have also demonstrated that our society, even at the international level, is capable of mass shifts across all sectors to meet a crisis head-on. We must apply the same scale and urgency of our response to climate change .” Because the pandemic is affecting regions in different ways, some people might choose in-person gatherings to celebrate Earth Day. People should take precautions and check current guidelines from the World Health Organization before planning or attending gatherings. + Earth Day Image via NASA

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25 badass women shaking up the climate movement in 2020

March 6, 2020 by  
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In honor of International Women’s Day, we recognize courageous executives, investor advocates and policy visionaries who are role models for any gender.

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25 badass women shaking up the climate movement in 2020

Ice rink alternatives and their environmental impact

January 3, 2020 by  
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Ice rinks are an important fixture of winter sports, whether for ice hockey, speed skating, curling, ice dancing or figure skating. But with growing concerns about global warming , water scarcity and our planet’s climate crisis , even the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and the National Hockey League (NHL) have been considering the environmental issues related to coordinating ice sports events and ensuring energy consumption and rink-operating costs are feasible. As a result, there is now a movement towards utilizing synthetic ice on ice rinks. The first historical mention of a skating club’s founding was in 1642 in Edinburgh, Scotland. As skating clubs grew, they inspired inventors to create artificial ice surfaces, so the rink would not be at the whim of the weather. By 1843, a Punch magazine article featured the first artificial ice rink, “not of frozen water but of a slush of chemicals including hog’s lard and melted sulphur, which smelled abominably.” That was followed by the growing popularity of ice hockey from the 1880s onward, which increased the demand for more rink construction. When the 1890s rolled around, the rush to patent ice rink surfaces began and has not abated since. Related: 5 sustainable activities to make the most of a winter wonderland Rinks have long required both ice-making technical equipment and ice maintenance measures. Unfortunately, contemporary ice-making and maintenance technologies consume large amounts of energy and produce refrigerant gases that cause pollution , making them environmentally harmful. During the most recent determination of the NHL’s total carbon footprint , it was estimated to emit 530,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases , an amount rivaling the yearly emissions from 110,000 cars, says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Which refrigerant gases are linked to present-day ice rinks? The main refrigerants associated with most ice-making equipment include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), hydrocarbons, ammonia and carbon dioxide. CFCs and HCFCs are synthetic gases attributed to ozone layer destruction. HFCs heighten the greenhouse effect, while carbon dioxide similarly intensifies global warming. Plus, ammonia, when inhaled, aggressively causes irreversible respiratory damage. And hydrocarbons, like propane and isobutane, are highly combustible, often exacerbating smog formation. Hence, each of these gases adversely affects the environment.  Of course, as ice rink technology advances, many refrigerants are under a phase-out schedule, especially in Canada, due to the Montreal Protocol terms. Additionally, Canadian Consulting Engineer magazine reported: “Since 2010, no new HCFCs equipment have been manufactured in Canada or imported,” though extant ones are still in use today. Even with ammonia and carbon dioxide as the main refrigerants of choice for the majority of today’s ice rinks, they still have their attendant issues as well. For example, whereas ammonia may be a primary refrigerant, it is often utilized concurrently with brine to keep the rinks cold. The brine entails that this secondary fluid is high in salinity, having had salt added to boost its cooling properties. This highly saline secondary fluid, if leaked, can pose serious environmental damage. Meanwhile, despite “some rinks add[ing] ordinary salt to the water to keep them from freezing,” Wondergy documents, “most modern rinks now add ethylene glycol.” Ethylene glycol is a type of antifreeze, and it is highly toxic . Again, its leakage would be harmful to the environment, poisoning living organisms, their habitats and ecosystems . Other negative impacts of ice rinks include greenhouse gas emissions of carbon dioxide. For instance, CO2Meter reported that to shift away from coolants like HFCs and other fluorinated gases, some ice rinks have been using carbon dioxide-based refrigeration systems as their primary refrigerant. Carbon dioxide is a better alternative, though its use still contributes to global warming. Likewise, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has cataloged that other noxious emissions, such as high nitrogen dioxide levels and carbon monoxide, are being released by indoor ice rinks due to ice resurfacers, such as Zamboni rink vehicles. The EPA website states, “In enclosed ice arenas, a primary source of indoor air concerns is the release of combustion pollutants such as carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM) into the indoor air from the exhaust of fuel-fired ice resurfacers.” This assertion is supported by an Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) study , which shares that “nearly 40% of the rinks surveyed worldwide could be exceeding the World Health Organization’s 1-hour exposure guideline value for nitrogen dioxide in indoor air, with higher percentages of rinks exceeding this value in the US (55%) and Canada (46%). High nitrogen dioxide levels have been associated with respiratory problems such as severe coughs, chest pain and pulmonary edema.” Additionally, the same EDF study addresses carbon monoxide risks from ice rinks, citing that “High carbon monoxide levels can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and impaired performance. At the levels of carbon monoxide typically found in indoor rinks, fast breathing from skating or hockey can produce adverse health effects.” The combination of ice-making, ice-maintenance and ice-resurfacing factors pose harmful health consequences for those who frequent ice arenas and rinks. For these reasons, ice arenas and rinks are turning to synthetic ice as an alternative. Xtraice, a company known for building and distributing synthetic ice for rinks, says that synthetic ice’s significant advantages are that it doesn’t use water and thus doesn’t waste energy on ice-making or ice-maintenance. Rather, it eliminates the cost of water and electricity that traditional ice rinks contend with. Besides, a synthetic ice rink can be used 24/7 without having to be re-surfaced in the same way real ice does. Xtraice explains further that synthetic ice rinks “are cleaner and do not require big noisy generators and best of all, they do not emit CO2 into the atmosphere.” What’s the catch? Synthetic ice is mainly composed of high-density polyethylene panels. Polyethylene is the most common plastic on the market. Critics of plastic ice worry about the environmental implications of the microplastics that could be released as skates erode the synthetic ice surface and create shavings and abrasions, which, when brushed or cleaned off of the rink, would likely be dumped in the refuse bin. From there, they could find their way into waterways and oceans , polluting the environment. Accordingly, ice rinks can be viewed as a sustainability conundrum, at least for the time being. Traditional ice rinks have noise, energy waste and pollution costs. And their alternative, the synthetic ice rink, while resolving those issues, still generate other environmental concerns surrounding microplastic and plastic detriments. Only time will tell how the ice rink will evolve to become more eco-friendly. Via Xtraice and New York Times Images via Jimmy Chan , Suzy Hazelwood , Pixabay , and Lina Kivaka

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BIG plans unveiled for pedestrian paradise in Downtown Brooklyn

January 3, 2020 by  
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After nearly a year of research, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and WXY Studio have unveiled their visions for improving Downtown Brooklyn — a 370-acre urban district with updated streetscapes, plazas, and public spaces. Commissioned by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, the Downtown Brooklyn Public Realm Vision includes a comprehensive study of the urban district’s existing conditions as well as a bold, long-term design vision for making the area more inclusive, inviting, and safer for pedestrians and cyclists. The Downtown Brooklyn Public Realm Vision was created in response to Downtown Brooklyn’s unprecedented growth over the last fifteen years since its 2004 rezoning. The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership tapped WXY Studio and BIG, who worked in collaboration with Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects and Sam Schwartz Engineering, to create a comprehensive study and implementation plan. This plan is intended to help unify the growing mixed-use area and meet the needs of the diverse community, which is expected to welcome 50,000 additional residents by 2025. “The Plan draws upon the District’s existing conditions, systems, land uses and policies to create a bold design vision that is uniquely Brooklyn, provides a greener, safer pedestrian and bicycle experience, and unlocks projects, initiatives and pilots for a more vibrant public realm,” BIG explained in a project statement. “Downtown Brooklyn Public realm is re-animated into a playful environment largely focused on the pedestrian experience. A place where residents, workers and visitors can enjoy gathering outdoors, practice sports and celebrate the diverse culture of Downtown Brooklyn.” Related: Reclaimed NYC water towers are upcycled into a NEST playscape in Brooklyn To visually unify the updated streetscapes, the architects have proposed a distinct yellow-orange color palette for the mixed-use area that will be applied to the bike paths, street furniture, and planters. Greenery and public art have also been woven throughout the pedestrian-friendly design. + BIG + WXY Studio Images via BIG

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Animal rights groups work to "Open Cages" of animals on fur farms

December 24, 2019 by  
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The fashion industry has recently experienced a rise in fur bans , thanks to successful pressure by animal rights advocacy groups and heightened consumer awareness. But these fur-free policies also need to extend beyond the haute couture sector to change the agriculture industry as well. This is where the work of organizations like Tušti Narvai and Open Cages come into play. In 2014, Tušti Narvai, which translates from Lithuanian as Empty Cages, was founded in Vilnius. Its English branch, Open Cages, was then established in the U.K. four years later. As their names symbolize, both sister nonprofit organizations strive to “change the world for animals” by strengthening the protection of farmed animals , improving animal welfare and preventing their suffering. In fact, one of the key projects by Tušti Narvai and Open Cages is to end fur farms. The groups do so by mobilizing the public through education and legal change. Related: Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s to be fur-free by 2021 But who are Tušti Narvai and Open Cages? These organizations are members of Anima International (AI) , a coalition of European animal protection advocacy groups that “envisions a world where animals are not treated as products.” Both sister organizations have been conducting several campaigns to better the situation of farm animals by minimizing animal cruelty and demanding compelling change. These campaigns include the improvement of chicken welfare, the elimination of cages in industrial farming, the ban on foie gras and fur bans. Learn more about these campaigns here . The fur ban has been gaining traction within the fashion industry , in many ways due to the ongoing and very visible anti-fur movement by various animal rights groups. Tušti Narvai and Open Cages have jointly added to that momentum. In Great Britain alone, Open Cages has implemented the #FurFreeBritain campaign, together with the Humane Society International (U.K.). It is projected that the ban on fur will adversely alter the supply chain, therefore reducing incidences of unnecessary animal torture and mortality that stem from cramped living spaces, malnourishment, neglect and even brutality. For instance, Open Cages shared an exposé on a fox that was recently saved from a fur farm. “Now he lives happily in a sanctuary and is an ambassador of this cruel industry,” says the Open Cages website. Scientific American and the International Fur Trade Federation (IFTF) have stated that the majority of the fur industry’s pelts are now sourced from farm-raised animals, specifically mink, fox, chinchilla, lynx, muskrat and coyotes. Moreover, most of the remaining fur farms in the world can be found in Europe. These facts are what motivate the work of Tušti Narvai and Open Cages. From now until December 31, for every 10 euros in donations to the fur ban initiative, an anonymous sponsor will match them by $100. The campaign efforts are all to help in the fight against fur farms. In the words of Tušti Narvai, “Together, we can change the fate of animals kept on farms.” + Tušti Narvai + Open Cages Image via Clem Onojeghuo

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Animal rights groups work to "Open Cages" of animals on fur farms

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