Jane Goodall and conservationists move to obtain bear hunting licences in Wyoming

July 19, 2018 by  
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Grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park are in danger as Wyoming opens up its first bear hunt since the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973. Wildlife conservationists working alongside famed animal rights champion and educator Jane Goodall have raised over $28,000 online for their campaign “Shoot’em with a Camera, Not a Gun,” which has infiltrated the list of approximately 7,000 lottery members applying for a hunting licence in the state of Wyoming. In May, seven members of the state’s Game and Fish Department unanimously voted in favor of hunting the grizzly bears . People interested in hunting the bears had to enter into a lottery for bear hunting licenses. The lottery closed at 7 a.m. on July 17, and about 7,000 applications were submitted. The department communicated that it views this influx of applicants as proof that this is something their citizens want. Related: Trump administration wants to allow “extreme and cruel” hunting methods in Alaska The Shoot’em with a Camera activists are seeking to lower the number of hunters granted licenses by scoring as many permits as they can through the state’s lottery system. Of the people selected to receive licenses, those who reside in state will pay a fee of $602, while those who reside outside of Wyoming should be prepared to fork over $6,002 in the hopes of either saving or shooting their own grizzly bears. The event will allow for up to 22 grizzly bears to be hunted. Up until the 1850s, nearly 50,000 grizzly bears roamed North America. By 1973, only 136 grizzlies were left in and around Yellowstone. The number of wild grizzlies plummeted as a result of the same bear hunting activities that states such as Wyoming — and now Montana and Idaho — are sanctioning.  Now the grizzly bear population has reached approximately 700, apparently enough to warrant their elimination from both the Endangered Species Act and the environment. More than 650,000 people, including 125 Native American tribes, took part in a commentary session and criticized the government for raising the issue of removing grizzlies from the Endangered Species Act back in 2016. A federal judge will rule next month on a lawsuit appealing on the bears’ behalf —more specifically against their removal from the Act — that will hopefully put a ban on the hunting event altogether. Via The Guardian Images via Yellowstone National Park ( 1 , 2 )

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Jane Goodall and conservationists move to obtain bear hunting licences in Wyoming

Arctic shipping routes could threaten "unicorns of the sea"

July 3, 2018 by  
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Narwhals, or the “unicorns of the sea,” could be at risk from additional Arctic shipping routes as polar ice continues to recede. A peer-reviewed study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests as many as seven marine mammal species may face new threats and uncertain consequences from increased ship traffic. The Arctic Ocean is home to hundreds of animals, like narwhals, polar bears and whales. However, as the polar ice caps retreat, more shipping companies are taking advantage of open waters to reduce travel time. To determine how the increase of ships could affect marine mammals , the research team from University of Alaska Fairbanks and University of Washington studied wildlife during the fall shipping season. The group looked at 80 different subpopulations among the seven species to determine if they were directly exposed to the ships and how much these ships could affect the wellbeing of the marine life. Related: The melting Arctic is already changing the ocean’s circulation During the study period, over half of the subpopulations were impacted by ships, with narwhals inheriting the highest amount of risk. In addition to an increased risk of injury or death from collisions,  toothed whales also face communication challenges because of their audio sensitivity. Like dolphins, the ocean unicorn “talks” with a language of buzzing, clicking and calling. While narwhals could have the most to lose, polar bears and seals have the least risk because of the time they spend on land. But researchers note their populations also come with high long-term uncertainty, and the team concluded more data is required to determine how shipping affects their livelihood. The news wasn’t entirely bad for wildlife populations. The scientists noted through additional data collection, shipping companies could plan for environmentally-sustainable transportation options. “Regions with geographic bottlenecks, such as the Bering Strait and eastern Canadian Arctic, were characterized by two to three times higher vulnerability than more remote regions,” the researchers wrote in their study abstract. “These pinch points are obligatory pathways for both vessels and migratory [ocean mammals], and so represent potentially high conflict areas but also opportunities for conservation-informed planning .” Arctic planning groups are aware of the wildlife threats and are working out plans to balance shipping with environmental concerns. The Arctic Council instituted regulations on transport companies in January 2017, with the goal of making shipping safer for both crews and marine mammals. + Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Via Earther

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Arctic shipping routes could threaten "unicorns of the sea"

Congo could open its national parks to oil drilling

July 2, 2018 by  
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Two national parks in the Democratic Republic of Congo could soon face pollution threats and habitat destruction if oil drilling is given the green light. The national government announced on Friday, June 29, 2018 that it is deciding on whether to permit oil wells in parts of the Salonga and Virunga National Parks, which are both home to rare and endangered wildlife. Under the plan put forward by the Congolese government, over one-fifth of Virunga National Park could open for oil exploration. Virunga is home to approximately half of the world’s mountain gorillas . Salonga National Park occupies more than 13,000 square miles of the Congo Basin , the second largest rainforest in the world. The dense jungles are home to bonobos, along with the African golden cat, forest buffalos and pangolins. The government did not elaborate on how much of Salonga could be available for oil drilling. In statements to the press, the government expressed its rights to allow oil well construction in both parks, while claiming it would be mindful of wildlife protection in both areas. Related: New Ebola outbreak strikes the Democratic Republic of the Congo These plans come under heavy criticism from inter-governmental organizations and environmental watchdog groups, whom already denounced previous plans. As World Heritage Sites , UNESCO calls drilling and illegal resource extraction continuing threats to conservation in both the Salonga and Virunga . Oil drilling is not the only issue facing the wildlife in these parks. Poaching and kidnapping remains a major concern in both preserves. After two British tourists were held hostage and a park ranger was killed in the first five months of 2018, government officials have closed Virunga through 2019. Opening the parks to drilling comes as the national government prepares for another wave of sanctions. Before the announcement, the United Nations Security Council upheld an asset freeze and travel ban against the nation. Although British oil and gas exploration firm Soco International previously tested the Virunga area for viability, its license is no longer valid. No other petroleum companies have announced plans to drill in either of the two parks. Via  Reuters  and  BBC Images via Fanny Schertzer ( 1 , 2 )

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Congo could open its national parks to oil drilling

Architect turns four shipping containers into an affordable and eco-friendly home

July 2, 2018 by  
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Architectural firm  Matt Elkan Architect has unveiled a beautiful home on Australia’s south coast, with a unique twist: it’s made out of four shipping containers. In addition to constructing the home out of repurposed containers , the firm included a number of sustainable features in order to make the shipping container house as environmentally friendly as possible. From the beginning, architect Matt Elkan worked with the homeowners to create a design that would reflect their vision of an eco-friendly family home . He also wanted to prove that great design doesn’t have to break the bank. According to Elkan’s project description, “This project was always about economy, efficiency and how to do as much as possible on a very limited budget. However, the scale belies the efficiency of program and generosity of the outcome. The client’s conviction from the outset was that good architecture does not need to be expensive, and this project attempts to prove the theory.” Related: Stunning shipping container home can be yours for $125k Although keeping the budget as low as possible was a priority, minimizing the home’s environmental impact was of utmost importance as well. There was no excavation on the landscape and the four shipping containers were laid out strategically to take advantage of natural lighting and passive temperature control. The architects used natural wood insulation on the flat roof, and they did not include any VOC finishes in the building. Additionally, the home has Low E windows and recycled HW doors. For water conservation, 500 liters of water can be stored on-site. The result of this strategic design? A beautiful 1,000-square-foot home that sleeps up to ten people. Unlike some shipping container homes , the design proudly shows the shipping container aesthetic throughout the exterior and interior. The home’s exterior was painted in a dark grey, and the doors were left in their original state with script that marks their weight and shipping details. The interior also proudly shows its industrial origins. The container walls were painted in a glossy white with a few accent walls made of blonde wood, which was also used for the ceiling and flooring. Sliding farmhouse-style doors give the home a modern touch. An abundance of windows throughout the home flood the interior with natural light and also provide a strong connection to the home’s gorgeous surroundings. Many of the floor-to-ceiling windows can be concealed by the large shipping container doors. The living space opens up to a wooden deck, further blending the home’s interior with the exterior. + Matt Elkan Architect Via Dwell Photography by Simon Whitbread

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Architect turns four shipping containers into an affordable and eco-friendly home

Belize Barrier Reef recovers and is removed from UNESCO ‘In Danger’ list

June 28, 2018 by  
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Thanks to a comprehensive conservation effort, the exceptionally diverse Belize Barrier Reef has recovered so much that it has been removed from the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger sites. “At a time when we are seeing numerous threats to World Heritage sites, Belize’s government has taken real action to protect one of the world’s most special places,” World Wildlife Fund International director general Marco Lambertini told EcoWatch . “We have seen an incredible turnaround from when the reef was being threatened by seismic testing for oil just 18 months ago.” The decision to remove the Belize Barrier Reef from the ‘In Danger’ sites list arrives five months after Belize passed legislation banning all oil exploratory activity in its waters. The second largest reef system in the world, the Belize Barrier Reef provides habitat for 1,400 species, including vulnerable species of shark , sea turtle and manatee. The reef also provides food and economic opportunity for almost half of Belize’s population while serving as a natural barrier against extreme weather. First classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996, it was later added to the In Danger list in 2009 in response to increased oil exploration activity and damaging coastal construction. Related: Belize votes to indefinitely end all oil exploration in its waters As a result of a coordinated worldwide campaign, Belize, one of only three countries to ban all offshore oil exploration, put its barrier reef under protection. That effort is already bearing fruit. “Belizeans stood up to protect their reef, with hundreds of thousands more globally joining the campaign to save our shared heritage,” Lambertini said. “In taking swift collaborative action, Belize has shown that it is possible to reverse nature loss and create a sustainable future.” Belize is aiming to take its conservation to the next level by considering bans on single-use plastic products that threaten marine life . Via EcoWatch Images via Heath Alseike and Ruth

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Belize Barrier Reef recovers and is removed from UNESCO ‘In Danger’ list

World’s first beluga whale sanctuary will welcome new arrivals

June 28, 2018 by  
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In 2019, two beluga whales, named Little Grey and Little White, will be transported from the Changfeng Ocean World aquarium in Shanghai to the world’s first whale sanctuary in a protected bay in Iceland . Established by the SEA LIFE Trust in collaboration with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation , the 32,000-square-meter Beluga Whale Sanctuary site was chosen for its sub-arctic climate and seclusion. “It’s really important for Little White and Little Grey, providing them with a more natural home in which to live out the rest of their lives,” head of the SEA LIFE Trust Andy Bool told Reuters . The whales are already being prepped for their journey and the colder waters of their new home through exercises designed to increase their strength and their ability to hold their breath underwater. With its stores of blubber and echolocation refined for finding holes in the sea ice through which to breathe, the beluga whale is well adapted to Arctic waters. The beluga is also a very social animal, typically living in groups of up to 10, though gatherings of hundreds or thousands of whales can occur in summer. While the species as a whole is not considered threatened, populations in certain regions, such as the Cook Inlet in Alaska , are endangered. Related: A beluga whale living with dolphins learned to “speak their language” In addition to their exercise regimen, Little Grey and Little White, both 12-year-old females, will be fed increased calories and gradually eased into using a stretcher, with which they will be restrained for part of their journey to their new home. Those who have made this sanctuary possible hope that it will set an example for other wildlife entertainment parks to release their animals into the wild. Whale and Dolphin Conservation captivity campaign manager Cathy Williamson told Reuters , “We believe this will inspire other facilities to move their belugas and other whales and dolphins to sanctuaries in other parts of the world.” + SEA LIFE Trust + Whale and Dolphin Conservation Via Reuters Images via Salva Barbera and Sheila Sund

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World’s first beluga whale sanctuary will welcome new arrivals

Wild dogs return to Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park

June 25, 2018 by  
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A small group of African wild dogs have returned to Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique , heralding a potential upswing in a diverse ecosystem that has suffered severe damage in recent decades. In the almost two decades of civil war that plagued the country beginning in the 1970s, more than a million people were killed by violence or famine while much of the wildlife at Gorongosa was also eradicated. Now, thanks to a collaborative effort between a non-profit group founded by American philanthropist Greg Carr and the Mozambican government, the wild dogs have come home. Still, so much has changed and is continuing to change. “We can’t go back to what exactly it was,” Gorongosa science director Marc Stalmans told Phys.org . “Has the environment changed over the last 50 years in a way that certain previous states can no longer be attained?” Gorongosa’s past informs its future. In 1975, as Mozambique was nearing the end of four centuries of Portuguese occupation, the national park attracted the rich and famous while systematically denying black Mozambicans any significant part of its operation or benefits. Today, local economic development, spearheaded by the Gorongosa Restoration Project, is key to revitalizing the park. The project aims to serve 200,000 people through programs that support local education and farming , among other services. “To me, restoration means to recover what was destroyed, Gorongosa’s Director of Conservation & Reforestation Program Coordinator Pedro Muagura told Phys.org . “Not only to recover, but to improve. The center of everything, what we are doing, is the people.” Related: It “sounded like an explosion:” avalanche of trash kills 16 people in Mozambique Six female and eight male African wild dogs were recently reintroduced to the park, joining an increasingly vibrant local wildlife community. Leopards , which were once thought to have gone extinct in the park, have recently been spotted, while animals like baboons are thriving. Gorongosa incorporates a holistic ecological perspective in its management of the park. “We try to mimic natural processes,” Gorongosa carnivore conservation program leader David Marneweck said. The park plans to expand its research into local water levels, which Stalmans said “have a major influence on the vegetation production and animal movements.” + Gorongosa National Park Via Phys.org Images via Stuart Orford and Charles J. Sharp

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Wild dogs return to Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park

SeagrassSpotter app empowers ocean lovers to become citizen scientists

June 15, 2018 by  
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Bet you don’t often think about seagrass , but this powerhouse plant supports thousands of marine creatures, sequesters carbon, cleans water, and generates oxygen — and it’s in trouble. Earth loses around two football pitches of seagrass every single hour, according to Wales-based charity Project Seagrass , and co-founder Richard Unsworth told Mongabay  that irregular mapping of seagrass meadows has hindered work to protect the plants. So Project Seagrass released their SeagrassSpotter app, with the hope that instead of a handful of researchers, thousands of citizen scientists will get on board with the conservation effort. “Saving seagrass means saving our seas,” Project Seagrass says on its website . Seagrasses, not to be confused with seaweed, take up just 0.1 percent of the seafloor but “are responsible for 11 percent of the organic carbon buried in the ocean .” Millions of people depend on seagrass for livelihoods and food. But seagrass meadows “are being lost at the same rate as rainforests and coral reefs ,” according to the SeagrassSpotter website . Overfishing, bad water quality, increased sedimentation, trampling, and boating threaten the plants. Related: New SubCAS technology enables scientists to better study deep-sea ecosystems Project Seagrass aims to build a more comprehensive picture of seagrass meadows to inspire scientific research and conservation measures with the SeagrassSpotter app, created in association with Swansea University and Cardiff University . People from beachgoers to SCUBA divers to fishers can get in on the action by submitting seagrass sightings. Unsworth told Mongabay, “We’re asking people visiting the coast or going out to sea — for diving, fishing, kayaking — to keep their eyes out for seagrass so that they can take a picture [to] upload to our website. The more people that get involved the more likely we are to develop a better understanding of the world’s seagrass.” Ready to help save seagrass? Download the app for iOS or Android . You can also submit seagrass sightings on the SeagrassSpotter website. Project Seagrass is shooting for at least 100,000 records; collected data will be freely available. + Project Seagrass + SeagrassSpotter Via Mongabay Image via Depositphotos

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SeagrassSpotter app empowers ocean lovers to become citizen scientists

Despite sustainability pledges, World Cup stadium built on rare wildlife habitat

June 14, 2018 by  
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Today, at 6 p.m. local time in Moscow , the 2018 World Cup will begin with a match between host country Russia and Saudi Arabia. This year’s tournament will be the first in which FIFA required that all stadiums be built and renovated with sustainability in mind. Despite this requirement, some stadiums, such as Kaliningrad, have been less than environmentally friendly. Kaliningrad Stadium was built on one of Kaliningrad’s last wetlands, a habitat for rare birds, on October Island. “It was a typical delta island, with peat and a wetland reed-bed. It was a little corner of heaven in the city, where birds lived,” local ecologist Alexandra Korolyova told ABC News . “Really, if Russia paid more attention to protecting the environment, it could potentially have become a reservation or national park within the city.” The fate of Kaliningrad’s wetlands was sealed in 2014 when much of the habitat was buried beneath more than a million tons of sand to prepare the grounds for the stadium . While Kaliningrad Stadium was constructed with green materials and features energy efficient ventilation and electrical systems, its impact is not ecologically sustainable, particularly considering how the wetlands once served as a natural cleaner of the nearby polluted river. “We’ve lost a lot, and I don’t see what we’ve gained,” said Korolyova. Related: Qatar unveils first-ever FIFA World Cup stadium to be built from shipping containers From the Russian state perspective, not much was lost at Kaliningrad. “Everything was done in accordance with best practice,” chairman of Russia’s World Cup organizing committee Arkady Dvorkovich told the Associated Press . “This place, in my view, was more like wasteland than a place with very good nature. Theoretically, of course, you can call any swamp a very beautiful and environmentally clean place, but it’s not really correct in relation to the city infrastructure and the cities .” Via EcoWatch , ABC News and Associated Press Images via Dmitry Rozhkov/Wikimedia and A. Savin/Wikimedia

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Despite sustainability pledges, World Cup stadium built on rare wildlife habitat

LED lighting company aims to bring a little ‘friluftsliv’ into our hectic lives

May 31, 2018 by  
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No matter what stresses you deal with on a daily basis, the practice of reconnecting with nature is always beneficial. Scandinavians call this connection ‘friluftsliv’ (pronounced free-loofts-liv). Literally translated to “open-air living,” the term refers to the value of spending time in remote natural locations in order to rejuvenate ourselves, mentally and physically. Of course the problem is that our daily schedules are not always conducive to taking a nature-based break. As a solution, a forward-thinking lighting company, Festive Lights , has unveiled a line of LED-based lights geared toward bringing  friluftsliv into your home. With little effort, you can incorporate Festive Lights’ products into your day-to-day atmosphere, so even when you can’t get outside and connect with nature on a deeper level, you can still convert a little outdoor deck or garden into a peaceful oasis. Related:These dazzling zodiac lamps let you bring the heavens indoors The lights are specifically made to provide discreet lighting around greenery and create a warm, pleasant environment. The line includes various lights that use LED bulbs or solar energy. The Solar Bluebell Flower is a beautiful lantern with an integrated solar panel that brings a touch of romance to any garden, without wasting energy. String Dragonfly Fairy Lights, which have various settings, can light up any indoor or outdoor space. Even if you have little to no outdoor space, there are plenty of ways to bring nature indoors. Festive Lights offers a series of Rose Gold Metal Lantern Fairy Lights that use LED bulbs to emit a soothing light. The Nordic Rectangle Frame made from twig and filled with warm white LEDs is a unique accessory that welcomes nature into any room. With just unique lighting and a few plants here and there, you can easily begin to embrace  friluftsliv , even in your hectic everyday life. + Festive Lights Images via Festive Lights

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LED lighting company aims to bring a little ‘friluftsliv’ into our hectic lives

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