AutoCamp to expand Airstream glamping to Zion, Joshua Tree and the Catskills

March 31, 2021 by  
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Award-winning glamping company AutoCamp has announced plans to bring its design-led Airstream suites and luxurious tent accommodations to three new iconic destinations: California’s Joshua Tree National Park, Utah’s Zion National Park and the Catskill Mountains in New York. Slated to open in Fall 2021 and Spring 2022, the new expansion effectively doubles the footprint of the outdoor lodging brand, which was created to immerse guests in nature with high-end outdoor hospitality. All AutoCamp properties are designed for safe experiences that follow social distancing guidelines and include features such as contactless check-in and text message-based concierge services. Founded in 2013 in Santa Barbara, AutoCamp currently operates three locations: AutoCamp Russian River in the heart of California’s wine country, AutoCamp Yosemite near the entrance of the iconic national park and, most recently, AutoCamp Cape Cod in Massachusetts. All properties offer fully outfitted, family-friendly accommodations, from modern, 31-foot Airstreams and luxury tents to seasonally available Base Camp Mini Suites. Related: Adorable timber cabins in Chile let you glamp among the trees On track to open this fall, AutoCamp Joshua Tree will feature 47 Airstreams, four Accessible Suites and four X Suites on a 25-acre property. All units will include updated HVAC systems for all-season weather, and guests will have access to an outdoor bar with a full beverage program, a hybrid hot tub and plunge pool and a mobile kitchen for chef residency pop-ups. The Clubhouse — a focal point of every AutoCamp destination — will be designed by HKS Architects and Narrative Design Studio and will include translucent solar panels , misters and a seamless connection with the outdoors. HKS Architects also designed AutoCamp Zion National Park, slated to open Spring 2022, which will include a Clubhouse that faces views of the Gooseberry Mesa and beyond. The Clubhouse in AutoCamp Catskills will be designed by Milwaukee-based Workshop/APD. As with all existing AutoCamp properties, no cars will be allowed on the premises so as not to detract from the surroundings.  + AutoCamp Images via HKS and Narrative Design Studio

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Miami Beach Aquatic Center and Park will include 3 acres of native landscaping

March 30, 2021 by  
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Architectural firm Brooks + Scarpa recently unveiled its design concept for the new Miami Beach Aquatic Center and Park. Among two pools and thousands of square feet worth of retail and community space, the project will highlight local plants and trees with native landscaping. The project is one of three finalists for the new community area in Florida . The community park will span three acres and will protect existing trees while adding a plethora of native plants to create its own microclimate. Additionally, the building’s green roof planters will harvest and treat stormwater, and all water runoff from the site will be directed to a system that will allow it to be reused for irrigation. Related: Serpentine roof tops a solar-powered community center in Western Sydney In a unique ecological setting like Florida, including native plants in landscape designers is an easy choice. Local plants are already adapted to the local climate and soil conditions and often do not require pesticides or as much irrigation (helping to prevent erosion). Plus, they are important for local pollinators like bees and hummingbirds. In addition to the green planters, the building’s roof also features solar panels to provide an alternative energy source during peak electricity hours. Located just a block from the beach, the structure’s ocean-facing terraces provide sweeping views for community members to enjoy. There is a 50-meter competition pool and a 25-meter multipurpose pool as well as a fitness center to promote healthy lifestyles. The architects hope that the center can become a “Community Living Room” for the local North Beach area, providing a central gathering space in a district that is already embracing walkability. There are spots to unwind but equal space to socialize with friends or shop thanks to the 10,000 square feet of retail. A 7,500-square-foot branch library welcomes students and community members to relax and learn. Tying the aquatic center and park together will be the parking lot, which is stacked to reduce its footprint and provide direct access to the lush green space. + Brooks + Scarpa Via ArchDaily   Images via Brooks + Scarpa

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Miami Beach Aquatic Center and Park will include 3 acres of native landscaping

Using urban forestry to fight for environmental justice

March 30, 2021 by  
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Using urban forestry to fight for environmental justice Breanna Draxler Tue, 03/30/2021 – 00:05 The term “urban forest” may sound like an oxymoron. When most of us think about forests, we may picture vast expanses of tall trunks and dappled sunlight filtering through the leaves, far from the busyness of the city. But the trees that line city streets and surround apartment complexes across the U.S. hold great value, in part because of their proximity to people. “Per tree, you’re getting way more value for an urban tree than a tree out in the wild,” said Mark McPherson, founder and director of a Seattle nonprofit called City Forest Credits. In an increasingly urbanizing world, cities are, after all, “right where people live and breathe and recreate.” Trees — and urban trees in particular — provide enormous benefits. For starters, they’re responsible for producing oxygen and removing CO2 and other pollutants from the air. Urban forests in the U.S. remove an estimated 75,000 tons of air pollution per year . They reduce the impact of falling rain and encourage that water to soak into the ground, reducing flooding and erosion as well as preventing pollution from entering waterways . And the shade they provide isn’t just good for picnics; trees absorb heat and release water vapor that cools the surrounding air. The U.S. Forest Service estimates that trees reduce the energy consumption needed to cool homes in the U.S. by more than 7 percent. To find out just how much one tree can do, you can even estimate the value of the benefits of a specific tree near you using a calculator developed by a collaboration of tree experts and nonprofits. The trouble is that these benefits are not equitably distributed. “Nationally, there’s a trend for trees to follow wealth,” said Leslie Berckes, director of programs for Trees Forever, a nonprofit environmental group that works with communities across Iowa and Illinois to plant and care for trees. She said wealthier communities tend to have more trees for a variety of reasons, including racist housing practices. “Redlining left a lot of scars on communities, one of those being less green space, less tree cover,” Berckes said. And the results are life-threatening. In the absence of trees, these urban areas tend to be concrete — either buildings or sidewalks or streets. These impervious surfaces absorb heat during the day and then release it at night, preventing the relief of cooling temperatures and creating urban heat islands . “People are getting sick or dying from heat,” Berckes said, “and their utility bills are going up. … Heat is the biggest killer from [a] natural disaster perspective.” Building community by planting trees To better support the health of these communities, Berckes’ organization employs local teenagers to plant and care for trees. Trees Forever pays a starting rate of $10 an hour — higher than the state’s minimum wage of $7.25 — and then bumps it up to $15 an hour for crew leaders. In addition, Trees Forever provides teens with professional development resources such as resume-building, mock interviews, financial literacy courses, stress management tools and shadowing professionals in green jobs. Although COVID-19 has paused some of these activities, the organization sees this multifaceted support as an investment in a local workforce that will then have the knowledge and skills to continue the important work of tree-planting for building healthier communities. Dawud Benedict, 18, has been planting trees with Trees Forever since the fall. He applied after hearing about a friend’s positive experience working with the organization. “It just sounded nice to do something more for Des Moines area,” he said. The work has taught him to appreciate trees and their benefits to the community and the world, he says, as well as to work together as a group. He enjoys being able to drive past work sites and point out trees that he helped plant in his community. “I feel like I’m making a bigger impact,” he said. In recent years, Trees Forever has endeavored to put equity at the center of their work through training and education, although Berckes admits that a lot more work must be done. “Our own staff is all white,” she said. “Iowa is a predominantly white state. When we go to work with some of these small towns, I bet the percentage of white people is 80 to 90-or-more percent.” Much of the group’s outreach historically has focused on door-knocking and connecting with groups such as neighborhood associations, churches and local businesses. But Trees Forever’s traditional methods weren’t reaching Hispanic residents who moved to these communities to work in the meatpacking industry. So to make access to the benefits of urban trees more equitable, the organization is working to overcome language barriers and meet these community members where they are. West Des Moines is home to three Microsoft data centers and two more are slated for construction starting in 2021. In the corporation’s efforts to invest in communities that house its data centers, it funded Trees Forever’s work in 2019. And in 2020, the collaborative piloted a project that promises to put equity first. The project, the Impact Scorecard, is being rolled out in West Des Moines as well as Phoenix. The creator of the scorecard, Mark McPherson, said Microsoft was looking for high-impact projects and his organization, City Forest Credits, developed a way to measure the impacts of trees on equity, human health and the environment. Nationally, there’s a trend for trees to follow wealth. Redlining left a lot of scars on communities, one of those being less green space. “As a society, we have not found a way to put natural capital on the balance sheet as an asset,” he said. “There’s no asset value to the trees; only an expense item.” As such, trees necessarily fall to the bottom of many city’s budgets, or off of them altogether. “Urban trees don’t just store carbon, they reduce stormwater, they improve air, they provide energy savings in terms of heating and cooling. They can, if done right, tremendously advance environmental justice — they provide human health benefits, biodiversity, bird and pollinator habitat, slope stability and the list goes on. They are like utilities,” McPherson said. “They provide incredible services.” Those services are immensely valuable to cities. They reduce the costs of doing all kinds of other work, including stormwater management, air purification and water retention. Sure, some carbon markets put a dollar value on capturing CO2. But the problem, McPherson found, was that carbon markets couldn’t capture any values of urban forests specifically. Carbon credits typically are sold by the ton for huge acreages of forest. In the city, an individual tree won’t store enough carbon to make a blip on these particular charts, but it has incredible value for countless lives. So he teamed up with his older brother, Greg McPherson, a scientist emeritus with the U.S. Forest Service who founded the Center for Urban Forest Research. In the ’90s, he moved to Chicago to figure out how to quantify the value of the services that trees provide to the city and he continues to refine benefit-cost analyses for trees. The Impact Scorecard is the latest outcome of this work. It aims to get corporations and other private funders to underwrite the costs of doing important community-led work through the planting of urban forests. “That’s a critical part of environmental justice,” explains Mark McPherson, who, as a white man, said he works hard to avoid the tropes of white saviorism. “Not just, you beam in from your NGO office and plant trees,” but rather “to actually have these projects led by the local community.” Letting communities lead That’s what drives the work of Lydia Scott, director of the Chicago Region Trees Initiative. This partnership brings together 14 organizations — from the Morton Arboretum to the U.S. Forest Service, the Chicago Parks Department to the Chicago Department of Public Health — to leverage resources and expertise in support of the urban forest in and around Chicago. She said trees can help reduce crime, improve property values and reduce temperatures. To let communities lead, though, members of the initiative had to be willing to listen. Some neighborhoods, for example, didn’t want trees or actively removed them to prevent obstructing street lights because of safety concerns. Police departments, too, sometimes cite a need for open lines of sight on sidewalks and in parks. “This was an eye-opener for us,” Scott said. It all comes down to having the right tree in the right place. That’s why her organization works within communities to show the value of trees and evidence of the ways trees can support a different dynamic. But unlike a forest on public lands or a reservation, urban forests can’t be managed as a whole. Urban areas are a mix of public and private lands, so to plant trees requires the buy-in of a greater number of stakeholders. “We know trees have a dramatic impact on quality of life,” Scott said. They are critical infrastructure in communities and should be protected and budgeted as such, she said, but they are rarely recognized for the value and services they provide. All too often she hears that “trees are a luxury we handle after everything else.” With COVID-19, being outside is more important than ever and people are seeing and appreciating trees in a whole new way. But in some ways the work is made harder, Scott said. City budgets are tight and meeting basic needs such as housing and safety is necessarily taking priority. Measuring impact Here’s where the scorecard comes in. It matches communities who want to invest in their tree cover with private funders, such as corporations who want to make investments that have a measurable impact. That impact is broken down into three categories that emphasize the value of urban trees specifically: equity; human health; and environmental benefits. McPherson said that urban forests are unique because they connect global atmospheric benefits with ecosystem benefits and resilience and mitigation benefits. “Very seldom do you get a climate action that fits all of those,” he said. To look at the benefits of trees at scale, the Chicago Region Trees Initiative developed a map that breaks it down by neighborhood , indicating the percentage of land covered by impervious surfaces, the percentage of tree cover and the financial benefit those trees provide the community. It also includes location-specific information on air quality, heat, flooding and vulnerable populations. Screenshot from the Chicago Region Trees  interactive map page . Take, for example, the La Grange Park area of south Chicago. It has 47 percent tree cover and 30 percent impervious surfaces. The calculator estimates the community gains more than $750,000 a year from these trees. In contrast, Bedford Park, just to the south, has only 7 percent tree cover and 59 percent impervious surfaces. Their benefit from these trees is $300,000. But the calculator also estimates that the community could reasonably boost that tree canopy to as much as 65 percent of the neighborhood’s land area — a ninefold increase — which would also up their benefits. Scott said the priority communities don’t always track exactly on racial or socioeconomic lines. In fact, the two neighborhoods with the fewest trees, according to their assessment, were actually quite well-off financially, so the initiative decided to focus its efforts elsewhere. These communities have the resources available to make change but choose not to. Instead, the initiative is prioritizing projects that put health and equity at the center. An assessment of educational facilities, for example, identified a list of 24 schools and 24 day cares in Chicago within 500 feet of an expressway. The initiative is doing air-quality testing and planting vegetative buffers as a means of improving air quality at each facility. (A 2013 study found that adding a row of trees between a roadway and nearby houses reduced pollution levels in the houses by 50 percent.) By using the Impact Scorecard, funders have third party verification of the health, equity and environmental benefits of the project. “The trees in our neighborhoods tell a story about our society — one of equity,” McPherson said. The story we’re trying to craft, he said, is one in which living in a city is healthy, equitable and connected with nature. Pull Quote Nationally, there’s a trend for trees to follow wealth. Redlining left a lot of scars on communities, one of those being less green space. Topics Social Justice Environmental Justice Tree Planting Yes! Magazine Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Urban forests can be an indicator of equality in cities.  Getty Images Jose Luis Pelaez Close Authorship

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Using urban forestry to fight for environmental justice

LEED-targeted Pirelli 39 features a carbon-absorbing vertical forest in Milan

March 23, 2021 by  
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Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Stefano Boeri Architetti have won an international competition to regenerate Milan’s Porta Nuova Gioia area with the sustainable renovation and expansion of the Pirelli 39 tower. Commissioned by real estate investment fund company COIMA SGR, the mixed-use project will not only inject new life into the region with the creation of over 5,000 jobs but will also be designed to meet high sustainability standards and target LEED Platinum, WELL Gold and WiredScore certifications. The project will include a vertical forest — a skyscraper wrapped in 1,700 square meters of vegetation — topped with solar panels and capable of producing nine tons of oxygen and absorbing 14 tons of carbon dioxide a year. Developed as part of a larger urban regeneration project that will include Pirelli 35 and Gioia 20, the Pirelli 39 project occupies a strategic location between Central Station and Scalo Farini. Rather than tear down the structurally problematic Pirelli 39 tower and start anew, the architects instead decided to thoroughly renovate the building to meet modern office building standards and high-performance sustainability targets.  Related: France’s first Vertical Forest will add a “hectare of forest” to Paris’ skyline The renovated Pirelli 39 tower will be paired with a wood-framed residential tower planted with seasonally interesting vegetation on multiple floors. The densely packed landscaping is expected to function like a 10,000-square-meter forest. The tower will also be topped with 2,770 square meters of photovoltaic panels expected to generate 85% of the building’s energy needs. The final feature of the mixed-use project is the Bridge building, which will house an events space, meeting and wellness areas and a biodiverse greenhouse . The greenhouse will be a dedicated laboratory that serves as an extension of the Biblioteca degli Alberi (Library of Trees), a popular park and botanical garden. The project’s overall level of operational carbon dioxide emissions are aligned with the EU 2050 objectives. + Diller Scofidio + Renfro + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Stefano Boeri Architetti

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LEED-targeted Pirelli 39 features a carbon-absorbing vertical forest in Milan

Adorable timber cabins in Chile let you glamp among the trees

February 2, 2021 by  
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In the Chiloé Archipelago in southern Chile, a hidden gem of four tiny homes awaits nature-lovers. Remotely located in the commune of Queilén, Tiny Houses Comarca Contuy is a unique retreat that offers isolation in nature, warm hospitality and unforgettable “ glamping ” — glamorous camping — in four timber cabins elevated into the treetops. These cabins were designed by Chilean architecture firm Utreras Arquitectos. Completed in 2016, Tiny Houses Comarca County was commissioned by Comarca Contuy, an entity that promotes tourism in the region through art, culture and nature-related ventures. Nestled between the Chilean evergreen trees known as coigüe, the site-specific cluster of four cabins are carefully crafted in response to the uneven topography and views overlooking the Paildad estuary. As a result, the timber cabins are elevated and located at different heights. Related: A homey, floating cabin makes for the ultimate romantic getaway in South Australia “The idea was born from creating four shelters ‘glamping’ style among the trees, looking for formality and disposition of the latter, as well as the birds’ nests, through the proposed circular windows,” say the architects in a project statement. “Each one of these four shelters has spaces to be in and spend the night, connecting each other and the rest of the place through a wooden footbridge . The different views to the exterior, the immersion in the middle of the trees and the proximity with the estuary, make it possible to feel the wind and some species of birds in a close way when entering and being on the work.” To blend the buildings into the environment, all four cabins are clad in timber and elevated on cypress foundation piles. Local coigüe wood was used for the primary and secondary structural beams, while cinnamon wood was used for partitions and trusses. Each unit is equipped with a private patio, a kitchen with an oven and a shared bathroom with a shower. The sleeping areas are located on the second floor. + Utreras Arquitectos Photography by Gustavo Burgos via Utreras Arquitectos

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Adorable timber cabins in Chile let you glamp among the trees

North Americas first mass timber hotel opens in Austin

January 6, 2021 by  
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Acclaimed Texan architecture firm Lake | Flato has teamed up with hospitality company Bunkhouse to create Hotel Magdalena , an 89-room establishment that is also the first mass timber hotel constructed in North America. Located on Music Lane in Austin’s popular South Congress neighborhood, Hotel Magdalena takes cues from its surroundings with its landscaping that evokes Barton Springs as well as with programming that celebrates the area’s history and live music. Large windows open up to patios, terraces and balconies, connecting the hotel with views of downtown while allowing natural light and ventilation to flow through the building. Opened in Fall 2020, Hotel Magdalena is Bunkhouse’s latest and largest hotel project to date. The hotel consists of four new buildings assembled in pieces with mass timber construction. Timber is deliberately left exposed in the ceilings and the exterior elevated walkways that link the four buildings. Inspired by the sloping topography of Barton Springs, the hotel sits at varying elevations and features a Ten Eyck Landscape Architects-designed landscape plan with native Texan species such as Bigtooth Maples, Redbuds, Meyer Lemon Trees and Little Gem Magnolia. Related: Hood River’s mixed-use Outpost achieves industrial chic with mass timber The 89 guest rooms and suites comprise a mix of types ranging from top-floor Treehouse Studios that include up to 50 square feet of outdoor space to spacious Sunset Suites that face west with balconies offering 65 square feet of outdoor space. In addition to leafy outdoor walkways and a variety of balconies and terraces that open the interiors to cooling cross-breezes and daylight, the hotel further strengthens its indoor-outdoor connection with its materials palette, from the custom walnut wood built-in beds and inlay desks to the poured concrete floors with exposed aggregate that mimic Texan river rocks. Amenities at Hotel Magdalena include community-driven experiences such as live music and nature walks, a guest-only pool bar next to a 900-square-foot sunken swimming pool , a full-service restaurant and an events space. Rates start at $275 a night. + Lake | Flato Photography by Nick Simonite via Lake | Flato

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The sustainability year 2020 in review, in haiku

December 29, 2020 by  
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The sustainability year 2020 in review, in haiku Sue Lebeck Tue, 12/29/2020 – 01:00 Editor’s note: Back by popular demand, smart cities consultant Sue Lebeck provides GreenBiz highlights from the past year in verse. You’ll find her haiku from 2019 here . Rise before the Surprise Leaders gather for the first and last time in year of shelter-in-place. Learning on the Job Could ways to flatten coronavirus’ curve help bend climate’s curve too? From Farms to Front Lines Essential workers carry the day, unclear that anybody CARES. BLM joins COVID-19 In this raw moment, we are dually confronted. Here’s how to respond. Climate and Justice make a Great Pair   Not mere Facebook friends, these two spawn recovery, lift communities. Corporates Gain via E, S and G Weave people, purpose and commitment to climate — then watch value rise. At Circularity, Plastics gets Serious Pacts and moonshots are aiming to contain plastics’ value forever. Proof, Imagination and a Kick Great transit — public, active and electric — drives all toward equity. Food Focus Feeds a Flurry Regeneration- revealed opportunity cost: meat’s great land grab! Electrifying Path of “least regret” as wildfire climate destroys forests and sparks fears. The Forests AND the Trees Climate’s urgent need is restored forests! Also those one trillion trees. Carbontech is on the VERGE Carbontech hits the market; removal joins the carbon agenda. New Year’s Resolutions Watch GreenFin grow, help Big Oil shrink and build racial justice for all. Cheers! Topics Corporate Strategy Climate Change COVID-19 Sustainability Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Courtesy of Shutterstock/Protasov AN

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London tree rental service solves a Christmas quandary

December 9, 2020 by  
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People who like to decorate their houses for Christmas often face a tree dilemma: should they buy an artificial, plastic tree or a real, dead one? Now, a new U.K. business saves Londoners from that choice. London Christmas Tree Rental delivers a real, pot-grown tree, lets customers enjoy it for a few weeks, then picks it up in January and takes it back to a farm, where the tree can continue to grow. The tree rental service has enjoyed a roaring success this year. By the first week of December, it was sold out of all four tree sizes, from the three-footer to the six-footer. Related: Amazon’s Christmas trees are hurting the environment It’s a lucrative side business for owners Catherine Loveless and Jonathan Mearns, who co-founded the company in 2018. “It all started when walking the streets of London in January and weaving between the Christmas tree graveyards that Jonathan decided enough was enough,” the company’s website reads. “With 7 million trees going into landfill each year for the sake of 3 weeks of pleasure there must be a better way to do Christmas trees.” Rental prices range from about 40 to 70 British pounds, or about $53 to $93 in U.S. dollars. Add in 10 pounds (about $13) each way for delivery and pickup, plus a 30 pound (about $40) deposit, and the rental tree can cost more than many cut or artificial trees. Still, it is a more sustainable option, plus trees that are well-cared for will result in a deposit refund. Customers also have the option for free tree pick-up and drop-off. Tree rental lets consumers feel good about the sustainability of their choices. While artificial trees may be reused for many years, they have a significant environmental cost. “In the U.S., around 10 million artificial trees are purchased each season,” according to the Nature Conservancy. “Nearly 90 percent of them are shipped across the world from China, resulting in an increase of carbon emissions and resources. And because of the material they are made of, most artificial trees are not recyclable and end up in local landfills .” Real, cut trees are a better environmental choice, as only a fraction of the trees grown at tree farms are cut down each year. Growing real trees doesn’t involve the the intense carbon emissions necessary for producing their faux brethren. But psychologically, many people balk at ending the life of a beautiful tree just so it can stand in a living room for a few weeks. It seems like selfish, flagrant domination over nature. And millions of these trees go to landfill after they spend less than a month adorning living rooms. London Christmas Tree Rental urges customers to name their trees, so that these plants feel more like family. If a customer grows attached to their tree, they can arrange to have the same one again next year — up to a point. At seven feet, the trees are transferred from their pots to retire in a forest . + London Christmas Tree Rental Via Upworthy Image via David Boozer

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House passes Big Cat Public Safety Act

December 9, 2020 by  
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The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a landmark legislation that will see big cats protected from human mistreatment. The Big Cat Public Safety Act (BCPSA) prohibits individuals from owning big cats in their homes or in roadside zoos. The act was passed by 272 votes, compared to 114 members who voted against the legislation. The bill, which was introduced by Michael Quigley and Brian Fitzpatrick in 2012, has been in the pipeline for a long time. Due to public outcry, the legislation has now been passed, prohibiting exploitation of big cats such as lions, leopards, and tigers . “After months of the public loudly and clearly calling for Congress to end private big cat ownership, I am extremely pleased that the House has now passed the Big Cat Public Safety Act,” Quigley said. “Big cats are wild animals that simply do not belong in private homes, backyards, or shoddy roadside zoos.” Related: ‘Tiger King’ drama overshadows abuse of captive tigers in U.S. The success in passing this legislation in the House has been attributed to the exposure of animal exploitation on the Netflix series “Tiger King.” Following the show’s popularity, in April 2020, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released footage showing the abuse that tigers and other big cats suffer at the hands of Joe Exotic, one of the leading personalities in “Tiger King.” The footage of Joe Exotic and other zoo workers routinely abusing big cats lead to public outrage, which resulted in varying levels of discipline for several people featured in the show. Joe Exotic himself is currently in prison for wildlife violations. The case of Joe Exotic’s mistreatment of wildlife is but one among many. Due to such incidences, multiple states have been implementing rules to control human-wildlife interactions. Currently, only five states, Nevada, Alabama, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, have no laws protecting big cats. As such, it has become necessary to have a federally recognized law to protect these animals. Keeping big cats in roadside zoos and homes also poses a public health threat. Since 1990, over 400 dangerous incidences, including 24 deaths, have been reported in 46 states and Washington, D.C. According to HSUS CEO Kitty Block and Sara Admunsen, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the only way to end these incidences is by introducing federal legislation. “But to wipe this problem out for good, we need strong federal laws that will prevent unscrupulous people from forcing wild animals to spend their entire lives in abject misery while creating a public safety nightmare,” they said in a joint statement.  The Big Cat Public Safety Act now moves to the Senate floor for voting. Via VegNews Image via Sherri Burgan

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New York Citys street trees have unique stories to tell

October 12, 2020 by  
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It’s been called a concrete jungle, but New York City is covered in trees. There are almost 700,000 street trees surrounded by the ultra-urban environment of NYC, and each one has its own story. One photographer decided to capture the spontaneous stewardship that occurs with these trees on the streets of New York every day. In a new photographic series, Matthew Jensen hopes to show everyone a little “Tree Love.” Jensen started noticing how the residents of New York care for their street trees as he walked around all five boroughs that make up the city. He began to observe how each tree was a little bit different and how many hands have helped care for each of these trees. Related: Check out Glasir, the tree-shaped urban farming solution Homemade tree guards, hand-lettered signs, decorations, ornaments, bird feeders and trinkets of all kinds can be spotted on the trees as you walk the streets of New York. Every little token is evidence that the residents of New York have taken it upon themselves to give personal care and attention to the hardy trees that share the streets with them. Jensen spent three years photographing the trees and the examples of human care that surround them. He ended up taking thousands of photos, fascinated with the subject and with the way each tree ends up becoming unique and individual thanks to those who live and work around it. “Old growth, self-planted, stunted, scarred, broken, coppiced, blighted, blight-resistant, rare, over-pruned, each tree exhibits time and circumstance in its own way,” Jensen said. “And tree beds are as equally idiosyncratic with homemade tree guards, hand drawn signs, unique plant and flower combinations, decorations and ornaments, benches, birdfeeders, and more often than not, too much garbage .” The final collection, titled Tree Love: Street Trees and Stewardship in NYC, is 75 images of street trees. Each one tells its own amazing story and is a powerful reminder than human beings and nature need each other. Street trees and city dwellers coexist in New York; in a way, they depend on each other. With a little more tree love around the world, everyone can do their part to help heal the planet. + Matthew Jensen Images via Matthew Jensen

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