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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Tag Archive: conservation

  1. Couple donates $165 million to preserve 24,000 acres at Point Conception

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    by Thomas Curwen December 22 2017 read full LA Times article here

    A conservation group on Thursday purchased a sprawling stretch of Santa Barbara County coastline — a prized acquisition made possible by a $165-million gift from a couple who had long sought to protect the pristine ranchland from development.

    The nonprofit Nature Conservancy acquired the Cojo-Jalama Ranches, which comprise roughly 24,000 acres and eight miles of coastline south of Vandenberg Air Force Base, from a New England investment firm, said Michael Bell, director of the conservancy’s California ocean program.

    Valued for its sacred sites by the Chumash and operated for more than 100 years as a cattle ranch, the twin parcels straddling Point Conception are a time capsule of oak woodlands, coastal prairies and beaches whose breaks are revered by surfers.

    …“Most people think of conservation in terms of the iconic places like Yosemite or the redwood forests or the Grand Canyon,” Jack Dangermond said in an interview. “For us, this oak woodland is the equivalent. It may not be as iconic, but California’s oak forests are just as important ecologically, and there are not many of them left.”

    Dangermond said he and his wife first drove this portion of the California coast in 1967 when they were “kids on their honeymoon.”

    …The conservancy plans to manage the property, Bell said, in the same way that it manages the land it owns on Santa Cruz Island, where habitat and wildlife are monitored and visitation is limited to research and environmental education programs.


  2. Investing in conservation pays off, study finds

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    • The study by an international team of researchers found that the $14.4 billion that countries spent on conservation from 1992 to 2003 reduced expected declines in global biodiversity by 29 percent.
    • Conservation spending reduced species decline and that development pressure increased it, but unevenly. A country’s size, number of species present, and the conservation status of those species at the start of the study period all played a role in determining its biodiversity decline score
    October 25, 2017 University of Georgia read full ScienceDaily article here
    Governments and donors have spent billions of dollars since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit attempting to slow the pace of species extinctions around the world. Now, a new article provides the first clear evidence that those efforts are working….

    …Among the study’s findings were that 60 percent of the world’s biodiversity loss could be attributed to seven countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, China, India, Australia and, principally driven by species loss in Hawaii, the U.S. Meanwhile, another seven countries — Mauritius, Seychelles, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Poland and Ukraine — saw their biodiversity improve.

    The good news is that a lot of biodiversity would be protected for relatively little cost by investments in developing countries with high numbers of species,” said Gittleman. He added that it was important to note that as development pressures increase, conservation spending will have to keep pace. Policymakers could use the model to determine these budgets.

    This model provides a framework we can use to balance human development with maintaining biodiversity,” said Gittleman. “In my view, this is an empirical scientific framework of true sustainability.”

    ….Conservation spending had a greater impact in poorer countries than wealthier ones, for instance, and in countries with greater numbers of threatened species. Agricultural expansion had very little effect in countries that already had a lot of farmland than in those with little, and economic growth had less effect in the poorest countries, although its impacts grew stronger as a country’s population increased….

    Anthony Waldron, Daniel C. Miller, Dave Redding, Arne Mooers, Tyler S. Kuhn, Nate Nibbelink, J. Timmons Roberts, Joseph A. Tobias, John L. Gittleman. Reductions in global biodiversity loss predicted from conservation spending. Nature, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/nature24295

  3. Efforts to save sea turtles are a ‘global conservation success story’

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    September 20, 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science Read full ScienceDaily article here

    A new study of the world’s seven sea turtle species provides evidence that their numbers are growing overall (unlike many endangered vertebrates), thanks to years of conservation efforts that have played a key role in sea turtle recovery — even for small sea turtle populations. Sea turtles have historically suffered population declines for reasons that include accidental catch and harvesting adults and eggs…

    Antonios D. Mazaris, Gail Schofield, Chrysoula Gkazinou, Vasiliki Almpanidou and Graeme C. Hays. Global sea turtle conservation successes. Science Advances, 20 Sep 2017 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1600730

  4. ‘Keep it local’ approach more effective than government schemes at protecting rainforest

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    September 12, 2017 University of Cambridge  read full ScienceDaily article here

    Conservation initiatives led by local and indigenous groups can be just as effective as schemes led by government, according to new research. In some cases in the Amazon rainforest, grassroots initiatives can be even more effective at protecting this vital ecosystem

    …”Policy makers must focus on a more diverse set of mechanisms for protecting the rapidly disappearing tropical forests,” said Schleicher. “Our analysis shows that local stewardship of the forest can be very effective at curtailing forest degradation and conversion in the Peruvian Amazon. Local conservation initiatives deserve more political, financial and legal support than they currently receive.”

    “Our analysis shows that there is no single way of protecting tropical forests, and multiple approaches are required to stem the relentless tide of forest conversion and degradation,” said co-author Professor Carlos Peres from UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences.

    Judith Schleicher, Carlos A. Peres, Tatsuya Amano, William Llactayo, Nigel Leader-Williams. Conservation performance of different conservation governance regimes in the Peruvian Amazon. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-10736-w

  5. Earth Optimism Summit 2017- videos available

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    Smithsonian Conservation Commons
    April 21-23, 2017

    see full listing of videos and speakers here

    What’s Working in Conservation

    Earth Optimism celebrates a change in focus from problem to solution in the area of global conservation with an unprecedented gathering of thought leaders, scientists, environmentalists, artists, civic leaders and international media.

    The global conservation movement has reached a turning point. We have documented the fast pace of habitat loss, the growing number of endangered and extinct species, and the increasing speed of global climate change. Yet while the seriousness of these threats cannot be denied, there are a growing number of examples of improvements in the health of species and ecosystems, along with benefits to human well-being, thanks to our conservation actions. Earth Optimism is a global initiative that celebrates a change in focus from problem to solution, from a sense of loss to one of hope, in the dialogue about conservation and sustainability.

  6. Research calls for enhancing long-term benefits of Farm Bill conservation incentive programs; Point Blue co-authored

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    Recommendations from improving conservation outcomes include:

    • Remove limits on re-enrollments allowed if there are a limited number of landowners interested in the program;
    • Remove limits re-enrollments where landowners must continually apply a practice for conservation outcomes;
    • Prioritize projects where landowners enroll for the long term; and
    • Consider likelihood of persistence [continuing of practices after incentives end] when designing programs.

    July 27 2017 see full PhysOrg article here 

    Many farmers, ranchers, and landowners rely on voluntary conservation incentive programs within the Farm Bill to make improvements to their land and operations that benefit them, the environment, and society. According to a recent study by researchers from Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment and Point Blue Conservation Science published in the scientific journal Conservation Letters, it is necessary to find ways to sustain the benefits from these practices after the incentive ends. This finding is crucial as Congress discusses the reauthorization of the Farm Bill.

    In the United States, federal incentive programs aimed at promoting private land fall under the umbrella of the Farm Bill, a package of legislation that promotes conservation efforts on farms and private lands, among other purposes. Typically taking the form of cash payments, tax credits, or cost-share agreements, these incentive programs allow to participate in conservation activities while maintaining ownership of their land.

    Persistence…is the continuation of a conservation practice after incentives from voluntary conservation programs end….

    Dayer worked with Seth Lutter, a master’s student in fish and , and Kristin Sesser, Catherine Hickey, and Thomas Gardali from Point Blue Conservation Science, a California-based and research nonprofit, to examine the existing research literature on landowner behavior after incentive programs ended to determine what factors contributed to landowners continuing conservation efforts on their own….

    In this study, supported by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the authors developed five research-based explanations for whether or not persistence outcomes could be expected. The pathways include landowners’ attitudes toward the conservation practices, landowners’ motivations for participating in incentive programs, habit formation, access to resources, and social influences.

    …”More research is needed in this social science side of landowner conservation incentive programs“…. Ultimately, incentive programs that assist landowners with benefit the population as a whole.

    Private lands is critical,” Dayer said. “Often when we think about land for wildlife, we think about national parks or protected areas, but those are a small proportion. In the U.S., 60 percent of the land is privately owned.“…

    Ashley A. Dayer, Seth H Lutter, Kristin A Sesser, Catherine M. Hickey, and Thomas Gardali. Private Landowner Conservation Behavior Following Participation in Voluntary Incentive Programs: Recommendations to Facilitate Behavioral Persistence, Conservation Letters (2017). DOI: 10.1111/conl.12394
  7. 2017 National Sportsmen’s Survey- 87% do not want cuts to conservation programs

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    Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership National Sportsmen’s Survey June 2017 See full survey here

    Major policy decisions are being made right now that will affect the future of hunting and fishing. To learn how America’s 40 million hunters and anglers perceive these issues, the TRCP teamed up with Public Opinion Strategies, one of the nation’s leading public opinion research firms, in May 2017 to conduct a national poll. Here’s what sportsmen told us:

    • 97% agree that protecting and conserving public lands for future generations is important
    • 4 out of 5 respondents support Clean Water Act protections for smaller headwater streams and wetlands;
    • 87% of hunters and anglers do not want to see cuts to conservation programs;
    • 82% of sportsmen support the BLM’s plans for conserving greater sage-grouse habitat, and
    • 75% support providing financial incentives for farmers and ranchers to conserve land for habitat and clean water through Farm Bill conservation programs.
    • 71% of Republican sportsmen support conservation on private lands through Farm Bill programs, as reported in this survey.
  8. Science Matters

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    To put it simply, science matters—especially as global climate change and habitat loss continue to escalate.

    But the alarming gag orders, recently issued to our natural resource science partners in Washington, put U.S. environmental leadership and the very well being of our planet in jeopardy.

    Point Blue is trusted by our federal partners to manage millions of bird and other ecological observations to achieve our common climate-smart conservation goals.  We pledge to continue stewarding this valuable information collaboratively and transparently.

    Central Sierra Project Leader Alissa Fogg. Photo by Ryan DiGaudioCentral Sierra Project Leader Alissa Fogg. Photo by Ryan DiGaudio

    In these challenging times, Point Blue’s collaborative science, grounded in 52 years of conservation expertise, will continue to be a beacon of hope.

    With your support, we and our many public and private partners will:

    • Enhance the benefits nature provides to humans—including clean air, fresh water, fisheries, carbon sequestration, flood control and recreation;
    • Expand climate-smart restoration from mountain meadows and rangelands to coastal streams and tidal wetlands;
    • Sustain healthy populations of birds, whales and other wildlife; and,
    • Train the next generation of conservation leaders in nature-based solutions.

    Thank you for standing with Point Blue Conservation Science to secure a healthy future for wildlife and people!

    -Ellie Cohen, President & CEO


  9. Antarctica’s Ross Sea Designated as Marine Protected Area – Point Blue science contributes to major conservation victory

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    In late October, 2016, just as Point Blue’s Chief Science Officer, Dr. Grant Ballard, and colleagues left for their austral summer field work on Adélie Penguins and environmental change in Antarctica, the 24-nation Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) unanimously agreed to establish the Ross Sea as the world’s largest marine protected area.

    Working over seven years to make this conservation dream a reality, Point Blue and partners established the scientific basis for the protection of the Ross Sea, the world’s last near-pristine ocean. See here for a summary of the seminal 2012 publication led by Point Blue and here for the full list of recent publications we co-authored and presented on to leaders of CCAMLR’s member countries.

    The agreement provides that certain human activities, such as commercial fishing, will be prohibited across a vast area in order to meet a set of conservation and wildlife habitat protection goals that Point Blue helped to establish. Some concessions were made – for example, commercial fishing interests will be allowed to continue fishing within a designated zone for the long-lived Antarctic toothfish, a critical member of the Ross Sea food web. Also, many had sought for this agreement to be permanent, however a “sunset clause” allows it to be reviewed in 35 years.

    The good news is that the Ross Sea will remain relatively protected from human-driven impacts, helping to sustain thriving marine wildlife during this time of rapid climate change.  What a significant milestone for conservation.

    Please join me in congratulating Grant and his science team with a gift to Point Blue in their honor.

  10. World Now Protects 15% Land, 12% Waters, but Crucial Biodiversity Zones Left Out

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    Close to 15% of the Earth’s land and 12% of its territorial waters are covered by national parks and other protected areas.
    Coverage of marine protected areas more than quadrupled in the last decade.
    Eight in 10 key biodiversity areas worldwide lack complete protection.

    Download full report.

    2 September 2016With 14.7 per cent of the Earth’s land and 12 per cent of its territorial waters under protection, the world is on track to meet a major global conservation target according to UN Environment and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). But in their 2016 Protected Planet report, launched today at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaiʻi, UN Environment and IUCN also show that crucial biodiversity areas are being left out, key species and habitats are underrepresented and inadequate management is limiting the effectiveness of protected areas.

    The huge gains in the number and size of protected areas made in the last decade have to be matched by improvements in their quality,” said UN Environment Head Erik Solheim. “The world needs to do more to effectively protect our most biologically diverse spaces. Protected areas need to be better connected, to allow populations of animals and plants to mix and spread. Also important is ensuring local communities are involved in protection efforts. Their support is fundamental to long-term conservation.” … According to scientists at IUCN and UN Environment’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre, there are 202,467 protected areas today, covering almost 20 million square kilometres or 14.7 per cent of the world’s land, excluding Antarctica. That falls just short of the 17 per cent target set for 2020 by the Convention on Biological Diversity under the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

    Areas of importance for biodiversity–Currently less than 20 per cent of the world’s key biodiversity areas are completely covered by protected areas.

    Lack of effective management –Less than 20 per cent of countries have met their commitments to assess the management of their protected areas, raising questions about the quality and effectiveness of existing conservation measures.

    Protected areas are fundamental for sustainable development –The report recommends investing in protected areas to strengthen sustainable management of fisheries, control invasive species, cope with climate change and reduce harmful incentives, such as subsidies, which threaten biodiversity….