Category Archives: Conservation

Conservation: Saving The Hargila Stork In India

A wildlife photographer travels to India intent on documenting the rarest stork on earth but soon discovers a conservation hero and her inspiring efforts to rally a community to save it.

The Greater Adjutant is a large scavenging stork that was once widely distributed across India and Southeast Asia but is now confined to a last stronghold in Assam, India, with small populations persisting in Cambodia’s northern plains region. The species is classified as Endangered by the IUCN with a rapidly declining population of around 1,200 individuals. The key threats to the species are direct human persecution, particularly at nesting colonies, habitat destruction, including felling of nest-trees, and drainage, conversion, pollution and degradation of wetlands. Historically, adjutants bred during the dry season, taking advantage of abundant prey steadily trapped by receding water levels, and scavenging the remains of now extirpated megafauna. Today, the last adjutants survive alongside humans, congregating at garbage dumps and nesting colonially in rural villages. The majority world’s remain population lives around the city of Guwahati and relies on a single garbage dump for food and nearby villages for nesting. As the adjutant’s nesting colonies occur outside of state protected areas in Assam, community conservation initiatives are the only hope for saving the bird from extinction. Through the efforts of a remarkable conservation leader, Dr. Purnima Devi Barman, and the movement she has inspired, the birds are now protected, celebrated, and increasing their numbers locally. Despite this success and the momentum to conserve the species, the Greater Adjutant’s existence remains precarious.

Podcasts: Conserving Ancient Bagan, Myanmar

“Bagan is actually a splendid site. You can imagine in only in this, like, fifty square kilometers, they have more than 3,000 monuments. And then all the monuments have different styles and different architecture”.

The ancient past of Bagan, Myanmar, is still visible today in the more than 3,000 temples, monasteries, and works of art and architecture that remain at the site. Beginning around 1000 CE, Bagan served as the capital city of the Pagan Kingdom. Many of the surviving monuments date from the 11th to 13th centuries. A number of these temples are still used by worshippers and pilgrims today. A 2016 earthquake, which damaged over 400 structures, brought renewed international attention to Bagan and its future.

In February 2020, a team from the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) returned from doing intensive preparatory work with international and local colleagues in Bagan to launch a long-term conservation project there. Soon after, the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 closed borders and halted travel. In February 2021, a coup d’état staged by the Burmese Military plunged the country into further uncertainty.

In this episode, Susan Macdonald, head of Buildings and Sites at the GCI, and Ohnmar Myo, the GCI’s consultant in Myanmar, discuss the history of Bagan, the demands and challenges of conservation there, and their hopes for the future of the site. Myo is a former project officer of the Cultural Unit, UNESCO, and was a principal preparator of the report that confirmed Bagan’s World Heritage Site status in 2019. This conversation was recorded in January 2021, under very different circumstances, but it captures the curiosity, ambitions, optimism, and collaborative spirit that guided the project at that time.

Nature: Belize Converts Debt To Protect 30% Of Its Coral Atolls, Barrier Reef

The Belize Barrier Reef System features three of four coral atolls in the Atlantic, lush mangrove forests, numerous offshore islands, and one of the most extensive seagrass areas in the Caribbean. It hosts 77 species listed as threatened by the IUCN, including a sizeable population of West Indian Manatees.

Now, Belize has reaffirmed its environmental leadership by becoming the first country in the Americas to finalize a debt conversion for ocean conservation—and one that represents an impact investment for marine protection that’s unprecedented in scale. This commitment will enable Belize to restructure approximately US$550 million of external commercial debt—an amount that represents 30 percent of the country’s GDP—and reduce the national debt by 12 percent.

Views: Saving Radiated Tortoises In Madagascar

Madagascar conservationists • RFI English.

The radiated tortoise is a tortoise species in the family Testudinidae. Although this species is native to and most abundant in southern Madagascar, it can also be found in the rest of this island, and has been introduced to the islands of Réunion and Mauritius.

Madagascar, officially the Republic of Madagascar, and previously known as the Malagasy Republic, is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately 400 kilometres off the coast of East Africa across the Mozambique Channel. 

Conservation: Protecting Chile’s Araucaria Forests

The monkey puzzle tree is one of the oldest tree species in the world, dating back to the dinosaur age. Climate change and deforestation endanger them, but in areas inhabited by indigenous peoples in Chile, their numbers are increasing.

Araucaria araucana is an evergreen tree growing to 1–1.5 m in diameter and 30–40 m in height. It is native to central and southern Chile and western Argentina. Araucaria araucana is the hardiest species in the conifer genus Araucaria.

Nature: Report Finds 30% Of Species Face Extinction

Nearly 30 percent of the 138,374 species assessed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for its survival watchlist are now at risk of vanishing in the wild forever, as the destructive impact of human activity on the natural world deepens.

California Drought: Lake Oroville’s Stunning Water Loss In Photos (2014 – 2021)

Getty Images photojournalist Justin Sullivan has been following California’s second-largest reservoir’s declining water levels since 2014. Seeing first-hand the climate’s impact through his lens, he’s shocked at how fast the water is gone in one of California’s most important water sources.

Ecology: Scientists Breed Plants With Fast-Growing Roots To Revitalize Land

Humanity faces major challenges. Could roots hold the answers? It’s possible: Research shows that roots have the potential to provide food for the world’s population, stop climate change and help extract resources in an environmentally friendly way. Plants must withstand periods of drought and heat, as well as flooding, and they use their roots to do this. Roots also help them actively search for nutrients in the soil, while warding off dangers such as pathogens and toxins.

Now, scientists at the research institute Forschungszentrum Jülich are investigating root growth using high-tech methods. The goal is to breed stress-resistant seeds for plants with robust roots. They are not alone: In Sweden, Professor Linda Maria Mårtensson is conducting research on a perennial wheat variety that will ensure higher yields while protecting the soil. Along the world’s coasts, too, roots are a lifesaver.

Coastal ecologist Professor Tjeerd Bouma has discovered that if special grasses are planted in front of dikes, they create a salt marsh that acts as a natural breakwater. Meanwhile, geochemist Dr. Oliver Wiche of the Technical University of Freiberg is researching something known as “phytomining.” He wants to know which plants are best suited for mining metals from the soil. Could this root research give rise to a new, environmentally friendly branch of industry?