View at Nature Research Sustainability Community. A response to Schleicher et al. “One Billion People to be Directly Affected by Protecting Half.” Nature Sustainability (2019): 1-3.
We are in a planetary recession marked by biodiversity collapse, climatic upheavals, freshwater shortages, global toxification, and unprecedented human and nonhuman displacements (Ripple et al, 2017). The only positive outlook lies in deep solutions and new narratives. Protecting at least half the Earth, terrestrial and marine, offers such an outlook. Safeguarding nature on a vast scale is necessary both to halt the mass extinction underway and to prevent the huge unleashing of carbon that will result from further ecological degradation (Steffen et al., 2018). In addition to affording robust natural solutions to the ecological exigencies that are imperiling all complex life, the Half Earth (or Nature Needs Half) initiative charts a course toward a sustainable and equitable human coexistence alongside the millions of life forms with whom we share the planet (Noss et al., 2012; Wilson, 2016; Dinerstein et al., 2017; Kopnina 2016; Kopnina et al., 2018).
In implementing Half Earth, conservationists, scientists, and policy-makers should work in concert with indigenous people and local populations (Goodall, 2015). Such efforts are aimed at ensuring that, en route to preempting further ecological catastrophes and healing the relationship between humanity and Earth, wide-scale nature protection will not adversely affect people in proximity to these natural areas (Goodall, 2015; Naidoo et al., 2019). The level of protection proposed will also bar corporate ventures, such as mining, logging, and industrial agriculture, from profiteering at the ongoing expense of the natural world and local and indigenous people (Vettese, 2018).
By Joseph Serna and Susanne Rust
Originally published January 14, 2020 at the Los Angeles Times
KANGAROO ISLAND, Australia — Sam Mitchell balanced himself on a eucalyptus branch 30 feet above the ground as his meaty left fist clutched a koala, which wailed like a pig with breathing problems. The dark gray marsupial batted its 3-inch black claws in the air helplessly, and minutes later Mitchell crawled down. He and the animal were safely on the ground.
Across much of Australia, volunteers and professionals are fighting to contain widespread blazes, with many also taking risks to save wildlife being killed by the millions. Kangaroo Island, a popular tourist destination and wildlife park off Australia’s southeast coast, has seen some of the worst damage to the nation’s biodiversity. Fires have overrun nearly half of the 1,700-square-mile island, and rescuers have been going tree to tree, trying to save what they can.
“There’s not much that isn’t threatening koalas at the moment,” said Mitchell, who has owned and run the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park with his wife, Dana, the last seven years. The couple started a GoFundMe campaign so people can help with the rescues. Without quick intervention, koalas that survived the fires “are going to die of starvation,” he said.
In terms of human fatalities, Australia’s blazes this year have been less severe than some previous bush fires — with 27 people killed so far this season, compared to 75 during the nation’s 1983 “Ash Wednesday” inferno. But the impact on wildlife this year has been far more devastating, a preview of what California could experience in future fire seasons.
Chief Scientist Dr. Dominick DellaSala testifies in the Oregon legislature on a proposal by state legislatures to provide $4 billion for logging Oregon’s forests, which would be a maladaptive climate change response.
Read the testimony
Read the supplemental materials
Read the additional supplemental materials on the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), climate change, thinning, and defensible space
Young growth timber harvest can sustain timber industry, environmentalist says — others aren’t so sure
By Peter Segall, Originally published December 22, 2019 at the Juneau Empire
A recently released mapping project seeks to show the importance of the Tongass National Forest not necessarily in terms of fishing, tourism or dollars but in carbon.
The Oregon-based Geos Institute published an analysis of the Tongass on Dec. 16, and it highlights the importance of the National Forest as a “carbon sink,” which the report says has global climate implications.
“The Tongass is part of a global network of temperate rainforests that make up ~2.5% of the world’s total forest coverage,” the report says. “But these rainforests have exceptional carbon stores for their relatively small spatial extent and are critically important in climate regulation collectively and individually.”
EarthJustice submitted comments to the USDA Forest Service, Alaska Region on December 18, 2019 on behalf of Geos Institute, Alaska Wilderness League, National Wildlife Federation, Audubon Alaska, Alaska Rainforest Defenders, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Wilderness Society, Center for Large Landscape Conservation, Sierra Club, and Southeast Alaska Conservation Council.
Geos Institute and partners have released three fact sheets available for download.
Please join Dr. Dominick DellaSala at his Ridgetop to the Reef presentation titled “How Coastal Rainforests Can Help the Climate” on Thursday, January 9th, 6:30 PM at the Pacific Maritime Heritage Center in Newport.
Receiving as much as 200 inches of annual rainfall on average, the forested western slopes of the Oregon Coast Range unsurprisingly fits the definition as rainforest. In fact, much of the Pacific Coast of North America does in the area between Northern California’s redwoods and Southeastern Alaska. This region, along with the Canadian boreal forest and the world’s tropical forests are considered the ecological lungs of the planet, filtering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to create oxygen, while also storing the carbon in long-lived trees, dead standing and downed wood, and in roots in the soil. While all plants provide this function, the quick growth rates and large sizes that our coastal trees attain provides a powerful mechanism to help absorb the additional carbon dioxide that is dangerously warming our planet.
The carbon storage benefits of conserving natural habitats such as trees, marshes, and soils, in natural and working landscapes are “natural climate solutions”, and the overarching topic of a carbon-storage focused speaker series, “From Ridgetop to Reef”, hosted by the MidCoast Watersheds Council. On Thursday, January 9th , at 6:30 PM at the Pacific Maritime Heritage Center in Newport,Dr. Dominick DellaSalla of the Geos Institute, will focus on the vital role our coastal rainforests play globally. His talk will also discuss the importance of conserving unlogged forests, and how our working forests too can be managed for additional carbon benefits.
Dr. Dominick A. DellaSala is President and Chief Scientist of the Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon and former President of the Society for Conservation Biology, North America Section. He is an internationally renowned author of over 200 science papers on forest and fire ecology, conservation biology, endangered species management, and landscape ecology. Dominick has given plenary and keynote talks ranging from academic conferences to the United Nations Earth Summit. He has appeared in National Geographic, Science Digest, Science Magazine, Scientific American, Time Magazine, Audubon Magazine, National Wildlife Magazine, High Country News, Terrain Magazine, NY Times, LA Times, USA Today, Jim Lehrer News Hour, CNN, MSNBC, “Living on Earth (NPR),” several PBS documentaries, and Fox News. Dominick is currently serving on the Oregon’s Global Warming Commission Subcommittee on Forest Carbon and is Editor of numerous scientific journals and publications. His book: Temperate and Boreal Rain Forests of the World: Ecology and Conservation received an academic excellence award from Choice magazine, one of the nation’s top book review journals. His recent co-authored book, The Ecological Importance of Mixed-Severity Fires: Nature’s Phoenix, presents groundbreaking science on the ecological importance of wildfires. Dominick co-founded the Geos Institute in July 2006 and says he is motivated “to leave a living planet for my two daughters, two grandkids and all those that follow.”
Following the January presentation, on the first Thursday of each month until June, “From Ridgetop to Reef” will explore different habitats of Oregon’s Coast as natural climate solutions
and their potential to store carbon, and the tools and incentives needed to foster widespread actions to enhance this capacity. On Thursday, January 9th, Dominick’s presentation will begin at 6:30 PM in the Pacific Maritime Heritage Center’s newly-renovated Doerfler Family Theatre in Newport on 333 SE Bay Blvd. Refreshments will be provided. Following all presentations part of the series, the MidCoast Watersheds Council regular Board meeting will follow to review current restoration work, the monthly financial report, and the work of the technical and administrative committees.
More information on From Ridgetop to Reef.
Originally published in E&E news by Marc Heller on December 17, 2019
Attorneys general in six states urged the Trump administration yesterday to withdraw a proposal to open more of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to logging, saying it violates several aspects of federal law.
None of the administration’s alternatives that would scale back the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule in the Tongass are lawful, said the officials, representing California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Washington state in a letter to the Forest Service that could telegraph future legal action.
“The undersigned States therefore urge the Forest Service to correct these fundamental legal defects or withdraw the Proposed Rule,” they said.
In their letter, submitted in advance of today’s deadline for public comments on the proposal, the officials criticized the administration for ignoring potential environmental impacts such as effects on carbon sequestration and climate change, and for inadequately consulting with the Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries.
Originally printed in Register Guard on December 14, 2019 by Dominick DellaSala, John Talberth and Ernie Niemi
Every fall, raging hurricanes and urban-wildfires remind us of the inconvenient truth: the climate is getting increasingly weird and dangerous.
Scientists have made it clear that if we hope to avoid escalating climate disruptions, we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground while simultaneously drawing down carbon dioxide put into the atmosphere primarily from burning fossil fuels and global forest destruction.
In fact, experts have determined that the most effective strategy to remove carbon from the atmosphere at a meaningful scale is to protect the world’s remaining unlogged forests and replenish what has been lost by replanting trees and letting them grow to maturity. One study estimates that natural carbon solutions can provide more than one-third of the carbon reduction the world needs to meet the Paris Climate Agreements.
By Bobby Magill, originally published December 9, 2019 at Bloomberg Environment
Deep within the Tongass National Forest, the rain was just heavy enough to need an umbrella—and to wash away a light dusting of snow coating the mountains above Juneau, Alaska.
The low that mid-November morning was 38 degrees, 10 degrees above normal. That’s been the new normal in Alaska’s warmest year on record, slowing the salmon runs in what should be icy streams and killing an estimated 600,000 acres of towering yellow cedar trees.
“See all this rain? We should be having snow,” said Kenneth Weitzel, a natural resources specialist with the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, who’d just returned from a float-plane trip into the Tongass to collect water samples from streams. “Less snow, more rain—that’s the regime we’re changing into now.”