10 Extraordinary Places Saved by the Endangered Species Act
In celebration of the country's 11th annual Endangered Species Day, the Center for Biological Diversity released a report Thursday highlighting 10 of the most unique and beautiful wild places saved by the presence of endangered species.
From Pacific Ocean kelp forests to Florida's Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge, millions of acres of the nation's most precious and irreplaceable landscapes and seascapes have been conserved and restored as part of the cooperative management of our public lands to recover imperiled species.
“While the Endangered Species Act is best known for saving 99 percent of protected species from extinction, many people don't realize that protecting animals and plants under the act has also resulted in the preservation of some of America's most beautiful and cherished refuges and public spaces," Jamie Pang, an endangered species campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity, said. “Thanks to the act and its mandate to save endangered species and the places they live, we have more national wildlife refuges, as well as healthier lands, cleaner rivers, oceans and lakes where we can hike, fish and observe wildlife."
The power of the Endangered Species Act to conserve and heal landscapes, oceans and waterways while protecting and recovering species is in evidence in every region of the country. Among the areas highlighted in the report, Saving Species and Wild Spaces, 10 Extraordinary Places Saved by the Endangered Species Act, are:
Sauta Cave National Wildlife Refuge, in Alabama, was purchased specifically to protect endangered gray and Indiana bats, providing a summer roosting site for 200,000 to 400,000 gray bats and critical winter hibernacula for both species. Bats provide vitally important ecological service by eating millions of mosquitoes and insects a year. Even after the cave entrances were closed off to protect the species, thousands of visitors come to the refuge every summer to watch the bats fly out at dusk.
The recovery of the once-flagging Pacific kelp beds off the California coast was triggered only after Endangered Species Act protections recovered populations of sea otters, which, in turn, once again started doing the important job of keeping in check a sea urchin population that had overgrazed the underwater kelp forests. Kelp forests play a critical role in absorbing wave energy to prevent shoreline erosion, absorbing greenhouse gasesand providing ecotourism opportunities.
Created in 1992 to protect to endangered songbirds, Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, overlooking the city of Austin, Texas provides surrounding communities with popular recreational and tourism opportunities and offers protection for the critical landscape responsible for recharging a key regional water source, the Edwards aquifer.
Endangered Species Act protections for Atlantic salmon, shortnose sturgeon and Atlantic sturgeon spurred dam removals that helped restore the health of Maine's longest river, the Penobscot, which not only provides a home to birds, mammals and 11 fish species but is a popular recreation and fishing spot.
Other places included in the report are Hawaii's Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona's San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge, the Southeast's longleaf pine ecosystem, the Virgin Islands' Green Cay National Wildlife Refuge and Lake Erie.
“We should step back and truly appreciate all the things the Act has done," Pang said. “Without the powerful conservation tools it provides, America's most important landscapes, waterways and coastlines would be very different places today."
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
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Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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