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Conservation Journey Ends at 7,600-Mile Mark
It took conservationist John Davis exactly 280 continuous days to hike, bike, paddle and sail 7,600 miles from Key Largo, Florida’s Pennekamp State Park to Quebec’s Forillon National Park, but the adventurer hopes his message to connect and protect the proposed “Eastern Wildway” that his trek followed will last far longer than that.
His final steps were taken among a crowd of reporters, Parks Canada officials and volunteers from local organizations like Nature Conservancy Canada, International Appalachian Trail Club and Appalachian Corridor Appalachien at a remote shelter near the spot where the Appalachian Mountains take a final dive into the sea at Forillon National Park’s “Land’s End” coastline. There, Davis repeated his recommendations for maintaining and connecting the last remaining wildlife corridors of the eastern U.S. and Canada.
“While I’ve seen numerous threats to wild nature over the past 10 months, I’ve also seen incredible efforts underway to counter those threats,” Davis noted. “If our eastern wildlife is to survive and rejuvenate, all of us need to focus on five conservation actions—Connect and protect existing big wild areas, reintroduce important key species like wolves and cougars, create wildlife crossings over and under highways, protect waterways with riparian buffers, and create stronger incentives for private lands stewardship.” All of which, he says, will result in the creation of a linked mosaic of wildlands stretching throughout a connected Eastern Wildway.
Davis also outlined another key element essential for TrekEast success. “Trekking 7,600 miles has been the easy part. Now comes the much more important and difficult leg of the trip—maintaining and growing the network of people needed to protect a continental-sized network of connected eastern wildlands.” He urged his followers to stay connected with one another and to spread the word. “Together we can do this,” he said, offering TrekEast sponsor Wildlands Network’s website, Facebook and Twitter sites as good ways to stay in touch. (Click here)
Following his remarks, Davis departed for Washington, D.C., where he will meet with key conservation leaders and media on Nov. 17, when he will review the amazing list of milestones achieved on his record-breaking trek and reinforce his call for conservation actions in the East. Davis also says he will unveil preliminary plans to launch a similar “TrekWest” campaign in 2013, covering the Western Wildway from Mexico to Canada.
For more information, click here.
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Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.
The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.
"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.
The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.
"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."
The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.
"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."
Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.
Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.
That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.
Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.
If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.
"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."
To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.
"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."
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