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Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life
In Buchanan County, Virginia, a 2,600-acre former strip mine site is being restored with wildlife in mind: seeding with native plants, removing invasive species, improving the soil and reintroducing an elk population. Leon Boyd

By Mason Adams

The camera wasn't where it was supposed to be. Clad in chest waders and camouflage, Kyle Hill stepped into the pond, reached into the shallow water, and lifted it from the post where it had been mounted. "They got it pretty good," he said.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The bristol bay watershed is the annual spawning ground for some 60 million salmon. Corey Arnold

By Brendan Jones

Since 2004, Alaska Natives, fishing councils and locals in the town of Dillingham have formed a rare alignment against a proposed gold mine near Bristol Bay and the headwaters of two of the last great salmon rivers on Earth.

Read More Show Less

Anishinaabe economist and writer Winona LaDuke identifies two types of economies, grounded in different ways of seeing. Speaking in Vancouver recently, she characterized one as an "extreme extractive economy" fed by exploitation of people and nature. The second is a "regenerative economy" based on an understanding of the land and our relationship to it.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Platypus swimming.

JohnCarnemolla / iStock / Getty Images

By Jason Bittel

We don't know much about platypuses, but what we do know is pretty fascinating.

Read More Show Less
Screenshot of a video by a Mercy for Animals (MFA) investigator at Tosh Farms, a JBS pork supplier based in Franklin, Kentucky. Mercy for Animals

By Reynard Loki

Warning: This article contains graphic descriptions and images of animal abuse.

In September of last year, two executives of JBS, the world's largest meat producer, based in Brazil, were arrested and charged with insider trading. In May 2017, the billionaire siblings—Wesley Batista, JBS's CEO, and his younger brother Joesley, the firm's former chairman—admitted to bribing more than 1,800 politicians and government officials, including meat inspectors, in an effort to avoid food safety checks.

Read More Show Less

By Andy Rowell

For years, environmentalists have warned that due to climate change, there will be billions of barrels of oil that we will never be able to burn. These reserves will become what has increasingly been called "stranded assets."

To give you one example: In a new report, Friends of the Earth argued that "The coal, oil and gas in reserves already in production and development globally is more than we can afford to burn. There is no room for any new coal, oil or gas exploration and production.

Read More Show Less
Even pocket parks in cities (e.g. Duane Park in Lower Manhattan) can shelter wildlife. Read below for ideas about urban biodiversity. Aude / CC BY-SA

By Jennifer Weeks

Much news about the environment in 2017 focused on controversies over Trump administration actions, such as proposals to promote more use of coal and budget cuts at relevant federal agencies. At the same time, however, many scholars across the U.S. are pursuing innovations that could help create a more sustainable world. Here we spotlight five examples from our 2017 archives.

Read More Show Less

Trending

By Paul Brown

The collapse of the Soviet Union left Bulgaria achieving in the 1990s what the rest of the world is working hard to manage in the 2020s, a reduction in its carbon dioxide emissions of more than 45 percent.

But while a lot of inefficient mines and smelting plants have closed, the rump of the minerals industry survived. It is now expanding again, destroying pristine forests and wildlife and raising questions about Europe's policy of transporting ore across the globe for smelting and refining.

The lynx is one Bulgarian species in jeopardy from mining for gold and silver.Jonas Bengtsson / Wikimedia Commons

Vast quantities of raw material are transported by ship, but the emissions caused are not counted because shipping is not covered by the Paris Agreement of last December.

In countries across the Balkans the lure of high metal prices and the prospect of new employment are leading governments to ignore the heavy environmental costs of new mines.

In Bulgaria itself, for example, the collapse of inefficient mining and heavy industries led many to migrate to the cities, leaving the countryside with severe unemployment. More than one million emigrated to find new work abroad.

The knowledge that there are gold and silver deposits in the mountains has led to a new rush to open mines in pristine natural areas and a battle over whether Macedonia, Serbia and Bulgaria should foster agriculture and tourism or plump for the short-term gains of mining.

Climate change rarely gets mentioned in these arguments over the opening-up of beautiful forested areas and wildlife havens for mining. But the way the industry operates is adding dramatically to emissions of greenhouse gases.

Two-Way Traffic

This is because the banning of the use of cyanide means partly-separated silver and gold ore will be sent to Namibia for processing. Additionally, to feed spare capacity in European smelters for zinc and other metals, ore will be imported from South America.

The latest battle involves the impoverished and depopulated Trun border region of Bulgaria which contains a beautiful mountainous area, home to bears, wolves and lynx. Trun faces a difficult dilemma: to welcome or oppose plans for vast new gold and silver mines.

The mining area will come within 100 meters of the village of Erul, buried in the forested border with Serbia. Currently the village has 18 inhabitants.

Outside the tiny monastery next to the holy well, Archimandrite Joseph, the priest in charge, has no doubt that the mine will be bad for the people. "I am against the mine because it will destroy nature. God's garden should not be destroyed. We hesitate to build our houses bigger because it will damage the ecology, but the mining company wants to remove the whole hill."

The profusion of wild flowers, including many orchids, helps to make the area a Natura 2000 site, supposedly giving it special protection under European legislation. This has led the mining company, Euromax Services, to amend its original plans.

Instead of all being opencast quarries, three of the proposed mines inside the protected area will be underground, with three outside the Natura 2000 site still opencast.

The company's case is that the mine will provide 500 jobs in the impoverished municipality of Trun in which Erul lies, where by coincidence 500 of the population of 4,000 are unemployed.

No Risk

The company is part-Bulgarian but the holding company, Assarel Medet, is incorporated in Malta. It has taken over an empty shop in the town and turned it into a well-furnished information center, where staff entertain local schoolchildren to geology lessons to educate them about the wonders of gold mining.

Elitsa Georgieva, the company's community relations chief, says it wants to take 750,000 tons of ore out of the mountain more than 26 years to extract the gold and silver. She says the 320-hectare tailings pond will be lined to prevent chemicals contaminating the water supply. In any case, she adds, the chemicals are not dangerous.

The proposed mine is on a ridge of mountains which have been exploited since ancient times, where the Greeks and Romans had extensive workings. The last mine in this area closed in the 1970s, but while gold remains at US$1,200 an ounce demolishing mountains to reach the ore is an economic proposition.

The company is currently paying experts to compile the environmental impact assessment required by law before the government will grant a permit to mine.

Rumiana Boyanova, aged 34, whose grandparents come from the district and who spends week-ends in the area, has formed a local resistance group.

"We have the cleanest air in Bulgaria, an untouched wilderness, with many rare and protected species. There are lots of interesting archaeological discoveries, Thracian, Roman and others yet to be properly studied", she said.

She does not believe the company's promises about recycling the water for the mine and fears the poisoning of drinking water and rivers.

"There is a much better alternative to mining in the increasing development of eco-tourism," Boyanova said. There is already an established local industry of picking wild herbs and hunting wild game like pigs and deer. "When the gold digging is finished in 20 years, we will be left with a moonscape."

Asked about climate change, she said that of course shifting 750,000 tons of rock would use vast amounts of diesel fuel and destroying the forests would release carbon. The company would not comment on climate change but said local environmental damage would be minimal. The concentrate containing the gold and silver will go to Namibia for final extraction.

Dimitar Sabev, a Bulgarian economist and journalist, who has studied the metal trade in Europe, said the new mine is part of a pattern of uncounted carbon emissions involving the transport of lead, zinc and copper concentrates from Latin America to the smelters of the European Union, Bulgaria's included. "This 10,000 km-long trade line across oceans is tax-exempt and free to create considerable emissions, since it is a several million tons load."

The controversial free trade agreement between the EU and Peru and Colombia, dating from 2013, cemented these fast-growing shipments.

"The least that could be said is that this trade is carbon-irresponsible," Sabev said. "I personally see here another manifestation of resource exploitation and profiting from others' underdevelopment. The environmental impacts remain hidden from the public."

He says work is still in progress on calculating the emissions involved, but ore transport from South America to Europe will not be less than 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide—which is not counted in EU inventories.

By National Wildlife Federation Staff

In honor of Valentine's Day, National Wildlife Federation staff members shared favorite wild places and hidden gems—from national parks to national forests to wildlife refuges.

As naturalist David Mizejewski said, "What a gift."

Not only do they inspire and amaze millions of visitors, America's wild public lands provide habitat for an extraordinary range of rare and vulnerable wildlife species.

Explore some of these special places through the eyes of National Wildlife Federation naturalists, scientists and educators. Go ahead and fall in love!

1. Channel Islands National Park (California)

Island fox.Tim Coonan / National Park Service

My family has visited many national parks over the years, but one of my favorites is Channel Islands National Park off the southern California coast. It's a true gem for many reasons and since you can only get there by boat or small plane, it's one of the least visited national parks. Special memories from our day trip include taking a guided hike which led to stunning coastal views, along with a snorkeling adventure and several sightings of the island fox, only found on the Channel Islands.

—Kath Race, K-12 program coordinator, education

2. Mojave National Preserve (California)

Black-tailed jackrabbit at Mohave National Preserve.National Park Service

My favorite national park is the Mojave National Preserve, California. Why? Hole-in-the-Wall Rings Loop Trail and group campsite. It's a short hike, compared to most. Nevertheless, magic surrounds its trail and it's transformative. I remember my first visit, walking through a small valley and its walls filled with holes. Over millions of years, eruptions spewed layers of lava and uneven cooling and gases captured during the eruption formed the "holes." They make for great photos. Looking at pictures, I came to realize that I don't have a favorite park, but that I have a favorite realization. On my first visit, I came to realize the power of the wild. The wild brings us together and surrounds us like a warm embrace.

—Tony Bautista, California environmental education manager

3. Yosemite National Park (California)

Gallison Lake.Beth Pratt / National Wildlife Federation.

I call Yosemite my North Star—it's a place that always centers and guides me and has since I first stepped foot in the park almost thirty years ago. I worked in the park for over a decade, got engaged and married there and have explored much of its 1,169 square miles. Half Dome and Yosemite Falls usually dominate the scenic photos you see of the park, but the most beautiful place in Yosemite for me sits far in the backcountry, a lovely turquoise gem of a lake placed within the glacier-carved setting of the Cathedral Range. I've never known such absolute peace as when I relaxed in the embrace of its soft meadows, gazing at the rich blue Sierra sky and listening to the chirping of my favorite critter, the pika, echo off the rocks.

—Beth Pratt, California executive director

4. Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (Hawai'i)

Masked boobies, a species unique to Papahānaumokuākea.Kaleomanuiwa Wong / NOAA

Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is one of the largest protected areas in the world—encompassing 583,000 square miles of ocean waters, including 10 islands—and there's no other place like it. The Native Hawaiian people consider it the place where life begins. It is also part of the seascape used by wayfarers in traditional ocean voyaging by canoe. As a protected area, it helps to preserve top predators such as sharks and jacks. It includes the migratory routes of many threatened and endangered marine species, including whales, Hawaiian monk seals, sharks, sea turtles and seabirds. Its rich biodiversity is amazing and new species are discovered every time scientists explore the area. It is truly a world heritage site set aside for our children and generations to come.

—Marjorie Ziegler, executive director of NWF affiliate Conservation Council for Hawai'i

Trending

Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life
In Buchanan County, Virginia, a 2,600-acre former strip mine site is being restored with wildlife in mind: seeding with native plants, removing invasive species, improving the soil and reintroducing an elk population. Leon Boyd

By Mason Adams

The camera wasn't where it was supposed to be. Clad in chest waders and camouflage, Kyle Hill stepped into the pond, reached into the shallow water, and lifted it from the post where it had been mounted. "They got it pretty good," he said.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The bristol bay watershed is the annual spawning ground for some 60 million salmon. Corey Arnold

By Brendan Jones

Since 2004, Alaska Natives, fishing councils and locals in the town of Dillingham have formed a rare alignment against a proposed gold mine near Bristol Bay and the headwaters of two of the last great salmon rivers on Earth.

Read More Show Less

Anishinaabe economist and writer Winona LaDuke identifies two types of economies, grounded in different ways of seeing. Speaking in Vancouver recently, she characterized one as an "extreme extractive economy" fed by exploitation of people and nature. The second is a "regenerative economy" based on an understanding of the land and our relationship to it.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Platypus swimming.

JohnCarnemolla / iStock / Getty Images

By Jason Bittel

We don't know much about platypuses, but what we do know is pretty fascinating.

Read More Show Less
Screenshot of a video by a Mercy for Animals (MFA) investigator at Tosh Farms, a JBS pork supplier based in Franklin, Kentucky. Mercy for Animals

By Reynard Loki

Warning: This article contains graphic descriptions and images of animal abuse.

In September of last year, two executives of JBS, the world's largest meat producer, based in Brazil, were arrested and charged with insider trading. In May 2017, the billionaire siblings—Wesley Batista, JBS's CEO, and his younger brother Joesley, the firm's former chairman—admitted to bribing more than 1,800 politicians and government officials, including meat inspectors, in an effort to avoid food safety checks.

Read More Show Less

By Andy Rowell

For years, environmentalists have warned that due to climate change, there will be billions of barrels of oil that we will never be able to burn. These reserves will become what has increasingly been called "stranded assets."

To give you one example: In a new report, Friends of the Earth argued that "The coal, oil and gas in reserves already in production and development globally is more than we can afford to burn. There is no room for any new coal, oil or gas exploration and production.

Read More Show Less
Even pocket parks in cities (e.g. Duane Park in Lower Manhattan) can shelter wildlife. Read below for ideas about urban biodiversity. Aude / CC BY-SA

By Jennifer Weeks

Much news about the environment in 2017 focused on controversies over Trump administration actions, such as proposals to promote more use of coal and budget cuts at relevant federal agencies. At the same time, however, many scholars across the U.S. are pursuing innovations that could help create a more sustainable world. Here we spotlight five examples from our 2017 archives.

Read More Show Less

Trending

By Paul Brown

The collapse of the Soviet Union left Bulgaria achieving in the 1990s what the rest of the world is working hard to manage in the 2020s, a reduction in its carbon dioxide emissions of more than 45 percent.

But while a lot of inefficient mines and smelting plants have closed, the rump of the minerals industry survived. It is now expanding again, destroying pristine forests and wildlife and raising questions about Europe's policy of transporting ore across the globe for smelting and refining.

The lynx is one Bulgarian species in jeopardy from mining for gold and silver.Jonas Bengtsson / Wikimedia Commons

Vast quantities of raw material are transported by ship, but the emissions caused are not counted because shipping is not covered by the Paris Agreement of last December.

In countries across the Balkans the lure of high metal prices and the prospect of new employment are leading governments to ignore the heavy environmental costs of new mines.

In Bulgaria itself, for example, the collapse of inefficient mining and heavy industries led many to migrate to the cities, leaving the countryside with severe unemployment. More than one million emigrated to find new work abroad.

The knowledge that there are gold and silver deposits in the mountains has led to a new rush to open mines in pristine natural areas and a battle over whether Macedonia, Serbia and Bulgaria should foster agriculture and tourism or plump for the short-term gains of mining.

Climate change rarely gets mentioned in these arguments over the opening-up of beautiful forested areas and wildlife havens for mining. But the way the industry operates is adding dramatically to emissions of greenhouse gases.

Two-Way Traffic

This is because the banning of the use of cyanide means partly-separated silver and gold ore will be sent to Namibia for processing. Additionally, to feed spare capacity in European smelters for zinc and other metals, ore will be imported from South America.

The latest battle involves the impoverished and depopulated Trun border region of Bulgaria which contains a beautiful mountainous area, home to bears, wolves and lynx. Trun faces a difficult dilemma: to welcome or oppose plans for vast new gold and silver mines.

The mining area will come within 100 meters of the village of Erul, buried in the forested border with Serbia. Currently the village has 18 inhabitants.

Outside the tiny monastery next to the holy well, Archimandrite Joseph, the priest in charge, has no doubt that the mine will be bad for the people. "I am against the mine because it will destroy nature. God's garden should not be destroyed. We hesitate to build our houses bigger because it will damage the ecology, but the mining company wants to remove the whole hill."

The profusion of wild flowers, including many orchids, helps to make the area a Natura 2000 site, supposedly giving it special protection under European legislation. This has led the mining company, Euromax Services, to amend its original plans.

Instead of all being opencast quarries, three of the proposed mines inside the protected area will be underground, with three outside the Natura 2000 site still opencast.

The company's case is that the mine will provide 500 jobs in the impoverished municipality of Trun in which Erul lies, where by coincidence 500 of the population of 4,000 are unemployed.

No Risk

The company is part-Bulgarian but the holding company, Assarel Medet, is incorporated in Malta. It has taken over an empty shop in the town and turned it into a well-furnished information center, where staff entertain local schoolchildren to geology lessons to educate them about the wonders of gold mining.

Elitsa Georgieva, the company's community relations chief, says it wants to take 750,000 tons of ore out of the mountain more than 26 years to extract the gold and silver. She says the 320-hectare tailings pond will be lined to prevent chemicals contaminating the water supply. In any case, she adds, the chemicals are not dangerous.

The proposed mine is on a ridge of mountains which have been exploited since ancient times, where the Greeks and Romans had extensive workings. The last mine in this area closed in the 1970s, but while gold remains at US$1,200 an ounce demolishing mountains to reach the ore is an economic proposition.

The company is currently paying experts to compile the environmental impact assessment required by law before the government will grant a permit to mine.

Rumiana Boyanova, aged 34, whose grandparents come from the district and who spends week-ends in the area, has formed a local resistance group.

"We have the cleanest air in Bulgaria, an untouched wilderness, with many rare and protected species. There are lots of interesting archaeological discoveries, Thracian, Roman and others yet to be properly studied", she said.

She does not believe the company's promises about recycling the water for the mine and fears the poisoning of drinking water and rivers.

"There is a much better alternative to mining in the increasing development of eco-tourism," Boyanova said. There is already an established local industry of picking wild herbs and hunting wild game like pigs and deer. "When the gold digging is finished in 20 years, we will be left with a moonscape."

Asked about climate change, she said that of course shifting 750,000 tons of rock would use vast amounts of diesel fuel and destroying the forests would release carbon. The company would not comment on climate change but said local environmental damage would be minimal. The concentrate containing the gold and silver will go to Namibia for final extraction.

Dimitar Sabev, a Bulgarian economist and journalist, who has studied the metal trade in Europe, said the new mine is part of a pattern of uncounted carbon emissions involving the transport of lead, zinc and copper concentrates from Latin America to the smelters of the European Union, Bulgaria's included. "This 10,000 km-long trade line across oceans is tax-exempt and free to create considerable emissions, since it is a several million tons load."

The controversial free trade agreement between the EU and Peru and Colombia, dating from 2013, cemented these fast-growing shipments.

"The least that could be said is that this trade is carbon-irresponsible," Sabev said. "I personally see here another manifestation of resource exploitation and profiting from others' underdevelopment. The environmental impacts remain hidden from the public."

He says work is still in progress on calculating the emissions involved, but ore transport from South America to Europe will not be less than 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide—which is not counted in EU inventories.

By National Wildlife Federation Staff

In honor of Valentine's Day, National Wildlife Federation staff members shared favorite wild places and hidden gems—from national parks to national forests to wildlife refuges.

As naturalist David Mizejewski said, "What a gift."

Not only do they inspire and amaze millions of visitors, America's wild public lands provide habitat for an extraordinary range of rare and vulnerable wildlife species.

Explore some of these special places through the eyes of National Wildlife Federation naturalists, scientists and educators. Go ahead and fall in love!

1. Channel Islands National Park (California)

Island fox.Tim Coonan / National Park Service

My family has visited many national parks over the years, but one of my favorites is Channel Islands National Park off the southern California coast. It's a true gem for many reasons and since you can only get there by boat or small plane, it's one of the least visited national parks. Special memories from our day trip include taking a guided hike which led to stunning coastal views, along with a snorkeling adventure and several sightings of the island fox, only found on the Channel Islands.

—Kath Race, K-12 program coordinator, education

2. Mojave National Preserve (California)

Black-tailed jackrabbit at Mohave National Preserve.National Park Service

My favorite national park is the Mojave National Preserve, California. Why? Hole-in-the-Wall Rings Loop Trail and group campsite. It's a short hike, compared to most. Nevertheless, magic surrounds its trail and it's transformative. I remember my first visit, walking through a small valley and its walls filled with holes. Over millions of years, eruptions spewed layers of lava and uneven cooling and gases captured during the eruption formed the "holes." They make for great photos. Looking at pictures, I came to realize that I don't have a favorite park, but that I have a favorite realization. On my first visit, I came to realize the power of the wild. The wild brings us together and surrounds us like a warm embrace.

—Tony Bautista, California environmental education manager

3. Yosemite National Park (California)

Gallison Lake.Beth Pratt / National Wildlife Federation.

I call Yosemite my North Star—it's a place that always centers and guides me and has since I first stepped foot in the park almost thirty years ago. I worked in the park for over a decade, got engaged and married there and have explored much of its 1,169 square miles. Half Dome and Yosemite Falls usually dominate the scenic photos you see of the park, but the most beautiful place in Yosemite for me sits far in the backcountry, a lovely turquoise gem of a lake placed within the glacier-carved setting of the Cathedral Range. I've never known such absolute peace as when I relaxed in the embrace of its soft meadows, gazing at the rich blue Sierra sky and listening to the chirping of my favorite critter, the pika, echo off the rocks.

—Beth Pratt, California executive director

4. Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (Hawai'i)

Masked boobies, a species unique to Papahānaumokuākea.Kaleomanuiwa Wong / NOAA

Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is one of the largest protected areas in the world—encompassing 583,000 square miles of ocean waters, including 10 islands—and there's no other place like it. The Native Hawaiian people consider it the place where life begins. It is also part of the seascape used by wayfarers in traditional ocean voyaging by canoe. As a protected area, it helps to preserve top predators such as sharks and jacks. It includes the migratory routes of many threatened and endangered marine species, including whales, Hawaiian monk seals, sharks, sea turtles and seabirds. Its rich biodiversity is amazing and new species are discovered every time scientists explore the area. It is truly a world heritage site set aside for our children and generations to come.

—Marjorie Ziegler, executive director of NWF affiliate Conservation Council for Hawai'i

Trending

Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life