Editor’s note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Human Nature shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.
The story: Cape Town, South Africa, has experienced three years of unprecedented drought. Experts estimate that it will become the first major city in the world to run out of water, on April 21. Unless residents drastically cut down on daily use, Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille said, taps in the city that contains 4 million people will soon run dry, according to a report from Aryn Baker at Time Magazine.
The big picture: When the water runs out, residents will have to go to a public water distribution center to collect 25 liters (6.6 gallons) a day, under armed guard. (Well-heeled residents can continue to buy water from other areas.) While the drought is considered a once-in-a-millennium event, Capetonians may be getting a glimpse of a “new normal.”
The story: Ten members of the committee that oversees the United States National Parks resigned last week, citing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s unwillingness to meet with them to discuss environmental priorities. That leaves two remaining members. Former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles, one of the board members that resigned, said that the Department of the Interior “showed no interest in learning about or continuing to use the forward-thinking agenda of science, the effect of climate change, protections of the ecosystems, education,” Scott Neuman and Colin Dwyer at NPR reported.
The big picture: President Trump’s administration has sought to roll back protections of national parks and public lands under the Department of the Interior. The administration initiated the downsizing of two national monuments in Utah and has announced plans to open up oil drilling in areas off the coast of the United States.
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The story: China will plant new forests covering an area roughly the size of Ireland, about 84,421 square kilometers, this year. The country’s goal is to increase forest coverage to 23 percent of its total landmass by the end of the decade, China Daily reported on Friday. China plans to grow at least 6.66 million hectares of new forest this year.
The big picture: China must feed a quarter of the global population using only 7 percent of the world’s arable land. To tackle this problem, the government has begun an “ecological red line” program that mandates regions restrict “irrational development” and curb construction near rivers, forests and national parks. Zhang Jianlong, head of the State Forestry Administration, said 33.8 million hectares of forest had been planted nationwide over the last five years, bringing the country’s total forest area to 208 million hectares.
Morgan Lynch is a staff writer for Conservation International.
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