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: On March 20, Brazil announced the creation of two marine protected areas totaling 900,000 square kilometers — an area bigger than France and the UK combined, Akshat Rathi reported for Quartz. Conservation International (CI) gathered more than 10,000 supporters to encourage the creation of the new marine protected areas.
The big picture: The protected areas are home to algal species, sharks, marine turtle, unique species of coral and sponges, and important migratory species such as Mobula manta rays and whale sharks. Brazil joins a list of several countries, including the United Kingdom, Mexico, Chile, Honduras, Belize and Seychelles, that have designated marine protected areas this year.
Read more here.
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The story: A study found climate change and worsening land quality could cut crop yields by half in some areas by 2050, Anastasia Moloney reported for Reuters. This could force hundreds of millions of people to migrate over the next three decades and potentially ignite conflicts over resources.
The big picture: The report said land could be restored by planting trees, using salt-tolerant crops and re-flooding drained wetlands, but these steps must be taken before it’s too late. In February, Conservation International scientists launched Trends.Earth, a tool that tracks soil health in four African countries, to give communities the agricultural information to make the best decide how to treat their land. “Land degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change are three different faces of the same central challenge: the increasingly dangerous impact of our choices on the health of our natural environment,” said Robert Watson, an atmospheric scientist and chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), in a statement.
Read more here.
The story: Volunteers in Hong Kong are planting gardens on the rooftops of office buildings as a way of making the most of the unused space in the highly populated city, Kelvin Chan reported for The Associated Press on Tuesday. Rooftop Republic has established about one farm a month since its founding three years ago, and now manages 36 farms covering more than 30,000 square feet.
The big picture: Hong Kong imports almost all of its food, much of it from mainland China. Public awareness about food safety in the former British colony has risen after numerous food contamination scandals on the mainland. But most of the volunteers said that they farm because they enjoy it. “The rooftop farms here produce virtually nothing” compared with Hong Kong’s overall consumption, said Matthew Pryor, a Hong Kong University architecture professor. “What they do produce, however, is happiness, and this social capital that they generate is enormous.”
Read more here.
Morgan Lynch is a staff writer for Conservation International.
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