In case you missed it: 3 big stories from our world

Aerial view of the Amazon. (© CIAT/Flickr Creative Commons)

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.

  1. Hitting toughest climate target will save world US$ 30 trillion in damages, analysis shows

The story: Economic analysis shows that 90 percent of the global population would benefit financially from keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, Damian Carrington reported for The Guardian on May 23. This includes almost all the world’s poorest countries, as well as the three biggest economies — the U.S., China and Japan. Hitting this target, set by the Paris Climate Agreement, will save the world about US$ 30 trillion in damages due to climate change.

The big picture: June 1 was the anniversary of U.S. President Donald Trump pulling the federal government out of the Paris Agreement. Trump said that one of his reasons for this decision was that climate action is too costly. This research contradicts that reasoning. “By the end of the century, we find the world will be about 3 percent wealthier if we actually achieve the 1.5 C target relative to 2 C target,” said Marshall Burke, assistant professor at Stanford University, who led the new research. “In dollar terms, this represents about US$ 30 trillion in cumulative benefits.”

Read more here.

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  1. A third of protected wildlife areas marred by roads and towns — study

The story: A third of the world’s protected areas for wildlife is disfigured by roads, farms and other man-made structures that undermine intended goals to safeguard nature and biodiversity, Alister Doyle reported for Reuters on May 17. In 2010, almost 200 countries agreed to set aside 17 percent of the world’s land by 2020 to protect species and prevent the effects of climate change. But without effective management, people begin to encroach on these areas, which — evidence shows — leads to deforestation.

The big picture: This is one of the first indicators in a phenomenon known as PADDD, or protected area downgrading, downsizing and degazettement, where protected areas see their legal protections reduced or removed entirely. Mike Mascia, the world’s leading PADDD expert and senior social scientist at Conservation International, has identified more than 2,200 instances of legal downgrading of protected areas worldwide over the last century. Mascia found in a recent study that protected areas that are deforested are more likely to subsequently lose legal protections. “A protected area’s effectiveness influences its future survival,” Mascia told Human Nature in February. “So if land is protected in name only, and deforestation results, that’s a key risk factor and may lead to loss of legal protections.”

Read more here.

  1. Saving Africa’s wildlife: A 21st-century Noah’s ark transports animals back to places where they’ve been wiped out.

The story: African Parks, a nonprofit organization, aims to restore animal populations that once existed in some of the world’s most remote places by collecting them from areas with high levels of poaching, rehabilitating them and releasing them back to the wild in full health, Kevin Sieff reported for The Washington Post on May 18. This month, it started bringing rhinos back to Chad, where they were wiped out three decades ago.

The big picture: African Parks isn’t the first organization to translocate wildlife, a practice that is decades old. Other groups have moved animals across the continent, but the organization is the first to do it on such a large scale — while managing parks in some of the most violence-plagued countries in Africa. The organization has built hundreds of miles of fencing, trained wildlife rangers, installed surveillance networks and placed satellite collars on some of the most vulnerable species. “Very simply, if a park is not being managed then it will be lost,” said Peter Fearnhead, CEO of African Parks.

Read more here.

Morgan Lynch is a staff writer for Conservation International.

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