Protecting Africa’s oceans to secure our futures

Liberia

Coast of Liberia. (© Trond Larsen)

Editor’s note: This week, Conservation International is co-hosting the Blue Oceans Conference in Liberia to bring attention to ocean conservation issues in Africa, where they have been historically undervalued. Jessica Donovan-Allen, country director of Conservation International Liberia, spoke at the conference. Here is an edited version of her prepared remarks.

I know personally the value of coastal conservation. I grew up the daughter of a fisherman in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, a child of the ocean. My family’s livelihood rose and fell with the tide, but it was — and remains — the action or inaction of businesses, governments and policymakers that most affect the relationship between oceans and the people connected to them through their livelihoods.

That’s why it is our goal at the Blue Oceans Conference — the first major environmental and marine conference in Western Africa — to confront the challenges of marine pollution, climate change and sustainable fishing.

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Climate strikes, sage grouse, polluting floods: 3 big stories you might have missed

Sage grouse

Greater Sage Grouse in Douglas, Washington. (© knuts-photos)

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. Students worldwide walk out of school to push for action on climate change

Students in more than 100 countries protested inaction against climate change on March 15.

The story: Hundreds of thousands of students walked out of their classrooms last Friday as part of a global protest against lack of government action against climate change, The Washington Post reported last week. The protest was primarily organized and inspired by Greta Thunberg, a youth climate activist from Sweden who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her activism.

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5 ways you can help fight climate change

Youth for the environment

The “Friends of Environment Nature and Development Society” youth group in the Philippines making T-shirts with the message, “Save the Sea Turtle.” (© Keith A. Ellenbogen)

Editor’s note: On Friday, young people are gathering in at least 98 countries to demand action on climate change. First on their list of demands: Governments need to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions. Conservation International’s climate change lead, Shyla Raghav, has a message for them:

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Deforestation, heat waves, rejected recyclables: 3 big stories you might have missed

Brazil rainforest

Amapá State Forest, Brazil. (© Adriano Gambarini)

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. Emboldened by President Jair Bolsonaro, armed invaders are encroaching on Brazil’s tribal lands in the Amazon

Invasions of indigenous lands have increased 150 percent since Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil in October.

The story: During his presidential campaign, Bolsonaro condemned federal protections for indigenous peoples, whose lands make up about 13 percent of Brazil’s territory, Anthony Boadle reported for Reuters last week. In response to Bolsonaro’s antagonistic statements against indigenous rights — and in support of development — during his campaign, attacks on indigenous reservations rose and deforestation rates climbed almost 50 percent.

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In protecting their forests, these women transformed their futures

Mangrove replanting

Part of the women’s project involves restoring and restocking mangroves. (©USAID/Kidlat de Guia)

Had it not been for the women of the Roro tribe, things might look bleaker in their lush corner of Papua New Guinea.

Set upon by companies unsustainably extracting the fish and timber that provide the indigenous group’s livelihoods and food security, the Roro saw an already difficult existence becoming harder.

On this Pacific island where communities rely directly on nature for their survival, women are traditionally marginalized — as they disproportionally face the burdens of subsistence living and a changing climate. Today, though, the Roro are thriving, thanks to a group of women who fought to protect their natural resources — and gained unprecedented respect and empowerment in the process.

In honor of International Women’s Day, here is their story.

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Carbon, clouds, lakes with legal rights: 3 big stories you may have missed

Ethiopia

Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia. (© Robin Moore/iLCP)

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. Costa Rica unveils plan to achieve zero emissions by 2050 in climate change fight

The Central American country announced a plan to completely cut carbon emissions over the next 30 years.

The story: The country’s Environment Minister (formerly vice president and senior adviser for global policy at Conservation International), Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, praised the plan, saying that by 2050 his grandchildren will cease to have a carbon footprint, The Guardian reported last week. One of the biggest challenges in meeting this goal is transitioning transportation to cleaner energy; currently, transportation makes up 40 percent of Costa Rica’s greenhouse gas emissions.

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6 ways you can help marine life today

Whale shark

Whale shark in Cenderawasih Bay, West Papua, Indonesia. (© Gerry Allen)

This year on World Wildlife Day, we turn our attention to life below water — and what you can do for the creatures living there. Human Nature tapped six Conservation International experts for their best tips to help marine species, whether you’re commuting to work or whale-watching on vacation.

Let’s dive in.

  1. Be that person at the restaurant

“Every time you purchase seafood, ask questions. Don’t ask yourself — ask the waiter, fish monger or person at the fast food counter. What species or kind of fish is this? Is it imported? How was it caught? Just by asking these questions, you have the power to guide fisheries practices by letting seafood producers, processors and retailers know that you care about where your seafood is coming from and how it is caught.” – Matthew Ramsey, director, Conservation International Hawai’i

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

Tsavo West National Park

The Mzima Springs at Chyulu Hills, Tsavo West National Park, Kenya. (© Charlie Shoemaker)

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. Australian rodent is first mammal made extinct by human-driven climate change, scientists say

A mouse-like creature that lived on a tiny outcrop in the Great Barrier Reef is now considered extinct due to climate change.

The story: The Bramble Cay melomys survived for hundreds of years on an island about the size of a football field before being killed off by man-made climate change, Michelle Innis reported in The New York Times last week. Climate change has caused sea levels to rise, flooding the melomys’ habitat and cutting off its access to food and shelter (and possibly even drowning the creatures), until eventually, none remained.

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Planes, slaves (!) and tree loss: 3 new science stories you should know about

Great Bear rainforest

Wildlife in Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest. (© Jon McCormack)

Protecting nature starts with science. Here’s a roundup of recent policy-relevant science published by Conservation International experts.

  1. Noise from airplanes may harm marine life

Research has shown that noise from shipping can harm marine life. A recent study found that loud noise above the surface can also disrupt life below the waves.

Researchers in Bali, Indonesia, studied the effects of air travel to the island, a hotspot of tourism — and biodiversity. The island’s lone airport is right on the coast, meaning that planes fly low over a large area of water. By placing microphones underwater, scientists found that decibel readings hit as high as 100, a not insignificant level of noise considering that shipping noise can reach as high as 190 decibels.

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

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park. (© Etienne Desclides)

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. Africa’s black panthers emerge from a century in the shadows

A black panther was captured on camera in Kenya. It’s the first confirmed sighting of one in Africa in almost 100 years.

The story: The last documented black panther spotting in Africa occurred in Ethiopia in 1909. Despite the name, black panthers are actually a type of leopard — an extremely rare one that makes up only 11 percent of all leopard populations — Iliana Magra reported for The New York Times last week.

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