Voices of the Alto Mayo: Women in charge

Maximila Hernández, picture above on the right and María Hernández, on the left, are subscribers of conservation agreements in the Alto Mayo Protected Forest. (© Thomas Muller)

Editor’s note: Despite its protected status, Peru’s Alto Mayo Protected Forest — a swath of Amazonian rainforest twice the size of New York City — has seen some of the country’s highest rates of deforestation. Since 2012, Conservation International has sought to halt the loss of forests by brokering “conservation agreements” with local communities, who agree to stop clearing forests in exchange for technical and financial advice. 

To date, nearly 1,000 agreements have been signed, reducing deforestation and helping create a culture of sustainable development.

Here, María Hernández describes her life in the Alto Mayo and how it has changed since she and her sister, Maximila, signed a conservation agreement. Read about other conservation agreements here.

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

A green sea turtle, pictured above, in Abrolhos, Brazil, is one type of creature that could benefit from the country’s new marine protected areas. (© Luciano Candisani/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.

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Marine parks: big or small? Both, says oceans expert

A starfish, pictured above on a coral reef in Bali, Indonesia. (© Conservation International/photo by Sterling Zumbrunn)

Climate change is threatening to wipe out coral reefs within our lifetime. One solution is the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs), but what should MPAs look like, and how large should they be?

That question was raised in a provocative op-ed published recently in the New York Times that argued against large-scale MPAs in favor of smaller MPAs that protect threatened coastlines and single reefs.

In a recent piece for News Deeply published today, Conservation International senior vice president ‘Aulani Wilhelm says that argument needlessly draws a line between two parts of the same solution.

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4 things you didn’t know elephants do for you

An elephant inside Tsavo West National Park in Kenya. (© Charlie Shoemaker)

Editor’s note: On April 18, Conservation International will release its new virtual reality film, “My Africa,” at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. The film tells the story of a young Samburu woman in Kenya whose community is working to save elephants, reknitting an ancient coexistence between people and wildlife. In anticipation of the launch, Human Nature is highlighting stories about the people, places and wildlife of “My Africa.”

Surveys suggest there are only about 415,000 African elephants left in the wild, down from over one million a generation ago. Each year, tens of thousands of elephants are killed by ivory-seeking poachers and other forms of conflict.

On top of being amazing creatures, elephants actually make life better for all of us, sometimes in surprising ways. Here, Human Nature explores four ways elephants benefit your life.

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Voices of the Alto Mayo: ‘The forest gives me everything’

Abdías Vásquez is a conservation agreement subscriber in the Alto Mayo Protected Forest. (© Conservation International)

Editor’s note: Despite its protected status, Peru’s Alto Mayo Protected Forest — a swath of Amazonian rainforest twice the size of New York City — has seen some of the country’s highest rates of deforestation. Since 2012, Conservation International has sought to halt the loss of forests by brokering “conservation agreements” with local communities, who agree to stop clearing forests in exchange for technical and financial advice.

To date, nearly 1,000 agreements have been signed, reducing deforestation and helping create a culture of sustainable development.

Here, Abdías Vásquez describes his life in the Alto Mayo and how it has changed since he signed a conservation agreement. Read about other conservation agreements here.

Continue reading

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

The late Stephen Hawking, pictured above, was vocal about climate issues. (© NASA HQ Photo/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.

Continue reading

‘My Africa’ field notes: Good fences can make uneasy neighbors

Herders with their cattle in Kruger National Park, South Africa. (© Trond Larsen)

Editor’s note: On April 18, Conservation International will release its new virtual reality film “My Africa” at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. The film tells the story of a young Samburu woman in Kenya whose community is working to save elephants, reknitting an ancient coexistence between people and wildlife. In anticipation of the launch, Human Nature is highlighting stories about the people, places and wildlife of “My Africa.”

Kruger National Park in South Africa is as far from the northern plains of Kenya as New York is from Utah. And yet the two places share a common challenge: how to conserve wildlife while delivering justice to communities.

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3 things you didn’t know trees did for you

Harenna forest in Ethiopia. (© Robin Moore/iLCP)

Without forests, life on Earth as we know it would be unthinkable.

Regular readers of this blog know that forests are home to a wealth of biodiversity, that they provide water for billions of people and regulate the climate for everyone.

But did you know that they can make you smarter? Or that — scientists think — they can drive rainfall?

In honor of International Day of Forests, Human Nature looks into some of the benefits of forests that you might not know about.

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Parched Cape Town’s lesson for cities: Protect nature

An aerial view of Cape Town, South Africa (© grahambedingfield)

Cape Town, South Africa, is running out of water.

After experiencing two of the driest seasons on record in 2015 and 2017, the city announced July 9 as “Day Zero” — the day when taps would be shut off. But, because of water conservation efforts, the city has since announced that “Day Zero” would not occur this year.

Cape Town isn’t alone: Climate change is causing regions to experience droughts and floods more extreme than they’re used to, affecting everything from agriculture to access to drinking water. In honor of World Water Day on March 22, Human Nature talked to Conservation International’s freshwater lead, Robin Abell,  about what cities have to do to protect their water supplies in a changing climate.

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McDonald’s to take a bite out of carbon emissions

A McDonald’s restaurant in Connecticut. (© Mike Mozart/Flickr Creative Commons)

It operates 37,000 restaurants. It serves 69 million people a day. Its supply chains circle the globe.

So when McDonald’s changes the way it does business, it can cause a tectonic shift.

The world’s largest restaurant chain on Tuesday announced it would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 150 million metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2030.

It is the first restaurant company to set such a target. Continue reading