Henry David Thoreau, the naturalist, philosopher, and author of such classics as ‘Walden’ and ‘Civil Disobedience,’ contributed a number of writings to The Atlantic in its early years. Shortly after his death from tuberculosis, in May 1862, the magazine published “Walking,” one of his most famous essays, which extolled the virtues of immersing oneself in nature and lamented the encroachment of private ownership upon the wilderness.
Writes Thoreau: “I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil—to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society. I wish to make an extreme statement, if so I may make an emphatic one, for there are enough champions of civilization: the minister and the school committee and every one of you will take care of that.” Full essay via http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1862/06/walking/304674/
“Leave it to Beavers” on NATURE tells the story of beavers in North America — their history, their near extinction, and their current comeback as modern day eco-heroes. The full amazing episode is available for online streaming at pbs.org/nature.
One of the amazing journeys in Andrea Wulf’s powerful work on nature and the shaping of America traces James Madison’s appearance at the Agricultural Society of Albemarle in Virginia. According to Wulf: “The speech was a lament of all that was wrong with American agriculture as well as a catalogue of measures that could rectify the problems.”
The landowners and farmers in the audience heard more than just a list of practices for conservation. What they heard was a complex and innovative theory on natural balance. In the address to Albemarle, Madison told the members that nature was not ‘subservient’ to man’s uses. Writes Wulf: “Not everything could be appropriated, Madison said, for the ‘increase of the human part of the creation’ – if it was, nature’s balance would collapse.”
Ever wonder about the value of the Chesapeake Bay and its streams and wetlands? An analysis recently released by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) finds that the economic benefits provided by nature in the Chesapeake Bay watershed will total $130 billion annually when the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is fully implemented.
The peer-reviewed report, produced by economist Spencer Phillips and CBF Senior Scientist Dr. Beth McGee, compares the value of those benefits in 2009, the year before the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint began being implemented, to the benefits that can be expected as a result of fully implementing the Blueprint. >Read the Full Report via Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Carl Zimmer writes recently in the New York Times that levees are not the only things that protect coasts from storm damage. “Nature offers protection, too” he says. “Coastal marshes absorb wind energy and waves of storms, weakening their impact farther inland.” These coastal ecosystems and their services provide significant value he notes, shielding us from storms, reducing soil erosion, soaking up greenhouse gases and more. In 1997 these ecosystems services were valued by a team of scientists at twice the gross national product of every country on Earth or in today’s dollars approximately $49 trillion. Since 1997 the release of hundreds of new studies, and the increased damage to these ecosystems across the world, have caused the team to reevaluate their estimate of these services, concluding that their earlier number was far too low. >Read more via http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/05/science/earth/putting-a-price-tag-on-natures-defenses.html?hp
Following major floods in January 2014 Marina Pacheco, the chief executive of the UK Mammal Society, recommended that the UK Government promote beaver reintroductions as a means of reducing flood risk in the future.
“Restoring the beaver to Britain’s rivers would bring huge benefits in terms of flood alleviation. These unpaid river engineers would quickly re-establish more natural systems that retain water behind multiple small dams across tributaries and side-streams. As a consequence the severity of flooding further downstream would be greatly reduced, at no cost to the taxpayer,” wrote Pacheco.
A program intended to insure that American Children have the opportunity to experience the great outdoors, builds on a Forest Service tradition of conservation and education. “The challenges associated with climate change and water will not be resolved in a few years. It will take generations. Kids must understand why forests are so valuable so they will grow into citizens who support conservation,” according to USFS.
Educators, parents—and resource managers—are increasingly concerned with the growing disconnect between children and nature, and the kind of future we are creating for our children. The Forest Service has a tremendous number of ongoing activities to help connect children with nature. >Learn More via http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/conservationeducation/about/?cid=fsmrs_100571
Conservation Magazinerecently reported that a new study has confirmed what you’ve probably suspected for awhile: Spending time in nature without computers, phones, and other electronic devices makes people more creative.
The study published in PLoS ONE and called, “Creativity in the wild: Improving creative reasoning through immersion in natural settings” followed 56 people as they completed 4- to 6-day hikes in Alaska, Colorado, Maine, or Washington. Participants were not allowed to bring any electronic gadgets with them. Twenty-four of the hikers took a test that measured their creativity and problem-solving skills before the trip began, while the other 32 people took the test on the fourth day of hiking.
Many of you who have been following this series on my work with Siberian taimen (Hucho taimen) in Mongolia may not be aware that this species is actually one of five taimen species that exist in the world. A recent International Union for Conservation of Nature report titled, “Largest Salmon in the World Edges Toward Extinction,” does a good job of explaining how precarious these populations are.
Two species of taimen the Danube taimen (Hucho hucho) and the Sakhalin taimen (Parahucho perryi) have already been classified as endangered and critically endangered respectively by the IUCN Red List of threatened species. Unfortunately the remaining three species have just recently joined that list. The Siberian taimen (Hucho taimen) was recently listed as vulnerable. In Mongolia alone there has been a 19.1% decrease in habitat and over the last three generations there has been a 50% loss of abundance. Sadly, Mongolia is seen as one of the last strongholds. In parts of China and Russia Siberian taimen numbers have been depleted by more than 90%. The remaining two species of taimen Sichuan taimen (Hucho bleekeri) and Korean taimen (Hucho ishikawae) have been listed as critically endangered and data deficient.
These listings are nothing new for people who have been working with taimen; it has been very clear to all of us that this species is under great threat for possible extinction in certain areas. This is a sad day for taimen lovers worldwide. Please take a moment to read the entire IUCN report, as it is very informative.
This series follows University of Montana graduate student Dan Bailey as he travels the wilds of Mongolia to survey and tag Taimen, the world’s largest trout. Dan is posting to the Club EcoBlu blog as he assists with the Taimen Conservation Project. Taimen are highly endangered,have been known to grow to 6-ft long and more than 200 lbs. The information gathered will aid in drafting a conservation plan to protect this megafish. Trout Headwaters, Inc. is a sponsor of the project.