Against a backdrop of mutual challenges in the Albemarle-Pamlico estuary from climate change and budget shortfalls, an updated partnership between Virginia and North Carolina is starting to flex its collaborative muscle with important border-blind issues: wetlands, algal blooms, and fish travel. A memorandum of understanding signed late last year paves the way. This article by Catherine Kozak from the Coastal Review Online tells the story . . . READ HERE.
--by Brenda Barrett
On October 23, 2017 conservationists gathered at National Geographic headquarters for an event called "Half Earth Day." Held six months after Earth Day, the "half"-themed event highlighted renowned biologist, naturalist, and author E.O. Wilson's big idea that fully half the planet must be declared protected marine and land habitats in order to save 80 percent of the world's species. This is landscape scale conservation at its most ambitious -- at the planetary level. READ MORE.
--by Bobby Whitescarver. Note: A different version of this essay was published as an OPED piece distributed by the Bay Journal News Service on October 17, 2017. Read that article here.
The Clean Water Act is now 45 years old, born in the U.S. Congress on October 18, 1972. Sometime before that date, the river of my childhood – the Roanoke River in southwestern Virginia – had been declared a fire hazard because of pollution.
I learned to water-ski on that river, or rather on one of the manmade lakes along its winding path. It was 1965 and I remember one of those skiing lessons in particular. Dad was the spotter, and his friend George was the driver. I jumped in the water and waited for the handles of the ski rope. When the tips of my skis were up and my butt down, I yelled, “forward!” As the boat began pulling me, I saw banana peels and “floaters” – human waste – drifting past. I was ten years old, and it gave me the heebie-jeebies. “Hit it,” I shouted, now doubly motivated to get up and out of the water.
America now has perhaps the best wastewater treatment in the world. . . .
Our hearts go out to all the communities recently impacted by catastrophic hurricanes and floods. The magnitude of devastation is shocking. Many of us are contributing to disaster relief funds, and wondering what more we can do. As climate change contributes to more intense storm events, there will be increased need for land conservation and water protection groups to be involved in community-based disaster preparedness and emergency response, and also in proactive conservation planning and public education to reduce vulnerabilities to flood and storm disasters. Many land and water conservation groups already are collaborating across sectors to build resilient ecological and social systems that mitigate the impact of natural disasters before they occur.
--Chuck Roe, President, Southern Conservation Partners
Findings of the new “The Nature of Americans” study are disturbing and challenging, if we believe that a thriving and appreciated natural environment is crucial to the quality of life, health, well-being, prosperity, and productivity of Americans. Employing focus group, online, and in-person surveys conducted in 2015 and 16, the study found that “profound changes are occurring in the American public’s connections to nature, the outdoors, and wildlife. Participation in traditional nature-based recreation is stagnant or declining, Americans are spending more time indoors, and they are using electronic media more than ever before.”
Our work and mission to protect and restore environmental assets, natural resources, and recreational opportunities in nature depend upon community support and a caring public. If the American public stops caring, our environmental stewardship goals will not be attainable.
But the report also offers hope and action recommendations for reconnecting people to nature–-especially youth and future generations. The study confirms that despite many societal forces contributing to disconnection between people and nature, Americans of all backgrounds continue to recognize the value and importance of nature to their lives and desire to have nature-based experiences.
READ MORE about the major findings and recommendations for action presented by “The Nature of Americans” study.
Renowned journalist and commentator Thomas Friedman published “Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations” last year. After reviewing the accelerating environmental damages, stresses, and desperate condition of the Earth (“Mother Nature,” in his terminology) and its ecological systems and climate, Friedman quotes oceanographer Sylvia Earle’s succinct summation: “What we do right now, or fail to do, will determine the future—not just for us, but for all life on Earth.”
Friedman’s own conclusion, upon reviewing our current state of phenomenal, unparalleled accelerations in technological, socio-economic, and environmental changes, is that, with our insults to the natural environment and human population TRIPLING in size in only 60 years (and with, currently, 1 of every 122 people on Earth a displaced refugee), we are on the verge of irreversible alteration of the Earth’s ecological balances and are at risk of wrecking our global climate, biodiversity, oceans, and ecosystem stabilizers and boundaries. "Without compounding, multiplicative commitments along all fronts that are commensurate with the magnitude of the challenge we face, we stand NO chance –zero--of preserving a stable planet when there will be so many more people, armed with so many more powerful tools, propelled by a supernova [that of electronic and digital technologies; and the internet information cloud] … I will keep saying … as long as I have the breath: we are the first generation for whom ‘later’ will be the time when all of Mother Nature’s buffers, spare tires, tricks of the trade, and tools for adapting and bouncing back will be exhausted or breached. If we don’t act quickly together to mitigate these trends, we will be the first generation of humans for whom later will be too late.”
Friedman directs us to use Mother Nature as a mentor for societal and political adaptation and resilience, and to embrace diversity and change. With hopeful optimism he suggests we can learn from and employ experiences from local communities, such as his home town in Minnesota, that have overcome challenges effectively and have embraced and grown from social, ethnic, and economic diversity. There is no better time than now to pause, find your community and place in which to join with others, and get to work.
--Chuck Roe, President, Southern Conservation Partners
"Conservation, viewed in its entirety, is the slow and laborious unfolding of a new relationship between people and land."
"There is in fact no distinction between the fate of the land and the fate of the people. When one is abused, the other suffers."
From the President
SCP President Chuck Roe looked at land conservation along the route of John Muir's "Southern Trek."
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