It is one of the most pressing questions of our time: How do we adapt to the impacts of climate change? October 2022 marked the return of The National Adaptation Forum, which brought together climate adaptation practitioners to share ideas, evaluate opportunities, and create synergies across occupations to try to answer that urgent question. The scale of the challenges is great and because of this, practitioners from artists and municipal officials to natural resource managers came together to work towards systems-level change.
In an era where climate change, habitat loss, poaching and other human impacts put many species at risk, there is a need to understand where animals go and what they need to thrive. A new NASA-funded project—Room to Roam: Y2Y Wildlife Movements (Room2Roam)—aims to accelerate data analysis and coordination to improve wildlife management efforts across borders. The ambitious effort includes a regional network of partners in a major migration corridor of western North America.
Imagine a young male jaguar in the tropical Central American forests looking for a mate. In theory, he could roam from Mexico to Argentina, ensuring that the genetic pool is mixed for a good continuation of the species. In practice, he would have to go through rivers and mountains, but also human-made obstacles such as roads, cities, agricultural fields and other open areas that hinder travel.
This week the U.S. Geological Survey and other federal agencies released a report showing a staggering 1.3 million acres of sagebrush habitat are being lost annually. Called “A Sagebrush Conservation Design Framework to Proactively Restore America’s Sagebrush Biome,” this new body of science uses some of the latest mapping tools to identify healthy and degraded sagebrush areas, where and how it’s being lost, and lays out a path to slow the loss.
History was made this past summer at the first-ever Africa-wide gathering to discuss the role of protected areas in conserving nature. Hosted in the city of Kigali, Rwanda, the 1st IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) brought together 2,400 participants from across the continent and the world from July 18-23, 2022, under the theme “For People and Nature.” Staff from the Center for Large Landscape Conservation and partners were present in Kigali to highlight the contribution that connectivity conservation is already making, and can make in the future, toward bolstering conservation actions in Africa.
High above the ground, amidst the dense forest canopy cover of South and East Asia, you may be lucky enough to spot one of the most intriguing ape species on the planet. Gibbons live among the treetops and move by brachiating, or swinging with their arms. They can reach speeds upwards of 35 miles per hour (Usain Bolt’s maximum speed was 27 mph) and have been known to jump across gaps as large as 30 feet. Unfortunately, these fascinating and elusive apes are one of the most threatened families of primates, with 19 of the 20 species listed as endangered or critically endangered.
In 2022, states across the country have passed legislation to take advantage of historic, new federal funding for wildlife crossing structures. Over just the past six months, seven states have enacted laws that set aside the required state match to federal grants for infrastructure projects that reconnect habitat. Many of these state policies also facilitate coordination between transportation and natural resource agencies—as well as collaboration with diverse stakeholders—to identify projects that will most effectively reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and improve habitat connectivity.
People who are cat people know that cats have their own agenda. People who are dog people recognize that dogs want to share their agendas with you. We get to mix these agendas when working a detection dog to find scat from an elusive cat in Costa Rica. In the high forests of this beautiful country, hide a suite of cat species—from jaguar and cougar, to ocelot, margay and jaguarundi. And while always there, but rarely seen, is a small, spotted, nocturnal cat called oncilla. So little is known of this cat, that their scat—or poop—holds precious genetic information that can help us learn more about this declining species, and well… dogs are good at finding hard-to-find things and telling us about it.
A steady rain drenched us head to toe, and as it neared midnight I started to wonder when we would finally head back to camp. The herpetologists, though, were unconcerned with the elements. They scrambled up and down steep muddy slopes in search of reptile and amphibian specimens. In all likelihood, the fruits of their labor would be the discovery of species completely new to science! When the group finally called it quits for the night, the transect had yielded a half dozen frogs, a plump lizard, and a beautiful, non-venomous false coral snake to be documented and photographed.
This past weekend, I visited the newly established Parque Nacional Río Negro Sopladora, a national park that covers more than 30,000 hectares of undisturbed habitat in Ecuador, ranging from high peaks at 12,800 feet above sea level eastwards into the humid Amazon basin, at 2,600 ft. A highlight of hiking in this lesser-known park was seeing hours-fresh footprints of mountain tapir and a large cat (my guess is cougar). It was nice to finally get my boots muddy after two weeks in the city, getting situated in the country I will call home for a month and a half.