Tag: The Nature Conservancy

Khan-servation

Khan-servation

OtgoTHsunset
Evening approaches near Toson Hulstai Nature Preserve, eastern Mongolia

Mongolia has the fastest growing economy in the world, fueled by its untapped mineral wealth. But the development threatens the country’s unparalleled wildlife and environment and its singular nomadic traditions, dating back to the empire of Genghis Khan.

In the February/March 2014 issue of Nature Conservancy Magazine, my story, “Giant Steppes,” takes readers to the beautiful yet fragile landscapes of Mongolia and covers how government leaders, wildlife managers, and herders are working to protect the country’s epic grasslands and desert — and its unique culture.

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Flight Risk

Flight Risk

The following article appears in the Autumn 2010 issue of Nature Conservancy Magazine

Up in the Air

Climate Change Compounds Threats to Birds

Red knots in Delaware Bay, New Jersey (Photo: NJ DEP)

Each spring the red knot, a shorebird with a rust-colored belly, transects the globe, flying from the southern tip of South America to the northern reaches of the Arctic. Midway through this flight, the birds lay over at the Delaware Bay, where they refuel by gorging on tens of thousands of horseshoe crab eggs.

In the 1990s, this age-old migration ran into trouble when red knot populations began crashing. Evidence pointed largely to shellfish overharvesting, but recent observations by birders and researchers have revealed an additional threat from climate change: Warmer temperatures are prompting the horseshoe crabs to lay their eggs earlier in the year, meaning less food for the migratory birds when they arrive at the bay.

These findings and other research about the impact of climate change on birds are the focus of the 2010 State of the Birds report, issued by scientists from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, The Nature Conservancy, federal agencies and other organizations. The group’s 2009 report found that roughly one-third of bird species in the United States are endangered or are in serious decline.

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Slick Mapping

Slick Mapping

The following article appears in the Summer 2010 issue of Nature Conservancy Magazine


Oil Alert

Digital Tool Helps Oil-Spill Responders Protect Alaska’s Coast

A snapshot of Sitka Shore, via Alaska ShoreZone (Photo: NOAA Fisheries)

In January 2009, fierce winds in southeastern Alaska tore loose a 181-foot ferry from a pier. The ferry ran aground on a small island, and the Coast Guard and volunteers headed to the scene to limit damage from a possible fuel spill. Before they arrived, the responders knew which sensitive tidelands and critical fisheries habitats were threatened, thanks to a set of new high-tech digital maps that provide a bird’s-eye view of Alaska’s coast.

The mapping project, Alaska ShoreZone, currently covers 17,000 miles of the state’s roughly 47,000-mile coastline, including areas such as Bristol Bay and Prince William Sound—the site of the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989. More than 30 organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and state and tribal agencies, have worked together on the program since 2001, sharing $5.5 million in funds and plenty of expertise.

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Clustershucked!

Clustershucked!

The following article appears in the Winter 2009 issue of Nature Conservancy Magazine


Bivalve Blues

Report Reveals Global Risks for Oyster Reefs

Exposed oyster reef in the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia (NOAA)

Exposed oyster reef in the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia (NOAA)

Baymen harvest an average of roughly 99,000 tons of oysters each year from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. But that kind of bounty is now uncommon: Around the world, 85 percent of shellfish reefs have been lost to overfishing and habitat destruction, according to a new Nature Conservancy report, Shellfish Reefs at Risk.

“Shellfish reefs are the single most impacted marine habitat globally,” says Mike Beck, a Conservancy marine scientist and lead author of the report. Beck and his team of scientists compiled status reports from more than 144 estuaries and found that reefs were in significant decline worldwide.

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Two Birds in the Bush

Two Birds in the Bush

The discovery of a new species of flycatcher in Bolivia and Peru came about through research on the wintering habits of other migratory birds, including the threatened cerulean warbler. I wrote a short piece on the birds for the summer 2009 issue of Nature Conservancy Magazine, but unfortunately didn’t get to go to the Yungas to check out the wildlife in person.

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Weed Warriors

Weed Warriors

tamcoriverjuly2001Last fall, I spent a bluebird day not far from Telluride, hauling felled trunks and branches away from the San Miguel River. The brush and debris were all invasive species, including the nefarious tamarisk, or salt cedar, which can suck up copious amounts of groundwater and load the surrounding soil with toxic levels of chemicals. The clearing effort wrapped up last fall, after three years of work, and its completion marks the first time a river’s banks have been liberated from tamarisk invasion. I wrote about the experience, the threat of tamarisk and how land managers are trying to solutions stick in the Spring 2009 issue of the Nature Conservancy Magazine.

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