Serro Ricardo Franco is in one of the world’s biggest and most diverse ecological reserves. But reality on the ground is different, putting many animals at risk, such as Yacare caiman and giant river otters. Photograph: Angelo Gandolfi/Getty Images/Nature Picture Library
Sometimes, sitting in a glass house, reading the news makes me want to throw a stone. The glass house where I live includes a farm in an extremely biodiverse area. It is surrounded by nearly half a million acres where logging happens. But there is farming, as you can read about in the news below, and there are plenty of better ways of farming; there are loggers like those in the news below, and there are forests where extraction happens according to standards such as those set and enforced by the Forest Stewardship Council.
Instead of throwing a stone, I get up every day and make sure the glass around here is as transparent as possible, because we can demonstrate a better way of supplying food, of harvesting wood, and doing so with the protection of wildlife in constant view. Meanwhile, I do read the news from elsewhere and continue to share it here (thanks to the Guardian’s Jonathan Watts in Vila Bela da Santíssima Trindade for this one):
I’m sorry, what was that? Ints Kalnins / Reuters
Sound is often profound. Noise often annoys. Thanks as always to Ed Yong, touching on a topic we have been sensitive to for some time now:
Even America’s protected areas are being subjected to harmful levels of noise pollution.
If a tree falls in the forest, and there’s no one around, the National Park Service will still hear it. Continue reading
Thanks to Anthropocene for a moment of relief:
A mushroom dropped in on my life, in an unexpected manner, and now I find myself wandering to unexpected places, such as rural Pennsylvania. I am sharing here mainly as a record of how I have come across the resources that inform how we approach bringing foraging to Chan Chich Lodge.
So, bravo and thanks to our friends at the Horn Farm Center for Agricultural Education, which is my latest find in these wanderings. I particularly like their clearly laid out information on the educational resources they offer, most notably this section on foraging classes: Continue reading
“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
― John Muir
Muir has long been a muse for many on this site, as we ponder the concept of Biophilia and the power of nature in our lives. We are motivated to work on conservation initiatives for plenty of reasons, including our belief in the link between wellbeing and a fix of nature. From bonsai, bamboo fountains and the meditative sand raking in Zen gardens, the Japanese have a long cultivated the restorative forces of natural elements, so their embrace of forest bathing is no surprise…
The tonic of the wilderness was Henry David Thoreau’s classic prescription for civilization and its discontents, offered in the 1854 essay Walden: Or, Life in the Woods. Now there’s scientific evidence supporting eco-therapy. The Japanese practice of forest bathing is proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system, and improve overall feelings of wellbeing. Continue reading
Photo credit: B. Bartel/USFWS
We know that most of our readers on this platform, and most guests we serve at the various properties we have developed and managed over the years, care deeply about primary forests and the ecosystems they support. Here is a chance to vocalize together with one of the influential organizers of vocalization:
They’re about to start their chainsaws. Timber companies are trying to clearcut one of the most primeval wild places — and this is our last chance to stop them.
Alaska’s Tongass National Forest is nothing short of magical: it contains centuries-old trees and one-of-a-kind wilderness, home to animals like Alexander Archipelago wolves and bald eagles. Your voice is needed to pressure Congress to bring an end to old growth logging and save the Tongass for our children and grandchildren.
Take action today to save the Tongass National Forest.
Thanks to the Science section of the New York Times, for the description of the research as well as for the name of the measurement:
Reishi mushrooms (left) and Trametes versicolor collected in a folded map. ZACK DEZON
Thanks to Wired author Charley Locke for his story MEET THE OBSESSIVE MUSHROOM HUNTERS OF NEW YORK CITY:
ON A PARTICULARLY gorgeous Sunday in October, 30 explorers with the New York Mycological Society met at a cemetery in Brooklyn to hunt for mushrooms.
Reishi mushrooms on a stump. ZACK DEZON
They rummaged through leaves, carefully inspected the headstones, and gingerly reached into tree trunks, hoping to find something amazing. A turkey tail, perhaps, or hen-of-the-wood. “It was like a scavenger hunt,” says Zack DeZon, a photographer who joined them on the search. “It struck me as the analog equivalent of Pokemon Go.”
DeZon is not particularly enamored with fungus, but a mushroom-obsessed friend’s Instagram feed piqued his interest. The fellow pointed him toward the Mycological Society which has since 1962 catered to those with an interest in mycology and mycophagy. The society, created by the composer John Cage, has 430 members and meets throughout the year to find mushrooms, eat mushrooms, and discuss mushrooms.
Young orphaned orangutans on a climbing expedition with their keeper at International Animal Rescue’s orangutan school in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Credit Kemal Jufri for The New York Times
We first started paying close attention to the plight of the ecosystem in the image above when we saw the talk given by Willie Smits, who has taken action, to say the least, in the interest of protecting that rainforest and its inhabitants. It is not because of the orangutans (though see the photo below and try to resist reading on) that we find this article compelling; it is because there is a clear and compelling call to action on holding our institutions accountable:
In early 2015, scientists monitoring satellite images at Global Forest Watch raised the alarm about the destruction of rain forests in Indonesia.
Environmental groups raced to the scene in West Kalimantan province, on the island of Borneo, to find a charred wasteland: smoldering fires, orangutans driven from their nests, and signs of an extensive release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Continue reading
Thanks to Discover magazine for this (subscription required):
In Mexico, conservationists hope sustainable logging can provide jobs, protect the habitat and keep carbon from the atmosphere. Continue reading
Under current legislation, European bioenergy plants do not have to produce evidence that their wood products have been sustainably sourced. Photograph: Wolf Forest Protection Movement
Thanks to the Guardian for this coverage of disturbing news from Europe:
A family from Spain shared with me some photos they took during their first four days in Belize, spent at Chan Chich Lodge. I asked what was their favorite “thing” about Chan Chich and I appreciated the simplicity of their reply: they most enjoyed the simple fact of being in nature. Waking up to the spectacular racket of monkeys claiming territory in the nearby trees Continue reading
Thank you Maine and thank you federal government of the USA:
On an early fall day, with just a hint of red tinting the maples, the view from the summit of Deasey Mountain is spectacular.
To the west stand the rugged, treeless basins and knife-edge spine of Mount Katahdin. Off to the south, you see Wassataquoik Valley in the near distance, the peaks of the 100 Mile Wilderness beyond. To the east and north, more wild Maine woods and hills rolling for miles, to the Canadian border. Continue reading
Thanks to National Public Radio (USA):
It’s been a brutal forest fire season in California. But there’s actually a greater threat to California’s trees — the state’s record-setting drought. The lack of water has killed at least 60 million trees in the past four years.
Scientists are struggling to understand which trees are most vulnerable to drought and how to keep the survivors alive. To that end, they’re sending human climbers and flying drones into the treetops, in a novel biological experiment. Continue reading
On my Saturday afternoon I followed up a morning of farm visits with a visit to the local agricultural research extension of the state university. More on that tomorrow. For now, I want to share some images from my Sunday exploration about an hour from the farms described, due inland and into the Western Ghats. Specifically, Amboli Reserve, which is in the view above.
SPENCER FINCH LOST MAN CREEK
October 1, 2016 – March 11, 2018
SPENCER FINCH TO CREATE A MINIATURE REDWOOD FOREST IN THE HEART OF DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN
See the website of the exhibit at Public Art Fund for this description and more:
Lost Man Creek is a miniature forest. But rather than growing naturally and of its own accord, this undulating landscape populated by some 4,000 Dawn Redwoods is a recreation. Artist Spencer Finch partnered with the Save the Redwoods League to identify a 790-acre section of the protected Redwood National Park in California. Significantly scaling down the topography and tree canopy heights, he reimagined this corner of the California forest for MetroTech at a 1:100 scale. While the original trees range from 98 to 380 feet – taller than the buildings that surround the plaza – the trees in the installation are just one to four feet in height. Continue reading
Eve Lonnquist examining trees on her property with Logan Sander, a consulting forester. Credit Leah Nash for The New York Times
An excellent article, whose title says it all, in the Science section of the New York Times this week:
BIRKENFELD, Ore. — Eve Lonnquist’s family has owned a forest in the mountains of northwest Oregon since her grandmother bought the land in 1919. Her 95-year-old father still lives on the 157-acre property. And she and her wife often drive up from their home just outside Portland.
But lately, Ms. Lonnquist, 59 and recently retired, has been thinking about the future of her family’s land. Like many small-forest owners, they draw some income from logging and would like to keep doing so. But they would also like to see the forest, with its stands of Douglas fir, alder and cherry, protected from clear-cutting or being sold off to developers. Continue reading
The Allegheny National Forest is absent from Google Maps (right) but displayed on Apple Maps (left). Apple & Google/Screenshots by NPR
We lose more than enough green in the real world, so when the cartographical world starts compounding the problem, we must shout in protest:
If you looked at Google Maps this week, you might have noticed something strange: less green. Continue reading
Richard Fortey and Derek Niemann among the beeches in Grim’s Dyke Wood. Photograph: Sarah Niemann
We do not favor private sector conservation efforts over all other options; we favor them over the option of no conservation at all. Governments around the world have rightly done the heaviest lifting on preserving nature, considering their resources, eminent domain, and other factors including the most salient; public lands effectively belong to an entire nation’s citizens. Philanthropies have also done enormous good. We have written plenty on both public and philanthropic conservation schemes. Today, a more modest story, but no less lovely: