You love your little succulents, don’t you? But did you know you can make more of these gorgeous little plants yourself?
Propagating succulents is something that gardeners have been doing for hundreds (nay… millions!) of years. And you can totally do it too. It’s basically a process of turning your succulents into many many more. Read on to see how!
Start plucking from the bottom and move upwards. Gently twist the entire leaf off from the base, making sure that it is removed close to the stem.
2. Cut Off the Top of the Succulent
The top piece can also be replanted, and it will grow into a new plant.
3. Lay the Leaves Out to Dry
Allow the leaves to dry for between three days to a week. This varies based on how warm or light it is. A crust will form on the cut sections of the leaves, which will allow them to start to regrow.
4. Place the Leaves on Soil
When placing the leaves, make sure that they are delicately positioned on top of the soil, keeping an eye that the base of the leave does not have contact with the soil. Watering is essential at this stage to avoid the soil from drying out. A spray bottle can be useful.
5. Let the Cuttings Grow
The cuttings will soon develop roots and you will be able to see new leaves sprouting! And like all things good happen with time (and patience), this is a process that will take 1-2 months.
6. Repot the New Succulents
The original leaf will eventually wither and fall off. You can then plant the new succulents into a fresh pot.
7. Keep the Top Cutting
Repot the top cutting of the old succulent and water it. It will eventually develop roots and grow. As it slowly grows, make sure to keep the roots well covered with soil to avoid drying out.
8. Growing the Original Succulent
Consistently water the stem of the old succulent as new leaves will spring from it soon.
(PP) — The Department of Defense’s internal watchdog is launching an investigation into the military’s heavily polluting practice of open burning and detonating hazardous explosive materials on its properties, as well as its frequent reliance on federal contractors to carry out that work. The inquiry, announced Aug. 10 on the website of the department’s Office of Inspector General, will […]
Week to week, their names and professions vary, changing to fit the different surroundings and people they move between. They’re the chameleons of the rain forest.
“I watch a lot of James Bond movies,” one of them jokes.
The men in question can’t be named or pictured, because they’re undercover investigators for a deforestation watchdog group called Eyes on the Forest (EoF). And they’re routinely putting their safety on the line to protect Thirty Hills, one of the last great swaths of rainforest on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
Since the 1980s, Sumatra has been clearing its forests at a breakneck pace, largely for palm oil and pulpwood plantations. Eyes on the Forest was founded in 2004 in Riau Province–the epicenter of the deforestation–to expose that destruction to the world.
The group has since become legendary. Through detective work, photography, satellite imagery, and, more recently, drone footage, EoF has produced a slew of investigative reports detailing Sumatra’s deforestation, as well as the political and corporate corruption driving it.
Their investigations have helped land six Indonesian government officials in jail, including a former governor of Riau Province. EoF reports were key to a campaign against Asia Pulp & Paper, one of the world’s largest paper companies with a deforestation legacy of more than 2 million hectares, that forced APP to pledge to stop pulping tiger habitat to make toilet paper. Google lent them assistance to develop a cutting-edge online map that tracks deforestation and deforestation drivers like APP. Eyes on the Forest uses satellite imagery NASA provides freely to the public and WWF-Indonesia is a part of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s science initiative to test their radar satellite images.
EoF’s investigations have long focused on Sumatra’s Riau Province. In 2014, the group expanded its network to Borneo as several NGOs established a consortium; and in 2015 the network was redeveloped as Kalimantan’s Eyes on the Forest network. In 2016, EoF was asked to open a new network in Sumatra’s Jambi Province, to monitor loss of the vulnerable forests of Thirty Hills.
“WWF-Indonesia and partners had just secured a concession there to protect a big chunk of forest outside Thirty Hills National Park,” says Jan Vertefeuille, head of wildlife conservation advocacy for WWF-US. “And we believed that encroachers had cleared some of the forest in the concession while we were waiting to get the license. Eyes on the Forest brought the model they developed in Riau for use in monitoring the concession.”
In March 2016, with support from a handful of office-based staff, four EoF investigators began exploring Thirty Hills in disguise. They quickly discovered a number of encroachments in the forest concession; the biggest was a 3,200-acre palm oil plantation. “We heard about that one through a local informant,” says Nursamsu, EoF’s founder and coordinator. “Based on what we found, we believe a village leader hostile to WWF ‘sold’ it to a powerful individual in Jakarta.”
Thanks to that discovery, PT. Alam Bukit Tigapuluh (ABT), the company that WWF-Indonesia and partners started to manage the concession, has filed a police complaint against the plantation owner. Meanwhile, EoF’s investigators continue to patrol other parts of the concession undercover.
It’s dangerous work. In 2007 during a patrol in Riau’s Tesso Nilo National Park, one of the investigators was attacked by angry mob, kidnapped, and held hostage by an encroacher. “The encroacher and his men beat me and the others with me, and then took me to his house,” he says. “It took six hours for us to be released.”
Despite that experience, the investigator says he’s as committed as ever to protecting Thirty Hills and Sumatra’s other forests. Plus, he likes his job. “You have to think on your feet and blend into different settings and situations. You have to adapt quickly to new things,” he says of his work. “I enjoy that.”
The waters around The Bahamas are classic Caribbean: vibrant shades of turquoise from afar, crystal-clear on the surface, and teeming with corals, seagrasses, and animals of every color. Because these diverse species evolved together over eons, they are interdependent. Each species relies on others for food, so removing even one can throw the ecosystem out of balance.
One species—spiny lobster—is particularly popular, both on land and at sea. People enjoy the crustacean, as do dolphins, sharks, turtles and other animals. That’s why it’s so important that The Bahamas’ lobster fishermen just earned certification from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for managing their fishery to the highest available standard of environmental performance.
Eight years ago, World Wildlife Fund began collaborating with The Nature Conservancy as well as Bahamian government officials, exporters, and fishermen to manage the fishery sustainably. MSC certification means that they have made significant strides in their environmental performance, helping position the fishery to produce food and jobs as sustainably as possible.
“We eagerly accept the MSC stamp of approval,” said Mia Isaacs, president of the Bahamas Marine Export Association. “It’s been a collaborative effort and we are thankful to all the stakeholders, especially the fishermen. As we continually improve our spiny lobster fishery, we aim for product of The Bahamas to become synonymous with strength, collaboration and sustainability. MSC certification is a proud accomplishment. Congratulations, Bahamas! We did it!”
WWF engaged leading U.S. companies, such as Costco, Kroger, Hyatt, Hilton, Tequesta Bay, and Supervalu, to use their buying power to encourage fishermen to work toward MSC certification and to provide the financial support needed to achieve their goal.
“Earning certification is a win-win-win for the lobster fishermen, their buyers, consumers, and for all the animals that enjoy lobster as much as we humans do,” said Wendy Goyert, WWF’s lead specialist for Latin America fisheries in transition. “This is a huge achievement for The Bahamas, and we congratulate everyone for working so hard to manage this precious resource for the long-term.”
On August 2, the New Mexico State Engineer dismissed a second attempt by Augustin Plains Ranch to push through a speculative scheme for mining groundwater in central New Mexico.
Guardians, farmers, ranchers, and local communities protested the Ranch’s scheme to pump and transport 54,000 acre-feet of water to unidentified users in the Rio Grande valley in 2016. The protest stemmed from our concern that water pumped from beneath the San Augustin Plains could deplete flows in Alamosa Creek, the Gila River, and the Rio Grande.
The decision is a step in the right direction toward learning to live within our means—and within rivers’ means.
BOSTON – The Massachusetts legislature failed to pass legislation yesterday that would restrict the use of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides. H. 4041, An Act to Protect Massachusetts Pollinators, would have restricted the use of neonics to licensed pesticide applicators only.
Jason Davidson, Food and Agriculture Campaign Associate at Friends of the Earth, issued the following statement in response:
Bees and other essential pollinators are dying off at alarming rates, and harmful insecticides are largely to blame. It is extremely disappointing to see the Massachusetts legislature ignore this devastating problem and fail to pass this much-needed bill. These common sense restrictions on neonics would have been a boon for the environment and food system of Massachusetts. The legislature has ignored the support and expertise of more than 180 scientists, businesses, beekeepers, farmers and conservationists who formally endorsed this bill.
The failure of the state legislature comes after Massachusetts beekeepers lost 65 percent of their honeybee hives last year, a rate 25 percent higher than the national average. Thousands of scientific studies implicate neonicotinoids as a key contributor to these declines.
During the legislative session, more than 100 Massachusetts scientists and academics sent a letter to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture in support of H. 4041. However, the clock ran out at midnight, July 31, when the legislative session came to an end.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Four major brands of children’s sunscreen products sold across the U.S. contain engineered nanoparticles, according to laboratory results released today by Friends of the Earth U.S. Nanoparticles were found in Aveeno® Baby Natural Protection®, Banana Boat® Kids, Neutrogena® Pure and Free® Baby and Thinksport Kid’s Safe sunscreen.
Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles are widely used in sunscreens due to their transparent appearance. The size and chemical characteristics of nanomaterials can potentially create unique and unpredictable human health and environmental risks.
“Potentially hazardous nanomaterials shouldn’t be used in sunscreens or other products ahead of safety assessment, oversight and labeling, especially those intended for children,” said Ian Illuminato, senior health and environment campaigner at Friends of the Earth U.S. “Consumers must be empowered to make healthy decisions for their families and to avoid exposure to chemicals that put them at risk. Companies should make information on nanoparticle ingredients used in their products available to the public and avoid using these ingredients in children’s products. Our government should test and require approval for these products before commercialization.”
The unique properties of nanomaterials, including tiny size and vastly increased surface area to volume ratio, have enticed manufacturers to experiment with these ingredients in hundreds of consumer products including sunscreens, cosmetics, baby formula and other food products.
Often, nanoparticles have made it into these products without mandatory safety assessment, regulation or labeling. While Europe already requires the safety testing and labeling of nano-ingredients in sunscreens, the U.S. has yet to follow suit.
Friends of the Earth’s review of consumer products has found that nanoparticles have entered just about every category of personal care product on the market, including deodorant, soap, toothpaste, shampoo, hair conditioner, sunscreen, anti-wrinkle cream, moisturizer, foundation, face powder, lipstick, blush, eye shadow, nail polish, perfume and after-shave lotion. We have also found nanoparticles of concern in other children’s products including baby formula, see Friends of the Earth U.S. report “Nanoparticles in Baby Formula: Tiny New Ingredients are a Big Concern.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Merkley (D-OR) and Representative Connolly (D-VA) introduced House and Senate versions of the Ensuring Pruitt is Accountable Act of 2018 this afternoon. The legislation would suspend rulemakings initiated under ex-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt until after the Inspector General investigations into his conduct are complete.
The legislation is supported by 14 environmental groups, who endorsed the bills in a letter to lawmakers.
Lukas Ross, Senior Policy Analyst at Friends of the Earth, issued the following statement in response:
As Andrew Wheeler prepares to face the Senate for the first time as acting Administrator, he must reckon with the unprecedented damage inflicted on the EPA by his predecessor. Every piece of policy Scott Pruitt touched must be frozen in its tracks. Pruitt may be gone, but his toxic corruption at the EPA will live on if Congress fails to act. We thank Senator Merkley and Representative Connolly for their leadership in restoring public confidence in the EPA.
Woraya Makal comes across as a gentle and soft-spoken woman, but she is clear about what she wants and does not mince her words, especially when explaining why she chose her current occupation.
“I became a ranger because [as a ranger] you have the right to make decisions on your own,” she says of her work.
“And because I love nature.”
Woraya, called Kwan, is the only female ranger in the whole of Kui Buri National Park – a protected area in south-western Thailand, that borders Myanmar to the west.
A veteran in her field, Kwan has spent almost a decade engaging in wildlife protection and patrolling national parks. At Kui Buri, where she has worked for two and a half years, she is one of 116 rangers.
In Thailand, women like Kwan remain a rarity. But neither this nor the voices alleging that women aren’t suited for the ranger lifestyle – which comprises long working hours in spartan and sometimes dangerous conditions, away from loved ones – have prevented her from living her truth.
“I think [gender] doesn’t matter for your occupation. Any job that a man can do a woman can do also. Sometimes even better,” Kwan asserts, chuckling.
Like her colleagues, she ventures out on patrol for 15 days each month, sometimes in the company of WWF staff. Armed with a digital camera – an item she rarely parts with – Kwan documents wildlife movements throughout the park and looks out for snares left behind by poachers.
At the end of each day, she sends her findings and photographs via a mobile app to her supervisors, who log it onto the SMART patrolling system –software that allows for better planning of rangers’ and WWF’s joint protection efforts.
“When I go on my motorbike, it is to check where the animals come out and give that information to the tourists,” she says.
Over the years, Kui Buri has become known as one of the best places in Thailand for spotting Asian elephants and mighty gaurs (also known as Indian bison). If you’re lucky, you might even see a rare banteng, a species of wild forest cattle, among the herds of gaur. Because Kui Buri’s wildlife attracts visitors from all over the world, one of Kwan’s responsibilities is to look out for the people admiring the animals and share information with the park’s guides as to the wildlife’s whereabouts.
She also engages in habitat improvement. The activity— which includes removing weeds from the park’s open fields with fellow rangers and WWF staffers and replanting native vegetation—ensures elephants have enough food within the park and don’t venture out in search of food in neighboring plantations.
Kwan lives for much of the year at a ranger base camp in the park. That, and the collaborative nature of her work means that close alliances are formed quickly. “The way we make jokes and talk to each other it’s really like family,” she proclaims when talking about her seven-person ranger unit.
That’s not to say she doesn’t miss her loved ones. Kwan admits her close-knit community is no substitute for her two teenage sons, who live with their father in another province.
A 2016 survey conducted by WWF 11 Asian countries, including Thailand, revealed that that 45% of the 530 rangers surveyed saw their families less than five days a month. Kwan visits her children twice a month, at most – a choice she makes with a heavy heart but one she sees as necessary to pay for their education.
Kwan concedes she sometimes faces criticism for choosing a profession that separates her from her sons because she is a woman and a mother, but she doesn’t dwell on negative voices.
“If I care about what other people think, I will not provide for [my children],” she says. “I work for them.”
This passion for her family, and for the park and its wildlife, drive Kwan and rangers like her, who serve so bravely on the frontlines of conservation.
New results released by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to mark World Ranger Day reveal that one in seven wildlife rangers (14 percent) surveyed across Asia and Central Africa have been seriously injured at work within the last 12 months. The results, part of the largest ever survey on ranger employment conditions and welfare, come as the official death toll from July 2017-18 has been confirmed by the International Ranger Federation (IRF) & Thin Green Line Foundation (TGLF) as 107 – up from 101 last year.
This brings the total number of reported rangers who have lost their lives in the line of duty to 871* since 2009, which is when IRF and TGLF started to officially record the incidents. However, experts believe the actual number of deaths to be much higher than the reported number.
“The stats this year, 48 rangers of the 107 lost this year, were murdered at their place of work whilst protecting wildlife that we all care about. Another 50 died in work place accidents due to the dangerous nature of a ranger’s life. But these are not just statistics, these are men and women, rangers, who leave families behind, often with little support except for what we can provide. As a world community we need to do more and we have to do better in training and equipping rangers so that they have a greater chance of returning home to their families after a patrol,” said Sean Willmore, President of the IRF and Founder of its charity arm, TGLF.
WWF’s survey, which will be published later this year, has been completed by rangers working in Asia and Central Africa. WWF is also currently conducting the survey in East Africa. These regions are renowned as the most dangerous for the profession due to high levels of poaching to feed the demand for illegal wildlife trade products, largely coming from China and neighboring countries.
“World-over, we’re facing a rapid decline in nature, including some of our most beloved species. Rangers are on the front line of protecting much of this iconic wildlife and due to the very nature of their job, it comes as little or no surprise that they risk facing life-threatening situations. What is shocking is that despite their willingness to bear these grave risks to help save our shared wildlife, few are receiving fair pay, insurance and adequate training,” said Rohit Singh, WWF’s Zero Poaching Lead & President, Ranger Federation of Asia.
An overwhelming majority (86 percent) of rangers think their job is dangerous due to the grave risks associated with encountering or confronting poachers. Recent tragic incidents show that these concerns are not unfounded.
This year saw the murder of, Rachel Katumwa, the first female ranger thought to be killed while on duty in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Just a month prior to Rachel’s murder in the same area, suspected members of an armed militia group that were involved in poaching activity gunned down five wildlife rangers and their driver. It was the worst attack in Virunga’s history and the latest in a long line of tragic incidents in which rangers have lost their lives defending the planet’s natural heritage.
Despite high risks from armed poachers, dangerous encounters with wildlife and exposure to infectious diseases like malaria, only 15 percent of the rangers surveyed had been trained in first aid within the last year and almost six out of ten (58 percent) felt that when most in need of medical treatment, the services they received were not sufficient.
In Asia, on average a ranger gets paid $292 USD per month, and in Central Africa $150 USD per month– most often this is the main (or only) source of income for their families. The survey also highlights the concerning lack of insurance for rangers and their dependents. Despite life-changing injuries and death so commonplace within the profession, just 36 percent indicated that they had insurance coverage for such situations. Should rangers become injured and are no longer able to work – or worse yet, are killed – in the line of duty, the entire family are left vulnerable to a life of poverty.
“Nothing can compensate those that have sacrificed their lives and livelihoods to protect our wildlife, but we hope that by bringing to light these challenges, urgent steps will be taken to address them and in turn, improve the lives and working conditions of rangers and their families,” said Drew McVey, East Africa Wildlife Crime Technical Advisor, WWF.
WWF is calling upon governments to urgently review and improve shortcomings that are endangering the lives of wildlife rangers. Adequate training, including widely-adopted first aid training for rangers, strong emergency medical treatment plans, as well as equipment and communications devices appropriate for field conditions should be among the matters most urgently needing a review. Additionally, 100% insurance coverage for serious injuries and loss of life is a critical next step for rangers and their families.
At the upcoming London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade, taking place in October this year, we must see commitments from world leaders in countries where wildlife poaching occurs to ensure they have adequate numbers of properly equipped, trained and insured rangers. WWF hopes to work closely with these governments and other concerned partners to ensure rangers are recognized and supported with the same respect as other public service professions putting their lives on the line to work towards providing us all with a better world.
In response to a petition from Guardians, today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized Endangered Species Act protections for five species of Sri Lankan spider. The large, brightly colored spiders are now listed as “endangered” under the Act.
The spiders, members of the genus Poecilotheria, are sought by insect collectors for the pet trade, and their forest habitat in Sri Lanka is shrinking rapidly. Sri Lanka prohibits commercial collection of the spiders, but enforcement is difficult, and even modest numbers of spiders collected from the wild can affect the population.
We hope the protection of these beautiful animals encourages conservation and raises awareness about the perils of the exotic pet trade.
Rare and never-before-seen footage of a Sumatran tiger family offers exciting proof of tigers breeding successfully in the wild. The video shows a female tigress – named Rima – and her 3 cubs growing up in Central Sumatra. Rima then meets Uma, a male Sumatra tiger, and breeds successfully to have four more tiger cubs.
Yet, tigers are endangered, facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. Today, there are only around 3,900 wild tigers worldwide. That’s more than a 95% decline from perhaps 100,000 just over a century ago.
Top predators in the food chain, wild tigers play a crucial role in maintaining balanced ecosystems that support thousands of other species and millions of people.
“If left to their own devices with enough habitat, prey and protection, tigers will breed,” said Ginette Hemley, senior vice president for wildlife conservation, WWF. “This video shows progress toward tiger population recovery in Indonesia and demonstrates what’s possible when governments, businesses and local communities work together toward a conservation goal.”
WWF works closely with partners around the world to achieve the TX2 goal—to double the number of tigers in the wild. This includes supporting rangers with proper training and equipment, collaborating with governments to strengthen protected areas management, and ensuring that local communities benefit from tiger conservation.
WWF also works with supporters worldwide to urge their local governments to prioritize tiger conservation, buy sustainably-sourced products that do not contribute to habitat destruction and ensure that they do not visit tiger farms or buy illegal tiger parts.
On Global Tiger Day, we, the undersigned organizations affirm our commitment to the protection and preservation of wild tigers, are committed to working in collaboration with governments across the globe, and in particular tiger range countries, to assure a future for tigers in the wild:
We recognize the important role conservation breeding plays in assuring a future for tigers and other endangered species. We seek to raise awareness and a clear understanding however, that tiger farms are not conservation breeding programs, but rather a threat to the conservation of tigers in the wild. Tiger farms are commercial enterprises that breed and utilize tigers for profit, and not for conservation. We urge countries with tiger farms to immediately ban all trade in tiger parts, end tiger breeding for commercial purposes and to phase out their tiger farms. Such actions are fully consistent with decisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The number of tigers on tiger farms has escalated rapidly in recent years, with 7,000-8,000 tigers reportedly held in a large number of facilities throughout East and Southeast Asia – most notably in China, Thailand, Lao PDR and Vietnam. This captive population is likely much higher than the remaining tigers in the wild, which are found across 11 range countries. Each of these last remaining wild tigers is threatened by the illegal trade in their body parts – from their skins down to their bones – which are traded by criminals for profit on the black market.
The current scale of commercial breeding operations on tiger farms is a significant obstacle to the protection and recovery of wild tiger populations.
Tiger farms are not conservation breeding programs: Tiger farms do not benefit the conservation of wild tigers, and must be differentiated from legitimate, accredited, zoos, whose focus is conservation. Conservation breeding programs have conservation as their primary aim, are part of a coordinated recovery effort, and generally are used to: address the causes of primary threats to a species, offset the effects of threats, buy time, and/or restore wild populations. Conservation breeding, followed by the reintroduction of animals into the wild, is one of the most frequently cited conservation actions that have led to improvements in a species’ status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Tiger farms undermine enforcement efforts: The movement of tiger products from such facilities to consumer markets, through legal or illegal means, complicates and thus undermines enforcement efforts aimed at distinguishing and stopping the trade in wild tiger products. CITES prohibits all international trade for primarily commercial purposes in tigers, tiger parts, and tiger products.
Tiger farms perpetuate and increase demand: The availability of any tiger products or derivatives from tiger farms serves to legitimize and normalize consumer desire to purchase such items in a region currently experiencing profound and sustained economic growth. Increased market demand for tiger parts continues to fuel poaching of wild tigers because it is cheaper to kill a tiger in the wild for trafficking of its parts than to raise one for the same purpose. Even a modest expansion in the persistent demand for tiger products could trigger immense poaching pressures on wild tiger populations.
These concerns are well-founded, given the considerable evidence base showing that the vast majority of tigers killed by poachers are trafficked illegally from countries such as India, Russia, Nepal, Indonesia and Malaysia to countries currently permitting the operation of tiger farms within their borders.
We recommend countries take the following steps to reduce the impact of tiger farms on the wild tiger population and to remove the economic incentive for commercial breeding:
Prohibit domestic commercial trade in all tiger parts, from any source, by introducing laws which prohibit trade in all tiger products. Review existing laws and strengthen them where necessary to assure that there are no loopholes that enable trade (noting that international trade is already prohibited).
Implement a plan and timeline to phase out existing tiger commercial breeding facilities.
Prevent the establishment of new tiger farms (or expansion of existing tiger commercial breeding facilities).
Our organizations stand ready to assist.
Association of Zoos and Aquariums
Wildlife Conservation Society
World Association of Zoos and Aquariums
World Wildlife Fund
 IUCN/SSC (2014). Guidelines on the Use of Ex Situ Management for Species Conservation. Version
2.0. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN Species Survival Commission.
 Barongi, R., Fisken, F. A ., Parker, M. & Gusset, M. (eds) (2015). Committing to Conservation: The World Zoo and Aquarium Conservation Strategy. Gland: WAZA Executive Office, 69 pp.
July 26 is International Mangrove Day, dedicated to the unique forests that survive at the interface of land, river and sea.
Mangroves protect coastlines from storm surges, filter out pollutants, and are home to a wide array of diverse life.
However, mangroves have declined rapidly around the world, losing out to shrimp farms, tourist resorts, agricultural and urban land over the past decades.
What does the disappearance of this special forest ecosystem mean for our planet? Experts respond.
The tsunami that struck Southeast and South Asia in late 2004 killed nearly 230,000 people and destroyed villages, towns and cities across 14 countries. But some affected areas escaped the massive devastation that other regions saw — thanks to healthy mangroves dotting their coastline and acting as protective barriers.
Sitting at the edge of land and sea, mangroves are unique in many ways. The mangrove trees and shrubs form dense forests, their special, intertwining roots helping them survive in the saline and brackish waters they call home. These forests are skilled at filtering pollutants from river water. They are adept at trapping excess sediment before it reaches the ocean. They are also carbon powerhouses, a tract of mangrove locking away many times more carbon in the soil than a similarly sized area of rainforest. Moreover, mangrove swamps are important nurseries for several fish species, and support a massive diversity of wildlife, including tigers, crocodiles, otters, turtles and several species of birds and insects.
Given all that mangroves do, it is unsurprising that the forests have a special day dedicated to them: July 26, International Mangrove Day. However, mangroves have declined rapidly around the world, losing out to shrimp farms, tourist resorts, agricultural and urban land over the past decades.
What does the disappearance of this special forest ecosystem mean for our planet? This is what some mangrove experts have to say.
Catherine E. Lovelock, professor of biological sciences at the University of Queensland, Australia
Without mangroves we would all be diminished and many people would suffer. It’s a dismal scenario that includes coasts with barren, unproductive shores, collapsed fisheries, turbid, polluted water, little protection for communities from severe weather events and sea level rise and loss of many types of animals and plants. It would be a world without mangrove tigers, mangrove honeyeaters, mud crabs or mangrove mud whelks. While these losses are felt most intensely by communities that have removed or degraded their mangroves, they ultimately affect all of us through reduced food security, enhanced migration, and increased potential for conflict.
Losses of mangroves also release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, arising from destruction of their biomass and the release of the large carbon stocks held in their soils. This affects all of us on the planet as it contributes to global warming, further accelerating global climatic change.
Protection and restoration of the mangroves that we have already lost or degraded should have the highest priority because of the benefits to people, biodiversity and the planet. In my country, Australia, restoring the mangroves and other coastal wetlands will benefit the iconic Great Barrier Reef, improving water quality and fisheries. In other countries where I work, for example Myanmar, conserving and restoring mangroves is critical for the health of the communities of the Irrawaddy Delta who rely on the mangrove for their livelihoods and security. If we all attend to the conservation and restoration of mangroves not only will local communities benefit, but the global community will benefit by increasing the carbon sink of the coastal zone, helping to limit global warming.
Beth Polidoro, associate professor at Arizona State University and co-chair of marine fishes, Red List Authority, IUCN
Mangroves are important habitat-forming species at the interface of freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems. As such, they provide a number of critical ecosystem services including protection from coastal erosion and storm damage, natural filters for pollution and sediment, carbon sequestration, and critical habitat for a wide variety of species, including nursing grounds for many coastal fishes. It is estimated that 80 percent of global fish catches are directly or indirectly dependent on mangroves. A world without mangroves would likely mean a world with fewer fishes, more coastal damage, and unknown ecosystem and public health consequences related to changes in pollutant, sediment and carbon cycles.
Norman Duke, professorial research fellow, mangrove hub, James Cook University, Australia
Love them or hate them, we all depend on mangroves and tidal wetlands. They have been the quiet achievers that have somehow adapted to fit among our everyday lives. Facing the sea and bordering river and stream estuaries, these habitats offer essential services that will be sorely missed when they are further diminished. But our communities are driven by short-term gain in alternate land uses, and detrimental pollution. There appears to be little regard for the advantages provided by natural ecosystems because they have rarely been valued in our terms. After all, their services have been provided for free. Why should we now pay for these benefits? And this is the nut of the current dilemma. Tidal wetlands are highly threatened by both an expanding global footprint of human development, coupled with rapid alterations to the world’s climate. The world we live in is fast changing and the natural environments must adapt and adjust to survive!
The challenge is to convince people that mangroves are useful, and healthy natural environments are good for them! One seemingly rational approach has been to give a fiscal value to natural places. But that is not easy. While we can relatively easily place a dollar value on the support and harboring of local and nearshore commercial fisheries by mangroves, what about recreational values? There are many major environmental benefits that usually go under the fiscal radar. That means we are grossly undervaluing such natural places. For mangroves, these benefits include shoreline protection and mitigation of waterways troubled by severe flooding and violent storms, plus their acknowledged extreme capacity to sequester carbon from the atmosphere — five greater than other forested places. And each of these things is increasingly threatened already as the climate changes.
And, of course, perhaps the greatest threat of all is rapidly rising sea levels. The effects on shoreline and estuarine places will be, and already is, extreme and devastating for natural environments as well as human society. How do we put a value on shoreline places?
At the end of the day, we know it will be immense — so does it really matter how much it is? The only way forward, it seems, is to better inform and educate human communities. This is our greatest and most urgent challenge!
While the public perception of tidal habitats remains divided, these valuable places are rapidly being removed and damaged beyond recognition, and diminished benefits. The question is, can these habitats cope?! And is there enough time for them to adapt? Our best available evidence suggests they are not coping well! The squeeze is real, with accumulative pressures of ever-increasing human populations, resource demands and development combined with the progressive impacts of changing climate and rising sea levels. These are impacts never known on Earth before. There seems little reason for optimism!
So my message is all about promoting better awareness and education. People don’t have to love mangroves to appreciate their value. Mangrove natural habitats really need our greater understanding and help at this time.
Majestic mangroves — healthy humans!
Gabby Ahmadia, lead marine scientist at the World Wildlife Fund
Although mangroves are an invasive species in Hawaii where I grew up, the more I learn about them, the more I appreciate them. They are often the stepchild of marine conservation — as they are muddy and buggy and hard to maneuver in — and ownership gets confused or lost as they straddle the land and sea. But their benefits outweigh a few mosquito bites and dirty boots — from their roles as nursery habitats to coastal protection to carbon storage. Unfortunately, global mangrove loss is occurring at an alarming rate. This not only has negative impacts for coastal communities and fisheries health, but also contributes disproportionally to climate change as the deep, sprawling roots of mangroves that make it hard to walk around and trap all the mud are also important for trapping carbon.
I’ve been to fancy hotels on beaches for meetings that used to be mangrove forests. I’ve seen endless aquaculture ponds from airplanes — many that are no longer viable, that used to be mangrove forests. We need to do better.
Of all coastal ecosystems, mangrove conservation has some of the greatest potential in terms of return on investment. While I would never argue for just conserving one type of coastal ecosystem, mangroves do provide some “easier” wins. If done right, mangrove restoration is a viable option that can be done at scale. They have higher adaptive capacity mangroves as they are less vulnerable to climate change. And the potential to include mangrove conservation in countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to address climate change should be a motivator for governments.
Conservation of mangroves is a sound investment, and bringing partners together to tackle this global issue is critical. We need to bring our knowledge, creativity and expertise together to be smarter about how we can shift mangrove trajectories in a more positive direction globally. As one step toward this effort, WWF and partners have formed a Global Mangrove Alliance for concerted conservation action for global impacts.
Dan Friess, associate professor and head of the mangrove lab at the National University of Singapore
If mangroves disappeared we would lose a key resource for hundreds of millions of people across the tropics and subtropics. Mangroves provide so many ecosystem services to coastal communities and beyond; fisheries, fuel and timber, medicinal products, coastal protection, and numerous cultural and spiritual services. These would be almost impossible to replace.
Luckily, a world without mangroves isn’t something we are going to see any time soon. Global mangrove deforestation rates have declined substantially since the 1980s — we are not losing them as fast as we used to, though there are some countries that still continue to destroy their mangroves rapidly. This is in part due to changes in industries and deforestation drivers (e.g. the intensification of aquaculture) but also because stakeholders and governments are now seeing the real value of mangroves and improving their conservation and restoration. There are many dedicated local communities, researchers, NGOs and government representatives working toward the better protection of this important ecosystem. We are still losing too much mangrove area, but I’m cautiously optimistic.
“If there are no mangroves, then the sea will have no meaning. It’s like a tree with no roots, for the mangroves are the roots of the sea!” — Quote by Mad-Ha Ranwasii, a Thai fisherman and village headman, 1992.
Mangroves are the rainforests by the sea. Mangrove forests fringe large stretches of the subtropical and tropical coastlines of Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas. Now, less than 15 million hectares (58,000 square miles) remain — less than half the original area. Mangrove forests are vital for healthy coastal ecosystems in many regions of the world. These forest wetlands support an immense array of marine and coastal life, serving as vital fish nurseries, nesting and feeding grounds for migratory birds, last stands for Bengal tigers and lemurs and a wide variety of other mammals including manatees and proboscis monkeys, and a myriad of insects and reptiles, including sea turtles and saltwater crocodiles. Mangroves also support the health and productivity of coral reefs and seagrass beds. In addition, mangroves play an important, life-supporting role for countless traditional coastal communities and indigenous peoples who depend on mangroves for life and livelihoods.
Yet mangroves are one of the most threatened habitats on Earth, with an annual loss outpacing other tropical rainforests. Their disappearance is primarily due to clearing for shrimp aquaculture, timber and fuelwood extraction, charcoal production, urban and agriculture expansion, pollution, coastal road construction, and other industrial and infrastructure developments. Cleared forests and degraded wetlands are turned into shrimp ponds, oil ports, tourist hotels, golf courses and marinas. Today, it is imperative to counter these losses. This is one of the challenges taken up by Mangrove Action Project since its founding in 1992.
The importance of the protective mangrove buffer zone cannot be overstated. Mangroves are living buffers against the forces of storms and waves that can otherwise devastate a coastline. In regions where these coastal fringe forests have been cleared, tremendous problems of erosion and siltation have arisen, and terrible losses to human life and property have occurred due to destructive hurricanes, storm surges and tsunamis. Today there is a growing urgency to recognize the importance of conserving and restoring protective mangrove greenbelts to lessen the dangers from future catastrophes, because as oceans warm and sea levels rise, so will the frequency and intensity of hurricanes and storm surges.
Mangroves now are also recognized for their important role in combating climate change, sequestering up to five times more carbon than other forest ecosystems, storing that carbon in their peat soils for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Because nearly half of humankind today lives in cities and settlements located along the now more vulnerable coasts, and because many industries such as aquaculture are situated along these same coasts, climate change and consequent sea level rise cannot be ignored. Shrimp aquaculture, which plays a significant role in the so-called “Blue Revolution,” has been and still is one of the greatest threats to mangroves. Current examples of such threats can be found today in Malaysia’s Pitas mangroves of Sabah, or the remaining mangrove areas of Honduras, Myanmar and Indonesia, where new shrimp farms continue to encroach upon primary and degraded mangrove wetlands. With the increasing threat of climate change looming over our planet, the ongoing clearing of mangroves for shrimp production, or for whatever other reasons, must now be perceived in an entirely new caution light.
Seeking the most effective path toward long-term mangrove conservation and recovery, Mangrove Action Project (MAP) promotes the concept and practice of community-based ecological mangrove restoration (CBEMR). This holistic approach to mangrove restoration views the proposed plant and animal communities to be restored as part of a larger ecosystem, connected with other ecological communities that also have functions to be protected or restored. Mangrove forests can self-repair, or successfully undergo secondary succession, if the normal tidal hydrology is restored and if there is a ready source of mangrove seedlings or propagules from nearby stands that are accessible to reseed an area.
CBEMR focuses on re-establishing the hydrology and topography, which will facilitate this natural regeneration process. CBEMR also engages local communities in the restoration process, empowering them to be stewards of their environment, and enabling them to regain the livelihoods ruined when the mangroves were destroyed. Five- to 10-day intensive workshops train local people to do CBEMR, and long-term community management and monitoring plans ensure project sustainability.
Many challenges remain, however, such as the need for more robust monitoring and evaluation with internationally recognized outcome indicators. Also, there are challenging issues of land tenure and site availability; restrictions imposed by donors; carbon offset plantings encouraging ecosystem conversion rather than true mangrove restoration; and securing government permits and approvals.
Reforestation programs where the mangroves have been lost would therefore aim to re-establish mangrove forest protection, while furthering the potential for sustainable development. The improvement of mangrove ecosystems through restoration will enhance their functions as a natural water treatment system and spawning and nursery grounds for fish and shrimps, thereby improving health and livelihood possibilities to the benefit of marginalized local communities; and restoring the vital carbon sequestration powers of these forests.
We at MAP recognize that all of this work cannot be done without involvement of local communities and community-based NGOs working with the cooperation of local government, scientists and educators in this process of conserving and managing their coastal resources. Just as mangroves are the “roots of the sea,” it is hoped that this expanding network of partners and projects will continue to strengthen and spread its roots throughout the world.
The USDA has released a long-awaited decision on the fate of its controversial Idaho Sheep Experiment Station, and unfortunately the news isn’t good: under the decision, the station will continue to run without adopting any measures to increase its compatibility with land health or wildlife habitat.
And the station is incompatible with both. Located in the Centennial Mountains along Idaho’s border with Montana, it obstructs a critical east-west wildlife corridor, thereby fragmenting carnivore populations and preventing bighorns from reestablishing themselves in historic habitats. Pneumonia from domestic livestock also has the potential to devastate bighorn herds.
To make matters worse, this decision also includes a plan to reopen grazing in two other domestic allotments, Snakey Canyon and Kelley Canyon, after it was suspended due to a legal challenge from Guardians in 2017. We’re extremely disappointed that sheep industry lobbyists and Idaho Representative Mike Simpson have scuttled plans to return the Centennial Range to wildlife and recreational uses, but we’ll keep fighting.
Officials in Shasta County, California, have announced that the county will be ending its contract with federal wildlife-killing agency Wildlife Services. The announcement comes after advocacy by Guardians and many allies.
Shasta County’s previous contract with Wildlife Services authorized the program to kill hundreds of bears and coyotes, as well as thousands of birds, muskrats, and other animals in the county every year. Over the past two years, Wildlife Services killed 72,385 animals in Shasta County, including non-target species like domestic dogs.
We hope Shasta will stick to nonlethal alternatives to address conflicts with wildlife, instead of spending residents’ tax dollars on trapping, poisoning, and shooting innocent animals.