October 2016

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The 2016 Living Planet Report warns that unless we start doing things differently, by 2020 our planet’s vertebrate populations will have declined by an average of 67 per cent. The report also had this to say on rewilding:

“The comeback of large carnivores shows that with political will supported by a forward-looking legal framework and a wide range of committed stakeholders, nature can recover.

In some places where large carnivores such as lynx previously disappeared, loss of knowledge can create challenges, especially for certain land-user groups like hunters or farmers. However, there are also numerous positive examples of successful coexistence between humans and large carnivores across Europe. Translating the positive examples and subsequent management approaches into the specific contexts of each region will pave the way further for these charismatic animals. Furthermore, cooperation across Europe will be vital as large carnivores do not respect national borders.”

Meanwhile, Wetlands International say allowing mangrove forests to recover naturally is probably more effective than planting programmes.

University of California have published Reintroduction of Fish and Wildlife Populations, a “practical step-by-step guide to successfully planning, implementing, and evaluating the reestablishment of animal populations in former habitats or their introduction in new environments”.

Europe

The Return of the Golden Jackal.

Uniting nature, culture and business in Lapland.

Another Iberian Lynx was killed on roads around Doñana National Park, bringing the 2016 roadkill toll to 2016 for this recently reintroduced population.

Romania has banned trophy hunting of brown bears, wolves, lynx and wild cats.

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Ancient DNA and cave paintings help to identify the European bison as a hybrid descendant of two extinct animals.

Interpreting ‘favourable conservation status’ for large carnivores in Europe: how many are needed and how many are wanted?

UK

The UK’s Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) have published a report on Rewilding and Ecosystem Services.

Watch rewilding experts give evidence to the MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee.

Paul Jepson: Rewilding and the uplands: perspectives on valuing nature.

Rob Yorke: Rewilding in the UK – hidden meanings, real emotions.

George Monbiot: Rewilding the countryside and the end of sheep.

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Rewilding opportunities arise for UK post-Brexit but wolf introduction ‘risky’.

The British Countryside After Brexit, discussion on BBC Radio 4.

Reforesting Scotland’s Autumn/Winter journal edition.

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England’s vast grouse shooting estates receive millions of pounds in public subsidies, according to an investigation by Friends of the Earth. Watch MPs “debate” the petition to ban driven grouse shooting here.

Farmer Richard Waddingham was given a national award for wetland creation.

100+ bluefin tuna were spotted in Falmouth Bay – Tom Horton suggests some reasons why.

Reintroduced Scottish white-tailed eagle numbers are expected to soar.

Keen on pine martens? Vote for them here and here.

Americas

Yellowstone Wolves 20 Years Later.

Michael Soulé in the National Geographic: “Greater Yellowstone is the center of the Wild West that remains. The challenge is trying to connect the ecosystem to other ecosystems, to let it serve as a source for rewilding other places.”

Pipe ceremony at Lake Minnewanka welcomes bison back to their homeland.

Reintroduced fishers (Martes pennanti, a.k.a. pequam, wejack, woolang) are doing well in the Cascades.

For the first time in a century, a California condor chick in the wild has hatched and left the nest at Pinnacles National Park.

 

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South Carolina had its first elk sighting in more than two centuries.

Wildlife Services will stop killing predators in Nevada’s wilderness areas, thanks to a lawsuit.

Poll finds most Oregonians oppose hunting of wolves.

They’re dreaming of bringing grizzly bears back in California.

After 25 years as a trash dump, San Cristobal Canyon bounces back.

Rewilding: In Patagonia.

Australia

Australia’s first ever National Rewilding Forum was held in Sydney.

Read the full summary of the event here.

Read a special edition of Nature NSW here.

Read blog coverage of the event here.

See also Rewilding on Dirk Hartog Island.

Africa

Andrew Zaloumis explains some rewilding lessons from iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Read more here and here.

See also DW’s short documentary on Living with lions.

Reforesting Kilimanjaro could east East Africa’s severe water shortages.

Cats

Secrets of the World’s 38 Species of Wild Cats.

Supporting Snow Leopard Conservation for Sustainable Development.

Snow leopard numbers decline due to “retaliation”.

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India plans to add ten more tiger reserves.

Living with lions.

Don’t miss this camera trap footage of an impromptu lynx hunt:

Beavers

New study: Eurasian beaver activity increases water storage, attenuates flow and mitigates diffuse pollution from intensively-managed grasslands.

Beavers are back in the UK and they will reshape the land.

Beavers are back and here’s how to live with them.

UK’s most talented architects are not human.

Beavers make a comeback in France.

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Rivers

Taking Down Dams and Letting the Fish Flow.

Why the removal of four Snake River dams is a necessary and feasible action to save wild salmon.

Umeå University – It takes patience to restore watercourses.

Don’t miss this high resolution map of Europe’s 1.2 million streams and rivers, divided into almost 8000 catchment areas.

Scheme to reopen the River Severn to fish wins almost £20m in funding.

Rewilding Europe Webinar – European Rewilding Network on community-based river restoration.

Urban Rewilding

Urban rewilding: bringing nature back to cities.

Helping urban wildlife in California.

Restoring urban drains.

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Talking Points

Aaron M Ellison: To protect endangered species from extinction, the ecological community must become more politically involved.

Ensemble ecosystem modeling for predicting ecosystem response to predator reintroduction.

How to Design a Wildlife Crossing That Wildlife Will Actually Use.

The United Nations and the world’s largest conservation organisation are both pushing for equal rights for nature.

Could giving wild animals property rights help stop their decline?

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September 2016

Introductions

Alligator gar reintroduction efforts have begun in Illinois.

Bluebreast darters are returning to the Licking River.

There is talk of bringing the ocelot back to Texas.

In Australia Koalas are returning to the Illawarra coast, while Helmeted Honeyeaters have been reintroduced in Yellingbo.

Wart-biter crickets were reintroduced in Sussex, England.

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The Fannyside Muir bog restoration project has been completed.

Snow leopards are back from the brink in Afghanistan.

California’s sea otter population has reached a record high.

Beyond the city, Hong Kong is recreating its lost woodlands.

A grizzly bear was spotted in Upper Big Hole (Montana) for the first time in about a century.

Australia

Australia’s Threatened Species Commissioner (Department of the Environment and Energy) Gregory Andrews has come out in full support of rewilding:

“I support rewilding. I like to see more native predators that make it harder for feral animals like feral cats to compete.”

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Here’s an overview of bringing the Tasmanian devil back to the mainland.

Should quolls be introduced to the mainland?

Australian journalists and their audiences are interested in Europe’s rewilding movement – ABC ran this story.

Oceans

A study published in the journal Science found that humans are driving an unprecedented extinction of sealife in a way that will disrupt ocean ecosystems for millions of years.

Government officials from around the world gathered at the United Nations for ongoing negotiations of an international treaty to protect marine biodiversity on the high seas.

Meeting in the Galápagos, the presidents of Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Colombia announced historic protections and marine reserves.

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The UK is to ban fishing from a million square kilometres of ocean. The UK Government has also committed to banning microbeads.

A new conservation area has been set up in waters off the west of Scotland to help protect harbour porpoise.

Two no-fishing zones in Turkey’s Gökova Bay are to be extended to include critical sandbar shark habitat.

WWF has called for a suspension of the commercial fishing of Pacific bluefin tuna stock.

We’ve been protecting Earth’s land for 100 years. We’re finally starting to protect its oceans.

UK & Ireland

Beaver reintroduction needs your help.

Rewilding Britain launched their report How Rewilding Reduces Flood Risk.

Following the positive media coverage of this report, Caroline Lucas MP raised the issue in parliament. Rewilding Britain Director Helen Meech also appeared on BBC Breakfast.

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The steady comeback of Ireland’s pine marten population is good for farmers(and would also be good for British farmers).

Rewilding Britain have also recently launched a small-scale rewilding survey.

The Countryside Alliance “has used the opportunity of a Parliamentary inquiry to highlight the dangers of ‘rewilding’ being used as an approach to conservation”.

Meanwhile, farming subsidies are under scrutiny. The State of Nature Report 2016 also found that nature loss was linked to farming intensity.

The petition on driven grouse shooting has secured a parliamentary debate.

Some rewilding articles from the UK this month:

Europe

Rewilding Europe has withdrawn from the Eastern Carpathians, citing “no enabling environment for a major rewilding initiative in the region”.

In Spain a brown bear was shot near a nature reserve, weeks before a herd of recently reintroduced bison were poisoned and decapitated elsewhere.

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The EU Commission has been criticised by conservationists over its handling of fishing limits.

Scientists have demanded a halt to the damming of Europe’s last wild river.

Conservationists help animals – and humans – in Italy’s Central Apennines

Rewilding lessons in Risnjak

Wolves & Bears

Grizzly bears in California: Reintroduction push ignites strong emotions.

Norway plans to kill more than two thirds of its wolf population.

The Leonardo DiCaprio foundation has awarded Defenders a grant to continue saving wolves.

Red Wolf Territory Sharply Reduced Under New Federal Plan.

Cats

The Return of the Great American Jaguar.

China considers a huge national park for Amur tigers and leopards.

Snow leopards are back from the brink in Afghanistan.

How Texas is bringing the ocelot back.

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Scottish Wildlife Trust ambassador Gordon Buchanan adds his voice to the campaign to return Scotland’s lynxes.

A German perspective on returning the lynx to Britain.

Chaos erupts at Lynx meeting.

Iberian Lynx: Back from the brink.

Urban Rewilding

In Singapore the return of long-absent otters has been underlined as a sign of the city’s greening.

How Did Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon River Restoration Get Its Start?

RSPB helps develop brick that gives swifts a home.

The Making of a National Park City.

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Talking Points

A new study has found little evidence that lethal predator control does anything to help ranchers. Read the journal article here.

Americans love animals more than they used to – even scary ones.

Catastrophic Declines in Wilderness Areas Undermine Global Environment Targets.

Humans have destroyed a tenth of Earth’s wilderness in 25 years.

Paradise lost: we’ve destroyed most of the world’s wilderness.

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National Parks Are Economic Engines Across America: Graphic Shows How.

From concrete to coral: breeze blocks make a splash regenerating reefs.

A role for novel ecosystems in the Anthropocene?

The Role of Rewilding in Landscape Design for Conservation.

August 2016

Introductions

Black bears are returning to Missouri, and grizzly bears are returning to Sweet Grass Hills, Montana.

Austria has its first wolf family in 100 years.

Egyptian vultures were released in Northern Bulgaria.

White-tailed sea eagles successfully fledged in Cork for the first time in 125 years.

Water voles will be reintroduced to England’s highest lake.

Pacific pocket mice are being reintroduced to SoCal’s Coastal Canyons.

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Rare Afghan deer not seen in the wild for forty years were spotted by a student.

Elk are returning to Wisconsin.

Ten orangutans were released in Borneo.

More on the black-footed ferret releases.

More on returning the alligator gar in Illinois.

Conservationists are planning to restore India’s Western Ghats.

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Obama has created the “largest protected place on the planet” –Papahānaumokuākea.

A leatherback sea turtle nest was discovered in the Florida Keys.

Western pond turtles are to be reintroduced along the southern Marin, California.

In Australia, critically endangered western swamp tortoises have been translocated outside their natural range to save them from climate change.

There are plans to reintroduce the extinct great auk to British shores.

Environmental blogger Alasdair Cameron has started rewilding a field.

Manatees are to make a comeback in Guadeloupe for the first time in over a century.

Listen

Rewilding Debate on BBC Radio 4 with George Monbiot, Mike Clarke, John Davies and Richard Cooke.

Rewilding Podcast on CBC Radio with JB MacKinnon, Frans Vera, Mark Fisher, Jori Wolf, Thomas van Slobbe and Karsten Heuer.

Discussing rewilding at Birdfair with Anneka Svenksa, Chris Packham and Helen Meech.

Restoring the ancient Caledonian Forest on TEDx with Alan Watson-Fetherstone.

Defra are hosting a lecture by Paul Jepson on Rewilding and the Uplands, on 22 September.

Cats

The elusive Arabian sand cat was seen for the first time in 10 years.

The National Sheep Association has cut all communication with the Lynx UK Trust.

Research gives new insight into Lynx habitat in Colorado.

Can a new park save China’s big cats?

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What next for Russia’s reintroduced leopards?

Bringing back America’s cougars.

Are large cats compatible with modern society on the Korean peninsula?

The Samburu women who live alongside lions.

Bears

Black bears are returning to Missouri, while Grizzly bears are returning to Sweet Grass Hills, Montana.

80% of Washingtonians support the idea of restoring more grizzlies to the North Cascades.

The Obama administration has introduced a number of regulations on trophy hunting in Alaska’s refuges.

More on the growing campaign to return grizzly bears to California.

Wolves (and other canidae)

In Washington an entire wolf pack is to be killed for preying on livestock, despite the fact that the livestock were grazing on public lands.

The long-studied East Fork wolf pack may have perished due to hunting and trapping.

Austria has its first wolf family in 100 years.

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How the American coyote has survived extermination.

Queensland has shut down its “death-row dingo” goat cull programme.

More golden jackals were spotted in Denmark.

Oceans

China have pledged to cut the size of their massive fishing fleet.

WWF Australia are buying a fishing license to help save Australia’s sharks.

Pressure is growing to ban microbeads.

Bill McKibben: The coral die-off crisis is a climate crime and Exxon fired the gun.

Steven T Jones: Marine biodiversity is essential and it’s up to humans to restore and protect it.

Obama has created the largest protected place on the planet –Papahānaumokuākea.

Trees

The Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit focused on ecological restoration.

“Africa’s Great Green Wall didn’t stop desertification, but it evolved into something that might.”

Can tropical dry forests recover after major disturbance?

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The New Forest is being destroyed by a growing number of grazing ponies.

The plan to replant millions of trees in central England has slowed down.

How Brazil, Panama and Costa Rica breathed new life into degraded lands.

Talking Points

Overexploitation and agriculture remain the top threats to biodiversity.

Large carnivores, a natural cure for lyme disease.

Lessons from rewilding elephants in Namibia.

Why conservationists need a little hope: saving themselves from becoming the most depressing scientists on the planet.

Ecological recession: researchers say biodiversity loss has hit critical threshold across the globe.

Save the Animals, Save the Planet.

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Migration in Motion: visualising species movements due to climate change.

“Climate change will create new ecosystems, so let’s help plants move.”

The political crusades targeting national parks for drilling and exploitation.

Balkan wildlife faces extinction threat from border fence to control migrants.

National Trust calls for complete reform of British farm subsidies.

Man-made wilderness.

Wild life for everyone.

Urban Rewilding

Rewilding urban streams.

Wild turkeys: marvel or menace?

Britain and Scotland

OneKind have launched a plea to end seal shooting in Scotland.

The petition to ban driven grouse shooting has reached over 110,000 signatures. Read more here:

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Meanwhile, the National Forest Estate in Strathspey has won an award for its capercaillie conservation. An ecologist involved with the programme explained the role predators have played in this programme:

“We think that the various predators are controlling each other and this allows the capercaillie to thrive…This all challenges the dogma that predator control is crucial for the persistence of grouse populations.”

July 2016

Introductions

100 of the world’s smallest pigs have now been released into the grasslands of Assam.

Critically endangered marmots are being released to Vancouver Island.

Black-footed ferrets were released in Wyoming, while a wolverine turned up again near Truckee, California.

Leopards were released in Russia.

A Queensland council is releasing dingoes onto a Great Barrier Reef island to hunt feral goats.

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Plans are underway to return the alligator gar to U.S. waters, partly as a solution to the invasive Asian carp.

New York officials are hoping to attract bats to control mosquito populations. Tony Juniper pointed out that small fish can also subdue their larvae populations. Meanwhile plans are afoot to rewild the state’s Buffalo River.

Malaysia’s largest marine park – Tun Mustapha Park – is a reality after 16 years.

People in Uttar Pradesh broke a world record by planting 49.3 million trees in 24 hours.

Bears

While Yellowstone’s grizzlies are under attack from delisting, the Center for Biological Diversity have launched an ad campaign to return the grizzly bear to California.

Meanwhile, a poll found extremely strong support for rewilding grizzly bears in Washington’s North Cascades.

Big energy and trophy hunting ties have prompted Oglala Siioux Tribe to call for a congressional investigation into grizzly delisting.

Wolves

Yellowstone Science: Celebrating 20 Years of Wolves.

Despite sheep kills, this Wisconsin farmer is not anti-wolf.

Wisconsin’s wolf population increases to record high.

Wildlife agency expects wolves to soon repopulate Colorado.

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“We can’t afford to stop Mexican gray wolf releases.”

Half a million people urge US Fish & Wildlife Service not to abandon red wolves. Recent research has found these predators to be a hybrid of wolves and coyotes.

See also – The role of human-related risk in breeding site selection by wolves.

Otters

Catch up on the 13th International Otter Congress.

How sea otters help save the planet.

India are at the heart of illegal otter trade.

Singapore’s celebrity urban otter family.

Beavers

Five reasons to love beavers.

Call for decision on the future of beavers in Scotland.

Released emails say Scottish farmers are shooting “as many beavers as possible” on Tayside.

Talking Points

A study found that rewilding cougars across the United States would reduce road accidents by creating less deer on the road. The full paper is Socioeconomic Benefits of Large Carnivore Recolonization Through Reduced Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions.

Restoring rivers by busting old dams.

Livestock protection dogs conserve predators.

Scientists say international efforts are needed to saves the world’s megafauna.

Trump’s wall would hurt dozens of species.

Should wild animals that attack people be killed?

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China says it will release city rankings by water pollution.

Why insects are declining and why it matters.

World Heritage meeting reveals emerging threats to European sites.

What a decline of biodiversity below “safe” threshold means for Earth.

Co-Adaptation Is Key to Coexisting with Large Carnivores.

Ecosophical Networks: Rewilding Conservation Strategies under the rubric of Geopolitics.

North Korea accuses South Korea of rewilding…

Mini Rewilding

This month I wrote a DIY Rewilding Guide, which raised the interesting question “what size is rewilding?”

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Some other examples this month of what might be considered “mini-rewilding” or “urban rewilding” are:

– Buglife’s creation of meadow habitats for pollinators.

– How one person repopulated a rare butterfly species in their backyard.

– How to grow a forest in your backyard.

Landowners

Rewilding could be the way to save Britain’s farms. 84 groups have demanded that post-Brexit farming subsidies protect nature.

Landowners will debate George Monbiot at a Countryfile event.

The RSPB have called for grouse shooting estates to be licensed, so they can be banned if illegal killing happens (and illegal killing is happening). At the same time, Natural England have issued licenses to exterminate buzzards.

Chris Packham and others are campaigning to ban driven grouse shooting. See more here.

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Glenfeshie offers a taste of what a rewilded sports estates could look like, and Rewilding Europe’s project in Western Iberia demonstrates the excitingpotential for ecotourism.

“How Butterfly Farmers Are Safeguarding the Forest in Kenya” is also an interesting read.

UK

In a demonstration of just how much wild lynx avoid humans, an escaped Carpathian lyxn called Flaviu evaded capture for an entire month, living on adiet of rabbits.

Local consultations have begun on plans to introduce 10 Eurasian lynxes to sites in north England and southern Scotland.

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The Environmental Audit Committee have launched an inquiry into the “future of the natural environment after the EU referendum“, which will focus on “managed rewilding”.

Rewilding is a top priority for young people’s Vision for Nature. A poll also found that almost 9/10 young people think politicians should take care of wildlife and the environment.

A natural flood project won an award and the National Forest celebrated 25 years, while a badger cull that “flies in the face of scientific evidence” is to be expanded.

Australia

Dingoes will hunt goats on Pelorus Island.

There is growing support for reintroducing the Tasmanian devil to the mainland.

Eastern quolls are breeding in Canberra for the first time in 80 years.

Josh Frydenberg has replaced the infamous Greg Hunt.

Fishing

The FAO released their biannual report The State of the World’s Fisheries and Aquaculture, finding:

UN Environment’s Erik Solheim has backed a call to end harmful fishing subsidies.

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Mexico have banned gillnets in a last minute attempt to save the vaquita purpose.

During Brexit negotiations, the UK is under pressure to pressure Japan on awhaling ban.

Trophy shark hunting tournaments face growing pressure to reform, especially after an endangered porbeagle shark “won” the Block Island Tournament.

Oceans

US Navy have been banned from using sonar that harms dolphins and walruses.

According to Janet Street-Porter, “shark incidents are increasing because we are invading their territory“.

Waitrose won’t stock any products with microbeads.

There is a proposed marine national monument at Papahānaumokuākea.

Marine biodiversity needs more than protection.

The Salmon’s Swim for Survival.

June 2016

Reintroductions

110 pairs of American burying beetles were released at Fernland Nature Preserve.

A male brown bear was released in Catalonia.

Herring have returned to New York’s Hudson River after a dam removal.

In India – pygmy hogs were released in Assam, while himalayan griffon vultureswere released in Haryana.

Rewilding Europe  and WWF Romania are building up a bison breeding centre in Romanian Hunedoara Zoo, while ten more bison were released in Romania’s Tarcu Mountains.

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The Scottish Wildlife Trust have acquired Little Linga, a key breeding site for seals and seabirds.

Welsh pine martens that were reintroduced last year give birth to at least five kits.

Vancouver are rewilding their old city dump.

Germany’s population of wild cats is now estimated to be between 5,000-10,000.

Quolls are rewilding Australia.

The dormouse is returning to English hedgerows after 100 years. BBC Earth showcased the return of Britain’s biggest bird – the great bustard.

There might be a new wolf in California.

Oceans

Cambodia declared their first ever marine protected area.

Two whale sharks and other wildlife were intercepted on their way to a Chinese theme park and returned to the ocean.

Microplastics are killing fish before they reach reproductive age, study finds. Defra minister George Eustice MP said it was time to “proceed with a ban”.

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The New Scientist ran a story explaining how oysters help restore ocean health. The Blue Marine Foundation are planning to do exactly this in the Solent by 2020.

The dark side of China’s foreign fishing boom.

Why does Japan still hunt wales?

Cats

A genetic census of the European wildcat has been published.

Thailand’s infamous Tiger Temple has been raided and shut down. Read more here and here.

BBC Earth explained how indigenous peoples can take some of the credit for rising tiger populations.

Plans to return wild lynx to Scotland are coming closer to reality – read more here and here.

A study found that the closer pumas live to humans, the less they hunt deer, and the more they hunt raccoons and house cats.

Bears

Scientists find “nomad” bears in Turkey.

How countries deal with bears in Europe.

Brown bears use “human shield” to protect their cubs.

Of bears and biases: scientific judgment and the fate of Yellowstone’s grizzlies.

Human food sources tempt migratory bears to stay put.

Trees

Trees for Life reopened an eco friendly bothy that will serve as a rewilding base.

London needs trees.

Mexico City’s “green infrastructure”.

Urban Rewilding

Wildlife Trusts’ Adam Cormack let a patch of lawn rewild for all 30 days of June – see the result here.

Nick Baker showcased Bristol’s urban rewilding on BBC Springwatch.

India plans to construct wildlife bridges for elephants to cross highways.

Rewilding London’s rivers.

Dessau experiments with rewilding.

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UK

Police are investigating another suspicious death of a red kite, the tenth in the last few months. Meanwhile yet another hen harrier has “disappeared” on a grouse moore. Follow Raptor Persecution UK for all updates and read RSPB Martin Harper’s comment here.

Parliament concluded its flooding inquiry with a report calling for a proactive approach to flood management. Read more here and here and here.

MPs also sounded an alarm on neglected soils.

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Brexit Perspectives

George Monbiot – In or out, everyone seems to agree that the poor should keep subsidising the rich with land subsidies.

Miles King – Some initial thoughts on a post-CAP subsidy system.

Theo Pike – A new hope for the UK’s environment?

WWF – Leaving the European Union brings risks and uncertainties for our wildlife and wild places, but with the right policies the UK could continue to be a global force for the protection of nature.

Also – Fishing industry faces “opportunities and challenges”.

Talking Points

A switch to ecological farming will benefit health and environment

Mammalian carnivore declines can affect public health

Environmental crime is growing 2-3 times faster than global GDP

Light pollution hides the Milky Way from 1/3 of the world’s human population

Rewilding national parks and encountering the “vocal minority”

Nature conservation needs policies that support rewilding

Parks and wilderness, the foundation for conservation

African governments commit to preventing wildlife poisoning

Misunderstood and underappreciated: Australia’s native rodents

With climate change melting Arctic sea ice, polar bears are coming ashore

White stork – an uplifting opportunity

Financing solutions for storm water run-off

Could bringing back camels rewild the American West?

Rise of border fences hampers wildlife movements

Climate change is disrupting seasonal behaviour of Britain’s wildlife

How close can we get to resurrection of an extinct species?

The zoo that wants to rewild elephants in Denmark

May 2016

Reintroductions

In the UK more beavers were reintroduced to Devon while a bearded vulture was spotted nearby. A dalmatian pelican was also spotted in Cornwall for the first time in hundreds of years. Lampreys are returning to British rivers.

51 griffon vulture chicks hatched in the rewilding zone of the Rhodope Mountains, while a blue eyed ground dove was spotted in Brazil after a 75 year absence.

This month also saw the third and final reintroduction of western quolls to the Flinders Ranges, and there is more Australian rewilding on the horizon.

Giant Aldabra tortoises are substituting as a keystone species in Mauritius, while seventeen yellow monitor lizards were returned to Kolkata wetlands.

A rare Sumatran rhino gave birth to a second calf, while a new one million hectare marine park and shark sanctuary Tan Mustapha was established in Malaysia.

In the United States the first wolverine to be seen in North Dakota in 150 years was shot immediately by a rancher, while in Montana a 50,000 acre cattle ranch has started its transition to a prairie nature reserve.

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David Attenborouggh unveiled London’s newest nature reserve Woodberry Wetlands, a rewilded reservoir.

A 38 Degrees initiative has seen thousands of people planting wildflowers around the country, while Buglife and Anglian Water have established a network of wildflower rich areas.

Oxford University and Rewilding Europe published a policy report, while Rewilding Europe also published their annual review and joined forced with WWF in the Danube Delta.

22 million of genetically modified mosquitoes are set to be released in the Grand Canyon.

A bee swarm clinging to a car had a Welsh town abuzz, while in Florida a strolling 15 foot alligator left golfers stunned.

A golf course employee explained – “he doesn’t bother anybody and they don’t bother him, he’s like a mascot for the course.”

Trees

Norway has committed to zero deforestation.

India plans to spend $6.2 billion creating new forests.

WCS scientists explained how elephant poaching damages rainforests.

More than twenty African nations attended the Great Green Wall conference in Sengal.

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Environmentalists protesting the logging of Białowieża Forest received death threats and were accused of organising an “environmental coup”. Despite calls to establish the primeval forest as a national park, the government has pushed ahead with logging.

Environmental journalist George Monbiot summarised this as appeasing a corrupt logging industry by sacrificing its greatest natural treasure.

A film about the forests threatened by EU “green energy” has been made available online while the European Commission consults on sustainable bioenergy policy:

https://vimeo.com/159479169

Talking Points

Invasive trash-eating jackals save Europe €2 million a year

Prince William insists on trophy hunting rhinos to save them from poaching, despite mounting evidence that shooting wildlife does not protect them from being shot. The latest scientific analysis demonstrates how even just culling large carnivores increases poaching.

The white-tailed eagle has recovered from near-extinction, and now preys on other at-risk birds.

Plans to airlift 80 South African rhinos to Australia to keep them safe.

Abandoned research chimpanzees (how not to rewild)

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Great ape trafficking – an extractive industry?

Is Unesco corrupt?

Edible “plastic” to protect marine wildlife.

20% of all plants face extinction.

How safe does protected status keep the world’s national parks?

What British farmers think of rewilding.

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UK Environment Agency looking to reduce staff, two months after politicians say it has been “hollowed-out“.

Agriculturalist Ben Eagle’s running commentary on rewilding events.

Should children eat tadpoles?

Wildlife shows have become like museums.

Can hungry goats restore urban forests?

Australia

Scientists explained to the Australian government that the Great Barrier Reef needs $10 billion for a chance of survival, after a report found that 93% of it had been bleached by climate change.

The Australian government recently ensured that their devastating environmental record towards the Great Barrier Reef was scrubbed from Unesco’s world heritage site report.

They also quietly added 49 species to threatened and endangered lists.

On the plus side police have dropped charges against Green politician Bob Brown after they arrested him for protesting against logging.

A coalition of organisations have joined forces to rewild the Australian outback – see more at FAUNA Research Alliance.

Oceans

The vaquita porpoise is nearing extinction, with approximately 60 remaining. Mexican authorities are being called to immediately and indefinitely close all fisheries within their habitat.

Greenpeace revealed that a prominent overfishing sceptic – Dr Ray Hilborn – received at least $3.5 million from fishing industry groups.

A global campaign to protect sharks and rays from the fin trade has received record backing. See also this overview of the world’s shark sanctuaries and Malaysia’s new marine park.

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Ahead of Pixar’s new film Finding Dory, there are concerns that wild reef fish will suffer as they did with Finding Nemo. Read more here and here.

New research confirms that biodiversity helps reef fish deal with climate change.

Ocean Conservancy testified before the US Senate while Flora & Fauna International and others testified before the UK Parliament – both on issues of marine pollution and disposable plastic.

Seafood suppliers agreed not to expand further into the Arctic.

Poaching, etc

Illegal logging mafia were arrested in Peru.

South Africa will allow domestic trade of rhino horns again, lifting ban.

The boom in US bobcat trapping has spurred a lawsuit.

Three men were charged after drunkenly breaking into a nature reserve and killing an endangered pupfish.

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Nine critically endangered vultures were poisoned in Cape Town.

In the UK raptors continue to be shot unlawfully and persecuted with propane gas guns, while other wildlife like mountain hares are slaughtered. Water birds shot at a village pond in Hampshire have sparked similar outrage.

Sign the petition to ban driven grouse shooting here and the petition to maintain the protected status of the raven here.

Bears and Wolves

The proposal to delist America’s grizzly bears has received thousands of public comments.

There will apparently be “limits” placed on Alaska’s black bear hunt.

There is talk of rewilding grizzly bears in California – here and here.

David Hetherington gave a short history of Scotland’s bears.

Gray wolf pups were released in New Mexico, while Oliver Milman explored American attitudes towards these predators.

Guillaume Chapron and Adrian Treves’s study demonstrated how allowing culling increased poaching of a large carnivore, and was covered by BBC Earth, The Verge, NY Times and elsewhere.

Cats

Disruptive light systems are becoming a popular method of deterring lions from cattle.

Analysis in the New Scientist contradicts the WWF’s claim that tigers are recovering, while researchers were shocked to find that leopards have lost 75% of their global habitat.

There was also a scientific paper published on snow leopards in an increasingly human landscape.

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The boom in bobcat trapping has spurred an environmental lawsuit, and there is a public hearing in Montana.

The National Farmers Union warned that reintroduced lynx would put hikers at risk of attack – the Lynx Trust pointed out that these wild animals have never once attacked a human in all recorded history.

Four of the Iberian lynx introduced very recently to Southern Europe have been killed on the road.

Urban Rewilding

Bucharest now has the biggest urban protected area in Europe – Vacaresti Nature Park.

The Rainforest Alliance and others have underlined the economic importance of city trees.

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Russia opened their first wildlife tunnel, while the USA have proposed their largest wildlife overpass yet to cross Los Angeles’ 101 Freeway.

London have elected the world’s first National Park City, and the city’s wildlife trust are hoping Mayor Sadiq Khan will act on his election promise of creating green corridors through the city.

April 2016

Reintroductions

Oryx were reintroduced in Chad this month, while northern quolls were released in Kakadu.

The United States have declared bison their “national mammal”, while whooping cranes repopulate Louisiana and burrowing owls repopulate British Columbia.

In New Zealand there have been successes with the kākāpō, while Inky the Octopus escaped from the National Aquarium – rewilding himself.

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Jean-Michel Cousteau has joined the mounting public pressure on SeaWorld to return its orcas to the wild.

Dr Brent Hughes described how sea otters are restoring the balance in California, while river herring have returned to Rhode Island.

Populations of buzzards in Britain and griffon vultures in Bulgaria are both doing well.

Rewilding Europe welcomed five new members, while becoming a member itself of the IUCN. Their project in Portugal’s Côa Valley was also spotlighted by Travel and Leisure.

The Wildlife Trust are looking for someone to do a feasibility study on pine marten reintroduction in the Forest of Dean. George Monbiot has written about the trophic cascade associated with these predators and squirrels.

Dams

Following the success story of the Elwha, the river dams of Klamath may soon be rewilded.

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Paul Greenberg pointed out that thousands of small scale dams are blocking migratory New England fish like shad, herring and salmon, prompting John Waldman to call for “every dam to have an existential crisis and figure which are needed.”

Trees

Studies this month have explained how bears help trees climb mountains, and how big cats play an even bigger role in plant preservation than we knew.

Bhutan celebrated the birth of its prince by planting 108,000 trees. Meanwhile Kenya is aiming to plant 20 million new trees.

A cooperative project between ecologists, the oil palm industry and a Sabah landowner is designing a wildlife corridor for Malaysia’s orangutans.

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The last of Europe’s primeval forest remains under threat from logging, that some have said is illegal. Białowieża forest is home to 20,000 species, and recent research has shed light on the delicacy of its forest biodiversity. The Guardian ran a beautiful piece on this ancient ecosystem, and Patrick Barkham has called for the EU to intervene, cajole and penalise the Polish government until its vandalism is stopped.

Eastern Australia is now considered a global deforestation front. Illegal logging has begun near Chernobyl. Less than a month after Leonardo DiCaprio visited Indonesia’s Leuser ecosystem, a palm oil and mining moratorium has been declared.

These acts of devastation come at a time when scientists are finding that disturbances even outside rainforests can jeopardize internal biodiversity. These forests are also keeping wildlife cool as the world warms.

One environmental defender is killed each week protecting forests. Half of these victims are indigenous. Cambodian lawyer Leng Ouch spoke to Western media, explaining that “even though I know my life is at risk, I still try to save the forest.”

America’s Predators

In a similar situation to Cecil the lion, Yellowstone’s celebrated grizzly bear Scarface was shot dead. Jane Goodall has voiced her opposition about the delisting of grizzly bears. Read more on the crisis of America’s grizzlies herehere and here. A bear hunt is also being planned within the newly “protected” Great Bear Rainforest.

The death of a wolf called OR-4 was seen as a sobering turn for Oregon’s wolf plan. At the same time, researchers concluded that it is now too late for a genetic rescue of near extinct Michigan wolves. A legal settlement has however forced the government to finally prepare a Mexican gray wolf recovery plan.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a petition to end trapping on wildlife refuges is gaining momentum.

Cats

The US federal government are seeking public comment on a plan to develop panther habitat.

The WWF and Leonardo DiCaprio celebrated the fact that tiger populations are rising for the first time in a century. At the same time, it was announced that tigers have become extinct in Cambodia.

The Asian Ministerial Summit on Tiger Conservation concluded with a New Delhi Resolution. Tiger biologists issued a statement of concern.

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Cheryl Lyn Dybas wrote an intriguing article in the National Geographic about the prospect of rewilding the Caspian tiger.

According to the BBC, sheep farmers have said “No” to lynx in Britain. Miles King has described this response as firing a dud, and Ecosulis were prompted to explain why claims that sheep increase biodiversity are wrong.

Beavers

Following the Canadian example, Sweden’s capital city is now home to a wild beaver population. Europe’s broader context is similarly positive for beavers. The dark brown sections in the map below are the Eurasian beaver’s range in 1900, the light brown is today:

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Meanwhile, unscientific attitudes in the UK have resulted very modest beaver reintroductions and occasional mass slaughters of unprotected populations.Scottish Natural Heritage has been accused of fence-sitting on the issue.

Britain

40,000 trees and 300 leaky dams reduced peak water flow by 20% during recent floods in Pickering this year. This scheme – Slowing the Flow – has showcased natural flood management, and could inform the UK government’s flooding inquiry.

Holyrood candidates were directly questioned on the issue of rewilding, and you can assess their responses here.

Helen Meech of Rewilding Britain and Robin Milton of the National Farmers’ Union have stated their cases for and against rewilding the country’s national parks. Farmers might find Ben Eagle’s observations on “resilience in a post-subsidies world” an interesting read.

On May 5 wildlife and environmental leaders will meet to discuss Dorset’s rewilding prospects.

Scottish Natural Heritage’s magazine ran an interesting story on Norway’s new woodlands, echoing a 1993 study which compared land use between the two nations.

Poaching / Killing

The League Against Cruel Sports exposed hunt laws being breached in Scotland.

Mark Avery wrote a critical letter to BBC Countryfile, in a month where grouse estates have been under fierce criticism.

Dismayed by the (mostly illegal) killing of raptors, mountain hares, hedgehogs, stoats, foxes, ravens and other wildlife, tens of thousands of people are signing this petition to ban driven grouse hunting.

The government’s initial response was condemned as a “copy and paste” job, just days before an armed man was found on a grouse more with a decoy hen harrier.

Birds and mammals aside, a recent survey in north-east England found far more variety of plants on brownfield sites than moorlands.

The European Commission has taken the first steps in legal infraction against the UK government in relation to the burning of blanket bog in Special Areas of Conservation.

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Meanwhile in Malta, endangered turtle doves have been slaughtered on an industrial scale. Chris Packham exposed how the slaughter also includes cuckoos and bee eaters. See more at #wheredovesdie

A new study shows how the pet trade is driving down Indonesia’s wild bird populations. After watching Disney’s Zootropolis, fans in China have flocked to snatch up rare fennec foxes.

Soon after a rhino was shot dead by poachers in India (hours after a British royal visit), South Africa announced it would not be proposing a legal trade in rhino horn. Southern Africa has been identified as a new poaching hotspot for elephants.

Malaysia has destroyed a 9.5 tonne horde of ivory. Arnold Schwarzenegger has also been destroying ivory. Today, Kenya will burn a 105 tonne stockpile of ivory. Dr Paula Kahumbu explains why this is a good idea.

Talking Points

Translocation explained.

Wild animals avoid the roads that tourists use to see them.

Hiker who fell and cut her knee on Wicklow Way wins €40,000 damages.

Moose respond to climate change by transforming Alaska’s tundra.

Researchers hope to “assist evolution” by creating hardier corals and tougher trees.

Rising C02 levels have “greened the planet”.

Politicians are trying to sell public lands in the United States.

Is tourism putting Antarctic ecosystems at risk?

How to travel your planet without destroying it.

Microplastics: which brands are safe to use?

Environmental accomplishments since the first Earth Day 46 years ago.

Disney pledge to “reverse the decline”, Apple donates to WWF, and major companies renew call for US climate action and rapid transition to a low-carbon future.

Nearly half of all UNESCO natural World Heritage sites are threatened by harmful industrial activities.

US wildlife agencies are underfunded, while UK’s environment department is “hollowed out”.

Nations sign historic Paris climate change deal, while world scientists join forces on major 1.5°C climate change report.

Oceans

Almost 93% of reefs on the Great Barrier Reef have been hit by bleaching. Michael Slezak explained the ongoing struggle between our planet’s largest living structure and a handful of mining corporations. David Attenborough’s three-part documentary on the subject has now reached Australian viewers.

A study found that plankton decline was hitting the marine food chain.

20 April marked six years since the BP oil disaster. Some used it as an opportunity to spotlight the largest restoration effort in American history, while others pointed out the hundreds of baby dolphin deaths linked to it.

Seismic testing for fossil fuels was condemned by Senator Cory Brooker, while Green politicians were alarmed to find a river on fire in Australia – near a fracking site.

Urban Rewilding

Los Angeles are launching the world’s largest urban wildlife study.

The Nature of Cities explained the ins and outs of linear parks.

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London’s National Park City campaign showed enthusiasm for rewilding.

Adam Cormack pointed out that the vote to make sustainable urban drainage systems a default option was good news for urban rewilding.

Vancouver is going wild for rewilding.

March 2016

Reintroductions

Ospreys are returning to Scotland, manatees are returning to Flordia, monarch butterflies are on the rebound, and otters are thriving again in New Mexico (60 years after their extinction).

Eastern quolls were reintroduced to Australia’s mainland, while a recovery plan for California’s giant garter snake was agreed. Elk have also returned to Denmark.

Following the quiet success of Canada’s rewilded Victoria harbour, there is a new project to rewild San Diego’s Mission Bay. Ecuador has also created a marine sanctuary for sharks.

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Bison were released in the Netherlands, while in America’s Blackfoot Country bison have returned after 140 years exile in Canada (read more on the bison here, here and here). Wild horses have also been successfully reintroduced in Russia.

Brazil’s Amapá State has designated nearly 3/4 of its landmass as protected zones, the Atlantic Rainforest has expanded, the Scottish Highlands will have more trees, and UNESCO have declared its largest biosphere reserve in North America.

For more inspiration, try this presentation on Norway’s rewilding story.

Oceans

This month featured inspiring stories of marine conservation from BelizeSeychelles, Ecuador and Indonesia. In a powerful move, Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs also exploded a notorious illegal fishing vessel.

Mexico’s vaquita porpoise and Taiwan’s humpback dolphin are nearing extinction. Meanwhile, there are loud calls to crackdown on the use of cyanide to capture aquarium fish.

However, threats to marine life don’t come exclusively from fishing – tourism is playing an increasingly hazardous role. Ship noise has been found to be a serious problem for killer whales and dolphins, phone lights a hazard to nesting sea turtles, and authorities are seeking rules for people swimming with Hawaii’s dolphins because they are becoming sleep deprived. This follows from the Argentinian dolphin that was killed by selfies in February.

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Japanese whalers returned from the Antartic with 333 slaughtered whales, the Sea Shepherd reported. While this is utterly devastating, and Japanese whalers deserve fierce condemnation, the post-mortem of the 13 sperm whales that washed up around the UK this month found their stomachs full of plastic.

This comes just two months after a study revealed that humans have produced enough plastic since WWII to coat the Earth entirely in clingfilm. Disposable plastic is as much of a threat to marine ecosystems as Japanese whale poachers.

The Center for Biological Diversity pointed out that the shifting politics of offshore oil drilling offers a chance to #keepitintheground. There are also fierce demands to end offshore fracking.

At the same time, oil rig structures have been found to host some of the planet’s richest ecosystems – reef. Rewilding these skeletons, while halting future offshore oil exploration, could be a powerful symbol of greener politics.

Trees

Trees for Life have been funded to rewild the Scottish Highlands with 50,000 trees. While worth celebrating – in the south of the country the violently anti-tree practice of swaling continues, along with its unscientific support base.

Meanwhile the UK’s residual ancient woodland (2%) remains unprotected, with some of it standing in the way of a new multi-million-pound golf course.

The last of Europe’s primeval forest has been approved for logging, in breach of EU law. These devastating plans can be stopped – just this month authorities abandoned plans to demolish the Tasmanian Wilderness and the Grand Canyon’s Kaibab National Forest.

In South America the Atlantic Rainforest has been expanded, and the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund (GPFG) has dropped 11 companies over deforestation.

Scotland

The Scottish Wildlife Trust have been running a series called 50 for the Future, showcasing ideas such as catchment scale management, a Scottish environment tribunal, rewilding buried rivers and rewilding coastlines. Number one of the series is the need to reduce deer densities in Scotland.

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The mass killing of mountain hares by landowners and gamekeepers caused outrage in Scotland and abroad. The Scottish Wildlife Trust responded with this statement, while Caingorms National Park responded with this statement. Just eight days later Caingorms were forced to comment on to the killing of yet another hen harrier.

Natalie Bennet explained how over-managed grouse moors worsened floods, while scientists at the Journal of Avian Science published a study on the environmental impacts of the grouse industry.

This has culminated in a petition to ban driven grouse shooting, which you can sign here.

Poaching

Despite his success in encouraging shipping companies to shut wildlife trafficking routes, Prince William was heavily criticised for justifying trophy hunting.

His comments come at a time when Pakistan are floating the idea of trophy hunting the near-extinct snow leopard, the Namibian government are actively campaigning against any attempt to ban or restrict hunting, and Africa’s rhinos face extinction within one decade.

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Obama explained that “we face the risk of losing wild elephants during my lifetime”. Meanwhile, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has allowed four US zoos to import eighteen elephants from Swaziland.

Rhino poaching is getting worse, and the global “poaching vortex” is explained brilliantly in this Brookings article. Just this month the ivory trade was exposed in Hawaii, Hong Kong, California and Beijing.

In an act of defiance, and an attempt to lower their value, the Kenya’s president will publicly burn 120 tonnes of ivory.

The EU have meanwhile announced their Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking, while plans to demolish the UK’s National Wildlife Crime Unit were abandoned.

Bears and Wolves

Wolves hunted elk above a Canadian highway, four new wolf packs were recorded in Washington state, and wolves have extended their territories into Berlin and Munich.

Oregon’s wolf population was found to have risen in correlation with a decline in livestock-wolf conflicts. Writing in Science News, Sarah Zielinski explained how killing wolves to protect livestock can backfire, as bigger packs are less opportunistic.

Despite progress in Europe, and in defiance of scientific advice, a wolf delisting bill was passed in the United States, meaning many will be shot.

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Bear hunting is becoming more popular every year in the United States. There are plans to remove protections for Yellowstone’s grizzlies, making them available for hunting sports. Gloria Dickie has put together an informative timeline explaining the historical context of this decision.

Trophy hunting seems to continue in the recently protected Great Bear Rainforest, while black bears continue to be hunted in Florida.

The good news for polar bears is that 120 million acres of their habitat has been reinstated. The bad news is there are moves to remove the ban on importing polar bear “trophies” to the United States.

Cats

South Africa has banned leopard hunts due to uncertainty on numbers (they should also do the same with rhinos). While a troublesome lion escaped again from Karoo this week, research from the University of Glasgow shows that lions are able to live alongside humans without the need for fences.

Ahead of April’s Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation, it was announced that all of India’s tigers will soon be DNA profiled, to help convict poachers. Government officials also helped write a paper on providing more protected space for tigers in the Western Ghats.

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Reintroducing the British lynx featured on the BBC, the Independent and Scotland Big Picture this month. Two things that might interest lynx enthusiasts are: the methods for tracking Canadian lynx, and the fact that 1,409 bobcats were killed for their felt in Montana last year. Once returned to the UK, lynx will probably be at risk of poaching.

Talking Points

A study from India found that wild animals can “persists in landscapes with high human and livestock densities” if there are sufficient tiny refuges.

With migratory birds dying while because of city lights, Audubon have been promoting a lights out programme.

The New York Times ran an interesting story on how Invasive Species Aren’t Always Unwanted, while in Australia it was pointed out that rewilding native predators can be a solution to unwanted invasive species.

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According to new research, better livestock management would rein in billions of tons of carbon. A similar study has explained how farming with trees would offset agriculture emissions. These studies come at a time when 275 landowners in Lapland have united to restore their river, and UK landowners are being advised to diversify the uplands.

Environmental groups are opposing a solar power project in Panoche Valley. According to the RSPB, it is possible to create wildlife habitat around solar farms.

In his new book Half-Earth, E O Wilson advocates the rewilding of half our planet. The National Geographic’s Simon Worrall explained how this is not as outlandish an idea as it seems.

British Rivers

There is growing consensus in the UK around the need for natural flood management – from CIWEM, from the RSPB, from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and even from Farmers Weekly.

You can read evidence submitted to the flood inquiry here. Rewilding Britain’s evidence is particularly insightful.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust, Rewilding Britain, Trees for Life and many others have been loudly calling for beaver protection and further reintroduction. Countryfile magazine highlighted a new study showing how beavers boost fish populations. Surveys are finding extremely strong public support, and protections are urgently needed to prevent future slaughters.

DIY Rewilding

In an interview for Rewilding Britain, Chris Packham explained how to rewild your local patch – whether it be garden, park or other nearby piece of land.

Others are exploring ways to rewild their workplace, rewild their roadverges, and rewild their cities. There is cross-party support for tranforming London into a national park city.

The People’s Postcode Lottery helped put together ten tips for rewilding your garden, Defra put together a five step programme for rewilding hedgehogs, and Wild Melbourne showcased a backyard wild frog habitat.

Following an act of explicit de-wilding, a UK property developer received record fines for destroying a bat roost. Despite being banned under EU laws, the UK government has encouraged farmers to sow toxic-coated seeds that kill bees. Please do not plant any.

Community Rewilding

An urban wildlife refuge in New Mexico has received $1 million to connect youth with conservation, while the UK’s environment department have announced ambitious plans to connect children with nature. The University of Stirling has also received £1.1 million to study how humans and wildlife can co-exist successfully.

A few insightful examples of community rewilding come from Kenya, Mexico, and the Snow Leopard Ranges.

For those of you in the UK interesting in getting involved, Rewilding Sussex are hosting Wild Games on April 18 in Brighton.

February 2016

Reintroductions

Three subspecies of the island fox were relisted from “endangered” to “threatened”, affirming the successful rewilding of bald eagles in California’s Channel Islands. This is another example of a trophic cascade.

More fallow deer are being released in Bulgaria, more ferrets in Western Kansas, and polecats are now rewilding themselves across the UK.

Timber rattlesnakes have been reintroduced in Massachusetts, and San Diego Zoo have been helping with the reintroduction of the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect.

On the urban front, ravens are returning to New York and otters are returning to Singapore.

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Leonardo DiCaprio, WWF and others have helped secure Sumatra’s rainforest, while First Nations and British Columbia have committed to protecting the Great Bear Rainforest. Rewilding Europe have taken both Lapland and The Sonian Forest under its wing.

Rewilding Europe also officially launched their bison project and vultures project. In Banff National Park (Canada), 30-40 wild bison are expected on the ground by winter 2017.

There was good news for western lowland gorillas in the Central African Republic and hippos in the Congo. At long last, Kenyans are now able to watch their own country’s megafauna on TV – rewilding Kenyan public attitudes.

Finally, don’t miss the interactive piece on rewilding Elwha River by Lynda Mapes – Roaring back to life.

Talking Points

Rewilding was not without its criticism this month. A specifically anti-ray theory of marine trophic cascade came under criticism, as did the rewilding concept more generally.

On the other hand, a number of scientists showed how ecological restoration directly slows global warming. This can happen through young rainforest growth, and biodiversity and top predators.

Struggles over land use are ongoing across Africa and the United States. The National Geographic ran a headline piece celebrating the importance of national parks, while the Wilderness Society explained how these areas are stopping us going blind.

The arguments for de-wilding the world of mosquitoes are also being discussed, alongside the arguments not to.

Cats

Wild lions have been secretly surviving in Ethiopia. An ocelot was spotted in Argentina for the first time in a decade, a jaguar appeared in the USA, and in Scotland a wildcat was caught on camera in the Angus Glens.

Meanwhile, more Iberian lynxes were released in Extremadura. There is enthusiasm for doing the same in Scotland with Eurasian lynxes. Two things that might interest these lynx enthusiasts are: the findings that Canadian lynxes have been choosing different habitats than predicted, and the research on how lynxes interact with agriculture.

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Oregon’s wild cougar population is growing. Living alongside large wild cats obviously comes with its risks, as demonstrated by the wild leopard that found itself in a built up area of Bangalore and panicked. Three people received minor injuries (one a wildlife activist) before the leopard was tranquilised and returned to its habitat.

Prime Minister Modi will be inaugurating the Asian Ministerial Summit on tiger conservation in April. This coincides with the discussion on how big data could help hunt India’s tiger poachers. Also relevant, is the fact that twice as many tigers are being kept as pets in the USA than exist in the wild globally.

Bears

The rewilding movement has been taking root in Britain’s newspapers – even the Telegraph ran a story advocating the reintroduction of British bears. Meanwhile on the continent, a male brown bear is being prepared for release in the Pyrénées.

The trend seems to be going the other way in the United States. Lydia Millet explained the new threats to Yellowstone’s grizzly bears in the NY Times. This was matched by two petitions, one to stop the hunting of Florida’s black bears, and one to stop trophy hunting in the freshly protected Great Bear Rainforest.

Wolves

Wolves were under attack last month.

Idaho have decided to renew their aerial slaughter of wolves. At the same time, Oregon’s “environment committee” voted to remove the gray wolf from the state’s list of endangered species, despite loud opposition from 25 leading scientists. The Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act also abolishes protections for gray wolves in Wyoming and the western Great Lakes.

This anti-wolf agenda is being matched by governments in Finland, Switzerland and Italy.

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But it doesn’t have to be this way. Simon Reeve has drawn attention to the effectiveness of sheepdogs in Greece. There is plenty of advice for coexisting with wolves available in both Europe and America.

And public support for wolves in the US is growing. In North Carolina thousands of residents (and hundreds of landowners) signed a petition saying they wanted to live alongside red wolves. In Alaska there are moves to bolster the protection of wolves, coyotes and bears.

Trees

Exciting satellite technology is now able to track deforestation in real time, issuing warning just hours after tree loss is detected.

Planting trees is undeniably a good idea, and a landmark study found that newly grown rainforests can absorb 11 times as much carbon from the atmosphere as old-growth forests.

The Royal Society underlined the importance of forest corridors as pollen lifelines. Community Forests International gave their best advice on how to plant trees, and the WRI presented some inspiring restoration stories from Vietnam, South Korea and China.

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The news from Europe however, has been less than inspiring. Scientists explained that European forest management has not been mitigating climate warming, but actually contributing to it. Simultaneously, over 110 organisations wrote an open letter to the EU explaining that burning trees is not renewable energy. Read the full declaration here (and share it).

Meanwhile, there were some interesting developments in the UK, one of the least wooded countries in Europe. Responding to the country’s recurring flood crisis, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology explained that “water penetrates the ground 67 times faster when there are trees on it”.

This statement was matched by George Monbiot’s appearance in parliament, where he explained common sense vegetative logic to the Environmental Audit Committee. James Bevan, the Environment Agency’s new chief executive, responded by saying he agreed “with the concept of rewilding”.

This was paralleled by a petition to “make planting trees a priority to reduce flooding by improving soil and drainage”. The government have responded with a fairly positive statement. The statement doesn’t make any big commitments, but at least doesn’t mention the word dredge.

Australia

In a parody of environmental politics, oil magnate Sheikh Mohammed awarded Australia’s environment minister Greg Hunt best minister in the world. In a way this was suitable, as Australia’s approach to its environment has been like something George Orwell would write.

The “Biodiversity Conservation Act” was accused of being a pro-logging, pro-mining land clearance law, and resulted in conservation groups storming out of consultation meetings. Meanwhile an “environmental court” approved the violent removal of one of Australia’s largest koala populations, and destruction of their woodland. Why? To build a giant 24hr open coal mine.

But it hasn’t been entirely travesty Down Under (just mostly). Daniel Hunter has been floating some interesting ideas about how the Tasmanian Devil could have the same effect on the mainland, as wolves have had in Yellowstone. The concept has also been illustrated here.

TIME’s Travel & Leisure magazine also drew attention to the ambitious project in South Australia that is rewilding a 60,000-acre sheep ranch.

Oceans

The 14th Sustainable Development Goal is about not destroying the living ocean, and a number of small, often poorer nations are being world leaders in this.

Two inspiring examples covered this month are Palau and Gabon.

Meanwhile, in wealthier more powerful countries, scientists are pleading with their governments not to shrink or destroy their marine conservation areas. The Welsh government have been accused of pursuing dreadful science in a mockery of marine conservation. They are pushing to scallop dredge Cardigan Bay’s “strictly protected special area of conservation”. In Scotland, politicians are actively increasing the risk of an oil spill in dolphin waters.

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Daniel Pauly has exposed that fish harvests were drastically higher than reported between 1950 and 2010. Europe’s response has been to continue set catch limits above scientifically justifiable levels. This pushed WWF representative Dermot O’Gorman to explain that overfishing is a threat to humanity.

But it isn’t entirely devastating news. Presumed dead, wild Atlantic salmon have been returning to the Connecticut River. There is talk of rewilding some of SeaWorld’s de-wilded orcas, and thankfully, no fin whales will be hunted in Iceland this summer.

Landowners

Ecological restoration cannot happen without landowners.

In the US, there were calls to end sheep grazing on public lands around Yellowstone, and the NWF organised a report explaining how wild sheep were under threat from domestic sheep.

Agricultural scientists explained how planting wildflowers enhances crop yields and pest control. Wildflowers are also essential for bees, and humans depend on bees.

There was a very engaging article from dairy farmer Marian McDonald in The Guardian, who said:

“I need to know whether we should be working towards farming cows, canola or cacti sooner rather than later. Farmers are innovators by nature. Rather than simply howling to the wind when it’s all too late, I will do something about it.”

Beavers

February began with news of the unnecessary slaughter of pregnant beavers in Tayside. Weeks later, beavers were making headline news again in the UK, but for different reasons.

Studies have shown that beavers prevent flooding, mitigate dry summersimprove rivers, filter phosphate and nitrate, and even benefit anglers.

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This, in the context of UK failure to meet EU standards of water bodies. Only 21% of British rivers are considered healthy.

This has led to calls for the legal protection of beavers, to prevent future slaughters and extinctions. All eyes are on Aileen McLeod.

Wildlife Crime

The struggle to actually protect protected wildlife from gamekeepers is ongoing (follow updates at Raptor Persecution). In a recent development, two sporting estates are apparently taking the Government’s wildlife agency, Scottish Natural Heritage, to court for having the audacity to accuse them of killing birds.

Meanwhile in Maryland USA there is a $25,000 reward for information on the suspicious deaths of thirteen bald eagles.

Following the killing of Cecil the Lion last year, the UK promised to play a leading role in combating wildlife crime. They have followed through on this promise by deciding to scrap the National Wildlife Crime Unit.

Sign the petition to save the NWCU here.

Just this month a smuggler was apprehended with critically endangered European eels, and repeat offender Jeffrey Lendrum was caught smuggling four unborn albino peregrine falcon chicks. The one surviving falcon was returned to the wild. Without the NWCU, this sort of wildlife smuggling will be less policed.

DIY Rewilding

The Nature of Cities showcased the wilding of brownfield sites, and Eric Sanderson’s compelling case for urban conservationism.

The Wild Foundation are in the start-up phase of their Wild Cities campaign, and are recruiting “champions”.

A couple of rewilding tips for gardeners – don’t rake up all your leaves, and let dandelions grow. The NWF have also put together a range of resources on rewilding gardens and communities.

Finally, Oleksandra Budna wrote a fantastic piece on six ways to rewild your vocabulary.