Conservation ‘home run,’ German forests, holiday returns: 3 stories you may have missed


Editor's Note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Conservation News shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.

1. West Coast fishery rebounds in rare conservation ‘home run’

A unique collaboration is helping fish populations in the waters along California’s coast recover faster than expected.

The Story: Conservationists and fishers on the West Coast of the United States worked together to develop a long-term sustainable fishing plan, which has already helped recover fish populations in the Pacific Ocean, reported Gillian Flaccus for the Associated Press. After overfishing nine species to the brink of extinction, fishers that practice bottom trawling (using large nets to catch deep-dwelling fish) were banned in 2005 from fishing along the California coast. For more than a decade, these fishers have worked with environmental organizations to establish fishing regulations that will protect vulnerable species and minimize damage to reefs. In January, the fishers will be able to return to a designated area in this region to fish, and their activities will be monitored by a local marine management council.

The Big Picture: “It’s really a conservation home run,” said Shems Jud, regional director for the Environmental Defense Fund’s ocean program. “The recovery is decades ahead of schedule.” Fishers and conservationists met more than 30 times to create this regulatory fishing program — and as a result of the regulations, groundfish haverebounded 50 years faster than predicted due to stricter fishing quotas and off-limits marine areas. 

Read more here.

Climate breakdown is threatening the forests — and culture — of German communities. 

The Story: Rangers and volunteers in Germany are helping to plant new trees in forests ravaged by rising temperatures and severe droughts driven by climate change, reported Melissa Eddy for The New York Times. Trees are historically intertwined with Germany’s cultural identity — many Germanic tribes worshiped oak and pine forests in the Middle Ages — and today, communities across the country are working tirelessly to restore the forests they revere.   

The Big Picture: “It’s become the big popular public sport around here — planting trees,” said Jörg Berthold, a volunteer at the Harz National Park in Germany. Reforestation efforts are supported by a US$ 889 million conservation package approved by the German government this year to help restore and protect trees across the entire country. For local communities, protecting these forests provides an opportunity to combat climate change while sustaining cultural traditions. 

Read more here.

The surge of holiday returns will result in massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions and waste.

The Story: More than 15 million metric tons of carbon emissions are released by the U.S. every year just from transporting returned packages, reported Justine Calma for The Verge. The United Postal Service projects that it will haul nearly 2 million holiday returns on January 2nd alone — a 25 percent increase over last year. This jump is likely due to the growth of online shopping and the free return policies offered by retailers. 

The Big Picture: “People need to be aware that there are environmental consequences of sending back their returns,” said Sharon Cullinane, a professor at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. “You know, they don’t just go into thin air and disappear.” Carbon emissions from transporting the returned goods is contributing to climate breakdown while the excess waste from shipping materials often ends up in landfills. 

Read more here.

Kiley Price is a staff writer at Conservation International. Want to read more stories like this? Sign up for email updates here. Donate to Conservation International here.

Cover image: Forests surrounding Palace Dragon Castle, Germany. (© SKLA) 

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