📰 EwA News Digest: Wetland Restoration, Ohio Derailment, and UN Landmark Agreement

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Meghan Cahill

Mar 21, 2023, 10:01:30 AM3/21/23
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Hello! It’s Meghan again to give you the monthly News Digest for March!

To start off with some positive news, a nonprofit group in Brazil called Guapiaçu Ecological Reserve conserved about 29,652 acres of Atlantic Forest in the Guapiaçu River Basin, aiming to protect the environment and water supply of 2.5 million people in the area. Over the last five centuries, much of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest has been harmed due to intense deforestation, but this wetland has been restored and transformed due to the restoration efforts of Nicholas Locke and his team. After about two decades the area now supports 487 types of birds and hundreds of tree species due to over 750,000 trees being replanted in the area. 

Although the horrible Ohio train derailment was over a month ago, the disaster’s environmental effects will be seen for years to come. The train carrying several toxic chemicals derailed on February 3rd, spilling cars full of hazardous materials that seeped into the soil around it. This derailment has completely wiped out the whole upper stretch of the Ohio River ecosystem, with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources calculating more than 43,000 aquatic animals dying due to the accident. Environmental monitoring is happening going forward for this area and it’s most likely to take years for the aquatic animal community to bounce back.

In Massachusetts, Governor Healey and Lieutenant Governor Driscoll’s administration are working to address our critical environmental challenges through an increase of $105 million in the Green Budget Coalition. The Green Budget Coalition focuses on programs that protect Massachusetts’s clean air, land, and water, enabling state energy and environmental agencies to progress to our conservation goals. The budget increase for Massachusetts is a huge win for environmental progress and conservation for our state!

Due to the climate crisis, hurricanes are increasing in intensity. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior in Germany and Swansea University in the United Kingdom are in the process of studying wind speeds that different sea birds can withstand. They studied 18 different species and found that birds in windier conditions fly faster than the wind to control their direction. Certain tropical birds are not used to high winds and tend to use adapted avoidance strategies instead when there is a storm. This research will help us to understand which seabirds can withstand the change in storm intensities in the future as climate change progresses.

Another marine population at risk is near Samal Island, which is a popular tourist destination near Davao City in the Philippines, consisting of a large coral reef system known as Paradise Reef that hosts over 100 coral species. Although the getaway can be reached by boat, a large project is in the works to build a bridge to the island to boost tourism from the mainland, threatening the coral reef system. Sediment and siltation from the construction would be a critical source of risk for the habitat. A coalition of 20 environmental organizations is pushing to reroute the bridge project through legal action in order to save Paradise Reef. 

On the bright side of ocean conservation news, the United Nations reached a landmark agreement on a legally binding treaty that aims to protect biodiversity and ensure the sustainable use of resources in international ocean waters. After 15 years in the making, the treaty was finalized on the evening of March 4th after a 36-hour negotiation marathon. It outlines a framework of environmental impact assessment standards, so new maritime activities in international waters can be regulated better. This new treaty is a win for conservation, creating a legal framework to protect and manage our vast oceans.  

I hope you enjoyed this month’s News Digest! See you next month!


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