Positive Conservation News - January 2019

January 31, 2019

2018 saw numerous conservation success stories, and 2019 is off to a good start with its share of positive nature news! Here we have compiled a list of conservation success from the past month.


Researchers were delighted about the birth of a right whale calf in late December, and there is cause for further celebration with two more spotted this January. The North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) are endangered, with only around 400 individuals, so any new births are a positive step toward their recovery.

A baby orca has been born into the Southern resident orca population located around Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. The calf appears to be healthy, although the sex is still unknown. Researchers are hoping it is female so it can help contribute to a much needed population growth.

Since being listed by the Endangered Species Act (ESA), 78% of marine mammal populations and 75% of sea turtle populations have increased. The authors of the study, published in PLoS. stated that these results show that species can recover if action is taken quickly and effectively.

Microbeads have already gained significant attention and been banned in several countries. The EU have proposed a wider ranging ban on microplastics and will focus on products which contain unnecessary microplastics including cosmetics, detergents and paint.

Waste management 

Marks & Spencer will start to accept non-recyclable plastic from customers such as crisp packets, black plastic and some cosmetics packaging. This plastic will be used to make playground equipment and furniture for schools. They will also accept and recycle waste from schools, hoping to teach the children of the importance of recycling.

Tesco have joined FareShare, a charity who saves food that would have gone to waste and redistributes it to charities and community groups such as homeless shelters and domestic violence refuges. Jamie Oliver has also contributed by writing recipes for the community cooks.

Ben and Jerry's are stopping offering plastic spoons and straws at their ice cream counters, and will follow this by ceasing to offer plastic cups and lids.

The UK's first contact lens recycling scheme has launched. It was found that many contact lens users flushed them down the toilet or sink after use, so this free service is a welcome change to help to reduce plastic waste.

Large brands including Häagen-Dazs, Tropicana, Dove, Quaker and Tide have partnered with waste management company TerraCycle in creating a project named Loop. The aim is to offer their products in reusable and refillable containers to cut down on unnecessary packaging. The project will launch in New York and Paris in May 2019, reaching London at the end of the year and San Francisco, Toronto and Tokyo in 2020. Read more information on this project here.

Public action 

January saw people passionate about the environment joining marches to attract government attention. Over 70,000 people protested in Brussels, urging government to take climate change more seriously. A march to the Japanese embassy in London took place, with hundreds hoping to raise awareness and reverse Japan's decision to continue whaling.

The RSPB celebrated its 40th Big Garden Birdwatch! Anyone can get involved by counting the maximum number of each bird species in their garden or local park over the space of 1 hour during the designated weekend. This helps the RSPB to discover up to date information of garden birds around the country. Results have not yet been released but more information can be found here.


Concerns of how diet contributes to climate change have continued to make headlines this month. It was found that over a quarter of 18-24 year olds in the UK have either cut out or reduced dairy due to environmental concerns, and Veganuary had their most successful year yet, with around 250,000 participants signing up. This number is higher than the last four years combined! 

Germany will close all of their 84 coal power plants over the next 19 years, stepping forward to contribute to the battle against climate change. This is exciting news as they are currently one of the world's biggest consumers of coal.

Environmental protection

The government of Tanzania are starting work to protect Magombera Natural Reserve from poaching and logging. This unique area hosts diverse animal and tree species and is a corridor for African elephants and hippopotamus.

The first private nature reserve has been created in Haiti with over 1,200 acres designated as protected, known as the Grand Bois Nature Reserve. The area is located in the Massif de la Hotte mountain range which is an important habitat for amphibians, with 19 critically endangered species found there.

After 10 years of planning, WWF Australia began their rewilding project on the York Peninsula in Southern Australia. The first species to be reintroduced will be a population of woylie, with more species to follow including bilbies, numbats, and quolls.

Reports last year showed that Monarch butterfly populations in California had dropped by 86% since 2017. However, this month it was found that populations that winter in Mexico have increased by 144% - the highest count since 2006!

Heard a positive story that we haven't mentioned? Please share with us below!

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