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Positive Conservation News - February 2019

February 28, 2019


The end of another month means a new round-up of positive conservation stories. February saw numerous conservation successes, from the the sightings of two believed to be extinct species, to the discovery of fire resilient plants. Read on to find even more!
I've noticed that many people are so traumatised by bad environmental news that they simply cannot perceive that incredible things can and do happen. 

Increasing Populations


A new study in the UK has found that populations of badgers, otters, pine martens, polecats, stoats and weasels have remarkably improved since the 60's. Recovery is thought to be due to a reduction of pollution and predator control. Researchers say there is more room for populations to grow and this is a step in the right direction. 

Switzerland has confirmed the first sighting of wolf pups in over 150 years! The three pups are currently four months old but were only spotted this month due to rugged habitat with few roads. 

Results of a survey on primates of Vietnam were released by Fauna and Flora International (FFI). The Cao Vit Gibbon population has increased by 20% over the last decade and is reported to be stable. FFI is continuing work to ensure that the species receive additional habitat to support their population growth. The Delacour’s langur has increased from 40 individuals in 2016 to 73 individuals over 12 groups, however the organisation say there could be as many as 100 monkeys.

January saw the birth of two North Atlantic right whale calves, but the news got even better this month as seven calves have now been identified this winter. This is an encouraging sign for the endangered species, though researchers are hoping for more births stating that they ideally wish to spot between ten and twelve calves. 

Climate


Los Angeles has halted their plan to spend billions of dollars restoring three natural gas power plants in order to achieve their goal of 100% renewable energy in the city.

The application for an open-cut coal mine was rejected by the courts in Australia because of how it would contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. This is the first time a coal mine has been rejected because of global warming in Australia. 

Researchers surveyed 250 plants in Kutai National Park, Indonesia, and identified numerous plant species were found to be resilient to fire, seven of which are food sources for endangered orangutans. The study recommends they are planted around fire prone areas to provide a buffer zone, and beside vines and trees that the apes use for moving around the forest and nesting. 

Students around the UK took part in a school strike to draw attention to climate change and encourage the government to take it seriously. Although it received criticism from some politicians and teachers, the response was overwhelmingly supportive and brought hope to many

Back from the Brink


A female giant Fernandina tortoise was discovered in the Gal├ípagos National Park. The species has not been witnessed in over 110 years and was considered extinct. Tracks and faeces have since been discovered, causing researchers to believe their could be more individuals in the park. 

A Wallace's giant bee, thought to be extinct for 38 years, was this month sighted in Indonesia. The species is four times the size of a honeybee, and can measure nearly 4cm in length. Conservationists are confident that there are more individuals and can thrive if granted protected status, as it is currently threatened by deforestation for agriculture. 

Environmental Protection


Natural England announced the designation of two new Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in order to protect rare and threatened fungi. The sites are Dorset's Down Farm, near Beaminster, which is home to a variety of grassland fungi and The Lewasowes near Birmingham, which has 28 species of waxcap mushrooms.

From May, beavers in Scotland will be classified as a protected species, meaning it will be illegal to capture, injure or kill them. Beavers were extinct in Scotland until a few years ago when they were illegally released. Read more on the benefits of healthy beaver populations in Ben Goldfarb's book, reviewed here

The Spanish government is set to expand the Cabrera National Park, south of Mallorca by nine-fold, making it the second largest Marine National Park in the Mediterranean. Deep-sea and red corals, dolphins, bluefin tuna and sperm whales, among other species, will benefit from the highest level of legal protection. 

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