Delaware’s Reaches New Levels of Farmland Preservation

Delaware Governor John Carney recently announced the largest ever round of farms permanently protected through the state's Agricultural Lands Preservation Program. The 2019 grant round will purchase development rights on 111 farms totaling 9,382 acres. The majority of these are within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. With these conservation easements, more than 134,000 acres of farmland are permanently protected. This means "we have successfully preserved 25 percent of Delaware’s farmland,” said Governor Carney. In 2019, Delaware more than doubled funding ...

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Celebrating Fones Cliffs & Conservation Stamina

Last Friday, Joe McCauley installed a ceremonial US Fish and Wildlife Service boundary marker on a 252 acre property at Fones Cliffs. It was the culmination of more than a decade of Joe's persistence. Protecting this vital piece of Fones Cliffs--a spectacular cultural, scenic and ecological resource above the Rappahannock River--was the work of many, like a lot of conservation projects. In this case, The Conservation Fund acquired the property, which had long been threatened with development, and transferred it to become part of the Rappahannock River Valley National ...

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Food Forests: A Growing Urban-Conservation Connection?

Food forests are getting increased attention in cities around the nation as one strategy for addressing food deserts -- neighborhoods lacking access to grocery stores and healthy food. What is a food forest? Technically, an integrated community of trees and plants that produces edible products. But the intent is to engage human communities to plan, plant and harvest the produce. In 2018, over 2,800 pounds of artichokes, berries, nuts and vegetables were harvested from Seattle's six year old, Beacon Food Forest by neighbors coming to take what they needed. And the ...

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Signs of Hope (Part 2)

In part two of our "signs of hope" Lightning Updates, we share more news from this spring. Over the past few months, an estimated two to three billion (yes, billion) birds migrated into and through the United States following long-traveled routes. The Chesapeake Bay watershed sits along the "Atlantic flyway" and supports large numbers of these birds during migration. Few migratory species in north America are more spectacular than the many types of warblers -- tiny birds decked out in the flashiest of breeding plumage in spring. How tiny? Most species are only 4-5 ...

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Signs of Hope (Part 1)

We have shared some global news in recent weeks that, when taken together, can become a bit disheartening -- the climate crisis, warnings of the threat of mass extinctions, the calls for immediate action.Conservationists -- and all people -- must keep hope. And so we will take a few of our Lightning Updates to share some signs of hope, observed recently by some of us. Many here in the Chesapeake region witness the annual winter influx of Snow Geese, a true spectacle of nature. These beautiful birds spend their winters around the Delmarva area at places we ...

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Language (and Coverage) Matters

Journalists are reevaluating the language they use and the coverage they provide for reporting on the Earth's heating climate. In an April article published in both the Columbia Journalism Review and The Nation, Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope write "the media are complacent while the world burns." They describe how, despite consistent warnings from scientists for decades, climate change -- its causes, impacts, and solutions -- has generally been poorly covered. The result is a lost decade or two of collective action. But the authors also describe an initiative to ...

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An Urgent Call to Action

The urgency of conservation has hit the news in recent weeks, from front pages of newspapers to television networks and social media. And the stories have been alarming, driven by the May 6 release of a new authoritative report on the state of the earth's biodiversity by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The distinguished scientist Tom Lovejoy, who is often referred to as the "Godfather of Biodiversity" after coining the term in 1980, writes about this challenge in a compelling and concise article in Science ...

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A Compelling Example of Place-based Planning

"Place shapes us. Place defines us. Place forms our identities, attitudes, and relationships. Place matters." So concludes the new and compelling comprehensive plan for Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. County comprehensive plans are probably often described as dense, policy-laden, and generally not "a good read." Lancaster County is upending that perception with its recently completed plan Places2040. As Countywide Planning Director Scott Standish put it "you should be able to read this plan in twenty minutes and fully grasp where we're trying to go." And it works.So ...

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Exploring Private Capital Investment in Conservation

Limitations to public and philanthropic funding, coupled with a range of threats to our environment, compounded by climate change, have led to much excitement and speculation about the potential for private sources of financing to engage in environmental conservation and restoration. The concept of private, profit-seeking investment in conservation is not new, but it is also not a particularly mature space. One of the key unanswered questions is whether environmental outcomes can be achieved alongside market-rate or below market-rate financial returns for investors? If ...

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Protect Thirty Percent by 2030

With every passing month, there is mounting concern about the need for protecting more of the vital ecosystems on which our quality of life depends. Edward O. Wilson's Pulitzer Prize winning book Half Earth started serious discussions in 2016 about protecting half the planet to maintain biodiversity. Since then, study after study--from climate change impacts to crashing insect populations--points to a need for urgency. Last month a group of scientists published a new study in Science Advances -- “A Global Deal For Nature: Guiding principles, milestones, and ...

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