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Welcome to The Conservation Report! 

This is TiME’s first monthly newsletter. Here you can learn about our recent accomplishments, the work of members of our scientific advisory committee, major achievements in environmental science and other headlines that may be of interest.

As a crowdsourcing initiative, TiME relies on the ongoing financial support of its membership and those members of the global community who care about the future of the planet. If you have not made your 2016 donation yet to TiME – please donate now! As promised, 100 percent of funds donated online will be directed towards purchasing critical habitat in a biodiversity hotspots. You can also follow us on Twitter for updates on our work and other environmental topics.

Newsletter Contributors: Noa Jett and Brett Kleiman
TiME Editor: Liat Radcliffe Ross
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Feature on the Conservation Work of Drs. Noga and Sam Shanee

Every month, TiME’s newsletter will feature people who are on the frontlines of habitat preservation, who share TiME’s underlying belief in our responsibility and ability to save the natural world. This month, we spoke to Drs. Noga and Sam Shanee. The pair founded Neotropical Primate Conservation (NPC)—the organization leading one of TiME’s approved conservation projects—in 2007 and have been living and researching in northeastern Peru ever since to conserve local rainforest and wildlife.
 
How did you become involved in TiME?
Noga was a student at the Arava Institute, under Alon Tal and Uri Shanas. Since then, we have been conducting our own research on primates and habitat preservation when Alon and Uri contacted us and asked us to become involved in TiME. We loved the idea of the organization, so we were thrilled to be among the first organizations to work with it.
 
Why do you think it is important to donate to TiME?
TiME gives money to organizations that directly affect their local areas. TiME allocates its money to organizations like our own (NPC). We, in turn, take that money and use it to benefit the habitats and the community in which we live and work.
 
What makes TiME different from other environmental organizations?
TiME’s money goes directly to buying land in biodiverse areas. In turn, this helps organizations like ours continue research. The area in which we live and study is threatened by logging and mining. We run the risk of losing the species and habitat in which they live. By buying the land, we not only protect biodiversity but ensure a cleaner, healthier lifestyle for human residents.
 
 
What have you been working on lately?
When we first arrived here [in Peru], we performed a census of monkeys in the area. Just last year, we repeated that census and found a 30 percent increase in the monkey population. This increase is due in part to our help in rebuilding the tree nursery in the area with native trees, ensuring healthy and sustainable growth for the forest. We have worked to get over 11 thousand hectares of land categorized as protected since we arrived. In addition to studying the habitat and local monkey population (specifically the yellow-tailed woolly monkey), a large part of our work is to involve the local community in conservation. We have agreements with local schools and universities to train teachers who want to focus on environmental education. By being based in the community, we can have a more direct effect on protecting the land. Not only that, we have the opportunity to involve the local population. We see ourselves as an alternative to the slow pace of government conservation work. There is strength in numbers. With the community working alongside us, we can better guarantee a future for all the region’s inhabitants: humans, animals and plants.

Photograph by Sam Shanee

New Findings on Losses of Biodiversity
 

In the summer of 2015, a disturbing analysis by two of the world’s greatest ecologists, Professors Gerardo Ceballos (Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) and Paul R. Ehrlich (Center for Conservation Biology, Stanford University), and their research team confirmed environmentalists’ worst fears. We might be on the verge of a sixth mass extinction.
 
The loss of biodiversity and species is one of the most critical current environmental problems. Many environmental problems can be corrected but species extinction cannot. The steady loss of biodiversity threatens critical ecosystem services and human well being across the globe.
 
Using extremely conservative assumptions, Professors Ceballos and Ehrlich assessed whether human activities were causing a sixth mass extinction. The previous five mass extinctions happened before the time that humans roamed the earth. For some time ecologists had spoken of a “sixth extinction” but there was never clear empirical data to support this intuition. The catastrophic consequences of a sixth mass extinction are likely to go beyond the animal and plant world and ultimately affect the life of people everywhere.
 
Moreover, the greater the diversity of species, the more robust an ecosystem is. A multitude of vulnerable populations are responsible for supplying and maintaining vital ecosystem services from flood control, carbon, and nutrient recycling to the generation of soils, pollination of crops and control of agricultural pests.
 
Ceballos and Ehrlich’s research applied a recent finding that estimated a natural “background” rate of two mammal extinctions per ten thousand species per one hundred years. This level of natural extinction is twice as high as older estimates. They then compared this rate with the current rate of mammal and vertebrate extinctions. Vertebrate extinctions are generally low because listing a species as extinct requires meeting very tough and burdensome criteria.
 
Under their assumptions, which would tend to minimize evidence of a mass extinction, the average rate of vertebrate species loss over the last century is almost one hundred times higher than the baseline rate that existed before human and modern technology began to take over natural habitat. Under the scenario of two mammal extinctions per ten thousand species per one hundred years, it would have taken between eight-hundred and ten-thousand years for the same number of species to disappear and become extinct.
 
Averting a dramatic mass extinction of biodiversity and species—and the subsequent loss of ecosystem services—is still possible through intensified and focused conservation efforts. But that window of opportunity is closing at the speed of a bullet train. Not by coincidence, Professors Gerardo and Ehrlich are members of the TiME’s scientific advisory committee and bring their decades of experience in conservation biology to bear in helping to evaluate requests for TiME’s support to intervene while there is still time.
 
The full version of the article can be read here.


Photograph by Whael, from Deviantart

Recommended Reading
Every month, we will include a list of some of our favourite articles in the area of conservation and biodiversity preservation.

Hope for Tropical Biodiversity After All

http://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.1002358

 

NASA, NOAA Analyses Reveal Record-Shattering Global Warm Temperatures in 2015

http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-noaa-analyses-reveal-record-shattering-global-warm-temperatures-in-2015/

 

Top Economic Risk of 2016 Is Global Warming

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/top-economic-risk-of-2016-is-global-warming/

 

Illegal Loggers Wage War on Indigenous People in Brazil

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/01/160120-brazil-illegal-logging-indigenous-people-Amazon-Basin-Awa-ibama/

 

Human Impact Has Created A 'Plastic Planet'

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160127083854.htm

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