Saving Horses, Saving Land

The Peninsula Open Space Trust is working with a really great organization called Rediscovering Horses to restore habitat and reduce wildfire risk, while providing a healthy life for unwanted horses. Capitalizing on horses’ natural herding instinct, land managers can direct them with movable fencing to graze on overgrown or poor-quality range.

By eating up invasive species or overgrown brush, the horse herds participate in ecological restoration. Unlike cattle, horses have evolved to eat and thrive on what might be considered “low-quality” forage, like weedy or woody plants. It’s a win-win!

Read more at the Peninsula Open Space Trust website here.

Brazil’s Amazon: 10 Years, 90% Reduction in Deforestation

Wow! Smart policies do pay off. As many of you know, the Amazon rainforest could be considered the “lungs of the Earth.” We really do need these and other large forests to keep our air breathable, clean, and cool. Thank you to the nation of Brazil for this incredible work.

Strategies included protecting half of the nation’s Amazon acreage as national parks and enforcing laws against illegal logging and burning. Inspired by Brazil’s progress, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged $618 million to the nation, mostly earmarked for rainforest protection.

Read more at the Christian Science Monitor here.

Toyota Says Sales of Gas and Diesel Cars Will Be Near-Zero by 2050

The world’s largest automaker says that, by 2050, almost all of its sales will be hybrids, fuel cell, or electric vehicles. Currently, about 85% of Toyota’s sales are gas or diesel vehicles. The other large automakers have their own plans to go green — today’s diesel villain Volkswagen expects to focus on plug-in hybrids, while Nissan is looking at electric vehicles.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal here.

Cool Video: A River Restored

The Columbia Land Trust has made significant headway toward removing an eight-mile road along the banks of southern Washington’s Klickitat River. Part of the Columbia River watershed, this river is being restored to provide better salmon habitat under the direction of the Yakama Nation Fisheries agency.

The video below is really beautiful. Thanks to the Land Trust Alliance for the link.

View the restoration video at the Columbia Land Trust site here

Madrid, Dublin, Oslo among Euro Cities Going Car-Free

How cool is this? After trial runs — car-free days or limited car-free districts — various European cities have announced plans to go car-free, at least to some extent. The list featured below includes Paris, Brussels, Oslo, Dublin, Madrid, and Milan. I know the cities that just moved higher on my European Vacation to-do list.

View the Atlantic post here.

Busy Beavers Fix Pollution Problems

“As beaver populations rebound across North America, the ponds they create are proving to be an important factor in removing rapidly growing levels of nitrogen from waterways and estuaries, according to a new study. By creating ponds that slow down the movement of water, the beavers enable nitrogen — which comes from agricultural runoff, septic systems, and other human sources — to seep into soil, where much of it is broken down by bacteria.

“[R]esearchers at the University of Rhode Island said that beaver ponds can remove up to 45 percent of nitrogen in the water. One scientist said that when researchers began to consider the widespread presence of beaver ponds, “we realized that the ponds can make a notable difference in the amount of nitrate that flows from our streams to our estuaries.” Nitrogen pollution is a major problem worldwide, causing toxic algal blooms in rivers, estuaries, and oceans.”

Quoted from the Yale Environment 360 original, here.

When the Levee Breaks (on Purpose)

Thanks to many years of hard work by the Sonoma Land Trust, 1000 acres of farmland are being restored to tidal marshes. This land, bordering the San Francisco Bay, was historically marshy but was drained and converted to farmland over 100 years ago. Now, in an effort to create habitat and further buffer the landscape from sea level rise, more and more former marshes are being returned to their natural state.

The video shows the first step: breaching the levee so the ocean can rush in to fill the tidal basin. Next step: revegetation and restoration. Future plans include adding a new segment of the Bay Trail along the old levee top and incorporating the property into the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

This is great news for birds, marine life, and nature lovers!

View the SFGate article and video here