Success stories please

Hello all.

Recently I’ve been feeling some black despair about the state of the world. Please share your stories of positive and/or successful efforts to fight the tide of climate destruction. And species extinction, etc. Maybe it’ll spark some renewed optimism.
From 2021 or 2020 ideally.
Did your research project find something new? Did you manage to conserve an endangered species? Witness a rebound of a struggling population? Something?

Thanks

Blue

ps if I get no responses, at least it won’t make anything much worse :/

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Bombus pensylvanicus

The text on bugguide.net reads:

Has declined severely at the northern margin of its range, where now absent from or at best very rare at many historical localities, but still routinely found in its core range to the south as evidenced by the many Bugguide images. considered by Louisiana and Texas to be a "Species of Greatest Conservation Need"

Listed as Vulnerable by the [IUCN Red List of Threatened Species]

Meanwhile, they are thriving in New Mexico. There are almost as many observations in 8 months of 2021 as all of 2020 on iNat. In my yard, the population has grown significantly in the last 3 years and most of the time they outnumber honeybees. Anecdotally, more people are using native plants in their landscapes and the urban wildlife is responding very well.

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I work for the International Crane Foundation in Whooping Crane Outreach. This year, there have been 4 fledged chicks in the reintroduced Louisiana Non-migratory Population, 4 in the reintroduced Eastern Migratory Population, and a record 102 nests in the naturally-occurring Aransas-Wood Buffalo Population. ICF and partners are on track to release 7 juveniles in each reintroduced population this fall-winter. There’s still a long road to recovery for the species, but there is hope!

Additionally, since I’m not sure how familiar you are with the Louisiana population, I’ll elaborate a bit. The Whooping Cranes in Louisiana use both crawfish farms (which often also grow rice) and natural marshes. The farmers actually don’t mind the cranes and some really like supporting them. So, not only are Whooping Cranes on the road to recovery, Louisiana (and some Texas) agriculture is actually quite beneficial to the species.

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Earlier this year, my agency augmented a reintroduced population of River Otter in New Mexico by bringing in some additional animals to boost genetic diversity. I was involved in the original releases more than a decade ago, marking the return of this species to my state since they were extirpated decades earlier. I’m also still involved in a reintroduction project for Black-footed Ferret which was also extirpated in my state decades ago. And last week I helped a co-worker survey (and successfully find) Boreal Toads at a reintroduction site … another species we lost but which is slowly making a comeback. When I get despondent about the state of nature and the planet, these small, local success stories are what I look to, along with the many others that I’m not involved in.

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Bombus pensylvanicus

Good news. I really need to look at the bees that are visiting our xeriscape flowering plants … I’m really poor with bee identification, so not sure what I have.

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In my stamping grounds (northern Illinois US) a site that the conservation district owns started a three part restoration process from farm field to prairie in 2019. Right now two thirds of it has had at least one seeding and they started the ground work on the last third this year. We started seeing the benefits almost immediately, it became a winter roost for Northern Harriers, I found various grassland birds nesting, and last year I found Bombus affinis workers. The reason this site took off so fast after initial restoration is that it buts up to a large wetland and is right next to a sizable hunt club which maintains a prairie of it’s own. Basically, we’re in the process of increasing a sizable area of continuous habitat (I keep eyeing a property beyond the hunt club that the DNR owns, but they aren’t doing anything with it, yet).

At the park district, I was sent into some properties that the district owned but didn’t know what was there, two of them had all ten species of Bombus that we get here (one of those being right in the middle of town) and one little site in a neighborhood shocked me with how many bees were in there, even two species of floral specialists.

By the way, I’m convinced that my boss at the park district is trying to get me arrested: One of the first sites she assigned me was a grassland, right next to an elementary school, oh and there’s no public parking. So I’m supposed to go stand next to an elementary school with a camera and binoculars. Later she gave me the site in the aforementioned neighborhood which is right next to a playground and also has no public parking, after that she assigned me site that has a kids summer camp going on. I don’t think these are coincidences.

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This isn’t directly related to combating climate destruction but it is a success story for species conservation.

Sparky Stensaas posts a lot of videos about Sax-Zim Bog in upper Minnesota and he had one on their American Kestrel Box Project. Studies showed that Kestrel populations in MN had declined 70% so Frank and Kate Nicoletti decided to put up Kestrel boxes.

The first year (2017) they banded 45 chicks and last year they banded 61. They were hoping for 85-90 this year but I couldn’t find a final total of chicks banded. It looks like the drought and heat may have impacted nesting behavior. (see link below for more info

The work within the Bog that the Friends of Sax-Zim Bog do isn’t directly related to fighting climate change. But they are trying to preserve that area and make it more accessible to the public (building boardwalks, etc) which increases awareness so maybe it kind of fits your request.

Regardless, as a Minnesotan, I love watching Sparky’s videos and perhaps other folks might like watching them as well - especially when stuck in the house for some reason or another. He covered the Sax-Zim bioblitz and I recognized at least two folks leading groups as iNatters.

American Kestrel Box Project video:
https://youtu.be/qCNwUDnblZk
The Kestrel segment starts at 6:30

more info on the project:
2021: https://saxzim.org/american-kestrel-monitoring-year-6-a-season-of-unexpected-results/
2020: https://saxzim.org/american-kestrel-nest-box-project-year-5-surprises-and-milestones/

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I read an article a few years ago about how despondency among conservation biologists is a fairly common thing. It’s not something we dwell on but it’s certainly real, given the challenges conservation faces, many of which are far beyond our control. As I recall the individuals interviewed said they focused on what they could control and took encouragement from their successes. But I admit it can be difficult at times to be optimistic. I tend to look to the resiliency of nature and that despite humanity’s impacts life will persist, as it has even after global disasters that preceded humans.

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Try posting more of them on iNat :slightly_smiling_face: 1,000 species in New Mexico that you might find

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and I’m not even a professional yet! Still in school. But I spend all my time around field biologists and nature lovers here on iNat.

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Around the start of 2020 was on a field sampling trip at Tа̄wharanui, Auckland region for о̄i- grey faced petrels. A few years prior, nest boxes and playback speakers had been installed to coax them back to breeding on the peninsula and a few started breeding, but no fledged chicks had yet returned (not totally unexpected as they don’t return to breed for several years anyway).

We’d planned on sampling at least 9, goal of 12, maximum of 15. We’re packing up for the night when the arrivals start slowing down after 10 individuals and trudging back up the hill when we spot one more о̄i sat below a tree. After a quick discussion we decide to sample them, and on doing so see and check the band. After reporting the band number to the project manager it turned out this last straggler of the night was the first ever о̄i to return to the colony and marking that the effort is starting to kick into gear! Even more remarkably, this one was found less than 5 metres from where they hatched

For a lovely peek into what a night among the о̄i sounds like <3

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Here in Ohio, there are wetlands being restored. Large areas of wetlands. This park in NW Ohio will have 1000 total acres of wetlands restored from farmland.

Here is the present park which opened in 2018.
It was the largest such project in a 22-state area when it was opened to the public 3 years ago when it opened.
https://metroparkstoledo.com/explore-your-parks/howard-marsh-metropark/

Here is phase 2 which will add more wetlands.
https://metroparkstoledo.com/discover/blog/posts/work-begins-on-howard-marsh-phase-2/

(That statement about a 22-state area comes from this news story:)
https://www.13abc.com/2021/08/06/metroparks-meetup-an-inside-look-phase-2-howard-marsh-metropark/

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Last year, my beloved Aunt Evelyn passed at the age of 96. She left me a generous inheritance, which I’m using to create the Evelyn Jackson Wild Life Garden in my backyard. (She lived a wild life.) Last year, we put in a set of ponds with a stream and a big rain garden to help deal with increasing storm runoff. I’ve planted over hundreds of native plants and will add more this fall.

So far, we’ve see the first monarchs in our yard in years. We have several types of frogs, plus lizards, dragonflies, wasps, and lots of native bees. Birds splash in the stream.

I give tours to neighbors and friends, often to people I haven’t met before. Almost everyone responds positively to the idea of creating welcoming place for pollinators and some are as captivated by the frogs as I am. I hope this project provides a haven for several species struggling in our increasingly overbuilt and poisoned suburb and that it leads others doing the same.

I usually tell them about iNat, which continues to be a source of learning, wonder, and community for me. Thank you for being a forum moderator. May you find strength, happiness, and ease.

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The Cleveland Metroparks is a wonderful collection of green spaces in NE Ohio. They are well-supported by the citizens. Although they provide a lot of recreational opportunities for people, they are also important areas for wildlife. And, they also have many educational programs to teach the people in the area about the importance of wildlife. They especially reach out to children.

The park recently announced a plan to create small islands off the shoreline using dredged soil from the lake and river. The parks would be for people, but they would also benefit wildlife.

https://www.cleveland.com/news/2021/04/first-look-cleveland-metroparks-releases-bold-vision-for-remaking-lake-erie-shoreline-with-recycled-river-sediment.html

If you look on a map for Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve, it is a park that juts out into Lake Erie. It was totally created from dredged soil from the lake and river. For a long time it was just barren soil until some local government agencies cooperated and turned it into a park. The Cleveland Metroparks now manages it. It is on the planning map on that web page.

The Metroparks has taken over some city parks and purchased areas like golf courses, and turned them into parks. The city parks that they have taken over and cleaned up are so much better than before. They are clean, safe places for people in the area to visit and experience some bit of nature.

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please keep the stories coming. it helps. even through the rational anxiety plus my irrational psych-disorder anxiety, I feel a little less despondent already.

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https://www.visitzealandia.com/Home/gclid/Cj0KCQjw7MGJBhD-ARIsAMZ0eevDKg1833NUlvdpLuyQnn29MbJpaa9Sbcw1kpjn5Cbg34TM0Ecy8ukaAgDPEALw_wcB

An ecosanctuary was set up in the capital city of New Zealand, Wellington. You can literally walk from Parliament in the centre of the city to this sanctuary, and still have plenty of day left to look around. Since then it has gone from strength to strength and many re-introductions of birds, reptiles and insects have been successfully completed. Locals now trap pest animals on their properties to maintain a ‘halo’ of safety around the sanctuary. Numbers of kaka (a large endemic bush parrot) have increased so much people are actually grumpling that they are damaging their trees and generally being destructive (AKA curious :). It’s introduced so many people to our native wildlife and is so accessable.

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I’m working with one of the most endangered primates in existence, the Cat Ba Langur (Trachypithecus poliocephalus), usually considered to be the second or third most endangered based on population size (currently around 68-71 individuals), and our population is growing. It’s a very slow growth, only about 3% per year on average, but it is growing. This year has been a neutral year so far in terms of population growth, but that’s not unusual. The low point in population was back in 2003 when the entire population of the species was around 40 individuals.

We use this as our flagship species and leverage it into overall biodiversity conservation for the island I’m working on, which allows us to protect other endangered and endemic species that would otherwise receive no real protection.

In addition, we run environmental education programs in all the schools on the island and we have a small community based reforestation project working to restore a very rare type of wetland forest that’s now gone from most of the country.

We also run community based antipoaching teams to protect animals and plants from poachers, remove traps, confiscate illegally owned firearms from community members, educate locals, etc. and we work with the various local authorities on other issues like stopping migratory bird poaching.

There are challenges and setbacks due to corrupt government agencies and funding cuts, but despite this we do see improvement and the population of our critically endangered focal species is increasing.

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I am not currently active, but I volunteered for the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority for many years.

This is the “little sister” of the MidPeninsula Open Space Authority.

https://www.openspaceauthority.org/#investing-in-nature

Besides county and some private funding and property donations, I am rather proud of the fact that local voters enacted a nearly county-wide $24/yr parcel tax (in effect since 2014) that helps purchase environmentally significant properties, clean up, and maintain the acquired properties.

There were some significant challenges to the parcel tax, but in the end the courts stood up for the voters.

Acquiring properties and wildlife corridors is a special goal.

You might be interested to read the plans:
https://www.openspaceauthority.org/conservation/conservation-priorities/santa-clara-valley-greenprint.html

I am proud to be a witness to the progress they’ve made in the years I’ve followed the work.

TO ACHIEVE THIS VISION, THE AUTHORITY IDENTIFIED THE FOLLOWING GOALS, PRIORITIES, AND STRATEGIES FOR LAND CONSERVATION:

  1. Protect and manage an interconnected system of wildlands and natural areas to support native habitats and species and to ensure resilience to a changing environment

  2. Protect and restore water resources to benefit local communities and the environment

  3. Conserve farms, ranches and other working landscapes to sustain the economic and environmental viability of agriculture in the County

  4. Protect and manage a network of open space lands that provide opportunities for nature-based recreation and education for all residents

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Could I recommend a good black mood antidote? Read The Little Hummingbird by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas (ISBN 9781553655336). The description from my library’s catalogue: “A courageous hummingbird defies fear and expectations in her attempt to save the forest from fire. The illustrated story is supplemented by a natural and cultural history of hummingbirds, as well as an inspiring message from Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai. Based on a South American indigenous story.” It’s a very quick, but powerful, read.

I have many good news environmental stories from my part of the world (Northwestern Ontario, Canada):

  • Franklin’s Ground Squirrels - assessed a “Vulnerable” species here - appear to be increasing in numbers.
  • Monarch butterflies have made a spectacular comeback, even in this year of drought. From a low of only three records in 2011, I’ve already had 25 sightings in Northwestern Ontario in 2021, with still a few weeks to add more.
  • During 2021, I also tied or set my all-time annual records for other butterflies, including Canadian Tiger Swallowtail, Dreamy Duskywing and Hobomok Skipper.
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Well I am not a professional, as I am only a student, but students also get sad, but when I see serene nature I get healed, line is the best said “nature is the best healer”, when I get sad or blacked out I go to my terrace(that is my only jungle, cause I never visted jungle in my entire life) I see bird chirping out loud,
wind blows, as if she is asking me “why as you so sad?”, sun slowly dims the sunlight to see my face why I am so sad?, slowly slowly everything becomes silent and I see what happend around me, nature sympathise with me, plants around me always look to me with hope that “he will water me or fertilise me or just take a good glimpse of us” so I do the same I see them and ask exclaim" nature is beautiful, isn’t she". and then butterflies flutters around the flowers asking plants “what happend to gloomy guy why is he smiling now?” plants replied that he healed just like a tree, you know if you cut the plants by their top they will become dense,old and beautiful, so-called bonsai. If you take a glimpse you will see they are beautiful, then try to ask the bonsai master how did you do, I am sure he will reply" I just give scars to plant he become beautiful by himself, isn’t he beautiful", I am sure you are that plant, and I am sure you are and will become more beautiful as the bonsai tree, cause you are generating, ignoring the scars you get by that bonsai master, don’t fear him he is your friend he loves that’s why its giving you scars.
I hope it helped.

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