Bringing you the latest news, information, and resources from around the web. In the February 16th edition, read more about the following:
- Sprawling Maya network discovered under Guatemala jungle
- Biodiversity Is Life’s Safety Net
- Naturbanas Routes, Bringing Back Nature Into Costa Rica’s Capital
- Chile Adds 10 Million Acres of Parkland in Historic First
- The Epic Journeys of Migratory Birds
Sprawling Maya network discovered under Guatemala jungle
Thanks to cutting-edge laser technology, researchers have discovered more than 60,000 Maya ruins hidden in the depths of Guatemala’s rainforest. These new findings drastically change archaeologists’ understanding of the scope and sophistication of Maya civilization. The data revealed a complex road system connecting areas previously thought to be uninhabitable, a greater architectural focus on defense, and a peak population between twice and three times as large as previously estimated. This survey is only the first part of a three-year project set to map more than 5,000 square miles of lowland forest in Guatemala.
Biodiversity Is Life’s Safety Net
Nowadays, the word “biodiversity” is largely used in the context of environmental protection, to describe what exactly is being lost as mankind encroaches further on the natural world. However, in the words of the “father of biodiversity” E.O. Wilson, biodiversity speaks to an aggregate that “has eaten the storms – folded them into its genes – and created the world that created us. It holds the world steady.” Biodiversity – the variability within species, between species, and of ecosystems – is the thing that needs saving, because it’s the thing saving us.
Naturbanas Routes, Bringing Back Nature Into Costa Rica’s Capital
While 25% of Costa Rica’s natural areas are protected by law, the urban center of San Jose stands in contrast to the country’s widespread conservation initiatives. So, in an effort to improve the city’s environmental profile, local organizations have united to develop “Naturbanas routes,” a 25-km network of pathways designed to connect citizens with greenspaces. Additionally, the project aims to increase road safety and public security, improve the water quality of the city’s rivers, and promote “interurban biological corridors” for ecological conservation.
Chile Adds 10 Million Acres of Parkland in Historic First
In what’s deemed the world’s largest donation of private land, Chile has received just over 1 million acres from American philanthropist Kristine Tompkins of the Tompkins Conservation. Combining this donation with nearly 9 million acres of federally-owned land, the government of Chile has officially set aside more than 10 million acres of natural area for protection. The land encompasses rainforests, grasslands, and glacial fjords, as well as endangered species like the Alerce tree and the huemul deer. With the expansion, Chile turns to ecotourism for conservation and economic development, planning a 1,500-mile tourist route through 17 national parks.
Read Kristine Tompkins’ op-ed "Protecting Wilderness as an Act of Democracy" here.
The Epic Journeys of Migratory Birds
Until the early 19th century, mankind was unable to explain why bird populations disappeared for part of the year. Since then, as new technology develops, scientists are more and more able to understand the details of bird migration: how far the birds fly, the path they’ve taken, and how they manage the logistics of flying long distances, like navigation and sleeping. It’s also becoming clear that bird migration is negatively impacted by human activity and climate change, with even small changes in the environment resulting in serious consequences.
Photo by Bruce Goodwin