2018: The Good News in Conservation

Conservation news is often in the form of calls to action to save something on the brink of being lost–a plant or animal species, a piece of beautiful habitat, or even warding off threats to the entire world. As we move ahead into 2019, this is the perfect time to reflect on some of the wins from the bird world. We did some good work, folks! Take a look at some of our successes below–in Arizona and around the world–and take heart. What we do really does have real impact, so let this list inspire you  to take action in 2019!

From Audubon Western Water News:

  • In Arizona, we blocked legislation detrimental to our rivers and groundwater
  • Arizona made progress toward a critical Drought Contingency Plan
  • Audubon co-branded its first beer in conjunction with the Western Rivers Brewing Council.

The beer is named for the Yellow-billed Cuckoo and is intended to raise awareness for birds and water conservation. The brew is the Rain Crow IPA, and was made available at Wren House Brewing Company in Phoenix, Borderlands Brewing Company and Crooked Tooth Brewing Company in Tucson (while supplies last).

From the National Audubon Society:

  • 50,000 Audubon members spoke up to defend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Audubon, along with 8 states (so far), is suing to continue to defend the MBTA.
  • 52 Year of the Bird proclamations were made across the country.
  • Actions by local Audubon chapters protected Least Terns, Chimney Swifts, Tricolored Blackbirds, and saved critical bird habitat from development.
  • Urging action on climate change led to the first Republican-led carbon tax bill proposed in  Congress.
  • Protecting water–big water wins in legislation in California and restoring water to the Everglades.
  • Protected 17,000 acres of coastal barriers, which protects valuable habitat and also defends  vulnerable coastline by providing breakers against hurricanes and tropical storms.
  • Audubon’s Plants for Birds–89,000 people have used Audubon’s bird plant guide and added native plants to their yards, porches, window boxes, etc. Audubon’s Coleman and Susan Burke Center for Native Plants planted, sold, and donated 78,300 native plants, reached  85,200 individuals, and engaged 300 community partners.
  • The work of Audubon and partners led to the 2018 Farm Bill retaining steady conservation funding and doubling funding for wildlife habitat. Some uses of this funding include Audubon programs working with dairy farmers to save Tricolored blackbirds, and Audubon’s Conservation Ranching Program to help ranchers adopt bird-friendly grazing practices.
  • More info here: https://www.audubon.org/news/highlights-and-wins-2018

Peregrine Fund:

  • North American Non-Lead Partnership began this year in cooperation with the Oregon Zoo and the Institute for Wildlife Studies. This advocates for non-lead alternatives for sportsmen. The partnership includes state wildlife agencies (including Arizona Game & Fish Department) and sports groups (including the Arizona Elk Society, Arizona Mule Deer Organization, and Arizona Deer Association). Non-lead alternatives help wildlife ranging from Bald Eagles and  California Condors (who scavenge on gut piles containing pieces of lead shot, and on small “pest” animals killed with lead shot) to fish. More info here: https://www.peregrinefund.org/non-lead-ammo
  • Published “State of the world’s raptors:  distributions, threats, and conservation recommendations,” the first global study and report on raptors. The study found that 52% of world’s raptor species are in decline (based on data from BirdLife International), and is now being used  to inform conservation efforts. Read the paper here:  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320718305871

From BirdLife International:

  • China protected coastlines vital to migratory birds from development.
  • Lake Natron in Tanzania, the most significant breeding site for Lesser Flamingos, has been saved from proposed development. It is now being slated as an ecotourism site.
  • 25 bird species designated as critically endangered have been saved and down-listed to less severe conservation statuses since the year 2000. Among those conservation successes are  the Northern Bald Ibis and the Pink Pigeon, both down-listed this year.
  • Christmas Island in Australia, a critical breeding site for the rare Abbott’s Boobies and Christmas Frigate birds, was saved from expanded mining activity.
  • Bans on single-use plastics are springing up everywhere–from small cities to entire countries. These are items made from cheap plastic (like grocery bags or plastic cutlery) that are designed to be used once, for 5 minutes to an hour, and then thrown away, destined for a   landfill or the ocean where they never biodegrade and have significant impacts on wildlife  and the environment for decades or centuries. The bans apply items which have more sustainable alternatives and are often merely a matter of simple convenience.
  • Singapore has protected one of its remaining mangrove habitats for conservation.
  • more info at https://www.birdlife.org/worldwide/news/12-positive-environmental-stories-past-12-months

That’s a lot of good work, and only a sampling of the year’s conservation successes. Together, we can make 2019 an even better year than the last!

Written by Amy Zimmermann