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30 Days of Hope: Stories of Biodiversity, Balance, and Restoration

As we cap off the #30DaysofHope on this the International Day for Biological Diversity, we can’t help but reflect on the interconnectedness of our world and the need to work together to safeguard our collective future. We hope the stories we’ve shared over the last month have uplifted you, and that you will continue to find inspiration in nature. Read on to catch up on all the positive stories we’ve shared this week.

Today, on the International Day for Biological Diversity, we draw the 30 Days of Hope to a close. Together with the Wyss Foundation’s Campaign for Nature, we’ve shared a story of the hope and strength found in nature every day for the past 30 days.

In that time, we’ve traveled virtually around the globe, checking in on rhino reintroduction at Malawi’s Majete Wildlife Reserve, honoring the voices of indigenous peoples and local communities in conservation in Canada, rewilding Europe’s Danube Delta through the removal of obsolete dams, and making many other stops along the way.

As we look back, we can’t help but reflect on the interconnectedness of our world, and the need to work together to safeguard our collective future. We know that in places where biodiversity and ecosystems have been depleted, they have the capacity to come back. Join us in taking some extra time today to celebrate the richness of nature and the people, organizations, and countries working to protect it.

Thank you for coming along on this journey. Catch up on all of our inspirational stories from the past 30 days here: week 1, week 2, and week 3.

Uplifting News on Endangered Species Day

Güiña posing for the camera
Güiña, Leopardus guigna tigriillo, at Fauna Andina in Santiago, Chile. Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic, PhotoArk.

When the UN’s Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services was released in May 2019, it stated that there are nearly 1 million species currently under threat of extinction. But the extinction crisis isn’t new: 15 years ago, in the face of this threat, National Geographic Fellow and photographer, Joel Sartore made it his mission to record our planet’s biodiversity. His Photo Ark project captures images of species ranging from the everyday (domestic rats) to the most at risk (like the critically endangered Sumatran rhino). His work is a powerful testament to the importance of protecting the weird and wonderful species that make our planet unique.

And now, Joel has added the 10,000th species to the National Geographic Photo Ark! Meet the güiña: The smallest wildcat in the Americas.

Balancing the Needs of Humanity and the Planet in Amsterdam

Aerial landscape of coastal homes and agricultural fields just north of Amsterdam
Village and vacation homes are strung along the southwest side of the Ijselmeer inland sea just north of Amsterdam. Photograph by George Steinmetz, National Geographic.

Last month, Amsterdam announced it would formally embrace the “doughnut” economic model, an ambitious plan that seeks to balance the needs of humanity with that of the planet. It is the first city in the world to use this circular economy model to guide public policy decisions.

In the model, the doughnut’s inner ring outlines a basic social foundation, based on the UN’s sustainable development goals. It includes necessities like clean water, housing, gender equality, work, and education. The doughnut’s outer ring represents an ecological ceiling for planetary health that avoids damaging the climate, soils, oceans, and biodiversity. Together, this model aims to create a balanced economy that meets immediate needs while looking to the future.

Helping Elephants and Humans Coexist in Vietnam

Elephants roam within the Quang Nam Elephant Reserve in Vietnam.
Elephants safely roam within the Quang Nam Elephant Reserve thanks to the efforts of the USAID Green Annamites and the Green Fence Restoration Projects in Vietnam. Photograph by Dong Thanh Hai.

At the Quang Nam Elephant Reserve in central Vietnam, resident elephants often wander from the protection of the reserve to search for new food sources. They find their way into local gardens and agriculture fields, threatening the livelihood of community members and putting themselves at risk.

The Green Fence Restoration Project is helping to change that. To date, reserve staff has planted over a mile of Bo Ket, a native tree with sharp, dense thorns covering its trunk and branches. The tree grows quickly and provides a natural barrier for elephants. In addition to decreasing human and wildlife conflicts, Bo Ket leaves can be used in products like traditional medicine and shampoo, providing an income-generating opportunity for the reserve.

Restoring 30 Million Hectares of Forests in Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia

Female European brown bear looking for food on the forest floor.
Female European brown bear looking for food on the forest floor with her single cub (out of shot). Photograph by Victoria Hillman, National Geographic.

In a bold move, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the World Resources Institute, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the World Bank came together to voice the need to restore 30 million hectares of degraded and deforested landscapes by 2030 in Europe, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. 

According to the IUCN, all three regions have areas of desertification, forest degradation, and wetland loss. The target is a part of the Bonn Challenge, a global effort to restore 350 million hectares of deforested and degraded land by 2030. In addition to supporting biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, reforestation and restoration have the potential to contribute to climate change mitigation by increasing the forests’ capacity to absorb carbon dioxide.

Building Cross-Boundary Collaboration in the Amazon

Two monkeys huddle together in a tree cavity in Yasuni National Park.
Noisy night monkeys in a tree cavity in Yasuni National Park. Photograph by Tim Laman, National Geographic.

The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical forest and is home to an estimated 10 percent of the world’s biodiversity. Last year, leaders from seven Amazonian countries joined in signing the Leticia Pact, a cross-boundary collaboration to protect the forest through disaster response coordination and satellite monitoring.

The signatories—Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Suriname, Guyana, and Brazil—agreed to work together to create a natural disaster network that will collaborate on reforestation initiatives, monitor deforestation, and support the efforts of indigenous peoples to manage their lands sustainably. They also agreed to cooperate in the event of large-scale fires.

Creating One of the World’s Largest Marine Reserves

In late March, the island of Niue, located in the South Pacific, formally enacted the world’s newest marine reserve. The new reserve, called Moana Mahu, spans 127,000 square kilometers of ocean and covers 40 percent of Niue’s exclusive economic zone.

Moana Mahu has been five years in the making and solidifies Niue’s commitment to conservation and biodiversity. The reserve protects critical habitat for sharks, whales, and other marine life, some of which was studied by the National Geographic Pristine Seas team on a trip to the remote atoll in 2016.

Okavango Wilderness Project Megatransect Anniversary

Members of the Okavango Wilderness Project canoe down river in the Okavango delta.
Members of the Okavango Wilderness Project traverse the Okavango delta on their first Megatransect expedition. Photograph by Alex Paullin, National Geographic.

Five years ago, the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project embarked on the Source to Sand Megatransect to survey 1,500 miles of the Okavango delta. The journey took them from the source waters in the highlands of southern Angola to the sprawling delta in northern Botswana. 

They collected specimens for DNA analysis, made observations and assessments of the ecological health of the delta, set up camera traps, and conducted interviews with local community members. Their continued work will serve as the scientific basis for the establishment of one of the largest protected areas in sub-Saharan Africa.

Thank You for Joining 30 Days of Hope

We hope that over the last 30 days, you’ve found inspiration in the strength and resilience of nature, and in work being done around the world to protect it. Please continue to share these stories—and your own—with the hashtag #30DaysofHope. For more information about this campaign and to join is calling on world leaders to protect at least 30% of the Earth’s land and water by 2030, visit campaignfornature.org/30-days-of-hope.

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