To the Rescue

(A Make-Believe Adventure for Youth of All Ages, Human and Feline)

By Ken Swift

Chapter 1: A Scout’s Campfire Report

     They’re not going to make it back on their own.  They keep trying, but they get shot or hit by cars.  They need our help.

It was late summer of 2019 and Wesley Wood had just returned from a long ramble eastward from the Great Plains.  Wood had been inspired by a young male Puma who, nearly a decade ago, had miraculously wandered thousands of miles from South Dakota’s Black Hills to New York’s Adirondacks before being killed by a car on a busy highway near the Atlantic Coast, and also by several other Pumas who were at least rumored to have made similarly long and treacherous traverses eastward since then in search of mates and territories.  This summer, Wood had paddled and walked along rivers draining east from Puma strongholds in the Rocky Mountains.  He’d found many places with ample cover and prey – especially the big cat’s favorite, White-tailed Deer — but also too many roads and other human developments for any but the bravest and luckiest Pumas to make the immense journey safely.

     We’ve already sadly concluded Panthers moving north from South Florida anytime soon is unlikely, given all the development in the way. Even if we get a reasonable presidential administration next round, the likelihood they’ll show the leadership to reintroduce missing carnivores is vanishingly small.  And can we ever realistically hope state wildlife agencies will have the courage to reintroduce the cats?

Vivian Green, her comely visage and blonde hair aglow in the firelight, knew the answer to his rhetorical question was No!  She also knew Wood well enough to see where he was leading the guests gathered around his campfire, setting aglow the big old pines and hemlocks of his rugged western Adirondack home.  She suspected, though, these guests, all close friends and all equally devoted to wild forests and their residents, did not need to be led:

      Right, Wood, so what do you want us to do?  Rescue pet Pumas from their foolish “owners” and let them loose in the wilds?

Click here to read more.



Romanian Fagaras Old-growth Forest is Still Threatened

By ILCW member Vlado Vancura of the European Wilderness Society
Fagras Old Growth Forest threatened © Ondrej Kameniar

The current speed of destruction of the Fagaras primary forest is truly alarming. It is obvious that there is no time for long discussions, because one of the most valuable natural places in the EU is disappearing right before our eyes. Researchers from the Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences, Czech University of Life Sciences, in Prague conclude their several years of monitoring work with the statement that solutions are needed as fast as possible.

Witness of forest destruction

The Fagaras mountains host around 10 000 hectares of the of old growth forest. This is likely the largest area of old growth forests in the entire EU. The Fagaras mountains also host large areas of valuable natural forests connecting the old growth forests into larger complexes of high naturalness. The old growth forests in Fagaras used to be protected by its remoteness, inaccessibility, and steep and rough terrain.

Report on forest destruction

The team of Czech researchers has had a focus on research and monitoring in this corner of the Carpathians already for several years. Their project REMOTE (REsearch on MOuntain TEmperate) Primary Forests is a long-term international collaboration based on a network of permanent sample plots in the forests of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. ‎They recently published a report “Destruction of the largest complex of primary forest in EU: the Fagaras Mts”. This report and their work provide an additional piece to the larger mosaics illustrating the destruction process of the Carpathian forests. Not only in Romania but also in Ukraine and Slovakia. Such work is extremely important as it is based on scientifically sound methodology. The systematic monitoring provides reliable data which can be compared through the years.

Research debunks pro-logging arguments

The report is full of arguments debunking the contra argumentation of the Romanian Forest service. They claim that for example the particular old untouched forest is not subject of protection because their experts did not find elements of virgin forest there. They further argue that there is not enough dead wood and therefore logging can get a green light. The Czech researchers however confirmed that only a couple of years ago, when the permanent study plots were installed, the valleys were nearly untouched, roadless and without industrial logging. Ondrej Kameniar from the research team describes it as Wilderness. Unfortunately, a lot has changed since then. The drastic change deriving from extensive logging of the old growth forests, the construction of roads and large clear cutts significantly impacted the former healthy and wild ecosystem.

The researchers and their ongoing work documented this drastic change and the loss of biodiversity and important habitats. However, their last visit in the Fagaras mountains ended with punctured tires. This shows that there seem to be people who are not happy about their presence and work there. Read more.

Women as Saviors of the Serengeti

By Meyasi Mollel, Director of Serengeti Preservation Foundation

Edited by Alison M. Jones

Note: Meyasi Mollel and Alison M. Jones will deliver a joint presentation of the Mara River Basin and the Serengeti in New York City on April 23, 2019 at 6 pm. Contact NWNL for details. To read entire article, click here.
In the Serengeti portion of the Mara River Basin, sustainability depends on conservation. Its economic prominence depends on the surrounding population of people, wise use of water, a better land-use plan and afforestation of the land. As well, benefits between human and wildlife must be balanced. The Serengeti Ecosystem – of which 35% is within the Mara River Basin – contains a dynamic mix of wildlife, habitat and human communities. Conservation and human welfare are inextricably linked – and women have a decisive role in meeting the great challenges of both.
Two existential threats face both people and wildlife in the Serengeti ecosystem:

human population growth and climate change.

Regarding both issues, it is the women who have the greatest role to play.
Tanzania’s population is projected to double by mid-century – and quadruple fifty years later! Tanzania has one of the world’s highest adolescent pregnancy rates, where one in six girls between 15 and 19 become pregnant. The country also has one of the highest child-marriage rates, where 37% of girls marry before age 18. Population growth around the Serengeti National Park is the highest in Tanzania.
Educating Women and Girls to Save the Serengeti
A significant fertility decline can be achieved if women are empowered educationally, economically, socially and politically. Educating girls has a proven effect on reducing family size. When girls stay in school, they have a reduced risk of becoming pregnant.
As a recent Brookings Institute study notes:

Focusing on girls’ and women’s education and health empowers them and helps stabilize population growth.

Investing in girls’ education builds female leadership in a society -and prepares them to become active in conservation efforts.

Climate Change Affects the Mara River Basin
Tanzania is acutely vulnerable to climate change. Annual precipitation has decreased significantly across the country from 1960 to the present. Seasonal rainfall patterns have already changed.
Women can also have a key role in this issue. The UN Sustainable Development Goals state that we can combat climate change by “advocating for gender equality and women’s empowerment in mitigating and adapting to climate change.”
The Brookings Institute states, “Studies show that female leaders are incredibly effective in conservation; and they are more likely to pursue more sustainable futures for their communities.”
Climate change affects water and forests, both of which impact and are impacted by women. Water security, a critical issue for Serengeti communities, is being threatened. The use of trees cut for firewood has caused large-scale deforestation.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals state:

Women play a critical role as stewards of the land, comprising much of the agricultural labour force in developing countries. They may be primary collectors of resources such as wood for fuel, as well as wild foods and herbs for medicines.

The most vulnerable people are most at risk from climate change, including many poor women. For them, the impacts are already a daily reality. Many spend increasingly long hours hunting for food, fuel and water, or struggling to grow crops. When disasters strike, women are far more likely to perish.

Women need the capacity to protect themselves and to participate in decisions with profound implications for people and the planet.

Serengeti Preservation Foundation [SPF] Helps Women
SPF is working with women’s groups to develop income-producing enterprises. This is done by granting micro-loans; finding markets for artisans’ products; and giving economic support to women’s social groups.
Bee-keeping is one such enterprise SPF is helping set up for women. SPF provides women with beehives to install in sensitive areas, such as those near water sources and protected forests. The women can harvest the honey and sell it, providing an additional source of income. Their bee-keeping will also directly protect the environments where their beehives are installed. Beehives are also being used as “fences” to help prevent incursions of wildlife into local communities.
SPF Supports Girls’ Education
SPF is identifying girls who have the interest and aptitude for study and leadership. By providing scholarships, we will be expanding this program to include as many girls as possible. Girls in our current school programs are already acquiring enhanced education and mentoring to become change-makers in their communities. We can see that keeping girls in school reduces early pregnancy and lowers birth rates. They are becoming new voices for change – affecting income, family size, values, and decision-making.
The future of the Mara River Basin is based on trusting and empowering women and girls previously marginalized in communities around the Serengeti. It is time to build on the big role they play on a daily basis in taking care of their families.
I have often said, “If a woman can raise a family, she can raise a nation, she can take care of the environment.” The time is now to empower and involve women in the conservation movement of Mother Nature.
To Read the entire article, click here.

Water/Ways in US Small Towns

Highlights from Blog post January 29, 2019 by Alison M. Jones NWNL is proud to have its imagery included in the Smithsonian’s WATER/WAYS
Exhibit traveling across the US as part of their “Museum on Main Street” program. From now until Feb 2020, WATER/WAYS will be shown in small towns that face water availability, quality and usage challenges. Smithsonian believes photography can inspire community conversations about water and how it impacts our lives, as also expressed in the NWNL Mission. The exhibit’s extensive signage explores water issues in our cultures, economies and homes – and the bigger picture of how global environmental issues affect towns of all sizes.

Across the US there are many small towns with their own unique personalities. Each is part of our national web of watersheds that share water with upstream and downstream neighbors and often across state and county boundaries. Therein lies the power of Smithsonian’s Main Street program, which since 1994 has sent exhibits to over 1,400 communities with populations under 10,000.

Water use has grown twice as fast as the world’s population over the last century. Even places with sufficient rainfall often find that freshwater resources are spread too thin. Water scarcity is more than just an issue of too little rain – sometimes it is a problem of politics, infrastructure and overuse.
Water is a finite resource. Our environment does not create water – it recycles it. Think beyond your faucet – what is the source for your drinking water? Are there any issues that could impact your access to that water? What are some of the threats to water/ways in your area?
What we discard will eventually be in someone else’s water…. What we eat, what we drink, what we put on our hair and skin, what we wash out in the sink – if it’s on us or in us, it ends up back in the watershed.
Agriculture and its heavy use of irrigation is one of the largest consumers of freshwater in the US…. About 50% of the water used for irrigation is reusable. Much water is lost to evaporation and water leaks.
Everyone lives within a watershed – the surrounding area of land in which water collects and, ultimately, drains into a water source. 19th -century geologist John Wesley Powell … believed that watersheds were a shared interest and governments, residents and new settlers should work together to manage resources properly.
WHERE is Our Water?
Freshwater, the water we need to live, makes up only three percent of the world’s water, and much of it is inaccessible…. Where do you get your water?
Water … is at the source of the things we encounter every day…. Water holds a central place in the origin stories and rituals of many cultures and faiths. Water inspires our art, music, dance and literature.
Up to 14% of the water used in an average home is actually lost in leaks.
Click here to read entire blog and see all photos.

Following Alice the Moose on the A2A Wildway

By John Davis

Were I a Moose, I’d be breaking all the rules. I’m climbing mountains merely for views of this glorious watery wooded landscape, cursing at thick bushwhacks through spruce/fir forest that a Moose might forage in winter; aiming my Hornbeck solo canoe for clear open water, rather than wading and feeding in the nearby swamps and marshes; carrying too much weight in my Osprey backpack; and gingerly side-stepping the muddy trail sections Moose walk right through. Still, a week into our A2A Reconnaissance Hike, I’ve seen a good bit of what Alice the Moose saw when she journeyed fifteen years ago from the middle of New York’s huge Adirondack Park to Ontario’s fabled Algonquin Provincial Park.

When Alice made this long trek, she inadvertently confirmed the Algonquin to Adirondack (or Adirondack to Algonquin – either way, A2A) habitat linkage (wildlife corridor, or wildway, as some of us prefer to say) that biologists had identified. She inspired a conservation effort that has grown into the A2A Collaborative, of which The Rewilding Institute is a participant. A2A partners on both sides of the border spent much of a month exploring A2A on the ground in autumn 2017, simultaneously hiking northwest and southeast from our respective parks toward the Thousand Islands in the Saint Lawrence River, to celebrate Alice the Moose and the wildway she revealed and to investigate the possibility of an eventual A2A International Scenic Trail. I was lucky enough to do much of the hiking and paddling on the US side; and my scouting strongly confirmed the wildness of this region and its great appeal for outdoorspeople, as well as wildlife. Click here to read more.

Glaciers – Butterflies – Change

Blog post January 22, 2019 by Alison M. Jones

Rivers are like sentences. They run on. There is an order, but it can be re-arranged. They are often punctuated by geologic elements and activity.

Rivers can be altered by fallen trees and jumping fish – or by human presence and activity. Alterations sometimes occur rapidly, sometimes slowly. How are those changes acknowledged? Maps help.

Humans have long changed rivers to benefit themselves. We have hand-dug small irrigation canals; bull-dozed earthen levees to stop floods; and built mammoth, concrete infrastructure to stop floods, store water and produce hydropower.

Think of changes wrought by global warming, its floods and its droughts. Think of the disappearance of sections or reaches of long rivers due to agricultural withdrawal for irrigation purposes.

 We have no substitute for today’s melting glaciers that for millennia have fed our rivers from Asia’s Himalaya Mountains to N. America’s Rocky Mountains. Glaciers supply water that we drink, that irrigates crops, that cools, and that transports us and our goods.


A 2007 photo marks the recession of Canada’s Athabasca Glacier

Photo by Alison M. Jones

When we were 7.3 billion people on this planet, we used the resources of 1 ½ planets. Now we are 7.7 billion people – and still increasing our numbers and resource consumption. How will that change how we live? Can we change that arc?
Change can come slowly or rapidly. Change can be for the good or for the bad. Change can be invisible and unfathomable. Click here to read more and see photos.

Path of the Puma book review

By John Miles

Inside the covers of Path of the Puma is a map presenting historic range, current known range, confirmed sightings outside of range, and likely path of mountain lion dispersal. Current range includes North America west from the Rockies, north to south from the southern Yukon through Mexico, and a few outliers such as the Florida panther, suggesting that these big cats, extirpated across much of their historic range, are making a comeback. Arrows indicating the likely path of mountain lion dispersal point east from the Rockies all the way to New York. Scattereddots indicate confirmed sightings recorded east of the Mississippi River.


Montana wildlife biologist Jim Williams is an optimistic realist having studied and managed Puma concolor for decades. Emphasize manage here, for Williams is a confirmed believer that wildlife, and especially big carnivores like the puma, will not survive as species in the long run unless we decide we want them to do so. Read all.


Rewilding Earth


A Rewilding Success Story on the Elwha River

Listen to a big Rewilding victory –the dam removal on the Elwha River in the Olympic Peninsula, (Washington state, USA). A conversation with Tim McNulty, Olympic Park Associates, and author of poetry and natural history books, who talks about the end of a decades-long battle to return the Elwha to natural flow resulting in the return of salmon, eagles and others reliant on a healthy river freed from two dams. Read more and listen to the podcast here.

The Zambezi River Legend

No Water No Life
The Zambezi River Legend
By Alison M. Jones
The charming African legend we quote below refers to Africa’s Zambezi River that flows 1677 miles (2700 km) from the point where northwestern Zambia borders Angola, Namibia and Botswana. It crashes down Victoria Falls, dividing Zimbabwe and Zambia, and runs through Mozambique – despite the Kariba and Cahora Bassa Dams. It is the largest African river to flow into the Indian Ocean.

While “Zambezi” is the local Tonga word for “Great River,” it is known by many as “The River of the Gods.” By others, it is called “The River of Life” in honor of “Nyami Nyami” the local river spirit who nurtures the river’s fish and irrigates their crops.

In a lovely book on this important African river,1we came across a legend that mystically merges the cycle of the sun setting and rising with the birth and passage of the Zambezi River. In our minds, the legend could apply to the course of any river..

Rewilding Earth


A Rewilding Success Story on the Elwha River


Listen to a big Rewilding victory –the dam removal on the Elwha River in the Olympic Peninsula, (Washington state, USA). A conversation with Tim McNulty, Olympic Park Associates, and author of poetry and natural history books, who talks about the end of a decades-long battle to return the Elwha to natural flow resulting in the return of salmon, eagles and others reliant on a healthy river freed from two dams. Read more and listen to the podcast here.