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Earthwatch International Newsletter, Spring 2011

EARTHWATCHER

HEROES of the forest

The world’s forests provide habitat for 80 per cent of our terrestrial biodiversity. We rely on forests for food, wood products and medicine. Forests are also hugely important for carbon storage in their soils and trees. The United Nations has declared 2011 the International Year of the Forest. Here are three individuals from very different walks of life who, with Earthwatch, are raising awareness and ensuring the sustainable management of these beautiful, fragile and essential environments.

Bridget McNassar joined Earthwatch project Puerto Rico’s Rainforests in January 2009, helping scientists study the sustainable management of tropical rainforests to provide local income from the forest while protecting its biodiversity. “It really got me thinking - we really need to change our relationship with forest ecosystems.” From undertaking vine studies to amphibian surveys while listening to the “cacophony of Coquí frogs” every night, Bridget left the island thinking, “this is what I want to do”. Bridget is now studying for a Master’s Degree in Forest Ecology and Biogeosciences at the University of Idaho (USA). “I am now hoping to gain the knowledge and skills so that I too can be a resource for landowners who want to sustainably manage their land.” Learn more about opportunities for educators at Earthwatch: www.earthwatch.org/europe/learning To join this project, visit: www.earthwatch.org/europe/exped/nelson.html

Alfred Obinga

Jake Bryant

As Mangrove Extension Officer for the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, Alfred Obinga supervises volunteers on Earthwatch’s Tidal Forests of Kenya project.

Jake Bryant, a leading environmental photographer, used his unique lensmanship to help shed light on one part of our global research effort to understand impacts of climate change on forests around the world.

Having an understanding of the important role played by mangroves in coastal protection and marine productivity, Alfred was supported through Earthwatch’s Capacity Development Programme, allowing him to pursue additional training and qualifications at Mombasa Polytechnic University College, Kenya, and Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland.

Joining research teams working in Brazil’s Atlantic rainforest, Jake’s photographs capture a real insight into the world of Earthwatch scientists and supporters working together, studying the precious ecosystem.

Alfred will use the new skills to better understand mangrove resource and areas requiring reforestation. “Ever since teaming up with Earthwatch I have been able to expand my horizons. Long life, Earthwatch project, you have made me!” Learn more about opportunities for earlycareer scientists at Earthwatch: www.earthwatch.org/europe/capacity_building To join this project, visit: www.earthwatch.org/europe/exped/huxham.html

“It is so important to capture scientific research through photography, to provide striking images that will show what’s at stake, the beauty of nature that we stand to lose. Being involved with and documenting this amazing and dynamic collaboration, everyone purposed in time and effort towards a greater good, has proved to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my career so far.” Earthwatch is using Jake’s images widely to gain further support for our work. To see Jake’s portfolio from the rainforest, visit: www.envirofoto.com To join this project, visit: www.earthwatch.org/europe/exped/climate_ latinamerica.html

Earthwatch engages people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment

Images © Jake Bryant/envirofoto, Katie Fuller, Earthwatch

Bridget McNassar


Image © Crispin Zeeman

Where your planet need 1. Restoring Belize’s Reef Ecosystem

I am also proud to announce that Earthwatch has been included in the charitable gift fund set up by Prince William and Miss Middleton, for those who wish to give a wedding present to the Royal couple. We have been chosen for our work in educating youth, and developing environmental leaders. You can find out more at www.royalweddingcharityfund.org. In this issue of Earthwatcher, we showcase three exceptional people helping to look after our life-giving forests, and have mapped out some of our projects most in need of your support in 2011. We have also enclosed a feedback form, for you to tell us what you’d like see more of in your newsletter. I hope you will join us in making this, our anniversary, our most successful and inspirational year yet. Thank you. Sincerely, Nigel Winser

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The Amazon basin is going through dramatic climatic changes that will impact the largest rainforest on Earth, with seasonal changes becoming dramatically more intense. In 2010, water levels in the Amazon were recorded at an historic low, which resulted in extreme dry conditions affecting both wildlife and indigenous communities. Pink river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) numbers declined; populations of fish relied on by the local Cocama Indians for food and income either died or left the region. Your support will allow us to continue monitoring species and environmental changes to help inform conservation action.

5. South Africa’s Scavenge

Image © Paul Harris

Scavengers play a vital role in the years, Earthwatch has supported in researching one of Africa’s mos the brown hyaena (Hyaena brunne to reduce local prejudice toward t the conflict between landowners a hyaena. To further deepen unders importance, Dr Scott has now exp project to incorporate other speci and dung beetles. Your help today understand the importance of the overall ecosystem, their ecology,

Thank you for your support! Over 40 years, Earthwatch influence has reached countries and cultures worldwide and continues to grow. Here are just a few of our highlights.

■ 1977 One of the largest

■ 1987 The

is born.

and most detailed coral reef maps of the Caribbean ever made is produced.

the largest in endangered for 20 years with Tongan

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Earthwatch Institute (Europe) is the working name for Conservation Education & Research Trust (CERT), a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales (number: 4373313) and a registered charity (number: 1094467). 656-03-11

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2. Amazon Riverboat Exploration

Executive Vice President and Head of Programmes, Earthwatch Institute

EARTHWATCHER is published in Spring, Summer and Autumn to help keep supporters informed of Earthwatch’s global work. Please spread the word about Earthwatch by passing this newsletter along to a friend. If you would prefer to read this online or do not wish to receive this newsletter, please contact our Development Office. Tel: +44 (0)1865 318878 Email: development@earthwatch.org.uk

Image © Nesbitt

We have cause to celebrate. This year marks Earthwatch’s 40th anniversary; that’s 40 years of Earthwatchers such as yourself helping us make a positive difference to our world.

Image © Dr James Crabbe

Dear Earthwatcher

The Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve in Belize was established to protect and replenish queen conch (Lobatus gigas) populations in the area, severely depleted through various impacts including overharvesting for food and the curio trade. The species is crucial to the health of the reef ecosystem and with your support this Earthwatch project can assess the effectiveness of the Reserve. Researchers will compare the conch populations before enforcement, against those after the protected status was introduced. The more data we can collect, the sooner meaningful conclusions and recommendations can be made for long-term conservation plans both here and in other reef ecosystems.

1976

1981

1986


ds you in 2011

Your support is invaluable in helping Earthwatch understand and protect our complex world and its biodiversity. Here are just a few of our many projects

3. Trinidad’s Leatherback Sea Turtles

where, with your help this year, we can really make

The International Union for Conservation of Nature cites the Critically Endangered leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) as a key species particularly vulnerable to climate change, and the leatherbacks’ global population is showing a worrying decline. Earthwatch and local research partner Nature Seekers are continually monitoring the species’ numbers and reproductive success rates on Trinidad, one of the reptile’s major nesting grounds in the Caribbean, and have been instrumental in effectively eradicating poaching from the monitored rookeries. Earthwatch support is vital for determining how we can work towards long-term survival of the species both locally and globally.

substantial strides in our mission to achieve a sustainable environment. 4. Dolphins of Greece

Image © Claire Hurren

Earthwatch is working with Tethys Research Institute to highlight the decline of dolphin numbers in areas of the Mediterranean waters around Greece. Recent sightings by Earthwatch teams working from boats on the Inner Ionian Sea – short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), a first in the region for almost two years, and striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba), the first-ever sighting in the area – suggest that if appropriate conservation action is taken, there is potential for these species to re-colonise these former ‘hotspots’ for the cetaceans. Your ongoing support through donations and by joining the project will help us conserve this iconic animal.

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6. Mammal Conservation in South Africa

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e ecosystem. For several scientist Dr Dawn Scott st notorious carnivores, ea). She has worked hard the species, and mitigate and the scavenging standing of scavengers’ panded her research ies, such as vultures y will allow us to better ese species within the and the threats they face.

Image © Lynne MacTavish / Mankwe Wildlife Reserve / Project Phiri

er Species

Image © Julia Chase Grey & Russell Hill

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The remote Soutpansberg Mountains in South Africa, lying within the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve (created by UNESCO in 2009), are an important conservation refuge for mammalian species that face growing pressures from farming, human/animal conflict and other issues. Earthwatch is now funding this new project in the region, investigating the stability of various species of concern, including the leopard (Panthera pardus). Research has shown that healthy populations of top predators are key to ecosystem survival. By supporting our work, you will help us monitor predator and prey species’ numbers and distribution through the use of technology, including camera traps and radio collars.

Earthwatch currently funds over 60 research projects globally, protecting environments and saving species. To find out more about joining one of our projects in the field, please visit www.earthwatch.org/europe/expeditions or call Claire on +44 (0)1865 318845, or support our research by making a donation using the enclosed form.

&CATHERINE

WILLIAM

■ 1998 Solar ovens in Indonesia are built and tested by teams and villagers, reducing deforestation and curbing carbon dioxide production.

e Pacific sees ncrease in d clam numbers s following work n villagers.

1991

1996

■ 2005 Lake Elmenteita in Kenya achieves Protected Area status, helping conserve a habitat used by almost 30 per cent of the world’s flamingo population. 2001

■ 2011 Earthwatch is selected by Prince William and Miss Middleton as recipients of a charitable gift fund set up to help celebrate their wedding. 2006

2011


EARTHWATCH EVENTS: 2011 HIGHLIGHTS

From the ashes: Volcano research in Central America Thursday 12 May, Royal Geographical Society, London, SW7 2AR 6pm – Doors and cash bar open, 7pm – Lecture Free to all, donations welcome. Kindly supported by

Earthwatch SustainaBall – a 40th anniversary celebration Saturday 3 September, Henley Business School, Henley-on-Thames, RG9 3AU 6pm – 1am. Tickets on sale now: £80 until 3 May, £90 thereafter

Queries: Email events@earthwatch.org.uk / Tel: +44 (0)1865 318856 Earthwatch events in USA: www.earthwatch.org/events Follow Earthwatch on Twitter: @earthwatch_org

Join the conversation about Earthwatch on Facebook: www.facebook.com/earthwatch

Image © Andrew Harris

Book online: www.earthwatch.org/europe/events

Inside your

Image © Jake Bryant/envirofoto

HEROES OF THE FOREST: Read about three environmental leaders who, with Earthwatch, are raising awareness and ensuring the sustainable management of our planet’s forests.

Image © Claire Hurren

YOUR PLANET NEEDS YOU! Find out where you could make a difference this year, on one of six cutting-edge environmental science expeditions!

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! It’s our 40th anniversary. See highlights of our achievements, attained thanks to Earthwatchers like you.

If undelivered please return to: Earthwatch Institute, Mayfield House, 256 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 7DE, UK


Earthwatch Newsletter Spring 2011