2016 has been condemned by some as the worst year in history due to the passing of icons, unexpected political results and tragic events. However for conservationists across the globe 2016 has marked a number of significant successes.
Many major developments have been announced this year, from species to seas to climate change and renewable energy, symbolising the potential of a progressive new chapter in the history of conservation.
Top conservation success stories:
- Wild tiger numbers increase for the first time in conservation history
- Nepal achieves two consecutive years of zero poaching for rhinos
- Scotland powers the entire country for a day on renewable energy
- Pandas are no longer classified as ‘endangered’
- All trade in the world’s most trafficked mammal, the pangolin, is now illegal
- Belize suspends the offshore oil exploration of its World Heritage site
- The world’s largest marine protected area in Antarctica is given the ‘go ahead’
- The UK ratifies the Paris climate deal
- The UK government pledges an additional £13 million to tackle the illegal wildlife trade
- Spanish World Heritage site Doñana is saved from destructive dredging
Without greater efforts we will face a global mass extinction of wildlife for the first time since the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago
Glyn Davies Acting CEO of WWF-UK, comments:
“The world faces a challenge in keeping its beautiful places and special species.
Global wildlife populations are likely to decline by 67% from 1970 levels by the end of this decade. Without greater efforts we will face a global mass extinction of wildlife for the first time since the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
“The good news is that we know we can make a difference. 2016 has celebrated many landmark successes which will bolster global efforts to protect the natural world. Some great victories have been won but there is still an uphill battle ahead.
“WWF looks to 2017 as a year where actions will need to speak louder than words. We need to see real progress in tackling illegal wildlife trade, climate change and habitat destruction and degradation.”
April: The number of wild tigers was revised to 3,890 and is the first time in tiger conservation history that global numbers have increased. This updated minimum figure, compiled from IUCN data and the latest national tiger surveys, indicates a greater number of individuals than the 2010 estimate of ‘as few as 3,200’.
May: While Africa struggles to stem record-breaking rhino poaching, Nepal marked two years since its last rhino was poached in 2014.This is the first time that Nepal has achieved two consecutive years of zero poaching, which has helped to increase its population of greater one-horned rhinos to 645, the highest recorded number in the country so far.
August: Scotland achieved a new milestone by producing enough renewable energy to power the country for one day. Turbines in Scotland provided 39,545 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity to the National Grid on Sunday while the country’s total power consumption for homes, business and industry was 37,202 MWh – meaning wind power generated 106% of Scotland’s electricity needs.
September: The IUCN announced that the giant panda would be downgraded from endangered to vulnerable as a result of a recent 17 per cent increase in population numbers. This positive step highlighted how a holistic approach integrating government and local communities can help save our planet’s vanishing biodiversity. The progression of panda populations from endangered to vulnerable not only strengthens the long term survival of China’s giant pandas but also signifies greater protection of their unique habitat.
September: During the world’s largest illegal wildlife trade meeting (CITES CoP17) ccountries untied to strengthen protection for the world’s most trafficked mammal, the pangolin. All legal trade of pangolins has now ended thanks to an international agreement to further protect the critically endangered species from extinction.
October: The longest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere received a reprieve from seismic surveying after officials in Belize agreed to suspend the seismic portion of offshore oil exploration. This great success for the World Heritage site was the result of a huge uproar from concerned citizens, national civil society groups and international conservation organisations and their supporters.
October: The world’s largest marine protected area in the Southern Ocean was agreed in a landmark deal which will come into force immediately. 24 countries including the UK – and the EU signed a highly anticipated agreement to protect 1.55 million km² of the Ross Sea in Southern Ocean. The protected area will curb damaging activities such as fishing to protect wildlife including Adelie and Emperor penguins in the remote Antarctic sea.
November: The UK ratified the world’s first comprehensive treaty on tackling climate change – the Paris Agreement. This commits countries to limiting global temperature rises to “well below” 2C over pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to keep increases to 1.5C.More than 100 countries had already ratified the deal making it the greatest global attempt to start tackling climate change to date.
November: During the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade, the UK government pledged an additional £13 million to tackle the illegal wildlife trade. Global wildlife populations have on average declined by 58 per cent since 1970, and the illegal wildlife trade is one of the biggest drivers behind this. The UK government took an international lead on the issue in stepping up action to stem the multi-billion dollar trade.
December: The Spanish government announced that it will ban the dredging of the Guadalquivir River following WWF’s global campaign to protect Doñana World Heritage Site in Spain. Doñana is at risk of becoming the first EU natural World Heritage Site to be placed on the in danger list. In a report to UNESCO, the country stated that a plan to deepen the Guadalquivir River in order to allow larger commercial ships will not be authorised. Doñana is one of Europe’s few outstanding wetlands, and the continent’s most important location for migratory birds. The thousands of birds that are flying from the UK to spend the winter in Doñana National Park will find the marshes almost empty of water this year. The site harbours over 4,000 types of plants and animals, including threatened birds and the world’s rarest feline species, the Iberian lynx.
Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?
Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?
Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.
Is Biofuel Green?
One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.
Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?
Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.
Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.
Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.
Benefits Of Biomass
The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.
Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.
7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees
As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.
After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:
One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.
While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.
Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies
Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.
The Ability To Work Remotely
It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.
Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.
Unlimited Time Off
This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.
A Full Pantry
Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.
Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!