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The Waggle

Issue 71

Project Regeneration
Aerial shot of the nordic boreal forest, with colors from dark green to bright yellow.

Boreal forests span many countries, including Canada, China, Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States, and account for about 30% of the world's total forested area. 

Jarmo Piironen / Alamy Stock Photo

 Happy Arbor Day! • Courtney White

Celebrated in many nations around the world since its founding in the U.S. on April 26th, 1872, Arbor Day has traditionally been marked by planting trees. In recent years, the annual celebration has expanded to include praise for trees and forests for all their ecological and cultural benefits, as this reading list from NPR shows. The Overstory, a forest-focused novel by Richard Powers, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2019. As the climate crisis deepens, the role of trees and forests in slowing and reversing global warming has frequently become front-page news with a focus on tree-planting projects worldwide – some with mixed success. Recently, researchers have made a case that protecting forests and letting them grow – called proforestation – may be more important for mitigating climate change than planting new trees. Attention is also expanding from tropical forests, which often garner the lion’s share of public media, to temperate forests, which comprise 25% of all arboreal land on the planet. The creation of so-called tiny forests, often located in urban areas, is gaining popularity in many places. Whether providing shade, protecting watersheds, harboring biodiversity, sequestering atmospheric carbon, cycling nutrients in the soil, or simply providing a pleasant way to enjoy nature, trees are certainly worth celebrating every day of the year! See Afforestation Nexus, Proforestation Nexus, Tropical Forests Nexus, and Agroforestry Nexus for more information. 

 California's Renewable Milestone  Amy Boyer

Solar ranch in the Antelope Valley of Los Angeles County, California.
In mid-April, California got a lot of buzz for meeting 100% of its electricity needs through renewables, if only for short times, for 30 of 38 days. The trend continues in this low-demand, high-solar season; on April 25, it was 41 of 49 days, 12 days in a row, and over 6 hours of entirely renewable energy, according to Stanford professor Mark Z. Jacobson. Batteries are an essential part of the mix: California will soon replace a natural gas plant with an enormous battery storage plant online, and batteries supplied close to 10% of California's power during the eclipse on April 8. A couple of years ago, on May 8, 2022, California hit 100% renewable power for the first time, so this is real progress. However, the 6th largest economy in the world is far behind countries like Albania, Bhutan, Nepal, Paraguay, Iceland, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which had met nearly 100% of their total energy needs through renewables by then. In fact, renewables supply at least 50% of the energy mix in 47 countries, yet the US still needs to be added to that map. Let's just call that a growth opportunity. See Electrify Everything Nexus to learn more.

 Living Shorelines Gain Ground Juliana Birnbaum

Coastal regions experience climate change through rising sea levels and shifting wind and wave dynamics that trigger storm surges, flooding, erosion, and other ripple effects. Shoreline protection is becoming essential worldwide, yet the conventional response of “hardening” them by covering them in concrete is carbon-intensive and results in biodiversity loss. In contrast, living shorelines use plants, stone, sand, and other natural materials to protect, restore, and enhance habitat. This past week brought reports from a couple of U.S. regions embracing this approach, including New England, where materials including drift logs and salt-tolerant plants are being used, and Florida, where mangroves and oyster shells have been utilized. Building living shorelines can involve volunteer squads, such as this Chesapeake Bay effort, bringing the social benefits of uniting people to take climate action as a community. If you want to learn more, National Geographic developed this educational resource about living shorelines, and our Nexus database includes several related entries, including Mangroves, Tidal Salt Marshes, and Wetlands.

 Building Peace in Nature George Biesmans

Aerial view of snowy lake and forest at Aulanko nature park in Finland.
Aulanko Nature Park in Finland.
Robin Wall Kimmerer once said: “In a time of great polarity and division, the common ground we crave is, in fact, beneath our feet. The very land on which we stand is our foundation and can be a source of shared identity and common cause.” I’ve always taken these words to mean that remembering our interrelatedness with the rest of nature - with all life - can help us heal human relationships. Last week, in the snow-clad forests of Finland, I witnessed this idea playing itself out in a microcosm. Co-facilitating a peacebuilding expedition for outdoor educators from across Europe, I saw how rekindling our connection with nature can be a powerful medium for building trust, compassion, and, ultimately, peace between people and communities in conflict. How? Experiential Peacebuilding, a method developed by the Outward Bound Center for Peacebuilding, is an approach to cultivating relationships that blend experiential learning and peacebuilding theory, rooted in the transformative power of nature. Its logic is simple: that peaceful relations between human beings are only possible when we are in the “right relationship” with the more-than-human world (see Nature Connection Nexus). In other words, if we are to heal the divisions, wounds, and traumas that perpetuate violent conflict between us, we should begin in the realm of nature. If you’d like to know more about Experiential Peacebuilding, dive into this book on the practice and get in touch with me if you’d like to chat!

 Wild Gardens Save Butterflies • Scott Hannan

Many butterflies, including the Holly Blue (pictured), use flowering ivy as a breeding habitat or food source. 
A recent study in the UK has added strong evidence to our understanding of what it takes to recover and maintain butterfly populations across the world: let things go a little wild.  Butterfly populations– along with pollinators in general– have been decreasing due to climate change and human development. These species play a pivotal role in maintaining healthy agriculture and ecosystems. The rapid decline has been especially notable in the famed Monarch butterfly, whose population in North America shrunk by an estimated 22% last year and has declined by over 80% overall since the 1990s. Habitat destruction makes it difficult for migratory butterflies to find places to overwinter and locate food and breeding areas in the summer. The study concluded with a clear message: by gardening with butterfly-friendly plants, like New York City is doing in their “Year of the Butterfly,” or simply letting part of your yard grow wild to increase flowering and plant diversity, many small rewilding practices can add up to massive benefits for the butterfly. For more information, see our Nexus resources on Rewilding and Pollinators.

 Equitable Solar Power • Claire Inciong Krummenacher

In a landmark decision this week, the Biden administration announced that 60 organizations will receive a combined $7 billion in funding to bring residential solar to 900,000 households in low-income neighborhoods as part of its Solar for All program. State, municipal, tribal governments, and nonprofits are among the groups eligible to receive grants to support existing low-income solar and battery storage installations and establish new ones. The EPA estimates that the $7 billion will supply 4 gigawatts of solar installations, enabling over 900,000 households nationwide to benefit from distributed solar energy. This is expected to save over 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and create 200,000 jobs. In addition to covering the high initial solar panel installation costs, Solar for All should save low-income families as much as $400 in annual energy costs. On top of the economic and environmental benefits, the $500 million earmarked specifically for Indigenous communities will accelerate tribal energy sovereignty efforts. To learn more, see our Solar Nexus.

Take Action on Nexus
Find out how to create and join cooperative associations to support local communities, boost social and financial equity, provide jobs, and inspire regenerative values and policies in our Cooperatives Nexus

Photo Credits
1. Jarmo Piironen / Alamy Stock Photo
2. Timothy Swope / Alamy Stock Photo
3. Teemu Tretjakov / Alamy Stock Photo
4. Colin Varndell / Alamy Stock Photo

Support our work
We rely on the generous support of our fellow regenerators! Please consider making a one-time or recurring donation to keep Project Regeneration and The Waggle going. 

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