Azores mini expedition underway

This year everything is different. The coronavirus has stopped the world in its tracks and made citizen scientists participation on most of our expeditions impossible. However, we feel very strongly about the need for continued conservation efforts and supporting our local partners and staff despite, or indeed because of, the unprecedented and very difficult circumstances.

So we are empowering our local partners and scientists to run mini expeditions with local staff and helpers only. You can support our efforts and see what is planned in various project locations around the world on our coronavirus appeal page.

Our Azores whales and dolphin expedition will start with this and you can read the expedition diary here.

Maldives coral reef expedition (August)

Our boat operator has now suspended operations until further notice and most citizen scientists have deferred to Maldives 2021 (or some to other 2021 expeditions).  So our Maldives coral reef expedition has followed suit and joined the ranks of expeditions with no citizen science element in 2020 (see a previous post for details).

All citizen science elements are deferred to 2021. The 2020 dates for the expedition have come offline and the 2021 dates are now online. Plans for continuing the research work through a local mini expedition  are on our coronavirus appeal page. Please contribute to this if you can.

Experts say that rapid deforestation of Brazilian Amazon could bring next pandemic

  • Nearly 25,000 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Brazil, with 1,378 deaths as of April 15, though some experts say this is an underestimate. Those figures continue growing, even as President Jair Bolsonaro downplays the crisis, calling it “no worse than a mild flu,” and places the economy above public health.
  • Scientists warn that the next emergent pandemic could originate in the Brazilian Amazon if Bolsonaro’s policies continue to drive Amazon deforestation rates ever higher. Researchers have long known that new diseases typically arise at the nexus between forest and agribusiness, mining, and other human development.
  • One way deforestation leads to new disease emergence is through fire, like the Amazon blazes seen in 2019. In the aftermath of wildfires, altered habitat often offers less food, changing animal behavior, bringing foraging wildlife into contact with neighboring human communities, creating vectors for zoonotic bacteria, viruses and parasites.
  • Now, Bolsonaro is pushing to open indigenous lands and conservation units to mining and agribusiness — policies which greatly benefit land grabbers. Escalating deforestation, worsened by climate change, growing drought and fire, heighten the risk of the emergence of new diseases, along with epidemics of existing ones, such as malaria.

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Germany wolf expedition (July)

Our Germany wolf expedition has followed suit and joined the ranks of expeditions with no citizen science element in 2020 (see a previous post for details).

All citizen science elements are deferred to 2021. The 2020 dates for the expedition have come offline and the 2021 dates are now online. Plans for continuing the research work through a local mini expedition  are on our coronavirus appeal page. Please contribute to this if you can.

Tien Shan snow leopard expedition (June-August)

Our Tien Shan snow leopard expedition has now joined the ranks of expeditions with no citizen science element in 2020 (see a previous post for details).

All citizen science elements are deferred to 2021. The 2020 dates for the expedition have come offline and the 2021 dates are now online. Plans for continuing the research work through a local mini expedition  are on our coronavirus appeal page. Please contribute to this if you can.

Update on expeditions that have been deferred to 2021

Given the situation, the below will now run as expeditions with local partners and staff only in 2020, with all citizen science elements of the projects deferred to 2021. As such the 2020 dates for these expeditions have come offline and the 2021 dates are now online. Where possible, we will send updates, results and reports of local expeditions. You can also see local expedition plans (and contribute towards them) on our coronavirus appeal page.

The following expeditions will operate under this scheme (and other expeditions may join this scheme as the situation develops):

We do this, because we continue to feel very strongly about the need for continued conservation efforts and supporting our local partners and staff despite, or indeed because of, the unprecedented and very difficult circumstances. We hope you agree. If you do, please give to our coronavirus appeal to enable our local partners & staff to do just this.

Germany wolf expedition (July)

As you have probably read, Germany is doing well with combating the virus and is thinking of starting to ease restrictions. However, travel restrictions are likely to stay in place for a good while yet and hotels (such as our expedition base) and other service industry locations are unlikely to re-open soon.

At the same time, and following the pattern of expeditions before, the majority of expeditioners have already opted to defer to Germany 2021 (18 – 24 July | 25 – 31 July) or to other expeditions in 2021.

Local staff and wolf commissioners are planning as we speak to continue wolf monitoring efforts. Details about their plans (and a call for donations to enable this) are on our coronavirus appeal page. So, in line with other expeditions so far, and because we stongly believe that conservation efforst must continue despite the crisis, we will continue the project and collect data as much and whenever possible, but, regrettably, it is now highly unlikely that there will be a citizen science element to the project in 2020.

Climate crisis: in coronavirus lockdown, nature bounces back – but for how long?

Hopes that the pandemic will accelerate the transition to a cleaner world are already running into a political wall: the “shock doctrine” of disaster capitalism outlined by the author and activist Naomi Klein. In her book of the same name, the Canadian writer describes how a powerful global elite exploits national crises to push through unpopular and extreme measures on the environment and labour rights.

This is what is happening in the United States and elsewhere. Oil company executives have lobbied Donald Trump for a bailout. Under the cover of the crisis, the White House has rolled back fuel-economy standards for the car industry, the Environmental Protection Agency has stopped enforcing environmental laws, three states have criminalised fossil fuel protesters and construction has resumed on the KXL oil pipeline. The US government’s massive economic stimulus bill also included a $50bn bailout for aviation companies. Environmental groups are urging the UK and European Union not to do the same.

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