Too Abundant to Disappear? Not Quite: The Lessons of the Passenger Pigeon

During the mid-19th century, the passenger pigeon was the most abundant bird species in North America, if not the world, with a population believed to number in the billions.

Traveling in formations that might be impossible to imagine today, the bird was ubiquitous across New England, the Midwest and parts of Canada, darkening the skies over major cities and sometimes halting human activity in its tracks with the roar of hundreds of millions of flapping wings, says author Joel Greenberg, author of the new book A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight to Extinction. In 1860, a British soldier in Ontario recorded a flock whose passage overhead lasted 14 hours.

“Forty years later, they were gone from the wild. Fourteen years after that they were…

Celebrating Women and the Environment: International Women’s Day at F&ES

Women make up over half of the world’s population and nearly 60 percent of the F&ES student body – yet, when it comes to women environmental leaders the numbers do not match up. When asked who is an inspirational environmental woman, who comes to mind? Rachel Carson, Wangari Maathai, Christiana Figueres, Barbara Boxer, Frances Beinecke… the obvious answers seem to dry up fast.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, the Yale Environmental Women, an F&ES student interest group, pushed people to think further about women who have influenced the environmental field – in science, academics, politics, art, and life. After some prodding (and snacks), we collectively came up with a list that spanned across the globe, across F&ES faculty, and back to ourselves.

Here are some of the…

CEID: A Hidden Gem

When I left Yale in May 2012, the first floor of Becton Engineering Center was home to the engineering library. Upon returning to Yale in fall 2013, an amazing new space had popped up in its place!

When you walk inside, you’ll find that Becton is now home to the Yale Center for Engineering Innovation and Design (CEID), a space for students and faculty to learn, create, and share. According to the CEID website, the CEID is a whole of many parts:

  • A Physical Space: The CEID gives students and faculty tools and resources for classes, design projects, and collaboration.
  • A Bustle of Activity: The CEID hosts engineering design courses, workshops, lectures, networking events, and exhibitions.
  • A Diverse Community: Students, both undergraduate and graduate
Do not Trash Those Candy Wrappers: F&ES Becomes TerraCycle Collection Site

This spring, the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) will become a TerraCycle collection site, joining thousands of other organizations around the world in diverting waste from landfills.

TerraCycle is an upcycling company that collects waste items otherwise destined for recycling bins and garbage cans and gives them a new life.

At F&ES, we will collect used candy wrappers and foil-lined energy and granola wrappers. The wrappers can be deposited in bins located in the kitchens of Kroon and Sage halls.

When TerraCycle was created in 2001 by a Princeton freshman named Tom Szaky, it utilized a “Bottle Brigade” to collect plastic bottles. Those bottles were subsequently used to store plant fertilizer that Szaky made from worm castings. The company has since grown to include…

F&ESers on the Ground: Sochi Style

Hello from Sochi! For the past 10 days, I’ve been in Russia working on an F&ES project with four other amazing graduate students, teammates, and friends. I’m here with Diana Madson, Taylor Rees, Bo Uuganbayar, and Tom Owens. You might remember this story from Bo’s blog post back in November, Winter is Coming to Westeros. For a quick recap, we all took a class together last semester, International Organizations & Conferences, and developed an amazing project idea to partner with Olympians to bring the climate change conversation to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Since September, the five of us have been working to do just that. We’ve been interviewing athletes, writing blog posts, connecting with mainstream media, and crafting a narrative to best deliver this story. From this…

Hotspots for People: A New Conservation Strategy

In 2009, Beth Tellman M.E.Sc. ’14 moved to El Salvador to study the food sovereignty of organic coffee farmers. But after devastating floods and mudslides killed hundreds of people, and left thousands more homeless, her area of focus shifted quickly. In addition to working closely on community disaster resilience, Tellman began exploring how improved land use and forest management can provide a critical ecosystem service in places like El Salvador.

In an article for SNAP magazine (Science for Nature and People), Tellman documents the increasingly dire threats faced by the Latin American country in the face of environmental degradation and climate change, and how investing in natural systems could provide vital social and ecological benefits.
Conservation needs to grapple with what climate change is and will do to…

Sterling Memorial Library, home to the stacks.

In the Fall of 2010 I began at the Yale School of Public Health and that following spring I applied and was accepted to Yale F&ES.

From the moment I was admitted I felt like family. I went up to Admitted Students Day in the spring to test the waters of the F&ES community. I was surprised by the openness and honesty of the current students and faculty, and I was astounded by the breadth of and depth of the other admitted students who would become my future classmates. Admitted students even got to stay for the T.G.I.F. (Thank God I’m A Forester), a long tradition of good beer and good friends, sometimes themed.

That summer I shipped…

REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is often discussed in terms of finance. That is, who is going to provide the financing, where is it going and how will it be spent? At today’s 20th annual Yale Chapter of the International Society of Tropical Foresters (ISTF) conference, Eva Garen of the Environmental Leadership and Training Institute moderated a panel of talented practitioners working on “REDD+-like” projects in Latin America.

Kate Horner of the Environmental Investigation Agency reminded the audience that in 2007 when the Bali Climate Change Conference moved REDD forward to REDD+, it was primarily viewed as a policy approach to forest conservation in contrast to the current focus on finance. Horner discussed Indigenous REDD, an initiative of the Peruvian indigenous organization…

The Yale team meets with Ileb Olkeriil, of the Koror State Government, to discuss conservation in Palau, law enforcement, and the Koror Rangers.  From left to right:  Rob Fetter, Mariah Gill, Maria Rojas, Ileb Olkeriil, Connie Vogelmann, and Tulik Beck, wife of Ambassador Stuart Beck and the team’s host in Palau.  Photo Credit:  Mariah Gill.

Over winter break, four members of FES’s International Organizations and Conferences class — Rob Fetter, Mariah Gill, Maria Rojas, and I — had the opportunity to visit Palau. We spent 10 days in country and met with many high-level officials and community members to discuss both Palau’s ocean policy and international ocean conservation. The trip was an overwhelming success. We spoke with 18 leaders, including Palau’s President and four members of the country’s 13-member Senate, and learned much about conservation in Palau, gaining valuable insight into how ocean conservation works at different levels of government. Palau may be a small country, but it is trying to do big things for the ocean.

I was repeatedly astounded by the conservation ethic of the people we met: Palau’s culture and economy both depend…