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Not Your Netflix’s Ozark

Deep in the Missouri Ozarks is a man on a mission, which was seemingly impossible until the mid 2000’s. Steve Bost is a modern Indiana Jones who has spent countless hours searching for an extinct tree, the Ozark Chinquapin Tree.

Chinquapin seed pod
Credit: The Ozark Chinquapin Foundation

The mysterious Chinquapin tree was thought to have died out due to a blight in the mid 1900’s, but rumors swirled that if you were willing to take on the task of trekking the mountainous regions of the Ozarks you would possibly discover a few surviving trees.

Discover he did, as Bost took on the task of searching for, and rescuing, a once extinct species of trees. The naturalist, and President of the Ozark Chinquapin Foundation, has been able to grow at least 117 trees in a handful of plots that are generally unmapped for the curious wanderer. But it is not just resuscitating the species that Bost is concentrating on, but changing the game of forestry all together.

By using the genetics of the few trees that managed to survive the species wiping blight, Bost and his team have been able to crossbreed strains of three different chestnut trees in an effort to create one completely blight resistant strain. In a study the organization conducted in 2019 they were able to utilize the fungus which caused the original blight in order to test the resistance of a few samples. Results of the testing show that their years of hard work have managed to produce an almost blight resistant screening.

The historical natural range of the Ozark Chinquapin
Credit: The Ozark Chinquapin Foundation

Historically, the Ozark Chinquapin has nourished many of the wildlife lucky enough to come across the sweet chestnut. But it was not just the wildlife who benefited from this foliaged feeder. Native Americans indigenous to the Ozarks would grind the nut from the tree to create a flour for breads.

The genetics of the tree made it one of the most diverse strains of tree and when a blight moved down into the Ozarks it only took a decade to wipe most of the population.

While this may seem like just a tree, conservation efforts have brought this species back from the brink of extinction and have utilized science to crossbreed the genetics of the tree to create something truly remarkable. Mendel would surely be floored by Bost and his team’s aspirations to create the Superman of trees.

Learn more about about conservation of the Ozark Chinquapin Tree on The Ozark Chinquapin Foundation website.

How Ending Wildlife Trade Can Prevent Pandemics

Over the past 40 years, the most devastating pandemics have all come from animal origin but nobody seems to talk about reforming wildlife trade….until now.

Toby Prin via Pixabay

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Natural Resources Defense Council released an action plan detailing steps to end wildlife trade in the US. The plan includes four categories of actions that they believe should be implemented by Congress and federal agencies.

  • Lead a global crackdown on wildlife trade;
  • Strengthen U.S. conservation laws to fight wildlife trade;
  • Invest $10 billion in U.S. and global capacity to stop wildlife trade, while helping communities transition to alternative livelihoods; and
  • Resume the U.S. position as a global leader in international wildlife conservation.

A Global Problem

According to WAN, worldwide there are 224 Million live animals traded each year. The United States is a major contributor to this and can even be a hotspot for illegal animal trade. When ending wildlife trade is made a priority in the US, many other countries will follow suit.

Conservation organizations have always opposed wildlife trade because it is a major threat to biodiversity, but now its also a health threat.

Approximately one-quarter of human deaths worldwide are caused by infectious diseases. Of those, 60% are considered zoonotic — meaning they jump from other animals to people — and more than 70% originate with wildlife.

End Wildlife Trade Action Plan
Long-tailed pangolin (M. tetradactyla) by Brett Hartl / Center for Biological Diversity.

Hope For The Future

As a global community, we can prevent future pandemics such as HIV, SARS, and COVID-19, but we have to act. Ending wildlife trade could be the best way to keep the public and our wildlife safe. Take action by contacting Congress to express your support for the action plan! The Center for Biological Diversity provides an online tool to help you contact Congress.

Click here to learn how robotic sea-life can end animal captivity in aquariums.

Check for the latest news on conservation, charities, and more!

Arctics’ Largest Ozone Hole Closes

Scientists with the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) recently announced their observations of the Arctic Ozone layer via Twitter.

A record setting hole in the arctic ozone layer formed earlier this month according to The Independent. Holes in the ozone layer cause the suns harmful radiation to penetrate the earths’ atmosphere and can accelerate the process of global warming.

Peter Fischer / via Pixabay / Pixabay

Ozone layer holes around the arctic and antarctic are actually usual occurrences. When freezing temperatures are brought on by the changing seasons the ozone layer is more likely to be damaged by chlorofluorocarbons(CFCs). The recent record breaking arctic ozone hole was brought on by one unusually strong polar vortex earlier this month, according to CAMS.

“Although it looks like the polar vortex has not quite come to an end yet and will reform in the next few days, ozone values will not go back to the very low levels seen earlier in April”

CAMS Twitter

The positive news about the arctic ozone layer comes after years of environmental efforts and regulations from countries and organizations around the globe. The ban on CFCs years ago has allowed the ozone layer to slowly recover, much more still needs to be done.

Coco Parisienne / via Pixabay / Pixabay

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a highly reduced rate of human pollution to the environment but when CAMS was asked if lock-downs have contributed to the closure of the ozone hole , they said,

“This Arctic ozone hole actually has nothing to do with coronavirus-related lockdowns, but rather was caused by an unusually strong and long-lived polar vortex.”

CAMS via Independent

Hopefully the closing of this arctic ozone hole is a sign that the people of this planet are finally taking environmentalism seriously.

What are your ideas for reducing your carbon footprint? Comment below!

How Ending Wildlife Trade Can Prevent Pandemics

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Arctics’ Largest Ozone Hole Closes

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