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September 04 2012


Live and Let Live: Humans and Tigers

Coexistence is possible with the right safeguards, researchers report.

April 18 2012

Sponsored post

April 13 2012


TD Bank Group Launches TD Forests Conservation Initiative, Highlighting ‘Deep Roots’ in Environmental Sustainability

With severe drought conditions threatening US forests and agriculture for a second-year running, Canada’s TD Bank Group today announced TD Forests, a forest conservation program that in addition to unifying the bank’s longstanding forest conservation community programs “under one canopy,” also includes “a major conservation and education program to protect critical forest habitat across North America,” according to a company press release.

More than 90% of North Americans consider forests as natural areas in need of protection, TD noted in announcing the TD Forests initiative. “The approach we’re taking with TD Forests is very much part of our goal of embedding an environmental perspective into our business,” says Karen Clarke-Whistler, TD Bank Group’s chief environment officer. “TD Forests is built on the twin pillars of reduce and grow – reduce paper use and grow the area of protected forest habitat.”

Mutually supportive, the banking and financial services group’s forestry program dovetails with its commitment to reduce its paper usage by at least 20% by 2015. Through TD Forests, TD expects “to protect forested areas equivalent to the paper it uses.”

Conserving North American Forests

TD Forests is similarly part-and-parcel of the bank’s broader commitment to carbon-neutral and environmentally sustainable operations. TD in 2010 became the first carbon-neutral bank based in North America, according to the company.

Realizing this environmental sustainability milestone has entailed renovating its facilities. Such efforts have included opening “net zero energy retail outlets and introducing innovative green product options.” Similarly, TD intends to leverage the TD Forests program, addressing “customer demand for more paperless product offerings” that “will reduce business expenses and will benefit the environment.”

To realize the goals of TD Forests, the bank group’s partnered with then Nature Conservancy of Canada and its conservation partners to expand the protected forest habitat across TD’s North American operations in Canada and the eastern US at a rate equivalent to the paper it uses. That amounts to “roughly two football fields of forest each and every day,” the company explains.

Forging an Environmental Ethic in Response to Customer Demand

More than 70% of people identified air quality as the greatest benefit provided by forests and nearly 90% indicated concern about air quality and the loss of natural areas and wildlife habitat due to deforestation, TD noted.

“Forests are an iconic symbol of our North American story and essential to the health of our planet. The lungs of the earth, they play a vital role in cleaning the air and moderating temperatures, and they’re critical habitats for plants and wildlife,” commented John Lounds, president and CEO of the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

“Even a forest the size of a football field has a tremendous impact on the air we breathe and on moderating our climate. It can provide a day’s oxygen for more than 1,000 people and also absorb the carbon dioxide. That’s why forest conservation is so important.”

The TD Forests program will focus on three areas during its first five years:

  1. Business commitment – to radically reduce paper usage in products, services and business operations
  2. Community commitments – to greening urban environments, forest protection, biodiversity and education
  3. Volunteerism – dedicated to employee initiatives such as TD Tree Days, the bank’s flagship volunteer initiative

TD Forests is the latest major environmental initiative in the bank group’s more than 20 years and counting of fostering environmental conservation. Highlighting its ‘deep roots’ in environmental conservation, TD’s achieved the following:

  • Since 1990, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation (TD FEF) has supported more than 20,000 local environmental projects. Almost 80 per cent of the $3.6 million that TD FEF provided to organizations in 2011 went to fund educational, conservation, and biodiversity initiatives
  • TD Tree Days was introduced in 2010. During the first two years of the program TD volunteers planted more than 46,000 trees across Canada. In 2011, the program was expanded to the U.S. This year more than 40,000 trees will be planted in North America through the program
  • Since 2010, TD has provided nearly $1 million in matching grants to municipalities, Aboriginal communities and business improvement associations through TD Green Streets, a national program that supports innovative practices in urban forestry

“Our business commitment is to create value, provide great service to our customers and engage our employees. Our commitment to the environment is an integral part of that,” explained Mike Pedersen, group head of Wealth Management, Insurance and Corporate Shared Services, and the bank’s senior executive champion for the environment.

“Through initiatives like this one, we will enhance customer choice, while building on our employee and community commitments and benefiting the environment.”

April 10 2012


Nature Tourism Boosts Local Economies along with Environmental Conservation, “Green” Practices

Nature-based tourism is boosting local economies while also helping conserve the natural environment, according to University of Florida research. Studying nature tourism businesses in Costa Rica, Taylor Stein, report author and University of Florida associate professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, found that successful ones “usually invested in environmental protection and maintenance,” while “tour businesses of all sizes circulated money throughout local economies,” according to a UF news report.

Providing patrons an environmental ‘feel-good’ factor about their vacations is a key strategic element for Costa Rica’s larger, successful ecotourism businesses, but successful nature tourism businesses “walk the walk” as well as “talk the talk,” Stein found.

“It used to be that you didn’t see hotels bragging about the fact that they don’t wash the bath towels every day of your stay,” he was quoted as saying. “But now, it’s rare not to see these signs in most hotels. If that makes customers happier, the hotels will do it.”

Besides helping customers know and feel they’re supporting a healthier, more sustainable natural environment, successful nature tourism businesses in Costa Rica also go the extra yard when it comes to highlighting their businesses actual “green” practices and the value and importance they place on environmental conservation. “They provide environmental education to visitors, supported conservation initiatives, recycled waste and used environmentally friendly equipment,” the UF report notes.

Stein also found that successful nature and ecotourism businesses in Costa Rica are also intensely focused on local spending and business networking. In addition to employing local residents, they focus on purchasing supplies locally and use local lodging.

Florida Aims to Boost its Nature Tourism

Florida is aiming to boost nature tourism in the state. That prompted Stein, with the assistance of graduate student Lisa Seales, to study nature tourism businesses in Costa Rica, a longstanding top ecotourism destination. Nature tourism was the fastest growing sector of Florida’s tourism industry in the 1990s. There hasn’t been much in the way of definitive research on Florida’s nature tourism market segment since then, but Stein believes it can be again.

Counties across Florida are looking to attract tourists to their natural attractions, according to Stein. Brevard County is aiming to position itself as a top nature tourism destination, he noted. Located on the Atlantic coast, Brevard County is home to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Sebastian Inlet State Park and “several other notable attractions.” “That’s a pretty big deal for Florida,” Stein commented. “We’re not used to saying ‘come to our forests, come to our springs.’”

Stein himself is helping promote nature tourism in Florida. “His latest project focuses on ways to market the Florida National Scenic Trail, which covers 1,400 miles from the westernmost part of the Panhandle to the southern tip of peninsular Florida,” according to UF’s report.

*Photo credit: National Scenic Byways Program

January 27 2012


When Marine Mammals Become Food

Rising human consumption of marine mammals in tropical regions poses a threat to animals like the dugong, which is similar to a manatee, and the Atlantic humpback dolphin, researchers write.

December 28 2011


A Parade of Sharks, Dazzling Yet Diminished

Even though the author quickly spotted hammerhead sharks on a dive off Cocos Island, the species used to be far more plentiful. Conservationists mainly blame shark fishing, although some unusual climatic factors have sporadically reduced their presence.

December 27 2011


Could Chicken Be the New Monkey Someday?

Studies tease apart the intricacies of bush meat consumption in Central and West Africa, which may help guide conservation efforts in those regions.

December 22 2011


Trucking Trout to Their Native Streams

About 50 adult fish along the Clark Fork River in Idaho and Montana are captured and transferred each year at an annual cost of $250,000 to undo fragmentation linked to the construction of hydroelectric dams.

December 15 2011


Madagascar's Lemurs, Sacred No More

As traditional taboos break down, hunting emerges as a major threat to Madagascar's wildlife.

December 02 2011


Nurturing Wildlife in War-Torn Afghanistan

About 80 percent of Afghans depend on natural resources for survival, but war has degraded the country to the point of threatening those lifelines. By training locals to act as stewards of ecosystems, the Wildlife Conservation Society hopes to promote stability.

July 21 2011


A Comeback for Blue Iguanas

In a rare feat, the population, which is limited to Grand Cayman Island, rebounds after a captive-breeding conservation program.

July 07 2011


Wolves Lose Federal Protection in Wyoming

The interior secretary cuts a deal with the state's governor requiring Wyoming to maintain just 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside Yellowstone Park.

July 06 2011


Rhino Poaching Threatens Conservation Gains

A steep increase in demand for rhino horn in Asia linked to a belief in its medicinal or status value has resulted in the killings of 200 rhinoceroses in South Africa alone over the last six months.

July 05 2011


Bahamas Bans Shark Fishing

The country joins Honduras, the Maldives and the Micronesian nation of Palau in prioritizing dive tourism over the commercial potential of shark finning.

June 09 2011


Small Boat, Big Mission: An Arctic Whale Survey

An eight-member expedition sails toward Lancaster Sound, described as one of the most vulnerable yet biologically richest places in the Arctic Ocean.

May 03 2011


A Boon to Birds: Public Preserves

Wetlands conservation in particular is a saving grace for birds, a federal report says.

Putting a Price on Sharks

In Palau, the Maldives, the Bahamas and some other scuba-diving destinations, tourism operators have gotten across the message to governments that there are economically rational reasons to protect the fish.

March 28 2011


Doubts Raised on Gains in Indian Tiger Census

A leading tiger ecologist says the methodology for estimating tiger numbers was not publicly released and that he found "serious deficiencies" in the scientific paper published on the subject.

March 24 2011


March 22 2011


Aged Albatross Survives Tsunami

The tsunami led to tremendous losses of Laysan and black-footed albatross at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.
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