A Village in Borneo Restores its Rainforests

Author:

Category:

In an economy dominated by palm oil plantations, a Malaysian community combines ecotourism with rainforest replanting — and engages young people in ancestral knowledge.

Yielding machetes, Nurul Susanti Nasir and her teammates carefully remove grasses, vines, and bushes threatening to suffocate the tree saplings that the team planted last year on the banks of Kinabatangan, Malaysia's second longest river, in Sabah, Borneo. Despite temperatures around 93°F (34°C) and 80 percent humidity, the team moves quickly through the tropical undergrowth. Susanti, thirty-two years old, leads the nine of them, including members of her extended family, for eight-hour days to ensure the survival of a new rainforest along the shores of the mighty Malaysian river. “We use machetes, as we can be more precise in what plants we cut, making sure we don't hurt the young trees,” Susanti explains. “I feel sad that I have to kill the grasses and vines that grow freely, but sometimes it's absolutely necessary to ensure the survival of the saplings.”

No more than six decades ago, Kinabatangan — one of the most biodiverse areas of Malaysia — was dense with rainforest. Then came logging, followed by the region’s transformation into rubber and later oil palm plantations.

Sabah produces approximately 6.6 percent of the world’s palm oil, and the vastness of its oil palm estates dwarfs the remaining fragmented pockets of rainforest. (Curious how to avoid palm oil in your food products? Read more here.) From 2002 to 2022, Sabah lost close to a million acres of humid primary forest (undisturbed forest), or eleven percent of the total area of humid primary forest in Sabah, according to data from deforestation tracker Global Forest Watch. Decades of deforestation and forest fragmentation have led to declining populations of endangered wildlife, with the Lower Kinabatangan area losing nearly a third of its orangutan population over fifteen years beginning in the early 2000s.

The 5.6-hectare plot that Susanti and her team are working to restore is situated in a pocket of rainforest near their home village of Batu Puteh. After being selectively logged, it was abandoned and colonized by rattan vines. This site is along the banks of the river, but low enough that it spends much of the rainy season under water.

Susanti and her team feel an emotional attachment to the trees, and, when I spoke to them in early 2023, they were worried about that year’s rainy season lasting longer than usual. After all, in 2022, they put a lot of hard work into clearing the plot of the six-and-a-half- to ten-foot tall undergrowth and planting 5,524 trees in the cleared area.

Our journalism has been and always will be free.

For as little as $5 per month, you can help us continue to deliver stories that shine light on a better world. Contribute Now.

Batu Puteh consists of four villages inhabited by some 2,000 people. In this township in northeastern Sabah, surrounded by palm oil plantations and small pockets of protected rainforest, Indigenous-led reforestation teams have been planting native tree species since 1999. After wildfires in 1998 devastated local forests, the people of Batu Puteh committed to rainforest restoration in order to secure their livelihoods, preserve endangered species, and regenerate the carbon-absorbing trees.

The reforestation initiative is run by KOPEL, a community-based cooperative established in 1995 as a tourism venture by the villagers of Batu Puteh Township. Tourists are invited to stay in traditional village homes and see the region’s diverse fauna and flora up close during guided hikes and riverboat trips. The area boasts a multitude of critically endangered species: orangutans, Sunda pangolins, and helmeted hornbills, along with other threatened species like the Bornean pygmy elephant and sun bear, live in wildlife sanctuaries nestled along the river, fragmented by the palm plantations. Eco-tourism offers one of the few income sources for local communities, apart from growing oil palms, and these two revenue streams are struggling to coexist.

Seeing rainforest restoration as a sustainable way to ensure income through ecotourism, the locals of Batu Puteh made sure their reforestation program — initially started with a 65,000 ringgit (about $15,000 USD) grant from the Discovery Channel — continued to regrow patches of rainforest. Since 1999, local teams have nurtured approximately 375 hectares (927 acres) of forest — an area slightly larger than New York's Central Park. “Our main activity is tourism, and our product is conservation,” says Saidal bin Udin, KOPEL’s CEO, who has worked with the reforestation program since its founding.

The group carefully chose their planting plots so as to make corridors connecting various protected forests, or fill in empty patches created by fires or logging. By doing this, they aim to ensure the mobility of wildlife populations, creating more ecosystem diversity and healthier forests.

Over the years, the locals have refined their planting techniques to mimic the natural development of the forest. “The trees that we plant are fast-growing pioneer trees to create the foundation of the forest,” Saidal explains. “If they have good conditions, if they don't die, in around three to five years they can create the canopy already.” Hoping that wildlife will move in once the tree canopy closes, villagers who collect seeds from the rainforest floor near their village make sure to include species that produce fruit the native animals eat. 

It takes roughly three to six months for the saplings to grow to at least one foot tall, at which point they are transferred to previously prepared areas of the degraded rainforest. Ensuring their growth into a healthy forest requires consistent tree care and maintenance. With periodic removal of undergrowth for the following two years, these trees will eventually restart the natural process of rainforest growth, with species diversity increasing over time. Nonetheless, it will take centuries to achieve the levels of biodiversity and carbon sequestration of old-growth forests.

Tourists fund rainforest restoration, research, and learning

KOPEL’s reforestation arm has received intermittent financial support from NGOs and the Malaysian government, but most of its budget comes from the cooperative’s ecotourism business.

The cooperative welcomed approximately 5,000 tourists in 2023, 70 percent of whom were foreign students from schools and universities around the world — students on school trips and university students completing practical modules of their studies. The tourists, explains 25-year-old Nur Syazana Fatinah Binti Mohamad Juhari, KOPEL’s conservation manager, “get to know how the restoration project works in the field, how to collect the seeds, and take care of baby trees at our tree nursery.” 

Through a collaboration between KOPEL and the nearby field research and training facility of Cardiff University’s Danau Girang Field Centre, local conservation teams gain access to updated scientific information about the ecosystems in their area, which they use to improve their reforestation efforts. “The [students] have technologies, methodology, they teach us protocols, procedures, things that we do very basically,” Saidal explained. “When we plant the trees, we do it with our best local knowledge and then we still don't understand why sometimes the mortality is so high. We learned about the composition of the soil, the hydrology content … it helps.”

Through Regrow Borneo, a reforestation and carbon mitigation project launched in 2019 in cooperation with the Danau Girang Field Centre and the Sabah Wildlife Department, KOPEL is planting and maintaining an additional twelve hectares of rainforest in the area. Amaziasizamoria Jumail, a senior researcher at the field center, says they have been researching wildlife movements and restoration ecology in Batu Puteh, drawing on KOPEL’s two decades of reforestation experience. “We collaborate with KOPEL because they have the skills,” she says. “It’s a good combination because they do the planting, and we do the research, the carbon sequestration, the biodiversity monitoring.”

Healthy forests sequester the most carbon

Measuring carbon sequestration is a complex task, yet crucial in assessing the efficacy of efforts against climate change. Carbon gets stored in living and dead matter both above and below ground, with researchers monitoring vegetation within their research plots as it increases in mass.

Jumail, for instance, gauges the size of the trees and puts baskets around their trunks to measure biannually the amount of leaves and dead wood fallen to the ground. Additionally, researchers take soil samples and send them to Cardiff University, where they are analyzed to measure underground carbon sequestration.

Tristram Hales, the director of Cardiff University’s Sustainable Places Research Institute, conducts carbon sequestration research using the samples and data from the Regrow Borneo plots. A thriving, mature hectare of Borneo rainforest stores between 600 and 1,200 tons of carbon dioxide. On average 4.4 tons of carbon is stored per annum in a hectare of regrowing tropical forest, according to a 2020 report on Regrow Borneo’s achievements — approximately the equivalent of the carbon emitted per passenger in two long-haul (six- to twelve-hour) return flights per year.

“Terrestrial and marine ecosystems cannot, in the long term, account for the amount of new greenhouse gas production from coal and oil burning. Hence any solution to the climate crises must involve reducing emissions in tandem with reforestation,” Hales explained. Nevertheless, reforestation remains an important component in our ability to combat climate change. “Diverse forest ecosystems have been shown to support greater carbon sequestration than agriculture and monoculture forests. Restoring ‘natural' forest ecosystems (in places that have historically supported forests) provides an effective tool for sequestering carbon. However forest ecosystems recover slowly, over hundreds to thousands of years; hence protection of forests once planted remains a priority”, he concluded.

KOPEL's reforestation program primarily seeks to restore wildlife habitats, but carbon sequestration is recognized as a secondary benefit. Hales underscores the importance of collaborating with local communities, emphasizing their intimate knowledge of the forests and species. “Ultimately they are people that live in those forests, and they know the species better than we do — they know what kind of forest they want to live in. It’s a little bit about wildlife, it’s a little bit about carbon, but ultimately, it’s all about creating healthy forests — places that are good for animals and people and carbon.”

What you can do: 

  • Make sure there is transparency about the planted species and tree survival rate before donating to tree planting programs. Be wary of vague information.
  • Choose to travel to communities that run their own reforestation programs, supporting them financially.
  • Avoid products with palm oil. Bluedot’s Dear Dot tells you how. 

Read more dispatches from around our pale blue dot:

A brewery in Louisiana created The Watch Dawg pale ale to salute the Alliance for Affordable Energy, an organization looking out for consumers. Read the story

Faced with a nationwide plastic problem, one small hotel one a side street in the city of Siem Reap sets an example. Read the story

Bengaluru’s water crisis bellows a warning for other cities in the world, while offering solutions to fight climate change and build a sustainable water future. Read the story

In an economy dominated by palm oil plantations, a Malaysian community combines ecotourism with rainforest replanting — and engages young people in ancestral knowledge. Read the story

The cows are fueling clean energy on the dairy farm at northern California's Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company. Read the story.

A team of social entrepreneurs in Southern Iowa aims to build a regional food system for the future — through technology, community, and connectivity. Read the story

Rainforest Expeditions originated to fund scientific research. It simultaneously helps strengthen Indigenous culture, enrich communities, and preserve the environment — all while offering visitors a meaningful experience. Read the story.

An activist’s ecotourism program engages Gambian locals in protecting their environment — while boosting their livelihoods. Read the story.

Preserving genetic samples from a wide variety of alligators and crocs helps thwart their potential extinction. Read the story

A garden in Burien, Washington, brings together a neighborhood and a school for at-risk students to address the community's needs. Read the story.

There are an estimated 100,000 sacred forests in India, offering rich biodiversity, spiritual value, and economic opportunities. Read the story

Ancient woodlands have been in steady decline in the UK’s capital, London, for centuries. One community is rallying to rescue theirs. Read the story.

The critically endangered Popa langur gets help from a group of local youths. Read the story

New York City is encouraging its lower-income residents to shop at farmers markets. And they’re giving them the Health Bucks to do so. Read the story

These night fliers are masters at pest control (and drawing tourists). Invite them to your yard with a bat-friendly garden. Read the story

A warming climate and creative greenhouse has allowed a Nova Scotia farmer to grow crops not normally associated with Canadian temperatures. Read the story.

When turbine blades reach the end of their life, an Ohio company turns them into functional public art. Read the story

Protecting the pachyderms (as well as the humans and crops) takes teams of brave, determined volunteers. Read the story

The National Tree Seed Centre houses a collection that now represents 273 of Canada’s 720 tree and shrub species. Read the story.

When their beloved river was threatened by plans for a dam, residents of a small town in Bosnia and Herzegovina fought back to save the Neretvica River. Read the story.

A non-orthodox biologist fights for the protection of ecosystems in Guatemala by inviting local communities to participate. Read the story

In the foothills of Boulder, Colorado, mushrooms are making it into mainstream forest management to help mitigate the spread of mega-fires. Read the story.

This Newfoundlander is determined to save marine life by removing trash from the ocean floor. Read the story

LNG terminals have not only harmed aquatic ecosystems and dramatically reduced available fish, they’ve stolen people’s livelihoods. Read the story.

Solar dryers help Indian farmers increase their incomes and reduce food waste. Read the story

A women-run cooperative in India uses ancient methods to produce luxurious, ethical silk. Read the story.

A special sales tax provides crucial funding for cleaning up a Florida lagoon to restore eelgrass, the manatees’ favorite food. Read the story.

New Orleans nonprofit groups are getting creative to reduce trash and waste at the iconic Mardi Gras festival. Read the story.

Reap the sweet benefits when you check into this forest-themed hotel, where you share the space with trees and bees. Read the story.

Siyam World, a Maldivian resort, protects an island’s ecosystem by taking care of its not-so-feral cats. Read the story.

New solar mini-grids now power a small rural Indian village — and have eliminated the incidence of deadly snake bites. Read the story

In India, a farming startup aims to provide affordable greenhouses-in-a-box to more than a million small farmers. Read the story.

A protected North Atlantic reserve teeming with wildlife offers conservation lessons that may benefit us all. Read the story

Promoting local tourism and environmental conservation, Travel with Mervis is one of the only woman-owned travel businesses in Malawi. Read the story.

Walking tours move tourists out of the country’s busy cities to connect with local nature and culture. Read the story

A new kind of arable farming is creating jobs, addressing food insecurity, and combating climate change in Wales. Read the story.

An Australian wildlife organization dedicates its efforts to preserving endangered Tasmanian devils. Recently, they’re celebrating an important milestone — the birth of the group’s 500th joey. Read the story.

A company in India changes scrap into useful items, and changes some minds in the process. Read the story

While Scotland is well known for its whiskey, it’s also home to threatened and elusive wildcats. Can a distillery help save the cats? Read the story.

Blue-green infrastructure in Bergen, Norway is helping Europe’s rainiest city prepare for increasing flood risks. Read the story.

With populations of tilapia and perch declining from overfishing, Ugandans have turned to previously neglected, small-sized fish for micronutrients. The result is healthier bodies and a healthier economy. Read the story.

As India deals with deadly extreme heat, urban planners try to turn down the temperature with architecture and design. Read the story.

In the absence of government action, two Nigerians created a game to encourage others to tackle environmental issues. Read the story.

This vulnerable Canadian island is proactively readying for climate impacts — and the lessons it’s learning are benefiting other coastal locales. Read the story.

In Tanzania, a high school student creates nitrogen-rich fertilizer using discarded clippings from his school’s hair salon. Read the story.

At first skeptical, farmers have embraced agroforestry — planting trees on farms — to boost crop production and local biodiversity. Read the story. 

In 1997, a storm sent five million pieces of Lego into the ocean. A U.K. beachcomber helped build a citizen science project that aims to track those pieces and tell a story about plastic pollution. Read the story.

Walking the streets of her town and picking up plastic trash gives Lungile Beuta the materials she needs to create bags, backpacks, and more. Read the story.

Abdou Touré carried his childhood lessons from Boy Scouts into a life dedicated to inspiring environmental action in Dakar, Senegal. Read the story.

Ben Moore’s The Ugly Co. takes the fruit nobody wants — and makes it delicious. Read the story.

Restoring a tree canopy in India’s Assam State has reunited families of Hoolock gibbons after a 132-year separation. Read the story.

At Toronto Metropolitan University's Free Store, cast-offs find new homes with students – and nothing costs a thing. Read the story.

New Orleans is well-known for its music and food. Gregory Swafford aims to make it just as famous for its cleanliness, and he and his community are leading the way. Read the story. 

In Western India, a nonprofit hires locals to spin yarn from plastic waste. Read the story.

Thaely is turning India’s plastic waste into a sneaker that’s green from heel to toe. Read the story. 

New York City’s Rockaway residents are focused on restoring native species along the shoreline to protect dunes and thwart erosion. Read the story.

Taiwan’s specialty coffee doesn’t (yet) have the stellar global reputation of the country’s award-winning baristas. But coffee growers focused on sustainability aim to change that. Read the story.

Under the guidance of one man, India’s women are restoring their villages and protecting their children’s futures, one river at a time. Read the story.

Sanitation and potable water are a challenge in Makoko, Lagos, one of the country’s largest slums. But two young women have invented a water filtration system that aims to change that. Read the story

In Kenya, a collaboration between government and nonprofits has revitalized farmland and created new prosperity. Read the story

In Africa, climate change is testing centuries of accumulated and evolved indigenous knowledge. The methods, so far, are holding up. Read the story.

In Bali, banana leaves and bamboo serve as truly natural compostable packaging. Read the story

An Indigenous botanist educates children about the environment, combining traditional practices with contemporary science. Read the story.

An ecomural made from hundreds of thousands of discarded bottlecaps is the product of many hands and symbolizes change in Mixco, Guatemala. Read the story.

The city government of Asheville, North Carolina, is inviting the community to create important pollinator habitats. Read the story.

Remote villagers in India saved their forest from destruction — and forged an emotional bond to ensure its long-term survival. Read the story.

A volunteer group has attracted supporters and beautified Saratoga Springs streets. Read the story.

The invasive hyacinth — the scourge of Africa’s Lake Victoria — offers an affordable way to feed livestock and provide local employment. Read the story.

Law clinics are empowering rural communities through climate education and projects specific to local challenges. Read the story.

In Utah's Colorado Plateau, butterfly counts bring together scientists and volunteers to collect data and educate those who participate. Read the story.

On Cape Cod, the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy's Gills Club inspires the next generation of female shark and ocean advocates. Read the story.

The owners of San Francisco’s Shuggie’s Trash Pie restaurant fight food waste deliciously. Read the story.

When the seas became overfished by commercial fishermen, the government created the Lagos Seafood Festival — inviting seafood lovers to indulge and everyone to learn more about sustainable aquaculture. Read the story.

On the island of Lombok in Indonesia, scuba diving volunteers are on a mission to protect the coral reefs. Read the story.

While farmers in Zimbabwe typically rely on chemicals, an inventor is thinking of the bees. Read the story.

Izzo Mwangi was appalled to find plastic bottles in the Maasai Mara National Reserve — so he constructed a tourist camp using them. Read the story.

In India, cultivating millets can protect farmers from losing crops to climate catastrophes. Read the story.

Gardeners and seed savers like Shirley Bellows rise to the challenge of safeguarding heirloom seeds before they are extinct. Read the story.

These new firefighters wear wooly jackets year-round. Read the story.

Climate change and disease have decimated the Keys’ coral reefs. But a lab has pioneered a process to accelerate their regrowth … and prioritize climate-resilient corals. Read the story.

The new Community Supported Fishery (CSF) program on Martha's Vineyard provides direct-to-consumer access to the freshest seafood available.Read the story.

An Iowa farmer traces his path from dreamer to do-er on a farm where nothing goes to waste. Read the story.

Part of the Paris resilience strategy adopted in 2017, Les Cours Oasis (“Oasis Courtyards”) is a project that funds schoolyard renovations. Read the story.

The Lights Out Philly initiative is helping to protect birds from glass collisions during the fall and spring migration seasons. Read the story.

As climate changes impact their soils, the coffee and rice farmers of the Karen Hill tribe are learning to adapt. Read the story.

In the US alone, at least 18 species of firefly — there are an estimated 173 species in the US and Canada — now face extinction. Read the story.

In 2019, the Riverside Park Conservancy decided to try a new approach to its Woodland Restoration Initiative by bringing in goats to help tame invasives. Read the story.

 

Can Masdeu began as a leper colony, a place for those rejected by society. It became a community for those determined to change the world. Read the story.

When sea urchins moved in, the kelp forests died. The solution? Evict the sea urchins. Read the story.

Quiet Parks International (QPI) has certified Mt. Tabor Park as the first urban quiet park in the United States. Read the story.

As sustainability infiltrates professional sports, one event is taking the lead: the Ocean Race. Read the story.

In Kingston, data from the past five years suggests that the student bus pass program has led more young people to become regular transit users after they leave high school. Read the story.

A program in Burlington, Vermont trains volunteers to maintain wild spaces. Read the story.

A lake stewardship program enlists those who love their lake to participate in its protection. Read the story.

Citizen keepers have sprung into action to help rare marsh grasshoppers — by inviting them into their homes. Read the story.

Tom Brown has personally tracked down more than 1,000 forgotten varieties of apples. Read the story.

Scenes from a misty morning bird banding demonstration led by the Audubon Society’s Pomfret Center in northeastern Connecticut. Read the story.

Volunteers protect all that makes Mitlenatch Island special — the breeding birds, the unusual fauna, and the sea stars. Read the story.

Black soldier flies help reduce food waste and then become a key ingredient in Insekt, a new Canadian skincare line. Read the story.

An unorthodox but effective non-lethal strategy keeps coyotes at bay — even those hungry for the farm’s sheep. Read the story.

They look like ordinary gardens but can be a powerful tool in flood-prone regions by absorbing stormwater and recharging the groundwater system. Read the story.

Not long ago, catching a glimpse of a bald eagle was a rare thrill. While it’s still thrilling, we can celebrate that it’s increasingly common. Read the story.

A job training program gives unemployed or underemployed people the opportunity to tackle environmental issues. Read the story

Can Cross-Fostering Save This Once-Technically-Extinct Species? Read the story.

Alligator hunter Miriam Boucher (don’t worry, she’s just studying them) is living her dream in the swamps of South Carolina. Read the story.

A three-word slogan — Keep Tahoe Blue — has become the rallying cry of the League to Save Lake Tahoe and offers a blueprint for others around the world. Read the story.

On Kauai, it takes a village to ensure the protection of a beloved seabird. Read the story.

On a whim, this suburban homeowner ripped out her lawn. After a year of watching the transformation and welcoming pollinators, her regret has given way to reverence. Read the story.

Ecuador’s Seymour Airport, constructed of recycled materials and running on solar and wind energy, offers not just a place for planes to land and take off but a home for birds, lizards, and plants. Read the story.

In conversation with Bluedot reporter Victoria Thomas, the filmmakers behind a stunning documentary discuss the species they honed in on, and defend the sometimes extreme conservationists fighting to protect them. Read story here.

A team of scientists in Busan, South Korea is discovering ways to turn wastewater (perhaps even our urine!) into fuel. Read story here.

This converted factory is home to a wealth of vintage and antique goods.“Sundays are show time,” says John Hiden, the owner of Mongers Market, a treasure trove for vintage and antique shopping in Bridgeport, CT. Hiden sounds determined and full of enthusiasm this morning, like the ringmaster of a circus — and Monger’s Market is not unlike a circus brimming with curious objects and characters. Read story here.

A unique collaboration between First Nations and various partners restores a stream for salmon.

Standing knee-deep in cold, clear water, resource management technician Mike Wald is counting spawning sockeye salmon in a stream officially known as Cheewaht S-2 (Stream 2). One of three streams that feed remote Cheewaht Lake in Vancouver Island’s Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, S-2 is home to an ancient salmon run used by a genetically unique sockeye that since time immemorial has been both vital and sacred to the local Ditidaht people. Read the story.

Los Angeles, CAI pick up a struggling bee with no hesitation, knowing full well that it can sting me, but likely won’t. If it’s living out its last days, it’ll be happier on my flowering basil. The basil, which grows alongside the peppers, lettuce, and other members of my little garden family growing outside the door of my Los Angeles apartment, feeds me — not just when I want a salad, but also when I can no longer take this life of rushing, panicking, and worrying about an unsure future. Read the story.

A protected old growth forest protects us all. Read the story.

Even before the Mashpi lodge was constructed, staff biologists were creating a conservation strategy — and discovering unheard-of species. Read the story.

The co-founder of a Portuguese upcycling company creates fashion from broken umbrellas. Read story here.

It was 2004, and Nikki Buxton and her partner had just begun work on the home they planned to build near a citrus orchard in a lush rainforest in Belize. A boy walked up carrying a big white bucket. Read the story.

Make Food Not Waste Executive Director Danielle Tod enlisted an international certification program to push Michigan toward its carbon neutral goals — one restaurant at a time. Read the story.

When a new polluter came to Sharon Lavigne’s already industry-heavy community of color, she rallied her neighbors, fought back, and won. Read the story.

At a September exhibition in Paris at a private home, artist Morgane Porcheron showed me a faded Converse shoe spilling with seashells, rubble, and seaweed. This small work of art pulled me into a scene of forgotten belongings sloshing in the waves. I asked Porcheron what inspired this piece, and she launched into how she came up with the idea while strolling down the beach in Normandy. She accidentally knocked over a wooden board, causing the debris resting on it to spill into her old shoes. This piece was a tribute, Porcheron said, to what is rejected by the sea. Read the story.

Behind a house in sunny San Diego sits a 70 square-foot shed. If passersby were to take notice, they’d likely assume it stores the usual things that go into a shed: tools, lawn equipment, cardboard boxes filled with items that are simultaneously unimportant and irreplaceable. No one would suspect that those four little walls contain a solar-powered coffee roastery for keeping local residents happily caffeinated. Read the story.

Newtown Creek’s dirty history and restoration inspires art. Read the story.

A couple opens their Arizona-based net-zero home to guest speakers, vegan potluck, and conversation to help others discover the abundance of a plant-based diet. Read the story.

Food waste thrown out with general waste has plummeted to less than three percent. How did South Korea become a world leader in managing food waste? Donghyuk Jang, a resident of Goyang city in South Korea’s capital area, takes a bag of food waste twice every week to the apartment block garbage bin. This is no ordinary trash can, however. When Jang scans his residential card, the lid opens. He dumps the bag’s contents into the bin, and pushes the ‘close’ button. A friendly voice says, “You have thrown out 2,350 grams. 148 won [11 US cents] has been deducted.” Read the story.

Most of us don’t consider disposable menstrual products, such as pads and tampons, when we think about plastic pollution. But in Europe alone, an estimated 590,000 tons of menstrual waste is generated annually. And a culture of shame around menstruation is, in part, responsible for the dramatic increase in disposable, plastic-based menstrual products. Plastic tampon applicators were introduced because early 20th-century doctors and society were squeamish about girls and women having to come into contact with their menstrual blood during insertion. Read the story.

Despite seeing it everywhere and using it on a daily basis, most of us give little thought to signage. These details on the landscape of our lives — the signs that glow above storefronts, or guide us to our train platform, or let us know we’re at the door of Conference Room II — have such ubiquitous influence that we notice them as markers of a destination rather than standalone objects. Read the story.

Downtown Pittsburgh, often called the Golden Triangle, borders the confluence of three major rivers: the Ohio River from the west, the Allegheny River from the northeast, and the Monongahela River from the southeast. Read the story.

“What he’s doing there is called wallowing,” says Craig Thoms, one arm slung over the steering wheel of his truck as we watch a bison roll around on the ground, hooves flailing, dust rising in small clouds. Read the story

It’s 5 a.m. and the sun is rising over thousands of sea turtles on the beach at Playa Ostional in Costa Rica. Read the story.

When we heard about Playa Viva’s turtle sanctuary and learned that we could participate in the collection and transfer of turtle eggs, we hardly believed that anything could safely emerge from those waves. Read the story.

Costume-reared chicks are key to establishing a self-sufficient non-migratory flock of the endangered species. Read the story.

An agrovoltaic test facility in Longmont, Colorado gives a family farm a prized microclimate and the financing to grow. Read the story. 

The Repair Café and Thing Library deliver the tools a local community needs to fix our throwaway culture. Read the story.

The Ridges Sanctuary began as one botanist’s initiative to protect orchids. Nearly a century later, the land trust remains one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the entire Midwest. Read the story.

A group of righteous neighbors in a New York suburb is on a mission to protect a historic forest. Read the story.

Millions of pounds of textiles from across Southwestern Ontario are being recycled in innovative ways. Read the story.

Raíz de Fondo in Baja California Sur’s capital city of La Paz is planting gardens, one mind at a  time. Read the story.

New edible spray gives Canadian cucumber producers the chance to ditch plastic wrap. Read the story.

These weaponized 3D-printed fake tortoises spray out noxious methyl anthranilate when pecked. Read the story.

Two Canadians help bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities together. Read the story. 

The collection in Forks, Washington, showcases forty years of beachcombing finds, from beautiful glass floats to parts of a jet engine. Read the Story. 

Can recreation replace the state's traditionally coal-powered economy? Read the story.

The South Portland, Maine retailer is part of the ‘refill revolution’ around the country. Read the story

A former oil drilling site, Banning Ranch is nearing transformation into a nature preserve. Read the story.

Kemp’s ridley sea turtles return to the ocean after being cold-stranded and undergoing specialized rehabilitation. Read the story.

As the Western United States and other arid climates around the world face increased wildfire activity, many civilians are forced to flee. Wildland firefighters run toward the flames. Read the story.

A new facility in Santa Barbara hopes to divert over 85% of the county’s organic waste. Is there still a place for community composting programs? Read the story.

How university students re-imagined parking spaces in the heart of downtown Toronto. Read the story.

What you didn’t know about ladybugs, butterflies, bees and hummingbirds, and how you can be a good global citizen by planting for them. Read the story.

The iconic park celebrates its 150th birthday this year with plans to protect it for another 150 years. Read the story.

An ambitious (and replicable) program in Vermont turns surplus food into delicious meals for the hungry, ensuring that nothing goes to waste. Read the story

Once considered unswimmable, the Willamette has found new life as a popular swimming and kayaking destination. Read the story.

 

Latest Stories

Alexandra Radu
Alexandra Radu
Alexandra Radu is a documentary photographer and journalist focused on social, environmental and cultural issues in SE Asia and Europe. Her images and articles have been published with The New York Times, Al Jazeera, Associated Press, Reuters, among others.
Read More

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here