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Here’s where nature is, in fact, healing.

Vox: “About 100 miles west of Chicago, Illinois, a tallgrass prairie teems with life. Here in this 3,800-acre piece of land, you can walk among brightly colored fields of wildflowers, hear the song of cerulean warblers and the hoot of short-eared owls, and, if you’re lucky, glimpse rare box turtles. It wasn’t always this way. Over the past two centuries, the Prairie State lost all but about 0.01 percent of its original prairie. This particular region, now known as the Nachusa Grasslands, was covered in part by neat rows of corn and soy, and that left little habitat for monarch butterflies, bison, or any of the thousands of plants and animals that depend on prairie ecosystems. That started to change in the 1980s, when a crew of volunteers and scientists began reviving the land — planting seeds, carrying out controlled burns, and reintroducing native species. The ecosystem bounced back, and today, the Nachusa Grasslands are home to 180 species of native birds, more than 700 species of plants, and a small herd of bison. In an age of extinction and climate change, you don’t often hear this kind of success story. Yet the Nachusa Grasslands of the world can help people find hope that the Earth isn’t doomed. Last summer, Thomas Crowther, an ecologist at ETH Zurich, launched Restor, a mapping tool that shows where in the world people are doing this sort of restoring or conserving of ecosystems. Think of it as the “nature is healing” meme from the early pandemic, but serious. We should be angry about climate change and the destruction of ecosystems, Crowther told Vox. “But without optimism, that outrage goes nowhere,” he said. Examples of people restoring land give us all something to root for, and now there’s a spot to find a whole bunch of them — tens of thousands, actually. Restor joins a trove of new environmental initiatives that focus on ecological “wins.” Last summer, for example, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) — which oversees the official “red list” of threatened species — came up with a new set of standards to measure the recovery of species, like the California condor. Perhaps it’s a sign that people want to look beyond what we have to lose, especially when there’s so much to gain…”

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