Thursday, October 15, 2009

Climate Warming and Palo Alto -> Miradi and the World

One day last month we were shocked to discover all the street trees on our quaint downtown street had been chopped down. Clearcut.

To be honest, most of us probably never took much notice of the 63 mature holly oaks. They were just part of the landscape. Until they were gone. Suddenly the world seemed a little harsher. No more trees. No more shade. No more leafy beauty. Our hot summer (and autumn!) days became a little hotter. Our local version of accelerated climate change.

Now, we’re not expecting the world to cry crocodile tears for us. The city made a mistake. But let’s put it in perspective. We live in one of the most comfortable cities in the country, if not the world. Rather, the incident demonstrated just how affected we are by something as simple as a chopped down tree (some citizens were so angry they threatened city officials). If a few dozen dead trees could cause so much grief, imagine living in a place where whole forests are being clearcut, coral reefs bleached, or entire species threatened.

We here in Palo Alto were able assess the damage (tree stumps), lobby our city officials, and we will know just how effective we are when new trees are planted. And you can bet they will be replanted!

Knowing whether one’s strategies to help the environmental actually work, is rarely so simple. That’s why we, in conjunction with the Conservation Measures Partnership, have developed Miradi, our groundbreaking software application for running biodiversity and conservation projects.

Miradi (Miradi 3.0 is now available for download) allows environmentalists to figure out which environmental strategies actually work. The program allows environmentalists to design conservation plans that bring together best practices in environmental management. And it’s specifically designed to be used by local people who of course, have local knowledge.

Dozens of environmental organizations in 100 countries currently use Miradi. Included in those is Rare, a terrific environmental group, which works with countries around the globe to “conserve imperiled species and ecosystems … by inspiring people to care about and protect nature.” Rare is working in Abaco Island in the Bahamas to protect critically threatened species like the Spiny Lobster, Eastern Steppe Mongolia to help save the Mongolian gazelle among other species; and Uthaithanee, Thailand to save the Indochinese tiger.

Miradi should help them achieve their goals. If only they were as simple as replanting street trees.

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