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"sandy matsumoto" Discussed on BrainStuff
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And now it's even seeping into a college. In California's Sacramento valley, farmers are temporarily leasing, flooded rice paddies to the nature conservancy, so the migratory shorebirds have a place to stop and feed while traveling the Pacific flyway, which is the major north south route that extends from Alaska to Patagonia. In the program, dubbed bird returns has been in development by the nature conservancy since 2014 and is helping conservationists deal with these short term needs of migrating birds. And because of urbanization, agriculture and climate change, the migrating birds have less access to wilderness to mate, feed, nest and rear their young. At the same time, the project gives farmers the opportunity to support conservation efforts. And maybe earn a little extra money without negatively impacting crop production. During February and March of 2014, the pilot season for the program, just 2% of Sacramento valleys, some 500,000 acres of rice fields. That's around 200,000 hectares, were turned into shallow water for shorebird habitat. Event season, the pop up wetlands supported more than a 180,000 birds, representing 57 different species. On average, the researchers found three times more bird diversity and 5 times greater density on rice paddies that participated in the program compared to unenrolled fields. Migrating animals like shorebirds are in jeopardy, as their ranges cover vast swathes of land. A study published in the journal science in 2015 reported that just 9% of over 1400 migratory bird species had access to protected areas for all the stages of their annual cycle. In California in particular, 90% of original wetland habitat has been lost to agriculture and urban development. Since the nature conservancy was founded in 1951, it's worked conserve habitat by working with landowners to purchase land or permanently limit the use of their land in order to maintain its wildness. Each agreement is worked out individually, a process that's expensive and can take months or years to develop. For the article this episode is based on, how stuff works spoke with Mark Reynolds, PhD, the lead scientist for the nature conservancies, California, migratory bird program. He explained that he and his colleagues, including sandy matsumoto, the team's project manager, and Eric holstein, the team's economist, thought that the demand for purchasing migrating bird habitat could bar exceed their resources. Quote, we were looking at our habitat needs and thinking, how do we buy our way to success? Sandy said, do we need to buy land for the whole year? It looks like the animals need it part of the time. Eric, with his background in economics, said we could do a reverse auction. I said a reverse what? A reverse auction overturns the conventional role of buyer and seller. Instead of buyers competing to outbid each other to obtain a good or service, a seller's compete to offer their goods or services to one buyer at a competitive price. And the sellers, in this case, are the owners of rice fields, which are typically farmed in California from April through August or May through October. During the growing seasons, the fields are normally flooded, but they're also flooded during the off seasons to decompose the rice double after harvest. A Reynolds and his colleagues saw an opportunity to work with the farmers to provide temporary wetland habitat for shorebirds passing through. So in early 2014, the nature conservancy issued an invitation to rice farmers to submit bids that itemized their costs to flood fields for four, 6 or 8 weeks at a time, beginning in February of that same year. The farmers set their own prices, and the nature conservancy was able to select the highest quality habitat for the lowest total cost. They repeated the process in the fall of 2014, and every year since then, a house stuff works also spoke with John Brennan, a partner at Brennan jewett and associates. A firm that manages rice sales for the Robin's rice company. He explained that the farmers are very receptive to this concept. Quote, to the extent that they can get their costs covered to do it, they're even more receptive because they see it as a, something that they're excited about and a way to make an environmental difference, and be something that really helps secure the longevity of the rice industry in California. To figure out where and when, shorebirds most needed wetland habitat for their migrations, Reynolds and his colleagues worked with experts at Cornell University's lab of ornithology, which collects information about birds through its citizen science project, E bird. And this online checklist allows bird enthusiasts across the country to tabulate the kinds of birds they see when they see them how many and where. Using data from E bird and grant money from NASA, the Cornell team built high powered computer models that predicted at weekly intervals, the presence and abundance of birds at different locations. From these models, Reynolds and his colleagues created maps to visualize and prioritize where and when habitat was needed most. But once they knew the locations, they requested bids from the local rice farmers. They adjust the program based on weather conditions during times of drought, the nature conservancy would pay more, and during times of excessive rain, it would pay less. When they extrapolated the potential costs for the project out, and they found the highest possible cost per year based on the average bid, was $1.4 million. But that's significantly higher than what the nature conservancy actually paid. Meanwhile, the estimated cost to restore rice fields to wetland habitats equal to that land area. Would cost around $25 million and maintenance fees would come in at about a $100,000 a year.