The Current Magazine Spring 2015 - Page 20

Human alteration of Earth’s natural systems has been so pervasive that we are now in a new era, the Anthropocene, in which human actions have become the main driver of global environmental change.

As the global human footprint expands, the area available to wild species is shrinking. With roughly 38% of the non-ice terrestrial surface of the planet dedicated to crop and pasture lands, agriculture is the dominant human land use. Accordingly, agriculture is a major driver of terrestrial habitat loss, degradation of aquatic ecosystems, and greenhouse gas emissions. Habitat loss, in turn, is the root cause of the current global extinction crisis where the earth is losing species faster than anytime in the last 65 million years. Some scientists predict extinction of 30-50% of the species on the planet in the next 50 years. Increasing the benefit to native species provided by working agricultural lands, therefore, represents one of conservation’s biggest challenges and greatest opportunities.

CalTrout’s “Nigiri Project” is demonstrating how this type of ecological reconciliation on farmlands can be accomplished. The project (named for a form of sushi with a slice of fish atop a wedge of rice) is a collaborative effort between farmers and researchers to help restore salmon populations by reintroducing young salmon onto winter-flooded rice fields.

Nigiri Project

Cultivating Ecological Solutions on Agricultural Land

PROJECT UPDATES

By JACOB KATZ

Central California Director

Jacob Katz has a Ph.D in ecology from UCD Center for Watershed Sciences and joined CalTrout in 2012.