So here’s one of the back stories of the first three days of our International Boreal Conservation Science Panel media tour. The renowned Stuart Pimm came up from Duke University on Monday to Washington DC while Jeremy Kerr came down from the University of Ottawa. It was pretty amazing that either of them came because both were still jet-lagged from recent conservation and research trips across the globe. But both of them saw the opportunity to highlight the global significance and uniqueness of the Boreal as so critical that they endured the exhaustion to be there with us. Dr. Pimm took his commitment a step further when sometime during the wee hours of Monday night or early Tuesday morning, the bathroom ceiling completely collapsed in his hotel room from an upstairs water leak. Some of us would have said “enough” but not the intrepid Dr. Pimm who crawled back into bed and slept soundly. Then on Tuesday after a day of exhausting back-to-back interviews Dr. Pimm flew back to Duke, taught two classes and then, if you can believe it, woke up at 5 AM on Wednesday to meet us in New York City for more interviews.
Our first meeting in New York was at the grand old New York Times with Cornelia Dean, one of the top writers of that star-studded group. We marveled at the state-of-the-art energy saving elevators and some of our group even got to see the famous “news room.” Cornelia was a gracious host who asked many incisive questions in our hour-long discussion around a big table in the Times cafeteria. From there we moved closer to Rockefeller Center to the tall gleaming silver Time Life Building for our meeting with Bryan Walsh of Time Magazine. Bryan was just back from trip to Madagascar where he had met with a group that Dr. Pimm was working with to try to protect the remnants of the rare that still exist in that amazing country. Our discussion of the opportunity to protect the largely still-intact Boreal and the reasons why science indicates it should be protected offered some radically different good news for conservationists.
This past weekend just before we were to leave for this trip we heard the eye-popping news that the Premier of Quebec, who is in the midst of a re-election campaign, had pledged to protect 50% of the northern part of that province if he is re-elected.
That would mean new permanent protection of well over 100 MILLION ACRES of the Boreal! That’s like protecting five times the state of Maine.
We ended our day with a visit at Audubon magazine with a wonderful roundtable discussion with the exceptionally keen folks there who had some great questions and further insights. By the time we left we were, unfortunately, trying to get to airports during the height of rush hour. Dina, Lisa, and I watched taxi after taxi pass us by. At one point a sharky limo driver offered to take us to the airport for $100 but we resisted his sales pitch until a yellow cab agreed to take us over. Bumper to bumper traffic meant that the 20 mile ride to JFK airport took an hour and half but we passed through security with ease. Toronto was to be our final stop on the tour but just as we were about to step on to the plane the announcement came that the flight was delayed because of unexpectedly heavy snow in Toronto. Let’s hope we can get there to meet Terry Root and Pascal Badeau as we kick off the International Boreal Conservation Panel in Canada.