sculpture by David Hammons, donated by the Whitney Museum of American Art to Hudson River Park, which traces in steel the outlines of bygone Pier 52.

North of Little Island, Pier 57 — where Google is leasing new quarters — will soon open community spaces, a food court and its roof deck to the public (City Winery is already up and running there). Piers 76 and 97 are also getting makeovers.

agreed with opponents who challenged reports by authorities over whether the project would inhibit the mating habits of juvenile striped bass.

This time environmental agencies determined that Little Island would cause no harm to fish, and the strategy didn’t work.

requirements for wheelchair accessibility are a design opportunity not a burden. I climbed back up the hill to the crow’s nest, and there she still was.

Huddled against a sunny morning gale, the mother duck was tending her eggs.

The ducklings, I learned, just hatched this week. They’ve started paddling in the river.

Maps by Scott Reinhard. Produced by Alicia DeSantis, Jolie Ruben and Tala Safie.

View Source

Mozambique Mints a New National Park — and Surveys Its Riches

When you stand in the Chimanimani Mountains, it’s difficult to reconcile their present serenity with their beleaguered past. From the valleys below, enormous walls of gray stone rise above dense deciduous forests. Hidden among various crevices are ancient rock paintings, made in the late Stone Age by the San people, also known as Bushmen; they depict dancing men and women, and hunting parties chasing after elephants. There’s even a painting of a crocodile so enormous that it may forever deter you from the riverbank.

As you climb higher, toward Mount Binga, Mozambique’s highest peak, the forests flatten into expanses of montane grasslands. Wild, isolated, lost in time, it’s a place where rich local traditions live on, where people still talk about ancestral spirits and sacred rituals. A local guide there once told me about a sacred mountain, Nhamabombe, where rainmakers still go to make rain.

Gorongosa, Mozambique’s most famous national park, Chimanimani National Park marks the latest triumph in an environmental renaissance for a country where, just 30 years ago, armies were still funding wars with the blood of poached wildlife.

BIOFUND, a nonprofit dedicated to conservation, and Fauna & Flora International, an international wildlife conservation organization. The expeditions involved scientists from seven countries, including several from Mozambique.

As a doctoral student completing my field research in Gorongosa, I participated as the mammal expert on the annual biodiversity surveys. After finishing my Ph.D. in 2018, I shifted to a career in photojournalism. I went on my last two biodiversity surveys in 2018 and 2019 — first in Chimanimani’s buffer zone, then in the heart of Chimanimani — as the photographer.

These surveys are like biological treasure hunts. Scientists, each with a different specialty, are let loose in the landscape to unearth as many species as they can.

The mammalogists set camera traps for large mammals like antelope, live traps for small mammals like rodents, and mist nets for bats. The ornithologists arm themselves primarily with binoculars, their ears and an astonishing memory for bird songs. By day, the entomologists sweep their butterfly nets in the grassland and, by night, often stand at a light surrounded by clouds of insects, picking them out of their hair and waiting for something interesting to land.

The herpetologists, or reptile and amphibian specialists, shoot rubber bands to temporarily stun lizards, dive into knee-high water after agile frogs, and generally avoid being bitten by venomous snakes while far away from medical care.

By contrast, the botanists have a tranquil task: there’s something relaxing and almost elegant about strolling across the mountainside, inspecting beautiful flowers and pressing some in paper for posterity.

Biodiversity surveys are not for the faint of heart, and they cast more than a little doubt on the idea that scientists are all boring nerds in lab coats.

Through the years, I myself have been bitten by a tarantula, several bats, a mouse, countless insects and even a (nonvenomous) snake. Once, back in New Jersey after a survey, a doctor flushed my ears when I complained of muffled hearing. Out poured dozens of tiny, wax-entombed insects in various shapes and sizes. (The experts often wear plugs in their ears while standing at the insect light for this exact reason.)

There’s something about this change of pace that I’ve always found immensely appealing. In the cool Chimanimani mornings, the scientists who didn’t have to be up before dawn chasing their species would lounge, sipping instant coffee from plastic mugs and watching the clouds cast shadows onto the giant rock dome.

Featuring a diverse set of rare and endemic avian species, Chimanimani is a bird-watcher’s paradise. At Rio Nyahedzi, a camp some 4,000 feet above sea level, the survey’s ornithologists found the bokmakierie, a bird that was last seen in Mozambique in the 1970s. (Nyahedzi is close to Mount Binga, which lies directly on the border between Mozambique and Zimbabwe.)

As the park gets more attention, it will also attract hikers and rock climbers. Some of the park’s most beautiful waterfalls are 15 miles from the nearest road, and you can hike for days without seeing another human being. The park vibrates with solitude, adventure and discovery.

At the end of the two surveys, scientists in Chimanimani had found more than 1,400 species: 475 plants, 43 mammals, 260 birds, 67 amphibians and reptiles, and at least 582 species of insects. Some are new to science.

“It was amazingly productive as a rapid survey,” said Rob Harris, of Fauna & Flora International’s Mozambique program, emphasizing that the discoveries took place in a relatively short period of time.

The incredible diversity uncovered by the surveys is only a part of what’s known. As a whole, the Chimanimani Mountains are known to contain almost 1,000 plant species alone. Seventy-six plant and animal species are endemic to the Chimanimani Mountains, meaning they exist nowhere else on Earth.

Like all wild places, Chimanimani’s future is anything but certain. Endemic species are particularly threatened by climate change; because of their restricted range, they don’t have anywhere else to go as conditions become unsuitable. And human population growth will continue to jeopardize the fringes of the park. “The deforestation outside the park and in the buffer zone was alarming,” said Zak Pohlen, an ornithologist.

But as I reflect on these surveys and my time in Mozambique, I can’t help but feel full of hope. I am inspired every day by the passion of young Mozambican conservationists to safeguard their country’s disappearing wilderness. And most of all, I’m inspired by their optimism.

One of the goals of these surveys is to train young Mozambicans to take over leadership roles in conservation. Ana Gledis da Conceição, a Mozambican mammalogist, for example, spent several years assisting me in surveying mammals; by 2019, she was co-leading the mammal team with Mnqobi Mamba, a master’s student at the University of Eswatini.

Ms. da Conceição says she’s exactly where she’s supposed to be — a young scientist who fights for the conservation of biodiversity. “I want to invite young people like me to embrace this cause for the good of all of us,” she said.

“In spite of everything,” she added, “Mozambique has much to contribute to the future of conservation.”

View Source

The Making of a ‘European Yellowstone’

It was my first visit to Romania’s Southern Carpathian Mountains in 2018, and I was standing beside a derelict sheepfold high above the Dambovita Valley. To the east, the imposing limestone cliffs of Piatra Craiului, or Kings’ Rock, towered overhead. All around me was a panorama of deep valleys, soaring mountains and the ever-present forest.

Beneath a canopy of old-growth trees, an array of animals — wolves, European brown bears, boar, eagles, lynx — were thriving.

Here among the Fagaras Mountains, the highest reaches of the Southern Carpathians, and tucked away in an unlikely corner of the European Union, an immense conservation project was underway. The ultimate aim: the creation of a “European Yellowstone.”

Piatra Craiului National Park, would create a chain of parks and a wide-reaching wildlife reserve.

rewilding initiatives began to gain global momentum, Romania stood out to me as a remarkable example.

While many countries were working to replace what they had once lost, Romania, in many ways, was battling to preserve what it still had.

increasingly threatened.

Instead of simply photographing the landscape and wildlife, I began to embed myself with F.C.C. rangers as they conducted their daily operations: wildlife monitoring, the replanting of forests, patrolling to deter logging.

Since 2018, I’ve conducted around 10 trips to the region. I’ve spent days bundled up in the back of a ranger’s S.U.V., and clutching my large-format camera as we track wolf packs on snowmobiles.

Over time, I was able to establish a camaraderie with many of the rangers. Occasionally, on patrols with the wildlife monitoring teams, they would invite me to assist in their duties — including the collecting of fresh bear scat.

The chief wildlife ranger, Bogdan Sulica, once took me to the site of a bear attack on a small farm just outside the commune of Saticul de Sus. Despite my efforts to assist in ranger duties, he laughingly advised that I stand on a hill and stick to taking pictures.

After the fall of communism, the Romanian government began a restitution program for nationalized land, resulting in a new ownership structure for a significant portion of Romania’s forests. In the years that followed, logging companies bought many of the privately owned forests, leading to large-scale deforestation.

To further complicate matters, wildlife populations in the Fagaras Mountains have been subjected to severe levels of poaching and overhunting. To combat this, F.C.C. has founded its own hunting’s association and has purchased hunting rights for several large tracts, totaling around 160,000 acres. By purchasing the rights and foregoing hunting, they can effectively protect the animals within the tracts.

While there’s a broad consensus in Romania for preserving these areas, tensions have sometimes arisen among the surrounding communities. Some locals feel as though certain land was protected without their input, especially those with strong ties to hunting. Others have seen protected animals — bears, wolves, lynx — damage their property and prey on their livestock.

My documentation of F.C.C.’s work in Romania continues, having organized itself around the three primary facets of their initiative: wildlife monitoring, forest replanting and community outreach programs.

Creating a national park, I’ve learned, takes time. Progress is slow, and there will likely be many more unforeseen roadblocks standing between the foundation and the fully realized dream of a European Yellowstone. But, in time, through the combined efforts of F.C.C. and the people of Romania, a blueprint may emerge that others in the international community might follow.

View Source