Meet Youth Climate Champion Francisco Vera, Baltimore Community Restores Degraded Forest, How Many Trees Can Two People Plant, Anyway? A Mystery Bird Reappears After Disappearing for 172 years

by | Apr 1, 2021 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Meet youth activist climate champion, Franciso Vera, plus a Baltimore Community Restores Degraded Forest. How many trees can two people plant, anyway? And, a mystery bird reappears after being lost to science for 172 years.






 Meet 11-year old Francisco Vera from the small village of Villete, Colombia. Vera is a small boy for a sixth grader, but he packs a big punch. He formed Guardians for Life along with six friends from school about two years ago. They marched to the main park in his hometown, carrying cardboard signs and chanting slogans about climate change, under the supervision of his grandmother.

Two years later, Guardians for Life has at least 11 chapters and more than 200 members across Colombia. It planted hundreds of trees last year and petitioned Colombia’s government to ban single-use plastics. He even spoke before the country’s congress last year. Hence comparisons to Sweden’s Greta Thunberg.

Francisco’s voice certainly has power. He said his group of young activists will campaign against the introduction of oil fracking technology in Colombia and will also keep up pressure on politicians to ban single-use plastics. Last year, the group collected 24,000 signatures in an online petition for such a ban. This despite death threats against him on Twitter.

Twitter has since suspended that account. And while his actions have drawn the ire of bad actors, His mother, Ana Maria Manzanares, says, “I want him to be aware that he is doing something that is very valuable, and that it is possible for him and thousands of children around the world to change things.”

Francisco agrees. “Children need to have a voice, too, because people who are making choices today will be gone soon and we will have to deal with the consequences.”




A community in southwest Baltimore restores a degraded forest into a ‘peace park’. Stillmeadow Community Fellowship’s pastor Michael Martin worked to facilitate the conservation project in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, local school groups and environmental nonprofits.

Reported by Bay Journal, Martin proposed the construction of an outdoor classroom, community garden and woodsy amphitheater. Once obstructed with invasive species, the proposal would transform the ecosystem for local wildlife and surrounding neighborhoods to enjoy. In an interview with Bay Journal, Martin said, “I think it’s a model, in some ways, of how to make the most out of what you have.”

The project also inspired the community to learn more about how their local ecosystem and wildlife has been impacted by the effects of climate change. “This has really forced us to be educated,” Martin said. “Now, it’s about understanding what is happening with the Chesapeake Bay, how massive it is and how precious it is.”

DEEPER DIVE: Bay Journal, Stillmeadow Community Fellowship


In 1994, Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado returned from Rwanda after covering a traumatizing assignment reporting on that country’s genocide to his family’s estate in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, only to discover a genocide of a different kind. 95% of 1,500 acres in the valley where he grew up had been deforested. Over 300 species of animals, reptiles and birds had also disappeared. 

“The land was as sick as I was – everything was destroyed. Only about 0.5% of the land was covered in trees,”  he said.

That’s when his wife, Lélia Deluiz Wanick, floated the idea of reforesting the area themselves. It took them four years to raise enough money to start the project. In 1998, the couple founded the Instituto Terra, and began the arduous process. The massive planting project began in December 1999. 21 years later, the couple–and their friends–had planted 2.7 million trees! Among the benefits and positive effects that came from the 2.7 million tree reforestation project include:

  • Stopping soil erosion.
  • The 8 natural springs that the forest hosted have come back and are flowing are the rate of 20 liters (5.3 gals) per minute; even in times of drought, they flow.
  • 172 bird species have returned, of which 6 are already in the danger of becoming extinct.
  • 33 species of mammals have returned, with two of them being vulnerable and about to be extinct worldwide.
  • 293 species of plants have returned.
  • 15 species of reptiles have returned.
  • 15 species of amphibians have returned.

90% of the land is now reforested. Proof that two people—and their friends—can make a huge difference.

DEEPER DIVE: Instituto Terra , YouTube



 A few weeks ago, The Climate Daily reported on a snowy owl spotting in New York City’s Central park for the first time in 130 years. Following the unusual sighting in New York City, experts suggested the snowy owl’s migration south offers insight into changing environments.

Across the world in Indonesia’s Borneo National Forest, a mystery bird reappeared after being lost to science for 172 years. Reported by Mongobay, little is known about the black-browned babbler species as only one specimen of the species was collected back in the 1800s. Following the sighting, several experts published a report in BirdASIA, offering new details about the bird’s feathers, iris, bill, legs and other physical characteristics compared to the earlier specimen.

Given the lack of knowledge about the black-browned babbler, researchers are unsure about the species risk of extinction, but note local threats of poaching and habitat destruction could potentially devastate the population once again.