Eco Ideas: Profitable Preserves, Foraging Maps, and More

Our favorite eco picks from the web this week.

Preservation for Profit

New research shows that marine conservation areas provide more than wildlife habitat, beauty, and excellent snorkeling opportunities, reports National Geographic. The scientific paper, called “A General Business Model for Marine Reserves,” found that the preserves also serve up economic benefits in the form of healthier fisheries, increased tourism, and well-maintained ecosystem services (think free water filtering services).

There’s even evidence that the increase in cash flow replaces the cost of creating the reserve in as little as five years. That kind of profit turnaround may well entice private companies to maintain marine reserves for profit. 

An ecologic and economic boon packaged in a postcard-perfect maritime wonderland? We can live with that. Daydream about future sea stock options while perusing images of our nation’s marine-protected areas from the natural photography experts at NG.

Local Foraging

Want to whip up a crisp salad or flaky fruit pie to celebrate the return of spring’s glossy sunshine? Before heading down to the store, check out “Falling Fruit,” a new online map recently discussed on NPR. This incredible resource pinpoints over half a million locations of edible plantings in cities and towns around the world along with the locales’ approximate yields and appropriate harvest seasons.

The project was dreamed up by urban foodies and gatherers Caleb Philips and Ethan Welty, who created the map with help from municipal databases and a network of foraging groups.

Louisiana Lovebirds

While international horror has ebbed, Gulf Coast residents are still stuck in the aftermath of the BP oil spill, some more literally than others. The organization MATTER INC. is working to keep their plight on our collective radar. Based in New Orleans, with the tagline of “Design for Social Change,” Matter Inc. has a roster of creative products meant to raise awareness—and funds. 

The newest addition is the Lovebird. The black, bird-shaped soap is crafted from natural ingredients, such as biodiesel glycerin, by a third-generation New Orleans soap maker. When the outer layer of soap is washed away, it reveals a clean, ceramic seabird keepsake handmade from Louisiana Clay. The inner bird sculpture is adorned with two red fingerprints forming a heart. Just in time for Mother’s Day. A fill 50 percent of sales support gulf cleanup and the care of affected animals. 



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Clark Tate


Clark is a freelance writer, environmental science professional, traveler, and (moderate) outdoor adventurer. Her writing focuses on environmental issues and natural history, travel, outdoor adventure, and quality of life. She writes articles for online magazines and education sites; scientific and technical papers, website content, and grants for environmental non-profits; and news reports for newspapers and websites. In her— More about this author →