Celebrate Earth Day!
18 Gorgeous Locations Worth Saving
Too Big to Fail
Why It Matters
Too big to fail
Mark Godfrey © 2010 The Nature Conservancy
© Tim Calver
© Bridget Besaw
Erika Nortemann/© 2010 The Nature Conservancy
© Ian Shive
© Cristina Rutter
Mark Godfrey © 2010 The Nature Conservancy
©Scott Warren
© Kent Mason
© Tim Calver
© Scott Warren
© Laura Zirino
© Ian Shive
© 2010 Andrew Kornylak
© Jeff Yonover
© Deni Yulian
© Rafael Araujo
© Anand Mishra/The Nature Conservancy
1/18Locations Worth Protecting
The Koeye River

The Koeye River flows through the Great Bear Rainforest on the remote central coast of mainland British Columbia about 30 nautical miles south of Bella Bella. The river, which flows through Heiltsuk traditional territory, empties into Fitz Hugh Sound. The Nature Conservancy has worked closely with the Heiltsuk people and partner conservation organizations to preserve this intact, temperate, coastal rain-forest watershed and the surrounding Great Bear Rainforest.

2/18Locations Worth Protecting
Key Largo, Fla.

Ken Nedimyer tends a crop of staghorn coral in the waters off Key Largo, Fla. When the former aquarium supplier noticed that tiny fragments of staghorn coral could sprout new growth, he hit upon a method for reviving bleached and dying reefs. Staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) was once one of the most abundant corals on Caribbean and Floridian reefs. Today, after severe losses due to coral bleaching and disease, it is listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The Conservancy is working with Nedimyer to grow this species in his underwater nursery to restore the coral to its former abundance.

3/18Locations Worth Protecting
Tilori, Haiti

As trees became scarcer in Haiti, villagers began crossing the border with the Dominican Republic to collect wood from the protected Sabana Clara Forest. The Conservancy worked with the Dominican Republic Ministry of Environment to develop an innovative agroforestry project in 2009 that began with villagers in Tilori, Haiti, planting fruit trees as a sustainable food and income source. In late 2011, in a joint effort with Solar Household Energy Inc., a second component was added: a pilot project in which 30 families in the Tilori area received a solar oven and an energy-efficient stove.

4/18Locations Worth Protecting
The Quito Water Fund

The Quito Water Fund protects watersheds supplying the capital of Ecuador’s 2 million people with 80 percent of their fresh water. The project , which began in 2000, receives monthly contributions from Quito’s water and electric companies to produce nearly $1 million each year in disbursements for conservation projects in the surrounding watersheds.

5/18Locations Worth Protecting
Red Rock Canyon State Park , California

The Mojave Desert scrublands of Red Rock Canyon State Park are just one of the four ecoregions that collide at Tehachapi, Calif. Over the past four years, a consortium of landowners and conservation groups has worked to protect a vital, 50-mile wildlife corridor through the Tehachapi range. Last year, when the Conservancy purchased the 15,000-acre Tollhouse Ranch, the deal secured the final link in a 270,000-acre ecological corridor that joins the vast ecosystems to the east, west, north and south.

6/18Locations Worth Protecting
Emiquon Preserve, Illinois

Stephen Francis, an intern with the Nature Conservancy’s Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) program, at the Conservancy's Emiquon Preserve in Illinois.

Emiquon is one of the largest floodplain restoration projects in the Midwest. It is the premier demonstration site for the Nature Conservancy’s work on the Illinois River and within the Upper Mississippi River system and ultimately will help guide large floodplain river restoration efforts around the world.

7/18Locations Worth Protecting
Rio Gallegos, Argentina

Grasslands don't just provide stunning landscapes, they're also essential to life on Earth. Grasslands harbor thousands of species of plants and animals all over the world, from North America and South America to Africa, Australia and Mongolia. And, like forests, grasslands capture and store carbon and can help combat climate change. Yet across the globe, grasslands are the most altered and least conserved habitats. The Conservancy works with ranchers, government officials, landowners and other organizations to protect and preserve the grasslands of Argentina.

8/18Locations Worth Protecting
Yunnan Province, China

The Mekong River flows through the rugged mountain landscape of Yunnan Province, China. The Mekong is the world's 11th-longest river, flowing from the Tibetan Plateau through Yunnan, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

9/18Locations Worth Protecting
Pendleton County, W.Va.

Springtime landscape at the Nature Conservancy's Panther Knob Preserve in Pendleton County, W.Va. The 2,469-acre preserve straddles a high-elevation plateau at the junction of North Fork Mountain and Ruleman Mountain and includes the 4,508-foot summit. The preserve stretches for more than four miles along the ridges. This preserve is used primarily for research and is open to the public only during Conservancy-sponsored field trips and volunteer work days.

10/18Locations Worth Protecting
Palmyra Atoll

About halfway between Hawaii and American Samoa lies Palmyra Atoll. Palmyra consists of a circular string of about 50 islets nestled among several lagoons and encircled by 15,000 acres of shallow turquoise reefs and deep blue submerged reefs. It is the northernmost atoll in the Line Islands in the equatorial Pacific.

Palmyra Atoll is one of the most spectacular marine wilderness areas on Earth. The Nature Conservancy bought Palmyra in 2000 from the Fullard-Leo family, who had previously turned down offers to have the atoll used as a nuclear waste site and a casino.

Today, Palmyra is a national marine monument, and the Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are partnering to protect it.

11/18Locations Worth Protecting
El Uno Ecological Reserve, Chihuahua, Mexico

Sunset over the Conservancy's El Uno Ecological Reserve in Chihuahua, Mexico. Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota donated 23 genetically pure bison to the reserve for grasslands-recovery projects in the Janos Valley.

12/18Locations Worth Protecting
Coyote Buttes, Arizona

Surrounded by thousands of acres of cool forest and meadows, the 245-acre preserve is home to uncommon wildflowers, old-growth ponderosa pine, a rare grove of Bebb willows, herds of elk and deer, porcupine, prairie dogs and more than 40 species of birds.

Hart Prairie Preserve was donated to the Nature Conservancy in 1994 by a local family, owners of the Homestead at Hart Prairie, when they discovered that their property held rare Bebb willow trees. Much of the work at the preserve focuses on the Bebb willow community, the largest known in the world.

13/18Locations Worth Protecting
Rock Islands of Palau

Aerial view of Jellyfish Lake in the Rock Islands of Palau. From this view, you can see how close the lake is to the nearby open ocean; however, its isolation is what has made this lake and its inhabitants such a major tourist draw. The coral reefs of Palau are part of a massive, interconnected system that ties together Micronesia and the Western Pacific. To protect these reefs, the Conservancy joined with other experts to develop Transforming Coral Reef Conservation. The Conservancy has worked with Palau’s community leaders and government agencies since 1992. In that time it has helped bridge the gap between traditional and modern approaches to conservation. The Conservancy helped establish the Palau Conservation Society.

14/18Locations Worth Protecting
Alabama Port, Ala.

Nature Conservancy staff members walk in rubber boots at the edge of the water at an oyster restoration site at Alabama Port, Ala. The 100-1000: Restore Coastal Alabama concept was born out of the success of a Conservancy project that restored nearly three miles of oyster reefs in Mobile Bay using three different techniques: bags of oyster shells, Reef Balls and ReefBLK. These same techniques are being used to build the 100 miles of oyster reef for the 100-1000 project.

15/18Locations Worth Protecting
Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea

Healthy hard-coral reef with anthias and coral groupers at the Killibob's Knob dive site in Papua New Guinea’s Kimbe Bay. The Coral Triangle contains 75 percent of all known coral species, shelters 40 percent of the world’s reef-fish species and provides for 126 million people.

16/18Locations Worth Protecting
Wakatobi National Park, Indonesia

Kayangan Peak, Wakatobi Island, Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. The Conservancy worked with the government and local communities to make Wakatobi the first marine national park to adopt a zoning system, which will help determine where fishing occurs and allow pockets of marine resources to replenish themselves over time.

17/18Locations Worth Protecting
Soy production in Paragominas, Brazil

Understanding that conversion to agriculture and cattle ranching is the greatest threat to the Amazon rain forest, the Conservancy works in strategic towns in the Brazilian Amazon, such as Paragominas, to implement strategies to control deforestation and promote the responsible production of soy and beef among farmers and ranchers.

18/18Locations Worth Protecting
Sand dunes in the Namib Desert

The Namib Desert is the second-largest desert in Africa. The Nature Conservancy and its partners, Save the Rhino Trust and Round River Conservation Studies, are helping the government of Namibia in its efforts to create a national park in the middle of the desert. The protected area would link the Etosha and Skeleton Coast national parks, thus creating a massive, 15-million-acre corridor for wildlife.

    Worth the trip?
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    1/1515 Celebrities Go Green
    Vincent Kartheiser

    “Mad Men” star Vincent Kartheiser was forced to find his inner green when his car was flooded a few years ago. “Waiting for insurance to kind of come through with the money, I took the bus and the train and I found that it enriched my life. It actually made my life better to slow down a little bit and walk through this city and interact with people that I usually just speed by on the freeway,” Kartheiser says. “If there is some way you can give up meat or give up your car on the weekends or something small like that, I think every little difference in our own lives makes a big difference when done by the masses.” (Gallery by Lisa Armstrong)

    2/1515 Celebrities Go Green
    Alicia Silverstone

    On her website, The Kind Life, Alicia Silverstone suggests buying used instead of new clothes. “When I shop, my first stop is always a second-hand store. In LA, I really like Wasteland and Crossroads Trading Company,” she writes. She also enjoys clothing swaps: “A great idea is to ask around and see if your friends are interested in getting together for a clothing swap party. The way it works is everyone brings all the clothes they no longer need — clothes they would have donated or given away. Set up all the clothes in your living room and start ‘shopping.’ Try things on, take pictures, have fun! You can draw numbers and take turns or just make it a free-for-all.”

    3/1515 Celebrities Go Green
    Jennifer Aniston

    Jennifer Aniston has fought for privacy in some areas of her life but will happily share her bathing habits, which she hopes will inspire others. “Some things are important for the world to know -- like how long I shower,” she says in “The Green Book.” “Seriously. I take a three-minute shower. I even brush/wash — brush my teeth while I shower. Here's why: I learned that every two minutes in the shower uses as much water as a person in Africa uses for everything in their life for a whole day — drinking, bathing, cooking and cleaning — everything! When you become aware of all the things you do, and the effect those things have, you want to make small changes.”

    4/1515 Celebrities Go Green
    Cate Blanchett

    Think a three minute shower is short? Well, Cate Blanchett has Aniston beat with her two-minute showers. She has even installed timers in her house to make sure she doesn’t go over the time limit. “I'm extremely concerned about climate change as a mother, because I want to ensure for my children a very safe and sustainable future," she says. Blanchett also reuses plastic bags: “It makes me furious when you’re in the line in the supermarket and people just put everything into [new] plastic bags. I very self-righteously pull my crumpled plastic bags out, you know. It’s such a joke amongst my friends, me and my plastic bags.”

    5/1515 Celebrities Go Green
    Rachel McAdams

    Quick, what’s the connection between font type and both being green and saving green? According to Rachel McAdams’ website, Greenissexy.org, switching to the font Century Gothic will save you $20 on ink cartridges a year. (More than 300 million ink cartridges are thrown away each year.) It’s not a whopping amount of money, but, as McAdams says, it’s the little things that count: “I look at the world through a green lens now, but you can’t make yourself crazy. That feeling of green guilt can be really inhibiting. It’s about a changing mindset, remembering to turn off the water when you are brushing your teeth.”

    6/1515 Celebrities Go Green
    Orlando Bloom

    “It might not be possible for everyone to live a completely green lifestyle, but we can do little things to help slow global warming,” Orlando Bloom says. “People could just help by unplugging their phone chargers and turning off the TV when they’re not watching it. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming; there are simple things we can do.”

    7/1515 Celebrities Go Green
    Cameron Diaz

    Everything you need to know about being green, you can find on the Internet, Cameron Diaz says. “If you can pull up like who’s having sex with who, you can definitely pull up how to save energy. It’s all on there,” she says. “It does just start with the basics. It starts with being aware of your consumption … there are a slew of products as far as recycling. I mean, toilet paper — recycled paper is a really great thing; everybody wipes their butt every day. And those are trees — I mean there are entire forests being cut down so we can wipe our butt! You know, just buy some toilet paper that has recycled content.”

    8/1515 Celebrities Go Green
    Leonardo DiCaprio

    Longtime environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio started a foundation in 1998 to foster awareness of global warming, alternative energy sources and other issues. He has also narrated environmental films: “Global Warning” in 2003, “Water Planet” in 2005 and “The 11th Hour,” a feature-length documentary about the human impact on our planet, in 2007. DiCaprio's advice: “Go to stopglobalwarming.org and send a message to Congress and our political leaders that we want to endorse new technologies, like solar and wind power, and we want to make the transition to the future. We don't want to be reliant on these ancient resources, coal and oil, anymore.”

    9/1515 Celebrities Go Green
    Ed Begley Jr.

    Ed Begley Jr. has been living green for years. He uses solar and wind power at home, grows his own food -- which he then cooks in his solar oven -- and rides his bike instead of driving. In his book, “Living Like Ed,” he suggests using natural products and clothing: “Manufacturing [synthetic] materials requires a lot of energy and resources, including problematic resources like petroleum, not to mention all the emissions from the manufacturing process. So there are real, measurable consequences for the environment, as well as for our bodies, when you choose what to wear and what to apply to your skin and hair.”

    10/1515 Celebrities Go Green
    Al Gore

    “Use programmable thermostats,” says former Vice President Al Gore. “Set them a little bit cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer when you’re not in the house. A difference of two degrees can reduce up to 9 percent of a home’s CO2 emissions over a year.”

    11/1515 Celebrities Go Green
    Jessica Alba

    “I always thought that being healthy or green or eco or whatever was an extreme lifestyle. I’m not a vegan, I don’t live off the grid, I don’t wear hemp every day. I don’t have time,” Jessica Alba told E! News at an event for her new book, “The Honest Life.” Instead, she recommends simple things, such as taking off your shoes before entering your home to avoid tracking dirt and toxins throughout your house.

    12/1515 Celebrities Go Green
    Adrian Grenier

    “Entourage” star Adrian Grenier is co-founder of SHFT, a multimedia sustainable-living platform, and says being green starts with being healthy. “You need to start with the environment of the body,” he says. “If you are not healthy and if you don't take care of yourself, you can't possibly do all you can do for the rest of the planet. For me, it's about having a clear mind, a healthy body, eating right, eating organic and recognizing that you are consuming for nutrition and not just because it's there or because it's fried.”

    13/1515 Celebrities Go Green
    Jennifer Love Hewitt

    With warmer weather on the way, be like Jennifer Love Hewitt and let it all hang out: “The great thing about LA is that we have so much sunshine,” she says. “I take advantage of that by hanging clothes outside rather than using the dryer.”

    14/1515 Celebrities Go Green
    Edward Norton

    Edward Norton wants us to think about sustainability not just at home but when we travel, too, by considering how tourism businesses affect natural resources and whether they help local communities. “To what degree is a tourism business representing a micro-economy where actual benefit is penetrating meaningfully into the local community, as opposed to a vortex where all the benefit is coming in through the business and then going out of the country?” he says.

    15/1515 Celebrities Go Green
    Gisele Bundchen

    Gisele Bundchen was named a United Nations environmental ambassador in 2009. "I grew up in a small town, and I had the opportunity to live surrounded by nature,” says Bundchen, who grew up near a Brazilian rain forest. “Mother Earth is our fundamental life-support system, and by becoming aware and responsible now, we can assist in preserving the planet.” On her blog, Bundchen suggests turning off your computer when you go on your lunch break and replacing incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent or LED bulbs.

    Keeping America beautiful
    This Earth Day, We Picnic for Earth!
    On and around Earth Day 2013 (April 22), people all around the world will be stepping outside and heading to their favorite outdoor spot to enjoy good food in the company of great people.
      Protect our planet
      Show your support. Tweet this hashtag along with our gallery of The most beautiful locations worth saving: http://on-msn.com/10RGt4t
      Worth the trip?
      Are you already planning your summer vacation? Have you considered any ecotourism trips? Share this article about ecotourism’s many shades of green and ask you friends what they think: http://on-msn.com/12GP7TG