From wetlands restoration to conservation dogs and the decline of fossil fuels, these tales set the stage for the year ahead.

fisher leaving crate with crowd watching

Writing about the environment these days can be tough. There’s more bad news than good. Climate-fueled disasters, new extinctions, science denial — we’ve covered some topics this year that will make your heart sink.

But there’s a lot of encouraging news, too. As we look back at 2021, we want to revisit the stories that gave us hope, introduced new solutions, and highlighted the people hard at work on some of the most challenging issues of our day.

Here are a dozen stories to fuel your fire for the year ahead:

A Nose for Science: Conservation Dogs May Help in Search for Endangered Franklin’s Bumblebee — Rescue dogs become sleuths for conservation.

How Wildlife Rescuers Can Protect Public Health — What happens when you combine machine learning, computer science, epidemiology and wildlife health? Something pretty amazing.

The Divestment Movement’s Big Month — The economic war on fossil fuels is gaining strength.

Fisher Rewilding: How Washington State Is Restoring a Native Carnivore — An emerging population of fishers has been years in the making.

Stormwater Could Become an Important Water Source — If We Stopped Ignoring It — It’s not sexy, but the benefits are plenty.

New Clues to Help Monarch Conservation Efforts — Planting milkweed helps these vanishing butterflies. But there’s more to it than that.

Are We Managing Invasive Species Wrong? — Researchers made a surprising discovery in a California lagoon.

The Race to Build Solar Power in the Desert — and Protect Rare Plants and Animals — More solar with less environmental harm.

Our Last, Best Chance to Save Atlantic Salmon — It’s dam removal or bust for Atlantic salmon.

Could Property Law Help Achieve ‘Rights of Nature’ for Wild Animals? — It’s not as wild an idea as you might think.

Do Species Awareness Days Work? — Spoiler alert: They do. But there are specific ways to make them more effective.

Scientists Find New Way to Reduce Marine ‘Dead Zones’ — How much benefit we get from wetlands really depends on where restoration efforts take place.

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Tara Lohan

is deputy editor of The Revelator and has worked for more than a decade as a digital editor and environmental journalist focused on the intersections of energy, water and climate. Her work has been published by The Nation, American Prospect, High Country News, Grist, Pacific Standard and others. She is the editor of two books on the global water crisis.

John R. Platt  

is the editor of The Revelator. An award-winning environmental journalist, his work has appeared in Scientific American, Audubon, Motherboard, and numerous other magazines and publications. His “Extinction Countdown” column has run continuously since 2004 and has covered news and science related to more than 1,000 endangered species. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the National Association of Science Writers. John lives on the outskirts of Portland, Ore., where he finds himself surrounded by animals and cartoonists.