Juvenile Humpback whale found beached in the Amazon

It was just like something from a novel. When the vast carcass of a juvenile Humpback whale was found washed up inland in a remote mangrove swamp, fifty feet from the vast mouth of the Amazon river, it was a complete mystery.

It's strange that a humpback whale was on the north coast of Brazil during February in the first place, an extremely unusual occurrence. Between August and November,humpback whales are found along Brazil’s Bahia coast, where they mate before migrating north. By February, they should be a very long way away in Antarctica.

Tragedy for a 12 month old humped back whale calf

The creature's body, which was discovered thanks to the circling carrion-eating vultures circling above it, measures a whopping 26 feet long and weighs ten tons. It was found in dense undergrowth a short distance from the shore in the forest on the fringes of the north Brazilian state of Para, discovered by workers from the country's department of health, sanitation and environment. Conservation staff from the Bicho d'Agua Institute, who were also at the site, think the whale was a twelve month old calf that was separated from its mum by a storm before being washed inland by huge tides.

Was the body driven inland by high tides?

There's another theory. At this time of year the tide usually rises almost 13 feet, flooding the mangrove forest twice every 24 hours and driving massive amounts of man-made rubbish inland. Some experts think the already-dead and dramatically inflated carcass, full of the gases you get when a body decomposes, actually floated its way into the mangrove forest.

Is plastic pollution or climate change involved?

The animal wasn't visibly wounded, and now experts are testing tissue samples to see if they can find out more about how it died. Sadly there might be plastic involved, with one theory suggesting the whale suffocated after inhaling massive amounts of waste plastic while looking for food near the beach. Another theory says climate change is causing confusion amongst whales, sending them to areas of the world they wouldn't usually find themselves in, at odd times of year.

The whale's remains will be left in the forest, being too difficult to move, but the skeleton itself will be carefully removed and sent to a natural history museum in the nearby city of Belem.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - March 10, 2019 at 7:32 am

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How Environmentally Sustainable Practices Benefit the Construction Industry

Becoming an eco-friendly company that focuses on sustainability could have a beneficial impact on your bottom-line in the coming years. In addition to reducing your overhead costs, transitioning to environmentally sustainable practices could also attract new clientele. Those are just a few of the reasons why so many constructions companies are now going green. 

Save Costs on Materials 

If you are only purchasing new materials, then you could be missing out on some excellent construction options. Despite the stigma against used materials, recycled and repurposed materials are typically just as strong, and sometimes stronger, than their newer forms. An example of that would be using recycled lumber instead of new lumber for your framing. Recycled lumber is much more affordable, and some studies have shown that it is actually stronger as well. If you’re often working with newly mixed concrete, you might also want to consider using recycled concrete aggregate with fly ash. Branching out to repurposed materials shows your company’s dedication to ethical building practices as well as helping your own construction costs.

Form Cooperative and Valuable Industry Allies 

Many of the other construction companies in your vicinity are probably trying to go green as well, and they could have some supplies that you are in need of. Instead of sending those materials to the landfill, you should try to work out a loose partnership with other local businesses. Those types of relationships could be invaluable to the future of your company, and everyone is going to benefit from exchanging used materials. Too often are businesses forced to compete against one another, knocking down the competition to climb back up themselves. By collaborating with others in the industry, being economically sustainable can become even more affordable and also show your clients that you are willing to cooperate with others in order to protect the environment.

Qualify for Tax Credits 

Many business owners and entrepreneurs don’t realize just how much money they can save with green tax credits and deductions. A tax credit is essentially a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your business tax, and you could qualify for those credits if you carry out energy-efficient projects. Your company might also qualify for tax deductions if you invest in high-efficiency machinery and equipment. Those deductions aren’t taken into account until after your company’s gross income has been calculated, ensuring that you get the best deal possible.

Sell or Recycle Your Unused Scraps 

Selling your unused materials to a local company could help you recoup some of your losses at the end of a project. Many companies that offer scrap metal services will even pick up the materials from your site with their own vehicles, and that is going to reduce your labor costs. Concrete, wood, cardboard, metal, drywall, and asphalt are just a few of the recyclable materials that your company might be able to get rid of without resorting to increasing landfill waste. Not only that, but many recycling services actually pay you for the scrap you give them, whereas you otherwise would be paying money to dispose of otherwise valuable material.

If you want your company to be as eco-friendly as possible, then you should think about scheduling a green audit. During a green audit, an experienced inspector will take a look at all of your company’s practices and help you come up with a long-term plan for improvement. These are just four of the potential avenues to discuss with them that could help your company PR and your bottom line while you’re protecting the environment. It’s an all-around win for your company to incorporate economically sustainable practices, especially within the construction industry.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - March 3, 2019 at 10:08 am

Categories: Eco Business   Tags:

Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden plans to buy a Chilean rainforest

What can you do when a magical place several thousands of miles away runs into trouble? You buy a chunk of it to conserve. Or that's what the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh is planning to do.

A daring rescue plan to save 5000-year-old trees

Apparently some of the world’s oldest trees might just be rescued from a horrible fate if the daring plan involving the Scottish botanic garden goes ahead. They're busy collaborating with the Rainforest Concern charity to raise funds of as much as £2.6 million to buy a remote 5000 acre area of forest, an area roughly the size of Stirling. It is home to conifers believed to be more than 5000 years old, and that means they're among the world's oldest living beings.

The opportunity arose when the land's Chilean owner put it up for sale. There's a potential wind farm on the cards, which means this may be the final chance we get to save the ancient trees and the associated wildlife that lives in and around them from extinction. The plan includes a research station for the Gardens' botanists, created so they can study the age-old Fitzroya cupressoides trees.

Why save them?

It's thought that the trees, thanks to their sheer age, could provide us with vital information about climate change. The scientists involved should also be able to take samples to create a genetically diverse back-up population of the trees in Scotland, preserving their DNA for the future.

We do like a bit of nominative determinism! The aptly-named Martin Gardner, co-ordinator of the International Conifer Conservation Programme in Edinburgh, says that while time isn't on their side, he's hoping the purchase process could be complete within a year to 18 months. All they need is the money.

The initiative is particularly important because about 90% of the plant species in these southern forests are unique to the region. It's actually surprising there are any of the ancient 70m high Fitzroyas left, since they've been widely used for timber over the centuries. Now they're officially endangered, but their habitat is not… and that's potentially disastrous.

This forest is probably the oldest in the Andes. It's extraordinarily precious. It has been a forest since the last Ice Age ended, around 6000 – 10,000 years ago, and some of the trees are not much younger. Their amazing capacity to survive climate change makes them an incredibly important resource, as well as living beings that deserve to be respected and protected.

Preserving the future – Even if the worst happens

Sadly, there's a worst case scenario at the core of all this. If Chile's magical rainforests die back, ex-situ conservation – in Scotland – should let us conserve the genetic diversity and even restore it one day. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - February 15, 2019 at 9:24 am

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Green Behaviour: How to Make Your TV-Watching Experience More Energy-Efficient

Environmentalism has become much more than a trend, and has grown into a worldwide movement in recent decades. From the commercial sector and the benefits it brings to businesses, all the way to the residential realm where mindful homeowners are thinking of new way to cut energy consumption, eco-friendliness has become an inextricable part of the modern lifestyle. From energy-efficient kitchens and water-saving bathroom designs, to building a truly eco-friendly entertainment center in your home, there is always a way to up your game and imbue your home with the green mindset. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to make your TV-watching experience more energy-efficient.

Search for the right kind of label

Contemporary household appliances come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. But did you know that you can also choose your appliances, specifically your TV and its complementary electronics, based on their level of energy consumption? Yes, you really can. When selecting your TV model, the Energy Star rating should be one of your primary concerns. This declaration will tell you how much energy the appliance is consuming passively (when idle or plugged in) and actively (when turned on), and how much energy-saving potential it actually has. Using this information, you can easily discern between the energy wasters, and the energy savers in the product line. Opt for the one with the greatest conservation rate for maximum long-term savings.

Optimize your viewing experience

You might be under the impression that a bigger TV is always a better option, and that a bigger unit will help you create that movie theater vibe in the room. While it is true that the unit should be of decent size to allow everyone to see the screen perfectly wherever they’re sitting, bigger might not always be better. First of all, a bigger TV will almost always require more electricity than its smaller counterparts. Besides, by arranging the TV wall mounts just right and complementing the setup with an immersive surround-sound system, you can easily create an amazing viewing experience without spending exuberant amounts of money on an oversized unit you don’t actually need. It’s all a matter of perception, so keep the TV slightly above eye level when sitting down, and make sure the screen is easily-viewable from every corner of the room.

energy saving

Opt for modern LED screens

Before LED screen technology was perfected, people usually opted for the more precise resolution of LCD televisions. Nowadays, though, LED screens are making a huge comeback, as the technology offers numerous viewing and conservation benefits that LCD screens can no longer match. Most importantly for you, LED TVs consume a fraction of the energy that would have been wasted on traditional LCD televisions, and without sacrificing viewing quality. Choose the right LED television set, and you could cut your TV’s energy consumption by a third! In the long run, this will have a significant impact on your electricity bill.

There’s a green viewing option, you know

There are a number of ways to make your TV more energy-efficient, you only need to change your viewing habits a bit to make it work. Keep in mind that modern TVs come with preset eco-friendly settings for you to choose from, so don’t be afraid to push the little green button on the remote. Don’t worry, it will just optimize the display settings for lower energy consumption. If you don’t have a little green button, then you can do this manually. Go ahead and tinker with the brightness. To lower the brightness without sacrificing viewing quality, first close the blinds and dim the lighting in the room. This will help you reduce energy expenditure and protect your vision. If you opt for a LED model, then you can also turn on the local dimming setting. This will lower the energy expenditure even further without reducing viewing quality.

Install a master kill switch

Almost every appliance, from the toaster to the TV, consumes energy passively. This means that if you keep your appliances plugged in all the time, you’re actually wasting tiny amounts of electricity. It might not sound like a big deal, but it can rack up over the months and lead to a needlessly inflated electricity bill. Instead of wasting energy like that, simply make it a habit to unplug your entertainment center when you’re not using it. This can be quite a hassle, granted, so instead of unplugging every cord, simply install a master kill switch that connects to every electronic device in the room. When you’re done watching, just flip the switch to cut off the main power supply. Making your home more energy-efficient is a rewarding experience that can have numerous long-term benefits for you, your household, your family budget,

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Posted by Eco Warrior - February 15, 2019 at 9:05 am

Categories: Eco Home   Tags:

Gone by 2100? The massive Congo Basin rainforest is under severe threat

As reported by the Psmag website, it looks like we'll lose one of the planet's biggest remaining rainforests by the year 2100. It's the unbelievably precious Congo Basin rainforest, and between the years 2000 and 2014 it lost an area bigger than Bangladesh.

Africa's Congo Basin is home to the world's second-largest rainforest. But if deforestation carries on at this rate, the entire primary forest will be gone by the end of this century. When the University of Maryland delved deep into satellite data collected between 2000 and 2014, they were horrified to realise the extent of the loss. Sadder still, while the researchers were doing the work about 165,000 square kilometres more forest were lost to deforestation.

What's going on?

Apparently the dominant force behind the savage Congo deforestation we've seen, the driver behind over 80% of the loss, isn't down to big business. Unusually, it's almost all down to small-scale clearing by families engaging in subsistence agriculture, mostly done by hand without machinery. And this is, in turn, often the only way to make a living locally, the only way to survive thanks to years of political instability and conflict.

The issue is also a geographical one, since the Congo Basin rainforest covers Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, the Republic of the Congo, and Gabon. The DRC has the biggest chunk of the forest within its borders, an astonishing 60%, and more people live in this particular bit of the forest than in any other area of it owned by any other country. At the same time the DRC's human development index languishes in the bottom 10%, which means life span, education and per capita gross domestic product are some of the world's lowest.

Ignorance and poverty drive deforestation

When ignorance and poverty rule, environmental disasters are more likely to happen and people are less likely to care. When all you are doing is subsisting, you're desperate. You have to find ways to feed your children, and you don't much care how you get that food. Until we resolve poverty, the destruction will probably carry on.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - January 4, 2019 at 9:54 am

Categories: Conservation   Tags:

Everything you need to know about the government’s Clean Growth Strategy

The government has outlined its proposed approach to building a lower-carbon future for the whole of the UK with the release of its Clean Growth Strategy. It’s also part of their commitment to bring down greenhouse gas emissions throughout the nation.

You can click here to read the entire document, which was put together by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The fact it’s 165 pages long though means you may not have the time to scroll through the entire publication. However, gas installation suppliers Flogas have provided this summary of the key points, as well as what the Clean Growth Strategy means for both homes and businesses throughout the UK…

Understanding the UK’s commitment to climate change

There is background legislation that resulted in the Clean Growth Strategy being published in the first place. This is because in 2008, the UK introduced the Climate Change Act, and through this became the first nation in the world to self-impose a legally binding carbon reduction target. The crux of it? To reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels).

Is the UK close to reaching its target?

The UK certainly is on its way to achieving the target, if BEIS figures which were published in March 2017 are anything to go by. In fact, overall carbon emissions have dropped by 42 per cent since 1990. While this progress is encouraging, the government acknowledges that there is still plenty more work to be done – and that’s where proposals like the Clean Growth Strategy come in.

The helping hand that the Clean Growth Strategy can provide

The Clean Growth Strategy looks to accelerate the pace of ‘clean growth’ through a series of policies and proposals. There are two clear goals among these policies and proposals — to decrease emissions and to increase economic growth. With that in mind, the two guiding objectives underpinning the strategy are:

  • To meet our domestic commitments at the lowest possible net cost to UK taxpayers, consumers and businesses.
  • To maximise the social and economic benefits for the UK from this transition.

Lower-carbon processes, systems and technologies have been pledged by the government to be rolled out across the UK in order to make this vision a reality. All of this will also be done in the most cost-effective way possible for businesses and homes alike.

Key proposals of the Clean Growth Strategy

There are six key areas which the proposals set out on the Clean Growth Strategy focus on, with these six areas responsible for 100% of carbon emissions currently recorded throughout the UK…

  • Improving business and industry efficiency (25% of UK emissions)
  • Improving our homes (13% of UK emissions)
  • Accelerating the shift to low-carbon transport (24% of UK emissions)
  • Delivering clean, smart, flexible power (21% of UK emissions)
  • Enhancing the benefits and value of our natural resources (15% of UK emissions)
  • Leading the public sector (2% of UK emissions)

Read through all 50 pledges of the Clean Growth Strategy within this executive summary.

Why the Clean Growth Strategy is important for homes and businesses across the UK

The Clean Growth Strategy in effect sees homes, businesses and industrial operations throughout the UK being encouraged to reduce their carbon footprint via a series of measures — with support also being provided by the government to aid their efforts. A major focus will be reassessing the fuels we use for jobs like heating, cooking, and powering industrial and manufacturing processes – and embracing cleaner, greener alternatives.

Boosting the uptake of renewable technologies — such as through the use of biomass boilers, solar panels and heat pumps — is just one step in the process though. Brits should also begin to favour cleaner conventional fuels over more polluting ones. For example, for off-grid homes and businesses, the strategy sets out specific plans to phase out high-carbon forms of fossil fuels like oil. As the lowest-carbon conventional off-grid fuel, oil to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) conversions will play a key part in replacing oil in rural parts of the country.

Buildings connected to the mains network will surely remain to see natural gas as a popular choice of energy. This is not only because of its affordability and accessibility, but also because it is the lowest-carbon fossil fuel available. Flogas, which specialises in highly competitive commercial mains gas, expects to see this part of its business continue to go from strength to strength.

Flogas — experts in the energy sector for over 30 years — goes on to predict that the ‘green gas’ phenomenon, which sees natural gas injected with a proportion of environmentally friendly biogas, will become more popular as the Clean Growth Strategy begins to be rolled out.

How industry figures have reacted to the Clean Growth Strategy

The Clean Growth Strategy has been supported by a number of key industry figures since it was detailed.

Flogas’ Managing Director Lee Gannon commented: “Through the publication of its Clean Growth Strategy, the government has made clear its intention to reduce carbon emissions from off-grid UK homes and businesses. Natural gas is affordable, versatile, widely available and – most importantly – emits significantly less carbon than the likes of coal and oil. As such, it will continue to play a central role as the UK works towards cleaning up its energy landscape. We look forward to working alongside policymakers and wider industry stakeholders to make the Clean Growth Strategy the success that it deserves to be.”

Support for the strategy has also been provided by Oil & Gas UK. Mike Tholen, the trade body’s Upstream Policy Director, stated: “Oil & Gas UK welcomes the government’s commitment to technology in the strategy, especially with regards to carbon abatement measures such as carbon capture, usage and storage. Oil & Gas UK looks forward to working with the government to see how these technologies can further reduce emissions across the economy.”

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Posted by Eco Warrior - January 2, 2019 at 9:01 am

Categories: Eco Business   Tags:

Green Washing and the Problem with Recycling

As a B-Corp certified company committed to building a more sustainable world, RTS is dedicated to providing innovative waste management services that facilitate proper recycling. However, greenwashing and fraudulent recycling practices are, sadly, part of an industry that is struggling to keep up with demand. Here we look at some of those issues and how our detailed diversion metrics and waste stream analytics are crucial to solving these problems.

Across the US, citizens are diligently sorting recyclables—separating paper from plastic, washing glass bottles and jars, taking out the organics on a weekly basis. In fact, the increasing number of people embracing recycling is cause for some optimism, with the amount of waste being diverted from landfill more than doubling since the 1990s. Even corporations seem to be catching on to the idea that responsible recycling is the future, and today, there are countless programs designed to minimize waste and increase recycling in all its forms.

However, while we bask in the warm and fuzzy glow of our newfound eco-ethics, all is not well within the recycling industry. A litany of issues is slowly being uncovered as the industry grows, with certain organizations and companies hiding behind consumer uncertainty while engaging in opaque practices. From collection, to the transportation and processing of recyclables, each stage of the journey is affected and those involved are increasingly turning to greenwashing to sell services and products for huge profits.

What is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is a term that first appeared in the 1980s, describing the corporate practice of advertising a company or product as significantly more eco-friendly than it was in reality. At its conception, the term specifically addressed the glossy advertisements of oil companies, highlighting a jarring juxtaposition between images of thriving eco-systems that were being used in adverts, and an industry that was responsible for countless ecological crimes. Today, the term has been expanded to include any claims that gloss over the ecological realities, and is particularly relevant to the current state of the recycling industry.

For example, in 2016 it was estimated that China imported two thirds of the world’s plastic waste for processing. In 2017, however, China announced a broad ranging ban on waste imports, effectively severing a crucial link in the chain. Recent reports from the UK have highlighted how many supposedly responsible companies responded, and without a viable outlet, millions of tons of plastic waste were illegally dumped in the ocean or simply sent to landfill. Perhaps most tellingly, these companies stuck resolutely to their eco credentials, only admitting to any wrongdoing as the scandal came to light in the press.

What’s Next for the Recycling Industry?

The dramatic U-turn from China has highlighted a severe lack of infrastructure in the countries that produce the most waste—namely the US and Europe. In truth, we simply cannot process the amount of waste we create each year, and so while recycling may be seen by many consumers as the perfect answer to a growing problem, it is in fact a last resort. More emphasis should be placed on the reduction of potential waste materials from at all junctures of society.

It is clear that greater investment is needed within the recycling industry if we hope to make a dent in the growing piles of waste. This investment must be in the form of larger and more efficient processing facilities, but also how the industry accounts for the materials that are supposedly recycled. Both governments and consumers must be able to verify that waste is, in fact, recycled and not simply dumped. Until this is the case, greenwashing and the recycling industry are likely to be firm friends as we head towards an uncertain future.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - January 2, 2019 at 8:48 am

Categories: Recycling   Tags:

Combating climate change using your garden

The environment is being dramatically affected due to climate change. It’s causing glaciers to shrink, ice on rivers to break up earlier than it should, animals to relocate and trees to flower sooner. It’s predicted by scientists that, because of greenhouse gases, global temperatures will continue to rise for several decades.

But, how can we prevent climate change? With many examples of how we can cut our carbon footprint, there are several ways in which the urban garden can benefit our environment. After all, more than 85% of the British population living in towns and cities according to the Royal Horticulture Society (RHS), and our gardens make up a quarter of total urban areas in many cities.

Water use

It’s becoming the norm to have hotter, drier summers it seems. Great, right? Well for all the sun lovers out there, yes, but this could have a knock-on effect for our gardens — which in turn will continue to affect our environment. So, what should you do? If you don’t already have one, get a water butt. If you do have one, add another! Catching rain water to use on your floral displays and lawn will help you minimise your mains water usage, thus helping the environment and aiding self-sufficiency.

A water butt can be an effective tool to limit your water usage. The proportion of household water used in the garden increases by more 30% when temperatures rise, so this addition can be effective, especially with hosepipe bans becoming more regular. Another way to cut your water usage is by re-using any ‘grey water’ which has previously been used to wash dishes or have a bath.

Have more plants in our gardens

Domestic gardens can work as an air-conditioning system for our cities. Did you know that the shelter of trees and hedges can act as insulation in the winter to help bring down energy consumption and heating costs? Place your shrubs and bushes carefully around your property to reduce the speed of the air movement reaching your building. It’s never too early to start planting these either. If you would like to grow such plants from the early stages, make sure you purchase plant supports to enable them to grow in the direction you intend. However, make sure you don’t create any unwanted wind tunnels directed towards your house.

Vegetation can also offer shade which in turn provides aerial cooling. It’s predicted that If we increased our vegetated surfaces in urban areas by as little as 10% then we could help control the summer air temperatures that climate change is bringing. This would also help reduce CO2 emissions.

It’s clear that larger plants and trees can have significant benefits, but the RHS, (The Royal Horticultural Society) released concerning figures that found that nearly one in four UK front gardens are entirely paved. On top of this, over five million don’t have a single plant growing in it. London was the worst culprit and the impact of this is raising urban temperatures and the loss of biodiversity.

Plants in all varieties are vital to improving the quality of the air we are breathing in as they release oxygen after absorbing carbon dioxide. With vehicle usage ever increasing, plants are playing a vital part in offsetting some of the emissions automobiles are releasing.

Grow your own vegetables

Our personal outdoor space can replace up to 20% of all bought food. For the ambitious gardeners, this can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 68lbs of C02 each year. This is thanks to several factors, including the time it takes to get your food to your plate being cut considerably. It’s estimated that the average distance your food travels before it’s consumed is a staggering 1,500 miles, meaning that transportation of the goods is burning fossil fuels.

Also, growing your own food enables you to know exactly what is in the product, avoids unnecessary packaging and shaves the pennies from your shopping list.

Composting

Eco-gardening can help combat climate change too and adding compost to your soil helps to provide vital microorganisms and nutrients to the earth. If you want to cut costs too, instead of buying compost, you can also use kitchen scraps, so long as it’s not meat or fish. This will also reduce the waste transported to landfill.

This effectively helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, by reducing any need to use chemical fertilisers and pesticides. It also helps soils hold any carbon dioxide and improves tilth and workability of soils. However, it’s important to carefully maintain your composting or it may reverse the desired effect.

So, although there is an array of factors that must be looked at as we try to combat climate change, it really can start at home. If we all sorted our gardens, we could have a positive effect and help protect our planet.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - January 2, 2019 at 8:16 am

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Violence and lawlessness in Madagascar threaten rainforest conservation

According to The Conversation, ‘fear and violence' are making it very difficult to conserve the Madagascan rainforest.

Ranomafana National Park is a UNESCO world heritage site, as well as a place where security has been deteriorating for some years. But things are getting much worse thanks to an escalation of raids on local villages, which have seen their staple crops stolen. The people are subsistence farmers with very few resources, and when they try to defend their crops they're attacked.

The local police chief, Heritiana Emilson Rambeloson, who arrived to investigate, was shot dead, and deaths aren't unusual. Jean François Xavier Razafindraibe was also killed recently when armed men raided his village.

Home to critically endangered lemurs and a tourist hot-spot

Ranomafana National Park is part of the Forests of Atsinanana, home to critically endangered lemurs including the golden bamboo lemur and the black-and-white ruffed lemur. It's a hot tourist spot, offering extraordinary landscapes, rare wildlife and friendly, mellow people. So far tourists haven't been affected by the uprise in violence, but it's only a matter of time.
Yet again, greed for gold is a culprit

Illegal gold panning in the forests is the source of the problems, an ongoing issue nobody seems to be able to resolve. The miners pollute the rivers, carry out mass deforestation, and kill and eat the rare wildlife. There are also armed cattle thieves, ‘dahalo' to deal with and they've apparently caused around four thousand deaths in the past half decade.

In 2017, the mayor of the ton of Ambalakindresy was shot dead in what locals believe was a ‘hit', arranged to stop his plans to rid the region of the dahalo and gold miners. Gold mining activity has been escalating ever since. And the people are terrified, which is affecting local research and conservation efforts. Every village in the area is afraid, despite the police's robust response to recent attacks in the shape of 80 more police.

The increased insecurity in the region speaks about a wider problem of disrespect for the law in Madagascar. But good, solid governance is vital to develop the country's economy and fight to save its irreplaceable biodiversity.

Will a new leader strengthen conservation efforts in Madagascar?

Madagascar is due to elect a new leader on 19th December. Let's hope a change in leadership might also bring a change in the violence and lawlessness affecting its precious forests.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - December 8, 2018 at 10:36 am

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Solar powered artificial intelligences record Borneo’s rainforests

As reported in this week's New Scientist magazine, artificial intelligence is helping to improve our understanding of the rainforests of Borneo. It's all down to solar-powered recording devices created to monitor biodiversity, gadgets which are programmed to identify the sounds different creatures make, and therefore track their numbers over time.

Humans are slow and inefficient, so is the old tech

It matters because this is a job usually done by humans and as such it's horribly slow and pretty inefficient, partly because of the terrain and partly because of the area's sheer size and difficult access. We already have recorders, of course, but they're battery powered, which means people need to go and change the batteries regularly. Other systems are too expensive, generating impractical amounts of data that gets sent via satellites.

A leaner, more agile system that delivers vital information

This device is much simpler, a pared down version of a cheap, mass produced mini-computer called the Raspberry PI. In-canopy solar panels provide the power and the data collected is sent via local mobile networks to a remote server. The entire system is leaner, simpler and a whole lot more agile. The machines can easily carry extras like image, audio and video sensors, which collect different types of information including atmospheric data.

An ongoing health check for Borneo's threatened rainforests

The original 12 monitors have already recorded ten thousand hours of audio, which is being used to identify species and watch how their populations change. Another method collects an overall sound map of the forest and looks at how it changes with time, helping to pin down the wider environmental health of the region.

These new AIs will play a vital part in a bigger project designed to track the impact of palm oil plantations in Borneo, hopefully by revealing which tree types protect the greatest amount of bio-diversity. The more we know and understand about the world's forests, the better we can protect them for future generations.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - November 9, 2018 at 11:02 am

Categories: Conservation   Tags:

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