Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Moving Towards Valuation of Ecosystem Services

As a company that is reliant on forest products, Fibria is committed to developing its business in a sustainable way. More than 35% of the land the company owns is dedicated to conservation purposes. The company is thus aware of the role it plays in the conservation of biodiversity hot spots, particularly in the biomes where its operations are concentrated, namely the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest, the Cerrado and the Pampas.
The issue
In recent years, Fibria has established itself as a Brazilian company engaged in sustainable forest management, capable of creating value from renewable resources. With 19,000 employees, the company operates in 254 municipalities in seven states within Brazil. Fibria owns 975,000 hectares of land, of which 352,000 hectares (36%) are dedicated to conservation purposes. The wood is used for pulp production, read more>>

Invasive Plants Threaten Ecosystem

Foreign plants have become “nuclear biological threats,” pushing local plants, animals and birds to the brink of extinction, according to university scientists.
Douglas Tallamy, director of the department of entomology and wildlife ecology, said it will take thousands of years for insects and animals to adapt to these nonnative plans.
Plants play a crucial role in the ecosystem because insects eat plants and animals eat insects, he said. Without native plants, he said the native insects have nothing to feed on and the ecosystem can shut down as a result.
Tallamy, who has researched the effect of invasive plants for 10 years, said 79 percent of plants in suburban areas are not part of the local food chain, and are not contributing to biodiversity.
“This bothers me,” Tallamy said. “There’s no reason for this. No one thought it was a problem, but it absolutely is a problem. It developed over the read more>>

Monday, October 8, 2012

Introduction to Biodiversity

Biodiversity: Wikipedia

UN Conference on Biodiversity Kicks Off in India

For the next two years, India will steer efforts to save the Earth’s biodiversity during a time when its “natural capital” is being lost at an unprecedented rate.
India is hosting the UN Conference on Biodiversity, which kicks off today in the southern city of Hyderabad. This gathering is the first in what has been declared as the “UN Decade of Biodiversity.” 192 countries and the European Union are participating.
The conference slogan in Sanskrit is “Prakruti Rakshathi Rakshitha” which translates into “Nature protects if she is protected.”
In the next few decades, losses of flora, fauna and ocean’s ecosystems will impact food supply and the livelihood of millions who depend on these resources. “The situation is extremely critical,” said Ashok Khosla, head of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world’s oldest environmental network.
“It’s the worst loss in the past 50 to 60 million years when dinosaurs went extinct,” Khosla added. “But governments and ecosystems have not taken any action seriously.”
To highlight his point, Khosla gave the example of the endangered (Atlantic) Bluefin Tuna. In Japan, one such fish (weighing about 600 lbs) was sold for $750,000 in January. “It’s indicative of how scarce it has become,” he said. “Many of the fisheries that feed people around the world have collapsed.” Read more>>

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Linking Chilli Diversity to Markets in Peru

Peru and Bolivia are home to the largest and most diverse concentrations of Capsicum in the world, yet much of this diversity remains neglected and undervalued. In recent years however, increases in market demand for new and unique chilli flavors, have provided an opportunity for smallholder farmers to use chilli diversity to generate higher incomes and enhance local agricultural biodiversity. To assist this development, Bioversity International is coordinating a three-year project to link Capsicum small-scale producers with production, processing and marketing companies that supply local and international markets.

Why Everyone Loses from US Boycott of the UN Biodiversity Agreement

Twenty years after the world agreed to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, all major scientific indicators regarding the state of “life on earth” – from species’ population trends and extinction risks to natural habitat condition and ecological community composition – are distinctly negative. 

Species extirpations, human population growth, consumption rates, pollution discharge, invasive species, and infectious diseases are all up. It is a stark reality, particularly when one considers the growing disparity in quality of life for the planet’s seven billion human inhabitants. How superpowers such as the United States and China deal with these tectonic shifts in natural history will determine the story’s outcome.

One thing we know is that nature has a way of biting back. Food volatility, weather disasters and rising pollution-related health care costs all reflect a deficit with our current environment. Fortunately for the 193 nation-states that are parties (only the US, Andorra, South Sudan and the Vacitan have failed to join) read more>>> 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Leave Some Rivers In Their Natural State

Experts from the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), an informal network of organisations and individuals working on issues related to water, have urged the government to draft a policy and enact a law for protection of rivers. They also want the government to declare certain rivers in each state as 'no-go areas' and leaving them in their natural state by not building dams or hydropower projects on them.

The request was made at the world river's day celebrated recently. SANDRP experts highlighted the present situation of rivers and the need to protect them. They said that there is a need to take a look at the pathetic state of rivers, riverine and connected terrestrial biodiversity and communities ahead of the upcoming 11th Conference of Parties at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to be hosted in Hyderabad from October 8 to 19. Millions in India depend on rivers for their livelihoods, but there is no protection for them when their livelihoods are affected by upstream dams and other interventions, said experts.

Parineeta Dandekar, associate co-ordinator at SANDRP, told TOI that even as the Union ministry of environment and forests in its latest submission to the convention on biological diversity said that it has increased protected areas from 1.33 lakh square kms to 1.56 lakh sq kms, the fact is that India has next to none protected areas for explicit protection of rivers and freshwater biodiversity. In Maharashtra, Shastri river in Konkan and Wainganga in Vidarbha should be declared as 'no-go areas', she said. Read more>>>

Tracking Eastern Willets

The willet is a migratory shorebird that breeds in salt marshes of the eastern United States but its migratory destination and habitat use in winter is not well understood. BRI researchers are tracking these birds via geolocators to gain critical knowledge that will help inform land management and conservation decisions.

 Shorebirds face numerous conservation challenges, including loss of shoreline and wetland habitat, increasing pollution and predation, and climate change. The exact causes for the declines observed in shorebird populations are largely unknown and may be the result of many factors. Determining which factors are currently limiting shorebird populations, and which factors may play a role in the future, is crucial for shorebird conservation.

As part of a broader effort by the Smithsonian Institute to understand Willet movement, BRI began a collaboration with  the New Jersey Nature Conservancy and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. Understanding the annual cycle of this species (i.e., migration routes, and the locations of stopover sites and breeding/wintering grounds) provides insight into potential stressors for Willets, which are vulnerable long distance migrants. BRI biologists are also testing Eastern Willets for mercury contamination, a potential stressor read more>>>

Biodiversity: Great Barrier Reef has Lost Half its Coral Cover

Australian researchers say the Great Barrier Reef has lost half its coral cover in the past 27 years, with more impacts expected as the climate warms in coming decades. About half (46 percent) of the loss was from storm damage, with another 42 percent attributed to crown of thorns starfish and 10 percent lost to bleaching.
“We can’t stop the storms but, perhaps we can stop the starfish. If we can, then the reef will have more opportunity to adapt to the challenges of rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification, says John Gunn, CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville.
“This finding is based on the most comprehensive reef monitoring program in the world. The program started broadscale surveillance of more than 100 reefs in 1985 and from 1993 it has incorporated more detailed annual surveys of 47 reefs,” said  Dr. Peter Doherty, one of the program’s original creators and a research fellow at AIMS.
“Our researchers have spent more than 2,700 days at sea and we’ve invested in the order of $50 million in this monitoring program,” Doherty said. “Interestingly, the pattern of decline varies among regions. read more>>>

World Citizens Worry About Biodiversity Loss

A public consultation held simultaneously in 25 countries – 19 of them in the developing world – showed 84 per cent of participants believing that most people in the world were seriously affected by biodiversity loss.
The results of the consultation held on 15 September – organised mainly by the Danish environment ministry – are to be presented at the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity being held in Hyderabad, India, this month (October).
Some 72 per cent of participants in 'World Wide Views on Biodiversity' thought that educating schoolchildren and the public on biodiversity issues was key to protecting nature and maintaining food security.
Aiming to engage ordinary citizens in policymaking for a healthy planet, 34 meetings were held in Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, India, South Africa, Uganda, the US, Vietnam, Zambia and other countries. About 100 people selected for diverse backgrounds – gender, occupation, education and residential location – participated in each Read more>>>

Rwanda: The Beauty of Nyungwe National Park

With over 280 bird and 13 primate species and spreading over 1000 square kilometres, Nyungwe National Park is one of the most acclaimed biodiversity rainforests in Africa.
The park also boasts a diverse ecosystem from rainforest, bamboo, grassland, swamps, rivers, butterflies, moths and insects.
Last week, I travelled to Nyungwe with a group of about 30 local journalists and, together, we embarked on a thrilling adventure, walking down the hills and crossing valleys trekking for monkeys and chimpanzees and visiting other wildlife attractions.
A variety of hiking and walking trails crisscross the Park, leading to its varied attractions.
"Nyungwe is a hotspot for biodiversity," Louis Rugerinyange, the Chief Park Warden at Nyungwe who led our party along the forest's trails, says.
On day one, we undertook a long tracking adventure as we looked for the white and black colobus monkeys-one of the many primate species read more>>>

Camera-Trap Animal Parade From the Indonesian Rainforest

A montage of clips spanning four months of camera trap recordings from the mountainous Leuser rainforest of northern Sumatra, the footage testifies to life’s sheer richness in one of the most biodiverse places on Earth.
If “biodiversity” sometimes feels like an academic term, its full meaning is evident in the panoply of forms seen here. Sumatran elephants. Pig-tailed macaques. Hog badgers. Peacock-pheasants. Giant squirrels. Binturongs and tigers and sun bears, oh my.
The footage was captured between May and August by Eyes on Leuser, a project started by Dutch conservationist Marten Slothouwer to protect the region, which is under threat from logging and development.
More videos can be found on the Eyes on Leuser website.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Greenpeace Activist Ends Month-Long Tree-Top Protest

Environmental activist Brikesh Singh, from the NGO Greenpeace, ended his month-long stay on a tree on the fringes of the Tadoba-Andheri Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra on Monday.
Mr. Singh began his unique protest on September 1, as a part of the ‘Janglistan’ campaign “to draw attention to the threat that coal mining poses to biodiversity and forest-dependent communities.”
His occupation drew the support of villagers, local NGOs and citizens, celebrities and prominent politicians. During his stay, Mr. Singh gathered 1,13,977 signatures “to protect India’s forests from coal mining.”
“He will now head to Hyderabad and hand over these signatures to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who will be hosting the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity,” Greenpeace activist Jagori Dhar read more>>>

200 Researchers Will Explore Papua New Guinea from October 2012

How many species live on Earth? The answer to this question probably resides in the study of biodiversity hotspots. Six years after the Santo expedition in Vanuatu, and 2 years after the Mozambique-Madagascar expedition, scientists are once again embarking on a voyage of discovery to learn about our planet's biodiversity. Led byFrance's National Museum of Natural History, Pro-Natura International and the French Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD), the expedition team will spend 3 months exploringPapua New Guinea, beginning in October 2012.
From the Bismarck Sea to the slopes of Mount Wilhelm, the Papua New Guinea expedition will see off nearly 200 researchers, students and volunteers.
Land expedition: the objective is to gather new data on plant and animal species read more>>>

Biodiversity and Ecosystem

What is the difference between biodiversity and ecosystem and do they affect the human lives? 

“Individual species and ecosystems have evolved over millions of years into a complex interdependence. This can be viewed as being akin to a vast jigsaw puzzle of inter-locking pieces. If you remove enough of the key pieces on which the framework is based then the whole picture may be in danger of collapsing.

We have no idea how many key ‘pieces’ we can afford to lose before this might happen, nor even in many cases, which are the key pieces. The ecological arguments for conserving biodiversity are therefore based on the premise that we need to preserve biodiversity in order to maintain our own life support systems.” Dr Barbara Corker.
Ecosystems are dynamic interactions between plants, animals, and micro-organisms and their environment working together as a functional unit. Ecosystems will fail if they do not remain in balance. No community can carry more organisms than its food, water, and shelter can accommodate. Food and territory are often balanced by natural phenomena such as fire, disease, and the number of predators. Each organism has its own niche or role in the whole system to play its part to show their importance.
Biodiversity is defined as the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.
Biodiversity is a measure of the variety of life on earth. Again, Biodiversity is the variation of life forms, plants and animals within a given ecosystem, biome, or on the entire Earth. One cannot find all the types of plants and animals all over a certain country or part of a country. Biodiversity is often used as a measure of the health of biological systems. The biodiversity found on Earth today read more>>>

Protecting Our Planet: Redesigning Land-Use and Business Practices

Since its founding in 1987, the Rainforest Alliance has pioneered a comprehensive transformation across the industries that most impact our environment -- farming, forestry and tourism -- and successfully engaged the support of consumers around the world to protect the forests and ecosystems that are essential to our future. This report incorporates numerous impact studies to demonstrate how the spread of sound land-use practices and the development of sustainable supply chains have begun to arrest the tide of destruction and lay the groundwork for a better future.

 Browse the interactive version of the report, or download the PDF 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Protected Planet Report 2012 Highlights Need to Conserve Global Biodiversity

The Cape Floristic Region of South Africa, one of many protected areas conserved by the IUCN, harbors one fifth of Africa’s known plant species.

 The first-ever Protected Planet Report was recently released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Center (UNEP-WCMC). The report addresses the need to conserve areas of the natural environment by protecting local resources and native species. This will help preserve global biodiversity, the variety of living organisms that exist on the planet. The report tracks progress on Target 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Aichi Biodiversity Targets. According to Target 11, by 2020, 17 percent of terrestrial ecoregions and 10 percent of marine ecoregions will be properly conserved.

As the global population and their use of natural resources steadily increases, the Aichi Targets hope to protect global biodiversity from historic and emerging threats, such as pollution and over-harvesting of natural resources. Protected areas are internationally recognized regions set aside for nature and biodiversity conservation. Protected areas are crucial for reasons beyond preserving biodiversity; they also aid scientific research, maintain water supplies, and preserve sites of cultural importance. By limiting human occupation and preventing exploitation of natural resources, the UNEP-WCMC conserves protected areas around the world. According to the report, protected areas currently cover 12.7 percent of the world’s land area and 1.6 percent of the global ocean area. Meanwhile, half of the world’s most important sites for biodiversity still remain unprotected. Read more>>>

Coral Biodiversity Hotspot Is Found in Western Indian Ocean

The western Indian Ocean, especially the waters between Madagascar and Africa, contain one of the highest levels of coral diversity worldwide, with 369 coral species identified in a recent study and more still to be identified. Scientists say the western Indian Ocean may contain as much coral biodiversity as Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, though not as much as the world’s richest region for corals, the so-called coral triangle in Southeast Asia. Reporting in the journal PLoS ONE, David Obura, a scientist with the Group Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean, said that 10 percent of the species are found only in the western Indian Ocean. He said the northern end of the Mozambique Channel, which sits between Madagascar and mainland Africa, contains roughly 250 to 300 coral species. Meanwhile, Australian scientists report that water temperatures around the Great Barrier Reef have increased steadily in the last 25 years, in some places rising as much as .5 degrees C. Such increases can contribute to coral bleaching, which can lead to mass coral die-offs.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Living with Fewer Species: Biodiversity from a Brand New Perspective

Are you ready to embrace an entirely new dogma? To question your existing ideas about biodiversity? Then submerge yourself in the unusual essay 'The pursuit of complexity – The utility of biodiversity from an evolutionary perspective'.

The author examines the utility of biodiversity starting at the very basics, and arrives at new answers to long-standing questions. Is it a problem if species go extinct? And is this discussion mainly a moral one, or can it be approached scientifically? The author’s conclusions are an eye-opener for anyone who asks himself elementary life questions, but they can also be directly applied in management and conservation.

Nature finds itself increasingly under pressure. Species are disappearing faster than ever before in human history. Is this a problem? Several popular publicists are arguing that ecosystems can well survive if single species go extinct. Conservationists strongly object, backed by many scientists. However, scientific arguments that confirm the use of biodiversity are still lacking. The essay 'The pursuit of complexity – The utility of biodiversity from an evolutionary perspective', written by Dutch ecologist Gerard Jagers, provides a new general frame of reference for this discussion. 

One of the main questions that Jagers tries to answer is: what is life, actually? This question will have to be answered if one is to fully understand biodiversity, the variety of all life on earth. The pursuit of complexity provides a clear starting point, and also addresses the concepts of utility and evolution. These are still scientifically debated. When we think about evolution, we immediately think about Darwin. But what is evolution exactly? This essay approaches evolution as if it were a recipe, based on actions read more>>>

Our Microbiome—Identifying the Worlds Within

From the surface of our skin to deep inside our gut, humans are teeming with microbes. The trillions of microorganisms that inhabit humans make up 1 to 3 percent of our total mass and play a vital role in our everyday functions and overall health. More than 100,000 species of bacteria have been identified in the human body, though the population distribution of bacteria can vary greatly from individual to individual. Deciphering the complexity of the human microbiome will help determine new methods for health management and treatment of disease.

Why We Defend Oceans - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society