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A beetle on a male corn flower. Photo: Flávio Jota de Paula via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Biodiversity is the best defence against corn pests

Jonathan Lundgren & Scott Fausti

14th August 2015

Farmers' first line of defence against pests is the ecosystem in and around their fields, write Jonathan Lundgren & Scott Fausti. With widespread or indiscriminate use of pesticides essential biodiversity is lost - and the result is more frequent and serious infestations, and a decline in food security. more...
Daily life in Conakry, Guinea on 3rd December 2014. Photo: Dominic Chavez / World Bank via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Neoliberal Ebola: palm oil, logging, land grabs, ecological havoc and disease

Rob Wallace

27th July 2015

The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa had everything to do with logging, deforestation and the disruption of traditional agro-forestry by large scale industrial agriculture, writes Rob Wallace. The only long term solution to this terrible disease may lie in forest conservation, the restoration of agroecological farming systems, and the exclusion of agribusiness investment. more...
Bison are roaming free in Germany - so why not Scotland? Photo: Felix Kaestle.

Rewilding isn't about nostalgia - exciting new worlds are possible

Paul Jepson

22nd July 2015

Rewilding is now firmly on the agenda, writes Paul Jepson, and that brings a huge opportunity to re-invigorate conservation. But we must look to creating new functional ecosystems for the future, rather than trying to recreate a lost and perhaps imagined past. more...
Salmon run on the Adam's River, BC. Photo: John Biehler via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Is Canada's government trying to kill off the wild salmon?

Jeff Matthews

8th June 2015

Does the Canadian Government actually want to wipe out its wild salmon? To ordinary, sane people, the idea is completely mad, writes Jeff Matthews. But for resource extraction industries, salmon farmers and right wing neoliberal politicians, it could make perfect sense. more...
The edge of an experimental sheep grazing exclusion zone (to the right) within Al Talila Reserve, Palmyra, photographed in March 2008 in the midst of an intense drought period. Sheep quasi uncontrolled grazing was allowed to the left of the fence. Grazing

Over-grazing and desertification in the Syrian steppe are the root causes of war

Gianluca Serra

5th June 2015

Civil war in Syria is the result of the desertification of the ecologically fragile Syrian steppe, writes Gianluca Serra - a process that began in 1958 when the former Bedouin commons were opened up to unrestricted grazing. That led to a wider ecological, hydrological and agricultural collapse, and then to a 'rural intifada' of farmers and nomads no longer able to support themselves. more...
Young fishers with their catch on the opening day after a temporary fisheries closure. Small-scale fisheries support the livelihoods of at least 500 million people worldwide - Andavadoaka, Madagascar. Photo: Garth Cripps / Blue Ventures.

Sustainable abundance - rebuilding fisheries to support coastal communities in Madagascar

Alasdair Harris

12th May 2015

Marine conservation is usually expressed in austere and negative terms, writes Alasdair Harris, with strict quotas and exclusion zones. But the truth is the exact opposite: it's about working with natural ecosystems to unlock their productive potential, creating sustainable wealth and abundance for fishing communities while enhancing marine biodiversity. more...
Culling feral cats on Tasmania, similar to this one by the Rufus River in NSW - actually made them more abundant, not less. Photo: sunphlo via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Cullers beware - killing 'pest' animals can increase their abundance

Christopher Johnson

8th May 2015

A study of feral cats in Tasmania shows that culling them to reduce their impact on native wildlife had a paradoxical effect - their population went up! If you can't take 'pest' animals out faster than they can reproduce and move in from nearby areas, writes Christopher Johnson, you're better off not bothering at all. more...
Pollinators are finding it increasingly hard to get by under industrial farming regimes. This Common Carda bumblebee is supping on a Clover flower on acid grassland near pond, New Ferry Butterfly Park - an urban nature reserve in Merseyside. Photo: Richar

If modern farming can't sustain bees, how much longer can it sustain us?

Dave Goulson

11th May 2015

Our bees and wider farmland ecosystems have been seriously harmed by neonicotinoids, writes Dave Goulson. But that's just the start of the damage that modern farming is doing to wildlife in a countryside stripped of wild flowers and drenched by cocktails of pesticides. The problem is not just neonics, but the entire model of industrial agriculture. more...
The African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) the largest living land animal, at Gorom, Cameroon. Photo: Daniel Tiveau for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

To save the world's large herbivores, we too must make them welcome

Matt Hayward & William Ripple

5th May 2015

Most of the world's large herbivores - from elephants to gorillas, tapirs and sloths - are at risk of extinction, a new study shows. With most of these species in poorer countries, rich nations should dedicate substantial resources to their survival. But we must also lead by example - by reintroducing them ourselves. more...
This small cultivator of fresh vegetables in China is probably practising agroecology already! Photo: Jing via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Can agroecology save us from 'scorched-earth' agriculture?

Professor Henrietta Moore

6th May 2015

Industrial agriculture has become a prime driver of many of the world's most serious problems, writes Henrietta Moore: the loss of wild and farmed biodiversity, huge climate-changing emissions, and the entrapment of small farmers in ever-deepening cycles of poverty. But there is a solution: the widespread adoption of agroecological farming. more...
The sacred water of Gosainkunda Lake at the headwaters of the Trishuli River, soon to be changed forever by the construction fo a succession of high dams. Photo: Yosarian via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY).

In Nepal's next big quake, hydropower dams threaten catastrophe

Michael Buckley

4th May 2015

A spate of hydroelectric dam building in Nepal means that future earthquakes could send inland tsunamis flooding down the steep mountain valleys, writes Michael Buckley. Disaster was averted in last month's quake - a badly damaged dam was not yet filled. But despite the risks and the damage to river ecology, tourism and rural livelihoods, there's no sign of any policy shift. more...
Oil wells in the Bakken Oil Field of North Dakota, USA. Photo: Alan Graham McQuillan PhD ARPS via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Future dustbowl? Fracking ravages Great Plains land and water

Tim Radford

4th May 2015

The fracking boom has caused massive vegetation loss over North America's rangelands, writes Tim Radford, as 3 million hectares have been occupied by oil and gas infrastructure and 34 billion cubic metres of water have been pumped from semi-arid ecosystems. more...

ecology: 1/25 of 99
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To pollinate California's huge monocultural almond farms bees are trucked in from all over the US, even flown in from Australia, because there's not the quantity or diversity of plants to sustain wild bee colonies or wild pollinators. Photo: Steve Corey v

Bee collapse is the result of their enslavement in industrial monocultures

Allan Stromfeldt Chris­tensen

2nd May 2015

Bee 'colony collapse disorder' cannot be ended by easy technofixes, writes Allan Stromfeldt Christensen. The real problem is the systematic abuse of bees in vast industrial monocultures, as they are trucked or flown thousands of miles from one farm to the next, treated with insecticides and antibiotics, and fed on 'junk food'. more...
A Eurasian lynx captured on film by Erwin von Maanen in its native Scandinavian setting.

Lynx could be reintroduced to Britain 'this year'

Oliver Tickell

27th April 2014

Lynx could be re-introduced to sites in England and Scotland before the end of 2015, according to the Lynx UK Trust, which has just issued polling and survey results that show strong support for the idea among the UK population. more...
A polar bear keeps close to her young along the Beaufort Sea coast in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Susanne Miller / USFWS via Flickr (CC BY).

Polar bears at risk from pollution as well as warmth

Tim Radford

24th April 2015

As if melting ice in Polar bears' Arctic habitat was not enough, Norwegian scientists have found that organic pollutants such as pesticide residues are disrupting their thyroid and endocrine systems, adding a further threat to the species' survival. more...
Transformed! An early summer riot of Ox-eye Daisies, Red Clover and Meadow Buttercups. Photo: Jo Cartmell.

Nearby wild - how I turned my lawn into a mini-meadow

Jo Cartmell

27th April 2015

Decades of regular mowing left my front lawn looking bare and sterile, writes Jo Cartmell. But in fact, the exhausted, infertile soil made it the perfect place for a host of wild flowers to take up residence - some from planted seed, others blown-in, or from long buried seed lying dormant in the soil. And after that, the butterflies ... more...
View from the Goodnoe Hills near the Columbia River Gorge, Washington. A small settlement with a school once existed below the abandoned farm house. Photo: gary via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Agroecology and the people's struggle for land and freedom

Blain Snipstal

23rd April 2015

Everyone in this society is caught up in the battle between two models of agriculture, writes Blain Snipsta - industrial agribusiness for profit, control and domination; and small-scale agroecological farming for good food, health, people and planet. more...
Small fishing boats at Lyme Regis, Dorset, where England's first big marine Protected Area was designated. Photo: Sue Hasker via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

To protect our seas, first we must reclaim them from 'Big Fishing'

Horatio Morpurgo

10th April 2015

There's strong public support for protecting marine wildlife, writes Horatio Morpurgo - so why aren't politicians championing the cause? Labour and Tories alike fear to challenge the big fishing companies that have come to believe they own Britain's offshore waters and seabed. Now it's up to use to prove they're wrong. more...
A female Eurasian Lynx (Lynx Lynx Lynx) in her summer coat in a Norwegian forest near Liaset, Buskerud Fylke. Photo: Tom Bech via Flickr (CC BY).

Reintroduce lynx? Fine - but we must control the apex predator

Niki Rust

27th April 2015

The return of the lynx to the British Isles could bring many benefits, writes Niki Rust, not least to the ecology of our woodlands, ravaged by too many deer. But we must not forget the human factor: livestock farmers may fear the arrival of a top-level predator, and their support will be essential to the success of any reintroduction. more...
As ocean acidity rises, diatoms stuggle to gow in variable light conditions. Photo: Mixed diatom frustules by Carolina Biological Supply Company via Flickr (CC BY-ND-NC 2.0).

Keystone plankton 'go slow' as ocean acidity rises

Tim Radford

1st March 2015

Increasing acidity in the Southern Ocean is slowing the growth of diatoms, reports Tim Radford. Why worry? Because these tiny plankton sustain essential marine ecosystems, and are highly effective at drawing CO2 down into the deep ocean. more...
Beaver dam above Lundy Lake, California. Photo: Fred Moore via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Beavers are saving California’s wild salmon

Miria Finn / onEarth

1st March 2015

With California's wild Coho salmon populations down to 1% of their former numbers, there's growing evidence that beavers - long reviled as a pest of the waterways - are essential to restore the species, writes Maria Finn. In the process, they raise water tables, recharge aquifers and improve water quality. What's not to love? more...
Bonobo group hug. Photo:  LaggedOnUser via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Make 2015 the Year of the Bonobo!

Dr Susan Block

5th January 2015

We humans have much to learn from our kissing cousins, the peaceful, empathic, playful, sensual and highly sexual Bonobos, writes Susan Block. Rather than play out the myth of ancestral 'killer apes', better follow the 'Bonobo Way', and extend our love to all living beings and Earth herself. more...
Murder most foul - a porpoise carcass bearing cruel bite marks. Photo: Johan Krol.

Murder most foul - who killed all the porpoises?

Ken Collins

9th December 2014

Since 2010 porpoise carcasses have been washing up on our shares, writes Ken Collins - displaying horrific wounds and bite marks that many thought a sign of Great White sharks in Britain's coastal waters. But now scientists have identified an improbably cuddly culprit ... more...
Wolves - to reduce farm animal predation, don't shoot them! Photo: USFWS Midwest, CC BY.

Shot in the foot? Killing wolves, lynx, cougar increases farm predation

Niki Rust

4th December 2014

Farmers who shoot wolves and other predators to save their animals from predation are actually having the opposite effect, writes Niki Rust. The disruption that killing predators has on the stability of their families and packs actually causes more, not less predation. Ultimately, we're better off learning to live with predators. more...
Coming to honeybees in North America and Europe, a new parasite helped on its way by warmer summers. Photo: Smudge 9000, CC BY-SA.

Bee crisis: warmer summers will help new parasite

Robert Paxton

30th December 2014

An exotic parasite is spreading through the world's honey bees and global warming is making it worse, writes Robert Paxton. A new study that shows it will soon be causing widespread colony collapse in North America and Europe. more...

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