The Ecologist


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Make hay while the sun shines! This farmer in Cyprus can remain GMO-free - for now. Photo: Tony Woods via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

GM crops: an uneasy truce hangs over Europe

Mary Dobbs, Queen's University Belfast

9th October 2015

With all the EU's GMO exemptions filed, a clear majority - by number, population and area of farmland - have chosen to be GMO-free, writes Mary Dobbs. But the rules surrounding their opt-outs are complex in the extreme and many countries will find it hard to maintain their GMO-free status - specially if the Commission and the biotech corporations like Monsanto and Syngenta choose to exercise their powers. more...
Just hanging ... Orangutan trio enjoying bananas at Pesalat Rehabilitation Center, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo: Rainforest Action Network via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Palm oil versus orangutans? Don't forget the human dimension

Liana Chua

28th September 2015

The orangutans of Southeast Asia make a fantastic symbol of endangered rainforests, writes Liana Chua, rousing public opposition to palm oil companies and their bulldozers. But this story of good versus evil omits the essential human dimension. To save the rainforests and their great apes, we must make forest peoples a key part of the conservation narrative. more...
Some rhinos are more equal than others ... and this Asian Rhino in the Chitwan National Park, Nepal is, it appears, less equal than its African cousins. Photo: Joshua Alan Davis via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Africa's rhinos grab the cash while their Asian cousins head for extinction

David Tosh

2nd October 2015

Two of Asia's three rhino species are 'critically endangered', writes David Tosh, yet the lion's share of rhino conservation resources is lavished on Africa. The reason is simple: Africa's rhinos generate more cash from tourism. But should this really be the point? more...
The market may value Brazil nuts, as do those who earn a living by gathering them. But that has done little to hold back the Amazon's deforestation. Brazil nut collector in Pando, Bolivia. Photo: Amy Duchelle / CIFOR.

Nature can't pay its way in capital markets. It's time for new solutions

Benjamin Neimark

24th September 2015

It's a seductive narrative, writes Benjamin Neimark: nature is valuable, so let's call it 'natural capital', create markets to monetise it, and so ensure its conservation. But sadly, it's not working. Maybe because capitalism itself is the problem. We need new approaches to saving the world's biodiversity. more...
Another extraordinary sunset over Lake Baikal - the deep hues heightened by the ever-present forest fires. Photo: Bryce Stewart.

New dams, warming waters, forest fires - Lake Baikal in peril

Bryce Stewart

17th September 2015

Longer than England, almost as deep as the Grand Canyon, Russia's Lake Baikal is one of the world's greatest aquatic wonders, writes Bryce Stewart. But it's a fragile paradise: the limpid waters are warming much faster than the global average, with as yet unknown effects on its ecology. And it faces the danger of a huge dam on its principal tributary, Mongolia's Selenga River. more...
Baka in Cameroon have been prohibited from entering the forest to gather resources they require. Photo: © Survival International.

Indigenous peoples bear the brunt of global greenwash

Amy Dickens

23rd September 2015

As ever more companies and governments pledge to 'go green' and protect forests, the world's tribal peoples should be among the main beneficiaries, writes Amy Dickens. Yet the reverse is the case. All too often the promises are purest greenwash, used to conceal the human and environmental tragedy of land-grabbing for plantations, mines, logging and even 'conservation'. more...
Dmitry Lisitsyn. Photo: Goldman Prize.

Russia aims 'foreign agent' law at green NGO

Oliver Tickell

15th September 2015

The respected Russian campaign group Sakhalin Environment Watch is being forced to choose between registering as a 'foreign agent' label and closing down, writes Oliver Tickell. Environmental campaigning, it seems, is now a 'political activity'. more...
Gardens by the Bay with Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore. Photo: Uwe Schwarzbach via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Setting aside half the Earth for 'rewilding': the human question

William Lynn

9th September 2015

Biologist E O Wilson's grand idea of setting aside half of the planet for nature to thrive is both appealing and deeply challenging, writes William Lynn. But it's missing a key element: an urban vision of how people can live ecologically, joyously in the half we make our own. more...
Reticulated giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis recticulata) and oxpeckers photographed on safari at Samburu, Kenya. Photo: roger smith via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Giraffes aren't dangerous - but some are endangered

Matt Hayward

11th August 2015

Giraffe numbers have fallen from 140,000 in 16 years to just 80,000, writes Matt Hayward, and sub-species in East and West Africa are close to extinction. However trophy hunting has led to big population increases in private game reserves in southern Africa. To secure the giraffes' future, beware of simplistic narratives. more...
Saving our red squirrels is fine - but only if we reach beyond our shores to where the real biodiversity lies, and is under threat. Photo:  j_gldsck via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Beyond squirrels: biodiversity doesn't stop at Dover

James Borrell

8th August 2015

Should we really be spending £1.2 million a year to conserve red squirrels? Yes we should, writes James Borrell. But with Africa's rhinos facing extinction, and vital conservation in UK's overseas 'biodiversity jewels' sadly underfunded, there are much better investments we should be making too. more...
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...
Cecil the lion, photographed in April 2010 in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. Photo: Daughter#3 via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Africa has half as many lions as 20 years ago - but don't blame trophy hunting

Lochran Traill & Norman Owen-Smith

2nd Ausgust 2015

The killing of Zimbabwe's Cecil the Lion has put a welcome spotlight on the alarming decline of Africa's lions, write Lochran Traill & Norman Owen-Smith. But to save the species, we should not obsess about trophy hunting, but tackle much more serious problems - like snaring and habitat fragmentation. more...

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This is what was really doing the damage: industrial whaling by Britain, by ships like the Petrel, now an eerie hulk beached up on South Georgia Island. Photo: Christopher Michel via Flickr (CC BY).

Whatever our emotions tell us, not all whaling is the same

David Lusseau

30th July 2015

The Faroe Islands' annual 'grindadráp', in which hundreds of pilot whales are slaughtered with knives and hooks, is a horrifying spectacle, writes David Lusseau. But unlike industrial whaling it poses no threat to the species. And is it really any worse than the industrial factory farming that we routinely ignore? more...
Fierce flames creep across moorland near Heriot, Scotland. Photo: Snipps Whispers (CC BY-NC-ND).

Britain's 'protected' moorlands go up in flames

The Ecologist

21st July 2015

A new study led by RSPB shows that more than half of Britain's most precious upland moors are suffering from burning - widely used to increase the numbers of red grouse available for recreational shooting. more...
Pope Francis. Photo: © Mazur / via Catholic Church England and Wales / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

The system is intolerable: the change we need is in our hands

Pope Francis

18th July 2015

The world has become intolerable for people everywhere, and for Earth herself, says Pope Francis. Profound, transformative change leading to social and economic justice is now an absolute necessity and something we must all fight for. We must also act to safeguard the Earth herself, our common home. more...
The North American bumblebee Bombus vosnesenskii in Vancouver, Canada. Photo: Sean McCann via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Warming world traps bumblebees in 'climate vice'

Tim Radford

10th July 2015

As Europe and North America warm, bumblebees should be able to fly north to cooler climes, writes Tim Radford. But they're not: the bees' range is receding in the south, but staying put in the north, and scientists fear their shrinking habitat will put many species at risk of extinction. more...
The Vandana Shiva Reader (Culture Of The Land), front over (cut).

Green Revolution: wonderful science, catastrophic consequences

Colin Tudge

12th July 2015

In her new book The Vandana Shiva Reader, the celebrated campaigner and scientist deplores the way in which the Green Revolution forced India's poorest farmers off their land, writes Colin Tudge. Now she fears even worse outcomes in Africa where a GMO-fuelled farming revolution is under way. more...
A handful of seeds, Porto-Novo, Oueme, Benin. Photo: Adam Cohn via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Seed Freedom! A last chance to thwart the great African seed grab

Ali-Masmadi Jehu-Appiah

29th June 2015

Nineteen African nations meet today in Arusha, Tanzania, to finalise a 'plant protection' protocol that would open up the continent's seeds to corporate interests, taking away farmers' rights to grow, improve, sell and exchange their traditional seeds, while allowing commercial breeders to make free use of the biodiversity they embody, to sell them back to farmers in 'improved' form. more...
Rice farmers and their children greeting visitors to Brong-Ahafo village, Ghana. The seeds they grow, and the land they grow them on, are essential to their survival. Photo: Eileen Delhi via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Africa's farmers fight the corporate takeover of seeds, land and food

Chris Walker

4th June 2015

Lured by promises of aid and investment, African governments are rewriting laws to create lucrative opportunities for corporate agribusiness, writes Chris Walker - while consigning their own farmers to servitude and landlessness. But now farmers are rising up, as in Ghana where a new 'Monsanto law' threatens to end their right to grow, save and share their ancestral seeds. more...
Women from RUWFAG. Photo: Global Justice Now.

Ghana's women farmers resist the G7 plan to grab Africa's seeds

Heidi Chow

22nd May 2015

Sharing and saving seed is a crucial part of traditional farming all over Africa, writes Heidi Chow. Maybe that's why governments, backed by multinational seed companies, are imposing oppressive seed laws that attack the continent's main food producers and open the way to industrial agribusiness. But Ghana's women farmers are having none of it. more...
Without a cooperative, trans-boundary approach to wildlife conservation, Africa will struggle to conserve its biodiversity - like these elephants in the Masai Mara, Tanzania. Photo:  R∂lf Κλενγελ via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Only co-operative, trans-boundary conservation can save Africa's environment

Willem Daniel Lubbe

29th May 2015

Africa's poor environmental record has its roots in colonialism, which cut artificial boundaries through peoples and ecosystems, and left a rigid 'fortress conservation' ethic, writes Willem Daniel Lubbe. It's time for countries to adopt a new pan-African environmentalism, and transcend their colonial past. more...
Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) at RSPB Medmerry, West Sussex England. Photo: BiteYourBum.Com Photography via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

We must defend Europe's wildlife laws!

Martin Harper

12th May 2015

Europe's most important laws for wildlife, the EU's Nature Directives, are under threat in from a recently launched 'review', writes Martin Harper. The official purpose is to make the laws more effective, but in reality it's all part of the Commission's agenda to strip away regulations that impede business in its pursuit of profit. more...
Nightingale in full song, perched in a hawthorn bush. Photo: Kev Chapman via Flickr (CC BY).

Don't let our nightingales go quietly!

Chris Rose

7th May 2015

Nightingales, famous for the entrancing beauty of their song, have declined by 90% over the last 50 years, writes Chris Rose, and are heading towards their very own silent spring. The first step to saving this wonderful bird must be for us to fully appreciate it, and the terrible loss its extinction would represent. more...
A nightingale in full song. Photo: courtesy of David Plummer Images.

Moonlit melody - the resurgent nightingales of Knepp

Hazel Sillver

7th May 2015

At the inspiring new 3,500 acre 'wildland' of the Knepp Estate in West Sussex, the nightingale is making itself at home amid the thorny thickets, writes Hazel Sillver. That's proof to any that need it that the bird's extinction is far from inevitable - if only we can muster the will to save it! It also offers a wonderful opportunity to hear its magical song ... more...
Six Spot Burnet Moth and Large Skipper Butterfly supping nectar on Common Knapweed. Photo: © 2015 Jo Cartmell.

Jo's mini meadow - our beautiful and vital insects

Jo Cartmell

7th May 2015

First Jo Cartmell converted her uninspiring front lawn into a 'mini-meadow' full of wild flowers. Next, she waited the return of insect life - not for very long as it turned out. Barely a few years into the project, a remarkable profusion of bees, beetles, moths and butterflies were buzzing and humming around the blooms ... more...


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