The Ecologist


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No shortage of biodiversity here - Rapture Reef sits within the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument. The monument encompasses more than 140,000 square miles of ocean and coral reef habitat. Photo: NOAA's National Ocean Service via Flick

Can we halt biodiversity loss in 15 years? Yes we can!

Richard Pearson, UCL

12th November 2015

Is the aspiration to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2030 - enshrined in the UN's new Sustainable Development Goals - a fairy tale? It's ambitious, writes Richard Pearson, but there are plenty of signs that the world is acting effectively to conserve its endangered habitats and species. With extraordinary effort, we can do it. more...
View across Lake Ohrid with small boats. Photo: Jaime Pérez via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Macedonia: EBRD's planned destruction of Lake Ohrid Biosphere Reserve

Elena Nikolovska & Daniel Scarry

27th October 2015

UNESCO's Lake Ohrid-Prespa Biosphere Reserve at Mount Galicica, Macedonia, is at risk from a raft of aggressive developments, write Elena Nikolovska & Daniel Scarry: tourism complexes, a new expressway and ski resort all threaten its tranquility and stunning diversity of wildlife, backed by loans from the EU's taxpayer-funded Bank, the EBRD. more...
Victims of the pine bark beetle: Lodgepole pines in Summit County, Colorado. They may not look pretty, but these dead trees are an ecological godsend. Photo: V Smoothe via Flickr (CC BY).

In defense of the Bark Beetle: a keystone species of Western forest ecosystems

Chad Hanson

28th October 2015

Bark beetles are invariably presented as terrible, forest killing pests, writes Chad Hanson. But in truth forest biodiversity depends on them to create the snags for insects to burrow in, woodpeckers to feed off, and countless birds and even pine martens to nest in. So when you hear politicians calling for bark beetle 'salvage' logging, send them off with a flea in the ear! more...
A beaver's services to landscape and wetland management are worth $120,000 a year, according to today's Earth Index.

How much is nature worth? More than you can imagine

Neil Nightingale

8th October 2015

However much you think nature is worth, it's a lot more, writes Neil Nightingale. According to the BBC's 'Earth Index', published today in the world's financial press, water alone is worth as much as the entire global economy, and a single beaver's landscape and wetland management clocks in at $120,000 a year. 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...
A legally questionable logging corridor built by Asia Pulp and Paper inside the traditional home of the Orang Rimba, one of Indonesia's last nomadic cultures. Jambi Province, Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo: Rainforest Action Network via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Act now, or tropical forests will be a sorry sight in 2100

Simon Lewis

24th August 2015

Based on current performance tropical forests, the world's most biodiverse ecosystems, are set to be reduced to species-impoverished fragments by the end of the century, writes Simon Lewis. But it's not inevitable. Decisive action by the world's governments in Paris in December could secure desperately needed change. 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...
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...
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...
The Augustow Primeval Forest in Poland - saved from a motorway project by the EU's nature laws. Is the problem that they work too well? Photo: Erik de Haan via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

European Commission's deregulation drive threatens EU nature laws

Leonardo Mazza

11th July 2015

The EU's nature directives provide effective protection for endangered species and habitats, writes Leonardo Mazza. So why the Commission's decision to 'review' and 'modernise' the laws? With its commitment to business-friendly deregulation and uninterest in the environment, the aim is surely to gut them - something only EU-wide citizens' mobilisation can prevent. more...
Solitary Leaf-cutter bee (Megachile centuncularis) nectaring on Small Scabious in Jo's wild flower meadow, Photo: © 2015 Jo Cartmell.

Sowing wildflower meadows, and leaving Nature in charge

Jo Cartmell

10th July 2015

When Oxeye daises looked like taking over her mini-meadow, Jo Cartmell was tempted to intervene. But instead, she held back and let nature take its course. Now, a few seasons later, the floral diversity has only increased, taking in some unexpected but welcome arrivals - along with their insect companions, all making their home on what used to be an unloved patch of lawn. more...
Ex-congressman Eduardo Veliz (white hair) leads a protest at San Cristobál airport, Galapagos, against excessive development, prior to his arrest. Photo: El Colono (Galapagos newspaper).

Galápagos rebellion against foreign investment in hotels, golf courses, luxury tourism

Jane Shaw

25th June 2015

Residents of Ecuador's Galápagos islands are mounting angry protests against government plans to open the World Heritage Site to foreign investment in luxury tourism and hotels, writes Jane Shaw. They fear for the fragile ecology of the islands, for water shortages caused by golf courses and swimming pools, and for their livelihoods which depend on current 'low intensity' tourism. more...

biodiversity: 1/25 of 116
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A bleak outlook for Britain's environment: Cairn Toul from the Pools of Dee, Lairig Ghru, Cairngorms. The sub-Arctic biodiversity of the mountains is at risk from warming climate. Photo: Ted and Jen via Flickr (CC BY).

The greenest government ever? By no stretch of the imagination

Jonathon Porritt

22nd June 2015

The previous government came in on a bold promise to be the 'greenest ever', writes Jonathon Porritt. But what we got was a shameful record of ideologically driven policies that promoted fossil fuels, undermined action on climate, obsessed over nuclear power, did nothing to arrest the decline in the nation's wildlife and biodiversity - and suggest even worse to come. more...
Dwarfed by a human hand. Photo: Marcio Pie (CC BY-NC-SA).

Seven new species of tiny frog found in Brazil's cloud forest

Miranda Dyson, The Open University

9th June 2015

The Atlantic rainforest of Brazil is a biodiversity treasure, writes Miranda Dyson - as exemplified by the discovery of seven minute and beautiful frogs. But with the forest already reduced to under a tenth of its original extent, and going fast, they and countless other species may not survive much longer. more...
Slieve Gallion in the Sperrin Mountains of County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, at risk from a proposed gold mine. Photo: SHANLISS_SNAPPER via Flickr (CC BY).

EU nature laws are essential to fight off wildlife attacks in Northern Ireland

Andy Atkins

26th June 2015

Northern Ireland shows just how much we need the EU's laws protecting nature, writes Andy Atkins - and for the Government to enforce them. The province's wonderful natural heritage is at risk from aggressive and often unlawful developments. And the EU nature laws are essential for us to fight off a host of threats - among them sand dredging, gold mining, road-building and over-fishing. more...
From the front cover of 'The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy' by Michael McCarthy.

The Moth Snowstorm: nature, joy, and the great thinning

Chris Rose

30th June 2015

In his new book environmental journalist Michael McCarthy bears witness to the astonishing decline in the once common wildlife of our countryside of the last few decades. But as Chris Rose writes, he does far more than bemoan the losses as he shares with us the joy that he still discovers in nature. 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...
Recovering marine life within the Lamlash Bay 'no take zone'. Photo: Howard Wood / COAST.

Strong marine protection works for fisheries and wildlife!

Bryce Stewart & Leigh Howarth

20th April 2015

The strongly protected marine reserve in Lamlash Bay, Arran, has been a huge success, write Bryce Stewart & Leigh Howarth, with abandant life returning to the once denuded waters. The government's refusal to expand such protections represents a huge wasted opportunity for both fishing and the marine environment. more...
Howard Wood and colleagues in COAST, with the Lamlash Bay 'no take zone' in the background. Photo: COAST.

Saving Lamlash Bay - and over-exploited seas everywhere

Howard Wood

20th April 2015

A coveted award has put the campaign to protect and recover marine life in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland, into the international limelight. Goldman Prize winner Howard Wood explains how Arran Islanders' efforts to keep scallop dredgers out of Lamlash Bay has brought life, and fish, back to the sea. more...
Indian children on Brazil's BR 319 road through the increasingly fragmented Amazon rainforest. Photo: Ben Sutherland via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

To forestall a mass extinction, fight forest fragmention

David Edwards

24th March 2015

Large areas of forest remain around the world, writes David Edwards, but many of them are - in biological terms - dying on their feet as their species diversity erodes due to fragmentation. To conserve the full richness of our forests, we must keep them entire and unbroken, and rebuild the continuity of forest islands. more...
A clear-cut in Norrbotten Country, northern Sweden © Frédéric Forsmark.

Swedish wildlife extinction threat as loggers clear-cut 'old growth' forests

Alec Forss

11th February 2015

Sweden's biodiverse ancient forests will be largely wiped out within two decades, writes Alec Forss - and along with it will go thousands of species that depend on mature forest ecosystems. But with powerful logging companies riding roughshod over the law, regulators, politicians and certifiers, who is to stop the destruction before it's too late? more...
A rosier future for the high seas beckons. Photo: Moyan Brenn via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

UN talks begin on a new law to save our oceans

The Ecologist

30th January 2015

Countries at the UN have agreed to start formal negotiations on a new 'legally binding instrument' to conserve the biological riches of the high seas that cover 45% of planet Earth, and ensure their sustainable use for the benefit of all mankind. more...
Old Bighorn ram on the banks of the North Fork of the Shoshone River after eating some of the first green grass of spring. Photo: Yellowstone Gate via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Who are the real 'eco-terrorists' on America's public lands?

George Wuerthner

27th January 2015

Ranchers can deliberately abuse public land and the wildlife that lives on it at will, writes George Wuerthner, confident that any breaches of the law are likely to be overlooked. But it's another thing altogether if you're trying to protect that land from destructive exploitation. Why the double standard? more...
Pipetting winegrape DNA samples in the lab during marker-assisted selection. Photo: Dan Ng (CC BY-SA).

GMO-free molecular genetics launch golden age of disease-resistant grapes

Andrew Walker

22nd February 2015

Advanced molecular genetic techniques are allowing scientists to breed disease resistance from wild grape varieties into susceptible domestic cultivars used for making wine, writes Andrew Walker. And it's all being done by conventional plant breeding accelerated by the use of DNA markers - with not a GMO in sight! more...
A dead Irrawaddy dolphin floats on the Harintana-Tembulbunia channel of the Sela River on 6th January 2015. Photo: Syed Zakir Hossain for the Dhaka Tribune.

As rivers re-open to shipping, oil threat to Bangladesh's Sundarbans forest continues

ASMG Kibria

9th January 2015

Bangladesh's Sundarbans forest, home of incredibly rich biodiversity, is under unprecedented threat, writes ASMG Kibria. The recent oil tanker capsize on the Shela river puts the forest at risk of widespread biodiversity loss, but just this week, the authorities re-opened the Shela river to shipping with no restrictions on hazardous cargoes. more...


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