The Ecologist


Atlantic Rising

Atlantic Rising: creating a fashion for guilt-free fur

Lynn Morris

fur fashion on sale

Can fashion fur be guilt free? A project in Louisiana believes the answer is yes - if you are wearing swamp rat

Nutria, also known as swamp rat, is an invasive species doing serious damage to the ecosystem around New Orleans. They use their massive front teeth to dig up plants by their roots, destroying marsh grasses and burrowing into the bayou sides. It’s the first step towards coastal erosion.

Nutria’s only predator is the alligator but there are not enough of them to keep the population under control. Louisiana state has a control programme offering a bounty of $5 per nutria tail, and this year almost half a million of the animals were killed.

However, only two percent of the culled nutria were utilised and the rest discarded.

A fashion project called Righteous Fur was set up to use the pelts with the slogan ‘Save our wetlands, wear more nutria’.

Cree McCree who established the project said: 'I think it is kind of criminal not to use the nutria.' Righteous Fur’s designers have made bags, hats, cuffs and coats... Read More...

Atlantic Rising: Living on the edge on Nantucket Island in the US

Lynn Morris

Coastal erosion

Homes are being moved and maps redrawn as coastal erosion eats away at an island off Massachusetts

‘Living on the edge’ is something residents of Nantucket know all about as every year they lose houses to coastal erosion.

Last week a ‘Living on the Edge: Coastal Communities’ conference was held on the island of Nantucket off the coast of Massachusetts.

The island was once the centre of America’s whaling industry; now the main industry is tourism. Historic grey shingle clad houses line the cobbled streets of the town centre and tourists arrive daily by boat and plane.

However, many of Nantucket’s historic houses are now under threat from coastal erosion. Home insurance is a hot topic for property owners who find their premiums are increasing year on year. Maps are needing to be redrawn as some areas build up, others are washed away by the sea and the island migrates slowly northwards.

Earlier this month

Atlantic Rising: sea level rise threatens the Orinoco Delta in Venezuela

Will Lorimer


Rising sea levels are forcing the migration of indigenous peoples and threatening the freshwater ecosystem of catfish and piranha found in the Orinoco Delta near the coast of Venezuela

The Warao are a river people. Found in the Orinoco Delta, they live between the expansive ranches ringing the upper delta and the mangrove swamps of the coast. But sea level change is becoming an ever-pressing concern, threatening their way of life and unique knowledge they hold.

The 25,000 Warao who populate the delta have lived on the Orinoco for hundreds of years. Everything in their lives comes from the jungle, shaped with techniques passed down through generations. It is knowledge derived from a particular time, a particular relationship to the land and a particular set of resources.

The plants and animals on which the Warao depend - the Moriche palm, the Orinoco catfish, the piranha - are freshwater species. But 80km from the coast there is still a tidal range of one metre. Now the balance of the delta’s salinity is shifting.

'This last dry season has been very hard,' said Maria Cabrella who lives in the delta. 'The water was... Read More...

Atlantic Rising: Belo Monte dam the start of the drowning of the Amazon

Tim Bromfield


Campaigners fear the construction of the world's third largest hydroelectric dam in Brazil is just the start with many more being planned in the Amazon basin

Amazon Indians are preparing for war in the state of Pará, Brazil, after the controversial Belo Monte dam contract was awarded to the Norte Energia consortium.

The dam, planned for the Xingu River, will flood 500 square km of virgin rainforest. Generating 11,000 MW, it will be the third largest in the world, adding almost 20 per cent to Brazil’s electric power capacity.

Gilson Rego of the Commissão Pastoral da Terra, a Catholic organisation supporting marginalised rural Brazilians, said: 'The legal fight is over. Only the indigenous Indians can stop the construction now.'

Destruction of a people

The Xingu River has a huge diversity of indigenous cultures representing language groups as different as English and Mandarin. Sixty-two indigenous leaders recently... Read More...

Atlantic Rising: Guyana using mangroves to defend itself from sea-level rises

Tim Bromfield


Global sea level rise poses a big challenge for the small country of Guyana but mangrove planting offers a cost-effective way of protecting coastal regions

The 320km coastal zone, a fertile agricultural belt, where 90 per cent of Guyana’s 800,000 population live already lies between 50cm and one metre below sea level. And between 1955 and 2005 Guyana recorded a rise in relative sea level of 17cm, approximately twice the global average.
One theory put forward for the large relative rise is that alluvial deposits from the Demerara, Berbice and Essequibo rivers are forcing the coastline to sink. The flood risk is exacerbated by Guyana’s high levels of rainfall, which in cricketing terms means that Guyana has not hosted one test match in 100 years unaffected by rain.

Dutch-built defences

But Guyana has been defending itself against the sea for centuries and the stilted houses which line the shore are an example of this tradition of adaptation.

The Dutch built an elaborate system of dykes and ditches in the eighteenth century which were extended during the... Read More...

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