The Ecologist

 

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The 'Daisyworld' model is integral to Gaia theory, developed by Dr James Lovelock, which proposes that organisms interact with their surroundings to form a complex, self-regulating system. Photo: Gordon Robertson via Flickr (CC BY).

Educating for Gaia: a wholistic approach to Earth science

Dr Stephen Harding

28th April 2016

As a society, we are strangely disconnected from the Earth, writes Stephan Harding. It's as if we were aliens placed here to prod and poke with our scientific instruments whilst feeling no sense of meaning, belonging or closeness to her ancient crumpled surface or rich, teeming biodiversity - a state of mind that a forthcoming course at Schumacher College aims to reverse. more...
South Water Caye Marine Reserve is one of seven protected areas that make up the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System World Heritage site, at risk from oil exploration and drilling. Photo: © Antonio Busiello / WWF-US.

Industrial expansion threatens half of natural World Heritage Sites

The Ecologist

6th April 2016

Precious World Heritage Sites that protect vital biodiversity and human cultures are at risk from oil decelopment and other industries. Under threat are not just nature, wildlife, land and water but the 11 million people who depend on the 114 sites' environmental quality for their livelihoods. more...
A young lion cub resting in Massai Mara National reserve, Kenya. Photo: Ralf Κλενγελ via Flickr (CC BY-NC)

Africa's lions and pastoralists share the benefits of community ecotourism

Grant Hopcraft & Sara Blackburn

5th April 2016

The conflict between lions and Africa's cattle herders goes back centuries, write Grant Hopcraft and Sara Blackburn - and lions have been the big losers in recent years. But where local people benefit from ecotourism, that ancient enmity can quickly be set aside. 'Community conservancies' around formal protected areas are helping both lions and indigenous communities to survive and thrive. more...
Wild coffee grows in these forests of the Ethiopian highlands - and nowhere else. Photo: Indrias Getachew.

Ethiopia's vulnerable tropical forests are key to securing the future of coffee

Fiona Hesselden, University of Huddersfield

24th March 2016

Coffee may be grown all around the tropics, writes Fiona Hesselden, but it originates in just one place: the 'coffee rainforests' of the Ethiopian highlands. We depend on the wild plants for new genes and varieties, yet the forests are falling fast to the advance of farmers. To preserve the forests and all their biodiversity, the original people of the forest must receive their just rewards. more...
Monarch butterfly on Milkweed. Photo: bark via Flickr (CC BY).

Monarch butterfly decline: the overwhelming case for banning glyphosate

Eva Sirinathsinghji / ISIS

2nd March 2016

Monarch butterfly numbers are dwindling despite protection of their wintering forests in Mexico, and voluntary schemes to restore their food plant, milkweed, in US field margins, writes Eva Sirinathsinghji. These measures alone are insufficient: no less than an end to the mass spraying of glyphosate on crops, predicated by 'Roundup-ready' GM corn and soy, will do. more...
A huge wild bee hive in Indian forest. Photo: Karunakar Rayker via Flickr (CC BY).

Climate change is killing off India’s bees

Pramila Krishnan

1st March 2016

A warming climate and the loss of natural areas are driving Indian bee colonies to the brink, writes Premila Krishnan. Losing this cousin of our European honeybee could be disastrous, as rural communities depend on their honey for food and income, and the bees perform vital pollination services. more...
Signs of beavers in riparian woodland near  Tumba, Stockholm, Sweden. Photo: Fredrik Holmberg via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Give beavers permanent British residence!

Nigel Willby & Alan Law, University of Stirling

28th February 2016

Beavers are Britain's native aquatic engineers and their return to sites in Scotland and England is doing wonders for the local environment, write Nigel Willby & Alan Law: restoring wetlands, recreating natural river dynamics and ecology, filtering farm pollutants from water, and improving habitat for trout and other fish. more...
A fallen tree in the Bialowieza National Park, Poland. The orange mushroom (Laetiporus sulphureus) in front is edible and known as 'chicken of the woods'. Photo: Frank Vassen via Flickr (CC BY).

Timber! Poland's bid to increase logging 8-fold in primeval Bialowieza Forest

Zachary Davies Boren / Greenpeace Energydesk

18th February 2016

Poland's environment ministry has a plan for a huge increase in logging in Europe's last great primeval forest, writes Zachary Davies Boren. Officials claim it's to control bark beetles. But ecologists say the insects are regulated naturally within the forest ecosystem, while logging threatens huge damage to irreplaceable biodiversity. more...
Organic carrots on a New England farm, USA. Photo: Sandor Weisz via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Organic agriculture, agroecology and the parallel reality of the GMO evangelist

Colin Todhunter

21st March 2016

GMO enthusiasts insist that organic, agroecological farming could never feed the world, writes Colin Todhunter. But it has been feeding us all for millennia - and it's the only way to continue while enriching the soils and biodiversity on which all farming depends. As Mahatma Gandhi once observed, industrial agriculture is but a nine-day wonder. And its time will soon be up. more...
Children learn about the wild fruits of the forest. Photo: Damitha Rajapakse.

Conserving and popularizing wild fruits in Sri Lanka - the Native Forest Foundation

Damitha Rajapakse

1st March 2016

Modern practices mean that more than ever, people are disconnected from nature, writes Damitha Rajapakse. In Sri Lanka - a biodiversity hotspot which is full of endemic plants with unique properties - a conservation programme is under way to teach the new generation about the rich heritage of native fruits which surrounds them. more...
Female Agapostemon sp. sweat bee, Oregon, USA. Photo: Thomas Shahan via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Farm expansion driving US native bee declines

Beyond Pesticides

28th December 2015

Wild bee decline is closely associated with the advance of intensive farming and habitat loss, a new study shows. It follows an earlier paper that linked 'delayed action' decline of wild bees to exposure to pesticides including fungicides - previously considered 'bee-safe'. more...
Two mature bulls amid wild flowers on the Partido de Resina bull-breeding estate in Spain. In the background, intensively managed orange and olive plantations run up to the estate boundary. Photo: Robin Irvine.

Bullfighting is conserving Spain's biodiversity - ban at nature's peril

Robin Irvine, University of St Andrews

28th December 2015

Bullfighting may cause suffering to animals, but that does not mean the EU should ban it or withdraw farm subsidies, writes Robin Irvine. Traditional bull-breeding estates are valuable reservoirs of biodiversity in intensively farmed landscapes, and without the bulls there would be nothing to sustain them. more...

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Photo: Arath Kuchi via Flickr (BY-SA)

India's top GMO regulator's 'Contempt of Court' over GM mustard trials

Colin Todhunter

15th December

India's Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee stands accused of Contempt of Court for evading Supreme Court orders to carry out full biosafety tests on GM crops and publish its data, writes Colin Todhunter. The immediate issue is a herbicide tolerant GM mustard now approved for large scale trials, while earlier findings remain under an impenetrable veil of official secrecy. more...
Tiger cub on the Sundarbans, Bangladesh. Photo: Arindam Bhattacharya via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Coal plant threatens world's largest mangrove forest - and Bangladesh's future

Mowdud Rahman & Greig Aitken

10th December 2015

As COP21 reaches its endgame, there are plans to build 2,440 coal-fired power plants around the world, write Mowdud Rahman & Greig Aitken. Their completion would send global temperatures, and sea levels, soaring. Yet Bangladesh, the world's most 'climate vulnerable' large country, has plans for a 1.3GW coal power plant on the fringes of its World Heritage coastal wetlands. more...
First know the land. Countryside near Welwyn, England. Photo: Greg Knapp via Flickr (CC BY)

Farmers would do better to understand the land than grow GM crops

Julia Wright, Coventry University

11th April 2016

GMO crops are marketed as providing quick fixes to complex problems, writes Julia Wright. But they only perpetuate 'business as usual' farming that's depleting soils, water and biodiversity, and entrench unsustainable models of agriculture in place of agroecological systems that work with, not against, nature. more...
Yellowstone Bison. Photo: Jitze Couperus via Flickr (CC BY).

Bloodbath in Yellowstone: the park's plan to slaughter 1,000 wild bison

George Wuerthner

14th December 2015

Yellowstone Park is home to America's last pure-bred wild bison, writes George Wuerthner. Yet the Park's management is planning to kill around a thousand of these precious animals this winter. Ostensibly it's to protect cattle on public lands near the park from brucellosis. But bison have never been known to transmit the disease to them. The real reason is to keep all the pasture for livestock. more...
Artwork: 'Roots amd Wings' by Angela Marie Henriette via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

A People's Pact to Protect the Planet

Vandana Shiva

2nd December 2015

We cannot rely on governments in meeting in Paris to solve the many-headed climate problem, writes Vandana Shiva. It's up to us to safeguard the future of the Earth, and of our own and other species. So let's all join in this pact to love and protect our one and only home. more...
There is another way: organic Borlotti beans from Sandy Lane Farm, Oxfordshire. Photo: Sandy Lane Farm via Facebook.

Health and biodiversity restored? How farming can rediscover its long-lost roots

Dave Goulson

16th November 2015

As industrial agriculture continues to erode our wildlife, Dave Goulson challenges the methods and objectives of ever-increasing food production. We need to move towards sustainable, evidence-based farming systems that produce healthy food, rather than allowing the agrochemical industry to reshape our farming, countryside and nutrition to its quest for profit. more...
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...
Easter Island butterfly fish are one of at least 140 species endemic to the regions waters. Photo: Eduardo Sorenson, The Pew Charitable Trusts (CC BY-SA).

Easter Island is the perfect spot for a marine reserve

Callum Roberts

12th October 2015

Chile's announcement of a 630,000 sq.km marine protected area around Easter Island is altogether welcome, writes Callum Roberts. It forms part of a trend of very large marine reserve declarations that will play a vital role in preserving endangered fish stocks and vital oceanic biodiversity. 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...

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