The Ecologist

 

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Radical roots ... radishes in a Boston farmers' market. Photo: WBUR Boston's NPR News Station via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Brexit and the future of farming: threat or opportunity?

Molly Scott Cato MEP

21st February 2017

With most of our food exports going to the EU, and most of our food imports coming from the EU, Molly Scott Cato wondered what plans the government had for the sector after Brexit. The answer? None! Two reports published today map out a positive future of sustainable farming, local food, thriving rural economies and abundant biodiversity. But is the government on the same page? more...
Monarch butterfly sipping nectar from milkweed. Photo: Sherri VandenAkker via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Monarch butterflies down over a quarter in one year

The Ecologist

10th February 2017

It's been another disastrous year for North America's Monarch butterflies, with the insect's population down 27% in a single year. The sudden decline is blamed on severe winter storms in Mexico, and the impacts of GMO crops, herbicides and insecticides on US farms. more...

Ecologist Special Report: Ecological Conservation in Post-Conflict Colombia

Forest Ray

10th February, 2017

Colombia is now closer than ever to finding a peaceful resolution to generations of violence. With so much to gain in a post-conflict world - as much for the Colombian people as for their environment - the sudden prospect of losing it all will make for tense months ahead writes FOREST RAY more...
On Green Belt land in Sussex, near London - far too valuable to allow house-builders to let rip all over it! Photo: Jason Jones via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Green belt must not be sacrificed to unplanned housing

Alister Scott, Northumbria University

8th February 2017

The green belt is part of the critical green infrastructure that delivers multiple benefits for cities, writes Alister Scott. It provides space for recreation, biodiversity and farms supplying local food. It protects us from flooding and drought, improves air quality and mitigates the urban heat island effect. In short, it's far too valuable to allow developers to build all over it! more...
Could your household gas come from wildflower rich meadows, like this Culm Grassland at Knowstone Moor, Devon? Photo: Col Ford and Natasha de Vere via Flickr (CC BY).

It beats fracking - but can we believe Ecotricity's vision of 'green gas from grass'?

Almuth Ernsting

27th January 2017

Just imagine: gas for your cooking and heating made by composting home-grown British grass, writes Almuth Ernsting. What's not to like? Well, it would need almost all the UK's grassland to match our gas demand, leaving cows and sheep to starve or forcing them into sheds to eat foreign-grown feeds. And methane leakage could easily wipe out any climate benefit. more...
The roadless areas map developed by Roadfree.org and partners. The map referred to in this article is behind Science's paywall!

New map shows way to reducing roads' destruction of nature

Tim Radford

18th January 2017

Scientists are calling for the urgent protection of ecologically valuable roadless areas, writes Tim Radford, as a new global map shows that roads lead to loss of biodiversity and damage to ecosystems by fragmenting habitat and providing access to exploiters. more...

Real Farming Report - Whose seeds are they anyway?

Kathryn Hindess

6th January, 2016

The new People Need Nature report - published to coincide with this week's annual Oxford Real Farming Conference - warns that modern farming practices are not good for wildlife. But they're not good for humans either. And with predictions that we will need to produce 70 per cent more food to feed a third more mouths by 2050 the question of seed ownership and diversity cannot be ignored. KATHRYN HINDESS reports more...

"NATURAL CAPITAL" - A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE

Victor Anderson

14th December, 2016

It is easy in a country like the UK to imagine that science and economics command the whole debate about nature's value. But step back and look at the bigger picture internationally, and it all looks rather different writes VICTOR ANDERSON more...
Gene drives could be used, for example, to attack fast-breeding pest species like aphids. But with what consequences on other species and wider ecosystems? Photo: Nigel Jones via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Biodiversity Convention call to block new 'genetic extinction' GMOs

GMWatch & The Ecologist

6th December 2016

160 global groups have called for a moratorium on new 'genetic extinction' technology at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Cancun, Mexico. Gene drive technology, they say, poses serious and irreversible threats to biodiversity, national sovereignty, peace and food security. more...
Scottish beaver seen in 2008. Photo: Paul Stevenson via Flickr (CC BY).

Scotland's wild beavers win legal protection

Oliver Tickell

24th November 2016

The Scottish government has announced that its wild beaver populations will be given the full protection of both UK and EU law. The decision has been welcomed by campaigners who point out all the benefits of beavers to biodiversity, water management and flood control. Now, they say, England and Wales should follow suit. more...
John Letts harvesting his biodiverse crop of heritage wheat on an organic farm in Buckinghamshire. Photo: Adrian Arbib for Resurgence & Ecologist Magazine.

Farming with the grain - John Letts and his evolutionary 'made for organic' heritage seeds

Oliver Tickell

10th November 2016

To feed the world we must abandon not just GMOs but all diversity-destroying selective crop breeding, organic farmer John Letts told Oliver Tickell. Only by using biodiverse local seed mixtures that evolve in the field can food production adapt to climate change without ever-increasing chemical inputs, and meet human needs for wholesome nourishment. more...
Longleaf Pine Regeneration in South Carolina. Photo: Justin Meissen via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

UK biomass power industry is a vital part of the renewable energy mix

Nina Skorupska / Renewable Energy Association

27th October 2016

Contrary to arguments advanced in a recent Ecologist article, the biomass industry supplying the Drax power station in North Yorkshire is a model of sustainability, writes Nina Skorupska, and delivers genuine, substantial emissions reductions compared to coal. more...

biodiversity: 1/25 of 205
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Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, at the 14th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues - 27 April 2015, New York. Photo: via rightsandresources.org.

Vicky Tauli-Corpuz: 'The better protected areas are those where indigenous peoples live!'

Joe Eisen / Conservation Watch

19th October 2016

Indigenous Peoples are often the victims of nature conservation, according to a new report by Vicky Tauli-Corpuz presented to the UN this week, as they are expelled from lands they have inhabited for millennia. One reason, she told Joe Eisen, is that indigenous territories are precisely the places where biodiversity is best preserved - thanks to the protective, nurturing presence of their traditional owners. more...
Wilderness in Alaska, USA. Photo: Travis Wise via Flickr (CC BY).

Wilderness needs immediate protection for climate - and much more

James Watson, Bill Laurance, Brendan Mackey & James Allan

16th September 2016

The destruction of the world's wilderness is accelerating with a new clutch of mega projects from dams, roads and mines to large scale agriculture, write James Watson, Bill Laurance, Brendan Mackey & James Allan. It's cost-effective to put a stop to it right now for the carbon value of wilderness alone - never mind the biodiversity and indigenous peoples it safeguards. more...
Who ate all the pies? Robin redbreast on an English farm. Photo: John Bennett via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

'State of Nature' 2016 report shows continued loss of Britain's biodiversity

Susan Clark

14th September 2016

The 2016 'State of Nature' report, published today, offers many small victories to celebrate, writes SUSAN CLARK, but overall it's not good news: 15% of our native species are under threat of extinction, while 53% are in decline. With intensive farming the main cause of the damage, and climate change a serious long term problem, turning the tide of wildlife attrition will be a long and challenging task. more...
Olive harvest at Surif in the West Bank, Palestine. Photo: Palestine Solidarity Project via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Rooted in the soil: the birth of agro-resistance in Palestine

Jonathan Cook

19th August 2016

For decades Israel has been driving Palestinian farmers off their land by imposing restrictions on agriculture, writes JONATHAN COOK. But one company, Canaan Fair Trade, has found an innovative way to resist peacefully, increasing resilience and prosperity in rural West Bank communities, and forging international alliances in the global movement for good food and farming. more...
Before and after: natural wetland forest dominated by Swamp cypress, and an industrial plantation of Lolbolly pine. Both photos via Wikimedia Commons (see details on individual photos); amalgamation by The Ecologist (no rights claimed).

Are the UK 'biomass sustainability standards' legitimising forest destruction?

Almuth Ernsting / Biofuelwatch

18th August 2016

This month wood pellet mills in the southern US that supply the UK's Drax power station were awarded 'sustainability' certificates under a voluntary scheme governed entirely by energy companies. The certificates provide no credible guarantee that the fuel does not come from ecologically valuable natural forests and wetlands, clear-cut and replaced by industrial plantations. more...

Guardians Of The Aegean: A new film involving a Cousteau but this one is about activism and the sea

KASSANDRA LEFAKINIS

4th August, 2016

You will recognise the famous surname but unlike his father, Jacques Cousteau, who spent a career discovering and sharing the mysteries and wonders of ocean life, Pierre-Yves Cousteau is having to campaign for its protection from over-fishing and the accompanying destruction of marine biodiversity. KASSANDRA LEFAKINIS finds herself engaged by a new film documenting this struggle and the bigger task ahead.... more...
Every morning Lao and Cambodian fishermen land their catch to sell at Veung Kham market just inside the Lao Border. ​Photo: Tom Fisherman.

Ecologist Investigation: How the largest inland fisheries in the world are being destroyed

TOM FAWTHROP

3rd August, 2016

Investigative reporter, TOM FAWTHROP has just returned from the site of the Don Sahong - a hydrodam being constructed in the middle of an eco-paradise of wetlands in Southern Laos where over 200 fish species have been recorded. more...
Quarry in Brescia, Lombardy, Italy. Photo: Thomas Nemeskeri via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Plunder of Earth's natural resources up 200% in 40 years

Alex Kirby

26th July 2016

A new UN report warns of a threefold increase in extraction of the Earth's primary materials between 1970 and 2010, writes Alex Kirby. The boom in the production of minerals, ores, fossil fuels, timber and biomass and will be to intensify climate change, increase air pollution and reduce biodiversity. more...
Temporary streams are set to become an increasingly common landscape feature in the UK. The River Manifold (Staffordshire, UK) already experiences annual drying due to features of the underlying bedrock. Photo: Tory Milner.

Dry rivers are living rivers - with our care and protection

Rachel Stubbington

25th July 2016

Although flowing water is fundamental to river ecosystems, temporary streams are distinctive landscape features that support surprisingly diverse communities, writes Rachel Stubbington. However, the biodiversity of these dynamic ecosystems needs greater recognition and protection. more...
A haven of peace, tranquillity and biodiversity in the heart of London: the wildlife garden at the Natural History Museum. Photo: Cary Grant.

Natural History Museum must not destroy its Wildlife Garden

Gary Grant

2nd June 2016

A proposed redesign of the Natural History Museum's grounds in London would cause some unfortunate collateral damage, writes Gary Grant - the destruction of the Museum's 21 year-old wildlife garden, an ecological jewel in the heart of London which features over 3,000 species of plant and animal in just one lovingly tended acre. The Museum must think again! more...
Farmers on the storm ... Madhya Pradesh, 31st July 2013. Photo: Rajarshi MITRA via Flickr (CC BY).

Militarism and Monsanto or Gandhi and Bhaskar Save? The agroecology alternative

Colin Todhunter

9th May 2016

The corporate war on traditional farming is nowhere fiercer than in India, writes Colin Todhunter. After decades of the 'Green Revolution' that have impoverished the nation's soils, water, biodiversity and cultivators alike, agribusiness is poised for its final strike. But now the small scale farmers who produce most of the country's food are rediscovering ancient agroecological alternatives. more...
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...

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