The Ecologist


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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

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


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


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...

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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...
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...


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