Lessons in the "Conservation" Category

First mass extinction of wildlife expected since dinosaurs

The world is on the verge of the first ‘mass extinction’ since the age of dinosaurs. Species under threat include: elephants, tigers, gorillas and giant pandas.

The reasons for the decline include: poaching, habitat destruction, and egg stealing. The shocking findings, have been published by the WWF and the Zoological Society of London.

By the end of the decade (2020), seven out of ten of the world’s mammals, fish, amphibians, birds and reptiles will have been wiped out according to the biggest ever report on the subject. The study assessed 14,152 populations of vertebrates. Numbers fell by 58%, between 1970 and 2012.

Deadly disease threatens 80 million ash trees

Today, let’s talk about trees, in particular, ash trees. This popular type of tree is found in many forests in Britain, especially in the east of England. The ash tree in Britain is under attack from a killer fungus disease that threatens to wipe out 80 million ash trees across the country. The presence of the new disease begs the question of how much longer the ash tree will be found in significant numbers in Britain.

Category: Nature / Trees / Ash trees

Taj Mahal could collapse due to rotting wood foundations

The Taj Mahal in India could collapse within five years unless urgent action is taken to shore up its wooden foundations, campaigners have warned. The 358-year-old marble mausoleum is India’s most famous tourist attraction, bringing four million visitors a year to the northern city of Agra. But the river crucial to its survival is being blighted by pollution, industry and deforestation.

Campaigners believe the foundations have become brittle and are disintegrating. Cracks appeared last year in parts of the tomb, and the four minarets which surround the monument are showing signs of tilting. The Taj Mahal was built by Mogul emperor Shah Jahan, who was griefstricken by the death of his wife Mumtaz Mahal in childbirth. A campaign by historians, environmentalists and politicians says time is running out to prevent ‘a looming crisis’.

Category: Places to Visit / India / Taj Mahal

Forest loss slows as Asian nations plant

Forest loss across the world has slowed, largely due to a switch from felling to planting in Asia. China, India, Vietnam, and the Philippines have all seen their forested areas increase in size. There are also gains in North America and Europe, but forests are being lost in Latin America and Africa driven by rising demand for food and firewood. The findings come in the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) State of the World’s Forests report.

The FAO’s reports formal launch recently at the UN headquarters in New York co-insides with the start of the UN’s International Year of Forests. The initiative aims to raise awareness of conservation among governments and other stakeholders. The FAO is urging governments to explore ways of generating income from forests that do not depend on chopping trees down.

Forests now cover 40m sq km – just less than one third of the earth’s land surface. Although 52,000 sq km were lost between 2000 and 2010, that was a marked improvement on the 83,000 sq km annual figure seen during the previous decade. Europe traditionally has been the region with the biggest increase but now Asia has overtaken it. A net loss in Asia during the period 1990-2000 has been transformed into a net gain in the decade since.

Category: UN / Forests / Conservation

Mangrove loss faster than land-based forests

Mangrove forests are disappearing faster than land-based forests according to a new United Nations report the UN News Service and CNN reported recently. “The World Atlas of Mangroves” says the destruction of the world’s mangrove forests is happening up to four times faster than the land-based forests.

The study commissioned by the U.N. Environmental Program (UNEP) reports that one fifth (around 35,500 square kilometres) of the world’s mangroves - forests straddling both land and sea – have been lost since 1980. The study does however report that the annual destruction has slowed to 0.7% a year. It warns that any further destruction due to coastal development and shrimp farming will result in significant economic and ecological declines.

Studies estimate mangroves generate up to US$9,000 per hectare annually from fishing – much more than the tourism, aquaculture and agriculture which the UN says are the biggest drivers of mangrove loss.

Category: Nature / Mangrove Forests / United Nations

Good morning Borneo!

You are fast asleep in your hammock in the tall green dense jungle when suddenly your radio alarm clock rings: The DJ yells, “Good morning Borneo! This is Radio Gibbon calling… The news headlines. Another 3 gibbons have been rescued…”

Believe it or not this radio station in Indonesia actually exists! Playing vibrant pop music Radio Kalaweit (its official name) broadcasts from a gibbon sanctuary deep in the Borneo jungle in Kalimantan Tengah. Locally it is known as Radio Gibbon largely thanks to a Frenchman.

Category: Conservation / Borneo / Gibbons