Ecosystems

Field Dispatch: Natural Habitat Antarctica Final Dispatch
February 27, 2008 09:54 AM - Sybille Klenzendorf,William Penhallegon, WWF

How can I discuss the profound experience of visiting Antarctica in a way that hasn’t already been done? Libraries are filled with books that describe travels to the continent, but most seem to describe it as a place to be conquered, or at least survived. Practically a whole subgenre of literature concerns the incredible survival stories from the early and not-so-early explorers; names like Scott, Mawson, Byrd, Ross, Amundsen, and of course, Shackleton, are embedded in our collective consciousness as men who challenged the continent – and who sometimes paid the ultimate price. Fortunately, however, Antarctica is being seen more recently as something greater than just a savage world to be survived.

How to Save the Rainforests
February 27, 2008 09:50 AM - , Organic Consumers Association

While we have fixated on our little local worries over the past week, the biggest news story of the year passed unnoticed in the night. The Brazilian government was forced to admit that the destruction of the Amazon rainforest has returned to ecocidal levels. An area the size of Belgium, taking thousands of years to evolve, was destroyed in the past year alone. Some 20 per cent of the forest has now been trashed, with a further 40 per cent set to be slashed in my lifetime. This is steadily happening to all the rainforests on earth.

Pulp and palm oil the villains in Sumatra's global climate impact
February 27, 2008 09:27 AM - WWF

Pekanbaru, Sumatra: Turning just one Sumatran province's forests and peat swamps into pulpwood and palm oil plantations is generating more annual greenhouse gas emissions than the Netherlands and rapidly driving the province's elephants into extinction, a new study by WWF and partners has found.

Indonesia deforestation threatens elephants: WWF
February 27, 2008 08:57 AM - Reuters

OSLO (Reuters) - Deforestation in a single Indonesian province is releasing more greenhouse gases than the Netherlands, and the loss of habitats is threatening rare tigers and elephants, the WWF conservation group said on Wednesday. It said that Riau province, covering one fifth of Indonesia's Sumatra island, had lost 65 percent of its forests in the past 25 years as companies used the land for pulpwood and palm oil plantations. Big peat swamps had also been cleared.

Indonesia pledges new cash as mud engulfs more land
February 27, 2008 07:10 AM - Reuters

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia plans to set aside an additional 700 billion rupiah ($77 million) to compensate thousands more people whose homes are threatened by a mud volcano in East Java province, a minister said on Wednesday. Thousands of homes and factories have already been submerged by the hot mud since it first started to erupt in May 2006, forcing about 15,000 people to abandon their homes.

Beijing says torch can stay alight atop Everest
February 26, 2008 10:55 PM - Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese scientists have expressed full confidence that the Olympic relay torch can scale Mount Everest without sputtering out, a newspaper said on Wednesday. The torch relay, ahead of the Games which start in Beijing on August 8, will include a climb to the top of the world's highest mountain, which spans Nepal and the Chinese region of Tibet.

Arctic seed vault opens doors for 100 million seeds
February 26, 2008 09:41 AM - Global Crop Diversity Trust

LONGYEARBYEN, NORWAY (26 FEBRUARY 2008) – The Svalbard Global Seed Vault opened today on a remote island in the Arctic Circle, receiving inaugural shipments of 100 million seeds that originated in over 100 countries. With the deposits ranging from unique varieties of major African and Asian food staples such as maize, rice, wheat, cowpea, and sorghum to European and South American varieties of eggplant, lettuce, barley, and potato, the first deposits into the seed vault represent the most comprehensive and diverse collection of food crop seeds being held anywhere in the world.

Fish species found in old outback uranium mine
February 25, 2008 08:47 PM - Reuters

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian scientists announced the discovery of a new species of freshwater fish on Tuesday, two decades after it was sighted in a disused uranium mine in the outback Northern Territory. The Barraway's carp gudgeon, or Hypseleotris barrawayi, was found by a biologist in a uranium pit in the Kakadu National Park in 1988, but was only recently declared a new species after extensive studies.

Dust in West up 500 percent in past 2 centuries
February 25, 2008 09:55 AM - University of Colorado at Boulder

The West has become 500 percent dustier in the past two centuries due to westward U.S. expansion and accompanying human activity beginning in the 1800s, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder. Sediment records from dust blown into alpine lakes in southwest Colorado's San Juan Mountains over millennia indicates the sharp rise in dust deposits coincided with railroad, ranching and livestock activity in the middle of the last century, said geological sciences Assistant Professor Jason Neff, lead author on the study. The results have implications ranging from ecosystem alteration to human health, he said.

Butterfly fish 'may face extinction'

A beautiful black, white and yellow butterflyfish, much admired by eco-tourists, divers and aquarium keepers alike, may be at risk of extinction, scientists have warned. The case of the Chevroned Butterflyfish is a stark example of how human pressure on the world’s coral reefs is confronting certain species with ‘blind alleys’ from which they may be unable to escape, says Dr Morgan Pratchett of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies Media Release and James Cook University.

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