• Book Review: America's National Parks: An Insider's Guide to Unforgettable Places and Experiences

    I love our National Parks! I live near two in New Jersey. Yes, in New Jersey. Jockey Hollow National Historical Park in Morristown preserves the locations where during our revolutionary war with England George Washington and the colonial army units camped out. When I travel to the American west, I often visit three national parks a reasonable drive from Las Vegas. Now armchair travelers can go on a photographic journey from the comfort of their own home, as Time Home Entertainment Inc. is releasing America's National Parks: An Insider’s Guide to Unforgettable Places and Experiences. From cover to cover, this book is the perfect collection for travel enthusiasts, photography aficionados, and American history buffs alike. America's National Parks captures the experience of touring some of the country's most notable places; whether it's hiking through the giants of the Redwoods, biking along the carriage roads of Acadia, standing before the Lincoln Memorial, or wandering the ruins of Mesa Verde. >> Read the Full Article
  • Scientists research plant-based insect repellent

    What do the US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Defense have in common? Besides being government departments, both want to improve technologies for killing pathogen-transmitting insects. Mosquitoes, sand flies, ticks, and other biting bugs can cause some of the most devastating diseases like malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever. These arthropods pose a particular problem not only for native populations, but also for military troops that are located where these illnesses are endemic. >> Read the Full Article
  • Mountain Pine Beetle Epidemic

    The mountain pine beetle is a species of bark beetle native to the forests of western North America from Mexico to central British Columbia. It has a hard black exoskeleton, and measures about 5 mm, about the size of a grain of rice. Mountain pine beetles inhabit ponderosa, Scotch and limber pine trees. Normally, these insects play an important role in the life of a forest, attacking old or weakened trees, and speeding development of a younger forest. A new University of Colorado Boulder study shows for the first time that episodes of reduced precipitation in the southern Rocky Mountains, especially during the 2001-02 drought, greatly accelerated development of the mountain pine beetle epidemic. >> Read the Full Article
  • Shocking Number of Squatters Found in Sumatran National Park

    Sumatra's Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park—home to the Critically Endangered Sumatran rhinos, tigers, and elephants—has become overrun with coffee farmers, loggers, and opportunists according to a new paper in Conservation and Society. An issue facing the park for decades, the study attempted for the first time to determine the number of squatters either living in or farming off Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the rough census—over 100,000 people—shocked scientists. "In some parts of the Park the squatters are so numerous that the area looks more like a Javanese countryside," lead author Patrice Levang with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) told mongabay.com. >> Read the Full Article
  • Malaysian dam project will set precedent on how to treat indigenous people

    The controversial Murum dam in Malaysia is the first big overseas project for the China Three Gorges Project Company (CTGC) which is building hydro- and coal-fired power stations in 23 countries. So how it resolves its current conflict with the protesting Penan tribe will set an important precedent as to how other Indigenous people are treated. Sarawak is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo and is covered in ancient rainforest. This pristine oasis is home to many rare species, including the Slow loris, Clouded leopard, eight species of Hornbill as well as the iconic Orang-utang. Logging practices in the Sarawak region have decimated the habitat of these, and thousands of other unique species, and caused irreparable damage to valuable peat lands. >> Read the Full Article
  • Hope for Shark Finning Bans Continues

    Last month in Cambridge, volunteers from the community group Fin Free Cambridge delivered a petition with over three and a half thousand signatures to the Guildhall. The group, and all the signatories, are hoping to make Cambridge the first UK city to ban the use of shark fins. Currently four businesses in Cambridge use shark fins and the UK is ranked 19th in the world for shark fin exports. Shark finning is a cruel and wasteful activity, with around 73 million sharks being killed each year for their fins alone. The number of threatened shark species in the world has grown to more than 180 from a total of just 15 in 1996. >> Read the Full Article
  • Nearly Curtains for the Mexican Wolf

    In North America, the gray wolf has been nearly driven to extinction. Only thanks to recent conservation efforts in places like Yellowstone and other areas of North America have gray wolf populations bounced back. Unfortunately, this is not the case for a subspecies of gray wolf living in the US Southwest and Mexico, the Mexican wolf. There are few other land animals on the continent that have come closer to extinction. They were ruthlessly hunted and trapped by ranchers and the federal government since the 1800s. The Mexican wolf has been reduced to captive breeding in order to keep their species going. But this conservation effort appears to be failing, as it is plagued with mismanagement and conflicting rules. >> Read the Full Article
  • Bringing Rain Gardens to Urban Areas

    Water management is a major issue in large urban areas, where after heavy rainfall, rooftops, streets and pavements act as funnels. This sends huge volumes of water very quickly into drainage systems, putting pressure on rivers and increasing the risk of flooding. In contrast, undeveloped land absorbs and utilises water, thus slowing its progress to rivers. It is this natural bioretention that our towns and cities must learn to mimic. Rain gardens do just that. In its most basic form a rain garden is a planted depression in the ground, providing porous and absorbent materials into which water can soak, with plants that can withstand occasional temporary flooding. >> Read the Full Article
  • Obama Administration Proposes to Greatly Reduce the Protected Habitat of Threatened Seabird

    Twenty-one conservation groups sent a letter to the Obama administration today, asking it to withdraw from a recent agreement with the timber industry that, if approved by a federal court, would eliminate protection from 3,887,800 acres of critical habitat for the marbled murrelet until 2018. The federally threatened murrelet — a shy, robin-sized seabird that nests on the wide branches of old-growth trees — has severely declined in the face of logging of Pacific Northwest forests, a trend that continues today due to ongoing logging, according to recent studies. "Murrelets urgently need more, not less, habitat protection," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "A backroom deal with the timber industry that strips protections for an endangered species is a clear throwback to the Bush days — it's shocking the Obama administration would stoop to this. I'm deeply disappointed." >> Read the Full Article
  • Puerto Rican Manatees Suffering from Lack of Genetic Diversity

    There are multiple manatee populations in the Caribbean, but new evidence shows that they are isolated with no cross-breeding going on. The endangered marine mammal, known as the sea cow, is a species protected by law and is listed by the World Conservation Union as vulnerable to extinction. A new study conducted by the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the Puerto Rico Manatee Conservation Center (PRMCC) focusing on the West Indian manatees came to the conclusion that manatee preservation is being hampered by their lack of genetic diversity. Their findings will hopefully aid resource managers to make more informed decisions on how to protect the manatees. >> Read the Full Article