UK bees and wildflowers thrive during lockdown

April 13, 2020 by  
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While humans stay at home and the workforce cuts back to only those who provide essential services, mowing the verges along roadsides in the U.K. is not a top priority. This coronavirus -induced oversight may prove to be beneficial for the U.K.’s bees, butterflies, bats and wildflowers. Much of the U.K.’s natural meadows have long been converted to housing estates and farmland, so the country’s 700 wildflower species find few places to grow freely. Roadside verges — narrow grassy strips along the highways — are a last haven and home to about 45% of U.K. flora. Related: Planting wildflower strips across crop fields could slash pesticide use The lockdown coincidentally benefits a campaign by Plantlife , a wild plant conservation charity. Its road verge campaign calls on officials to reduce the cutting schedule from four cuts per year to only two. As Plantlife’s website points out, the U.K. has 238,000 hectares of road verges but only 85,000 hectares of wild grassland. “It’s a real opportunity for verges to flower again, some for the first time,” Trevor Dines, Plantlife’s botanical specialist, told The Guardian. “If the lockdown ends in late May, drivers will see great swaths of oxeye daisies and ladies bedstraw.” Various councils around the U.K. have already delayed or scaled back mowing, including Flintshire in Wales, Somerset in southwest England, Newcastle in the northeast and Lincolnshire in eastern England. These areas can expect explosive wildflower displays this spring, featuring oxeye daisy, wild carrot, yellow rattle, betony, meadow crane’s-bill, greater knapweed, harebell and other varieties that will thrill pollinators like butterflies, bees and bats. “This will certainly be good for pollinators,” said Dines, who is also a beekeeper. “Last year, we already saw improvement in the areas where councils were cutting less. I had my best ever year for honey.” Colorful flowers will also boost mental health . “People are desperate for wildlife and colour right now. Let’s see what the public response is. For lots of commuters, myself included, verges are the only chance to see wild plants.” Via The Guardian Image via Phil Gayton

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UK bees and wildflowers thrive during lockdown

Fostering and adopting pets during the pandemic

April 13, 2020 by  
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As COVID-19 sweeps the U.S., animal shelters have seen an upswing of interest as more animal lovers adopt or foster pets. While some people don’t want to add to the chaos of a quarantined household, others recognize this as a perfect time to bring home a furry friend. “I think it’s particularly timely because of the isolation of people,” said Nat Hardy, founding dean of Arts & Humanities at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. He recently adopted Buddy Twain from a Hannibal, Missouri shelter. Buddy’s surname honors Mark Twain, also from Hannibal. “Being closed in, you’ve got the time to bond. You have more patience and the time to do it.” Related: 7 ways to be a sustainable pet owner The pandemic has caused a spike in both animal adoptions and fosters, in part due to shelters sending out desperate emails asking people to step up and help these homeless pets. And the public responded. A recent call for emergency fosters by the Animal Care Centers of New York City received more 3,500 applications. The Humane Society of the U.S. has asked that states declare animal shelters essential services, but governmental response has varied and many shelters have temporarily closed. Others have drastically scaled back on services. Some employees have even made emergency plans to shelter in place inside the animal shelters, if necessary, for up to a month, to care for the pets. So every animal safely placed in a private home is one fewer for shelter workers to worry about. Adopting vs. fostering While adopting is forever, fostering means providing a temporary home for a shelter animal. “Fostering helps animals who are not yet ready for adoption have a home environment to heal and grow,” said Laura Klink, public information manager at the Oregon Humane Society. “During the current pandemic, fostering is even more critical as many shelters have stopped adoptions and have limited staff to care for the animals. At OHS, foster parents are helping some of our pets who need medical care , behavior help and to free up space in the shelter so we can be ready to respond to our community’s needs.” For people suddenly quarantined at home, fostering can be a wonderful way to help give stressed animals a break from noisy shelters. It makes sense to foster rather than adopt if the pandemic has brought your life to a sudden halt. Those who usually work 12-hour days in an office might be suited to fostering while working at home. If you can’t commit long-term, consider fostering rather than adopting; shelters don’t want to see a huge surge in post-pandemic returns of adopted pets . What does it take to be a good foster parent? Klink explained it is important to consider your environment. “Do you have other pets in the home?” she asked. “Are there young children in the home? Do you have a spare bedroom or bathroom where you can separate your foster pets?” You also need to ask yourself how comfortable you are managing medical and behavioral issues. Adoption by appointment Gone are the days — at least for now — of stopping by shelters and spending unhurried time with possible candidates for your new pet. Now, the shelters that remain open offer adoption by appointment. It’s more of a gamble to peruse online listings, pick a pet and make that fateful appointment, but sometimes it turns out to be a perfect match. Hardy had been thinking about adopting a dog anyway, since Stephens is such a pet-friendly campus, where both students and faculty bring their pets to school. With the quarantine looming, the emails from rescue shelters spurred him to action. He started looking online. “I finally found Buddy in a Hannibal Missouri rescue shelter. I saw his mug shot from the shelter, and he looked like quite a character.” He applied to adopt the orange dog — who he guesses might be a year or two old, and possibly a retriever/Irish setter mix — and made the 90-minute drive to Hannibal. “We’ve been together ever since. He doesn’t like me leaving out of his sight. I think he was in the shelter a long time. So now he’s totally living the dream.” Resources for fostering and adopting Foster families and individuals should have some experience with pet care. But even if you’ve had dogs and cats all of your life, you might need help. “Fostering is very rewarding but can also be challenging and stressful,” Klink said. “It’s important to ask for help and advice since you don’t know these animals like you know your own pets. Foster parents are truly a lifeline for shelter pets.” Whether you’re fostering or adopting a new pet into its forever home, you can find resources online. Petco Foundation , a national nonprofit animal welfare organization, offers educational livestreams from a team of experts. You can virtually attend a cat and kitten Q&A session, or help your new canine get into a happy routine with positive dog training. Petco Foundation even suggestions fashionable fosters to follow on Instagram. The ASPCA is another digital treasure trove with many pet care articles. Images via Tatiane Vasconcelos Taty , Fuzzy Rescue , Madeline Hardy and Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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Fostering and adopting pets during the pandemic

Self-sustaining Shade House helps combat urban pollution

April 13, 2020 by  
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Bangkok-based architectural firm,  Ayutt and Associates design , has unveiled a stunning  self-sustaining home  in the Thai capital. The Shade House is a three-story home covered in the firm’s signature perforated facade that allows for optimal natural light and airflow, while simultaneously providing privacy for the homeowners. Additionally, the design incorporates several passive and active technologies, as well as an abundance of indoor pocket gardens that allow the homeowners to enjoy a serene, natural forest-like atmosphere inside their own home. Tucked into a quiet neighborhood behind the massive high rises in Bangkok, the Shade House was designed to be a serene living space for a family who wanted to live in an urban area but retain some personal  green space  to enjoy in their day-to-day lives. Accordingly, the architectural team came up with an ingenious home design that would be based on creating an “individual natural ecosystem.” Related: Spain’s San Telmo Museum Boasts a Perforated Green Façade At over 10,000 square feet, the Shade House is comprised of two main towers connected by an indoor/outdoor walkway that leads to various access points inside the home. The home’s exterior shell is made up of a perforated facade  created using aluminum panels and white slender steel rods. This system allows the home to enjoy ample sun and air ventilation, as well as a natural cooling system. In fact, according to the architects, the home allows the interior spaces to be around seven degrees cooler than the outside temperature. The  interior layout  of the home was also designed to take advantage of the natural atmosphere. The first floor of the home is designed as a “garden villa.” Separate from the family’s main living areas, this space is meant to be a welcoming social area, or can be closed off to be used as a guest home. The second floor contains the family’s main living spaces, as well as the “pool villa” that features a large swimming pool and outdoor area. Elevated off the first floor, the main living room, kitchen and dining spaces look out over the tree canopy, creating the sensation of being high up in a treehouse . The private bedrooms are located on the top floor, which rises way up over the treetops to provide a sense of privacy and relaxation. Throughout the home, an abundance of greenery has been strategically planted at virtually every corner. Between the outdoor plantings, indoor pocket gardens and a  green roof , the total vegetation currently covers 90% of the home and is expected to grow 150% larger than its beginning site over the years, eventually covering the home’s expansive exterior. + Ayutt and Associates design Via Archdaily Images via Ayutt and Associates design

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Self-sustaining Shade House helps combat urban pollution

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