Brazilian Biodiversity Information System is bringing Brazil’s biological diversity to the internet

March 18, 2019 by  
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As one of the most biologically diverse countries on Earth, Brazil is taking steps to consolidate all of the nation’s biodiversity data and information into one place to support scientific research , as well as decision-making and creation of eco-friendly public policy. In an effort to achieve those goals, the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications (MCTIC) has created the Brazilian Biodiversity Information System (SiBBr), which is an online platform that gives free access to a collection of the largest amount of data and information on biodiversity in the South American nation. What is Megadiversity? In 1998, Conservation International made a list of 18 megadiverse countries, which meant that those nations harbored the majority of Earth’s species, as well as a large number of endemic species. The term megadiversity defines an area that features a significant amount of biodiversity . According to the UN’s Environment Program, Brazil is at the top of their list of the 18 most megadiverse countries in the world. With more than 120,000 species of invertebrates, 9,000 vertebrates and 4,000 plant species, Brazil hosts nearly 20 percent of Earth’s biological diversity. These natural assets can be a significant factor in Brazil’s future economic growth, but to avoid losing their biodiversity, the country wants to monitor conservation efforts and make sure their natural resources are sustainably used. Related: Biodiversity decline puts food supply at risk On average, “700 new animal species are discovered every year in Brazil,” says UN Environment. Considering how large Brazil is— as well as the numerous institutions researching the country’s biodiversity— putting all of that information in one easily-accessible place is a formidable challenge. “When the information is spread around different institutions, one is less able to find it, judge the quality of the data and understand how it can be used. Besides, the time needed to compile the data can make its use inefficient, as is the case in public policies,” explains Andrea Nunes, general coordinator of biomes of the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology , Innovations and Communications, and national director of the Brazilian Biodiversity Information System project. To illustrate her point, Nunes talked about Brazil’s special map that highlights the areas of the country that are a top priority for conservation and sustainable use. The map is a tool for public policy decision-making that takes two years to develop and is updated every four to five years. Nunes says that in terms of “territory dynamics and land use changes,” five years is a long time. However, SiBBr can change all of that. How SiBBr works Currently, the SiBBr gathers information and data from 230 Brazilian institutions, like state agencies, research centers, museums, and zoos. It has more than 15 million records about different species in the country published by those institutions. Researchers can use the database to find information on different species, as well as share their findings. Farmers can use the platform to calculate environmental compensation credits and get information about endangered animals and plants. There is also a way for Brazilian citizens to contribute their own information, like pictures and documentation on biodiversity in their area. There is also a tool called Biodiversity and Nutrition, which is a nutritional database of native Brazilian species. But, they aren’t just keeping all of this information to themselves. The SiBBr is also part of the Global Biodiversity Information Platform, which is “an international network and research infrastructure” that provides free biodiversity data from hundreds of institutions across the globe. Related: Cargill announces plan to reduce deforestation from cocoa This is the largest global initiative aiming to give people virtual access to free biological information, and it currently spans 60 countries and has more than 570 million species records. Conservation and sustainability is a top priority, and knowing Brazil’s biodiversity is key to achieving those goals. With SiBBr, anyone from government organizations to students and educators can access this vital information. According to their website, SiBBr is an accessible platform filled with tools to help with the “organization, publication, and consultation” of: Occurrences of species A catalog of species Ecological data Biodiversity projects The use of biodiversity Registration of the country’s biological collections The database continues to grow, and in the coming months SiBBr will switch to a new platform to make using the data even easier. BaMBa Connected to SiBBr is BaMBa, the Brazilian Marine Biodiversity database, which has the same goal for collecting data about the country’s marine life as SiBBr does for species on land. The information comes from sources like integrated, holistic studies and fish surveys which can be used for governmental policies related to the use and management of marine resources. Via U.N. Environment , SiBBr Images via Shutterstock

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Brazilian Biodiversity Information System is bringing Brazil’s biological diversity to the internet

A modern timber house in Indonesia celebrates mummified wood

March 18, 2019 by  
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When Bandung-based architectural studio Aaksen Responsible Aarchitecture was asked to renovate an old house in the West Java neighborhood of Kiaracondong in Indonesia, they made a surprising discovery. During the demolition process, the architects found that the wooden roof truss structure was in very good condition, despite its age, thanks to a culturally significant type of timber, a kind of Albizzia wood that’s been mummified to improve strength and durability. Described by the architects as a “local treasure,” the timber was not only preserved in the roof truss, but also becomes a defining element in the contemporary home, aptly named the Albizzia House. Completed in 2019, the Albizzia House spans an area of approximately 2,000 square feet across two floors. The existing timber house was partly demolished to allow for a reorganization of the layout and a structural expansion. Organized around a light-filled atrium housing the primarily living spaces, the home now includes three bedrooms, garden and terrace spaces, a reading room and a ground-floor prayer room. Natural light and ventilation is optimized in the renovated dwelling. One of the key changes to the house was the addition of timber cladding as a secondary skin to mitigate unwanted solar heat gain and privacy concerns. The vertical timber slats—and interior wooden furnishings—are a visual continuation of the Albizzia wood used as accents in the ceiling and reading room. The preserved wood in the existing building’s roof truss is also highlighted with the expansion of the truss into the new structure. Related: Green-roofed Hanging Villa is embedded into a lush jungle landscape Although Albizzia, a fast-growing and economical timber, is typically considered low-grade due to its weak and brittle qualities, local farmers in Ciamis, West Java, discovered long ago a method to improve upon the strength of the wood. In this “long-established technology,” the locally procured wood is buried under the paddy fields after the harvest season and the timber is then “mummified” in the compaction process, which, according to the architects, greatly increases the wood grade. + Aaksen Responsible Aarchitecture Via ArchDaily Images by KIE

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A modern timber house in Indonesia celebrates mummified wood

UN predicts dire future for planet unless people change their ways NOW

March 18, 2019 by  
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The United Nations’ newest Global Environmental Outlook reinforces the worries of everyone concerned about the environment and our planet’s future. The 708-page report, released last week, examines human-inflicted woes on air, land and water. Scientists urge humans to immediately change their ways before we render Earth inhabitable. To those who have been paying attention to the planet’s decline, this report will not be news. But seeing all this human-wrought destruction in one enormous document makes for a grim, and even, shocking read. A few lowlights: Most land habitats have decreased in productivity for growing food and other vegetation; urban development and agriculture have claimed 40 percent of wetlands since 1970; water quality continues to worsen, due in part to chemical pollution; biodiversity is tanking, with many land, marine and freshwater species at risk for extinction; a third of the world’s people lack safe sanitation. Related: Air pollution is killing Europeans at an alarming rate With human population expected to hit 10 billion by 2050, these problems will only increase. “The science is clear,” Joyce Msuya, acting executive director of U.N. Environment, said in a briefing. “The health and prosperity of humanity is directly tied with the state of our environment .” If we don’t change our ways soon, she said, the problem won’t be reversible. Changes in consumption, energy creation and waste disposal are crucial. Fortunately, the new UN report also contains solutions. For example, changing agricultural practices and redistributing food could help stem land degradation and biodiversity loss. More efficiently using and storing water, and investing in desalination, could improve the water scarcity situation. But it will take more than well-meaning individuals to reverse Earth’s fast track toward destruction. Politicians and policy makers around the world will need to join together to devise and enforce strategies to stabilize and improve water , air and land quality before it’s too late. Via National Geographic Image via 

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UN predicts dire future for planet unless people change their ways NOW

Biodiversity decline puts food supply at risk

March 4, 2019 by  
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Biodiversity decline around the globe is hurting our capacity to develop food. A new study from the United Nations found that biodiversity is a key element in producing sustainable and secure food sources — such as crops and livestock — is currently in a decline due to several factors, including climate change . Scientists working with the Food and Agriculture Organization arm of the UN discovered that biodiversity has dropped across three levels: ecosystems, genetics and species. Without diversity in all three of the sectors, farmers and livestock owners will have a more difficult time raising reliable food sources in years to come. “The proportion of livestock breeds at risk of extinction is increasing. Overall, the diversity of crops present in farmers’ fields has declined and threats to crop diversity are increasing,” the research stated. Related: SUPERFARM design envisions an urban vertical farm that is energy self-sufficient The decline in species, for example, affects essential tasks in nature like managing pests and pollination. With an estimated 40 percent of species expected to go extinct over the next 20 to 30 years, this could have a devastating impact all around the world. Large mammals are also hurting from a lack of biodiversity, with over 25 percent of livestock on the verge of extinction. Further, there are only around seven percent of livestock breeds that are not at risk of extinction, which is alarming for the future of breeding. The UN report concluded that climate change is a contributing factor in the decline of biodiversity. Other human interactions with the environment are also leading to a change in biodiversity, including pollution, demographic changes, land abuse, and overcultivation. The study also warned that our ability to monitor changes in biodiversity is limited, which means we might be worse off than we think. Fortunately, the topic of biodiversity is getting more attention by worldwide leaders. In fact, it will take center stage at the upcoming G7 meeting and the World Conservation Congress gathering. It is unclear what will be done to combat the issue, but biodiversity decline is a problem that can no longer go ignored. Via CNN Image via Shutterstock

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Biodiversity decline puts food supply at risk

The private sector’s 5 big climate risk and adaptation blind spots

February 22, 2019 by  
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A new report considers disclosures by more than 1,600 companies. The findings were fascinating, unsettling and inspiring.

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The private sector’s 5 big climate risk and adaptation blind spots

Built to last: The business case for living buildings in 2019

February 12, 2019 by  
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And four value propositions that have incentivized companies and organizations such as NRDC, Etsy and Google to complete them.

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Built to last: The business case for living buildings in 2019

The perfect match: businesses and the SDGs

February 12, 2019 by  
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How sustainability and inclusivity are driving the business models of the future.

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Denmark to build 9 renewable energy-producing islands south of Copenhagen

January 29, 2019 by  
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In a bid to bring more renewable energy and greater resilience to the city of Copenhagen , the Danish government has announced plans to build nine new artificial islands as part of what will become the largest and most ambitious land reclamation project in Scandinavia. Slated to begin construction in 2022, the project, dubbed Holmene (the Islets), will comprise 3 million square meters of land and will be located just 10 kilometers south of Copenhagen. Copenhagen-based architecture and planning firm URBAN POWER designed the project with environmentally friendly targets in mind, from the creation of the biggest waste-to-energy plant in Northern Europe to improved biodiversity. In addition to producing fossil fuel-free energy, the nine artificial islands of Holmene will also serve as a tech hub, a flood barrier and a sports and recreation destination. Several islets and reefs will also be inaccessible to create “untouched nature” as part of a plan to improve the area’s biodiversity. The islands will be constructed from 26 million cubic meters of surplus soil sourced from the region’s subway and building projects; the soil will also be used to create natural flood barriers around the coastline and a base for a future “green belt of nature” on each island. Key to the vision will be the focus on green technologies. Biowaste and wastewater from the region’s 1.5 million citizens will be processed in a new waste-to-energy plant and turned into clean water and biogas. Together with wind turbines and other sustainable technologies, the plant is expected to produce over 300,000 MWh of renewable energy, an amount estimated to be equivalent to the power consumption of a quarter of the Copenhagen city population. Related: Denmark fires up its Copenhill power plant, with ski slopes set to open next year The Holmene project has an estimated construction cost of 425 million euros and is expected to create 380 new businesses and 12,000 jobs. The project was developed in collaboration with the consulting engineer firm COWI along with DHI-group, MOE, Aglaja and Rambøll. The environmental impact assessment starts in 2019 and the project is slated for completion in 2040. + URBAN POWER Images by URBAN POWER for Hvldovre Municipality

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Denmark to build 9 renewable energy-producing islands south of Copenhagen

This modern home built to house a renowned art collection is a work of art in itself

January 29, 2019 by  
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Make no mistake — lovers of art reside here. Designed and built by Hufft, The Artery Residence is gorgeous, eco-friendly and just as art-focused on the inside as it is on the outside. The owners, prominent contemporary art collectors, wanted a blend of home and gallery that allows them to live comfortably while displaying their impressive art collection in a modern way. The designer clearly made the space as a unique backdrop for the art installation in mind, with blank, clean walls enabling the owners to rotate and move the art as they please. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the master bathroom allow for views of nature near the tub, warm wood accents, mosaic tiles and quartz counters. The home gets its name not only from the art-centric design , but from the three main “arteries” that connect the structure to the gallery. In this way, each part of the home is connected to the art. There are two guest suites, one that sits poolside, and another that extends dramatically over a limestone wall. Made of cedar, aluminum and limestone, both the exterior and interior invoke sleek, clean lines. In the kitchen, a custom-made modern chandelier with custom island and wooden bar top, with a more formal dining room are visible in a separate area. The Artery Residence is an excellent example of sustainable architecture. The stone floors act as an eco-friendly light absorber, along with big open windows that let that natural light in. Throughout the house are installed large overhangs that hang over the outer structure offering protection from the sun. In efforts to lessen the environmental footprint of the house, the architect incorporated geothermal, active solar and LED lighting into the design. The landscape, designed by 40North, was installed with sustainable garden growth in mind with natural vegetation and permeable surfaces. Related: Concrete home perched on Greek island cliffside designed with large cut outs to frame the amazing sea views Throughout 10,650 square feet of living space, thoughtful spaces cut into the floors and screened wooden stairs ensures the central visibility of the owner’s art collection. Also part of the home are matching office spaces and three separate bedrooms with their own en suites. The art doesn’t stop when you reach the outside, either. Striking sculptural pieces are respectfully spread throughout the grounds outside the home, along the terraces and near the pool deck. One of the large entrances that opens to the gallery allows for the loading of large art pieces and for visitors to enter without disturbing the occupants of the home . + Hufft Via Dwell Photography by Michael Robinson via Hufft

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This modern home built to house a renowned art collection is a work of art in itself

Why protecting ‘blue carbon’ storage is crucial to fighting climate change

January 15, 2019 by  
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Going green by going blue.

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Why protecting ‘blue carbon’ storage is crucial to fighting climate change

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