How to effectively design for a biodiverse, urban future

June 29, 2018 by  
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We need to make our city areas more welcoming to wildlife. Here are five ways we can do so.

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How to effectively design for a biodiverse, urban future

We calculated how much money planting trees can save for your city

June 8, 2018 by  
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From Beijing to Cairo to Mexico City to New York.

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We calculated how much money planting trees can save for your city

Dropping the ball: how the sports industry affects biodiversity

June 1, 2018 by  
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A Q&A with Giulia Carbone of IUCN on how she works with key stakeholders to turn challenges in the sports industry into sustainable opportunities.

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Dropping the ball: how the sports industry affects biodiversity

One-third of the world’s protected areas face ‘shocking’ human impact

May 18, 2018 by  
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Bad news for wildlife: 2.3 million square miles of protected areas around the world face human pressure from activities like road building, urbanization, or grazing, according to a new study . Lead author Kendall Jones, a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland , said in a statement , “We found major road infrastructure such as highways, industrial agriculture, and even entire cities occurring inside the boundaries of places supposed to be set aside for nature conservation .” Millions of square miles “have this level of human influence that is harmful to the species they are trying to protect,” University of Queensland professor James Watson told the BBC . “It is not passive, it’s not agnostic; it is harmful and that is quite shocking.” Scientists at the University of Queensland, University of Northern British Columbia , and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) teamed up for the study, described as a reality check, that was recently published in the journal Science . Related: Chile creates five new national parks from 10 million acres of land in historic act Watson said that governments claim the areas are protected “when in reality they aren’t.” Even though more land has been protected in the last few decades, the lack of real protection is a major reason for  biodiversity ‘s continued, catastrophic decline. There was a ray of hope in the study’s findings: protected areas that have strict biodiversity conservation objectives in place tend to experience less human pressure. WCS listed the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary in Cambodia, the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve in Ecuador, and the Madidi National Park in Bolivia as examples. Watson said, “We know protected areas work — when well-funded, well-managed and well placed, they are extremely effective in halting the threats that cause biodiversity loss and ensure species return from the brink of extinction . There are also many protected areas that are still in good condition and protect the last strongholds of endangered species worldwide. The challenge is to improve the management of those protected areas that are most valuable for nature conservation to ensure they safeguard it.” + Wildlife Conservation Society + University of Queensland + Science Via the BBC Image via Depositphotos

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One-third of the world’s protected areas face ‘shocking’ human impact

Scientists predict catastrophic loss of forest fauna and flora with existing CO2 emissions

March 19, 2018 by  
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If we don’t do something to slow down carbon emissions, we could lose up to half of all the plant and animal species in the world’s forests. A new report by the World Wildlife Federation shows that a temperature increase of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius would decimate the flora and fauna of vital ecosystems in Asia, Africa, North America, South America and Australia. Since scientists project that we are likely headed towards a rise of 3.2C, the implications could be disastrous. According to the study, a rise of 3.2C would kill off 60 percent of plant species and 50 percent of animal species in the Amazon . If countries get their act together and limit temperature rise to 2C, we will lose fewer species, but the devastation will still destroy 35 percent of species. Then there’s the grim forecast of a rise of 4.5C, which is what many experts believe we will hit if emissions remain unchanged. In that scenario, we could expect to lose more than 70 percent of reptiles and plants, and 60 percent of mammals and birds. Related: Scientists warn Amazon jungle faces “death spiral” The picture is just as dire in Africa and Australia, but with an additional impact to some species based on tension with human needs. According to the study, competition for resources in Africa, Bangladesh, Madagascar and the Caribbean could devastate animals, such as elephants , even more. “For the Amazon and Guianas, the WWF report is scary as hell. The loss of half or more of the region’s stunning plant diversity would be a biological blow of almost unimaginable severity,” said William Laurence, director at the Center for Tropical Environmental and Sustainable Science. “However, such computer models with all their assumptions and complexities are really ‘scientific cartoons’ giving us only a rough sketch of the future. But even if they’re only half right, these are very frightening cartoons indeed,” he continued. The study was published by the WWF, James Cook University and the University of East Anglia in the journal Climate Change . Via The Guardian Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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Scientists predict catastrophic loss of forest fauna and flora with existing CO2 emissions

SLA unveils year-round ski slope to cap Copenhagens massive trash incinerator

January 4, 2018 by  
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Architecture firm SLA has unveiled final designs for the much-anticipated park and ski slope that will top the currently operational Amager Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant in Copenhagen, Denmark. BIG , which masterplanned the incredible project, is also behind some of the ski slope designs. The all-weather green roof will be open throughout the year with a variety of programming from hiking trails and climbing walls to ski slopes and viewing platform for taking in the city skyline. The 170,000-square-foot park is essentially a massive green roof , a plant-covered building system that SLA has won numerous accolades for, including the 2017 Scandinavian Green Roof Award for Copenhagen’s Mærsk Tower and SUND Nature Park. Challenges for the Amager Bakke’s multipurpose green roof include steep slopes, safety concerns, and the facility’s byproduct heat that can reach as high as 140 degrees Fahrenheit in certain areas. “The project to create an attractive and green activity rooftop park on top of Amager Bakke has been very challenging,” said SLA partner Rasmus Astrup, according to ArchDaily . “Not only because of the extreme natural – and unnatural – conditions of the site and the rooftop itself, which put severe stress on plants, trees and landscape . But also because we’ve had to ensure that the rooftop’s many activities are realized in an accessible, intuitive and inviting manner. The goal is to ensure that Amager Bakke will become an eventful recreational public space with a strong aesthetic and sensuous city nature that gives value for all Copenhageners – all year round.” Related: Denmark fires up its Copenhill power plant, with ski slopes set to open next year The rooftop park is designed to become a lush environment welcoming to a great diversity of flora and fauna. Visitors will also be able to help seed the park with seed bombs . Construction has broken ground on the Amager Bakke Rooftop Park, which is slated for completion in September 2018. + SLA Via ArchDaily Images via SLA , except where noted

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SLA unveils year-round ski slope to cap Copenhagens massive trash incinerator

You can now explore all 19 of South Africa’s National Parks on Google Maps

November 3, 2017 by  
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Have you ever wanted to walk in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela , track cheetahs on foot , or stroll with elephants — and other exotic creatures — in South Africa ? Well, here’s your chance. Thanks to the efforts of over 200 volunteers, now you can use Google Maps to explore 19 National Parks, 17 nature reserves, and many other sites of natural, cultural and historical significance in South Africa. More than 200 nature-loving South Africans volunteered to map out parts of the country they call home. Many of the helpers were rangers and guides with SANParks , CapeNature and KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife . Others were just good Samaritans, tech enthusiasts and avid hikers who want to make a difference. Over the span of twelve months, the volunteers trekked over 50,000km to establish 232 points of interest. Said Magdalena Filak, Program Manager for Google, “The hundreds of volunteers who helped along the way proved to be truly passionate about showing the best of South Africa through their participation in the loan program.” The Google Street View Camera Loan program encourages anyone to borrow the 360-degree camera technology to help the planet . Reportedly, this is the first time Google has partnered with a third-party for the program. Drive South Africa played a big role in coordinating the volunteers . Andre Van Kets, an outdoor enthusiast and the founder of the Cape Town -based company, explained the technology: “The Trekker camera is a 22kg custom-made backpack fitted with 15 cameras pointing in all directions. The on-board technology plots the camera’s exact location on the trail. While recording, the camera takes a 360-degree photo every two-seconds. It’s basically the off-road equivalent of Google’s Street View cars.” Kets added that he saw “potential in this technology to showcase South Africa to travellers around the globe” when he applied. Related: Thousands of plastic bottles transformed into an inspiring tower of hope in South Africa In addition to mapping over two hundred points of interest, volunteers mapped eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Users can also see Mapungubwe Hill , which is home to an ancient African civilization, the Richtersveld that is known for its incredible moonscapes, and iSimangaliso Wetland Park , South Africa’s oldest UNESCO site which serves as a critical habitat for many species . The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Dennis Wood of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife said, “As the proud conservation authority for KwaZulu-Natal, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife are excited to be partnered with Google’ new initiative in exposing our trails on this global platform that we believe will engage our prospective guests to “Take time to Discover” our province’s rich natural beauty and conservation wildlife heritage.” + Google Street View Loan Program Images via Google Maps

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You can now explore all 19 of South Africa’s National Parks on Google Maps

In California, conservationists face off with vineyard owners

September 5, 2017 by  
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It’s vines versus old-growth forests, a biodiversity debate with consequences for steelhead trout, mountain lions and spotted owls.

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In California, conservationists face off with vineyard owners

Can business save the world from climate change?

September 5, 2017 by  
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A growing number of initiatives are giving corporations the resources to help achieve global climate goals regardless of government support.

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Can business save the world from climate change?

Sixth mass extinction on Earth is driven by industrial farming, says leading academic

August 30, 2017 by  
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Earth is presently experiencing its sixth “mass extinction,” and humans are largely to blame, says a leading academic. In his new book The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy, Professor Patel of the University of Texas explains how mass deforestation to clear grounds to grow mono-crops, the creation of large dead zones in the sea caused by run-off of fertilizers, and the trend of over-fishing are a detriment to the world and are driving the destruction of our planet. “The footprint of global agriculture is vast. Industrial agriculture is absolutely responsible for driving deforestation, absolutely responsible for pushing industrial monoculture , and that means it is responsible for species loss,” said Patel. “We’re losing species we have never heard of, those we’ve yet to put a name to and industrial agriculture is very much at the spear-tip of that.” In an interview with The Independent , Patel pointed to the largest-ever “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico . The region has too little oxygen for marine life as a result of vast amounts of fertilizers washing from farms in mainland US into the ocean. “That dead zone isn’t an accident. It’s a requirement of industrial agriculture to get rid of the sh*t and the run-off elsewhere because you cannot make industrial agriculture workable unless you kick the costs somewhere else,” he said. “The story of industrial agriculture is all about externalising costs and exploiting nature.” Mono-crops, such as soy and corn, are big offenders in Patel’s book. Not only does the farming practice result in a loss of diversity , it eliminates habitats of potentially endangered species, including elephants, jaguars, and penguins.“Extinction is about the elimination of diversity. What happens in Brazil and other places is you get green deserts — monocultures of soy and nothing else,” he said. Evidence of this can be found in Sumatra, where forests are being decimated to make way for palm plantations and industrial meat factories. In the oceans, anchovies and sardines and being overfished . Rather than being consumed by humans, however, they are ground up and added to feed for salmon, pigs, and chickens. For animals that feed on them, such as penguins, this spells trouble as their food source is declining. The Professor is urging consumers to “think on a bigger scale.” Said Patel, “‘As a consumer’ you are only allowing yourself a range of action. ‘As a consumer ’ you can buy something that’s local and sustainable, that’s labelled as organic or fair trade.” He added, “But ‘as a consumer’, you don’t get to do a whole lot of good. As a citizen, as a decent person, you can demand more from your government, from one’s employer, from yourself. Related: The sixth mass extinction is killing off wildlife 100 times faster than “normal” The activist urges people to be aware of their power “as part of a society where we can change things.” He said, “We have this power to change things in the future. What we have to do is make that change.” The answer is not vegetarianism , he said (though it will surely help). Rather, it’s time humanity switch to a world in which resources were shared and looked after. Patel urges a shift in mentality, as well, as people’s “images of consumption that are entirely unsustainable .” Professor Patel will be a keynote speaker at the Extinction and Livestock Conference in London in October. The event is organized by groups such as Compassion in World Farming and WWF and is being held to raise awareness about the rapid rate of species loss which could ultimately lead to the sixth mass extinction of life. Via The Independent Images via Pixabay

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Sixth mass extinction on Earth is driven by industrial farming, says leading academic

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