Posts Tagged ‘protection’

Nature Ramble

Saving the Beeliar wetlands is vital: we can’t have a highway destroy it

The western Australian wetlands are home to threatened species – but the government’s plan for a highway would damage the ecosystem irreparably. There are better alternatives

Beeliar lake.

Today we can visit Beeliar wetlands and experience a taste of the stunning Western Australian wetlands that once extended along the Swan coastal plain. A rich tapestry of flora and fauna have made these wetlands their home but now face an uncertain future: successive governments have catastrophically failed to protect the native habitat which have earned Perth’s status as a biodiversity hotspot.

Less than 20% of these wetlands remain today. If we do not act now to conserve and protect these precious places, there will be nothing left for future generations.

A long standing threat to these wetlands is dangerously close to becoming a reality. A four lane, estimated 5km highway extension – proposed on and off for decades – has received financial backing by Tony Abbott’s federal government to the tune of more than half a billion dollars. This fragment of highway remains from a city plan drafted in 1955, back when land clearing and filling in wetlands were the norm. Significant features of our city’s transport plan have evolved in the decades since.

Despite insisting we face a budget crisis, prime minister Abbott has thrown an unprecedented small fortune at the Roe 8 extension and wrapped it up as part of a never-before-heard-of “Perth freight link.” The project, from Muchea to Fremantle Port, was revealed only recently.

‘A long standing threat to these wetlands is dangerously close to becoming a reality’.

Source: TheGuardian Read more

Make you Fink on Friday

Mother Nature’s ingenuity knows no bounds.

And man is constantly uspetting the balance.

Carnivores help trees thrive without thorns, study says

Thorns are among the defences available to plants to stop them being eaten by herbivores

The presence of carnivores helps plants without thorny defences thrive, a study of life on the savannah reveals.

Researchers found that species without thorns thrived in areas favoured by carnivores because plant-eating animals deemed it too risky to graze at these sites.

The team added that declining carnivore numbers was likely to have an impact on the links that connect carnivores, herbivores, plants and people.

“Our observations indicate that carnivores, like leopards and wild dogs, shape where herbivores eat,” explained co-author Adam Ford from the University of British Columbia, Canada.

“Plant defences, such as thorns, shape what herbivores eat.”

“Plants have two pathways to success. You either protect yourself from herbivores by growing large thorns, or thrive in areas that are risky to your predators; plant eaters.”

He added that the delicate ecological equilibrium between the animal and plant kingdoms was likely to be disrupted in some regions.

Dr Ford observed: “As human activities continue to reduce populations of predators, herbivores like impala become willing to feed in areas that used to be risky, consuming more preferred vegetation and – ironically – allowing less-preferred thorny plant species to take over.”

A study published earlier this year suggested that three-quarters of the planet’s large carnivores were experiencing declines in their populations.

It added that the majority now only occupied less than half of their historic range, and this contraction could have a wide-reaching and long-lasting impact on ecosystems.

Source: BBCNews Read and see more.


So, with the vast reduction in the number of carnivores does that mean that defenceless plants will take a hammering and the world lose other carbon dioxide consumming areas other than rainforests?

Make you Fink on Friday

Forget life on Mars, it’s closer to home that matters

Our obsession with escaping to outer space is more to do with what’s wrong down here. We cannot relocate

‘Sending a single person to the hostile, arid environment of a planet just next door like Mars would require years of training for a fabulously expensive trip.’ Photograph: Denis Scott/Corbis

If they found on Mars a single blade of grass there would be ecstasy at mission control, unleashing visions of humanity spreading out across the cosmos. But does the obsession with finding life on other, potentially habitable planets somehow excuse and blind us to the trashing of this one?

News of the discovery of yet another Earth-like planet fuels the fantasy that if we scorch our own, we can always relocate. From Richard Branson to Stephen Hawking, there’s a hypnotic fascination with the possibility of escape which somehow relieves the pressure to look after our own, extraordinary planetary home.

As we tremble with anticipation at the prospect of finding a single microbe on another planet, under our feet we’re wilfully executing a mass extinction event. Once a fashionable cause, threats to our forests, cradles to the diversity of life, have been largely forgotten. But this century we’ve been losing them at the astonishing rate of 50 football pitches per minute. That’s an area the size of Greenland since the turn of the millennium.

All attempts to reconcile the industrial-scale exploitation of the biosphere by staying the right side of key environmental thresholds are failing. Forest-certification schemes, for example, have done nothing to slow their degradation. Why do we treat the abundance of life on our doorstep with such disrespect, when it throws up glories like the Namibian fog-basking beetle, which taught us how to build greenhouses in the desert? Or the bark beetle, which can detect a forest fire 10km away and is showing how to make better fire extinguishers? Even worse, the very people who put their lives on the line to protect land and the environment are being killed at an accelerating pace.

I was an infant when the Apollo programme was happening and understand the obsession with exploring outer space. But sending a single person to the hostile, arid environment of a planet just next door like Mars would require years of training for a fabulously expensive trip. The question of whether or not there is life “out there” is often asked. But, from a different view of the cosmos, aren’t we ourselves also and already “out there”?

First contact: the US landed an explorer on Mars, Viking 1, in 1976. Photograph: SSPL/Getty

Perhaps the greatest gift of space exploration is that it enabled us to see ourselves as an island planet, where the greatest wonder is to be found in the world around us, the relationships between living things, and even within ourselves. A single tablespoon of soil contains more micro-organisms than there are people on the planet.

In Milan Kundera’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting there is a scene involving Kundera and his father who, a stroke victim, has difficulty speaking. The father had studied Beethoven’s sonatas and their magical variations for years. His barely coherent remarks trigger in Kundera an understanding that the greatest journey is not into the infinity of the external universe, but to “that other infinity, into the infinite diversity of the interior world lying hidden in all things”. To explore that is more than a lifetime’s rich work. Right now, the greater challenge is to offer an irresistible invitation to look differently and afresh at the world, and imagine how we can allow life here to flourish.

The German revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg: she dreamed of changing this world. Photograph: AP

We sense we’re living through hard times, and that makes the idea of fleeing to other worlds attractive. But times have been harder. On a cold dark night in prison during the apocalyptic upheaval of Europe of 1917, the revolutionary socialist Rosa Luxemburg found her spirits lifted, despite her perilous situation, by an awareness of the strangeness and beauty of the force of life. Her heart “beats with an inconceivable, unknown inner joy”. The secret, she decides, is “nothing but life itself”, and even in the sound of sentries’ heels grinding in gravel outside, “there is the small, lovely song of life – if one knows how to hear it”.

A couple of years ago I saw for the first time at dusk a field of fireflies. They were all around me, pulsing, drifting, lighting-up the darkening landscape. I thought Luxemburg’s song of life, and of the millions of people around the world who, rather than dreaming of escape, don’t accept the world as it is, but use their life’s pulsing energy to protect and improve it.

Source: The Guardian

Nature Ramble

Off to Florida this week.

This is a part reblog from Anita by the Sea

“So anyways, in an attempt to reduce the current state of negativity, I decided to nix the post and take a different approach. Below is a short essay that I recently wrote about the uniqueness of the Indian River Lagoon.  I’ve been going back and forth about what to do with it, so I figured I would just post it here. Hopefully anyone who reads this will be encouraged to take pride in their local ecosystems and do what’s in their power to protect them:)”

Indian River Lagoon

“I live along a stretch of the east coast of Florida that is like no other. As the bird flies, from east to west, you move from ocean, to Barrier Island, to estuary, to upland Florida scrubland, all in a matter of 2 to 3 miles. Each of these ecosystems is unique, and in other regions they independently occupy miles of terrain. Here, their close proximity to one another results in a collision of ecosystems, where organisms meet and interact in ways that are as unique as this area...”

Click on the link above to continue reading.

We all live near an Eco-system. It doesn’t matter if you live near a beach, a forest, a swamp or lagoon, or even in the city local parks are an Eco-system.

I think Anita’s story about Indian River Lagoon bears an important message to us all.

Just where is Indian River…



Nature Ramble

Staying in South America this week and heading north to one of the lesser known countries.

Everybody knows about Argentina and Brazil, but few know about Guyana; it used to be British, you know and they drive on the left.

But, where is Guyana?

Image – MongaBay

South America is home to one of the most beautiful of the big cats; the jaguar.

I have seen one at a distance of about 400 metres, close enough thank you. I had to use a 200mm + 2x teleconverter to get a good shot, but alas that is a photo lost to the ravages of time.

That was in the Pantanal.

But they range far and wide, from Argentina to the Darien Gap, that inhospitable stretch of land that connects the south to Central America and has defied all man’s attempts to traverse with transport.

Railways and roads have failed.

Proof that man cannot tame all the wilderness.

Rusting in the forest, a train bears mute testimony to failure to connect Central and South America

Rusting in the forest, a train bears mute testimony to failure to connect Central and South America

Guyana pledges to protect jaguars

The South American nation is in talks to establish a ‘jaguar corridor’ a network of pathways that would link core populations

Jaguars once roamed widely from the south-western United States to Argentina, but have lost nearly half of their natural territory and have disappeared altogether from some countries. Photograph: Mauricio Lima/AFP/Getty Images

The lushly forested nation of Guyana on Thursday joined a regional pact to protect jaguars, the elusive spotted cat that is the biggest land predator in the Americas but has become vulnerable as expanded agriculture and mining carves away at their fragmented habitat.

Leaders of the government’s environment ministry were signing an agreement with the New York-based conservation group Panthera, which is trying to establish a “jaguar corridor”, a network of pathways that would link core jaguar populations from northern Argentina to Mexico. Guyana is pledging to ensure the protection of jaguars, the national animal that is a near-threatened species.

The South American nation, with some of the region’s least spoiled wilderness, joins Colombia and nations in central America in recognising the corridor and agreeing to work towards the long-term conservation of jaguars, according to Esteban Payan, regional director for Panthera’s northern South America jaguar program.

A network of cameras equipped with motion sensors and fixed to tree trunks has revealed tantalising glimpses of sleek, solitary jaguars slinking through Guyana’s dense rainforests and vast grasslands stretching to the country’s border with Brazil.

Scientists reported finding a relatively healthy jaguar density of three to four animals per 161 miles in Guyana’s southern Rupununi savannah. That means that preserving grasslands are as important to conservation of jaguars as protecting the dense rainforests, they say.

Evi Paemelaere, a Belgian jaguar scientist with Panthera, said villagers in remote spots in Guyana have helped her set up cameras along the roads and hunting trails that the big cats like to travel on.

“Amerindians are very keen on being part of the project,” she said from the capital of Georgetown.

Jaguars once roamed widely from the south-western United States to Argentina, but have lost nearly half of their natural territory and have disappeared altogether from some countries. Heavy hunting for their spotted coats decimated their numbers in the 1960s and early 1970s until the pelt trade was largely halted. No one has any reliable estimates of how many jaguars are left in the wild, where they prey on peccaries, tapirs and, as they are powerful swimmers, river turtles.

Guyana, a country roughly the size of the US state of Idaho where most of the 756,000 inhabitants live along its Atlantic coastline, has been widely recognised for balancing progress with preservation. In 2009, it began a low-carbon push aimed at maintaining very low rates of deforestation and combating climate change, while also promoting economic development. It could receive up to $250m from Norway by 2015 as an incentive to protect its forests through sustainable mining, timber harvesting and other projects.

Alan Rabinowitz, Panthera’s CEO and a zoologist whose research in Belize in the 1980s led to the creation of the world’s first jaguar preserve, said Guyana’s signing of the jaguar agreement “demonstrates the government’s continued commitment to its legacy of conservation alongside economic progress and diversification”.


More photos:

Cubs – Image:


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