News: Urban gardens are crucial in conserving bees and butterflies

A recent study found that urban areas can offer hotspots of urban floral diversity. Stating further how the individual gardener has an important role to play in maintaining the population size of many different pollinators.

‘Urban nectar is supplied by a diverse community of flowering plants, heavily comprised of non‐native species. Residential gardens are the key land use underpinning nectar sugar production within urban landscapes, providing both an abundance and diversity of floral resources’ – Quantifying nectar production by flowering plants in urban and rural landscapes

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Deforestation: causes, impacts and solutions

‘In 2015, an estimated 50 percent of the planet’s wild forests had gone. And the destruction of forests has continued since. If the trend is not stopped, we will only have 10 percent of the world’s original forests left by 2030’ ­www.theworldcounts.com

A private corporation or government may want to deforest an area for agriculture, grazing or urban development. It is mostly a concern with countries in tropical regions like Brazil or Indonesia where rainforests rich in biodiversity are being lost at a rapid rate. Before looking at the causes of deforestation, it is important to distinguish between the agents and the causes:


‘The agents of deforestation are those slash and burn farmers, commercial farmers, ranchers, loggers, firewood collectors, infra-structure developers and others who are cutting down the forests. Causes of deforestation are the forces that motivate the agents to clear the forests’Deforestation: Causes, Effects and Control Strategies

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To go in to detail about each cause would make this post several pages long, therefore I will provide a list of direct causes which can be looked at by following the link provided.


Some of the direct causes of deforestation (as referenced on page 7 in the article) are:

  • Expansion of farm land
  • Timber plantations
  • Logging
  • Overgrazing
  • Fires
  • Mining
  • Urbanisation
  • Air pollution
  • War
  • Tourism

In relation to the direct causes, this demonstrates that deforestation can be caused for various reasons in many different ways. However, the impacts this can have on local communities and internationally is mostly concerning.

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The impact of deforestation increases global warming which has a collateral impact on the Earth and all its inhabitants.


‘Forests have a big influence on rainfall patterns, water and soil quality and flood prevention too. Millions of people rely directly on forests as their home or for making a living. But the risks from deforestation go even wider. Trees absorb and store carbon dioxide. If forests are cleared, or even disturbed, they release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Forest loss and damage is the cause of around 10% of global warming’WWF

Not to mention the vast amount of habitat and species loss to many plant and animals which are exclusive to certain rainforests and ecosystems which are then destroyed.


Therefore, when looking into solutions to deforestation there are many different approaches corporations or nations can adopt. Greenpeace offer an array of different solutions such as:

⦁ Corporations operating with ‘zero deforestation’ policies

⦁ Supporting Indigenous communities

⦁ Promoting sustainable lifestyle

⦁ Changing the politics

In summary, we must remember that when thinking about ways to solve deforestation it will often entail a multilateral solution. As it has already been established that:


‘Rarely is there a single direct cause for deforestation. Most often, multiple processes work simultaneously or sequentially to cause deforestation’www.earthobservatory.nasa.gov


Therefore, it is evident that there needs to be more cooperation with nations like Indonesia or Brazil, as they have some of the largest rainforests, to prevent the increase rate of illegal deforestation and rapid decline in forest and species loss.

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News: Scientists urge UK PM to shorten net zero target

Scientists Warning Europe (SWE) have written a letter to UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, urging him to cut the carbon neutral target by 20 years to 2030. The letter was backed by 20 renowned scientists, involving people affiliated with UNFCC and the IPCC. Demonstrating that more is needed in these desperate times in order to prevent the worse case scenarios from happening in the coming years.

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Sustainable forest management and adaptation to climate change

Sustainable forest management can be defined as ‘outcomes that are socially just, ecologically sound and economically viable – the three pillars of sustainability‘. Each pillar is needed in order for a forests to thrive, if one of these pillars is missing a forest cannot be protected.

Depending on the type of forest that is being managed, such as a rainforest or a boreal forest, the management of that forest will vary. Management needs to be specific to the type of ecosystem that the forest resides, tailor to the legal framework and socio-cultural aspects depending on what nation the forest is found in. Although, there are objective requirements that all forests should include.

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Climate change can present many uncertainties when managing forests, therefore a forest should be adapting to promote resilience against the threat of droughts, damage from pests, diseases and wild fire. One way this can be achieved is by practicing silviculture, which consists of controlling the structure and dynamics of a forest. In managing a forest one needs to take an adaptive approach as the climate is constantly changing. Additionally, aside from climate change other influences may include timber prices, land use change and recreational use. There are often extreme conditions one may have to plan for as well, such as extreme drought or rainfall, these are conditions that may need individual and adaptive plans for these issues.

‘Adaptive management is an iterative process in which it is important to test new systems and ideas and judge how these perform under extreme climatic conditions’ – Climate change: impacts and adaptation in England’s woodlands

It is important to focus on why and how a forest needs to be managed but also on the adaptive measures that need to be facilitated in order to prevent these issues from destroying forests.

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Current research suggest that the adaptation of forests must be tailored to local communities. This is important as adaptations strategies vary among geographical location and the type of forest present.

Some strategies involve planting drought-resistant trees to provide food security and reduce erosion. Other strategies invest in forest genetic research and breeding programmes. This improves forestry growth rates and resilience to disease. Alternatively, focusing on restoring biodiversity can increase the resilience of an ecosystem and restore habitat loss.

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Local adaptation methods may involve maintaining the quality of water surrounding a forest. In dry regions, sourcing scarce water sources can help maintain a forest by providing healthy sustenance. Another local strategy may be encouraging the increase of rare species of a certain tree to make the population more abundant. This can help particularly if that certain species is a valuable asset to the local community. However, local strategies has its limitations as local information is rarely documented and often preserved for a few members of the community. Also, a globalised market can impact the infrastructure of a local self-sufficient rural community.

In summary, adapting forests for climate change cannot be solved with one over-arching solution. Each forest, depending on region, will need to have specific adaptation strategies specific to that region. As climate change is a complex issue with unpredictable outcomes, adapting for a worst case scenario may be as complex as the issue itself. Therefore, in order to enable sustainable strategies which maintain the health of a forest, it is important to plan and put systems in place to better enable these adaptive strategies.

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News: Ice melting faster than climate models predict

A recent study has observed that:

‘Even within the most intensive future anthropogenic greenhouse gas emission scenarios, higher levels are assessed to be unlikely. However, some studies conclude that considerably greater sea level rise could be realized, and a number of experts assign a substantially higher likelihood of such a future’

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Stating further how predictions fall short from the reality of the situation.

‘We find that future projections estimated on climate model responses fall below extrapolation based on recent observational records. This comparison suggests that the likely upper level of sea level projections in recent IPCC reports would be too low’

This is troubling as this could mean we have less time than expected to reverse the temperature of the planet before sea levels rise to such a degree that a global amount of coastal areas are lost among other things.

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Agricultural strategies to climate change

One consequence of global warming and climate change is unpredictable weather patterns and extreme weather. The agricultural industry rely on predictable weather patterns in order to produce the most yield from their crop, however, global warming is affecting the production of this crop on a international scale.

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Many people have been looking toward adaptive measures in order to deal with unpredictable weather. For example, one approach being Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) aimed at increasing sustainable agricultural productivity, reduce emissions and helping food systems build resilience to a changing climate.

One of the main reasons for healthy soil, apart from the production of crops, is that soil is the second largest carbon sink after oceans – making it a highly valuable resource but also one that is most vulnerable to climate change. The EU have a strategy which can help protect soil from climate change but the European Environment Agency claim that a lot more information is still needed in order to implement long-term sustainable solutions.

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Others have suggested strategies which aim to make agriculture more resilient such as building healthier soil or developing new crop varieties and farming practices. One agricultural practice some suggest to use in order to tackle climate change is permaculture. Permaculture is centred around simulating the patterns and features observed in the natural ecosystem. Some have suggested that permaculture techniques can improve efficacy and sustain limited farm resources. Permaculture can be used in a variety of different environments, which is helpful as we need need something that functions like a natural habitat but also meets our needs.


These are just some of the strategies and difficulties people have expressed as climate change worsens, farming and agriculture needs to be thought of thoroughly as our current mass produced scale is something that is fragile and can easily be disrupted.

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News: Aquatic scientists call for urgency to protect marine life

Approximately 80,000 scientists from 7 continents have issued a statement urging world leaders to avoid further degradation of marine ecosystems.

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The societies which these scientists are a part of has call on world leaders and the public to act and protect aquatic ecosystems which we all depend on. Stating that these ecosystems are now under more threat than ever before in human history. In their statement. experts in the environmental, social and economic sectors have collectively realised that we are heading toward a drastic environmental and humanitarian crisis.

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Why climate change should be a core subject in schools

Society’s youngest generation has shown a strong concern for the environment in recent years, possibly owing its awareness to the vast information that can be found on the internet. This information is valuable in spreading awareness and educating people on the current state of our planet, however not everyone uses the internet in a productive way. Therefore, establishing a strong curriculum in schools to teach children about climate change and the environment may be more beneficial long term.


Teaching children about climate change may help set fundamental principles in most of the population as they grow older, such as the ways we need act in order to achieve sustainable goals. This can be seen in Japanese culture and the way they act at public events. These characteristics are what many aim to teach at an early age, not only can this benefit the individual but also the planet in becoming more sustainable.

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Educating children on climate change entails a multifaceted subject matter with potential to create sustainable lifestyle choices, ultimately creating a more sustainable planet long-term. One article by the UNCC states:

‘While the breadth and controversy of content related to climate change poses a challenge to educators, it is also one of the topic’s great strengths. The fact that climate change may be viewed on local, regional, and international levels — not to mention through scientific, civic, and cultural lenses — provides students with the opportunity to develop critical analysis skills and synthesize information’


‘Teaching on climate change means teaching on topics like environmental stewardship and collective responsibility — teaching students that they and those around them have a responsibility to something larger than themselves’


This helps the planet by spiking interest in children that may want to take a career focused on environmental stewardship but also teaches positive societal values at an early age.

Put more concisely:

‘Education and awareness-raising enable informed decision-making, play an essential role in increasing adaptation and mitigation capacities of communities, and empower women and men to adopt sustainable lifestyles’

UNESCO

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One scientific paper argued that schools will need to reflect sustainability as well as teaching sustainable development:

‘climate change education for sustainable development must be comprehensive and multidisciplinary; it must not only include relevant content knowledge on climate change, environmental and social issues, disaster risk reduction and sustainable consumption and lifestyles, but it should also focus on the institutional environment in which that content is learned to ensure that schools and education systems themselves are climate-proofed and resilient as well as sustainable and green’

Highlighting how climate change will need to be an in-depth part of a school’s curriculum which will encompass a range of topics and perspectives. Their evidence-based study focused on:

‘research based on scholarly methods and in-depth evidence published in scientific, peer-reviewed journals as well as monitoring reports, assessments and evaluations of climate change education projects’

‘evidence shows that educational interventions are most successful
when they focus on local, tangible, and actionable aspects of sustainable
development, climate change and environmental education, especially
those that can be addressed by individual behaviour’

Frequently focusing on climate change from a global perspective can seem overwhelming and leave one feeling powerless. However, as the findings suggest focusing locally on climate change and what one may be able to achieve in their immediate surroundings can better achieve an inspiration for change and sustainable lifestyle choices.

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News: Bank of England fund carbon-intensive companies

The Bank of England has been criticised for funding carbon-intensive companies during the pandemic. The Environmental Audit Committee has stated that companies should disclose their climate related activities when receiving funding.

Many of the 230 companies which have received funding are said to produce a lot of carbon emissions. Since June 2020, it has been estimated that 56% of Covid funding has been allocated to high carbon sectors.

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The benefits of rewilding and biodiversity

‘The term biodiversity (from the phrase “biological diversity”) refers to the variety of life on Earth at all its levels, from genes to ecosystems, and can encompass the evolutionary, ecological, and cultural processes that sustain life’

– greenmatters.com

Biodiversity is needed as we rely on different ecosystems to provide water, food and medicine. If one species becomes extinct, this often creates a collateral affect on other species, increasing the loss of biodiversity within different ecosystems.

Without these intricate ecosystems human societies could not exist. The different benefits which we draw from these ecosystems is known as ecosystem services.

Due to the increase in the human population and deforestation, biodiversity is at a rapid decline, meaning different species are set to become extinct in unprecedented numbers and the ecosystems we rely on are starting to disappear.

However, one solution to the rapid loss of biodiversity is rewilding nature.

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‘Rewilding is a progressive approach to conservation. It’s about letting nature take care of itself, enabling natural processes to shape land and sea, repair damaged ecosystems and restore degraded landscapes. Through rewilding, wildlife’s natural rhythms create wilder, more biodiverse habitats’

– rewildingeurope.com

This definition provides a broad overview of rewilding, however different types of rewilding also exist.

Passive rewilding: Aims to reduce human interference by letting nature take its course and thrive on its own

Pleistocene rewilding: During the Pleistocene era, a mass extinction of megafauna occurred. Some believe this left an imbalance to our ecosystems, this approach suggests including non-native species into different ecosystems to restore a balance of different species.

Translocation rewilding: A proactive approach which reintroduces species which were previously lost from certain ecosystems, with the goal of restoring areas to a state of previous wellbeing.

Rewilding not only applies to rural areas but also to urban landscapes as well. The benefits of green urban areas can be made possible by increasing the number of forests and parks in cities as well as reduced pesticides and harmful management. Allowing for a more environmentally friendly landscape has also led to some interesting developments, such as those currently underway in Singapore.

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