An online map that tracks in near real-time the vegetation area of all the world’s forests simultaneously will launch next month, after a preview was shown at a United Nations summit yesterday. Called “Global Forest Watch 2.0,” the map is a project years in the making led by the World Resources Institute, a nonprofit advocacy group focused on ecological issues.
They designed the map to help monitor and stop illegal forest clearing and deforestation by loggers and ranchers around the globe. “Deforestation continues today in part because by the time satellite images are available, analyzed, and shared, the forest clearing is long done,” the group notes on its website.
Nice map. Helps monitor illegal tree slaughter. Check it out if you can.
SEI is a solid source of environmental governance theory and solutions, including theories behind and application of adaptation. I’ve applied to various adaptation research positions at SEI over the years, but am consistently out-brained. Their staff are among the best researchers on the planet. Their annual report is different - beautiful and easy to read interactive. Well worth your time.
SEI is an independent international research institute. We have been engaged in environment and development issues at local, national, regional and global policy levels for more than a quarter of a century.
The institute was formally established in 1989 by the Swedish Government, and since then we have established a reputation for rigorous and objective scientific analysis in the field of environment and development.
Managing environmental systems: Growing populations, rapid urbanization and increased consumption put unprecedented pressure on land, water and air resources. Our research addresses how to manage these resources to enhance food security for our planet’s six billion people, to reduce the health impacts of air pollution and poor sanitation, and to protect ecosystem services through sound management of land and water resources.
Reducing climate risk: The goal of this theme is to contribute to a safer climate for all. We help design, develop and implement effective and fair strategies for adaptation and mitigation in developing and developed countries, taking into account the broader challenges and policy objectives of sustainable human development.
Transforming governance: Sustainable development is essentially about giving people the opportunity to build resilience by providing them with more options in their lives and livelihoods. We advance new insights into good governance for sustainable development in the face of social and ecological change.
Rethinking development: The global economy has brought prosperity to many in the world, but it has also depleted natural resources and vital ecosystem services. Our research shows the benefits of a low carbon future and describes how we can get there. We set out alternatives for sustainable futures, from the planetary scale down to local, on-the-ground solutions.
(H)ealthy, resilient forests actually need fire to thrive.
That concept has been the centerpiece of U.S. forest fire policy for almost two decades now. The 1995 Wildland Fire Policy, which governs firefighting on public lands and wilderness areas, states: “Wildland fire, as a critical natural process, must be reintroduced into the ecosystem.” The policy (which does not, by the way, in any way prohibit fighting fires that threaten life or property) grew out of the modern views of ecologists, who today see that flames are as much a part of a forest as the trees. Firefighting, in the view of many of these ecologists, should focus on protecting homes, watersheds, and critical infrastructure. But blazes in more remote woodlands should be allowed to run their course — a policy that wastes less money on fighting fires that won’t hurt anyone, while making forests healthier overall.
Progress from one of my favorite conservation charities, the Turtle Survival Alliance. They help save rare turtles through working with governments and property owners. Very well designed system with many successes.
Great news from Burma! It is the first captive hatching of the Arakan Forest Turtle at the Rakhine Turtle Center in Gwa. Built with funding support from the TSA, and managed in cooperation with the Myanmar Forest Department and Wildlife Conservation Society, this represents the first captive breeding for this critically endangered turtle in Myanmar. The species has been reproduced previously in the US and Europe.
Climate change and arctic research from the Stockholm Resilience Center.
Changes in the Arctic will affect ecosystems, communities, and industrial infrastructure
The Arctic is in the spotlight like never before. Scientists and environmentalists watch it as a bellwether of global climate change, while nations and corporations seek to exploit the region’s oil, gas and mineral reserves, and new shipping routes. Yet most discussions of the Arctic fail to consider how changes in climate, ecosystems, economics, and society interact.
The Arctic Resilience Report (ARR), led by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)and the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC), set out to fill that gap. What it found is that the combination of multiple, dramatic changes is pushing social-ecological systems to their limits.
Be prepared for surprises "The Arctic is changing so fast and in so many interacting ways that it affects the very fabric of ecosystems and societies," says Annika E. Nilsson, senior research fellow at SEI and scientific coordinator of the first phase of the ARR.
"We have to be prepared for surprises, and we need to increase the capacity to adapt and to grapple with conflicting priorities."
"When people talk about global change, they often assume that it will happen fairly steadily, and that people and ecosystems will be able to make step-by-step adjustments over time, but we document a growing body of research that shows this is far from always the case," says Sarah Cornell, lead author of the ARR’s thresholds analysis and coordinator of the Planetary Boundaries research initiative at SRC.
Learn more about the Arctic Resilience Report and download the Interim Report from the Arctic Council website.
exlegelibertas asked: I read another article this morning about hive disruption syndrome and about bee-dieoffs in general. The article framed the issue in a wider context of a 'sixth extinction.' As a layman I'm generally sold on these theories, despite their grim outlook. Assuming (as I do) that they're probably the result of anthropogenic climate change, what do you think the proper adaptation methods will be, considering the necessity of honeybees in pollinating most crops around the world?
Great question and I did a little research for you (learned a lot, so thanks!).
The so-called “sixth extinction” theory has been around for a while. I’d avoid reading about it, since it’s all doom. Still, adaptation strategies for bees and other pollinators are only now being taken seriously.
Keep in mind that environmentalism is ‘stewardship’ - it requires long-term thinking, far beyond your life-time. Solutions take time and decades of research and testing. So, managing impacts are part of a long transition…
Most adaptation strategies and responses are part of bigger plans that deal with ecosystems and agriculture, so they’re more likely to be a chapter in larger documents. Here a few resources:
NASA (yes, NASA) has HoneyBeeNet, a project on climate change impacts on honeybees and ag. Excellent overview of the issue, but short on strategies. Well worth a skim (and fun to see the connection between NASA science, climate, and bees!).
Passionately written story of the largest dam removal project in U.S. history. The project is helping restore huge salmon runs as well as ecosystems left damaged by the 100 year old infrastructure project.
As the last block of concrete was pulled from the riverbed, the Elwha River in the Olympic Mountains of Washington State flowed freely for the first time in over 100 years. The river was historically one of the most productive salmon streams for its size in the Pacific Northwest. Four hundred thousand salmon once swam its length each year but, in the century since the dam’s construction, that number had fallen to a few thousand.
Within months of the dam’s removal, nature has rushed back: over 200 salmon have already returned. The prospect of a river teeming with silverbacked salmon weighing over 45 kilograms each may no longer remain a hazy memory of local Native American tribes.
The Elwha dam removal project stands as one of the first large dams ever removed. The intent of removing the dams is to fully restore the Elwha River ecosystem and its native migratory fish species. In doing so, the Elwha dam project revived the debate of how to balance the conflicting demands of humans for both clean energy and healthy ecosystems.
Previously, that debate has been weighted decisively in favor of dam projects. But with a greater understanding of the value of ecosystem services, the Elwha dam project may represent the start of a revolution in how we assess the West’s aging dam infrastructure.
Climate change adaptation and spatial planning in the Alpine regions of Europe.
CLISP is a European project funded by the Alpine Space Programme under the European Territorial Cooperation 2007-2013. For more information visit: www.alpine-space.eu/CLISP
CLISP is focused on the challenges to spatial planning in the face of climate change and shall contribute to climate change adaptation by providing climate-proof spatial planning solutions. CLISP is committed to positioning spatial planning as a key player for future sustainable development under the adversities of climate change.
How prepared are American cities for increased natural disasters? Over the years, Americans have insisted on expanding and building cities and suburbs in locations that are clearly threatened by natural hazards. This week’s monster tornado in Oklahoma demonstrates this. Cities and states have encouraged people to live in these areas through city planning, architectural design, and the so-called need for “economic development.”
Thus, instead of encouraging people to not live in these hazard zones, city leaders have created methods to help people survive relatively normal lives there. Houses in California must meet specific earthquake design standards, buildings in Oklahoma have “safe rooms,” and countless structures must be stable enough to handle floods and erosion along American coastlines. These are adaptations. Not good adaptations (I believe people should not be encouraged to live in these areas), but there it is.
With the climate changing, the impacts on communities are likely to increase. Incidences of natural disasters are expected to rise, costing many lives and causing a need for an endless stream of disaster aid.
Researchers at MIT teamed up with the non-profit ICLEI to survey cities around the world. The goal was to compare how they were adapting to climate change impacts, or preparing for future impacts. Progress, the researchers found, is very slow in the US, while cities around the world are far more advanced.
It’s a great read, very visual so if you don’t have time you can skim it.
A new book, Novel Ecosystems, edited by Richard Hobbs of the University of Western Australia and others, shows how many superficially natural ecosystems are heavily influenced by the introduction of alien species. Whether intentional or accidental, most introductions seem to have human origins.
This is disconcerting. “Over large parts of the globe, the ‘wilderness’ that people refer back to never existed,” says one of the book’s authors, Michael Perring, also of the University of Western Australia.
Nature has always had open borders for alien species on the move. Those itinerants may have been a driving force of evolution. But human activity has dramatically increased their travel options. We move many deliberately, as commercial crops or domesticated animals, for instance. Today, others can hitch a ride on ship hulls or in ballast tanks, aboard planes or on the wheels of trucks or the backs of domesticated animals. This phenomenon seems to have been going on for much longer than we sometimes imagine.