Earth Has Lost 50% Of Its Wildlife In The Past 40 Years

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Species across land, rivers and seas decimated as humans kill for food in unsustainable numbers and destroy habitats

The number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years, according to a new analysis. Creatures across land, rivers and the seas are being decimated as humans kill them for food in unsustainable numbers, while polluting or destroying their habitats, the research by scientists at WWF and the Zoological Society of London found.

“If half the animals died in London zoo next week it would be front page news,” said Professor Ken Norris, ZSL’s director of science. “But that is happening in the great outdoors. This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live.” He said nature, which provides food and clean water and air, was essential for human wellbeing.

“We have lost one half of the animal population and knowing this is driven by human consumption, this is clearly a call to arms and we must act now,” said Mike Barratt, director of science and policy at WWF. He said more of the Earth must be protected from development and deforestation, while food and energy had to be produced sustainably.

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Deforestation Leaves Fish Undersized And Underfed

Trees on the edge of a lake (Image: EyeWire)
The role forest matter plays in aquatic food chains is a relatively recent discovery

Deforestation is reducing the amount of leaf litter falling into rivers and lakes, resulting in less food being available to fish, a study suggests. Researchers found the amount of food available affected the size of young fish and influenced the number that went on to reach adulthood. The team said the results illustrated a link between watershed protection and healthy freshwater fish populations. The findings have been published in Nature Communications.

“We found fish that had almost 70% of their biomass made from carbon that came from trees and leaves instead of aquatic food chain sources,” explained lead author Andrew Tanentzap from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences.

“While plankton raised on algal carbon is more nutritious, organic carbon from trees washed into lakes is a hugely important food source for freshwater fish, bolstering their diet to ensure good size and strength,” he added.

Size matters

Dr Tanentzap observed: “Where you have more dissolved forest matter you have more bacteria, more bacteria equals more zooplankton.

“Areas with the most zooplankton had the largest, fattest fish,” he added, referring to the study’s results.

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Surviving Together: Growing the Future

I loved this little clip about the excellent opportunities that can come from mushroom growing from one side of the world to the another. Great avenue I feel for alleviating poverty as well as helping rid the world of malnutrition and starvation. Fantastic recycling model as well as sustainable business model. So from growing mushrooms for your self to feeding your community, mushrooms as a great option to pursue. Mush more on mushroom cultivation to follow in coming weeks.

“FREELAND community outreach projects are giving ex-poachers a way to escape poverty and crime by establishing their own organic and sustainable mushroom growing businesses.”

If you want to learn more about organic mushroom growing and the Freeland organisation then check out this free 60 page booklet they provide: http://issuu.com/freelandfoundation/docs/freelandorganicmushroomcultivationmanual_english_p

Symphony of the Soil (Documentory Trailer)

“Drawing from ancient knowledge and cutting edge science, Symphony of the Soil is an artistic exploration of the miraculous substance soil. By understanding the elaborate relationships and mutuality between soil, water, the atmosphere, plants and animals, we come to appreciate the complex and dynamic nature of this precious resource. The film also examines our human relationship with soil, the use and misuse of soil in agriculture, deforestation and development, and the latest scientific research on soil’s key role in ameliorating the most challenging environmental issues of our time. Filmed on four continents, featuring esteemed scientists and working farmers and ranchers, Symphony of the Soil is an intriguing presentation that highlights possibilities of healthy soil creating healthy plants creating healthy humans living on a healthy planet.”

Really enjoyed this one, love learning more about the soil and the life within it, some very interesting points made. Buy the DVD and get it watched, sure you’ll love it too. It goes into a lot of fascinating scientific data on the “dirt” beneath our feet.

The Man Who Planted A Forest

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Thirty-four years ago when he began to plant trees, no one, including him, had the slightest idea that his effort would give birth to an entire forest.

It all began with a dream he had in 1979 to plant trees on barren land for small animals and birds to build their homes on the tree tops.

Chasing his dream, Jadav Payeng, then a young lad, belonging to the Mishing tribal community in Jorhat district, in the north eastern state of Assam, began to plant trees regularly.

Decades later, the trees have transformed into a lush forest covering 550 hectares of land, home to wild elephants, tigers, rhinos and deer.

Similarly, he is growing trees on another 150 hectares of land, which is adjacent to the first forest he helped plant.
jadav_payeng
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Easter Islands Ancient Gardening Practices

A few short segments from a documentary about Easter Islands (Rapa Nui) and how it become to be deforested and baron. The ancient Rapanui people did abuse their environment but they were also developing sustainable practices—innovating, experimenting, trying to adapt to a risky environment. They are generally held responsible for cutting down 6,000,000 trees in 300 years (though that is disputed), for example they were also developing new technological and agricultural practices along the way—such as fertilization techniques to restore the health of the soil and rock gardens to protect the plants. “Societies don’t just go into a tailspin and self-destruct,” says Stevenson, an archaeologist at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. “They can and do adapt, and they emerge in new ways. The key is to put more back into the system than is taken out.”

This section of the documentary caught my attention due to this being the first time hearing about “lithic mulching” which is basically putting down rocks to help prevent soil erosion by creating micro climates with rocks, this helped create shade and deterred weeds too. Also not mentioned here is how these volcanic rocks would have eroded down remineralising the soil as they went. Other gardening practices show them growing fruit in caves entrances for shade from elements and building “manavai” stoned circle walls to protect plants from salt winds etc”

This next clip shown above speaks about how the practices of the inhabitants of the island were sustainable. They go on to show a possible indication of water conservation showing gulleys, dams, pavements and what effectively looks to me as water retention, encouraging the water to soak in to stop runoff in heavy rains. Well that or maybe they are “water gardens” or some kind of ancient method of “plumbing” water. They also show how as well as cuttings down tree’s they planted them too.

Several interesting gardening practices some of which today we maybe could call experimentations in “permaculture”.

Original Name: Easter Island Mysteries of a Lost World
Detail: S01E01
Copyright: BBC4