Showing posts with label Conservation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Conservation. Show all posts

Friday, 5 June 2020

New research suggests, zoos and aquariums in Canada do little to protect endangered creatures in the wild.

by Larry Powell

A Bengal, the commonest tiger species (but still endangered)
paces in its cage at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park zoo. 

A PinP photo.
A study just published in the journal, Facets, begins positively enough. It acknowledges that members of Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA - the private, non-profit charity representing thirty such institutions), do try to be leaders in researching this field and, that they do take part in programs aimed at species survival by breeding animals in captivity, then re-introducing them into the wild.

And on its own website,  CAZA claims, "We are behind some of the most remarkable conservation success stories. This includes, bringing species such as the Black Footed Ferret and the Vancouver Island Marmot back from the brink of extinction,” for example. 

However, in some key areas, the researchers (a team of two biologists from Laurentian University in Sudbury) suggest, CAZA and its members are falling short. 
Zoos and aquariums could be "important resources in mitigating biodiversity loss. And the credibility of zoos as conservation organizations can only be enhanced by the production of peer-reviewed science in this field."
Yet, while CAZA members are turning out more such research (still significantly less than their US counterparts and most in "zoo-centric" journals), most are not on the topic of biodiversity conservation at all, but on veterinary science, instead. 
"Few studies have explored their contribution to biodiversity conservation efforts and research productivity in general." 
Increasing collaboration with academic institutions would be one way for CAZA to overcome that shortcoming. So, “It is puzzling that collaborations between these groups are rare. Academics can use the unique environment zoos and aquariums provide for studying species, whereas academic research based on field observations may increase the success of reintroduction efforts led by zoos and aquariums.”

This new research comes to light against the backdrop of extinctions hanging over tens of thousands of Earth's wild species, “ due to widespread degradation of global ecosystems caused by humans.”



Sunday, 17 November 2019

It's big. It's risky. It's unacceptable!

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society

In the northeast corner of Alberta lies Wood Buffalo National Park. Known for its sheer size and biodiversity, it is Canada’s largest national park and World Heritage Site. Its size and remote location have led many to believe it is untouched by human impacts, but it has sadly been affected by upstream industrial development outside of the Park. It is now additionally threatened by a proposed open-pit oil sands mine just 30-km south of its borders.

If approved, the Teck Frontier oil sands mine would be the largest open-pit mine in North America, with a massive 290 sq-km footprint. This mine would pose serious environmental risks to the approximately 1 million migratory birds that fly over the region, species at risk that depend on the intact boreal habitat, and negatively influence downstream waters on the Athabasca River. 

The federal government has a public comment period open until November 24, 2019 to hear what people think of the proposed environmental assessment conditions that Teck would need to meet.
How strong are these conditions? The proposed mitigation measures do very little to address the startling list of impacts from the mine. It is clear that the conditions are inconsistent with a healthy future for our boreal and the communities that depend on the biodiversity of the region.

Want to speak up but unsure about what you will say? Use our public comment guide as a blueprint to your comment. We provide our key concerns about the mine and the proposed conditions to kickstart your comment. 
Now is our chance to let the federal government know that this project is a serious danger to our boreal forest and poses risks that cannot be ignored. 
Yours in Conservation, 
Gillian Chow-Fraser
Boreal Program Manager
CPAWS Northern Alberta

Friday, 15 November 2019

Brazil supports sugarcane growing in Amazon

"Harvesting" by Beegee49 
Brazil has reopened the door to expanding sugarcane plantations in the Amazon, even though it is difficult to grow the crop there. Scientists worry the move will increase deforestation and harm biodiversity and carbon sequestration in the jungle. President Jair Bolsonaro, who has pushed for more economic development in the Amazon, on 5 November revoked a 2009 agricultural zoning plan that prohibited public funding for sugarcane production within the Amazon region, where low yields increase risk for private investors. But Bolsonaro's administration says the ban is unnecessary because other laws require that the cultivation be environmentally sustainable. Brazil is already the world's largest producer of sugarcane, with approximately 10 million hectares of cane fields—only 1.5% of which are now in the Amazon. The region's extremely humid weather and poor soils are not ideal for popular cane varieties, and studies indicate that Brazil has plenty of room to expand sugarcane production elsewhere without competing with other types of food production or conservation. Japan and European countries import Brazilian ethanol, a fuel produced from sugarcane, on the condition that the cane is grown in an environmentally sustainable way.

Friday, 31 May 2019

Conservationists find protected areas worldwide are shrinking

Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada.
A PinP photo.
A large international team of researchers reports that the amount of land designated as protected around the globe is shrinking. Story here.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

New research finds that “marine reserves” – tracts of ocean where fishing is banned – are protecting fish, the coral reefs where they live and vast undersea "gardens," a lot more than once thought.

Large-scale commercial fishing has, for years, been depleting fish-stocks in many places around the world - especially in coral reefs in the tropics. In response, several countries have designated certain areas of the sea as "marine reserves," where neither fishing nor other development is allowed. Now, a team of scientists from US and Australian universities has produced compelling new evidence. It shows these reserves have not only been helping stocks rebound, but are also protecting massive coral "food webs" - beds of sea-grasses and algae - important reservoirs for carbon storage. 
by Larry Powell
In this satellite photo, "halos" appear as pale blue circular bands 
surrounding tiny dark spots.The spots are likely small patch reefs 
or other shelter for small fish and invertebrates that protect them 
from predators. Each halo is probably about 10 meters wide. 
The more there are, the healthier marine life there is likely to be.
Using hi-rez images from both satellites and underwater cameras, the researchers studied hundreds of small, tropical reefs in the huge Great Barrier Reef complex off Australia. 

Those images detected about two-&-a-half times more halos within the reserves than elsewhere. The more halos, the healthier the reef is considered to be as a home for both fish and invertebrates. 

These pale blue, circular bands surrounding the small dark spots, are where herbivorous, or plant-eating fish and some marine mammals, venture out to graze on surrounding vegetation such as algae or seagrass. Then, they dart back in, using the reefs as protection from the predators. 

The scientists refer to the halos as "seascape-scale footprints" of healthy, increased activity in aquatic life.
Elizabeth M.P. Madin, Ph.D.
Assistant Research Professor
Hawaii Institute of Marin Biology
University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA.
The spokesperson for the study, Dr. Elizabeth Madin (above), tells PinP, "What the halos are telling us is that marine reserves - especially older ones - where predator and herbivore populations have had sufficient time to recover from previous fishing - are protecting key species and their resulting interactions.

"Specifically," she adds, "we’re more likely to see halos in especially older reserves (40 years old or so), which suggests that predators and prey are in sufficient numbers there to interact and cause these halo patterns." 

Since halos can also be found in some ares unprotected from fishing, the team calls for more research to further confirm the connection.

Among groups funding the research were the World Wildlife Fund and the US National Science Foundation.

The findings were published recently in the proceedings of The Royal Society in the UK and in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.  

But the benefits of marine reserves, don't stop here.

"Importantly," Dr. Madin goes on, "we know from another of our studies, that halos affect carbon storage. So, not only are marine reserves re-shaping coral reef landscapes on very large scales in ways we didn’t know about before, but they’re also affecting a key ecosystem service - carbon storage."

She's referring to a truly fascinating undersea scenario in which predator fish actually play a beneficial - albeit indirect - role in carbon sequestration. A healthy habitat means more predators. Their prey, often herbivorous fish or marine mammals, cling to the relative safety of their home reefs and don't venture too far afield to find plants to eat. 

Dugongs, a type of marine mammal, are
known to be capable of decimating sea-grass beds
as they graze. Photo taken in an oceanarium in Jakarta.

This spares massive sea-scapes of algae and sea-grasses nearby, which would otherwise be stripped by the plant-eaters. Instead, the vegetation grows taller and denser, greatly increasing its capacity to store carbon, thus providing a significant buffer against climate change.

Not only are the number of marine reserves growing, worldwide, they're getting bigger, too (some more than 100 thousand km2). Nineteen of these "mega-reserves" have been established since 2009. And happily for the sea-life living there, the research finds, the bigger the reserves, the more protection they offer!

Sunday, 21 April 2019

A Federal Judge Just Nixed Trump’s Attempt to Drill the Arctic and Atlantic

The Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. Photo by Diego Delso.

In a ruling issued from Alaska, a U.S. District Court has determined that President Trump overstepped his constitutional authority and violated federal law. More here.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

When development and conservation clash in the Serengeti

University of Copenhagen - SCIENCE NEWS
A proposed new road could disrupt the migration of animals like this in the Serengeti.
Photo by eismcsquare.
New or upgraded roads in the Greater Serengeti Ecosystem around Serengeti National Park will not reduce growing pressure on the ecosystem, a study shows. Story here.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Help preserve land – our 'home and future' – UN urges on World Day to Combat Desertification

The UN News Centre

With hundreds of millions of people around the globe directly affected by desertification – the degradation of land ecosystems due to unsustainable farming or mining practices, or climate change – United Nations agencies have called for better management of land so that it can provide a place where individuals and communities “can build a future.” Story here.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Conservationists Announce New Protected Areas For Great Bear Rainforest

PinP photo
Four private parcels of land have been added to protected zones in the largest coastal temperate rainforest left on Earth, ensuring their permanent protection from commercial logging, conservationists announced Thursday. Story here.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Technoparc: A Unique Wetland Area of Montreal - Home to Over 80 Nesting Species of Birds Faces an Uncertain Future

Sierra Club Canada
Wildlife similar to this Great Blue Heron inhabit "Technoparc." 
PinP photo
Imagine a wetland area that is home to over 80 nesting species including herons, raptors, songbirds and ducks. Then imagine it in the middle of a Technoparc on the Island of Montreal, a few miles west of downtown and just east of the Trudeau Airport. Story here.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Friday, 1 July 2016

Wild Creatures and Places in and Near Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada.

by Larry Powell
Some of the wildlife and terrain we saw and photographed in and near the park. Enjoy!

A lone member of the park's herd of prairie bison.

A shy (and rare) burrowing owl.

Ringneck pheasant

Black-tailed prairie dogs

"Seventy-Mile Butte"

A sweep of rare, wild prairie, preserved for posterity in the park. (All photos by PinP.)

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Wild Critters of the Grasslands (A picture story)

The beginning of the "70-Mile Butte" trail.

by Larry Powell

Row & I are visiting a special place right now. It's Grasslands National Park in SW Saskatchewan. I can swear the animals, birds and even plants are saying "thank you" for not huntinig or spraying us, or plowing us down! Enjoy the photos. 
Yours in Nature.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Norway Becomes the First Country to Ban Deforestation

Nation of Change
A clearcut in BC. Wikimedia Commons.
The Norwegian Parliament has pledged to be deforestation-free. They are the first country in history to ban deforestation. Story here.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Let’s Protect Ontario’s Moose, Wolves, and Coyotes!

Humane Society International Canada

PinP photo.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF) has introduced a proposal to relax restrictions on the killing of wolves and allow the unlimited killing of coyotes across most of Ontario in an ill-informed effort to enhance moose populations. PLEASE SIGN!

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Endangered Fish Species Missing the Safety Net

CBC Radio Quirks & Quarks - A team of Canadian Scientists has looked at Canada's system for protecting endangered marine species and discovered that almost none is receiving protection despite policies and legal requirements. Listen here.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Beyond Covid 19. Are we risking yet another pandemic if we continue to embrace "assembly-line" livestock production into the future?

by Larry Powell No one would argue that Covid 19 demands our undivided attention. Surely,  defeating this "beast" has to be &...