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Community Welfare

Lung damage from agricultural fires probed

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Organic compounds and particular matter released when burning foreststo clear land for agriculture can kill human lung cells or lead to irreversible damage to DNA, according to a new study. Burning forest to make land suitable for farming or to rear livestock is a widespread practice in many parts of the developing world. Nearly three billion people around the world are exposed to contaminants from biomass burning as a result of farming practices, deforestation, and burning wood or charcoal for fuel. Continue reading..

Community Welfare

Sources of aflatoxin found for Brazil nuts

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High temperatures, humidity and long periods spent on the forest floor before harvest all favour the growth of mycotoxins on Brazil nuts, according to research by a local team of scientists.   They identified critical points for contamination throughout the supply chain.   “Our research identified the critical points in the contamination of Brazil nuts by aflatoxins [a type of mycotoxin produced by fungi of the genus Aspergillus], and helped to establish measures to reduce contamination,” said Marta Hiromi Taniwaki, a researcher at the Food Technology Institute (ITAL) in Campinas, Brazil, and principal investigator for the project. Continue reading..

Environmental Integrity

Most countries are better off with intact forests

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[NEW YORK] Converting forests into farms is not economically viable except in selected regions, says a global study.Published last month (July) in PLoS Biology, the study by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) examined deforestation in more than 50 countries in the tropics between 2000—2012, and identified regions where deforestation is most and least beneficial. According to Luis Roman Carrasco, lead author of the study and assistant professor at the NUS faculty of science, the study was undertaken “to help policymakers realise whether their deforestation strategies made economic sense and how these could be modified to avoid inefficient loss of natural resources. Continue reading..

Environmental Integrity

Two climate extremes: flooded cities, dry rural areas

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[SYDNEY] Rising temperatures are leading to more intense storms and flooding in urban areas but drier soil in rural areas especially in Asia and Africa, says a new study.Carried out by engineers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney and published this month (August) in Nature Scientific Reports, the study analysed real-world effects of river flows and rainfall data from over 160 countries. The researchers noted that there’s a radical shift in streamflow patterns with more intense rainfall in cities, overwhelming infrastructure and causing flooding. Continue reading..

Environmental Integrity

Shift to biogas helps revive forest

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[NEW DELHI] Forests in south India that had become degraded due to excessive fuelwood extraction recovered after villagers living nearby switched to biogas for their cooking fuel needs, says a study. Published last month (July) in Global Ecology and Conservation, the study reports notable increase in biomass and regeneration of forests close to villages that use biogas for cooking, as compared to forests near villages without biogas provision. "This study shows that if you reliably provide a viable and affordable alternative, people will reduce their fuelwood use," Meghna Agarwala, lead author of the study and postdoctoral research fellow at Columbia University, tells SciDev. Continue reading..

Environmental Integrity

Tropics most prone to soil erosion

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[NEW DELHI] Regions in the tropical climate zones suffer the greatest rainfall-related soil erosion, reports an international study.   The study, published last month (July) in Scientific Reports, has developed the first-ever Global Rainfall Erosivity Database and a Global Erosivity Map. It notes that while rainfall provides moisture critical for plant growth, it is also one of the prime causes of soil degradation, referred to as rainfall erosivity, which threatens food and water sustainability. Continue reading..

Environmental Integrity

New FAO Guidelines: Agriculture Central to Climate Change Adaptation

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12 May 2017, Rome-- Now that the Paris Climate Accord has been agreed, national strategies to achieve pledged carbon mitigation and adaptation plans take center stage. FAO has developed supplementary guidelines to the UNFCCC NAP Guidelines for "Addressing Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in National Adaptation Plans (NAP-Ag Guidelines") aiming to support developing countries in making sure agriculture is both included in national adaptation plans and made more adaptive and resilient. They serve to help vulnerable countries access funding - in particular from the Green Climate Fund Readiness Programme - while at the same time promoting broad participation in the decision-making process and building needed technical capacities. Continue reading..

Environmental Integrity

Aquaculture is main driver of mangrove losses

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[JAKARTA] Expanding aquaculture in South-East Asia over the last two decades has been the main driver of mangrove loss in the world, says a study published in PLOS One this month (June). The study, conducted by a team of scientists at Global Mangrove Watch (GMW), mapped the distribution and changes of mangrove ecosystems in the world during 1996 — 2010 using satellite imagery. The team analysed 1,168 mangrove areas in North, Central and South America, Africa, Middle East, India, and South-East Asia. Continue reading..

Environmental Integrity

Conserving one of the least-understood ecosystems

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[MANILA] This year’s Global Landscapes Forum, held mid-May in Jakarta, focused on peatlands, described as “one of the least-understood ecosystems” by Tim Christophersen, senior programme officer for Forests and Climate Change with the UN Environment Programme. Led by the Centre for International Forestry Research, the Forum, an annual event since 2013, aims to shed light on the importance of peatlands not only for climate change mitigation, but also for community development and livelihoods. Indonesia’s hosting the 2017 Forum is not surprising. Continue reading..

Community Welfare

FAO issues alert over lethal virus affecting popular tilapia fish

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26 May 2017, Rome--A highly contagious disease is spreading among farmed and wild tilapia, one of the world's most important fish for human consumption. The outbreak should be treated with concern and countries importing tilapias should take appropriate risk-management measures - intensifying diagnostics testing, enforcing health certificates, deploying quarantine measures and developing contingency plans - according to a Special Alert released today by FAO's Global Information and Early Warnings System. Tilapia Lake Virus (TiLV) has now been reported in five countries on three continents: Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Israel and Thailand. Continue reading..