Environmental Integrity

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..

Environmental Integrity

7 reasons why we need to act now to #SaveOurOcean

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The oceans have it all: from microscopic life to the largest animal that has ever lived on Earth, from the colourless to the shimmering, from the frozen to the boiling and from the sunlit to the mysterious dark of the deepest parts of the planet. Oceans are an essential component of the Earth's ecosystem -- a source of biodiversity, food, and life. According to FAO, over 40 percent of the world's population lives within 100 kilometers of the coast. Continue reading..

Environmental Integrity

Overlooked Rainfall and Cooling Effects of Forests

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What would have seemed obvious from the start — that lush green forests that cover the earth absorb the heat of the sun and thereby cool the earth — has now been confirmed by scientists.   The conventional wisdom has been that forests and trees were seen mostly as carbon stocks and carbon sinks, absorbing carbon dioxide in theenvironment emitted mostly from fossil fuel. Forests function like the lungs of the human body — they purify the air and exchange carbon for oxygen. Continue reading..

Environmental Integrity

Carbon-based approaches for saving rainforests should include biodiversity studies

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Conservationists working to safeguard tropical forests often assume that old growth forests containing great stores of carbon also hold high biodiversity, but a new study finds that the relationship may not be as strong as once thought, according to a group of researchers with contributions from WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) and other organizations. Tropical forests are exceptionally rich in both carbon and biodiversity, but the study recently published in the journal Scientific Reports indicates that, within the tropics, tree diversity and forest carbon do not necessarily correlate, and that there is no detectable relationship between the two factors across a region, a scale relevant for conservation planning and the establishment of protected areas. For instance, in Central Africa, some areas that are dominated by one or a few tree species are high in carbon density, whereas some forests with many more tree species have a lower carbon density. Continue reading..