science-lab

Are environmental scientists holding back the science?

A new study seems to indicate the environmental science is not as effective or advancing as much as it could and it’s the scientists themselves that are holding the science back. The study by Michigan State University says that while environmental scientists are happy to share their results in publication they are not so happy to share the raw data. By holding back on the raw data the researchers at Michigan propose that compared with more open sciences, such as genomics, environmental science is advancing at a much slower rate. The researcher point to the open data of the Human Genome Project as a driving force for the rapid advancement of…

Terrorism link to missing pilot discounted

The search continues for missing US pilot Bill Fitzpatrick but a link to a terrorist attack on Kano Airport in Nigeria has been discounted by those involved in the search. Radio communications confirm that Fitzpatrick had left Kano Airport successfully. Bill Fitzpatrick went missing on Sunday evening on 22nd June. He was working for African Parks as a pilot on anti-poaching patrols. On the night he was on route from the United States and transporting a new spotter plane for the organisation. It was due to go on anti-poaching activities at the  Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo. On the Sunday evening he took off from Kano Airport in…

Conserve living elephants don’t preserve the dead

It is the final fight to save elephants in the wild. Countries around the world are becoming more aware of the role that ivory stockpiles play in fuelling poaching and the deaths of elephants. Over the last 12 months countries have stepped up to the mark and destroyed or are destroying their ivory stockpiles to take the tusks of dead elephants out of the market place for good. Even China and Hong Kong, the two major destination countries of tusks have started to destroy their stocks. Other countries, in particular the United States, have gone further and introduced legislation that has effectively shut down the ivory trade in their borders…

Timber smugglers won’t heed China’s voluntary guidelines

Massive flows of illegal timber stolen from forests around the world will not be stemmed by voluntary industry guidelines currently being developed by the Chinese Government, environmentalists have warned. In formal comments recently submitted to the Chinese Government and published today, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has recommended the guidelines be replaced with a principled and legally enforceable ban on illegal timber trade into and within China. EIA’s comments were made in response to draft “Guidelines for Overseas Sustainable Forest Products Trade and Investment by Chinese Enterprises”, issued by China’s State Forestry Administration (SFA). In recent years, EIA has published a series of damning investigative reports exposing the methods and…

Myanmar’s rosewoods in crisis as Chinese imports rise 6 fold in 3 years

Myanmar’s precious rosewood tree species are heading for imminent commercial extinction at the hands of China’s multi-billion dollar rosewood furniture boom. The illegal trade in rosewood species is driven by the expanding wealthy elites in China and their desire for the high-end Ming and Qing dynasty reproduction furniture collectively known as ‘hongmu’. In the briefing Myanmar’s Rosewood Crisis released today, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) reveals that if current trends persist unaddressed, the two most targeted hongmu species in Myanmar – tamalan and padauk – could be logged to commercial extinction within as little as three years. The briefing follows EIA’s May report Routes of Extinction, which documented how the…

Wildlife ranger released from death sentence and freed

A wildlife ranger who shot and killed a suspected poacher has had his death sentenced quashed by the Supreme Court in Zimbabwe. He was sentenced to be hanged in public on September 17th last year. The Supreme Court ruled there was no case to prosecute. Maxwell Bowa was part of a team of wildlife rangers and police officer who undertook a raid on the home of a gang of suspected poachers. As the team went to surround the house three suspected poachers tried to escape and on was shot and killed by Bowa. The suspect died immediately. When the death sentence was passed in September Bowa’s defence team launched an…

Disruptive policies needed to provide homes for people

Looking back at the track record of Labour’s 13 years in power and their abysmal ability to build sufficient homes (was it just incompetence or Gordon Brown’s desire to push up house prices?) it would be difficult to conceive that any other government could be as bad as Labour at ensuring enough houses were built for the population. However the Libdem and Tory coalition have magnificently succeeded in being even worse than Labour. One of the core responsibilities of government is to meet the very basic needs of its population and one of the most basic of needs is somewhere to live. For the last 20 years the political parties…

New initiative to protect Africa’s forests

A new multi-national initiative has been launched at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) to try and protect what remains of east African forests and combat an illegal timber trade thought to be worth up to US$100 billion a year. The new action will involve Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda working together with Interpol and various UN agencies. The East Africa Initiative on Illegal Timber Trade and REDD+ will see multi-agency actions that aims to tackle illegal logging, timber and charcoal production. Africa’s forest cover is estimated at 675 million hectares, or 23 per cent of the continent’s total land area continent but is being lost at  staggering rate. It is estimated…

Chinese business commits to saying no to wildlife gifts

A new guide has been launched by TRAFFIC in China with the backing of 30 top influential business people to encourage businesses to stop using wildlife products as gifts. Despite being a relatively new phenomena the gifting of wildlife products plays a major role in wildlife crime in China. The new guide called  “Good for business, great for wildlife worldwide” hopes to reduce the impact of the practise. The guide was launched at Gu Cang, a 600-year-old barn converted into a trendy business lounge. Its owner was one of those taking part in the event calling for a change to business practices. “The environment and wildlife are very important to us,…

KWS Ranger killed by poachers

A Kenya Wildlife Service ranger was killed on Monday after being caught in an ambush by poachers. The ranger was part of a team protecting rhinos at the Ol Jorgi Ranch in Laikipia North  The ranger team was involved in a gun fight with a poaching gang outside the park when they were also attacked by a poaching gang that was already inside the park. 25-year-old Paul Harrison Lelesepei was shot during the gunfight and died while on the way to Nanyuki Teaching and Referral Hospital. The poaching gangs managed to escape but officials say that there are leads which are currently being followed by investigators. Senior Ranger Aggrey Maumo…

Highlights of the World Heritage Sites 2014 Agenda

In a little over 2 weeks the 38th Session of the World Heritage Sites Committee will take place. On the list of properties under review are 15 natural world properties. The committee will be looking at what steps have been taken to try to protect or conserve these globally valuable habitats. The provisional agenda for the meeting which takes place in Doha, Qatar between 15th and 25th June has been published. Of the 15 sites being examined two are being recommended for inclusion on the ‘in danger’ register. The two most common threats to sites being examined this year appears to be tourism and dams. Of the 15 natural world WHS…

Use a hectare, save a hectare – APP’s new conservation plans

Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) have made a commitment to a major habitat protection policy. The aim is not to just protect habitat but to enhance and restore degraded habitats. The 1 million hectares that will be part of the plan equals the amount of plantations that was harvested in 2013 for Asia Pulp and Paper operations. The commitment to restore habitat far exceeds the legal requirement for APP to protect the forests in Indonesia. The plans incorporate landscape scale conservation projects and will include wildlife corridors to connect up remaining natural forests to allow wildlife to migrate easier and with greater safety. The forestry sector leading initiative has been developed with…

Two environmental activists murdered each week

A new report published today by Global Witness states that in the last 10 years 908 environmental activists have been killed and over the last 4 years the killings have averaged at 2 a week. At the same time only 10 of the killers have been caught and prosecuted. The report, Deadly Environment, has been published by the London based NGO Global Witness, to highlight the dangers that activists who seek to protect the environment and land face. As expected the Latin American countries and those of the Asia-Pacific are the most dangerous places for campaigners. Almost half of the murders have taken place in Brazil. Industrial logging, mining and land…

Deadly poaching kingpin surrenders in the Congo

Update: Paul ‘Morgan’ Sadala was reported killed during an attempted escape. Warlord and poaching kingpin Paul ‘Morgan’ Sadala has reportedly surrendered to DR Congo officials. The warlord gave himself up, together with an estimated 40 supporters. Sadala was the man behind the raid on the Okapi Project  2 years ago which saw women and children raped and kidnapped, staff murdered including a rangers wife being burned alive and the HQ and local village being plundered. The attack on the Okapi project station was undertaken in retaliation to anti-poaching activities against Sadala and other militia. The attack led to the United Nations launching an emergency appeal to fund the rebuilding of…

US Marines head to Chad in war on poachers

The United States is set to boost its fight against the poachers by deploying a unit of marines to Chad. The team of solders and sailors will be training Chad wildlife rangers in combat techniques for when they are in the field and come into contact with intruders. The team of US Marines will be deployed from the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force  Africa who are currently at the Naval Air Station Sigonella in Italy. The marines come form the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. They will be deployed to the Zakouma National Park in Chad later this month. Once there the marines will work with and train 100 wildlife rangers in…

Can virtual nature replace the real experience?

Results of an interesting study have been released by researchers from Coventry University. It has long been known that getting out into nature can offer a boost to health and well-being. The latest study continues to confirm that a green outlook offers health benefits. The study involved children aged between 9 and 10 undertaking a series of 15 minutes blocks of cycling exercise. Some where put in front of a ‘virtual’ forest track through video screens and the others undertook cycling exercise without the screens. The results showed that the cycling exercise in front of the virtual forest track resulted in substantially lower blood-pressure. Data showed that the children’s mean systolic…

City wildlife to bear brunt of planning reforms

While planning reforms have to be welcomed in order to get Britain building again there is a glaring gap in ensuring that wildlife is fully protected. Urban wildlife and urban wildlife habitats are clearly to be sacrificed as the government cowers to the rural NIMBY’s.  There a few options for city-dwellers to enjoy a piece of nature locally and the new planning guidance does nothing to ensure what little there is is adequately protected. While the new guidance says that brownfield sites of high biodiversity value should not be built on there is no definition or benchmark as to what a high biodiversity brownfield site is. The planning guidance is…

Wind turbines stand the test of time

There are many objections to wind turbines from spoiling the views to no effective means of storing energy so requiring double generating capacity to be built. One of the arguments that is bought up has now been dispelled. Wind farm objectors have made claims that the working life of a wind turbine is less than the claimed 25 years and could be as low as 10 years. A new study by Imperial College London has put those claims to rest. Using data from NASA and records of generated electricity from wind turbines the researchers estimate that older wind turbines are still operating at 75% output after 19 years operations and…

UK government departments join to fight wildlife crime

For the first time two government departments are to join forces in order to help fight wildlife crime. The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) will join with the Department for International Development (DFID) in funding programme to tackle the trade in wildlife. The campaign will see an extra £10 million devoted to tackling poaching and smuggling. Wildlife crime is seen as an easy option for many organised crime gangs as it offers rich pickings will low risk and low penalties if caught. However the rich rewards can have long-lasting impacts on the stability of governments and communities with wildlife crime funding terrorism and rebel movements. In the build…

German NGO to help support KWS families

German conservation organisation International Foundation for Nature (NABU) has signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) which will see an annual grant of 10,000 euros per year for the next 5 years being given to help the families of rangers killed on duty. The MoU was signed and announced yesterday (16th December) at the annual KWS Heroes Day at the KWS Headquarters. The ceremony also saw the adding of  4 more names to the memorial of rangers killed this year while protecting wildlife. The KWS Heroes Day has been an annual day of remembrance since 2005 and the memorial now contains 61 names of murdered rangers. The fund…