The monkey puzzle tree is one of the oldest tree species in the world, dating back to the dinosaur age. Climate change and deforestation endanger them, but in areas inhabited by indigenous peoples in Chile, their numbers are increasing.
Araucaria araucana is an evergreen tree growing to 1–1.5 m in diameter and 30–40 m in height. It is native to central and southern Chile and western Argentina. Araucaria araucana is the hardiest species in the conifer genus Araucaria.
Nearly 30 percent of the 138,374 species assessed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for its survival watchlist are now at risk of vanishing in the wild forever, as the destructive impact of human activity on the natural world deepens.
Getty Images photojournalist Justin Sullivan has been following California’s second-largest reservoir’s declining water levels since 2014. Seeing first-hand the climate’s impact through his lens, he’s shocked at how fast the water is gone in one of California’s most important water sources.
Clean drinking water is vital – but for many people, accessing it is difficult and expensive. A pastor in an Indonesian village encourages people to make use of a dependable water supply that comes free of charge: rainwater.
Humanity faces major challenges. Could roots hold the answers? It’s possible: Research shows that roots have the potential to provide food for the world’s population, stop climate change and help extract resources in an environmentally friendly way. Plants must withstand periods of drought and heat, as well as flooding, and they use their roots to do this. Roots also help them actively search for nutrients in the soil, while warding off dangers such as pathogens and toxins.
Now, scientists at the research institute Forschungszentrum Jülich are investigating root growth using high-tech methods. The goal is to breed stress-resistant seeds for plants with robust roots. They are not alone: In Sweden, Professor Linda Maria Mårtensson is conducting research on a perennial wheat variety that will ensure higher yields while protecting the soil. Along the world’s coasts, too, roots are a lifesaver.
Coastal ecologist Professor Tjeerd Bouma has discovered that if special grasses are planted in front of dikes, they create a salt marsh that acts as a natural breakwater. Meanwhile, geochemist Dr. Oliver Wiche of the Technical University of Freiberg is researching something known as “phytomining.” He wants to know which plants are best suited for mining metals from the soil. Could this root research give rise to a new, environmentally friendly branch of industry?
Circular, drought-resistant ‘Tolou Keur’ gardens have sprung up in Senegal, marking a more local approach to what is known as Africa’s Great Green Wall initiative.
Senegal, officially the Republic of Senegal, is a country in West Africa. Senegal is bordered by Mauritania in the north, Mali to the east, Guinea to the southeast, and Guinea-Bissau to the southwest.
The Great Green Wall or Great Green Wall of the Sahara and the Sahel is a project led by the African Union, initially conceived as a way to combat desertification in the Sahel region and hold back expansion of the Sahara, by planting a wall of trees stretching across the entire Sahel.
Kelp locks up millions of tonnes of carbon globally, provides a nursery for fish and is a buffer against coastal flooding. But climate change, weather and fishing are taking their toll. Now, Mika Peck and his team at the University of Sussex are monitoring kelp off the south coast of the UK, to see if it can recover from the damage done to it by trawling and help improve biodiversity in the area.
There is gold on Indonesia’s Sangihe island, and a Canadian-listed mining company has a permit to exploit it. Environmentalists say the gold mine threatens the island’s ancient forests, which are home to endemic birds. Locals fear it will affect their water supply. The BBC visited the remote island to see what’s at stake.
Italy’s Carrara marble quarries are a source of controversy, pitting nature against economic gain. Environmentalists warn of overexploitation, while others defend the jobs these Tuscan quarries provide.
Franco Barratini quarries marble blocks that sell for €4,000 per ton. The amount of marble that was once quarried in a month can now be extracted in just three days, and environmentalists are alarmed at the consequences. Marble dust leaks into groundwater, turns rivers milky-white and hangs in the air. The effects of this are still not completely clear.
Sandro Manfredi is fighting what he sees as severe overexploitation in the marble quarries of Tuscany’s Apuan Alps. In 2018, he filed a complaint against an illegal marble quarry, and afterwards was nearly killed when someone tampered with his car. Carrara has experienced four floods in the last nine years. Environmentalists blame marble quarrying, which has increased dramatically thanks to rapidly evolving extraction techniques, upsetting the region’s hydrogeological balance.
Leading documentary photographers and filmmakers Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier are co-founders of SeaLegacy, a conservation collective of experienced storytellers dedicated to protecting our oceans. The two Sony Artisans Of Imagery have taken their mission to the next level with SeaLegacy 1, a boat that they stripped and systematically rebuilt for diving and documenting with their Sony Alpha gear. In episode one of the new series SeaLegacy: The Voyage, follow along as they set sail on a four-year long mission to save the world’s oceans. Learn more: https://alphauniverse.com/