Category Archives: Ecosystems

Restoration: How Rivers ‘Should Look’ In Nature

The Guardian – The quintessential image of a river you might recognize from post cards and paintings – nice and straight with a tidy riverbank – is not actually how it is supposed to look.

It’s the result of centuries of industrial and agricultural development. And it’s become a problem, exacerbating the impact of both extreme flooding and extreme drought. Josh Toussaint-Strauss looks into how so many rivers ended up this way, and how river restoration is helping to reestablish biodiversity and combat some of the effects of the climate crisis.

Views: Saving The Maldives From Rising Sea Levels

BBC Earth (January 10, 2023) – The Maldives could be underwater by 2100. Maldivians are working together to look to the very thing that defines them – the ocean – to save its future, and their island homes. Narrated by wildlife filmmaker Laura Pennafort.

Alaska Views: ‘Salmon Reflection’ (BBC Earth)

BBC Earth – A unique relationship is changing in Alaska. In her film ‘Salmon Reflection’ Norwegian and Unangax̂ filmmaker Anna Hoover explores the effects of a changing world on the communities of Bristol Bay, one of the last surviving wild salmon ecosystems.

Micronesia Views: Marine Sanctuaries In Palau

CBS Mornings – As small island developing states make their case for climate awareness at COP27 in Egypt, one member of the group is reconsidering a historic act of preservation it undertook two years ago. Lee Cowan reports.

Palau is an archipelago of over 500 islands, part of the Micronesia region in the western Pacific Ocean. Koror Island is home to the former capital, also named Koror, and is the islands’ commercial center. The larger Babeldaob has the present capital, Ngerulmud, plus mountains and sandy beaches on its east coast. In its north, ancient basalt monoliths known as Badrulchau lie in grassy fields surrounded by palm trees.

Ecology: Planting Trees To Cool Scotland’s Rivers

The Woodland Trust – River woodland is key to tackling

the twin climate and biodiversity crises – reducing flooding, improving river health and restoring the ecosystem. We’re working in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to plant and restore river woodland for people and wildlife.

In Scotland, this particularly means fish. Salmon, to be exact. Whole upland river catchments devoid of trees are seeing Scotland’s rivers warm to a point that could see salmon disappear in just 20 years. These fish need clean, cold water to thrive, and river woodland is the way to return it to them. The Woodland Trust is working across river catchments to expand native woodland alongside rivers and burns.

Trees provide shade and cover for young salmon and trout, stabilize riverbanks, slow the flow of water downstream and create wildlife corridors. A key part of this work involves working with landowners to plant and restore river woodland on their land, advising on the initial planting and empowering them to monitor their river woods into the future.

Ecosystems: Plastic Waste Spoils Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are home to some of the most unspoiled nature in the world. But even here plastic waste is a problem, and biodiversity is under threat. Marine biologists and conservationists are campaigning for the expansion of protected zones. The fauna and flora of the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean is a treasure trove for marine biologists.

They still know very little about many of the fish, rays and sea turtles that can be found here. But these days, their work is focused primarily on conservation, because many of these species are endangered due to threats such as overfishing and boat strikes. Efforts to protect local wildlife include attaching tracking devices to juvenile hammerhead sharks to determine their migration routes, which can then be designated as protected areas.

Other research teams are focused on the problem of plastic waste in the Pacific – identifying where it comes from and exploring its impact on marine life. Meanwhile, local fishermen are under pressure: Large fishing fleets from China and elsewhere ply the waters near the Galapagos Islands, severely depleting fish stocks. As a result, local fishing boats are forced to move into designated conservation zones. If the delicate marine environment surrounding the Galapagos Islands is to survive, fishing needs to become more sustainable.

Scotland Views: The Beltie Burn – A River Restored

The Easter Beltie Restoration project returned a straightened agricultural stream to a natural meandering course, to improve habitats for nature and boost climate resilience.

The project was the only one of its kind in the north east of Scotland, and has created a new, two-kilometre stretch of meandering river corridor flowing through ten hectares of floodplain, rich in habitats where nature can thrive.

The Beltie Burn is a burn in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, which below Torphins and Glassel is known as the Burn of Canny. It begins in the hill of Benaquhallie, and flows for 25 km south-east through Torphins before joining the River Dee about 4 kilometres west of Banchory.

Costa Rica Views: Hiking In Corcovado National Park

Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica is the backpacking experience of a lifetime. It encompasses the only remaining old growth wet forests on the Pacific coast of Central America, and 13 major ecosystems including lowland rain forest, highland cloud forest, jolillo palm forest, and mangrove swamps, as well as coastal marine and beach habitats.

There is a good chance of spotting some of Costa Rica’s shyest and most endangered inhabitants here; Baird’s Tapirs, Jaguars, Scarlet Macaws, Harpy Eagles, Red-backed squirrel monkeys and White-lipped Peccaries. It is wet, remote and rugged, but the trails are relatively good, and the camping areas near the ranger stations are grassy and well drained.

Views: Turtle Hatchlings Great Barrier Reef Beach

Evolution: How Nature Is Adapting To Urban Sprawl

It’s a new and surprising chapter in the theory of evolution. According to recent studies, it’s in our cities, of all places, that animals and plants adapt particularly quickly to changing living conditions.

Nature’s response to the spread of cities is astonishing: Why do catfish in the river of a French city systematically prey on urban pigeons on the banks? Why do female birds on a university campus in California suddenly change their mating behavior? How do mice in New York’s Central Park cope with an altered diet of human food waste? How have killifish in the Atlantic built up resistance to deadly chemical waste?

And, is it possible for moths to adapt to nighttime light pollution? New research provides surprising new insights into Darwin’s theory of evolution. Nowhere else do animals and plants adapt so quickly to new living conditions as in cities. Biologists have long known that animals and plants occupy new habitats in the vicinity of humans.

But now, new genetic analyses show that these adaptations are accompanied by significant changes in DNA. Even more surprising: these evolutionary changes have not occurred over periods of millennia, but within just a few decades. The process has amazed scientists, who watch as nature transforms even our most hostile man-made interventions — pollution, light pollution, noise, garbage and dense development — into creative energy for new adaptations. Some researchers believe that our cities may soon develop their own, brand-new life forms. What are the implications of these developments for the balance between humans and nature on our planet?