Category Archives: Ecosystems

Research: How Africa Keeps The Amazon Green

Jet streams sprinkle North African dust over the Amazon, providing the rain forest with much needed nutrients. Changing wind patterns and increasing smoke may shift the system.

Ecosystems: Plastic Nets On The Ganges River, India

Follow a local fisherman as he navigates his community’s dependency of plastic nets and the effects this has on the river. The National Geographic Society, committed to illuminating and protecting the wonder of our world, funded the Sea to Source: Ganges expedition.

Rainforests: Indigenous People Struggle In Brazil

“They used to kill us with guns, now they kill us with deforestation and dams.” The Brazilian government’s failure to protect the Amazon forest is forcing the Munduruku indigenous people to take action against land grabs and illegal logging – and try to save the rain forest on their own.

In an unprecedented movement led by Chief Juarez Saw Munduruku, for the last six years indigenous people have been fighting the theft and destruction of their forest home. Since 1970, 20% of the Brazilian Amazon has been deforested. Logging and forest fires are threatening a further 20%. Scientists say that at 40% deforestation, we will reach the point of no return. The forest will be lost forever, replaced by savannahs – and the environmental consequences will be catastrophic.

The Amazon is often known as ‘the lungs of the planet,’ producing 6% of the world’s oxygen. It is no secret that the rainforest has been losing a dramatic fight against an array of threats, encouraged by capitalism, consumerism and greed – both legal and illegal.

In today‘s Brazil, some 600,000 square kilometers of land – an area about the size of France — are farmed by farmers who don’t officially own it. The military dictatorship (1964-1985) encouraged them to settle on state-owned land, but the farmers never became legal owners. As a result, speculators now seize the areas, clear the forests, then resell the plots with forged title deeds. This land grab, known as “grilagem” in Portuguese, has led to uncontrolled forest clearing and fierce conflicts.

The documentary was shot from 2014 to 2020, under three different Brazilian governments. It provides deep insights into the drama of the illegal occupation of state land and forest areas by organized crime groups. Several indigenous peoples have united under Juarez Saw Munduruku, leader of the Munduruku people, in a last-ditch bid to save the planet’s most important forest.

Marine Life: Preserving Coral Reefs In Maldives

The One Ocean Summit opens this Wednesday in the French port of Brest. Seas and oceans cover around 70 percent of the surface of our planet, but continue to face an onslaught of problems, from pollution to rising temperatures. In the Maldives, coral reefs are dying because of climate change. However, locals are doing their best to save them. Our France 2 colleagues report, with FRANCE 24’s Wassim Cornet.

Maldives, officially the Republic of Maldives, is an archipelagic country in the Indian subcontinent of Asia, situated in the Indian Ocean. It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India, about 750 kilometres from the Asian continent’s mainland.

Oceans: Long-Distance Marine Migrations (Video)

Migrations are a key to survival in the marine ecosystem. From whales and turtles to sardines, by travelling to different locations, nektonic animals stand better chances of finding food or a suitable place to breed and raise their young. In this video, we’ll take a look at the migrations of nektonic organisms – animals that are able to actively swim and can undertake large-scale journeys around the world, covering larger distances than plankton and their predators.

Video timeline: 00:00 – Introduction 01:10 – Chapter 1: Nektonic Adaptations – Why Animals Migrate 02:05 – Chapter 1: Nektonic Adaptations – Marine Mammals 02:35 – Chapter 1: Nektonic Adaptations – Migratory Fish 03:00 – Chapter 2: In Search of Sanctuary – The Sea Turtle Migration 04:04 – Chapter 2: In Search of Sanctuary – The Whale Migration 04:56 – Chapter 2: In Search of Sanctuary – The Whale Nursing Period 05:40 – Chapter 3: The Sardine Run – A Plentiful Feast 06:45 – Chapter 3: The Sardine Run – Nektonic Invertebrates 07:13 – Conclusion

Preservation: Mangroves National Park In Congo

This Wednesday is International Wetlands Day. Worldwide, wetlands cover 12.1 million km². But more than 30 percent have been lost over the past 50 years, despite them playing a crucial role in mitigating the impact of climate change. One example is the Mangroves National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s the only marine park in the country and it’s home to a wide variety of plants and rare animals, including sea turtles. But the park is increasingly threatened by poaching and illegal logging. The construction of a deep water port in the vicinity has also sparked controversy. Our correspondents report.

Ecology: Importance Of Peatlands In CO2 Capture

As more of the world’s forests are destroyed, it makes you wonder: what’s going to absorb CO2 in their place?! In an ironic twist of fate, one of Earth’s “deadest” habitats might be our best hope for an ongoing supply of breathable air.

Called peatlands, these wetland environments are named for their tendency to accumulate decayed plant matter. Unlike most other ecosystems, like forests, where branches and leaves typically decompose in a matter of months… in peatlands, that plant material can stay intact for millenia. You see, peatlands mostly exist in high altitude places where temps are low and there’s not much water flow. This results in their having extremely low oxygen and high acidity levels.

These harsh conditions aren’t very hospitable to microbes and fungi, which are instrumental to the whole decomposition process. So without them around, the plant material sort of… just sits. Over time, that it globs together to form peat, a thick, spongy material that can soak up 20x its weight in water. Peat also soaks up loads of carbon. Through a process known as the Calvin cycle, living plants absorb CO2 from the air and convert it into organic molecules that they can then use as energy to grow.

Through decomposition, the carbon that’s “fixed” in a plant’s structure gets released but since peat doesn’t decompose, that carbon can stay put! It’s estimated that peatlands contain 550 gigatonnes of organic carbon, which is twice as much organic carbon as all the world’s forests combined. That’s absolutely wild, considering that forests cover about 30% of the world’s land area… and peatlands only account for 3%! Like most of the world’s habitats, peatlands aren’t immune to the threats of human development and exploitation.

Peat is also are a very in-demand resource. Its incredible water holding capacity makes it a favorite amongst horticulturists; If you’ve ever picked up a bag of soil amendment, chances are it’s full of the stuff. Since peat is also a fossil fuel with a long burn, it’s used in some parts of the world. Peatlands are also often drained to accommodate other land use activities, like agriculture.

Ecosystems: Seed-Firing Drones Planting Trees

Habitats: The Destruction Of Paraguay’s Rainforests

Paraguay might be one of the world’s first countries to lose its rainforest because of a confluence of factors including inequality, corruption, drug trafficking, and climate change. The South American nation offers a stark warning for what the planet stands to lose if it doesn’t act to protect its natural resources.

Paraguay is a landlocked country between Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia, home to large swaths of swampland, subtropical forest and chaco, wildernesses comprising savanna and scrubland. The capital, Asunción, on the banks of the Paraguay River, is home to the grand Government Palace and the Museo del Barro, displaying pre-Columbian ceramics and ñandutí lacework, the latter available in many shops. 

Views: The Eden Project – World’s Largest Indoor Rainforest, Cornwall, UK

There’s a rainforest in Europe? Apparently, yes – and it’s called the Eden Project! It houses the world’s largest covered rainforest, beneath a giant dome.

But it’s not an amusement park, but rather an educational centre and environmental organisation. The concept: Only those who experience and engage with the beauty of nature can also protect it. That’s why 100,000 plants from all over the world have been brought here, where they cover an area of some 50 hectares.

Not only the sheer number of plants is impressive, the building itself is, too: Two geodesic domes span the site as greenhouses – like massive soap bubbles sticking together. Our Euromaxx reporter Hendrik Welling visits the record-breaking Eden Project and to explore its biotopes and rainforest.