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Archive for the ‘Biodiversity’ Category

Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services are provided to us free by nature and contribute invisible or unaccounted for economic value to our global economy, including such simple things as clean air, clean water and the ability to grow crops.

Inspired by the 2006 Stern Review for Climate Change, the TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) initiative, a G8+5 commissioned project, has taken on the challenge to draw attention to the economic benefits of biodiversity, and highlight the growing cost of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation.

TEEB provides guidance to important policy makers, national governments, local governments and regional decision makers, to help them internalise the value of nature in proper policy making frameworks, in order to properly account for these valuable services.

The top 3,000 businesses are estimated to have externalities of almost $2.1 trillion, which is equivalent to 3.5% of global GDP, every year. These significant externalities can be described as third party (or external) effects arising from the production and/or consumption of goods and services, for which no appropriate compensation is paid.

It is believed that accounting for these externalities and our preciously-limited Natural Capital now, will result in significant cost savings in the future. If we continue our current consumption levels of these valuable services, without accounting for them, the cost of replicating them once they have been exhausted, is almost incalculable.

To find out more, see this video where the TEEB Study Leader and UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) Special Adviser introduces and explains the project.

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WAVES Natural Capital Accounting Logo

This is an initiative of the World Bank that recognises the value of the planet’s natural resources. Natural Capital Accounting basically means incorporating a country’s natural wealth into its national accounts. In simple words, traditional economic indicators, like GDP, account for how much money a country is making without considering how its natural capital stocks have been affected or lost.

With this project, the World Bank wants to stress the important role played by natural capital assets on the socioeconomic development of nations. The project idea aims to encourage sustainability and avoid the depletion of these vital natural resources, like clean air and water, forests, minerals and other goods and services provided by the environment.

At the 2012 Rio+ 20, the latest United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, in Brazil, the World Bank started a discussion on a Natural Capital Accounting project implementation and its potential advantages to the planet and the next generations. By the end of the conference, 55 countries and 86 private companies committed to move forward to protect their natural wealth.

Despite the fact that this project appears to be beneficial to everyone, this idea does not seem to be unanimous. Those who speak out against it say that businesses would not profit as much as they do nowadays if environmental costs were fully integrated. However, what is the point of using up those natural assets now and not having them available later?

The most environment-impacting industries, such as the coal power generation and the cattle ranching and farming, cause substantial damage to nature and make use of exhaustible and generally non-renewable resources, which may become exhausted if not sustainably managed. As our well-being is directly affected by the ecosystems’, it suggests, therefore, it is time to take action.

The Great Barrier Reef case

This video, by the World Bank, explains how Australia is using Natural Capital Accounting to manage the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system, particularly threatened by human activities and the consequences of climate change.

Let us know what you think about Natural Capital Accounting. Share it with us in the comment section below.

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Source: G1

Cyanogaster noctivaga, the transparent fish species found in the Negro River. Source: G1

Cyanogaster noctivaga, a transparent fish measuring 2cm in length, was captured at night in different locations of the Negro River, in the vicinity of the Municipality of Santa Isabel do Rio Negro, 846 km away from Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian State of Amazonas.

The fish attracted the attention of the researchers by its size and transparency. As reported by Ralf Britz, one of the Biologists in the expedition, when the flashlight hit the body of the fish swimming in the river, it reflected a shiny blue colour.

Source: G1

The animal attracted the attention of the researchers by its size and transparency. Source: G1

In order to register an image of the new discovery, the researchers had to take a special fish pond to the shore of the river as the small fish was considered to be fragile and highly vulnerable to die after even few seconds outside the water.

“The amount of fish species found in the Amazonas River is huge, and there are still many to be discovered. It is important to preserve this biodiversity as the future of the planet is extremely dependent on the human relationship with the environment”, said the Biologist Manoela Marinho.

Source: G1

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Source: the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

The Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project (BDFFP) is the world’s longest-running study of habitat fragmentation in the Amazon. Source: the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Determining the impacts of forest fragmentation on the Amazonian fauna and flora is the purpose of the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project (BDFFP). Created in 1979, by the Brazilian National Institute for Amazonian Research (Inpa), in partnership with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, in the USA, the project has identified the loss of many species of birds and the eventual loss of tree species in the Brazilian Amazon due to forest degradation.

One of the initial findings of study is that tall trees are the first to die during forest fragmentation, followed by trees of different heights that suffer physiologic death, when they die standing, caused by changes in the humidity, light and temperature conditions. As for the impact of those events on the birds inhabiting those areas, a parallel research, developed by Gonçalo Ferraz, showed that forest fragmentation may cause an increase of up to 50% in their extinction risk.

For the monitoring, the project combines GPS (Global Positioning System) tools to define the areas where groups of birds inhabit with LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) images to visualise the forest structure in 3D. The use of both techniques help the researchers have a broader understanding of the bird’s mobility in continuous and fragmented areas of the forest. Overall, the study monitors an area of 94 hectares, in North Manaus, capital of the Brazilian State of Amazonas.

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Do you know what Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is?

It is the principle that indigenous peoples and communities have the right to give or withhold their consent to activities that may affect them and their territory.

A REDD+ project must respect the indigenous peoples and the traditional communities not only for the protection of theirs rights but also for the assurance that they understand and agree with all aspects of projects affecting them.

This video, produced by Live & Learn Environmental Education, shows the importance of FPIC and presents REDD+ as a potential tool to conserve the forests and the environment.

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Source: tupian.baike.com

This primate is classified as “Endangered” in the Brazilian Red Book of Endangered Species. Source: tupian.baike.com

Saguinus bicolor, popularly known as Sauim-de-coleira or Sauim-de-Manaus, is an endemic species of the Central Brazilian Amazon, particularly found in some regions of Manaus, capital of the Amazonas State, Itacoatiara and Rio Preto da Eva. An adult Sauim-de-coleira can weigh up to 500g and measure about 30cm in length. His diet consists mainly of fruits, insects and small vertebrates.

This primate is classified as “Endangered” in the Brazilian Red Book of Endangered Species as a result of the decline of its population over the years, induced by deforestation and forest fragmentation, especially in the vicinity of Manaus and its roadsides, causing loss and degradation of its natural habitat. Territorial competition with other primates is pointed out by the book as another threat.

Source: futura-sciences.com

The Sauims usually live in groups between two and twelve individuals. Source: futura-sciences.com

For inhabiting mainly urban areas, Sauim-de-coleira is vulnerable to catching human and domestic animals diseases and being captured to be sold at live animal trades or kept in captivity as a pet. Besides, the occurrence of accidents is common with the animal due to electrical wires, maltreatments and trampling, especially on highways outside the urban areas.

In order to protect and conserve the species, the Brazilian government has been developing different conservation projects. However, according to the Red Book of Endangered Species, other protection measures are necessary, such as the restoration of degraded areas, environmental education and constant monitoring of the species’ population.

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Photo: Namiradoleitor.com

The Amazonian freshwater giant can measure up to 3 meters and weigh up to 200 kilos. Photo: Namiradoleitor.com

Pirarucu (Arapaima gigas), also called Arapaima, is one of the largest freshwater fish in the world. Typical of the Amazon region, the fish can measure up to 3 meters in length and 200 kilos in weight.

The giant fish distinguishes from the other regional fish not only for its size but also for having two respiratory apparatus: gills, for under water breathing, and modified swim bladder, which works as lungs, for air breathing.

His diet consists of fish, reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans and even small aquatic birds. The air-breather fish is known for leaping out of water and grabbing small birds.

Because of its large size and cod-flavour meat, Pirarucu is considered a delicacy, and it is called by many as the cod of the Amazon. Due to the commercial fishing practiced during many years, the species is now endangered.

As its natural reproduction is not enough to replace the population of the species, the Brazilian Government created in 2004 a Normative Fishing Policy to regulate the commercial fishing of Pirarucu.

BBC Presenter Steve Backshall visits a Pirarucu farm in the Amazon. Click on the image to watch the video. Photo: BBC

BBC Presenter Steve Backshall visits a Pirarucu farm in the Amazon. Click on the image to watch the video. Photo: BBC

Indigenous mythology

The origins of the name Pirarucu come from two indigenous (Tupi) words, “pira”, which means fish, and “urucum”, which means red, because of the colour of its tail. According to the indigenous mythology, Pirarucu was an Amazonian native warrior, whose heart was full of anger and perversity. For being a brave fighter, Pirarucu was an egoist man, excessively vain and full of himself, although he was son of a virtuous and kind father, head of the Uaiás tribe.

Tupã, the indigenous God of the Gods, observed Pirarucu’s bad behaviour and was not pleased by his attitude towards his fellows. As a result, he decided to punish him. One day, Tupã demanded Polo, the thunder God, and Iururaruaçu, the storm Goddess, to provoke the strongest torrent rains over the Tocantins River, where Pirarucu and others were fishing.

When Pirarucu saw the turbulent river waters and heard Tupã’s angry voice, he just ignored them with laughter and words of contempt. Tupã, infuriated, threw lightning and thunder over the region, filling up the sky with an endless glow. Pirarucu attempted to escape but was struck by a bolt of lightning in the heart. The body of the warrior, still alive, sank to the depths of the Tocantins River and was transformed into a giant, dark fish.

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