Tree life support, January 2016

Published in Highlights

The replanting project to rejuvenate Hvar's woodlands with autochthonous black pines continued at the end of January, backed by a mobile exhibition highlighting the importance of trees for the island.

Bonsai black pine in Nerežišća on Brač / Crni bor na kapeli na Braču. Bonsai black pine in Nerežišća on Brač / Crni bor na kapeli na Braču. Vivian Grisogono

Jelsa's artificial Christmas tree finally exited the Pjaca on January 18th. The tree is a token symbol of Christmas on its regulat annual outing, often in need of patching up if a really fierce wind manages to tear its plastic casing. At least it doesn't cause the loss of a real tree from Hvar's woodlands.

The empty stony space it leaves behind is a rather stark reminder that the Pjaca, attractive and functional as it undoubtedly is, is sorely lacking in trees, when once it was a leafy, well-shaded haven. OK, it was also blighted by cars parking right in the middle of it, but that was more easily remedied than cutting down all the trees. On January 28th, another artificial tree popped up in the middle of the Pjaca. This time it carried an important environmental message, as its aim was to draw attention to the forthcoming events linked to the tree re-planting programme organized by the charity Održivi otok /Sustainable Island.

 

The campaign to re-plant a hectare of woodland with Dalmatian black pines moved on to phase two at the end of January. The indefatigable Irene Dorić has organized a mobile exhibition, which took pride of place in Jelsa during the national Museum Night (Noć muzeja) celebrations on January 30th. The Museum Night is one of the most successful cultural events in the history of the modern Croatian state, spanning as it does the whole country, with diverse imaginative exhibitions and activities to attract all age groups. In Jelsa, the focus of the evening was a talk given by Hvar school-teacher Antonio Morić-Španić, who spoke of the loss of Hvar's pines since 1975, a loss which leads to soil erosion among other environmental impacts. The talk was perfect for the occasion, well planned and illustrated, full of interesting information, and - equally importantly - just the right length.

When he finished his talk, Antonio introduced the youngest and most energetic activist to be involved in the tree-planting programme, seven-year-old Taliah Bradbury. She gave an enchanting talk explaining her interest in trees, with special focus on the Amazon. She delivered her talk with poise and confidence, and charmed the audience, who gave her a resounding and heartfelt round of applause at the end.

The two speakers complemented each other perfectly, and were happy to pose for photographs together afterwards.

Before and after the talks, there was time for refreshments and chat, two favourite Dalmatian pastimes. Sveral artists had donated their works for the exhibition, notably Vuk Jevremović, Stanislav Huljić, Maja Jelušić, Željka Kozulić and Dominik Duboković. Materials were provided for Jelsa's budding young talents to contribute their own works of art.

Željka Kozulić's mixed-technique sculpture of a figure 'Waiting' ('Čekanje') formed the centrepiece of the exhibition. It carried two apposite sayings, Chinese and Greek, about planting trees at the right time to benefit from their shade.

Vuk Jevremović contributed a powerful varnish-on-canvas abstract painting entitled 'The Peak' ('Vorh').

All the works on show provided visions related to the black pines, 1500 of which are being planted under the programme organized by Održivi Otok. The exhibition was set to move on to Dol on Friday February 5th, and Velo Grablje on February 12th, staying in each place for two days.

tree exhibition oo programme

The day after Museum Night saw the second part of the planting programme on the slopes below St. Nicholas's Peak.

Taliah and her older sister Hannah prepared the posters inviting volunteers to join the planting team. This time they were able to take part themselves, having been otherwise engaged in their Judo belt assessments last time. About three hundred trees were planted - the girls obviously punched above their weight to help achieve that number! The next planting action is scheduled for February 13th, a pre-Valentine's Day celebration, and it is hoped that many more volunteers will join in following the presentation of the road show about the project.

In Nerežišća on the Island of Brač there is a much-photographed black pine sprouting out of the roof of a little chapel in the centre of the town. It has remained a modest size over many years, so evidently its roots are contained in bonsai fashion. It is a reminder of the versatility of trees, and their value and beauty in a world where nature is too often undermined by human activity. Trees should be part of every town building plan, and they should be cherished. Maybe one day Jelsa's Pjaca will see the return of a tree or two?

© Vivian Grisogono 2016

You are here: Home highlights Tree life support, January 2016

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Senior climate figures welcome move after Conservative government largely left the role to junior ministers

    Ed Miliband is to take personal control of the UK’s negotiations at vital international climate talks, in stark contrast to his Tory predecessors.

    The energy security and net zero secretary will attend Cop29, this year’s UN climate summit, in Azerbaijan this November to head the UK’s delegation and meet political leaders from around the world.

    Continue reading...

  • Electric vehicles are ‘batteries on wheels’ that can put energy back into the National Grid when solar panels and windfarms do not provide much power

    Electric cars make some people afraid of the dark. While the batteries produce much less carbon, they require much more electricity to run. This has prompted ominous warnings that Great Britain and other wealthy countries set on banning new petrol and diesel cars risk plunging their populations into darkness.

    In recent months British net zero-sceptical newspapers have warned that the shift to EVs would “risk overwhelming the grid, and threaten catastrophic blackouts” when intermittent sun and wind fail to provide the necessary power. Another article claimed: “It won’t take an enemy power to put us all in the dark – just energy customers doing normal things on a normal winter’s evening.”

    Continue reading...

  • Site in Pembrokeshire currently grazed by sheep will be planted with a range of species and reconnect to Celtic past

    A lost piece of Celtic rainforest in the far south-west of Wales is to be restored to its ancient glory, weaving around standing stones and an abandoned, tumbling-down farmhouse with a waterwheel.

    The 59-hectare (146-acre) site in Pembrokeshire will be planted with species such as oak, small-leaf lime and wild service (Sorbus torminalis) and should support an abundance of mosses, liverworts, lichens and ferns as well as providing a home for animals and other plant life.

    Continue reading...

  • Tess, a 40-year-old female at Houston zoo, has been given a trial mRNA vaccine to help combat the virus, a leading killer of calves in captivity

    An Asian elephant at Houston zoo in the US has received the first mRNA vaccine against herpes, which is the leading killer of Asian elephants calves in captivity.

    Tess, a 40-year-old Asian elephant, was injected with the trial vaccine at the Texas zoo in June, after a spate of deaths in juveniles in zoos around the world from the elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV).

    Continue reading...

  • Ravenscraig, North Lanarkshire: A place once of coke ovens and cooling towers is now enlivened with orchids and stonecrop, and swards of grasses

    I’m walking through Ravenscraig, once the site of the largest steelworks in Europe, which was closed and demolished more than 30 years ago. While there has been some redevelopment on its fringes, the bulk of the site has been left. The skylarks that soar upwards to become nothing but song will look down on the circles where once were cooling towers and gas towers, the rectangular templates of the buildings, strip mills and coke ovens, and roads leading to them, edges now softened and fringed with birch and willow.

    From a distance, the oxeye daisies intermingling with the lush grasses look like a smattering of snow; close up, thick swards of grass are peppered with St John’s wort, yellow rattle, tufted and yellow vetch, and red clover – little pings of colour amid the subtle pinks, purples and greens of the grasses.

    Continue reading...

  • Ed Miliband sets new rules on solar panels and approves three giant solar farms as Labour seeks to end years of Tory inaction

    Keir Starmer’s Labour government unveils plans for a “rooftop revolution” today that will see millions more homes fitted with solar panels in order to bring down domestic energy bills and tackle the climate crisis.

    The energy secretary, Ed Miliband, also took the hugely controversial decision this weekend to approve three massive solar farms in the east of England that had been blocked by Tory ministers.

    Continue reading...

  • It’s not entirely clear if fox numbers are on the rise in urban areas, but research shows they are learning to avoid hazards such as dogs and poisonous baits

    Alex Abbey’s security camera captured something moving through an alley behind his home in Sydney’s eastern suburbs a few weeks ago. When he watched the 2am footage the next day, he was surprised to see a red fox on the screen.

    “It’s unusual. It’s the first time I have seen one in Potts Point,” he says.

    Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

    Continue reading...

  • Initiative aims to coax visitors and local people into air-conditioned venues during sweltering summer afternoons

    A little after 3pm on a weekday afternoon, the footsteps and voices that echoed along the hallowed halls of the Prado were silenced by a series of percussive detonations that could have been mistaken for an indoor fireworks display.

    The source of the disruption, however, was not a vandal or a protester. Watched over by the eight muses for whom the Madrid museum’s Sala de las Musas is named, a tall, famous and angular flamenco dancer called El Yiyo was clicking, clapping, stomping and pirouetting before a rapt, grateful and slightly bemused audience. A few feet away sat the renowned guitarist Rafael Andújar, who had ambled into the sala a few moments earlier, taken his seat and begun to fill the air with notes.

    Continue reading...

  • A British geneticist scoured the globe for diverse grains in the 1920s. His research could be vital as the climate changes

    A hundred years ago, the plant scientist Arthur Watkins launched a remarkable project. He began collecting samples of wheat from all over the globe, nagging consuls and business agents across the British empire and beyond to supply him with grain from local markets.

    His persistence was exceptional and, a century later, it is about to reap dramatic results. A UK-Chinese collaboration has sequenced the DNA of all the 827 kinds of wheat, assembled by Watkins, that have been nurtured at the John Innes Centre near Norwich for most of the past century.

    Continue reading...

  • Such schemes have their critics but the technology, which has been known for a century, could help many nations reach net zero

    Snowy Hydro’s beleaguered tunnel boring machine, Florence, seems to be regularly stuck between soft rock and a hard place.

    But that has not deterred enthusiasts for pumped hydro as a key part of Australia’s transition off fossil fuels.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds

  • The government of Indonesia announced this week a deal to redirect more than US$ 35 million it owes to the United States into the conservation of coral reefs.

  • In the semi-arid shrubland of Namaqualand, dry conditions have long been a cycle of life. But climate change is now slowly transforming this once-thriving biodiversity hotspot, making life challenging for wildlife and the shepherds who have farmed here for centuries.

  • Half the world’s population lives in areas with exposure to dengue fever. Parts of the United States may soon join them.

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning to doctors last week about an increased risk of dengue, a mosquito-borne virus most prevalent in tropical climates. Countries in the Americas have already reported more than 9.7 million cases this year — twice as many as were reported in the region all last year — raising alarm bells about the prospect for spread in the southern continental United States and increased transmission in places like Puerto Rico.

    This notice from the CDC comes in the wake of a recent heat wave that smothered much of the eastern United States. The timing offers a foreboding glimpse of a future in which climatic change enables diseases to spread into new environments.

    “We're seeing a lot of spread of mosquito-borne viruses, such as dengue, associated with climate change, so none of this is surprising,” said Neil Vora, an epidemiologist and physician at Conservation International. “We are creating the climatic conditions for these things to happen.”

    But how, exactly, are the two related?

    On a warming planet, disease vectors like mosquitoes and ticks can thrive in new environments, and disease transmission seasons may become longer as conditions change. The impact could be profound: A 2019 study, referencing warming based on modeling from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, projected an additional 2 billion people would face risk of dengue exposure by 2080.

    And it won’t just be dengue.

    “The thing is, these viruses are going to surprise us time and time again,” Vora said. “Dengue is scary. But what else is out there?”

    Last year, for example, Florida and Texas discovered eight cases of locally acquired malaria, the first such cases in the United States in two decades, leaving physicians perplexed. In parts of South America, including Brazil, scientists are worried about the spread of Oropouche virus, which had been restricted largely to low-population areas in the Amazon.

    Preventing these outbreaks — dengue, Zika, malaria or others — will hinge on reversing climate change. Vora says public health is focused on response rather than prevention, and he delivered a TED Talk last year about how reducing deforestation can help fend off future pandemics.

    “Prevention is about going upstream and addressing climate change itself,” Vora said. “We need to walk and chew gum at the same time. In other words, we have to invest in both prevention of diseases, such as through mitigating climate change through nature-based solutions and phasing out fossil fuels — while, at the same time, investing in response capabilities. The stakes are too high to keep implementing incomplete solutions.

    “The beauty of investing in nature for prevention of disease is that it is inherently equitable. Everyone benefits everywhere, particularly people in the most resource-limited settings. And these measures are agnostic to the pathogen. When you mitigate climate change, threats downstream get mitigated, too.”


    Further reading:


    Max Marcovitch is a staff writer at Conservation International. Want to read more stories like this? Sign up for email updates. Also, please consider supporting our critical work

  • Human and elephant conflict is on the rise, largely because of elephants' diminishing habitat. Experts say that protecting the species requires understanding and supporting rural communities that share spaces with them.

  • Africa’s pastoralists have long raised their livestock to mimic the rhythms of nature. Reviving their way of life is key to restoring grasslands.

  • Nearly a third of fishing lines are lost or discarded at sea. This so-called “ghost gear” — along with nets and traps — is deadly for marine animals. One man is on a mission to clean it up, net by net.

  • Brutal heat waves swept across the Southern Hemisphere earlier this year. Now it’s the Northern Hemisphere’s turn. Yet humanity continues to actively destroy one of its best allies against the heat: forests.

  • In eastern California, a Great Basin bristlecone pine known as Methuselah has long been considered Earth’s oldest living thing. But in Chile, a new challenger has emerged that could be 500 years older than the reigning champ.

  • A landmark treaty to protect the world’s oceans could go into effect soon — but experts argue it must consider climate change if it is going to succeed.

  • The ocean feeds us, regulates our climate and sustains economies. Yet numerous threats are devastating the health of marine ecosystems. In honor of World Oceans Day, we take a dive into efforts that are charting anew course for our oceans.