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

  • Illegal businesses form an interlocking web in the Brazilian remote region where Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira were killed, threatening Indigenous communities and local ecology

    Near a sharp bend on the Itaquaí River, perched on a steep muddy bank, a lone wooden structure marks the last outpost of a fragile resistance.

    This is the informal checkpoint used by the Indigenous rights advocate Bruno Pereira, an isolated stilted shack he hoped could help curb the rampant organised crime which threatens the pristine rainforest of the remote Javari Valley, the ecosystems within it and the Indigenous communities who call it home.

    Continue reading...

  • Developing countries’ delegates at UN conference seek recognition of small fisheries’ role in protecting oceans and fighting hunger

    Small-scale fishermen and women from coastal nations in the frontline of the “ocean emergency” have accused world leaders and other decision-makers at the UN oceans conference of ignoring their voices in favour of corporate interests.

    More than half of the world’s fish caught for human consumption comes from small-scale fishing communities, yet their contribution to food security and ocean protection is not being sufficiently recognised, they say.

    Continue reading...

  • Tebay, Cumbria: Getting the grass cut, baled and stored in the barn is one of the biggest and most important jobs of the year

    At least three days of hot, sunny weather are needed to make hay, and good weather is often in short supply in Cumbria. We had been watching our weather apps avidly, and a window appeared. The grass had grown long enough to make hay, the seed had set and there were no nesting birds in the fields, so it was all systems go.

    My son had mown the grass and “scaled it out” each day. As the grass is turned and tedded, the seeds can return to the meadow. The sheep’s hooves will trample in the seed and help it germinate to revive the meadow. Unfortunately, the starter motor had gone on the tractor – all our equipment is secondhand, and most of it very old – and I was queueing at the engineer’s parts counter when my son phoned to say that it was raining on the side of Blencathra where he was shepherding, and he was going to race home to get the hay in.

    Continue reading...

  • An Italian town has banned the practice during a heatwave, but if done right it benefits hair and scalp

    Global consumption of water is growing twice as fast as the world’s population and droughts are affecting swathes of the planet. So it was no surprise that this week the mayor of an Italian town in Emilia-Romagna, which is experiencing a severe heatwave, banned hairdressers from shampooing their customers’ hair twice, saying it would save thousands of litres of water a day.

    As we all attempt to reduce waste, that additional shampoo at home or in the salon can seem like overkill. So is what is known in the trade as “double cleansing” really necessary? No, but every hairdresser and trichologist is seemingly in agreement that the second shampoo has distinct benefits to scalp and hair, regardless of skin and hair type.

    Continue reading...

  • Focus of information places health responsibility on those who bear consequences of breathing poor air

    Summer is here and so is the risk of summertime smog.

    To help, Leeds city council has launched an email service to warn people when air pollution deteriorates. This joins long-established air pollution information systems that include the UK government’s webpages.

    Continue reading...

  • The best of this week’s wildlife pictures, including a stonefish, a mountain jerboa and a bevy of otters

    Continue reading...

  • Environment secretary George Eustice wants to amend Habitats Directive, which protects Natura 2000 sites

    Environment secretary George Eustice wants to tear up a key piece of European law that environmentalists say protects cherished habitats in the UK.

    Eustice told MPs the Habitats Directive was in a list of laws he wanted to amend in the forthcoming Brexit freedoms bill designed to cut red tape, saying it was bureaucratic and fundamentally flawed on multiple levels.

    Continue reading...

  • Ministers urged to toughen law to help restore carbon sinks, as figures point to illegal burning

    The government is failing to protect peatlands in England, conservation groups have warned, with the country at risk of losing more of its most efficient carbon sinks.

    Figures obtained by Wildlife and Countryside Link suggest illegal burns of the areas, which are important for biodiversity and carbon sequestration, are likely to have taken place.

    Continue reading...

  • Researchers find there could be many more ancient trees than previously recorded, amid calls for better protections

    There could be more than 2m ancient and veteran trees in England, many times more than previously recorded, researchers have found.

    Campaigners are calling on the government to give ancient trees the sameprotections as wildlife and old buildings.

    Continue reading...

  • Research ‘exposes litany of misleading claims’ by household names, including Coca-Cola and Unilever

    Claims about plastic packaging being eco-friendly made by big brands, including Coca-Cola and Unilever, are misleading greenwashing, according to a report.

    The Changing Markets Foundation says claims that companies are intercepting and using “ocean-bound” or “recyclable” plastic to tackle the plastic pollution crisis are some of the most common examples of greenwashing.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds

  • Here are some announcements you may have missed from the 2022 UN Ocean Conference.

  • Protecting nature starts with science. Here’s a roundup of recent research published by Conservation International experts.

  • In case you missed it: A giant stingray hooked (and released) by a fisherman in Cambodia’s Mekong River earlier this month has taken the title of world’s largest freshwater fish.

  • In case you missed it: The unprecedented floods that ripped through Yellowstone National Park in the United States could be a warning of climate impacts to come.

  • The sunny days of summer are quickly approaching — and Conservation International staff are spending some free time with their favorite books. Here’s what they’re saying about the books they can’t put down.

  • Editor's note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Conservation News shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.

    1. The world’s largest plant is a self-cloning sea grass in Australia

    Scientists have discovered a new contender for the largest living organism.

    The story: Last week, we brought you a story about the world’s oldest living things. This week, it’s the largest.

    A new study has revealed that a massive meadow of sea grass off the coast of Australia is one giant, self-cloning organism, reports Kate Golembiewski for the New York Times. The species, called Poseidon’s ribbon weed, or Posidonia australis, has been expanding over an area the size of Cincinnati for more than 4,500 years.

    Golembiewski writes that Posidonia is able to clone itself by creating new shoots that branch off from its root system. But it gets even stranger: Posidonia isn’t just a clone. Researchers believe it may also be a polyploidy — a hybrid from two distinct species, possessing two complete sets of chromosomes. Polyploidy occurs in many different species, but often produces individuals that can't reproduce. In the case of Posidonia, cloning itself is the only way to stay alive.

    The big picture: Posidonia isn’t the only clonal plant colony in the world. One of the most famous and largest is a quaking aspen colony in Utah known as “Pando,” which originated from a single seed sometime near the end of the last ice age. The colony now makes up 40,000 aspen trees that are connected by a continuous root system.

    Scientists fear climate change and other sustained environmental degradation could spell the end of Pando, which has been shrinking in size in recent years. Posidonia, which is old enough to have survived the last ice age, may fare better in the face of rapidly shifting temperatures. In fact, Elizabeth Sinclair, one of the study’s authors, said the plant’s extra genes could give it “the ability to cope with a broad range of conditions, which is a great thing in climate change.”

    Read more here.

    2. Crackling or desolate?: AI trained to hear coral's sounds of life

    Scientists can now listen for healthy coral.

    The story: The world’s coral reefs are struggling to survive. Climate-driven marine heatwaves have caused mass bleaching and die-offs, with 14 percent of the world's coral reefs destroyed between 2009 and 2018. Now, a group of scientists has developed a novel approach for detecting the damage: Using hundreds of reef recordings, they’ve trained a computer to track the health of coral reefs by listening to them, reports Angie Teo for Reuters.

    Thriving reefs sound a bit like a campfire, crackling with the cacophony of underwater life. In contrast, degraded reefs are far more silent. New research has shown that artificial intelligence can pick up on audio patterns that are not detectable to humans — providing fast, accurate data.

    “Sound recorders and AI could be used around the world to monitor the health of reefs, and discover whether attempts to protect and restore them are working,” the study’s co-author Tim Lamont told Cosmos. “In many cases it’s easier and cheaper to deploy an underwater hydrophone on a reef and leave it there than to have expert divers visiting the reef repeatedly to survey it, especially in remote locations.”

    The big picture: From motion-detector cameras that provide a real-world view of vulnerable species’ habitats, to tracking devices for monitoring wildlife migrations — technology is helping conservationists find solutions for critical environmental challenges.

    For example, Wildlife Insights, a cloud-based platform developed by Conservation International, Google and other partners, uses algorithms to identify camera trap images far faster than any researcher can. The data is critical to crafting smart policies for wildlife conservation.

    This month, Conservation International and partners launched a new app called “Fin Finder,” which enables customs inspectors to take a photo of a shark or manta ray fin and identify it within seconds. Powered by artificial intelligence, the app can help governments confiscate fins that are illegal to trade.

    Read more here.


    FURTHER READING:


    3. How this golden-eyed feline became the biggest comeback in cat conservation

    This cat is the star of a success story.

    The story: The Iberian lynx is the most endangered feline species in the world. The elusive cat, known for its distinctive amber eyes and bushy beard, was pushed to the brink by hunting, habitat loss and a virus that killed its main source of prey — the European rabbit. At its lowest point, less than 100 existed in the wild.

    But now, after 20 years of dedicated conservation efforts and a successful captive-breeding program, the lynx has made a triumphant return throughout its native habitat in Spain and Portugal, reports Christine Dell’amore for National Geographic. Slowly but surely, the population has inched upward and now there are around 400 individuals roaming the scrublands of Southern Europe.

    The big picture: The comeback cat still has a long road to recovery. Like many other large predators, the Iberian lynx needs a large, uninterrupted habitat with plenty of room to roam. But right now, its thousand-square-mile territory is fragmented and honeycombed by busy highways and other infrastructure. For Iberian lynx to truly bounce back, the isolated populations need to be able to reach one another and breed.

    The solution is to build wildlife corridors — essential passageways that allow animals to move from one safe location to another. It’s an approach that has worked for many other highly mobile species, including chimpanzees. Right now, efforts are underway to reconnect the fragmented habitat and help these felines find one another once again.

    Read more here.


    FURTHER READING:


    Will McCarry is a staff writer at Conservation International. Want to read more stories like this? Sign up for email updates here. Donate to Conservation International here.

    Cover image: A large seagrass bed in Honduras (© Joanne-Weston)

  • New technology will help inspectors tackle the illegal wildlife trade using a tool most already have in their pockets: their cell phones.

  • In case you missed it: Two ancient trees bring attention to the threat of global warming, hybridization could help some animals adapt to rising temperatures and companies must decrease deforestation to prevent climate-related losses.

  • In case you missed it: Rising temperatures are disrupting peoples’ slumber, carbon offsets are helping the Indigenous Hadza people protect the forests they depend on and elephants are consuming massive amounts of plastic from dumpsters in India.

  • In case you missed it: A tick that causes a meat allergy is shifting its range in response to global warming, climate change is taking a huge toll on India and species are disappearing before humans even know they exist.