Tag Archives: Environment

More Effort Needed to Save the World’s Forests

On the 4th of October 2010 the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United nations (FAO) released the Forest Resources Assessment 2010 at the start of the latest Biennial meeting of the FAO committee on forestry and World Forest Week. It is by far the most comprehensive report about the forests of the world with inputs from 233 countries worldwide and studies spread over a 20 year period from 1990 to 2010. Representatives from 100 plus countries have assembled at the FAO head quarters in Rome.

Documentation for FRA 2010 includes 233 country reports, available online. Complementing the main report will be a series of special studies on topical issues as well as a global remote sensing survey of changes on forest biomes between 1990 and 2005, scheduled for completion in 2011.

Most of the losses of forest happen in countries in the tropical region, while most of the gains take place in temperate and boreal zones. Furthermore, many emerging economies have moved from net loss to net gain of forest area. These results highlight the key role of economic development in reversing global deforestation.

Check out the percentage of forests worldwide:

The study concludes that the rate of deforestation, while still alarming in many countries, is slowing down at the global level, and that afforestation and natural expansion in some countries and regions have further reduced the net loss of forests.

In the main section of this report, results are presented according to the seven thematic elements of sustainable forest management:
• extent of forest resources;
• forest biological diversity;
• forest health and vitality;
• productive functions of forest resources;
• protective functions of forest resources;
• socio-economic functions of forests;
• legal, policy and institutional framework.

Key Findings:

  • Forests cover 31 percent of total land area i.e 4 billion hectares. The five most forest-rich countries (the Russian Federation, Brazil, Canada, the United States of America and China) account for more than half of the total forest area.
  • Deforestation – mainly the conversion of tropical forest to agricultural land – shows signs of decreasing in several countries but continues at a high rate in others. In the last decade 13million hectares of forest was converted into agricultural land, which is lower than 16million hectares per year in the 1990’s (much higher than earlier estimates).
  • Large Scale Planting of trees has significantly reduced net loss of forest area world over.
  • South America and Africa have the largest net loss of forest.
  • An increase in forest area can also happen in two ways: either through afforestation (i.e. planting of trees on land that was not previously forested) or through natural expansion of forests (e.g. on abandoned agricultural land, a process which is quite common in some European countries).
  • Estimates made for FRA 2010 show that the world’s forests store 289 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon in their biomass alone!!
  • On a global average, more than one-third of all forest is primary forest, i.e. forest of native species where there are no clearly visible indications of human activities and the ecological processes have not been significantly disturbed.
  • Close to 1.2 billion hectares of forest are managed primarily for the production of wood and non-wood forest products.
  • At the global level, reported wood removals amounted to 3.4 billion cubic metres annually in the period 2003–2007, similar to the volume recorded for 1990 and equivalent to 0.7 percent of the total growing stock. (In reality the numbers must be higher as firewood is not a monitored commodity).
  • Around 330 million hectares of forest are designated for soil and water conservation, avalanche control, sand dune stabilization, desertification control or coastal protection.

The FAO wants the world to take more action to preserve the existing forests, which means more awareness against logging and other human interferences in the remaining primary forests, planting more trees etc.

Source – If you have the time do check out the detailed FRA2010 Report HERE

September 16th World Ozone Day

Today is the World Ozone day, on 19th December 1994 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 16 September the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, commemorating the date, in 1987, on which the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed. This commemoration around the world offers an opportunity to focus attention and action at the global, regional and national levels on the protection of the ozone layer. All Member States are invited to devote this special day to promotion, at the national level, of concrete activities in accordance with the objectives and goals of the Montreal Protocol and its Amendment.

If you grew up in the 80’s and 90’s you might have heard about the hole in the Ozone layer. Which incidentally is not actually a hole, but an area in the ozone layer where ozone has been severely depleted; thereby allowing sun rays to pass through without much absorption or reflection. Each year for the past few decades during the Southern Hemisphere spring, chemical reactions involving chlorine and bromine cause ozone in the southern polar region to be destroyed rapidly and severely. The world reacted to this pretty much united by removing chloro-flouro carbons or CFC’s from spray cans, refrigerants etc. And the hole in the Ozone layer has been shrinking since 2006. By the end of 2009, the Montreal Protocol had resulted in the elimination of over 98 per cent of historical levels of ozone-depleting substances.

You can keep track of it on the NASA Website here.

Ozone Hole on the 12th of September 2010

Picture Courtesy NASA

The 2009 UN Climate Change Conference was held in Copenhagen on 16th September 2009 with the slogan “power Green Growth, Protect the Planet”. Countries agreed to work towards a common, long-term goal to limit global temperature rise to below 2° Celsius.

Climate Change and Actions to slow the Human impact

Climate change and global warming are divisive issues for many people still who remain skeptics in spite of what is happening around them. In some cases the belief is religious while in others it makes it easier to explain away our own reckless behaviors by putting it all on nature. Either way the reality is that there are visible changes happening all over the world from receding glaciers to mistimed monsoons, droughts etc… to stronger hurricane seasons.

Climate change is recognized as a major environmental problem facing our planet. Evidence is building that impacts are being felt in the form of melting icecaps in the polar areas and increased variability of temperature, rainfall and storms in virtually all regions.

Developed countries committed to establish and implement targets for greenhouse gas emissions, and a number of developing countries, including major emerging economies, agreed to implement nationally appropriate mitigation actions and to communicate their efforts every two years.

Countries also agreed on the importance of acting to Reduce emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD), and to provide support for the most vulnerable to cope with climate change.

To support these priorities, countries pledged up to $30 billion a year for developing countries between 2010 and 2012, to be disbursed through a Copenhagen Green Climate Fund.

Countries also backed the goal of mobilizing $100 billion a year by 2020.

Environmental facts from the UNEP

  • Forests cover 30 percent of the planet’s total land area. The total forested area in 2005 was just under 4 billion hectares, at least one third less than before the dawn of agriculture, some 10,000 years ago.
  • The ten most forest-rich countries, which account for two-thirds of the total forested area, are the Russian Federation, Brazil, Canada, the United States, China, Australia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Peru and India.
  • Six million hectares of primary forest are lost every year due to deforestation and modification through selective logging and other human interventions. More than one-third of all forests are primary forests, defined as forests where there are no clearly visible indications of human activity and where ecological processes are not significantly disturbed.
  • Primary forests shelter diverse animal and plant species, and culturally diverse indigenous people, with deep connections to their habitat.
  • Only 20 per cent of the world’s forests remain in large intact areas. These forests consist of tropical rain forests, mangrove, coastal and swamp forests. Monsoon and deciduous forests flourish in the drier and more mountainous regions.
  • Trees quite literally form the foundations of many natural systems. They help to conserve soil and water, control avalanches, prevent desertification, protect coastal areas and stabilize sand dunes.
  • Forests are the most important repositories of terrestrial biological biodiversity, housing up to 90 per cent of known terrestrial species.
  • Forest animals have a vital role in forest ecology such as pollination, seed dispersal and germination.
  • Trees absorb carbon dioxide and are vital carbon sinks.
  • It is estimated that the world’s forests store 283 Gigatonnes of carbon in their biomass alone, and that carbon stored in forest biomass, deadwood, litter and soil together is roughly 50 per cent more than the carbon in the atmosphere.
  • Carbon in forest biomass decreased in Africa, Asia and South America in the period 1990–2005. For the world as a whole, carbon stocks in forest biomass decreased annually by 1.1 Gigatonne of carbon (equivalent to 4 billion 25kg sacks of charcoal).
  • The loss of natural forests around the world contributes more to global emissions each year than the transport sector.
  • World population currently stands at 6.5 billion people. It is projected to grow to 9 billion by 2042.  The expansion of agricultural and industrial needs, population growth, poverty, landlessness and consumer demand are the major driving forces behind deforestation.
  • Most deforestation is due to conversion of forests to agricultural land. Global removals of wood for timber and fuel amounted to 3.1 billion cubic metres in 2005.
  • Worldwide, deforestation continues at an alarming rate, about 13 million hectares per year, an area the size of Greece or Nicaragua.
  • Africa and South America have the largest net loss of forests. In Africa it is estimated that nearly half of the forest loss was due to removal of wood fuel.
  • Forests in Europe are expanding. Asia, which had a net loss in the 1990s, reported a net gain of forests in the past five years, primarily due to large-scale forestation in China.
  • Eighty per cent of the world’s forests are publicly owned, but private ownership is on the rise, especially in North and Central America and in Oceania.
  • About 11 per cent of the world’s forests are designated for the conservation of biological diversity. These areas are mainly, but not exclusively, in protected areas.
  • Around 10 million people are employed in conventional forest management and conservation. Formal employment in forestry declined by about 10 per cent from 1990 to 2000.

The theme for the celebration is “Ozone layer protection: governance and compliance at their best”.  Governments world over are encouraged to create programs or events to raise public awareness of the importance of protecting the ozone layer for present and future generations. These can include workshops, press conferences, competitions in schools, and university lectures by experts. The list of programs as conducted by different countries will be listed on the UNEP website.

Check out how countries world over are celebrating the World Ozone Day HERE

Sources for details – UNEP website

This is the symbolic representation of a ton of CO2 from the Copenhagen summit of 2009.

Check out Seal the Deal – website of the 2009 December UN Climate change meeting in Copenhagen

Are We Triggering A New Epoch?

Mass Extinctions have been part and parcel of millions of years of history of our earth. From the Dinosaurs to the Woolly mammoth have all disappeared as part of mass extinctions in the past. Today morning I read an article by Jeremy Hsu titled “Mass Extinction Threat: Earth on Verge of Huge Reset Button?

Some scientists have speculated that effects of humans — from hunting to climate change — are fueling another great mass extinction. A few go so far as to say we are entering a new geologic epoch, leaving the 10,000-year-old Holocene Epoch behind and entering the Anthropocene Epoch, marked by major changes to global temperatures and ocean chemistry, increased sediment erosion, and changes in biology that range from altered flowering times to shifts in migration patterns of birds and mammals and potential die-offs of tiny organisms that support the entire marine food chain.

Imagining that we might be the beginning of a new epoch because of our actions is beyond belief to me. But I can see how it could be, as we are seeing several species disappearing before our very eyes.

The write up is based on an analysis by John Alroy a Paleobiologist from Macquarie University Sydney, Australia. His analysis is detailed in the Sept. 3 issue of the journal Science, is based on almost 100,000 fossil collections in the Paleobiology Database (PaleoDB)

In the past, researchers have typically counted species in the fossil record by randomly drawing a set number of samples from each time period – a method that can leave out less common species. In fact two studies using the PaleoDB used this approach.

Instead, Alroy used a new approach called shareholder sampling, in which he tracked how frequently certain groups appeared in the fossil record, and then counted enough samples until he hit a target number representative of the proportion for each group.

“In some sense the older methods are a little like the American voting system – the first-past-the-post-winner method basically makes minority views invisible,” said Charles Marshall, a paleontologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who did not take part in the study. “However, with proportional systems, minority views still get seats in parliament.”

One of the few consistent patterns is that growth spurts in diversity can apparently happen at any time, according to Alroy. He added that the background extinction of individual species has also remained consistent – the average species lasts just a few million years.

This means today’s species matter for environments around the world, and so humans can’t simply expect replacements from the diverse species of the future.

“If we lose all the reef builders, we may not get back the physical reefs for millions of years no matter how fast we get back all the species diversity in a simple sense,” Alroy said.

Read the entire article here

And check out the lists of Mammals and Birds which have gone extinct.

Highly endangered list of 10 which are going Extinct

Check out the video of animals which went extinct in the 20th century:

Ivanpah Solar Project In California

There are many new Alternative energy projects coming up all over the US, and the US still has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to alternative energy when compared to the developing economies China and India. China is the leader in investment in alternative energy programs world over.

Under the EERE’s solar Energy technologies program many new alternative energy programs are developing. On August 12th the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved a power purchase agreement for the utility-scale Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. CPUC granted a 20-year contract between Southern California Edison Company and Ivanpah operator BrightSource Energy, Inc. for 117 megawatts (MW) of planned production from the three-tower, concentrating solar power (CSP) complex in the Mojave Desert of southeastern California. The contract calls for electricity to begin flowing on September 30, 2013. The site’s three plants will feature the company’s proprietary solar power tower technology, which employs thousands of flat mirrors to concentrate the sunlight on a central tower-mounted receiver. Water pumped to the receiver is boiled into steam, which drives a turbine to produce electricity. Solar power towers allow the capture of a greater percentage of solar energy than do other solar thermal technologies. Ultimately, the project is designed to generate approximately 400 MW of electricity, an output that would nearly double the existing generation capacity of CSP facilities in the United States.

The project will be sited on about 4,000 acres of public land proposed public land in San Bernardino County.

Project Overview
  • An approximately 400 megawatt solar complex using mirrors to focus the power of the sun on solar receivers atop power towers.
  • The complex is comprised of three separate plants to be built in phases between 2010 and 2013, and will use BrightSource Energy’s Luz Power Tower (LPT) technology.
  • The electricity generated by all three plants is enough to serve more than 140,000 homes in California during the peak hours of the day.
  • Located approximately 4.5 miles southwest of Primm, Nevada, in the desert on federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
  • When constructed, Ivanpah will be the first large-scale solar thermal project built in California in nearly two decades and the largest in the world.
  • The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System will nearly double the amount of commercial solar thermal electricity produced in the US today.
Environmental Benefits
  • Avoids 400,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year; the equivalent of removing 70,000 cars off the road annually.
  • Employs a closed-loop dry-cooling technology, which reduces water use by 90 percent. Will use 100 acre feet per year, the equivalent of 300 homes’ annual water usage; and nearly 25 times less water than competing technologies.
  • Cuts major air pollutants by 85% compared to new natural gas-fired power plants.
  • Technology places individual mirrors onto metal poles that are driven into the ground, reducing the need for extensive land grading and using far fewer concrete pads than other technologies.
Economic Benefits
  • Construction Jobs                                 : 1,000 jobs at peak of construction; average 650 jobs annually over 3 year period
  • Operations and Maintenance Jobs : 86
  • State and Local Tax Benefits             : $400 million*
  • Total construction wages                   : $250 million
  • Total Employee Earnings                   : $650 million
    *Based on 30 year plant life cycle

Read the entire article here

Check out Brightsource Energy website

A Highway Through The Serengeti: Will The Gnu Survive?

Africa the continent in the 21st century is associated with chaos, War, Atrocities against women and Children, hunger, poverty etc… Africa is also where the early human made their first appearance, where people lived in harmony with nature, where nature still remains natural in many pockets, where wildlife once thrived and many a hunter changed his view on hunting to become conservationists, where many a writer found his mojo, where the largest annual migration on earth still happens – The migrations of the Gnu (not the open source software but that which is its namesake – Commonly called the Wildebeest) antelopes etc… it is the land where every nature lover feels a connection to whether one has been there or not and feels drawn to. It is the one place on earth if given a chance I would love to visit – The Serengeti national park if only just to see the amazing Gnu migration, to hear the millions of hooves as they make the ground tremble, to see the stretch of antelopes as far as eye can see under the blue endless African skies.

Growing up one kind of romanticizes Africa and the endless skies with the abundant wildlife. I had only read about and imagined Africa until I saw it on the Large screen as a kid in The King Elephant which was later known as “the African Elephant” then “God’s Must be Crazy” etc.. to the Blood Diamond and others… My earlier films and the books I read made me fall in love with Africa, which has never wavered in spite of the state much of the continent is. As I grew older that one place where I really wanted to go visit has always been and probably will always be the Serengeti – Where the plains and the skies extend far beyond the eyes can see, where the Wildebeest, zebra, antelopes, elephants and giraffes co-existed with their predators lions, hyenas, cheetahs and leopards.

THE SERENGETI

Serengeti comes from the word Serenget which means “land that goes on forever or Endless plains”.

The Serengeti ecosystem is one of the oldest on earth. The essential features of climate, vegetation and fauna have barely changed in the past million years. Early man himself made an appearance in Olduvai Gorge about two million years ago. Some patterns of life, death, adaptation and migration are as old as the hills themselves.

More than a million Wildebeest traverse the plains of the Serengeti and the Masai mara(Kenya) along with 200,000 Zebras and gazelles following the rains. They are known to travel distances of 1300 miles a year! They move from the northern hills to the southern plains for the short rains every October and November, and then swirl west and north after the long rains in April, May and June. So strong is the ancient instinct to move that no drought, gorge or crocodile infested river can hold them back.

Development?

In the 1960’s the Tanzanian government tried to stop the Gnu from migrating into the Ngorongoro with barbed wire fence, the migrating herds trampled it to the ground as they made their way along routes engraved in their memories for who knows how many generations…

The Serengeti is a UNESCO world heritage site in Tanzania and now the Government of Tanzania plans to build a highway right in the middle of it! The Tanzanian government is moving forward with plans to build a public road through Serengeti National Park, despite conservationists’ concerns that commercial traffic will disrupt the annual wildebeest migration and allow poachers better access into the park.

If you have watched a video of the Wildebeest migration (scroll down if you have not) you will see how breathtaking and awe inspiring it is and just how easily startled they are by any intrusion (normally what we see are the predators creating the stress when they attack one of them en-route). Just imagine what many automobiles could do?

If you live in North America you can kind of understand the number of road kills we see every year as a result of deer being hit by cars on the road… it can be fatal for animal and human. This is when there are a few animals crossing our highways which have been around for decades now. Just imagine it being in the middle of the world’s largest migration every year! The standard procedure to protect wildlife is building of fences along the road sides… imagine having to leap over hurdles to continue their annual migration which is a part of their very being. However one weaves it we know roads are catastrophic for wildlife; we see that in our own backyards…  And to think the Tanzanian Government swears it will not be affected at all!!

The Politics of Promises with Power being the Ultimate Goal

The President of Tanzania came to power with the promise that he would build this road a 33 mile stretch which would connect Lake Victoria to the city of Arusha which is the tourist hot spot (base camp to Mount Kilimanjaro). What is interesting is the fact that a road through the park would “contravene the purpose of Tanzania’s accession to the World Heritage Convention,” according to the World Bank. The road would also “cause massive mortality of migratory species” and diminish the Serengeti’s value as a tourist attraction. The World Bank had in 1980’s rejected a similar proposal because of the negative ecological impact; I would think that should only have become more evident now than it was 3 decades ago.

There have been viability studies for the said road conducted by environmental groups which are independent (e.g. from Norway in 1997) which found it to be detrimental to the environment, and then the Government which stands by the road and the notion that it is “safe” did their own study in 2007 and came up with the response that “the effect on wildlife could be mitigated!” wonder how that will be accomplished when one really does not know how ecologically detrimental the road could be.

What is happening?

“Creating a commercial road through such a natural environment—where millions of wildebeest migrate annually—will be an intrusion in the natural habitat, so much so that the level of stress [among the animals] will be tremendous,” said Steven Kiruswa, the Maasai Steppe Heartland Director at the African Wildlife Foundation.

Poachers in Africa or any place where wild animals still survive and are protected in not news any more, But when Governments which are supposed to be protecting their own heritage turn a blind eye and cop up to vested interests dooming whatever is left protected, it makes me despondent. Why is it that there is still a market out there for animals and animal products? Why it is that man seems so unable to see what he is doing to what is left of the planet?

One thing is for sure like the Serengeti Park Management says “What we must face, all of us – poachers, tourists, farmers, conservationists and pastoralists – is the difficult truth that the land does not go on forever.”

Roads bring people and vehicles, development will encroach into the ecosystem of the Serengeti savannah. It will disrupt nature in ways we can’t imagine.

If you care PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION TO STOP THE ROAD SPLITTING THE SERENGETI

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Hoping that man’s greed and will-full ignorance does not make him blind enough to think that nature and its survival does not matter. Signing off with a quote from the from President of Tanzania Julius Nyerere who said “In accepting the trusteeship of our wildlife we solemnly declare that we will do everything in our power to make sure that our children’s grand-children will be able to enjoy this rich and precious inheritance.”

One reality that can’t be ignored is the fact that like every where else, unless the underlying issues are not taken care of these kind of band aids will appear more often than not. The only solution for environmental survival is not just education it is wiping out of poverty and the issues that come with it.

May be Tanzanians will remember Nyerere’s words, their tradition of conservation and act responsibly.

Possible Solution – A southern Route which won’t hamper the migratory path of the wildlife of the Plains that go on forever… May be the tour operators who bring in the tourists can make the Government listen and take action.

There are suggestions to build underground tunnels for the animals to migrate! This was done in places in India where elephants crossed over to their water sources when the government build rail tracks- problem they forgot to tell the elephants and there are still accidental deaths when an elephant is caught unaware on the track and meets its untimely death… Hopefully that is not where the Gnu and its ilk are headed.

Watch the Largest Migration in the World courtesy of National geographic :

Sources and Information:

National geographic

Stuart Pimm’s Blog Post

The Serengeti Website

Kristine Metzger’s Blog

Article in NYTimes by Olivia Judson

Relevant Videos and Books from Amazon:

Survival on the Serengeti

Africa: The Serengeti (IMAX) [Blu-ray]

Serengeti: Natural Order on the African Plain

Green Water Conservation Products

“Water is precious” how many ever times we hear that, it is kind of hard to register, as right now around most of us there is really no problems with water availability. The US EPA in 2008 said a survey had found that 36 states were anticipating Local, regional or statewide water shortage by 2013.

At the start of the 21st century unclean water is the second biggest killer of children world over – UNDP human development report 2006

Below are some water saving products we can integrate into our daily lives, which will lower the water bill for sure and save water! Today I am focusing specifically on the Garden.

FOR YOUR GARDEN

According to reports some households use up to 50% of their water for gardening or out door purposes. Summer is the time when the sprinklers work over time to keep the grass green. Watch out for the water that ends up on the side walk and the roads, adjust the positioning to make maximum utilization of water.

1. Hydretain Root Zone Moisture Manager a Water Magnet for all you plants and lawn.

This is one amazing product, it is green i.e. biodegradable and helps conserve water! Hydretain when added to soil helps soil hold on to the evaporating water vapor there by extending the time between watering. The Manufacturers say one can double or even triple the number of days between required watering and enjoy the benefits of proper water management. Hydretain is a revolutionary new product designed to reduce watering requirements of plants and turf. Its patented blend of liquid humectant and hygroscopic compounds attract free water molecules from the air withing the soil and efficiently transfers them to the roots of the plants. The simple yet unique mechanism results in healthy vigorous drought resistant turf, trees, shrubs, ornamental plants and agriculture.

It is a liquid blend which is used like any spray on fertilizer one uses attached to the hose, it comes fitted with a hose-end applicator.

Hydretain helps to :

  • Minimize Drought stress (they have examples of plants in 100 degree temp settings!)
  • Control or eliminate dry spots (used in golf courses and lawns)
  • Enhance nutrient efficiency
  • Optimize Pesticide Efficiency
  • Improve Seed Germination
  • Increase transplant survival
  • Reduce water expenses
  • Maximize crop yields

You can buy Hydretain Here it comes in 1quart, 2quart etc… price starts at 24.95 for a 1 quart bottle. 1quart as per the manufacturer will cover 2500 – 5000 square feet of lawn. One application lasts for up to 3 months. I like it because it works and it is GREEN!!

2. JARDENIER Plant watering system

The manufacturer says you can reduce water usage by up to 80% and maintenance costs by 50% or more with Jardinier’s wide range of waterproof decorative containers, planter boxes and roof top gardens, used in conjunction with their patented Sub-Irrigation Systems.

I found the sub-irrigation planters particularly of interest for Indoor plants. Plants grown in Jardinier Containers are generally healthier, which means the expense of replacement and the labor involved can be greatly reduced. A study by Dr. Cheryl Wilen of the University of California has shown that plants grown in Jardinier Containers have a more developed root system than plants which are top watered. Sub irrigation also eliminated the harmful build up of salts due to top watering. Since Jardinier Containers are a closed system, fertilizers and pesticides can be confined within the containers. Jardinier Containers also are designed to provide each plant with maximum growing space, which means you get more plant for each container size, which means you spend less time transplanting.

Finally, Jardinier Containers can hold enough water to last at least 2 to 3 weeks, which means you can be on vacation without worrying about finding a dead or weak plant on arrival!! Saving water, plants and money–not bad, and you’ll also be making the world a better place.

The Diagram above shows how the pot works.

Check out your nearest dealer here

Pricing between 5$ for the smallest pot to 50$ to the largest one.

3. Using sprayers and misters which have aerators is an option to reduce water consumption.

Add to these the use of green fertilizers and pesticides like neem oil, a natural foliar spray that controls pest insects and diseases. Compost tea, used as a spray, controls rose diseases; as a drench, it suppresses diseases in the lawn and flower beds. Pick plants that are native – drought and disease resistant as they are “Native”! Pick out perennials they do make a come back every year and some even reseed them selves!
Check out this Video on making your own compost, I found it very useful:

You will have a Green backyard lawn et al with a lesser  burden economically and environmentally.

Live Green!

Some Green Products from Amazon:

Monterey Sluggo Snail & Slug Control For Organic Gardening – 2.5 lb Shaker Bottle LG6500

Your Eco-friendly Yard: Sustainable Ideas to Save You Time, Money and the Earth

The Disappearing Stripes In the Year of The Tiger II

I am continuing from my last post in the “Meet an earthling” series catch up here In this post let us get to know the Amur tiger better.

Image Courtesy WCS website

Characteristics, Habitat and Adaptations

The Amur tiger previously called the Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) is now restricted to the Cold Boreal Forests in Eastern parts of Russia, northeastern China, northern regions of North Korea. They were called the Siberian tiger because they were found all over most of Siberia and now their range is restricted to the areas specified above which is one either side of the Amur river hence the name Amur tiger.

Amur tigers live in harsh environments, where extremely cold temperatures and deep snow are common. They are the largest amongst cats and produce more heat in the cold climates. They have thicker fur for insulation and their body is well adapted to the cold climate. They also have a layer of fat on their flanks and belly which helps protect them from the elements.

Amur tigers have a more pronounced ruff of fur around their neck and they have extra fur on their paws to protect them from the cold. Coat is golden-orange with dark stripes, with all cats markings being different and distinctive like fingerprints. They also have some patches of white on their belly, chest, throat and muzzle. Amur tigers have more white and fewer stripes than other tiger sub-species. Colors help it hide in its environment: white is like snow, black like shadows and yellow like dead oak leaves.

Conservation

According to the WWF the Amur tiger was on the verge of extinction in the 1940’s with their numbers in the wild falling to around 40! Thanks to vigorous antipoaching and other conservation efforts by the Russians with support from many partners, including WWF, the Amur tiger population recovered and has remained stable throughout the last decade or so. Now yet again thanks to illegal poaching, destruction of habitat and killing of its prey the numbers have drastically dropped in the wild.

Conservation groups are working hard to create a conservation area in the Russian far east without roads crisscrossing the region. The people who are keeping tabs say tigers seem to mostly die by human hand than anything else in the Amur region.

What is being done? Check out the links below :

Wildlife Conservation Society

Article in today’s Live Science.com about creation of the world’s largest Tiger Preserve in Myanmar

Alternatives for  Chinese traditional medicines which use tiger bones

Amur Tiger at the Columbus Zoo

Interesting Facts:

  • It is estimated there are less than 400 Amur tigers in the wild.
  • A typical male Amur tiger, the largest of the tiger subspecies, may weigh more than 500 pounds and measure nearly nine feet from nose to tip of the tail. The males can be up to 11 feet long!
  • Females are smaller — up to nine feet long and about 370 pounds
  • Amur tigers depend on large antelopes etc for food.
  • Killing the prey – If it’s a small animal, they kill it with a bite to the back of the neck, breaking the spinal cord. If it’s a large animal, they kill it by suffocating it with a bite to the throat.
  • They are mostly solitary,except for mothers and their dependent young. Amur tigers generally live alone in their individual home range.
  • A male usually defends a large territory (up to 4,000 square miles!) that overlaps the ranges of multiple females.
  • They let each other know about their presence by scent markings and scratches etc on trees
  • It is the largest cat in the world.
  • Spoors (footprints) of a male are rounded and impressions of toe pads in front are blunter, females are elongated and toe pads are narrower and sharper shaped.
  • One tiger provides 13-26 pounds of powered tiger bone and in just Korea they use 3 to 4000 pounds a year.
  • Tigers are one of the four cats that roar, others are lion, leopard and jaguar.
  • Tigers are the only large wild cats with stripes.
  • The stripe patterns of a tiger are not symmetrical from one side of the animal to the other.
  • Tigers rarely climb trees — but they can!
  • For less than a dollar a day you can adopt a tiger through WWF

Watch a couple of videos about Save The tiger from the WWF

After being awed by its strength and magnificent beauty since I was a child I wonder if any one of us could really look a tiger in the eye and say

“We admired everything about you, except your very existence”

like the author of the video says… If we care about the tiger the time to act if now, support the organizations which are educating the public and trying to help put in stricter laws to stop the poaching. Educate ourselves with what we can help to protect this amazing earthling alive in its natural habitat not just in zoos… We owe it to the future generations and to the planet we call home. If we take action now i.e in 2010 the year of the Tiger, we may be able to double their numbers in the wild by 2022 the next year of the Tiger.

We have the stripes of the tiger immortalized in stories, in cartoons, in animal print clothing and what not… we all profess we love the tiger, it is time to act… I believe We owe it to the Tiger to keep it alive.

Next week we will look at the Beautiful Bengal Tiger, India’s national Animal Threatened by it’s own keepers…

7Million Trees Planted Would You Care To Add One More?

When one looks around for a cause to support there is no dearth for causes and I find it really tough when the times got tougher economically to choose which charities to support etc… I try to do a lot of research when I decide where I want my money to go and my criteria are pretty simple and straight forward: I want max utilization of each dollar, I want to see results and yearly updates as to what got done. If these two criteria are met I mostly follow my heart and pay up what I can to support the cause.

Now one of my favorite causes has been protection /sustenance of the environment and on that front one of my favorites has been The Nature Conservancy and its Plant a Billion Trees Initiative.  

One Dollar One Tree One Planet what says it better and simpler than that? This is one of those endeavors am truly passionate about and wish that each of us could partake in. The Nature Conservancy began the Plant a Billion trees Initiative because the Atlantic forests have been so depleted that only 7% of it’s original area is left. The aim of the project is to plant 1 Billion trees in 7 years time to re-forest 2.5million acres of land! and till date they have managed to plant 7,054,098 trees. The trees being planted are indigenous and native only to these forests e.g the Guapuruvu tree

What can 1 Dollar buy in today’s world?

(as per a 2005 report from the World Resources Institute )
  • Bangladesh (Chittagong) 1 Dozen Eggs
  • Kenya 8 Cups of Milk
  • Ghana 2 1/3 Bottles of Palm Oil
  • Ghana 4 1/3 Bottles of Coke
  • Philippines 4/5 of a Big Mac
  • USA 1/3 of a Starbucks Tall Latte
  • Uganda 1/46 of a Bicycle
  • Bangladesh 1/3 of a Sari
  • Ghana 1 1/2 Pairs Rubber Sandals
  • Bangladesh 7 Bars of Soap
  • Ghana 87 Tablets of Penicillin
  • India (Andhra Pradesh) 1/2 Unit of Blood for a Transfusion
  • USA 1/150 of the Average Daily Cost of Nursing Home Care
  • Tanzania (Nzanza) 1/3 of a Liter of Pesticide
  • Ghana 4 1/3 Rolls of Toilet Paper
  • Ecuador (Quito) 1/500 of a Washing Machine
  • India (Andhra Pradesh) 2-3 Pieces Bamboo for Building
  • Uganda (Mbale) 1/1500 of the Cost of Building a New Home
  • India (Mumbai) 1/3 of a Regular Price Evening Movie Ticket
  • In the US the first thing for a dollar that comes to mind is a candy bar..
Bangladesh (Chittagong) 1 Dozen Eggs
Kenya 8 Cups of Milk
Ghana 2 1/3 Bottles of Palm Oil
Ghana 4 1/3 Bottles of Coke
Philippines 4/5 of a Big Mac
USA 1/3 of a Starbucks Tall Latte
Uganda 1/46 of a Bicycle
Bangladesh 1/3 of a Sari
Ghana 1 1/2 Pairs Rubber Sandals
Bangladesh 7 Bars of Soap
Ghana 87 Tablets of Penicillin
India (Andhra Pradesh) 1/2 Unit of Blood for a Transfusion
USA 1/150 of the Average Daily Cost of Nursing Home Care
Tanzania (Nzanza) 1/3 of a Liter of Pesticide
Ghana 4 1/3 Rolls of Toilet Paper
Ecuador (Quito) 1/500 of a Washing Machine
India (Andhra Pradesh) 2-3 Pieces Bamboo for Building
Uganda (Mbale) 1/1500 of the Cost of Building a New Home
India (Mumbai) 1/3 of a Regular Price Evening Movie Ticket

and if you spare that 1 dollar you can plant a tree which can:

Picture Courtesy Mauroguanandi

  • Trees are carbon sinks – A single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 lbs./year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support 2 human beings. To produce its food, a tree absorbs and locks away carbon dioxide in the wood, roots and leaves. Carbon dioxide is a global warming suspect. A forest is a carbon storage area or a “sink” that can lock up as much carbon as it produces. This locking-up process “stores” carbon as wood and not as an available “greenhouse” gas.
  • Trees Clean the Soil -The term phytoremediation is a fancy word for the absorption of dangerous chemicals and other pollutants that have entered the soil. Trees can either store harmful pollutants or actually change the pollutant into less harmful forms. Trees filter sewage and farm chemicals, reduce the effects of animal wastes, clean roadside spills and clean water runoff into streams.
  • Trees Control Noise Pollution -Trees muffle urban noise almost as effectively as stone walls. Trees, planted at strategic points in a neighborhood or around your house, can abate major noises from freeways and airports.
  • Trees Slow Storm Water Runoff -Flash flooding can be dramatically reduced by a forest or by planting trees. One Colorado blue spruce, either planted or growing wild, can intercept more than 1000 gallons of water annually when fully grown. Underground water-holding aquifers are recharged with this slowing down of water runoff.
  • Trees Clean the Air – Trees remove this air pollution by lowering air temperature, through respiration, and by retaining particulates.
  • Trees provide shade and keep temperature cooler – Shade resulting in cooling is what a tree is best known for. Shade from trees reduces the need for air conditioning in summer. In winter, trees break the force of winter winds, lowering heating costs. Studies have shown treed areas and bare areas can have up to 12 degrees difference in temperature during hot summer days.
  • Trees fight soil erosion and also add to your property value!

These are just some of the positives of planting a tree from the human perspective. Trees also provide shelter and food to myriad living beings from birds to rodents and insects. They are virtually small ecosystems. So if you have a dollar to spare do check out this LINK and make a donation. Nature conservancy is aiming to remove 10 million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere with this ambitious project, which will be equivalent to taking off 2 million cars off the road! The effects of this endeavor will make a positive impact locally as well as globally. The aim is to protect the 10 critical watersheds in the Atlantic Forests which provide water and hydro power to a population of 70 million! and as a result of this landmark endeavor they hope to create 20,000 direct jobs and 70,000 indirect jobs for them.

Atlantic Forests What and where are they? According to the biodiversity hot-spots websiteThe Atlantic Forest of tropical South America boasts 20,000 plant species, 40 percent of which are endemic. Yet, less than 10 percent of the forest remains. More than two dozen Critically Endangered vertebrate species are clinging to survival in the region, including three species of lion tamarins and six bird species that are restricted to the small patch of forest near the Murici Ecological Station in northeastern Brazil. With almost 950 kinds of birds occurring in this hotspot, there are many unique species including the red-billed curassow, the Brazilian merganser, and numerous threatened parrot species.

At a dollar a tree there can be no excuse if one really cares about the environment and wants to do something, it is time for action and we need to all make an effort now to make this a resounding success. Lets plant trees under whose shades we will never sit, so that the coming generations will have the shade and the cover they need to thrive in this blue planet we call home.

I have made my pledge I hope you will too… Giving up one or a couple of candy bars… a cup of starbucks coffee… it is a pretty simple choice if you ask me, a tree will keep on giving and It’s one of the best deals I have found that is so valuable yet costs so little… Live Green!

Check out Nature Conservancy’s video about Plant a billion trees project

The Disappearing Stripes In the Year of The Tiger

2010 according to the Chinese Lunar calendar is the “Year of the Tiger” , The Tiger is the third sign in the Chinese Zodiac cycle, and it is a sign of bravery. Yet the Tiger population in the wild is steadily declining… China is one of the major consumers of Tiger parts from bone to skin. Illegal poaching and logging is threatening to wipe out this magnificent being from the wilderness.

Mahatma Gandhi said “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” by those standards I wonder how many nations could be considered as making progress, I believe most of us are regressing to levels unknown… Why is it that we human’s consider the suffering of animals as lesser than that of a fellow human? Is it because they don’t speak out language? Don’t they bleed when cut and don’t they cry when hurt… wonder when humanity will open its eyes to the reality that animals like humans  have a place on this earth all their own and they have a right to be here as much as we do.

This week in meet an earthling I thought we will look at one of my favorite cats – The Tiger Panthera tigris. Tigers were found all across Asia from Eastern Turkey to the Caspian Sea south of the Tibetan Plateau, Eastward to Manchuria and the Sea of Okhotsk, in Northern Iran, Indus valley of Pakistan, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and the  islands of Java and Bali. Now they are pretty much restricted to some parts of India, North eastern China, Korea, Indonesia, parts of Russian Siberia and the foothills of the Himalayas.

Tiger distribution map Courtesy wikipedia

There are eight recognized species of the Panthera tigris of which 3 are already extinct. The eight are as follows (the ones striked off are extinct and the ones in red are endangered.)

  1. Panthera tigris altaica – The Amur Tiger (earlier called the Siberian Tiger) EXTREMELY ENDANGERED 300 in the wild
  2. Panthers tigris tigris – Bengal Tiger ENDANGERED 1800 in the wild
  3. Panthera tigris corbetti – Indo-Chinese tiger CRITICALLY ENDANGERED
  4. Panthera tigris amoyensis – South-central Chinese Tiger CRITICALLY ENDANGERED
  5. Panthera tigris sumatrae – Sumatran Tiger CRITICALLY ENDANGERED
  6. Panthera tigris balica – Bali Tiger
  7. Panthera tigris sondaica – Javan Tiger
  8. Panthera tigris virgata – Trans Caucasus Tiger

Tigers are one of the 4 big cats of the family Panthera. They are one of the most exquisite cats around and one of the most identifiable. In the zoos they are a favorite with most of the visitors and yet in spite of all this attention their numbers in the wild have been dwindling drastically. Human encroachment on habitats and the use of tiger parts in ancient traditional medicine are the main reasons for their numbers dwindling in the wild.

Tigers are big cats, the length varies between 6’8″ (Sumatran) to 9′ plus (Siberian) and weigh between 170lbs (Sumatran) to 700 lbs (Amur).

Tigers have a reddish-orange coat with vertical black stripes along the flanks and shoulders that vary in size, length, and spacing. Some subspecies have paler fur and some are almost fully white with either black or dark brown stripes along the flanks and shoulders. The underside of the limbs and belly, chest, throat, and muzzle are white or light. White is found above the eyes and extends to the cheeks. A white spot is present on the back of each ear. The dark lines about the eyes tend to be symmetrical, but the marks on each side of the face are often asymmetrical. The tail is reddish-orange and ringed with several dark bands.

Tiger habitats include sufficient cover, proximity to water, and an abundance of prey sources. Bengal Tigers live in many types of forests, including wet; evergreen; the semi-evergreen of Assam and eastern Bengal; the mangrove forest of the Ganges Delta; the deciduous forest of Nepal, and the thorn forests of the Western Ghats. The tiger prefers denser vegetation, for which its camouflage coloring is ideally suited, and where a single predator is not at a disadvantage.

Fun facts:

  • Tigers are a Keystone species and are Apex Predators – i.e. they have no natural predators other than humans.
  • Tigers are the only big cats other than Jaguars which like to swim. It spends a lot of time in water when the temperature gets too warm and will also follow a prey into the water or carry dead prey across lakes.
  • Tigers can swim up to 4 miles!
  • Tigers are mostly solitary unless they are females with their litter.
  • The pattern of stripes is unique to each tiger, and thus could potentially be used to identify individuals like we use finger prints to identify people.
  • They are the heaviest cats in the wild with some Amur Tigers reaching a whopping 700pounds!
  • Retinal adaptation that reflects light back to the retina makes the night vision of tigers six times better than that of humans.
  • Bengal Tigers have the longest incisors  of any living cat; 3-4″ in length!!
  • Tigers are solitary and do not associate with mates except for mating.
  • Mothers and cubs stay together until the cubs are 2-3 years old i.e. ready to hunt and take care of themselves.
  • Longevity 8-10 years in the wild.
  • A Tiger roar (chuff) can be heard up to 2 miles away.
  • Around early 1900’s the number of Bengal tigers in India was approximated to be around 50,000; by 1972 it had dropped to 1800! through diligent efforts to conserve their habitat and protect the remaining tigers the numbers have climbed back to around 4000 by 2004… Even now there is poaching in the protected areas which is going un-punished and un-accounted which has resulted in the latest census of tigers at 1300-1500 tigers. . One example is the Jhurjhura tigress who had 3 cubs, was living in Bandhavgarh in India, a protected and well know Tiger Preserve and was mowed down by Government vehicles in the night check out this link and make yourself heard if you care.


If we do not take a stand this magnificent animal will become extinct in our life time… I shudder just thinking about, I believe we owe it to the coming generations that we work together to clean up our messes and leave the earth as intact as possible with all the species diversity it possesses. I can’t understand how human’s think it is alright to use an animals skin… to me it is unthinkable using another living beings skin as a cover as I believe the animal has the skin to protect itself same like us.

Live Green, live aware… Help the organizations which work on our behalf to save these magnificent animals that I believe is the least we can do…

Something Hopeful to end today’s post with; The Global Tiger Initiative which will be meeting in St.Petersburg Russia from September 14th through September 18th.

The Website states their goal as ” We aspire to a world where, by 2020, wild tigers across Asia will no longer face the risk of extinction – and will live in healthy populations within high conservation value landscapes that are managed sustainably for present and future generations.”

So may be stronger measures will be taken and we will end up protecting the tiger…

Image Credits @ spisharam

A Foot Note – I will write about each species of Tiger in detail starting next week.

DeepWater Horizon Spill Threatens 8 National Parks

Today will be Day 75 of DeepWater Horizon Oil Spill. Even though the cap which is placed on top to capture oil is working day and night, the spill is still spewing oil into the Ocean. This week there was also the added pressure of Hurricane Alex stirring up things in the Gulf of Mexico. According to Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft “more oil than what would fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool slipped by the cap on BP’s ruptured undersea well due to bad weather on Friday (1st of July)”. Bad weather has also resulted in the skimmers returning to the shores to sit out the wind in the high seas.

Newly retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen announced Friday that since June, the skimming capability in the Gulf has increased more than fivefold — from approximately 100 large skimmers to 550 skimming vessels of various sizes working to collect oil in all parts of the region now. To date, 28.2 million gallons of an oil-water mix has been skimmed from the Gulf’s surface.

Gulf of Mexico with its vast shore line and ocean wealth is also home to many national parks and 8 of them are in places which can be affected by the oil spill adversely. The reefs and marine ecology are in the impact zone and the effect of the Oil spill and the dispersant used will not be known for a long time.

These are the eight national parks that the U.S. National Park Service is monitoring for signs of damage from the Gulf oil spill:

1. Dry Tortugas National Park

Almost 70 miles west of Key West lies a cluster of seven islands, composed of coral reefs and sand, called the Dry Tortugas. Along with the surrounding shoals and waters, they make up Dry Tortugas National Park. The area is known for its famous bird and marine life, its legends of pirates and sunken gold, and its military past.

Coral reefs ring Fort Jefferson, a military fortress abandoned in 1907, now part of Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida. Seven islands make up the Dry Tortugas, known for rich bird and marine life.
Dry Tortugas National Park has suffered no impacts from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill thus far. The park remains open for visitation and all activities continue as scheduled. Nonetheless, the National Park Service continues to spend considerable time and effort in preparation for possible effects.

2. Big Cypress National Reserve

The freshwaters of the Big Cypress Swamp, essential to the health of the neighboring Everglades, support the rich marine estuaries along Florida’s southwest coast. Protecting over 720,000 acres of this vast swamp, Big Cypress National Preserve contains a mixture of tropical and temperate plant communities that are home to a diversity of wildlife, including the elusive Florida panther. In addition to panthers and alligators, the park’s swampy environment is also home to bobcats, black bears, herons, and egrets.

Though Big Cypress National Preserve is mostly inland, there are some coastal resources within the Preserve along the southern boundary. This estuary zone is protected by the Ten Thousand Islands of Everglades National Park.

At this time no closures have occurred in the Preserve in response to the oil spill. However, management personnel at the preserve are monitoring the situation in the Gulf closely.

3. The Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, boasts rare and endangered species. It has been designated a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, and Wetland of International Importance, significant to all people of the world.

The south Florida national parks continue to carefully monitor response efforts to the oil spill in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Though not an immediate threat, the ongoing movement and spread of oil in the region has the potential to impact the south Florida coast.

4. Gulf Islands National Seashore

One of the Parks affected by the oil Spill already – Birds fly over Park Service facility on Santa Rosa Island, parts of which fall within Florida’s Gulf Islands National Seashore (file photo). Oil from the Gulf spill has reached the national seashore, including parts of Santa Rosa Island. The refuge remains open, but visitors can see offshore oil booms intended to keep the oil at bay.

Most of the oil that ends up on beaches arrives in coagulated clumps known as tarballs and moose patties, Park Service officials say. If these objects are spotted on the beach, a cleanup crew is dispatched to shovel them up.
PARKWIDE: Because oil can appear on park beaches at any given time, there is a National Park Service Public Health Advisory in effect until further notice parkwide.

Use caution, good judgment and stay informed:

• If you see or smell oil in the water or on the beach, avoid contact with water and report it to the nearest lifeguard or park ranger.
• Avoid direct skin contact with oil, oil-contaminated water, and tar balls.
• If you get oil or tar balls on your skin, wash with soap and water.
• If you get oil on clothing, launder as usual.
• Prevent pets from entering oil-contaminated areas.
• Do not fish in oil affected waters.
• Do not handle dead or dying fish, or wildlife.
• Leave the area if you experience difficulty breathing or any other symptoms. If needed, contact your doctor.

5. Padre island Seashore

Located along the south Texas coast, Padre Island National Seashore protects the longest undeveloped stretch of barrier island in the world. Here, you can enjoy 70 miles of sandy beaches.

As of now no oil has reached its shores and none is projected to reach its shores unless some major change occurs in status quo. It remains open starting yesterday after a short close down for Hurricane Alex. Check the website for any new info.

6. De Soto National Memorial

Gulf Coast waters are visible from this lookout point in Florida’s De Soto National Memorial, named for Hernando De Soto, the Spanish conquistador who explored much of the state in the early 1500s.The park, a popular fishing and kayaking spot, remains open and still appears to be unaffected by the Gulf oil spill.

Roughly 80 percent of the park is mangrove swamps, with the rest consisting of pine flatlands and mixed hardwood forests. Serving as nurseries for much of the fish in the Gulf, mangroves are crucial to the region’s ecological future—and to the fishing industry.

De Soto National Memorial has special living history presentations at specific times of the year. The Spanish encampment features daily presentations (weather permitting) from mid-December to the last weekend in April. The Last day of the living history encampment also includes a special reenactment of De Soto’s landing in 1539.

7. Jean LaFitte Historical national Park and Preserve
The six sites of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve represent a treasure trove of south Louisiana’s historical and cultural riches. People from nearly every country, ethnic group, language, and religion have come to the lower Mississippi River delta and left traces of their passing.

None of Jean Lafitte’s six sites are directly in the path of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The park’s Barataria Preserve is the most vulnerable site since it is linked to the Gulf of Mexico via waterways.

No oil from the spill has been observed in the preserve. Oil has fouled the shoreline of the Barataria Waterway about 12 miles south of the preserve boundary and has penetrated marshes on the north edge of Barataria Bay, about 15 miles south of the preserve. Booms are in place and cleanup is underway. Park staff continues to monitor the situation and work with experts to prepare defensive actions.
The park is home to songbirds, as well as swamp rabbits, mink, coyotes, and deer. So far, no animals that live in U.S. national parks have been affected by the Gulf oil spill, the Park Service’s Amzelmo said—but that could change.

8. Biscayne National Park
Within sight of downtown Miami, yet worlds away, Biscayne protects a rare combination of aquamarine waters, emerald islands, and fish-bejeweled coral reefs. Here too is evidence of 10,000 years of human history, from pirates and shipwrecks to pineapple farmers and presidents. Outdoors enthusiasts can boat, snorkel, camp, watch wildlife…or simply relax in a rocking chair gazing out over the bay.
Biscayne National Park has suffered no impacts from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill thus far. The park remains open for visitation and all activities continue as scheduled. Nonetheless, the National Park Service continues to spend considerable time and effort in preparation for possible effects.

National parks in the Gulf area are home to many amazing animals, habitats, and cultural resources. Here are just a few that could be affected by the oil spill:

  • Sea-grass beds are important nursery habitat for sea turtles, young fish, crabs, shrimp, and many other crustaceans. They also provide an important food source for manatees. Oil will kill sea-grasses on contact and this community is slow to recover.
  • Salt marshes, which occur in back bays, provide a buffer that protects the mainland during storm events. They also offer foraging sites for all kinds of birds. If oil kills these plants in the marsh, the soil will destabilize and erode.
  • Mangroves are similar to salt marshes in that they provide a buffer between the sea and the mainland, as well as providing wildlife habitat.
  • Shipwrecks, archeological sites, Civil War defenses, historic structures, and other cultural resources tell the stories of past inhabitants and key moments in our nations past. Damage from oil and cleanup operations is a concern for these treasures.

The ecosystems and wildlife represented in the parks could provide the biological and genetic diversity needed when the spill is over – they will be the well-springs of resurgence in wildlife populations.

In reality from experience what is known is that the real effects of an oil spill cannot be fathomed by looking at statistics of oil being spilled and wild life showing up oil covered on the shores etc…

Exxon-Valdez results are the ones we have at hand as reference and you can read it HERE makes for really interesting reading…

Note – Clicking on the name of the parks will take you to the respective parks pages on the web and will provide you with the latest update as to the effects of the oil spill if any.

Read this article in Newsweek to see the projected effect on underwater organisms and habitat.

Source for this article Data and Pictures:

National Geographic

National Parks Service