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  • Archive for July, 2014

    World’s biodiversity hotspots in grave danger, study finds

    2014 - 07.23

    According to new research on primary vegetation, the top 35 biodiversity hotspots in the world are in more danger than was previously thought.

    These hotspots are home to the vast majority – 75 per cent – of the endangered land vertebrates living in the world today. The ‘Biological Conservation’ research from James Cook University has shown that less than 15 per cent of natural vegetation is left intact and undamaged in the these locations – a worrying outlook for the wildlife that call the areas home.

    The 35 locations include Madagascar, the Cerrado in Brazil, Sundaland – Borneo, Java, Sumatra, and the Malay Peninsula – and the tropical Andes. Almost 50 per cent of these locations have under 10 per cent of primary vegetation left, while five of them are home to less than five per cent, the study found.

    William Laurance, a co-author of the study, told Monga Bay: “If we lose the hotspots we’ll say goodbye to over half of all species on Earth. It would be comparable to the mass-extinction event that killed off the dinosaurs.”

    As well as playing host to the majority of the mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles, these hotspots are also home to around half of the world’s plant species; and over 40 per cent of the world’s endemic terrestrial vertebrates.

    Study lead author, Sean Sloan, said: “We are in a global battle for conservation, but unlike a battlefield medic, we cannot simply focus on those hotspots that are most likely to survive. Every hotspot has unique biodiversity, so to lose even one would be catastrophic.”

    The team of researchers used satellite imagery, Google Earth and expert opinions to estimate vegetation at each site. “Our estimates highlight that more hotspots than previously thought are in an extremely critical states – with [less than five per cent] natural intact vegetation as we define it. Biodiversity in such hotspots would be highly precarious as a result, and so conservation efforts therein should be prioritised,” Sloan added.

    Companies such as Greenwood Management ensure their work in the biodiversity hotspot of the Brazilian rainforest is always sustainable and supports the environment.

    Researchers assess early impact of humans on the Amazon

    2014 - 07.09

    Scientists believe that signs of ancient earthworks found throughout the Amazon in both Brazil and Bolivia were there before the rainforest itself existed.

    It’s not known why the square, ring and straight ditches were created but researchers from the University of Reading say they are proof that prehistoric people changed the Amazon landscape long before the arrival of Europeans to central America.

    Study author John Francis Carson told Live Science: “People have been affecting the global climate system through land use for not just the past 200 to 300 years, but for thousands of years.”

    The team was aiming to find out whether people living in the area before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the 1490s carried out their own forest clearances or whether they largely left the land untouched. But researchers say that they did neither, and the team’s findings suggest that the rainforest’s climate was much drier than it is now.

    Researchers have been puzzling about the area’s earliest inhabitants since deforestation in the 1980s first revealed signs of the earthworks, which in some cases are huge, such as 16ft deep ditches which can be equally as wide.

    Greenwood Management supports sustainable use of the Amazon’s resources, rather than the harvesting of timber from large scale deforestation.