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Conservation in the Anthropocene

What does conservation look like in the Anthropocene era? That’s a question I found myself asking as I read Chris D Thomas’ stimulating book Inheritors of the Earth. If we recognise that human activity is now shaping the whole of the earth, what implications does it have for conservation? I’d suggest it has pretty serious […]

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Inheritors of the Earth, by Chris D Thomas

We are in the middle of the 6th great extinction event in the planet’s history, according to biologists and conservation agencies. It was in the news again last week, thanks to a new report that uses headline-grabbing phrases like ‘assaults on biodiversity’ and ‘biological annihilation’. And let’s not beat about the bush – we’ve seen […]

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Where are your ten trees?

I was writing up some details about Wangari Maathai’s life this week, for a talk that I’m preparing. If you’re not familiar with Maathai, she was a formidable Kenyan woman who set up the Green Belt Movement of community tree planters. The organisation has planted 50 million trees since its founding in the late 7os, […]

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Restoring the grasslands with sustainable business

Yesterday I wrote about five business responses to the environment, and how the most ambitious businesses take my mum’s advice and try to leave things better than they found them. Here’s an example of that. The Great Plains cover a huge section of the American continent, and were traditionally covered with grasslands. These grasslands relied […]

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Building a long term perspective

I was in a meeting with RSPB Scotland last week, and the subject of long term planning came up. As an example, they mentioned a project in Abernethy that has a particularly bold time scale. The Abernethy Forest is the largest remaining pinewood forest in the Scottish Highlands. It’s home to a variety of wildlife, […]

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Community mangrove restoration in Madagascar

Mangrove swamps are the single most efficient form of forest when it comes to carbon sequestration. I’ve detailed exactly why in previous posts. They also stabilise coastlines, forming a buffer against storms and floods. They serve as nurseries to small fish. Like many environments in the ‘riparian zone’ between land and water, they are very […]

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How rewilding can help to stop floods

Every year flooding costs Britain around a billion pounds. As the climate warms and extreme weather events become more frequent, floods could be more common and more expensive. Severe floods in 2015 have prompted a debate about how to address this growing problem, with the government publishing a new National Flood Resilience Review last week. […]

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A healthcheck on England’s wildlife

Last week I wrote about how wildlife is in decline globally. One of the reasons for the grim statistics is development in previously untouched areas. As countries develop and populations expand, forests are cleared, swamps are drained, and habitats are lost in the process. Nature is squeezed to the margins. Today we see those processes […]

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A world without wildlife?

Of all the things I’ve written about on the blog, this statistic stands out as one of the most stark: since 1970, the world’s wildlife populations have halved. That’s an extraordinary thought. The figure is from the WWF’s Living Planet Index, and it is derived by monitoring the numbers of over 10,000 different populations. Some […]

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It’s National Insect Week

I’ve always liked insects. Not all insects, but ants, termites and beetles in particular. I’ve spent many happy afternoons following ant trails through the woods in Kenya, or picking apart the dirt-covered termite highways running along the tree trunks. In Madagascar I used to swim around the pool with a plank, rescuing the scarabs and […]

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