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Bringing you conservation news from around the world...
Will nature's balance be undone? See 'Message in a bottle... from Cork Country' (Photo copyright APCOR)
It’s the end of a long day; you kick off your shoes, fetch a couple of glasses and reach for your favourite bottle of claret. You lovingly draw the cork from the bottle, thrilled by that familiar squeaky ‘pop’ as your senses begin to tingle with anticipation!
California’s unique habitats have been shaped by millions of years of geology and climate, producing a rich and colourful mosaic of life. Many of the plants and animals found here occur nowhere else and the California Floristic Province is one of the most biologically diverse regions on Earth. Of nearly 3,500 plant species, more than 61% are endemics, but like other botanically spectacular places, California is one of the most threatened. Large-scale, intensive agriculture, a growing population, urbanization, pollution and road construction all contribute to massive habitat destruction and degradation.
For thousands of years, prairie covered more than a million square miles of the North American Midwest – a vast tapestry of colours and textures made up of tall, swaying grasses and colourful herbaceous perennials, including 9 species of Echinacea, endemic to North American prairies, and Eryngium yuccifolium, used by Native Americans as an antidote to rattlesnake venom.
The little, uninhabited island of Sa Dragonera is 3.2k long and located about 780m off the south-west coast of Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands. It forms a continuation of the Tramuntana mountain range that dissects the main island and rises from the sea with sheer, vertical cliffs, tiny coves and sea caves. Sa Dragonera is covered with characteristic Mediterranean garrigue vegetation, an open community of small, mainly evergreen shrubs and a great variety of associated herbaceous plants like the Autumn Arum, Arum pictum, the beautiful orchid, Anacamptis pyramidalis, and a multitude of annuals and bulb species which are very colourful in spring. Mediterranean garrigue vegetation is extremely important as it is the last defence against soil erosion and eventual desertification.
More pictures from the Inga Foundation, working to halt the destruction of the rainforest by slash and burn agricultural practices. Mike Hands and Issy Ellis-Cockcroft of the Inga Foundation are in conversation with Plant Talk on the Plant People page.
Cruising at around 5,000 feet – I know this because I am sitting directly behind the pilot and am watching his every move over his shoulder – in a (very) small propeller plane, the early morning views are spectacular; the Amazon river near Santarem, approaching 60 kilometres wide at this point, divides into a maze of channels and islands. Islands are painted every shade of green, shedding swirling, early mist like smoke. Some are forested with white sandy beaches, such that you could be forgiven for believing you might be in the Caribbean. I become alarmed and think we may be lost when the pilot unfolds a road map; but instead of navigating by it, he places it over the windscreen to eclipse the blinding sun – good move – but I now wonder how he can see where we’re going!
More pictures from Peter Whitbread-Abrutat’s Amazon adventures
On that magical frontier for life, where the land meets the sea, you may find one of the most beautiful flowers of the Mediterranean basin, the Sea Daffodil, Pancratium maritimum, but it is becoming increasingly rare. However, across the dunes of ir-Ramla, on the Maltese island of Gozo, drifts of them thrive in their sandy habitat in the searing heat and incandescent light of midsummer, cooled only by salty sprays of seawater carried on the wind.
On April 20 four leading authorities on rainforests will gather at the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK for a public debate on the future of rainforests. Joining BBC news presenter George Alagiah, who is hosting the event, will be Prof. Ghillean Prance (Eden Project Trustee), Andrew Mitchell (Executive Director Global Canopy Programme), Simon Counsell (Executive Director Rainforest Foundation UK), and Dr. Ben Beck (Director of Conservation, Great Ape Trust).
An exciting new flowering plant belonging to the Medinilla plant group has been discovered in the highlands of Matasawalevu village, on the island of Kadavu in Fiji. The plant was found during a biodiversity assessment of the Nakasaleka district carried out as part of IUCN’s Water and Nature Initiative (WANI).
One in six woodland flowers is threatened with extinction and good management is key to reversing the worrying declines in woodland plants and animals say one of the UK's leading plant charities, Plantlife, in their latest report.
The most comprehensive audit on the state of the planet's wildlife has just received an update. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ has now reviewed more than 61,900 species, and another big step forward has been made toward developing the Red List into a true "Barometer of Life,‟ as called for by leading experts in Science magazine in 2010.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew - the world's leading botanical institution - announced last month that Director (CEO and Chief Scientist), Professor Stephen Hopper FLS will step down in autumn 2012 after six years in the job.
Scientists in Borneo have announced the somewhat surprising move to work with loggers in Sabah, Borneo to investigate the effects of forest fragmentation on a huge scale.
A very important film premieres on UK television tonight that could help transform tropical agriculture. "Up in Smoke" follows the exploits of Mike Hands, a scientist from Cornwall in the UK, who has been developing an innovative agroforestry technique called alley-cropping in equatorial rainforests for 25 years.
Plant Talk received a terribly sad, but beautiful email from The World Rainforest Movement last week on the passing of its long-time dedicated coordinator Ricardo Carrere. Here it is in full...
IUCN announced in a press release recently that just over half (50.59%) of the land in Seychelles will become protected by law with the addition of an extra 45,500 hectares.
Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) has published a Red List of Rhododendrons report assessing the conservation status of the Rhododendron genus. Research by BGCI and Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh shows that a quarter of the 1,157 Rhododendron species are under threat in the wild.