International Tiger Day – 29th July

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international tiger dayOver 97% of all wild tigers have been lost in just over 100 years. As few as 3000 live in the wild today, instead of the possible 100,000. If this continues, all tigers living in the wild could be extinct in just five years.

There are three main reasons for the reduction in tiger numbers:

  1. Habitat loss – Tigers lost 93% of their natural habitat due to human expansion – both urban and agricultural growth. Smaller, scattered habitats allow fewer tigers to survive, and the risk of inbreeding is increased. The tigers are also more vulnerable to poaching.
  2. Human wildlife conflict – The competition between humans and tigers for space is creating a major problem for communities living close together. As space is reduced, tigers are increasingly forced to hunt domestic livestock, which is depended upon by local human populations. Tigers are often killed in response to such events.
  3. Climate change – The Sundarbans is a large mangrove forest on the northern coast of the Indian Ocean and is home to one of the world’s largest tiger populations. Rising sea levels threaten to destroy the mangrove forests, and the last remaining home of the Bengal tiger.
sundarban tiger

Tiger in the Sundarban Mangrove Forests

International Tiger Day is held annually on the 29th July to give worldwide attention to the preservation of tigers. It was founded by the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit in 2010 when many tigers were close to extinction. Many animal welfare organisations pledged to help and continue to raise funds, these include the WWF, National Geographic, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Organisers of International Tiger Day ask that if you don’t have money to donate, you can donate your awareness. The goal of Tiger Day is to promote the protection and expansion of the wild tigers’ habitats and to gain support through awareness for tiger conservation.

Find out more here!

TrevA delayed, Green agendA continues

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What achievements at University of Birmingham 2014-15

What achievements at University of Birmingham 2014-15

Yesterday we called a quick UBGreen meeting following news that Trev Shield will no longer be working at University of Birmingham.  He will be much missed, and in fact, was missing at the meeting (he did apologise and sends his best wishes to all).  Trev has worked tirelessly for Green Issues at the University, for which he has worked for over 30 years, and is well known and loved across campus and beyond.   It did also make it tricky to run ‘The TrevAs’ without him .  The TrevAs are our green awards, celebrating green achievements at the University of Birmingham – more about that soon.

A quick check around the table, and in a couple of minutes we had two dozen achievements on postits from our mixed staff and student UBGreen group.  There’s much to be proud of – and if you’re having trouble reading from Postits, I’ve jotted down a few at bottom of the page.

We also had a chat about what kind of measures we’d like to see in the future (see postits and more at bottom of page)

What we want in 2015-16

What we want in 2015-16

Great to meet up with more like-minded folk, and particularly good to keep the connection between staff and students – something that needs to be constantly refreshed as students and staff change.

Personally, I found out about projects and groups like BUBUG  Birmingham University Bike User Group which I’m keen to promote and support.

Putting students interested in reducing Fossil Fuel use in touch with staff keen to introduce more solar power on our roofs can only raise visibility, understanding and support across the Uni.

Watching new cycle routes built around the New Library – Are there opportunities for a more comprehensive quality cycling infrastructure across campus?  There are questions we need to ask, and only if we work together can student and staff concerns be raised and discussed properly.

Trev has made a big green impact on the University and will be sorely missed – we’ll continue to pull together to influence and act to make the changes we need to make our University Greener.

 

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Seven frog species found on seven mountains

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frogsThe cool “cloud forests” of south-eastern Brazil have a unique climate and isolated mountain peaks, like islands. These isolations have created 21, now 28, known species of Brachycephalus frog. The colourful frogs are all under 1cm long, and have poisonous skin to avoid predation.

The seven new discoveries on seven different mountains are the result of five years of exploration by Marcio Pie, a professor at the Federal University of Parana in nearby Curitiba. The forests at high altitude, on Brazil’s southern Atlantic coast, have more species per square kilometer than the Amazon, so are an excellent place for ecological exploration.

The variable altitude as well as the physical distance between mountains creates barriers to the frogs, which are particularly sensitive to their environment. As a result of this, speciation occurs whereby the population on each mountain top, which probably began as the same species, developed slowly into a separate species. This process occurs as the species adapts to slightly different environmental conditions present on each mountain.

Whilst their size restricts how different the frogs can become, the most obvious difference is their skin. There are variations in how rough their skin is, and dramatic variations in colour.

Ensuring the safety of these species may require captive breeding, as well as conservation efforts to protect their habitat from invasive plants and animals, logging, and other threats.

seven mountains

BBC Article

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Fake Orca used to scare sea lions

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fake orca whaleA 32-foot-long fibreglass whale was brought to Oregon, USA, to scare away sea lions from Astoria’s Port. The sea lions usually leave when the weather gets warmer, however, this year they did not.

Reports claim that the sea lions are putting thousands of jobs in the city at risk, particularly commercial and sport fishing operations on which the city depends.

Many tactics were tried, including electric mates, and brightly coloured beach balls, but these failed to scare the sea lions away. The fake orca whale belongs to a whale-watching business in Washington State, and was used as a desperate measure, however, it ran into trouble on its first attempt when the motor became flooded.

The Port of Astoria Executive Director, Jim Knight, said that these extreme measures were being take because there is a lack of financial resources for building barriers to protect the port.

 

BBC Article 

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Cooling your office

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sunThe optimum office temperature is typically 19-22oC and air conditioning should not be used unless the temperature is over 24oC. As summer progresses, here are some tips for if your office gets too warm:

  • Close the blinds – especially effective during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Wear light clothes – light, loose-fitting clothes made from natural fibres such as cotton and linen are ideal.
  • Turn off unused equipment – computers, printers, and lights turned on when not being used make the office hotter. Switching them off will also help to reduce office energy consumption.
  • Open the window.
  • Use a fan – this is a last resort, preferably a USB-powered fan, or if you use an electronic one, please make sure to switch it off when it’s not needed.

Biofuel for Aeroplanes

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aeroplaneSugarcane biomass could be a new way to fuel flight, and it would make a substantial cut to greenhouse gas emissions. Research shows that the use of renewable liquid fuels, such as this, will be critical for mitigating further climate change.

Due to the strict regulations for aviation fuel, such as no oxygen, the correct boiling point and lubricity, it has been difficult to create a reliable biofuel that can be used by commercial airlines. However, this new development meets all of the criteria required by an aviation fuel.

Creating environmentally-friendly flight is important as eight million people take a flight every day and this is still growing. In 2012, 2% of all human carbon emissions were due to plane emissions, whilst this may seem like a small percentage, it is a large proportion of emissions attributed to just one activity.

Recently support for biofuels has decreased, mainly due to concern that it would require a switch away from food production and with food security as a large issue, this was not ideal. However, research shows that food crops would not be displaced as sugarcane can be grown on marginal land.

 

BBC Article

Green Crossword!

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Here’s the crossword from the July newsletter, answers will be revealed on the 31st July via the Stories page here!

crossword

 

  1. A replication of what animal has been built and used in Oregon to scare away sea lions?
  2. Which tree provides habitat for over 300 insect species, and can be found as far south as Spain and as far north as Lapland? It also has a silver variety.
  3. Shutting these is a way to keep your office cool.
  4. This garden feature provides an excellent habitat for many birds, especially if it is rarely pruned.
  5. Which insect has a high dependency on a limited number of plants, making them vulnerable to changing landscapes?
  6. Recent research has been conducted into using bio-fuels to power which form of transport?
  7. Which vegetable has cholesterol-lowering properties, a strong, positive impact on the body’s detoxification system, and is a good source of vitamin D?
  8. Which mammal, with a worldwide population of about 250,000, uses their whiskers to find food, which often includes clams, mussels, and occasionally young seals?
  9. Which country won the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Heroes”?
  10. Seven new species of which amphibian have been discovered on seven different mountains in south-eastern Brazil?
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How to… protect wildlife at home

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The Wildlife TrustIf you want to enjoy the chirrup of birdsong, the red faces of goldfinches, the beauty of a butterfly border, or if you just want to help the environment, then here are some ideas and practical advice, enabling you to make space for wild plants and animals in your garden, terrace, or window ledge.

poppies and corn marigoldWildflower meadows

Not quite lost yet due to increased herbicide use and changed agricultural practices, wildflowers can be grown at home in a garden, hanging basket, or window box – so garden size is no excuse here! These pretty flowers provide hunting and feeding grounds for many insects, mammals, and birds, with many species being inter-dependent.

Tips for creating a wildflower wonderland!

Cunning containerscunning containers

Create hanging baskets, herb holders, mini meadows, and even a pond in a pot. These clever ideas introduce wildlife into more formal areas or smaller gardens.

Check out the innovative ideas!

 

Hedges for wildlife

Planting a hedge will greatly improve the habitat your garden provides. Even better, a thick hedge that is not over-pruned will provide homes and food for many insects and birds – it is a place for them to shelter, hibernate, nest, and feed.

Tips for creating a wildlife-filled hedge!

compostMaking compost

This money-saving idea will improve soil health, produce stronger and healthier plants, and create an excellent home for wildlife. It also reduces the amount of waste going to landfill!

Help with compost!

Recognising pest or guest?

There is an important equilibrium between garden pests and guests. Ensuring that there is a balance of good and bad insects existing for their mutual benefit is important for wildlife gardening.

Advice on creating pest-guest harmony!

Butterfly gardening

Butterfly

Butterflies’ high dependency on a limited number of plants makes them especially vulnerable in changing landscapes. To help stop their extinction, a variety of plants can be grown in sunny, sheltered spots, especially if ‘food plants’ are grown for their young.

Tips on attracting butterflies!

Feeding garden birds

Many bird species, such as song thrushes, sparrows, and starlings, are now listed as species of extreme concern. By putting a range of food in different locations around your garden you could attract up to 50 species of birds.

Advice on feeding garden birds!

 

Give these tips a try to improve the diversity of your garden, no matter how big or small. For further advice on creating homes for animals over the winter, garden bumblebees and trees, plus much more, take a look at the Wildlife Trust website!

To see why you should help the UK protect its wildlife check out this article!

Habitat conservation working for the Bittern

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The Bittern is one of the UK’s most threatened birds, but a new count by the RSPB reveals numbers are increasing.

Recording the numbers of this bird involves listening for their far-carrying calls, and this year so far over 150 have been recorded in England and Wales, with it being heard for the first time at Anglesey. This is already greater than the 140 total counted in 2014, and is greater than any time since the early 19th Century.

As 2015 has already been an exceptional year for the Bittern, it provides hope that conservation efforts to restore lost habitats can help other species. The bird lives, hunts, and breeds in reed beds on marshes and wetlands. Projects to restore wetlands have given the Bittern plenty of chance to recover from multiple near-extinction events.

bittern

BBC Article

Conservation of more bee species is needed

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beeIn the UK, just 2% of the most common wild bee species pollinate almost 80% of crops. This small percentage of bees are vital for crops such as oilseed rape, apples, and strawberries. However, protecting a wider range of species would also be beneficial, providing resilience against ecological shocks, including climate change.

Bees are important in UK ecosystems, their value for pollination has been estimated at £1 billion a year.

It is unlikely that the bee species that are vital for the UK currently will be the important species in the future, due particularly to the environmental changes caused by climate change. As the UK’s climate alters, so will the preferred crops for the environment. Without the correct bee species to pollinate the crops, the UK could suffer serious ecological disruption.

This is a worldwide problem as small numbers of common bee species are prevalent across the globe. Researchers say conservation efforts should be aimed at a wide number of species to maintain biodiversity and ensure food security, even those currently contributing little to crop pollination.

bees

The research adds to debate over the value of economic factors in conservation, with ‘ecosystem services’ (benefits gained from nature) being used as arguments in support of conservation efforts.

 

Find out more from this BBC Article!