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trees & plant life

Bees are disappearing in India – and we are slowly learning why

From Scroll.in: Honeybees, which play a vital role in pollinating food crops, are declining at an alarming rate in India. It is not just pesticides that are contributing to their decline. Ironically, it might be the very efforts to promote bees in India that could be leading to a further decline in their diversity and prevalence.

Environmentalism used to be about defending the wild – not any more

From The Guardian: According to Paul Kingsnorth, environmentalism’s increasingly urban mindset means that instead of defending wild places we now spend our time arguing how to best domesticate these wild places –deserts, oceans, mountains– to generate the “green” energy needed to fuel things that, until recently, we couldn’t even imagine, let alone claim to need.

Paul Kingsnorth: The Axis and the Sycamore

The Axial Age, which refers to the historical period between the eighth and third centuries BC, was a period of profound transformations, which created “the foundations upon which humanity still subsists today,” a period of collapse from which emerged new ways of seeing and being… We may be living through a second Axial Age now…

The Bishnois, India’s original environmentalists, who inspired the Chipko movement

The Bishnois may be considered as India’s first environmentalists. The famous ‘Chipko Movement’ was inspired by the true story of Amrita Devi Bishnoi, who refused to let the king’s men cut trees in her village. Her head was severed. More than 300 people who did the same were killed for trying to protect the trees.

Vanishing Borneo: Saving one of the world’s last great places

From Yale Environment 360: Borneo is ground zero for oil palm devastation. The most ancient and species-rich forest on earth, it has also had highest deforestation rate on the planet, and in recorded history. Consumers of the countless products made with palm oil, from toothpaste to chocolate bars, now hold the key to protecting it.

Suzanne Simard on the networked beauty of forests

From Yale Environment 360: Ecologist Suzanne Simard, now at the University of British Columbia, has pioneered research into how trees communicate. She has shown how trees use a network of soil fungi to convey their needs and aid neighboring plants. Now she’s warning that threats like clear-cutting and climate change could disrupt these critical networks.

Daripalli Ramaiah: The man who planted (ten million!) trees

Daripalli Ramaiah, recently awarded the Padmashri, India’s third highest civilian honour, has dedicated his life to increasing the country’s green cover and in the process has been credited with planting one crore saplings. The fight of Ramaiah to plant trees was not alone, as his wife Janamma has also made significant contribution to tree planting.

How scientists counted every tree on Earth—and the startling results

From Nature Video: It’s a simple question: how many trees are there on Earth? The answer required 421,529 measurements from fifty countries on six continents. Their findings? The earth is losing 10 billion trees every year. Now this data has been combined to produce a stunning visualisation of earth as you’ve never seen it before.

The hipster hunger for superfoods is starving India’s adivasis

Purabi Bose writes: The downside of turning quinoa, acai berries of Amazon forests, or even moringa (drumstick) into new superfoods is that urban consumers compete with indigenous peoples for food resources. Through our demand for superfoods, we push indigenous populations to eat cheaper, less nutritious, less flavourful, imported staple diets like maize, rice and wheat.

The end of nature: Why India is becoming a drier, hotter and angrier country

Samar Halarnkar writes: In Nature in the City, her evocative exploration of Bangalore’s natural history, Harini Nagendra, says, “… residents engaged in practices such as placing a plate of warm rice (often with ghee added) outside to feed crows, leaving water baths for birds in the summer, and sugar and milk for ants and reptiles.”

Watch: “Good nutrition begins in healthy soils”

There’s no such thing as ‘healthy food’ if it’s not produced by sustainable farming systems on living soils, Patrick Holden told the recent ‘Food: The Forgotten Medicine’ conference. But after 70 years of industrial farming, there’s a huge job to be done to restore depleted soils and the impoverished genetic diversity of seeds and crops.

Video & Review: The Hidden Life of Trees

Trees operate on very different time-scales from the ones we are used to, both in terms of life-spans and in terms of how long it takes them to process information and translate it into action. Is this the main reason why we find it so difficult to recognise them as truly sentient beings, Wohlleben wonders.

The secrets of the Wood Wide Web

Robert Macfarlane reports:  Individual plants are joined to one another by an underground hyphal network: a dazzlingly complex and collaborative structure that is often called the Wood Wide Web. It allows plants to distribute resources —sugar, nitrogen, and phosphorus— between one another. Even more remarkably, the network also allows plants to send one another warnings.

Video: This ‘botanical explorer’ believes that plants are our future

Crystal Stevens writes: Joseph Simcox is an ethnobotanist who has an intrinsic fascination with nature’s wonders. This ‘botanical explorer’, travels the world finding rare and even new plants. He believes that plants are our future, and passionately teaches the importance of symbiotic relationships between us and plants for us to live well on this planet.

Bharat Mansata: The rich diversity of forest foods

Almost two decades back, about two dozen of us pooled resources to buy undulating land, now known as Vanvadi, in the foothills of the Sahyadris; our primary aim – ecological regeneration and local self-reliance. A survey of the botanical wealth of Vanvadi surprised us with 52 plant species of uncultivated forest foods that provide edible.

Vanishing act: Why insects are declining and why it matters

Christian Schwägerl writes: According to data for 452 species, there has been a 45 percent decline in invertebrate populations over the past 40 years. So far, only the decline of honeybee populations has received attention, mostly because of their vital role in pollinating food crops. The rest of the insect world has been widely ignored.

The dying gulmohars of Bangalore and urban India’s forbidding future

The de-greening of India’s cities is creating water-starved heat-islands. Bangalore may be India’s most drastic example, but the short-sighted assault on greenery is nationwide. Projections show that in 2030, Kolkata’s vegetation cover will be just 3.37% (from 34% in 1980), Ahmedabad’s 3% (from 37% in 1990) and Bangalore’s 14% by 2020 (from 46% in 1992).

Red alert: India’s technology capital headed for system failure

Recent research by IISc reveals startling numbers on Bangalore’s reckless urbanization and its consequences: during 1973–2016 (1005% concretization or increase of paved surface) has had a telling influence on the natural resources, such as decline in green spaces (88% decline in vegetation), wetlands (79% decline), higher air pollutants and a sharp decline in groundwater table.

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