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.
trees & plant life
In the 1960’s David Bamberger owned a successful fried chicken business with over 1600 outlets in the United States (For perspective, there are less than 400 KFC’s in India today.) Then he decided to sell off his business and put the capital into buying some 5500 acres of the most degraded land he could find
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.
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 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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
“A forest is much more than what you see,” says forest ecologist Suzanne Simard. Her 30 years of research in Canadian forests have led to an astounding discovery—trees talk, often and over vast distances. Learn more about the harmonious yet complicated social lives of trees and prepare to see the natural world with new eyes.
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.
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.
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 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).
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.