Category Archives: Green

Photography awards raise wildlife awareness

Image

Fox Glance by Samuel Morris

There’s still time to enter the British Wildlife Photography Awards 2014, which aim to raise awareness about British wildlife and celebrate our national heritage.

Winners and commended entrants will have their work showcased in a touring exhibition and stunning book. The awards will be presented by TV presenter Chris Packham, who said: “Anything that raises the public’s awareness of the importance to conserve and protect British wildlife is very close to my heart, and these awards afford a spectacular insight into the habitat and behaviour of our British wildlife.”

Entry is free for young people and the first prize is £5,000. The competition is open until midnight on Saturday, 3 May, and the winners will be announced in September.

Image

Pic by George Karbus, last year’s overall winner.

Former football star becomes an eco warrior

Image

Gary with his eco friendly hybrid car. Pic: Getty

Former Manchester United star Gary Neville has co-founded Sustainability In Sport with the aim of helping clubs and supporters become more eco friendly.

He’s also become an eco-building developer, including designing his own zero-carbon home. “I’m driving a plug-in hybrid Vauxhall Ampera,” Neville told The Metro newspaper recently. “I’ve put three tanks of petrol in it in eight months, which I’m proud of, and I really do want to do as much as I can for the environment. I want to promote green issues as much as possible and make people aware.”

Even before retiring in 2011, Neville, who is now a Sky TV pundit, was embracing a green lifestyle with plans for an eight-bedroom underground eco home. “The key for me is to live in a low-impact house that performs the best it can,” he said.

“There have been some criticisms over the design but I’m not really bothered about it. I’ve got thick skin; I’ve been criticised all my life. It was more to do with erecting a wind turbine but I take great pride in the fact there are now three wind turbines that have gone up within a mile of the site since mine got through planning. I don’t know whether people just slipped theirs under the radar while I was getting battered but it’s a positive thing.”

Neville also donated the proceeds from his farewell testimonial match with Manchester United to Sustainability In Sport. “Sport is a very important element in society and there is an environmental impact,’ he says. ‘I’m not saying get rid of anything because there is so much good that comes out of sport, so much enjoyment, but sensible decisions can be made at zero cost that add even bigger positives environmentally, so clubs actually save money.”

Neville, who is now on the England team coaching staff, is hoping some of his fellow footballers will come on board and join the cause, but says: “It has to be someone who is actually looking to improve. What you don’t want is people doing it for the wrong reasons; you have to believe in it and want to do it.”

Anger as pesticides escape European ban

Rally calling on the EU to ban the use of bee poisons and other pesticides in Brussels

Pic: Eric Vidal/Reuters

There was widespread anger as the European proposal to protect bees from toxic pesticides failed to get a majority.

Campaigners across the continent hoped the European Commission’s proposed two-year suspension of neonicotinoids would be passed, but major nations, including UK and Germany, failed to back the plan in a vote on Friday.

The result leaves environmental campaigners, scientists and some politicians bitterly disappointed. “Britain and Germany have caved in to the industry lobby and refused to ban bee-killing pesticides” said Iain Keith, of the campaign group Avaaz. “Today’s vote flies in the face of science and public opinion and maintains the disastrous chemical armageddon on bees, which are critical for the future of our food.

“But the European Commission will appeal the decision and can still get it adopted! This week we got Spain on our side, let’s keep up the pressure on Germany, the UK and other countries who abstained or opposed today.”

Suspensions have previously been put in place in France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia, but the EC proposal would have applied across all 27 member states. Many major agricultural nations, including France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Poland, voted for the ban, while the UK and Germany abstained, with Hungary and Romania leading those opposed.

However, the ban could still be enforced within months if the EC takes the decision to an appeals committee. Friday’s vote, by member states’ experts on the standing committee on the food chain and animal health, saw 13 nations in favour of the ban, five abstaining and nine opposing, meaning there was no majority for or against.

Plastic waste linked with UK shops kills whale

National Geographic

Pic: National Geographic

There was some sad news today when it was reported that a dead sperm whale washed up on the southern Spanish coast had swallowed 17kg of plastic waste dumped into the sea by farmers tending greenhouses that produce vegetables for British supermarkets.

The 4.5 tonne whale had swallowed 59 different bits of plastic – most of it thick transparent sheeting used to build greenhouses in southern Almeria and Granada, reported The Guardian. The plastic had eventually blocked the animal’s stomach and killed it, according to researchers from Doñana national park research centre in Andalusia.

In all the whale’s stomach contained two dozen pieces of transparent plastic, some plastic bags, nine metres of rope, two stretches of hosepipe, two small flower pots and a plastic spray canister. All were typical of the Almeria greenhouses where plants are grown in beds of perlite stones and drip-fed chemical fertilisers.  Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s are all valued customers.

Environmentalists complain that local riverbeds are often awash with plastic detritus and  some ends up in the sea. “The problem of degraded plastics that are no longer recyclable still remains,” said Renaud de Stephanis, lead researcher at Doñana. “These animals feed in waters near an area completely flooded by the greenhouse industry, making them vulnerable to its waste products if adequate treatment of this industry’s debris is not in place.”

The news came just two days after British actor Jeremy Irons told a conference that people must overhaul their habits of “unadulterated consumerism” if the EU is to curb its huge waste problem.

The European Commission hosted the conference in Brussels  to announce the publication  of the EU’s green paper on plastic waste. It aims to launch discussions about how to make plastic products more sustainable throughout their life cycle and reduce the impact of plastic discards on the environment.

“We have time for things we think are important,” said Irons. “If people were made aware of the follow on [of waste disposal]… Unadulterated consumerism will not work. Now it is really time to think. The old model, especially in this part of the world, hasn’t worked well.”

Welsh charity hits £2m rainforest target

crymlyn-primary-school-swansea-small-585-150-90

Welsh campaigners have protected an area of rainforest the size of Wales (that’s 2 million hectares), after they hit their £2m target yesterday, St David’s Day.

The Size of Wales charity was launched in 2010 to bring everyone in Wales together as part of a national response to climate change, and the conservation projects that will benefit include:

  • An RSPB project in Sierra Leone’s Gola rainforest.
  • A project to help the Ashaninka people to preserve forest in Peru.
  • A new legally protected area in Madagascar. Funds here will pay for a sustainable forestry management, educating people to understand the risks of overexploitation, and strengthening land rights.

The charity will now focus on encouraging other countries to set up similar initiatives.  The Welsh Environment Minister, John Griffiths, said: “I am very proud of Wales. We are the first country in the world to help to protect an area of tropical forests equivalent to its own size and I am calling on other countries to follow our lead – for the benefit of our climate, our forests and the wildlife and people that depend upon them.”

Denmark is considering launching a tropical forest initiative equivalent to its size (4 million hectares) and Ireland has launched the Size of Phoenix Park project as a first step in improving tropical forest protection.