Posts Tagged ‘environment’

The Nature of Cities: Film

Posted in Visions by Kate Archdeacon on December 9th, 2009

Source: How It Grows

Image: Congress Avenue Bridge, by jessicareeder via flickr CC

University of Virgina professor Timothy Beatly premiered his new film, The Nature of Cities, at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s Gillette Forum on October 29th. The film is an interesting overview of various ways in which nature and sustainable architecture are being incorporated into European and American cities. Geared towards people outside the design and science community, it’s a great introduction to the concept of urban nature.  The film has several interesting vignettes, like a car-free development that is so eerily quiet you can follow the sound of waves to find a nearby beach. Or a week-long bio-blitz of a canyon in San Diego that allows kids who were previously warned about the ‘danger’ of the local canyon to explore it and identify the native plants and insects.

The most striking story in the film features the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas, famous for its bat colony. The city has gone from trying to torch the bats under the bridge to setting up a protected area where crowds of people assemble to watch 1.5 million bats emerge in the evenings. Now, new bridges in Texas are being specifically designed to house bat colonies. Imagine if more of our buidings and infrastructure were built this way! It’s fascinating to see the shift in construction from environmentally harmful, to environmentally neutral, to environmentaly positive.

Source: How It Grows

New models of conservation: “Win The Best Holiday In The World”

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on November 16th, 2009

Source: EcoVoice

From: “Help Save The Cassowary And You Could Win A Holiday To Tropical North Qld”, by Mia Lucy

The Best Holiday in the World competition has been set up by the Australian Rainforest Foundation (ARF) to provide funds to purchase a 250km stretch of rainforest Cassowary habitat in far North Queensland to allow safe passage and breeding for the Cassowary.  Saving the big bird is a massive undertaking. The ARF’s response to this challenge is Operation Big Bird, launched globally in August 2009. The campaign brings together all levels of government, community groups and individuals, scientists, traditional owners, land managers and the corporate sector to work collaboratively towards a common goal.

“The Cassowary is the gardener of the Australian rainforest and its survival is vital for the health of the habitat,” says Warren Entsch, ARF Chairman. We refer to it as a keystone species because its existence is critical for the survival, food and shelter of many other plants and animals. These magnificent birds disperse the seeds of more than 200 rainforest plants through their droppings. If the Cassowary disappears, rainforests like the magnificent Daintree will irreversibly changed. Also, keep in mind this bird is of immense cultural significance to the local Indigenous population,” he says.  The goal is an ambitious Cassowary corridor, linking critical areas of habitat between Cooktown and Cardwell, a distance of more than 400km covering a wide variety of vegetation.

“This will be the largest wildlife corridor ever established in Australia and will be a world-first pilot project demonstrating how an industrialised nation can sustain an endangered wildlife population in its midst.” Read the rest of this entry »

Saving marine life with flowerpots

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on November 9th, 2009

Source: The Ecologist

Image: British Ecological Society

From “How to save marine life… with flowerpots” by Emma Bocking, 27th October, 2009

Although sea walls are a strong form of coastal defence they effectively wipe out rock pools which are important oases for marine life. Scientists in Sydney have found a solution involving flower pots…  As anyone who has ever been rockpooling before knows, these little pools of seawater can be a haven for marine life.  But when a natural shoreline is replaced with a vertical seawall, the gently sloping foreshore, along with its rockpools, vanishes.

Without rock pools the number and diversity of animals and plants species in the intertidal area plummets.  Two ecologists at the University of Sydney, Dr Mark Browne and Prof. Gee Chapman have come up with a solutions that is so simple you wonder it hasn’t been done before – flower pot pools.

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Build Bright Green Cities is one of the 10 Big, Really Hard Things We Can Do to Save the Planet

Posted in Movements by Devin Maeztri on May 8th, 2009

As part of this Worldchanging post is a section on sustainable cities.

Traditionally, [Earth Day] is a day devoted to making green accessible to all. It’s a day when each of us is invited to take small, individual steps toward reducing our carbon footprints, limiting our waste, or restoring the environment. See how easy it is – and how fun – to do your part to save the planet? (Worldchanging Team)

We are now an urban planet. In general, urbanization offers many benefits. But we need to design cities that allow people access to their greatest potential within a framework of sustainable prosperity. Bright green cities are designed so that residents have access to public parks, basic goods, entertainment, services and jobs within walking distance. Bright green cities include transit systems and mobility options to allow people to get from one place to another comfortably and on time without the use of a private vehicle. Bright green cities feature carbon-neutral buildings that are healthy for the people who live and work inside them. They use strategies like zero-waste plans and producer takeback laws to channel materials in closed loops.

Problems This Helps Solve: Because people who live close together use infrastructure and space much more efficiently, cities may just be our most powerful weapon against global warming. As the human population continues to grow on a planet that remains the same, our urban centers will continue to grow to accommodate those people’s needs for shelter and employment. If we design our cities well, they will become places where people can live in bright green prosperity, enjoying access to a larger number of goods and services. And with people concentrated in comfortable, happy, healthy cities, these urban centers will become incubators for the best ideas and innovations of the centuries to come.

To read more of the article visit WORLDCHANGING

New Food Policy Book: Integrating health, environment and society

Posted in Research by Devin Maeztri on May 7th, 2009

Food Policy: integrating health, environment and society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lang. T., Barling, D. & Caraher. M. (2009)

For over half a century, food policy has mapped a path for progress based upon a belief that the right mix of investment, scientific input, and human skills could unleash a surge in productive capacity which would resolve humanity’s food-related health and welfare problems. It assumed that more food would yield greater health and happiness by driving down prices, increasing availability, and feeding more mouths. In the 21st century, this policy mix is quietly becoming unstuck.

In a world marred by obesity alongside malnutrition, climate change alongside fuel and energy crises, water stress alongside more mouths to feed, and social inequalities alongside unprecedented accumulation of wealth, the old rubric of food policy needs re-evaluation. This book explores the enormity of what the new policy mix must address, taking the approach that food policy must be inextricably linked with public health, environmental damage, and social inequalities to be effective.

For more information visit Oxford University Press.

Launch of new Environment, Health and Development research network

Posted in Research by fedwards on March 23rd, 2009

A new Environment, Health and Development research network has been launched in 2009, funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council. Please see the website:

There will be an inaugural conference in June 2009. This will comprise an electronic conference and a symposium, where we will particularly explore the role of social science perspectives on themes linking environment, health and development, discuss different analytical approaches, and discuss ways forward for the network. The website gives details of how to join the network and how to apply for the symposium.
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Call for Contributors: Universities and Climate Change

Posted in Research by fedwards on November 21st, 2008

Climate change is a matter of global concern and specific sectors of society such as universities need to engage and be active in the search for regional and local solutions for what is a global problem. Despite the fact that many universities all around the world are undertaking remarkable efforts in tackling the challenges posed by climate change, few of such works are widely documented and disseminated. The book Universities and Climate Change will address this gap. It will be the world’s leading publication in the field and follow-up on “Climate 2008“.

The book will pursue three aims. Firstly, it will present a review of the approaches and methods to inform, communicate and educate university students and the public on climate change being used by universities around the world. Secondly, it will introduce initiatives, projects and communication strategies undertaken by universities with a view to informing different stakeholders and raising awareness on matters related to climate change. Finally, the book will document, promote and disseminate some of the on-going initiatives today all around the world, with an emphasis on replicable and inspiring projects being undertaken at and by
universities, aimed at encouraging a better understanding and a stronger personal involvement in climate change issues and inspiring more works in this field.
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Living Planet Report 2008

Posted in Research by Devin Maeztri on November 17th, 2008

This abstract was recently listed on Australian Policy Online. To see the original document visit Living Planet Report 2008.

Living planet report 2008
World Wildlife Fund
Posted: 30-10-2008

Australian’s exploitation of the environment is worse then ever, with the nation now boasting the fifth largest ecological footprint per capita in the world – up from sixth worst just two years ago – according to the WWF biennial assessment of the state of the natural world.

This report uses complementary measures to explore the changing state of global biodiversity and of human consumption. The Living Planet Index reflects the state of the planet’s ecosystems while the Ecological Footprint shows the extent and type of human demand being placed on these systems.

The Living Planet Index of global biodiversity, as measured by populations of 1,686 vertebrate species across all regions of the world, has declined by nearly 30 per cent over just the past 35 years.

For the first time in this report, the volume of data in the Living Planet Index has allowed species population trends to be analysed by biogeographic realm and taxonomic group as well as by biome. While biodiversity loss has levelled off in some temperate areas, the overall Living Planet Index continues to show a decline. It appears increasingly unlikely that even the modest goal of the Convention on Biological Diversity, to reduce by 2010 the rate at which global biodiversity is being lost, will be met.

To read the full document download the Living Planet Report 2008.

RSVP now for the Sustainable Cities Round Table on Healthy Cities!

Posted in Uncategorized by fedwards on October 23rd, 2008 and the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL) invite you to:

The Sustainable Cities Round Table on Healthy Cities
Village Roadshow Theatrette, The State Library of Victoria
6-8pm, Wednesday12 November 2008
A free event!

In partnership with the Australasian Centre for the Governance and Management of Urban Transport (GAMUT) and the State Library of Victoria.

Register your attendance to by 7 November.
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