Green Pioneers Interview: Yours Sustainably

To help celebrate the work of green pioneers and share great environmental achievements with the world we have decided to produce a series of interviews with a huge range of green champions from across the world.

YS LogoLynn and Jessica are behind Yours Sustainably, an online store selling carefully sourced products from around the globe. They sell only sustainable, socially responsible, recycled or eco-friendly gifts and accessories, and donate 10% of their profits each month to charities that focus on sustainable development.

Tell us about what you do?
We are the mother and daughter team behind Yours Sustainably, an online store launched in 2011 selling ethically sourced products from around the world. Our business idea grew from our love of craft and the environment and our concern for future of the planet and the people in it.

about us picWe promote ‘positive consumerism’ by sourcing sustainable products that fulfil at least one of our criteria of being fair trade, socially responsible, recycled or eco-friendly. We firmly believe that sustainable products can be beautiful, desirable and functional, and that shopping for ethical, environmentally sensitive goods shouldn’t involve compromising your wants and needs. We tell the story of each product through dedicated supplier pages so that our customers can learn more about these inspiring companies and hopefully make better-informed choices about the things they buy.

We also encourage our suppliers to write guest blogs for us and involve ourselves in charitable and fundraising activities, as raising awareness of sustainable issues and charitable endeavours are an equally important aspect of our business.

worldWhat is your background?
Daughter, Jessica:
I studied Textile Design at Chelsea College of Art and Design after which I moved to Cairo, Egypt. Whilst living in Cairo I worked for a socially responsible luxury bed linen company Malaika, which specialises in hand embroidery. The company teaches local women to hand embroider and once they have completed the training program they can work from home so that they have a chance to earn an income without disrupting their family and social norms.

Since being back in the UK I have been involved with the charity Fine Cell Work and menswear designer Trine Lindegaard on a project working with male prisoners in embroidery and design workshops. I will begin a Masters in Fashion and the Environment at London College of Fashion in September, where I hope to start a women’s embroidery cooperative.

Mother, Lynn: I have always loved craft and am very keen on knitting, sewing and gardening. I took full advantage of adult education classes in a variety of craft based subjects whilst my family were growing up and am now embracing being a business woman; making use of my banking background and developing my new found social media skills!

P1040024What work have you done so far to develop?
Our business is growing and we now have over 40 different suppliers from around the world. We are continuing our search for innovative, well designed sustainable products and learning new sustainable related information every day. For instance one of our latest suppliers is Wremade, a great charity that is part of Wre Scrapstore. By stocking their great craft kits and interviewing them for our blog we have learnt about the amazing network of scrapstores across the UK that collect waste material from local businesses and offer it for sale to schools, community and craft groups.

We were involved in the charity, Find Your Feet’s ‘Curry For Change’ event last year, which involved cooking a curry feast for friends and offering some great raffle prizes. This year we are organising a swishing event in aid of the charity Women for Women. We are always looking to increase our own awareness of sustainable issues which we can also pass on to our customers. We recently watched the documentary, ‘Trashed’ which is about the global waste crisis and was part of the UK Green Film festival. Our review and thoughts on the film can be found on our blog.

What plans do you have for the future?
For the future we would like to continue expanding our product range and produce our own range of products. This is something I [Jessica] will be exploring within my masters program. We would also like to continue with our fundraising efforts, looking at different ways and events to raise money for worthwhile causes. We will continue to build on ways to communicate our message of positive consumerism and raise awareness of sustainable issues with our customers.

cupsWhy do you think this work is so important?
It is generally accepted that the way we are living, using the planet’s resources, destroying natural habitats and exploiting developing countries is not sustainable. There needs to be a change in government and foreign policies and the practices of large corporations to place more emphasis on sustainable solutions to social and environmental issues. As individuals we can make changes in our living habits such as making an effort to reduce our waste production and recycle. We love our reusable sandwich and food wraps and reusable drinks bottles as it means we no longer need to use cling film or tinfoil for our lunches. With small changes and increased awareness we will be able to put pressure on governments and corporations to change their agendas.

What can people do to take part?
Duck_StripeSailor_HiResWe are hoping that there is a wave of people that are becoming more aware and more interested in sustainable issues. Obviously we would love people to support our business ethos and suppliers by shopping on our site and becoming more aware in general of the choices they make as a consumer. As stated previously we hope to encourage people to change their behaviour in their daily lives, whether it is carrying a reusable shopping bag so that we can eliminate the use of plastic bags, supporting ethical designers who work with developing communities or following Vivienne Westwood’s wise words of ‘buy less, choose well and make it last.’

What green issues are you most passionate about?
We strongly advocate the adoption of a ‘slow fashion’ approach and a move away from a disposable consumerist culture. We want to see more transparency in supply chains from large companies and more responsibility for the welfare of their workers and environmental practices. We highly recommend Lucy Siegle’s book To Die For, Is Fashion Wearing Out The World? for anyone that wants to learn more about the environmental and social impacts of the fashion industry. The choices and actions we make in life are all interrelated, so each ‘green issue’ is equally important to the other.

Check them out online http://www.yourssustainably.com/

What is permaculture?

What is permaculture?

Permaculture can be described as humans dance with nature where nature takes the lead. The word comes from ‘permanent agriculture’ and was later broadened to include ‘permanent culture’ – it is about living lightly on the planet and making sure that we can sustain human activities for many generations to come, in harmony with nature.

This combines three key aspects:

1. an ethical framework

2. understandings of how nature works, and

3. a design approach.

Permaculture diagram

Permaculture diagram

This unique combination can be applied to anything from a market garden design to a large farm or even a building. Its purpose is to support the creation of sustainable, agriculturally productive, non-polluting and healthy settlements and systems. In many places this means adapting our existing settlements; in other cases it can mean starting from scratch. Both offer interesting challenges and opportunities but some may look at permaculture and ask ‘have we not been doing this already for thousands of years?’

The history of permaculture

Given the mirror-like relationship between indigenous peoples and the natural world, it would appear so. We can see permaculture principles at play when we observe the innovative ways the Amazonians have created top soils despite the rapid ruin of rainforests or, the Aboriginal’s use of control burning techniques to germinate seeds and shape the landscape.

Amazonian top-soil

Amazonian top-soil [via purefixion.com]

However, in many ways permaculture has become a more essential practice after the intensification of agriculture post-World War Two and the ways it has allowed the world’s population to grow in excess of its natural capacity and resulted in a dangerous consumption of fossil fuels. Since then, permaculture has become an international movement; hundreds of specifically designed permaculture sites have been developed and it was endorsed by the White House in 2012.

How can it help you?

Permaculture is there to address our needs without producing a huge carbon footprint, mimicking the natural laws of nature and catching energy in multiple ways before it is dissipated. It can also be a way of observing the relationships between plants, which has in the past led us to further understanding how companion crops and undersowing in your garden can produce maximum yield, minimal waste. For example, the ‘three sisters’ are a good crop companion to try at home; a pea plant, squash and maize plant all work well to support each other as the maize offers the pea support to climb up, the pea fixes nitrogen in the soil for the maize and when the maize dies and decomposes it feeds the undersown squash.

'Three sisters' crop companions

‘Three sisters’ crop companions

Humans need to learn to live more reciprocally and reverse the alienation that mechanisation and industrial society has brought. Permaculture is a reaction to this alienation: a choice to restore and maintain the balance which keeps so many natural systems in delicate relatedness. A true working natural system produces no waste; everything gets broken down and used again. Why should it be any different in human settlements? The excess use of both fertilisers and pesticides in large scale farms has killed much of the microbial soil life and it also has a direct relationship with the existence of cancer in humans.

What can you do?

1- Think about where your food comes from. You can convert lawns to grow your own food, especially vegetables. Alternatively, you can try to source as much of your food from local and organic sources, or find out about local veg-box schemes.

2- Conduct a simple home energy audit. Permaculture is not just for the green-fingered among us; it can simply mean reducing waste energy and water use and instead harnessing natural resources. This isn’t as stressful as it sounds! It’s as simple as turning off lights when they aren’t needed, keeping the thermostat at a lower temperature and putting on a sweater, or choosing not to use machines like dishwashers or tumble dryers when air drying could be just as effective.

3- Watch A Farm for the Future to find out how else you can help. It’s an interesting documentary that looks at the problems with large-scale farming practices and addresses how permaculture can offer a real solution.

Permanence is not about everything staying the same. It’s about stability, about deepening soils and cleaner water, thriving communities in self-reliant regions, biodiverse agriculture and social justice, peace and abundance for all.

4-Free online permaculture course by Regenerative Leadership Institute –  72+hour course lectures free (mostly videos) at http://www.permaculturedesigntraining.com.

This post was written by Jennifer Condell who is the newest member of the Healthy Planet team and has studied Permaculture / Practical Sustainability in West Cork Ireland. http://www.kinsalefurthered.ie/courses/fetac-level-5/permaculture-2/

A Meating of Minds

A single burger with a whopping £345,000 price tag might spark images of heavily pampered cows roaming through fields of plush organic grasslands with a solid gold, cashmere quilted temple of a cow shed in the background, but in reality these high production costs can not be attributed to extreme cattle pampering. Instead these burgers are produced in a petri-dish by men and women in white coats, without a gleaming blade of grass in sight.

Image provided by Rosamundwo on www.friendseat.com

Image provided by Rosamundwo on http://www.friendseat.com

With sustainability being such a prevalent issue, we are all being told different ways we should help to reduce our carbon footprint. Fortunately supermarkets are more frequently offering organic meats and farmers markets are popping up left, right and centre. However, to what extent would switching to artificial meats tempt you into action, particularly with the latest horse meat controversy which has forced  consumers to question what ingredients are really entering their meals.

Logistics Executive Richard Wigley  Living next to a main road for most of my life taught me to respect the great outdoors, so I always appreciated and enjoyed wild excursions, camping and learning about flora and fauna. After leaving college I went through 8 years of working in an eclectic array of jobs in the theatre, hospitality and bar industries. I then decided on a career change and spoke to a Careers Guidance Counsellor who reminded me of my love for the great outdoors. I then decided to pursue a job in conservation. I have worked at Healthy Planet since November 2011 as a logistics executive. I deal with booking the deliveries for daily requests of books for our stores, requests from other independent organisations, ordering stock, setting up fire risk assessments, ordering the necessary fire equipment for each store, organising access, liaising and catching up with our dedicated volunteers, collecting quotes, stock taking and most importantly, making tea. I love the attention to detail involved in this role, the budgeting of resources, when a delivery comes together and working with such a helpful and happy team. I am grateful for each day I come into the office and always with a smile on my face, unless someone has “borrowed” my pens. Or my chair.

Cows in a field

Most of us only want real meat in our stomach which has been grown on a farm, not in a lab. In addition due to our increased prosperity over the last 100 years and the increased availability of meat, our diet has evolved to include meat daily.

What we need to take into consideration is how many other people also want an abundance of naturally grown meat in their diets?

The realistic answer would be mostly everyone, which is a very large amount.

Some meaty facts: 

– Each individual meat-eater consumes around 60 – 100 animals every year.

– According to viva.org the total number of animals killed in British slaughterhouses in 2011 was over 958 million. This included 8.5 million pigs, nearly 15 million sheep, 931 million chickens and 2.8 million cattle. This is  equivalent to 15,000 per minute. That’s a lot of animals.

– Environmental charity Friends of the Earth, has claimed that UK Factory farmers are contributing to the destruction of an area of Brazilian rain forest and grassland twice the size of Greater London every single year.  In addition in a report named From Forest to Fork, Friends of the Earth estimates that British imports of beef and soy for animal feed resulted in an additional 1200 square miles of deforestation in Brazil in 2009.

– The 2006 the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report names Livestock’s Long Shadow´ concluded that the livestock industry is responsible for 18% of global CO2 emissions. Now take into consideration that the greenhouse gases released by all forms of transportation combined, amounts to 13% of the total emissions in comparison.

–  Environmental author John Robbins calculates it takes 60, 108, 168 and 229 pounds of water to produce one pound of potatoes, wheat, maize and rice respectively. But a pound of beef requires around more than 20,000 pounds of water (or 9000 litres) of fresh water.

Source: Livestock and Climate Change

Source: Livestock and Climate Change

What is the solution?

These  facts outline just a few of the repercussions of pastoral farming. But before we decide that this blog is the ranting of a raging vegetarian, let’s get this straight. I’m a meat eater myself and have been born and bred as such. I mean, with a Spanish mum and an English dad, I stood little chance of being a veggie between my dinners of sausages and mash and chicken paella’s! But looking at these stats does make me think and also makes me want to change my diet.

So what’s it going to be then? Eat meat and negatively contribute towards an increasingly unsustainable planet that’s already starting to crack? Eat meat born of a mad scientists mind and made in a lab but much more sustainable? Or change to a healthy but potentially boring diet of just fruit and veg for the rest of your life? Here are some alternatives which offer a happy medium:

1) Meatless Mondays – this challenge provides you with the opportunity to make a small change to your diet without signing away your appetite. On Mondays we move from the freedom of the weekend and set our intentions for the next six days. This makes Monday the perfect day to make a change for your health and the health of our planet. Find about more about the health benefits (including a reduced risk of contracting cancer, heart disease and diabetes), environmental benefits (including reducing your carbon footprint) and browse a range of inspiring recipes  on the Meatless Monday website.

2) Fresh food Friday’s – similar to Meatless Monday’s but encourages you to get into the kitchen and cook you food from scratch. For just one day a week you can swear off shop brought sandwiches and ready meals and get creative and healthier.

3) Buy local, buy fresh, buy organic – source your meats from local butchers to support your local communities and significantly reduce the carbon footprint of your meals. By buying fresh and organic foods you are reducing the levels of preservatives and chemicals entering your body and the environment.  There are a range of website available which can help you source local farmers markets including the Guardian local shopping map, Local Foods and London’s Farmers Markets.

 

This is a guest post by Healthy Planet’s Logistics Executive Richard Wigley

Living next to a main road for most of my life taught me to respect the great outdoors, so I always appreciated and enjoyed wild excursions, camping and learning about flora and fauna.

After leaving college I went through 8 years of working in an eclectic array of jobs in the theatre, hospitality and bar industries.

I then decided on a career change and spoke to a Careers Guidance Counselor who reminded me of my love for the great outdoors. I then decided to pursue a job in conservation.

I have worked at Healthy Planet since November 2011 as a logistics executive. I deal with booking the deliveries for daily requests of books for our stores, requests from other independent organisations, ordering stock, setting up fire risk assessments, ordering the necessary fire equipment for each store, organizing access, to liaise and catch up with our dedicated volunteers, collecting quotes, stock taking and most importantly, making tea.

I love the attention to detail involved in this role, the budgeting of resources, when a delivery comes together and working with such a helpful and happy team. I am grateful for each day I come into the office and always with a smile on my face, unless someone has “borrowed” my pens. Or my chair.

Green Pioneers Interview: Catherine O’Brien on Sustainable Happiness

To help celebrate the work of green pioneers and share great environmental achievements with the world we have decided to produce a series of interviews with a huge range of green champions from across the world. 

To kick-start our series we have interviewed Catherine O’Brien who developed the concept of sustainable happiness – a theory which examines the integral link between happiness and sustainability.

Catherine O'BrienSustainable happiness reinforces the fact that we are interdependent with one another and with the natural environment and therefore our mutual well-being is in-explicitly interconnected. 

Catherine defines her concept as:
”Happiness that contributes to individual, community and global well-being and does not exploit other people, the environment, or future generations”.

Sustainable Happiness

So Catherine, what is your background? How did you come up with this concept?

My background is in sustainability education. Whilst I was at the Barefoot College in Rajasthan, India I began to think about the relationship between happiness and sustainability during my doctoral research. The college itself had an award-winning and extraordinary education process for sustainable community development. I lived there with my husband and two young children and truly felt that we were living in a culture of joy. This therefore inspired my first notion back in 1995, that people might be happier if we lived sustainably.

Later, as I became more familiar with positive psychology I realised that happiness research was very consistent with sustainability. However, most of the happiness literature didn’t make a connection with sustainability and the sustainability literature didn’t make a connection with happiness.

Also, the media had picked up on the happiness buzz and were often equating their products with happiness. It struck me that it could be valuable to have a concept that reinforces the connection between sustainability and happiness. I felt that sustainable happiness could assist individuals, organisations and nations to find new ways to foster happiness, well-being and sustainability.

The Happiest Cities in the World [Infographic]

What work have you done so far to help develop this concept?

I have created a university course on sustainable happiness that I teach at the Cape Breton University in Canada. I have also co-developed a course for UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health that integrates sustainability, happiness and health. Whilst developing these courses I was frequently asked about creating a course for the general public so I worked with colleagues, Rick Foster and Greg Hicks, and my husband Ian Murray who is a filmmaker to create an online course for everyone.

Since my field is education, I have also developed a free education resource for teachers which includes sustainable happiness lesson plans. In addition I have been involved in research that investigated the emotional experience of children and their parents on the trip to school. I see the positive emotions that children experience while walking to school as an example of sustainable happiness. Our research has found that children who walk to school reported more positive emotions than children to who were transported passively. The results were even more dramatic for parents. Parents who walked to school with their children reported more positive emotions than parents who drove their children.

You can see a full list of my publications and presentations on my website.

What plans do you have for the future?

I will be publishing a book very soon called ‘Lessons in Sustainable Happiness’. The first part of the book is specifically for teachers to enhance their happiness and well-being. The remainder of the book includes sustainable happiness for grades K-9.

I am very interested in encouraging municipalities to recognize how they are currently fostering sustainable happiness and also what measures they could take to enhance this. I’ve teamed up with 8-80 cities to create a brief brochure that outlines sustainable happiness for municipalities. We often see reports about the world’s happiest cities. I’d like to see the conversation expand to incorporate sustainability with happiness.

Why do you think this is so important?

It is important for all of us to understand that every day our life touches and is touched by other people, other species and the natural environment. We are deeply interconnected, but those interconnections aren’t always visible or obvious. Consequently, in a consumer society we can lose sight of the fact that we are all making daily choices that contribute or detract from, well-being.  I believe that sustainable happiness can make those connections more clear, and encourage people to make choices that contribute to their well-being and the well-being of other people and the environment.

196649_361785440564836_1765972281_nOur formal education systems haven’t taught us explicitly about happiness and I think it is important for all of us to develop a happiness literacy. I also believe that learning about sustainable happiness can assist with positive mental health.

Another factor is that indulging in over consumption is neither the path to happiness nor sustainability. Sustainable happiness can assist us to shift towards more sustainable lifestyles whilst maintaining a high quality of life.

Sustainable happiness week

Sustainable happiness week

What can people do to take part?

There are lots ways that individuals can have a sustainable happiness lifestyle. One of the activities that I give my students is the Sustainable Happiness Footprint Chart. They can use that to chart their activities for a day, a week, or longer to notice how daily choices are impacting their well being.

There are a range of other activities on my website and suggestions in a recent article entitled ‘Sustainable Happiness? 6 ways to Get There‘ in YES! magazine.

You can also take part in Sustainable Happiness week from April 13th – 20th
http://www.happycounts.org/about-sustainable-happiness-week/

Are you passionate about green issues if so which?

Absolutely! That’s part of sustainable happiness!

A key area where my work has focused is on child friendly planning and creating municipalities that support active travel for children. I also co-developed Child Friendly Planning Guidelines for Canada. Sustainable happiness links happiness and sustainability together. It reinforces the fact that we are interdependent with one another and the natural environment – that our mutual well-being is interconnected. It can also be used as a road map to explore what truly makes your heart sing.

Help Ensure a Future for South Georgia’s Wildlife

South Georgia is a unique and beautiful place. Along with having a rich human heritage, it is also home to a wide range of marine and terrestrial wildlife from elephant seals to King Penguins! The island is particularly famous for its seabirds and is considered as one of the most important seabird islands in the world. Tragically many of the species which live there face the risk of extinction.

King Penguin - Roy Bishop

King Penguin – Roy Bishop

The main reason for this has been the introduction of Norwegian Brown rats as a result of sealing and whaling activities in the area. Although such practices have been stopped, the island is still suffering from the devastation caused by these destructive little creatures.  The rats developed a taste for the chicks and eggs of ground-nesting bird species such as the Storm Petrel, Prions and Blue Petrels. As a result, many of these lovely birds have fled the island leaving it bare.

Black browed Albatross chick - Ewan Edwards

Black browed Albatross chick – Ewan Edwards

On top of all this, climate change is making things worse. Global warming is causing South Georgia’s glaciers to melt at a rapid rate.  Such glaciers have been acting as barriers, protecting certain areas from this invasion of the rats. If these remaining barriers disappear, the few surviving bird populations are likely to flow suit.

To the rescue!

Healthy Planet’s conservation partners, South Georgian Heritage Trust (SGHT) have been working hard to protect the current wildlife on the island and prevent any further damage. In order to achieve this, the trust has embarked on the largest habitat restoration project ever attempted. The aim of this ground-breaking project is to save the island’s native birds from extinction by eradicating all introduced rodents from South Georgia by 2015. This is a mammoth task and the first phase alone approximately cost a whopping £7million in total! With the support of Healthy Planet, the SGHT has managed to complete the fundraising for Phase 1 (clearance of rodents from trial areas around King Edward Point and Grytviken) is complete!

Image by Deirdre Galbraith

Image by Deirdre Galbraith

Looking to the future…

The SGHT now urgently needs help to raise the funds for Phase 2 of the project – eradicating rodents form the remainder of South Georgia. This will cost another £5.5 million.

Healthy Planet has recently received a Project update from, Tony Martin, the Project Director, in which he beautifully depicted the splendor of South Georgia as well as the trials and tribulations they face in such a challenging environment.

Helicopter flying over icecap with bait bucket - Tony Martin

Helicopter flying over icecap with bait bucket – Tony Martin

In February 2013 ‘Team Rat’, as Tony describes them, embarked on the exciting journey known as Phase 2. Before first light people were up and about on deck and within the 24 hours the team had pulled enough supplies to clear rats from 77 square km of the island (25 tons of bait and 108 drums of fuel). After having unloaded the most precious cargo, the helicopters, Team Rat was ready to start the difficult task of depositing the supplies to 14 different sites around the island.

Despite severe weather conditions, including blizzards and gale force winds, the team have already successfully managed to set up bases around the south coast and western end of the island.  They are now coming to the end of this labour intensive process, with only a few days to go before they begin the all-important bating work.

Helicopter flying over icecap with bait bucket - Tony Martin

Helicopter flying over icecap with bait bucket – Tony Martin

‘Team Rat’ needs your support! By donating today you are can help the South Georgia Heritage Trust to preserve the island and its natural heritage.

For more information about the Habitat Restoration Project visit http://www.sght.org/

By Nicole Costantini

Join the Fish Fight!

You most likely know this already, but Hugh’s Fish Fight is back. The media storm surrounding the TV chef’s sustainable fishing campaigns has steadily been growing, and on Monday 25th February, fish-loving members of the public gathered en masse in front of the Houses of Parliament in London to show that we are concerned about the future of our seas.Image

If you recall, first time around Hugh and co. were battling for a halt to be put to the terrifying quantity of fresh fish being discarded on fishing vessels all over the world, due to their unmarketability. A recent breakthrough, which the Fish Fight undoubtedly contributed to, has meant that MEPs have banned the discarding of edible fish for stocks including herring and whiting from January of next year, with a ban for white fish stocks also agreed to begin in January 2016 (Guardian.co.uk, 2013).

This time round, the fish fighters are focusing on the creation of Marine Conservation Zones. A recent study which cost £8 million (of taxpayer cash, we might add!) stated that a network of MCZs around the UK was needed to help ensure the survival of our fish stocks for future generations. The network proposed included 127 MCZs. The government have stated they will consider 31- and fish fighters are not satisfied with this.

So Hugh led the march to Whitehall, Westminster on Monday 25th February, and I went along to rally with other passionate conservation people and show that we really do want the government to take the issue seriously and pledge to support the creation of these MCZs.

Even though it was a drizzly day in London, the air was electric and the turnout was fabulous. There was a carnival-esque atmosphere, with lots of people dressed up in funny costumes, waving banners, flags and cardboard fish they had brought. There were giant lobsters, Neptune, jelly fish, mermaids, sharks, manta rays and more, parading along waving their banners, and others proudly displaying their ‘127’ and ‘Fish Fight’ t-shirts. The turnout was really impressive! Organisations I saw included SeaLife, Marine Stewardship Council, Greenpeace, and angling groups amongst others. We trailed as a big group across from the London Eye over to Whitehall, and whilst passing over the bridge we could see more of us in boats on the Thames.

The community gathered in front of the Houses of Parliament where Hugh took to the stage and spoke about the cause, greeted by roars and cheers from the marchers. There were an estimated 2000 of us there on the day!

There are 31 days left to tell the government that we want more conservation zones. If this is a cause that you believe in, please sign the petition over at http://www.fishfight.net/. At the moment, over 11,000 signatures have been gathered. The most that DEFRA have seen for any one cause is 17,000- let’s get that number over and above the benchmark. If enough people sign, the government will have no choice but to listen to we who care about our seas!

To see the footage from Monday’s march and follow up on Hugh’s progress, tune in to Hugh’s Fish Fight on Channel 4 tonight at 9.00pm GMT.

For a blow-by-blow account of the march, see the Fish Fight’s Storify article at http://www.fishfight.net/fish-fight-live/.

For more information about sustainable fish consumption, visit fish2fork.com.

References

Guardian.co.uk, 2013. ‘EU fish discards deal welcomed by UK’. [Online] Accessible at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/feb/27/eu-fish-discards-ban-welcomed.

African Astronaut Ants? BBC Africa with Sir David Attenborough

Image

Image from BBC.co.uk, Felicity Egerton

Just when you think you’re grown up, worldly-wise and pretty confident you know what an ant looks like- probably black, maybe red… But gleaming silver?

If you have been watching the most recent cinematic masterpiece on the box, ‘Africa’, you will know what I’m talking about- the Saharan silver ant (or Cataglyphis bombycina to the science buffs among us). Seemingly iron-clad armies of beasties that can withstand the scorching temperatures of the midday Saharan sun (easily reaching over 50 degrees celcius) by reflecting a high proportion of incoming solar radiation with their silver colouring- likened by Sir David Attenborough to astronomical space-suits. This evolutionary adaptation allows them to scurry out of their burrows when the heat is simply too much for any potential predators to cope with- leaving them free to scavenge for food. But even these hardy fellows can only cope with the temperatures for a maximum of about 10 minutes.

It’s not all about ants. The six part documentary has been giving us all an insight into the spectacular and astounding inventions that our ancestral continental home has conjured up over millennia. Black rhinoceri grunting and snuffling by a twilit lake, conversing and socialising in secret; African elephants parading along a tropical sandy beach; rolling dunes of the sandseas moving in super-quick time like ocean waves.

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Image provided by BBC Africa

It’s fantastic to see all of these natural phenomena on film. We’re going to see on Wednesday evening the final installment of the series, which is focused on the future of Africa. Because the continent spans across so many latitudes, it is home to the greatest range of biomes on Earth. Conserving these spectacular habitats is a priority for hundreds and thousands of conservationists across the world. If you want to be a part of conserving the future of Africa and some of the amazing creatures and habitats it is home to from the comfort of your home, Healthy Planet’s Conservation Community may be just the ticket.

The new online platform, which is launching very soon, allows you to pick a project and tailor your donations to fit you. That’s not all- you can then keep up to date with exactly what your donation is doing, who or what it is helping, and the progress your chosen progress is making with regular updates. So if you decide you want to help a project which specialises in ridding the Kenyan desert of illegal elephant traps set by ivory hunters, you could do just that. Or perhaps you’d like to help a small rural community on the banks of Lake Victoria harvest timber sustainably, in a way that will see them supplied for generations. Healthy Planet are continually growing their list of projects and you can get involved with the global conservation community.

Enjoy the final installment of Africa tomorrow- and let us know what you thought!

Useful Links

Learn about our conservation work at Richmond Park alongside Sir David Attenborough and our conservation partners Friends of Richmond Park here…

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Sir David Attenborough and the Healthy Planet Team at Richmond Park

Take a sneak peak at our Conservation Community online platform here…

Or if you fancy learning more about BBC Africa head to their homepage…

This blog was written by Admin & Comms intern Fiona King

What Has Nature Ever Done For Us? by Tony Juniper – Review

What Has Nature Ever Done For Us’ by Tony Juniper – a leading environmental campaigner and sustainability advisor – is a remarkable book which highlights the true value of the natural world, and the true economic cost of human ignorance in modern day development. 

What Has Nature Ever Done For Us? by Tony Juniper (2012)

What Has Nature Ever Done For Us? by Tony Juniper (2012)

After getting thoroughly engorged into the first few chapters, I was fortunate enough to attend a book club hosted by Friends of the Earth with my manager Dawn Newton, where we had the opportunity to meet Tony Juniper himself (and get my book signed – eeeek!) and learn first-hand about his motivations for writing ‘What Has Nature Ever Done For Us’. He passionately spoke how science is basically communicated to the general public in Swahili, with poor communication methods effectively building great walls and further separating environmentalists, and everyone else.

Juniper’s key aim therefore was to communicate the science to all audiences, which he fulfilled by explaining the complexity and interdependency of nature in a story-like fashion. He produced an engaging and highly readable account of how we as a population are literally liquidating the capital of the Earth.

Tony Juniper - Executive Director

Image provided by Friends of the Earth

To introduce the complex web of interactions and relationships occurring within the Earth’s system, the prologue tells the story of Biosphere 2, the first man-made version of the biosphere which incorporated a variety of the world’s ecosystems in individual biomes. This introduction outlines how a group of eight people embarked on a 2 year experiment in a microcosm of the Earth’s closed systems and the trials, tribulations and complexities they faced.

Juniper then continues to address the importance of the different components of the Earth’s system and their vital interactions. He explains to the reader the full importance of nature’s processes; constantly moving from a cold statistic to a vivid anecdote about the economic failures we have already faced as a consequence of our need to fund our exploding population and consumption habits.

A favourite example of mine concerned the Indian vultures – a scavenger which typically doesn’t pluck at the heart strings of conservationists – who suffered a population decline of 40 million birds following the introduction of a painkiller into cattle, the carcasses of which were a key source of food for the vultures. The original aim was to increase the farmer’s revenue by increasing the productivity of the cattle; however the painkiller proved poisonous to the vultures instigating a population crash and left mountains scattered with ‘putrefying fly-ridden corpses’. The consequence was more wild dogs, more dog bites, and a rabies epidemic which cost the Indian economy $30 billion.

Indian Vulture

Junipers key message is that we must put a price on nature if we are to ensure the long term preservation of our natural assets, and in turn maintain the long-term benefits the natural world provides. Nature’s services are not free and are not limitless. To capitalize on this goal we need to move away from our ‘green economy’ dominated by engineers and politicians, and move to a ‘bio economy’ where like during the construction of Biosphere 2, ecologists, climatologists, engineers, politicians, and businesses all work together to maximise our understanding and achieve our common goal.

Overall this book has provided the opportunity for readers from all walks of life to understand the difficulties faced by the natural world and our interwoven fate.

If you aren’t eager enough to buy the book already here are links to other reviews from the Guardian, by Designs On Earth, and by Friends of the Earth! 

And if your still not convinced visit Tony Juniper’s website…

Finally if any of you are interested in attending future Friends of the Earth book clubs visit their webpage with video of Tony (which also has the link to buy the book) contact: foebookclub@foe.co.uk

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Healthy Planet’s Conservation Community allows you to directly impact the difficulties faced by the natural world. It is a fun and engaging way for anyone, anywhere to support real conservation projects that are helping make a healthier planet.

Visit the community and get on the map. www.conservationcommunity.org

Blog post written by Rhiannon Downer: Marketing & Communications intern at Healthy Planet

Roar of the Tiger

The Healthy Planet conservation team were very excited to hear the latest developments from our Phoenix fund partner project in Russia last month, where the Tiger team are busy protecting the last strong hold of the endangered Amur Tiger’s habitat.

Camera trap-1, (c) ZSL, Zov Tigra National Park_small

Camera trap-1, (c) ZSL, Zov Tigra National Park_small

The Zov Tigra National Park (“Roar of the Tiger”) is the first protected area of its kind in Russia’s Far East. The 200,000-acre park, established in 2008, protects the tiger’s habitat while simultaneously allowing for nature tourism.

The Park can boast about rich biodiversity: as many as 57 rare and endangered plant species and six mammals, listed in the Red Book, inhabit the protected area. According to the census conducted in 2011, there are 4 resident Amur tigers in the national park. Also, 4 more tigers visit the protected area on a regular basis. Stable numbers of tigers and their prey species are one of the main accomplishments of the project. The monitoring data showed that besides 8 Amur tigers, there are 1,201 Manchurian deer, 99 sika deer, 800 roe deer and 189 wild boars in the Park.

Conservation in action

Due to the mountainous terrain to the north and south of the Park and a few surfaced roads, vehicular access is extremely limited and particularly so during winter and spring, when roads become impassable. In June 2012, thanks to financial support from Healthy Planet, the Phoenix Fund provided the Park’s anti-poaching teams with a quad bike (ATV). Since July the ATV has been used intensively by the guards and showed great performance.

 tigercc

A GPS Fleet Tracking equipment was installed on the ATV. The Vehicle Tracking System allows to create an electronic record of the movements of the vehicle and constantly keep track of the whereabouts of the vehicle through its communication with various local satellites, and then periodically sends a signal to a database, where the information is stored and analysed. A map below shows the ATV movements and routes.

sergei“The Grizzly ATV became a truly irreplaceable transport for our everyday work,” comments the law-enforcement officer of the Zov Tigra National Park Sergei Marchenko. “It can take up to two people with 80 kg of the equipment to the patrol.

 In the first months of work we already were able to get to the arduous areas with no roads, cross the Milogradovka river fords. Now, poachers who are very well equipped these days have no advantage, and it is especially important in the autumn season when hunters go to forest to harvest wild game. ”

Success

From July 1st through December 31st 2012 the inspectors of Zov Tigra National Park achieved the following results:

– 164 anti-poaching patrols were conducted
– 17 administrative citations were issued during the ATV patrols
– 13 violations of protection regime were revealed
– 1,101 km patrolled on foot
– 539 km patrolled by ATV
– 4,591 km covered by cars and motorcycles

Educational classes supported

‘Thanks to support from the Healthy Planet, we continued to implement the project aimed at conserving Amur tigers by focusing on environmental education of local people through holding ecological lessons at Lazovsky Ecological Centre, schools and kindergartens of Lazovsky district, attracting local people towards tiger conservation issues and involving them in nature conservation events.’

The Lazovsky Ecological Centre’s mission is to design and facilitate programs and opportunities that promote responsible relationship with the natural world, demonstrate and promote world sustainability, encourage experiential learning, creativity and playfulness, and cooperate with other organizations. The Centre’s target groups are school and kindergarten children, their families, local educators, tourists and other conservation-oriented public groups. Staff members fulfil the Centre’s educational mission by interpreting studies of conservation and environmental protection in both field and classroom environments.

The eco-centre held 89 ecological events such as lectures and seminars, public educational excursions and a variety of environmentally oriented actions for 1,927 children in age between 4 and 17; produced and distributed informational materials devoted to big cats of Primorye, local fauna, Amur tiger and its habitat, food chains, and tiger monitoring methods.

In August, the educators organized annual celebration of Tiger Day holiday twice. First celebration was held on August 8 on the sea shore of Petrov Bay. The specialists of the Educational Department of the Lazovsky Nature Reserve together with young activists entertained the holidaymakers with various contests, quizzes and interactive games. As many as 140 children and adults became active participants of the Tiger Day Festival and demonstrated their good knowledge of tiger conservation issues. On August 21, the Tiger Day Festival was celebrated by residents of Preobrazhenye village. Over 350 people dressed up in tiger costumes participated in a festive procession and competed in numerous contests. As always, the holiday drew much attention by people in Lazovsky district and proved to be success.

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