Understanding how drought affects seeder and resprouter plants during post-fire regeneration is important

 

Post-fire environments are favourable for plant functioning of seeder and resprouter Mediterranean shrubs, even under drought

Authors: Antonio Parra, José M. Moreno

  • DOI: 10.1111/nph.14454

Summary

  • Understanding how drought affects seeder and resprouter plants during post-fire regeneration is important for the anticipation of Mediterranean vegetation vulnerability in a context of increasing drought and fire caused by climate change.
  • A Mediterranean shrubland was subjected to various drought treatments (including 45% rainfall reduction, 7 months drought yr−1), before and after experimental burning, by means of a rainout–shelter system with an irrigation facility. Predawn shoot water potential (Ψpd), relative growth rate (RGR), specific leaf area (SLA) and bulk leaf carbon isotopic composition (δ13C) were monitored in the main woody species during the first 3 yr after fire.
  • Cistus ladanifer seedlings showed higher Ψpd, RGR and SLA, and lower δ13C, than unburned plants during the first two post-fire years. Seedlings under drought maintained relatively high Ψpd, but suffered a decrease in Ψpd and RGR, and an increase in δ13C, relative to control treatments. Erica arborea, E. scoparia and Phillyrea angustifolia resprouts had higher Ψpd and RGR than unburned plants during the first post-fire year. Resprouters were largely unaffected by drought.
  • Overall, despite marked differences between the two functional groups, post-fire environments were favourable for plant functioning of both seeder and resprouter shrubs, even under the most severe drought conditions implemented.

SEE: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nph.14454/abstract;jsessionid=9ADA65653AA10E026CB044D12E807500.f01t04

The connection between migration and land degradation

 

Photo credit: In Depth News

Photo: Burkina Faso: 20 000 trees are planted to create living hedges. Credit: UNCCD

UN Launches Campaign to Invest in Degraded Lands

By Rita Joshi

BONN (IDN) – The number of international migrants worldwide has continued to grow rapidly over the past fifteen years – reaching 244 million in 2015, up from 222 million in 2010 and 173 million in 2000.

Behind these numbers, says the Secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), are the links between migration and development challenges, in particular, the consequences of environmental degradation, political instability, food insecurity and poverty.

The 2017 World Day to Combat Desertification (#2017WDCD) on June 17 will therefore look closely at the connection between migration and land degradation by addressing how local communities could build the resilience against existing multi-fold development challenges through combating desertification and land degradation.

UNCCD is mobilising global support with the rallying call: “Our land. Our home. Our Future.” The slogan draws attention to the central role productive land can play in turning the growing tide of migrants abandoning unproductive land into communities and nations that are stable, secure and sustainable, into the future.

The UNCCD has also released the campaign logo for use by any group, organization, government or entity that will organize a celebratory event for the Day. The new logo, designed by Beth Johnson, is an all-encompassing symbol of UNCCD’s endeavours.

It combines the key elements of the Convention in an elegant manner that can be instantly interpreted by an international audience. The elements are: the landscape representing land stewardship; the hand showing human presence; nature suggesting hope, progress and life; the circle symbolising an inclusive convention with global reach; the traditional UN laurel wreath demanding respect and demonstrating authority.

The backdrop to the new corporate logo is that following landmark decisions at COP 12 (conference of parties to the UNCCD) in Ankara, the UNCCD is set to become a driving force in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 15 “Life on Land” and target 15.3 on land degradation neutrality.

Read the full article: In Depth News

Drought and wildfires are connected

 

Photo credit: Science Daily

Numerous fires create a smoky pall over the skies of western Africa. The image above was acquired on Dec. 10, 2015.
Credit: NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using VIIRS data from Suomi NPP

 

NASA study finds a connection between wildfires, drought

Date:
January 10, 2017
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
For centuries drought has come and gone across northern sub-Saharan Africa. In recent years, water shortages have been most severe in the Sahel — a band of semi-arid land situated just south of the Sahara Desert and stretching coast-to-coast across the continent, from Senegal and Mauritania in the west to Sudan and Eritrea in the east.

 

Various factors influence these African droughts, both natural and human-caused. A periodic temperature shift in the Atlantic Ocean, known as the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation, plays a role, as does overgrazing, which reduces vegetative cover, and therefore the ability of the soil to retain moisture. By replacing vegetative cover’s moist soil, which contributes water vapor to the atmosphere to help generate rainfall, with bare, shiny desert soil that merely reflects sunlight directly back into space, the capacity for rainfall is diminished.

Another human-caused culprit is biomass burning, as herders burn land to stimulate grass growth, and farmers burn the landscape to convert terrain into farming land and to get rid of unwanted biomass after the harvest season. As with overgrazing, fires dry out the soil and stymie the convection that brings rainfall. Small particles called aerosols that are released into the air by smoke may also reduce the likelihood of rainfall. This can happen because water vapor in the atmosphere condenses on certain types and sizes of aerosols called cloud condensation nuclei to form clouds; when enough water vapor accumulates, rain droplets are formed. But have too many aerosols and the water vapor is spread out more diffusely to the point where rain droplets don’t materialize.

Read the full article: Science Daily

 

To bring degraded lands back to life

 

traor_
http://www.bioversityinternational.org/fileadmin/user_upload/about_us/news/People/Traor_.jpg

Restoring lands and livelihoods in Burkina Faso: The business of one association

Effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities and women in ecosystem restoration is one of the three main principles of the Action Plan on Ecosystem Restoration that the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity are expected to adopt at their next Conference in Cancun in December. Effective participation is both the ends and means of ecosystem restoration, but is not easily achieved.

A Burkinabè association tiipaalga (meaning ‘new tree’) has worked with the country’s farmers for over a decade to help them bring their degraded lands back to life. The organization’s aim is to help improve ecosystems for the purpose of improving the well-being of local households. The organization considers – and calls – farmers its partners. Mr Alain Traoré, Director of tiipaalga, shares insights from his long-term efforts in fostering farmer-led restoration initiatives in Burkina Faso.

This is the fifth blog in the CBD COP13 Forest and Landscape Restoration Blog Serieshighlighting why mainstreaming agricultural and tree biodiversity in sustainable food and production systems is critical to achieve the CBD’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, with a particular focus on forest and landscape restoration.

Q: What is tiipaalga’s approach in supporting farmers?

A: Our main approach is assisted natural regeneration, which is a low-cost forest restoration method aimed at accelerating growth of existing natural regeneration by removing competition from weeds and other disturbances and creating a more favorable micro-environment for growth. In some cases, if natural regeneration is not sufficient, planting of valuable species to supplement the existing tree populations (enrichment planting) can be carried out.

While we support planting trees, we recommend farmers only plant in small numbers, to allow them to maintain the trees. There is no point in planting one million trees which we cannot tend. It’s better to plant 10 trees per year and in 50 years we will have all we want. We want our partners [farmers] to be sure to be able to care for their trees so they can bring life; as our slogan says: “a tree for life”.

Read the full article: Bioversity International

How to save Hawaii’s nature and culture

 

 

Conservation and tradition to save Hawaiian ecosystem (SLIDESHOW)

The islands of Hawaii form a unique and fragile ecosystem thousands of miles away from the nearest landmass. The legends and rituals of the nation’s indigenous people, ancestors of the first Polynesian settlers, are closely connected with the island’s plants, animals and landscape.

Tourism, industrial activity and modern recreation have since depleted Hawaii’s natural ecosystem and introduced invasive species that have caused severe damage. And along with indigenous plants and animals, the country risks losing local knowledge and customs.

Now, conservationists are teaming up with spiritual leaders to save Hawaii’s nature and culture. In many places where such work has taken place, rare species are thriving and fragile ecosystems, such as ancient cloud forests, are stabilising.

Read the full story: SciDevNet

Catastrophic declines in wilderness areas

 

Photo credit: Science Daily

Credit: Liana Joseph

A tenth of the world’s wilderness lost since the 1990s

Date:
September 8, 2016
Source:
Wildlife Conservation Society
Summary:
Researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology show catastrophic declines in wilderness areas around the world over the last 20 years.

Researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology show catastrophic declines in wilderness areas around the world over the last 20 years. They demonstrate alarming losses comprising a tenth of global wilderness since the 1990s — an area twice the size of Alaska and half the size of the Amazon. The Amazon and Central Africa have been hardest hit.

The findings underscore an immediate need for international policies to recognize the value of wilderness areas and to address the unprecedented threats they face, the researchers say.

International Plant Protection Convention grapples with challenges of globalized trade

 

Photo credit: FAO

Officials in Brisbane, Australia, inspect containers.

A floating threat: sea containers spread pests and diseases

Oil spills garner much public attention and anguish, but “biological spills” represent a greater long-term threat and do not have the same high public profile.

It was an exotic fungus that wiped out billions of American chestnut trees in the early 20th century, dramatically altering the landscape and ecosystem, while today the emerald ash borer – another pest that hitch-hiked along global trade routes to new habitats – threatens to do the same with a valuable tree long used by humans to make tool handles, guitars and office furniture.

Perhaps the biggest “biological spill” of all was when a fungus-like eukaryotic microorganism called Phytophthora infestans – the name of the genus comes from Greek for “plant destroyer” – sailed from the Americas to Belgium. Within months it arrived in Ireland, triggering a potato blight that led to famine, death and mass migration.

small_containers-PNG
Scrubbing a container in Lae, Papua New Guinea. – http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/newsroom/photos/small_containers-PNG.jpg

The list goes on and on. A relative of the toxic cane toad that has run rampant in Australia recently disembarked from a container carrying freight to Madagascar, a biodiversity hotspot, and the ability of females to lay up to 40,000 eggs a year make it a catastrophic threat for local lemurs and birds, while also threatening the habitat of a host of animals and plants. In Rome, municipal authorities are ramping up their annual campaign against the tiger mosquito, an invasive species that arrived by ship in Albania in the 1970s. Aedes albopictus, famous for its aggressive biting, is now prolific across Italy and global warming will make swathes of northern Europe ripe for colonization.

This is why the nations of the world came together some six decades ago to establish the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) as a means to help stem the spread of plant pests and diseases across borders boundaries via international trade and to protect farmers, foresters, biodiversity, the environment, and consumers.

“The crop losses and control costs triggered by exotic pests amount to a hefty tax on food, fibre and forage production,” says Craig Fedchock, coordinator of the FAO-based IPPC Secretariat. “All told, fruit flies, beetles, fungi and their kin reduce global crop yields by between 20 and 40 percent,” he explains.

Trade as a vector, containers as a vehicle

Invasive species arrive in new habitats through various channels, but shipping, is the main one.

Read the full article: FAO