Biodiversity & Conservation

Wildlife in built-up areas: an undervalued part of our urban ecosystems

Urban wildlife such as deer, foxes and badgers should be cherished for the ecological benefits they bring to towns and cities, rather than feared as potentially harmful pests, scientists argue in a new report. The review, published in the scientific journal Wildlife Research, states that in order for humans and animals to live successfully side-by-side in built-up areas, a cultural shift is required for the public to fully appreciate the integral role that wildlife performs in urban ecosystems. Read more »

Rapid decline in bumblebee species caused by climate change, study finds

Bumblebee (UFZ)

In the most comprehensive analysis of climate change impacts on critical pollinators, researchers have found that rapid declines in bumblebee species across North America and Europe have a strong link to climate change. The study was published in Science. It was conducted by scientists from University of Ottawa and other North American institutions. Scientists from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), as one of the major partners from Europe, were responsible for coordinating basic data collection. Read more »

Global freshwater consumption crossing its planetary boundary

Planetary boundaries have been proposed to describe a safe operating space for humanity and human consumption of freshwater is used as the control variable for the freshwater planetary boundary. But new research from Stockholm University shows that global freshwater consumption has already pushed beyond its safe limit. Read more »

Aluminium contamination suggested as a new factor in the decline of bee populations

A new scientific study has found very high amounts of aluminium contamination in bees, raising the question of whether aluminium-induced cognitive dysfunction is playing a role in the decline of bumblebee populations. Read more »

Leading European research institutes launch unique Freshwater Information Platform

Four European research institutes have launched an online platform to make information from a large set of freshwater ecosystem research activities accessible to all. The Freshwater Information Platform offers a forum for information exchange and open-access publishing of maps and data, and aims to stimulate cutting-edge research and collaborations in the field. The Platform provides a unique and comprehensive knowledge base for sustainable and evidence-based management of our threatened freshwater ecosystems and the resources they provide. Read more »

Amazon’s carbon uptake declines as trees die faster

Amazon canopy at dawn, Brazil. (© Peter van der Sleen)

The most extensive land-based study of the Amazon to date reveals it is losing its capacity to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. From a peak of two billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year in the 1990s, the net uptake by the forest has halved and is now for the first time being overtaken by fossil fuel emissions in Latin America.

The results of this monumental 30-year survey of the South American rainforest, which involved an international team of almost 100 researchers and was led by the University of Leeds, are published today in the journal Nature. Read more »

Prince of Wales' International Sustainability Unit publishes a review of tropical forests

The Prince of Wales' International Sustainability Unit (ISU) has commissioned and published a wide-ranging review of the state of the world’s tropical forests and efforts to protect them.

Its key findings encompass the latest science on climate change mitigation, forest degradation, biodiversity, ecosystem services and climate regulation. The report also contains a series of policy recommendations on REDD+, landscape restoration, commodity supply chains and sustainable forest management. Read more »

Biodiversity damage mapped in global land-use study by the Natural History Museum & UNEP-WCMC

Infographic by Laura Cattaneo, demonstrating the history of biodiversity, population and land-use from the year 1800 until the year 2100. © Laura Cattaneo

Humanity’s use of land for agricultural production has come at a cost to local ecosystems worldwide, but some of the damage can be reversed, according to a major collaborative research project from the Natural History Museum, United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), and British universities.

Diversity prevents resistance: habitats rich in species make it easier to combat pests

In habitats rich in different species, pests don't become resistant to chemical control agents as quickly (© André Künzelmann, UFZ).

A diverse and species-rich agricultural landscape is also beneficial to farmers. This isn't just because there are plenty of pollinating insects, creepy crawly pest controllers and other useful helpers. Read more »

Using Gameplay to Challenge our Understanding of Sustainable Fishing

Screenshot of gameplay from the ecoOcean overfishing simulation game

A new and innovative computer game has been developed that allows players to experience and explore the complexities of sustainable fishing. The game has been used as an interactive stakeholder communication measure by the EC-funded SOCIOEC project, an initiative that was dedicated to investigating the socio economic effects of fisheries management measures of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The game allows players to directly investigate the effects of different fisheries management measures on fishermen’s behaviour. Read more »

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