Photo courtesy of United Nations Environment Programme.
Mau Forest Complex forms the largest closed-canopy forest ecosystem of Kenya. It is the single most important water catchment in the Rift Valley and western Kenya. As Dave pointed out in his blog article last year, the ecosystem services provided by Mau Forest support key economic sectors, including energy, tourism, agriculture and water supply - it's particularly important for two of the three largest foreign currency earners: tea and tourism. As the source of 12 rivers, the forest's ability to generate rain and to store water is an ecosystem service worth huge sums to activities downstream.
As officials and ministers gather at Nagoya in Japan for a major conference on the UN Convention on Biodiversity this week, new research by the Kenya Forest Research Institute (KEFRI) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates the economic benefit of Mau Forest to be more than $1.3bn per year. But how did they calculate this figure?
New research in the latest issue of BioScience examines the prospects for enhancing biological carbon sequestration through a variety of policy and technical approaches, including the deployment of genetically engineered trees and other plants.
Forests of genetically altered trees and other plants could sequester several billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year and so help ameliorate global warming, according to estimates published in a study by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Besides increasing the efficiency of plants' absorption of light, researchers might be able to genetically alter plants so they send more carbon into their roots, where some may be converted into soil carbon and remain out of circulation for centuries. Other possibilities include altering plants so that they can better withstand the stresses of growing on marginal land, and so that they yield improved bioenergy and food crops. Such innovations might, in combination, boost substantially the amount of carbon that vegetation naturally extracts from air, according to the authors' estimates.
As Editor of CABI's Leisure Tourism Database, I get to keep up to date with news and research in the leisure and tourism industry. It's always of interest to follow developments in places I've been to, so my attention was grabbed last week by an email from the University of East Anglia regarding research in the rain forest of Tambopata, Peru, where I spent a couple of days four years ago at the end of a Peruvian holiday. The paper the email was about is titled 'The market triumph of ecotourism', and compares the value of rain forest tourism in Tambopata with that of other possible land uses. Can ecotourism really be the saviour of the rain forest? Read on for more details.
Recently, the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) sent a letter to the Climate Minister Chris Huhne, in reply to Huhne's earlier letter requesting update on the level of the UK renewable energy ambition to 2020. In the reply letter the CCC suggested that one of the country’s renewable energy targets (to obtain 10% of transport fuel from renewable sources) was too high and should be reduced to 8%. At the moment biofuels account for about 2.5% of the UK’s transport mix. Under European Union goals, the UK has agreed to obtain 15% of its total energy from renewable sources by 2020, compared with 3% now, with individual goals for heat, transport fuel and electricity. The committee suggested that the 12% target for heat should also be lowered to 11%. At the present only 1.6% of the UK's heat comes from renewable energy. Should these targets be lowered?
Fig 1 - Schematic diagram illustrating how waste is converted to energy by anaerobic digestion – image courtesy of www.biogas-info.co.uk
One of my colleagues is sitting at her desk with a bag full of bars of Fairtrade chocolate today. No, she's not suddenly acquired an overwhelming chocolate craving. It's all part of 'Green Travel to Work Day', in which local businesses around Wallingford, where CABI has it's headquarters, are encouraging their employees to find environmentally friendly ways to travel to work: walking, cycling, public transport or car-sharing. At CABI, those who do so today can claim a bar of Fairtrade chocolate as a reward. But what's in it for companies? Read on to find out.