Biodiversity

Wildfire Fuels Debate Over Land-Burning in Africa

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 4, 2004   View Article

Last October Madagascar’s Ibity Massif was engulfed in flames. The mountain is famous among botanists, because as many as 20 plant species found there grow nowhere else in the world.

Neither unique plants nor fire are unusual on Madagascar, an island nation off the southeast coast of Africa. An estimated 80 percent of the Madagascan flora is endemic. Fires, both natural and human-caused, have burned seasonally dry parts of the island with clockwork regularity for millennia.

Prediction Tool Puts Development in Hands of Locals

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 24, 2004   View Article

Indonesia’s poorest province, Papua, is a natural-resource trove that is both awaiting exploitation and begging for protection.

Conservationists hope an innovative software program will help residents guide the province to sustainable development. The program essentially allows local people to predict the effects of their civic decisions—whether to sell off local forests, whether to ban women from schools, and so on—on their communities.

Activists Expose Malaysia Wood-Smuggling Ring

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: February 5, 2004   View Article

A dense, fine-grained wood hacked from Indonesian forests is the stuff of a real-life tale about smugglers, crime bosses, corrupt politicians, and wildlife teetering on the brink of extinction, according to an undercover investigation by an environmental activist group.

Ramin (Gonystylus spp.), the wood in question, is used to make everything from baby cribs and pool cues to picture frames and decorative trim found in homes and bars around the world.

Unique Bolivia Park Begun by Indigenous People

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 13, 2004   View Article

The parched, southeastern corner of Bolivia is the unlikely home to a park that houses Latin America’s highest diversity of large mammals, and is the stage for an unusual story of protected-area creation and operation.

“The park remains the only national protected area in the Americas created as the result of an initiative by an indigenous organization,” said Michael Painter, Bolivia program director for the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which has helped manage the park since its creation in 1995.

By 2050, Warming to Doom Million Species, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 7, 2004   View Article

By 2050, rising temperatures exacerbated by human-induced belches of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases could send more than a million of Earth’s land-dwelling plants and animals down the road to extinction, according to a recent study.

“Climate change now represents at least as great a threat to the number of species surviving on Earth as habitat-destruction and modification,” said Chris Thomas, a conservation biologist at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.

Tree Canopy Walks Draws Tourists, Scientists

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 7, 2003   View Article

The warblers, lemurs, and bees that tweet, screech, and buzz high in the treetops are sharing their once hidden domain with eco-tourists and scientists who’ve begun to wander along walkways that lead from the ground way up into the canopy.

The walkways are suspended from towers or the branches of trees, allowing people to look canopy-dwelling wildlife in the eyes and smell flowers that bloom a few hundred feet closer to the sun.

“BioBlitz” Finds 800-Plus Species in New York Park

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 8, 2003   View Article

They came. They huddled. They “BioBlitzed.” Over 350 scientists and volunteers crawled on hands and knees, climbed trees, and snorkeled ponds during a 24-hour marathon late last month to catalogue every plant and animal species they could find in New York’s Central Park.

After 24 hours, the results board at BioBlitz headquarters at the North Meadow Recreation Center tallied 836 species.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach