CategoryBlogging

Ecological and economic importance of mangrove forests

Image source: ikerbasque.net

Mangrove forests in tropical and subtropical regions have been sanctuaries to a wide variety of species like fish, shrimp, crab, and mollusks and their ecological role that contributed to the growth of their neighboring human communities have proven their importance for many years.

However, not everyone knows that aside from their ecological importance, mangrove forests also promote an economic boost to their nearby population centers. In fact, a recent report has summarized the estimated worth of goods and services brought by this ecosystem to reach US$186 million each year.

Let’s take a look at the important contributions of these sanctuaries to the ecology and the economy.

Timber and other plant products.

Mangrove woods have been extremely valuable sources of timber and other plant products because of their natural resistance to rotting and insect infestation. That’s why many coastal communities depend on the material that they produce for goods like fuel and construction supplies.

Aside from wood, medicinal products, animal fodder, to name a few, have been harvested from this rich ecosystem.

Strengthens and protects coastal structures.

Because of mangroves’ dense root systems, they can easily trap sediments that often flow down rivers heading off the land. The same roots can help stabilize the structures of coastlines as well as effectively prevent erosion caused by storms and heavy rains.

The presence of mangroves in areas often hit by dangerous typhoons can lessen the economic and ecological damages caused by continuous rains and flooding.

Encourages and boosts tourism in the community.

The rich and diverse species present in mangrove systems can attract tourists as well as enthusiasts, in turn contributing to a strong economic activity to its nearby communities.

Sandy beaches and vibrant and rich coral reefs surrounding mangrove systems are popular destinations for snorkeling and diving expeditions.

In addition, tigers, monkeys, birds, crocodiles, to name a few, have found mangrove systems to be a practical and safe haven from the dangers of both human and natural threats.

REPOST: 4 ways AI helps business protect the environment

Once only confined to realms of science fiction, artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly gaining ground in almost every aspect of everyday life. But of all the industries and applications it is a part of, it is the environment that actually reaps the biggest rewards. Here are more insights from GreenBiz:

 

The environment is a hot topic, literally. As global temperatures have warmed since 1850, the discussion on what to do about it has heated up as well. Humanity is having an undeniable impact on the natural world. Our growing demand for resources is leading to land-use changes, loss of biodiversity and pollution. Climate change continues to disrupt weather patterns, temperatures and water availability, leading to impacts on human and natural ecosystems — even the forests are on the move.

The good news is that there is more information than ever before about the environment. Growing global attention is leading to increasing regulations, deeper research and deployment of advanced sensing and mapping technologies. However, connecting the dots for better insights and solutions is difficult because the relevant information is often siloed, and decision makers are reluctant to act without a high degree of certainty.

Today’s complex supply chains make this an even tougher puzzle to unravel. Cognitive technology, enabled by artificial intelligence, or AI, is uniquely adapted to helping with these challenges, from finding patterns and interconnections within macro datasets to providing local, personalized diagnosis and predictions that learn and improve over time.

With its ability to understand, reason and learn, cognitive technology is proving a great ally in protecting our planet in four key ways:

1. Better conservation of natural resources. By combining satellite imagery, sensors and machine learning, companies and governments are reducing water usage in their operations as well as pinpointing the variables that lead to better soil health. One winery created a cognitive irrigation system that can deliver water in a way that’s situational, hyper-local, automated and self-tuning, helping it cut water use by 25 percent over three years.

2. Earlier pollution detection. Advanced machine learning and self-organizing mesh networks are helping organizations pinpoint the sources of pollution faster and more accurately, whether air pollution or methane leaks. This enables more targeted mitigation actions that are better for business and the environment, such as improved natural gas operations with reduced emissions.

3. Accelerating sustainable options. Cognitive technology is accelerating more sustainable energy and product choices for consumers. One of the biggest barriers to widespread use of renewable energy has been forecast accuracy. Not only is it tough to predict how much renewable energy will be available at a given time on a given day but solar and wind farms are adding to the supply (while decreasing their own demand), making forecasting more difficult. By combining advanced weather forecasting models with cognitive self-learning capabilities, a Vermont-based power company is developing a more precise, automated renewable energy forecast for solar and wind power.

Cognitive technology also can assist with environmental regulation compliance — an important first step toward greater transparency and greener product choices for consumers. Cognitive platforms equipped with natural language capabilities can read large blocks of regulatory text and extract essential obligations, such as a local requirement for a specific label on a product.

4. Learning from nature’s ecosystems. Policy makers and companies that manage natural resources face an increasingly tough challenge to develop those resources sustainably as they change over time. It’s not always clear how a single stressor, such as salt runoff from roads, affects a natural ecosystem, let alone multiple stressors. Environmental assessments are often manually collected over time, making it more difficult to pinpoint and monitor cause and effect.

One research project in upstate New York is working to advance knowledge in this area. Scientists are analyzing data from environmental sensors around Lake George to build and refine computer models of the lake’s ecosystem. As more data is collected, machine learning will provide a better understanding of what the norms and anomalies are, enabling decision makers to run what-if scenarios and tradeoff analyses for better insights. This can lead to important applications for real-time environmental monitoring and more targeted remediation — a critical need for the $7 trillion natural resource industry.

While dire predictions remain about the future of our natural world, indicators are strong that the green economy is here to stay. With the help of cognitive technology, business leaders are more empowered than ever before to build a brighter — and greener — future for their business and the world. By detecting and acting on environmental harm faster and providing more sustainable choices for consumers, they will grow their competitive advantage. It’s a win-win proposition.

Three greenest websites that are saving the planet

“Achieving high standard of living must not be done at the expense of the environment. After all, every aspect of life–from food and housing to technology and economics–is entirely dependent on the health of Mother Nature. Saving the planet could be one’s biggest life investment.”

 

Image source: surepayroll.com

 

We have always been reminded of how important nature is to humanity and while some of us ignore the signs that the environment might give up on us soon, there are still others who try to make a difference. Through their sincere and innovative efforts to save our planet, we are given another chance to change our ways and start doing our part.

 

In fact, these are what some of the greenest websites wish to achieve with their creative and inspiring content through a proven formula: by embracing technology and at the same time, incorporating eco-friendly values in everything they share to the online community. If you want to be a part of this global movement, here are some the greenest websites that you should know and use:

 

Inhabitat was founded by the New York City designer Jill Fehrenbacher in 2005. The website’s writers and editors believe in the philosophy that a good design is a green design. The page offers informative articles covering green architecture, energy and technology.

 

 

Grist was founded in 1999 and it offers expert solutions to the most serious environmental problems in the world. Their writers are composed of experts who are not afraid to present the raw reality of the deteriorating environment with their snarky headlines and a witty splash of comedy.

 

 

TreeHugger is one of the top eco websites in the world. Their contents focus on the combination of green technology and cool designs. Their writers cover a wide variety of topics related to design, building and fashion, science, cars, and more.

 

 

Indeed, these websites have greatly encouraged and inspired people from every part of the globe to go green and live green, saving the planet and changing the world one click at a time.

REPOST: Startup upcycles discarded chopsticks into new decor & furniture

High-level creativity can spawn excellent pieces of art, regardless of the base material that will be used. In the case below, used wooden chopsticks. Treehugger has the full feature:

Chopsticks have a long and storied history, dating back to 2100 BC when Da Yu, the founder of the Xia dynasty, was trying to reach a flood zone. In his haste, he didn’t want to wait for his food to cool down, and adapted two twigs to help him eat his food quickly. With the popularization of Asian food all over the world, chopsticks — especially the disposable kind — are now being used all over the world.

But throwaway chopsticks are an unmitigated environmental disaster. In China alone, 80 billion chopsticks are thrown away each year, requiring hundreds of acres of forest to be cut down every day just to keep up with the demand. In response, the Bring Your Own Chopsticks (BYOC) movement is gaining ground in places like Japan, China and Taiwan (most notably, in Korea metal chopsticks are used — a good idea).

But what to do still with all those discarded chopsticks? Vancouver, Canada’s Chopvalue has a great idea: cleaning them up and turning them into home accessories and furniture. Watch:

Continue reading on this PAGE.

Intriguingly bizarre: Three US national parks to awaken your soul

When the National Park Service was created to protect America’s picturesque mountains, forests and seas, many hailed it as the country’s ‘greatest idea.’ After a couple of decades, citizens can’t still get enough for they frequently visit them with their families and loved ones. Among the most popular are definitely Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. However the country has so much more to offer than just those two. If one just looks hard enough, they will be able to discover numerous more treasures lurking in the corners. For the ones who want a different kind of adventure, these unique national parks might satisfy their tastes.

 

Image source: nationalgeographic.com

 

For the junkies who love to go spelunking, Mammoth Cave National Park will definitely not disappoint. Its name isn’t the only thing that is big about it. Researchers were able to create a humongous 400 mile map of its interior, making it the world’s longest cave system. Its beautiful cave formations will take anyone’s breath away and its numerous perfectly preserved fossil specimens will stir up visitors inside.

 

Image source: travelercorner.com

 

For a more extreme experience, Death Valley National Park absolutely fits the bill. Not only is it extremely hot during the daytime when temperatures can easily reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit, but it can get extremely cold as well. This is evident in the snow-capped mountains nearby.

 

Image source: mustseeplaces.eu

 

The ecosystem of the Everglades National Park in Florida is just perfect for the numerous endangered animals and plants that inhibit it. The Florida panther, West Indian manatee, and the American crocodile are only a few of the 36 protected species that live inside its territory.

 

Millions of tourists, both local and international, visit the national parks each year, translating to more than $16 billion of revenues for the US economy. The parks are also responsible for creating more than 200,000 jobs (whether directly or indirectly), making them an important aspect of the job market. While the ever-increasing influx of visitors might put these natural wonders in danger, it would only take some expert policies, creativity, and strict regulations to keep the parks pristine while generating significant revenues at the same time.

From organics to aquaponics: The growing interest in sustainable agriculture

Conventional farming has been criticized for its harmful environmental effects, including groundwater pollution due to the use of artificial fertilizers, potential health hazards from pesticides and GMOs, poor water resources management, and ecological destruction due to forest conversions, among others.  All these make the practice even more unsustainable and will put greater pressure on the environment to feed a human population that is exponentially growing.

 

The ultimate goal of sustainable agriculture is to meet society’s food and fiber (mainly for the textile industry) needs in the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The movement seeks to promote a healthier environment, economic profitability, and socio-economic equity. Specific issues it wishes to address include soil health, pollution, water conservation, farmworker wellbeing, and higher crop yields. Everyone that is considered part of the food system—farmers, food processors, distributors, retailers, consumers, policymakers, and waste managers—play a crucial role in making the process much more akin to Mother Earth’s natural ability to preserve itself.

 

Image source: organicauthority.com

 

Organic farming

Simply put, organic farming is all about growing crops without using synthetic chemicals. Instead, it uses natural fertilizers (e.g. animal manure), mechanical pest control techniques, and environment-friendly crop management practices. Organic farming also does not use genetically modified seeds, nor does it employ practices that degrade soil, water, or other natural resources.

Organic farms protect biodiversity and foster the development and maintenance of healthy ecosystems as it is able to grow a variety of plants using ecologically friendly techniques such as crop rotation, conservation tillage, and pasture-based livestock husbandry. Even more remarkable is that it produces chemical-free, highly nutritious farm products.

 

Image source: ndtv.com

 

Vertical urban farms

Vertical farming or high-rise farming is a rapidly developing concept in sustainable agriculture. It grows plants on layers upon layers of grow beds or farming shelves. This dramatically saves space and can be done even in urban areas (such as on rooftops or even indoors), thereby eliminating the high logistical cost of transporting food products from a distant rural farm to the consumer-rich cities.

 

Vertical farming is an intensive farming strategy—that is still at its infancy—which mainly employs advanced techniques such as hydroponics and aeroponics to produce a wide range of crops like fruits and vegetables continuously. High-rise farming usually grows crops in soil-less media. High-nutrient water solution is sprayed directly to the roots of the crops, improving aeration and saving large quantities of water. As they are typically indoors, they receive lighting from LED lamps that produce only the colors from the spectrum that are needed by the plants in order to grow abundantly. This results in plants growing faster and healthier than usual. Because vertical farms are so closely monitored and tightly controlled by technicians, plants are protected from possible diseases and contamination.

 

Image source: inspireamaze.com

 

Aquaponics

Aquaponics is a farming technique that combines aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (the soil-less growing of plants) to grow fish and plants together in one integrated system. This system is necessarily organic as the addition of synthetic chemicals or hormones would mean the death of one or all of the participants. The fish waste serves as food for the growing plants (converted by nitrifying bacteria) while the plants provide a natural filter for the water the fish live in. This technique is surprisingly ancient (the Chinese grew plant on fish ponds) but only recently is it gaining mainstream attention.

 

Image source: diyprepping.com

 

The future of farming is definitely promising. The rise of new technologies and sustainable practices may soon eliminate food shortages and help Mother Earth keep up with the rising demands for food, fiber, and other plant- or animal-based products. Among investors, sustainable agriculture has also become a viable alternative investment to venture into. Green entrepreneurs, environmental advocates, investment managers, and angel capitalists are working together to make this ‘new’ industry a huge business in the future.

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