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Environment - July 15

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Forests to fall for food and fuel

Richard Black, BBC
Demand for land to grow food, fuel crops and wood is set to outstrip supply, leading to the probable destruction of forests, a report warns.

The Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) says only half of the extra land needed by 2030 is available without eating into tropical forested areas.

"Arguably, we are on the verge of a last great global land grab," said RRI's Andy White, co-author of the major report, Seeing People through the Trees.
(14 July 2008)


Buying your own wood

Mackenzie Crook, The Times
Don't get me started on my woodland. Since the beginning of the year, when I realised a dream and purchased five acres of ancient woodland in Essex, I have begun coercing people into conversation on conservation. I expected a universal reaction of “How fantastic!” followed by a lively discussion on biodiversity and badgers.

But reactions are mixed. Many people ask me why I bought it. This has me stumped. To me the reasons are obvious, but hard to put into words. “What will you do with it?” “Well, just...be in it. Enjoy it.” “Can you build on it?” “No.” “But you could build a hut or log cabin to stay in?” “No.” “Can you cycle in it?” “I suppose, but I don't have a bike.” “You should get a bike.”

I don't want to cycle in it. I want to study it, to watch it and see how it works, to learn the names of the flora and fauna and understand how they coexist.
(12 July 2008)


Bulgarian eco town 'the biggest mistake of Norman Foster's career', say protesters

Kate Connolly, The Guardian
On Karadere beach, in north-east Bulgaria, a smattering of families have set up camp for the summer, as they have done for years. But this year the happy-go-lucky mood has been punctured by fears that the small corner of paradise is under imminent threat by Bulgaria's first carbon-neutral resort.

Having been considered ripe for development since the collapse of communism 19 years ago, the area is set to be turned into a luxury €1bn (£780m) settlement.

Dubbed the Black Sea Gardens, it will include five new hill towns, artificial lakes, a marina and an extensive leisure area and will be self-sustaining, thanks to biomass power and construction from local, natural resources, say the developers...

...Foster and Partners did not provide anyone to talk to the Guardian, but in a press release it stressed that the resort is designed to blend in with its environment. "The residential clusters are tightly packed and integrated into the contours of the landscape, preserving the majority of its site as virgin terrain," it read.

Detractors say while the plans might be of a much higher standard than the depressing array of substandard constructions hugging the Black Sea, the sheer scale of the resort will do lasting damage to the natural habitat. The settlements will eat into untouched oak forests, and the invasion of thousands of people and new roads will disturb one of Europe's major migratory routes for millions of birds, known as via pontica, they say.
(14 July 2008)

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