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Environment - Oct 24

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UK's ancient woodland being lost 'faster than Amazon'

John Vidal, The Guardian
Ancient woodland in Britain is being felled at a rate even faster than the Amazon rainforest, according to new research today. It shows that almost half of all woods in the UK that are more than 400 years old have been lost in the past 80 years and more than 600 ancient woods are now threatened by new roads, electricity pylons, housing, and airport expansion.

The report from the Woodland Trust comes as the government prepares to sign a compulsory purchase order to buy several acres of Two Mile Wood outside Weymouth to build a bypass. This remnant of ancient forest, known for its association with Thomas Hardy, is one of Britain's finest bluebell woods and is full of old beech, oak and hornbeam trees.

"Ancient woodland, designated as over 400 years old in England, is the UK's equivalent of rainforest. It is irreplaceable," said Ed Pomfret, campaigns director of the trust. "It's our most valuable space for wildlife, and home to rare and threatened species. Once these woods have gone, they will never come back. They are historical treasure troves."...
(21 October 2008)


Migrating Alaskan pollock are creating the potential for a new dispute with Russia

Kenneth R. Weiss, Los Angeles Times
DUTCH HARBOR, ALASKA -- America's biggest catch lands here and at nearby ports every year: more than 2 billion pounds of Alaskan pollock to feed a global appetite for fish sticks, fast-food sandwiches and imitation crabmeat.

The tightly managed Alaskan pollock fishery has been a rare success story in the U.S., which has seen the collapse of species such as New England cod and now imports 80% of its seafood.

Yet the careful management that helped make Alaskan pollock a billion-dollar industry could unravel as the planet warms. Pollock and other fish in the Bering Sea are moving to higher latitudes as winter ice retreats and water temperatures rise.

Alaskan pollock are becoming Russian pollock, swimming across an international boundary in search of food and setting off what could become a geopolitical dispute...
(19 October 2008)


Rising water in Florida's Everglades threatens wildlife

McClatchy newspapers, The Guardian
The Everglades are drowning.

Canals along Alligator Alley have spilled over banks into roadside swales. Deer have been driven from flooded-out tree islands to strips of dry ground - mostly canal levees, but a few have even been spotted on the porches of empty hunting cabins.

And the water, already near a record high, is still creeping up - particularly in the area of deepest concern: the sprawling sawgrass prairies north of Tamiami Trail. If the water doesn't recede fast, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission warns deer and other denizens could die in potentially large numbers.

"If we don't start doing something, we're going to end up with a total massacre," said wildlife commissioner Ron Bergeron, who recently took a Democratic US congressman from Florida, Ron Klein, on an airboat trip into the 700,000-acre conservation area west of suburban Miami-Dade and Broward counties, a marsh hammered by high waters over the decades.

Similar conditions decimated the Glades' white-tailed deer in 1982 and 1995, knocking the herd from thousands to hundreds, and killed countless smaller animals that rely on high, dry tree islands for food and shelter.

Those tree islands are anything but high and dry now...
(20 October 2008)

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