Last week, a jockey at Cannon Racetrack in Cairns, Australia mistook a 15-foot-long Amesthetine Python for a “giant crack” in the raceway.
He was rounding a corner at full gallop when the snake suddenly appeared before him.
The presence in a dense urban area of such a big reptile—a species notoriously vulnerable to being killed by speeding vehicles—can teach us something making our growing cities friendlier for wildlife.
Happily, such efforts make cities better for people too. By 2100, there are projected to be around 11 billion people on Earth—of which an incredible 9 billion will be living in cities.CITIES CAN SUSTAIN BIODIVERSITY
A surprising amount of biodiversity can persist among the skyscrapers, housing estates, shopping malls, parks, and greenbelts that constitute our modern cities.
Even some vanishingly rare species can use cities. Imperiled plants have been discovered in weedy abandoned lots, endangered snails in irrigation pipes.
In northern Queensland, Australia, critically endangered Cassowaries regularly enter homeowner’s back yards looking for fruiting plants, so long as dogs are not present.
Of course, many vulnerable species avoid cities—such as forest-interior specialists and strictly arboreal species. And we won’t want big predators such as Grizzly Bears in cities, no matter how cuddly they look.
But that still leaves a great deal of biodiversity that could potentially use cities if we can make them more wildlife-friendly.PUSH CONNECTIVITY
First, wildlife benefits greatly from ‘connectivity’—the ability to move from one place to another.
Whenever possible, that means retaining or creating greenbelts, continuous wildlife corridors, and strips of intact vegetation along rivers and streams.
Crisscrossing cities with such linear features—the wider, the better—is a winning approach.ZONE ROADS
Second, we must control our speeding vehicles.
For endangered species such as Cassowaries and the Florida Panther, roadkill is their biggest threat.
Many other species forage along roads, bask on warm roads at night, or ‘freeze’ in response to approaching vehicles—making them highly vulnerable.
So, creating road-free zones in urban areas—where foot-traffic and bikes might be allowed, but no roaring vehicles—is a great strategy for nature.KILLER PETS
Third, as much as we love them, our domestic dogs and cats are dangerous. They can create lethal ‘haloes’ for wildlife around human habitations.
They do this not only by killing or harassing wildlife, but simply via their odors and scent-marking—which many wild species avoid.
Ecologists talk about “landscapes of fear”—the fact that predators don't just reduce the numbers of their prey, but also greatly limit their habitat use and times of activity.
For urban and suburban areas, that means keeping pets completely out of wildlife-friendly areas—not merely on a leash.LOW-DENSITY HOUSING
Fourth, we should avoid low-density housing sprawl into forests and other wildlife habitats.
Houses in such areas have great impacts on nature via the many roads they require, their dogs and cats, and their strong tendency to ‘internally fragment’ habitats.URBAN ISLANDS
Finally, our cities will have a lot more wildlife if they don’t become urban ‘islands’.
The goal is to maintain some wild or semi-wild habitat in the broader peri-urban areas surrounding cities—because such lands are a major source of wildlife.
Even isolated patches of habitat can be useful as ‘stepping stones’ for wildlife—and resting and feeding areas for scores of migratory species, such as many songbirds.
For migratory species, the world is big, and we need to think big if we’re going to invite them into our cities.HAVE CLEAR GOALS—AND PUSH THEM
These principles just scratch the surface. The “Singapore Index” provides a broad-based way for cities to gauge and monitor their efforts to conserve biodiversity.
We know that having clear goals is important—but they’ll be useless unless they’re implemented.
Far too often, urban planners don’t understand how to make cities more wildlife-friendly, and the financial and political pressures from land developers are enormous.
Corruption and back-room deals can play a big role too.
Clearly, decision-makers will only make wildlife-friendly cities a priority if their constituents demand it.
That means doing things like forming urban-wildlife groups, attending city-council meetings, and lobbying politicians.
And demanding proactive land-use planning—which is far more cost-effective than trying to restore broken cities ecologically, or buying back hyper-expensive urban land for nature.
HEALTHIER FOR PEOPLE
The great news is that wildlife-friendly cities greatly benefit people too.
Trees and other vegetation are highly effective in reducing harmful air pollution, limiting flooding, improving water quality, storing carbon, and improving urban climates via shading and evaporative cooling.
And native wildlife can have many benefits, such as limiting pest outbreaks and major disease-vectors like mosquitoes and rats.
Beyond all this, we know that appreciating nature is something people have to learn. Exposing children in cities to nature—not just animals on TV or video games—is one of the best strategies for educating them about the vital need to make our world more sustainable.
CITIES FOR THE FUTURE
The bottom line: We all have a big stake in making our burgeoning cities friendlier for nature.
Just ask that big python on Cannon Racetrack in Cairns, Australia—which the jockey and his galloping horse happily managed to miss.
Though in the middle of a city, the racetrack is encircled by trees, and wallabies and other wildlife that the snake would feed on are protected and plentiful.
The snake was obviously happy on the racetrack—it sun-baked there for four hours.
Something about substantial animals makes them more vulnerable to population collapse, said William Ripple, director of the Global Trophic Cascades Program at Oregon State University. For starters, there are usually fewer of the big animals, at least compared with the little guys.(more)Additional Information: Full StoryWilliam Ripple
Fatimata is 36, has 4 children and lives in Boulzoma village in Burkino Faso. TREE AID is working with people like Fatimata to help them grow trees sustainably and harvest them for food. By supporting communities to grow nutrition gardens full of trees that provide healthy foods, they are able grow their way out of
U.S. log exports to China, the largest consumer of U.S. log, have jumped 24.7% to 544.3 thousand m3 and 33.1% by value ($126.0 million). The exports to second-largest consumer Canada have declined 2.3% to 305.2 thousand m3, and exports to Japan have increased 13.5% to 171.4 thousand m3.
The average price of U.S. log in February 2018 was $207 per m3, increase 10.3% from the same period last year. The average price of log exports to China was $231 per m3 (+6.7%), to Canada was $98 (-2.9%), and to Japan was $266 (+21.6%).
Ontario is supporting Columbia Forest Products to expand its plywood mill in Hearst and Rutherglen, helping to create and maintain almost 350 jobs and boost economic growth.
With support from Ontario’s Jobs and Prosperity Fund, the company will be able to grow its business and increase efficiency by modernizing its infrastructure and purchasing new equipment to maximize production capacity, increase competitiveness and expand into new markets, while ensuring resources are managed sustainably.
Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.
Columbia Forest Products is one of North America’s largest manufacturers of hardwood plywood and hardwood veneer products.
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Forestry professionals from all over the world came to Santa Rita do Passa Quatro (Brazil) on April 11th, 12th and 13th to visit the 4th Expoforest – Brazilian Forestry Fair. In total, 30,645 visitors (1st day: 10,318 | 2nd day: 13,632 | 3rd day: 6,695) followed the product launches of 240 exhibitors. Visitors from every Brazilian state were present at the fair, as were professionals from the following countries: Afghanistan, Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Germany, Finland, France, Kenya, Italy, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Uruguay, the UK, the USA and Venezuela.
According to information provided by the exhibitors, negotiations at the fair resulted in over BRL 310 million in business deals and prospections. “This result is 101% higher than the business volume at Expoforest 2014, which totaled BRL 152 million. This growth proves the potential of the Brazilian forestry sector,” says Ricardo Malinovski, Marketing & Events Director at Malinovski (the Expoforest organizer).
Brazilian forestry sector,” says Ricardo Malinovski, Marketing & Events Director at Malinovski (the Expoforest organizer).
The Brazilian Forestry Fair brought 240 exhibitors to showcase their machinery and equipment in static displays and dynamic operations. “When we were organizing the 2018 edition, we presented the motto Extreme Forestry Fair. We’re certain those who visited the fair were able to witness in loco the best live timber harvesting, transportation and biomass demonstrations in the world,” reiterates Ricardo Malinovski.
In an innovative way, the 4th Expoforest hosted the 1st South American Forwarder Operator Championship, which emphasized the key role played by the professionals who work on the frontlines of the forestry sector. The champion was Klabin operator Rodrigo Lemes da Silva. Carlos Alexandre Gomes Pereira, from Duratex, placed second. “The finals were very exciting. I came to compete, but I’m very happy I’ve won. If I have the chance, I’ll be back to try to win twice,” celebrated the winner.
According to Malinovski, the next Expoforest will take place in 2022.
Photo: Courtesy of Expoforest | Raphael Bernadelli.