How are you celebrating World Environment Day?

Each day of the year is devoted to something special and the on 5th June it is World Environment Day initiated by UNEP. This year 2011 is the International Year of Forests and hence our forests and all the benefits they provide us with are in focus for the celebration. The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (Naturskyddsföreningen) uses the long, bright summer night between 5-6 June to celebrate nature with lots of activities. Check out here (pdf in Swe).
If you are occupied with other things – celebrate by just noticing a tree close to where you live and work, minimize your print outs that particular day or contemplate how trees and forests support your life.

UNEP World Environment Day
2011 International Year for Forests

An old oak tree at the Stockholm Royal City Park

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Mushroom day – September 5th

Monday, August 30th, 2010 | Environment Update, Explore Everyday Nature | No Comments

The first Sunday in September, Sweden, Norway and Denmark have devoted to celebrating mushrooms. If you want to know more about these strange creatures that are neither animals nor plants, this is the time of the year to start. There are plenty of seminars and exhibitions to visit in order to learn more about mushrooms, mostly about those that are visible to us. A central activity is of course to share knowledge about how to find and prepare edible mushrooms. Some are delicious, while others are deadly poisonous – no wonder they are surrounded by mysticism, witchcraft and folklore.

Did you know that:

  • Mold and yeast are fungi.
  • The root system of fungi are essential to many plants’ ability to absorb water and nutrients, therefore you’ll often find certain mushrooms near certain tree species.
  • It is nearly impossible to clean air from fungal spores.
  • The majority of mushrooms are found below ground and their extensive root systems can become more than 100 years old.
  • Lichen are a symbiosis of fungi and algae.
  • There are more than 1.5 million species of fungi in the world.
  • The study of fungi is called mycology.

More about mushroom day in Sweden!

Not to eat, but a joy for the eye. image courtesy Sara Borgström

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The meadows treasures

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 | Environment Update | No Comments

It is now they should be enjoyed in all their beauty – the meadows.  A richness in biodiversity originating from centuries of human- nature interactions through small-scale farming in Sweden. The shrubs and grasses are kept away by grazing cattle or hay-making by hand or machines. This creates beautiful rolling landscapes with scattered trees and a tremendous richness in flowering herbs. Besides spring flora, July is the time when the flowers explode in colors, yellow, red, purple, white, blue, pink and everything in between. Sometimes as as 60 herbs can be found in one single square meter.  Before this fed the cattle during late summers and in wintertime, today these lands are usually managed within nature conservation. August 7th it is the day of the meadows and many volunteers from the Swedish Society of Nature conservation are out hay-making.  Until then the flowers are there to be enjoyed by us and their pollinators.

A Swedish meadow i July. image courtesy Sara Borgström

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Year of biodiversity: How many species are there?

Friday, April 23rd, 2010 | Environment Update, Green Wonders | No Comments

During the last three years researchers have found 123 new species in the rain forests of Borneo, according to a report from WWF. It is simply amazing that despite all of the technological advances there are still new things to discover on our planet. In addition, the better the methods, the more fascinating the discoveries seem to become. These new species live in the most hostile environments and have developed amazing adaptations to survive. A rough estimation is that we share living space with approximately 8 million other species even if the scientists debate what a species really is and how many they are. Currently 2 million species have been described. However the discovery of new species has a hard time keeping pace with the extinction of species which to a great extent is related to human activities.

Pictures of some of the new species in Borneo

More on the work to protect biodiversity.

Map lichen, just one in in million. image courtesy: Sara Borgström

Map lichen, just one of millions. image courtesy: Sara Borgström

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Celebrate or not? The International Year of Biodiversity

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010 | Environment Update | No Comments

It is the International Year of Biodiversity and the UN encourages the world to reflect on achievements made so far as well as to change gear to safeguard the variety of life on earth. It is also the year when the 2010 Biodiversity Target in the Convention on Biological Diversity is to be fulfilled. This target, ratified by 150 nations, that by 2010 there is “a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth “. According to recent assessments we are far from reaching this target. In fact, most drivers of biodiversity loss are constant or even increasing. Biological diversity represent all genetic, species and landscape varieties and is declining 1000 times faster than the natural extinction rate. Hopefully this year will put new energy into the work for biodiversity.

Why care about biodiversity anyway? One answer is that nature, with all its variety, is necessary for human survival and well-being.  Necessities like clean drinking water, food and medicines are provided by very complex systems of biodiversity interactions, the web of life if you like. The goods and services that nature provides humanity are also called ecosystem services. Read more at Nature @ your service in the right menu.

Meadows are the most biodiverse biotopes in Sweden and they are created grazing animals or hay making procedures. image courtesy: Sara Borgström

image courtesy: Sara Borgström

Check out the International Year of Biodiversity 2010

Check out the Convention on Biological Diversity

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Monday, November 16th, 2009 | Nature @ Your Service | No Comments

One ecosystem services is when nature is used for education. The best way of understanding ecology is to explore it outdoors. To have a personal relation to nature is essential to environment friendly behavior. Biomimicry is another angel of nature education, where nature is used as a source of solutions to human problems. The idea is to look how the same problem is solved in nature and try to mimic that by using technology. One classic example is how airplanes are designed similar to birds. More recently biomimicry has moved to a smaller scale, investigating molecules and microscopic surface structures that could be used to create water resistant paints.

Check out more examples at the Biomimicry Institute

Tropical butterfly

Tropical butterfly

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