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Ecosystems

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How much is the sea worth? - BBC News. If the world's seas and oceans were a national economy, how much would they be worth? Around $24 trillion (£15.7tn; €21.2tn) according to the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) in a report this month, making it the world's seventh largest economy. The group drew up the research with the help of Boston Consulting Group and Professor Hoegh-Guldberg of the Global Change Institute in Australia.

The report aims to make policy makers and business leaders view the sea as a common investment. This technique of auditing nature in financial terms is known as "natural capital". But there are questions as to how accurate such figures can be when applied to nature, and calculated on this grand scale. And is monetary value really the best way to measure nature's importance to the planet, and the environment that sustains us? Video journalist: Dougal Shaw. China’s Amazonian railway ‘threatens uncontacted tribes’ and the rainforest. Chinese premier Li Keqiang is to push controversial plans for a railway through the Amazon rainforest during a visit to South America next week, despite concerns about the possible impact on the environment and on indigenous tribes.

Currently just a line on a map, the proposed 5,300km route in Brazil and Peru would reduce the transport costs for oil, iron ore, soya beans and other commodities, but cut through some of the world’s most biodiverse forest. The six-year plan is the latest in a series of ambitious Chinese infrastructure projects in Latin America, which also include a canal through Nicaragua and a railway across Colombia. The trans-Amazonian railway has high-level backing. Last year, President Xi Jinping signed a memorandum on the project with his counterparts in Brazil and Peru. Next week, during his four-nation tour of the region starting on Sunday, Li will, according to state-run Chinese media, suggest a feasibility study.

Invasion of the goldfish: ecosystem in danger as Colorado lake taken over | US news. Next time you think of dumping your goldfish rather than cleaning out the bowl – again – think twice. Fish sticks and Aqua Bob Squarepants could threaten the stability of an entire ecosystem. Goldfish have taken over a lake in Bolder, Colorado, and their spread is threatening to wipe out local species. Park officials are now weighing plans to rid Teller Lake of the brightly coloured pests before they spread into the state’s wider water ways. Wildlife officials believe someone dumped a handful of the pet fish into Teller Lake a few years ago. That handful has now multiplied to thousands. Outside the confines of a bowl, the fish have grown to several inches long and now threaten local species. “My biggest concern was the fish would escape downstream,” aquatic biologist Ben Swigle of the Colorado parks and wildlife service told NPR.

He said Colorado had a very short transitional zone between cool, Rocky mountain streams and a more warm-water fishery. Three plans are under consideration: Demand for rubber 'threatens forests' - BBC News. The global demand for rubber tyres is threatening protected forests in Southeast Asia, according to a study. Tropical forests are being cleared for rubber plantations, putting endangered birds, bats and primates at risk, say UK researchers.

By 2024, up to 8.5 million hectares of new rubber plantations will be needed to meet demand, they report in Conservation Letters. This could have a "catastrophic" impact on wildlife, they warn. Species such as the endangered white-shouldered ibis, yellow-cheeked crested gibbon and clouded leopard could lose precious habitat, said the team led by Eleanor Warren-Thomas, from the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia. "The tyre industry consumes 70% of all natural rubber grown, and rising demand for vehicle and aeroplane tyres is behind the recent expansion of plantations. But the impact of this is a loss of tropical biodiversity," she said. Eight-point-five million hectares is about the size of the land area of Austria. Oceans are world's seventh largest economy worth $24tn, says WWF report | Env...

The monetary value of the world’s oceans has been estimated at US$24tn in a new report that warns that overfishing, pollution and climate change are putting an unprecedented strain upon marine ecosystems. The report, commissioned by WWF, states the asset value of oceans is $24tn and values the annual “goods and services” it provides, such as food, at $2.5tn. This economic clout would make the oceans the seventh largest economy in the world although the report’s authors, which include the Boston Consulting Group, say this is an underestimate as it does not factor in things such as oil, wind power and intangibles, such as the ocean’s role in climate regulation.

The economic value is largely comprised of fisheries, tourism, shipping lanes and the coastal protection provided by corals and mangroves. However, the oceans are facing mounting pressures. The report warns that nearly two-thirds of the world’s fisheries are “fully exploited” with most of the rest overexploited. A day in the life of baby coral. Most of the Caribbean’s coral reefs are in bad shape, victims of overfishing, sewage and fertilizer pollution, disease, rising temperatures, and reckless coastal development.

But corals are deeply important for humans everywhere, not least because they are a source of food, they protect shorelines, generate tourism revenue — and provide chemical diversity through which scientists are discovering new medicines. That’s why they are worth hundreds of billions of dollars a year. And that’s why my colleagues and I at the CARMABI Research Station in Curaçao are focused on understanding how corals reproduce, and studying what we might do to help young corals build us the reefs of the future. Here’s a peek at our world underwater and our work studying one particularly important coral species. Meet the coral reef of Curaçao Here’s the reef in Curaçao.

The mountain-shaped coral in the foreground is an important reef-builder across the Caribbean that was listed as “threatened” by the U.S. Earth - The story of rhinos and how they conquered the world. Let's go back in time 30 million years, long before modern humans appeared. Tropical forests were shrinking and grassy savannahs were spreading. These lush grasslands were home to creatures long since lost: giant rhinoceroses. Standing 5m tall at the shoulder and weighing up to 20 tonnes, the colossal Paraceratherium was the largest land mammal to ever live. Its skull alone was over 1m long and it had a much longer neck than today's rhinos, which helped the animal browse for leaves on tall trees.

This monstrous creature roamed the open plains stretching from eastern Europe to what is now China. Paraceratherium, with its enormous body and vast range, illustrates how rhinos lived when they were at their peak. Imagine a time when most of what is now Asia, Europe and North America was covered in dense forest. Rhinos belong to a group of animals called perissodactyls. Nobody is quite sure how perissodactyls evolved. The early rhinos that lived in the Eocene were quite different to today's. Climate change risk to 'one in six species' - BBC News. One in six species on the planet could face extinction if nothing is done to tackle climate change, analysis suggests. If carbon emissions continue on their current path - and temperatures rise by 4 degrees - 16% of animals and plants will be lost, according to a review of evidence.

The study, published in Science, shows risks are highest in South America, Australia and New Zealand. Previous estimates range from 0 to 54%. Dr Mark Urban of the University of Connecticut, US, analysed data from 131 scientific studies on the risk of extinction from climate change. He found that the rate of biodiversity loss is likely to speed up with each degree Celsius rise in temperature. If future temperatures rise by 2 degrees compared with pre-industrial times, global extinction risk will rise from 2.8% today to 5.2%.

But under the scenario where global warming continues on its current path, 16% of species (one in six) face extinction. "In South America, the extinction risk was estimated to be 23%," he said. Explicit cookie consent. If the oceans were a country… | UNDP in Asia and the Pacific. The theme for this year’s World Environment Day is Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care. We are being encouraged to dream of a better world and to make pledges to fulfill that dream. I like this. As a person who grew up on the coast of South Africa, I have a big dream: a healthy ocean that supports lives on Planet Earth. Why choose the ocean from among the myriad of environmental issues that plague us, you might ask?

All life, the human race included, depends on healthy oceans. The World Wildlife Fund recently estimated that the total asset base of the ocean is valued at US$ 24 trillion, and the annual gross marine product (GMP) is at least US$ 2.5 trillion. The marine and coastal environment also constitutes a key resource for the important global tourism industry. But despite the benefits we derive from the ocean, we still allow it to degrade. I recently dived among some of the most amazing coral reefs off the coast of Indonesia. Why is biodiversity so important? - Kim Preshoff. Rising seas, sinking peat to swamp Malaysian and Indonesian palm oil. Forest set alight to clear land for oil palm in Riau's peatlands June 3, 2015. Photos by Rhett Butler. With global sea levels going up at a rate of about 9 millimeters per year, the livelihoods of many coastal people in the world look increasingly threatened, especially in those parts of the world with limited financial or technical means to adapt.

A rate of a thumb-width of water per year may not sound like much, but the half to one meter higher water levels mean that many coastal people will have to abandon their homes and fields before the end of the century. Indonesia with its countless low-lying inhabited but often poor islands will likely be one of the more affected countries in the world. In a recent report by the World Bank, for example, Palembang, in Sumatra, made it onto the top-10 list of most vulnerable cities when measured as percentage of GDP. Industrial oil palm plantation on peatland in Riau, Sumatra. Forest clearing for oil palm in Riau,